Thursday, January 7, 2010

century homes

good evening inspection followers ( both of you)
I couple of inspections to tell you about tonight. Old houses with new window problems and then some.
The Alcan double hung windows of the late 80's and early 90's can be a real pain in the finger.
Of course the pain only begins when you unlock the hasp at the top of the bottom sash and the upper sash plummets down and wedges your fingers between the two panes of glass. Yes been there done that. This experience is a little embarrassing when your client is standing behind you asking if you are all right, of course you have to lie and say "Oh yes no problem here" as the blood drips down your knuckles. What is to be learned from this little experience? Alcan double hung window, BEWARE top sash falls when unlocked. This is typical with this window, hardware problems with most windows of this age is common, in this case the spring, or tension system has simply worn out after 20 years of service.
My next century home inspection also had window issues. Century Home, new windows, old wood sash left in place. What this means is the old single pane, single hung windows were removed but the frame work was left in and the new windows were just inserted, then fastened to the old frames. The problem is that the likelihood of there being any amount of insulation in behind the old fame work is little to none. Quick install for the guys doing the job, everything looks good until the first winds of winter start to blow, and that old familiar cold draft is back. In the home I looked at today, it had the old sashes still in place but to add insult to injury the fit was incorrect so the upper and lower sashes would not line up at the locking hasp. When this happens security is out the window ( no pun intended) and more importantly if the windows won't lock then they do not seal, if they do not seal then the cold comes in. Ten thousand dollars in windows that have to be all re-installed.
The other common denominator that these two inspections had in common is 3/8's hardwood flooring. In both cases the prospective home owners were disappointed to find that they had already been sanded down at least once. When my client asked "why on earth wood any body face nail these beautiful old oak floors. It was then he realized that the tongue and groove system had been sanded to the point where the top lip of the groove was so thin that it could not hold the floor for popping up and coming apart. Both floors had to be replaced. In the second of the two houses the floor had also started to cup quite badly. This is a common occurrence when the cellar floor is exposed earth. The never ending moisture that evaporates out of an exposed earth floor not only ruins finished flooring but creates less than favorable indoor air quality and potentially harmful soil gases (radon).
The final disappointing finding in the second house was up in the attic. This is where I easily find 40 to 50% of the sins that I come across in most houses that are over 5o years of age. One of the things that concerns me the most, is when I am doing a Home Inspection and I discover that the attic access has been permanently sealed over. It happens all to often and I will bet you that at least half of the clients assume that risk, especially if the rest of the inspection has gone well. That always worries me.
In todays home the old house had had a fire. Some of the burnt framing members had been repaired (sistered) but many were still left unaddressed. Using a probe, if it can be easily penetrated through a 1/4 inch of material on either side of the rafter framing than remedial action is required. Equally important is the sealing of the chared material , special paint is to be utillized to reduce the hightened flash point of the charcoaled wood roof structure.

Thanks for tagging along, we'll talk again after the next inspection adventure

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