CASE STUDY # 2
This tale is all about a 12 year old condominium townhouse located in a row of 16 inter- connected townhouses. The buyer (our client) was a 22 year old young lady who was in a state of euphoria about finally being on her own and having her very own domicile, free from her doting parents.
She was told by both the listing and selling agents that this was her dream come true - a property built by the best builder in the area and one that did not need any improvements. Additionally she was told that this townhouse complex has an exemplary condo association that were committed to properly maintain all of the common areas of this complex. And the owners wholeheartedly and gleefully joined in on this positive chorus.
The theme that was being presented by both the agents and the owners was -
"No Problems - No Worries."
Unfortunately that certainly was not the case, as the following will attest to!
I'll start this discourse first with the common exterior areas.
The front siding which was incorrectly noted in the real estate listing as brick siding was a misleading and false statement.
At a first brief glance the siding did appear to be brick. And all of the involved parties (buyer, agents and owners) also believed it to be brick.
Upon closer scrutiny of this exterior wall cladding I determined that in fact it was not brick but rather a stuccoed finish installed so as to appear too be brick.
The following picture shows this faux brick siding
Not only was the siding not brick, but it also was in initial stages of deterioration. The previous picture clearly shows the fissures and openings in the stucco surfaces. Unabated water penetrations into these cracks and openings will result in the failure of the structural integrity of the masonry and eventual failure of this stucco cladding material.
Compounding and adding to the stucco siding problems is the fact that the siding installers failed to install the required mandatory flashing over the wall openings, such as seen in the following picture.
The wide open gaps, seen in this picture, between the stucco siding and the plastic trim allows water to enter and accumulate in these openings thereby allowing further damage and deterioration to occur! Pretty dumb in my opinion! And of course which needs to be addressed and corrected.
Of interest is that although I was just inspecting this one individual townhouse, out of curiosity I did a cursory look-over on the rest of the townhouses.
And guess what? The same perfunctory half-ass workmanship was evident everywhere! Deteriorated stucco and missing flashing at all wall penetrations!
Looking at the roof presented another issue. Take a look at the following picture. Can you see anything wrong? The vent pipe directly over the townhouse that I was inspecting has 2 problems. Can you figure out what the 2 problems are?
If you said that the vent pipe was too low you are correct. A vent pipe should be at least 12 inches up and over a roof in order to keep it free of snow accumulations during the winter. That's one issue.
What's the other issue? If you said that the plumbing vent pipe flashing was lifted and open and could allow water entry into the building - you get a cigar.
Both the incorrect height of the vent pipe and the improperly installed vent pipe flashing again gives credence to the careless installation work on this property.
As of 2008 all newly constructed decks and balconies are required to have GFCI ground fault circuit interrupter receptacles (outlets) installed on them. That is to say "Within the perimeter of the deck" Notice I said on them - not next to them.
Looking at the following picture can you detect a problem with the location of the installed GFCI outlet? Yep, you are right on the money when you say that there is an issue here.
It kind of reminds me of the old saying,
"What came first the chicken or the egg?"
In this case did the electrician install the outlet first and the the deck builder built his deck after, or vice-versa?
It really doesn't matter who did what first. The problem is that the outlet is in place, however, it is in the wrong place! How can someone safely use this outlet without having to put ones self in danger by reaching out and over the deck to plug something in? The answer is you can't.
The litany of dumb things just keeps getting worse.
Stair safety is always something I am looking at during my inspections.
And even though the following picture shows handrails there still is a concern.
Do you want to take a guess at what that is?
Stairs that are wider than 6 feet not only require a hand rail on each side of the stairway, but also are required to have an intermediate handrail in the middle of the stairway for safety.
Either the local municipal inspector didn't catch this obvious error or he just didn't care. No matter the reason stairs this wide are required to have a middle handrail for user safety.
Things didn't get much better once we got inside.
I guess they forgot to insulate and sound proof the adjoining party walls between these townhouses because we were able to hear a cacophony of music and loud voices coming from both the adjacent right and left sides of this townhouse.
Next when we turned the thermostat up to test the heat - the result was as they say in Spanish - "Nada!" The boiler did not kick on.
After going down to the basement and removing the boiler access panel the following pictures shows what we saw. Rust, corrosion, a bucket with rust and water in it and active water on the floor under the boiler - all point to only one possible conclusion - and that was that this 12 year old boiler has bit the proverbial dust!
When I pointed all of this out to the agent his response was that it probably just needs to be serviced. My silent response was, "Duh!"
Skipping over a plethora of other interior defects and deficiencies I'll next take you to the attic. Here we have the coup de grace.
This was the final straw that broke this camels hump.
The attic was a host to an array of pervasive mold growths inhabiting the roof plywood sheathing, as seen in the following picture.
After a brief explanation of explaining what the ramifications with mold are and then reviewing with our client all of the myriad of anomalies that we found in this property, she smartly and correctly bowed out of this so-called perfect and pristine townhouse condominium.
The take-away from this story is no matter how rosy a picture is painted by those con artists who have a vested interest in the property, as a prospective home buyer "always - always" get a 2nd opinion from a licensed, experienced and competent home inspector who has one and only one primary goal - and that is looking out for your best interests.
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