What I'm Seeing Now


Happy Family

I love Chinese food.  One item on the menu, it seems, in every restaurant is a variation of something called "Happy Family."  It usually consists of three meats, say beef, chicken and pork, together with a bunch of veggies.  But the meal always comes with three things together.

In a recent inspection, of a flip, of course, the clients and Realtor were impressed with the quality of the work inside.  But, even though the house was remodeled by a Class A contractor, the buyers thought it wise to have a home inspection anyway.  That is very smart.

There were enough things on this house to provide fodder for many weeks worth of blogs!  If what I can see is so comical, what about those things I cannot see!  Frightful!

This is a view of a fine new bathroom built in the basement.  It looks like your basic new bathroom.

At first glance I thought something was odd.  It was.  This space used to be the laundry room.  How did I know?  Two ways.













The first clue was the sink.  Notice the "S" trap?  It does not look like the traps you are used to seeing, called the "P" trap.  An S trap is usually used when there is no venting to tie into.  And they are usually less effective.  The copper pipes come from the right and the drain goes to the right, inside that little chase next to the floor.  The second clue was this:

The Happy Family!

The tub utilizes the original drain in the previous laundry room's washing machine drain!  How do I know?  The size of the floor drain line.  And where it is located - inside what was the back wall of the laundry.

The drain beside it, going to the left under the wall, connects to the toilet!  Looking beside the tub, it turns downward into the floor right in line with the back of the toilet.  This is the only drain they could use and still tie it into the floor with the tub drain.  It is too small to drain a toilet.  The toilet flushed sluggishly with large, gurgling bubbles.

The tube on the top which ties into the toilet drain is from the sink above!  It makes a long, circuitous route, with three 90 degree turns, sharing the drain with the toilet!

I am pretty sure the County did not approve this!

They are using the original 2" drain line beneath the floor because the main drain stack is 2' to the right of this photo and the floor slab was not broken up to accommodate a larger drain line.

So three bathroom fixtures drain into the same 2" floor drain from the original laundry room.

Where is the laundry room now?  Do you see the fuzzy silver tubing on the right side of this photo?

That is the hot water line for the washing machine.  The horizontal drain beneath it is the drain line.

The question was, where's the laundry room now?

In the family room!

You see, it is the great circle of life.  The Happy Family of the laundry room (washing machine, laundry tub and dryer) is now in the family room!

It's a beautiful thing!

Oh, you can't see it here, but that door is below ground.  Outside it is the stairwell with a drain.  I think that drain has been clogged for a long time because there sure is a lot of staining on the new tile floor, coming from the door!  The floor molding, recently painted also, registers over 30% moisture, as to the walls to the right and left of the door!

Wow, do we have a problem here?

The advertised basement "master bedroom" and "master bath" are in the corner of the basement, with one high, small sliding basement window, one door as a means of egress, and the family room is now the laundry room.

The Fire Marshall would be very interested in this arrangement!

Do you think the Class A contractor had permits for any of this?  And this was one of many, many similarly idyllic features of this newly remodeled house.



My recommendation:  Get a home inspector on your side!  And don't rely on a Class A Flipper, however cute he might be.


Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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


Comment balloon 8 commentsJay Markanich • June 14 2010 08:42PM


Jay - Flippers and "handy" home owners can create some "nasty" problems, some of which cost so much to repair they would have been better off not attempting the "remodel."  But at least you saved one more buyer from serious grief.  Great work!

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) about 9 years ago

John - the Realtor called me just tonight to thank me for my frankness during the inspection.  I am not an alarmist, but not a sugar coater either.  My fee was the cheapest money that couple spent in a long time!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago


I have had a job or two where I has expected a known builder to have done a better job than he did.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 9 years ago

Hi Jay, I guess even the best builders seem to cut corners in hard times, what was he thinking?....what a mess! jay

Posted by Jay Lloyd, Allpro Home Inspection (Cape Coral Florida) about 9 years ago

I agree with John - great work! And how scary to think that had the buyers just gone along with what the sellers were telling them, they'd have been REALLY unhappy later on.

Posted by Mike Martin, Realty Masters & Associates ((909) 476-9600 ~ WeLoveSellingRealEstate.com) about 9 years ago

Steve - it really lends one to wonder what is meant by "Class A," and what it takes to get that designation around here...

Jay - cut corners or maybe not know?  You would have had fun in this joint.

Mike - this house had stuff I laughed at, which was a bit unprofessional in front of my client.  He is a retired army guy and thought it was pretty funny too.


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

  Our offers require the seller to produce permits and satisfactions from any work they did or had done since purhasing the house...guess they forgot that ...hmm

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 9 years ago

No permits here S&D, for sure!  This was one of a million things just as interesting...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

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