Eyebrow-raising finds are a constant for Shuswap home inspector Brad Campbell – in old homes and new.
Born and raised in Salmon Arm, the certified master home inspector and owner of Where the Heart Is Home Inspection has been rooting through crawlspaces and scrutinizing attics since 2010. Over that time, he’s come across a variety of things that have puzzled or perturbed himself and homeowners.
“There’s a lot of things that are found, and when I point it out we scratch our heads. We can’t figure out why somebody did something,” said Campbell, who has been gathering photos of these finds that he’ll be assembling for a gallery on his Facebook page. Among them are numerous images of improper venting, wood rot due to leaks, insects and other causes, dangerous wiring and more.
One of the photos, taken in the attic of a 20-year-old home, shows a dark, mouldy roof, caused by 20 years of improperly vented septic gas.
“The attic was full of black and white mould and rot,” said Campbell.
With the inspection of 1960s home, recent renovations of the living space didn’t address more serious concerns along the home’s foundation.
“I drove up and I saw this garden built in along the outside wall on the side of the house… It was one of these red brick gardens up against a red brick wall, and I thought OK, I’m going to have to have a look at this when I go under the house…,” said Campbell who, once in the crawlspace, discovered alarming dry rot.
“The structure underneath the floor holding the walls up on the foundation was all dry rot,” said Campbell. “And I know the homeowners knew this because they had pulled up the old rotten plywood in the kitchen and dining room and put in new plywood…”
New homes can also come with their share of surprises.
Campbell said he inspected a new double-wide modular home on a permanent foundation and found numerous head-scratchers. Among them: an installed but not yet assembled furnace, windows in need of wells beneath a deck that wasn’t where it should have been, an unprotected gas meter on a wall in the driveway (a safety concern for the whole neighbourhood, said Campbell), and bathroom, dryer and kitchen exhaust being vented into the garage.
These finds had Campbell concerned for the neighbouring homes of similar build.
“I learned that none of the 30 homes except for this one had a home inspection on it before people moved in,” said Campbell, noting people often buy new homes and assume they’ll be just fine.
Dead animals and living insects are also common finds during home inspections.
“Squirrels, birds – I’ve found a wasp nest the size of like an exercise ball in an attic,” said Campbell, who has also come across his share of dead cats in crawlspaces.
“When people advertise they’ve lost their cat, they don’t know where their cat has gone, the first thing that comes to mind for me to recommend to people is check your crawl space and ask your neighbours to check their crawl space, especially if it’s a mobile home park,” said Campbell.
B.C. and Alberta are the only provinces in Canada in which home inspection is regulated. In B.C., home inspectors are licensed by Consumer Protection BC.
Still, when choosing a home inspector, Campbell said it’s important to do some research. He advised checking an home inspector’s online reviews.
“Like hiring a tradesman, there are some good ones and some not so good ones,” said Campbell. You kind of have to do your due diligence.”