Home Inspectors Find the Skeletons in Your Attic

So you’ve been on a home inspection and your inspector climbed up a ladder to look in the attic space of your prospective new home. Usually we gain access through a hatch found in the ensuite walk-in closet. It’s often the last thing we inspect before starting our report. If you’re lucky there’s not much to say about it and you might be wondering what we could possibly see that would be worth the effort. Sometimes the sights are more significant. Here are a few of the things we have run into over the years; some more common than others.

The attic hatch should be sealed to prevent warm moist air from escaping into the attic. This can be a major loss of heat energy and can start other problems rolling. The black patch you see here is mold that is being fed by the moisture that condenses when the house air mixes with the cool attic air. The solution can be as simple as applying weatherstripping to the hatch opening. Attic hatch mold
Once past the hatch, we commonly assess the amount of insulation in the space against modern building practices. From time to time we see areas around the edges missing insulation that storm winds have aside. Sometimes we discover that the bedroom that was always cold may never have had any insulation installed at all. No insulation
Insulation practices and materials have improved over the decades and upgrades can be found in older houses. There as a time when vermiculite was a common insulation material. Since the discovery that it can contain asbestos, it has been superseded by other materials but it can still be found in use. In this case, the vermiculite was hidden under a newer layer of fibreglass insulation. Vermiculite
Occasionally we find evidence of little visitors to the attic. Droppings of various descriptions are tell tale signs of course, as are rodent traps like in this picture. Most buyers want to be informed of such uninvited tenants. Mousetrap
Evidence of larger visitors is a concern of course. Most people think skeletons are only found in closets but it’s not always the case. The next photo has the advantage of being lit by a camera flash but imagine the surprise of discovering this attic skeleton by flashlight.

Attic skeleton

Hopefully by now you’re convinced that having your inspector take a look in the attic might be worth the trouble. Here’s a sampling of other issues we’ve discovered in attic spaces.

Grow Op Mold
Grow Op Mold
Bad Chimney Broken blocking
Bad chimney Broken blocking
Cut rafters Open plumbing stack
Cut rafters Open plumbing stack

Author: Rob Cornish is a Home Inspector in Ottawa, Canada. © 2014 HomeXam Inc.
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