Home Inspectors’ DIY Don’ts
With homeowners increasingly eager to make their own repairs and improvements (have you tried hiring a plumber lately?), code and safety violations are becoming more common and, along with them, “unintended consequences,” says Randy Sipe, head of the American Society of Home Inspectors
A home inspector checks a house for signs of trouble—and potentially hazardous do-it-yourself mistakes.
Here, four common areas of concern.
1. Is that a water heater or Old Faithful?
Swapping in a water heater may look straightforward, but some DIYers forget to include the extension pipe for the temperature-pressure-relief valve, or they put it higher than a safe 6 inches from the floor. If excess pressure builds, stand back—and prepare for a flood.
2. Tip-over ranges
Ranges need to be held in place by anti-tipping brackets—in case, for instance, a child uses the oven door as a ladder to reach the microwave. “Inspectors often find the bracket in the drawer,” Sipe says.
3. Hot-wire acts
Owners of older houses are often stumped when installing the GFCI safety receptacles required for baths, kitchens, and basements and wire them incorrectly—with potentially shocking results.
4. Shaky decks
It’s tempting to build your own deck—what could possibly go wrong? Plenty, says Sipe. “People don’t leave the required clearance for overhead wires. They ignore required rail heights and support brackets and build decks that aren’t structurally sound. This happens quite a bit, more than you’d realize.” A crowd comes over and—boom!—it comes crashing down.