What I'm Seeing Now


Nancy Drew And the Mystery of the Secret Window Gap

Recently I did and inspection on a new home on which I had previously done a pre-drywall inspection.  That was three months previous!

The builder was VERY slow to finish the house. The supervisor said they had "taken their time to get it right." At this point you are supposed to cough and say, "Um, okaaaaay!" He also challenged the buyers that if I found "anything" (his word) he would be surprised. They have their final walk through next Monday morning. Boy, is this supervisor going to be surprised!!

There was the typical stuff on a new home - the attic unit AC condensate line that does not drain - the master bedroom AFCI which, when tripped, also turns off the master bath AND hall bath water closet fan and light - the overflow drains in all three bath tubs that are NOT connected and would have flooded the house - the water heater vent that is not inclined -- you know, the usual stuff. That is not all, by far not all, but you get the drift!

The coup de grace was this -- I had taken my 11 year-old daughter (World Champion Toilet Clogger - Junior Master Division) promising a Daddy/Daughter date after the inspection. She willingly came along, and brought a puzzle and a Nancy Drew book to occupy herself during the inspection. We all had a very nice time during the visit.

Afterward, I was in the kitchen working on the report. The buyers were measuring rooms and windows, visualizing furniture, etc. My daughter was on the family room floor, laying prone, and reading Nancy Drew. She came and got my flashlight and was playing with it also. I little while later I hear, "Daddy, there's holes under the windows!"

We ALL descended on the family room. There were three, large windows along the back wall. Tall, with sills that were barely 1" above the floor molding. I had not checked, but under the sills, and only visible if you were laying on the floor, are 1/2" gaps, never filled, exposing the entirety of the wall all the way through to the missing Tyvek, which was never installed under the vinyl siding!! No Tyvek (advertised by the builder), no insulation along the bottoms of the windows (leading all to wonder as to the sides and tops), and gaps never filled, finished or drywalled.

Admittedly, these gaps are a mere 4" above the carpeting -- but I had NOT checked! Picture this - we are all four laying on the floor in front of these windows, in awe, and in disbelief. My daughter is laughing, the buyers are groaning and I am very proud. The buyers were MOST grateful to her...!


1. The buyers are demanding that the undersides of various, random windows be opened up indoors to determine the presence or lack of insulation.

2. The buyers are demanding that siding be removed in spots outdoors to reveal the presence or lack of Tyvek, as advertised.

3. The buyers are demanding that the tops and sides of various windows indoors be exposed to determine the presence or lack of insulation.

4. I am going back to do an IR investigation throughout the house.

5. My daughter got a Big Kid ice cream sundae instead of the Little Kid's sundae after dinner.

6. She is available for home inspections. Please call her mother, the dispatcher in our household, to schedule any inspection dates at least 1 week in advance. She has volleyball, basketball, computer club, karate and dance, so you may have to work around that. Busy kid...  and straight A's too!

I have a feeling that this was a VERY EXPENSIVE find for the builder to have to rectify.

My recommendation: 1. Bring your daughter to home inspections. She may be the "Secret to the __________ Find" for you too... 2. Arm her with a Nancy Drew book and flashlight. 3. Have her look around as you look around and yell when the sees something, anything, amiss. Laying on the floor seems to work best.

And I? I took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference ...

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 11 commentsJay Markanich • January 19 2009 11:09AM


Jay, it sounds like our daughters went to different schools together:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 11 years ago

Charles - she has wanted to go on home inspections ever since and being part of the "team."  She has been on many in the past, but never contributed to this degree.

Had they covered that gap with casement molding we would have never known...!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 11 years ago

Now Jay,

I like your piece but I was more of a Hardy Boys kind of kid.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 11 years ago

Hi Steve - In fifth and sixth grades, I read all of the Hardy Boys books up until that time.  I actually tried to get my daughter to read Hardy Boys!  I still have all my old books in a box.  Didn't fly... 

Imagine MY disappointment...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 11 years ago

I have absolutely no idea what a "Toilet Clogger" is but I can tell you that the visual is not a good one. With "World Champion Toilet Clogger - Junior Master Division," though, you make it sound like something legitimate, so I'm going to go see if I can find out what it is. If you're tricked me, as a certain Governator said, "I'll be back!"

Posted by Not a real person over 11 years ago

Russell - she is very good at it!  We have some friends with two little girls who tell me they can clog the Panama Canal.  Now THAT is a visual!  Thanks for checking in!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 11 years ago

Great story Jay. Goes to show anyone at anytime can score the winning run.

I have two daughters 7 & 4. No toilet cloggers...yet. I have brought my oldest along a few times picking up radon tests, but never an entire inspection. I don't think she would be good for 3 hours plus. She does know what I do and at times shows an interest. She likes to build things (YES!) very creative so I shall see what happens in a few years.

Oh and my daughter reads ABC mysteries. Newer stuff, never heard of it, but she enjoys them.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 11 years ago

James - keep her interested in building and reading!  You are probably right about the time an inspection takes and her ability to handle it.  This one took much longer than usual -about 5 hours.  My daughter was a gem - but really got stroked at the end!  I have never seen the ABC mysteries, but reading is reading.  I think readers are much more circumspect when they get older.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 11 years ago

good story jay. It's great to see your daughter willing to spend a day with dad at work instead of locked up in a bedroom playing video games or surfing the web all day. tell her that we all applaud her for a great find at the inspection. Who know? Maybe she'll take over for you one day!

Posted by Ian Niquette (Square One Home Inspection) over 11 years ago

Thanks Ian.  She is very proud of her find and tells everyone!  She's too smart to take over for me...  I had a post around Christmas about how she figured out the day before Christmas that it could not be Santa at the mall because he was already out doing his thing on the other side of the International Date Line and simply could not be the real guy in the mall...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 11 years ago

Jay, in addition to the Big Kid ice cream sundae, shouldn't she deserve a portion of the inspection fee? That's a GREAT story!

Posted by Lanna over 11 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments