Is what you see what you are really getting


Last week I received a call from a real estate agent. She needed an inspection on a 1986 house. After arriving at the property and beginning my inspection, I started seeing some "red flags" that made me question the year the house was built. The first thing that caught my eye was the water shut off to the house. The house had galvanized pipe. Galvanized water pipe started phasing out in the early 1970's. This house should have been plumbed with copper pipe. Why would anyone put galvanized pipe in 1986 construction?
Next was the electrical panel. This panel was a surface mount unit. Every 1986 house I have ever inspected had the electrical panel mounted into the wall surface. Inside the panel was a breaker labeled "sub panel". Again, not something I would normally see in a 2000 square foot house of that age, but not impossible.
As I continued around the house I noticed the crawl access to get under the house. I usually perform the crawl area near the end of the inspection since I tend to get somewhat dirty and need to gear up in my overalls, gloves and dust mask. But taking a quick look at the foundation I noticed the opening was concrete block. Thatís weird. Why didnít they use poured concrete?
The listing agent showed up and informed me that the roof was replaced 2 years ago. Up went another "red flag". Why would someone replace a concrete tile roof, with a "life of house" life expectancy and the norm for a mid-80ís home, with a clay tile roof? As it turned out the former roof was asphalt shingles that was replaced with clay tile. Again, I was surprised. Why would the city allow an asphalt shingle roof for new construction in 1986?
It was time to go into the attic area. Here I started to get some answers. I found the roof structure had been altered. Some of the wood members appeared older than others. But the big clue was there were a couple of disconnected "knobs" from "knob and tube" electrical wiring. "Knob and tube" wiring started phasing out in the 1930ís.
After inspecting the interior of the house it was time to go under the house. There I found more disconnected "knob and tube" wiring. The floor structure was mixed with older and newer wood members. I found sections of stucco wall that had been broken off of the original foundation and braced up. Also, galvanized and copper piping had been connected together without the benefit of a die electric fitting to stop electrolysis.
The foundation was all concrete block. Concrete block was used because this house was brought in from another location and set down on the new foundation. It is my belief this house was originally built somewhere around 1930 and was moved to the new site, split in two, stretched out, and new construction built between the two sections to enlarge the house.
The moral of the story...What you see isn't always what you get!