1234 Some Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98117
Homevibe Insights Report
This report is based on a pre-offer consultation with John Smith (WA #0000) on 7/16/2015. The seller has since provided comments that may reflect work done on the house since the inspection or provide context to some of the results.
The house is structurally sound, but there are a fair number of maintenance issues needing attention around the house, as well as systems due for replacement/upgrade. The following are the top five updates and fixes recommended for the new owner:
- Make various electrical corrections (GFCI, double taps, open junction boxes etc).
- Repair back porch rot, attach steps to the porch and install railings.
- Complete insulation installation in the attic, and replace damaged insulation in the attic.
- Clean roof and schedule regular maintenance to prevent debris buildup from the overhanging tree.
- Locate old oil tank and/or check to make sure it was properly decommissioned.
The Belfry app organizes the inspector's findings into prioritized projects, with cost estimates and routine maintenance reminders. Check out an example profile
- Note: Seattle has designated 17th NW as a "greenway street" to encourage bike travel.
- Note: Seattle is planning "roadside rain gardens" for 17th NW reducing surface water runoff into the sewer system. As of June 2015, we were told the design was 60% finished.
The house is structurally sound. The subfloor is dimensional wood and plywood supported by a joist system. And beneath that is a poured concrete foundation that shows no cracks or settlement issues. It is in good condition.
The house has a gable and combination roof that is about 10-15 years old. The current roof covering over the original house is newer (in the 7-10 year range), but it is installed over two other layers, including the original cedar shake roof. The maximum number of layers allowable by current code is two, so all three layers will need to be removed at the next roof replacement. Also recommend installing new sheathing before the new roof is installed. The back section of the house has an additional roof structure that was added when the back of the house was bumped out. It has a single layer of shingles that are about 15 years old and in good condition.
There are two chimneys up on the roof. The south side chimney crown is well worn and needs rebuilding as well as a new rain cap. The second chimney is in the middle of the house and no longer in use; it was used in the past for the now defunct oil furnace. Although it is no longer in use, it has an open hole at the bottom of it (in the basement) for the old furnace flue and it’s also open at the top. There’s the possibility of water or bird intrusion into the basement through these openings. Additionally, the past presence of an oil furnace suggests there is an oil tank somewhere on the property. Check to make sure it has been properly decommissioned.
Neither of the chimneys has counterflashing installed. Counterflashing is a bent metal piece that helps divert water away from the chimney to prevent it from leaking into the house. That said, the roof does have drip edge flashing installed. Drip edge flashing is a strip of bent metal that is slipped between the roof shingles and the paper felting below it. Its purpose is to divert rainwater away from soaking up under the shingles and causing dry rot of the plywood underneath the felting paper. No counterflashing around chimney
Finally, there is a heavy buildup of tree needles on the roof from an overhanging tree that needs to be cleaned off now and maintained in the future. Accordingly, the gutters are clogged and should be cleaned as part of that process. Heavy debris on roof
- The decommissioned oil tank (part of it) is in the back yard and serving as a planter. The remainder was scrapped.
The ground around the house is fairly flat. Ideally, you want a grade of about 0.5 inches per foot to ensure that rain water easily flows away from the house and foundation. This does not seem to be a problem in this case as we did not find any current moisture damage within the basement. The downspouts open into plastic leaders that effectively divert rainwater from the roof away from the house.
The house has cedar siding that is lightly weathered but in good condition. There is an unpainted section on the south side and some minor paint peeling on some of the fascia. Otherwise, trim and fascia are also in good condition.
The windows are vinyl and wood and are in good shape from the outside. However, some of the upper bedroom windows are painted shut. There are also a fair number of single-paned windows remaining, which bodes ill for heat retention in the colder months.
The wood decking for the back porch has some rot that needs to be repaired. Additionally, there are two safety issues with the back porch: there is no railing installed, and there is a gap between the concrete steps and the deck. Both of these are fall hazards that should be addressed. Back porch stairs
The exterior outlet is ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected, but the reset is in the North bedroom. GFCI outlets are required for areas with potential exposure to water and moisture to reduce the risk of electric shocks and fires.
Vegetation in the backyard is overgrown.
- All the single pane windows with leaded glass are covered with exterior storm windows for protection as well as energy savings.
- Vegetation in the backyard has been trimmed.
The crawl space is under the addition (bump out) to the kitchen and is clean and well sealed against rodent intrusion. The ground is fully covered with a moisture barrier and the insulation is well installed and in good condition as well. Posts and piers supporting the structure are also in good shape.
The attic has blown-in and fiberglass batt insulation that is in poor condition. The install is unfinished. There were rolls of insulation in the attic that had yet to be installed at the time of inspection. Also there are trails in the insulation in the north section of the attic, indicating past rodent intrusion. There is no evidence of current rodent intrusion but the old rodent infected insulation needs to be cleaned out and replaced.
The attic is well ventilated, with gable and roof vents as well as attic fans ensuring good air circulation. Bathroom and kitchen vents are also properly venting through the roof to the outside, preventing moisture related problems from developing in the attic space. That said, there is some staining on the sheathing that indicates past moisture intrusion from the chimney (See note on the chimneys in the Roof section). Staining on sheathing from past moisture intrusion
The owners were in the process of moving out during the time of inspection, making it difficult to get an unimpeded view of the interior.
Flooring type throughout the house is a mix of hardwood, engineered vinyl and laminate. The visible sections were all mostly in good condition. The ceilings are sheetrock and plaster; all in good condition.
Neither one of the upper bedrooms currently have legal egress windows. The east upper bedroom window is too high and too hard to open (painted shut) for legal egress. The height of the window is due to the age of the house and nothing anyone will do anything about at this point, but the window should be serviced to allow proper open/close operation. Smoke detectors need to be updated in the bedrooms. In the upper bathroom there's an outlet near the floor that is not GFCI protected.
Estimated age of kitchen appliances is 5-10 years. Dishwasher is at 15 to 20 years. Also, the outlet next to the stove is not GFCI protected.
There is some efflorescence on the walls of the utility room near the furnace and hot water tank, indicating past moisture intrusion. It was dry at the time of inspection but we recommend observing that area for future moisture intrusion. Efflorescence on foundation wall from past moisture intrusion
- Flooring type throughout the house is a mix of hardwood, porcelain tile, engineered vinyl and laminate. The basement room has a finished laminate floor.
- Each floor now has a carbon monoxide detector.
- The island sink drains slowly due to the sink strainer design and will not need cleaning.
The house has a Square D, 125-Amp panel. The cover for the panel was missing at the time of inspection and could not be located. There are double-tapped grounds and conductors in the panel. It is okay to double-tap the grounds, but the conductors/neutrals need to be isolated. Double-tapped neutrals make it difficult/dangerous to troubleshoot future electrical issues and also pose a fire hazard.
Cannot verify the plumbing bond to the water main and the plumbing bond to the gas line is incomplete; it is not attached. The main purpose of this bond is to ensure that the metal pipes are at the same zero voltage to ground as the service grounded conductor. A secondary purpose is to ensure that there is a path back to the service for electrical current flow if the metal pipes somehow become energized.
There are currently no Arc-fault circuit-interrupter (AFCI) breakers in the panel. AFCI breakers are a safety feature that can prevent electrical shorts and ground faults cause arcs, which produce sudden, high temperatures that can catch wood, insulation and other combustible materials in the vicinity of the wires on fire. Arcs generally occur due to worn or damaged electrical cords and wiring. AFCIs prevent fires by sensing when an electrical arc is about to occur and instantly disconnecting the damaged circuit before the arc builds enough heat to catch fire.
There is a mix of older and newer wiring throughout the house. There is still a fair amount of knob and tube wiring in the living room and some spots in the bedrooms. It is also in use and visible in the basement. Used through the early 1950s, knob and tube wiring is identified by the white ceramic knobs that secure wiring and tubes that allow wiring to pass through wood framing. It is ungrounded and designed to be air-cooled, and thus poses a fire hazard if covered by insulation.
There are also several open junction boxes throughout the house that need to get sealed up: from the attic right down to the basement.
- The panel cover is now installed.
- The plumbing bond to the water main takes place in the plumbing chase accessed through a basement closet.
HVAC and Water Heater
The house has a Goodman furnace that is 5-10 years old. We have no evidence of a recent service so would recommend a service. The older electrostatic filter has been abandoned and a washable reusable filter is currently installed in the electrostatic filter housing.
The water heater is a 50-gallon Richmond. It is a 2004 model that was installed in 2006 so is nearing the end of lifespan. Also the current earthquake straps are insufficient and should be supplemented; there currently is only one chain around the upper third of the tank. Insufficient earthquake strapping
- The 90% Goodman furnace is fitted with a washable filter and has been serviced since last heating season.
The visible water main coming into the house is galvanized. Galvanized pipes were used in the early half of the 1900s and have an approximate 40-60 year lifespan. Mineral deposits and rust tends to build up in these pipes over time, constricting water flow through them and affecting water pressure in the house. This does not yet seem to be a problem with this line. The water lines in the rest of the house are all copper; they are in good condition and there’s good water pressure throughout the house.
Drain lines are cast iron, galvanized, and ABS. They are in good condition, but the cast iron and galvanized portions are in the second half of their normal lifespan. The original lead bend drain line for the toilet has been updated to modern ABS.
- The only existing galvanized pipe is the Ford fitting attached to a buried copper water main, and the galvanized pipe coming through the foundation attached to an all copper interior supply system.
The door is operational, but the motor is at end of lifespan and it needs adjustment. Currently the safety reverse is not working on it so it continues to come down when it comes in contact with resistance.
Outlets on the north end of the garage are not GFCI protected and we have open junction boxes present. Sheet rock work in the garage also needs to be finished and fire sealed.
- Rot occurring in back porch, no railing installed and access steps pulled away.
- Heavy tree debris on roof cover.
- No counter flashing installed for roof flashing at chimneys.
- Uninstalled insulation in attic.
- Staining on sheathing in attic indicates past moisture intrusion from chimney.
- Some active knob & tube wiring present, noted in basement.
- Efflorescence noted on foundation wall in basement indicates past moisture intrusion.
- Open junction boxes and general unfinished wiring/work throughout basement at time of inspection.
- Insufficient earthquake straps installed for hot water heater.
Sewer Scope Results
Jason Perez from PipePixs performed a sewer inspection of this property for Homevibe on 7/17/2015.
The house has a 115ft main sewer line that is in good condition. Note that the line is shared with the property to the north (8030 17th Ave NW) from 80ft onward.
The line was inspected in two segments. The first 75ft is all newer ABS that is in great condition. The second segment is mostly concrete with a number of mostly minor pipe offsets and the initial stages of root infiltration at several points. There is also a significant pipe separation at the city connection that the City of Seattle has promised to fix. Overall, there is only minimal water pooling and debris accumulation throughout the line. Recommend periodic monitoring to control root infiltration and forestall blockage issues.
Distance to City Connection
115ft to city street (17th Ave NW) from first cleanout.
Cleanout near the crawl space on the south side of the house. Cleanout on the northwest corner of the property.
Type of Pipes
ABS - Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (83ft) to Concrete (31ft) to Clay (1ft)
- At 80ft (5ft from the northwest corner cleanout) is the current ABS connection point with the neighbor to the north.
- At 84ft (9ft from the northwest corner cleanout) is an abandoned concrete pipe connection with the neighbor to the north.
The line is in good condition, based on the following rating scale:
- Excellent - No defects present
- Good - Only low risk defects present
- Fair - Pipe contains medium severity defects
- Poor - Pipe contains high severity defects
- Failure - Pipe is no longer functioning and is not structurally intact
The line was inspected in two segments: the first 75ft was inspected from the cleanout near the crawlspace, and the next 40ft from the cleanout on the northwest corner of the property.
First Segment (1-75ft)
The first segment was all newer ABS piping in good condition. We did not find a permit on file with the city for this work, however.
There are scratch marks throughout the length of the pipe, indicating roto-rooter work to clear past blockages. That segment was generally clear of standing water and debris. However, there was one slight offset around 3ft with a little bit of water pooling in front of it. Offsets occur when connected pipe sections do not line up perfectly, creating a step-like obstacle to water flow. Offsets can worsen over time and lead to blockage if leaking water continually erodes the soil supporting the pipes.
Second Segment (75-115ft)
The second segment starts off as ABS, but quickly transitions to concrete pipes for the rest of the line, with a tiny bit of clay pipe near the city connection. The second segment is not in as good shape as the first.
There are a number of slight offsets with small amounts of water pooling and debris accumulation (10ft, 25ft, 27ft and 37ft from the northwest corner cleanout).
There are also roots present at many spots (11ft, 15ft, 17ft and 20ft from the northwest corner cleanout). In all but one location (17ft) the infiltration is negligible and doesn’t create any noticeable blockages. However, infiltration at vulnerable spots typically begins with tiny hair roots that can eventually lead to cracks and separations as they grow larger. Recommend periodic inspections to control the buildup of roots in the line and prevent blockages.
There is a significant separation in pipe at the connection to the city. The owner indicated that he has a letter on file from the city acknowledging the presence of the crack and the fact that they are taking responsibility to get it fixed at some future date.
The line is shared with the adjacent property to the north (8030 17th Ave NW) from 80ft (5ft from the northwest corner cleanout) onward.
All sewer lines should have cleanings performed to them on an annual schedule. This service is provided by a sewer cleaning agency and is performed to help minimize potential future blockages and/or damage within the main sewer line.
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