The following are narrative examples from the InterNACHI Narrative Library:
Disclaimers: Limited roof inspection: safety
The Inspector was unable to safely walk the roof and inspected the roof-covering materials and components using other methods. Not all portions of the roof were visible. Decisions about safety are made solely at the inspector's discretion. If you wish to have a more detailed roof inspection, you should make arrangements to have the roof inspected by a qualified roofing contractor.
End of useful life
The asphalt shingle roof was severely deteriorated and appeared to be at or near the end of its long-term service life. You should consult with a qualified contractor to discuss options and costs for replacement.
Cap shingles: loose/missing
Cap shingles were missing from the roof. Missing cap shingles should be replaced by a qualified roofing contractor to avoid damage from roof leakage. If existing fasteners are discovered to be of inadequate length, loss of cap shingles during wind events may continue.
Discoloration of the asphalt shingle roof appeared to be the result of algae growth, a cosmetic issue. Improper efforts to remove algae can damage shingles.
Localized small blisters
Localized portions of the asphalt shingle roof had small blisters visible. Blisters are a cosmetic issue and do not cause premature failure of the shingles or affect their performance.
The asphalt shingles had widespread, minor craze-cracking. Craze-cracking is random hairline cracking that is limited to the surface layer of asphalt. It is not considered a defective condition by shingle manufacturers or insurance companies. It is low-quality shingles performing as designed.
Cont. flashing, sidewall- no leaks
Sidewalls on the asphalt shingle roof had continuous sidewall flashing installed. Asphalt shingle manufacturers recommend step-flashing be installed at sidewalls. This installation increases the potential for roof leakage.
Continuous flashing, sidewall- AHJ req.
Sidewalls on the asphalt shingle roof had continuous sidewall flashing installed. Asphalt shingle manufacturers recommend step-flashing be installed at sidewalls. Because the property was located in an area designated "high-wind", the building jurisdiction requires continuous sidewall flashing to be installed due to its superior resistance to wind damage. No evidence of leakage beneath these areas was observed.
Sidewall flashing: Corrosion severe
Sidewall flashing was severely corroded and should be replaced soon by a qualified roofing contractor to avoid damage from roof leakage.
Cont. sidewall flashing: leaks
Although asphalt shingle manufacturers typically recommend step-flashing be installed at sidewalls, sidewalls on this roof had continuous sidewall flashing installed. This installation increases the potential for roof leakage. Indications that this condition has been a source of past roof leakage were observed. Continuous sidewall flashing should be replaced with step flashing by a qualified roofing contractor.
Batch problems: replace some
Asphalt shingles covering the roof exhibited deterioration typical of batch problems. This condition is caused by a difference in the speed of natural shingle aging due to the use of shingles from different production runs. Some shingles appeared to be near or at the ends of their useful lives. You should consult with a qualified contractor to discuss the necessity, options, and costs for replacement.
Asphalt shingles were poorly bonded to each other. Bonding of shingle sealant strips is the most important factor in the resistance of shingle roofs to wind damage. You should consult with a qualified roofing contractor to determine the best course of action.
Bonding: none bonded, old roof
Asphalt shingle sealant strips had failed to bond shingles to each other. Bonding of shingle sealant strips is the most important factor in the resistance of the shingle roof to wind damage. Shingles have had adequate time to bond. To improve the wind resistance of the roof, you should consult with a qualified roofing contractor to determine the best course of action.
Bonding: none bonded, newer roof
Asphalt shingle sealant strips had failed to bond shingles to each other. Bonding of shingle adhesive strips is the most important factor in the resistance of asphalt shingles to wind damage. Shingles must be exposed to a minimum outside temperature for bonding to take place. Because the home is relatively new, the shingles may not yet have experienced weather warm enough to promote bonding.
Bonding: poorly bonded, all
Asphalt shingles were poorly bonded to each other. Bonding of shingle sealant strips is the most important factor in the resistance of the shingle roof to wind damage. You should consult with a qualified roofing contractor to discuss whether action is needed.
Inadequate headlap (concrete tile)
Roof tile appeared to be installed with inadequate headlap (inadequate overlap of tiles in adjacent courses). This condition increases the potential for damage from roof leakage. You should consult with a qualified roofing contractor to determine the necessity, options, and costs for correction.
Roof slates were damaged and some were missing. This condition increases the potential for roof leakage. You should consult with a qualified slate roof contractor to discuss options and costs for replacement of damaged slates. Not all roofing contractors will be qualified.
Cap tiles: failed mortar-bond (clay tiles)
Cap tiles were loose, displaced, and missing. This condition appeared to be due to failed mortar bond and indicated weakened mortar bonds across the roof. Falling tiles can cause serious or fatal injury. An evaluation and any necessary work should be performed by a qualified roofing contractor.
Metal panel roof: severe damage
The metal panel roof exhibited areas of severe damage that should be repaired by a qualified roofing contractor to avoid roof leakage.
Metal shingle roof: moderate damage
The formed metal shingle roof exhibited moderate damage that appeared to be from foot traffic. Metal shingles are fragile. This damage may allow roof leakage. Affected shingles should be replaced as necessary by a qualified roofing contractor.
Metal roof galvanic corrosion: fasteners
In some areas, the metal roof was corroded at fasteners. At these areas, fasteners appeared to be of a type of metal different from that of the roof. In the presence of moisture, this condition will create galvanic corrosion. If not corrected, such corrosion will eventually result in roof leakage. Proper fasteners should be installed as necessary by a qualified roofing contractor.
Large trees have limbs that overhang the home and yard. Limbs may fall due to wood decay, high winds or heavy snow loads. Significant weakening of large branches by conditions like core decay may not be visible without special training. You should have these trees evaluated by an arborist.
Retaining walls: moderate failure
A retaining wall showed signs of moderate failure such as leaning out at the top. To help extend the service life of the retaining wall you should consult with a foundation repair or landscape contractor to discuss options and costs for repair or stabilization.
Brick damage above windows/doors
The brick exterior walls had cracking visible above window and door openings indicating a degree of structural failure. This condition should be repaired by a qualified masonry contractor before it becomes more serious.
Trim overlaps siding (cementitious siding)
Trim at corners, windows and doors was installed on top of siding. This is an incorrect installation method and may allow moisture and/or insect entry of the siding. Contact a qualified contractor to discuss options and costs for improvement.
Inadequate clearance: roof, 1"- no damage visible (composite siding)
The composite, horizontal, lapped siding did not have the 1-inch clearance from roof-covering materials recommended by the siding manufacturer. This condition may result in some degree of accelerated deterioration of the siding at these areas. No such damage was visible.
Asbestos Siding (short version)
Exterior walls were covered with older fiber-cement siding of a type that commonly contained some asbestos. Asbestos is a potential health concern under certain conditions. Identification of asbestos must be made by a laboratory.
Asbestos Siding (long version)
Exterior walls were covered with older fiber-cement siding of a type that commonly contained some percentage of asbestos. Asbestos shingle siding is considered to be a health hazard only when it is in a condition in which the fibers may be inhaled, like when it is sanded or cut. Requirements for removal, handling and disposal typically vary by area but can be expensive. When you sell the home, if siding has been tested and the presence of asbestos material confirmed, you may have to disclose that information. Confirmation of the presence of asbestos would require analysis by a certified laboratory.
Spaces exceed 4 ⅜ inches (exterior staircase)
Spaces between handrail assembly balusters allowed passage of a 4 3/8 inches at the open side of this exterior staircase. Widely-accepted modern safety standards limit spaces between balusters to less than 4 3/8 inches inches for safety reasons. This condition may be hazardous to small children.
Sagging ridge/ bowed out walls
The ridge sagged and exterior bearing walls were visibly bowed outward. This condition is typical of inadequate roof structure construction and has the potential for continuing failure of the roof framing. An evaluation should be performed by a qualified contractor to provide advice on the necessity, options, and costs for work as necessary.
Soft sheathing: localized
When walked on, sheathing at localized areas of the roof deflected to a greater degree than on the rest of the roof. This condition can have a different causes, including decayed, damaged or defective sheathing panels, or inadequate roof framing. Determining the cause lies beyond the scope of the General Home Inspection and requires the services of a qualified contractor.
Roof trusses structurally altered
Garage roof trusses had been structurally altered. You should ask the seller for documentation showing that any alterations to the roof trusses were designed, inspected and approved by a structural engineer. If the seller cannot produce such documentation, you should have the roof trusses evaluated by a structural engineer.
Roof sheathing: excessive flex (decay), localized
Excessive deflection of roof sheathing was noted in certain areas compared to the majority of the roof. Examination from the attic showed staining indicating that the roof has experienced leakage in these areas and sheathing has been weakened by decay. For safety reasons, an evaluation should be performed by a qualified roofing contractor.
Roof framing: connector fasteners wrong type
In the roof framing, fasteners used with metal connectors were the wrong type. To perform as designed, metal connectors should have all holes filled with the fasteners specified by the hardware manufacturer. An evaluation and any necessary corrections should be performed by a qualified contractor.
Temporary posts used as permanent
Adjustable steel posts used as permanent structural support in the basement appeared to be a type designed for temporary support. The existing posts should be replaced by a qualified contractor with steel posts designed for permanent installation.
Crawlspace: cone-of-compression violated, no failure seen- SE
In the crawlspace, digging too close to the foundation footings has compromised the cone-of-compression, which is the area of soil beneath a foundation that supports the weight of the structure above. This soil must remain undisturbed to avoid compromising its structural integrity. Although no failure related to this condition was observed, this condition is potentially serious and should be evaluated by a structural engineer.
Crawlspace efflorescence visible
Efflorescence (white powdery deposits) visible on the surface of the concrete foundation walls is an indication of moisture intrusion. Moisture intrusion can affect the ability of the soil beneath the foundation to carry the weight of the structure above and may cause structural damage from soil movement. Action should be taken to identify and correct the source of the moisture.
Advanced decay under sliding glass door
Wood framing in the crawlspace beneath the sliding glass door exhibited advanced decay. The source of moisture should be identified and corrected. You should consult with a qualified contractor to discuss options and costs for any necessary framing repair.
Grade level moisture intrusion
In the basement, deterioration, stains and/or efflorescence on the interior of the foundation wall at the level of the exterior grade indicated that exterior surface runoff is seeping through the foundation wall at grade level. Action should be taken to divert water away from the foundation exterior.
Misaligned latch bolt
At an interior door in the _____, the doorknob latch bolt did not align with the hole in the strike plate and did not hold the door closed.
Cut door bottoms
Interior room entry doors had inadequate gaps between the door bottoms and floor. This condition will not allow adequate air flow between the HVAC supply air registers located in these rooms and the return air registers located in hallways. This restriction can pressurize the rooms, making them colder during the winter and hotter during the summer. The door bottoms should be cut to provide gaps of at least 3/4-inch. All work should be performed by a qualified contractor.
A door to the exterior in the __ had a deadbolt that required a key for operation from the inside. Such deadbolts are unsafe as they may slow or prevent exit during an emergency. Deadbolts that require a key for exit from the home interior should be replaced with deadbolts that operate from the inside with a lever.
Risers too tall- older home
Risers at this staircase exceeded 7 3/4 inches (19.6cm) considered the maximum modern safe height. Although this condition is now considered a potential trip/fall hazard, it is not uncommon in older homes such as this one, built during a time period during which safety standards were different from those of today.
Excessively wide baluster spaces
A horizontal guardrail protecting this stairwell had spaces between handrail components that allowed the passage of a 4-inch sphere. This condition is potentially hazardous to small children. The guardrail assembly should be altered in a manner that will prevent the passage of a 4-inch sphere.
Wine cellar: Humidity levels: humidity too low
Room relative humidity of about 70% is considered ideal to reduce that chances of cork shrinkage. 50% to 80-% is considered acceptable. Relative humidity in the wine cellar was below acceptable limits. This condition can shrink corks, a condition that has the potential to deteriorate wine. An evaluation and any necessary work should be performed by a qualified specialist.
Electrical Service Panel
Federal Pacific Stab-lok-
The electrical service panel was the Federal Pacific Stab-lok model. These service panels are reputed to have a high rate of circuit breaker failure that can result in a fire or shock/electrocution. You should consult with a qualified electrical contractor concerning the necessity for replacing this service panel. Information about defective Federal Pacific Stab-lok panels is widely available on the internet.
Circuit directory obsolete
The electrical service panel circuit directory appeared to be old and may be outdated. To help ensure that individual circuits can be quickly identified and shut off during an emergency, directory accuracy should be confirmed by a qualified electrical contractor.
At the electrical service panel, screws holding the dead front cover in place were pointed, course-thread types that can damage conductors, potentially causing electrical arcing (with risk of eye injury and burns), or can energize the metal panel (with risk of electrical shock or electrocution). Proper screws should be installed by a qualified electrical contractor.
line side tap, sub-panel feeders, main lugs
In the electrical service panel, feeder conductors for a sub-panel were tapped into the supply bus bar lugs on the line side of the main disconnect. The supply bus bar lugs were not designed for the installation of multiple conductors. This condition is improper and should be corrected by a qualified electrical contractor.
Unfilled holes or knockouts in the electrical service panel may allow persons to come into contact with energized electrical components, may allow insect or rodent entry, or may allow moisture intrusion that can cause corrosion of interior components that can degrade electrical connections. This condition is a potential fire/shock/electrocution hazard and should be corrected by a qualified electrical contractor.
No main bonding jumper
No main bonding jumper was installed in the electrical service panel. For safety reasons, this defective condition should be corrected by a qualified electrical contractor.
No bonding bushing
No bonding bushing was installed at the electrical service panel. Bonding bushings are required where electric raceway/panel connections are made through concentric knockouts. Bonding bushings should be installed where required by a qualified electrical contractor.
Breaker taped to OFF
A breaker in the electrical service panel was taped to the "off" position. For safety reasons, an evaluation and any necessary work should be performed by a qualified electrical contractor.
Branch wiring inside the service panel included solid aluminum conductors. Neglected aluminum wiring connections are a potential fire hazard. You should have the entire electrical system evaluated- and any necessary maintenance or corrections performed- by a qualified electrical contractor.
Electrical receptacles in the home had bootleg grounds. “Bootleg” ground is the term used to describe a condition in which, in a home with no equipment grounding system and that has had a 3-prong receptacle installed, the grounding lug of the receptacle has been wired to the receptacle neutral lug. This condition is a potential electrical shock/electrocution hazard. An evaluation of the home electrical system and any necessary work should be performed by a qualified electrical contractor.
2-wire branch wiring system
The 2-wire branch circuits did not include equipment grounding conductors. This is considered outdated and lacks some safety features provided by modern, 3-wire electrical systems with equipment grounding conductors. You should consult with a qualified electrical contractor to discuss the necessity, options, and costs for updating the electrical branch wiring.
GFCI: none installed (short)
No ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection of electrical receptacles was provided. Although GFCI protection may not have been required when this home was built, modern electrical safety standards require GFCI protection of receptacles at certain locations in the home. You should consult with a qualified electrical contractor to discuss options and costs for installation of GFCI protection.
GFCI: none installed (long)
No Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection was provided to circuits controlled by this sub-panel. For safety reasons, the inspector recommends having GFCI protection installed to protect electrical circuits serving the following locations:
- The home exterior;
- Crawlspaces (at or below grade);
- Unfinished basements;
- Kitchens; and
GFCI protection can be provided by:
- Replacing the current standard receptacle with a GFCI receptacle.
- Replacing the electrical circuit receptacle located closest to the overcurrent protection device with a GFCI receptacle.
- Replacing the breaker currently protecting the electrical circuit that contains these receptacles with a GFCI breaker.
Light fixture no response
A light fixture in the _____ did not respond to the switch. The bulb may need to be replaced or there may be a problem with the switch, wiring or light fixture. If after the bulb is replaced this light still fails to respond to the switch, this condition may be a potential fire hazard and an evaluation and any necessary repairs should be performed by a qualified electrical contractor.
Light fixture overheating
A recessed light fixture in the _____ exhibited signs of overheating such as intermittent shut off. Overheating light fixtures are a potential fire hazard. An evaluation and any necessary repairs should be performed by a qualified electrical contractor.
Home water distribution pipes were Polybutylene.
Polybutylene piping similar in appearance to piping in this home has been the subject of a national class action lawsuit involving certain polybutylene plumbing systems and polybutylene yard service lines installed between January 1, 1978 through July 31, 1995. The system may become weak and fail without warning with the potential to cause significant water damage to the building structure and personal property. Consult with a qualified plumbing contractor to determine the need for replacement of Polybutylene water distribution pipes.
Hot water distribution pipes included PVC. PVC is not an approved material for this purpose. All PVC pipes should be replaced with pipes of an approved material by a qualified contractor.
Dissimilar metal hangers, copper pipe
Copper water distribution pipes were hung from hardware made from a metal other than copper. This condition has resulted in galvanic corrosion of the copper pipes that- if not corrected- will cause premature failure of the pipes that will require their replacement. Correction should be made by a qualified plumbing contractor.
No main cleanout
The inspector was unable to locate a cleanout for the main sewer pipe. To faciitate clearing blockages, a full-size cleanout be located within 5 feet of the foundation in line with the building drain and sewer. This condition may complicate the clearing of any blockages that might develop.
Ejector pump lid missing gasket
The sewer ejector pump lid was missing a gasket. This will allow sewer gases to enter the living space and should be corrected by a qualified contractor.
TPR termination not visible
The termination point of the discharge pipe for the water heater temperature/pressure relief (TPR) valve was not readily observable. The termination should be visible to help ensure that the termination is never capped.
TPR connected to waste pipe
The discharge pipe of the water heater temperature/pressure relief (TPR) valve was connected directly to a waste pipe. Because the discharge pipe has no trap, this condition may allow toxic sewer gas to enter the living space. This condition should be corrected by a qualified contractor.
WH flue connected below furnace flue
Where the exhaust vent of this water heater and a furnace both connected to a common exhaust flue, the water heater vent connected below the furnace vent. Generally-accepted modern safety standards mandate that when water heaters and furnaces connect to a common flue, the water heater flue should connect above the furnace flue. This condition is improper and should be corrected by a qualified HVAC or plumbing contractor.
This gas-fired water heater was backdrafting. "Backdrafting" is a condition in which the invisible, odorless, tasteless, toxic products of combustion from the water heater combustion exhaust vent leak into the living space. Excessive exposure to these products of combustion can result in injury or death. An evaluation and any necessary corrections should be performed by a qualified plumbing contractor.
The draft diverter of the gas-fired boiler had been displaced, was improperly aligned and may allow the toxic products of combustion to leak into the living space. Excessive human exposure to the toxic products of combustion can result in injury or death. This condition should be corrected by a qualified HVAC contractor.
No sediment trap/drip leg
No sediment trap or drip leg was installed at this boiler. Sediment traps and drip legs are installed to keep particulates and moisture out of the gas valve. Particulates or moisture in the gas valve can interfere with boiler burner operation. The Inspector recommends installation of a sediment trap/drip leg by a qualified contractor.
Protect radiant tubing
Plastic heat distribution pipes for the radiant in-floor heating system were exposed to damage from abrasion or impact. These pipes should be protected from damage.
Vent: clearance from combustibles
The B-vent serving as the furnace vent connector had inadequate clearance from combustible materials. B-vent requires a minimum 1-inch clearance from combustible materials. This condition is a potential fire hazard and should be corrected by a qualified contractor.
Purlin bears on ceiling joists- sagging
Bracing of the purlin system designed to support rafters was installed in a manner that transferred the roof load to ceiling joists. This condition has caused ceiling joists to sag. Sagging will probably worsen over time unless steps are taken to correct this condition. An evaluation and any necessary work should be performed by a qualified contractor.
Rafters: top cuts bad- OK
Plumb cuts where rafters connected to the ridge were badly cut. This condition reduces the strength of these connections. This is an example of poor quality work but did not appear to affect the structural integrity of the roof framing.
Rafters: top cuts bad
Plumb cuts where rafters connected to the ridge were badly cut and fit poorly. This condition significantly reduces the strength of these connections. You should consult with a qualified framing contractor to discuss the need- and cost- for correction.
Ridge sags- over-spanned rafter ties
The ridge sagged visibly. You should consult with a qualified contractor to discuss methods and costs for correction/stabilization of the roof structure.
No ridge- OK
The home was built with no ridge installed as part of the roof structure. This was not an uncommon building practice during the time period in which this house was built and is not a defect.
Connector fasteners undersize- SE
In the roof framing, fasteners used with metal connectors were undersized. Structural engineers perform calculations based on known connector/fastener strengths in designing safe structures. To perform as designed, metal connectors should have all holes filled with the fasteners specified by the hardware manufacturer. An evaluation should be performed by a structural engineer to determine whether safe conditions exist.
Site-built trusses- SE
Roof trusses appeared to have been built on-site instead of being assembled in a manufacturing facility. This indicates that trusses were not designed, inspected or approved by a structural engineer. Trusses that lack proper engineering may be structurally inadequate and have the potential for catastrophic structural failure. The roof trusses should be evaluated by a structural engineer.
3/8" plywood roof sheathing
The roof was sheathed with 3/8-inch plywood. Although this is not considered acceptable by modern standards, it was considered acceptable at the time the home was originally constructed. Houses are not required to be upgraded to comply with newly-enacted building codes or standards. 3/8-inch plywood used as roof sheathing does not constitute a defective condition.
Exposed electrical splices
Energized electrical splices not contained within a junction box and exposed to touch were visible in the attic. Electrical splices should be contained within an approved junction box with a cover plate installed. This condition is a shock/electrocution and potential fire hazard and should be corrected by a qualified electrical contractor.
No curb at living space
No curb was installed between the garage floor and the floor of the adjacent living space. This may allow moisture from snowmelt or other sources to migrate beneath the wall and damage floor-covering materials or floor structure in the living space. The base of the garage wall should be sealed at the floor to prevent future moisture damage to interior floor materials.
Insecurely mounted door tracks
Overhead garage door tracks were insecurely mounted, moved excessively when the door was operated, and should be secured by a qualified contractor.
Button installed too low
The garage door push-button switch was installed lower than the recommended 5-foot minimum height above the standing surface. This condition is potentially dangerous to children. The switch should be raised for safety reasons.
No re-connect at testing
The overhead vehicle door would not reconnect after testing of the manual disconnect. Correction should be made by a qualified contractor or technician.
The home was of a type commonly called "Handcrafted". The exterior walls of Handcrafted homes are constructed using naturally-shaped logs which are scribed (marked) and cut in a manner which allows each log to fit tightly over the log in the course below. The skill and accuracy with which logs are scribed and cut, along with a gasket material typically installed in the groove between log courses, work together to resist heat, air, moisture and insect movement through the wall structure.
Exterior wall corner notches did not appear to be designed to be self-draining. This may result in premature failure of the wall structure at these areas due to wood decay caused by elevated moisture levels. The Inspector recommends an appropriate sealant be applied at any such corners.
Partial detachment, mortar-based chinking
Log wall exteriors had cement-based chinking which was detached in some areas. The overall amount of detachment appeared to be less than the 30% at which it is recommended that all chinking be removed and replaced. The Inspector recommends that any detached exterior wall chinking be removed and replaced with an appropriate chinking material. Consult with a qualified contractor to determine options and costs for this work.
No bond breaker installed
Chinking at the home appeared to be improperly installed. Proper chinking method includes the installation of a bond breaker between log courses. The purpose of the bond breaker is to limit chinking adhesion to two points, the upper and lower logs in the course. Failure to install a bond breaking device may limit the ability of the chinking to expand and contract with the logs to which it is adhered. No bond breaker was installed in the representative areas viewable by the inspector. This condition can result in premature failure of the chinking system and the need for replacement of the chinking- a potentially expensive project. There is no correction for this condition, but you should be aware that it exists.
Log gables- OK-newer home
Gabled ends were constructed using logs. The home was newer and may experience log shrinkage and the resultant wall settling in the future. This settling will include walls that form the gabled ends. Roof structure problems can develop when the ridge rafter is attached to stable rafters along its length but attached to settling gabled walls at its ends. Although the gabled ends appeared to be in serviceable condition at the time of the inspection, the point at which the roof ridge rafter attaches to the gabled end walls should be monitored annually until the log walls have finished settling. This is usually two to five years from the time of original construction, depending on the wood species and homesite environment.
Clearance from grade
Bottom (sill) wall logs were less than the recommended 20 inches above grade. Logs near the ground are more vulnerable to insect attack and moisture/decay problems from splashback and/or snowdrift. You should be diligent in maintaining the exterior finish coating and keep vegetation cut back form the exterior walls.