October 2017

Willis Sinclair Homes

The Lowcountry’s Premier Custom Home Builder”

The whole group (all 14 of us) went to Orangeburg (SC) to witness the eclipse.

24 Gabriel Road

Lodge, South Carolina 29082




843 846 2500

October 2017

Number 44

From the desk

of Bill …

Newsletters Online

We now have most (39 of 43) of the back issues of our newsletters posted on our website. You can see them by going to our website, www.willissinclair.com. Select “About Us” on the left menu. Then select “News” along the top. As always, if you would like for us to address an issue in our newsletters, please ask. If you would like a hard copy, we might have one. Just ask. If you would like us to add someone to our mailing list, just ask.

This is a projection of the partial eclipse using a pin hole in a piece of paper.(It looked much clearer in person.)

The Eclipse

A total solar eclipse swept over the State of South Carolina (and the country) on August 21. We loaded everyone in the van and headed north about 40 miles to Orangeburg to watch the spectacle. Willis and Abbey even drove up to meet us. I was surprised how much the grandchildren seemed to enjoy looking (with appropriate solar glasses, of course) at the moon as it slowly covered the sun. The best I can tell, the next total eclipse in our country will be in 2045.

This was a great opportunity for an impromptu science lesson. I also showed the grandchildren about pinhole cameras. We punched a tiny hole in a piece of paper and could see the sun projected to the ground.

Why would I write about this in our newsletter? It is because we use scientific principles whenever we have a chance. We use them especially to solve problems.

When I was designing airborne RADAR systems, I used to get frustrated when techs on our assembly line would try to fix a malfunctioning system by “shotgunning.” “Shotgunning” meant the tech would just try one thing, then another and hope it might fix the problem. They would just “blast away.”

Obviously, the very first step in solving a problem should be determine the exact problem. That is not always easy, but if you cannot pinpoint the problem, you have to guess a solution. We don’t participate in the “guess and miss” system – another “system” that used to frustrate me when I was an electronic design engineer.

Of course, there are times when our first solution does not correct a problem. Be assured we will not walk away. We will solve the problem if at all possible.

If you have a problem, call us. We will determine the problem, then fix it.

To Flush or Not to Flush?

Before you flush anything, consider the material. For the septic (or sewer) system to work, solids have to decompose. Toilet paper and human waste are fine. They decompose.

Some items are specifically designed to not decompose such as hand wipes. If hand wipes decomposed in water, they would be decomposed and just mush in their container. Clearly, that would not work so the manufacturer makes sure wet wipes won’t decompose (in their container or in your septic system)

If you flush items that will not decompose (wet wipes, plastic on diapers, feminine supplies, etc.), these items tend to float to the top of your septic tank. Over time, they will drift to the tank outlet and plug it. The next step is not pleasant: sewage backs up in your home. Flush with care.

Purchasing an Existing Home?

Some of our clients decide purchasing an existing home is a better approach than having one built. In some respects that is a good idea, but there are several items to consider.

Normally, purchasing an existing home can be a faster way to have a home even if some remodeling is needed. If you are in a hurry, a home purchase might be a good idea.

If you have a difficult time visualizing how a home will really appear when you look at plans, you may feel more comfortable seeing the actual house where you will live.

When you purchase an existing home, you are purchasing someone’s home. Their taste is probably not exactly like yours, but you can often remodel it to tailor it for you.

If you have selected a potential home and feel it can be remodeled to suit your needs, you need to realize there may be other potential problem areas.


Here in the hot and humid South, rot is a constant companion. If your home has a lot of wood on the exterior (as many do), have someone check for rot. Rotten boards may be minor and easy to replace or it may be major. Unfortunately, we have found pockets of rot filled with caulk and painted to hide them from view. Make sure you have your home inspected carefully.

Look carefully at these gable beams. There is rot on the beams. They had to be replaced.

Windows & Doors

If you are purchasing an older home, be sure to have the windows and doors checked. Sometimes the seals age and fail. Some windows will be cloudy. We have even had to replace windows that had rotting wood sashes. Replacing windows can be an expensive and time consuming task. (Lead time on windows is typically 6 to 8 weeks.)


How do the doors close on your prospective home? Depending upon how much the home has settled (all homes settle) and the structural integrity of the framing, exterior doors may or may not close and seal well. They may also have rot problems. Even metal clad doors can rot. Be sure to have the doors checked in the home you are considering. Don’t forget the auto bay doors in the garage. Rotted garage doors are not uncommon.

This window looked fine on the inside. Outside was a different story.


Look over your home carefully. Look around windows and along the ceiling. Has the home been freshly painted? Why? Did the paint need freshening or was it to cover water stains? If just a room or two have been painted or perhaps just a ceiling, ask questions.


Here in the Lowcountry, we have hungry little critters who can do significant damage to your home if you don’t protect it. Be sure the previous home owner has kept termite treatments up on the house you are considering. If not, make sure a termite company inspects it and will cover you. Much termite damage is behind walls and not visible until it is major.

HVAC units

How old are the HVAC (heating and air conditioning units) in the home? Here in the Lowcountry, the life expectancy of these units is not very long. Perhaps it is the hydrogen sulfide from the swampy water. Perhaps it is the use of offshore materials. Perhaps it is some other reason. The bottom line is these units seem to fail before they get very old. Older units are not as efficient as the newer ones either, so that may motivate you to replace them. Replacing the HVAC units is an expensive proposition.


What sort of insulation does the home have? Fiberglass insulation is acceptable, but probably not as energy efficient as spray-in foam. It is much better to insulate the underside of the roof so the attic is mildly conditioned. Some builders here still use blow in cellulose insulation in attics. It is not very good initially and then slowly gets worse as it settles. Foam insulation can be added to some homes in the roof and under the floor, but again it is expensive and you need to consider that when you are drafting your offer.


How does the flooring look? If the previous owner had dogs, did they scratch the flooring (or doors). As you may have noticed there is a lot of sand here and walking in your house with sand on your shoes has an effect remarkably like sandpaper on wood floors. They can be refinished. Be sure you consider that.


Does the house have LP (gas) in it? Do you want gas? Of course, it can be installed after the fact, but consider the impact of burying a 500 gallon tank will make on your landscaping.

Critters under your home can cause big problems by chewing insulation off wires.


In addition to the tiny critters (termites) we have here, we also have rats, armadillos, bats, squirrels and numerous other creatures who love to live under homes and in attics. Unfortunately, these creatures also like to chew on wire insulation which can cause short circuits and even fires. Be sure the home you want is free of critters before you buy or take that into consideration when you make your offer. There are companies that will make sure your home is clear of critters.

The mortar cracked on this bluestone border because the stones were laid on dirt — not a solid foundation.


How does the landscaping look in the yard? It can be frustrating to have a very nicely landscaped yard with deer eating many of the plants. Does the irrigation system even work? You certainly want your yard to look nice so upgrades or repairs may be in order.


If you are considering purchasing an existing home, call us. We will inspect it and give you our recommendations and warnings for a very reasonable charge. We will do our best to make sure you are not blindsided.

Willis Sinclair Homes

We will fix your problems!

Call Us

843 846 2500



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