What I'm Seeing Now

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Even With Wood Stairs, Beauty Can Only Be Skin Deep

Looking at the stairs they were pretty, I could give them that. 

Even with wood stairs, beauty can only be skin deep.

Sure, there's no handrail, but that's just decoration, right?

So I walked down the staircase.  Spongy! 

Especially that lowest stair, well supported as it is and all.

They deserved some further investigation.

Going around to the side I had a peek.

Prettiness is only skin deep!

The new wood is merely veneering the old wood!

And the old wood is pretty old!

That might be why the new wood is so spongy!

Gee, it seems ALL of the old wood is just as chewed up and, well, chewed up!

At least the termites are happy!

So, while standing at the bottom of the stairs, and admiring their logic, artistic placement and firm nailing, I looked to the left.

And what did I spy with my little eye?

A spongy retaining wall!

Which, in addition to this fine repair, is leaning delightfully.

Oh well, it's freshly painted!

My recommendation:  sometimes on home inspections the beauty of new stuff might only be skin deep.  But, as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  So, be sure to spy with your little eye and see what you can see.

I may have had a little fun with this post.  Hopefully my client's agent, an AR Guy himself (who introduced and recruited me to ActiveRain) won't be upset with it...

Well, at least he gets some AR points out of the deal.

 

 

 

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 52 commentsJay Markanich • March 09 2013 03:39AM

Comments

Morning Jay Uncle Bob was hoping you would not be the inspector looking at his handiwork.  He has moved on to another job and is almost finished with it.  I'm sure you'll find it eventually it won't be hard for you. :~)

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

Those steps should have a WARNING!  DANGEROUS STEPS AHEAD!! sign at the top and maybe at the bottom too.

All things considered, I believe I'd prefer to climb the hill.

 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 6 years ago

Good Morning, Jay. Sometimes folks take the easy, cheap fix over doing it right. Why not? They are not going to get the long-lasting benefits out of the improvements...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) almost 6 years ago

Clever paint job on the wall...if the wall is decorative...have at it...a retaining wall..yicks !

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

"Spongy". .not a word it should be used to describe stairs. . another good one Jay

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) almost 6 years ago

Clever disguise. Great post, Jay - I always learn something from you!

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

James - even the nails were made for indoors!

I started at the top Lenn, and knew I was in for some fun!

Michael - we have to seel the house honey.  I have to fix the stairs!

S&D - so, did the house pass the inspection?    ;>)

'Twas spongy Fernando!  As are Twinkies.

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

Thanks W&J!  But the disguise is only skin deep!

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

Those new boards are indeed window dressing. Well, there is no window involved but you know what I mean :-) They even left the tags on to prove it is new! Are those base boards 6X6's or railroad ties? Too bad that one day someone will step on one and it will collapse because they have rotted out or the termites stop holding hands to keep it together!

The wall is a whole different aminal! 

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) almost 6 years ago

Those are 4x4s Fred!  Very sturdy, even when new.  It was collapsing now in the middle!  What's there is rotting everywhere.

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

Wood near dirt can only invite problems. I do see a lot of homeowners covering up problems with wood or vinyl siding.

Posted by Edward Gilmartin (CRE) almost 6 years ago

Edward - on this house there was a "repair" of a missing piece of aluminum siding with just a piece of sheet metal!

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

Gee Jay, Those 2 items where only on the outside.  Probably time to pack it in because the inside of that house could have been much worse!

Posted by Sara Homan, Realtor, Homes, Farms & 55+ (Coldwell Banker Ellison Realty 352-209-4044) almost 6 years ago

There was a hair more Sara.  Well, kind of lots more.

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

I take it that the buyers backed out of the deal???

Posted by Sara Homan, Realtor, Homes, Farms & 55+ (Coldwell Banker Ellison Realty 352-209-4044) almost 6 years ago

Jay, Well at least they can add another layer of wood to the stairs when the new layer starts to decay :)

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

No my call Sara.  I haven't heard.

Bliz - a wondrous plan.  I will have to suggest that!  I'll look like a genius.  And thanks!

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

I've seen this happen more than once in houses. Looks great on the surface, but poke it and you've got some problems to deal with.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage ) almost 6 years ago

Those are the things flippers dream up at night Nina!

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

Jay, this is a good example where cosmetic repairs aren't what they appear to be when investigated further.

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

This was a little bit of a trampoline Mike!  But fun!

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

This is kind of like make up...can hide an awful lot underneath that might not be safe!

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) almost 6 years ago

Just had retaining wall issues on the last transaction I had.  They didn't try the paint repair, thank goodness....

Posted by Scott Nowling, Prudential Starck (Prudential Starck) almost 6 years ago

I am bothered by the lack of some sort of hand rail...a slip and fall can ruin your day..good post Jay

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

Slick.... but what I want to know is.... do people (including the listing agent) really think no one is going to notice? Seriously?

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) almost 6 years ago

Isn't the tensile stregth of paint on oders of magnitude to concrete? That fresh paint should add a lot of strength to the wall!  ;-)

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) almost 6 years ago
This is why a home inspection is so valuable. I always recommend my clients to get one and they have to sign a waiver if they decline.
Posted by Ann Nguyen, Lake Tahoe Truckee Homes For Sale (eXp Realty) almost 6 years ago

Right Gary.  And don't get it into your eyes!

With or without paint, Scott, it is inherited.

Richie - yes, true, but that's only part of the story!

Andrea - it's hard to know what people are thinking, but, I am willing to bet they aren't shocked by the report.

 

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

It's the new structural paint Than.  Very new.

A good practice Ann, but also smart.

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

Glad we don't have termites. But weather happens, like you and me, things, parts wear out.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) almost 6 years ago

Interesting way of makign old look new...interesting but not correct!  Unfortunately this happens way to often and I'm glad there are quality home inspectors to find this kind of stuff!

Posted by Marc McMaster, Putting my clients before myself (RE/MAX Centre Realty) almost 6 years ago
I'm starting to see this on REO property. The bank comes in and makes it pretty. But underneath it is a mess. Kind of like putting lipstick on a pig. The buyer sees a pretty house and wants it. All the way I'm screaming. Look at this problem etc. ouch! Buyer beware !!
Posted by Lori Williams, Lake Wylie, Gastonia, SW Charlotte, Homes for Sale (Lake Wylie, Charlotte, Gastonia Homes for Sale ABR, CDPE, SFR, ASP, Lori@LoriWilliamsRealty.com) almost 6 years ago

I hope the buyer, just ran and did not look back!

The mutual release addendum would be sent to the selling agent while looking at the stairs.

Posted by Matt Keough, New Castle County, DE, Matt Keough Agent New Castle County Delaware (Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate) almost 6 years ago

Jay, some of the things you come upon is mind boggling. Those stairs aren't even safe!! Thanks for your post today, 

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) almost 6 years ago

Jay, That is some excellent bug habitat. Got to think of them also they need homes too.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jay,  I'm sure Brian appreciates the points.  Seems like with unprotected wood-framed exterior stairs the question is not just "are they rotted?", but when will they rot, because eventually they will.  Out here essentially all the fourplexes built in the 1950s and 60s had wooden framed exterior stairs, but they've been replaced with solid concrete steps mounted on big, heavy steel pipe.  Enclosed wood framing with no ventilation rots fast when gotten wet, and that's how a lot of them were originally built.  The weight of refrigerators being moved in and out on appliance dollys with all the weight on two small wheels eventually cracks even semi-flexible surface coatings.  Staircase replacement ain't cheap.

Posted by Lloyd Binen, Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411 (Certified Realty Services) almost 6 years ago

This is why each Buyer should have a proper home inspection!  Inspectors are trained to notice these inefficiencies.

Posted by Sajy Mathew, Making your real estate dreams become a reality! (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 6 years ago

Another great post from Jay. Those stairs look a lot like an accident (and a lawsuit) just waiting to happen.

Posted by Jon Quist, Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996 (REALTY EXECUTIVES TUCSON ELITE) almost 6 years ago
Hi Jay, Sort of reminds of the caving roof that the homeowners felt would be fixed with a new shingle topping over a lot of black tar, :-) I suppose if it gets hot enough that tar will run and the caving roof will once again look.....caved in.
Posted by William Johnson, San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE (RE/MAX Associates) almost 6 years ago

That's a good one. Just keep adding layers of wood as the old stuff rots away.

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

Jay, I hate finding that people have taken short cuts like this.

Posted by Connie Harvey, Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate (Pilkerton Realtors) almost 6 years ago

Andrew - these wore out a long time ago!  The new covering does very little!

Marc - right, not correct by any measure.  But cute!

Lori - there was lipstick all over this house.

Matt - I don't know what has happened since the inspection, but certain I will hear sooner or later.

No Pamela, they are not.  But what fun to walk on!

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

Don - these stairs are providing a huge city of inhabitants!

Lloyd - it's all rotten now.  And there are more issues that just that playful bounce!

Sajy - and I had some fun playing on them as I was finding out!

Jon - well, maybe not for a little while...

William - that is probably the ultimate result!

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

Rob - and these babies will last forever then!

Connie - this is no short cut!  I think the sellers think this is a serious repair!

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

Jay depth of everything is so important and your story with the stairs reminded me of cheap cars from yesteryear with that shiny paint job that would only last a year. Get the real story. Great advice.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) almost 6 years ago

Gary - "I'm Earl Shieb and I'll paint any car for $99.99!"  I remember that!

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

Seems like a lot of work to hide something that can't really be hidden. Besides you'd think they would have at least covered up the sides of the steps and made it just a little harder to figure out the problem. 

Posted by Suesan Jenifer Therriault, "Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own". (JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team) almost 6 years ago

Nobody is going to look at the sides Sue! 

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

You see this with people, too - all veneer and no substance.

Posted by Jill Sackler, LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate (Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500) almost 6 years ago

Oooooh Jill!  So we have a metaphor post here!  Maybe the sellers lack substance and this is them communicating that?

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

Hey, what's the problem. It looks like they used PT wood. That makes it ok, right?

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

They did Jim!  And that's okay!  The rest may be a hair lacking...

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

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