Deal breakers of a home inspection

User Forum Topic
Submitted by Canadian on April 25, 2015 - 10:43pm

Hi,
We are in escrow to purchase our first house, a single family bulit in 70's.
I was wondering what the deal breakers of a home inspection are.
The seller is not doing any repairs (long story). We love the house;
it has the features that are important to us and are hard to come by.

Submitted by CA renter on May 1, 2015 - 1:35am.

For us, it would be major foundation problems; major leaks (roof or plumbing), especially if they've been active leaks over a long period of time; or major structural issues.

Also, certain types of easement or land use issues could be deal-breakers. A new development going up nearby that would significantly affect the property and quality of life there could derail the deal, too.

That being said, you can negotiate your way to a good deal with these issues. If you can cover the total cost of repairing these issues using very high-quality materials and contractors, plus get something for your time and trouble, then it could be a good deal.

Best of luck!

Submitted by Canadian on May 2, 2015 - 12:05am.

Thanks a lot CA renter for your comments. We did the inspection, and found just some minor issues. We know from the disclosures that several years ago some pipe leaks have been repaired and piad by the insurance. The fact that they happened long time ago and were handled by the insurance should put our mind at ease, we have been told.

Submitted by bearishgurl on May 2, 2015 - 12:13am.

Canadian wrote:
Thanks a lot CA renter for your comments. We did the inspection, and found just some minor issues. We know from the disclosures that several years ago some pipe leaks have been repaired and piad by the insurance. The fact that they happened long time ago and were handled by the insurance should put our mind at ease, we have been told.

If the leaks were from polybutylene pipe, you need to find out if ALL the plumbing between the walls was replaced with copper after the final payment to each affected homeowner in the state in the settlement of the class-action suit (1994).

If only the "visible" plumbing was replaced, or partial plumbing replaced in only the wall that burst, I would not buy the property.

Just my .02.

edit: Canadian, what is the exact year this home was built? This info will clarify things. Thx.

Submitted by Canadian on May 2, 2015 - 10:51am.

bearishgurl wrote:

If the leaks were from polybutylene pipe, you need to find out if ALL the plumbing between the walls was replaced with copper after the final payment to each affected homeowner in the state in the settlement of the class-action suit (1994).

If only the "visible" plumbing was replaced, or partial plumbing replaced in only the wall that burst, I would not buy the property.

Just my .02.

edit: Canadian, what is the exact year this home was built? This info will clarify things. Thx.

Thanks a lot bearishgurl. The home was built in 1976, and the pipings are copper. The owner at the time of the repairs has passed away, and the insurance adjuster is not providing us with more details. It seems the leaks were mostly related to the bathroom.

I guess when you buy an old house you should expect to deal with these situations. But then what we look for in a house is hard to find in new constructions :)

Submitted by svelte on May 2, 2015 - 1:09pm.

Not to freak you out, but some insurance companies avoid insuring homes that have had prior claims, even with other owners and insurers. You may want to check with your preferred insurer. I wouldnt mention the prior claim(s) but instead get a quote just to see if they balk.

Besides what was mentioned by other posters, something that would cause me to seriously rethink the purchase would be aluminum wiring...usually only an issue in homes built 1969 to 1975

Submitted by bearishgurl on May 2, 2015 - 2:13pm.

Canadian wrote:
bearishgurl wrote:

If the leaks were from polybutylene pipe, you need to find out if ALL the plumbing between the walls was replaced with copper after the final payment to each affected homeowner in the state in the settlement of the class-action suit (1994).

If only the "visible" plumbing was replaced, or partial plumbing replaced in only the wall that burst, I would not buy the property.

Just my .02.

edit: Canadian, what is the exact year this home was built? This info will clarify things. Thx.

Thanks a lot bearishgurl. The home was built in 1976, and the pipings are copper. The owner at the time of the repairs has passed away, and the insurance adjuster is not providing us with more details. It seems the leaks were mostly related to the bathroom.

I guess when you buy an old house you should expect to deal with these situations. But then what we look for in a house is hard to find in new constructions :)

IIRC, polybutylene wasn't used in tract construction in SD County until 1978, so you're in the clear.

Actually, a house built in 1976 isn't that old. Nearly all of the City of SD had been built out by then, except possibly 92139 and other later-annexed zip codes which are not completely contiguous to the City (i.e. MM, RB, PQ, Scripps still had land left in 1976).

Just curious, Canadian, does the house have a sunken living room oriented towards the rear of the house with large windows or 2 sliding glass doors facing the backyard? Is there a (flagstone?) foyer raised a step from the living room and at least 20' wide? Does it have a double (French) front door? Is there a floor-to-ceiling brick or stone FP with a raised hearth between the two sliding glass doors or large windows?

I'm thinking of early/mid 70's ranch-style houses which are only available in two (poss 3) zip codes in the City of SD that I know of. I absolutely LOVE this type of home which is far more prevalent in other southwestern states than SoCal. All the ceilings are a standard 8' foot high and if there is a vault in the sunken LR, it is typically done in cedar and the vault is 18" or less. (No "styrofoam" rough-hewn dark beams ... that was a little later.)

Many '70's era ranch homes have great bones and a nice-sized lot! So, so unlike the econoboxes built on small lots in recent years.

Congrats on finding the home of your dreams! (Even if you have to remove accoustical ceiling, lol.) I think it's pretty tough out there for today's SD County buyers due to prospective equity sellers staying out of the market en masse.

Submitted by bearishgurl on May 2, 2015 - 2:20pm.

svelte wrote:
Not to freak you out, but some insurance companies avoid insuring homes that have had prior claims, even with other owners and insurers. You may want to check with your preferred insurer. I wouldnt mention the prior claim(s) but instead get a quote just to see if they balk.

Besides what was mentioned by other posters, something that would cause me to seriously rethink the purchase would be aluminum wiring...usually only an issue in homes built 1969 to 1975

svelte, I don't know how long one of the Big Insurance Computers in the Sky (CLUE) has been in place but if that leak was fixed 20 or more years ago with insurance proceeds, it is possible that it fell into a deep dark hole by today, meaning CLUE doesn't know about it.

Good advice to NOT MENTION the former leak which was listed on sellers' Transfer Disclosure Statement (but happened at least two owners ago) when getting a insurance quote for a binder.

I'm actually surprised Canadian's seller disclosed the leak at all, since it apparently didn't happen on their "watch."

Submitted by Canadian on May 5, 2015 - 2:11pm.

bearishgurl wrote:

Just curious, Canadian, does the house have a sunken living room oriented towards the rear of the house with large windows or 2 sliding glass doors facing the backyard? Is there a (flagstone?) foyer raised a step from the living room and at least 20' wide? Does it have a double (French) front door? Is there a floor-to-ceiling brick or stone FP with a raised hearth between the two sliding glass doors or large windows?

I'm thinking of early/mid 70's ranch-style houses which are only available in two (poss 3) zip codes in the City of SD that I know of. I absolutely LOVE this type of home which is far more prevalent in other southwestern states than SoCal. All the ceilings are a standard 8' foot high and if there is a vault in the sunken LR, it is typically done in cedar and the vault is 18" or less. (No "styrofoam" rough-hewn dark beams ... that was a little later.)

Many '70's era ranch homes have great bones and a nice-sized lot! So, so unlike the econoboxes built on small lots in recent years.


It is not a ranch-style, but it has some of the features you mentioned like the french door, the fireplace, or the big yard.
bearishgurl wrote:

Congrats on finding the home of your dreams! (Even if you have to remove accoustical ceiling, lol.) I think it's pretty tough out there for today's SD County buyers due to prospective equity sellers staying out of the market en masse.

Thanks! It is not really a dream house; we had to compromise. But we are grateful that in this crazy market we found something that we can call home.

Submitted by Canadian on May 5, 2015 - 2:13pm.

svelte wrote:
Not to freak you out, but some insurance companies avoid insuring homes that have had prior claims, even with other owners and insurers. You may want to check with your preferred insurer. I wouldnt mention the prior claim(s) but instead get a quote just to see if they balk.

I have got a quote from Geico already. They were also ready to send our file to the closing department. Is it possible that they would deny us when it's time to close?

Submitted by AN on May 5, 2015 - 2:33pm.

Deal breaker for me would be crack slab, major roof leaks, termite or spider infestation. Not sure there are much else. I stripped my house to bare walls and put everything back, so the minor stuff doesn't bother me. I actually prefer those type of houses. But I'm crazy like that.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on May 5, 2015 - 2:48pm.

AN wrote:
Deal breaker for me would be crack slab, major roof leaks, termite or spider infestation. Not sure there are much else. I stripped my house to bare walls and put everything back, so the minor stuff doesn't bother me. I actually prefer those type of houses. But I'm crazy like that.

I agree. Even cracked slab is not such a big deal. I know that a guy who about a house on the hill w/ cracked slab. He got 1/2 off at the bottom. Now it's worth 3 times more, after repairs and remodel.

What's wrong with spiders?

Submitted by AN on May 5, 2015 - 3:38pm.

FlyerInHi wrote:
I agree. Even cracked slab is not such a big deal. I know that a guy who about a house on the hill w/ cracked slab. He got 1/2 off at the bottom. Now it's worth 3 times more, after repairs and remodel.

What's wrong with spiders?

Crack slab is only a deal breaker because most of the time, you'd have to pay cash for it. I don't think you can get a loan with a house with a crack slab. I looked at one before and I was told it would be an all cash deal, since I won't be able to get a loan. Maybe that is changed now.

As for spiders, I'm partially arachnophobic.

Submitted by SD Realtor on May 7, 2015 - 7:59pm.

AN it is an indirect lack of financing. That is, you cannot get homeowners insurance on a home with a cracked slab. Without the insurance you cannot get financing. Although if the appraiser noted a cracked slab then the originator of the loan probably wouldn't do the deal. You can get cracked slab deals done but getting an arrangement prior to even attempting to get the financing is the best way around it.

Agreed about the deal breaker stuff. I have seen many a buyer walk away from homes over things I personally would not sweat.

To each his own though right?

Submitted by moneymaker on May 7, 2015 - 9:00pm.

What about knob n tube wiring? I hear it is illegal, will a house with this be able to get a loan? See it on TV shows all the time not sure how common it is here in CA.

Submitted by Hatfield on May 8, 2015 - 12:29am.

Knob and tube was phased out around 1940 or so. If it's in good condition it's not inherently dangerous (the house has survived this long, hasn't it?). It can be hazardous to folks working in the crawlspace, tho. We have a 1929 rental unit that had been remodeled a few times but still had some live knob and tube wiring, and several years ago a pipe broke loose and made contact, and boy that sure caused some excitement. After that we had an electrician go through and replace all the knob and tube with modern grounded electrical.

Submitted by SD Realtor on May 8, 2015 - 10:51am.

Understand, the lender does not look at the physical inspection report. They do review the appraisal. Homes with cracked slabs are not insurable and thus the lender will not originate a loan. The same is not true for wiring unless it is something noted and commented on by the appraiser.

Once again, items that can be remedied should not prevent someone from buying a home unless the price is prohibitive...

We all have our own thresholds as to what "prohibitive" is.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.