Plants Growing against Your House.

The Danger of Creeper Plants Growing Against Your House

Creeper Plants

A while back, I inspected a house in an older part of Johannesburg. From the road, the house was very pretty with an ivy creeper growing on the walls. However, having plants winding their way up your outside walls can cause actual damage to your house. Therefore, you should think twice before allowing creepers to grow on any wall in the first place.

In fact, the best advice is not to have any gardens within 1 metre of your home! Watering gardens against your home can cause uneven settlement of the foundation and cracks in your house.

The worst plants to plant against your house are destructive plants known as “self clingers”.

Self-clinging creepers

Self clinger creeper’s rootlets go into existing fine cracks and fissures, using them to enhance adhesion and occasionally penetrating the interiors of buildings through them. The mortar between bricks can be loosened through this activity and is often torn away from the wall when a creeper is removed. The same strong adhesion can result in chunks of plasterwork being pulled away, attached to the creeper vines.

In addition, on roof structures, creeper tendrils and rootlets can work their way under roof tiles and other roofing materials. Unless you remove the creeper maintenance, like painting and roof repairs, is impossible.

Moreover, any plants and shrubs with their foliage against your home may even dislodge gutters and roof tiles and can hold damaging moisture against wall surfaces causing moisture to penetrate into the wall and roof structure of your home.

Some articles and posts claim not all climbing plants bad for your house and some can provide “genuinely benefits”. However, the detrimental effect of having these climbers on your walls far outweigh any benefits they may have. Moreover, some climbing plants are very aggressive in the way they attach themselves to your walls and, if left unchecked, can cause serious structural problems.

Which creepers to avoid?

Ivy is a prime example. The sort of plants to avoid having grown up your wall are often the ones that have “suckers” or little mini branches like spikes, that burrow under the paint into the plastered walls and into the mortar joints of the face brick walls for a foothold.

Continue reading “Plants Growing against Your House.”

Efflorescence

WHAT ARE THOSE POWDERY WHITE AREAS ON MY BRICK WALLS?

 

efflorescence

Efflorescence is one sign that is often dismissed as just being an eyesore and is given surface treatment only.  This is the presence of the white powder that forms on the face or surface of concrete, plasterwork and brickwork.

It is a cause for concern!

 

Efflorescence is a build-up of minerals and salts on the surface of the concrete, brick and plasterwork due to repeated bouts of excess water in the material. The minerals and salts that naturally occur in the material are dissolved when the brickwork, plasterwork or concrete is waterlogged with water.

Concrete, pavers, brickwork and plasterwork are porous and can absorb or wick water and draw salts to it like a tree transports water from its roots to its leaves. This is capillary action. When efflorescence happens, it can indicate a moisture issue that could potentially damage the structure.

When water reaches a building material’s surface, evaporation will occur. Water absorption and wicking will continue after the water evaporates and the salt is left behind. This eventually creates a high salt concentration, leading to osmosis.

What is Osmosis

 

Simply put, osmosis in building materials is the movement of water from a region of low salt concentration to a region of high salt concentration in the material.

During osmosis, when water moves toward salts and minerals to reduce its concentration, it can cause large hydrostatic pressures within the porous building material. As a result, these pressures can damage or destroy the material.

Osmosis can cause pressure that ranges up to 200 bar, exceeding the structural strength of concrete. Therefore, osmosis may result in porous building material cracking, flaking or falling apart. Continue reading “Efflorescence”

Walkthrough Inspections

walkthrough inspection

Walkthrough Inspections

walkthrough

Walkthrough Inspections are comprehensive inspections without a written report. A Walkthrough Inspection is for clients who require the physical inspection, but don’t need a report.

Furthermore, a Walkthrough Inspection fee is normally half that of a Comprehensive Inspection.

Usually, their reasons are  one of the following:

  • Sometimes home buyers don’t want or need a comprehensive inspection and report of the property they want to buy because they are on a tight budget.
  • Clients sometimes have shortlisted some of the homes they are interested in. All they require, at this point, is the assurance that there is not something seriously wrong with one or more of the shortlisted houses before committing to signing an “Offer to Purchase” and having a home inspection.
  • Because of circumstances, some buyers will need an inspection of a house they found on the internet. In this instance, they need is the assurance that the house they are interested in is worth the effort to inspect for themselves. Obviously, on these occasions, they are either too busy or have to travel some distance to view the house.
  • Other clients have done their own inspection of the house they are interested in, but require only the assurance that there are no serious and/or expensive defects or maintenance issues.

For example, I’ve had times when clients have contacted me far away places, like Cape Town, to give them an idea of the condition of a house in Randburg.

In these instances, this type of inspection is handy and ideal for those clients.

Walkthrough Inspections are Informal

However, a walkthrough is not a formal home inspection.  It is an informal inspection. As a result, I perform a visual walkthrough inspection of the home and provide you with comments summarizing my observations. Furthermore, my comments will be nothing more than a subjective summary of my initial observations during the walk-through.

What is involved in a walkthrough inspection?

The walkthrough requires, on average, about 1½ to 3 hours depending on the condition of the property. You can ask questions and take notes while I explain the defects.

Because a walkthrough is less formal, I do not adhere to the InterNACHI Standards of Practice which requires me to produce a written report. If you are present at the walkthrough I do not generate a written report of any kind.  I simply communicate my observations orally to you. You make your own notes during the inspection. In this way, you save time and money because there is no written report at the end of the inspection.

However, if you can’t attend the walkthrough I will communicate my observations to you by email.

Furthermore, because it is an informal inspection, an inspection of this type is also very affordable!

However, you will need to sign an InterNACHI Walk-Though Inspection Agreement before the walkthrough. This is to protect me against liability as a result of deviating from the requirements of the InterNACHI Standards of Practice for Home Inspections by not producing a formal report.

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THE HOME DETECTIVE » Home buyer » Common defects

Sealing at Windows and Door Frames

Detecting Leaks Around Your Windows

seal leaking

Seals which are broken, pulling away, missing or which are damaged as a result of ageing or long-term weather exposure will cause windows and doors to leak. Furthermore, the sealant or window putty used to seal the glazing beads on wooden windows may crack and allow moisture into the gazed areas of your windows. In addition, when the glazing putty on your steel windows cracks or a section falls out moisture will corrode the steel window frame.

These are the most obvious areas where leakages occur!

However, the most undetected area for leaks at windows is the junction between the window frame and the brickwork, plasterwork and window sill. As a matter of fact, it is one of the most common defects that I have found on both new and older homes.

There are multiple ways to detect leaks around your windows and doors:

  • On the outside of your home, check the areas where two different materials meet. This includes your door and window corners and frame.
  • Look for cracks in the door itself and in window panes.
  • Examine the existing caulking (sealing) and window weather stripping and weatherboards on doors. Make sure both are in good condition. In addition, leave no gaps or cracks.
  • If you can see daylight around a window or door frame, there will be a leak.
  • Shut a window and check for gaps in which you can insert the paint scraper. If you can easily insert the scraper under the closing part of the window, it is probably not watertight!

Continue reading “Sealing at Windows and Door Frames”

Stormwater

Homes without Gutters 

stormwater

 

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If you are like many homeowners, you have probably wondered why some houses have no gutters to provide protection against stormwater. You may have wished your own home had none because of the cleaning and maintenance issues.

Gutters are not required by law on a sloping roof. Many modern homes have none, even in instances where they would benefit by having them. There are alternatives that architects sometimes prefer such as concrete paving around the perimeter of your house.

In order to decide for yourself whether rainwater gutters are necessary for your home, it is best to first learn what the building regulations require.

The Building Regulations do not require roof gutters and downpipes if another suitable means of drainage has been provided to remove or disperse rainwater from the roof away from your home.

However, the Building Regulations do require that any stormwater that flows from your roof or any area that is in the immediate vicinity of your home must not cause damage to the interior of the building, its structure or its structural elements. The regulations require steps to be taken to ensure that stormwater does not accumulate in a way that“unduly inconveniences” you as the occupant of your home.

Furthermore, the system used must:

    1. not undercut the foundations by erosion or flooding
    2. drain stormwater away from your home
    3. not allow stormwater to accumulate against or close to the external walls
    4. make provision for the drainage of any areas on the property where water pools
    5. be capable of being easily maintained and cleaned

Continue reading “Stormwater”