Houses Can Be Theme Parks

Charles Buell PhotoOur members are also great writers :: Charles Buell

It is hard to not notice that houses seem to have “themes.”

Just like Disneyland, the US Congress or other theme parks, homes too can be united by common features. This post however is not about the “houses of horrors,” befitting any Halloween night, that have become common with short sales and foreclosures.

Many missing flashing details

It is more about the “little things” that are common in homes. For example if a house has one defective GFCI receptacle it is likely that there will be more than one. If there is one junction box with a missing cover–there will be many. If one of the windows has a broken seal it is likely that there will be others with broken seals. If one door sticks–others will stick. If one chrome trap is at the end of its expected life, so will others in the home.

Now there are several reason we have these themes in homes. Firstly, the age of the house is a factor. If everything in the home was installed at the same time–it is likely they will come to the end of their life at the same time.

Secondly, often work was done by the same person. If they do something wrong once–it is highly likely think that they will have done it the same way at other locations in the home. If there are missing flashings in one place there will be missing flashings somewhere else–even if the flashing serves a different purpose.

Take the previous picture. How many flashing issues can you spot in the picture?

Well of course there is obvious cavernous opening where the top of the brick work at the corner of the home never got completed. This is on the South side of the home–the direction from which we get a lot of our weather in the Northwest. There is a pretty good chance this is going to become a water collection point.

In this next picture I have done some overlays to show where there should be flashings, caulk and other seals installed to prevent moisture from damaging the structure.

Missing flashings, caulking, sealing

At “A” there should be a flashing to prevent moisture from getting behind the horizontal trim board.

At “B” the light fixture does not properly cover the junction box cut-out in the siding.

At “C” one can see there is no flashing across the top of the doorway horizontal trim (also the vertical trim is not caulked).

At “D” the wire penetration is not sealed.

And at “E” of course the brickwork is not finished.

Like any good theme park, here we have lots of similar repeating issues that could be conveniently gunny sacked into one photo. There were many other flashing issues around this theme park.

Sometimes home even have multiple themes.


By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

ASHI member Charles Buell has been designing and building residential structures for over 35 years and currently sits on the Washington State Home Inspector License Advisory Board.

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