They say a picture is worth a thousand words and sometimes, a video is worth a thousand pictures. In this case, we see a brick support pier that looks a little askew at first glance. But as the video shows, it has completely separated from the wall which can jeopardize the stability of the structure. We use short videos like this when necessary to highlight concerns in a very direct and easy-to-see way. These videos go directly into our web-based home inspection reporting software so that when you receive your report, you are not only getting pictures and detailed language, but also videos when pertinent.
You likely wouldn't know it by looking at it, but the first two photos are of a ROOF. A Mansard-style roof, to be exact. And yes, those are leaves and plants growing ON the roof. A Mansard roof is characterized by having very steep slopes/pitch on each side of the house and a flat or nearly flat roof surface which can lend to very spacious attic areas and more living space within the home. However, this style of architecture must be cleaned and cleared of debris on a regular basis especially when surrounded by trees. This particular roof was covered in extensive tree debris, moss, plant growth, and even puddles from a recent rain. This has caused and will continue to cause improper drainage to the gutter, slope blocking, and it adds weight to the surface of the roof. Water/moisture is the NUMBER ONE cause of damage and deterioration for all homes. All water should shed away from the roof surface and foundations. The ponding water on this roof compromises the integrity of the roof structure and during colder months will freeze and thaw, further damaging the roof. These photos were taken during one of my home inspections on a house that was for sale. As you can imagine, this is not an ideal way to showcase a home and it of course led me to problems in the attic as well. This is a perfect example of how home inspections shed light on concerns around the home - whether you are a buyer, seller, or looking for maintenance issues.
.Can you spot the problem here?
We'll give you a hint... it rhymes with 'hissing clownsprout'.
This gutter is missing a downspout (right side). That means that all of the water from rain, melting snow, etc. drains directly into the area next to and into the foundation. As water penetrates into the foundation month after month, year after year, the foundation starts to deteriorate and the area beneath the home (crawl space) is subjected to repeated exposure to moisture (hello mold). It is recommended that a gutter system with extended downspouts at least 3-6 feet away from the home be installed to protect the wall cladding and foundation areas of the home. This is a common concern/defect that the home inspector finds during his inspections and a very easy fix!
This is definitely NOT what you want to see when entering a crawl space. Nearly all of the beams and joists in this home were being supported by very unstable "piers" that have been cobbled together using bricks and other materials (including a doorstop!). These are temporary fixes at best and very dangerous, as small crawl spaces like this are rarely entered/monitored. If the pier(s) were to collapse, it could be months or longer before the homeowner realized that large portions of the home were not stable (not to mention all the termite damage!). This is another example of why inspecting crawl spaces is so important.
The crawl space is one of the most crucial areas a home inspector should inspect. This particular opening isn't exactly large, but trust us, our inspector Rick has gotten into MUCH smaller spaces (attic openings are especially fun!). A home's crawl space often contains HVAC components, exposed plumbing pipes, insulation, and vapor barriers and/or other encapsulation materials. All of these items should be carefully inspected to ensure they are functioning as intended. Signs of trouble can also be spotted in the foundation and in crawl spaces that are wet and musty - dry is what he's looking for!
Image courtesy of Trevor Holman Photography
New year, newly built home? Sounds great to us! But just because a house is new does not mean it is without fault. Often we see issues that are not readily obvious and can be missed during the final walkthrough. In this case, a second floor guest bedroom window had a significant crack in it and needed to be replaced. Other common issues include improper drainage and faulty plumbing, all of which you want performing perfectly when you move in. A great home inspection (and inspector!) is a very wise investment that is guaranteed to save you time and money, no matter how old - or new- the house is. Hover over each picture to find out more.
Mushrooms on your burger with swiss cheese? Yes, please! Mushrooms in your crawl space (with or without cheese)? That's a big NO. Mushrooms love and need the one thing you absolutely do NOT want in your crawl space or basement - moisture. I know we sound like a broken record, but we can't stress enough how important it is to keep your crawl space dry. If it's wet enough to grow mushrooms, it's wet enough to grow other organic material like mold and over time, it can compromise your foundation as well. Plus all that moisture has a tendency to creep up into your living space.
After all the rain from Hurricane Florence, we thought it would be a good time to remind everyone about a very simple fix that can save you thousands of dollars in water/foundation damage.
ALL of the downspouts and pipes around your home should extend at least 6 feet away from your foundation. You can do this yourself by adding flexible pipe (found at Lowes or Home Depot) to the end of the downspout, or if you want something more aesthetically pleasing, you can have piping like a French drain added below ground, leading away from the foundation.
If you don't address drainage issues (like the one pictured), water - especially heavy rainfall - will continually seep into the foundation, crawl space, etc., and will gradually weaken the foundation and make your home unstable. Cracks in the foundation will eventually form under these conditions and could lead to major (and costly) damage over time.
Do you remember "hanging chads"? Well this might be even more cringe-worthy. Hanging insulation is pretty darn useless (at best), as it is not doing its job of protecting your home and your hard-earned money. Condensation has made this insulation wet, which causes it to deteriorate and it will eventually fall to the ground. Wet insulation supports mold growth and insects/vermin, and leads to unfavorable environmental conditions in your home (cold floors, poor air quality, lost heat). Crawlspaces can be dirty, cramped, uncomfortable spaces (with shockingly large spiders in residence) so oftentimes people tend to avoid them, which is why insulation and moisture issues go undetected. Our home inspector is well-versed in cramped crawlspaces and will thoroughly inspect yours to ensure all is well.
YES x 2. This home gets it right! First up - the downspout has an extension attached to it that continues underground AWAY from the foundation. Having a 3-foot extension (underground or above ground) is a quick and easy way to help keep your foundation dry. We cannot tell you how many homes the inspector sees that have multiple downspouts that drain directly down into the foundation, which can cause all sorts of problems like excess moisture and organic matter (i.e., MOLD) in the crawlspace (just two examples). Second - the bushes near the home are trimmed so that no foliage touches any part of the home. Tree branches, bushes, and other vegetation touching siding and roof shingles causes wear, damage, and serves as a conduit for insects. As in bugs. As in... late night shouts for help to kill the creepy crawly above the bed.
UH-OH. The downspout is disconnected from the gutter - very easy to miss! This will cause water damage to the siding and foundation if not fixed. Proper drainage is just one of the many items a good inspector (like Rick!) looks for.
Don't step on a crack or ... Actually this is a vertical crack. IN THE FOUNDATION. Keep your eyes peeled for tell-tale signs like this that could affect the stability of your current or prospective home. When walking around the exterior of the home and when looking inside the crawlspace (if you can get in there, you should), pay very close attention to the condition of the foundation walls. Stepping cracks, horizontal, and vertical cracks can all indicate potential problems. Sometimes these are easily fixed but sometimes the repairs can be quite costly. Our home inspector will locate and identify these types of issues so that you can make an informed decision about the next steps in the buying process.
From Rick & Lori:
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