What Home Inspectors Look For

Buying a home? Selling one? If so, you'll probably be involved with a home inspection. What, exactly, do home inspectors look for, and why? The primary focus of a home inspection is the structural, mechanical, and electrical condition of the property. Inspections are designed to find major defects or deficiencies in the home. Inspections will…

Buying a home? Selling one? If so, you'll probably be involved with a home inspection. What, exactly, do home inspectors look for, and why?

The primary focus of a home inspection is the structural, mechanical, and electrical condition of the property. Inspections are designed to find major defects or deficiencies in the home. Inspections will not, of course, find all flaws or problems that might exist, but they're a great place to start and required by most lenders.

Therefore, without a property is purchased with cash or “as-is,” an inspection is a part of the normal buying / selling process.

Your primary goal is to make sure the house is safe and adheres to government regulations. Typically, inspectors start by examining the structural integrity of the house. Things like cracks in the foundation, deteriorating support beams, and holes that can compromise the building and make it unsafe.

Items inspectors check also include:

Exterior features – such as outside walls, soffits, decks, the roof, chimneys and drainage conditions.

Water – Standing water or signs of water where it should not be (ie, in basements or water stains on the ceiling).

Paint problems – rotted wood, cracking or flaking masonry, loose, missing or rotten siding.

Asbestos – is it present in the structure.

Plumbing systems – making certain they are fully operational – checking water supply, piping and drains – looking for visible rust or corrosion. They check sinks, tubs and showers for proper water flow from each faucet and make sure everything drains properly.

Electrical system – size and age of electrical service. Are the envelopes grounded? Is visible wiring in good condition? Is it functioning properly and up to state code? Have there been upgrades? Inspectors check a “representative number” of electrical outputs to make sure they function properly

Roof – condition, age and life expectancy.

Attic, territory or crawlspace – whether they have adequate insulation and ventilation. They check for water issues (stains, mildew / odors, efflorescence, loose tiles etc.), structural damage, pest infestation.

Hot water heater – condition, age and life expectancy, and does it adhere to government codes.

Bathrooms and bathrooms – They check that all fixtures are secure and note the condition of tiles and caulking in the tub / shower area. Are the faucets working? Do they leak? Is there sufficient water pressure? They randomly sample the operation of the cabinet doors and drawers. Appliances are checked for age and condition.

Windows – Are they new? Are they the original windows? How old are they? They look for problems with paint or caulking, and rotted wood components. A “representative number” of windows are opened to make sure they function and are not painted shut.

Insulation – Does the home have adequate insulation in walls, windows and doors?

Foundation – Cracks or settling in the foundation. They note any settlement or separation from the house.

Heating and cooling systems – Type, style and age. When were they last inspected or serviced?

Cracked tiles – may indicate water leakage or settling.

Inspections are defined as “visually based” meaning inspectors do not move items or take things apart to inspect. Because of this, they can not tell exactly how many years are left on the roof, appliances or heat and air systems, but they can tell whether they need replacing immediately and if they are new.

Likewise, you need to hire specialists to assess the conditions of swimming pools, septic systems, underground storage tanks for heating oil, for gases such as radon, or to assess health of trees and shrubs.

Inspectors prepare a written report and the party paying for the inspection will receive a copy of this report.

What's been your experience with home inspections?

Don’t Neglect Chimney Inspections!

Chimneys are vital to building structures, especially during cold winter months. They help keep the noxious gases produced by a fireplace from coming inside the residence, keeping the inside air clean and safe to breathe. While the chimney is a completely separate structure from the roof, it is important to not neglect its regular inspection…

Chimneys are vital to building structures, especially during cold winter months. They help keep the noxious gases produced by a fireplace from coming inside the residence, keeping the inside air clean and safe to breathe. While the chimney is a completely separate structure from the roof, it is important to not neglect its regular inspection and maintenance, as it could easily become a source of dangerous carbon monoxide contamination.

Why Inspect?

There are plenty of reasons to inspect the chimney. The top end of the structure is basically exposed to various outside elements and the opposite end is constantly exposed to extreme heat, which makes the entire framework more susceptible to damage.

The most common type of damage to occur is cracks, with many different causation factors. Thermal fatigue is one of the most common occurrences. The difference between inside and outside temperatures can cause the structure to crack, creating a passageway for leaks.

The flashing that joins the roof and the chimney can also loosen from thermal expansion of the roofing layers. Even strong winds can cause the flashing to loosen, making it ineffective in the protection it should afford. This could result in leaks around the exterior portion of the structure, allowing water to soak into the underlying roofing layers.

Chimneys are most often used during the cold winter season; however, many things can happen in the interim. A bird could next inside the flue during the summer months, creating a blockage. Soot could add up over years of use and eventually narrow the passageway, making it ineffective in exhausting harmful gases.

When to Inspect

Most chimneys are made from brick masonry and sometimes cement; a few are made from prefabricated steel. Regardless of what material has been used, it is important to conduct inspections as follows:

  • Annually – An annual inspection should be done several months before the winter season begins so that any repairs can be made with adequate time remaining before the winter season actually starts. During the months when the chimney is not in use, dirt could have accumulated. Birds have a habit of nesting in the flue, which can cause a partial or even complete blockage. Damage may also have occurred from previous winter's usage and require repairs. An annual examination can help mitigate most of these problems.
  • Seismic Activity – After an earthquake, it is important to check the chimney for cracks. Even the steel variety should be checked, as it could also be damaged.
  • Severe Storms – Strong wind and hail can damage masonry and cause gaps in the flashing. Be sure to inspect the exterior of the chimney after every storm to check for any new damage.
  • Leaking – When evidence of a leak appears on a ceiling, the chimney should be inspected as well as the roof since either could be the source of leaks. A crack may have occurred or the flashing may have loosened, allowing water to see through into the undering material.

Safety Tips

When climbing onto a roof, there is a great risk of falling. When performing a chimney inspection, it would be preferable to do so during clear weather when the roof is not slippery. Wear rubber-soled shoes for additional traction would be wise as well as having a spotter nearby who could respond immediately in case of a fall. It would also be a great safety precaution to secure a safety line when working on top of the structure. If the angle of the roof is too steep or too high, it is better to leave the job to a professional contractor.

Chimneys are a vital part of a building structure and should never be neglected. Hopefully this article has provided some helpful information regarding the various reasons why a chimney inspection should never be unjustified, when such an inspection should be performed, and some tips on accomplish such a goal!

5 Common Questions Home Inspectors Have for Technical Support

Even people who are very knowledgeable about computers have questions for technical support at one time or another. Home inspectors are no exception. Below are five types of questions that even the most computer savvy home inspectors may come across for their home inspection software's technical support team. First, home inspectors can expect to talk…

Even people who are very knowledgeable about computers have questions for technical support at one time or another. Home inspectors are no exception. Below are five types of questions that even the most computer savvy home inspectors may come across for their home inspection software's technical support team.

First, home inspectors can expect to talk to technical support about installing their home inspection software. Making sure they install everything correctly is important and they will feel more comfortable if there is someone to walk them through that process. Someone in technical support should be able to quickly guide them on the install process and also provide them with any documentation that may be helpful.

Another question home inspectors will have is how they move their information from one computer to another. When you buy a new computer or device, it is important to be able to bring over all of your data from the previous computer. Home inspectors work long and hard to build their note libraries and custom templates. They do not want to lose any of that information when moving to a new computer. It is a good idea to call technical support and have them help with this. They should easily be able to walk you through the process or provide you with easy-to-read documentation on how to do so.

The third question home inspectors will have is about updates and upgrades. Before purchasing an upgrade for their software, inspectors typically will have a few questions for technical support. These questions include, “Is there a cost?”, “What's included with the new version?”, And “Can I import my previous data into the new version?” These are all great questions and important to all inspectors, especially if they are paying for a new upgrade. It is always a good idea to get as much information upfront before spending the money on a new product. This will save the home inspector from any surprises in the future.

Another common occurrence is when a home inspector has a quick question about how to use a software feature. These calls are not complicated and are typically short, but it is nice to know that when an inspector has a quick question they can get a quick answer. They do not want to wait a day or two to hear back from the company especially if they are working on an inspection.

Lastly, home inspectors can expect to call technical support with questions about hardware. Maybe an inspector is in the market for a new tablet and they have some questions about how it will work with their software. Or maybe they are upgrading their laptop to the latest operating system and have a question about compatibility. The technical support team should be able to answer these questions, as well as, provide any personal experiences they have with the hardware in question. It's smart to get these questions answered before spending a lot of money on new hardware.

Different Ways Home Inspectors Use Home Inspection Software

The emergence of home inspection software gives home inspectors the ability to save time and present a professional, electronic report to their customers. The days of handing a client a report with scribbled, hand-written notes are over. Read below to see some of the ways home inspectors are taking advantage of home inspection software to…

The emergence of home inspection software gives home inspectors the ability to save time and present a professional, electronic report to their customers. The days of handing a client a report with scribbled, hand-written notes are over. Read below to see some of the ways home inspectors are taking advantage of home inspection software to present a better report.

Home inspection software allows a home inspector to complete their inspection in the field while they are inspecting. Many home inspectors take advantage of this feature and choose to use a portable device in the field. These devices include PDA's, smartphones, and tablets because of their convenient. The small size of a PDA, smartphone, and even some tablets, allow an inspector to slip the device in a pocket or carry it on their belt when it's not in use. This makes climbing in attics and on top of roofs less cumbersome. If they choose to add pictures into their report, they can insert the SD card from their camera into their PDA and add them directly into the report. If they are using home inspection software on a smartphone or tablet, they may have the option to use the same device to take pictures and then insert those directly into the report. When the inspection is finished they can print on-site with a wireless printer or they can go back to the office where they can put the final touches on the report and email it off to the client.

Other home inspectors choose to use a device that is a little less convenient, but it is easier on the eyes and provides a larger screen. These devices include laptops and netbooks. Typically when an inspector uses one of these devices for an inspection, they will set it up in one room of the house and then keep returning to insert their data and type up their notes as they inspect sections of the home. For example, they will set up their laptop up on the kitchen counter with their inspection software open and ready. This process is less convenient than the one above, but almost gives the inspector a work station where they can fill out their report. When traveling to different rooms or different parts of the house, the inspector may choose to bring their laptop along to change locations or they can leave it in one place. When they are finished with their report they can either print on-site or go back to the office where they can finalize the report before sending it off.

Some home inspectors prefer not to use home inspection software in the field, but still want to deliver an electronic report to their clients. These inspectors will use a variety of methods to gather their information in the field and then return to the office to insert that data into their inspection software. This method is not as efficient as the others, but is still a viable option for inspectors. Some inspectors will use pen and paper to take notes about the property while on-site. They then take those notes back to the office and use those to complete their inspection report.

Other inspectors prefer a more visual approach and will take a lot of pictures with their digital camera. When they get back to the office, they use those photos to put together their report. A third option monitors will use in the field is a voice recorder. This allows them to make comments about the property and record their findings. Then, like with paper notes, they will go back to the office and use their data to create their report. Home inspectors will use one, or a combination of the above methods to gather their data and then use that to create their report back in the office with home inspection software.

Home Inspection Tools: What You’ll Need For Your Home Inspection Business

So you've completed home inspection training and finished all your certificates. Now it's time to go shopping. There's always been a debate over what you should or should not inspect and what kinds of tools you should use or not use in the field. This guide is not meant to tell you what you should…

So you've completed home inspection training and finished all your certificates. Now it's time to go shopping. There's always been a debate over what you should or should not inspect and what kinds of tools you should use or not use in the field. This guide is not meant to tell you what you should or should not inspect, but rather give you a list of the most common tools that home inspectors use and let you decide for yourself. Here is a general list of home inspection tools that many inspectors own:

Tool belt and carry bag: A large carry bag will carry all your bigger items and accessories. A tool belt is usually used to carry a flash light and smaller items such as electrical testers and screwdrivers.

Flashlights: Most inspectors have at least two or three flashlights. A very handy light is a head light that is used hands free for attics and crawl spaces. You'll also need a large spot light type in case there are areas you can not get to. A small pocket light is also convenient to carry in your front pocket for quick access.

Screw drivers: Screw drivers are used for various tasks. You never want to be without a variety of them.

Shoe covers: Keeping a fresh supply of shoe covers will keep home owners and realtors happy. The cheap thin plastic blue ones work just fine and will keep you from tracking dirt and mud all over the house. These can be purchased in bulk from most tool supply companies.

Inspection Mirror: A telescoping inspection mirror will help you inspect those hard to reach areas. Typical sizes are 1 “” round mirrors and 2 “x 3” rectangular.

Measuring tape: Tape measures are used for different measurements such as room size and window height. Many times the home buyer will need one to measure for furniture so it's always nice to lend them yours if they do not have one.

Electrical GFCI outlet tester: A GFCI tester is used to test the proper function of GFCI outputs and will also detect non grounded outputs, switched wires, and a few other things. The cost of an inexpensive model is around $ 12- $ 20. You can also purchase the more expensive digital testers that have more features and capabilities. These can cost up to a few hundred dollars.

Ladders: Most inspectors carry at least one extendable ladder and one step ladder. The little giant series makes a great product but make sure to get the non-conductive type. Aluminum ladders do not go well with power lines. There is also a ladder called Xtend and Climb which seems to be fairly popular.

Binoculars: Some inspectors walk on the roof and some do not, it's a personal choice. If you do decide to walk on the roof there may still be times when it's unsafe to climb on the roof. It's always nice to have a good set of binoculars in case you need to inspect from your ladder.

Digital camera: A good digital camera is a must have these days. Clients expect to see color photos of any discrepancies that you find. A decent quality camera will make it much easier to focus in low light areas and get you a clear shot the first time around. You can find good quality used cameras on eBay for around $ 100- $ 200.

Combustible Gas Detector and carbon monoxide tester: These are used for checking gas leaks and carbon monoxide. You can purchase these separately or buy an all in one tool that will check both.

Voltage Detector: A good voltage tester can save your life. Instead of using the back of your hand to test for voltage, pick up a voltage detector for panel covers and rogue wires.

Probe (a sharpened Phillips screwdriver works well): A probe is a good tool to use to check for termite damage and dry rot.

Thermometer: A good thermometer will help you check the outside temperature and also test the AC system. There are several different options available, including infrared versions that can test temperatures from several feet away.

Moisture Meter: If you see a stain it's a good idea to test it with a moisture meter to see if it's active. There are also models that have longer probes. These are great for insertion into the walls to check for exterior leaks. If you're testing for EIFS this is a must have.

Extra batteries and light bulbs: It's always good to keep a supply of extra batteries and light bulbs on hand.

A computer and home inspection software: Handwritten reports are becoming obsolese. Providing your clients with a typed report that includes color photos will ensure that you're running a professional business. Inspectors typically use one of the following three reporting methods:

1. Take hand written notes on a clipboard on site, then complete the report on a desktop computer when they get back to the office.

2. Bring a laptop to the inspection and put it in a central area such as the kitchen counter. Then inspect one section and fill it out on the computer before moving to the next. 3. Take a tablet touch screen and fill out the report while inspecting the home.

Coveralls: To keep your clothes from getting dirty in the crawl space and attic, it's a good idea to invest in a set of coveralls or disposable paint suits.

Leather gloves: When you're crawling around under a home it's important to protect your hands. You may encounter spiders, snakes, sharp objects, or just plain nastiness, so a good set of gloves is a must have.

Protective Face masks: You never know when the insulation in an attic might contain asbestos. There can also be harmful mold spores if you're sensitive to mold. A good safety mask can help protect you in these situations.

Pen and notebooks: Always carry a pen and notepad with you. If your computer crashes or your forgot to charge your battery the night before, you'll be glad you did. It's also a good idea to carry a backup printed copy of your inspection checklist in your vehicle.

Power screwdriver or power drill: These are great for removing crawl space access covers and electrical panel covers.

Thick rubber shoe covers: These are made of thick rubber and slipped on over your shoes. They snap in place so they will not fall off. Unlike the thin covers used to walk inside the home, these are made of thick rubber and will keep your shoes from getting scratched and muddy in the crawl space. They can usually be found at farm supply stores.

Here are a few other tools to consider:

  • Knee pads
  • Knife
  • Humidity tester
  • See snake camera
  • Septic Die test tablets for checking for water leaks and faulty septic systems.

This list of home inspection tools will hopefully give you a good idea of ​​where to start. There are several online companies that specialize in selling home inspection tools. First, you could try searching in Google and visit some of the major inspection tool distributors. eBay is also a great place to pick up good quality new and used tools, usually at a reduced price. Feel free to leave comments and suggestions below and I'll update the list if there's something I missed.

Common Defects Found in Home Inspections

No house is perfect. Even the best built and best maintained homes will always have a few items in less than perfect condition. Below are some other items we commonly find when inspecting a home. Roofing Weathered shinglees are one of the most common defect we find. Usually it does not mean the roof needs…

No house is perfect. Even the best built and best maintained homes will always have a few items in less than perfect condition. Below are some other items we commonly find when inspecting a home.

Roofing Weathered shinglees are one of the most common defect we find. Usually it does not mean the roof needs replacing, simply that it is in need of maintenance or repair. Weathering and aging are typical. More concern is missing shingles, significant loss of granules and improper flashing. Multiple layers of shingles is also common, but could add too much weight to the roof framing.

Ceiling stains Caused by past or present leaks, ceiling stains are also common. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether the stains are from leaks still present, or were caused by leaks which have since been repaired. But we have moisture detection equipment that we can use to determine if it is and active leak. Sometimes it can be as simple as the tub overflowing or a wax seal having leaked before it was replaced.

Electrical hazards Most common in older homes, but often found in newer homes as well. Electrical hazards come in many forms, minor reflected polarity, ungrounded outlets and double snapped breakers to more concerned issues like over fusing and improper wiring done by the homeowner.

Rotted wood Caused by being wet for extended periods of time, most commonly found around tubs, showers and toilets inside, or roof eaves and trim outside.

Water heater installations Many water heaters are not installed in full compliance with local plumbing code. Our job is not to bring the home up to today's code as much as it is to help protect your safety. Common problems are TPR overflow pipes missing, galvanic electrolysis and calcification pinging. Fortunately water heaters are not very expensive. If they are properly maintained, they can last 20 years or more, but under “normal” conditions, they last 10-12 years.

Gas furnace Most gas furnaces seem to be in need of routine maintenance such as new filters and cleaning / servicing. Many have other issues such as faulty operation or inadequate fire clearance. We also see flame roll out (needs cleaning) and rusted heat exchangers. Of greater concern is short cycling, gas leaks or a cracked heat exchanger.

Plumbing defects Plumbing issues commonly found include dripping faucets, leaking fixtures, slow drains etc … Even in brand new homes, it is common to identify minor plumbing defects. More concern is improperly plumbed ejector pumps, inoperative sump pumps, missing drain traps or leaking / corroding of the pipes that result in loss of pressure or damage.

Steel Entry Doors Are Ideal For Homes and Offices

Those looking to upgrade the entrance way of their homes will find custom doors work remarkably well on any home, in fact steel doors can be an exceptional choice. Your entry door is the central gateway to your home. It's the center of a home's exterior and it leads your guests into the comforts of…

Those looking to upgrade the entrance way of their homes will find custom doors work remarkably well on any home, in fact steel doors can be an exceptional choice. Your entry door is the central gateway to your home. It's the center of a home's exterior and it leads your guests into the comforts of the interior of a home. Therefore, it's important that one's door speaks of the character of the home and of the home owner. Not only does one's door provide style, but adds character, charm and value. Your door is not only the first thing seen by your guests, it provides curb appeal and is an opportunity to make a tremendous first impression.

While wood is the material that is commonly used for doors, there are other materials that should have considered for the entrance of your home. You should give serious thought to using an iron entry door for your home. A wrought iron door offers your home security, longevity and a beautiful appearance as well. It's not a new concept to use iron as a material for residential doorways. Iron doors date back the 18th century and continue to flourish today on traditional homes, contemporary homes, Tudor style homes and office buildings throughout the world. Iron entry doors will be a focal point on the home, will give the home an appearance that is unique and can be used in dozens of different architectural styles. An iron entry door provides more flavor and personality differently than what a wooden door provides for a home. The home or the office that features an iron door looks more regal. Iron doors flat out makes any structure look more elegant and exciting. Iron doors are exceptional choices for restaurant entrances, shopping malls and high rise buildings.

The design elements are endless. While you will find dozens upon tons of designs available to choose from, the possibilities do not end there. Use your imagination to design a unit that is unique to you. Most steel door manufacturers custom make their doors one at a time to give the uniqueness and attention to your project. So size does not matter, and the only restrictions are that of your own. Find a photo of something you want to duplicate, sketch a drawing of what you may like, make some changes to existing style or just simply choose from the offers in place.

To protect one's iron entry door from weather elements such as snow, rain and sun, most iron doors are covered with a special material to prevent rust from developing. Most of the finishes are similar to that of a car that sees all sorts of different weather conditions. Iron doors also never became susceptible to splintering or to cracking, such as a wood door can. This is why iron doors can last far longer than wooden doors, or any other doors made from other materials.

The steel entry door design of today does not look like jail bars. They can be created in a wide variety of styles and designs to fit the tastes of the homeowner. Choosing such a door unit for your home will be a rewarding thing for both you and your home, adding character and value. Instant curble appeal, a happy home owner and an entry door that will last you for years.

How a House Inspection Can Improve Comfort

A house inspection is primarily concerned with finding defects in the building's systems and components, most commonly in conjuction with a real estate transaction in progress. But a thorough house inspection examines and documents the condition of virtually everything, serviceable or not, old or new, worn or pristine. The inspection report is ideally more than…

A house inspection is primarily concerned with finding defects in the building's systems and components, most commonly in conjuction with a real estate transaction in progress. But a thorough house inspection examines and documents the condition of virtually everything, serviceable or not, old or new, worn or pristine. The inspection report is ideally more than a list of defects; it serves as a kind of user manual and guides the client into best maintenance practices, including keeping his home as livable and comfortable as possible.

The way the house inspection addresses comfort is through its assessment of heat flow, airflow, and the flow of moisture. In other words, discomfort usually arises from the temperature being too hot or too cold, from air getting static and stale or too drafty, and from moisture problems such as humidity too high or too low, dankness, and mildew. Let's see how inspecting heat, air, and moisture conditions in a home can lead to improved comfort therein.

There are three modes of heat transfer: construction, convection, and radiation. The house inspection focuses on heat flow, which is always from warmer source to cooler object. Registers or radiators bring heat into rooms, where it disperses through natural and blower-assisted convection. The inspector tests the heating and cooling systems for capacity, operability, and serviceability, all of which have an impact on comfort level.

Airflow is also a comfort factor. Either through infiltration or ventilation, there should be a balanced exchange rate of outdoor air replacing indoor air. A house with too high an exchange rate feet drafty, it experiences excess heat loss, and it promises to develop moisture problems. When the exchange rate is too low, the indoor air quality degrades to the point of being stale or even polluted. The home inspection normally does not involve measuring house air quality, but the inspector does check for sufficient ventilation. The inspection includes tests for window and door operability as a means of achieving natural ventilation, and it also examines exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms and any other devices for ventilating mechanically. Adequate ventilation in the attic is especially important; without it, condensation or other moisture buildup occurs, and ice dams may form in snowy climates.

Moisture flows in four ways: in bulk (leaks), through capillary action, by vapor diffusion, and transported by air. The house inspection of course checks for evidence of leaks, condensation, and moisture damage. The inspector is not concerned with vapor diffusion so much but with condensed moisture that occurs when warmer air meets cooler surfaces, sometimes within house walls and hidden from view.

A good home inspector searches for and examines evidence of not only the flow of heat, air, and moisture independently but also their interaction. This is most noticeable in the stack effect, which is a pressure imbalance between upper and lower stories of a house that is created when heated air becomes less thanense and rises. The imbalance forces high, warm air to filtrate out of the house while cool are filtrates in down below. The inspection includes a check for condensation of the ex-filtrating air, to the estimated it can be detected.

If livability sees to be deficient, the house inspection report should recommend ways to improve it. Insulation and weather stripping slow the rate of heat flow, reducing heat loss from construction and radiation. Air and vapor barriers limit filtration and moisture flow. Various energy conservation techniques usually result in tighter construction, but there may be side effects of reduced ventilation and increased house moisture. Mechanized air exchangers are a way to compensate for this.

The Signs of Mold and What To Do

In the Florida climate, mold is a constant threat. The naturally high humidity creates an environment conducive to the growth and spread of mold. Even the smallest leak from the roof, the plumbing, or even a dryer can create major health issues. There are many types of molds with varying degrees of effects, from those…

In the Florida climate, mold is a constant threat. The naturally high humidity creates an environment conducive to the growth and spread of mold. Even the smallest leak from the roof, the plumbing, or even a dryer can create major health issues. There are many types of molds with varying degrees of effects, from those that only cause a reaction to those with an allergy to them to molds that cause an infection, or even molds that create deadly toxins. In the mid 1990s, a study in Cleveland, OH linked the deaths of infants who died suddenly and unexpectedly of bleeding of the lungs to the high levels of “black mold.” The most important things to know about mold are how to keep it away and how to identify the symptoms of a mold infestation.

The biggest thing that can be done to inhibit mold growth is to take control of the moisture. Mold requires moisture to grow. This can be standing water, humidity, or even the water in absorbent materials. Anywhere that you will find moisture, you can easily find mold. The most important is to regularly check and make sure that there are no leaks in the roof, that there are no plumbing issues, ensuring that the building is properly insulated, and even to the seals of the doors and windows have not been compromised. The downside to making sure that the house or building is properly sealed means that if there are invisible mold spores floating around in the air, there is no way for the spores to dissipate and so keep cycling through the dry air in a dormant state.

The signs of a mold infestation are extremely subtle and hard to detect. If it is to the point where the black spots can be seen it is often too late and those living or working in the buildings have been affected by the mold for a long time. Most of the signs of an infestation are health related issues such as migraines occurring on a regular basis, being constantly tired and fatigued, or constant runny nose, red eyes, or other cold and flu like symptoms. Some of the other indications that there may be a mold infestation are a constant dank or stale smell, freshly washed towels smelling musty, and finally, the black spots found in high moisture areas.

If you notice only one or two of these, make an appointment to have you house inspected by a licensed inspector and find a mold remediation expert. Often times these symptoms are overlooked and when something is finally done, it's already too late. The long term exposure leaves the residents of the building with drinking health issues.

So You Think Your House Is Radon Free?

The other day I performed a home inspection. It was your typical home inspection of a nice little house that had a few updated amenities. As I was walking around the outside with my client, I noticed there was a radon mitigation system installed. I commented on it and my client said “oh that's what…

The other day I performed a home inspection. It was your typical home inspection of a nice little house that had a few updated amenities. As I was walking around the outside with my client, I noticed there was a radon mitigation system installed. I commented on it and my client said “oh that's what that is”. As I looked at it I noticed the top of the PVC stack was broken (not a big deal, all it needed was a new elbow installed to carry it above the eave).

A little while later my client says to me, “well I guess we do not need to do the radon test so how much less will the home inspection be now”. I replied back to him, “just because there is a mitigation system here does not mean you should not do the test”. My client looked at me and said “well there should not be a radon problem since this system is here so why should I pay for a test I do not need”.

Instead of arguing the point with my client I said “I'll tell you what I'm gonna do. I always want the test to be done, especially here as it is evident there is a radon problem. does not mean it's working properly or addressing the obvious problem. I am going to do the test anyways.If it comes back and there is no problem and the system is doing its job, I'll pay for the cost of the test myself . ” My client looked at me and said “OK – you've got a deal”

A few days later I went and picked up the radon test canisters and sent them to the lab I use. The next day I get the results back from the lab and I forward it off to my client with a note attached.

About an hour later I get a call from my client that goes like this: “Hi Dave, thanks for doing such a great job on the inspection, the report was excellent by the way. , even though I was pushing you not to – just to save a few bucks. I can not believe the radon levels were so high – even with a system installed. 't been out to the property to service the system in over 3 years. come back and do another test to make sure the system is operating properly and that the levels are within normal standards “? My reply: “Of course I will.”

Being a Home Inspector is a job I take very seriously. My clients are paying me for my advice and my experience. For something as deadly as radon can be, I'm not taking any chances. I'll do what I have to do to convince my clients that it is in their best interest to always get a radon test done – NO MATTER WHAT!

How to Prevent Water Damage to Your Foundation

The foundation of a home is the first part of a home built when one is constructing a home. If the foundation is not properly constructed the integrity of the rest of the structure will be compromised and can lead to major issues and very costly repairs. Here are the reasons this happens and then…

The foundation of a home is the first part of a home built when one is constructing a home. If the foundation is not properly constructed the integrity of the rest of the structure will be compromised and can lead to major issues and very costly repairs. Here are the reasons this happens and then tips to help prevent damage to your homes' foundation.

Home owners primarily need to be able to control and limit the amount of water that can accumulate near the homes foundation. This can be done in several ways. The installation of a french drain system, proper grading of the soil and paved areas, and the proper use of gutters and downspouts.

The first method of protecting a foundation was the installation of a french drain system. This is better done at the time of construction when the area near the base of the foundation is still exposed. It basically consist of a drain line that will collect water and then direct that water away from the home to a lower level or to a storm drain. If planned at time of construction this is easier to do. After the home is built and a lower area of ​​the yard is not readily available the water can be directed to a gravel filled pit in the ground in which the water will then be absorbed in to the soil at a location away from the foundation.

If the home is already constructed with the foundation base not easily accessible then then controlling rain runoff is the next best method for foundation protection. Even if a home is constructed with a drainage system near the foundation it is important to control rain.

Water weights approximately 8.5 pounds per gallon. An average rainfall can result in hundreds of pounds of water running down gutters and downspouts. Hundreds of pounds of weight pushing against your foundation can result in cracks, leaving and bowing. If the water pooled up against your foundation freezes the problems are worse. Water expends when it freezes so the pressure against your foundation is even greater.

To control water runoff from the roof every home should have gutters and downspouts installed. The important aspect of the gutter system that is often disregarded and frequently found during home inspections is that the downspouts do not direct the water away from the foundation far enough. Downspouts without proper extensions will focus runoff to specific parts of the foundation. Always have downspout extensions that take the water far from the foundation.

Related to downspout extensions for water control is the slope of the ground surface on the exterior of the home. This includes paved areas as well. It should slope down and away to help keep water from accumulating near the foundation.

With these tips you should be better informed on how to protect and maintain the foundation of your home.

Buying A Home – Make Sure The Checklist Includes Insulation

A home is very emotional purchase and also a financial commitment that does need consideration and lots of advice and checks before anyone signs on the dotted line. If you are in the process of house-hunting there are several things to consider with the property itself. These points can be remembered afterwards, so if you…

A home is very emotional purchase and also a financial commitment that does need consideration and lots of advice and checks before anyone signs on the dotted line.

If you are in the process of house-hunting there are several things to consider with the property itself. These points can be remembered afterwards, so if you have them in mind beforehand you will have with you as you look around the properties.

First, do not settle on just looking at one property. Consider several different properties, within different price ranges and areas to see what your money can get you and the potentials to expand and add rooms to the size of the rooms across the different properties. Go back at least twice, there may well be areas you do not see the first time around.

Look through the kitchen cupboards and check all the doors if possible. This can be tricky if the person selling is there at the time but still essential to see the condition of the kitchen.

Check ceilings and walls for covered up cracks or gaping holes. These may be minor things but still worth looking at to check.

Check fixtures and fittings. See how many plug sockets within each room and telephone points there are. Try to envision the room bare and then look at what you can do with the space in a room and existing fittings.

Ask what is going to be left behind. Are the owners taking everything from the cupboards to the lightpulls and curtains. Are the carpets and rugs staying? All of these points must be asked and do not assume anything is going to be left without specified.

Check broadband access and availability as well as mobile phone coverage. It may not be the most essential thing when house hunting, but it can be important if you are tied into a 24 month contract and you have just bought a home that does not support your network at all. Also, the internet access might be OK for now but if you use the internet frequently check the availability before you move.

Check the energy efficiency of the house. How insulated is the loft, windows and cavity walls? If you need to add extra insulation this can work out costly after you've just paid a big deposit for a house.

Have a look during different times of the day. The area will look different during the day than at night. Is the home on a school run, or a busy street for example.

These are some examples of points to consider when buying a home.

New Year’s Resolutions For Your Home

Have you made your New Year's resolutions yet? When asked what your New Year's resolutions are, we think of resolutions in terms that will basically improve ourselves like setting finances straight or even losing weight. Have you thought about fine-tuning your New Year's resolution list a weensy bit? After all, we are talking about new…

Have you made your New Year's resolutions yet? When asked what your New Year's resolutions are, we think of resolutions in terms that will basically improve ourselves like setting finances straight or even losing weight.

Have you thought about fine-tuning your New Year's resolution list a weensy bit? After all, we are talking about new beginnings and changes for 2012. One of the things that should show up on your New Year's resolution list is a home improvement project.

Whether you're initially thinking about a new paint job, replacing broken louvers on your windows or cleaning your roofs, it is important that you check all the facets of your home in order to find out what home improvement jobs you have to get done. Rank them in order of importance and set up a home improvement plan.

Here's a checklist of some of the things you may have to look at:

1.) Air conditioning system – The summer season in Australia is far from over. Temperature's rising and your air conditioning system should be fully functional. Remove dust build ups and other debris from the vents or have it serviced.

2.) Roof – You do not have to wait until the next snap of nonstop rain showers come along before you check your roof to repair holes, cracks and splits. You can simply pick up a multi-purpose silicone sealant from the hardware store to repair the said damages. It works well with any roofing (even window) materials such as metal, aluminum, galvanized iron and PVC. Consider hiring a roof specialist if you think you can not manage to go up the roof by yourself.

3.) Gutters – Take advantage of the clear weather to inspect your gutters for leaking joints and rusting seams. Extreme rain and sun exposure from the past year may also caused the gutters to sag and to be out of place. These problems can totally compromise your gutters' performance. You should also be prepared to invest for a new guttering system if necessary if you find damages that are too overwhelming for you to fix.

These are just some of the aspects of your home that could possibly need some quick fix or serious repair task. Create a spreadsheet itemizing the budget, timeline and the importance of having a specific home improvement project done. Meet the schedules you set and turn your home improvement nightsares to home improvement dreams that do come true.

Granite Vanity Tops – Instructions to Have the Best Selection for Bathrooms

Granite is a highly attractive natural stone and makes a long-engaging incorporation to your home. As bathroom countertops, it can generate a spa-like feeling that will boost the room's ambiance. It can be installed in the kitchen for elegance and longevity. In both rooms, granite can prove to be a great investment that will augment…

Granite is a highly attractive natural stone and makes a long-engaging incorporation to your home. As bathroom countertops, it can generate a spa-like feeling that will boost the room's ambiance. It can be installed in the kitchen for elegance and longevity. In both rooms, granite can prove to be a great investment that will augment the value of your property.

This natural stone is available in a fascinating range of tones and textures. Anybody planning to invest in granite vanity tops will most frequently be capable of finding a variety to match and improve their interior decoration. While it is usually known to be expensive, you can purchase it at discounted prices as well. Suppliers may offer cheap products due to various reasons like excellent business network or bulk procurement. It is advisable to find out why a seller or supplier is able to provide items at reduced prices. A householder will not want to commit the blunder of buying from a store that deals in substandard items. Granite is a material that should never be bought of inferior quality. Here, you must not compromise quality for the sake of lower cost.

As far as saving money is concerned, there is the alternative of making the installation of granite vanity tops a do-it-yourself or DIY project. Setting up granite will not be as straightforward as setting up a wooden item. It may call for specific cutting equipment if you need to make an adjustment. Therefore, accurate dimensions and customization while ordering the product at the seller's end are highly essential. DIY projects will demand many different skill sets. This natural stone in the form of a slab is rather heavy and any kind of mishandling may prove costly both in terms of time consumed in getting a replacement and money spent.

Such bathroom countertops can be purchased in the form of slabs or tiles. Which variety to select depends on the householder who will pay due attention to the performance required immediately from the surface, in addition to what corners might be cut without bringing down the worth or visual elements. In DIY projects, granite vanity tops featuring under-mount sink holes are possibly much simpler to install on your own in the bathroom. In majority of instances, the sink can be selected from a wide array of colors and materials. Granite tiles are a superb choice in areas where installing a heavy slab would be impossible or when an exceptional look is thought.

In case bathroom countertops you've ordered are not round off, agencies having specialization in it can be contacted. Rounding off is generally done to the square edges. It transforms a right angle into a crescent. This process should be left to experts. Highly skillful DIY individuals can accomplish it if they have the proper equipment and expertise. Neverheless, it is quite risky and can lead to the loss of investment because of a small mistake. You must consider seriously before trying this process yourself.

The Warranty Home Inspection to Maximize Fixes

The warranty home inspection has a clearly defined purpose, that of making the most of any and all warranties applicable to a house before they expire. Such a home inspection most often occurs for houses that were newly constructed when bought and which typically carry a builder's promise to correct construction flaws within a year…

The warranty home inspection has a clearly defined purpose, that of making the most of any and all warranties applicable to a house before they expire. Such a home inspection most often occurs for houses that were newly constructed when bought and which typically carry a builder's promise to correct construction flaws within a year after closing. However, an older home could also qualify for this service if it is covered by a home warranty policy.

A warranty home inspection is not the same as a re-inspection, though they both invelve a return of the same inspector (usually) to perform follow-up work. In the case of a warranty, some time has passed (usually close to a year) and a general reexamination of the entire building is in order. For the re-inspection, the revisit events often, either just before or just after closing, and the only job is to inspect the repairs of specific called-out defects. Also, on average the warranty inspection costs more because it involves more work.

If the home was not inspected when it was purchased, or if it was but the inspector used is not available now, then the owner has to hire someone who has not seen the house before. In that case, the owner should expect paying the full fee for a standard inspection and possibly an additional charge for preparing the builder's punch list. If the owner uses the same individual who originally inspected his property, then he can expect to pay a reduced fee for the warranty inspection.

My general approach begins by comparing the current condition of the house with what was documented in the original report, focusing on previously found defects. Next comes a consultation with the client and a consequent investigation of any specific issues he raises. The final step is to conduct a limited examination the purpose of which is to discover obvious flaws that have surfaced during the year and that are covered by the warranty.

In more specific terms, the inspector begins the warranty inspection by determining whether all the defects cited in his original report have been properly corrected. If not, he has to decide whether or not a case can be made that they are covered by the warranty. The inspector performances its customary serviceability tests of the plumbing, electrical, heating, and cooling systems, as these items are covered by manufacturers' warranties when the house is new and otherwise by the home warranty policy. Here, too, he checks for discrepancies with the original report.

Ideally the inspector is qualified to do, and does, a fairly comprehensive pest inspection. One does not expect any significant infestations or like problems in a year's time unless there are areas inordinarily wet or moist. So the focus of the pest inspection is on checking for heavy moisture, which is indicative of leaking, condensation, or wicking, none of which should occur in a properly constructed home and are there covered conditions.

After investigating specific client concerns, the inspector performs a cursory look at the condition of the roof and structural integrity. He checks the operability and functionality of a representative sample of windows, doors, appliances, and cabinets, again being alert to noticeable discrepancies with his previous report. He is then ready to compile the punch list of items to be presented to the builder or the issuer of the home warranty policy.