Inspecting the Oh Wow 

Over the past 30 years architecture has evolved to with more emphasis on the dramatic; soaring ceilings, skylights, tile, stucco, wood, etc.  It’s what I call the Oh Wow! factor.  However in many cases the quality of the workmanship falls short.   The same can be said of refurbished properties with their fresh paint, new carpets and kitchens.  Unfortunately, good looks do not always equate to good quality work.

Many properties built in the 1980’s show vaulted ceilings with skylights.   Many times the drywall is loose and the skylights leak.  Those little kinks in the stucco usually portend big problems.  The tile flooring is laid directly onto the sub floor so of course it cracks.   Unfortunately I also saw the same type of poor workmanship in new houses built in the last boom.

Rehab properties show new light fixtures, new flooring, finished basements, and of course new kitchens and baths.  This can includes interior light fixtures installed on the exterior, improperly laid laminate and wood floors, finished basement wall and ceilings covering up damage and water penetration, improperly installed kitchen cabinets and appliances, tilted bathtubs, and unvented fans.  And these are only some of the items that are clearly visible, and not covered over with new drywall and carpet.  Many of the “general contractors” of these properties don’t even understand what the problems is after it is pointed out to them.

Some Typical Examples

  • A condo built in the 1980’s show loose drywall ceilings throughout.
  • The improperly installed exterior stucco on a townhouse had interior water intrusion.  A closer examination showed an improper stucco installation that had lead to a damaged structure.
  • A new roof installation with skylights installed on an older home showed, in addition to a leak at the skylights, improper framing and support at the roof for the skylight.  
    The tile shower base of a brand new home leaked.
  • The prefinished wood floor in a newer home was installed in cold weather, with the flooring still cold.  The result raised, loose, and hollow floors now needing complete replacement.  
  • An older house was rehabbed.  This included the finishing of a chronically wet basement.  Of course after the buyers moved in it rained and there was 6 inches of water in the basement.
  • A finished basement with a new bath in a rehabbed row home showed covered over damaged first floor joist, and a bathroom toilet connected to a greatly undersized drain line, hence it never flushed properly.

What To Do

Some of these defects are so well covered they can only be found be an invasive dismantling of components.  Always ask the seller for the permits on the work performed.  If they didn’t get them then you should have suspicions that the work was not properly done.  Most problems, and the general lack of workmanship usually can be easily seen by a trained eye.  Always hire an experienced and reputable Home Inspector before buying any property new or existing.  

In parting, the houses that I have inspected, where the visible overall work is quality poor, always have greater hidden problems.

Vince Tecce - A Dedicated Professional Home Inspector

"Once you decide on your occupation... you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That's the secret of success... " - Jiro Ono