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  • Writer's picturePeter Lamont, Esq.

Understanding Major Repairs vs. Normal Repairs When Waiving a Home Inspection Contingency

Repairs When Waiving a Home Inspection ContingencyRepairs When Waiving a Home Inspection Contingency

Introduction

When purchasing a home, buyers often include a home inspection contingency in their offer. This contingency allows the buyer to have the property professionally inspected and negotiate repairs or back out of the deal if significant issues are found. However, in a competitive housing market, some buyers may choose to waive this contingency to make their offer more attractive to sellers. In such cases, buyers may still opt to retain the right to request repairs for major issues, such as structural or environmental problems. This blog post will explore the differences between major repairs and normal repairs in the context of waiving a home inspection contingency.


Defining Major Repairs

Structural Repairs

Structural repairs refer to issues that affect the integrity and safety of a home's structure. These problems can be costly to fix and may pose significant safety risks if left unaddressed. Examples of structural issues include:


  • Foundation problems, such as significant cracks, settling, or shifting

  • Significant Roof damage, like sagging, major leaks, or structural issues

  • Load-bearing wall damage or removal

  • Significant water damage affecting the structure

  • Significant electrical issues requiring major repairs


Addressing structural repairs is crucial to ensure the home's stability and the occupants' safety. Ignoring these issues can lead to further damage and even render the property uninhabitable.


Environmental Repairs

Environmental repairs involve issues that can negatively impact the health and safety of a home's occupants. These problems often relate to hazardous materials or conditions within the property. Examples of environmental issues include:


  • Mold growth, which can cause respiratory problems and allergic reactions

  • Asbestos, a known carcinogen commonly found in older homes

  • Lead paint, which can cause developmental issues and other health problems

  • Radon gas, a radioactive substance that can increase the risk of lung cancer


Addressing environmental repairs is essential to protect the well-being of the home's occupants and to comply with local and federal regulations.


Normal Repairs

Normal repairs, also known as cosmetic repairs, are issues that do not affect the structural integrity or safety of a home. These problems are typically less urgent and less expensive to fix compared to major repairs. Examples of normal repairs include:


  • Minor plumbing leaks, such as a dripping faucet or a loose toilet base

  • Cosmetic issues, like peeling paint, damaged flooring, or outdated fixtures

  • Small electrical issues, such as a malfunctioning outlet or a loose light switch

While normal repairs may not pose immediate safety risks, they can still impact the overall functionality and aesthetics of the home.


Waiving the Home Inspection Contingency


Reasons for Waiving the Contingency

In a competitive housing market, buyers may feel pressure to waive the home inspection contingency to make their offer more appealing to sellers. By waiving this contingency, buyers demonstrate their commitment to the purchase and their willingness to take on the responsibility of any repairs. Additionally, waiving the contingency can streamline the buying process, as it eliminates the need for negotiations based on the inspection results.


Risks of Waiving the Contingency for Normal Repairs

While waiving the home inspection contingency for normal repairs may seem like a smart move in a competitive market, it does come with risks. Buyers who waive this contingency may face unexpected costs after closing, as they will be solely responsible for addressing any normal repairs that arise. Furthermore, without the contingency in place, buyers may find it difficult to negotiate repairs with the seller post-purchase.


Importance of Retaining the Contingency for Major Repairs

Despite the potential benefits of waiving the home inspection contingency, buyers should carefully consider retaining the right to request repairs for major issues. The financial implications of major repairs can be significant, potentially costing tens of thousands of dollars. Moreover, major repairs can have a serious impact on the health and safety of the home's occupants. By retaining the contingency for major repairs, buyers can protect themselves from the burden of unexpected and costly issues.


Advice for Homebuyers


Understand the Differences Between Major and Normal Repairs

To make an informed decision about waiving the home inspection contingency, homebuyers must understand the distinctions between major and normal repairs. Familiarizing oneself with common examples of each type of repair can help buyers prioritize their concerns and make a well-informed choice.


Consider the Risks and Benefits of Waiving the Contingency

Homebuyers should carefully weigh the risks and benefits of waiving the home inspection contingency. While waiving the contingency may improve the chances of a successful offer, it can also expose buyers to significant financial risks. Buyers should assess their personal risk tolerance and financial capability to handle potential repairs before deciding to waive the contingency.


Consult with Professionals

Before making a decision, homebuyers should consult with professionals, such as a home inspector and a real estate attorney. A home inspector can provide valuable insights into the condition of the property and help buyers identify potential major repairs. A real estate attorney can review the purchase agreement and advise buyers on the legal implications of waiving the home inspection contingency.


Ensure the Agreement Clearly Defines Major Repairs

If homebuyers decide to waive the home inspection contingency while retaining the right to request repairs for major issues, it is crucial to ensure that the purchase agreement clearly defines what constitutes a major repair. This definition should be specific and include examples of structural and environmental issues that would qualify as major repairs. By clearly defining these terms, buyers can protect their interests and minimize the risk of disputes with the seller.


Example: Sarah and Michael

Sarah and Michael, a young couple, have been house hunting for months in a highly competitive market. They finally find their dream home and decide to make an offer. To make their offer more attractive to the seller, they agree to waive the home inspection contingency for all repairs except major issues, such as structural or environmental problems.


The seller accepts their offer, and Sarah and Michael proceed with the home inspection. During the inspection, the inspector discovers a small leak in the roof. While the leak is not causing significant damage at the moment, it will likely worsen over time and require repair or replacement.


Concerned about the potential cost of fixing the roof, Sarah and Michael request a credit from the seller to cover the repair. They argue that a leaking roof should be considered a major issue, as it can lead to water damage, mold growth, and other structural problems if left unaddressed.


The seller, however, disagrees with Sarah and Michael's assessment. The seller points out that the leak is small and not currently causing any substantial damage. They argue that, according to the terms of the waiver, a leaking roof does not qualify as a major issue, such as a structural or environmental problem. As a result, the seller refuses to provide a credit for the repair.


Since Sarah and Michael have waived the home inspection contingency, they do not have the option to cancel the contract based on the inspection findings. Their only option is to move forward with the purchase, knowing that they will be responsible for the roof repair.


This scenario emphasizes the potential risks of waiving the home inspection contingency and the importance of being prepared to handle repairs that may arise after closing.


Conclusion

Understanding the differences between major repairs and normal repairs is essential for homebuyers considering waiving the home inspection contingency. Major repairs, such as structural and environmental issues, can have significant financial and safety implications, while normal repairs are generally less urgent and less costly. When deciding whether to waive the home inspection contingency, buyers should carefully assess the risks and benefits, consult with professionals, and ensure that the purchase agreement clearly defines major repairs. By making an informed decision and prioritizing their safety and financial well-being, homebuyers can navigate the competitive housing market with confidence.


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Peter J. Lamont is a Top-Rated New Jersey Business Attorney

About Peter J. Lamont, Esq.

Peter J. Lamont is a nationally recognized attorney with significant experience in business, contract, litigation, and real estate law. With over two decades of legal practice, he has represented a wide array of businesses, including large international corporations. Peter is known for his practical legal and business advice, prioritizing efficient and cost-effective solutions for his clients.


Peter has an Avvo 10.0 Rating and has been acknowledged as one of America's Most Honored Lawyers since 2011. 201 Magainze and Lawyers of Distinction have also recognized him for being one of the top business and litigation attorneys in New Jersey. His commitment to his clients and the legal community is further evidenced by his active role as a speaker, lecturer, and published author in various legal and business publications.


As the founder of the Law Offices of Peter J. Lamont, Peter brings his Wall Street experience and client-focused approach to New Jersey, offering personalized legal services that align with each client's unique needs and goals​.

 

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