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Most Stupefying Harry Homeowner Jobs


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I have two equally stupefying harry homeowner blundered projects:

1. A fellow had chain sawed out about 2/3 of a glue-lam center beam under the master bedroom to accommodate his garage door opener motor. And, yes the master bedroom floor had a WICKED sag in it. (I was afraid to even go in there.) It's amazing what people don't even think twice about doing.

2. An engineer met me in the driveway to explain how he had installed a perimeter drain around the whole foundation with perforated pipe and gravel. He was busting' his buttons with pride while I was thinking to myself, "Uh oh... This is NOT good news..." Sure enough one could run their hand down the inside surface of all the foundation walls and water would fly off the surface of the wall. He had made conditions worse than ever imaginable and had to undo his handywork.

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The best one (or worst, depending on how you see it) was a house where the handy homeowner had cut big notches in the bottoms of every 2 x 10 first floor joist to allow for the installation of fluorescent light fixtures in the finished basement ceiling. He did not want the finished ceiling to be too low. The notches were in the centers of the spans and he was so proud of the way the lights were centered in the room.

It never even occurred to him that the lights could be installed within the joists bays, parallel to the framing, instead of perpendicular!

You can imagine the wiring that went with the lights!

What a nightmare.

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People do really stupid things so they don't have to get out of their cars to open the garage door. Maybe if a real live person had to lay hands on the door to open it more doors would receive proper maintenance.

Over 90% of the opener repairs we do (day job) are because of serious issues with the door. The most dangerous was an opener that failed with the door open. The springs had broken, and somehow the opener managed to lift it nearly all the way before it seized up. When the home owner pulled the release handle the door closed with enough force that it blew the rollers out of the tracks and folded itself up accordian style on the floor. She needed a new door and opener, and I'd imagine new shorts. She's lucky to be alive.

As for engineers, I've seen them do some really scary things to their houses. For all the education they have, as a group they tend to be the stupidest people I deal with.

Tom

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The best one (or worst, depending on how you see it) was a house where the handy homeowner had cut big notches in the bottoms every 2 x 10 first floor joist to allow for the installation of fluorescent light fixtures in the finished basement ceiling. He did not want the finished ceiling to be too low. The notches were in the centers of the spans and he was so proud of the way the lights were centered in the room.

It never even occurred to him that the lights could be installed within the joists bays, parallel to the framing, instead of perpendicular!

You can imagine the wiring that went with the lights!

What a nightmare.

He want them to be perpendicular, put them in the bay would not give him the look he wanted. lol[:-paperba

If you look at the pitcher this area you will see some of mine.

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A 166 year old, single story acadian style dwelling had been purchased 5 years prior to the inspection and was now on the market after having the spacious attic developed into two bedrooms and a bathroom. Original 2X4 ceiling joists were now serving as floor joists. A 'chest of drawers' would rock back and forth as you walked across the floor. The stairway exceeded 45 degrees in incline. Remaining attic spaces were without ventilation and at least one attic space had no access. The interior of twin closets on either side of an original masonry chimney had mold growth just weeks after construction was completed.

Report summary:

A common theme was noticed throughout the inspection of this pre-civil war dwelling: The original craftsmen did far better workmanship than their counterparts did well over a century and a half later. The electrical installation has so many deficiencies that this dwelling is no longer safe for occupancy until at least the recommendations on the electrical page of this report are completed. The plumbing and AC/heating systems also need attention. The stairway has off-standard tread and riser dimensions that make this stairway a hazard to any and all persons attempting to negotiate it. The upstairs addition has a structurally deficient floor. The delicate drywall ceiling finish is secured directly to the underside of the original rafters which lack sufficient rigidity to avoid ceiling finish failure. There is no ventilation provided to the accessible attic spaces.

It is recommended that the entire second story living area be removed and that the attic be returned to it's original condition.

I estimate the figure invested on developing this attic at 30,000 to 40,000 dollars which is a lot for southern Louisiana.

Marc

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When I was a young teenager, I was working in the garden with my Dad when we heard a loud crash. We looked up to find our neighbor burst out of his bulkhead through a cloud of dust. His eyes were three times their normal size, like a man who'd just seen something he could NEVER have envisioned, or described.

Dad said: 'Bill! Are you OK? What the hell happened?"

It turns out that Bill had an unused chimney in his house that he wanted to remove, so he did. Taking a chimney down can be risky business, and he was too old and too fat to be working on the roof, so he figured he do it from the basement.

I'm here to tell you: That was a sight.

Once it was clear that everyone was OK, Dad and I laughed ourselves silly. He has dementia now, -can't remember my son's names every time- but he still laughs about that day. So do I.

Without DIY'ers most of us would be out of business.

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A flip house I did last week looked like a DIY job.

Looked great when I pulled up. Walked in to see beautiful new floors, a big wide open kitchen with an island, new stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. Turned to go into the living room to see beautiful cathedral ceilings with large dark beams. Very impressive.

Walked through the building and then as I was coming out of a newer wing (build probably 40 years ago on this 60 year old house), I could sense I was walking uphill.

Walked outside to find about 18 inches of flatwork placed against the side of the house, draining back to the house without anything in between. New Hardi-Plank siding, trim and cedar shingles. Reached down next to the flatwork, felt under the edges of the siding with my fingertips and a chunk of rotten sill full of insect galleries fell out.

In the basement on the other side of that wall, water was running down the wall and ponding on the floor but the ceiling joists were concealed by nice new pegboard nailed up under the joists and everything, including the walls were painted white. I smacked the pegboard with my hand and it rained debris.

Found large cracks on the basement wall that abuts that sloping wing. It's definitely settled and out-of-plumb.

In the next basement room over, Mr. DIY had forgotten to install pegboard. The rim joist, sheathing and siding were gone and you could see the back of the slab. The ends of the joists were all rotted out and the subfloor was rotted away and I could see the underside of the new hardwood floors and the rotting sole plate.

I went up to check out the attic and found the 2 by 4 rafters propped up here and there with new wood struts nailed to the sides of the rafters and resting on the top of ceiling joists over the middle of rooms and about 2 to 3 inches of vermiculite insulation under a few inches of blown-in fiberglass. Rat excreta everywhere and new holes gnawed through a rafter so they could get into the new cathedral roof plane!

At that point, the client stopped me. Back in the kitchen on the kitchen counter, a sign board from one of the franchisees of the network I used to belong to declared the home "Move-In Ready!" and his report lying on the kitchen counter said that there wasn't any evidence of any active rodent or insect infestation, described the roof framing as "Manufactured Trusses" (NOT!), never mentioned the vermiculite, never mentioned rot on the underside of a portion of the roof and obvious repairs, never mentioned any of the of-so-obvious rot and insect damage in the basement or the settling.

It did mention that downspouts discharging next to the foundation are a "potential" WDO conducive condition but no mention about the flatwork placed against the structure without any capillary break and exposed to the weather like that for decades, etc., etc.. Very depressing; this guy once bragged to the rest of us in the network that between him and his employee he does 5-6 full home inspections a day. God, I wish we had a peer review process for license approval here.

Client walked. The selling agent is seriously pissed and says she'd going to file complaints about the Listing Agent's duplicity to DOL and about the inspector to DOL and to WSDA (He's got a pest inspector's license).

The shame of it is; it's in a not so rich area where folks generally can only afford homes under $300K, so some poor blue collar schmuck will walk in there, be wowed by the shiny new "stuff" and be lulled into a sense of complacency by that toadie's report, buy the house and then bankrupt himself trying to fix all the shite that he's going to find dicked up over the next few months.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Had one of those just last week, Mike.

Shiny new and looking good upstairs but the crawl space told a different story.

Care to guess what those hangy down thingies are?

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It wasn't ALL wet, just mostly!

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Plenty of junk in the crawl space!

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Ya gotta love the look on a client's face when your probe (a very large screwdriver in this case) goes right through joists!

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AND, let us not forget to examine the electrical wiring in the attic!

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OOPS, I almost left out my favorite plumbing drain line!

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Sometimes ya just gotta shake your head in wonder!

-

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Deck not big enough? Just extend it!

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Why bother with those pesky wire nuts?

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Not from Harry Homeowner, but amusing none the less. The seller swore this was the work of a licensed electrician and had been signed off by the local muni. This is my favorite inspection photo.

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Not from Harry Homeowner, but amusing none the less. The seller swore this was the work of a licensed electrician and had been signed off by the local muni. This is my favorite inspection photo.

I don't believe I've ever seen that many splices in one box - the mother of all junction boxes. Mmm.. blue ribbon winner of a contest maybe?

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