Common Issues Found During Detroit Home Inspections and How to Address Them


Purchasing a home in Detroit can be an exciting yet stressful process. While Detroit offers beautiful historic homes at affordable prices, many properties suffer from deferred maintenance and need extensive repairs or updates. A professional home inspection allows buyers to make an informed decision and understand the true condition of a home before closing on a sale.

This article explores some of the most common issues discovered during Best Home Inspections Detroit, why they occur, how to spot them, and how buyers can address problems to protect their investment. Bringing in professionals early in the process can uncover underlying defects and prevent small issues from becoming costly repairs down the road.

Major Structural and Foundation Concerns

Crumbling Brick and Facades

Detroit endured several bitterly cold winters recently, subjecting aging, historic homes to freeze/thaw cycles that can damage brick and mortar. Inspectors often discover crumbling brick facades and foundations, cracked mortar, and loose sections threatening to break free. Poor drainage and moisture intrusion also erode surfaces over time. Warning signs include:

  • Visible cracks, loose sections, or mortar erosion
  • Previous repairs that fail to match existing surfaces
  • Bowing, leaning, or unstable walls and structures

Repairs require sealing cracks, replacing damaged sections, proper drainage installation, and potentially stabilizing foundations. Neglecting these issues risks further structural failures.

Faulty and Cracked Foundations

Many Detroit homes still rely on original brick or concrete block foundations approaching 100 years old. Exposure, moisture, soil conditions, and other factors cause foundations to sink, settle, or crack over decades. Symptoms include:

  • Large cracks in walls and ceilings
  • Doors and windows sticking or not closing properly
  • Significant cracks in the foundation visible in the basement
  • Major flooding issues after heavy rains

In extreme cases, major foundation repairs involve installing supports to stabilize and lift sections, reinforced concrete injections to fill cracks, and water management systems to control moisture.

Roofing Issues

Age and Leaks

Inspectors estimate the age and remaining life of roofs by material type and examine for issues like curled shingles, damage, standing water, and trouble spots indicating potential or existing leaks. Warning signs are often visible from the exterior, including:

  • Roof deck visible under missing shingles
  • Sections of curled, cracked, or broken shingles
  • Mold, moisture stains, or dark streaks on roof
  • Mismatched shingles from previous repairs

Catching minor leaks early can save buyers from major repairs later. Inspectors also check flashings, joints, ventilation, drainage, and potential problem areas.

Structural Damage

Aging roofs also risk structural decay, insect damage, rotting rafters and sheathing, and other problems hidden from view. Inspectors examine interior spaces for:

  • Stains or moisture on ceilings and walls
  • Damaged soffits and fascia boards
  • Mold/mildew indicating excess moisture

Structural repairs can range from replacing compromised boards to completely removing and rebuilding entire roof sections.

Plumbing Issues

Galvanized Piping

Galvanized steel pipes were commonly installed in Detroit homes built before 1960. Over time, the insides of these pipes narrow due to internal corrosion and mineral deposits that restrict water flow. Signs include:

  • Low water pressure
  • Rusty water from pipes
  • Dripping faucets even when turned off

Replacing galvanized pipes with copper or PEX piping improves water flow and quality. Though costly, owners save money over time by reducing leaks, corrosion, and flow issues.

Lead Piping Risks

Many older Detroit neighborhoods still rely on lead service lines that carry risks of lead leaching into drinking water. Lead piping is dull gray, shiny when scratched, and soft enough to indent with a fingernail. Effects are invisible so inspectors test water from faucets after a 6 hour stagnation period when lead levels peak. Replacements use safer copper piping.

Electrical System Issues

Knob and Tube Wiring

Outdated “knob and tube” wiring found in early 20th century homes lacks ground wires and sufficient insulation, running through open walls, attics, and ceilings. Hazards include overheating, sparks, fire risks, and inability to handle modern appliances. Though often grandfathered in, repairs require replacement with modern wiring meeting electrical codes.

Faulty Panels and Systems

Home electrical demands increased dramatically over the decades. Undersized panels may lack sufficient circuits, use faulty breakers, or rely on extensions like fuse boxes. Two-prong outlets indicate inadequate grounding. Tripped breakers, flickering lights, and odd smells signal issues inspectors investigate further through voltage testing and load calculations. Panel replacements are expensive but dramatically improve safety.

HVAC System Concerns

Age, Sizing, andEfficiency

Inspectors estimate the age of heating/cooling systems based on equipment types, models, and average lifespans. Proper sizing to match home square footage ensures efficiency and comfort. Outdated systems waste energy, break down more often, and cost more to operate over time. Upgrades like furnaces over ~15-20 years old save long term on utility bills.

Maintenance and Repairs

Lack of maintenance shortens mechanical system lifespans. Inspectors check components like heat exchangers, burners, ductwork, insulation, filters, drainage, wiring and controls. Simple fixes like cleaning and replacements preserve operation. Major repairs to complex systems often make replacements a better investment.

How Buyers Can Address Common Problems

Seek Further Evaluation

If an inspection uncovers issues, consult appropriate experts like engineers, plumbers, roofers, etc. to further evaluate problems and outline repair options with projected costs. Build these expenses into purchase offers and negotiations.

Request Seller Repairs

Ask sellers to complete repairs before closing, especially for safety issues, major defects, or problems that prevent a mortgage approval. Offer credits or escrow holdbacks to fund future repairs if sellers are unwilling or unable to fix issues immediately.

Price in Future Repairs

If buyers tackle problems themselves later, they should estimate costs to repair, replace, and upgrade key systems in poor shape, then negotiate the purchase price accordingly. Budgeting for upcoming maintenance and repairs prepares buyers for large expenses down the road.


Detroit offers gorgeous historic architecture and affordable prices that come along with more frequent maintenance issues and overdue repairs from decades of deferred attention. Home inspections protect buyers by identifying problems early so they can correctly assess risk, negotiate fair prices, and budget for repairs. This preserves the long term investment in a home. Inspectors also uncover hidden defects that could cost thousands down the road, before buyers commit to purchasing a property. Though repairs seem costly, inspections prevent much larger expenses over time.