7 Surprising Things That Fail a Home Inspection and How to Fix Them

Peter Chambers

Jun 4, 2024

things that fail a home inspection

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Your home must first pass inspection before you can get it off the market. Apparent issues like a cracked foundation, structural defects and damaged roofing are automatic red flags. But there are other potential things that fail a home inspection you should be aware of if you want a smooth transaction. 

1. Ground Sloping Toward the House

Ideally, your yard ground should have at least a 3% slope away from your house to allow rainwater to flow properly and prevent water pooling near your property. However, this can often change, especially when you do intense landscaping work or frequent natural disasters like erosion. In any case, a good home inspector will check the ground slope leading up to your home and flag it as an inspection fail if it’s not up to par. 

Potential fix: Hire a professional to use topsoil to create an appropriate ground slope around your property. Make sure the incline lowers the further you move away from the structure. 

2. Thick Cluster of Trees Nearby 

Having lots of trees around your property can be a good thing — ample shade, improved air quality, reduced heat and more. However, it could also be problematic if these trees are too close to your house. Several species, including poplars, oaks and sycamores, have intrusive roots that will likely extend towards your home’s foundation. Left unchecked, this intrusion could cause structural damage, leaving the buyer with a hefty remediation bill. 

Potential fix: Trimming tree roots can prevent them from growing toward the foundation. You can also install root barriers to control the direction of their growth. Ideally, you want to do this months before selling your house. 

3. Inadequate Ventilation and Insulation 

With heating and cooling costs rising steadily in recent years, proper insulation and ventilation will feature more prominently in home inspection checklists. These elements are also essential for preventing moisture-related issues, so expect prospective homebuyers to emphasize them, too. Inspectors will check for good airflow and weatherstripping in the attic, bathroom, kitchen and crawl spaces. 

Potential fix: Improving insulation can be as simple as installing new insulation materials around your home. Ventilation can be trickier as it may involve extensive layout changes. Either way, speak to a professional contractor about what improvements they can implement without setting you back too much. 

4. Low Water Pressure

Poor water pressure is one of those standout things that fail a home inspection because no one wants to live in a house where access to water is irregular. This issue could result from clogged pipelines or low-diameter piping, indicative of bigger plumbing problems. Conversely, an exceedingly high water pressure can also be a red flag, as it can wreak havoc on the plumbing infrastructure. Optimal water pressure ranges between 40-80 psi.

Potential fix: Hire a local plumber to diagnose water pressure irregularities and make the necessary repairs or replacements. 

5. Fireplace and Chimney Issues

A fireplace and chimney in poor condition might cause your home to fail an inspection. Soot buildup and pest infestations are hazardous and the inspector will likely flag them. Related systems and accessories like dampers and smoke detectors must also be in tip-top shape.

Potential fix: Schedule a professional chimney and fireplace cleaning before the inspection. This will give you an idea of possible issues that require attention. 

6. Door and Window Hardware 

The windows and doors in your home are essential for safety and aesthetics. If they’re not functioning correctly, prospective buyers may take issue. Inspectors will likely look for broken or malfunctioning locks and check whether the systems are easy to operate. They will also check for large uneven spacing at the top of closed doors and windows, which may indicate possible structural problems. 

Potential fix: While door and window repairs or replacements are not always expensive, they can become a much bigger job if the problem results from structural issues. Your local contractor might be able to perform an inspection to identify the root cause and apply fixes. 

7. GFCI Outlets

GFCIs may come up for discussion during a home inspection, particularly with regard to their location and function. These outlets cut off power whenever the electrical current doesn’t follow its intended path, making them a critical safety feature. GCFIs should be installed everywhere moisture is present, such as in the kitchen, bathroom and sump pumps. If a GFCI is defective or missing, the inspector will document this in their report.

Potential fix: Get an electrician to test all GFCI outlets around your home, ensuring they are functioning properly and are installed in the right places. 

What Is the Biggest Red Flag in a Home Inspection?

The biggest concern among the many things that fail a home inspection is foundation issues. These problems are the most complex to remediate. You can repair siding, replace roofing systems and install new windows, but addressing foundation damage will likely cost a lot of money and require significant time to fix. 

The Importance of Passing a Home Inspection

Once an inspector identifies major issues, it becomes incredibly difficult to sell your home without fixing them unless you accept a lowball offer. Understandably, you don’t want to do that, so it’s essential to check these issues out and get them fixed before listing your property. 

What happens if your home fails inspection?

One of three things will likely happen following a failed home inspection. First, the buyer may request a concession, which removes the cost of repairs and replacements from the purchase price.  In this scenario, the buyer would pay for the fixes after the deal closes.

Second, the buyer can explicitly ask you to apply all the necessary repairs before closing. Obviously, you don’t want the deal to fall through because of an inspection concern, because then you’re back to square one. 

Third, the buyer may choose to simply walk away from the deal. This will likely occur if the inspection report reveals huge problems that they’re not willing to put up with. 

How Long Does a Home Inspection Take? 

A typical home inspection takes approximately 2 to 3 hours to complete. The duration may be longer if it involves specialized checks like pest or moisture infiltration. An older home with aging, faulty components may also require longer inspections. It will take around 1 to 3 days to receive the report detailing the state of the property. 

Tackle All the Things That Fail a Home Inspection

Don’t fret if your home fails an inspection. It is a common occurrence among many sellers. Nevertheless, you should still make the necessary effort to ensure your property has a clean bill of health before putting it on the market. Proactive awareness and willingness to deal with problems quickly will help ensure a straightforward transaction and leave both parties satisfied after closing. 

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