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  1. #1
    Jon mackay's Avatar
    Jon mackay Guest

    Default Covering up framing

    During an inspection of a 1920s flipped house, I got into the basement and everything was sealed up with a plastic vapor barrier and was then painted over.
    This house was re done from top to bottom but I have never seen anyone install a vapor barrier in the basement so my first reaction is that they are trying to hide something.

    The question is, what to say. I don't want to speculate but I can't take the barrier down to look. Although I would be covered legally, I would hate something to be wrong that I can't alert the client about.

    Any suggestions? Verbiage, recommendations for the client?

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Chicago IL
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    Default Re: Covering up framing

    BASEMENT - The basement framing and exterior walls could not be inspected to assess conditions. Walls are covered with a heavy vapor barrier that is also painted over. This is NOT a common or typical procedure. This type of 'covering' installation should be considered suspect. It may be just an inappropriate DIY fix and there may be nothing wrong at all. On the other hand, the covering may be there to hide various problems.
    I suggest you consider:
    - asking Seller to provide written explanation for the installation
    - asking Seller to remove the vapor barrier to allow assessment of wall conditions
    - Ask for this prior to closing
    If there are problems under the vapor barrier, repair costs could be very high.
    This is along the lines of what my report would say. Having done the HI, it would be worded stronger or differently depending. Good luck

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Baton Rouge, La.
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    91

    Default Re: Covering up framing

    Basement walls not accessible and were not inspected. Unsure of purpose of plastic wall covering. Recommend consulting the current owner for explanation.

    James Bohac

  4. #4
    Jon mackay's Avatar
    Jon mackay Guest

    Default Re: Covering up framing

    They claimed it was a vapor barrier but it didn't make any sense to me.
    Not done by a building envelope professional.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    2,365

    Default Re: Covering up framing

    If they must use a vapor barrier it should be a painted on type... and, really, if they need a vapor barrier that bad they should fix the reason they need one (grading/drainage outside, etc.).

    IMO in most cases trying to stop moisture from inside a basement or crawl space is fixing the symptom not the disease.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    1,217

    Default Re: Covering up framing

    As you know, that painted vapor barrier could very well be hiding something.

    I had a similar situation a couple of years ago that led to a complaint. After the buyer (my client) moved in there was a leak through the concrete basement foundation wall. She said I should have notice honeycomb (that was visible on the exterior of the foundation near grade) extended all the way through the foundation wall and provided a pathway for water to enter the basement. After a heavy rain enough water flowed into the basement to wet a good deal of carpet, damage drywall and wet some furnishings.

    The buyer was angry that I had not observed the honeycomb on the inside of the foundation wall in the mechanical room. I had reported water on the floor of the mechanical room and stated the source was unknown but could have been caused by workers who serviced the water softener and pressure tank that morning.

    When I went back to the house I told her that the foundation wall at the mechanical room was not visible at the time of the inspection because it was hidden behind a framed wall that had been insulated and covered with a vapor barrier. After their basement flooded someone had removed the vapor barrier and insulation and the source of the leak (the honeycomb) was plainly visible. I told the buyer that the honeycomb was hidden at the time of the inspection and I could not be expected to find it. I also told her the sellers possibly hid the leak. (Turns out a plumber that worked on something in the mechanical room told the buyer he had been out before to find a leak in the mechanical room and found none and the water on the floor had come through the honeycomb in the foundation wall.)

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Western Massachusetts
    Posts
    536

    Default Re: Covering up framing

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon mackay View Post
    This house was re done from top to bottom but I have never seen anyone install a vapor barrier in the basement so my first reaction is that they are trying to hide something.
    How do you know it was a basement? Might it have been a cellar? There is a difference, and that difference impacts whether or not you would install a vapor barrier under the wood framing.


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