A couple of months ago I was called to conduct a prelisting inspection for an owner that planned on selling the house herself. The house was just over 10 years old and appeared to be well built and maintained. Prelisting inspections are always recommended. These inspections provide the seller with an opportunity to correct any deficiencies that might alarm a potential buyer, delay or possibly halt the sale of the home. Additionally the prelisting inspection will help the seller accurately complete the seller’s disclosure form.
During my conversation with the owner she stated that she loved her house and neighborhood and didn’t really want to move. The reason she decided to move? She couldn’t keep up with the dust in the house. She told me no matter how often she cleaned, vacuumed and dusted there always seemed to be a heavy buildup of dust in the house and she had to change her HVAC air filters weekly. Additionally she had developed a constant cough.
The normal areas associated with sources of excess dust didn’t display any significant issues. The inspection revealed no defects in the HVAC duct. The windows were closed and in satisfactory condition. The exterior doors and weather stripping were also in satisfactory condition.
I asked the owner if there was a room or location in the house that seemed to have a higher concentration of the dust. She confirmed that her bedroom ceiling fan and blades seemed to develop a heavy coat of dust overnight.
The bedroom in question had a vaulted ceiling with a high ledge, commonly used for decorative lighting, along two walls. Normally I don’t look into these during an inspection unless there is visible damage. I will from now on.
Upon accessing the high ledge I found that the sheet rock had not been installed or finished in this area! There was an open area between the wall and the ceiling. This permitted cellulose insulation in the attic to drift down into the cavity of the ledge. Use of the HVAC system, the ceiling fan and the constant source of air exchange in the attic appeared to keep the insulation disturbed. Whether this was a shortcut taken by the sheet rock installers or an oversight by the contractor doesn’t really matter. Defects in materials and workmanship can and do occur even in what may appear to be well built, even new homes.
On a good note, I just recently received a call from my client. Upon my recommendation she hired a qualified tradesman to correct the condition by installing and finishing the sheet rock in this area. Two months later and she no longer has the issue with the dust and her cough has cleared up. She decided she no longer needs to sell the house. I’m happy I could help out!