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Is It That Big a Deal? All Homes Need Maintenance

When I find problems in homes I am commonly asked, "Well, is that a big deal?" My usual answer is, "It just depends on you.  What might be a big deal to one person is not a big deal to another.  I can only inform you as to what the situation appears to be.  You'll have to decide for yourself if it is a big deal for you or not."  I try to be careful how I disclose information as it is very easy to be alarmist and scare people off their dreams unnecessarily.  It's not my decision if something is a big deal or not.

Here are some Victoria examples to illustrate what I mean.

I'm inspecting a home located close to a steep bank above the driveway.  While working my way through the crawlspace in order to inspect the structure, venting, insulation, electrical, etc., I notice the footing of the home to be extremely thin or nonexistent in most places.  The footing is a very important part of a home.  It is what all the weight and bulk of the home sits on, so if it is weak it could cause some structural problems.  Many older homes never had footings in the first place, and usually appear fine at the time of inspection.  But this particular home had settled at least five inches in one corner closest to the steep bank, and there were large gaps between and around the chimney.  The owner even told us that he had built up the sloping floor to accommodate for the settling.  For most people this would have been a deal-killer; but not for my clients, who consider themselves quite handy and who obviously really wanted the home. The perfect buyer for that home!

At another home that I was inspecting it took me over a half hour to clear out the closet so I could gain access into the crawlspace.  I nearly gave up - but I was glad I persisted.  Upon opening the hatch, the smells of mold and mildew were overpowering.  There was at least an inch of mold on the concrete walls.  I easily shoved my eight-inch screw driver up through the floor joists. My client was with me and I told him, "I don't know what is holding up the floor, but it's not these joists!"  That was enough for him to walk from the deal.  The first quote to fix the problem was around $15,000 but then these quotes tend to rise as work progresses.  Another buyer came along in a couple of weeks and bought the home.

I was inspecting the second home for my clients as they turned down the first one; in part, because of a small retaining wall problem, but there were other extenuating circumstances affecting their decision.  So after leaving the second inspection I was sure they would be buying.  They didn't.  They weren't comfortable with the sloping floor in the home and thought it was indicative of a more serious problem. I was quite comfortable with the home.  A big deal or not?

Another very nervous purchaser followed me around closely during the inspection (which I encourage - within reason).  I could tell they were overly cautious so I tried to be careful as to what I said and how I said it.  I discovered a little mold in the attic, very little in my opinion, but it was a very big deal for my purchaser, who had allergy concerns. I tried to assure them that I felt the problem had been corrected and that the mold was probably original with the home and has probably stopped growing since someone installed some roof vents.  They engaged all kinds of different people to re-inspect the home, each of whom confirmed my original opinion.  They ended up buying the home.

It is very important for purchasers to have a home inspection, but at the same time they must realize that the ultimate decision for buying that particular home is up to them.  And whether something truly is "a big deal" is not something your inspector can readily decide for you.  All she/he can do is inform you.  To be or not to be?  It's up to you!

Fairhome Building Inspections serves Victoria B.C., Saanich, Sooke, Metchosin, Langford, Sooke, Colwood, Sidney, Millstream, Shawnigan Lake, MillBay, Cobble Hill and other parts of Lower Vancouver Island

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