The 3 Natural Enemies of Homes

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When home inspectors are trying to explain potential home damages to clients, there are typically 3 'enemies' that homes need to overcome:


Water

Water is a natural enemy to our homes as if not correctly managed, water will allow deterioration of wood structure, rusting or metal structures, and many interior damages and potential health concerns such as from mould growth. Water can attack our homes from the outside (rainfall, snowmelt, ice dams, incorrect drainage) or it can come from the inside (condensation, leaking plumbing, poor shower/bath waterproofing, unventilated crawlspaces).


Home inspectors are always looking for signs of water damages in the home however hidden water damages can be particularly troublesome as they are not visible during inspections. 


UV Rays

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are most commonly associated with the sun. UV rays in sunshine break down building materials in time and in many cases once materials are broken down, water is able to then penetrate the buildings. Common UV damages over time are to roofing materials, decking materials, windows, siding and paint. As our homes typically provide shade to the interior of our homes, it is the exterior of our homes, particularly the south side, which are subject to the most UV damage


Poor Owners

Home owners have a responsibility to maintain their homes if the home is to have a long useful life. Unfortunately, there are some types of homeowners which actually deteriorate the value of the home.

  • Negligent Owners - These owners are just 'users' of the homes value and never do regular maintenance or have home systems regularly serviced. Homes can typically last a few years under negligent owners without too much trouble but after about a decade, signs of negligence such as exterior rot, unsafe mechanical equipment, and hidden damages will begin.
  • Amateur Renovators - There are many homeowners out there that in an effort to save some money have done renovations themselves or have undertaken projects which have actually created unsafe conditions in the home. Electrical is one area in particular where amateurs should never be working in the home. It is not uncommon in home inspecting to come accross amateur renovation work which would be easier to completely re-do than to try and repair.
  • Poor Lifestyle Owners - Our wood frame homes need to remain below 15% moisture to prevent the growth or rot and moulds. When too many people (including pets) live in one home, there is a lot of extra humidity pressure on the home from normal life activities like additional breathing, showers, and cooking. If condensation is not managed properly through the use of bathroom fans, kitchen exhaust, and opening windows, homes will start to show damages quickly.


Final Thoughts

Buying a long-lasting home that will hold its value in the future is best done if you can buy a home that has largely remained original since construction with good owners. Some good signs of these homes are:

  • Original or few owners in the life of the home (fewer owners usually means less people messing with the home)
  • Regular maintenance has been kept up (look for good shape exterior paint and maintenance stickers on furnaces and other equipment)
  • No obvious amateur workmanship (basement suites are notorious for unsafe and poorly designed systems, if a home had a basement suite added, it is usually pretty easy to see the quality of the work)


There are lots of great houses available and when you feel you have found a great home, call in your professional home inspector to help you know it is safe and solid.


By James Bell - Owner Solid State Inspections Inc.