Probably the last place you want to visit during the hot days of June is the stuffy upstairs attic of your home or the home you are planning to purchase. But attics can be a source of problems, and it is important for you to have yours checked-out by a qualified home inspector before you buy. If you are a proactive seller you may also want to hire an inspector to first illuminate any trouble areas that need attention before you list the home.
Check your written report, and if anything in the attic has been highlighted for further investigation or otherwise flagged by the inspector, pay attention to that. Talk it over with the inspector if needed, to fully understand what they observed. Because there are a lot of different things going on in an attic, the kinds of issues that might be brought to your attention can vary quite a bit, and below are some examples of common things the inspector may notice.
• Before the inspector even accesses that uppermost space, they will likely do a preliminary inspection of the ladder, stairway, or other access point that you use to get into the attic. If the ladder is not sturdy, stable, and safe, for instance, that may be flagged in the report for repairs.
• Similarly, if the door, trapdoor, or other portal leading to the attic does not close and seal tightly – which could mean that heated or cooled air from the home’s interior is leaking into the attic – that might be a situation the inspection calls to your attention to help you save on energy bills.
• Once inside the attic, the inspector will look for a light in that confined space in case someone needs to go up there. If the fixture doesn’t work or needs a new light bulb, for instance, or the wiring is frayed and unsafe then that, too, can be a red flag issue. In fact, any wiring in the attic should be properly installed and insulated so if the inspector notices anything amiss, it will be noted in the report.
• Is there are water heater in the attic? Is it in good working condition? If not, it could malfunction and that could create a problem of flooding through the attic into your home. In some cases, when the safety valve on a water heater corrodes and locks-up, the appliances can even get pressurized and explode. But have no fear, because your inspector will alert you to any symptoms that your water heater needs to be repaired or replaced.
• Attic floors need to be properly insulated, too, in order to converse energy and keep your home comfortable. Your home may have a fan, turbine, or vent in the attic – or a vent in the ridge of the roof, too, and those should be working as intended.
• If windows in the attic have cracked or missing panes, that can be a problem – or an invitation to birds and rodents to move into the attic. That leads to another potential source of attic problems, invasive critters or insects which may be flagged by a home inspector who notices signs of infestation or incursion.
What to Do Next
• Depending upon what kinds of issues were detected or mentioned in the report, you should then contact the appropriate kind of qualified contractors and have them take a closer look. if there is a problem, get estimates from at least three of them for how much they would charge to remedy the situation.
• If the repairs are relatively minor that could possibly be a do-it-yourself project. But be sure you know what you’re doing, otherwise if your repair is inadequate it will simply complicate things and could jeopardize the sale of your home with further delays and negotiations.
• When selling a home you have options regarding who pays for what. You can refuse to do the repairs, which may cause the buyer to back out of the deal. Or you can pay to have the repairs done to the buyer’s satisfaction and complete the transaction. You may also deduct those costs from the sales price. In that case the buyer usually agrees to do the repairs themselves after they move into the home.
It is always prudent to have your inspector return for a follow-up inspection after you have completed any required repairs, to ensure they were done correctly.