Buyer advised to forego full inspection
Q: We recently had a home inspection at the house we're buying. Unfortunately, the sub-area under the building was flooded on the day of the inspection, and the sump pump was broken, so our inspector couldn't inspect the crawl space. Now that the sump pump has been fixed, we'd like our inspector to go back, but our agent says this is not necessary because the house is in good condition. The termite inspector is scheduled to go back, and we want our home inspector to do the same. Should we demand further inspection or trust the advice of our agent?
A: Any agent who would advise against a complete home inspection, especially regarding the sub-area, has much to learn about disclosure liability, not to mention professional ethics and common sense. Some of the most serious defects discovered by home inspectors are found under buildings. To forego an evaluation of this critical area is as foolish as it is risky.
The conditions home inspectors routinely evaluate under houses include foundations, framing, site drainage, ventilation, electrical wiring, gas and water piping, warm air heating ducts and much more. To exclude such considerations undercuts the value and purpose of the entire inspection.
Additionally, the ground drainage problem under the house warrants further evaluation by a geotechnical engineer to determine the cause and the best means of correction. The sub-area should also be carefully inspected for moisture-related damage, owing to the history of flooding.
Reliable agents, those who truly represent the interests of their clients, actively promote processes that lead to full disclosure. Those who would discourage the completion of an inspection, especially in the foundation area of a home, subject their clients and themselves to needless financial liability. Your agent needs to understand this for self-protection and for the sake of future clients.
Q: My home has old plywood siding, and I'm interested in upgrading to a stucco exterior. I've been told this provides fire protection and improved soundproofing, but I've got some questions. Does the wood siding need to be removed before installing the stucco, and is paint needed to make the stucco surface waterproof?
A: Installing stucco on a wood-sided home is an excellent way to improve energy efficiency, reduce the transmission of outside noise, upgrade the rigidity of the structure and minimize future maintenance. Essentially, you will be wrapping your home in a solid envelope of wire and cement.
Fortunately, removing the existing plywood siding is not necessary prior to applying stucco. The wire mesh and waterproof membrane can be installed directly over the siding, as long as the nailing of the mesh coincides with the layout of the wall studs beneath the siding.
Painting the stucco is unnecessary for purposes of waterproofing because the waterproof membrane provides the necessary moisture barrier. Elastomeric paint can be applied for added moisture-proofing, but this is not necessary if the stucco is properly installed.
• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at www.housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.
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