110 Nightmarish Home Inspector Scenarios

Updated: Nov. 22, 2023

After seeing these real-life home inspector photos (and picking your jaw up off of the floor), you’ll wonder what these homeowners were thinking!

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Adjustable Support Column

Adjustable support columns like this with steel supporting pins should only be used as temporary support columns, according to an American Society of Home Inspectors article.

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Bad Deck Support

Decks just aren’t something you want to mess around with no matter how high they are off the ground. The risk of harm is great when a deck collapses. Make sure you know the signs of early deck failure or safety hazards.

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Bad Egress

Nothing about this screams safety or viable emergency escape. It looks bolted to the roof and there’s a chain to help keep it in place. This is one of those scary things home inspectors find, like a beaver in the attic.

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Bad Deck Support

Something tells us a support system for an upper deck shouldn’t look like a woodpile. Might be a little wobbly on that upstairs landing. Then again, you may be taking flying lessons if you try to use it. Check out these 7 deck building tips to avoid any catastrophe like this.

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Bad Roof Design

Hmm, hope the gutters work. Maybe who ever constructed this roof tried making some kind of artistic architectural statement. What’s sure is that a roof slanted towards a vertical wall will never work no matter how creative you get with a gutter system. Make cleaning your gutters a lot easier with these 25 gutter hints.

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Baseboard Heater in Crawl Space

It might sound like a good idea to heat your crawl space in winter to perhaps prevent frozen pipes and warm your house a little more but it’s extremely dangerous. It’s a huge fire hazard and at the end of the day, it’s not going to warm your place any more, at least until the house stops burning. It’s better to insulate the crawl space because it can save you a ton of money and block it to prevent pests from getting in.

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Beam Splice Not Over Post at Deck

Somebody’s tape measure must’ve been off when they put together this deck. Looks pretty unsafe considering the splice is only sitting on a sliver of the post. Most building codes require at least one inch of bearing wherever a beam is supported by a post. Fall in love with outdoor amenities like one of these gorgeous outdoor bars.

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Beam Through Chimney

Yup, that’s a beam going right through a chimney. We’re guessing/hoping the chimney isn’t in use anymore. You’d never find something like this inside the most expensive home in your state.

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Bent Outlet Cover

This might deserve a showing in the Museum of Modern Art for how well the outlet cover bent and hasn’t broken. It pays to put some thought into electrical box placement to avoid this stuff from happening. It reminds us of a fan we once saw with similar artistic qualities.

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Boulder Footing

If this boulder wasn’t been used for a footing on a deck we swear we could’ve mistaken it for the brain of the person who came up with this idea. Discover the surefire way to get perfect deck footings with these tips.

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Leaking Faucet

That's the definition of "hard water." On the plus side, the water spraying out should soon melt the icicle. Might be time for a new faucet and maybe to install a freeze detector in the house.
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A Garage Prepped for Elective Surgery

Come on down to Bob's Really Good Surgery Shack! This week's special is brain transplants! Actually, this might provide pretty good shop lighting in the garage. Plus: Check out these cheap garage storage projects you can DIY.
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Mouse Apocalypse

Picture yourself as a mouse with your honey out for an evening stroll… Quality mousetrap placement is the key-not quantity. Plus: These real-life pest control horror stories will make your skin crawl.
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More Duct Tape Ingenuity

Well, covering the vent with tape stopped the cold air. The only problem is that it also defeated the purpose of having make-up air in the first place, which is to keep the occupants from being asphyxiated. Add this to the list of furnace repairs needed.
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Breaker Panel Convenience

What a good idea. Just move all the paper towels, soaps and potions out of the way and you'll have instant access to your breaker panel. Learn what you need to know about breaker box safety here.
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The Rocky Throne

Does something look unsteady in this photo to you? We thought so too. Here's how to fix this issue.
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Mail Slot?

Nope, this guy just doesn’t have all his bricks. He should probably learn how to tuckpoint.
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Legends of the Fall

Wonder why you'd even need the 2x4 cribbing when you have a ratchet strap doing the job! Wonder if the painting will get done before the fall.
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Wayne Gretzky's Boyhood Home

So you take a hockey puck and hold it in place while you foam it in. Brilliant! There are better ways to repair and replace soffit
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Beaver in the Attic!

Who thinks it's cute to have red squirrels in the attic? Rodents in and around the house are something to take seriously.
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Follow the Arrows

It never hurts to double check the arrows when you install a new filter. Life's easier if you go with the flow.
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Leaning Porch

Can you imagine trying to trim this thing? Or shut a door or window? Maybe it's time to build a new porch.
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When Copper and Steel Collide

And it's called galvanic corrosion. But it can be prevented if you connect dissimilar pipes the right way.
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Duct Tape Compression Fittings

What's weird about this is that it appears that the drain parts are brand new. Installing drainlines and p-traps under a sink doesn't normally call for duct tape. Bound to be a few plumbing leaks here.
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Cris Carter's Basement

Cris Carter's Basement

Those NFL jerseys need washing after game day. A nice hot flue will take care of the drying. What's the worst thing that could happen? Maybe it's time to repair the dryer. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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Shopping Notes

Shopping Notes

Wonder why a shorter water heater would help? (Could of put the writing backwards on his forehead too.) At least he'll have a convenient reminder when it comes time for a new water heater. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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Salvador Dali’s Ceiling Fan
Structure Tech

Salvador Dali’s Ceiling Fan

We think it got very hot for a very long time here and the plastic blades sagged. There’s no fix'n it. Time to install a new ceiling fan. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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Ladder Extender Part 2

This is just a temporary solution until the 10"-thick slab is poured. Install an attic ladder as a handy way to use your rafter space in the garage.
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See-Through Plumbing
Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech

See-Through Plumbing

We've been through this before. Don't use those stupid flexible plastic drain lines! If you have this kind of plumbing you better learn to how to clear clogged drains. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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That's Not PEX

Here's a perfect illustration of just about everything that shouldn't be used for plumbing repair. What do you think? ShooGoo? Regardless, this tops the charts for home inspector nightmares and plumbing fails. Here are a few more things that make you fail home inspection.
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Dr. Frankenstein's wall switch

We think this is a way to turn on a light switch to a room that has no access but-not sure! Believe it or not there are electronic ways to remotely operate lights with wireless switches.
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Santa lost his boot

No, this isn't a trash can. I think a good chimney cleaning is in order.
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Dryer Vent

Dryer Vent

This would have been fine with only a few cleverly angled 90-degree elbows, and no vinyl at all. You won't find this method in most dryer vent installation stories. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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Which problem solver would you choose?

There are always options when it comes to buying a toilet - some better than others.
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Leaking fill valve repair

Once Warren caught the recycle/re-use bug, he just couldn't stop. Even going to the extent of breaking the fill valve on his toilet for a chance to re-use this plastic container. Might be even smarter to replace the fill valve with a new kit.
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Flying Wallenda's Family Home

Whoever goes up this ladder has more courage than brains. Maybe it would have been smarter to rent a lift for the day.
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Watch Your Head!

Watch Your Head!

Nothing wrong here, really. Go here for some more storage tips. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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Not a DIY Mini-Split

Just guessing, but we don't think this is how a mini-split works. But the real question for this home inspector nightmares is, does it actually keep the room cool?
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Plywood window well

Well I hope it's at least treated plywood. There are very rigorous standards when it comes to building egress window wells.
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Pillars of the earth
Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech

Pillars of the earth

Lots of bad bricks here that a little tuckpointing may have prevented. At least it matches the rest of the chimney.
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Brilliant extension ladder leg extender
Structure Tech

Brilliant extension ladder leg extender

Another clever use for a five-gallon bucket, just prior to kicking the bucket. Please be careful with extension ladders, folks.
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Crop circles in the attic
Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech

Crop circles in the attic

Here's one theory. Frost on the underside of the roof deck is melting and wetting the insulation. A hot can light below is drying out the area around it.
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Liberty Bell

It's cracked like the Liberty Bell. But this cracked chimney liner needs to be repaired to prevent a chimney fire.
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Hardhat Area

It's never a good idea to hang a ceiling fan from electrical cable only. They make ceiling fan braces that make the job safe and easy.
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Brick Work Gone Bad
Structure Tech

Brick Work Gone Bad

Some repairs are so neat and well executed that you barely even notice them. Not this one, though.
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Wine cork plug

At least until you get to the store for a new pop-up drain assembly. Or maybe it's time to install a new vanity sink.
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Bust'n out!

What in the world made a thing like this happen? Whatever it was, it calls for a new outlet install.
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Ice wars

Did you know that freezing water exerts 50,000 lbs. per square inch? That's a pretty good reason to winterize irrigation systems. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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One way to save money on flooring

I've got a great idea! We don't need new flooring under the rug. Nobody will ever know.
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Structure Tech


Not only is this chimney badly deteriorated, it's almost completely missing any clay or metal liner. This is the poster child for why you should have your chimney inspected.
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Ho boy!

Vinyl dryer vent hose is such a bad idea on so many levels. So a smooth metal dryer vent is the best solution, hands down.
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Honey, let's have a block party?

Yep, let's have over a couple of dozen neighbors for a really fun evening. Or tear off this disaster waiting to happen and build a deck properly.
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March of the roof vents

Yes, attic venting is important. This, however, might be a bit much. Maybe trying to save on shingles?
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You Can Still Use the Garbage Can
Structure Tech

You Can Still Use the Garbage Can

I know it's called a "garbage disposal" but I think someone's taking that a bit too literally. Might be due for a replacement.
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Deck Stair Layout Headache

Deck Stair Layout Headache

Stairs are tricky to layout for the neophyte deck builder. But it's easier than you think to get it right with a few stair building instructions. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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What's wrong?

What's wrong?

Let thee count the ways ... Broken chimney cap, missing mortar and bricks, all that's gonna cause a few leaks. This chimney needs some major repairs. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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Ceiling kitchen venting

Marion loved the smell of her cooking so much, it seemed a waste to vent all of the wonderful aromas outside. Generally, most people would prefer kitchen venting to exhaust outside the house.
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How not to add lighting
Structure Tech

How not to add lighting

Pretty sure this wiring system won't pass the electrical inspection. There are right and wrong ways to hang a ceiling light, and this is the wrong way. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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Duct Tape Wall

This tile was undoubtedly installed over greenboard instead of cement board and is completely falling apart. Regrouting isn't an option.
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Hard hat area
Structure Tech

Hard hat area

Maybe the in-ground pool sprung a leak? Or just maybe this was a first-time retaining wall builder.
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Look closely

And you'll see a very conveniently located outlet right where it's needed. There are several things to keep in mind when you're roughing in wiring.
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"Dear, why the heck aren’t the clothes getting dry?"
Structure Tech

"Dear, why the heck aren’t the clothes getting dry?"

I'll bet the house feels a bit humid. A dryer vent is one of the many things in your home that needs regular cleaning.
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Proper grounding-not!

OK think about it. This guy grounded to a PLASTIC COATED gas line. Unless they changed the rules, plastic is a non-conductor. How many other electrical mistakes do you suppose you would find in this house? Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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Hot Wired

This breaker is rated for both aluminum (AL) and copper (CU) wires. But that rating didn't prevent this aluminum wire connection from loosening and getting hot enough to melt the plastic insulation. Here's more on aluminum wiring and how to make it safe.
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Poor Cable Detector?

Determined to find out if carbon monoxide was at fault for his poor cable reception, uncle Walter devised a plan…
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Blocked vent?

Guess it's OK if you block it with cardboard. While we're on heating systems, how about a primer on efficient heating.
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A shower found in Munchkinland

After mom and dad moved out, the toddlers decided to make the bathroom more user-friendly. But when they grow up they're gonna have to install a new shower.
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Dryer vent follies

Why not just duct tape it near the attic vent. Why wouldn't that do the trick?
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Hubcap Flue Cap

Well that's one way to keep the rain away from your furnace. But there are official rain caps that you can buy at the home center. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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A Potentially Shocking Disposer
Structure Tech

A Potentially Shocking Disposer

Not a bad idea to have a switch on the new disposer. As long as you don’t have to open the cabinet door to get at it-and that it's properly installed!
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Toboggan ice-dam solution

Granted, this is quite a clever setup. But it seems like it might be less work to fix the ice-dam problem!
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Skillfully Unnecessary Scribe

Bonus: You can visit with your toddler while your taking care of business. If the door opened the correct way, there would have been no scribing required.
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No Fuse, Big Problem

Just because it fits, doesn't mean it's a fuse. Yes, copper tubing will conduct electricity, but this is VERY dangerous! And I feel an eerie presence of the ghost of Charles Darwin…don’t let it happen to you!
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Why buy studs?

Why buy studs?

Use up all that scrap 2x4. This might work structurally, but it’s definitely not the right way to frame a wall. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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Now that's a maintenance-free finish!

If you've got some spare time on your hands, give this a try. Otherwise installing a new door might be an easier fix.
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Liberace's guest bath

Believe it or not, there are regulations regarding the distance between your tub and a light fixture. If you'd rather move the whirlpool tub than the light fixture, here's how to install it.
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Strange brew

This is some scary stuff! Maybe it's time for a water quality test. Or maybe it's time to look into water softeners.
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Find the Fuel Oil Tanks in this Picture

If you're painting metal, do the prep work the right way. That way your artwork will stand the test of time.
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What the wall usually sees

How in the world can a tank get put on backwards? Maybe read the directions the next time you install a new toilet.
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Half-Hidden Outlet
Structure Tech

Half-Hidden Outlet

To use the bottom outlet, simply snip the plug off your device and stick in the bare wires. These home inspector nightmares are truly mind boggling. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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Jacked-Up House

I'm not certain how much weight that jack stand is rated for, but I'm pretty sure a house is a bit over the limit. It's important to understand load-bearing posts. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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Kitchen exhaust vent routing fun

Yeah, this exhaust vent will get rid of some burned bacon smoke, but with that kink, not so much. And imagine the condensation issues. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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Plumbing Diverticulosis
Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech

Plumbing Diverticulosis

Just because pipes come in all kinds of different shapes doesn't mean you need to use them all on one job. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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The More the Merrier!

Stacking more cheap filters doesn't add up to higher efficiency filtration. Best to buy the filter that fits your furnace.
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Floating stairs

Just what on earth supports the top of the stringers. This builder could benefit by studying up on how to build stairs.
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Heat duct or exhaust vent…

Heat duct or exhaust vent…

You decide. Whatever it is, the kitchen venting system coulda used a little more thought. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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Extra clothes rod

Clever why? Well it's the shower curtain tension rod silly. It's easy to violate electrical codes if you don't know what you're doing.
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A Wee Bit of an Access Issue

Can you imagine how this guy felt when he opened the drawers for the first time? A little kitchen planning never hurts. That would have done the trick.
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Do NOT look this mess in the eye! You'll turn to stone! I think these supply lines could be a bit shorter. Plus the water pressure is bound to be affected.
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You're not fully clean unless you're Zestfully clean!

I don't think this shower would meet the new low-flow requirements. But it's sure makes a nice set of grab bars.
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All employees MUST wash their hands before returning to work!

Genius! With this setup, you can wash your hands and your feet at the same time! A small bathroom requires a certain amount of planning.
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Beer can inspection panel

Great way to save a trip to the appliance parts store. But the next water heater repair may require more than a beer can.
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I'm melllltttting

Little Johnny got a magnifying glass for his birthday and set out to harness the power of the sun and melt the neighbor's house. Obviously, this house is in need of some siding replacement!
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Structural stucco

The studs have completely rotted away leaving only the stucco to do the support work. Sistering new studs alongside the old ones would solve the problem. And if you have a similar problem with your floor framing, you can sister floor joists too. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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Desk fan attic venting

The desk fan pointing towards a roof vent is one thing. You just can't run cable willy-nilly wherever you want…
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Don't fall for this trap

Maybe it works-maybe it doesn't. Is the whole system properly vented or not?
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Flashing in a Can

Spray foam can be used for many things. Flashing is not one of them.
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3 way switches
Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech

3 way switches

Cleverly positioned 3-way switches for you want to control the same light with your left and right hand at the same time. Or maybe this guy wants to turn the lights off when sitting on the toilet perhaps?
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Return Air Downspout

Here's a quick way to add some humidity to a dry room. Just run the downspout into your return air! And better yet use conventional ductwork.
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A fat siding guy's nightmare

Installing your own siding isn't all that hard to do. Providing you've got plenty of room for your ladders and scaffolding.
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What's a TPR Valve?

Not willing to be outwitted by a water heater, Jim decided that the TPR (temperature, pressure relief) valve should only drip when he wanted it to drip. A TPR valve is an important safety feature, and the photo shown above is NOT an appropriate solution!
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There are a multitude of things that shouldn't be put down the toilet. Unfortunately, we'll never find out what happened here.
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Mouse trap gauntlet

Determined to have Martha's mouse-pelt coat ready for Christmas, Karl set about the task with never-before-seen enthusiasm. There are many ways to get rid of mice in your home.
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Belt and suspender roofing

This DIYer wasn't taking any chances installing these shingles. Yup, he caulked between every single joint.
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Fancy access panel to nothing

Fancy access panel to nothing

Maybe it used to serve a function before they walled it off? Actually we think it was a plumbing access panel. Photo Courtesy of Structure Tech
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Sump pump smarts

It may look smart. But you're not allowed to run your sump pump discharge into your home's sewer pipes. This is another example of someone who should study up on the right way to cure a damp basement problem.
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Not a Real Doorstop

Make sure when you install a smoke alarm, it's not doing double-duty as a doorstop. Placement of smoke alarms is super-important.
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Ice cream anyone?
Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech

Ice cream anyone?

The cheapest, easiest-to-install, urinal on the planet. And no water supply lines required. But next time maybe you should read up on how to plumb a basement bathroom. Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech
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Just Make It Fit

Honey? I'm sure it's a coincidence, but it seems like the kitchen floor has a dip in it ever since you put in the garage door opener. Beware of home inspector nightmares in which the home has structural issues!
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Extension Cord-Powered Circuit

We think the idea here is to plug in an extension cord and use it to fire up another circuit. Maybe it’d be a little better to simply add another circuit.