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