Common Repairs Found During Inspections

“After you put a propety under contract, it’s time to have it inspected. This can be as scary (or scarier) than the initial contract negotiation, and sometimes it’s more work. It’s important to understand what to expect during an inspection. As homes get older, it’s normal for them to need repairs. Construction standards change and get better, so older homes will often have outdated systems, as well. Understanding this before you have the property inspected helps you get through the process with less stress.

Major Systems in Homes of Any Age

 

  • Foundation / Slab
    Foundation engineering has improved dramatically since the 1990s, so you see less issues with newer homes. However, foundation problems can happen in any home in central Texas due to our expansive clay soil. The good news is that properties usually don’t start suddenly moving, so if a property is within tolerance now, there’s a great chance that it won’t have problems in the future. Foundation repair is expensive and very involved. This is often a “deal killer”.
  • HVAC (Air Conditioner) 
    HVAC systems are generally $8000-$12,000 per unit if they need to be replaced. They will typically have a lifespan of 15-20 years before they need to be replaced. You don’t proactively replace an old air conditioner, but you will usually replace an older system when it does finally break. (We have seen systems as old as 30 years still chugging along, but that’s probably just luck!)
  • Roof 
    Roofs are built with 20 or 30-35 year shingles (sometimes there are 50 year metal or tile roofs, but this isn’t as common.) Shingle roofs are typically $10k to $15k, but the price does vary based on the size of the roof. Inspectors will usually say a roof is “at the end of its useful life” when it’s a 15 year old roof that’s rated for 20 years or when it’s a 20-25 year old roof rated for 30 years.
    * How to tell the difference between a 20 and 30 year shingle (link to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTuz7ybItfI )
    * Skyview Estimator: Paid Service to Measure a Roof
  • Hot Water Heater
    A traditional hot water heater will last 10-15 years (and sometimes up to 20.) They’re relatively simple machines and don’t usually break, but the tank will eventually fail. When that happens, it’s $1500-$2000 to replace it. Tankless water heaters have more moving parts, so do break and are repaired. They’re $3500-$4000 to replace.

Homes Built from 2000 to Present

Homes built in the past 20 years don’t have many common issues. It’s important to be aware of the major systems listed above and you can also expect many minor items to be called out on the inspection.

 

  • R22 Coolant in HVAC Systems
    R22 coolant was used in most HVAC systems until 2010 and it was a known to deplete the ozone layer. In 2010, the EPA. stopped the sale of new air conditioning units that use R22. In 2020, the US banned the manafacture or import of R22. Because of this, most HVAC systems built in 2010 or earlier that use R22 (which is most systems built during this time) are obsolete. If the coolant leaks, you cannot refill it. If the system breaks, most HVAC techs will recommend a total replacement.
  • Fogged Windows 
    All homes built from 2000 to present will have double paned (and sometimes triple paned) windows, which is great. When double paned windows lose their seals, they will fog, which isn’t great. This is a cosmetic issue, but they do look bad, and they will be written up in the inspection. It is roughly $200 per window to replace the panes.

Homes Built from 1990-2000

 

  • Fogged Windows
    Most homes built from 2000 to present will have double paned windows, which is great. When double paned windows lose their seals, they will fog, which isn’t great. This is a cosmetic issue, but they do look bad, and they will be written up in the inspection. It is roughly $200 per window to replace the panes.
  • Masonite Siding
    This is a siding material that is no longer in use because it is a poor product. Masonite is a pressboard product that will soak in water and then deteriorate. Masonite siding is not a problem with regular maintenance (paint) but many homes built in the 1990s have not been perfectly maintained, so it’s normal to see issues. Replacing all of the siding is very costly. You can typically replace sections of the siding and repaint as a much more cost effective solution.

Homes Built from 1970-1990

 

  • Aluminum Wiring (1968-1976)
    Aluminum wiring was very common during these years, but you sometimes see aluminum wiring in homes built in other years from 1960-1990. Aluminum is less than ideal because it expands and contracts as it heats and cools, which can cause the connection points to loosen over time. You do not need to replace aluminum wiring (per code.) There are different opinions on the subject, but it’s code to either pigtail the aluminum/copper connections or to replace the outlets with CO/AL rated outlets.
  • Foundation Problems
    Foundation design was better in the 1980s than the 1970s and it was better in the 1970s than the 1960s, but it wasn’t great in any decade. In Austin, there is more expansive clay as you head east. It’s a good idea to be more aware of a property’s foundation as you look at older homes and as you head east. There are some neighborhoods in Austin with known foundation problems and we can help you identify when you’re looking in one of these neighborhoods.
  • Federal Pacific Electrical Panel
    “FedPac” panels were one of the most common electrical panels from the 1950s to 1980s. Federal Pacific lost a lawsuit in 2005 and is no longer in business. There are no conclusive studies to determine if there is additional risk to owning a home with a FedPac panel (and there are still millions of homes with these panels) but inspectors will always call out these panels and electricians will always recommend that you replace them. More Information is Available Here.
  • Single Paned Windows
    Double paned windows didn’t exist until the 1980s and weren’t common until the 1990s. When you’re looking at homes built in the 1980s or earlier, it’s great to take note of whether or not the windows have been replaced with double paned windows. Double paned windows look nicer, they block noise, and they’re far more energy efficient than single pane.

Homes Built from 1960-1970

 

  • Cast Iron Plumbing
    Cast iron plumbing was used in almost every home built pre-1970. This is the sewer line that runs under the house and to the street (in the ground.) Cast iron rusts over time and will fail. It’s a very expensive fix in the tens of thousands. When looking at older homes, it’s very important to note if the sewer lines have been replaced or not.
  • Outdated Electrical Panels
    We see many Federal Pacific electrical panels in homes built in the 1960s, but almost every panel installed in this decade is now considered outdated. It’s great to look to see if the electrical panel and service have been updated. If they haven’t, it’s almost certain that an inspector will call this out and an electrician will recommend a replacement.
  • Aluminum Wiring (1968-1976)
    Aluminum wiring was very common during these years, but you sometimes see aluminum wiring in homes built in other years from 1960-1990. Aluminum is less than ideal because it expands and contracts as it heats and cools, which can cause the connection points to loosen over time. You do not need to replace aluminum wiring (per code.) There are different opinions on the subject, but it’s code to either pigtail the aluminum/copper connections or to replace the outlets with CO/AL rated outlets.
  • Foundation Problems
    Foundation design was relatively new in the 1960s, so it’s common to see problems. Most homes built in the 1960s have foundation movement that is beyond tolerance if the home is east of Mopac. Homes west of Mopac sit on more stable soil (limestone) so foundation problems aren’t as common.
  • Single Paned Windows
    No homes built in the 1960s had double paned windows, but many have been replaced over the years. It’s a great idea to take note of this when shopping.

Homes Built Pre-1960

 

  • Foundation Problems (Pier & Beam)
    Slab foundation engineering began in the 1950s and it’s common to see issues in homes east of Mopac. Many homes built in the 1950s are on a pier and beam (crawlspace) foundation and almost all homes built pre-1950 are on pier and beam. This type of foundation is less expensive to fix than a slab, but it’s very common for them to be out of level. It’s so common, in fact, that it’s normal to “shim” a pier and beam slab every 10 years to correct the movement.
  • Cast Iron Plumbing
    Cast iron plumbing was used in almost every home built pre-1960. This is the sewer line that runs under the house and to the street (in the ground.) Cast iron rusts over time and will fail. It’s a very expensive fix in the tens of thousands. When looking at older homes, it’s very important to note if the sewer lines have been replaced or not.
  • Outdated Electrical Panels
    Amost every panel installed pre-1960 decade is now considered outdated. It’s great to look to see if the electrical panel and service have been updated. If they haven’t, it’s almost certain that an inspector will call this out and an electrician will recommend a replacement.
  • Ungrounded Electrical Outlets
    You can tell if the outlets are ungrounded because they will be 2-prong (instead of 3.) If this is the case, then there’s no ground. Beyond the fact that you have to buy an adapter to plug in lots of electronics, the lack of a ground is a safety hazard. Grounding every outlet is expensive. You can install GFCI outlets throughout as a less expensive solution that is per code. Many electricians will recommend grounding one outlet per room as a less expensive solution that is much safer than ungrounded outlets.
  • Asbestos Siding
    Asbestos siding is extremely common in homes built pre-1960. Hey, asbestos is a great insulator! The good news is that asbestos siding becomes a problem only when it’s crushed and the dust gets into the air. If you choose to replace the siding, there is an additional disposal cost for asbestos, so it’s more expensive to replace than any other type of siding.

This list doesn’t encompass everything you’ll find on an inspection, but these are high impact items that are great for you to be aware of. Please reach out to us if you have questions over anything here or any other repair items!

Buyer Resources
First Time Home Buyers CLICK HERE
Relocating To Austin? CLICK HERE

1800+ Client reviews!

Niharika Hubli

Working with Lauren Yoder and Sarah Crowson has been an absolute pleasure as my husband and I ventured to buy our first home in Austin, TX.

They were patient with us through out the process allowing us to digest it all make clear decisions. While we bought our home while physically being in California, it brought a lot of challenges with viewing, closing etc. Lauren and Sarah made it a priority to include us in all steps of the process and went above and beyond to keep us in the loop and make sure we are comfortable!

If you are looking to buy a property in Austin, I highly recommend Lauren and Sarah from Bramlett Residential. They are professional, friendly, honest, extremely resourceful and make buying a home easy!

Derek Gaskamp

Chris Kirk helped us look for a house in the Austin area and found an amazing property that we were going to close on in the North Austin area. Then at the last minute, work took us to San Antonio instead. Rather than ignoring us once we told him about our change of location, Chris pointed us to a great agent in San Antonio who helped us close on a new home this April. The entire time we worked with our new agent, Chris stayed in contact to see how things were going, from the time we started looking until we closed and even after. Even after we moved in, Chris made sure to reach out and see if there was anything he could help us with. All around professional and phenomenal guy!

Steve Ziessler

Kasey recently helped my wife and me with both the sale of our home as well as the purchase of a new home in Austin Texas. My wife and I have worked with over 15 real estate brokers and agents on several real estate transactions over the years and I can say with confidence that Kasey is the best we have ever partnered with. Kasey has the qualities that make her an extremely successful and effective real estate agent. I can’t say enough about her professionalism and knowledge within the industry. She has extremely high integrity, very conscientious, tenacious and a great advisor while always keeping the client’s best interests in mind. Kasey is a pleasure to work with!!!

Bethany Smith

Erin Szczerba is the absolute best! She found us the perfect gem of a house! Erin was thorough, professional and great to work with. She kept us apprised on all the necessary details and worked hard to ensure a smooth closing transaction, even with us being 1,000 miles away. She was honest and forthright – no games. After dealing with many agents across the USA over the years, we can honestly say Erin is incredible! She stands out from the crowd! Highly recommend!

Westley Burger

We were first-time home buyers in the crazy Austin market and Erin Szczerba was an amazing agent who helped us successfully find a great home. She helped us learn about the buying process and had a lot of great advice along the way. Erin was very responsive and was able to set up viewings for us on short notice which was very helpful in the hot Austin market.The financing team that she recommended was also a great resource and was able to help us put offers in on short notice. With Erin’s help, we were able to get a winning offer in our our house just a couple hours after seeing it on a Saturday morning. We are very grateful to her for all her help and would definitely recommend her to anyone looking to buy in Austin region!

Kim Ziessler

Kasey Gilliam with Bramlett Residential Real Estate is by far the best realtor I have ever worked with. Eric Bramlett the owner has also been great through the entire process. My husband and I have bought and sold over 15 homes in the last 40 years so we have a lot of realtors to compare her too. Kasey is a true professional in every since of the word. She showed us a lot of homes over the last 1 1/2 years but never wasted our time with homes she knew wouldn’t work for us. Her honesty and her attention to detail was spot on. She was always accessible no matter when we contacted her. Kasey and her assistant Kim worked hard from showings, offers, contracts, working with title companies and other realtors. I would recommend Kasey Gilliam to my family and friends or anyone looking to buy and/or.sell in Austin. Trust me she works hard and knows her stuff.

Herminia Silva

My husband and I sold our house in North Austin, Texas with the help and beautiful work of Kasey Gilliam and a team from Bramlett Residential Real Estate. We were thinking that the process of selling our house would be stressful and tedious, but was exciting every day. Up to date information was giving from the agency each time a house was listed in our area, and helped us to determined the most competitive price for our house with great results. They helped us in every stage of the process, from making our house attractive for a good price for listing it, to maintaining it in good shape, to until the closing process. We are so satisfied that we recommend their services.

Katie Steadman

Trey Blanco helped us buy our first home in one of the hottest markets in the country and we couldn’t be more thrilled! We are so grateful to have had Trey on our side, and can’t recommend him enough.

Rachel Drew

Kasey Gilliam with Eric Bramlett Residential successfully guided us through the house selling process from the very start when we were planning to sell, through deciding what improvements to make, taking photographs, listing, and closing. From the very beginning of our conversation, we knew we’d scored a pro who we could trust to give us solid advice and keep us on track, and that is exactly how it went down. She kept us apprised of the market with just the right amount of email updates. She was willing to work with our timeline, even when it changed a bit, and kept all the details managed and smooth, so that we didn’t need to. I would recommend her without hesitation to anyone looking to sell.

Ross G

Chris Kirk has been working with us in the Austin area looking for a home for the past several months and was there working diligently every step of the way. From looking at and scheduling viewings and working with other relators and business to help get us what we wanted. Chris was always knowledgeable and compassionate with our needs and fears, and never once left us hanging and if he said he was going to do something or check on it, it was always taken care of. Communication was out standing and he always made sure we understood what was going on and was willing to answer any question we had. Chris was spot on with his readings of the market and finding us the right house for our needs. He really does treat you like family and to me there are no better hands to trust a very serious purchase to. Even after the purchase he is there to help and work with you and that is some amazing customer service.

George Ting

Agent: Linda Baddour I rarely write reviews, and almost never 5 stars. However, my experience with Linda was far beyond any I have had with other (many) realtors, and I really have no criticisms or suggestions to her at all. She had excellent knowledge of local market, Especially north Austin where she has greatest familiarity. She listened well!! Can’t do well without doing that. Showed appropriate homes, and knowledgeable about each one. Very accommodative for intense 48 hours of driving around as I am out of towner. Suggested good bids which were successful resulting in purchasing 2 homes in that time frame. Then meticulously followed up on every detail, setting up inspections, getting amendments, getting repairs, following up, and closing smoothly. I was out of town after making the offers, and she performed as if I were looking over her shoulder. Excellent communicator, people skills and a pleasure to work with. I have recommended her to others where I am and they will seek her out as remote investors, given my experience.

Sandy

Our experience with Becky was exceptional. She is amazing and great! We worked with several realtors in the past but nobody was even close to what Becky did for us! I’d give her 10/10 hands-down. Don’t think just call her and she is great to work with. Very dedicated, punctual, proactive! BEYOND EXPECTATIONS! Exceeds expectations!! Way to go, Becky. Great to work with you and Bramlett ofcourse is doing a great job of hiring stellar people 🙂