• Joey Copper, Co-Founder, GC

Top Five Maintenance Landmines

Updated: Feb 2

The amount of maintenance spend is almost always a direct reflection of the quality of the property. When we refer to a property's quality what we are really referring to is the amount of inherent maintenance liabilities. Below are the top five examples of such liabilities that we repetitively come across. If you are considering purchasing a property with any of these qualities then calculate your maintenance withholding accordingly or reconsider the purchase entirely. If you already own a house with any of these qualities then you better add to your emergency maintenance reserve fund.

1.) Finished Basement Built Before 1960

There is nothing magical about 1960 but it’s a decent delineation between “old” foundation walls and “new” foundation walls. Once water starts infiltrating the foundation walls it is extremely expensive to fix. If the basement is finished then foundation and drainage work is only a small part of the total expense.


Image 1.1 This is just the initial phase of work required once water begins to infiltrate a finished basement.

2. Galvanized Plumbing Supply Lines

What could go wrong when a rust susceptible metal is used for water delivery? One day it seems fine and then next day none of your faucets dispense water. Anytime a property sits vacant (like during a turnaround) these pipes are especially susceptible of rusting shut. This expensive problem is magnified if the pipe runs under a slab foundation.

Image 1.2 Here is a picture of galvanized pipe.


3. Orangeburg Sewer Pipe

Imagine wrapping tar paper into a giant straw shape, burying it 10’ below ground, and relying on it to remove sewage from your property. Crazy, right? Why was this ever considered a good idea? During and immediately after WWII this was the best material available. If our list were to expand to top 10 items then clay tile drains would also make the list.


Image 1.3 Here is what Orageburg pipe typically looks like after getting dug up.


4. HVAC Vents in Slab Foundation

This invites a long list of potential problems. Bugs and musty odors are a few potential small problems. Collapsed lines, asbestos trunks, and radon gases highlight some of the more significant problems.

Image 1.4 Dirt, debris, and water inside of below grade HVAC trunks result in corroded and potentially collapsed trunks.

5. Knob and Tube Wiring

It has become near impossible to get insurance on any investment property with knob and tube wiring. Fishing in new wiring into existing walls is very time consuming and electricians don't come cheap. Since this wiring is exclusive to old properties (~1930's and older) most previous remodels should have already removed this type of wiring. The best test is to take down a light fixture to check as the location of this wire is usually the hardest to get to, and subsequently the last remaining portion if there is some remaining.



Image 1.5 Knob and Tube wiring. Porcelain knob and tubes surrounded by single strand wire. This is not a comprehensive list and there is definitely some Midwest specificity to this article. But if investors avoid these maintenance landmines, they will be much more likely to succeed in real estate.


To discuss these potential landmines and learn more about SNC Group, reach out to us at info@chooseSNC.com.

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