What I'm Seeing Now


An Historic Mess!

I was excited recently when I was called to inspect a very historic property in Northern Virginia.  Built in 1902, it has been actively listed and on the market for two years.  No offers.  Historic properties abound here and I love seeing them.  The picture is blurry.

The buyer had grand plans to fix it up a bit and rent it out for a while until the market improves.  They were grand plans.

I met him in front.  He said, "We need to go through the back door."

"No problem.  Let's go."









The rear door turned out to be a piece of plywood over an old cellar door, the metal door long gone.  I helped him open it.




And this is what I saw.


It wasn't that deep, but the stairs were a bit frightful!



Well, maybe all this trash was moved toward the door to be able to get it out.




Well, no.  On the left, under that window, is the other end of that stair way entrance into the cellar.

We picked our way through the mess.

The house as been vacant for two years, the seller residing now in a nursing home.  There is no water or gas, although there was electricity.


When he called, he wanted me to determine the condition of the structure, the heating system, water heater, and roof.  I could see from the outside that the roof was in rough shape as a large limb had fallen onto it in the rear.  That couldn't be pretty from inside I thought.  But as to the rest...

The structure was generally a mish mash of fixes here and there.  As something sagged, it was supported from underneath - a column here, another there, a shim or two, some under floor support.  All resting right on the ground!  And cute!

It was quite wet (muddy dirt floor), moldy, sagging, full of termites and, in my opinion, dangerous!!

I recommended an engineer, but could say that it would need to be replaced, perhaps piece by piece.  Since this is an historic property, it could not be razed.  Repairs would be mandated, difficult, piecemeal and expensive.

To say the least.

"Well," he asked, "what about the heating system?"

And, here it is...



This is his picture, but you get the idea.  The unit was old, rusty, dirty and not usable.  The very old radiator service lines were the same, and galvanized!

I told him he would surely have to replace the unit, and probably the service lines as well.

It would be a major operation.


To say the least!




And the water heater?


It was a bit rough as well.


Not very old (12 years) but fairly used up, rusting all over, no incline on the very corroded vent line, no tube on the TPR valve, interesting heat deflector above...


Overall, I think it needed to be replaced.


To say the least!




"How about that old water heater on the other side?"


"Um, no, that one won't work either.  You will need a new one period."


To say the least!


He was disappointed to hear all this.  (His wife was not...)



"Well, what about the roof?  We should at least see that while we are here."  We made our way up some scary stairs to the main level.  The house was so full of debris and stuff that I could not see the floor or walls anywhere!  And I mean anywhere!


This is typical of what I saw when we got upstairs - the ceilings looked like this in most of the upper level bedrooms.  I said, "The roof looks to be in bad shape all over."


To say the least!


The access to the attic was a staircase in a bedroom closet. We had to move stuff just for me to be able to get onto the first step! I looked.




I couldn't see too much...












Most of the house looked like this!  I did not expect much better in the attic.  I was not disappointed!  What bothered me most about the attic was the many, many huge piles of raccoon poop!  I hoped one would NOT show up.  They can be very mean when you approach or enter their territory!

My client said, "I think I'm going to blow up this deal.  I was just hoping to remove all the trash, fix a couple of things and rent the place out.  I think this is going to be more than I bargained for."

To say the least!

His wife said, "Thank you for saving him from himself!" Another day, another salvation!  All in a day's work...

My recommendation:  Historic properties can be interesting and a lot of fun!  Not all of them are like this.  But when you get a call to list or sell one, get a home inspection!




Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 112 commentsJay Markanich • August 28 2009 04:43AM
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