I love my job. Yes, I will say it again. I love my job. I never know what I will find from inspection to inspection. Every home is different. Every home provides me with a unique experience and a chance to learn and discover things that I never thought possible. Every home teaches me that not all homes are created equal.
Home inspectors are not omniscient. Some may portend to be but inspectors as a whole, are learning every day we are on a job. There is no one size fits all category when inspecting homes. That's what makes my job so interesting and fulfilling.
Sometimes I feel like a detective in search of the truth. Following leads and clues that will give me a better understanding of what the home was like. About a month and a half ago I did a maintenance inspection on a home over 30 years old. At the back of the home I noticed that the deck had been added on to. I could tell this because the original framing had been the shape of a rhombus and they added on to the deck to make it a rectangle. It also appeared that the foundation had been added to and that the family room was part of this addition, though from the exterior it certainly looked like part of the original home. What to do next? Search the crawl space.
Crawl spaces are a wealth of information. First off, nobody ever goes into them and secondly builders and tradesmen believe that they can hide a lot of problems. I crawled into the space and went into the far depths of the crawl looking for the area of concern. What I found excited me and also startled me.
First off, it seems that I was right in that it was an addition that was built sometime ago. The problem was that outside of the original home there was a concrete slab that acted as the patio. Instead of removing it and then building the addition, they left it and built the addition around it. That in of it self would be okay but the builder needed to heat and cool the new addition. Instead of running the main HVAC supply trunk through the attic they decided to undermine the existing slab. They actually trenched out a tunnel that was roughly 10' long by 3'high by 4' wide then ran the supply trunk. I applaud whoever did it.
To understand what I'm talking about, stand on a part of your driveway and take three and a half paces. Turn around and look down 3' deep and 4' wide. Underneath the concrete would be the tunnel. What did they do with all that dirt? I'm sure most of it was left in the existing crawl space. What bothered me most was that the slab now had no support on a roughly 40 square foot area. Concrete slabs can certainly be engineered to span an area but this slab was obviously meant to be a patio.
Secondly, instead of removing the stumps of the trees that had to be cut down to put in the addition, they left them in the ground and built the foundation walls around them. Just what I don't like to see in crawl spaces, termite food.
I informed the homeowner of what I found and he decided to ask his neighbors. He always thought that the home was the original floor plan. The next day I get a call from my client informing me that I was right. The home stopped and there was a patio. The addition was built 20 years ago beyond the patio by the homeowner. The Homeowner decided that since it has been this way, why bother doing anything about it. He was extremely pleased with knowing more about his home then he knew before.
This is just one example of why I love my job. I wish we all could have this much fun. I will continue to strive and educate myself in trying to make myself omniscient. I'll never make it but it's certainly worth the journey. And Why Not!