||Bill & Mary's New
I think that the inspection service I
provide for my customers is a cut above the rest. Every once in awhile I run across a
situation that clearly illustrates why I think so. Id like to relate this true story
about an inspection I recently performed for Bill and Mary, on the big 4,000+ s.f. house
they just purchased.
Bill and Mary had lived in their new house for about six
months, when they started to notice water leaking in through a wall and ceiling in the
basement. They had the house inspected before they purchased it, and the inspection report
they got was a nice little handwritten checklist that said "everything was just
fine". It had been a rainy spring, and having moved from a part of the country where
basements are a rarity, Bill was convinced that his "basement was going to flood and
his walls cave in". Well, they called their inspector for some advice on what to do.
Apparently he was too busy to return their phone calls, so on the advice from a friend,
they called me for help.
I met Bill at his house the next day. We walked around to
the back yard and found that the grading looked fine, as did the gutters and downspouts.
Also, I knew that this general part of the city was not noted for being particularly
"wet". It was then I noticed that the "leaky area" was directly under
the plumbing soil stack, on the roof. I thought to myself , "I wonder if this might
be a plumbing leak instead of a basement water problem?" I told Bill,
"Lets go inside and look at the main level bathroom".
The first thing I did was look inside the shower. When I
pressed on the ceramic tiles around the faucet and knobs, they almost pushed right through
the wall. "Bill, I think we may have found your problem", I said. We spent the
next fifteen to twenty minutes talking about the relative merits of dura-rock (cement
board) behind tile vs. drywall and green-board, the need to re-grout and seal tile
showers, etc. When we were done Bill said, "I didnt know all that.
. .no one ever told me".
Since it was fairly obvious that the shower had been
leaking for quite some time, the next step was to head down to the basement and see how
extensive the damage was. On the way, we passed by the furnace. I said to Bill, "By
the way, did you know that this particular model may be part of a nation-wide recall, due
to unacceptable levels of internal corrosion?" Bill said, "What??!" We
spent the next twenty minutes talking about what recourse he had. I was able to give Bill
the manufacturers toll free number to call, and showed him where to find the furnace
model and serial number.
Well, we finally did make it to the wall and ceiling where
Bill and Mary first noticed the leakage. The damaged area had been recently painted over.
Due to the thickening of the drywall and the stains on the trim, it should have been
obvious to an experienced inspector that it had been leaking for quite awhile. I thought
to myself, "Oh brother. . . ."
This experience, and others like it, really demonstrated to
me the difference in how I perform my inspections. Some inspectors dont feel the
need to take the time to educate, some may be afraid of getting people mad at them by
being honest about their findings, others may just not have the experience to correctly
interpret what they are seeing. Fortunately for Bill and Mary, other than having to
replace some drywall, no internal structural damage had been done because of the shower
leak. They had to eat the cost of replacing the ceramic tile themselves (about $1,200). On
the positive side, the manufacturer of the furnace did provide them with a brand new unit.