It is very common for home inspectors to find issues with homes that are not acceptable by either past or present building standards. Yet these defects have stood the “test-of-time.” This makes it difficult for the inspector because the standard reaction from the seller is likely to be that, “It has been that way for forever—it is fine.”
Unfortunately, I can’t let it go at that.
Sometimes I get the sense from the seller’s side of the equation that because it has been that way for a long time, and hasn’t failed, that we as inspectors shouldn’t even mention it. The fact that these things that are not “right,” and have not failed, means only one thing: they haven’t failed YET. Things that are wrong, and haven’t failed, necessarily have a higher probability of failure than something that is constructed properly.
The following defect was found in the crawl space of a 52 year old home the other day—and is a very common defect. Concrete blocks, when used as support columns of homes, must be installed vertically to provide any real strength. As you can see in the picture these blocks installed on their side, are in perfect condition, in this really nice “closed-crawl” space. (Closed crawl spaces are ones that have concrete floors (sealed floors) and no vents to the exterior and the crawl space is used as a giant air return for the heating system—-an awesome way to install a crawl space—-if one is going to insist on installing one.)
So the inspector must call for repairs to ensure that the floor system will stay where intended. In this case it might be as simple as having the contractor fill the voids of the blocks or install additional wood posts next to the concrete blocks. Neither solution is likely to be costly and could perhaps be done by a qualified repair person in conjunction with other repairs necessary around the home.
Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector
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