Major Red Flags To Look Out for When Conducting a Home Inspection

Buying a home is a big decision. For many of us, it could be one of the biggest decisions we make in our adult lives. Purchasing a house is the culmination of many years of planning and saving, so naturally, you want to make sure that you get it right. 

A house inspection is an essential part of the home buying process. Not only is it a good way to get a proper feel for the property (photos can only go so far!), it also provides you with an opportunity to look out for faults in the property. 


So, how do you make sure that all your hard earned dollars aren’t going straight into a money pit? The answer is simple: the best way to get an accurate assessment of a property is by enlisting the help of a qualified building and pest inspection specialist. In the meantime, however, there are a few things that home buyers can look out for when conducting their initial inspections. From cracked ceilings to damaged roofing, here are just a few red flags to look out for on your next inspection.

What are some big red flags to look out for in a home inspection?

When performing home inspections for the first time, it’s tempting to look out only for the cosmetic features of the property. Although the style and aesthetic of the property is important, it’s also essential that you don’t allow cosmetic considerations to distract you from more serious faults. 

Some major red flags to look out for when conducting a home inspection include:

  1. Pest damage: There’s nothing worse than finding out that your home has a pest problem. Unfortunately, our homes can be hosts to all different sorts of pests, from termites to rats to possums. Not only can these pests be noisy, messy and smelly, they can actually compromise the structural integrity of your home. If a home shows evidence of significant and extensive pest damage, you might want to do some deeper research into the root cause of the problem. Left unattended, a pest problem could have some serious and expensive repercussions in the future. 
  2. Old or damaged roofing: The roof is one of the most important features of any building, so you want to make sure that it’s in great condition. Have a close look at the condition of the roof and see if it has missing, curling, or cracked shingles. If it’s looking worse for wear, it might mean that there’s a full roof reconstruction in your future. Not only is installing a new roof expensive, it’s highly disruptive, so it’s something you want to avoid if possible. 
  3. Cracks in walls and ceilings: Cracks in walls and ceilings are one of the most obvious things to look out for when performing a home inspection. Cracks usually mean that there are some structural issues with the building’s foundation. Although these issues can be fixed, they can be time-consuming and expensive ones to rectify.
  4. Mould and other odd smells: One of the most common problems in properties – especially older properties – is mould. It also happens to be one of the easiest problems to hide. A layer of fresh paint can quite literally cover up the problem, so be sure to look out for fresh paint layers and smells. Damp smells, mould, and mildew all indicate that there may be a water build up somewhere in the property. 

What things fail a building inspection?

Most of us haven’t been trained to identify problems in a building. That’s why hiring a qualified building inspector should be an essential part of any home buying process. These trained individuals will look at the property from the vantage point of a building and construction expert. They’ll be able to identify necessary repairs and defects so that you’ll leave with a clearer picture of the property you’re planning on purchasing. 

Believe it or not, but most properties will have a defect of some kind. However, it’s the major structural defects that will cause a property to ‘fail’ a building inspection. Some of these defects include:

  1. Significant roof damage 
  2. Significant pest infestation or pest damage
  3. Problems with the foundation 
  4. Toxic or chemical hazards 
  5. Water infiltration and damage

What fixes are mandatory after a home inspection?

Every contract and agreement differs slightly from the next, so be sure to read through your specific contract clearly and thoroughly. In most cases, purchasing a property will first involve the signing of a conditional contract. As its name suggests, these types of contracts stipulate that certain conditions must be met before the contract can be closed. 


If your building inspector finds that there are defects in the property, then a few things can happen. If the defects are found to be major, then the contract can be terminated completely. If the defects are found to be minor, then the seller may be asked to repair the defects. In these cases, make sure that you organise another building inspection after the repairs have been done to confirm that the repairs were done to an acceptable standard.

How do you negotiate after a building inspection?

A building inspection report is a powerful tool that works not only to provide you with a clearer picture of the property you’re about to buy, but also to provide you with the means to re-negotiate a deal. If the report finds that there are some defects/issues in the property, you can use this to negotiate a better price. You could offer to repair the defects at your own cost on the condition that the seller lowers their asking price, or you could ask the seller to fix the damages before the deal is finalised. 


Sometimes, you’ll get a seller who isn’t willing to budge. But that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. If you really love the property, then it’s worth looking at other avenues of negotiation. There are plenty of ways to get creative here.  For example, if the seller doesn’t agree to do the repairs, you could instead offer to bear the expenses yourself on the condition that the seller throws in some freebies. Things like refrigerators, lawn mowers, or even moving costs can quickly add up, so it could be a good way to even out costs.


A building inspection is a non-negotiable part of any home-buying process. Not only will it help you get a more accurate picture of the asset you’re about to invest your money into, it’s a powerful negotiating tool that could save you thousands of dollars. 

Here at Jim’s Building Inspections, we provide our customers with a full report after their inspection has been completed – usually within 24 hours. Our inspectors will search for safety hazards, major defects, and minor defects so that you can get a full-picture of what the property is actually like.


With multiple packages to choose from, we can tailor our services to suit your unique needs. So, if you’re looking to buy a property in 2021, don’t hesitate to get in touch to see what we can do for you. Contact us today on 13 15 46 for an obligation-free quote. Or, if you’re in New Zealand, contact Jim’s Building Inspection NZ on 0800 454 654.