many things in your house have you found that surprised you?
be general stuff or specific stuff. Might be something you’ve
known about since the moment you decided to move in, and it might
be something you’ve learned along the way.
drafty window in the basement? A section of the yard specifically
designed to assist with water drainage?
Terry and I bought our first house, we were treated to a number
of fun discoveries. The first took place when I heard something
best described as a loud pop or bang. Turned out to be an issue
involving a light in one of the upstairs bedrooms. But the real
excitement came when we figured out there was absolutely no way
to get into the attic.
wish I was kidding.
were no doors, panels, scuttles or whatever you might care to
envision. No access to the attic.
repairing the light and wiring, we had to have a carpenter come
in to cut through an amazingly wonderful and thick plaster ceiling
to build a point of entry.
you might imagine, this quickly turned into a conversation about
the quality of work done by the home inspector we had hired during
the purchase efforts. How does one miss not being able to look
in the attic?
dangerous waters here. I need to be quite clear that I am not
questioning the efforts of home inspectors, the necessity of the
work they do, or the results they provide. I’m not even questioning
this quality of this specific inspection. Instead, consider: How
much can you trust a home inspector to do?
many electrical outlets do you have in your home? Count all of
them. Every outlet in every room. All of the outlets in the garage,
basement, and outside. Do they all work? Are they all grounded?
Are they GFCI in all the right places? Which ones are connected
to each other, and, from that which ones run as part of which
about how long it might take you to grab a small lamp, walk to
every outlet, and make sure not only that the outlet works but
that each receptacle works on every outlet in your home.
you have a good guess? Ok… now add to it how long it might take
to remove the cover plate and check for loose wires and proper
ground wires on those outlets.
you have a new estimate for the length of time? Great… now tell
me which circuit breaker each outlet responds to.
you noticing any issue with the amount of time a person inspecting
your home might be investing? We haven’t even begun to question
signs of termites, roof quality, and all of the other items you
expect completed on your checklist.
short, home inspectors, by and large, do good work. There is a
lot of ground to cover and it would be impossible to cover it
problem… and the purpose of these particular wandering thoughts…
is that many things will never occur to you until you experience
and I bought our first home about twenty years ago. It was already
more than fifty years old when we put in our offer. And as you
would expect, there was a collection of building codes involved
that had changed and been added and so on since the original construction
was completed, covering the before and during and after of renovations
made, and the condition of the house itself when we moved in.
an example of what I mean?
by that, I mean when you got behind some of the walls, you would
find boards acting as studs and support that actually measured
2-inches by 4-inches.
to the attic.
talking with friends and contractors over the years, and considering
other work we’ve come across around the house, we have arrived
at the conclusion that at some point the upstairs of our house
house itself is a cape, though slightly adjusted. We decided that,
while the original plans likely included some alterations from
a traditional cape style, at some point the roof was adjusted.
Those changes were likely completed from the inside out, meaning
things like the wood and shingles being placed on the rafters
were the last steps, and people were able to work on the finishing
details without needing access from inside. Somehow, the idea
of adding an entry point likely was swallowed up by getting the
roof done and adding it later, time moved on, and with no issues
occurring that required anyone to get in there… eventually we
arrive at Terry and I buying a house with no access to the attic.
important thing in this concept for where I am basing this essay
is that we decided the issue came up as a result of changes to
the house. Why? Well… two reasons…
the planning involved. How many times I have you begun a project
and realized you made a mistake? Maybe you cut something the wrong
length, or realized you did something out of order. The idea that
the entry didn’t exist suggests the ceilings were finished in
some way. Could have been an original design flaw, but hard to
envision that the house was built without some way of getting
into the attic. Could also have been that ceilings were raised,
new rafters installed, and ceilings were being finished as roofing
materials were being put in place. No one needed to directly cross
from the inside work area to the outside, so no one noticed the
lack of a door to do so.
why we found it. Do you check your well every time you use a faucet?
Do you check the washer fluid every time you drive your car? Do
you check the oil every time you run your lawn mower? My guess
is no, no, and no. Which in turn brings us to the idea that the
reason you often find head-scratchers in your house is because
you need to work around them.
are good that your home will always surprise you. I only hope
that when you find them, such moments provide as many laughs and
memories as we’ve had (and few of the headaches).