It can be heartbreaking when a home inspector finds major flaws in your dream home. While it’s typical to find minor issues, there are major concerns that should warn you to proceed with caution or walk away from the house completely.

  • Anything to do with asbestos. Many homes built before 1989 contain this hazardous material if the previous owners haven’t already had it removed. If asbestos is still present, it must be removed and properly disposed of by a professional. If that’s the case, this costly job should be factored in before making the decision to bid on the house.
  • Lead paint. In addition to asbestos, older homes may also contain lead paint. This could be a red flag, especially for families with young children, because lead paint is extremely dangerous when consumed. Removing lead paint can also be costly.
  • Electrical or plumbing problems. Many plumbing and electrical problems are small and inexpensive to fix, but some people try to save money by doing projects themselves. If the previous homeowners cut corners with wiring or plumbing, consider repair costs when deciding whether to bid on the house.
  • Roof repairs. A home inspector will be able to help you determine if any roofing issues are minor, or if there is wood or structural damage under the roof. Keep in mind that replacing a roof can cost thousands of dollars, so it’s important to have all the facts from an inspector you trust.
  • Foundation faults. Not all small cracks are deal breakers. When it comes to foundation issues, the main objective is to determine the causes behind cracks. Is it just a minor settling of the structure, or is it more serious, such as large tree roots or poor soil conditions? Once you’ve found the cause of the cracking, you’ll be able to better assess whether you’re willing to move forward.
  • Mold. Not all mold issues are created equal. If mold found in a bathroom can be remedied simply by installing an exhaust fan, it’s not cause for great concern. However, if the home inspector finds mold due to invasive roof leakage, or irrigation or plumbing damage, you may want to research the repair costs before making your final decision on the house.
  • Problem pests. From wood-eating insects such as termites, to rats and mice, pests can damage the structure of a home in many ways. However, not all pest problems are as serious as others. When in doubt, call a pest control company to give you a quote before putting a bid on a house with a rodent or insect problem.
  • Water worries. Be sure to get an explanation for any water damage you discover. Find out if the basement is likely to flood or if rusty pipes played a role. These larger issues should raise a red flag and help you determine if this is a deal breaker for you.

The information uncovered in the home inspection can be used for negotiation with the seller. If the home has major issues, you may ask the seller to fix the problems or drop the asking price so you have extra money to take care of them yourself. If they refuse, it may mean you need to get a good night’s sleep and start looking at different homes in the morning.