Issues with roof covering materials and flashing components due to age related wear, damage, improper installation or maintenance are more likely to be found. This does not always mean that most roofs need replacement, but are in need of some type of maintenance or repair. Moisture staining observable within attic cavities or on ceilings can indicate either currently active or past roof leaks which may have been repaired. Some ceiling (or wall) staining may not indicate roof leaks at all, and may be related to leakage in plumbing systems.
Single-Family Dwellings, Residential Duplexes, Triplexes & Fourplexes
Water intrusion into crawlspaces, basements or other undefloor areas due to impaired or otherwise ineffective surface dainage control, or ground water conditions are a common finding. Elevated grade or hardscape and negative drainage slopes at foundaitons often result in pervasive moisture entering below a structure, and can be sometimes difficult to resolve and very damaging to a building. Correction can be as simple as re-grading or adding roof gutters and downspouts. Unfortunately, major and often costly drainage corrections or improvements are sometimes necessary.
Safety hazards, commonly but not always found in older homes include ungrounded outlets, lack of or improperly functioning ground fault circuit interrupters (shock protection devices), faulty or improper wiring conditions within electrical distribution panels or elsewhere in a building. Safety issues such as these that can result in fire, shock or burn injury or worse, and may result from mistakes that were made at the time of construction but often are due to wiring that was added or altered by persons other than properly qualified electricians.
Mostly but not always in older buildings rotted wood is often found at various aspects such as underfloor and attic crawlspaces, eave overhangs, exterior decks, siding and trim, and around tubs and showers, or below loose toilets. Where the sources of moisture are still present these areas can often result in mold growth. Where the source of moisture has abated, fungus infection is likely to develop, resulting in a condition commonly known as dry rot. Undiscovered, ongoing damage and decay can be extensive and costly to repair.
Building code violations where additions and/or alterations were constructed without permits or oversight by local authorities often result in unsafe conditions where minimum building standards were not met by either ignorance of code requirements or cutting corners to save money. Amateur builders generally do not understand the intent or requirements of building, plumbing, electrical or mechanical codes. Certificates of occupancy issued by local building and safety departments evidence required permits, inspections and compliance.
Unsafe fireplace and chimney conditions are a common discovery in residential buildings. Most common in fireplaces are damaged or deteriorated firebrick and mortar, voids in cementitious refractory panels, improper hearth extensions and veneer clearances to combustible materials. Chimneys are often found to have improper flue terminations, missing spark arrestors or fire-stops, or improper clearances. Fire hazards of this type concealed in attics are often unknown to exist until discovered during the course of an inspection.
Conditions resulting in potential for fire in a structure are frequently discovered during inspection. The three factors necessary to create fire are fuel (any combustible), an ignition source and oxygen. The more common fire hazards are found in garages, attics and kitchens, often related to unsafe electrical or gas fueled appliances. Fire safety in residential buildings is not only about prevention (such as required garage firewalls & fire doors) and detection (smoke alarms), but also includes emergency egress provisions in the event a fire occurs.
Unsafe furnaces and water heaters, or other gas fueled equipment or appliances are frequently discovered by inspectors. Beyond the obvious fire safety concerns, potentially deadly conditions where either unburned natural gas or toxic products of combustion gases (colorless and odorless carbon monoxide) entering a dwelling living space or sleeping rooms are often found due to gas leaks, failed seals, improper installation, combustion air supply or flue venting systems requiring immediate repair, correction or replacement.
Where an inspector agrees to include the optional inspection of a pool or spa, their primary focus is on safety concerns, particularly with respect to unsupervised children. The most commonly found safety issues are those involving missing or improperly dsigned or installed barriers, gates or doors affording access to pool areas. Less obvious to the average inspection client are issues with pool design or components that can result in entrapment under water, and electrical safety any of which can result in injury or fatality.
Largely overlooked by the majority of property owners, routine and periodic maintenance of a building and its systems and components often result in defective conditions that could easily have been prevented. Average or typical wear and tear are to be expected, however when proper maintenance has been deferred, systems, structures and components can deteriorate more quickly and their projected design-life become foreshortened, necessitating repair or in some cases premature (but avoidable) replacement.
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