This Roof's For You

I could have taken 30 pictures of this small, front porch and roof. The seller, not from here, nor anywhere above the southern border, proudly proclaimed to the Realtor, not me, that he had built the small 6'x4' roof over the front porch stoop. I would have never guessed differently.

Driving up I noticed the two small, turned columns, 3"x9', splayed interestingly and no where near plumb. They were bowing somewhat under the load, and the load was not terrific. The "trim" on the front would best be described as "not symmetrical," or "not professional," or even "not done by an adult..." The trim on the side merely abuts the vinyl siding. One piece of side trim is a 1"x3" and the other 1"x4" - nearly the same! I can only imagine how this roof was attached to the house. The buyer and I guess probably with something other than a 2"x6", and perhaps with a couple of nails in each. Hopefully the nails hit a stud. It appears to have been painted yesterday, perhaps to hide staining.

All in all, just standing beside the porch and looking up, even before I set up my ladder, I knew this was going to be another typical inspection of another typical foreclosure where the owner is renting rooms by the day to a house full of squatters who moved in and have taken over until they are forced to leave. These squatters are ruining the place, perhaps on purpose. It was a mess, surely not a strong enough word. We had to ask the 16 people inside the house to leave. Pretending not to understand English, they had no choice once they heard and understood my very polite, very firm, and very adult Spanish. I spoke to them like a teacher would speak to elementary school children. One said, "You Argentines think you can tell anybody to do anything." What does that tell you about my Spanish, and, well, and my blond hair and blue eyes? They left without response. I did find another person sleeping in one of the 7 "bedrooms" later, whom I asked to leave so we could conduct an "official" inspection. He left quickly when he saw four people standing in front of him.

I selected these two pictures to show how this roof was shingled and how the porch was installed.  

There is no evident flashing. If you don't know how to flash, well, what's next? Silicone!  The disobedient and bulging siding was simply nailed to the house - with interior nails.

Both sides looked just like these two pictures. And, you will notice, there are (at least) two fine layers of shingles. There had to be because if they are not properly staggered shingles will leak quickly. There was no evidence of tar paper. And no gutters or drip edges on the sides.

The rear roof had sustained some wind damage to the shingles. We had a terribly strong wind storm about a month ago. The repairs to those missing sections, perhaps a total of 50 square feet, look very similar to the shingles on this front porch roof. Not staggered, pieces here and there, the ends of some not nailed, and put right on top of the upper course they are intended to repair. There were broken pieces all over the roof and yard. I could treat you to another 50 or so posts regarding the interior. But why spoil your day any further?

Two of my three inspections yesterday were like this.  These inspections are tiring, tiresome, and have gotten real old.  The beat goes on.

Unfortunately, I think the beat will not only go on, but get worse. This is a problem we are just beginning to experience, as a nation and as a home inspection industry.

Oh boy...

My recommendation:  This particular buyer is in building remodeling and construction.  He is capable of not only understanding the problems that exist in houses like this but also how to handle them.  He has bought many such properties, and calls me every time for an inspection.  The average buyer would be overwhelmed with the conditions that exist in many foreclosures.  Be sure your clients understand that what they cannot see can be as bad as what they can see.  Maybe worse.  And sometimes things intended, however well intended, to improve a property, can make for expensive and extensive future repairs.  This house was built in 1996 and this buyer's plan -- gut it and start over!

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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!