Why Are Home Inspections Important?

Home inspections inform the buyer and the seller about the condition of the home. Many San Fernando Valley sellers pay for a home inspection at the time they put their Sherman Oaks, Encino, Van Nuys or North Hollywood real estate on the market so that they can address any potential issues or problems that potential buyers may be concerned about.

It is a good opportunity for the seller to fix or repair any statutory items that they need to comply with such as strapping their water heater to earthquake code, retrofitting toilets and showers and installing smoke alarms per state codes. If there are other items that the seller or their Realtor think may affect the price of the home or the length of time it may take to sell the home, then the seller may want to make some of those repairs if they are justified and will help get the home sold for maximum dollar and in a short period of time. Or the alternative is to offer the buyer seller concessions.

Buyers should conduct a home inspection during their contract contingency period so they are aware of the condition of the home and can make an intelligent decision as to whether they want to purchase the San Fernando Valley home, condo or townhome. This will avoid any surprises after closing as well.

As Is Condition

Although most San Fernando Valley real estate in sold in an “as is” condition, meaning the seller is not required to make any warranties or repairs, except for statutory items, the buyer still should negotiate an inspection contingency in the purchase contract which gives them the opportunity to conduct an inspection. Bank foreclosures and short sales are always sold in an “as is” condition as well.

The purpose of the home inspection is to determine any problems with the home during the inspection contingency period and to give the buyer the opportunity to go forward with the sale, ask the seller for concessions or repairs or cancel the contract if the inspection reveals major repairs or structural damage to the home.

What is Covered in a Home Inspection?

Generally, the buyer pays for a licensed home inspector to conduct a physical inspection of the home’s interior and exterior. The inspection includes the inspection of the general systems of the home such as plumbing, electrical, heating, air conditioning and the roof condition and condition of the appliances. A home inspection can run anywhere from around $250.00 – $500.00 and up depending on the size of the home and the type of home, condo, townhome, etc.

The home inspector does not conduct environmental inspections for mold, lead paint, asbestos, radon, etc. If it is determined that these conditions exist in the home, the inspector will recommend further inspections be done by the appropriate inspectors. Some home inspectors will provide these services at an additional cost. It is then up to the buyer to either hire the appropriate professionals to conduct these further inspections, ask the seller for concessions or a price reduction, or cancel the contract.

When You May Not Need a Home Inspection

If you are planning on tearing down the home and rehabbing it, then you probably don’t want to spend the money on a home inspection. You may want to obtain a geology report or soils report and a survey to determine the property boundaries. If you are purchasing a condo or townhouse, it is not necessary to obtain a survey or geology report. You will want to review the natural hazards report to determine if you are in a flood, fire or earthquake seismic hazards zone though.

In a seller’s market, it was common for buyers to waive inspection contingencies especially in a multiple offer situation. It is generally not recommended that the buyer waive the inspection though. However, it is a personal decision to be made by the buyer.

Home inspections are an inexpensive way to determine the condition of the home. For buyers, it is important that they conduct a home inspection to avoid a costly mistake by purchasing a property that needs major repairs, has structural damage or is affected by environmental hazards. Every buyer’s motivation for purchasing is different. Some buyers are willing to purchase properties that are considered major fixers for the right price. Others want move in condition properties and do not have a budget for making major repairs.

An inspection will reveal material problems about the house that the seller or their San Fernando Valley Realtor may not know about, and therefore did not disclose on the transfer disclosure statement. As a buyer, you don’t want to solely rely on the seller’s or the Realtors’ transfer disclosure statements. It is your responsibility to complete your own investigations about the property you are potentially purchasing so you know what you are getting yourself into.

What to Inspect Before Buying an Older House

Homes have changed over the years along with the standard in which the homes are built. Some conditions change over the years because the level of knowledge has increases over the years as building science is studied. Some conditions are the result of past or current home owners that alter the condition or add items to the home. Here are some important areas to inspect or have inspected if you are buying an older home.

Attic and the roof system is an important system to inspect. The attic space and the roofing effect each other and if correct they will help extend the life of each other. Older homes may have less insulation than is recommended by modern standards. Having the proper amount will help the home owner reduce heating and cooling bills.

The amount of ventilation in the attic space is also important, too little ventilation can result in high attic temperatures which will age the shingles more rapidly. A lack of ventilation can also create a condition where moisture is trapped and condensation is formed. High moisture levels can aid in the growth of mold, reduce the effectiveness of insulation and create a conducive condition for wood destroying insects. Home owners will also improperly vent shower vents in to the attic space exaggerating the moisture issues.

Electrical systems should also be inspected. Older homes especially those built before the 1960’s have a chance of having two prong outlets instead of the modern three prong outlets. The size of the service can also be an issue. Amperage for older homes may not be enough when additions are added onto the home and electrical appliances are added to the home.

Energy efficiency has made great improvement over the years. Old gravity furnaces made still be operating (yes I have come across them) however, the gravity furnace is not an energy efficient appliance. The cost of replacing such a furnace will be well worth the expense as the energy savings will be more than enough to recoup the cost. Energy efficiency has also improved for other appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners. Although determining the efficiency of appliances is not in the scope of a normal home inspection you can be fairly certain that any appliance over 15 years old is not the tops when it comes to being energy efficient.

Other areas that will be looked at that are done during all home inspections include the grading and the gutters and downspouts. These areas can effect the foundations and moisture issues. These should be inspected during all home inspections, however with increased age they are more likely to be in need of repair or improvements.

What Is a Gas Safety Inspection?

Gas Safety Inspection

The gas safety inspection is a check of all gas appliances within a property.

Checking there is no danger to the user when the appliances are working.

Statistics state that around 70% of homes in the United Kingdom never have their gas appliances checked over until something goes wrong.

Property that is classed as rented needs to have an annual gas safety inspection carried out every 12 months by law.

My boiler is serviced every year, is this not a gas safety inspection?

No, The boiler service is only to check the boiler and no other appliances.

Let me explain the difference between a boiler service and a gas safety inspection.

A boiler service is checking first that it is still safe to operate and in no danger to the user.

The boiler is checked to make sure it is fitted to the wall correctly and is stable, then we move on to the flue, this is checked to make sure it is still in good condition and has no corrosion.

Over the last 12 years, all boilers installed are condensing boilers, they produce condense water which is acidic.

Should the condense leak within the boiler or flue it will cause corrosion and let products of combustion leak out, so this check is very important.

The gas supply is checked to ensure it is adequate for the boiler, one of the most common problems found is the gas is undersized, normally on combination boilers.

The boiler combustion is checked with a gas analyser and checked against the boiler specifications if needed adjustments can be carried out.

When a boiler service is carried out it’s advisable to follow the maker’s service instructions if possible.

If the service manual is not present then you can normally find one online. Most boilermakers now list their manuals online.

All safety devices are checked to make sure they are functioning correctly if the boiler has an expansion vessel fitted, this is also checked and reset if needed.

Gas safety inspection.

The gas safety inspection is safety check on all gas appliances, a little similar to the boiler service.

Whatever the appliance maybe, it has to be checked to make sure it is safe to use and of no danger to the user.

The appliance is checked to ensure it is installed correctly and stable and is suitable for the room it is located in.

If the appliance has a flue connected this needs to be checked to ensure there are no blockages and the products of combustion can disperse correctly.

Ventilation is checked to ensure it is adequate for the appliance to burn correctly, and cannot be closed off.

The flame picture is checked to make sure it is crispy blue and not a yellow colour.

Gas cookers are checked to ensure they have a stability bracket or chain fitted to stop them being pulled over by young children.

Gas hobs are checked to make sure they have the correct clearances around them.

The gas supply to the hob must have an isolation valve fitted, so if the hob needs to be removed it can be without disrupting the supply to the other appliances.

The most common fault found on a gas safety inspection is a flexible cooker hose connected to the hob, all gas hobs must be connected to a solid pipe.

Any visible gas pipes are checked for signs of corrosion and stability, ensuring that they are supported with clips and labelled if needed.

The gas supply for the whole property is checked to ensure it is adequate when all appliances are working.

One of the most important checks is a gas leak test, this is called a tightness test. This test is carried out at the gas meter.

While at the gas meter we are also checking to make sure the meter is secured to the wall correctly and not moving around.

We are also checking the gas pipe has the correct earth bonding and is of the right size.

A gas safety inspection is a very important process and should be carried out at regular intervals.

The Energy Performance Certificate for Houses in Belfast Northern Ireland

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) depict the energy performance rating of buildings. EPCs are necessary for newly constructed buildings or buildings that have been advertised for sale or put out for rent. The following article is provided by www.epc-belfast.net one of the main supplies of EPCs in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The EPC enables comparison of the energy efficiency, carbon emissions and possible fuel costs of buildings of the same type for potential owners, buyers or tenants of a building. It also provides recommendations on how to improve the energy efficiency of the building.

EPCs are fashioned using the standard methods of energy usage. This is so that the energy efficiency of one building can be compared to the energy efficiency of another building of the same type very easily. As a result, this allows prospective buyers, tenants, owners and occupiers to see and compare information on the energy efficiency and carbon emissions from a building, so they can consider energy efficiency and fuel costs as part of their investment decision.

The product of the EPC requires a home inspection by an accredited domestic energy assessor. An EPC also includes a recommendation report listing measures such as low and zero carbon generating systems which help to improve the energy rating of the building. The EPC also contains information about the rating that could be achieved if all the recommendations were implemented.

When is an EPC required?

When a building is marketed for sale or rent, your agent will need the EPC as s/he is legally bound to include the energy performance indicator from the certificate on any commercial media for that property. This could include brochures, newspaper advertisements and property websites. A simple ‘for sale’ or ‘for let’ board or sign would not require the energy performance indicator to be included.

When a potential buyer or tenant first makes an enquiry about a building or views the building they must be shown the EPC and recommendation report. This is the responsibility of either the agent or the seller that is acting on their behalf.

Also, when a building is either sold or rented out, a copy of the EPC must be presented to the eventual buyer or tenant in that building.

EPCs are not only for domestic buildings

There is a requirement to be met by some commercial buildings that are visited by the public to display an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). It is the responsibility of the building occupier to display and EPC and the EPC must be displayed in color and at least A4 in size. It needs to be located in a prominent place that is clearly visible to members of the public who visit the building.

What if you do not have an EPC

There are laid out penalties for each offence which varies and is laid out in the Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations (NI).  For example: For failing to provide an EPC or failing to display, offenders can be fined up to £200 (dwellings) and £500 – £5,000 (any other property). Failing to display an EPC the penalty is £500. Failure to display a valid DEC at all times in a prominent place clearly visible to the public the penalty is £500. Also failure to have possession of a valid DEC advisory report the penalty is £1,000. Failure to have your air-conditioning system inspected or failing to have a copy of the ACIR the penalty is £300.

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.