September, 2010
You Tell Us
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Offset Chimney OK with this Inspector


To the editor,

chimney.jpgThe caption that appeared on the photo of the offset chimney in "Postcards From the Field" in the July issue of the ASHI Reporter, indicates a defective condition. The caption states, in part, "— when things did not come out as designed, just make a change." Actually, this is the way the chimney was designed and is common in houses built in the noted era. The builders liked symmetry and if a chimney did not come up in the center of the house, it was offset with a technique called corbeling to allow the chimney to go up through the ridge pole, thus providing a symmetrical appearance on the exterior of the house.

In some cases, the offset was so severe that a wooden support would be installed until the mortar had a chance to dry. These braces are still in place in many houses and some unknowing inspectors believe that they were installed, post-construction, to support the chimney. This condition is normal. I have been personally involved in many such cases in my 40 years as a home inspector. The only problem visible in the picture is that the brick courses are not level. While this would be considered poor workmanship, it's not necessarily a defect.

Victor J. Faggella, Certified ASHI Inspector
Centurion Home inspections, Inc.
Mahopac, N.Y.

Device aids safe driving

To the editor,

The August 2010 article on GPS navigation by JD Grewell was timely and interesting. I, too, have converted to using GPS navigation, but I have chosen to use the navigation service through my cell phone provider (Sprint). This means I have one less device to manage since the navigation is displayed on the phone with audio, turn by turn, from the phone's speaker. More importantly in our area, where road construction and traffic congestion is a frequent challenge, the cellular navigation service automatically provides real-time checking for traffic congestion. When congestion is present, I am usually warned in advance with enough time to make a good choice for an alternate route.

While I agree with JD and others that using our brains for navigation is a good mental exercise; driving these days seems to be our most dangerous activity. I find that hearing the turn-by-turn directions from the cell phone helps me keep my eyes and attention on the road without having to think about where and when my next turn is coming. I feel safer knowing I can rely on the cell phone navigation. I've been using it for over a year, and the service very rarely fails to find the destination or send me on an indirect route. I agree that homes in very new developments are hard to find, but those are infrequent in the current slow home construction market.
Drive safely out there.

Roger Hankey, ASHI Certified Inspector
Hankey and Brown Inspection Services
Eden Prairie, Minn.

Shades of '73 in current legislative action

To the editor,

Reading the article "Possible Breakthrough on ASHI Legislation in Congress" in the May issue of the ASHI Reporter brought back exciting memories from 1973.The Truth-In-Housing Act almost passed, but its main sponsor, Senator Phillip Hart (Michigan), became ill and died of a heart attack shortly thereafter.

The Act was to require home inspections on every re-sale house in America or significant penalties were imposed. Very exciting stuff for the few home inspectors who were around in 1973. I testified at the Senate Hearing on December 5, 1973. The Bruce Grewell with my company back then is JD Grewell's brother.

Possibly, ASHI's lobbyist, Randall Pence, might find this bit of history helpful.

John J. Heyn, ASHI member #5
Owings Mills, Md.

Editor's Note: Mr. Heyn provided a copy of the Congressional Record, where both he and Mr. Grewell are mentioned. To read about current legislative breakthroughs, see View From the Hill.