Inspection number 12
Today’s inspection takes us through yet another century home. Rarely do you ever encounter an inspection from this era of housing that constitutes a boring inspection. It may be the original workmanship, or the unique design and layout, unfortunately in some cases it is the ingenuity and creativity of one of the previous home owners that makes you step back and say “what the heck were you thinking”. In any case I find that every century home provides me with some degree of a learning curve. Quite often I will joke with my clients about what I like to refer to as “pink and blue” money. Let me explain, Moving into a century home can be a very expensive venture. One of the most common denominators that I find is that rarely is there a balance of cosmetic and mechanical work done. To walk into a century home and find that the interior wall and ceiling cracks (plaster) have either been repaired or covered with another finish, in most cases it will be drywall is common. The hardwood floors, typically maple or oak will have been refinished or replaced. The hardwood product that is most common in the century homes was a 3/8’s inch thick by 2 3/8’s inch wide wood floor. Replacement of this floor is often due to the fact that they have already been sanded to the point where the top groove of the tongue and groove (T&G) system will be so thin that it will splinter off. Under the hard wood is the 6 inch T&G pine subfloor, it will be at least one inch and possibly two inches thick. This is often also used as the finished flooring, coming to my own conclusion, I think that the flooring of the old homes said a lot about the financial position of the original family. In farm houses from this era you may not see any hardwood installed, it may, and often is the pine subfloor that is used as the finish flooring. Moving into the towns or cities you start seeing the hardwood used as a finish floor over top of the pine subfloor at the main levels. I also come into homes that have the hardwood covering the pine subfloor on the second story thus causing me to assume that this was likely a home of notoriety in its beginnings. Other cosmetics such as the windows (which could be argued is not really just a cosmetic upgrade) kitchens and bathrooms have all had the lion’s share of the renovation money.
Proceeding into the cellar I notice that the furnace is 20 years or older the service panel is still a fuse box, suggesting that some of the original “knob and tube wiring may still be present. I notice that only a small portion of the plumbing has been upgraded where new bath and kitchen supply and drains were required. Up in the attic it is probable that no insulation upgrade will have happened.
This is a pink house. Should the roles be reversed than it would be a blue house.
One of the interesting things that I came across in this home was the use of a wall sluice.
A hundred years ago or so, the efforts to deal with basement seepage was not of the highest priority during the construction of the stone cellars with earth floors. The use of the this space was intended as storage for maybe preserves and fuels (wood , coal) a place for your furnace and if you had one a hot water tank and a cistern. There was no thought to provide any type of water proofing material or products, in all likely- hood there was simply nothing available to use. Years later when and if spring runoff or heavy rains became a problem remedial work often took place inside the building rather than the outside. One such system was the wall sluice. Simple in its manner, a trough was cut into the floor slab or possibly a wooden embedded part was laid into the wet concrete at the time of pouring to create a small “ditch” all around the perimeter of the building, curiously, I would see this system in homes and there would be no pick up point for the water. This was always a puzzle to me. Then the light came on! During another inspection some years ago I was doing an insurance inspection on an old farmers, old house. In one sense it was very cool it was Original. It had had virtually nothing done to it. ( it still had all the old stove pipes snaking through out the rooms in the home.) Low and behold in the cellar is the wall sluice but running through (or sitting in) the entire sluice are cedar rails. Sponge’s. The cedar rail sucks up the water and the water evaporate, or humidifies the home. What do you think? Sounds pretty good to me but of course once again this is a conclusion that I have come to on my own.
I can only assume that it must have worked pretty good for them due to the fact that the only time that I see a catch point, like a sump pump is when someone has retrofitted one in after the fact.
In this particular century home the owners felt that it was best to fill the sluice with kitty litter. Probable did not work quite as well as the cedar rails.
Hey it’s been fun. Thanks for dropping by.
See you next time on homeinspectiontoday.blogspot.com