What I'm Seeing Now

head_left_image

"When Is It Okay To Bury Siding Behind Soil? Ever?"

Pulling into the driveway and seeing the house from a distance, I saw the front siding was virtually underground, and thought, "When it it okay to bury siding behind soil?  Ever?"

Getting out and getting closer I was pleasantly surprised.  It turns out that in this case it is okay!

The image on the right may be about the size of the view I had from the car pulling in.

What do you think?  Should siding ever be buried?

At first glance I could only think we were in for a wild inspection - water, moisture, mold, and coughing!  I do not like to spend much time in basements when I discover a lot of mold.  Only minutes.  I have gone home sick before and stayed sick for a day or more.  Once in a house with dramatic problems I coughed for 3 weeks!  And I wasn't down there that long!

However, when I got closer, I could see an interesting siding design!

It is a 50s concrete block, not very common, and no longer used today (that I know of).

Contacting a masonry friend of mine, he calls this a form of "Sill Block."  He said that this block is a very dense aggregate and quite solid.  They are as wide as 2 1/2 typical concrete blocks.

This block was created to make a particular design of wall appearance.  It really stands out.

In this house the brick work extends from the ground to the roof line!

I have never seen concrete block walls done this way before.  I admired it all over the house.  It was fitted well, and had zero movement or cracking.  Not seeing so much of it, maybe it was not popular and did not catch on.

Longer members are used for window and door headers.  They must be specially reinforced.

And it is trimmed at angles to accommodate the roof line, no matter the line.  They must have cut it with some kind of tile saw and water.  I bet it was a lot of work to put together this house!

The basement was impressively dry, on the finished and unfinished sections of wall.  Not a sound could be heard when trucks went down the road 50 or so feet from the house.  I would love to see the design of the block, to see if and how holes are done and how such holes fit together when the blocks are stacked one onto another.  Taking in the entirety of the structure, it was most impressive!

My recommendation:  interesting construction is just that!  What doesn't work in one context can work in another.  In this case the walls were fine, the block acted as foundation and siding, and all was well with the basement, which is almost entirely underground.  This is a solid house!

 

 

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 21 commentsJay Markanich • May 30 2014 03:16AM

Comments

I have seen a few of these old styles here in Florida. Creative look from the street that does not look like plain old concrete blocks.

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 4 years ago

How interesting Jay.  I bet the material and labor are more expensive and that's why it wasn't used often.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 4 years ago

It is a creative design Gary.

Debbie - all that is likely true and possibly why it did not catch on and is not done today.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Very nice. I have not seen it before either. Thanks for sharing the find.

Posted by Jeffrey Jonas- Minnesota Home Inspector (Critical Eye Property Inspections / JRJ Consultants) over 4 years ago

Pretty cool, huh Jeffrey?  Personally I don't like the look, but did find it fascinating.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay.... concrete is pourous and not much of an R factor! are the framing members larger to hold more insulation?

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) over 4 years ago

I've never seen that before. It's like super heavy duty siding. I kind of wish this caught on. 

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) over 4 years ago

There are 2x4 walls Barbara and 1956 construction.  The attic insulation is seriously poor, so I expect the same inside the walls.

It is exactly that Suzanne!  It's kind of an odd look.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I've never seen that. It appears to have a rough edge so it's probably not the cleanest look, but as you said it works.

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) over 4 years ago

This was a very solid house, Tom!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay- isn't it refreshing to see that sometimes things can be done right!  

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 4 years ago

This was a solid house Kathy.  On a country road just outside of a little town called Leesburg.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

What a unique design Jay! Much better than the standard block wall construction, too bad it didn't catch on.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) over 4 years ago

That's one heavy house Tom.  I'm surprised it hasn't sunk to China by now.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

That's pretty cool! Never seen a house like that here. I have found houses built of concrete block. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 4 years ago

This was the weirdest stuff Jim.  It went all the way to the apex of the roof.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, very cool---haven't run into one here---ouch that would hurt anyway!  A few regular concrete block houses with the typical issues---but nothing like what you picture.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

I see regular concrete block all the time.  This was a much denser material than that.  I bet these blocks were really heavy to work with, Charlie.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Thanks for the lesson on siding Jay.  As for the mold -- a colleague of mine went into a house with severe mold and ended up being hospitalized because of it.  The damage it did to his lungs was severe and he still has effects today.  My recommendation is to wear a mask so you don't contaminate your lungs.  Stay Safe!

Posted by Alicia Utz, REALTOR & Military Relocation Professional in NOVA (EXIT Realty Associates) over 4 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Next trip south I will have to take a side trip!

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 4 years ago

Alicia - oftentimes i run into the mold before I know it's there.  Theoretically I could wear a mask at every inspection!

To come see the funny brick house Raymond?  Well, let me know!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments