What I'm Seeing Now

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And There Was A Void, Devoid, And It Was Not Good. Insulation anyone?

And there was a void, devoid, and it was not good.  Insulation anyone?

Let there be insulation!

Void - adjective - completely empty, free space, free from.  From the Latin vacare  'vacate.'
Devoid - adjective - entirely lacking in.  Origin from Old French, devoidier  'cast out.'

In the beginning the builder created the townhouse.

2 And the attic was without insulation, and void; and darkness was upon the the deep.  And the Spirit of The Code moved upon the face of the builder.

3 The The Code said, Let there be light; and there was light.

4 And The Code saw that the light was good:  and it divided the dark from the light.

5 The The Code said, Let there be insulation in the midst of the attic, and let it divide the cold from the heat.

6 And the builder said, What's that?  Eh?  I think my phone dropped your call.

Thirteen years ago this townhouse was built and moved into.  It has had a single occupant all those years.

THE VOID OF THE ATTIC SPACE IS DEVOID OF INSULATION!

When he bought the house, the builder likely said something like, "You don't need a private home inspection.  Don't waste your money!  The County makes many, many inspections of this house before you get it.  We have our supervisor in your house every day before you get it.  We make sure of everything.  Don't waste your money - private home inspectors are just placebos."

Can I believe that this seller, the original owner, looked into this attic space from time to time over the years and saw it was without any insulation at all?  Yes!!  Why?

BECAUSE HERE I ASKED MY CLIENT, A CIVIL ENGINEER, AND THE REALTOR, WHOM I HAVE KNOW FOR OVER 20 YEARS, TO LOOK UP THERE AND TELL ME WHAT THEY DON'T SEE.  NEITHER NOTICED THE FACT THAT THERE IS NO INSULATION!

And there is no insulation!  Anywhere on any horizontal surface!  Zip.  Zero.  Nada.  Never has been.

Now, as to wasted money -- 

  • this homeowner has obviously been paying crushing energy bills, electric and gas, not knowing that they were very high.
  • this homeowner had been living in a house with an upstairs that was cold in the winter and hot in the summer.  How do I know it was hot up there?  Because he had put a ceiling fan in every bedroom AND the upstairs hallway!
  • this homeowner had been living in a house with dramatic temperature differences floor to floor.  In placebo, um, home inspector circles this is called "stratification," and means that because of some undue influences (in this case no attic insulation) the single HVAC system can not regulate temperatures floor to floor.  They vary a lot.  Heat seeks cold!

But you say you see some insulation up there?

There is some!  That is batt fiberglass there on the vertical walls and ceiling of the master bedroom cathedral ceiling.

Not only is it poorly placed EVERYWHERE, as you see in this photo, with holes and gaps EVERYWHERE, but ...

it is also R-11!  The pesky code in this area said R-30 in 2001 when the house was built.

What you see is dramatically too little insulation!

And now, because a placebo, um, home inspector showed up, this seller will pay crushing insulation installation costs everywhere to bring this up to a proper condition for his buyer's purchase!  (See how I used "crushing" in a different context to describe ANOTHER waste of money?)

And replace all the canister lights (seventeen of them) because they are all inappropriate for an attic space, and a FIRE HAZARD.  The builder, and his subcontractor, the "electrician," installed these inappropriate light fixtures because they were, go on, say it -- cheap.  The electrician, knowing that, probably ASSUMED they would be protected from insulation.

Signs, signs, everywhere the signs.  Blocking out the scenery, changing our minds.  Do this, don't do that, can't you see the signs?

What you see are signs of the times!

My recommendation:  the next time you are told not to get a home inspection, on ANYTHING you are buying in real estate, and you are thinking you don't need one - call me.  I will talk you down from that bad place.  I will help you off the ledge and lead you to a safe spot.  I will hug you back to reality.  I will feel like slapping you silly, but I won't.  I'll hug.  (sigh)  I'm not a placebo...

 

 

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 38 commentsJay Markanich • February 21 2014 02:14AM

Comments

Oh gosh, this was so easily avoided. So much wasted money for this person as well as probably discomfort from being too hot/too cold.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 5 years ago

And thinking it was all normal, Debbie!  Yay!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

My goodness Jay it would seem the owner would have caught it way before you showed up.  Hard lesson learned.

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) almost 5 years ago

This will be a big lesson learned James.  Life experience is a cruel, but effective, teacher.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

This is a good example of why, when a builder's salesperson says, "Oh, you don't need a home inspector, the county will do it for you", that builder's salesperson needs a hard punch in the nose.

I recall those very words out of the mouth of a builder's rep in Brambleton.  The home inspection revealed 4 full pages of defects, some very serious.  That house actually shocked me and I'm not easily shocked. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Hi Jay.

I have found the same thing in homes that have been lived in for years. New homes and never been inspected. Now the seller has to add insulation to the home. They get mad at me for finding the issues. The buyers simply say WOW.

Yes , Yes , Yes, New homes need a home inspection. Most don't get one.

Have a nice day in Bristow.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) almost 5 years ago

Good morning Jay,

One area that seems to get missed by everyone until it is too late.

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) almost 5 years ago

Jay, I guess the insulation guy saw that notice on the light fixture can that said, "Do Not Install Insulation" and thought to himself, hmmm, that must mean everywhere in the attic!!

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) almost 5 years ago

Lenn - call me before that punch happens!  I want to watch.  Any builder's rep that says that is a dope.

Clint - they can shoot the messenger all they want.  It won't stop us.

Raymond - it requires climbing up and looking!  That is hard, hard work...

No doubt Tom.  No doubt.  He saved the homeowner from a fire!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Here in Michigan it would be a huge mistake to avoid paying those extra dollars for a home inspection.  Many times lack of insulation is one of the repairs needed to be fixed before financing can be obtained, and getting proper insulation saves many future dollars.

Posted by Lynn Afton, REALTOR® Near Big Rapids, MI, Mecosta County (Greenridge Realty Oakmont) almost 5 years ago

Thanks Lynn, as you are so correct.  This is a big deal here because in the summer the AC is very expensive and would have to run all the time.  That's not to say it isn't a big deal here in the winter too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

And it was not good. I wonder where the electrical inspector was with those recessed lights? 

Posted by Mike Cooper, Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) almost 5 years ago

Mike has a good point - surely the electrical inspector would know that the attic should be insulated and therefore the lights were wrong. Maybe he didn't bother to look?

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) almost 5 years ago

He was not on a ladder looking into the attic Mike.

Marte - I think he knew.  Of course he knew.  My key word is "cheap," and that's that I think.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Bet that's been a cold thirteen years...  Installing insulation would be cheaper any day than paying those heat/cool bills.

Posted by John Dotson, The experience to get you to the other side! (Preferred Properties of Highlands, Inc. - Highlands, NC) almost 5 years ago

General inspections are essential to every home purchase.  When the general inspector identifies potential issues, it is in the best interest of the buyer to call in contractors to take a second look and bid the repairs.

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) almost 5 years ago

Isn't it amazing John?  I expect that this seller, him or her, experienced the dramatic temperature swings and thought it was normal.  And the bills!?  Also, normal.

Sharon - that's so true.  In this case I expect the seller will be making the repairs necessary because now the agent has a disclosure issue and he would have to make them for any other buyer.

In Virginia there is no disclosure law.  All sales are as is.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Why shouldn't the city or county inspector/planning department be liable for approving the final permit and pay the seller to have the insulation properly installed? 

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) almost 5 years ago

Not around here Kimo.  Once I noticed that a natural gas water heater had been installed on a propane-system house and that the county had approved it.  It was on my report.  It actually exploded later and the county disclaimed responsibility.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

haaaaaaaaa - as a musician in a Christian Rock Band, I can appreciate BOTH your Bible and musical references! VERY VERY clever, and well done!!

Good points and Grammar Lessons thru-out.

Posted by Travis "the SOLD man" Parker; Associate Broker, email: Travis@theSOLDman.me / cell: 334-494-7846 (Team Linda Simmons, Enterprise, AL 36330) almost 5 years ago

Travis - I throw rock and roll references into my posts all the time.  Sometimes they are picked up on and sometimes not.  And I'm not sure it's okay to rewrite the Bible, but I did have some fun with it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Insulation anyone?

Sound like you're offering them a glass of win, optional , of course.

Insulation is not optional. Bet you never thought you'd see that when you arrived at the home for this inspection.

An IR camera would have revealed a lot, but you certainly didn't need it. What about the walls? If it's missing in the attic what are the walls like?

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) almost 5 years ago

Unknown Robert!  But likely present as the county checks that prior to drywall.  What they doh't do is poke their heads into the attic when they should!

Not optional at all!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

So that's waht's been contibuting to global warming!  Glad you solved it

Posted by Rafi Footerman, Home Inspector, Mold Inspector, Radon and More! (Mid Jersey Inspections) almost 5 years ago

Well said and perfectly illustrated

Posted by Anna Hatridge, Missouri Realtor with Goodson Realty (Goodson Realty) almost 5 years ago

We are heating the outdoors Rafi!  My mother used to say that to us, "Close the door!  We aren't heating the outside!!"  See how easily that tape recorder goes off?

Anna - thanks!  You are welcome to stop by any time, you know.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

And then let there be another multi-million dollar class-action construction defect litigation. As an expert witness I truly love them!

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) almost 5 years ago

John - I don't know if this is typical of the houses in this neighborhood, or just this house.  But I do know the attic needs insulation now!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Jay, I can't tell you how many major class actions started with the discovery of one tiny little issue in one wall of a major subdivision, condo project or Manufactured Home community.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) almost 5 years ago

I'm sure that's true John.  This house is 13 years old, so if other houses had this same issue it is likely that they have gotten it fixed.  But who knows!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Add to that a typical 10 year statute of limitations and the point is mute. 

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) almost 5 years ago

The builder is long past "responsibility," John.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

I wonder how much not get a new Home Inspection cost the buyer in energy cost?  Not to mention the comfort.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Not only that Gene, but now they have to make things right!  Mucho expensivo.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Interesting and creative twist on this post! Good reminder to look in the attic with the professionals who might not notice!

Posted by Eren Millam almost 5 years ago

Gotta look Eren!  What is surprising is the amount of time this homeowner lived with this disaster.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Good post, so many times buyers think new construction doesn't have problems and I try to tell them, they can have more than an older home. When things look new and pretty, who would think! Yes, new homes do need a home inspection.

Posted by Rita White, AB, ABR, GRI, SRES, CNE, SFR (Keller Williams Realty Partners) almost 5 years ago

Thanks Rita.  New and old homes!  That is what we do.  Who knows what is going on in there until we look.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

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