This image can strike fear in the hearts of buyers, sellers, and agents alike. The issue here is called "stair stepping cracks" and they can occur in any foundations with joints and mortar (brick, cement). The good news is that stepping cracks are not an automatic deal-breaker. They CAN be repaired in most cases. The key is to having a foundation professional (typically a structural engineer) evaluate the structural integrity of the foundation and of course, the home above it. All homes settle and shift, so it's not uncommon to see these kinds of cracks in older homes, especially near the corners. If an engineer deems the structure to be sound, that clears the way for repairs and a smooth buying and selling experience. Call us at 919-914-0606 or schedule online to help ensure you have this type of important information before you buy OR sell!
May is National Deck Safety Month - and there is a reason deck safety gets a whole month. Nearly 5 in 10 decks are past their useful life and need to be repaired or replaced. Frankly, from a home inspection standpoint, decks in North Carolina almost always seems to have issues and some of them are severe. Common defects include rotting/soft wood (very common in the humid south), separating or split board planks, and overall structural weakness or instability. It is very important to have your deck, steps, and railings inspected on a regular basis to make sure everything is in good shape. Natural wood decks also need to be regularly maintained with cleanings and stain or sealant. Without regular maintenance and inspections, your deck could become dangerous and fail, causing property damage - and much worse - possibly harming you and your family. Deck inspections are included in our home inspections so call us at 919-914-0606 or schedule online and start enjoying your deck this summer knowing it's safe for everyone.
Can you tell what is going on in this crawl space? Notice the dark spots on the foundation wall and the white wave-like deposits directly under the dark spots? Those white deposits are salt/mineral stains and are a phenomenon called "efflorescence". Efflorescence is found when conditions inside the foundation are repeatedly wet and dry from water infiltration. Water is the number one enemy of your home and you definitely do not want any inside your crawl space. Direct water penetration into the crawl space (from cracks in the foundation, leaks from plumbing pipes, missing/inadequate vapor barriers, etc.) can damage the foundation and wood structure, and create an undesirable environment in the living areas that encourages insect and fungal growth such as mold/mildew. It's a good idea to have annual inspections of your crawl space performed - especially after the kind of rain we have received lately. This kind of home maintenance can save you thousands of dollars down the road and help keep your home (and the air in it) safe.
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.
I could see from the ground that part of the stone ledge above the garage was loose. When I got on the ladder to check it out, I merely touched it and it completely came off in my hand. From that height, this could have seriously injured someone (especially a child) if it had fallen on their head. Whether you’re buying, selling, or a homeowner who hasn’t had an inspection since you bought your home, this is the kind of stuff that I find. It is SO WORTH the small investment.
.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
Rick Doherty, NC Licensed Home Inspector, on a roof checking for wood and structural damage. Roof inspections, when safe and accessible, are just one of the critical areas covered in our comprehensive home inspections. Rick moves through your home (or potential new home) foot by foot in order to provide the most thorough inspection possible.
Image courtesy of Trevor Holman Photography.
This home had a significant - but not obvious from the outside - gap in the attic. I discovered it during the home inspection and made sure to alert my client, the buyer. Gaps like this are an easy entryway for animals and insects like bats, squirrels, birds, hornets, etc. If a bat colony decides to set up residence in your attic, it is quite costly to have them safely removed ($1500 or more in most cases). In addition to unwanted house guests, gaps compromise the weathertightness of a home and make it less efficient and more prone to water damage. Findings like these are yet another reason why a good home inspector is well worth the investment.
This water stain on the ceiling might seem pretty obvious - but would you, the buyer OR the home owner, notice this in the guest bedroom closet? That is where I found this stain and it led me to the attic to investigate further, where I found evidence of a past active leak. Leaks like this lead to damaged drywall and/or sheathing and possibly mold and should be addressed immediately. Home inspections are crucial to the upkeep and proper maintenance of your home, not just during the buying and selling process.
These roof shingles have heavy moss growth presence on the front side of the roof line. The moss growth damages the shingle asphalt base and could result in accelerated aging which usually advances at the end of the shingles' life. Good roof maintenance is KEY and getting regular home and roof inspections is an important part of that.
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.
Does this look odd to you, too? This is a picture of two exhaust fan pipes from two separate second floor bathrooms vented into - but not out of - the attic. Excessive moisture from these fans is constantly vented directly into the attic, which causes condensation on the wood sheathing of the roof, on insulation, and anything else that is kept in the attic. This excessive moisture has led to what appears to be mold growth on the wood sheathing. This growth will continue to spread and the wood will eventually deteriorate. This means a leaking roof in addition to the undesirable effects of mold and/or other organic growth that you most definitely do NOT want in your home. In a nutshell, ALWAYS VENT OUTSIDE. You will save yourself money and headaches (and undesirable living conditions) if you do!
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.
If you plan on doing a little dining and dancing on your deck this summer, please make sure the support beams ACTUALLY TOUCH THE GROUND. These floaters are sure to wreck a good time if not fixed soon! It seems so obvious, but things like this get overlooked all the time - and if you're buying a home, major safety hazards should be addressed before you close. Let us help you make informed decisions that will help keep your family safe and protect your investment. The inspection report you receive will serve as a road map to your home, helping to identify the major components and where they are located, as well as pointing out areas of concern. Inspections are critically important and well worth it!
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:
Yes, we've joined the 21st Century and started a (mini) blog! Check here for great updates and tips about your current or prospective home.