Future Projections

Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

Looking ahead, a downturn is imminent 

graphThe real estate market has been in a historic decline now for years, although that seems to be changing. Foreclosures and short sales have been a large part of transactions. One constant that I have witnessed in spite of a poor market is that a nice, well kept house will still sell fairly quickly no matter the economic climate. A good incentive to any homeowner would be to maintain their home.

Bump outAs a home inspector good looks holds no sway with my assessment. Sometimes the ugly duckling is actually in better condition than the beauty queen. A pretty face can simply be lipstick on a pig.

Pulling up to a recent inspection, I was met with an impressive and newer looking home. A large dormered colonial. As they say appearances run only skin deep. It turned out only half the house was newer. The left half to be exact. The original house had been added on to and made into one larger home, double in size. 

PillarsWalking the exterior I noted the new section had a small bump out feature at the rear of the house. This was a sitting area in the living-family room on the first floor and the same for the master suite. Beneath the structure was a walkout for the basement. The building projection serving as a roof for the entry. Supporting the outer end of the bump out were two pillars set on to a concrete slab.

It should be clear to most people, that the outer end of this building feature can not be hung out in space. That it would require a substantial means of support. Pillars certainly look ample. But as the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In this instance it is what the columns have been set onto that presents concern, a concrete slab. 

cracking slabWhat grabbed my attention initially was that the slab has a full length crack along the width. Right at the bearing point of those two posts. Looking things over it was no surprise that the slab had cracked so significantly. The first shot in the foot was the downspout pouring right next to the left side of the slab. The other downspout was just a few feet away on the right with the soil grade nicely sloped right to the slab.


SlabWater has been undermining the slab. Yet, that is not by far the biggest error with this support system. That would be the concrete slab. Posts, pillars, columns, should be set onto concrete footings of a predetermined size (engineered) and depth. Also it would be sensible to set a column squarely onto a substantial portion of the footing or in this case slab. The builder placed each column on the edge with several inches over hanging the concrete. Wrong on so many levels. 

The conditions here beg many, many questions. One of the more important ones being, was this work permitted and more importantly inspected. The knowledge and competency of the builder is also very highly suspect. 

Repairs should involve engineering of the appropriately sized footings and posts. Followed by installation by a qualified contractor. With permits pulled for the work.

If repairs are not performed, I can project a continued down turn for this portion of the house. 

Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

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Geoff ONeill
John L. Scott Medford - Medford, OR

I once saw a home with an addition completely build on what used to be a patio.  Needless to say, all of the perimiter was cracked, as the concrete was correctly set for a patio and not an addition.  My buyer ran away (rightly so), and the listing agent couldn't figure out why. 

Jun 15, 2015 12:04 AM #1
Dagny Eason
Dagny's Real Estate - Wilton, CT
Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo

Amazing how many poorly constructed buildings there are out there!    You really feel a down turn?     

Jun 15, 2015 12:11 AM #2
Fred Hernden, CMI
Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area - Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque area Master Inspector

The straight on pic shows it all. The poor little columns are clinging to the edge of that concrete pad.... so bad!

Jun 15, 2015 12:24 AM #3
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

That crack is so obvious - didn't the sellers worry about it?  Their agent should have (and perhaps did) discuss this with them prior to listing.

Jun 15, 2015 12:25 AM #4
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jim, Footings? Those are so old school ;)

Jun 15, 2015 12:56 AM #5
Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
Arizona's Top Banana!

James it's amazing what inspectors find which to some folks is not obvious. Some sellers don't realize the importance of getting permits and having work done by professionals.  They think of it as a DYI only to find out when selling they should have done otherwise.

Jun 15, 2015 01:09 AM #6
Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert
Zion Realty - Gilbert, AZ
Broker/Owner of Zion Realty ZionRealtyAZ.com

That is not a problem that most people would want to deal with but it better get addressed or else there will be considerably more damage to that house in the near future!

Jun 15, 2015 01:13 AM #7
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

Nice article on the pillar issue of the home. 

You mentioned in your opening statement about a decline in the real estate market.  I would have to say that in Kearney, Nebraska that is not the case as our area continues to increase in value. We have been in a strong seller's market for many years. But yes...junk house still take longer to sell than those in great shape.

Jun 15, 2015 01:31 AM #8
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

Jim - from your description of the market, it is clear you are from Connecticut! We may go into the next downturn before coming out of the last one... Strange construction - did the owners or spec builders run out of money?

Jun 15, 2015 07:33 AM #9
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

James Quarello - like you, even I wonder, was permit pulled and inspection passed this? If yes, something went wrong somewhere...


Jun 15, 2015 02:48 PM #10
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

The trained eye cannot be fooled nor accept ignorance is bliss. Eye told you so!

Jun 15, 2015 11:22 PM #11
Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Yikes, that looks like it will be very problematic in the future for sure.

Jun 16, 2015 05:31 AM #12
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Sorry I missed this!  I'm missing a lot lately.

What's the old Cherokee phrase?  Weight and water makeum cracked slab.

I think that's it. 

What you show is what contractors come up with when architects and engineers are not involved.  And the homeowners were shocked, shocked I tell you, to find out their baby is a problem!

Jun 16, 2015 09:46 PM #13
William James Walton Sr.
WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briotti Group - Waterbury, CT
Greater Waterbury Real Estate

That was a clever one, Jim. 

I am not surprised, however, at what you found. It seems like owners like to cut corners whenever they can...

Jun 17, 2015 02:30 AM #14
Bill Reddington
Re/max Southern Realty - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

Certainly something that needs to be addressed. Before the second floor turns into the first.

Jun 18, 2015 12:10 PM #15
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Geoff, Big difference between a patio slab and a foundation slab. That would be a run away for most buyers.

Dagny, Nope, it was meant in relation to that weak structure.

Fred, Yep. That one shows it pretty well.

Margaret, FSBO. Need I say more?

Don, For sure. I'm just not up on this modern construction ;)

Anna, That is so, very, very true. 

Nicole, Probably not super difficult to fix. But it will cost some money.

Mike, It was meant as a metaphor for the bump out. Things here are picking up, but we'll see for how long.

Olga, No idea how or why. There were many other issues that screamed lack of permits and or inspections. 

Praful, Yep, this was a wonder.

Richie, Very punny.

Paula, It's heading that way.

Jay, Architect? Engineer? Pishaw! A pencil and a napkin is all that's need. 

William, Does seem to be the case at times or the contractors.

Bill, Yep. Exactly.

Jun 20, 2015 09:40 PM #16
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