Troubled Houses - The Home Owner's Resourcesm - Exterior
We see many interesting adverse conditions during our inspections, partly because of the unlimited number of ways people can mess up a house, but also because we do a thorough inspection to reveal these adverse conditions. We hope these stories help home owners avoid these costly conditions by learning about causes, preventions, and remedies. A home purchase can create opportunities for the new owner to improve the home, possibly increasing its value, durability, and usefulness.
NOTICE TO BUYERS & SELLERS: This site does NOT encourage or discourage the purchase of any individual house, or style, age, location, or condition of house. Conditions shown and/or described in the following articles may have been remedied at the house where these conditions were found. These conditions typically can be remedied by qualified contractors. The presence of these conditions in any house is comparable to any other real estate consideration such as price, size, or location. Consult a qualified home inspector before purchasing any house, and consult a qualified real estate agent for more information on how to handle a real estate transaction where adverse conditions are reported in a home inspection. This site does not describe any house by address or knowingly show a readily identifiable exterior image. Further, no home actively listed for sale on the Twin Cities MLS will be described on these pages at the time the article is posted.
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Old Paint + Untrained Painter = Contaminated Soil
A potential danger - Easily Controlled
The extension style springs on this overhead door have the potential to break and fly across the garage with great force. If someone were struck by the broken spring, serious injury could occur. The springs shown here lack containment cables within the spring.
Containment cables, example shown below can be readily installed by a garage door technician. These cables are recommended in all cases where this type of spring (extension) is used.
Lack of Rain Gutters Creates a Splash Zone which leads to water damage
The adverse condition found was water damage to the subfloor, near the latch side of the sliding patio door at the rear wall. The water damage was largely a result of splash on the wood patio and step due to the lack of a rain gutter on the rear eave. Water coming off the roof falls two stories and strikes the wood patio. The result was splashing water with enough kinetic energy to flow under the metal clad trim below the door of this 14 year old house. Notice the drip line on the wood patio near the door. Interior damage shown below.
Sometimes the conditions we find at houses make us shake our heads in wonder. This is one example. We approached the house from the driveway and noticed an odd configuration for the gutter downspout. (The spout ENTERED the garage wall.)
A quick look on the other side of the garage showed a spout extending OUT of the corner.
Our inspection of the garage revealed that indeed the downspout did pass entirely through the garage over the door and down the far wall.
Unfortunately the spout was plastic instead of metal. These plastic or vinyl spouts tend to expand and contract significantly with temperature changes, increasing the potential for leaks. The connection between the section entering the garage and the long section over the door was about a foot from the corner. Therefore, the long section was often at a different temperature than the section entering the garage.
The discolored joint was dripping onto a cabinet below the joint and splashing onto the garage and house wall. Our report recommended changing to an aluminum downspout routed entirely outside.
Details matter - Water must drain off the building
This house has a properly sloped stone ledge capping the stone cladding on the porch wall. The cap on the porch column at left is level and does not drain.
This column cap at right, beneath the rear deck, is flat. Water doesn't drain off the cap which has already cracked. This house is less than one year old. Our report recommended rebuilding all the stone caps and setting them to drain, similar to the front porch ledge.
First impressions - May take a fall.
The walk to this home looks normal at first glance, but watch out when you approach it on foot from the street. Take a closer look at the three steps from the city walkway up to the front entry walkway.
The bottom and top steps have rotated and tilt down severely. These steps have a high potential for contributing to a fall.
Even a small amount of snow or ice on these steps creates a dangerous condition. Our recommendation was for immediate correction by a qualified concrete firm.
Old House Paint + Untrained Painter = Contaminated Soil
Many home owners seeking to maintain their homes are willing to spend the time to scrape and paint the exterior of their home, particularly if this helps improve the house prior to listing the house for sale. Preparing the siding and or trim for paint often involves scraping off any peeling paint.
Sadly, many home owner painters do not know or remember that houses built before 1978 and particularly those built before 1950 often have paint that contains lead. Scraping off old paint often releases lead into the environment, typically as paint chips that fall to the soil.
The light colored specks in the soil are paint chips which fell from the gable rake boards shown above. The soil is now contaminated. Click here to see the Minnesota Department of Health information on proper methods for home owners to prepare both exterior and interior surfaces in old houses for painting. One of the key methods discussed is tarping of the ground to prevent soil contamination.