Box Gutters

These photos show rust on the siding.  A closer look shows the rust coming from behind the siding. The photos also show no visible gutters, but there is a visible downspout. These are called box gutters by some carpenters.  They simplify the appearance of the house and were a standard feature up until the very early part of the 20th century.  While they contribute to the historical detailing of an older home, they are prone to leakage.  Which usually doesn’t show up until a considerable amount of damage has occurred.  As is shown here. The drawing shows a typical construction of these.  Use caution if the house you are considering has these.  Be very thorough in the inspection of these.

Deck Issues

This photo shows two common flaws of decks.  One, the support posts are too tall for their size.  These will be prone to flexing.  Pest practice now stipulates a minimum of 6 x 6 posts, with additional framing possibly needed in tall construction such as this.

Second, there does not appear to be any diagonal bracing to stabilize the deck if side loaded conditions.  For instance, if a considerable number of people are on the deck they could exert enough momentum to cause the deck to shift to the left or right.  Without adequate diagonal bracing, that condition at this height would likely result in some serious injuries.

Hidden Damage

This photo shows hidden damage not apparent without poking a tool into the wood at the corner of the window (this was found after removing the window sill).  This damage came from a single pane window sweating in the winter and soaking the window sill.  Use a critical eye and think about what COULD be happening from a condition that at first seems rather petty.  But which can cause substantial damage where you cannot see it.

Heat Loss

These photos show how in the right conditions, you can make a fairly good guess about the condition and amount of the insulation in the attic.  During times when the frost is barely setting, or snow will be melting as soon as the sun comes up, you can see the amount of heat lost compared to other similar homes with a similar weather exposure.  It’s obvious from these, one side of the roof and the house to the left are both not as well insulated as the roof and house to the right.


Structural Damage

These photos show a home where the ceiling joists have either failed, or were cut.  A pitched roof will always transfer some of its downward weight into a sideways force on the side walls of the building.  Notice how the line of the gutter is bowed? This means the ceiling joists holding the two ends of the roof rafters in alignment have failed, and the roof will continue to press the wall out of shape.  Eventually the house will collapse if this is not corrected.


Poor Gutter Detailing

These photos show an exaggerated example of a very common problem.  Gutters that allow water to run against the building in places it’s not supposed to.   This gutter has a discharge that should be sending water away from the face of the building.  As you can see from the dark stain in the corner, it’s not doing its job.  Watch for stains like these.  Water running down the face of a building WILL cause a problem in short order.


A Pretty Face May Hide Serious Problems

These photos show a building where the front wall is starting to fall off the front of the building.  Notice the heavy iron strap at the corner of the building.  Also notice the line of the soffit above the stone columns.  It’s bowed out.  This building has been stabilized, and it appears to be holding.  It’s also pretty old, showing repairs are holding up well. But this also means the same problem could reappear. Look for straight lines and square and plumb walls.


Retaining Wall Failure

These photos show serious retaining wall failures.  ANY retaining wall movement from its original layout and installed condition is a major problem to correct.  The soil behind the wall will need to be removed, and the wall demolished and rebuilt.  Be aware once a wall starts to fail, it cannot be stopped except with the most invasive of projects.  These are huge money fixes.