How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes

What makes a house fail the home inspection?

Friday, July 27, 2018

It’s not like school, where you have to get a test score above a preset number to pass the exam. The pass/fail point is based entirely on the homebuyer’s expectations. Most realtors prepare their buyers by alerting them to the fact that the home inspector always finds a few defects; and it is not unusual for a buyer to accept a home with short list of defects, or to negotiate either repairs or a price reduction for part of the defects on the home inspection report. 

    Also, if the buyers have made an offer on a fixer-upper, they already know a lot of things that are wrong with the house from careful observations at the showing. What makes a “deal breaker” is unexpected and expensive defects, such as a roof that needs replacement, foundation problems, mold, or termite damage. The total dollar cost of a longer than expected list of minor problems, when it exceeds the buyer’s budget, is another thing that can sour a deal.

   But the one thing that consistently makes a buyer walk away after an inspection is when the inspector uncovers a problem that the buyer feels the seller should have known about and disclosed. As an example, several years ago we entered an attic and saw evidence that the house previously had a rather extensive fire over the garage. The damage had been professionally repaired, and when we asked the seller about it, he said “Oh, yes, that fire. I forgot about it.” That’s the moment when the deal died. There would have been no problem if it had been disclosed, since all the repairs were acceptable, but the lack of disclosure made everything else about the house questionable.

    At the other end of the spectrum, we regularly encounter first-time home buyers with unrealistic expectations that they have found a “perfect” house. When we present them with a short list of minor defects, they respond by saying: “The seller is going to fix everything, aren’t they?” That rarely happens, and a homebuyer sometimes loses out on the chance to get a very good house, and continues searching for the perfect one.

    Also, see our blog post How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection?

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

  To learn more strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection? 

How thorough is a home inspector required to be when inspecting a house?

Should I trust the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement?

Can I do my own home inspection?

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole? 

The seller gave me a report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector? 

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1940s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s house?

• What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property? 

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been moved?

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

What do I need to know about a condo inspection?

What are the "Aging In Place" features to look for when buying a retirement home?

   Visit our HOME INSPECTION page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

Water Heaters

Water Heater Age

"What Are The

Signs Of..."

Septic Tank Systems

Structure and Rooms

Plumbing Pipes

Termites, Wood Rot

& Pests

Sinkholes

Stairs

When It First

Became Code

"Should I Buy A..."

Park Model Homes

Site

Shingle Roofs

Safety

Stucco

Remodeling

Wind Mitigation

Roof and Attic

"Does A Home

Inspector...?"

Pool and Spa

"What Is The Difference Between..."

Radon

Brick

Plumbing

Concrete and

Concrete Block

Metal Roofs

Foundations

Modular Homes

Rain Gutters

Mold, Lead & Other Contaminants

Condominiums

Older and

Historic Houses

Crawl Spaces

Mobile-Manufactured Homes

Building Permits

Life Expectancy

Clay Soil

Insurance

Floors

Insulation

Toilets

Exterior Walls

& Structures

Generators

Common Problems

HUD-Code for

Mobile Homes

Garages and Carports

Flat (Low Slope) Roofs

Electrical Panels

Sprinkler Systems

Electrical Receptacle Outlets

4-Point Inspections

Hurricane Resistance

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Home Inspection

Heating and Air Conditioning

Building Codes

Fireplaces and Chimneys

Inspector Licensing

& Standards

Energy Efficiency

Washers and Dryers

Electrical

Kitchens

Doors and Windows

(placeholder)

Cracks

Electrical Wiring

Click Below  

for Links

to Collections

of Blog Posts

by Subject

Plumbing Drains

and Traps

Appliances

Smoke & CO Alarms

Aging in Place

Top 5 results given instantly.

Click on magnifying glass

for all search results.

Bathrooms

Lighting

AFCI, CAFCI,

DFCI, & GFCI

Sinks

Air Conditioner & Furnace Age/Size

Attics

Electrical Switches

Siding

Search

This

Site

Water Intrusion

Electrical - Old

and Obsolete

(placeholder)

Foundation Certifications

Tiny Houses

About Us

(placeholder)

Wells