This is a 42 year old house with a clue outside that would lead a home inspector to think things before he goes inside! And, as with so many things, in Jay's School of Inspectology - we investigate completely!
What's the teensy clue outside? A four foot wide window well.
And just what is so exciting about that? This is a 42 year old house. In those days window wells were not connected to drains or sump pumps, as they are now.
And this is uncovered, meaning it has been a conduit for water flow against the foundation wall. The wall is concrete block. Over time, water pressure weakens and soaks concrete block.
Inside however, the wall looked great!
TOO GOOD IN FACT.
This is an estate sale. An elderly woman lived here since 1969. She was the first and only owner.
There is no damage whatever to this wall. And only a very slight musty smell. And the whole house was freshly painted.
EVERYTHING IS JUST TOO CLEAN. HOW DOES AN INSPECTOR GO ABOUT INVESTIGATING THIS?
A little difficult to convey in these photos, but this inspector starts with his flashlight. It's a really bright flashlight. I hold it flat against the wall.
Why? To see if there have been any recent drywall repairs, covered over with primer and paint! I found better than that. I found an entire new wall! There were four new sections of 4' drywall, with very visible seams. The seam on the left photo is in the corner, and the right photo just to the left of the window. I could SMELL the new joint compound!
Looking more closely, the floor molding, which looks exactly like the rest of the room, was new, unlike the rest of the room!
So class - WHY WOULD AN ENTIRE WALL NEED TO BE REPLACED?
Because the previous wall was a mess!
Putting my moisture meter on the wall the needle LEAPED to >30%. That means it could be as high as 100%. It also means active moisture intrusion. Feeling the new carpet at the floor molding it was wet!
My clients watched my whole, deliberate exercise, wide eyed and dead silent. I think they were afraid to interrupt! The whole time I was describing my procedure and what I concluded after each stage. The buyer said, "This is like watching a CSI guy!"
Another clue was in the laundry room to the rear of these photos. In it was a brand new dehumidifier, draining into a floor drain. It did not turn off the whole time we were there. That constant drying of the air would help to eliminate any moldy odor.
Would an elderly woman replace an entire basement wall (only the one under a window well), put in new carpeting and hook up a brand new dehumidifier just prior to passing away? Likely not. Would the kid(s) trying to sell the house cover up a bad circumstance? Unfortunately you already know the answer to that.
What is being covered up? Certainly a really wet wall, probably microbial growth, possible foundation cracking and rotten studs.
This set me off into Sherlock mode and I began finding MANY other things in the newly-renovated house. The buyers were shocked, truly. The selling agent was shocked, and upset. I received an email from her that night saying the listing agent was shocked at what we found and was removing herself from the listing for fear of the liability. Good for her.
The house was a disaster.
My recommendation: sometimes home inspections are a bit of hide and seek, a little CSI and some detective sleuthing. But all that is necessary. I have clients to protect! Not to mention my reputation. But things like this must, must, must be investigated completely!
At Jay's School of Inspectology, we expect the best and assume the worst. Works every time!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560