What I'm Seeing Now

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Custom-Fit Patio

Walking around back I saw a custom-fit patio.

There's nothing wrong with that, if it is professional and takes common sense into account.

In this case there is not a lot that takes common sense into account.

For example, a small pocket was created in the patio to house the AC compressor.

OK, it's custom fit.

Is there a problem with that?  In my opinion yes. 

1.  The compressor is 16 years old.  How much longer will it last?

2.  When it is replaced, will the new unit have exactly the same footprint as this one?  Will it fit so precisely into this pocket?  Not likely.

So then what?  We have a built-in issue.

The other thing bothering me is not so obvious in this photo.  But it is there.

The entirety of the siding along this wall, and the adjacent wall 90 degrees to this one, is buried by concrete.

And the patio is angled to divert water toward the basement door.

If the siding needs replacement how do you do it?

And, probably worse, this creates two protected, dark, perpetually-wet walls that will be very moist and attractive to rot and termites!

And look, there is a present water source!

See it?

There is a large gap where the AC lines enter the house.  But even without this hole there is a continual moisture source for rot and the termites.

To me this is a big deal!

I'm not a termite professional, but this patio is 9" deep and that seems like difficult material to control insofar as termite activity.

My recommendation:  taking a class on how to do something may not  give you all the information necessary to do a job in a professional manner.  And if a "professional company" did this work, they did no favors for the homeowner(s) of this house!  I do not regard this as a professional job.  There are too many built-in problems!  So, what to do now?  Is it possible to prevent moisture intrusion into these walls, and therefore structural rot or mold?  And, very importantly, find out from a termite company if this built-in moisture problem can be controlled and termite infestation prevented.  As good looking as the patio may be, it could be the Trojan Horse of Perpetual Problems.

 

 

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 37 commentsJay Markanich • July 09 2014 04:02AM

Comments

Good morning Jay,

Get Uncle John out with the saw to make the pit for the A/C larger; or make it a fire pit!

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

Kind of close to the house for a fire pit Raymond!  And where would the AC unit go?  But I like your style!

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


This does look like a lot of future issues. Also, it looks like a lot rain water can collect in that custom cut out, and I'm guessing that's not good either. - Debbie

Posted by Women of Westchester Working Together, Women helping Women get ahead (Women of Westchester Working Together) over 4 years ago

I know Debbie.  There's gravel in there, but I don't know about drainage.

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

Water, water everywhere.  Of course, most of the attention to this area would be the ground cover, the material of which I can't determine. 

Water causes more destructive damage to homes than anything I can imagine. 

As I've said many times, an experienced home inspector should be involved in any home building, improvement activity.

Problem is, no one will pay for the service.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 4 years ago

I hope this was the handy work of a weekend warrior. If a professional did this to my house, we would be going to court.

Posted by Doug Rogers, Your Alexandria Louisiana Agent (Bayou Properties) over 4 years ago

When I had my patio redone, I made sure to tell them to leave ample space around the compressor. Mine's very old too and will need replacing soon. 

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

Nothing like professional work.

During my years of building it was amazing th enumber of sub-contractors that could not do their jobs properly. Concrete sloping the wrong way, poor nailing, level and plumb? HA!

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 4 years ago

Termites already have put this location on their "must visit" list for the summer. 

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) over 4 years ago

The best thing I can think of, is when the siding need to be replaced they will have to jack hammer this thing out and hopefully do it right.

Posted by Matt Brady, Lending With Competence And Character (Skyline Home Loans) over 4 years ago

Gotta love a well designed termite feeding station

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

All good points Jay. I was most concerned with trapped moisture. 

Posted by Sussie Sutton, UTR TEXAS Realtors - Rep for buyers and sellers. (UTR Texas Realtors) over 4 years ago

That's why we need to hire professionals. That termite greeting card is a big problem!

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

Wow, good catch.  The sad part is that you can't do much for it now, unless the current homeowners want to fix the problem before selling. There is a lesson in this for all of us

Posted by Alexa Sanchez, Realtor Extraordinaire over 4 years ago

I see some retrofitting in their future. i suppose at some point someone will just fill in the existing custom hole with with concrete ( that won't match), then set the new unit over it. Water problems are annoying enough without having to intentionally create them. A professional should know better and should have advise the homeowner about these issues that you mention.

Posted by Jeff Pearl, Full Service Full Time Realtor (RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA) over 4 years ago

I've seen this before and siding right against concrete is really not the best idea! 

Posted by Marc McMaster, Putting my clients before myself (RE/MAX Centre Realty) over 4 years ago

I've seen some pretty absurd "what were they thinking" type situations over the years too. But the scary thing is many times they have a professional do the work!

 

Posted by Colleen Fischesser Northwest Property Shop, A Tradition of Trust in the Pacific NW since 1990! (RE/MAX Advantage | Managing Broker) over 4 years ago

Good Morning Jay,

The siding will eventually be easy to remove when it turns to powder. The mini swimming pool that they mounted that AC unit in would seem to be very problematic electrically.

PS - Glad to see Len back to commenting.

Posted by Brad Rachielles, REALTOR, CDPE, Upland, CA (CENTURY 21 Peak, Ca BRE# 01489453) over 4 years ago

Jay, thanks for detailing what you see as potential problems with this job. It looks like a major water intrusion problem in years to come. 

Posted by Adrian Willanger, Profit from my two decades of experience (206 909-7536 AdrianWillanger-broker.com) over 4 years ago

Most times I agree but inspections are for today not years down the road. It seems all properties may have future problems.  I believe you can note potential problems for the future. Maybe put an potential future  life on the A/C which may or may not be accurate. May break tomorrow or 10 years from now. As well as a possible future drainage issues. Certainly is some issues that need to be addressed.

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max Southern Realty) over 4 years ago

Golly, Jay!  Even I could figure out a lot of this.  Wonder if the homeowner or a dubiously licensed "pro" did this one.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 4 years ago

That is a termite infestation just waiting to happen, of the Terra kind. I see many patios of DIY'ers, and professionals alike (sadly), who don't know what they are doing. If the patio is above the weep screed the only remedy is to take out the patio and start over. 

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 4 years ago

Good catch Jay! Providing an early preventive measures like those you mentioned would definitely save them big in the long run.

Posted by Ann Zieve, Unmatched Ownership Experience (Keller Williams Success Realty) over 4 years ago

Hello Jay,

It does not appear to be an attractive patio (but maybe a larger picture would make me change my mind).  Take it out, do it right...but have a different company do the work (one that knows what they are doing!) 

As always, your clients are so fortunate to have you on their side!

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) over 4 years ago

Lenn - water is THE killer of houses!  And I wish they would consider that service!

It might be Doug.  There are those companies out there who "train" people to do things, but you have to understand the entirety of what you are doing!

And a very good idea to ask for that Suzanne!

Than - that's because they did not come up through the system.  They just "got a job" soemwhere.

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

Scott - I heard AAA (or TTT) made travel maps for everybody!

Matt - that's a lot of work!  Let's hope the siding never needs to be replaced!

This joint has a complete menu too, Charlie.

Sussie - I don't know how old the patio is, but this is a problem on its way fast.

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

Tom - each of the local termite colonies is getting its own engraved invite!

Alexa - that's why I say it's a big deal.  Who's problem is it?

I agree Jeff.  That's why I think this is a homeowner job.

Marc - it is a bad idea all around.  A complete set up for problems.

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

NW Real Estate - I agree!  Hopefully this is not a professional company or I will be seeing a lot more of this around here!

Brad - the moisture is a problem in so many regards here!  I have had a few conversations with Lenn this week and she is doing much better.

Bill - a lot of a home inspection is about looking ahead!  Looking at the now helps to look ahead!  And of course we can't predict how long things will last, and never do such predictions.  Statistical life spans are just that - but they are indicators.  This patio is not a potential problem - it is a problem now!  The extent of the problem will only get worse.  The buyers are inheriting that future now! 

Pat - looks homeowner done to me.  So much lack of thought, and common sense.

 

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

Wow, Pamela!  Great stuff!  Weep screed - good for you!  Removing this might be the only solution.

Thanks Ann.  Sometimes we look at the now in order to see ahead.  That's what buyers want to know. 

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

Lisa - the patio is great and very attractive!  But, wow, the problems - now and to come.

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

Jay - lots of great information.  Water is not the friend of most homes.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 4 years ago

It is the worst friend inside and out Joan.

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

Hi Jay, As you mention, this patio will be the nightmare that keeps on giving. This home would be quickly disqualified from any of my buyers selecting it. Because if they did, when it is time to sell, I would have to encourage them and be prepared myself to disclose all this. And this would be explained in great detail as they are looking it. It would also be in my written disclsoure that I do not recommend them buying this house. The owners of this property made a very costly error and it is hard to have empathy for just plain stupidity.

Posted by William Johnson, San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE (RE/MAX Associates) over 4 years ago

It is certainly something any purchaser would inherit William.  And it's unknown when the results of such a close patio will begin to manifest.

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

Well I thought the placement of the unit was no big deal but the other that is another story.  thanks

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 4 years ago

It isn't level James, and fits snug into its spot.  But the spot is permanent, AC units are not.

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

Oh my goodness!  It amazes me at some DIY projects you share!  Thanks again Jay.  I always enjoy your posts.

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

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