This was one of the worst-designed showers I’ve ever seen. It was found in a New Westminster condo inspection recently.
First of all, there were two windows in the shower; one window is usually bad enough. This photo (courtesy of Carson-Dunlop) illustrates the problem with windows in showers – they (almost) always contribute to leakage.
Secondly, the workmanship was shoddy and most of the grout lines were severely cracked. Cracked grout ensures that water will enter into the backing board, soaking it and weakening the wall considerably. The wall was so soft I could push it almost 1/2″ in with my hand.
Thirdly, the floor drain (bottom left of photo) was half-buried under the wall, which caused water to pool against the bottom edge of the wall – which had, you guessed it, cracked grout. We found moisture over six feet away in the drywall, beside the sink.
This shower will need to be completely rebuilt. And when the wall is opened up, there may be surprises, such as mold, rotten studs, and destroyed insulation.
The seller, however, negotiated a nice reduction!
We inspected this house in the Steveston area of Richmond. It was constructed in the mid-70’s and had a new roof, furnace and hot water tank.
Unfortunately, the wiring had several significant problems – the original aluminium wiring was present. Aluminium wiring was used during the 60’s and 70’s, and had a history of overheating and failure. For these reasons it is currently illegal to use.
Opening the main panel, the aluminium conductors were clearly visible, along with signs of overheating (scorch marks).
This receptacle in the bedroom had scorch marks, indicating a history of arcing (sparking).
Removing the receptacle we found damaged and burnt wiring.
If you have aluminium wiring in your home, please be careful and have your electrical system checked by a qualified electrician. The buyers of this home had an electrician review the system, and he found a number of other safety and fire hazards.
This week’s featured inspection is from an older home in the Sapperton area of New Westminster. The home was built in the 1930-40’s.
The siding showed extensive repair/alteration. At first we thought the house had been raised, however upon inspecting the basement it turned out not to be the case.
The grading of the lot (sloping) was extremely poor and in many areas, water was splashing against the base of the wall framing. Whenever soil is stacked against the base of the wall (or higher), seepage and rot can occur and cause huge damage to the structure of the home.
Measurement from inside showed the base of the wood wall framing to be right behind the flashing. We probed the wood and found serious rot in multiple areas. The worst-hit areas were those right beside downspouts (where splashing/overflow can occur).
One trick for determining the height of wall framing, is to find a reference point (a window works well) at the interior of the home, and to measure the height to the top of the concrete foundation wall. Then perform the same measurement outside.
We believe the homeowner had added flashing to the base of the stucco in an attempt to promote water drainage away from the sill plate (bottom plate of wall).
The downspout connection in the previous photo was covered, however we observed it to be overflowing against the home during the inspection. The drain tiles were likely blocked.
Due to the poor design of the wall, and deterioration suspected, we recommended further review by a structural contractor. They came and gave a quote for almost $40,000 for structural repair/rebuilding of the affected walls.
Late one night, this house in Richmond suffered from a water leak in their boiler room. The temperature gauge attached to the heating loop burst, sending gallons of scalding hot water onto the floor and walls. Water soaked the laminate floor and drywall, and it continued to leak until a heating contractor came out and repaired the issue.
Luckily, no one was hurt, however the real problem began later…
The landlord was aware of the flood, however did not do anything about it. The water stayed in the floor material. Moisture became trapped below the flooring and saturated the slab and underlay. The baseboards deteriorated and rotted. And worst of all, mold began to grow.
When the tenants started to report health problems, we were called in to do a mold evaluation of the property. The occupants were experiencing issues, such as:
When we arrived on site, we probed the floor (or what was left of it) with a moisture meter. It was completely saturated, which was no surprise. However, the tenants told us that the leak had occurred five months before we arrived. It was still wet.
We performed an Indoor Air Quality Test in the property. An IAQ Test takes a sample of the indoor air, which we then process at a lab, and the client receives the lab report. This report describes quantity and type of mold spores in the air.
When we received the lab report, it noted extremely high levels of harmful mold – much higher than it should have been. This house was a safety hazard to the occupants, and the landlord agreed to perform a full mold remediation on the home.
An Indoor Air Quality test can help pinpoint mold and health-related problems in your home, and can be a powerful tool when dealing with landlords or other tough situations.
This week’s featured inspection is a detached home in the Bolivar Heights area of Surrey, BC.
The house featured a low-slope roof with a torch-on, Modified Bitumen covering.
Walking around the roof, it was clear right away there was a problem with the attic structure. The roof decking was very soft, and sank significantly when walked on.
This is often the first clue that there might be a ventilation problem, or water seepage from the roof above. Another good reason we walk every roof possible, as long as material and safety conditions allow.
Plugged gutters are a common issue with properties with a lot of tree cover. In the above photo we can see that the owner has installed leaf guards at the downspouts – a best practice. However, the gutters still need cleaning as the debris has created a possible overflow.
Some roofing and flashing details were poor. In the below photo we can see that the membrane was loose around the chimney. The chimney had been leaking into the attic for some time.
The attic was in terrible condition – in the next photo we see the plywood sheathing actually sagging. Moisture levels were extreme in this attic – several probed areas showed moisture content as the highest I’ve ever come across. Most of the plywood was deteriorated beyond repair, and active leakage (dripping) was occurring through most of the attic. Mold growth was found in multiple areas.
At this point, one of the only solutions is to replace the damaged portions of the roof structure. Our client ended up negotiating over $10,000 off the purchase price – which will pay for a brand-new roof!
This week’s inspection is duplex property in Horseshoe Bay village, in West Vancouver. The home was built in 1985.
We started out the rear deck inspection and immediately noted problems. The deck appeared to be pulling away from the side of the home:
The guardrails were poorly designed. During our inspections, we follow the 4″ rule – a ball with a diameter of 4″ should not fit through any gaps in the rails. In the photo we can see that a small child or pet may fall through:
Here we can see below the deck, and the major problem; it’s not connected to the home. To be fair, one section was connected, but the walkway section was completely free-standing.
Looking at the supports, we can see major racking of the deck structure. This poorly built deck was not only pulling away from the home, but collapse will likely occur if repairs aren’t made.
A contractor was called and they are currently rebuilding/repairing the failed deck areas.
This weekend I was called out to Maple Ridge to inspect a foreclosure property that my client, a young man in his 20’s, was considering purchasing. He explained that his main concern was any major-cost items. He could do small repairs himself but any major work would cost him out-of-pocket and he would not be able to afford surprises.
Looking at the exterior of the home, we can already see major structural concerns. There’s been an addition added to the side of the house, right where the carport used to be. Due to the terrible workmanship, the side of the addition needed to be propped up by stacks of wood.
Here we can see the extent of the failure; the walkways have all cracked and are sinking under the weight of the structure. Those walkways are not designed to bear the weight of a house! We need a proper footing to bear load.
In this photo you can see the full extent of the leaning:
We went inside the home and found huge structural cracks through the drywall. The owner tried to patch the cracks, but they opened up shortly after. Cracks of this magnitude almost always signify a serious structural defect. (Note: The windows could not be opened in this room. The movement was so severe that the windows had been pinned in their frame).
I entered the crawlspace and inspected the floor structure from below. Immediately it became apparent that lateral movement was occurring in this home. The addition was pulling the house sideways, and several pony walls/supports were leaning significantly:
The owner had added supports to the floor, but the had also failed. At one end of the home, the sill plate had been replaced, probably due to the old one rotting away.
Not only did we find structural concerns, but the roof needed replacement, and most of the electrical in the home needed to be rewired. The owner wisely decided to look for another home in better condition.
Call us Before Purchasing a Foreclosure! 604 395-2795
Today’s featured inspection is a townhouse in White Rock, BC.
The house was built in 1993 and was a typical wood frame over crawlspace construction.
In the crawlspace, there were a few structural concerns found. One concern was the pony wall, which someone had damaged to make room for the gas line. The stud was crooked, and needed straightening to maintain its structural load-bearing capabilities. We can see it’s a load-bearing wall by the direction of the joists in the below photo:
When we approached the area below the master ensuite bathroom, where a toilet had been added, we discovered a major structural concern:
The person who added this toilet had cut the joist completely out to make way for the ABS drain line. If you look carefully at the neighbouring joist in the photo you can see where it should be.
A cut joist can cause significant problems to the floor structure. In this case, the weight of the toilet (and the user) is being supported by only the plywood sub-floor. We recommended a structural contractor to repair this. This issue, along with other defects found in the home, saved the buyer thousands of dollars.
Marijuana grow operations can be a disastrous event in a home – and there’s usually a good reason. A large-scale grow operation can cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to a home, and, worst of all, lingering health hazards to future occupants.
Grow-ops can be difficult to spot from the road, but inside there are often elaborate setups that destroy a home’s building materials, finishes, indoor air quality, electrical and HVAC systems, and even structural integrity – not to mention the property value and safety of the occupants.
This home inspection was done in the Burke Mountain area of Coquitlam. The first thing we notice is that the electrical meter has been tampered with:
We can see that the electrical meter and service entrance conductors have been illegally modified. This is perhaps the easiest-to-spot sign of a grow-op. The growers will bypass the electrical meter in order to hide the huge amount of power they are consuming from the hydro company. The electrical at this home had already been professionally redone, but the concrete block remained.
During an inspection, I will always check closet ceilings carefully. They may have been cut to install venting. The closet in this next photo had been heavily modified:
If we sidelight the ceiling with a flashlight, we can see the outline of the vent:
The attic above showed modifications, however no visible mold growth was found. The home had been professionally remediated, and the city had issued an occupancy permit.
Be careful when purchasing a former grow-operation; they may seem like a good deal, but it may be extremely difficult to get financing and insurance. And when it comes time to sell, you may have a hard time convincing potential buyers that there are no problems.
Today’s featured inspection is a foreclosure Townhouse in Maple Ridge, BC.
Upon entering the home, it was obvious that major water damage had occurred in the upstairs bathroom. The plywood subfloor was brittle and couldn’t even be stepped on in some areas. The electric baseboard heater was badly corroded:
The floor around the bathtub and toilet was soft and badly damaged, and high water marks were seen around the base of the walls. Mold growth was heavy, and extensive repairs would need to be made. Here’s a photo of the rotting subfloor at the base of the bathtub:
A visual inspection of the piping revealed some “handyman” fixes. Also, the home contained Polybutylene pipe, which is a problematic material that was still being used when this building was constructed. Overall plumbing was very poor, and it had been neglected in many areas, such as this leaking, bent drain line:
There was a small crawlspace area below the bathroom, above the garage stairs. A strong odor was coming from the area. Further inspection showed mold growth and serious moisture damage – you can see the box disintegrating in the photo:
Water began pouring from above, and we ended up shutting off the water to the property completely to stop the leak. A plumber was called right away, but not before the water reached the garage ceiling and caused staining in the drywall.
The buyers negotiated a nice amount off the purchase price and will be taking on this “Fixer Upper” in a month.