Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


Fender bender in the making?

One does not have to look very close to see that this wood support beam is very badly rotted.  We can also see where the bottom of the beam has been patched previously with a wood block the width of the support pier.

Rotten Trellis

The beam is rotted through and through to be precise.  I honestly think the paint is the only thing of any structural significance remaining---that and "habit."

One traversing squirrel, or heavy wet snow, might alter the habits of this trellis however.

It is time to remove the trellis and avoid the potential fender bender.

No dents yet

This is the tenant's vehicle---I wonder who is going to be liable for repairs if the trellis falls?

Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspections

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Comment balloon 16 commentsCharles Buell • January 13 2012 11:01AM


You have to like a cosmetic repair on a structural member! 

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) about 7 years ago

Charles, One of the worst wood rot cases I've seen.  I think you're right about paint being the only structural element left on that part.

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 about 7 years ago

HiCharles,  Well said.  That tenant better have great renter's insurance.  Good selling to you.

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) about 7 years ago

Nice.  I bet not even Allstate would cover that mayhem.

Posted by Loren Green, Phoenix Home Inspector & Designer (Greens Home Design L.L.C.) about 7 years ago

My guess is that they would hold YOU responsible.  Their logic:  "I'd never even noticed, or thought about it... but this 'professional' inspector was here and looked at it... and HE didn't tell us to take it down!... I say it's HIS fault... make him pay!"

And what do you bet it wouldn't take much to find a jury of his peers to agree with him.

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) about 7 years ago

Charles -- They only need to replace that one piece, after all, the rest of the pieces of the trellis look just fine!  I am also sure that the cold nights (after a bit of rain) and warmer days are not going to cause any more damage.  ;-)

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) about 7 years ago

Robert, when you set untreated wood on a concrete surface---it will rot over time

Liz and Bill, thank goodness for "structural paint":)

Bill, yes---good idea

Loren, it would be interesting to see where the liability would fall out on this

Alan, no worries, I recommended "immediate" removal---in bold with blue print :)

Steven, one of the other members had been replaced with pressure treated---the others not so good---just look good :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 7 years ago

One of my Sellers once a asked after seeing an inspection report citing the same type of wood rot, don't they make bondo for wood? 

Posted by Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS, Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority! (RE/MAX Northwest.) about 7 years ago

Paul, this would require a lot of bondo :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 7 years ago

Good afternoon, Charlie B. That would be one PO's Prius owner. They dent pretty darn easy anyway... 

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) about 7 years ago

The trellis looks like PT, but the beam does not. That's a bit odd. I'd be afraid to breathe on that thing :)

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 7 years ago

Charles - I recently saw a deck (10' high) that had a similar problem. The original beam was untreated wood and was ready to collapse. Good that we have home inspectors to help protect buyers' interests.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru ( about 7 years ago

Michael, they had no clue of the danger either

Jim, only the one on the end was PT----probably heavier than the rotten ones :)

John, this one would not have been a good one to have missed.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 7 years ago

You are being silly.  That thing has years of life left!

A little Put Yer Putty! and paint and it's as good as new! 

I happen to know Billy Jays is by the phone.  I'd call now.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Jay, I suspect he sits by the phone quite a bit

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 7 years ago

Who is going to be liable if it falls?  Why, the last person who touched it, of course.  You!

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 7 years ago