Buyers Beware: Major Signs a Home Needs Serious Repair

By Jeremy DeLay, Tulsa Home + Design Realty

When you’re in the market for a new home, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement (or chaos) of the process and the many things that need to be done. When you view potential homes there are so many things vying for your attention as you try to picture yourself and your family living in the space. In the midst of all of this, it’s easy to overlook some of the major warning signs that a home needs serious repair. While your Realtor will be able to catch a lot of things, just from experience, and most major issues should be addressed in the disclosure and inspections, ultimately it falls on the buyer to understand any issues with the home they’re buying and address them on the front end. In this article, we will discuss a couple of the major things to be on the lookout for as you shop for new homes so that you don’t want to get stuck with a multi-thousand-dollar repair that just got overlooked. So, let’s dive right in.

One of the most major and costly issues you can find in a home is structural damage. Structural damage is any type of damage that affects the core integrity of your home. This includes your foundation, walls, roof, and load-bearing walls. Structural damage can be caused by several things including water damage from a leak, a big storm or high winds, the soil shifting beneath the slab, flooding, and other natural disasters. According to, “Home structural repair should be done as soon as possible to avoid further damage or developing more severe problems. Whether you experienced a water leak or noticed structural issues in your home, you’ll want to get a professional to assess the damage.” From that assessment, there are a number of things and a wide range of costs that may need to be done to address the problems. For example, if it’s determined that water damage has caused your house to sink or the foundation to settle, you may need to hire a contractor to come in and raise your home to its original height or position using structural piers, which can cost between $1,000 to $3,000 per unit. This type of damage is major and demands immediate attention.

Another big-ticket item that you want to be sure is in good shape before buying a home is the roof. While this can be included under the umbrella of “structural damage,” often the home can be otherwise completely structurally sound, but just need to have the roof replaced. This can be due to wind or hail damage, or other large storm, or maybe just due to the age of the roof and natural wear and tear. Whatever the reason, replacing a roof can be incredibly costly. When I was researching for this article, I found an incredibly large range of costs associated with replacing a roof, but one site from an actual roofer stuck out, and I wanted to quote them here. According to,

“The cost of replacing a roof will depend on many factors such as:

  • The experience and quality of the roofing contractor you choose
  • The roofing material installed
  • Size of your roof
  • Manufacturer and workmanship warranty coverage
  • Any add-on features such as flashing, ice and water barriers, and attic ventilation systems

In Oklahoma, the average cost to properly replace a roof is $14,500.

When considering replacing your roof, try and get bids from at least two or three contractors. Be sure that the proposal is detailed and includes all the materials that will be used for your project so that you can compare apples to apples. If you receive a bid that is $2,000 to $3,000 lower than the others, it should raise a red flag as to the quality of the material being used and the workmanship.”

Again, that’s just one source of many available, but I appreciate that they mention being aware of bids that are thousands of dollars less than others. Because it’s such a large and important part of your home, this isn’t somewhere you want to cut corners. Depending on the cause, timing, and other factors that led to a roof needing to be replaced, homeowner’s insurance may cover the cost. Be careful though. As a former insurance agent for a major carrier, I can tell you that you do not want to file a claim unless you’re absolutely sure it is needed. In some cases, your insurance carrier can raise your premium, increase your deductible, or even choose not to renew your policy based on your claims history, and a roof claim is major. That’s not to say don’t file if it is necessary, but just make sure you’ve got all the facts and you aren’t putting something on your insurance that should have been on the seller or some other party. I know that’s a lot to take in, but your job as a buyer is to gather as much information as possible and work with your Realtor to negotiate as much of the repair as possible.

Something to note is how to know if you have major structural or roof damage, and what type of repair(s) you or the seller will need to make to properly address it. There is no shortage of companies who would love to sell you a brand-new roof or come fix your foundation with multiple structural piers. But are those the people you want to trust to honestly assess your damage and make a recommendation to you? Perhaps, but maybe not. There are inspectors and structural engineers with expertise on the various parts of a home, who know what to look for and can recommend repairs and improvements, and who also have no additional money to be made regardless of what repairs you end up doing or not. My recommendation as a Realtor would be to start with someone like this (your Realtor can help you find these professionals) and then, based on their assessment, go find a roofer (or whatever type of company is needed) to come and actually make the necessary repairs.

Buying a home is an exciting, major experience in life. There is a lot to take in and consider, and my hope is that after reading this article, you’re able to go into the process a little more aware of some of the major issues to look for as you shop for your next home.

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*At Tulsa Home + Design, we work with clients at every step of their home-buying and owning journey to help them find and create spaces to live and grow. Call us today.

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