3 Huge Hidden Repair Expenses You Need To Know Before Buying a Home 

These ‘out of sight, out of mind’ issues could end up costing you tens of thousands in repairs

While purchasing a home is exciting, it also comes chalk-full of stress and anticipation of what’s to come.  Here’s how the home buying process usually goes:

  1. You partner with a realtor and look at several houses.
  2. You find what you think is your dream home.
  3. You put an offer in on that home and negotiate with the seller.
  4. You hire a home inspector to make sure the home is in good shape.
  5. You close on the home and live happily ever after.

If only it was that easy.  Each of those steps require money, time and a significant amount of due diligence to be sure you’re making a smart home buying decision.  And, even when you think you are, there could be ‘hidden monsters’ that were missed in the process.

Here are three important factors to consider during your home inspection phase.  They’re under the surface and you’ll want to pay extra attention to them so you can avoid spending thousands of dollars down the line.

  1. Drain Lines

Here in Florida we’re so close to sea-level that a lot of salt ends up in our soil.  Over time the build-up of salt can cause drain lines to errode and begin to crack sometimes faster than in other areas of the country .  All of this happens under your home, so you can’t see it, which means it can’t be detected during your normal home inspection.

It it critical that you hire a plumber to perform a sewer inspection before closing on a home.  The plumber will place a small camera down your drain line and look for cracks, corrosion and communicate any damage that might come along in the future.

Here’s why this inspection is really important:

  • If the home is older, there is likely galvanized piping underneath, which eventually means rust.  The sharp, rusty ends of the pipe can start grabbing debris (like toilet paper), which builds up over time, causing clogs and cracks.  If the line is broken, the plumbing repairs can cost on average $2500. However, that’s not the end of it. The only way to get to the drain line is through the foundation of the house, so floors will need to be cut into as well.

In other words, your new home excitement will quickly turn to dread, as the total cost to replace the line and floors can end up being $25,000 to $30,000, depending on the size of the home, which lines need to be replaced and the type of floors you have.

  • If the home is newer, you’ll be safe from galvanized piping because PVC was likely used.  However, drain lines work on the principle of gravity, so if the soil under the home wasn’t completely level before building started, your drain lines will have problems running downhill.  You’ll experience back pitching, which means frequent clogs, and therefore frequent drain clearings.

Drain line issues aren’t necessarily a deal breaker when purchasing a home, but you’ll want to understand the total cost of the repairs you’re facing.  A $250-400 sewer inspection will be well worth it as it will tell you the full story and put you in the driver’s seat.

  1. Mold

It’s easy to spot mold as you walk through a home.  But, what about what lies beneath the surface? An overall air quality inspection will uncover problems hidden within the ductwork and walls (all the places you can’t see).  Running air samples will uncover hidden mold growth that an inspector wouldn’t normally catch.

In Florida, providers must have a license to test for mold.  If your home inspector doesn’t have one, hire a service that does.  You don’t want to end up in a situation where the previous owner had a flood or a leak that resulted in mold, and they covered it up by paint.  It happens more than you think and can be an expensive problem to fix.

  1. Polybutylene Piping

Several years ago there was a Class Action Lawsuit because of continuous problems with polybutylene piping inside homes.  What they discovered was the pipe fittings were failing. For homes that have polybutylene piping today, it is recommended that the entire house be re-piped to avoid the failed fittings.

This is another issue that your home inspector probably won’t find, simply because they can’t see it.  Yes, your inspector thoroughly inspects the piping from the sink, and he’ll probably see copper pipes coming out from the wall.  What he won’t see is that the copper is only on the outside of the wall.  What’s on the inside could be polybutylene piping, in which case, you’ll want to know the cost to replace it.

Final Tips

  • So, why aren’t home inspectors finding these damages?  Most of the time, they’re completing a surface-level, non-invasive inspection.  They can’t cut into walls and floors to look for hidden problems. Using licensed professionals who are experts in these specific areas is a smart choice when buying a home.
  • Once you’ve closed on your house, your insurance company has 60 days to complete their own inspection.  In Florida, we’re finding that insurance companies don’t want to cover homes with old plumbing. In fact, many won’t offer insurance without the monsters listed above being fixed first.  This means thousands of dollars out of pocket for you. Buyer beware!
  • In Florida, the company that is actually completing the mold testing isn’t allowed to perform the actual remediation as well.  It’s a conflict of interest and something that protects you as the homeowner. So, you’ll need to find a reputable company to test and another to repair.

You’re about to invest hundreds of thousands of your hard-earned money into a new home.  Do your due-diligence before closing and you’ll end up enjoying the house of your dreams rather than constantly finding new monsters lying around it.