Category Archives: Real Estate Agent

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.

Why You Should Get Periodic Home Inspections

Have you considered having a home inspection done? Home inspection is not just for the buyers and sellers of a home but can also be an invaluable resource for those who already own their own homes. Most people do not realize they should have a home inspection done every five to ten years as part of an overall maintenance plan. But a home inspector can help you more then you may think.

For most of us the two things we will spend the most money on in our lives is our cars and our homes. You would never drive the same car for 10 years or more without taking it in to a mechanic for a tune up would you?  Of course you would not. Car maintenance must be done to ensure your vehicle will continue to run as long and as well as possible. You also clean wash it and vacuum it once in a while as well to keep up the resale value if not for your own sense of cleanliness. Why then should your home be any different?

A regular maintenance plan for your home should include a home inspection every few years. A home inspector can advise you on any repairs that should be done before they become a major expense and discuss any safety issues you may be unaware of.

Home inspectors go over every aspect of your home and give you an unbiased report of the findings. The report will show you anything that may be wrong with your home now, what may be getting ready to need repairs as well as advise you on how to make the repairs.  For instance a home inspector may notice a small stain on a wall and track that to a water leak. The leak may have been small enough to only cost a couple of dollars to fix now but it could have done a lot of damages before you found it on your own.

Home inspections can also alert you to any safety issues you may be unaware of. Worn gas lines and frayed electrical wiring often goes unnoticed until a fire breaks out or people get sick and die. A home inspector looks at electrical wires as well as gas and plumbing as part of a routine check and alerts you when a problem is found.

Engaging the services of a professional home inspector should be a part of regular home maintenance. A thorough unbiased home inspection can point out repair and safety issues before they become a serious issue and help you to retain the value of your home as well as your peace of mind.

Advantages Of Hiring Video Pipe Inspection Services For Sewer Pipes

Earlier, when there used to be a blockage in sewer pipes or drain at anyone’s home, people use to call a plumber for diagnosing the problem. As there was no such technology like video pipe inspection at that time, the plumbers had no other option than to dig out across that pipeline and look for damage or blockage. It would take hours to figure out the exact location and the cause of problem after causing huge damage to the expensive flooring or walls of your house. At the end, people used to pay heavy bills to the plumbers for major sewer repair services.

Then came an innovative piece of advanced technology, the video pipe inspection, which created a revolution for plumbing services a big way. Now, there was no need to dig out the entire area suspected of blockage or damage in the pipe. Through video pipe inspection, it becomes so easy to figure out the exact location where the problem could exist.

In case you were still not aware about this mind-blowing technology in plumbing, then you should definitely look more its numerous advantages as follows-

1. Easy to locate the damage area: The very first major advantage of doing video pipe inspection when you suspect pipe leakage in your home is its ability to locate the exact position under problem. Once the plumber knows where the leakage exists, he will dig only that limited area to repair the damaged pipe. This will help avoid unnecessary digging of floors and walls and reduce overall expenses for sewer repair services at your home.

2. Easy to locate the blockage: In a house where children exist, it is quite common to face clogging of sewer pipes or drains. The kids do throw one or the other thing into sewer pipes accidentally or sometimes intentionally, which ultimately causes blockage in the pipes. In such situations, all you need to do is hire the video pipe inspection services and know the exact location of blockage. The video inspection will not only clarify the true reason of blockage, but also saves a lot of time and resources trying other methods.

3. Prevents major situations: Generally, when people face any blockage in sewer pipe at home, they try various home remedies to clear that blockage. Such remedies may solve the problem for temporary basis, but there is a possibility that your ignorance may lead to some serious issues with time. So, instead of relying on guesswork it is highly recommended going for video inspection of pipes from time to time and prevent any major situations.

4. Saves time and money: In today’s world, it is extremely important to value both time and money. Opting for video pipe inspection for maintenance of sewer pipes and drains saves your valuable time and money. Therefore, it is always beneficial to hire some professional video pipe inspection services for repairing any damage or blockage in home sewer pipes.

The next time you will find any problem in sewer pipes in your home, better go for video pipe inspection first. It can save you a lot of repair bills through sewer repair services at your home.

Electrical Home Inspection: What You Need to Know!

Whether you’re buying a home, or just moving in to your new home, here is some advice that can help you. If you’re in the buying process the things you will be looking for are safety and repair aspects. Most electrical contractors can offer you an inspection to check for both of these. If you are thinking to yourself right now that you have or are going to hire a Home inspector, think again. A home inspector does a generalized inspection. Most of them will know a little about a lot of different areas, but be an expert in none with a few exceptions. It is a certainty in most areas to say you will be forced to hire one to get a mortgage, and that’s a good thing. If you hire an experienced licensed electrician, your electrical inspection will be more thorough and you can get an estimate to what repairs will cost at the same time.

When buying a home you’ll want to know what if any defects there are, or safety hazards. Items that rate high on the list are things like aluminum wiring, GFCI receptacles, grounding and water leaking into service parts. The two of these that are most critical, dangerous and expensive are the aluminum wiring and water leaks into the main service. If you are just moving into a home you purchased, there are some things you can do to be sure your electrical system is safe. I highly recommend that all the devices be changed to new ones. This would be all the switches and receptacles. There is a reason for this. Most electrical problems occur when termination points become loose or corroded. See Picture

By having the devices professionally replaced, you can nip any of these problems before they occur. The other item to consider changing is light fixtures. This can be a bit expensive so if it isn’t in your budget try to at least change the very old ones. The reason for changing these is older fixture wires tend to get very brittle. If the bulbs used in them over the years were of an improper wattage, this can exaggerate the situation, a very common occurrence.

The peace of mind you will get, knowing a professional in the electrical field inspected your home, is well worth the money spent.

Services Offered By Pest Control Companies

When buying a house, you do everything just to find the best one. It should be safe, fits your budget, and accommodates you and your family’s needs. One safety concern that you should immediately check is if the house is free of pests. This is absolutely important if you want to live a healthy and comfortable life. You wouldn’t want your kids to be bitten by ants, or your house’s foundation to be infested with termites, right? To make sure that you’re not throwing away your money on a property that is pest infested, consider requesting for a building and pest inspection.

A pest inspection will help you determine if the house is a good investment. If you have chosen a property that sits in an area where pests are common, you’d have to do the inspection immediately. Beetles, silverfish, termites, ants, wasps, moths, fleas and the likes have no room in your new home so don’t even think twice about getting it checked. Should you be living alone, ensuring that your home is pest free is still a must especially if you plan to sell the property in the future. It will be a lot harder to get the house out of your hand if you have pests as houseguests.

Fortunately, there are many pest control companies offering different services so finding one will not be problem. Here are the most common services they offer:

1. Before purchase pest inspections are a kind of pest control service recommended for all people who plan to buy a house. This is done through contacting a member of the Pest Managers Association to do the inspection and declare whether the house is free from pests or not.

2. Protection for new homes and home extensions. In case the house you bought is declared pest free, you can still use this service to safeguard your furniture. Protect your couch, cabinets and armoires from destructive termites. The experts will apply a chemical to your furniture, and this will keep those unwanted critters away. Some of the usual methods they use are termite barriers and reticulation systems.

3. Termite pest control and others. If ever you have cockroaches, ants, beetles and other pests in your home, you can immediately contact a pest control company. They will identify what pests are present in your home and use a specific mix of solution for each.

If you are serious on buying a house, you need to put pest inspection in top consideration. Go and find the best pest control service and ensure a safer home for you and your family.

Home Inspections – A Question and Answer Guide

A home inspection is an evaluation of the visible and accessible systems and components of a home (plumbing, heating and cooling, electrical, structure, roof, etc.) and is intended to give the client (buyer, seller, or homeowner) a better understanding of the home’s general condition. Most often it is a buyer who requests an inspection of the home he or she is serious about purchasing. A home inspection delivers data so that decisions about the purchase can be confirmed or questioned, and can uncover serious and/or expensive to repair defects that the seller/owner may not be aware of. It is not an appraisal of the property’s value; nor does it address the cost of repairs. It does not guarantee that the home complies with local building codes or protect a client in the event an item inspected fails in the future. [Note: Warranties can be purchased to cover many items.] A home inspection should not be considered a “technically exhaustive” evaluation, but rather an evaluation of the property on the day it is inspected, taking into consideration normal wear and tear for the home’s age and location. A home inspection can also include, for extra fees, Radon gas testing, water testing, energy audits, pest inspections, pool inspections, and several other specific items that may be indigenous to the region of the country where the inspection takes place. Home inspections are also used (less often) by a seller before listing the property to see if there are any hidden problems that they are unaware of, and also by homeowners simply wishing to care for their homes, prevent surprises, and keep the home investment value as high as possible.

The important results to pay attention to in a home inspection are:

1. Major defects, such as large differential cracks in the foundation; structure out of level or plumb; decks not installed or supported properly, etc. These are items that are expensive to fix, which we classify as items requiring more than 2% of the purchase price to repair.

2. Things that could lead to major defects – a roof flashing leak that could get bigger, damaged downspouts that could cause backup and water intrusion, or a support beam that was not tied in to the structure properly.

3. Safety hazards, such as an exposed electrical wiring, lack of GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters) in kitchens and bathrooms, lack of safety railing on decks more than 30 inches off the ground, etc.

Your inspector will advise you about what to do about these problems. He/she may recommend evaluation – and on serious issues most certainly will – by licensed or certified professionals who are specialists in the defect areas. For example, your inspector will recommend you call a licensed building engineer if they find sections of the home that are out of alignment, as this could indicate a serious structural deficiency.

Home Inspections are only done by a buyer after they sign a contract, right?

This is not true! As you will see when you read on, a home inspection can be used for interim inspections in new construction, as a maintenance tool by a current homeowner, a proactive technique by sellers to make their home more sellable, and by buyers wanting to determine the condition of the potential home.

Sellers, in particular, can benefit from getting a home inspection before listing the home. Here are just a few of the advantages for the seller:

· The seller knows the home! The home inspector will be able to get answers to his/her questions on the history of any problems they find.

· A home inspection will help the seller be more objective when it comes to setting a fair price on the home.

· The seller can take the report and make it into a marketing piece for the home.

· The seller will be alerted to any safety issues found in the home before they open it up for open house tours.

· The seller can make repairs leisurely instead being in a rush after the contract is signed.

Why should I get a home inspection?

Your new home has dozens of systems and over 10,000 parts – from heating and cooling to ventilation and appliances. When these systems and appliances work together, you experience comfort, energy savings, and durability. Weak links in the system, however, can produce assorted problems leading to a loss in value and shortened component life. Would you buy a used car without a qualified mechanic looking at it? Your home is far more complicated, and to have a thorough inspection that is documented in a report arms you with substantial information on which to make decisions.

Why can’t I do the inspection myself?

Most homebuyers lack the knowledge, skill, and objectivity needed to inspect a home themselves. By using the services of a professional home inspector, they gain a better understanding of the condition of the property; especially whether any items do not “function as intended” or “adversely affect the habitability of the dwelling” or “warrant further investigation” by a specialist. Remember that the home inspector is a generalist and is broadly trained in every home system.

Why can’t I ask a family member who is handy or who is a contractor to inspect my new home?

Although your nephew or aunt may be very skilled, he or she is not trained or experienced in professional home inspections and usually lacks the specialized test equipment and knowledge required for an inspection. Home inspection training and expertise represent a distinct, licensed profession that employs rigorous standards of practice. Most contractors and other trade professionals hire a professional home inspector to inspect their own homes when they themselves purchase a home!

What does a home inspection cost?

This is often the first question asked but the answer tells the least about the quality of the inspection. Fees are based according to size, age and various other aspects of the home. Inspection fees from a certified professional home inspector generally start under $300. An average price for a 2,000 square foot home nationally is about $350-$375. What you should pay attention to is not the fee, but the qualifications of your inspector. Are they nationally certified (passed the NHIE exam)? Are they state certified if required?

How long does the inspection take?

This depends upon the size and condition of the home. You can usually figure 1.2 hours for every 1,000 square feet. For example, a 2,500 square foot house would take about 3 hours. If the company also produces the report at your home, that will take an additional 30-50 minutes.

Do all homes require a home inspection?

Yes and No. Although not required by law in most states, we feel that any buyer not getting a home inspection is doing themselves a great disservice. They may find themselves with costly and unpleasant surprises after moving into the home and suffer financial headaches that could easily have been avoided.

Should I be at the inspection?

It’s a great idea for you be present during the inspection – whether you are buyer, seller, or homeowner. With you there, the inspector can show you any defects and explain their importance as well as point out maintenance features that will be helpful in the future. If you can’t be there, it is not a problem since the report you receive will be very detailed. If you are not present, then you should be sure to ask your inspector to explain anything that is not clear in the report. Also read the inspection agreement carefully so you understand what is covered and what is not covered in the inspection. If there is a problem with the inspection or the report, you should raise the issues quickly by calling the inspector, usually within 24 hours. If you want the inspector to return after the inspection to show you things, this can be arranged and is a good idea, however, you will be paying for the inspector’s time on a walkthrough since this was not included in the original service.

Should the seller attend the home inspection that has been ordered by the buyer?

The seller will be welcome at the inspection (it is still their home) although they should understand that the inspector is working for the buyer. The conversation that the inspector has with the buyer may be upsetting to the seller if the seller was unaware of the items being pointed out, or the seller may be overly emotional about any flaws. This is a reason why the seller might want to consider getting their own inspection before listing the home.

Can a house fail a home inspection?

No. A home inspection is an examination of the current condition of your prospective home. It is not an appraisal, which determines market value, or a municipal inspection, which verifies local code compliance. A home inspector, therefore, cannot not pass or fail a house. The inspector will objectively describe the home’s physical condition and indicate which items are in need of repair or replacement.

What is included in the inspection?

The following list is not exhaustive. Not all of these may be in the inspection you get, but the inspector will be following a standardized checklist for the home:

· Site drainage and grading

· Driveway

· Entry Steps, handrails

· Decks

· Masonry

· Landscape (as it relates to the home)

· Retaining walls

· Roofing, flashings, chimneys, and attic

· Eaves, soffits, and fascias

· Walls, doors, windows, patios, walkways

· Foundation, basement, and crawlspaces

· Garage, garage walls, floor, and door operation

· Kitchen appliances (dishwasher, range/oven/cooktop/hoods, microwave, disposal, trash compactor)

· Laundry appliances (washer and dryer)

· Ceilings, walls, floors

· Kitchen counters, floors, and cabinets

· Windows and window gaskets

· Interior doors and hardware

· Plumbing systems and fixtures

· Electrical system, panels, entrance conductors

· Electrical grounding, GFCI, outlets

· Smoke (fire) detectors

· Ventilation systems and Insulation

· Heating equipment and controls

· Ducts and distribution systems

· Fireplaces

· Air Conditioning and controls

· Heat Pumps and controls

· Safety items such as means of egress, TPRV valves, railings, etc.

Other items that are not a part of the standard inspection can be added for an additional fee:

· Radon Gas Test

· Water Quality Test

· Termite Inspection (usually performed by a separate company)

· Gas Line Leak Test (usually performed by the gas company)

· Sprinkler System Test

· Swimming Pool and Spa Inspection

· Mold Screening (sometimes performed by a separate company)

· Septic System Inspection (usually performed by a separate company)

· Alarm System (usually performed by a separate company)

We recommend getting a Radon Test if your prospective home falls into an area of the country with known Radon seepage, since Radon gas produces cancer second only to cigarette smoking and can be easily mitigated by installing a vent system. We also recommend a water test to make sure you do not have bacteria in the water supply. Water can also be tested for Radon.

What is not included in the inspection?

Most people assume that everything is inspected in depth on inspection day. This misunderstanding has caused many a homebuyer to be upset with their inspector. The inspections we do are not exhaustive and there is a good reason for this. If you hired someone with licenses for heating and cooling, electrical, plumbing, engineering, etc. to inspect your house, it would take about 14 hours and cost you about $2000! It is much more practical to hire a professional inspector who has generalist knowledge of home systems, knows what to look for, and can recommend further inspection by a specialist if needed. Your inspector is also following very specific guidelines as he/she inspects your home. These are either national guidelines (ASHI – American Society of Home Inspectors, InterNACHI – International Association of Certified Home Inspectors) or state guidelines. These guidelines are carefully written to protect both your home and the inspector. Here are some examples: We are directed to not turn systems on if they were off at the time of the inspection (safety reasons); we are not allowed to move furniture (might harm something); not allowed to turn on water if it is off (possible flooding), and not allowed to break through a sealed attic hatch (possible damage). The downside of this practice is that by not operating a control, by not seeing under the furniture, and not getting into the attic or crawlspace, we will might miss identifying a problem. However, put into perspective, the chances of missing something serious because of this is quite low, and the guideline as it relates to safety and not harming anything in the home is a good one. There are other items that 95% of inspectors consider outside a normal inspection, and these include inspecting most things that are not bolted down (installed in the home) such as electronics, low voltage lighting, space heaters, portable air conditioners, or specialized systems such as water purifiers, alarm systems, etc.

What if there are things you can’t inspect (like snow on the roof)?

It just so happens that some days the weather elements interfere with a full home inspection! There isn’t much we can do about this either. If there is snow on the roof we will tell you we were unable to inspect it. Of course we will be looking at the eves and the attic, and any other areas where we can get an idea of condition, but we will write in the report that we could not inspect the roof. It is impractical for us to return another day once the snow melts, because we have full schedules. However, you can usually pay an inspector a small fee to return and inspect the one or two items they were unable to inspect when they were there the first time. This is just the way things go. If you ask the inspector for a re-inspection, they will usually inspect the items then at no extra charge (beyond the re-inspection fee).

Will the inspector walk on the roof?

The inspector will walk on the roof if it is safe, accessible, and strong enough so that there is no damage done to it by walking on it. Some roofs – such as slate and tile, should not be walked on. Sometimes because of poor weather conditions, extremely steep roofs, or very high roofs, the inspector will not be able to walk the roof. The inspector will try to get up to the edge though, and will also use binoculars where accessibility is a problem. They will also examine the roof from the upper windows if that is possible. There is a lot the inspector can determine from a visual examination from a ladder and from the ground, and they will be able to tell a lot more from inside the attic about the condition of the roof as well.

Should I have my house tested for Radon? What exactly is Radon?

In many areas of the country, the answer is a definite yes. You can ask your real estate agent about this or go on to the internet for a radon map of the country. Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that’s formed during the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. Radon exits the ground and can seep into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation. Radon gas can also contaminate well water.

Health officials have determined that radon gas is a serious carcinogen that can cause lung cancer, second only to cigarette smoking. The only way to find out if your house contains radon gas is to perform a radon measurement test, which your home inspector can do. Make sure the person conducting your test has been trained to The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) or The National Radon Safety Board (NRSB) standards.

What about a newly constructed home? Does it need a home inspection?

Yes! In fact, we find far more problems, some quite serious, in newly constructed homes than in homes that have been lived in for years. This is not due to your builder’s negligence – he/she has done the best job they could with subcontractors and planning – it’s just that there are so many systems in a home, that it is close to impossible to inspect everything, and correct it before the Certificate of Occupancy is issued. Then, for some reason, the subcontractors no longer want to work on the home, and final jobs and details are missed. We recommend getting several professional home inspections near the completion stages of the home to discover everything that should be corrected. If the house is still new but sitting for a while before sale, it’s even more important to get a home inspection. We have seen water lines not hooked up, plumbing lines not hooked up, sewer lines not hooked up, vents not hooked up, and a variety of other serious but easily correctable problems!

I am having a home built. The builder assures me he will inspect everything. Should I have an independent inspector make periodic inspections?

Absolutely yes! No matter how good your builder is, he/she WILL miss things. They are so concerned with the house, they get so close to their work, as do the subcontractors, that important items can, and will be, overlooked. Have a professional inspector make at least 4-6 interim inspections. They will be worth their weight in gold.

What is the Pre-Inspection Agreement?

Most service professionals have a service agreement, and home inspection is no different. In fact, there is enough confusion about what a home inspection should deliver that the agreement is even more important. Some homeowners who get a home inspection expect everything in the home to be perfect after the repairs. This is not the case! Imagine getting a call from a homeowner a year later who says the toilet is not flushing – remember that the inspection is a moment in time snapshot. In the inspection agreement the inspector is clear about what the inspection delivers and the things that are not covered, as well as what you should do if you are not pleased with the services. We really think that by reviewing this before-hand you will understand much more about the inspection and be happier with the results. A home inspection does not guard against future problems, nor does it guarantee that all problems will be found.

What kind of report will I get following the inspection?

There are as many versions of a “report” as there are inspection companies. Guidelines dictate that the inspector deliver a written report to the client. This can range from a handwritten checklist that has multiple press copies without pictures and 4 pages long to a computer generated professionally produced report with digital pictures that is 35 pages long and can be converted to Adobe PDF for storage and emailing. Be sure to check with your inspector about the report he or she uses. We recommend the computer generated report, since the checklist is more detailed and easier for the homeowner/buyer/seller to detail out the issues with photographs. In this modern age, we feel the reports must be web accessible and e-mailable to match the technologies most of us are using.

There are some great things you can use the report for in addition to the wealth of information it simply gives you on your new home:

· Use the report as a checklist and guide for the contractor to make repairs and improvements or get estimates and quotes from more than one contractor.

· Use the report as a budgeting tool using the inspector’s recommendations and the remaining expected life of components to keep the property in top shape.

· If you are a seller, use the report to make repairs and improvements, raising the value of the home and impressing the buyers. Then have a re-inspection and use this second report as a marketing tool for prospective buyers.

· Use the report as a “punch list” on a re-inspection and as a baseline for ongoing maintenance.

Will the report be emailable or available as an Adobe PDF file?

Yes. As discussed in the last question, you will probably want your inspector to be using the latest reporting technology.

What if I think the inspector missed something?

Inspectors are human, and yes, they do miss items. However, they routinely use advanced tools and techniques to reduce the possibility that they will miss something. This includes very detailed checklists, reference manuals, computer based lists, and a methodical always-done-the-same-way of physically moving around your home. That is one of the reasons that an inspector can miss an item when they get interrupted. The inspector will have a set way of resuming the inspection if this happens. If, in the end, something IS missed, call the inspector and discuss it. It may warrant the inspector returning to view something that you found. Remember, the inspector is doing the very best job they know how to do, and probably did not miss the item because they were lax in their technique or did not care.

What if the inspector tells me I should have a professional engineer or a licensed plumber or other professional contractor in to look at something they found? Isn’t this “passing the buck”?

You may be disappointed that further investigation is required, but, believe us, your inspector is doing exactly what they should be doing. The purpose of the inspection is to discover defects that affect your safety and the functioning of the home; the inspector is a generalist, not a specialist. Our code of ethics as well as national and state guidelines dictate that only contractors that are licensed in their specialty field should work on these systems and areas. When they tell you that a specialist is needed, there may be a bigger, more critical issue that you need to know about. If you move into the home without getting these areas checked by a qualified specialist, you could be in for some nasty and expensive surprises. The inspector does not want to cause you any more expense or worry either, so when they do recommend further evaluation they are being serious about protecting you and your investment.

Will the inspector provide a warranty on the inspected items?

Most inspectors do not give the homeowner a warranty on inspected items. Remember, a home inspection is a visual examination on a certain day, and the inspector cannot predict what issues could arise over time after the inspection. However, some inspectors are now including a warranty from the largest home warranty company in America – American Home Warranty Corporation, as well as others, on the inspected items for 60 or 90 days. This is a very good deal, and the agreement can be extended after the initial period for a relatively small amount of money.

Do most inspection companies offer money back guarantees?

Most inspection companies do not offer a satisfaction guarantee nor do they mention it in their advertising. It’s always a good thing if you can get extra services for no additional cost from your inspection company, and of course a satisfaction guarantee is an indication of superior customer service. You usually have to call your inspection company right after the inspection and viewing of the report to tell them you are not satisfied. If you are not happy with the services, you should talk to your inspector first and let him/her correct the issue(s) you are unhappy with first, as the inspector is trying to make an honest living just like the rest of us, and is not failing you on purpose.

What if my report comes back with nothing really defective in the home? Should I ask for my money back?

No, don’t ask for your money back – you just received great news! Now you can complete your home purchase with peace of mind about the condition of the property and all its equipment and systems. You will have valuable information about your new home from the inspector’s report, and will want to keep that information for future reference. Most importantly, you can feel assured that you are making a well-informed purchase decision.

What if the inspection reveals serious defects?

If the inspection reveals serious defects in the home (we define a serious defect as something that will cost more than 2% of the purchase price to fix) then pat yourself on the back for getting an inspection. You just saved yourself a ton of money. Of course it is disappointing, even heart wrenching, to find out that your well researched house is now a problem house, but you now know the facts and can either negotiate with the seller, or move on. You may want the home so much that it will be worth it to negotiate the price and then perform the repairs. Imagine, though, if you had not gotten the inspection – you would have had some very unpleasant surprises.

Can I ask my home inspector to perform the repairs?

You can, but if your inspector is ethical, he/she will refuse, and correctly so; it is a conflict of interest for the person who inspected your home to also repair it! Inspectors are specifically barred from this practice by licensing authorities, and it’s a good practice – an inspector must remain completely impartial when he or she inspects your home. This is one reason you should have a professional home inspector inspect your home and not a contractor – the contractor will want the repair work and you are likely to not have an objective inspection from this person even though they mean well and are technically competent.

Does the Seller have to make the repairs?

The inspection report results do not place an obligation on the seller to repair everything mentioned in the report. Once the home condition is known, the buyer and the seller should sit down and discuss what is in the report. The report will be clear about what is a repair and what is a discretionary improvement. This area should be clearly negotiated between the parties. It’s important to know that the inspector must stay out of this discussion because it is outside of their scope of work.

After the home inspection and consulting with the seller on the repairs, can I re-employ the inspector to come re-inspect the home to make sure everything got fixed?

You certainly can, and it’s a really good idea. For a small fee the inspector will return to determine if the repairs were completed, and if they were completed correctly.

What if I find problems after I move into my new home?

A home inspection is not a guarantee that problems won’t develop after you move in. However, if you believe that a problem was visible at the time of the inspection and should have been mentioned in the report, your first step should be to call the inspector. He or she will be fine with this, and does want you to call if you think there is a problem. If the issue is not resolved with a phone call, they will come to your home to look at it. They will want you to be satisfied and will do everything they can to do this. One way to protect yourself between the inspection and the move-in is to conduct a final walkthrough on closing day and use both the inspection report AND a Walkthrough Checklist to make sure everything is as it should be.

Copyright 2010 by Lisa P. Turner

Cesspool Inspection When Buying a House

People who look for new properties are concerned about the aesthetics of the house or the landscape, but only a few consider asking about the septic tank or cesspool. However, cesspool inspection is important when obtaining a property. Cesspool services are necessary in many cases. You have to learn the value of cesspools in homes.

A lot of home buyers are not too concerned about cesspools. Knowing whether the cesspool is in good condition and functional is important whenever you are about to buy a property. You have to ask your realtor about this, and he or she should be able to give you an answer. A realtor who does not know the condition of a property’s cesspool or septic system cannot be trusted.

The problem with cesspools is they are buried underneath the ground, so you cannot be sure if the one in a prospective property is in good condition. A specialist should be called to do an inspection. There are companies that offer cesspool services including inspection. Keep in mind that an inspection is just an inspection. The service specialist will not fix problems unless you specifically ask him to do so. You probably will not need cesspool repair unless you really are planning to move into the property. If a property you are looking into has damaged cesspool, you can consider a repair service. If not, you can look at another property.

Cesspool inspection is a dangerous task if you are untrained. This is why it has been stressed that only a trained professional should do the task. You may only do as far as removing the cover. The next step should be reserved for the trained professionals.

How would you know if it needs service? A faulty cesspool may leak and cause contents to pollute the surrounding soil. In this case, foul odor will diffuse from the ground into the air. If the area smells like rotten eggs, the pit must be damaged. Water leaking from the pit will also saturate the ground around it. Look for signs of sogginess. You would also know if the cesspool is draining properly if the leach field has green grass. If not, the drainage lines must be clogged.

Cesspools should be checked regularly for signs of clogging or leaks. Settling solid matter and scum may build up and block drainage pipes. Such event poses problems in the future, but this may be momentarily un-obvious. Ask the realtor if it has been checked in the past year. You don’t want to buy a property and then spend your bucks getting the troublesome pit serviced.

Supposing you have bought the property and then sometime in the future you encounter a problem with the cesspool, what would you do? In this case, you can contact a septic plumber or a cesspool cleaner to find out what the problem is and fix it. Cesspool and septic tank services may be available in your area. Be careful when checking out your cesspool on your own. The gas build-up is toxic and flammable, not to mention extremely sickening.