Common Housing Defects, Part 1

By
Home Inspector with Mid America Inspection Services, LLC North Dakota 19 & 93

 

Common Housing Defects, Part 1

 Home Inspectors may disagree on the exact order of a list of prevalent defects found in the course of home inspections. One thing they will almost universally agree on is that water is the enemy of a house and those defects that lead to water problems are among the most devastating.

 Landscaping problems are often a simple matter of assuring that the soil slopes away from the structure for the first 10 feet or so at a rate of about 1 inch per foot. When coupled with a proper gutter system, this will help reduce chances of water entering the basement or crawl space.

 Roof issues are more likely to stem from improper or worn flashings and sealants around protrusions such are roof vents and plumbing stacks than they are from worn out shingles. Even cheap shingles are usually able to shed water for 15 – 20 years when installed correctly barring damage, such as hail or wind. Obviously, at some point shingles will start to fail requiring maintenance and eventually replacement. A roofing professional is the best authority in helping decide when the most economical course is replacement.

 Chimneys can be a source of water inside the house in several ways. As mentioned before, poor or worn flashings can cause leaking into the house. Cracks in the crown can allow water to penetrate inside of the chimney structure and lead to damaged bricks, blocks or liners. These defects are particularly dangerous with wood burning fixtures. Clean and inspect chimneys annually for frequently used wood burning fixtures.

 Windows and doors, when improperly installed and maintained, can be another source of water inside the house. These can be insidious as the water can leak inside the walls and beneath the flooring causing considerable damage before detection. Check and maintain door and window sealant and flashing annually.

 Foundations can leak through cracks and water migration through the porous concrete blocks and mortar lines in stone and brick foundations. In unfinished basements and crawl spaces, foundation cracks are easily detectable and should be properly filled to restore water tightness. Water movement through porous masonry is often seen as a white salty looking crust, known as efflorescence, around the area of penetration. This typically requires cleaning and sealing to help prevent recurrence.

 Plumbing issues are often visualized as a gush of water and these certainly can be a major but easily located problem. The most damaging water problems tend to be those we are not aware of until damage is done. A slow leak beneath a sink, an aging wax ring under a toilet, a leaking flashing on the roof, all of these keep wood wet for a long time allowing decay to progress without warning. Water heaters store a large amount of water and become a source if not routinely monitored. Improper connections can be a source of leaks as can a failing temperature and pressure, T&P, relief valve. The most dramatic leak stems from tank failure. Routine monitoring or a home inspection by your favorite home inspector can reduce chances of having a tale of woe to share at work and potentially save you money on repairs.

Mid-America Inspection Services, serving Fargo and West Fargo, North Dakota, Moorhead, Alexandria, Fergus Falls, Detroit Lakes, Wadena and the Minnesota Lakes Region

 218-443-3555, 320-846-0004, 218-287-0877, 218-841-0444

midamericainspections@gmail.com

www.midamericainspection.com

 

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Show All Comments
Rainer
106,171
Andrew Herren
Craig Massee Real Estate - Milledgeville, GA

Even the range hood and bath fans are for removing water (condensation), though many people use them sparingly. They should always be exhausted OUT of the attic.

Oct 23, 2011 03:54 AM #23
Rainmaker
501,615
Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Southampton, NY
...A Local Expert in all The Hamptons

Marshall:...and plantings around the house can bring in moisture if not kept trimmed back or cut away completely--I had ivy that kept climbing up the chimney. I cut it back every time I saw it begin it's climb. Once out of control, it anchors it's Vinny roots right into the bricks and that creates a perfect gap for wind and rain to get in and around the chimney. I saw the ceiling in my living room start to look like it was water damaged. When I had a knowledgeable roofer stop by to look at it, he told me that the ivy was damaging the bricks and made a perfect route for water to get in around the chimney...Thanks for a great and informative post!!!

Oct 23, 2011 04:26 AM #24
Rainer
388,229
Kate Akerly
Kaminsky Group - Manhattan Beach, CA
Manhattan Beach Residential Sales

We've seen a lot of water damage in new construction condos over the past year or two.  So many things were done below industry standards and the sponsors are now long gone (out of business or out of the market).  It's the owners that are left to deal with it.

Oct 23, 2011 05:38 AM #25
Rainer
166,385
Marshall Brown
Mid America Inspection Services, LLC - Fargo, ND
BSEE, CHI

Andrew, it obviously varies but I think the standard recommendation after a shower is at least 15 minutes of venting. In the kitchen, well if you are simmering some comfort food all day it could be longer there.

Paula, right and another thing I failed to mention was moss. Moss on roof covering can hold moisture for extended periods of time promoting more rapid deterioration.

Mike & Kate, This one of those times when I get to recommend a good home inspection but in all honesty even the best home inspection may not detect intermittent defects that are not active at the time of the inspection. We have to depend on contractors just as we depend on doctors, lawyers and other professionals for things we do not have the skills to do ourselves. Unfortunately there are always going to be some bad apples.

Oct 23, 2011 06:03 AM #26
Rainer
521,200
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Homeowners should perform annual inspections and maintenance to prevent hazards from occurring and hire a professional to maintain their property or do it themselves.

Oct 23, 2011 06:52 AM #27
Rainer
144,225
Former Agent
None - Adak, AK

Great post.  I think a lot of homeowners are in denial about potential water damage -- they fear it is expensive to repair and prefer to put their heads in the sand. 

Oct 23, 2011 07:11 AM #28
Rainer
166,385
Marshall Brown
Mid America Inspection Services, LLC - Fargo, ND
BSEE, CHI

Kimo, actually I usually recommend doing your own inspection twice a year. The turn of the seasons seems an especially appropriate time to do that since it works out well for seasonal homes as well as year-round residences.

Aimee, Denial is certainly a possibility but I think it's even more likely that each days pressing priorities pushes things that are not an immediate threat to the background. I have trouble being too critical of others in light of my own infinitely long "roundtoit" or "honeydo" lists.

Oct 23, 2011 07:53 AM #29
Rainmaker
1,431,914
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Very good check list.  Thanks for the post.  A home inspection is very important and should never be skipped.

Oct 23, 2011 11:24 AM #30
Anonymous
Claudia

I didn't know what I needed to know until I read this post. Thank you for a tool that will give value forever.

Oct 23, 2011 12:01 PM #31
Rainer
226,519
Rafi Footerman
Mid Jersey Inspections - Edison, NJ
Home Inspector, Mold Inspector, Radon and More!

Sounds like the beginning of my talk outside every house.  Exterior water management is key!

Oct 23, 2011 03:01 PM #32
Rainer
166,385
Marshall Brown
Mid America Inspection Services, LLC - Fargo, ND
BSEE, CHI

Gene, Thanks for the kind words. I too think a home inspection is  always a good idea even when it just confirms there are no significant defects. Peace of mind is worth it.

Claudia, I am really glad you find it useful.

Rafi, I like to think the things I tell clients about a house I am inspecting will serve them well even if this is not the one they finally purchase. An inspection must be communicated well to be a good inspection.

Oct 23, 2011 03:23 PM #33
Rainer
37,291
Jayson Holland
Listings.com - Denver, CO
Jay Holland

As usual, the INTENTION is good, but the results are wicked.

The road to hell.....right?........

Oct 23, 2011 05:15 PM #34
Rainer
39,398
Michael Singh,Broker
Singh Real Estate - Corral de Tierra, CA

And if the property ever has a insurance claim involving water it can be expensive to get insurance for the new owner

Oct 23, 2011 05:55 PM #35
Rainmaker
848,857
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Marshall.  I agree nearly every one of my inspections has a water issue of some kind.

Oct 23, 2011 10:39 PM #36
Rainer
166,385
Marshall Brown
Mid America Inspection Services, LLC - Fargo, ND
BSEE, CHI

Jayson, funny that was one of my mother's favorite saying. Re/Max just sold my daughters home in Lakewood. Good Job!

Michael, I didn't know that, but I guess I did know that no matter what your insurance seems to go up.

Bob, Best found early, before closing.

Oct 24, 2011 02:05 AM #37
Anonymous
Anonymous

appreciate your tips

Oct 25, 2011 06:37 PM #38
Rainmaker
516,139
Elva Branson-Lee
Solid Source Realty GA - Atlanta, GA
CDPE - Atlanta Real Estate & Short Sale Agent

Thanks, Marshall for this informative post. I wish you would turn it into a "cheat sheet" pdf that we could email to our sellers and buyers.

Dec 26, 2011 10:01 AM #39
Rainer
166,385
Marshall Brown
Mid America Inspection Services, LLC - Fargo, ND
BSEE, CHI

Elva,  I have thought of that for a couple of the check lists but it's always time, time, time. I'll try to get them and post them to our web site. Thanks for stopping by.

Dec 26, 2011 05:26 PM #40
Rainmaker
508,648
Sylvie Stuart
Realty One Group Mountain Desert 928-600-2765 - Flagstaff, AZ
Home Buying, Home Selling and Investment - Flagsta

We have seen transactions fall apart or at least become more difficult because of each of these. This is a good list. Being proactive and not allowing for deferred maintenance can really prevent a huge headache later.

Mar 11, 2012 11:22 PM #41
Rainer
166,385
Marshall Brown
Mid America Inspection Services, LLC - Fargo, ND
BSEE, CHI

Thanks for the comments, Sylvie. I haven't been to Flag in a long time but remember it as a beautiful place. Of course being a Wildcat I have to favor tucson but............

Mar 11, 2012 11:45 PM #42
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Rainer
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Marshall Brown

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