Woodbridge Home Inspection - Do You See What A.C.?

At first glance you may not notice everything this photo has to offer.  Most people would focus on the AC unit in the window, um, hole in the wall.  It is a long story, as it should be -- after all, it was a very long home inspection.

The "structure" on the right is one of three (very) illegal additions to this house.  It was build directly onto a thin slab poured onto the back yard.  The slab was very cracked, so its foundation may not have been the best.  It is also sinking.  It would not have supported patio furniture, much less a two-story addition!

You can tell that this addition has bee here a while by the double layer of shingles.  I don't think the shingles were very old though.  The huge amount of caulking all along the edge at the top seemed pretty fresh. 

The roof rafters were merely nailed to the original house and run directly from their attachment almost 17' to the rear wall of the addition.  They are only 2"x6" rafters, though, and sag greatly in the middle. 

The soffit vents don't really ventilate the roof space. They are only on one side. There are none on the other side or the ends of the roof. And nothing to vent air upward and out.

Apparently this sagging caused the original drywall to crack and fall off, so it was replaced with more flexible Masonite sheets.  Looking through gaps in those sheets it is obvious that there is no insulation up there.  The lack of insulation and ventilation will cook roof shingles.  Well, another shingle layer solved that problem!

This, and the two other additions, were to convert this formerly three bedroom, two-level house into two separate apartments which now feature -- count 'em -- 14 bedrooms!  They simply removed the stair case and, presto, chango, two separate apartments!  With  two "complete" kitchens too!  There weren't three "kitchens" because one addition is really only a small garden shed, kind of attached to the house.  They kind of attached it so a (2'x3') hole (trap door) could be cut from it into the main structure.  This gives the third "addition" two doors - house access and a private one to the outdoors!  That "addition" was rented separately, you should know.  I could offer another blog just on its features...

But, back to the photo above!  Other things you may not have noticed:

  • Water had been getting in where the new roof attaches to the original one, so they covered it with a piece of sheet metal.  The end facing you is drywall.
  • There isn't much incline on that roof, so it continues to leak, kind of all over, despite two fine layers of shingles.
  • The shingles were installed by a 9 year old, I think, give or take two years.
  • The gutter inclines toward the right of the picture, not to the left.  You might think that is not so good, except to the left there is no downspout so it couldn't drain that way anyway.  Yes, it is wearing out that wall, and leaking inside too, but paint every 10 years or so will solve that.
  • Primer, we don't need no stinkin' primer...
  • It is hard to see, but the addition is not only sinking.  It is racking to the right.  That A.C. unit is not really resting any longer on the convenient 2x4 support nailed into the wall.
  • Yes, it's leaking into the room also.
  • Since the hole is somewhat larger than the A.C. unit, the wall is carefully sealed, as you can see.  The gaps on the inside are filled with Styrofoam and twisted paper towels.
  • Since the original AC compressor no longer services the upper apartment, each room has a similar window, I mean, wall unit to the one you see here!  And just as cleverly installed.
  • That's probably fine since the windows have been painted so many times over the years that they don't open any more anyway.
  • The window, I mean wall, I mean hole A.C. unit you see here plugs into a two-prong wall outlet.  It has a three-prong plug, so they cut that pesky grounding prong off so that rascal could plug in!  It's probably okay though because it plugs into what I think was the old refrigerator outlet, so maybe the outlet was wired for an appliance anyway.  And electrical tape holds that baby solidly onto the wall too! 
  • Where the fridge used to be is a "laundry room" now, so adding an A.C. unit can't hurt much.  The "kitchen" is elsewhere anyway.

Okay, a lot of this was said tongue in cheek.  But it's all true!  You have to understand, I see this kind of stuff almost every day.  This house is very typical of so many foreclosures I am called to inspect.   This post could be 300 pages long with other photos from this house.  I chose this photo because a picture is worth so much!  And I haven't even discussed the electrical, plumbing, structural, HVAC, fire code, roof, mold, or appliance issues!  My client pulled a Monte Python and "ran awaaay, ran awaaay!"

Fortunately for me she didn't ask for a report.  I would still be working on it!

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Jay performs inspections Monday through Saturday, throughout Northern Virginia, from his office in Bristow to Leesburg and Centreville, to Great Falls and Vienna and everywhere in between!