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Top Five Inspection Issues

Every house is unique, and there's no such thing as a "passed inspection" as deemed by inspector.

But we've been in enough (hundreds and hundreds) inspections, and worked through the post-inspection negotiations to come up with some guidelines. Here are the most common items that get called out at an inspection. Which means these are also great things for sellers to tackle early in the process.


Sellers: This is exactly the kind of advance knowledge and planning that will help reduce the stress of selling a house, even in this market. Call or email Green Light Real Estate for more info and a detailed selling plan.


1. GFCI Outlets

You know, those annoying outlets that have a test/reset button, and they click off at inconvenient times. Well, turns out those are safety features. Inspectors look for ground fault circuit interrupter outlets in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, unfinished basement, and exterior. So, look around. If you don't have them, get an electrician, or if you're handy, start installing them yourself. 

You can also use GFCI breakers in the circuit panel. Before you head to Barre Electric or pick up the phone, double check the panel itself to see if those circuits are already GFCI protected.


2. Handrails and Rail Systems

There are more places that need handrails than you might think. And there are more rules about them than you probably want to know about.

Basically, anytime you have more than two steps, you're going to want a handrail. Your handrail should be "graspable", which means you can't be a cheapo and just use extra lumber you've got lying around. It's safe to use "breadloaf" style handrails. Look at porch steps, including the back porch, as well as stairs to different levels in your house. You may not want a basement handrail, but the inspector's going to call it out.

Along the same lines, deck rails and balusters should follow certain guidelines. They should be spaced such that they're not more than four inches apart, and they should be a certain height. This goes for interior and exterior railing systems. 


3. Peeling Paint

Anywhere you've got cracked, peeling, or deteriorated paint, plan on touching it up. Common areas that come up are windows and window trim, fascia, soffits (the horizontal and vertical faces around the roof), porches, porch floors, garages, and even fences.

Remember that if your house was build before 1978 there's probably lead paint under all the newer paint layers, and you should use lead-safe practices. In a nutshell, scrape, prime, and paint anywhere your paint is falling apart. I can see you rolling your eyes. But really, if you think about it for a second, that paint's been bugging you anyway.

Email Green Light Real Estate with questions about selling or buying your house. Let the experts "Green Light" your house.

4. Furnace and Boiler Service

We all know that boilers and furnaces are supposed to be cleaned every year. But at a sale, it's actually, going to get done. We see it happen all the time where a buyer asks for a seller to have the heating service serviced after the building inspection.  The negotiations go either way.

One argument is that servicing the boiler/furnace is just regular maintenance that a homeowner should do, and the seller should do it. Another argument is that it's part of the inspection process, and the buyer should pay for it. How about this for a solution: Sellers--get your systems serviced before every heating season because that's regular safety and maintenance. That takes care of 80% of any negotiation on this item.


5. Oil Tank Inspection

Every three years an oil tank needs to be inspected by a fuel company or other qualified professional. If it doesn't pass, the fuel company won't put oil in it. Which is a bummer when you want a house to be heated. They'll leave a statement showing that who inspected, when it was inspected, and the results. Tape that right to the oil tank so it's there for the whole world to see.

If the tank hasn't been inspected, pick up the phone and get it inspected. Sometimes it takes weeks for a technician to be able to do the inspection. 

Oil tanks aren't cheap. If you have to replace one, plan on it costing $2000 or more. Side note--if your furnace/boiler is pretty old, and if you don't have a metal chimney liner, replacing the whole system with one that burns propane might be something to consider. A tank and a liner could easily run $4000, and a new boiler/furnace might not be too much more than that.


6. Bonus! Water Supply Hoses

At your washing machine, replace the rubber supply hoses with braided metal supply hoses. You can buy those at Aubuchon, and they're actually very easy to replace.  Those rubber hoses aren't designed to constantly have pressurized water in them. And, unless you're the one person in Vermont who turns off the valves when not doing laundry, you're constantly pressurizing the hoses.


7. Double Bonus!  Steel Lally Columns

We see them all the time. Those steel screw jack columns in the basement. Well, those are technically supposed to be temporary. Inspectors are going to call them out. They really want to see those columns be concrete filled metal columns (without rust at the bottom, achem), and on a proper base,  or pressure treated lumber on a proper base. "Proper base" does not mean "the dirt floor".



One of the kind of sneaky parts is that even if there's no inspection, if there's a loan, an appraiser might look at many of these items, especially 1-5. Low down payment loans such as VA, FHA, VHFA, and Rural Development will specifically task the appraiser to look for these items. And, if found, repairing/replacing these will be required before the loan is issued. There are no requirements for which party has to pay for repairs.


But gee, wouldn't it be nice if, since we know what's going to come up anyway, that sellers knock some of the list down, and that buyers understand they're going to have to put some money into the house before purchase too?


Email Green Light Real Estate with questions about selling or buying your house. Let the experts "Green Light" your house.



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