Fix it or walk?

Should you get a home inspection before you buy a house? Definitely. In fact, most real estate agents recommend making your offer to purchase contingent on home inspection, right up there with appraisal and financing approval. If your home inspector gives the property two thumbs up, great! But what if your dream home turns out to be in less than tip-top shape?

When it’s worth solving home inspection problems

Should you get a home inspection before you buy a house? Definitely. In fact, most real estate agents recommend making your offer to purchase contingent on home inspection, right up there with appraisal and financing approval.

If your home inspector gives the property two thumbs up, great! But what if your dream home turns out to be in less than tip-top shape?

Do you walk away from the deal with your earnest money intact, or might it be worth hanging in there and solving the issues?

KEEP IN MIND: Any substantial problems can be used as a bargaining chip to renegotiate price. Or the real estate seller may shoulder the burden of getting them repaired.

Read about seven of the most common home inspection problems and find the average cost to fix each one.

1. Outdated and/or dangerous wiring
Faulty wiring tops the list of problematic (not to mention dangerous) home inspection findings. If your inspector finds: A) the electrical power is supplied by an out-of-date system such as knob-and-tube wiring or B) there are indications of dangerous wires, you might need to hire an electrician to rewire the whole house, a major undertaking.
When you just have to replace a few outlets—for example substituting GFI outlet receptacles for the standard variety—the fix will require much less time and money.

AVERAGE:
• Cost to rewire entire house (1200 sq. ft.): $5,750
• Cost to upgrade electrical panel from 60 to 200 amps: $2,150
• Cost to professionally install a GFI outlet: $50 to 100 per hour, plus parts

2. Damp basement
Untreated dampness in the basement will lead to mildew and unhealthy indoor air quality. There are several potential methods to channel outdoor moisture away from the house: A) get the yard properly graded, B) have French drains installed, or C) ensure that all gutters and downspouts are in good shape and correctly positioned.

AVERAGE:
• Cost to grade a yard: $1,960
• Cost to install exterior backyard French drains: $450
• Cost to repair gutters: $345

3. Roof damage
A damaged or aging roof may have blown-off, curling or brittle shingles. Its flashings might be cracked or is missing. Either of these situations is a red flag for future roof leaks (if there is not an active leak already), which in turn eventually result in water damage to the home’s interior.

AVERAGE:
Cost to repair a roof: $845

4. Foundation warning signs
A house foundation in trouble shows distinct warning signs, which only get worse if left unattended. Your home inspector can interpret whether these signals mean, “Beware!” (diagonal cracking, crumbling mortar, bulging walls, sinking) or “This is something you might want to cope with” (vertical crack less than 1/16 inches wide, puddles adjacent to the foundation—see problem 2 above).

For an expert second opinion, consider a consultation with a professional engineer.

AVERAGE:
• Cost to hire a structural engineer: $490
• Cost to repair minor foundation cracks: $500
• Cost of major foundation work: potentially $10,000+

5. Plumbing malfunctions
How might home plumbing go wrong? Let me count the ways. They often start small and turn into a huge headache (and strain on your wallet) over time. Dripping faucets, clogged drains, overly high or low water pressure, a damaged washing machine hose and any sort of plumbing leak will have to be fixed to make the house truly habitable.

AVERAGE:
• Cost to fix plumbing problems: $315 per visit or $122 per hour for multiple repairs
• Cost to replace a water heater: $1,150

6. HVAC hassles
HVAC systems are also subject to a large number of troubles, which range from uncomfortable to downright dangerous. A few common examples are: malfunctioning thermostat, heating or cooling running constantly, noisy system, furnace pilot light that goes out continually and cracked heat exchanger or chimney liner causing carbon monoxide leakage.

AVERAGE:
• Cost to repair heat exchanger: $150
• Cost to repair a furnace: $285
• Cost to repair air conditioning: $355
• Cost to replace chimney flue liner: $2,500

7. Inefficient ventilation
Poor ventilation (such as a vent hood that merely removes kitchen odors and doesn’t vent steam outside) raises the indoor relative humidity level. This leads to condensation on windows and eventually fungi and molds throughout the house. Combined with uber-enthusiastic insulation (seller’s DIY project, perhaps?), it also makes the attic overly hot, which is both energy-inefficient and very hard on the roof.

AVERAGE:
• Cost to install/replace kitchen or bathroom ventilation Fan: $385
• Cost to add roof vents: $475
• Cost to install heat recovery ventilation system: $2050

—Laura Firszt | More Content Now

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass