What I'm Seeing Now

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One Structural Thing Leads To Another And Then To Another

Structural settlement is unpredictable as to its time frame, but one structural thing leads to another and then to another.

When structural movement is detected it is hard to know if it has happened slowly (in the case of this house for over 40 years) or in the last couple of years if they have been wetter than normal.  My guess is that this particular movement has been slow.

Chimneys can move and this chimney, located right center of the side of this end-of-the-row townhouse, has come off about 3/4". 

Between the chimney and the front stoop is about 20' of low brick wall, onto which rests aluminum siding.

The front end of the house is composed of a brick stoop which is about 4' high, leading to the front door.

Is the one thing (chimney movement) leading to another, and then to another?  That downspout drains RIGHT BESIDE the foundation wall, and that is never helpful.  So, all things considered, what is going on?

The movement is obvious.

And what I suspected was going on inside was in fact going on inside!

This spot, combined with the downspout discharge, looked the most suspicious to me.  Everything is opening up!

How much of a crack does water need to get in?  And how much movement can a concrete block foundation take?

The closet under the stairs was so full of "stuff" that I had to virtually swim over it to get to see the corner I wanted to see.  This would be directly under that gap in the siding beside the stoop.

It had rained two days prior to my inspection.  Perfect timing to see if moisture is getting in.  And fortunately that corner was not blocked with lost of that "stuff!"  If so, I would only have been able to say what I suspected, without documentation.  This photo is documentation.

I THINK THIS HAS BEEN HAPPENING FOR SOME TIME.

And I think the tenants know it is happening and don't put "stuff" there so it doesn't get wet!

My recommendation:  one thing truly leads to another.  There is always a logical progression with structure.  In this case it was possible to see the results.  Sometimes the belongings and "stuff" are not so forgiving and things cannot be viewed.  But when they can be viewed, physics and logic are pretty consistent.

 

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 35 commentsJay Markanich • June 10 2012 03:09AM

Comments

Good morning Jay one cannot argue with photos although with things like photo shop and all digital things I wonder sometime if it is such a good thing. 

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 6 years ago

Yes, I guess it really is ideal to do inspections a day or two after it rains...and we've had a lot of that lately.  Also, it seems when there is a little crack where water can get in, that it can often get worse during the winter when the water freezes and expands.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 6 years ago

Jay...see, the tenants think the landlord is pouring WATER into the basement on PURPOSE so they are withholding their rent and are going to hold up the selling agent and the listing agent when it comes time to close....all in the name of getting their deposit back

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) over 6 years ago

Do you mean to be able to document things James?  I used to have a Polaroid camera made for construction and documenting things.  Nothing was clear and the photos had to be mailed.  And if I wanted a copy for my files I had to take two!

Debbie - it's absolutely the best time!

Wallace - you might be right!  But I don't know - it seems to me they know all about this water!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

My wife and I stayed at an Inn, the last few day, that was just beautiful. If you have done an inspection on this property, you could have written the same blog. There was not a level floor in the entire building and it all stated with the footing and foundation.

Posted by Joe Petrowsky, Your Mortgage Consultant for Life (Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709) over 6 years ago

Old place Joe?  Or just wet?  We stayed at an Inn once in countryside Virginia, in the same room and bed supposedly once used by Stonewall Jackson and his wife.  That was one sinking in too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

And one thing is certain, nothing is going to change for the good until they fix that issue. You would think that the tenants would have mentioned the issue with the dampness in the closet though.

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 6 years ago

I don't know Kathryn.  These sellers and buyers are not in the country and a realtor is the property "manager."

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Jay, It's always something I wonder when we see those cracks.  Something new, or something that has come and gone and you're back to a "stable" state again?

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 6 years ago

Jay, all the lumber in the world isn't going to keep the water from coming in. These things need to be fixed in the early stages or they will undoubtedly get worse over time.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 6 years ago

Good morning Jay - great photos. Makes me wish for an inspector like you here in NJ :)

Posted by Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl, The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate (Samsel & Associates) over 6 years ago

Pretty meaty and informative Jay...thank you for sharing....Lot going on in Real Estate and the pros know about it

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 6 years ago

Thanks for sharing Jay, I have never understood Realtors trying to be property managers.

Posted by Wayne Jackson, North Idaho Realtor, Serving Coeur dnullAlene and Hayden Lake (Lakeshore Realty 208-714-4109) over 6 years ago
Nice explanation. It is certain that things go awry for a reason. Ignoring problems can just exacerbate the problem.
Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 6 years ago

Jay - Thanks for the detailed information about one structural things leads to another and then to another.

Posted by John Pusa, Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest) over 6 years ago

Masonry can absorb lots of water so when it's oozing out of it that's usually not a good sign. Plus water is great at pushing stuff around.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) over 6 years ago

Bliz - it's hard to know just how long things have been going on, but I think this one has been a while.  Is it ongoing?  Probably also.

Mike - this looks to have been something needing to be addressed years ago.  To let it go makes things worse.

Thank you W&J, but you probably have them!

Richie - the veterans do, the newbies think everything will only go up from here!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Wayne - I think this one thinks that doing so guarantees a sale at a later date.  But we don't know what we don't know!

Gary - this one is exacerbated to be sure!  And apparently the tenants know!

You're welcome John.  People need to understand that houses are systems and everything is connected somehow.

This is oozing for sure Rob!  And those walls are probably full up!  That water problem probably shows up every rain storm, in some way.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Hi Jay, With our soils here in California, we see settling quite frequently. On raised foundations it seems that it would be somewhat less difficult to correct. On slab and where basements are present, it can be some very costly repairs. Is it more our poor building methods or do you suggest other reasons why this type of issue can be so prevalent. I have seen homes that are well over a 100 years old , sitting as firm and water tight as when they were built. Obviously things in construction have changed and not always for the better.

 

Posted by William Johnson, San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE (RE/MAX Associates) over 6 years ago

I think modern suffers from a malady called "professionalism," Bill, or the lack thereof.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

You're welcome Ann, and yes, drainage is one of the most important things outside the house.  The skin is important too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

You are one good inspector.. You are on top of things.. and know where to look to see if there are indications for further problems!

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 6 years ago

Jay:

Lucky you were called to inspect the problem.  You found evidence of water intrusion in the house unfortunately for the owner.

Posted by Evelyn Kennedy, Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA (Alain Pinel Realtors) over 6 years ago

Jay -- as I suspected, more pictures from the house where the principals are all overseas.  It is too bad the owners haven't had a property inspection done some time in the past, to keep track of what might have been happening.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 6 years ago

The great domino effect.  Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Eric Salonga, Your Key to the Central Valley (The Salonga Brothers at Reed Realty) over 6 years ago

Yep, deferred maintainance turns into a real expensive repair.  I've seen it a lot...

Posted by Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI, REALTOR and Broker (Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates) over 6 years ago

Joan - thanks, and in this house I got to go swimming over a bunch of stored stuff!

Evelyn - this gets fixed no matter what happens.  I think it's a huge problem.

Steven - who know when or if it was last inspected.  But these problems have been there a while I think!

Gary - this is the very definition of deferred!  And done right I think it will take a few pennies.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

You should've put The Fixx's song in here as background music.  

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) over 6 years ago

Not a bad idea Chris Ann!  Can you come over and show me how to do that?  I will be home about 7 tonight.

Thanks!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Jay, that is why a "band-aid" rarley works, we must find the underlying (or root) cause and address that.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 6 years ago

They don't work Chris!  This is a job requiring a real pro.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

That wall has been getting wet a long time. The fact that no stuff was in the way would be a good indication that it's wet there most of the time. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 6 years ago

I agree Jim, and the tenants appear to know not to put stuff there!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

These things seem to take on a life of their own....and one that no one really wants to address.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 6 years ago

S&D - if they want to sell this house, it will get addressed now!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

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