Common Home Inspection Problems
I find it humorous that investors love us but realtors hate us, however the need for professional home inspections has dramatically increased in the last few years. While requirements vary from state to state, some states and lending institutions no longer allow licensed general contractors to conduct such inspections. I personally don’t have a problem with allowing a competent / knowledgeable contractor to do a home inspection, however the building profession is being filled with too many individuals that lack knowledge and experience.
As my schedule allows, in the next few months I will submit various articles on some of the common problems I find when doing a home inspection.
Originally I was contemplating on writing one article to cover many of the areas but decided it would be better to go into greater detail with many of the topics. The topics will not be in any particular order, other than the methodology I use when conducting an inspection.
1. Grading and drainage issues
One of the first problems I often note are improper grades. These often lead to other problems, especially with basements and crawl spaces. Other than the manual labor required to throw some dirt and seed down, this is one area that is typically inexpensive to correct. A good wheel barrel and a shovel are the only required tools for this job. These tools can usually be acquired in your neighbor’s garage, with his permission of course. Grades should be approximately 6 inches for every 10 feet, with the final grade no closer than 6 inches from any exposed wood on the house.
When an interior grade of a crawl space is lower than 12 inches of the exterior, then a drainage system should be installed. Some approved methods, but not recommended, include putting an interior French drain inside a crawl space. I personally would not do such because of the high moisture levels that will result if not done properly, this in itself often leads to more problems.
Without a doubt water is the number one cause to the deterioration of a home. When gutters are installed the water should be drained away from the house even if it requires additional drain piping to be installed. The corrugated plastic drain pipe is very cheap and easy to install. I personally have tested other methods, such as the plastic covers that wrap around your downspouts, where the water comes down the spout and the plastic covers are suppose to unroll dispersing the water like a sprinkler system. The main problem I have encountered with this type of system is that they are easily clogged with leaves and debris. The main thing to remember is to get the water away from the house.
Before I forget, let me state that when grading your property you need to take into consideration where the water will eventually end up. You can be held civilly responsible for changing the flow of your water onto another person’s property. I few years ago I built and sold a new home to a couple who was intent on increasing the grade of their home. I advised them that the grade was sufficient and that any changes could affect the nearby neighbors property to which they would be responsible, …….of course they didn’t listen and it wasn’t until the nearby neighbor had to get a lawyer involved did they eventually change it back to the way it originally was designed.
Two other things that are worth mentioning are mulch and vines. While mulch and vines are attractive coverings they can lead to problems. It is amazing what a vine can do to the veneer of a house. I have seen it creep into the cracks of mortar joints of brick and end up inside the bedroom of a house. Anyone that is familiar with Kudzu understands what vines can do, vines should be removed.
Mulch is attractive but a waste of money. It absorbs the moisture away from the plants as well as smothers them, it is nothing more than termite food, I suggest using pine needles instead.
The next article will be on exterior veneers, doors and windows.