Getting a home inspection is one of the wisest decisions a potential home buyer could make. An inspector can find hard-to-see weaknesses in the home’s structure, including those related to water damage and drainage problems.
Some sellers have a “take it or leave it” philosophy when it comes to damage found in an inspection, even when the issues are too big to ignore. But does the seller have an obligation to have any drainage problems fixed before the sale goes through?
Are Drainage Repairs Obligatory?
The short answer is no. The seller does not have to make the repairs, including those related to drainage and the foundation. The seller must tell potential buyers of problems that could make a home unfit for habitation, meaning the seller can’t conceal things that make the home unsafe. Two good examples related to drainage are extensive mould growth and active water damage that has been knowingly covered over without being resolved. But these issues just have to be disclosed, not repaired, and as long as the buyer fully understands what could be harmful, the seller can do what they want.
What makes inspections so valuable is that they uncover structural damage easily missed by the untrained eye. Drainage issues might not be known to the current homeowner, or they are relatively minor like moisture detected behind drywall. Finding problems is all part of the work a buyer must do themselves. However, the final report is not a list of issues that legally must be rectified before the home is purchased.
What the potential buyer can do is use the findings in negotiations. It’s reasonable to ask that certain issues, including those related to the foundation and basement, be repaired before the sale goes through. Not all sellers will be reasonable in making concessions, but while they have no obligation to have them fixed, you have no obligation to buy the house.
What Drainage Issues Can Reasonably Be Repaired?
If the home inspector finds drainage problems, you can ask that the seller fix them before you finalize any agreement. An accommodating seller might agree to fix some of the problems themselves, or they might lower the price of the home to reflect the expenses. If the seller doesn’t take care of some of these issues, they’ll run into conflicts with other potential buyers who also have home inspections conducted. Some reasonable requests related to foundation repairs and leakage include:
- Active water leaks
- Visible water damage to any drywall, wallpaper, and ceilings
- Internal plumbing problems
Some issues like regrading the landscaping or repairing the entire foundation might be too enormous for the seller. You can ask that the price be reduced to reflect the cost of repairs, but if that doesn’t work, you can either accept the weaknesses or move on.
Buyers must never make a deal without having a home inspection conducted. They should also be very wary if the seller wants to reduce the sale price on the condition that you don’t have an inspector go through the home. A good home inspector will give you a comprehensive overview of all the strengths and weaknesses of a home, including ones in the foundation and basement. The inspection might cost you some money upfront, but if it finds a big problem, it’ll save you much more!