My client was going to be late, by an hour, but asked me to get started because he had a tightly-scheduled afternoon. This was a short sale. The sellers were home and a friend, who is a part-time real estate agent, (with all that phrase implies!!) was there to, his words, "make sure [I did] nothing wrong."
I'm not sure how he would know that I am doing my job right or wrong, but there he was.
He asked me to go to the attic first. SO I WENT STRAIGHT TO THE BASEMENT. Why? Because I'm good at reading between the lines.
When I saw this I knew we had a problem. A big one. It's coming from the garage!
This is one of the main drain stacks in the house. Can you see the purple primer on some of the PVC tubes? Those are tubes that were installed by a plumber.
Plumbers use purple primer to clean the ends of PVC tubing of dirt and especially oils or grease BEFORE applying the glue. The primer helps the glue to adhere better to the plastic pieces so they melt together without gaps that can be caused by foreign material or oil.
My problem? The tube on the very right, which angles to the left to tie into that drain tubing:
1. Shows no purple primer. So it was not done professionally.
2. Is coming from the garage!
3. Is the diameter that would be needed by a toilet. A toilet?
So where did I need to go next?
TO THE GARAGE!
Opening the door to the garage I see it has been turned into a hair salon!
In addition to all the hair-styling equipment, there is a large space heater and 65" big-screen TV.
Looking around there are two sinks and a powder room that makes the latrine I helped to dig at the Goshen Boy Scout Camp in 1967 look like a luxury suite.
That drain line into the garage apparently drains those two sinks and that wonderful powder room.
There are MANY new electrical outlets. Quickly testing a couple, when one side of the salon is tested the lights on the other side go out, and vice versa! My tester mimics an 80% load (12amps on a 15amp circuit, etc.) and tests the whole circuit for six different things. The test would be the equivalent of plugging in a large vacuum cleaner for example.
Gee, should we even bother to call Houston with the problem?
Not until I have investigated further. At this point a thousand things are going through my head, and I went back and forth between the basement and garage about 30 times!
The "agent" was visibly disturbed, like I am finding something he didn't want me to. (SURE, I WAS GOING TO MISS THIS!!) The sellers had both suddenly found something to do in the kitchen, through which I had to pass on my way between the two locations.
The "agent" confronted me, somewhat aggressively. "Why do you need to go back and forth so many times? How long will you be here doing that?"
Looking him straight in the face, I calmly said, "Not 'til the fun is done." You can think smiley face...
He actually cringed. Not wanting to be perceived as confrontational, I explained further. "Do you like a good detective or mystery novel? Right now I am a detective trying to figure out a mystery. At this point I think I have the interesting plumbing figured out for the hair salon. Right now I am interested in where the dangerous electrical wiring comes from. You see, there are no new circuits in the panel box, which means who ever wired it got the electricity from somewhere else, like a wall switch or wall receptacle, and there are overloads. I know it's not from the garage circuit because when I trip it only one receptacle turns off. I'm having some fun!
BUT MOSTLY I AM HERE TO PROTECT MY CLIENT FROM BUYING SOMETHING THAT PUTS HIM AND HIS FAMILY IN DANGER. AND THAT GARAGE WIRING DOES THAT. I NEED TO KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT IT TO BE ABLE TO COUNSEL HIM PROPERLY SO HE CAN MAKE AN INFORMED DECISION."
He shook his head and left me alone. I never did figure out the salon wiring - I think part came from the dining room and part from the washing machine! The garage wasn't the only problem with the house. And, of course, the sellers would do nothing toward fixing the "as is" house.
I met my client at the door and we had a long talk, IN MY CAR.
My recommendation: when during a home inspection someone tries to influence the home inspector's work, I promise you that this just makes the inspector more wary. Giving him unfettered access to the house is by far the better way to go!