Unusual choices, I find them quite frequently while inspecting houses. Sure there is no accounting for some ones personal taste, they may find the bright green walls in the dining room appealing. On the other hand when it comes to the choices made for repairs and construction, personal taste should be extremely limited. While the methods of accomplishing the same task are as varied as the people who perform them, it is the end result that matters.
In construction there is little formal instruction, because in the state of Connecticut contractors are not required to be licensed. The learning is often done on the job and taught by the guy who learned from his father, uncle, best friend, anyhow, you get the idea. Bad methods can and at times do get passed along.
During a recent home inspection on an older home with two brick fireplaces, I found an unusual choice for repairs. I routinely check the smoke chamber above the fireplace in brick and masonry chimneys. This area in my experience is at least half the times I check, never properly finished. One should never see bricks, but instead the chamber should be covered with a coat of mortar.
In this particular fireplace smoke chamber, I saw exposed brick and what looked like caulk or perhaps a foam insulation. After pulling myself out of the fireplace I informed my client of what I saw, telling her the fireplace should not be used until it was checked by a qualified chimney specialist. The listing agent, sitting a few feet away, stated there couldn't be a problem, in fact I was surely mistaken, because the chimney was lined and had been repaired by a mason.
She was very certain and shall I say forceful in presenting this information.
Since she hadn't done the work, nor stuck her head up there, I found it a bad choice to be making such statements. One thing was true, of which I informed her and my client of, one flue of the three was in fact lined. That flue was for the heating system, a repair regularly done for heating systems venting into masonry chimneys.
As for the smoke chamber, anything other than a mortar designed for high temperatures would also be an unusual choice for repair.
And potentially dangerous.