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Why invest in a home inspection?

Foundations

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This home, at first look seems, fine. No real noticeable issues the purchaser could see however House Check observed a slight “racking of the home”. Can you see how the roof line is off horizontal? This is a hidden defect we can identify.
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Notice closer up, the roof line compared to the gutter system, this is another indication of “racking”. House Check, through our 10 years of experience with Entech Engineering, has giving us the ability in finding structural deficiencies that could result in costly repairs.
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This interior crack is a sure sign of distress in this home. Diagonal cracks off doors and windows indicate stress in the structural components of the home. There are tools we use to identify problems.
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This is another interior crack indicating movement in the home. House Check recommended the home be evaluated by a structural engineer. The engineer determined the rear of the home had settled. The cost to drive steel piers to bedrock to stabilize the home was over $20,000. This is why it is critical to have a home inspection before you make your investment.
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This homeowner was from out of town and trusted his real estate professional to provide a home inspection. The agent figuring he would save some cash and would conduct the observations himself not bothering to enter the crawlspace. When the purchaser moved in to the home he noticed there was a foul odor.
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The homeowner called a plumber to come out and he found a plugged sewer line. (House Check always recommends the buyer have the sewer line “snaked” in older homes because they can have problems we cannot identify underground). As the plumber exited the crawlspace he stated to the homeowner “you need a structural engineer”. The homeowner called us when he noticed had structural experience with Entech Engineering.
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When House Check entered the crawlspace these pictures are what we found: The entire north wall of the homes 16” foundation was undermined with 4x4 posts resting on saturated clayey sand supporting it. Moisture was entering the crawlspace; mold was seen on plywood retaining walls. We surmised it was a “fort” built by children. We never heard how the situation turned out however we did get a call from a lawyer asking for the pictures. We emailed the pictures and did not charge the homeowner a dime for the home inspection, it was priceless!
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Older homes can be problematic. Foundation problems are usually our biggest concern in older homes. We found this Ford truck frame resting on expansive soils as a support for the floor joists.
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Placing structural supports on expansive soils can cause up lift resulting in sloping floors. House Check noticed the sloping floors as the first sign this home had problems.
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When we arrived at this home the entire structural seemed to lean, the windows did not work, the doors would not close and cracking was noticeable in the plaster walls.
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We entered the crawlspace of the home and found the wood sill resting on deteriorated bricks set at different distances apart which caused the wood sills supporting the walls to bow and become uneven. The foundations of older homes must be evaluated in any home inspection.
Horizontal cracks in foundations indicates the soil is exerting pressure from excess moisture near the foundation or frost heaving.
Horizontal cracks can also be found if heavy concrete porches have settled which exerts pressure on the wall.
House Check is always on the lookout for horizontal cracking, specifically and foundation problems in general.

Crawlspace

Often times a crawlspace is access in the home. This area is a common place to find moisture infiltration.
Leaking plumbing fixtures are discovered in a crawlspace. House Check enters all crawlspaces for evaluation.
Lot drainage is critical when preventing moisture from entering a crawlspace.
Proper installation, maintenance and operation of the sump pump system is critical in removing moisture away from the home and protecting the foundation. Wet crawl spaces risk foundation movement, structural damage from rot, moisture can attracted unwanted insects and can lead interior mold growth.

Attics

Most home buyers do not look in the attic when walking through a home. This buyer called House Check after choosing a nice inexpensive home in the mountains. We noticed the roof was “spongy” and soft. When we entered the attic it was noted all the support rafters for the roof were rotted.
Rotting roof trusses and supports can result in collapse under heavy loads. Proper maintenance of the roof system and roof vent system prevents moisture intrusion into the attic which can lead to this type of damage. This condition caused the buyers to walk away with a big thank you to House Check.

Roofing

House Check evaluates every accessible roofing system encountered. Many time damages that cannot be seen from the street exist with closer observations. Hail damage is a frequent find on roofing systems in Colorado Springs.
Hail damage is identifiable due to the “dimple” is creates in the roofing membrane.
Hail damage can be minor or major however the roof should always be evaluated for insurability.
House Check also finds wind damage on roof systems. Wind damage and the deterioration that follows can be a source of water infiltration into the home.
Some minor areas of wind damage can merely have a single replaced by a professional roofing contractor.
An issue seen when evaluating the roof system can be hail damaged roofing vents. Roof vents assist in keeping the roof system cooler in the summers and reduce potential ice buildup in the winters.
House Check also evaluates chimney stacks, their crowns and caps. Many older chimneys have a concrete crown that can become deteriorated.
Newer homes can have metal crowns that can rust out over time.
Metal chimneystacks which service heating appliances are typically, double walled metal flues. The acidic moisture released from the combustion of fuels condenses against the walls of the flues which can lead to corrosion and rust.
Older masonry chimneystacks must be tuck pointed (replacing the mortar between the brick) periodically, to prevent damage and falling bricks.
Drainage off the roof system is critical. Gutters should be clean and maintained because the fine metal particles in dust will lead to rust and deterioration.
If the gutter system is neglected, then holes will begin to appear as we see here.
Downspouts around the home are critical in moving moisture away from the structural portions of the dwelling. This can be accomplished with extensions or plastic tubing extensions. Normally, storm waters from the roof system should discharge five to six feet from the home.

Exterior

Homes can have multiple forms of cladding. Compressed composition woods are very common.
These types of cladding must be maintained with painting and caulking to avoid deterioration.
Poorly maintained siding will, over time, begin to rot.
Areas of rot must be replaced at avoid further unseen damage.
House Check pays special attention to the exterior cladding of the home.
Stucco is also a common exterior cladding found on homes in Colorado Springs and the surrounding area in which damages can be found.
Hair line cracks are typically not a large concern however over time, chipping can occur in cracked areas.
Damaged areas can allow moisture to infiltrate behind the walls and should be repaired.
Staining indicates moisture intrusion if located in certain areas around a home. Areas where gutters encounter the stucco can be problematic. These areas normally have a kick flashing installed. When “kick flashings” are not properly installed, moisture can make its way behind the wall.
Staining can also occur at over hangs that indicate a leak.
Vinyl exterior cladding is also a common cladding material. This type of siding can be easily damaged.
Holes and chips in vinyl siding to ensure moisture does not infiltrate behind the walls.
Many homes have wood trim around windows and doors that must be caulked and maintained to avoid damage.
Lot drainage is important. Keeping storm water way from the home protects the foundation.
Safety issues is a top priority for House Check. Trip hazards are very common.
Trip hazards can be caused by settling, tree root growth and frost heave. Trip hazards should be repaired to prevent injury.

Garage

Loose hardware on a garage door can lead to damage.
House Check evaluates a home’s garage door for damage.
House Check also determines the condition of the firewall between the home and garage. This wall must be maintained to resist a fire in the garage from entering the home.
Ceiling stains in a garage indicate the existence of plumbing leaks in upper level bathrooms.
These types of stains can also indicate flashing problems in the roof system.

Electrical

House Check evaluates all electrical panels. In many homes, House Check reveals double tapped hot lines, either entering a breaker or spliced to create a double tapped line. The rule is one circuit entering one breaker.
Double taps can over load breakers and the electrical system itself. Overheated electrical systems can melt wires and be a potential fire hazard.
House Check also finds neutral circuits that are doubled up. These lines have been known to arc when in this configuration. House Check always recommends double taps be repaired by a qualified electrical contractor.
Improperly wired outlet are found in many homes. House Check checks all accessible outlets in the home. All switches are evaluated to ensure the fixtures that service function properly.

Heating

The heating system is the heart of the home. The furnace must be maintained with proper cleaning and adjustments. House Check evaluates all gas appliances for gas leaks.
The fan servicing the furnace pushes air through the home. The furnace fan must be kept clean so the unit functions properly.

Cooling

The exterior AC units are only half of the AC system. These exterior units are exposed to the elements and can sustain damage such as hail. The interior portion of the AC unit is located in the furnace compartment.
The exterior AC unit consist of fins much like the radiator on a car. These fins must be kept clean and free of damage to ensure proper air flow over the coolant lines.
There are two coolant lines. One is a hot return and the other is the cold return. The cold return has insulation that covers the cold supply pipe must be maintained to prevent loss of cooling efficiency.

Insulation

Crawlspace insulation should be properly maintained and intact to protect plumbing fixtures and keep floors warm.
Attic insulation can be compressed reducing its insulative properties. These areas should be rearranged for proper coverage.
A common problem House Check discovers is uncovered paper insulation. This insulation will burn, very quickly due to the nature of the glues used, and should be covered or the paper removed.

Plumbing

The renter, in a panic, called telling House Check complaining of an odd odor in the home. The renter complained the landlord said he could not smell anything and to get some air fresheners. We were called in to investigate the situation.
We entered the crawlspace of the home to find raw sewage covering the crawlspace floor. The sewer line was cracked and raw sewage was being dumped into the home. The renters, using our report, received their deposit back and moved out.
We can also detect the hidden leaks behind the insulation caused by a broken sewer line from a toilet.
We identified a crack in the sewer line that had been leaking for a good period of time. These are the deficiencies we can identify on your new purchase if they exist.

Interior

Of course, House Check evaluates many items beyond those listed. One the issues on the interior of a home, that House Check keeps an eye out for, is mold growth.
Mold spores can be found everywhere and are typically a sign of moisture infiltration because molds require water to survive.
Evidence of mold in a garage can indicate a leaking bathroom fixture.
Exterior stairwells can trap moisture and over time molds can weaken building components.
Many times, mold is found behind water heaters and adjacent to bathroom shower and bathtubs.
A very common safety concern is the security of the stove and its ability to tip. Many installed stoves do not possess a properly installed “anti-tip bracket” even though the tip bracket is included with the unit. This condition poses a scalding hazard.
Molds found in a bathroom shower or bathtub can indicate moisture infiltration behind the tiles causing the tiles to loosen, (one can easily test for loose tiles by knocking on the tile and listening for hollowness).
Common safety issues can include improperly installed dishwasher air gaps.
Air gaps keep waste waters from the kitchen sink separate so as to not contaminate clean dishes.
An improperly installed air gap can be a source of illness and should be repaired properly.
Other issues found on the interior are drain trap leaks
Improperly used of temporary flexible drain lines are an indication that repairs were conducted by an amateur. Temporary drains, while inexpensive, are not allowed as permanent drains.
The use of car parts as kitchen sink drain lines is verboten.
Improperly installed connection joints are often discovered. Rubber boot connections, for example, require metal sleeves preventing the rubber boot from being damaged or cut.

Fireplaces

Fireplaces can be a safety concern as well. Soot buildup in a gas fireplace indicates the fuels are not burning properly and the unit needs adjustments. House Check also check all gas appliances for natural gas leaks.
The condition of the firewall is also important because a damaged firewall can cause combustion gases to enter the home.
The firewall also prevents flames from reaching wood components of the fireplace enclosure.
It is critical to have a home inspection. It is even more critical to have your home investment evaluated by House Check.
House Check is a Locally Owned Home Inspection Company servicing Colorado Springs and the surrounding area for 30 years.
(719) 266-1645
Home Inspection Services in Colorado Springs
House Check offers 10% discounts for Seniors, Military and First Responders!
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