What I'm Seeing Now

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One Thing Leads To Another

I have the tendency to notice things about a house I am to inspect when I am driving up to it.  When pulling up to this seven year old house I noticed even before I got into the driveway that the front porch roof seems to incline toward the house.  Looking closer I determined that it did!

That isn't good.  One thing leads to another.

Then I noticed the staining on the brick.  You can see it running from the inside corner of the porch roof all the way to ground beside the garage door.

Beside the front door there was staining and rot in the molding.

Inside the house there was staining on the drywall over the transom window.

In the living room there was staining on the floor molding and some damage to the hardwood flooring under and to the left of the window nearest the front door.  And staining and cracking in the drywall.

In the garage, there was staining on the ceiling under that window and in the drywall on the upper left corner of the garage door.  And more cracking in the drywall there.

That isn't good.  One thing leads to another.

It had not rained in some time.  There was little moisture to detect, either with an IR camera or a moisture meter.  But there looked like there was stress over the garage door.  Was the front of the house resting on a steel beam for support or a built-up micro-laminate (wood) beam?  The brick would have its own angle-iron or steel beam support.  But sometimes the house itself is supported another way. 

The cracks in the drywall, in the living room above and in the garage below, indicated movement.  And that movement was right where moisture had been getting in from that front porch roof.  Not being invasive during a home inspection, I had little choice but to suggest that it be evaluated by a structural engineer.  My clients took my advice.

After all, by then I had convinced them that one thing leads to another.

An engineer came to the house.  They opened up the wood trim covering the support behind the brick work.

This is what that revealed.  The entire front of the house was resting on a triple micro-laminate beam.  While very strong when dry, this beam system had gotten so wet it had begun not only to rot but attract termites!

The engineer said that the house was essentially resting on the one remaining interior beam.  That is testimony in itself as to how strong those things are!  A later termite inspection revealed that the vertical support under those beams was similarly infested with termites!  Yikes!!

The engineer said it was only a short period of time before the house may have collapsed!  Maybe even before settlement.  What a DISASTER that would have been...

And why?  Because one thing leads to another!

Even the sellers were grateful for the home inspection.

Wouldn't you be?

My recommendation:  recognize that houses are intricate systems.  Things are interconnected.  One thing does lead to another.  If you pay attention to the little things, the big things will often take care of themselves.

And 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

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 13 commentsJay Markanich • October 25 2009 07:55PM

Comments

Well done as always Jay. I love seeing and reading your stuff on all the boards I see you on. Reading some of your stuff is great stuff for the rest of us. Thanks.

Posted by Ian Niquette (Square One Home Inspection) over 8 years ago

Just like Creosote----one bite at a time:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

Thanks Ian for your nice compliment.  You have experiences too that you can share!

Charlie - that's what I heard the termites saying when they were smiling for my picture.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Jay,

As always, right on the money. How did the seller take the news...it is so sad when something like this goes untreated, but you certainly did right by your client!!!

Posted by Bill Saunders, Realtor®, www.BillSellsHotSprings.com (Meyers Realty) over 8 years ago

Bill - I think this was quite expensive, but the sellers were in danger as well!  Who knows when the interior front of the house might have collapsed, and that was a catastrophic possibility.  I expect they replaced the beams and side supports and anything else they found.  I am sure it was quite expensive.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Jay, I was thinking as observant as you are, your friends who want advice on one thing leading to another invite you over for dinner a lot or maybe it is the friends who are avoiding bad news never invite you over. :)

Posted by Kate Kate over 8 years ago

Interesting thsat you would say that Kate.  My kids hate driving through neighborhoods with me because I evaluate houses from the car!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

We go on vacation to another city and want to preview homes and look into financing. What can we say? The real estate industry runs in our blood, Jay. :) Kate

Posted by Kate Kate over 8 years ago

I go elsewhere and look up home inspectors to check out the local business market!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

That is truly astonishing. Everyone involved should be grateful to you for finding this problem before something terrible did happen. Nice catch!

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 8 years ago

This picture is taken about a week after the inspection James.  Everyone was mad at me until the place got opened up.  They actually did more invasion than this and I'm told that it revealed even more.  I just did not have time to wait around to see it.  This was all "call," as there was no moisture, only signs.  See that little strip of dirt beside the stair case?  There is a shrub there.  It is 12" wide!  Termite farm!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Great catch Jay and a really awesome post. One thing almost always leads to another and even though this was costly I can only imagine if it had indeed collapsed.

Posted by Suesan Jenifer Therriault, "Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own". (JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team) over 8 years ago

Sue - sometimes you see things that you think might be bad, but not knowing how bad they could really be!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

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