A Realtor referred his neighbor to me. She was afraid she had a lot of water in her house, and walls, and had called three companies to dry her house out. One thing she had been told was, "We include demustification. Not everybody does that."
Demustification? Really? I laughed at the word.
What did she have to lose? She emailed me with her problems. They didn't sound serious, but I asked her if she could scan and email me the estimates. What a fun read!
This is the front of the house in question.
The house is 62 years old. You are looking at the front corner, the corner of the three-flue chimney, and side addition.
Somebody had suggested years ago that she put those extensions on the downspouts. They worked as she stopped having damp staining on the fireplace bricks inside.
That front room is the lower-level family room, with a fireplace. There are original hardwood floors, not the least damaged by moisture.
Estimate 1 - attach buried drain lines to each downspout and extend the discharge further toward the street. It included a crude map to show what they meant. $4350
Estimate 2 - included a sump pump in the furnace room behind the family room, and another in the corner of the family room (how cute would that be!), in addition to new gutters and downspouts, buried drain lines and painting the furnace room walls with waterproof paint. This included the very mysterious "demustification," and "fireplace wrap," whatever in the world that is. $5800
Estimate 3 - totally verbal! The "very slick" salesman (her words) offered all kinds of things they would do, including changing roof "things," sump pumps, new drain lines, reworking the rear deck. He went on and on. The verbal estimate was "in the $10-12,000 range, but he would not commit to capping the estimate because they didn't "know what they might find once they got into the job." He wanted a check for $5000 immediately to get started right away.
Here is what these salesmen saw - single lady, in a well-do-do neighborhood, handicapped, wheel-chair bound grown son, nobody home during the day, and free reign to say what they wanted. They saw $$$.
AS SOON AS I READ THE FIRST ESTIMATE RECOMMENDING THAT NOTHING BE DONE INSIDE, I KNEW THEY DID NOT FIND MOISTURE. ANY DOPE CAN RECOMMEND EXTENDING THE DOWNSPOUTS! THAT'S A LOT OF MONEY FOR DOWNSPOUT EXTENSION!!
This is the front corner in question.
She had removed the wallpaper because one of the salesmen told her to do it before he could "properly evaluate the wall."
Some minor staining can be seen on the edge of the chimney brick.
Those spots are my paint jobs for this photo.
The round bluer spots registered 15%, and the lighter blue 12-13% moisture. That's a bit elevated, but not significant. It's residual from the recent rain. And a very small area.
My thermal camera detected no moisture.
Now, wouldn't a sump pump right there in the corner beside the fireplace just light up the room!?
I showed her the moisture meter, and the thermal images, and the lack of issue in the furnace room. She had a hard time understanding that there really was no problem because, after all, three very nice gentlemen had told her what a bad problem she has, used clever words like "demustification," "fireplace wrap," and sounded very professional.
I have no idea what either of those things are. And besides, there was NO musty smell!
"Then why did you ask your Realtor friend, and then contact me?"
"BECAUSE IT DIDN'T FEEL RIGHT TO ME."
She was going to be taken and taken big! Good for her for not going with any of those estimates!!
My recommendation: when you have a problem, and/or get estimates for what you think needs to be done, it is a very good idea to contact an independent, experienced home inspector who has no financial interest the results of the inspection! Surely it is very hard to know who will give an honest estimate for honest work, so the INDEPENDENCE of a home inspector is worth gold.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560