NO FIREWALL BETWEEN UNITS
This is an older townhouse attic, looking toward one of the neighboring attic. We should have
a firewall here, but many older buildings lack them. They are required in new construction and
for very good reason. If a fire occurs in one area, a firewall can help buy time so people can
escape should a fire occur. It also enhances unit to unit security. Firewalls can be retrofitted
fairly easily and they are in every owners best interest. Condominium owners would be very
wise to organize and update units where not in place.
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KNOB & TUBE ELECTRICAL
This is a fairly common observation in homes built before the early 1960's. It is a 2 wire open
air system, meaning it is obsolete and it lacks grounding. When I see it (when active), I urge
complete removal and replacement for several reasons. If inactive, it also should be removed
to eliminate confusion. Where active, understand it is 50+ years old, it is usually in a decayed
state, original connections were made in the open (soldered and tape splices- no junction
boxes along runs in attics etc.), and it lacks grounding. It is also frequently spliced into
improperly with modern 3 wire Romex during poor quality renovations (without junction boxes)
or misleadingly "grounded" with partial, incorrect ground conductors. The system risks include
fire from shorts, overheating which can lead to fire due to improperly sized fuses or circuit
breakers, or electrocution. It can also be difficult to insure a home that has it.
I have had licensed electricians or others remark during or following my inspection (to my
Client) that it was safe where I had urged replacement. Understand anyone who claims it is a
safe system has absolutely no idea what they are talking about. Just as in the case of solid
core aluminum wiring, responsible, caring licensed electricians will recommend replacement.
MULTIPLE ROOF LAYERS
I see this from time to time on older homes. There are two main concerns here: Excess
weight, and poor adhesion. Often times, older homes lack quality engineered roof structures,
and were not designed for heavy roof materials. Adhesion is often poor, meaning they are at
high risk for premature failure in high wind. Leakage can also be a problem or concern. 1-2
layers on modern construction can be OK if everything was done right. It was a problem on
this home as materials were very loose, and the roof structure was stick-built and most
substandard. If I can lift it easily with my hand, imagine what 50+ MPH winds can do.
NO DRYER VENT
This is a good example of my higher standard. Your average inspector does not look here as
this sort of thing it is not "required", but I do wherever possible. This is the area behind a
typical stack washer dryer. You have to remove the access cover to see it. Glad I did here,
because once again, there was no exhaust venting configured. All that moisture and spillover
lint was blowing freely into the home. Lint is a fire risk as it is combustible, and all that water
can lead to mold problems inside the home. The heat and high humidity will make the home
interior uncomfortable. The risk is even higher on gas dryers. Might as well update those
water hoses while your at it.
SEWAGE EJECTION PUMP
This sewage ejection pump was in a VERY difficult area to access, and probably had never
been serviced. The home was about 8 year old. These are used to reduce solid waste matter
and at the same time pump wastewater away. They are used when homes are below a city
sewer line that is higher than the home, or level of the home served. Normal houses rely on
It's good I saw this one. Every time a toilet was flushed, it gushed (no, SPRAYED) raw sewage
everywhere under the home. You can imagine the problems and heath concerns here. These
must be serviced 1-2 times a year by a qualified professional.
Common fiberglass roof shingles require at least a 3-12 slope (at least a 3' rise over 12'
horizontal distance) or greater; otherwise rain or roof drainage can make its way between
materials. This roof slope was too shallow of a pitch for common shingles. Without extremely
thorough preparation during installation, you can expect an installation like this to be a high
leak risk. This one was a poor quality installation overall and I recommended full replacement
with more suitable materials for the slope. Unfortunately roofing installation problems are
epidemic on Oahu. I know what to look for.
POOR QUALITY INSTALLATIONS OR RENOVATIONS
This is another area where most inspectors would not look- underneath a dishwasher. It's not
required we do this, but I look at any one I'm suspicious about. The toe kick has to be
removed. I check them from time to time when suspect, testament to a higher standard. This
one exhibited improper electrical connections. See that silver box in the top of the photo?
Connections are to be made inside that, not left dangling below as in this photo. The risk
here is shorting, fire, or electrocution.
I RESPECT YOUR HOME
Saw this note on a home I inspected. It appears the inspector before me was less than caring.
I can assure owners and Clients I will respect their home. My services are non-invasive.
Surprisingly, not all inspectors test appliances. I do. What you are looking at here is a
dishwasher anti-siphon valve malfunction in all its glory. Water spilled out during the drain
cycle. You should not see any water here. The valve, or drain line is clogged. Some of these
valves are incorrectly positioned in a way that would allow water to flood the adjacent
countertop, and possibly cause major water damage to counters, cabinetry, flooring or more.
A properly working valve will prevent drain line or disposal waste from back flowing into the
dishwasher. There was no disclosure of this malfunction.
WOOD PRODUCT SIDING PANELS
Many homes on Oahu and other areas have an inferior wood product siding material that can
rot, warp, leak, or even detach prematurely in high wind. Class-action lawsuits resulted. This
home exhibited distortion and no surprise, water was getting into the wall system. On some
homes it is stable and in good repair. On others, full replacement has been needed or
recommended due to significant rot etc.
Standing water, or "ponding" is evidence of inadequate roof drainage or low spots. It is a
problem when water remains after 45 minutes or so following rain. Water will seep through
imperfections in roofing, and it is heavy as well, which can cause framing to sag. This
particular home had many roof problems. Materials were saturated here.
Chances are, you'll have a separate termite inspection done when you purchase a home. I'm
also on the lookout for it when I inspect your home. This particular home was clearly infested
at one time. The newer structural member you see was someones substandard solution to
deal with main sill beams that were actually crushing from the weight of the house because
they were so compromised.
Because I understand structural systems, you will never hear me recommend substandard
repairs like what you see here, or other "band-aide" type repairs such as epoxy-injection etc.
to "restore" heavily damaged structural components. I will recommend the correct repairs.
Compromised structural components need to be fully replaced, in most cases.
Termite damage is not always obvious. Fortunately for you I take my time, so there is a very
good chance I will find it- even if attempts have been made to conceal it during renovations.
Structural components can look perfectly fine, yet be totally compromised inside. I know what
to look for.