Life expectancy

This is an optional thing that a lot of home inspectors include in their reports.  Life expectancies are often projected for heating and cooling systems, water heaters and roofs.  There are couple of ways to do this.  You can indicate how many years of life you think remain.  You might be wise to give a range if you do this. 

You can also indicate the age of the system (you can narrow it down quite nicely on mechanical equipment) and the typical life expectancy.  For example, you might say the furnace is 12 years old, and this type of furnace has a typical life expectancy of 15 to 20 years.  I leave it at that. You don’t have to do the math and tell the client how much life likely remains.  You might be wise to indicate that premature failures do occur from time to time.  It’s kind of like predicting when a light bulb will burn out.

By the way, if you have trouble identifying each piece of mechanical equipment, our book called Technical Reference Guide is pretty useful.  You can get it by calling 800-268-7070.

I prefer the second approach, for mechanical equipment at least.  It’s more difficult to know the specific age of an asphalt roof, for example.  There are lots of variables that affect the life expectancy of roofs.  If the roof is relatively new, that is a good thing most homebuyers would like to know.  We will often say the roof appears to be in the first third of its life.  If the normal roof life expectancy is 15 years, that might mean the roof is less than five years old.  If the roof is neither new nor old, we might describe it as being in the middle third of its life.  If it is showing its age, we might say the last third.  If it’s quite worn, we will say replacement is recommended either immediately or within the next year.

This is all part of helping the home buyer understand and feel the same way about the house as you do.

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