House built with A Railroad-ties

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**Bank repo buyers discover
house built of railroad ties
George Warren Last updated 2 hrs ago Posted:

PARADISE, CA - They don’t build houses like they
used to-- and sometimes that’s a good thing. A
couple that bought a bank-owned home built in
1945 has discovered the house was made of
salvaged railroad ties.

“I would guess from a lot of research those are
about 1935 railroad ties,” said Mike Ledbetter as he
peered at the side of the house exposed by the
addition of a dual pane sliding glass door.

Ledbetter, 47, and his wife Daphne closed escrow
on the house on Red Hill Way in Paradise last
December. They first realized the exterior walls were
composed of stacked railroad ties when they began
remodeling in March.

The exposed ties show marks left by rails and holes
from the spikes.

Ledbetter said the unorthodox construction material
didn’t seem to pose a problem until summer heat b
rought eye-watering creosote vapors inside the
home. “If you walked the railroad tracks as kids
playing by trains, you would know the smell,” he

Although various websites tout the benefits of
building homes with railroad ties, the Environmental
Protection Agency says creosote is a suspected
carcinogen and there are no approved residential
uses of lumber treated with creosote.

Property records show the house was repossessed
by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation
(Freddie Mac) in June, 2009. The Ledbetters bought
the home from Freddie Mac for $65,000 cash six
months later.

Lenders are exempt from many of the real estate
disclosures required by state and federal law.

“Because they foreclosed and didn’t live in the place,
they didn’t know anything about it,” Ledbetter said.
“So they can walk away from it with their hands

The Ledbetters’ experience points out the
importance of a thorough home inspection,
especially when the transaction involves bank-
owned property.

Photographs recently taken under the house reveal
the railroad ties. A home inspection almost certainly
would have done the same thing.

Ledbetter said the couple chose not to order a home
inspection because they thought the pest report
paid for by the seller would be adequate. “We were
trying to save money,” he said.

Ledbetter said he’s exploring several options to deal
with the smell, including disassembling the house
and selling the ties as landscaping material.

The old house could be replaced with a
manufactured home on the half-acre property. “I
really like the lot,” Ledbetter said.

by George Warren, **­


I have no sympathy for anyone who buys a home without getting it inspected. In this day and age, there is no excuse for not having an inspection performed.

The buyer knew that the bank tellers never lived in the home, yet he acts surprised that the bank had no duty to disclose what they didn’t and couldn’t have known about a property they merely lent money on.

A home inspection may not even have brought this to light. Likely covered inside and out.

True, but in a recent inspection my nose told me that creosote may be present.

Creosote has a very distinctive smell…

Needless to say, 80% of the home was demolished because of my report after my client (an attorney) further investigated. He was very pleased with my mentioning creosote and of its possible long term effects.

I have not heard from his Realtor since…

Marcel,the smell in the house would have been a clue,creosote has a very noticeable odor.
You bring up an interesting point,in addition to all the tools in our tool bag,we all are gifted with 4 tools when we are born,they are ,touch,smell ,sight and hearing,if you us these every day,you will discover a lot of things during the inspection

So true!

Not many tools are required for a good home inspection beside knowledge when we already have the basics as mentioned above.