Your house is melting!
Occasionally, we see some really weird things at inspections. Sometimes, the weird things are at a neighboring property. Take, for instance, the time we found an observatory in the backyard of a neighboring home. Pretty cool, but strange at the same time. We also see melting houses. Read on.
Recently, we inspected a home and noticed that the neighboring home’s vinyl siding was badly melted and deformed. We have seen this before where there was minor damage to the siding. Our subject house was an entirely different situation. About 1/3 of the siding on one side of the home was so badly damaged that it will require replacement of the entire wall. It reminded me of an infamous situation that occurred in 2013 in London, England when a car was melted when it was parked in front of an office building. This London skyscraper can melt cars and set buildings on fire (nbcnews.com)
What caused this?
Quite simply, reflections from the sun. What happens is that the sun reflects off windows and aims the sun’s rays to a specific location. This is kind of like when we used to start fires with magnifying glasses. In most cases, this phenomenon occurs when a neighboring home’s windows deform during cold weather and the sun is reflected into very small areas that cause localized damage to the siding. In this case, we suspect that the group of windows on the neighboring home’s south facing walls acted like a mirror and caused these large areas of damage. In this specific case, all we could do was to tell our client that their house may be causing problems with the neighboring home. Their house is melting!
What to do?
If this happened to my home, I would first contact my insurance company. It’s likely that they will act on a claim and make the necessary repairs. However, this is only part of the solution. To prevent this from happening again and again, something will need to be done to the neighboring home’s windows to prevent the reflection. It seems that the simplest solution would be to install screens on the windows of the offending windows. If this is not an option, then perhaps some sort of film could be installed on the windows. As a last resort, you could plant a tree between the two houses!?
What would you do if your house was melting?
By Jamie Dunsing Professional Inspector