permits: Floating Porch Corners - 04/22/13 02:44 AM

Yes, despite everything I saw I was particularly struck by the floating porch corners. 
Sure, the new porch lacked lots of things, like a permit for instance.
The sides are 34" off the ground, so guardrails would be needed.
The stairs are 65" wide, so a handrail would be needed on both sides.
The stair heights are erratic, ranging from 5 1/2" to 8 1/2".  Stair heights should not vary very much, no more than a quarter inch or so (technically 3/8").  Consistently the same height is most desired. 
The stairs are not level.
We can see all this.  … (28 comments)

permits: One Out Of Two Can't Be That Bad, Can It? - 04/01/13 04:30 AM
When you're talking about venting two furnaces through the same chimney, one out of two can't be that bad, can it?
After all, the best baseball lifetime batting average for all time was Ty Cobb's .366.  That's barely better than 1/3!  His average is the best ever, and he failed 2 out of 3 times!
So, how can .500 be so bad?
These two oil-burning furnaces in this remodeled house were jammed to tightly into a small closet that in order to even see the vents I had to lean forward and hold my camera out at an angle.
Taking many … (14 comments)

permits: Yep, Definitely A Trip Hazard! - 03/21/13 03:41 AM
A recent home inspection found two locations that wanted to reach out and trip someone - yep, definitely a trip hazard!
The first was a very fun location!  Right at the top of 13 concrete stairs!
These pavers don't look like they were flush to the top of the landing ever.
But certainly, since they have settled, they are a bigger problem now!
Yep, definitely a trip hazard!
It's an easy fix, but why was that not done? 
The second had its own issues, including a trip potential.
Now, this staircase has its own problems:
1.  It settling dramatically and pulling … (42 comments)

permits: You Can't Do This If You Have Pulled A Permit - 03/03/13 03:17 AM
When you finish a basement, add an addition, raise the roof and add another level or whatever the remodel, and if you have pulled a permit, there are things you can do and things you can't do.  For sure, you can't do this if you have pulled a permit.
Walking into the laundry room advertised in the kitchen list of home features, which also said, "Be-sure-to-see-the-newly-finished basement!", I saw what appeared to be a sump pump discharge tube right in the corner. 
No way, I thought, it must be something else.
So I pulled away the carpet to have a look.  … (64 comments)

permits: "What The Hell Is This!?" - 02/06/13 03:49 AM
While examining some very fun things in a newly-finished basement (perhaps even without a permit), from behind me I heard my client's wife scream, "What the hell is this!?"
I have to say, given some of the stuff we had been looking at, she got our attention!
I turned to see her standing in front of a doorway, pointing inside.
Well, it was the electric panel box.
It looked a bit like the spaghetti special offered at the local Italian restaurant.
The cover was missing.
There was interesting wiring.
Overall it was a very dangerous thing!
I told her not to … (114 comments)

permits: Rounding Up Or Rounding Down, An Accounting Still Needs To Be Made - 07/21/12 03:32 AM
All of the houses on this block have the same situation at the rear door - it is about 4' high from the ground.  So something needs to be done - stairs of some kind, small deck, maybe a patio.
When buyers want to do their own thing the builder will leave some form of barrier so the rear door cannot be used until the rear exit is accommodated by the homeowner.
Coming around to the back yard, what did I spy with my little eye?
What I call the "ice cream cone" staircase!
My first problem with this kind of … (20 comments)

permits: Child Support - 04/21/12 03:27 AM
Walking around this house I saw what looked like a little child growing on the side of it.
The poor little fellow had so many birth defects I took pity.
It makes me angry when it is obvious parents don't care enough when creating a new one.
Eating and drinking properly, taking vitamin supplements, taking financial responsibility and exercising a little during construction is very important.
And then, using the right materials, properly placed, with planned forethought, dressing the child once born with the best stuff one can buy is the next phase of parental responsibility.  Fancy stores don't matter as … (30 comments)

permits: "Laundry Room Conveniently Moved From The Garage" - 04/18/12 04:06 PM
On the "features" list of the house it said:  Laundry room conveniently moved from the garage.
And it was true.  It had been moved. 
Sure, it took up a portion of the basement family room.
And had a second fridge added to the room.
But never mind, the rest of the basement family room had been turned into a "convenient" basement bedroom!
It was comical, to say the least.It was very unappealing.It was silly because it looked silly.  It was right off the entry way, with a 6' wide opening without a door!It was neither a laundry room or a bedroom.
(52 comments)

permits: Where Oh Where Could The Dryer Vent Be? - 02/11/12 05:57 AM

Where oh where could the dryer vent be?
Sometimes you know a change has been made, but you don't know where.
This dryer vent has blown directly onto the AC compressor since the house was built.  That would be 1979.
A dryer vent should not be within 12' or so of a compressor.  Too close, as in this case here, and the compressor will draw in air while the dryer is venting its lint-laden exhaust.  That can load up the fins with lint, clogging them, and robbing the compressor and AC system of efficiency.  I have seen compressors look … (88 comments)

permits: Be A Preposition On A Home Inspection - 02/10/12 07:01 AM
What is a preposition?  My 8th grade English teacher, Miss Braun, taught me that a preposition was anything you can do to a house. 
What?  I mean, you can go inside, or be outside, over or under, beside or behind or in between, before or after, up and down.  All those kinds of words are prepositions.  They describe relation to a noun and govern it.
So, things you can do to describe your relation to a house would be a preposition.  How prescient since that is what I do today!
So, when I pull up to a house and see a … (25 comments)

permits: Permits? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Permits! - 09/22/11 05:39 AM
Things have gotten to the point where I can walk into a basement and almost smell if there's no permit pulled when they finished it.  It's like the basement is saying, "Permits?  We don't need no stinkin' permits!"
BUT YOU DO!  A PERMIT SHOULD ALWAYS BE PULLED!
If for no other reason to make sure you don't do something that makes it impossible to do future repairs!
Backing up the wagon now.  Case in point.
This is a finished bathroom.  They used the roughed-in plumbing left by the builder.  Fine and dandy.
The plumbing hardware is all along an interior wall.  … (114 comments)

permits: Flipper Fodder 1 - A Hose With A View - 08/17/11 06:24 AM
I can usually tell when a house is a flipped property.  In this case it was the "jewel" in the crown of this particular townhouse neighborhood.
Well, a jewel until you have a look, that is.
I have so much fun with flippers that I thought I'd start a series called FLIPPER FODDER!  And the series begins with today's post - Flipper Fodder - A Hose With A View.
In this neighborhood all of the houses have a shed protruding from the back.  It is 4'x8' or so, and contains the electric panel box and room for garden things.
Looking over … (33 comments)

permits: I Am Inclined Toward A Different Bathroom - 05/29/11 06:30 AM
Sometimes people desperately want something in a spot that just might not be the best place for it.  and basement bathrooms are something that people sometimes desperately want!  At times the basement is arranged such that there is only one place you can even consider for a bathroom.
Take this space for instance.
This bathroom divides the basement into two areas.
But where oh where can the toilet be put?
How about this cute little area right under the stairs! 
The rest of the bathroom is just as fun.  It is so narrow that when standing at the sink and closing … (26 comments)

permits: How Not To Support A Deck - 04/15/11 06:40 AM
This "GORGEOUS INSIDE AND OUT!" house is a flip and the seller has stated firmly that he had "done so much to the house [he] won't fix anything found on the home inspection."  To me, that's like painting yourself into a corner.  DO YOU WANT TO SELL THE HOUSE?  But I digress.
There were a few things I had to mention to my clients!  Well, many "few!"  For example, this post shows one example of how not to support a deck.
On this house, the flipper retained the original posts, joists and ledger beam (the board attached to the house) and … (34 comments)

permits: "It Might Be OK" - 09/24/10 06:46 AM
One of the shady zones of doing home inspections is marginality.  Things that "might" be okay, or "might" not.  Things that are to a local code, but not "best practice" or conforming to the latest building techniques.  Codes, not surprisingly, sometimes lack behind.  Things that might be fine in the short run, but we know will be a problem later. 
The hardest thing sometimes is how to address such things on the report.  Home inspectors live and die with their reporting.  And "sorry, that was a typo" doesn't fly.  Or, "that wording was poor, but I meant..." is in the no … (38 comments)

permits: Wadda Ya Know, A Permit Sticker! - 09/23/10 07:11 AM
It was very impressive to walk up to this flipped house and see a permit sticker!
After all, it has been a while since I've seen a permit!
Reading it was a little odd.  All it is a permit for is to install "Plumbing - New Shower."
This house, built in 1958, probably had a basement powder room, which was not uncommon, and they wanted to expand it into a full bathroom.  Very smart.
But that's all they did?  It would be unusual in itself to flip a house and only put in a new shower.  But I will leave that … (20 comments)

permits: Deck Safety - Don't Trust What You DON'T See - 07/07/10 06:21 AM

This is a solidly-built deck.
It is properly and securely attached to the house.
The stair cases are well done, strong, straight and square.
There are lights at the top of the stairs and staircase.
The deck has been well sealed, not only against water but the sun's UV rays.
And the guardrail is securely through-bolted to a double joist and blocking is there to further add strength.  It is 36" high, as required.
But this deck is unsafe!  Not for what you see, but for what you DON'T see.
Why?
Two reasons:
1.  There are spaces in the guardrails … (55 comments)

permits: Duct, Duct, Loose - 06/03/10 08:03 AM
When is heating and air conditioning an afterthought?
When it is installed by someone who is NOT a professional.  And without permits!  Flipper!
There was so much wrong with this HVAC register it was funny!
First, they totally forgot it until the end of the process.  By then they had installed so much other stuff to block access to this room, that they had one small opening available for a duct - right along the exterior wall!
The space was so small, the only thing they could use was a dryer vent tube.  And they chose the white plastic one!  It … (14 comments)

permits: I'm Sorry, Sir, But Clearance Is Required - 04/20/10 05:49 AM

I inspected a property with a "newly renovated basement apartment."
It was a very nice-looking place.  Usually though, with remodels, you see signs that things were not thought out quite clearly.
Take the example here.  This is the furnace closet.  It was tucked away in the only place they allowed for it.  They didn't think it through in two ways.
First, because of the depth of the closet, the heat pump is situated the only way they could.  Which would be fine, except that
1.  Only about half of the filter can be removed from its slot and
2.  There … (17 comments)

permits: "Nonsense" - 11/28/09 06:58 AM
On a home inspection last week the house had a newly finished basement.  It was supposedly finished by a Class A contractor, who is also an investor.  The common term would be flipper.
The Realtor told me this particular investor has flipped many houses in the area.
Let's call him "Flipper."  Flipper is not using a Realtor - he's selling it himself!
Among other things in the basement, there were many "clues" that the electrical alone was not professional, not to code and done without a permit.  Alright, they weren't clues, they were obviously unprofessional installations!
For example: 
~~  The entire … (18 comments)

 
Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) Rainmaker large

Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Bristow, VA

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Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Address: 12315 Sherborne Street, Bristow, VA, 20136

Mobile: (703) 585-7560

Office: (703) 330-6388

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