Just as a fun exercise let's take a look at the house on Zillow's mobile app splash screen. Do we see any potential issues? I'm seeing a yellow flag at the foundation area. If we zoom in a little (see photo below) we see a concrete slab sticking out beyond the siding. The foundation is not supposed to stick out this way, so what is happening here? Evidence suggests this slab was an old porch/patio and the owners decided to build an addition into this area--peeking through the window it looks like it was renovated into a large open plan kitchen and dining area. I would look for confirmation of this in the crawlspace/basement- there probably isn't any access under this area. Here are a few reasons why this is an important observation:
1. Typically siding should be installed to direct water away from the framing but in this case the siding terminates right at the foundation slab. The slab is level and not sloped away from the house and water will sit there decaying the siding, sheathing and framing. I would scrutinize the outside and inside perimeter for water damage.
2. Patio slabs are usually not adequate for addition foundations. Patio surfaces are often sloped, thinner and do not have water proofing, insulation or conduits/chases for electrical/plumbing and ductwork. We do not know for certain this is the case but I would be looking for more evidence to support this theory (based on experience there is a high probability this is the case) Depending on what other defects I find I may ask the buyer to verify the construction permits for this addition.
3. I would be looking closely at how heating/cooling, electricity, and plumbing is provided to this area. I would also be looking at the framing, insulation and ventilation of the attic area. If the general contractor was careless enough to build a kitchen/dining room on a patio slab they probably made other amateurish errors and I would be looking closely for them.
Feel free to send me any other high profile house pictures that may have issues- this was fun! As always, if you are buying, selling, or maintaining a home be sure to hire a Home Inspector with renovation experience that can recognize patterns like this.
These FAILS are all from my home inspection reports, Many of these situations look harmless from the outside but in at least one example in every Fail the related damages in the finished walls, basements and crawl spaces caused the buyers to back out, In most cases the sellers lowered the asking price, sometimes by tens of thousands of dollars. All of these issues could have been prevented for cents on the dollar. If you are buying, selling or maintaining please read on and if your home is within 40 miles of Asheville consider calling us for an inspection.
FAIL #9: Splash blocks, perforated drain pipes and other fails:
Run-off should be directed at least 6 feet away from the house and splash blocks are inadequate for this purpose. An exception might be at a concrete or asphalt patios/driveways that are well-sloped away from the house. Downspout drain pipes should slope downhill and away from the house. The downspout drain pipes should not have any holes in it. The perforated types are for French drains only.
In Asheville rain catchment systems are a popular and eco-friendly way to capture and use rainwater- primarily for irrigation. The main advantages are that the water doesn’t contain chorine/fluorine added by county treatment plants and the homeowner can reduce their public water consumption and expenses.
Unfortunately most of the installations that I see while performing home inspections in the Asheville area are defective and can, if left un-repaired over many years, cause structural issues, water penetration, mold, rot, and air quality issues in the crawl space/basement. Before installing a rain catchment system homeowners should understand that they are modifying important components of the house drainage system- the downspouts and sub-surface drains- which are designed to protect the home from water damage. It’s not enough to run downspouts into a barrel because they will inevitably overflow during big rain events. Improperly installed systems will negate any water savings by causing expensive foundation repairs which is why a licensed landscaper and/or a rain catchment specialist should install these systems. Owners of these catchment systems should budget for regular maintenance and repairs and they should inform gardeners/maintenance workers, and renters/occupants about how the system works so they don’t move or damage the components.
The picture was taken at the Asheville Earth Fare at the Westgate Mall (a local institution and one of my family’s favorites).