If you are having a home inspection done to assist you with buying a home, or to help provide expert insight as you prepare to put your home on the market, the issue of painted surfaces may come up in the report.
Every home, even if it is a brick home, has painted surfaces that need to be painted not just so that they look nice, but more importantly so that they function properly. Paint seals and protects a home, so home inspectors will evaluate painted surfaces and then include their observations in the inspection report.
Kinds of Issues That May Arise
Paint may seem minor, especially compared to major components of your home like the electrical wiring, plumbing, foundation, or roof. But if you think of it like the skin of the house, and realize that on our own bodies our skin is actually the largest organ, it is easy to understand why paint is so important. In many ways it is first line of defense.
• Issues related to paint that an inspector may highlight in the report include, for example, paint that is curling and peeling away from a wall or other surface. That may mean that the old, existing paint should be scraped away and replaced with a new fresh layer of paint.
• But peeling can also occur because underlying layers of paint that were applied a long time ago are incompatible with the top layer. If you paint with latex paint over oil paint, for example, or try to apply a new coat of paint without properly prepping the underlying surface, that can cause the new layer to separate from the layer beneath it. In that case it’s necessary to scrape back enough layers to remove the problem and then start over with a new paint job that will hold properly and do its job.
• Another reason paint may peel is if there is paint underneath that contains toxic lead. Many older homes have lead-based paint on them, and to ensure your safety that needs to be carefully removed. That’s particularly true if you have children who are, unfortunately, often most affected by lead paint poisoning.
• There may also be bare or partially bare surfaces – like wood siding, for instance, that need to be repainted in order to keep moisture from damaging them or attracting pests like termites.
• Sometimes bathrooms are painted with a type of paint that does not hold up well against constant humidity and moisture, too, and that may mean that they need to be repainted correctly. Otherwise showering, for example, could create moisture than over time will deteriorate the walls and ceiling in those rooms – creating a much bigger problem.
What to Do Next
Regardless of what the paint-related issue may be that an inspector notices or suspects, it will be written up in the report with a thorough explanation. Depending on the report format your inspector uses, it may also show photos to help you understand what the inspector saw. Study the report carefully and then if you still have questions, consult the inspector.
Then you will want to have a qualified painting contractor do a more in-depth evaluation to identify any real problems. If lead paint is suspected, you’ll also want to have an environmental inspector – a home inspector who specializes in environmental issues – look at the problem areas. That expert can do tests to confirm whether or not the paint in question does actually contain lead.
Once you have a complete understanding of the situation, get bids from 2-3 qualified contractors who can fix the problem, repaint the home, or do whatever is required to remedy the issue.
Negotiating Repair Costs
If the inspection is related to a sales transaction in progress, the seller can do the repairs and pay for them before closing. Or the buyer and seller can just negotiate and perhaps let the buyer do the repairs after closing, in exchange for receiving a cash repair allowance or a discount on the sales price. Of course if the problem is serious enough and the seller refuses to do anything about it, the buyer may decide to walk away from the sale and hunt for a house elsewhere. But usually the Realtors involved can help negotiate a solution that is agreeable to everyone and does not delay or threaten the closing.