Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


You want to uncover the original wood siding under the vinyl siding?

If you lived in the Northwest, and paid attention to the architecture of homes, you would notice that the following picture of the overhangs on a home is “unusual.”

 House overhangs

When I was walking around the house with my buyer, I informed them that the house used to have horizontal soffits instead of finish materials on the underside of the rafters.  I did admit that it was “possible” that the house used to have what we call “open soffits” where the rafters remain exposed in the overhang.  This style is very common on many homes but not quite so common on this age of home.

When we got to the chimney I had my “proof.”

Can you see where the chimney was never finished with the same care and detail as areas that would be visible?

The original soffit line 

I often have buyers that want to know if they can take off the vinyl siding and uncover and repair/refinish the original wood siding.  I am always skeptical about how successful this is going to be.  That underlying siding was covered for a reason.  Sometimes it was for lower maintenance, but often it was because there were bad areas, window changes, door changes etc.  These old siding materials will invariably have many coats of lead based paint that will have to be dealt with. 

In this case there won’t be any siding at the top 16” all around the home under the overhangs adding to what they will have to deal with when they take the vinyl off.

Aren’t old houses fun?


Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Comment balloon 9 commentsCharles Buell • September 14 2013 06:34AM


Hi Charles,

Yes the older homes are a lot of fun. But not when it will be a fortune to get the home repaired to it's former glory.

Some things like a dilapidated siding needs to remain hidden.

Have a great day in the Great Northwest my friend.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) about 5 years ago
We had an older home once and it was covered in asbestos. This was 1983 and neither I or my husband knew anything about asbestos, we just didn't like the look of it so started pulling it down. We got about a third of the way done and someone stopped by and asked if he could have it. He added a garage and wanted it to match his house. He volunteered to finish removing it and would haul it all away. We said sure! Underneath was a rolled brick look siding, and underneath that was pristine hardboard siding. We really lucked out. We painted it and was the talk of the neighborhood! It was beautiful!
Posted by Evelyn Johnston, The People You Know, Like and Trust! (Friends & Neighbors Real Estate) about 5 years ago

Good Morning Charles.  Oh the things you teach us.  Thanks for another great lesson.

Posted by Kathy Sheehan, Senior Loan Officer (Bay Equity, LLC 770-634-4021) about 5 years ago

I think you nailed it.  Usually when people do stuff like this it is for particular reasons.  Divining what that reason was is the hard part!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

Hi Charles...You have the innate ability to notice just about everything (or maybe everything!). Lucky buyers that work with you.


Posted by Kate Elim, Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a (Dockside Realty) about 5 years ago

Many people talk about removing the siding to see the underside, I know I'm always curious to see. The fact that someone was willing to cover it up at some point just seems to answer the question of whether or not to do so Charles.  :)

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage Mobile - 916-765-5366) about 5 years ago

I can see it now.... after removing all the siding the owner says "oh no, what did we do?"

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) about 5 years ago

Planning ain't the same as doing. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 5 years ago

Clint whenever I hear about returning a house to its "former glory" I hear cash register sounds.

Evelyn, I would say you got very lucky :)

Kathy, you are welcome

Jay, yes---it can be like carpet over hardwood floors.  You are more likely to be lucky with the wood floors.

Kate, this comes from having been a builder/remodeler for so many years is all.

Tom, yes---they are almost always covering up the original for some reason.

Fred, for sure.

Jim, no way! :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 5 years ago