When the screwdriver isn't just for screws.
Not that I haven't seen this before. It's just fun when you can use tools in different ways!
The inspection on this house saw repairs on every single column in front of this house. There are eight such columns.
Very recent "repairs" on each one were most evident. The "repair" material was soft to the touch, squishy when tapped on, painted unprofessionally, and obviously covering up rot. I could have stuck my finger inside the columns in many places.
It looked to this home inspector like every repair on EVERY column was stopgap, would not last very long, and was intended simply to sell the house.
HOME INSPECTORS DON'T GET INVASIVE OR DESTRUCTIVE DURING HOME INSPECTIONS.
The listing agent was called who was obviously aware of the circumstance. Defensive, she basically said that the home inspector is incompetent and should be able to prove what he thinks he sees. And if he doesn't know what he is looking at they should get someone else. Oh, and he has no business saying mean things without proof.
The house has a front porch with lower columns holding up a flat balcony platform, and higher columns on top of them which hold up a large front roof. There are eight columns total.
So I asked the selling agent to get the seller's permission to see if there is wood rot present. They granted permission to see if I could "prove" a problem and allowed the screwdriver test, but only on one column. When asked which one I was given permission to test one of the higher ones.
Picking one I climbed up to have a look.
My screwdriver is circled on the left. A closer look at it is on the right.
That screwdriver is stuck into what is a gaping hole in the wood created by rot. It was easily inserted into some form of putty. The putty is quite soft. And there is soft material all around the area.
That column, indeed all of the columns, are rotting and "repaired" in this fashion. My screwdriver would have stuck like this into any one of them. Some were much worse.
My recommendation: an experienced home inspector can usually look at something and see it is unprofessionally done, and would immediately suspect a cover up. But most home inspectors are too polite to say such a thing on a report. Like I did, they would couch things with language that isn't accusing or mean, but filled with question marks, suggesting that the history of the repairs be asked of the sellers, and that further investigation by a structural specialist would be warranted. BUT, if given permission, a home inspector is quite able to prove what is going on! After all, the screwdriver isn't just for screws!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560