Does the exterior of a townhouse need to be inspected? If you are in the market to purchase a townhome, you may find that often the home and pest inspector are not including the outside areas such as the walls, foundation, or roof.
If you are preparing to sell your unit, you may be asked if you want to include or exclude the outer walls and features, or if you want a roof inspection done.
First, let’s consider why the inspectors may only inspect the interior of the home.
The reasoning frequently seems to be that the HOA will take care of whatever is on the outer walls or roof, so why bother? That assumption may or may not be accurate.
- If the townhouse is held in condo ownership (as opposed to a PUD, in which homeowners own the outside walls, roof and the land under the unit), the HOA likely will take care of exterior damage.
- If the townhome is a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, it’s much like a single family home: the homeowner will be responsible for repairs. (HOAs will repaint and reroof all units at the same time for both PUDs and condos, but not fix damaged siding, decks, roofs. It’s imperative to know which one you are buying, and you’ll only know that from the preliminary title report. It’s also imperative to know what the HOA will do regarding repairs, and for that you’ll need to look through the lengthy HOA documents.)
Another consideration is the price of the inspection, which will be less – in most cases – if only the interior of the home is covered by the inspector.
Does the exterior of a townhouse need to be inspected even if it’s a condo?
Even if the unit is a condominium (shaped like a townhouse!), it is helpful to get the outside inspected so that you can give the info to the HOA for them to fix before it becomes a larger, more expensive problem. As a member of an HOA, you never want big repairs, since ultimately you’re paying for them.
By the way, if it is in condo ownership, it doesn’t hurt to look around the HOA and see how other foundations or major components look. Remember, if those items need repairs, every member of the complex will be helping to foot the bill!
Should you be concerned if purchasing a townhome and only the interior was inspected?
If the home you’re purchasing is a PUD and you’ll be responsible for the exterior repairs, you’ll really want to know that there are no big expenses looming. Wood siding can be particularly unforgiving and expensive. Wood needs to be painted about every 5 years and can get fungus damage or dry rot if not maintained. With dry rot, the wood must be removed and replaced, and that can be costly. There are other risks, too, but that’s the one I’ve seen most often with townhomes.
Once in a while there are foundation or roof repairs, too. It’s always best to either buy a home that has been fully inspected by a reputable inspector or to get into contract with a contingency for the needed inspections.
Does the exterior of a townhouse need to be inspected? It is best to do it, whether the condominium HOA will pay for any repairs or if the homeowner will, since finding things sooner rather than later will usually be much less expensive than if there’s a delay.
Home inspection (on popehandy.com)
Pre-sale inspections (on popehandy.com)