Things to consider when buying a home

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Chesterfield County woman’s dream home is now rotting away. How did it happen and could it have been prevented?

8News investigator Kerri O’Brien takes a look and has important information for anyone, whether you’re already a homeowner or looking to buy.

“We took off the old door and we found all the rot,” Valley Pickren said.

A second-floor bedroom patio door was supposed to be Pickren’s birthday present to herself. Instead, when contractors got to work on her gift, they unwrapped a major problem.

“We took all the siding off and we found all types of mold, rot and everything,” Pickren said.

The entire back side of her Chesterfield County home is rotting. Pickren only purchased the house two years ago for her and her autistic son.

“This was supposed to be the first and forever home,” Pickren said. “The building inspector and the home inspection said the home was fine.”

But what this first-time homebuyer didn’t realize was that the house had a history of no gutters or downspouts.

Guy Caroselli with Bradley Mechanical says when the home was built in 1980, gutters and downspouts were not required under the state building code.

“It has a lot of water intrusion all around the house,” Caroselli said.

It’s now mandatory on all new construction as gutters and downspouts allow rainwater to run off the side of the home. As Pickren has learned the hard way, it’s something to look out for if you’re buying an older home.

“You can see a lot of places where the home has gotten so wet it has disintegrated,” Caroselli said.

Pickren wonders how long the rotting has been going on. This tidbit was never disclosed to her when buying.

But if it was a problem when she was first looking at the house, a simple home energy audit could have detected leaks, mold or any moisture before she closed on the house.

Caroselli’s company does just this.

“We bring out a whole bunch of diagnostic equipment,” he said.

Caroselli is what’s called a BPI specialist, certified with the building performance institute. For about $80 to $100, a BPI specialist will run a series of tests on the home.

“We look at are there water leaks inside, are there bath exhaust fans in the bathrooms, are there plumbing leaks?” Caroselli said. “Inside the house, we are looking for obvious evidence of mold and mildew.”

Energy audits not only reveal leaks and moisture in a home but can also identify any areas where the air is getting in or out, wasting energy.

Some cities like Austin and Portland now require anyone selling their home to do an energy audit and disclose the results. There’s been a push for something similar in Virginia, but pushback from realtors and developers has held up such legislation thus far.

However, starting this Fall, a door blaster test and duct blaster test will be required for all new construction.

Scott Waggoner, who owns Chesterfield and Midlothian Energy Auditors says the pressurized tests gauge duct leakage and energy loss in a home. He thinks these measures are a “great first step.”

“[The test] simulates an additional 20-25 mile an hour wind coming into the house all at the same time,” Waggoner said.

Running a door blaster test at the home of one of our editors, Waggoner found air escaping through the outlets, crawl space and back door.

“What I would like to see the homeowner do, is some air sealing under the crawl space and the attic,” Waggoner said.

Back at Pickren’s home, repairs are underway, but it will cost thousands and she’s struggling. Her homeowners insurance won’t cover it.

We’re told that the leaks at our editor’s home can be fixed with some caulk and weather stripping, a cost of about $10-$15. We’re told the resulting savings could add up to $100-$150 a month on his electricity bill.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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