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Should I be Concerned About Inspection Items Marked as Deficient?


Conditions may be present in your home that did not violate building codes or common practices in effect when the home was constructed but are considered hazardous by today’s standards. Such conditions that were part of the home prior to the adoption of any current codes prohibiting them may not be required to be updated to meet current code requirements. However, if it can be reasonably determined that they are present at the time of the inspection, the potential for injury or property loss from these conditions is significant enough to require inspectors to report them as Deficient (D). Examples of such hazardous conditions include:

  • malfunctioning, improperly installed, or missing ground fault circuit protection (GFCI) devices and arc-fault (AFCI) devices;
  • ordinary glass in locations where modern construction techniques call for safety glass;
  • malfunctioning or lack of fire safety features such as smoke alarms, fire-rated doors in certain locations, and functional emergency escape and rescue openings in bedrooms;
  • malfunctioning carbon monoxide alarms;
  • excessive spacing between balusters on stairways and porches;
  • improperly installed appliances;
  • improperly installed or defective safety devices;
  • lack of electrical bonding and grounding; and
  • lack of bonding on gas piping, including corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST)

Please Note: items identified as Deficient (D) in an inspection report DO NOT obligate any party to make repairs or take other actions. The decision to correct a hazard or any deficiency identified in an inspection report is left up to the parties to the contract for the sale or purchase of the home.

Items Marked as Deficient: Should I be Alarmed?

While many inspectors market their approach of conveying their findings as “non-alarming” it is hard to get past the language in this section…“potential for injury or property loss” – hardly non-alarming but justifiably notable. “Non-alarming” shouldn’t mean withholding or downplaying genuine health, safety, or expense concerns. As you can see from the examples, there can be an increased risk of electrocution, fire, CO poisoning, injury, property damage, etc. relating to these items. It is important that these “deficiencies” are conveyed to the client.
While it is required that the items be marked as “Deficient”, it doesn’t mean there is a need to be alarmed. No single deficiency is deemed better or worse than the next and there is no requirement to prioritize or emphasize one over the other. Rather an emphasis should put on the importance of taking any corrective action that may be required to remedy these issues. Each one of these “deficiencies” is correctable. And while neither party is required to make these corrections, they often become the subject of negotiation between the parties to either repair/replace the items or make price adjustments accordingly. Ideally, any corrective action should be addressed prior to the expiration of the Option Period.


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