What I'm Seeing Now


Do You See What A.C.??

At first glance you may not notice everything this photo has to offer.  Most people would focus on the AC unit in the window, um, hole in the wall.  It is a long story, as it should be -- after all, it was a very long home inspection.

The "structure" on the right is one of three (very) illegal additions to this house.  It was build directly onto a thin slab poured onto the back yard.  The slab was very cracked, so its foundation may not have been the best.  It is also sinking.  It would not have supported patio furniture, much less a two-story addition!

You can tell that this addition has bee here a while by the double layer of shingles.  I don't think the shingles were very old though.  The huge amount of caulking all along the edge at the top seemed pretty fresh. 

The roof rafters were merely nailed to the original house and run directly from their attachment almost 17' to the rear wall of the addition.  They are only 2"x6" rafters, though, and sag greatly in the middle. 

The soffit vents don't really ventilate the roof space. They are only on one side. There are none on the other side or the ends of the roof. And nothing to vent air upward and out.

Apparently this sagging caused the original drywall to crack and fall off, so it was replaced with more flexible Masonite sheets.  Looking through gaps in those sheets it is obvious that there is no insulation up there.  The lack of insulation and ventilation will cook roof shingles.  Well, another shingle layer solved that problem!

This, and the two other additions, were to convert this formerly three bedroom, two-level house into two separate apartments which now feature -- count 'em -- 14 bedrooms!  They simply removed the stair case and, presto, chango, two separate apartments!  With  two "complete" kitchens too!  There weren't three "kitchens" because one addition is really only a small garden shed, kind of attached to the house.  They kind of attached it so a (2'x3') hole (trap door) could be cut from it into the main structure.  This gives the third "addition" two doors - house access and a private one to the outdoors!  That "addition" was rented separately, you should know.  I could offer another blog just on its features...

But, back to the photo above!  Other things you may not have noticed:

  • Water had been getting in where the new roof attaches to the original one, so they covered it with a piece of sheet metal.  The end facing you is drywall.
  • There isn't much incline on that roof, so it continues to leak, kind of all over, despite two fine layers of shingles.
  • The shingles were installed by a 9 year old, I think, give or take two years.
  • The gutter inclines toward the right of the picture, not to the left.  You might think that is not so good, except to the left there is no downspout so it couldn't drain that way anyway.  Yes, it is wearing out that wall, and leaking inside too, but paint every 10 years or so will solve that.
  • Primer, we don't need no stinkin' primer...
  • It is hard to see, but the addition is not only sinking.  It is racking to the right.  That A.C. unit is not really resting any longer on the convenient 2x4 support nailed into the wall.
  • Yes, it's leaking into the room also.
  • Since the hole is somewhat larger than the A.C. unit, the wall is carefully sealed, as you can see.  The gaps on the inside are filled with Styrofoam and twisted paper towels.
  • Since the original AC compressor no longer services the upper apartment, each room has a similar window, I mean, wall unit to the one you see here!  And just as cleverly installed.
  • That's probably fine since the windows have been painted so many times over the years that they don't open any more anyway.
  • The window, I mean wall, I mean hole A.C. unit you see here plugs into a two-prong wall outlet.  It has a three-prong plug, so they cut that pesky grounding prong off so that rascal could plug in!  It's probably okay though because it plugs into what I think was the old refrigerator outlet, so maybe the outlet was wired for an appliance anyway.  And electrical tape holds that baby solidly onto the wall too! 
  • Where the fridge used to be is a "laundry room" now, so adding an A.C. unit can't hurt much.  The "kitchen" is elsewhere anyway.

Okay, a lot of this was said tongue in cheek.  But it's all true!  You have to understand, I see this kind of stuff almost every day.  This house is very typical of so many foreclosures I am called to inspect.   This post could be 300 pages long with other photos from this house.  I chose this photo because a picture is worth so much!  And I haven't even discussed the electrical, plumbing, structural, HVAC, fire code, roof, mold, or appliance issues!  My client pulled a Monte Python and "ran awaaay, ran awaaay!"

Fortunately for me she didn't ask for a report.  I would still be working on it!

My recommendation:   When you buy a foreclosure, get an inspection...

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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


Comment balloon 9 commentsJay Markanich • March 18 2009 05:22AM


This is hilarious.  But, I know from which you speak.  I would not have advised a Purchase Agreement in the first place.  Waste of everyone's time and money.  I'm so glad she RRRRAAAAAANNNN Away!!!!!

Posted by Suzanne McLaughlin, Sabinske & Associates, Realtor (Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael)) over 10 years ago

Suzanne - actually this was an investor who wanted to look at this house before the Purchase Agreement was filed.  She made a wise decision to do that and to run awaaay...!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Some time you just have to keep your fingers crossed that they are going to bail:)  I had a similiar one awhile back that the buyer told me they were going to bail----but they wanted the report anyway.  AAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 10 years ago

Charlie - I have since done another inspection for this investor.  That house was much better and the report was thorough.  The house in this post was a money pit!  Legal issues...  possible tear down...  unknown electrical (the original 100amp service was divided, mysteriously behind the original box, into a magical two 100amp boxes, one for each level!  The people on the upper level would have no access to the box servicing their level, but hey, no problem.  Under powered?  Mmmm, gee, um, maybe?)

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Wow Jay,  I've heard of people trying to make a 200 amp service out of a split 100, but I've never seen it.  How did you find it behind the panel? 

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) over 10 years ago

Jack - there was another panel box on a "bedroom" wall immediately behind the panel box on the other "bedroom" wall!  It had different breakers of a variety of brands, a different main, no labels and many unused holes.  I did not test the main on either to see if it turned the other box off though I was very tempted.  The electrical all over this house was frightful.  I do not know why it had not burned down before I got there!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago


I hate it when I find houses that are this screwed up. Seems you have to call the problems and recommend further evaluation by everyone -- carpenter, roofer, electric, plumber, hvac, just because you know there are things you could not find in the rubble.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Steven - fortunately my investor did not buy this house!  Good for her.  One thing that frightened me most was the electrical - an original 100amp box that had been added to with another 100amp box on the wall directly behind!  I would have had to take apart and completely remove the one to see how they wired the two together!  Not to mention the extreme overload.  Another thing was the staircase that had been removed!  The lower level was a "hallway" and a "bathroom!"  The hole in the floor of the living room above was filled with two 2x4's and two sheets of Masonite and the carpeting!  How people survived that I don't know!!!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

It is truly amazing that people allow other people to live in a place like that.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 10 years ago

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