Category Archives: Home Inspections

Get Your Home Ready For Winter

  1. Ensure there are no gaps in insulation or crawl spaces that expose pipes to cold air, which could put the pipes at risk of freezing and bursting.
  2. Have your heating system checked by a licensed technician before cold weather requires daily use.
  3. Block drafts around doors, windows and baseboards with weather stripping, window film and caulk to control heat loss.
  4. Install storm doors and windows to improve energy-efficiency and get rid of drafts.
  5. Have chimneys cleaned by an experienced chimney sweep to prevent the risk of a fire from buildup or blockages.
  6. Spray door locks with powdered-graphite lubricant to prevent freezing and sticking.
  7. Set ceiling fans to rotate clockwise to force rising warm air back towards the floor.
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Ask These Questions When Choosing a Home Inspector

Do you belong to a professional association?

There are many associations for home inspectors, but some groups confer questionable credentials or certifications in return for nothing more than a fee. Make sure the association your home inspector names is a reputable, nonprofit trade organization.

Will your report meet all state requirements?

Also, make sure the organization complies with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics, such as those adopted by the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors.

How experienced are you?

Ask inspectors how long they’ve been working in the field and how many inspections they’ve completed. Also ask for customer referrals. New inspectors may be highly qualified, but they should describe their training and indicate whether they work with a more experienced partner.

How do you keep your expertise up to date?

Inspectors’ commitment to continuing training is a good measure of their professionalism and service. Advanced knowledge is especially important with older homes or those with unique elements requiring additional or updated training.

Do you focus on residential inspection?

Home inspection is very different from inspecting commercial buildings or a construction site. Ask whether the inspector has experience with your type of property or feature. The inspector should be able to provide sample inspection reports for a similar property. If they recommend further evaluation from outside contractors on multiple issues, it may indicate they’re not comfortable with their own knowledge level.

Do you offer to do repairs or improvements?

Some state laws and trade associations allow the inspector to provide repair work on problems uncovered during the inspection. However, other states and associations forbid it as a conflict of interest.

How long will the inspection take?

On average, an inspector working alone inspects a typical single-family house in two to three hours; anything less may not be thorough.

How much?

Costs range from $300 to $500 but can vary dramatically depending on your region, the size and age of the house, and the scope of services. Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.

Will I be able to attend the inspection?

The answer should be yes. A home inspection is a valuable educational opportunity for the buyer and a refusal should raise a red flag.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Understanding the Home Inspection

Some items should always be examined.

Structure

The home’s “skeleton” should be able to stand up to weather, gravity, and the earth that surrounds it. Structural components include items such as the foundation and the framing.

Exterior

The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, doors, siding, trim, and surface drainage. They should also examine any attached porches, decks, and balconies.

Roofing

A good inspector will provide very important information about your roof, including its age, roof draining systems, buckled shingles, and loose gutters and downspouts. They should also inform you of the condition of any skylights and chimneys as well as the potential for pooling water.

Plumbing

They should thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate larger problems.

Electrical

You should be informed of the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.

Heating and air conditioning

The home’s vents, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. The inspector should be able to tell you the water heater’s age, its energy rating, and whether the size is adequate for the house. They should also describe and inspect all the central air and through-wall cooling equipment.

Interiors

Your inspector should take a close look at walls, ceilings and floors; steps, stairways, and railings; countertops and cabinets; and garage systems. These areas can reveal leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and more.

Ventilation/insulation

Inspectors should check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawl spaces. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Without proper ventilation, excess moisture can lead to mold and water damage.

Fireplaces

They’re charming, but fireplaces can be dangerous if they’re not properly installed. Inspectors should examine the vent and flue, and describe solid fuel-burning appliances.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Questions to Ask a Home Inspector

Do you belong to a professional association?

There are many associations for home inspectors, but some groups confer questionable credentials or certifications in return for nothing more than a fee. Make sure the association your home inspector names is a reputable, nonprofit trade organization.

Will your report meet all state requirements?

Also, make sure the organization complies with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics, such as those adopted by the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors.

How experienced are you?

Ask inspectors how long they’ve been working in the field and how many inspections they’ve completed. Also ask for customer referrals. New inspectors may be highly qualified, but they should describe their training and indicate whether they work with a more experienced partner.

How do you keep your expertise up to date?

Inspectors’ commitment to continuing training is a good measure of their professionalism and service. Advanced knowledge is especially important with older homes or those with unique elements requiring additional or updated training.

Do you focus on residential inspection?

Home inspection is very different from inspecting commercial buildings or a construction site. Ask whether the inspector has experience with your type of property or feature. The inspector should be able to provide sample inspection reports for a similar property. If they recommend further evaluation from outside contractors on multiple issues, it may indicate they’re not comfortable with their own knowledge level.

Do you offer to do repairs or improvements?

Some state laws and trade associations allow the inspector to provide repair work on problems uncovered during the inspection. However, other states and associations forbid it as a conflict of interest.

How long will the inspection take?

On average, an inspector working alone inspects a typical single-family house in two to three hours; anything less may not be thorough.

How much?

Costs range from $300 to $500 but can vary dramatically depending on your region, the size and age of the house, and the scope of services. Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.

Will I be able to attend the inspection?

The answer should be yes. A home inspection is a valuable educational opportunity for the buyer and a refusal should raise a red flag.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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What to Know About Home Hazards

Radon

A colorless, odorless gas that can seep into your home from the ground, radon is often referred to as the second most common cause of lung cancer behind smoking.
What to look for: Basements or any area with protrusions into the ground offer entry points for radon. The Environmental Protection Agency publishes a map of high-prevalence areas. A radon test can determine if high levels are present.

Asbestos

A fibrous material once popular as fire-resistant insulation, asbestos was banned in 1985. However, it’s often found in the building materials, floor tiles, roof coverings, and siding of older. If disturbed or damaged, it can enter the air and cause severe illness.
What to look for: Homes built prior to 1985 are at risk of having asbestos in their construction materials. Home owners should be careful when remodeling because disturbing insulation and other materials may cause the asbestos to become airborne.

Lead

This toxic metal used in home products for decades can contribute to several health problems, especially among children. Exposure can occur from deteriorating lead-based paint, pipes, or lead-contaminated dust or soil.
What to look for: Homes built prior to 1978 may have lead present. Look for peeling paint and check old pipes. To get a HUD-insured loan, buyers must show a certificate that their older home is lead-safe.

Other hazardous products

Stockpiles of hazardous household items — such as paint solvents, pesticides, fertilizers, or motor oils — can create a dangerous situation if not properly stored. They can easily spark fires and can cause illness or even death if ingested, even in small amounts.
What to look for: Check all the corners, crawl spaces, garages, or garden sheds in the home. If these products are found, make sure you ask for their removal and get a disposal certificate prior to closing.

Groundwater contamination

When hazardous chemicals are disposed of improperly, they can seep through the soil and enter water supplies. A leaking underground oil tank or septic system can contribute to this.
What to look for: Homes near light industrial areas or facilities may be at risk, as are areas once used for industry that are now residential.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Checklist: Your Final Walk-Through

Closing time is hectic, but you should always make time for a final walk-through to make sure that your home is in the same condition you expected it would be.  Here’s a detailed list of what to check for on your final walk-through.

  • Basement, attic, and every room, closet, and crawl space have been checked.
  • Requested repairs have been made.
  • Copies of paid bills and warranties are in hand.
  • No major, unexpected changes have been made to the property since last viewed.
  • All items included in the sale price—draperies, lighting fixtures, etc.—are still on site.
  • Screens and storm windows are in place or stored onsite.
  • All appliances are operating (dishwasher, washer/dryer, oven, etc.).
  • Intercom, doorbell, and alarm are operational.
  • Hot water heater is working.
  • Heating and air conditioning systems are working.
  • No plants or shrubs have been removed from the yard.
  • Garage door opener and other remotes are available.
  • Instruction books and warranties on appliances and fixtures are available.
  • All debris and personal items of the sellers have been removed.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Before Putting Your Home up for Sale

Here are a few items to take care of before listing your home. This can make the sale process quicker and easier in the long run.

Consider a pre-sale home inspection. An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before open houses begin.

Organize and clean. Pare down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and seasonal items. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine.

Get replacement estimates. Do you have big-ticket items that will need to be replaced soon? Find out how much it will cost to repair an older roof or replace worn carpeting, even if you don’t plan to do so. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home, and they’ll be handy when negotiations begin.

Locate warranties. Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer/dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house. It may seem like this task can be left until closing, but you don’t want lost paperwork or last-minute scrambling to cause the deal to fall through.

Spruce up the curb appeal. Walk out to the front of your home, close your eyes, and pretend you’re a prospective buyer seeing the property for the first time. As you approach the front door, what is your impression of the property? Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Is the address clearly visible? What do you see framing the entrance, if anything? Is the walkway free of cracks and impediments?

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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What to Know About the Home Inspection

Some items should always be examined.

Structure

The home’s “skeleton” should be able to stand up to weather, gravity, and the earth that surrounds it. Structural components include items such as the foundation and the framing.

Exterior

The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, doors, siding, trim, and surface drainage. They should also examine any attached porches, decks, and balconies.

Roofing

A good inspector will provide very important information about your roof, including its age, roof draining systems, buckled shingles, and loose gutters and downspouts. They should also inform you of the condition of any skylights and chimneys as well as the potential for pooling water.

Plumbing

They should thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate larger problems.

Electrical

You should be informed of the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.

Heating and air conditioning

The home’s vents, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. The inspector should be able to tell you the water heater’s age, its energy rating, and whether the size is adequate for the house. They should also describe and inspect all the central air and through-wall cooling equipment.

Interiors

Your inspector should take a close look at walls, ceilings and floors; steps, stairways, and railings; countertops and cabinets; and garage systems. These areas can reveal leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and more.

Ventilation/insulation

Inspectors should check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawl spaces. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Without proper ventilation, excess moisture can lead to mold and water damage.

Fireplaces

They’re charming, but fireplaces can be dangerous if they’re not properly installed. Inspectors should examine the vent and flue, and describe solid fuel-burning appliances.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Ready Your Home to Sell

  1. Have a pre-sale home inspection. Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before open houses begin.
  2. Organize and clean. Pare down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and exercise equipment. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine.
  3. Get replacement estimates. Do you have big-ticket items that are worn our or will need to be replaced soon, such your roof or carpeting? Get estimates on how much it would cost to replace them, even if you don’t plan to do it yourself. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home, and will be handy when negotiations begin.
  4. Find your warranties. Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house.
  5. Spruce up the curb appeal. Pretend you’re a buyer and stand outside of your home. As you approach the front door, what is your impression of the property? Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Is the address clearly visible? Are pretty flowers or plants framing the entrance? Is the walkway free from cracks and impediments?

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Basic Elements of a Home Inspection

Home inspections will vary depending on the type of property you are purchasing. A large historic home, for example, will require a more specialized inspection than a small condominium. However, the following are the basic elements that a home inspector will check. You can also use this list to help you evaluate properties you might purchase.

For more information, try the virtual home inspection at www.ASHI.org, the Web site of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Structure: A home’s skeleton impacts how the property stands up to weather, gravity, and the earth. Structural components, including the foundation and the framing, should be inspected.

Exterior: The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, and doors. A home’s siding, trim, and surface drainage also are part of an exterior inspection.

  • Doors and windows
  • Siding (brick, stone, stucco, vinyl, wood, etc.)
  • Driveways/sidewalks
  • Attached porches, decks, and balconies

Roofing: A well-maintained roof protects you from rain, snow, and other forces of nature. Take note of the roof’s age, conditions of flashing, roof draining systems (pooling water), buckled shingles, loose gutters and downspouts, skylight, and chimneys.

Plumbing: Thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate problems.

Electrical: Safe electrical wiring is essential. Look for the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.

Heating: The home’s heating system, vent system, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. Look for age of water heater, whether the size is adequate for the house, speed of recovery, and energy rating.

Air Conditioning: Your inspector should describe your home cooling system, its energy source, and inspect the central and through-wall cooling equipment. Consider the age and energy rating of the system.

Interiors: An inspection of the inside of the home can reveal plumbing leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and other issues. An inspector should take a close look at:

  • Walls, ceilings and floors
  • Steps, stairways, and railings
  • Countertops and cabinets
  • Garage doors and garage door systems

Ventilation/insulation: To prevent energy loss, check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawlspaces. Also look for proper, secured insulation in walls. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Excess moisture in the home can lead to mold and water damage.

Fireplaces: They’re charming, but they could be dangerous if not properly installed. Inspectors should examine the system, including the vent and flue, and describe solid fuel burning appliances.

Source: American Society of Home Inspectors

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