Monday, October 17, 2005

Home Inspection (Invasion?)

I've been updating as things progress on the house, so I'll keep that up in the interest of completeness :).

Friday afternoon we had our home inspection. We only had a couple days to get it done so we didn't really have time to try and find someone who came well-recommended. We basically picked a reputable big-name place (Tiger) who others had dealt with and had them send somebody. The guy they sent actually turned out to be very thorough and pleasant to work with.

We learned a few important things during the home inspection, but the biggest is that we have no idea what it's like to own a home. Until this guy explained it, I had no idea how a boiler operated to heat your house. It's stupid, but it's true.

Anyway, there weren't any huge surprises during the inspection. The biggest issue we learned about that was new to us was that there were minor structural issues from when the house was put together. If you picture two "chunks" of the house, attached to each other, imagine that the process of adjoining these chunks leaves a small gap which you can look up at from the basement. You're looking up at two big beams, and there's this one-inch gap between them. Now there is material inserted between these gaps to prevent the house from shifting. Ideally, the material completely fills the gap. What happened here is that the builders left some small spaces in the material.

Picture you're filling a one-inch gap with half-inch plywood. Instead of making it so every inch of the gap had two boards in it, they interleaved them, leaving some areas with only one board and some with two.

I tried to do this in MSPaint but I couldn't really pull it off. Here's some ASCII art instead. The dashes are empty space, the X's are the beams, and the pound signs are boards in between. Here's what they did:


It's a little detail, but it shows me that this house wasn't put together by people who took their craft perhaps as seriously as they should.

Of course, he shows us this detail with the same sense of gravity with which he pointed out the totally-wrecked gutters (which they're taking care of) and the slight catch on one of the cabinet doors in the kitchen.

That's the surreal part. Every single issue earned his attention, but he did very little in terms of helping me understand the relative seriousness of the issues.

Anyway. After the inspection we sat with the sellers by the fireplace and just chatted about the whole thing. It was a nice way to end a fairly stressful afternoon, and a reminder of how good it will feel to have our own place....

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