What Fixes are Mandatory After a Home Inspection?

Rundown old house

The home inspection process is a critical step when buying a home. Once the inspector presents their findings, the inevitable question arises: "Which of these fixes are mandatory?" Understanding what requires attention versus what's negotiable is crucial for both buyers and sellers. While it is called a repair request and cosmetic issues should be fairly easy to work out between buyer and seller, it's the major repairs needed after a home inspection that we want to discuss. Let's delve into the nuances of post-inspection repairs. Who verifies repairs after a home inspection and what is reasonable to ask for after a home inspection? The answers to these questions and a lot of others can be found below. 

While certain states have different rules and remedies, technically sellers are not obligated to fix anything after a home inspection and it would be up to the buyer if they wanted to proceed with the sale or walk away. The home buyer may decide the cost of repairs would be less than the deposit they could lose or that to make repairs themselves would still put them in the home they wanted. The home inspector or real estate agent should be able to provide a ballpark cost of the repairs needed and/or direct you to contractors who could provide estimates of the list of requested repairs. However if the seller was aware of specific problems with the house which we will discuss below, that would be a material fact, for example after a pest inspection if the house had obvious severe termite damage ( not a common repair) the seller could be forced to return any deposits to the buyer.

What Must A Seller Repair After A Home Inspection?

Some issues highlighted in a home inspection report pose immediate safety risks and, in many cases, are non-negotiable. If you are getting ready to sell your home it's important to know if there are any mandatory repairs a home inspection reveals that must be fixed.

  1. Structural Issues: One of the gravest concerns that can arise during a home inspection is structural deficiencies. A compromised foundation, evident from visible cracks or misaligned doors and windows, is more than an aesthetic concern—it can compromise the entire stability of the house. Similarly, sagging ceilings or bowing walls might be indicative of deeper, long-standing issues, ranging from water damage to inadequate construction. Addressing these problems is crucial not just for the home's longevity but to ensure it's safe for habitation.

  2. Electrical Problems: Electrical systems, though largely invisible behind walls, are the lifeblood of a modern home. Faulty wiring, particularly in older homes that haven't been updated to contemporary standards, is a significant fire hazard. Overloaded circuits, outdated fuse boxes, or visibly frayed and exposed wires are red flags that can't be ignored. Given the potential risk of fires or electrocution, these issues often top the list of mandatory fixes.

  3. Plumbing Concerns: At first glance, a minor leak might seem inconsequential, but plumbing issues can quickly escalate. Chronic leaks can lead to wood rot, mold growth, and significant structural damage over time. Signs of water damage on walls or ceilings, or the more immediate concern of sewage backups, are indicative of a plumbing system in distress. These aren't just expensive issues down the line; they can be genuine health hazards, especially if there's potential for contaminated water.

  4. Roofing: A home's roof serves as its primary defense against the elements. Issues like missing shingles, gaps in flashing, or an old roof nearing the end of its lifespan can jeopardize this defense. While some roofing problems might seem minor on the surface, they can lead to significant water damage, insulation problems, and even structural issues if water infiltrates the home's skeleton. Addressing roofing concerns is about preserving the home's overall integrity.

  5. Mold and Asbestos: Environmental hazards like mold and asbestos are silent, often hidden threats. Mold, which can arise from chronic moisture problems, is not only damaging to a home's structure but can also lead to respiratory issues and other health concerns for inhabitants. Asbestos, commonly found in older homes in insulation, tiles, or siding, becomes a significant risk when it starts deteriorating or is disturbed. Asbestos fibers, when airborne and inhaled, can lead to severe lung conditions, including cancer. The detection of either mold or asbestos warrants immediate professional assessment and remediation.

  6.  Termites: The Silent Destroyers of Homes Termites, often referred to as the "silent destroyers," are notorious for their ability to wreak significant structural damage to homes,termite damage often unbeknownst to the occupants until it's too late. These voracious pests primarily feed on cellulose, which is found in wood, but they can also consume products like paper, insulation, and even certain plastics. Over time, their relentless gnawing can compromise the structural integrity of a building, leading to costly repairs and potential safety hazards. The most insidious aspect of a termite infestation is its covert nature; they can silently eat away at the foundations and inner structures of a home for years before the damage becomes visible. This hidden destruction underscores the importance of regular inspections and swift action at the first sign of an infestation.

Common Repairs Needed After A Home Inspection

After a home inspection, potential buyers often find themselves sifting through a spectrum of repair recommendations, from major structural concerns to minor cosmetic quirks. While addressing significant issues is paramount—particularly those related to the home's safety and value—it's often prudent for buyers to overlook or negate repairs stemming from minor concerns or purely cosmetic aspects. Examples might encompass minor paint imperfections, small carpet stains, or superficial scratches on hardwood floors.


The same principle can apply to slightly overgrown landscaping or older appliances that, while perhaps not the latest models, are still functional. Engaging in back-and-forth negotiations over such trivialities can not only protract the purchasing timeline but might also strain the buyer-seller rapport. Furthermore, many of these cosmetic issues and updates, like landscaping tweaks or appliance upgrades, can be undertaken by the buyer post-purchase, providing an opportunity for personalized enhancements. By strategically prioritizing major repairs over minor or cosmetic ones, buyers can facilitate a smoother, more efficient negotiation phase, potentially saving time, money, and fostering a positive transaction experience.

How Do Local Regulations Affect What Is Mandatory After A Home Inspection

Local regulations and building codes play a pivotal role in determining which repairs become mandatory after a home inspection. These codes, established by municipalities or regional entities, set forth standards for construction, maintenance, and safety to ensure the wellbeing of residents. When a home inspection uncovers issues that are at odds with these standards—such as electrical systems that don't adhere to the current code, missing safety railings, or outdated smoke detectors—repairs or upgrades often become mandatory before the sale can proceed.

Moreover, in some areas, specific environmental or zoning regulations can dictate repair mandates, like radon mitigation or flood-proofing. It's crucial for both buyers and sellers to be acquainted with these local ordinances. Failing to address these mandatory fixes could not only jeopardize the sale but might also result in fines or legal consequences. Thus, understanding and respecting local regulations ensures a compliant, smooth transaction and upholds the safety standards of the community.

When To Walk Away After A Home Inspection

A home inspection serves as a pivotal moment in the home-buying journey, offering potential buyers a clearer lens through which to evaluate a property's condition. While many issues flagged might be minor or negotiable, there are certain red flags that should prompt serious consideration about proceeding with the purchase. If the inspection reveals major structural problems, undisclosed issues with the foundation, widespread mold, or outdated electrical and plumbing systems that can pose safety risks, it may be prudent to reconsider. 

Walking Away

If the seller is not willing to negotiate after the inspection and pay for certain repairs it may be time to walk. Furthermore, if the estimated repair costs soar beyond one's budget or if the seller refuses to address critical concerns, walking away might be the wiser choice. Equally important is the emotional toll; if the list of problems feels overwhelming or if the house no longer aligns with the initial appeal, it's crucial to recognize the value of peace of mind. Sometimes, the best decision is to step back and continue the search for a home that feels both emotionally and structurally sound.

Negotiating Repairs After A Home Inspection

The period following a home inspection can often feel like a delicate dance between the buyer and seller. A successful negotiation doesn't just hinge on arriving at a mutually agreeable price but also on understanding and addressing the concerns unveiled during the inspection. For both parties to emerge satisfied, open communication is key. The buyer, while understandably keen on having major issues addressed, can prioritize the most pressing repairs and possibly overlook minor cosmetic ones.

Negotiating Repairs After A Home Inspection

In turn, the seller can acknowledge valid concerns and either offer to fix them or adjust the price accordingly. Additionally, compromise can take various forms, such as the seller providing a home warranty or the buyer accepting a credit for repairs. In this spirit of give-and-take, guided by transparency and mutual respect, both parties can achieve a fair deal, turning a potential point of contention into an opportunity for collaboration and shared satisfaction.

In Conclusion What Fixes Are Mandatory... If Any?

While the term "mandatory" can be subjective, it's clear that issues affecting safety and habitability usually need to be addressed promptly. For other concerns, effective negotiation and a clear understanding of local regulations play pivotal roles. Both buyers and sellers should approach post-inspection repairs with a blend of pragmatism and flexibility to ensure a smooth transaction. If you have been searching for a home for any length of time you probably came across a home being sold "as is" or it might have wording such as "home seller to make no repairs". These are common with older homes, Estate Sales, certain bank owned properties or even condemned building that have to torn down where the price of the home is based on the land value. So a seller may list a home for sale and make no fixes after a home inspection, it is then up to the buyer now aware of the necessary repairs after consulting with the inspector and real estate agent to decide whether the  home repairs won't affect the home sale. One very important aspect of all of this is whether the mortgage company will approve the home purchase with a list of repairs, how will they affect the livability of the home, they are after all the owners until the mortgage is paid off. 

This post was written by David O'Doherty, a licensed real estate agent since 2007 helping buyers and sellers in Clayton, NC and the Greater Triangle Area of North Carolina. He is committed to providing his clients with exceptional service and personalized attention throughout every step of the real estate process. If you're looking to buy or sell a property in Clayton, NC, or the surrounding areas or have any questions about the local real estate market, don't hesitate to contact David O'Doherty today. Call or Text (919) 601-2268 or email [email protected]

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