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Exterior Cladding

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Split Concrete and Brick Window Sills

Maintaining your window sills is by far one of the most important maintenanace issues that I come across on the exterior of homes. In Ontario we get a lot of freezing temperatures combined with some warm sunny days. This allows water to run into cracks and freeze, which causes expansion. The small cracks in your window sill can collect water and it will eventually errode mortar in your window sill and tunnel down to your brick. When water attacks brick from above it gets absorbed by the brick and freezes, causing brick spalling.

Hardboard Siding

Hardboard siding has a natural tendency to absorb water resulting in a slight swelling. With proper sealant application, caulking and regular paint maintenance, this process can be controlled and kept at a safe level. However, improperly manufactured and installed hardboard siding can undergo serious deterioration, the effects of which can include: Buckling, Rotting, Softening, Blistering and Severe swelling

Masonite manufactured hardboard siding (also known as "Georgia-Pacific siding"). However, due to cost-reducing changes in the production of their hardboard siding, the products manufactured during the 1980's and 1990's were of a low quality, loosely-pressed and susceptible to extreme swelling, buckling, etc. Masonite hardboard siding will usually have the name "Masonite" stamped on the siding itself, sometimes accompanied by the notation "X-90".

Melted Siding

One of the most common problems I find with vinyl siding is that there is usually a patch that has been melted by using a BBQ too close to the siding. Unfortunately you only have to forget to move your BBQ one time and the damage is done. This can be a very expensive mistake to fix and most people will just ignore it or place something in front of damaged area. This is one item that it is important to look for as it is so common.

Step Crack in Brick Mortar

Picture of brick corbelling feature which is typically found on corners of homes with brick veneer siding. This particular feature is prone to mortar cracks as the brick do not overlap each other in an alternating pattern which causes a lack of support causing mortar to crack. These minor cracks can be repointed or filled with a matching concrete style product. Usually if left alone no further cracking will occur and it is just a matter of preference on whether to repair or not.

Step Deficiencies

Residential steps are required to be no higher than 7 7/8 inches in height. The steps are also required to be equal in height to lower risk of trips and falls. When steps are over 23 5/8 inches above grade they are also required to have handrail installed. As you can see these steps fail every requirement for safety and could result in negligence lawsuit if someone was injured using them. Have a qualified carpenter build any steps you may require to ensure you meet your local building code requirements.

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Inspection Definitions


1. Chimney - vent flue gases from fireplaces or heating equipment.
2.  Chimney flue top or chimney cap (if present)
3.  Chimney crown or chimney top seal
4.  Chimney Flashing seals the roof penetration to avoid leaks into the structure.
5. Masonry fireplace
6. Fireplace ash pit door. 
7.  Fireplace ash pit cleanout door.
8.  Fireplace mantel - horizontal trim attached to wall above fireplace opening.
9. Hearth - flat surface in front of the fireplace, protects flooring from fire.
10. Ridge cap or ridge vent (if present)
11. Ridge board
12. Cripple rafters or Jack rafters (between chimney and house eaves - rafters that do not extend the full distance between house eaves and the roof ridge board)
13. Rafter blocking or cross bridging, also found on floor joists and in some wall framing
14. Soffit or lookout or house eaves. The soffit is the enclosed portion of the roof that overhangs the house walls at the roof lower edges.
15. Roof sheathing or roof decking.
16. Roof shingles (asphalt shingles, clay tiles, slates, wood shingles, or shakes, similar materials)
17. Drip edge (used at lower roof edges or eaves). The drip edge is special metal flashing intended to divert water off of the roof lower edges into the roof gutter system. Drip edges should spill into the gutter, not behind it. 
18. Gutter (attached over or to fascia board) to collect roof drainage and prevent it from spilling down and along the building walls (leaks) and basement (wet basements
19. Downspouts (conduct roof drainage from the gutters to a destination away from the building or into a storm drain system).
20.  Downspout leader or downspout extension (hard to see, behind that front right entry porch column)
21. Gable end and gable-end attic vent. The gable end the house wall on a conventional simple gable roof such as shown in our sketch is the triangular end wall
22. Gable end fascia. The gable end fascia is the trim board attached to the roof edges, extending from ridge to lower roof edge, and where a rake overhang is present, covering the outermost rake rafter or barge rafter.
23. Gable end vent or attic vent at gable end
24. Wall corner studs or post; 
25. Wall Stud basic framing unit of wood frame construction building walls
26. Sill plate (rests atop foundation wall, nailed to rim joist and joists)
27. Wall top plate
28. Diagonal wall bracing (not present on all buildings, modern wood frame construction uses plywood or OSB sheathing to provide wall stiffness and protect against "racking" or diagonal movement in the wood framed structure)
29. Wall sheathing - showing diagonal tongue and groove boards, typically 3/4" thick; modern wall sheathing in wood frame construction uses 1/2" thick plywood or OSB sheathing products.
30. Floor joist resting on sill plate atop foundation wall. 
31. Interior partition wall over fireplace mantel; may be plaster over solid masonry or other construction;
32. Floor joist resting on basement beam or center girder.
33. Flooring underlayment (in 1955 this was red rosin paper or 15# roofing felt). Modern floor underlayment uses at least one thickness of tongue-and groove 3/4" plywood. Where carpeting is to be installed builders may use solid-core plywood to avoid accidental punctures of the flooring through the carpeting (stiletto heeled shoes).
34. Subflooring (shown, diagonal tongue and groove boards) - see #33 above. Additional layers of subflooring over the base underlayment may be installed where tile is to be installed;
35. Housewrap or moisture barrier (in 1955 this was red rosin paper or 15# roofing felt).
36. Exterior siding
37. Interior partition wall or center wall partition (may be load bearing, supporting 2nd floor joists)
38. Interior wall covering: Plaster wall scratch coat or masonry for chimney (if present)
39. Grade level (top of soil around building).
40. Foundation wall, along with wall footings (42) supports the structure and holds back earth where a basement or crawl space is included.
41. Sill sealer (between sill plate and foundation wall top)
42. Footing, supports the foundation wall.
43. Footing drain or foundation drain (perforated pipe + gravel, should extend to daylight to drain by gravity)
44. Poured concrete basement floor slab (floating slab atop compacted fill inside foundation wall)
45. Compacted fill (or gravel atop fill or poly on gravel on fill) below basement floor slab
46. Main girder resting on supporting posts or pockets in foundation walls (not shown but you can see a post to the right of (30). The main girder carries part of the floor joist load, typically through the center of the home. 
47.  Backfill around foundation wall.
48. Rim joist or pier cap (rests on pier top where a continuous foundation wall is not present)
49. Pier, alternative to a continuous foundation wall, piers may support posts that in turn support perimeter girders or beams carrying the building wall loads.
50. Window sash.
51.  Window jamb or window frame
52.  Window sash frame
53.  Window header
54.  Window interior trim
55.  Entry porch gable
56.  Fireplace ash pit
57. Stair tread.
58.  Stair riser
59. Stair stringer (structural support for stair treads and risers)
60. Newell post at stair bottom (handrail ends at this post)
61. Stair rail or handrail;
 on landings or balconies: guardrail.
62. Stair baluster. Balusters are the vertical supports enclosing the space between the underside of the stair railing and the stair tread upper surface. Typically spaced 4" o.c. to avoid child hazards.