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One Size Fits All - 03/31/12 03:54 AM
One size fits all. This may be true in many contexts - Snuggies, athletic socks, certain Panama hats, maybe - but not carpentry! And certainly not carpentry on new construction! This window is so high up and so far from the driveway that even the telephoto lens doesn't do it justice. With the camera: Too close and you would not be able to see the whole thing! Too far and you wouldn't have a proper context for the problem! This appears to be just right. Can you see the horizontal trim over the window. It is 2" too short. Well, in (18 comments)
Faux Stone Might Become The New EIFS - 2 - 03/30/12 02:47 AM
Faux stone may become the new EIFS - 2*. This is a follow-up to a previous post. When I see a house with faux or cultured stone installed, I look around and point things out to the buyers. On my inspection report, I include language which looks something like this: " Faux stone siding is found on this house and cannot be viewed except from outdoors and examining the wall structure underneath for damage or rot is not possible without destructive testing. Improper faux stone installation can cause serious damage. Specific problems noted with the visible components can include, but may (47 comments)
Faux Stone Might Become The New EIFS - 03/29/12 02:20 AM
In my opinion, faux stone might become the new EIFS*. A year ago a couple called me with moisture problems. They had found me and my thermal camera use on line and wanted help. Their house has faux stone as much of its front siding. Due to installation malfeasance, faux stone might become the new EIFS. Remember the problems when "synthetic stucco" (EIFS) first came out? That was due to installation misunderstanding, and literally malfeasance. Faux stone will almost certainly become the same thing in terms of moisture problems inside the home. Based on our discussion, I did an exterior examination (29 comments)
Stuff Yer Spot! - 03/28/12 02:40 AM
How do you feel, folks, when you go outside and the soil, or your patio, has pulled something off the wall of your house, and left a big hole? I know it makes me feel very self conscious! What will my friends and neighbors think? And how would you feel if that self consciousness could go away in minutes!? Hi folks! Billy Jays here! All you need is a can, what did I say, I case of my newest product Stuff Yer Spot! Yes, Stuff Yer Spot! can spare your wall of holes, your friends and neighbors of wonderment and YOU (18 comments)
Remember last week's Ralph Waldo Emerson quote? It was something like, "If you build a better mouse trap, the world will beat a path to your door." That wasn't Emerson's real quote, as we learned. You can read the entire, and correct, quote here. And it is true. What is going on in the photo? What is the company? How do you know what the company is? I took this photo at one of this company's two local retail establishments. This photo was taken, by me, at around 2pm. I intentionally went in there at that time to (25 comments)
Cherry Blossom Droppings - 03/26/12 01:56 AM
Cherry blossoms can last a few weeks and the trees remain glorious, unless, that is, there is rain! When it rains the blossoms are released and the ground under and around the trees looks like it is covered with a blanket of pink snow. Each cherry blossom has hundreds of petals! Each puffy, pink spot is made up of dozens of blossoms! So how many petals would be on the thousands and thousands of blossoms on each tree? And when they fall, it really looks like pink snow. It rained here the past couple of days. That will knock off the (24 comments)
Night Out - 03/25/12 03:47 AM
Often my daughter and I have daddy/daughter dates and a night out. She loves to see the Harlem Globetrotters. We have been a few times. I'm not sure why! It's the same routine, with lots of the same gags, that they did when I was her age! Some things never grow old. Of course, getting home after the game it is important to tell everyone about it. These kinds of things have to be scheduled in! I am such a party animal usually on a Friday or Saturday night I am working on reports until late. Excitement, excitement, excitement! Yesterday I (24 comments)
Foam Insulation - Especially As A Best Practice! - 03/24/12 03:11 AM
Something I don't see often on new construction is foam insulation - especially as a Best Practice! In contrast to yesterday's post, where new construction had entire exterior wall gaps that would not have received insulation, this house has its rim joist sealed against air passage, with insulation put on top of that. This is so good to see! I am hoping that this is the new wave in home construction around here. Our area is one that experiences very low AND very high seasonal temperatures. Rim joists are an area through which huge amounts of air, hot and cold, can (26 comments)
Can You See The Problem Here? All Spaces Along An Exterior Wall Need Insulation - 03/23/12 03:20 AM
Can you see the problem here? All spaces along an exterior wall need insulation. I had to blow them up a bit so you could see the problem I am having with this. Nobody else seemed to notice. This is one of the exterior side walls of the house. The other side wall was the same way! Can you see my problem? Hopefully this will help. Here is another similar photo. Another area, same problem. Can you see this one too? Does this help? Certainly this will be a long term problem. This floor joist is under the sun room. The (23 comments)
Famous Last Words - "But I Caulked It!" - 03/22/12 03:51 AM
Within a couple of months of moving into a house, a couple started having water leaking from the light fixture on the edge of the sitting room off the kitchen. The builder came out and there was no issue in the roof near or over the area or light fixture. They were puzzled. Mighty Mo was called to the scene and saw residual moisture. But the builder was right, there was no evidence above that the roof, or gutter, had an issue. What nobody knew was that the water was also making its way into the floor below. This was going (72 comments)
Comical Deck, But The Comedy Won't Last Long - 03/21/12 02:22 AM
There were so many things about this deck, I could call it a comical deck, but the comedy won't last long. It is comical for two reasons: 1. Flipper has apparently never built a deck.2. There was a final County inspection of the house with an Occupancy Permit. Here are two examples of my problems with this deck: Wonderfully erratic, the nails used for the decking are indoor nails. Their pattern is haphazard. This deck is less than one month old and already they are rusting. As they rust, their attractive pattern is even more evident. Also, as they rust they (23 comments)
Jay's Tuesday Free Enterprise Quote - 20 March 2012 - 03/20/12 04:04 AM
"If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad, hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods." Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) That is the real quote. There is a similar one, attributed to Emerson, but probably not really said by him. It is just as descriptive, and says: Build a better mouse trap and the world will beat a path to your door. The mouse trap is the most oft-accepted patent request, with 4,400, (15 comments)
"You Know There's An Odor, But You Don't Know Why" - 03/19/12 03:22 AM
I was called by a couple to evaluate what might be causing a problem with their condo. Over the phone I heard, "You know there's an odor, but you don't know why." Everyone notices it. There is no mold in the house. There are no stains. It is persistent. We notice it as soon as we walk inside. I heard this over and over during the conversation. It had rained just a bit over night. Getting there is the morning the first thing I did was look at the outside. I noticed three things. First, a lot of square footage of (108 comments)
I May Have Found The Stairway To Heaven - 03/18/12 02:48 AM
While going down a very bouncy staircase to the basement, I thought that I may have found the stairway to heaven. When a staircase is that Bouncy, with a capital "B," hitting it with enough energy or weight it might just become somebody's stairway to heaven! Viewing the underside from the closet below I could see why. Apparently somebody, probably Uncle Bob (he gets around), decided to shore up a squeaky staircase by removing the factory-installed shims, which are nailed and glued, and added his own very special supports. This material looks like it was retrieved from the scrap bin at (28 comments)
Mold Is Not The Problem - You Must Treat The Source - 03/17/12 04:01 AM
Inspecting a seven-year-old condo a week or so ago, one of the things discovered was mold. MOLD IS NOT THE PROBLEM - YOU MUST TREAT THE SOURCE. My clients were not present at the inspection. They are an investor couple and have employed me many times, sometimes while not attending the inspection. Their absence requires careful explanation of found items. From the outside I noticed two things that bothered me before going in. And they both looked like potential moisture concerns. This is a swollen door thresh hold. It is diverting water toward the corner of the door. On the left (79 comments)
Slightly Cracked, And Leaking A Bit - 03/16/12 02:52 AM
Sometimes things need to be investigated even when they are only slightly cracked and leaking. This flip was "totally renovated." The house was built in 1953, a VERY good year! That means the house is strongly built, solid, probably still full of things done in ways they don't do today. For instance, that drain line is cast iron, and empties into a larger tube that is both cast iron and concrete! The clean out has been replaced so it is plastic, and new, but that is one solid assembly! I always kid people and say their drain lines will probably survive (20 comments)
Chancellorsville And The Death Of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson - 03/15/12 02:33 AM
A recent home inspection found me near Fredericksburg VA, and a house on the Chancellorsville Civil War Battlefield. This is where Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was shot and mortally wounded. I needed to stop by. Not having time to take in the whole battlefield, I wanted to see where General Jackson had been shot and fell from his horse. There are markers for everything at this battlefield. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia had been under pressure and a serious threat from a southward campaign led by the north's General Joseph Hooker. Chancellorsville saw a brilliant flanking maneuver by Lee and Jackson, dividing (9 comments)
It's A Very Small World! - 03/14/12 02:33 AM
I received a phone call from somebody I did a home inspection for 5 years ago. He was happy with my service then and recommended me to his church. They wanted me to do an inspection on a house in Washington DC the church had owned for many decades. The widow of a former church rector still lived there and had lived longer than anyone anticipated. It was time to make repairs. When he told me the address, I did not tell him it was the same street I had grown up on. Saying I did a little mind reading on (32 comments)
Prone To Less Sediment - 03/13/12 04:38 AM
This sediment trap may be prone to less sediment. For sure it is prone! Gas appliances should have a sediment trap. There are various nicknames for the technique, but we'll go with that one. The sediment trap is the vertical, downward protrusion under the gas line. It's purpose is to capture sediment or moisture in the gas before it gets into the mechanism to be burned. OK, this one is on the wrong side of the gas valve, but that was the point of another post! Sometimes I run into things I have not seen before. It isn't unusual - I (16 comments)
Jay's Tuesday Free Enterprise Quote - 13 March 2012 - 03/13/12 03:14 AM
"Necessity never made a good bargain." Benjamin Franklin (1705-1790) You ever notice that this is how gubment works? Here is the process: Gubment creates a disaster. Let's take banking. It happens slowly. Centuries of successful banking practices, proven through experience and data, needed changing. It was a necessity. First came "racial steering." Realtors and brokers could no longer steer prospective buyers to or from certain neighborhoods. Civil rights laws were "changing," crime statistics were "changing," and there was no longer a need to promote or prevent certain people to or from neighborhoods. Of course people's attitudes had to change too, hence (19 comments)
Unmasking A Problem - 03/12/12 02:10 AM
Unmasking a problem is what I usually do on new construction inspections. Well, it's more like unmasking problems. It was the usual rigmarole. A couple of hours before the inspection I was asked to send all kinds of licensing and insurance criteria the builder did not think I would have. Well, I do, and even carry copies with me! As a part of the inspections, I test the appliances. But before I do, surely the installations must be investigated. For instance, before I turn on the dishwasher, I check to make sure it is secured either to the counter top or (21 comments)
Guess What This Is? - 03/11/12 04:01 AM
There is nothing more fun than a little contest! So, guess what this is? First of all we need to identify what it isn't. 1. That is not a dryer discharge opening. Since there is no dryer, and two of the flaps are not there, it is obviously a hole in the wall to let the snakes, mice, assorted arachnids, a two rats (they are best when paired up), roaches, chipmunks and squirrels into and out of the house more conveniently. 2. That is not wiring to what seems to have once been used as an electrical receptacle. Sure, it's a (23 comments)
A Great AR Idea - Advertising How We Have Become More Efficient - 03/10/12 02:37 PM
Reading this blog post by AR, I was immediately impressed. This is a way to help us all! I am all about increasing my efficiency. Some months ago, I was having a problem when needing to deal with people having questions about a report, or a circumstance that I identified on a report. My problem? I couldn't remember everything I wrote. Often people would call from work and did not have the report in front of them to read to me what I had written. This was a problem for me. It would be great to somehow have my reports in (6 comments)
Not Drywall And Screwed Up - 03/10/12 03:30 AM
One of my pet peeves is when drywall screws are used for things that are not drywall and screwed up. I have had many posts in the past, and using drywall screws in an incorrect way is not only commonly done, but simply bad work and unprofessional. I AM ESPECIALLY BOTHERED WHEN DRYWALL SCREWS ARE USED IN AN UNSAFE WAY. Flipper did all the right things to this floor. He stripped it, restained it and gave it a new finish, two coats. It looked pretty good! He even did the stairs. But what protects people from falling down the stairs? A (18 comments)
Water Is A Destructive Force - It Must Be Controlled Smartly - 03/09/12 03:02 AM
Just pulling up to this house I could see there was a problem with the driveway. There was a sink hole about 6" deep! The rest of the driveway was in good condition. And only 15 years old. What can cause a driveway to settle 6" in only fifteen years? And only in one spot? Well, certainly the driveway's support can be eroded by water. As it is eroded, sink holes develop. And that is a lot of sinking! How can so much water get into one spot and cause such damage? And shouldn't extending that downspout prevent the problem? Apparently (12 comments)
People call me to evaluate many things. Arriving at the house, an older home, I did a little interview to see what it is that they were trying to describe over the phone. After the "interview," I always go to the complaint area first. This was in the basement. From there I knew where the problem was originating. So I went outside to see why. When I saw this gap under the sliding door to the deck, I suspected long-term moisture intrusion and was not surprised, when in the basement, to have heard, "This is the room that smells bad." (24 comments)
Some doors are a pain. As a masochist, I like a double pane. There are times I can look at a door and see its painful problem(s) from far away. This one is no different. Just walking by I could see that the handle is missing. That would mean that the lock probably doesn't work either. It didn't! But these were the obvious problems.
However, on a home inspection, one needs to look more closely. This door had other problems. Do you see it? This is supposed to be a double-pane door. I like to see two panes! (47 comments)
Jay's Tuesday Free Enterprise Quote - 6 March 2012 - 03/06/12 04:06 AM
"The idea that even the brightest person or group of bright people, much less the U.S. Congress, can wisely manage an economy has to be the height of arrogance and conceit." Walter E. Williams Can I start with this? AN ECONOMY CAN'T BE MANAGED. Dr. Williams knows that! Any economist knows that! No group of people, bureaucrats, congressmen (!), economists, statisticians, clairvoyants - you name it - no group of people can manage an economy! What is the only thing that can "wisely manage an economy"? The famous Adam Smith INVISIBLE HAND. Milton Friedman went a step further. He called it (32 comments)
Moving A New Gas Range Sparked An Idea - 03/06/12 02:42 AM
You know the drill. Flipped house, new and upgraded everything, beautiful work... And then it happened. Moving a gas range sparked an idea. I always pull out a range, gas or electric, to see what was done behind. It's smart because often times some things are not done properly and I want to see what! First I try to tip the range over to see if they installed the anti-tip device that came in the installation package with the range. Usually they have not installed it. If it tips, then I look behind to see if they just did not install (15 comments)
Wiring An Outdoor Shed For Lighting And Making Sure It's Safe - 03/05/12 03:18 AM
Wiring an outdoor shed and making sure it's safe is something most homeowners should not try to undertake. Whenever I go into an outdoor shed and see that there is wiring, I am careful to examine what they have done and make sure that how the power gets to the shed is done properly and safely. This shed proved so interesting it inspired a song... You've heard it before. Please, sing along.
Yooooouuuu light up my liiiiiiiffffe.
Yooouuu give me hoooooopppppe
The Largest Fence Post In All The Land - 03/04/12 12:57 AM
This is probably the largest fence post in all the land - Virginia or perhaps further, who knows! Very impressive, this fence post was obviously carefully planned decades ago and has been executed perfectly! The top rail and fence mesh have been nicely incorporated into this fence post. The original post was pushed out of the way to make for the new. Just like old wine does not work in new bottles, old fence posts should move over for the stronger and newer. And, the thing I like best, this artiste has skillfully made the post look a majestic maple tree! (31 comments)
All Downspouts MUST Discharge Water Away From The Foundation Wall - 03/03/12 02:25 AM
All downspouts MUST discharge water away from the foundation wall. As they say, denial isn't just a river in Egypt. Anything else simply sets the house up for disaster over time. This is the downspout on the front corner of the house. This house is situated on a hill, with the front foundation wall completely buried. This has been discharging against the foundation for some time. Someone even put a plastic cap on the end, apparently to dress it up! And a cute piece of slate to "divert" the water downward. Cute... Notice the hole being dug into the soil. Somewhat (65 comments)
Flip List - 03/02/12 04:03 AM
On this house, the selling agent, FOF (Friend Of Flipper) created quite the little disclosure issue for him/herself. A Flip List was left on the kitchen counter. It left for the buyer all the things done by the Flipper to "improve" the house. I am sure the list is true. And I am sure the "improvements" were not done with any permit whatever. "New roof and roof flashing" was on the list. No permit is needed in Virginia to put on new roof shingles. And everything was new - shingles, plumbing penetration sleeves and chimney flashing. Obviously the previous roof covering (26 comments)
When Toilets Wobble - 03/01/12 03:57 AM
One test I do in every bathroom is grab the toilet and see how well it is seated on the floor. But what can be done when toilets wobble? Toilets wobble for a reason. They have to be attached to something! Those two bolts on the sides of the toilet bowl attach that bowl to a flange. The flange is itself ATTACHED TO THE FLOOR STRUCTURE. That attachment is best made with stainless steel screws. One of my pet peeves on new construction pre-drywall inspections is to see drywall screws used to attach the toilet flange! What!!?? If the flange isn't (20 comments)
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