Tim Hance with All Islands Home Inspections recently discovered unconventionally constructed trusses in a garage that have been cut at a home inspection on Orcas Island. Cutting trusses is expressly NOT ALLOWED as it can, and likely will, lead to structural settling and failure over time. In this case, the roof plane showed clear evidence of settling/sagging when viewed from the exterior; when I went inside, it was clear why the roof was settling. With an appropriate snow load, or with time, some of these trusses will likely crack and fail. In this particular situation, repair was difficult because the trusses were cut to accommodate large garage doors; the recommended interim solution was to install intermediate posts and beams, in the middle of the garage, to properly support the roof and allow for vehicle access and egress.
“Fogged” windows, or windows with condensation between glass panes, are commonly discovered at home inspections. From my perspective, it’s a cosmetic issue because the condensation between panes isn’t a water intrusion issue for the home’s health itself. Sure, you’ll lose some thermal efficiency when the window panes lose their seals, but it’s somewhat negligible in the grand scheme of things. In my experience, Realtors are about 50% successful in negotiating replacement of “fogged” windows in real estate transactions. The Seller typically takes the stance that the “fogged” windows were obvious when the offer was made. The Buyer, on the other hand, may take the position that (a) they didn’t notice the “fogged” windows or (b) they had no idea what it would cost to replace. If you have a significant number of fogged windows, replacement adds up quickly. Standard “fogged” windows typically cost $300-$500 each to replace; contractors can usually pop-out the old glass pane and install a new one, without having to encumber trim and siding elements. These pictures were taken at a recent home inspection on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands.
Tim Hance with All Islands Home Inspections discovered completely deteriorated OSB eave sheathing at a recent home inspection in Anacortes, WA. If your soffit sheathing is discolored, particularly adjacent the gutters, you may very well have water and insect damage requiring your attention and repair. Left unchecked, deterioration will continue and become more expensive with time. Keeping gutters clean and installing a metal drip-edge flashing detail will help prevent recurrence into the future.
Wood gutters are cool, but they definitely require maintenance and are, from my perspective, a bit impractical. Pictured here are substantially deteriorated wood gutters requiring replacement. Many homeowners with wooden gutter systems will flash the interiors of the gutters (sometimes even with copper!) to help prevent water damage and extend serviceable life. But the reality is that wood gutters are generally not painted/sealed (e.g., to maintain that cool wood look) so they will deteriorate over time from moisture which leads to WDO (wood destroying organism) damage. Most gutter systems today are constructed with aluminum, metal, copper or plastic. Gutters aren’t just to keep rain off your head as you enter your house! They’re important to divert rain/storm water away from the building envelope. This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island.
At a recent home inspection on Orcas Island, I discovered plywood sheathing in the attic that was stained with a mold-like growth. This typically, almost always, indicates an insufficient ventilation or elevated moisture issue within the attic. Vents could be restricted, vent ducts may be discharging into the attic, or the interface between the main home and attic may need to be better sealed. In any event, a contractor needs to first resolve the underlying cause of elevated moisture and make necessary repairs. The mold-like growth is then typically remediated with a mildicide and then painted with mildicide paint to encapsulate historic mold growth. I recommend tinting the paint TAN because white or black mold growth will be obvious if it returns (e.g., you’ll see it on tan paint). If the attic is forever tan, you know the issue has been addressed satisfactorily. Because most home buyers want this issue addressed prior to closing, and remediation can be expensive, I recommend peeking into your attic on an annual basis and dealing with any apparent mold-like growth sooner than later if noted.
Did you know that insulating and weather-stripping your attic access hatch, like that pictured here, can be one of the most cost-effective strategies for significantly improving the thermal efficiency of your home? In fact, I understand that you can lose 30-40% of heated air through hatches that are neither insulated or weather-stripped. Think about that, 30-40%, it’s a HUGE number! For a small investment (less than $20), you can save hundreds of dollars annually. It’s a no brainer. This picture was taken at a recent home inspection in Burlington, Washington.
Tim Hance with All Islands Home Inspections recently discovered completely deteriorated trim, with the real possibility of underlying structural damage, at a recent home inspection in Mount Vernon, WA. Keeping your exterior elements properly sealed (e.g., painted and caulked) will prevent deterioration. It’s all about protecting your home from the elements! When deterioration is discovered, it should be repaired and replaced as necessary, and then painted and caulked. The longer one waits, the more expensive the issue becomes.
Textured “popcorn” ceilings, like that pictured here, could contain asbestos, especially in homes constructed prior to 1978. Because some sheetrock and painting contractors kept stores of this material into the early 1980s, it’s possible that textured “popcorn” ceilings in the 1980s could contain asbestos as well. Provided the material is in good condition and not delaminating from the ceiling, this isn’t a health concern because it’s not considered “friable,” e.g., you can’t breathe it. But if you intend to remodel (or scrape) “popcorn” ceilings, or it they’re in poor condition, testing is advised. Asbestos can only be confirmed by laboratory testing. This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.
It’s important to periodically (annually is good) check your soffit vent screens around the perimeter of your home to make sure the metal screening is in good condition. Oftentimes, birds will damage screening, attempting to gain access to the (warm, protected) attic area. Replacement of damaged screening should be undertaken as soon as practical. Don’t just cover and block the vents as this can compromise attic ventilation which can lead to mold growth in the attic, a costly problem. This was discovered at a recent home inspection on Samish Island.
Tim Hance, owner of All Islands Home Inspections, recently discovered dangerously low overhead electrical service entrance conductors that were a clear safety issue at a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor, WA. Additionally, these older wires were unconventionally run alongside the home’s exterior and vulnerable to mechanical damage. A qualified electrician was recommended to further evaluate and make necessary repairs for safety reasons.