What I'm Seeing Now

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All Dressed Up And No Where To Go - Vinyl Siding Over A Brick Chimney!

I have to admit, I have never seen vinyl siding over a brick chimney before.  And this is a flip (which you have met before) and as such anything that covers something else leads me to wonder.  Is this lipstick on a pig?

Some things bother me:

1.  The inside of the firebox and as much of the flue I could see was full, thickly covered, with creosote.  So this is an uncared-for chimney.  And a fire hazard.

2.  The mortar cap on top is very cracked.

3.  Looking at the bricks from the side they do not appear to be plumb.  Has the chimney pulled away from the house?  I could not see that definitively, but it would be a reason for covering the chimney with siding.

4.  The siding framing is much larger than the chimney, which gives opportunity to fudge the siding to make it look plumb.

5.  The siding goes from the ground to very near the cap.  Could this be a cover up?

You see what happens to the inspector's mind when he is inspecting a flip?  And one without permits?

Actually, aside from mentioning that the vinyl siding on a chimney is very unusual, the thick creosote, and the cap, the report said nothing about the chimney's possibly pulling away from the house.

I did verbally express my concern to the client however!

And there were enough other things about this house that were too frightful for him.  This is the first time he has purchased a house and did not have a lot of money lying around for so many necessary repairs the flipper was leaving him.

My recommendation:  people do things for reasons.  Especially flippers!  If something looks really unusual, it is probably done like that for a reason.  And if I can't figure it out, as an inspector, I assume the worst.  But, my client is paramount, not the sale.  Better safe than sorry.

 

 

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 36 commentsJay Markanich • May 09 2011 07:39AM

Comments

So old flipper is at it again?  Covering up a faulty chimney with siding smacks of something quite unethical...to say the least!

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 8 years ago

Jay,

I have vinyl on my chimney.  BUT... It is a wood framed chase with a zero-clearance fireplace.

Vinyl over brick?  Whoa!  What a red flag destroyer of confidence!

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) over 8 years ago

Good Grief!  This property is the classic "lipstick on a pig".  Good catch. 

Investor/flippers are absolutely arrogant in their assumption that a buyer/agent/inspector will look at the house visible as the flipper intended. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Jay - love the lipstick on the pig - I used that recently in one of my blog posts covering similar inspection results.  Chimneys can be a huge headache I have learned.

Posted by Carol Zingone, Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty) over 8 years ago

Good morning Jay, and good work.  Another lesson learned for me.

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com -) over 8 years ago

Looks like a cover up, smells like one too.

Think the worst, then you wouldn't be disappointed.

cheers

Nor

Posted by Nor Yeretsian, Envoy Capitol Realty Inc., Brokerage Toronto (Envoy Capitol Realty Inc.) over 8 years ago

I try to caution my buyers - especially first timers that a "beautiful" flip could be hiding some ugly truths. I am absolutely dismayed by some these investors,but not surprised.

Posted by Anne M. Costello (Weidel Realtors) over 8 years ago

Kathryn - some flips are frightful and others difficult to spot the problems.  This thing is too unusual to think is okay.

Never seen it before Mike!  There has to be a reason for it.

Lenn - fer sher.  There is some Rumanian flipper in NOVA, and I have run across his stuff from the Rotunda to Woodbridge, where this house is.  I don't have a signature to know when I am looking at his stuff, but I am told he is really upset with me!

Carol - it is cliched, but so very accurate at times!

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

Ken - the lessons are piling up, more for me than anybody!  Ten years ago I never did flip inspections.  Now they are all over the place.

Nor - one hates to assume, but when flippers are involved it is the safe route!

Anne - that is the market, and becoming the new normal.  Unfortunately.

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

But Jayyyyyyy... it looks so pretty. Did you see my little post about you?

Posted by Bob "RealMan" Timm, Owner of Ward Co. Notary Services, retired Realtor (Ward County Notary Services) over 8 years ago

Jay, It does leave one to wonder if it's for aesthetic, or illusionary purposes?  What's going on back there?  No good way to know without x-ray vision.

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 8 years ago

I had not Bob, but just read it!  Thank you!  This is the prettiest chimney I have every seen.

Bliz - the chimneys on the two houses beside were not leaning, but that has nothing to do with this chimney.  But why the cover up?  It is too weird.

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

Jay - One can only wonder at what the vinyl was hiding; and since you can't be sure, the best choice is to "skip the flip."

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) over 8 years ago

John - as you know, a sinking chimney is a big deal and one that might be hard to overcome at a future time when my client wants to sell the house.  So, why the cover up?

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

Ah, ha!  Looks as though Flipper may have forgotten some of his slight-of-hand tricks on this one!!!!

Posted by Tish Lloyd, Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches (BlueCoast Realty Corporation) over 8 years ago

Like you say, flippers do things for a reason. Often it's not for a good one.

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

Thats the right call, even when you're not aware that it is a flipper. When something is unusual it's worth a closer look. If why it was done makes no sense, follow the money, or lack there of.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 8 years ago

Tish - or this may be his sleight of hand!  I think so frankly.

Jim - certainly this is done for a reason.  What I don't know, by my suspicions are very strong.

Robert - this was worth the closet look I could, but they may have cheated on the siding to make the chimney look plumb.  That is my fear.  What we have is enough info to worry.

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

Hi Jay,

If it looks like lipstic, if it acts like Lipstick, if it sounds like Lipstick, if it smells like lipstick........ It must be a PIG!!!

Great post, Love it, and with your okay will reblog it

Posted by Peter Pfann @ eXp Realty Pfanntastic Properties in Victoria, Since 1986., Talk To or Text Peter 250-213-9490 (eXp Realty, Victoria BC www.pfanntastic.com) over 8 years ago

Thanks for the reblog P&L.  I think this is lipstick, but didn't kiss it to find out!

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

A definite cover-up Jay.  Can you picture what the mortar looks like under there?  Maybe it is just my suspicious mind.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) over 8 years ago

That is odd.  Yes, sounds like lipstick on a pig.  How do they even get that to stick?

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 8 years ago

Jack - this was too odd, but only one of many things that convinced these buyers not to purchase the house.

Debbie - not sure if lipstick sticks on a pig, which, if lipstuck probably squeals like a stuck pig.

Or something like that...    ;>)

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

Jay I defiantly agree with you about flippers! They are some of the worst! Great Blog

Posted by Mark Aakjar (Mark's Inspections) over 8 years ago

Thanks Mark.  I had a flip the other day where they had pulled permits for everything.  There were a few things to mention on the report, but it was nice to find a gem in the rough!  Mostly, though, they do not pull permits or have professionals doing the work!

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

You wounder what else they have hidden from sight.  A home to avoid!

Posted by Dan Edward Phillips, Realtor and Broker/Owner (Dan Edward Phillips) over 8 years ago

Exactly Dan.  And there was a lot.  I think my client did not go forward.

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

Jay - the word FLIP sets off red flags and the thought of not pulling permits...........oy!!!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 8 years ago

Mr Jay,

One thing bothers me more than all those inconsequentials noted by you -- (1) Why did I not get the referral on that one job?  I thoughts we had a deal.

Nutsy, certifried chimney sweep

'

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 8 years ago

There were so many things on this hous Barbara-Jo that my client just decided against it.  Many things!

Nutsy - that chimney was so full of creosote even your body wouldn't have fit inside!

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

Jay,

Ah the mysteries of what we can not see. Then the next question why!!!

It is so much better when you can really what really is going on. Every inspector should be as aware as you are.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Don - the inside of this chimney was so full of cracks and creosote, and the cap so cracked up, I have to wonder about why they would cover it with vinyl.  That sends up my antenna.  Have you ever seen a chimney decorated with vinyl siding?  I haven't.

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

Flipper was just trying to make things more eye candy pleasing gee whiz Jay....suspicious of every beautiful thing !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 8 years ago

Jaded for sure S&D.  Jaded for sure.

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

Jay, it does look good, as long as the chimney is never used...

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 8 years ago

Chris - that chimney was so cracked and dirty inside it could not be used!

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

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