Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


“No-brainer” house design.

Looking at the picture below, it shouldn't be hard for anyone to see that this is a bad design. On first glance it might all make visual sense but it is sort of like an Escher optical illusion. In the next picture the red arrow shows the flow of water and debris into the bottle-neck area.Is Mr Escher home?


















Bad roof design


















     The next picture shows the bottle-neck from above. Maintaining this area and the downspout free of debris will be essential to preventing serious damage to the roof and wall structures. This is a problem waiting to happen. Bad roof design
















     Sometimes my buyers will ask me for possible solutions to problems like this, and it is entertaining for me to look at possible ways it could have been done differently. This fix will require significant modifications----but not difficult modifications----to avoid a lifetime of pain-in-the-butt maintenance (all with the proper approvals of a structural engineer of course). If you compare this next picture with the first picture you can see where I have "overlaid" a design change that would eliminate the bottle-neck without "drastically" altering the "look" of the structure.Idea for a way to fix the problem

















     Although houses can come with a variety of problems---most problems have solutions that can be more easily remedied than the average homeowner can imagine. As an inspector I try to convey that to the buyer. When it comes to the house structure, it is all basically boards and nails ----it all comes down to whether the fix "pencils out" in the context of the purchase or not. It is rarely "rocket science."

Charles Buell

PS, for those of you that are new to my blog (or for some other "unexplained" reason have never noticed)sunsmile all pictures and smiley-face inserts (emoticons) have messages that show up when you point at them with your cursor.

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Comment balloon 13 commentsCharles Buell • April 26 2008 10:52AM


Hi Charles. I find it difficult to understand why people need to have so much interior space and do these stupid additions. They finish off every square inch of the garage, the basement, the attic, etc. They deserve all the maintenance issues that come their way. - Ray
Posted by Ray Wilson, NYS Licensed Home and Building Inspector (Meticulous Home Inspection Corporation) about 11 years ago
I need to see your alteration suggestion side by side, but it does look like changing the pitch of the roof and eliminating that pocket would solve some problems!
Posted by Julianna Hind, REALTOR, 206-679-4768, Tacoma Federal Way, Auburn, Kent, WA (eXp Realty) about 11 years ago
That home is a remodel gone bad. Most Contractors think about moving water off the structure and away from the home. I am a GC and I try to stay away from re-modeling, but here in Blue Ridge,GA things are a little slow and I've just completed a remodel. It had water problems from lack of gutters and improper step flashing,it was a $1000.00 issue that cost about $7000.00 to repair. Do it right the first time.
Posted by Greg Hampton, North Georgia Mountain Property,Blue Rid (Re/Max Around The Mountains) about 11 years ago

Ray & Greg, believe it or not this was not a "remodel."  This is the way it was built---one of maybe 6 identical townhouse units built in this large complex of townhouses.

Julianna, thanks for visiting, there are probably a lot of ways this could have been handled differently

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 11 years ago

Now that is a well laid out design. Im sure it spawned another shower on the interior right above the bed just where we need one the most.

Posted by Chip Jefferson (Gibbs Realty and Auction Company) about 11 years ago
I am ignorant.  I've gone back and forth and can't see the change.  But I know you repaired it!  Here's a cha for you to analyze for me.chaLooks like there is nothing left to me.  It's nice to have a free home inspector.  This is at REO property that I went to today.
Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago

Laura, you are right---can't have too many showers in a house:)

Barbara, that is no challenge at all----GET A NEW ONE!  Regarding the pictures above.  Look at the first pictures.  See the area where the red arrow is?  In the last picture that area is covered over and if you look close you can see the old fascia shaded over.  Yes?  No?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 11 years ago

I see now.  You brought the roof out. But it is pretty hard to see. 

That's a very short analysis.  I thought you'd say that certain parts had been taken and they'd have long names and I'd feel important when I repeated what you said to the REO lords.  : )

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago
Unfortunately regardless of the verbage used---we get to the same place:)  I tend to prefer cutting to the chase.  I could have made it a little longer by saying:  ITS FUBAR----GET A NEW ONE! SUNSMILE
Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 11 years ago

WOW....Surprised the home didn't have any leaks with the way the water drained.

Sean Allen

Posted by Sean Allen, International Financing Solutions (International Financing Solutions ) about 11 years ago
My goodness Charles. It amazes me what some people do. You are right, that is a bad design and the builder needs to be shot at sunrise, hung, and what ever punishment is needed for such stupidity. Makes my eyes hurt just looking at it.
Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) about 11 years ago


            I am seeing more and more of these types of designs from new construction. I think builders think that because they now have ice and water sheild, that they can now commit to riskier design. The maintenance, and risk of water intrusion does go way up on this type of design. At least they did include a kind of transition saddle though, (you know, it could have been worse if that were not there).

A roofing expert I know always says in his seminars that "roofs only generally leak where they stop, start, or change direction". This house seems to have all three in the same location.

Posted by Kevin Corsa, H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector (H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties)) about 11 years ago

Sean, I was kind of surprised myself

Michael, we need some "corrective framing glasses" sometimes:)

Kevin, agreed----it should wouldn't take much to have water really "confused" trying to get out of this area.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 11 years ago