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15 most expensive defects found during a home inspection

The list of the top 15 most expensive defects found during a home inspection in 2022 has been tabulated by the Evergreen Property Inspectors team.

This list differs from the most common defects found here in that it takes into account the cost of the repair. For example a broken GFCI receptacle is a common but minor repair at $15 if you do the work yourself-$150 if you hire an electrician. It could take a thousand GFCI repairs to equal one foundation repair. This is why finding ‘major material defects’ including safety issues is the real purpose behind a home inspection.

The good news is that most homes do not have many major material defects or safety issues. But when they do, the knowledge gained through a professional home inspection can mean the difference between a smart buy and a money pit of repair bills.

  1. Foundation $600 – $30k+
    Foundation repairs can be as simple as sealing a small hairline crack to prevent water intrusion, all the way up to a out of plumb foundation wall that needs to be reset or replaced.
  2. Chimney $250 – $30k+
    Chimney repairs run from easy chimney cap replacements to full tear down and rebuild of the brick chimney structure. The interior of the chimney flue is not visible to the inspector and a chimney specialist is always recommended when it comes to a fireplace with a flue.
  3. Siding $100 – $20k+
    Chips in siding from lawnmower damage is fairly common and inexpensive to patch or replace a plank or two. The flip side is improperly flashed siding or missing water shield that has allowed water to get behind the water barrier and allowed damage to get to the structure or wall sheathing. This can lead to wood rot and mold or mildew growth at the exterior walls.
  4. Roof $150 – $20K+
    Roof repairs are often simple rubber boot replacements or caulking around penetrations such as nails or skylights. However we sometimes find missing shingles or worn out flashings that have let water get into the roof structure for months rotting away the deck sheathing and rafters.
  5. Driveway $300 – $10k+
    When the horizontal walkways and driveways around the home are neglected, water seeps into cracks that grow larger over time. As this water freezes or erodes the soil under the concrete it can lead to costly repairs.
  6. Asbestos $500 – $10K+
    Asbestos is a great building material and was widely used in home construction before the 1980s. Unfortunately, when asbestos containing material is damaged, the tiny asbestos fibers can come loose and when inhaled can cause mesothelioma cancer in humans. Cleaning up asbestos material is highly regulated and expensive which makes this a potential expensive item even though it may not necessarily be a defect if the material is currently in good shape. Be aware that some insurance companies will not insure homes that have asbestos materials present, so you insurance options may be limited.
  7. Septic Tank $200 – $20k+
    Septic tank systems consist of distribution pipes, tanks, and drain fields. When storage tanks or drain fields start failing or are found to be undersized, repairs and upgrades can get expensive.
  8. Deck $250 – $20k+
    Wooden deck structures create great outdoor entertaining space to a home and building methods have changed drastically over the past 20 years. High profile deck failures resulting in multiple deaths have brought this topic to the forefront for home inspectors. NADRA, the North American Deck and Railing Association has great tools to help you identify high risks in older decks. https://www.nadra.org/membership/directory#!biz/id/5d515440f033bfd0698e9507
  9. Mold Removal $400 – $10k+
    While mold spores are pretty much everywhere, when you start to see  mold growth it’s already getting out of control. The right temperature, humidity, and food source combine to create a mess that can cause allergies to flair up and some mold growth create toxins that can cause serious harm to occupants. Hiring a professional to evaluate the source, make repairs, and clean up the mess can be costly, but well worth the money to save your home and create a healthy environment for occupants.
  10. Termite/Pest $200 – $10k+
    Termite damage is often hidden. Termites like dark spaces, and this means they hide in the walls and follow the wood structure from the foundation and all the way up to the roof. The average termite eats very little each year, but a colony of termites can number into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of termites in one colony. It is often difficult to understand the extent of the damage without removing interior or exterior finishes.
  11. Sewer Lateral Lines $250 – 20K+
    The waste plumbing line that takes dirty water away from the home can fail and be a costly repair. These lateral lines have been made out of various materials over the years from wood and fiber, to clay, to iron, to a variety of plastics such as PVC. As pipes age, cracks can form that allow soil or tree roots to further degrade or block the line. When these pipes fail it often results in a basement floor and or yard being excavated so repairs can be made.
  12. Plumbing $150 – $6K+
    Plumbing issues can be as little as a new leak under a kitchen cabinet, to a toilet flange and seal that has failed over a six month period resulting in wood rot to the surrounding floors and walls.
  13. HVAC $150 – $6k+
    Furnaces and Air Condition components fail over time and while repairs can be made to major components, at some point it makes more sense to repair vs replace a system.
  14. Electrical $125 – $6k+
    Outlets go bad and can be as cheap as $.99, however in an aged home with older wiring and distribution panels it can cost upwards of $20,000 to rewire a home. Electrical components have increased in price drastically over the past few years. Take circuit breakers as an example. Some breakers that cost $20 two years ago are not selling for $150. Upgrades and repairs can be expensive, but necessary for the safety of your home.
  15. Water Heater $150 – $1,800+
    Water heaters have a typical lifespan of 8-15 years. How well the system is maintained and how hard the water is in your area will play a role in the life of this system. Every week we come across water heaters that have been well maintained and are operating in good condition despite being 30 or 40 years of age.

Common defects vs expensive defects are often totally different lists. This list of the 15 most expensive defects found during a home inspection helps clients understand the purpose behind the home inspection process.

Some home inspectors report only the major concerns, other home inspection companies will also provide you with a list of deferred maintenance items. When interviewing home inspection companies, ask if they only report on major concerns, or if they report on the minor deferred maintenance and safety items as well. This can give you a terrific head start on creating your home maintenance list so you can maximize the long term value of your investment.

Evergreen Property Inspectors provides commercial and residential inspection services within 100 miles of the St. Louis Arch encompassing the Greater St. Louis and the Metro East Illinois areas with a mission of helping our neighbors accomplish their real estate goals. Contact us to book our services or call us at 877-805-5255 or 314-620-6822 with any questions.

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