By Peter Hotton
The Boston Globe
Q. I put my house up for sale recently, and had someone interested, but the buyer’s home inspection report, 32 pages long, caused him to rescind his offer. My neighborhood has houses from the high $300,000s and low $600,000s, so selling and buying is serious work. The inspector wrote that there are holes in the 25-year-old roof, a gas fireplace that doesn’t work, and plantings are “out of date.” But he also reported the center beam in the basement (supported by steel posts), is moving out of its position away from the wall, and the posts are rusting, and the outer wall (not the foundation), is moving away from the end of the center beam, “about an inch.” Is there anything I can do about that report?
A. Ignore it, and hope any future buyer doesn’t hire that character. It sounds as if that inspector wrote the report to discourage the buyers from buying the house. He succeeded, since the buyers backed out. But the report is suspect in my opinion; the only thing structural in the report you mentioned is the center beam, which sits on top of the foundation. The rest is dressing on the cake, and has nothing to do with structure.
Also, what was moving, the beam or the wall? You told me there are no stress indications such as leaning posts holding up the beam, or any other signs of movement such as cracked walls. I think the wall did the moving, and is slightly warped, and if it stays that way, is not a problem. The posts are rusting? I know of no unpainted steel posts that are not rusting. It’s from moisture, and that can be fixed by ventilating the basement. A 25-year-old roof is due for replacement. And what about those “out of date” plants? Did the warranties expire? And on and on.
I suggest you find a competent inspector to write up your house so you can use it when you offer the house again. I suggest you simply have nothing to do with that other inspector and the ex-buyer. And put up a new roof which will be one asset for you that can’t be disputed.
Q. I have small black bugs flying around. I have been using the fruit fly traps and a small container of apple cider vinegar with a bit of olive oil. I have no fruit outside the refrigerator. Also, the bugs have been in the bathroom and in the living room. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
A. They don’t sound like fruit flies; the traps and absence of fruit has taken care of them easily enough. “Little black bugs” flying around is a term used by all of us for bugs they can’t identify. They are not biting, but seem to be a nuisance. If you can dispatch them without using sprays, keep doing that and one day they will be gone. Battling “little black bugs flying around” is an art, not a science. One caveat: They may be drain flies, in which case you can pour a cup of bleach into the toilet and other drains and leave overnight.
Q. My plumber spilled rusty water on my white marble tiles while working on a toilet, staining the tiles. How can I clean it?
A. Rub the stains with my favorite, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, which has an updated one with a little extra abrasive value. Or, treat with straight bleach, let dry and rinse.