May 1, 2016

Home Inspection Issues: Masonry problems and what they mean.

Filed under: Property Inspection — Chuck @ 10:54 am

Many buyers and sellers who order inspection reports will find that the inspector has pointed out potential issues with masonry. Oftentimes these items are flagged in the report for further evaluation and possible repair by a qualified masonry contractor. There are lots of different problems that may warrant a closer look by a masonry specialist – in order to sure the safety of your home as well as its healthy functioning.

Common Issues
There are a number of issues that may be flagged in a written inspection report, whether it was ordered by a home owner to get better insight into their home’s condition before listing and selling it – or by a prospective buyer wanting similar information prior to closing.

Common ones include, for example, bricks or blocks that have deteriorating mortar joints or that are misaligned in a way that is causing gravity to weaken a structure. Moisture could be a problem, and oftentimes masonry surfaces like walls that are not properly sealed can wick water toward the interior of your home. Then again, a brick wall or similar structure could have inadequate drainage built into its base, so that water behind that wall cannot escape and simply presses against it or drains beneath it to erode the earth that it rests upon. You may have a chimney that has voids where heat can escape, or a sidewalk or driveway made of concrete that is pitting and cracking.

Is a retaining wall leaning the wrong way, and no longer supporting the terrain it is supposed to keep in check? Maybe if you sight along an exterior wall you can see it curving or bulging in a way that indicates a lack of structural integrity or potentially hazardous shifting. There are other instances where the foundation of the home, supported by columns of bricks or blocks, is not sturdy enough, or where a concrete countertop in a kitchen is too heavy to be supported by the structure it rests upon. Are stone, brick, or concrete steps leading to your home not providing secure, safe footing underneath, or are they in need of repair?

What to Do Next
As you can see, the list of possible inspection report red flags can be varied. But whatever issues your inspector wants to bring to your attention will be highlighted in the report, with comments and maybe photographs. Take those seriously, but don’t be alarmed. Just ask the inspector if you need any clarification and follow the recommendations they have outlined. Usually that involves having a masonry contractor take a closer look and, if necessary, recommend any remedies or repairs. If repairs are needed, request bids from at least three contractors, compare the bids, and take whatever follow-up actions are needed.

Follow-Up Procedures
If repairs are done, have those taken care of by your masonry contractor and then the buyer and seller will want to negotiate the cost. The seller will usually do repairs prior to closing. In some circumstances they may also pay cash at closing or reduce the sales price to help accommodate the expense of the buyer doing the repair at a later date. At any rate, solicit 2-4 competing bids to figure out your actual costs. After the repair work is finished, it is always a good idea to have your inspector return for a follow-up visit to look over the work and give it a clean bill of health or make further recommendations as needed.

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