Category Archives: Structural

GET YOUR HOME READY FOR ‘THE BIG ONE’ WITH A FEW SMALL STEPS

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know we are overdue for “The Big One.” 

Perhaps you’ve seen or heard stories on the news, or read about terrifying accounts like this New Yorker article from a few years back that pretty much freaked everyone in our region out.

Yeah, it’s going to be a doozy. 

Good news: From a housing perspective, there are a few key tasks you can undertake now to prepare your home. While preparations can’t prevent all the damage, they can go a long way towards making your house—and loved ones—safer.

First and foremost, make sure your home is bolted to its foundation. If your house is a somewhat recent construction, chances are it already is. However, for older homes, it may not be bolted. 

Also make sure that items in your house—particularly big furniture that might tip over and even home décor—are bolted to walls or affixed in place.

Small things that can make a big difference.

I hope this helps!

If you have questions or comments about seismic upgrades or home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

WATCH YOUR STEP: HANDYMAN RAMP NEEDS REPAIR

Frequently, handyman construction practices are undertaken to make life easier for home residents. A lot of the time, these “fixes” work just fine. Occasionally, however, there needs to be corrective action taken because of safety concerns.

I encountered just such a scenario during a recent home inspection on Fidalgo Island. I noticed handyman construction practices at a ramp from the garage interior to the home, which I considered a potential safety issue because the boards deflected a lot when I walked on them. When I note these types of things, I always recommend further evaluation and repair by a qualified contractor in my reports.

If you have questions or comments about handyman construction practices, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

SNEAKY SECRET CRAWL SPACE ACCESS HATCH

I always enjoy coming across homes with quirks or unexpected features. Definitely one of the perks of my job.

Case in point: during a recent visit to a home in Coupeville, I found a crawl space access hatch that was placed strategically behind a bookshelf. Not only was this a stylish, efficient, and space-saving design, it also made the chore of going into a crawl space a little more entertaining.

If you have questions or comments about structural issues, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

THANK YOU, MOISTURE METER!

Moisture meters are awesome! They detect underlying saturation not visible to the eye which, caught early enough, is easily fixed and avoids water and insect damage. I use my moisture meter at every inspection, and I consider it one of the best tools in my arsenal.

Recently—during an inspection of a house in Bow—I used my moisture meter on a bathroom linoleum floor. During my testing, I noted saturation between the toilet and shower when I probed it with a moisture meter, suggesting a likely plumbing leak from the toilet (and possibly the shower). As a result, I recommend further evaluation and repair by a contractor.

Do you have questions or comments about moisture issues in your home? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

READY FOR THE ‘BIG ONE’ TO HIT? THIS HOME IS—FROM TOP TO BOTTOM

You know that big earthquake we are supposed to have? Unfortunately, many homes will probably not fare too well during the big shake. 

However, I recently came across a home in Whatcom County that should do all right because of its unique, industrial-grade structural elements. The home featured steel truss construction and steel framing in the attic, which I don’t see very often in residential buildings.

Down below, the crawl space also featured steel framing for the floor joists and steel support columns. As I say in the video, the house is “built like a tank.”

If you have questions or comments about home inspections in general, tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

MORE IS BETTER RIGHT? NOT WHEN IT COMES TO GOLF SCORES & VAPOR BARRIERS

Vapor barriers are ideal for reducing/limiting moisture in the ground from evaporating and migrating up into the crawl space. This helps to prevent problems that arise when moisture condenses on cold surfaces, such as ductwork and wood. 

Unless you enjoy hearing phrases such as wood rot, mold and mildew, you’d be well-advised to use a vapor barrier. The takeaway? A vapor barrier is a good idea.

But what about vapor barriers? As in multiple barriers being used at the same time? Do you get extra credit if you use more?

Nope. 

In fact, I recently came across a crawl space in which two vapor barriers were installed in the crawl space. In my report, I wrote that the use of two vapor barriers actually causes problems because water can become entrapped between vapor barrier layers, prolonging evaporation time which can lead to stagnant water conditions. 

In other words, one barrier is more than enough.

Do you have questions or comments about vapor barriers, crawl spaces or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

THAT SETTLES IT: SETTLING CRACKS ARE NOT ALWAYS THE END OF THE WORLD (MOST OF THE TIME)

Even though it may be a bit alarming to see a large crack in the foundation of your home, a good deal of the time it’s not something to fret over. For instance, the character of a crack can tell you a lot about how serious it may be regarding structural integrity. 

During a recent home inspection in Langley, Washington, I came across a good-sized break in a concrete foundation that had “rounded edges”—as opposed to a “sharp” or “fresh” cracks. This pattern told me it was likely historical. Furthermore, structural engineers had outfitted the home with concrete supports to contain any further settling issues, and the homeowner provided me with a letter from an engineer that showed the matter as previously evaluated.  

In the end, monitoring for movement into the future and repairing if noted is all you can do.

Do you have questions or comments about foundations, settling cracks or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

LOOKS LIKE THE TAPE MEASURER WAS BROKEN?

Almost there isn’t quite good enough for this ladder.

I recently discovered this unique version of an attic access hatch during a recent home inspection in Mount Vernon. The pull-down ladder in the garage was undersized and did not fully extend to the concrete slab below; furthermore, the pull-down ladder hatch did not close fully, which was a safety issue as the garage ceiling is considered a fire separation barrier between the garage and the home. 

In the home inspection, we have a very technical term for this: double trouble!

Questions or comments about attics or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and let us know at @AIHomeInspect