Water, it's as vital to life as oxygen. It is also one of the most destructive compounds on earth. As every homeowner knows, water is the adversary. Construction and maintenance are centered around managing waters effects on building materials. When maintenance is deferred, the effects can be unsettling.
During a recent home inspection of an older home with a covered wrap around porch, one of the first things that caught my attention was the outside corner of the porch. It didn't look quite plumb. Actually it didn't look plumb at all. The corner support post for the roof and a second smaller porch above was leaning like a sailor on a long awaited shore leave. The side wall looked like his buddy.
Stepping around to the side for a different look, the gravity of the problem came into focus, like a ship cresting the horizon. This boat. . uh.. porch was sinking like the Titanic.
Under the leaning post is another post separated by the porch floor decking. The small post sits on a footing, which finishes the load path to earth. The porch flooring where the big posts rests is spectacularly compressed. The little post below, when probe, was as a soft as a stick of butter.
Walking around examining the porch, the wood decay was everywhere I looked as was the compression of the decking and railings. Clearly water management and general maintenance have not been kept up for a very long time.
This porch and the roof are coming down, albeit very slowly, but they are falling. What this demonstrates is that buildings and structures fail slowly, often predictably. When this porch or actually which part of the structure will finally reach a tipping point is anyone's guess.
Make no mistake though, it will fall.
Like a ship taking on water, it is a question of can it make it to port and be repaired or sink to bottom, lost forever.