I have had clients over the phone ask me if this: can I tell from outside a house that there is a structural problem?
The answer is yes, sometimes.
From the deck I noticed that the window looks to be sinking on the left side.
Hard to tell from this photo, but up close it is really dramatic.
Notice that the framing of the window is not lining up with the brick, which is basically level.
The window is resting on the wood framing that is inside the wall, hidden by drywall.
Why would it be moving?
Certainly because of what is happening inside the wall underneath that window, and all the way to the basement floor below. That, too, is all hidden by drywall.
So while we have a bit of a mystery here, we know that there is something going on.
Visible here, it is also beginning to affect the brick.
In addition, notice how the window is somewhat level and plumb still, but the sill is sinking.
Looking at the drywall inside there is no indication of a problem.
What does the home inspector do?
He simply discusses what he observes with the buyer, notes it on the report, and suggests that the buyer get a structural specialist to determine what might be the cause. That is the home inspector Best Practice.
This house is an REO, so it is unlikely that the bank will consent to allow an engineer to cut into the drywall to evaluate what's going on. But that is what it would take.
My recommendation: every house needs to be evaluated as completely as possible. And sometimes it is not in the cards for a total evaluation to take place. But, if a buyer is circumspect, something like this could cancel a deal if the buyer cannot feel comfortable with a purchase before understanding what a seen defect might entail or cost. Particularly when it is a structural defect.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560