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Siding photos: P 146-P 158, P 220-P 222
The siding on a house is used to provide weather protection. The siding doesn't support the house structurally. A load bearing wall is what provides the structural support of the house. If you find a building constructed of brick, stone or masonry, then these materials aren't considered the siding since they are load bearing walls. Check these types of structures for problems with bulging or leaning walls and deteriorated mortar joints. The are many different types of sidings used on residential homes. The types you will generally encounter during a home inspection are the following:
- Wood Boards(often called Clapboard Siding)
- Wood Shingles
- Wood Shakes
- Plywood Panels
- Aluminum Siding
- Vinyl Siding
- Asbestos-Cement Shingles
- Asphalt Siding
- Veneer Walls
Wood siding can be painted or stained. Painted wood will have a more uniform appearance but needs more maintenance. Stained wood will have spotty areas due to the wood absorbing the stain unevenly in some sections. However, staining lasts a lot longer than painting and is less maintenance.
Make sure all joints around windows and doors are caulked properly. If there any are vines growing up the side of the house, recommend that they be removed. Many people like the cosmetic look of the vines but it's terrible from a maintenance point of view. The vine roots create rot and moisture problems, as well as, deteriorating any mortar joints.
All siding should be at least eight inches above the soil all around the structure. This will help prevent termite and rot problems.
All siding should be at least eight inches above the soil all around the structure. This will help prevent termite and rot problems. The moisture in the soil will rot out the siding. Also, when the siding is in contact with the ground, wood destroying insects can get behind the siding very easily. All siding should be installed with galvanized nails to prevent rust over time. If you see many parts of the siding that are loose or missing, then check the nails. You may find they're becoming too rusty and corroding away. If this is the case, then all the siding will need to be reinstalled with galvanized nails. This is a major expense so tell the client to get estimates.
Check all wood siding for rot and wood destroying insect damage. Use an awl to probe sections of the siding. Near the ground level areas you want to look for termite, carpenter ant, and powder post beetle damage. Use binoculars to check the wood siding and trim work near the roofline areas. This is a common place to find small holes due to carpenter bee damage.
Check with the seller to see if they've replaced any siding or if there's an underlying layer of older siding on the house. You want to try to find out what's underneath the exterior layer. The exterior maintenance of condominium units is usually paid for by a monthly charge assessed to all of the condo owners in the complex. Recommend that the client check with the Condo/Owner's Association to find out what the fees and responsibilities are for each owner in the complex.
Wooden Clapboard siding can be installed vertically or horizontally. The majority of the time wooden clapboards are installed horizontally. Horizontal installations make the house appear lower and longer. Vertical installations make the house appear taller and are used more often on one-story houses. Check the condition of the wooden clapboard siding. See if it needs to be painted or stained, if there are any knots in the wood, if there are any damaged or rotted sections, etc.
Wood Shingle and Wood Shake sidings are usually made of cedar or redwood. This is due to the lack of knots in these types of wood. Also, these woods are rot resistant due to the oils in the wood. These sidings are very similar to wood shingle and shake installations found on roofs. Wood shingle and wood shake sidings are also expensive to install and are usually only found on higher priced homes. These sidings have a life expectancy of about 40 to 45 years or more. The lifespan will depend upon the climate and maintenance given to them over the years. Check the condition of the wood shake or wood shingle siding. See if it needs to be painted or stained, if there are any knots in the wood, if there are damaged or rotted sections, etc.