New House Time

We just returned from the inspection (9am to 1pm or so). The guy was pretty thorough. He wanted us there for the inspection so he could educate us on what he’s looking at and make suggestions. We’ll still get the report but talking to him was an education.

House was built in 69. There are a few cracks in the driveway (you can see them in the pics) and a couple in the garage. On the east side of the house there’s a tiny tiny settle crack. Other than that, the exterior is in excellent shape. On the north-western side, the ground slopes a tiny bit to the house. He suggested extensions to the down spouts to get the water farther away from the house. The trees have some dead branches and could use some trimming. The air conditioner can be a bit loud so he suggested a small air conditioner sized fence to redirect the sound away from the patio.

The roof uses T-lock shingles and has two layers. There is a little cracking of the shingles on the south side. The shingles are too close to the roof piercings. The flashing extends 4″ to 6″ from the piercing and if the shingles are butted up next to it, it can collect debris and can damage the roof. So they need to be trimmed. In addition, the piercings need to be painted to prevent rust. An attic investigation shows that the attic fan is falling apart. The investigator recommended a solar powered fan for $200 or so. He also recommended reseating the nails and covering them with a dab of caulk to seal them.

In the basement, the furnace and air conditioner were installed in 2005 and the water heater in 2003. The washer looks to be original though. You can’t even read the Maytag dial any more. The dryer is newer and not gas driven any more. He found that the gas pipe didn’t have a cap (it did have a valve so it’s just good insurance). There’s a sump pump in case there’s any leaking from the surrounding ground but they put a French Drain in a few years ago so the pump container (looks like a 5 gallon paint tub) is bone dry and filled with spider webs. He also found a tiny gas leak that needs to be repaired (at one of the joints). You can just barely smell gas.

Speaking of gas, the Radon test found the 72 hour average is 5.2 which exceeds the recommended maximum of 4. As a side note, she recently married into a local real estate family. When the inspector arrived back on Wednesday, the owner met him on her way out. She was concerned that the house had been sealed up (unused) for several months and wanted to know if that would affect the Radon test. Joe (the inspector) assured her that it wasn’t a problem and that it only lasted 3 to 4 days. Someone (we suspect her new husband) had opened four basement windows to “air out” the basement ::) Joe suggested that if the Radon test had been closer to 4, he would have requested the test be redone but since it’s at 5.2, he’s recommending mitigation using a pressurization system that costs up to $2,000.

Radon (for the folks who don’t know) is a fairly stable radioactive gas with a half life of 3.8 to 4 days (so it goes inert and harmless in about 4 days). Radon is produced naturally however it is one of the causes of lung cancer and the second highest killer in the US (21,000 last year). The gas of course takes the path of least resistance. So in dryer weather, it’ll filter through the dry ground and out through the yard. In wetter weather the damp or frozen ground blocks it so the easier path is up through the concrete of the basement. There are several mitigation systems from rubber barriers (for crawl spaces) to negative pressurization systems.

He suggested replacing the pull out windows in the basement with better quality ones. In addition, the two bedrooms in the basement are non-conforming. In Colorado (and other places I’m sure) basement bedrooms require two means of egress. The door of course and the window. The window wells are pretty tiny so he suggested that if we wanted to have the rooms conform, we get someone in to widen one window in each of the bedrooms to be large enough for someone to escape in case of a fire.

On the main floor, he discussed the gas fireplace. There’s a requirement to prop the flue open so that carbon monoxide doesn’t kill the people in the house. Since we don’t use a fireplace, he suggested we cap the gas line outside, remove the gas fixtures and close the flue and then perhaps put a gate or door in the opening. The kitchen was remodeled recently (we were told $50,000 in work was done). The dishwasher and stove are pretty expensive looking and fancy. There’s also a wall sized built-in between the family room and the kitchen. The front windows (master bedroom and living room… *ahem* I mean Rita’s craft room) are pretty fancy Pella windows however the back part of the house has original windows so we’ll be replacing them too as well as one of the sliding glass doors (there are two).

The master bathroom is very small. Our plan is to tear down the wall between the master bedroom and the center room and then totally remake the bathroom to be a nice sized one (a master bedroom suite). The fun thing is that the toilet and even the toilet hardware (in the tank) are marked as being original equipment. That’s right, 1969! I can’t believe toilet hardware will last that long. The toilet in the main bathroom is also 1969 however the hardware has been replaced. And the basement bathroom is newer.

If you’re keeping track, there are only two things of any concern. The Radon and the tiny gas leak both in the basement. We’ll have the official report later today and will provide our response to the inspection (fix the leak and minimally get bids to mitigate the Radon or have one installed).

Otherwise, great house and a good selection by Rita.

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