What is the difference between a material defect and a cosmetic defect in a home inspection?

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

One of the dictionary definitions of the word “material,” when used as an adjective, is “having real importance or great consequences.” And that's the meaning describing a defect in a home when part of an inspection report.

    The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) further clarifies it in the glossary of their Residential Inspection Standards: “A material defect is a specific issue with a system or component of a residential property that may have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property, or that poses an unreasonable risk to people. The fact that a system or component is near, at or beyond the end of its normal useful life is not, in itself, a material defect." 

    A cosmetic defect is also defined in the Residential Inspection Standards as "An irregularity or imperfection in something, which could be corrected, but is not required."

    Examples of material defects would be a roof leak, foundation damage, and a non-functional air conditioner. Cosmetic defects include things like a rug stain and faded but not flaking or powdering paint. An insulated window that has lost its gas between the panes and become clouded is considered a material defect, not a cosmetic defect, because it no longer provides the necessary insulation for the envelope of the home.

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  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? 

If we already looked at the house very carefully, do we still need a home inspection?

    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 do I need to know about buying a foreclosure? 

What should I look for when buying a former rental house?  

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 should I look for when buying a house that is being "flipped" by an investor seller? 

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.




    



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