In my experience as a Home Inspector, I've compiled a list of the 12 most common defects that are included in my reports. These are all very inexpensive or no cost repairs, but can lead a potential buyer to scrutinize the rest of the home more closely.
1. Furnace needs serviced and cleaned, filters need changed. Furnaces are often in hard-to-reach places like a crawl space or attic, and therefore, neglected by the homeowner.
2. Landscape grading. The soil around the foundation should slope away from the structure, approximately 1 inch per foot for at least 6 feet.
3. Gutters and downspouts not functioning properly. Gutters are often clogged with debris, and downspouts won't carry water away from the foundation.
4. Loose toilets. At the floor, toilets should be tightened securely to the flange.
5. Moisture or water in the crawl space or basement. This is usually caused by item #2 or #3, above, or both. Ninety-eight percent of water seepage is caused by roof and yard runoff; the other two percent is caused by springs or rising water tables.
6. Windows. Windows often have broken seals (dual pane) or binding, sticking, and/or are painted shut.
7. Electrical panels not labeled properly. Remember to label breakers as “north bedroom receptacles,” not “Tommy’s bedroom.”
8. Receptacles. Receptacles are often not wired properly, or have reversed polarity or open grounds.
9. Dryer vent terminates in crawlspace. Either the dryer vent simply terminates in the crawlspace, or the flexible plastic piping has been broken or detached and is not detected by the homeowner.
10. Fireplace needs cleaned/serviced.
11. Chimney cap needs repaired. The concrete top (cap) of the chimney will crack and deteriorate over time, which will allow water to penetrate the chimney. Annual chimney and fireplace inspection is recommended.
12. Trees, shrubs, and vines are too close (or on) the house. The mature size of shrubs and trees should be considered when landscaping. If they touch or overhang the house, they're too close.
None of these problems are serious, but they can become major defects if not addressed in a timely manner. If you're selling your home, addressing these issues now can save time and money and make your house more marketable to a prospective buyer. These can also be “red flag” issues for the Home Inspector -- if these simple items have been neglected, chances are many other items have been neglected as well, and he'll be on the lookout for them.