Top Six Tips for Hiring a Commercial Property Inspector

People hire commercial property inspectors for one of several reasons:

• They are about to purchase a building and want to know if they are making a sound investment.

• They own a building and want to protect their investment through prevention instead of repair work.

• They are about to sell and want to know the true worth of their property.

No matter the reason, having a competent property inspector is crucial for knowing how structurally sound a building is. The following tips are to help commercial investors, buyers and owners protect their financial investments.

Top Six Tips For Hiring a Commercial Property Inspector:

1. Make sure they are licensed.

2. Check reviews on social media sites like Yelp and Google Reviews. While business owners can control the information that appears on their personal websites, they can’t control what people say on social media sites. This is generally where you’ll get the real story about a business. Do keep in mind that everyone has bad days and most businesses will have a bad review. What you’re looking for is the general consensus.

3. Talk to references. While references tend to be people who have had a positive experience, they can help you determine work styles and ethics of a potential property inspector.

4. Ask what type of equipment they use. In this day and age every commercial property inspector should be using a thermal imaging system to do inspections. These help determine water leaks and air leaks. Don’t be afraid to ask for credentials to ensure your inspector has been trained on his/her equipment.

5. Before you set up an appointment ask whether or not they take credit cards. Many commercial and home inspectors are family run businesses and do not accept Visa or MasterCard. Be sure to ask first if you plan on paying by credit card.

6. Be clear about what exactly is covered in the inspection. Commercial inspections are more thorough than home inspections, however inspectors are not required to move or lift obstacles that have the potential to injure them, nor are they required to expose themselves to hazardous areas such as mold infestations.

If this is your first commercial building investment, having an inspector perform a Property Condition Assessment can save you thousands of dollars in potential repairs on a property. Know what you’re getting into before you make any deals or purchase any property. For those who currently own property, maintenance repairs and preventative fixes are always cheaper than repairing major structural damage.

Home Inspections In 2016

Ah, the dreaded home inspection. For the seller, it can be suspenseful as they wait for the report to come back with any items that need to be fixed. For the buyer, it can mean a piece of mind that everything in the home is in working order and the potential opportunity to negotiate the repairs/ purchase price if anything is turned up during the home inspection process.

In general, a home inspection is meant to thoroughly check the condition of a home and is typically done when a home is being sold. More often than not, a home inspection is done by a trained and licensed inspector that acts as a neutral third party to inspect the home and provide a written report of all findings. Items that are typically examined in a home inspection include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Roof – What is the overall condition and probable age? Does it need to be replaced?
  • Exterior of the home – Including the foundation, drainage issues, gutters, siding, etc.
  • Attic space – Properly insulated and verify no leaks are present.
  • Basement – Wet basements and crawlspaces can be a cause for concern.
  • Plumbing – Check for any leaks.
  • Electrical – Test of the light switches, electrical outlets and electrical panel.
  • Heating and Cooling Systems – Are they in proper working order?
  • Water heater – Is it in good condition and working properly?
  • Appliances – General condition and age (If they are included in the sale)
  • Other – a home inspector looks at windows, doors and any potential pest damage.

The physical condition of the house is an important aspect of buying a home. Many buyers include a home inspection condition as part of the purchase contract. The buyer is usually responsible for scheduling and paying for the inspection. If any issues are found during the home inspection process, then the buyer may go to the seller to ask for repairs or credits toward the purchase price to fix any items uncovered.

The Pre-Inspection

Some buyers prefer to do a pre-inspection before submitting an offer. This is commonly done in areas with hot real estate markets when a buyer may be competing against other offers and wants to set the offer apart by not having the inspection contingency included. It’s also not uncommon for a seller to do a pre-listing inspection of the house to fix any problems before a buyer enters the scene and requests for a repair to be made or money off of the purchase price.

Home Inspection Cost and Requirements

A regular home inspection will take a few hours to complete and can range anywhere from $150 to $500 depending on the size, location, type and age of the home. Some buyers will accompany the inspector while he or she is completing the inspection to learn more about any problems that are found and ask questions. A home inspection report will be furnished to the buyer. There is usually a state run website addressing this issue including having a list of state certified inspectors. The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI), National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) and The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) can also be great resources as well. Most associations require a minimum number of inspections to join. For example, the ASHI requires no less than 250 inspections to be a member. As with any home improvement contractor, you can always ask for proof of licensing and insurance to make sure they are legitimate.

Typical home inspection reports will be thorough with photos and potentially diagrams. While the home inspector does provide a fairly comprehensive report, other reports may be needed. These may include, but are not limited to, a pest report, environmental health hazards (radon, mold, lead, asbestos) and specialized inspections from hazards such as flooding.

Home inspections are worth their weight in gold as paying a few hundred dollars to uncover a potentially major problem is money well spent instead of buying a home without an inspection only to discover a costly repair needed after you own the property. Even when purchasing a new property, a home inspection can potentially draw attention to any issues.

Home Inspection Tips for Buyers and Sellers

Many will think that home inspection is not essential while buying a house but it is not so. A home inspection is important for your family’s safety as all the components, systems, structure, appliances & installations are inspected thoroughly to ascertain they are working properly. By having a home inspection you will make sure that the house is safe your family to live in and you are paying the right price for the house.

Pre-requisites for Home Inspection

At the time a NACHI certified home inspector goes to the house for a home inspection you need to make sure that the seller provides him proper access from where he can inspect every area of the house. You need to ask the seller to remove storage containers away from wall to make it easy for the home inspector to check. In case he is not able to view any particular section of the house then he should indicate it in his report.

Broad Categorization of House Defects

Most of the problems that are looked at during a home inspection can be broadly categorized into following:

  1. Tracing major defects such as some type of structural failure.
  2. Things which can cause major problems in future such as minor roof flashing leakage.
  3. Problems in the house which can create hindrance in financing the house, insure or occupy it.
  4. Safety related problems like electric panel with buss bar which is exposed.

Home Inspection Tips for Sellers

A seller can expedite the home inspection process if he follows the under mentioned tips. If these suggestions are followed then it will result in smoother inspection and less number of concerns to solve before the closing.

  1. Check that electric, gas & water services are running. Additionally, make sure that gas pilot lights are properly burning.
  2. Avoid getting light inoperable report by changing burned out electrical items such as bulbs.
  3. Get rid of dead batteries so that they do not create problems during smoke tests and carbon monoxide detection.
  4. Check that air filters (HVAC) fit in properly.
  5. Clean out wood, stored items & debris kept near the foundation as home inspector may term it as ideal location for growth of termites.
  6. Clear the path leading to water heaters, HVAC equipment, electrical panels, crawl spaces, closets & attics so that these can be inspected properly.
  7. Check and repair broken things such as latches, door knobs, screens, window panes, chimney caps & downspouts.

As mentioned above the major defects categorization & tips for sellers on how they can make the house ready before the inspector comes to the house will greatly assist buyers and sellers in evaluating problems in the house and take remedial steps to solve these problems.

Importance of Building Inspections and Things Covered During Them

Building inspections are a bi-annual activity for most of the landlords as it can help identify problems in the initial stages before damage on a larger scale occurs.

These inspections are usually performed by a member of the maintenance team or by the home owner themselves but at other times, it is necessary to have them performed by a professional such as when you go to buy a home or consider selling your home so that you may know the true value of the house as well as any costly damage that may be hidden away from the naked eye.

Typical commercial building inspection is done once a year and in smaller buildings, such as homes, can be done more often. The inspecting party documents all malfunctions and inconsistencies and reports them to the property manager or landlord for further action. Generally the inside /outside of building is inspected as well as the grounds of the buildings. Underground garages, fire systems, elevator systems, heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, roof, vents, laundry premises, outside parking and property perimeter are some of the elements on an inspectors’ checklist.

Over the last decade the building inspection process has evolved drastically. Strict government regulation dictates the policies and certification requirements of inspectors, mainly designed to minimize damage and prevent loss of life. Many new technologies have come up on the market as well; the companies are equipping their inspectors with state of the art equipment that helps them provide very thorough assessment at a lower cost.

One of such technologies is an infrared image camera. It works by detecting temperature differences and can help diagnose problems in many areas.

The infrared camera is a game changer on many fronts and now the building inspectors, consultants and maintenance crew can all utilize this tool to provide a much better service. Although to operate the camera certification is required, a thermographer can be hired to inspect individual areas that were identified by the maintenance personnel.

Be it a rental building, a commercial complex or an industrial unit – It is the goal of every property owner to maintain and maximize the longevity of their assets. An Infrared scan can help a company reduce capital expenditures by accurately identifying problem areas.

Primarily a building inspection would cover:

• Moisture detection in building envelope

• Flat roof leak detections

• Deficiencies in concrete/inspection of basement leaks

• Windows, skylight, sunroom malfunctions

• HVAC systems functionality

• Electrical systems diagnosis

It is very crucial to check the above mentioned elements before purchasing a property or making financial commitments. A building inspection or pre-purchase inspection renders appropriate due diligence. The due diligence process provides the commercial clients all the important information they need so that to make informed and appropriate decisions.

The most important and basic of commercial building inspection targets is the foundation. An expert is definitely required to inspect the building’s foundation and problems related to it. An inspector or an expert can recommend cost-effective yet permanent solutions for your foundation and structural related issues. commercial, home and structural inspection services may help you avoid expensive and disruptive repairs like substituting foundation elements, demolishing etc. They may assist you with hi-end and cost cutting engineered solutions like wall anchors, geo-technical polymers etc.

Major reasons for opting for commercial building inspection are –

Professional Assistance: The building inspectors have the expertise that will provide professional and precise advice you can trust upon.

Avoiding Future Risk: In order to avoid future risks it is essential for you to not neglect the pre-purchase inspection and know the actual condition of the building.

Experience: The inspection professionals have years of experience that may help you make informed and wise decisions.

Focus: These professional services are tailored to focus on all value added decisions ensuring unbiased information with no conflict of interest.

Cost cutting: It is very important to know the actual condition of the building since the repairs or replacements of some components on a commercial building like HVAC, roof, and foundation etc can be extremely costly.

What Happens During a Home Inspection?

When you begin the home buying process it is an exciting, and yet often stressful time. You look at home after home, perhaps even place a few offers, and eventually you find the place that makes you sing. You know that it is everything you could possibly want, and perhaps even a bit more, but now it is at a point that can make one crazy – the property inspector needs to check out all aspects of your potential dream home so you can know if it is truly the home for you, and your budget.

The home inspection is truly an important part of the buying process, and it should be remembered that it is there to protect you. When the property inspector visits the potential home, they will check a long list of areas of the property to determine what – if any – problems you need to be cognizant of and can often let you know how much it will cost to have the repairs made.

Areas Commonly Checked during a Home Inspection

When a home inspection is done, there are key areas that will be checked. Be sure that your inspection includes these, as well as any other areas or concerns that you may have. If the home inspector balks at any of these areas or your other requests, then you will want to talk to another inspector.

· Exterior – The inspector should check all sides of the home, being sure to check siding, windows, doors, decks, foundation, gutters, chimneys, soffit, and fascia. They will also check the surface of a paved driveway, patio or – if a part of the home – the poolside. Also included in part of the exterior inspection will be the sloping of the lot as this affects the potential for flooding, whether there has been any settling in the yard and any damage to masonry work.

· Interior – The interior home inspection will include the walls, ceiling, appliances, electrical, plumbing, flooring, fireplaces, plumbing related features, and any other elements of the home.

· Condition – As part of the inspection, the inspector will also check mechanical systems such as the HVAC system, or note any irregularities in plaster, paneling, any damage due to pests, mold or other home features.

Working a home inspector is not something that should be skipped in the real estate buying process. It is a way to protect you and help you make a wise, informed purchase that will be affect you and your family’s lives for many years to come. Many companies can be contacted regarding a home inspector, but one company used in St. Paul is AmeriSpec Home Inspection.

Why Is My Boiler Boiler Pressure Relief Valve Leaking?

During a recent inspection water was dripping from the extension pipe on the side of the boiler onto the floor. This piping was connected to a leaking Pressure Relief or Safety Valve. This fairly common problem is actually a relatively good thing and keeps you and your family safe from potential failure of your boiler. Before the installation of these devices it was not uncommon to hear about boiler explosions injuring home occupants.

But why is it leaking now? To answer this question, it is important to understand how your heating system works. Your heating system distributes hot water throughout your house. As the water is heated and cooled by the boiler that water expands and increases in pressure. In order to limit the pressure of the heating system the hot water heating system includes various safety devices to ensure your home is safe.

The first and most important device on your boiler is the Pressure Relief or Safety Valve. The standard operating pressure of a home boiler system is 12 psi. If for any reason the pressure of the boiler increases beyond the safe operating pressure (the setpoint of the Pressure Relief Valve) the valve will open. This over pressurizing condition is likely caused by a failing expansion tank. When a boiler system does not allow for sufficient thermal expansion of the water in the system, the pressure of the system increases beyond the Pressure Relief Valve setpoint. Leaking of the Pressure Relief Valve due to this condition is normally cyclical as the boiler temperature heats and cools. There are two potential causes for this circumstance.

A typical cause is the cold pressure of the boiler water system is higher than the setpoint of the expansion tank which are typically designed with a 12psi setpoint. However, when the feed valve to the boiler system is higher than this setpoint the expansion tank bladder is compressed before the boiler begins operation. Once the boiler is turned on and the water is heated, subsequent thermal expansion cannot be accommodated by the already compressed bladder. Modification to the internal pressure of the expansion tank and/or reduction of the pressure reducing valve setpoint may be required.

A second potential cause is an actual leak or failure of the expansion tank bladder. In this scenario the expansion tank no longer provides for thermal expansion of the water in the system as the entire tank is filled with water.

Other causes of leaking Pressure Relief Valve can be due to the age and deterioration of the valve itself. In that case replacement of the valve is recommended. Work should always be performed by a qualified plumbing contractor.

Benefits Of Building And Pest Inspections

Properties are some of the biggest purchases people make in their lifetime, be they residential properties or commercial ones. It’s for this reason that it’s crucial to conduct a thorough inspection prior to sealing the deal, because as a buyer, you will need to get your money’s worth and be assured that the property will be an asset and not a liability.

Benefit #1: It secures your advantage as the buyer.

Building and pest inspections, property experts say, are the smart real estate investor’s strategy because it’s an effort to secure the buyer’s advantage. If this is done properly, buyers can score the opportunity to renegotiate the deal, especially if after the inspection, it’s determined that the property has “areas of concern” such as features that need to be repaired, pest infestation, presence of asbestos, etc. If sellers no longer want to deal with these issues, more often than not, they are open to lowering their asking price since you will be shouldering the cost of addressing all these issues.

Benefit #2: You can better determine the potential of the property.

It’s worth pointing out as well that with thorough building inspections, property investors can also better determine the potential of the property they intend to buy because the result of the inspection will identify the various causes of material deterioration, and other variables that affect the integrity of the property. This will also enable the buyers to evaluate their plans for it and see whether they are feasible or they would have to go back to the drawing board so all identified issues can be accommodated.

Benefit #3: Inspection results can serve as a reliable guide.

Likewise, if buyers want to upgrade the property by adding new features and renovating some areas, inspection results can serve as a reliable guide to help them purchase the appropriate materials to ensure the functional longevity of the structure; the result of pest inspections is especially helpful for this particular objective.

Benefit #4: You will get access to building and pest inspectors’ services.

The services of building and pest inspectors are not only valuable for property purchases, though. People who are thinking of renovating their homes could benefit greatly from them especially in securing building permits and meeting other requirements. Also, with their help, should property owners make a mistake with their building project, inspectors are a great resource on how to correct things so the project can be accomplished in the safest manner.

Shopping for a New Water Heater

If your water heater is getting older, it’s a good idea to shop for a replacement before you run out of hot water, or worse… wake up ankle-deep in it!

Take note of the energy sources available to you, and the amount of hot water you expect to use. Not every form of energy will work with every kind of heating appliance and some work slower than others. Tanks work with solar, electricity, oil and gas (natural or propane) but tankless units work with only electricity and gas sources. Heat pumps use only electricity.

Estimate how much hot water your household uses during peak hours and look for a heater with a first hour rating (FHR) that meets your demand. A licensed plumber is the best person to make this calculation and help you choose the right size.

Hot water can add up to 25% of your energy bill, so be sure to choose an energy efficient heating appliance.

Storage tank

This is the most common in residential applications, heating and storing hot water until needed. When you open a faucet, the released hot water is replaced by incoming cold water, which is heated and stored again at a temperature controlled by one or more thermostats in the tank.

Storage tanks are simple, maintenance-free and relatively inexpensive to install – but due to constant reheating they use energy 24/7 even if you’re not running any hot water. Electrically heated tanks can be covered with an insulating blanket to help save energy, but not gas or oil-fired tanks.

Tankless

Tankless water heaters, also known as “on demand” heaters, heat water without a storage tank, using energy only when needed – rather than maintaining a tank of hot water. Sometimes individual units are used in a number of locations throughout a house, but most newer homes have one high-output tankless heater to supply hot water throughout the home.

Due to the storage volume of hot water tanks, and the high-output nature of tankless heaters, both are commonly used for heating a home with in-floor radiant systems or through a radiator coil in a forced-air heating system.

Heat pump (hybrid)

Heat pump water heaters are not directly heated. They use electricity to pump heat from the air or the ground to your water tank, using less energy than traditional water heaters.

You can install a standalone heat pump water heater or combine your water heater with your heating and cooling system, employing an air or ground source heat pump. Although installation costs are higher, heat pump water heaters cost less to run over the longer term.

Solar

Solar collectors can be used to harness the sun’s energy and heat your water almost for free! Solar water heaters use a primary tank for storing pre-heated water before it is transferred to a conventional hot water tank, operating on electricity, gas or oil.

Solar collectors can be installed on roofs or on stands at ground level. Shop for a better quality, energy efficient model which will last longer and save money.

Features to Consider

  • Warranty: Typically three to twelve years. Purchase prices are closely tied to warranties, and longer warrantied water heaters tend to be better built and better insulated. In addition to choosing a water heater with a good warranty, check consumer reporting websites and reviews from individual owners.

  • Anti-scale devices: Although scale can shorten the life of a water heater, you don’t need to invest in extra features to get a dependable water heater. Just buy a good quality tank with a good warranty.

  • Brass vs. plastic drain valves: Near the base of the water heater, these valves are used to periodically drain sediment from the bottom of a tank. Brass drain valves are more durable than plastic.

  • Glass-lined tanks: Are designed to minimize corrosion.

  • Digital displays: Easily monitor and control the operation of your tank; set the temperature of the water, set a vacation mode and other functions.

Find more good reads @ All Around The HOUSE

Carbon Monoxide – What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a serious public health concern. Over 10,000 are poisoned by carbon monoxide needing medical treatment each year; over 500 people in the U.S. die annually from carbon monoxide poisoning.

CO is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces. CO can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it.

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” If you breathe in a lot of CO it can make you pass out or kill you. People who are sleeping or drunk can die from CO poisoning before they have symptoms.

So, how can you prevent CO poisoning in your home?

  • Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. Place your detector where it will wake you up if it alarms, such as outside your bedroom. Replace your CO detector every five years.
  • Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year
  • Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors.
  • If you smell an odor from your gas refrigerator have an expert service it. An odor from your gas refrigerator can mean it could be leaking CO.
  • When you buy gas equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency, such as Underwriters’ Laboratories.
  • Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly. Horizontal vent pipes for appliances should go up slightly as they go toward outdoors. This prevents CO from leaking if the joints or pipes aren’t fitted tightly.
  • Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys can be blocked by debris. This can cause CO to build up inside your home or cabin.
  • Never use a gas range or oven for heating. Using a gas range or oven for heating can cause a build-up of CO inside your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Never use a generator inside your home, basement, or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent.

Stand-alone carbon monoxide detectors typically cost between $20-$50. In spite of the relatively low cost, safety checks have shown that fewer than one in ten homes had a carbon monoxide detector.

Being informed about the potential dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and adopting some proactive safety measures can help prevent unnecessary harm to you and your loved ones.

What Does a Home Well Inspection Include?

If you have a well, an annual well inspection should be part of your maintenance to-do list. Even if your water tastes good, lead and other contaminants can seep into the water supply and lead to health problems. A well inspection is a small price to pay to ensure the safety of your drinking water.

What Does a Well Inspection Include?

Conducted by a licensed and/or certified well water contractor, your annual well inspection should include several components:

  • A flow test to measure water output and level, pump performance, tank pressure and switch contact pressure,
  • An inspection of equipment to ensure that it meets local codes and appears to be safe,
  • A test of water for coliform bacteria and nitrates,
  • Tests for any minerals known to affect water conditions in the area, such as sulfides, manganese or iron,
  • Periodic tests for pH levels or total dissolved solids,
  • Additional tests if the water is cloudy or oily, if there are signs of bacterial growth on fixtures or if equipment is not working properly, and
  • A written report that includes laboratory data, explains results and offers recommendations.

Useful Information about Well Inspections

Once you receive the reports from your well inspection and from any other tests that were performed, you should retain the records and keep them in a safe place, along with construction documents from when the well was first dug. Most wells have a life expectancy of about 20 years or more. Having your records on hand will be useful in determining when you might need to replace it, and necessary if you sell your house.

How much can you expect to pay for a well inspection? The cost varies according to the area and is based on the sampling methods, test procedures and the number of tests performed, but a homeowner can generally plan on spending around $150-$350. More extensive sampling for more contaminants can raise the cost.

When choosing a well inspector, it is important to use one who is licensed and certified in your state and who is familiar with the local codes. The inspector should use laboratories that are licensed to test for various contaminants that may appear in the water.

Why Should You Order an Annual Well Inspection?

You may wonder why an annual well inspection is necessary if you have no problems with taste, appearance, odor or performance. Since your well is underground, you may be unaware of any possible changes. If your home is near farms, mines, a landfill or gas or oil fields, contaminants could infiltrate your water. The same is true if you have dumped oil or waste in your yard, had your home exterminated, have a septic tank problem or develop cracks in the sealed sanitary cap on your well.

Having an annual well inspection is the best way to assure the safety and quality of your water supply.