Hudson River Home Inspections
The Old House Inspection
Purchasing a home is one of the biggest decisions of
your life! With all that's at stake, it's crucial that you're fully aware of the
condition of the major systems and components before you buy. And this is
especially true with the purchase of older homes. Sometimes buyers walk through
a house they like and everything looks great, but a home inspection may reveal
all kinds of flaws, defects, safety issues and maintenance requirements not
readily apparent to the average person.
With older homes, the
condition of the foundation can be a major issue. Sometimes, people who want to
renovate and sell their home ignore the foundation. I have seen houses with many
thousands of dollars in renovations and improvements but with foundations that
are in very poor condition, including serious cracks and spalling (deterioration
of the surface of the concrete in such a way that pieces of the concrete flake
off the surface). In a few cases the condition of the foundation is so poor that
its ability to continue to provide support for the house for more than a few
years is doubtful. I remember one house built in the 1920’s that had a brick
foundation and the mortar was in such poor condition that a new foundation was
required. With another house, the top of the foundation wall was lower than the
soil on the outside, so that the bottom of the wood structure of the house was
actually lower than the top of the soil and therefore subject to water and
moisture damage including wood rot, mold and termites. Saving such houses from
future calamity can be very costly.
The electrical system in older houses may also be an area where an
inspection pays off. For example, home inspectors will identify the size of the
service and alert the buyer if it is less than 100 amps. Many smaller and
average size older houses have only 60 amp service or less which may not be
adequate for modern living, and which may result in home insurance companies
refusing to ensure until the service and service panel are upgraded. In some
cases the panel is out of date and may even be unsafe.
issues include wiring done by amateurs which may be poorly done and even unsafe,
ungrounded panels, ungrounded distribution wiring, overloaded circuits,
oversized breakers (which may not trip and shut the power down in an unsafe
situation), unprotected connections and the absence of GFCI receptacles in
kitchens, bathrooms and exterior locations. GFCI receptacles are designed to
shut the power off if there is a fault or a short in a circuit as may happen for
example if electricity comes into contact with water. I have even seen hot tubs
and Jacuzzi tubs installed without GFCI protection, something that in these
cases is mandatory for safety reasons.
Some older houses
still have galvanized water pipes, which typically have a life expectancy of
about fifty years, and tend to rust from the inside out. This not only reduces
the flow of water through the pipes but may also result in leaking. Insurance
companies in many municipalities require that new owners replace such pipes with
new copper or plastic pipes before they will insure the house. Other plumbing
issues for older houses may include rusting and leaking drainpipes and the use
of lead pipes to bring water into the house (much more common than you might
think). Some older houses also have un-vented plumbing, which
means the drain pipes may not be connected to a stack which allows air into the
pipes and which provides a way for sewer gases to be dissipated. In some cases
drains below sinks are not trapped, a condition that may result in the entry of
sewer gas into the house. Home inspectors will identify these issues and offer
suggestions and recommendations on upgrading.
There are many other issues which home inspectors will help buyers understand, including signs of rot at windows and possible leaking of water into the wall space, problems with the roof including shingles that may need to be replaced, flashings that are damaged or improperly installed, and in some cases structural issues such as sagging in the roof. Home inspectors will examine the roof from both the outside and the inside, if possible.
inspection of the attic may reveal problems with the roof that are otherwise not
evident, and will also reveal the adequacy of the insulation and ventilation. I
have seen houses that still have nothing more than a few inches of wood shavings
in the attic for insulation; you can imagine the impact of this on the heating
bill. Poor ventilation is also an issue for some older homes. Attic ventilation
helps to keep the attic space cooler in the summer time and reduces the
likelihood of damage from the build up of moisture in the winter time. Also,
houses that have poor insulation and ventilation may experience ice damming as
evidenced by a build up of ice and icicles along the bottom edge of the roof.
While these icicles may look charming, ice damming has the potential to cause
damage to the roof and in some cases leaking.
Home inspections also include an assessment of the heating system, the hot water
heater, stairs, doors, windows, and many other aspects of the house including
safety issues. For an average sized house, the inspection may take two and half
hours or more, and with larger older houses, often more than three hours.
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Areas Served in Westchester: Amawalk, Ardsley, Ardsley On Hudson, Armonk, Baldwin Place, Bedford, Briarcliff Manor, Bronxville, Buchanan, Chappaqua, Cortlandt Manor, Crestwood, Crompond, Cross River, Croton Falls, Croton-on-Hudson, Crugers, Dobbs Ferry, East White Plains, Eastchester, Elmsford, Goldens Bridge, Granite Springs, Greenburgh, Harrison, Hartsdale, Hastings-on-Hudson, Hawthorne, Heathcote, Irvington, Jefferson Valley, Katonah, Larchmont, Lewisboro, Lincolndale, Mamaroneck, Maryknoll, Millwood, Mohegan Lake, Montrose, Mount Kisco, Mount Pleasant, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, North Salem, North Tarrytown, North White Plains, Ossining, Peekskill, Pelham, Pleasantville, Pocantico Hills, Port Chester, Pound Ridge, Purchase, Purdys, Rye, Rye Brook, Scarborough, Scarsdale, Shenorock, Shrub Oak, Sleepy Hollow, Somers, South Salem, Tarrytown, Thornwood, Tuckahoe, Valhalla, Verplanck, Vista, Waccabuc, West Harrison, White Plains, Yonkers, Yorktown, Yorktown Heights,
In Putnam: Brewster, Carmel, Cold Spring, Garrison, Kent, Lake Peekskill, Mahopac, Mahopac Falls, Patterson, Putnam Valley, Southeast,
New York State License #: 16000029952