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Top 6 Things That Make a House a Lemon

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Inspector Spotlight

Contributing writer of this Article is my long time Inspector Marc Thibodeau.  Contact him anytime if you need advice or have concerns about a property you are considering purchasing.  You can reach Marc at marc@knowyourhouse.com.

The Top 6 Issues

The Top 6 issues that Home Inspectors find (most frequently) that make a house  a LEMON –  

– The first two are Structural Issues & Basement Moisture. 

Read the full list for the warning signs a Buyer (or Home Owner) should look for.

Home Inspectors do not like to call a house a ‘lemon’, but there are definitely issues that come up that will raise serious red flags for potential Buyers. 

It is important that a Buyer look over their potential new home (even dream home) with a Professional Home Inspector, in case these issues are present. It is equally important that a Seller have their Real Estate Agent hire an Home Inspector to pre-inspect the property before going on the market. 

*You can request my top 5 Reasons to Pre-inspect your Home before Listing your home for Sale to understand why it is crucial to add this step to your preparations  before  going on the market (and btw – I do this for every Listing).

1) Major Structural issues –  Bowed or cracked foundations, settling piers, rotted floor framing etc. These problems are difficult & expensive to deal with and will often cause a Buyer to walk away. 


2) Basement Moisture – is probably the most significant & difficult problem to remedy. It is the most alarming to Buyers. One would be ill advised to put their house on the market with significant basement moisture issues. A good Home Inspector is likely to uncover the problem, and, if they don’t, there is a high risk of litigation when the problem becomes apparent to the new Home Owners. It is always much better to deal with the situation before listing the house, or at least to disclose the problem to any potential Buyers.

3) Grow op Houses – The possible negative effects on a house that has been used as a grow-op cannot be understated.  The problems that can be caused from such an operation are manifest.  Removal of walls for added space, excessive weight on the floor structures and excessive moisture could have resulted in significant structural damages.  Excessive moisture can cause mold and mildew which may or may not be visible.  Electrical tampering, such as bypassing the electrical meter, overloading circuits, or using substandard wiring could have created electrical and fire hazards.  Furthermore, all of these possible issues will often leave a grow-op house with a stigma that can make it difficult to finance, insure and even make it difficult to sell in the future.

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4) Electrical Issues – These can range from obsolete forms of wiring (knob and tube), to damaged wiring & fixtures, to poor workmanship & amateur tampering. Home Buyers see electrical problems as hazardous and even potentially lethal, as they should. It is therefore a very good idea to have an Electrician or Home Inspector look over the electrical system so that any significant issues can be found for a Buyer or rectified by a Seller (before going on the market). 

5) Plumbing – Some older kinds of plumbing, and even some newer ones, can be obsolete, defective, at risk of leakage and sometimes not even insurable. Rectifying these issues can be very costly & invasive.

6) Mold or asbestos contamination in hidden spaces such as attics or crawlspaces. Few people ever look into the crawlspace of their house and even fewer look into their attic. But a Home Inspector is sure to investigate these areas an such substances could be found, causing difficulties with the transaction. It would be much better to have these areas inspected ahead of time so there are no surprises

Do you notice a pattern?  Some of these items are often not known by the Home Owner but a good Real Estate Agent knows that these  issues could & should be dealt with before a Buyer & their Home Inspector visit and discover them first. If it is discovered that way (too late for you to remedy), it could cause the Buyer to withdraw their conditional offer on your home and your home sale just went up in smoke. 

There are ways to deal with homes with these problems – contact me if you would like information on how to address these situations.

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Christine Domina

Hi there! My name is Christine and I grew up in this area. I have been a Realtor over 15 years but when I’m not making my clients’ dreams come true, I enjoy spending my time doing anything on the water, gardening, going to the Farmers Market on Saturdays at Morrow Park or enjoying a Music Fest Concert at Del Crary Park. I currently live in Peterborough with my two pups, Theodore & Yogi. See you around town!

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