Reuben's Home Inspection Blog


Inspect The Common Areas On Townhomes? Yes.

Townhouses should be inspected the same way that single family homes are.  I always quote the same price to inspect a townhouse as a single family home, because I inspect townhouses the same way; the roof, siding, windows... everything on the outside.  Some people feel that these items don't need to be looked at because they're covered by the association, but these are well worth having inspected, regardless of whether they're covered or not.


The most obvious and logical reason for a buyer to have the common areas at a townhouse inspected is to know what they're buying.  Buyers frequently think the common areas, such as the roof, don't need inspection on a townhouse because it's not their responsibility.  What happens if the roof starts leaking and causes a big stain on the ceiling?  The association will likely be responsible for repairing or replacing the roof, but who takes care of the water damage in the unit?  Even if the owner doesn't end up spending a dime on the repairs, just the amount of time that could be spent dealing with these types of repairs would make it well worth their while to have the common areas on a townhouse inspected.


Another great reason to have the common areas inspected is that the association may not be aware of problems, and may not have repairs planned in their budget.  If an association is budgeting to replace the roofs 10 years from now, but there's only two years left on the roofs, who pays for it?  The owners, of course.  These are what assessments are all about!  I was once a member of an association where we had several assessments in one year, the largest of which was a $1200.00 assessment to replace the failing driveways.  The extra money paid to have these items inspected is a wise investment. 


If one of my customers specifically doesn't want the common areas inspected, I'll skip them and typically charge about 25% less for the inspection, but I strongly advise against this.  In the long run, this fee is a drop in the bucket compared to the repair costs that just one failed component could cost.  Below are some photos of a few costly repairs I've identified at townhouses just within the last year.  As you look through these photos, just ask yourself if the association is aware of these issues, and has a budget to repair or replace these items.  The answer is usually no.


Old Driveway Poorly pitched patio 

rotted sidingrotted windows cracked roof truss water damaged ceiling

rotted wood roof defective shingles defective window settled stairway loose shingles

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections - Email - Minneapolis Home Inspector

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections


Comment balloon 7 commentsReuben Saltzman • February 27 2009 06:36AM
Inspect The Common Areas On Townhomes? Yes.
Townhouses should be inspected the same way that single family homes are. I always quote the same price to inspect a townhouse as a single family home, because I inspect townhouses the same way; the roof, siding, windows… everything on the… more
Why I Rarely Test For Lead
Lead isn't something to be afraid of, but rather something to be aware of. When people call asking about lead testing in Minneapolis or Saint Paul, I usually end up talking them out of it. I tell my clients that if their house was built before… more
Anti-Tip Brackets
A defect that home inspectors find at 49 out of 50 houses is a missing anti-tip bracket at the range. An anti-tip bracket is a device that is installed at the floor below the range or on the wall behind the range to keep it from tipping over,… more
Vacant Buildings in Saint Paul
I've been getting a number of calls from potential home buyers asking about Saint Paul's recent changes to the way vacant buildings are handled. The Star Tribune ran an article a couple weeks ago about the woes of a person who bought a Category… more
Sellers Inspections
While many cities in the Minneapolis / Saint Paul area require a Truth in Housing evaluation before listing a house for sale, more and more Realtors are having their sellers get private home inspections before putting them up for sale, whether a… more
I didn't kill the deal, the house did.
I received a phone call from a home seller last summer complaining I killed the deal on his house. I inspected his home for the new buyers, and they decided not to buy it after I inspected it because there were so many issues identified at the… more
How To Fix Or Prevent Ice Dams
After the big snowfall in Minnesota last night, it's a good time to talk about ice dams. Ice dams are caused by the same thing I've been blogging about for the last several entries; heat loss! The most obvious sign of heat loss in attics is ice… more
Frost In Attics, How To Fix
This Minnesota winter has been an especially problematic one for frost in attics, and it seems that most people don't understand why it happens or how to fix it. There is a lot of mis-information floating around about why frost gets in to the attic… more
Photos Of Attic Bypasses, The Least Understood Attic Problem
Yesterday I talked about what needs to be done before adding insulation to your attic - seal bypasses! Today I have several photos of bypasses that I find in attics every day. These bypasses cause serious problems with attics, but a lot of people… more
Inspecting Insulation, What To Do Before You Insulate
With winter officially here, I'm on a big insulation kick. This is the time of year when I can really tell which houses have attic problems, oftentimes just from looking at the house on the outside! Today I'll talk about a few things I look for… more