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    LESLIE: Paul in South Carolina needs some help with, it seems like, his entire home based on this note I got from our call screener. What’s up, Paul?

    PAUL: I have noticed that in my second story, the hardwood floors are uneven. They seem to be higher right down the middle of the house.
    TOM: What kind of home do you have, Paul? Said a two-story Colonial?
    PAUL: That’s probably the best way to describe it.
    TOM: OK, because down the middle of a typical two-story Colonial, you typically have a girder and a bearing surface where the floor joists sort of criss-cross.
    PAUL: Right.
    TOM: And if the hardwood floor seems to be higher in the middle, it could be that the outside walls are settling. Or even more commonly, is that when the contractors put the floor joists and criss-cross them at the girder, they overhang them on the girder a little bit too long and, if you can imagine this, as the floor settles, they kind of scissor up and press up the floor in the middle of it. Do you see any evidence of active movement; like do you see wall cracking that is significant or anything of that nature?
    PAUL: I have noticed that there is some cracking in the ceiling in the downstairs.
    TOM: OK. Well, you know, it might be worth having the home looked at by a professional engineer or a professional home inspector to see if you can get a sense as to why this is happening. A little bit of cracking is OK but you’re now putting two and two together; you’re seeing movement underneath and movement above – and by the movement, I mean the hump in the floor and the cracking of the ceiling.
    PAUL: Right.
    TOM: And so it’s possible something could be moving. There could be other things going on that a trained eye might be able to pick up.
    PAUL: OK. And you think a home inspector would be the right way to go?
    TOM: Yeah, a good-quality home inspector. I would go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors – and that’s at ASHI.org – and you can put in your zip code. You’ll find a list of home inspectors in your area that are certified by that organization. You know, call a few off of that list; see if you can find the right guy that way.
    PAUL: That sounds great. Thank you for your help.
    TOM: You’re welcome, Paul. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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