Capitol Hill Restoration Society

Tips for Home Maintenance – Preservation Café

Posted on November 14th, 2012

The featured speaker for the November 2012 Preservation Café was Cliff Kornegay, owner of Capitol Hill Home Inspections.

Cliff has been involved in the construction and home improvement trades for over ten years and is certified in historic real estate by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Mr. Kornegay inspected the Commandant’s House at the Washington Navy Yard, one of the oldest structures in the District.

Cliff talked about maintenance tips for homeowners and his experiences inspecting historic residences on Capitol Hill.   Mr. Kornegay grouped problematic areas of the home into several categories: ground and site drainage, exterior wall and roof surfaces, insulation and ventilation systems, structural systems, plumbing systems, electrical systems, heating and air conditioning systems, and fireplaces. Cliff talked about common issues related to each category and how to best remedy problems when they are indentified.

Cliff also highlighted his Top Five Inspection Defects. These include, in no particular order:

1) Damaged roof structure and deteriorated roof materials. Access to the attic space is needed to confirm condition of roof structure. Maintenance is often lacking on roof surfaces, causing them to deteriorate over time.

2) Damage to the exterior wall structure. This includes deteriorated mortar joints at brick walls allowing water to penetrate into the interior of the residence.

3) Crawlspace access. Homes often lack access into the crawlspace below the floor structure. Crawlspaces should be insulated and have a vapor barrier over the dirt floor. Pipes and ductwork running in the crawlspace should be insulated.

4) Inadequate service for heating/AC equipment. A technician should service equipment at least once a year to ensure systems are operating properly. Filters should be changed appropriately to maintain efficiency of equipment and cleanliness of ductwork.

5) Roof and site drainage. Gutters need to be kept clear of debris and downspouts should discharge away from the building’s footprint. Yards should be sloped away from the building.

Home inspectors can be hired not just by prospective home buyers, but also by owners who are planning on staying long-term in their current residence and want a report card on their property. A reputable home inspector will be a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors and have experience inspecting older homes.

Capitol Hill Home Inspections serves the metropolitan DC region. Cliff can be reached at 202.215.5723 or via email at