A Gibsons home inspection on a steep lot brought out the need to call a geotechnical engineer for an expert’s opinion. It is always best to call in additional resources when a risk is identified but cannot be quantified.
EKAN recently completed a home inspection in lower Gibsons for a client who is contemplating the purchase of a home with a spectacular view. The view was maximized by building on a granite rock outcrop with a steep drop off to the south. As a result, there is an unrestricted view of Georgia Strait and the coast islands.
Developers never let an opportunity pass them by, by using street names such as Tyrol, Skyline or my favorite… Chairlift, to alert the public to that million dollar view property.
Old school realtors used to refer to such properties as ‘adult orientated’ or ‘suited to an adult lifestyle’, which was code for “Oh my gosh, if we live here the kids will fall off the cliff in the backyard!”
Inspection Red Flags
Whenever I am called to inspect such a property, I spend at least an hour on the exterior and landscaping. I’m looking for signs of distress on the foundations, soil erosion, structural cracks, tilting trees, earthworks that have moved.
In this particular case the drop off was indeed steep and most of the south face property line was inaccessible. Way down below, through the brush and trees could be seen other properties.
Having worked in mining as a professional engineer for many decades, I was immediately concerned about the rock face. I carefully viewed as much of the terrain as possible from a safe angle. Sure enough a large outcrop had a substantial crack in its lower half, which created a natural boulder about 4 feet in diameter. Should it loosen and fall out, there would be consequences to the properties below, not to mention that the void would undercut the boulder above, leaving it too susceptible to movement.
Further Investigation Required
This is where a competent inspector uses the phrase ‘further investigation required’ in the report. In this case a geotechnical engineer’s opinion will be needed. From the precarious location, access will have to be made with the ropes and climbing gear.
Worth Extra Effort
Yes this property requires further inspection, but just because there is an issue does not make it any less desirable. In the majority of cases, such unique properties easily justify the expense to make them not only safe for the owners, but also for their immediate neighbours.