New study finds that water runs down hill! Who knew?

Today is a day that will live in infamy as the discovery that water runs down hill was announced by a previously unknown kindergarten teacher in Seattle, Washington (obviously not the other Washington).

The teacher’s class of kindergartners, using standard garden hoses, Odwalla fruit juices and hamster slides, showed beyond a reasonable doubt that water does in fact run down hill. Before this day, this fact was obviously not known.

Because of how recent this discovery is, it is projected that there are still thousands of builders constructing homes unaware of the new information.

Many builders have expressed surprise at the way gravity affects water. Some even reacted with denial and accusations. Many were heard to say that the kindergartners, “don’t know what they are talking about—obviously!” Others remarked at how this information will be costly in the building of new homes from here on out.

Others called for further studies prior to jumping to rash conclusions.

Still others argued that government meddling in a free economy was likely involved. After all why shouldn’t someone be able to build a house any way they want regardless of what water does or does not do?

The very notion that flashings would now be required over any trim boards that are nailed on top of siding, above windows and doors, seemed just preposterous. But the fact that water was now known to be affected by gravity seemed difficult to reconcile with the industry standard of not installing any flashings at all. Is it any wonder that builders everywhere are crying foul?

Head flashing is missing

Head flashing is missing

Some builders, when shown pictures of the problem, merely argued for more caulk–although that did not seem to impress the kindergartners very much.

And caulking won't be good either

And caulking won’t be good either

It remains to be seen how this new information will affect home construction. Many experts belief that the information will be ignored and standard building practice will not be affected at all.

Only time will tell

By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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“Difficulty” is not on their radar!

OK, this is the question of the day.

Why would “anyone” deliberately dump a 5 gallon bucket of sawdust in a crawl space?

Carpenter Ant Frass

Carpenter Ant Frass

I see all sorts of things dumped and stored in crawl spaces. I have even seen sawdust from when the home was built, or from floor refinishing that has filtered down through the cracks in the floor boards–making neat parallel lines on the black vapor barrier covering the ground.

But this stuff was just piled–more or less in one location–along the foundation. It was nowhere near the access to the crawl space, so one might think it was difficult to get it to where it was as well.

But the “someone” that dumped the sawdust, I am quite sure, never contemplates “difficulty.”

carpenter ant frass

This is especially true when you realize this stuff got there ONE BITE AT A TIME!

Carpenter Ants make amazing carpenters–although they seem much better at taking things apart than putting things together.

These carpenters have been working on this home for quite some time and have piled up their construction debris as prove of their industriousness and patience.

“Difficulty” and “impatience” are something that they obviously do not consider.

By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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I think it must be code for “code.”


It seems that everyone involved in the real estate transaction brings their own opinions and answers to the many questions that arise.  These opinions are too often literally based on thin-air.

These “thin-air” recommendations constitute what I call Agentcode, Buildercode, Sellercode, Buyercode, and most importantly Inspectorcode.

We have all heard agents that talk about my grandfather being at the home and how we will not find anything wrong because the seller is a builder, or builders that say, that is the way we have always done it, the way my father did it, and the way his father did it, and the AHJ signed off on it. 

The seller of course will resort to how he or she did the work themselves so of course it is top notch, and the buyer will state they watched This Old House and learned the way something was installed could not possibly be correct or that one extra spore of mold or one asbestos fiber is going to kill their entire family–or worse.

Home Inspectors are perhaps the worst offenders—because they should know better. 

Home inspectors actually know enough to make up Inspectorcodes that actually sound plausible–sounds like actual code.  Of course, home inspectors are “expected to know” so they gain some undeserved authority.  They sometimes rely on luck to get them through to the next inspection.

The building codes are a minimum level of performance expected of anyone constructing homes or repairing homes.  I find it odd that any inspector would not at least support the minimum standards as a starting point and then recommend improvements to those standards when applicable.  But instead, they react to what is going on in the home much the same way agents, builders, sellers and buyers do. 

They resort to making stuff up based on rules of thumb, what they learned incorrectly in inspection school, on the internet or based on nothing at all.

Sometimes I think this reaction is largely to compensate for the other code-meisters involved in the transaction.

This is a shame because there are REAL CODES and manufacturer’s instructions that anyone with an Internet connection and an 8th grade education can look up and discover what is actually required–there is no need to make anything up.  The real work comes when we want to go beyond code or when we ignore them altogether.

We can end up making a whole bunch more work for ourselves if we decide to make up our own requirements and ignore the minimum standards.

Many home inspectors will swear up and down that we are not code inspectors.  While we typically do not have enforcement powers, in the sense we must know the minimum standards in order to know how to inspect pretty much anything, we are indeed code inspectors–and a whole lot more.

Getting familiar with basic codes necessary to do a home inspection takes a LOT of time and work, but nowhere near the mountain of wrong information that gets passed on to our clients and perpetuates urban legend.  Sooner or later, if the inspector lives long enough, that mountain has to crumble away–no matter how reluctantly.

Would it not be nice to have not built the mountain to begin with?


By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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