Written by: Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
When I trained to become a home inspector I went to a national school and learned about all sorts of things that good home inspectors should be aware of when inspecting homes. Over the years of doing inspections in Salem, Oregon I have noticed real patterns in building materials that were not reflected by the home inspector schooling.
Bricks for one thing are very popular in other parts of the country. My schooling spent hours on the issues that can be noted with brick siding. We have brick siding here, but at a very small percentage compared to the east and the south. Most of this difference has to do with the shale that composes bricks. We do not have shale mines on the Pacific coast and so if you want brick it has to be shipped in from the south or east.
Recently Chinese Drywall has received quite a bit of media attention. That stuff is bad news but for all of the newly built homes that I am inspecting, none of the associated issues have manifested. I have been looking for it and well educated home buyers have been asking about it but it seems that our area did not receive the supply of drywall from those particular problem vendors.
Aluminum wiring was also a large topic of education at the home inspector training. It is also another material that, for whatever the reason, we North-westerners largely managed to escape. From the mid 60s to the early 70s aluminum was widely used for the smaller (15 and 20 amp) branch circuits in homes. Problems occurred when the small aluminum wires were used with devices that had connections specifically designed for copper. Aluminum also tends to expand and contract more than copper (which can cause loose connections) and it can corrode (which is an insulator), all bad things when consistent conduction is desired. These issues lead to house fires and if your wiring is a fire hazard it is a very big deal! I have seen and heard of small aluminum branch circuits in manufactured homes in this area but I have only seen one stick built home that had aluminum wires in 5 years!
The more experience I gain the more specific my inspections become, relating to the issues with Salem, Oregon homes. Still, I can’t forget about those nationally recognized issues. A great home inspector not only needs to know about homes in this area but also about building products that are not generally used in this area.
Jim Allhiser President/Inspector