July 15, 2016

Home Inspection Issues: Wood boring insects.

Filed under: Property Inspection — Chuck @ 11:05 am

You may have hired an inspector to give you an evaluation of your home prior to putting it on the market to sell, and this kind of proactive seller strategy is increasingly popular – especially when sellers want a competitive edge over other listing for sale. Of course the most common type of home inspection is ordered by a buyer, prior to closing, to ensure that they know as much as possible about the condition of the home and can make an informed purchase and insightful purchase offer that is accordingly prices.

In either case, if your home inspector sees visible evidence that could potentially indicate the presence of pests such as wood-boring insects, the inspector will note this in your report with photos, a written description, or both.

Keep in mind that some general home inspectors may also be trained as pest inspectors or have a pest inspector on their team, but pest inspection is a separate and distinct specialty. Even if you have had a general inspection, you will also want to do a separate termite inspection. Pest inspectors charge a reasonable fee to conduct their inspections, and it well worth it to find out whether or not you have a wood-boring insect problem.
There are numerous species of insects that will feast on the wood in your home if they have the opportunity. For that reason you can expect that a home inspector will pay attention to any obvious symptoms of insect infestation or damage, and these observations will show up in the inspection report.

Red Flags and Visible Symptoms
Signs of infestation – either active or prior – include pencil-width round holes in wooden structures, such as porch railings and supports, wooden siding, or structural rafters, beams, or piers. These may have been caused by carpenter bees, which look similar to bumblebees but drill into wood that has not been properly sealed, painted, or treated to make it resistant to insects.

If a wooden surface such as the siding on a home is rotting, dry, and crumbly – and has voids in it that resemble the tunnels that ants make in an anthill like those that children often watch during their science classes – that could be from carpenter ants. These look like most other ants, but devour wood for their sustenance and can cause considerable damage to a home.

The other very common pest is the termite, and most homeowners are fully aware that these little insects can completely decimate a home if they are given a chance to infest it and chew away at the wood without being controlled. Sometimes evidence of past infestation can include dead termites, and when termites live in the soil and travel up across the foundation of a house to nibble at the wood, they leave behind telltale tracks. These look like thin trails made of dried mud that branch out across the foundation stones.

What to Do Next
If your inspection report highlights suspicion of such pest presence, just take note of it and then hire a qualified pest inspector or termite inspector to have a closer look and make a more specific determination.
After the pest professional does an inspection they will either give the home a clean bill of health or will recommend that you treat infested areas that are found. The treatment may be simple and easy, or in the case of a severe infestation it may even necessitate that you have a full-day treatment or even vacate the house so that it can be fumigated. If you have wood-boring insect problems the pest professional will typically advise that a general pest control treatment be done about once a year, as a follow-up, to prevent re-infestation.

A contractor will also be needed to repair or replace any pest-damaged wood, and that project could be minor or extensive, depending upon how much or how little damage has been done by the insects. Call around and get bids from at least three pest inspection companies and repair contractors, select professional and schedule the work, and let them do whatever is necessary to resolve the issue.

Final Steps
If repairs are warranted, the buyer and seller need to decide whether they need to be done prior to closing or whether they can be postponed. They will also need to negotiate regarding any costs related to treatment of infestation and repair of any damaged wood to return it to a condition of proper structural integrity. Normally either the buyer will pay these professional services, or they will give a discount to the seller to offset that expense. A third common option is that both parties agree to split the costs.

If the mortgage company is involved and requires an updated termite certificate that validates that the home has a clean bill of health regarding wood-boring pests, that needs to be taken of by a termite inspector. They will issue a dated certificate to give the mortgage company so you can proceed with closing on the home purchase transaction.

June 15, 2016

Home Inspection Issues: Red flags regarding air conditioning systems.

Filed under: Property Inspection — Chuck @ 10:59 am

Whether you are doing a pre-inspection prior to listing your home for sale, or have hired an inspector for a typical buyer-ordered inspection prior to purchasing a home, the air conditioning system will likely come under scrutiny. That’s because heating and air conditioning systems are one of the most important and one of the more expensive mechanical systems in virtually any home.

Buyers tend to be especially concerned about the air conditioning system when they are planning to buy in the summertime, and that’s only natural since they have their comfort over the coming weeks in mind. But no matter what time of year an inspection is done, the inspector may report on the a/c system – and recommend that it, or some of its components, be more closely evaluated by an HVAC professional. Read the report, ask any questions you may have, and then follow whatever recommendations the inspector made.

Common Issues Often Cited in Reports
Since HVAC systems are complex, and cooling can be done in a variety of ways – from heat pumps to stand-alone central air conditioning units to window units or even old-fashioned “swamp cooler” devices, the issues cited can vary. But some of the main ones have to do with ductwork that is inadequate for the size of the home, has cracks or tears in it, or is not hung or installed correctly – which can inhibit air flow. Outdoor central air units may be too small for the square footage of a home, especially if additions to the home were made after the HVAC system was installed.
Then again, something as simple as bushes or trees growing near the outdoor a/c equipment could be a problem, because leaves could be blocking the fan. Or the unit could be rusty, or – and this is very common – not sitting upon the right kind of support. Central air conditioning equipment needs to be elevated, like on a small concrete pad, and not subjected to water runoff that could flood the unit.

Sometimes everything is working fine except for the thermostat, and that may be the kind of problem that can fixed for just a few dollars. Maybe the ductwork needs to be taped to prevent air from leaking, which is usually another easy and affordable fix. Likewise, the a/c filters may just need to be cleaned or replaced, or if you have window units they may need to be more safely supported to prevent them from falling out of the window. They may also be drawing too much electricity for the wall outlet, which might deserve a closer look by an electrician.

An inspector may also raise a red flag if they don’t see a separate circuit breaker, designated only for the central air conditioning unit, when they look inside the electrical breaker box. That often indicates that the work was not done by a qualified HVAC contractor or electrician, or that whoever did the installation failed to get a proper building inspection permit. If that’s the case, you will want to have a qualified HVAC contractor or licensed electrician do a further investigation.

What to Do Next
Whatever the concerns or suggestions in the report may be, you’ll want to pay attention to them, and that may entail hiring an HVAC professional to review any issues and do a closer investigation. If repairs or upgrades are needed, solicit competitive bids from at least three HVAC contractors, and then pick on to do the work. Or, if you are in negotiations for a home sale, you may want to postpone that step and instead have the buyer do the work later, after closing. In that case the seller usually offers cash compensation or lowers the final sales price to cover the estimated cost of repairs. After any repairs or upgrades are done, it is also a good idea to have the home inspector pay a follow-up visit to ensure they were done right and give the home a clean bill of health.

May 1, 2016

Home Inspection Issues: Masonry problems and what they mean.

Filed under: Property Inspection — Chuck @ 10:54 am

Many buyers and sellers who order inspection reports will find that the inspector has pointed out potential issues with masonry. Oftentimes these items are flagged in the report for further evaluation and possible repair by a qualified masonry contractor. There are lots of different problems that may warrant a closer look by a masonry specialist – in order to sure the safety of your home as well as its healthy functioning.

Common Issues
There are a number of issues that may be flagged in a written inspection report, whether it was ordered by a home owner to get better insight into their home’s condition before listing and selling it – or by a prospective buyer wanting similar information prior to closing.

Common ones include, for example, bricks or blocks that have deteriorating mortar joints or that are misaligned in a way that is causing gravity to weaken a structure. Moisture could be a problem, and oftentimes masonry surfaces like walls that are not properly sealed can wick water toward the interior of your home. Then again, a brick wall or similar structure could have inadequate drainage built into its base, so that water behind that wall cannot escape and simply presses against it or drains beneath it to erode the earth that it rests upon. You may have a chimney that has voids where heat can escape, or a sidewalk or driveway made of concrete that is pitting and cracking.

Is a retaining wall leaning the wrong way, and no longer supporting the terrain it is supposed to keep in check? Maybe if you sight along an exterior wall you can see it curving or bulging in a way that indicates a lack of structural integrity or potentially hazardous shifting. There are other instances where the foundation of the home, supported by columns of bricks or blocks, is not sturdy enough, or where a concrete countertop in a kitchen is too heavy to be supported by the structure it rests upon. Are stone, brick, or concrete steps leading to your home not providing secure, safe footing underneath, or are they in need of repair?

What to Do Next
As you can see, the list of possible inspection report red flags can be varied. But whatever issues your inspector wants to bring to your attention will be highlighted in the report, with comments and maybe photographs. Take those seriously, but don’t be alarmed. Just ask the inspector if you need any clarification and follow the recommendations they have outlined. Usually that involves having a masonry contractor take a closer look and, if necessary, recommend any remedies or repairs. If repairs are needed, request bids from at least three contractors, compare the bids, and take whatever follow-up actions are needed.

Follow-Up Procedures
If repairs are done, have those taken care of by your masonry contractor and then the buyer and seller will want to negotiate the cost. The seller will usually do repairs prior to closing. In some circumstances they may also pay cash at closing or reduce the sales price to help accommodate the expense of the buyer doing the repair at a later date. At any rate, solicit 2-4 competing bids to figure out your actual costs. After the repair work is finished, it is always a good idea to have your inspector return for a follow-up visit to look over the work and give it a clean bill of health or make further recommendations as needed.

April 1, 2016

Home Inspection Issues: Why windows, skylights, and screens do matter.

Filed under: Property Inspection — Chuck @ 10:48 am

Many buyers and sellers who order inspection reports will find that the inspector has included mentions of windows, skylights, and window screens. Oftentimes these items are flagged in the report for further evaluation, repair, or replacement by a contractor or other qualified professional. But there are buyers and sellers who may wonder why something as minor as a cracked windowpane or torn screen, for example, warrants that kind of attention. They may question why is can arise as an inspection report issue that even has the potential to delay the closing of a home sale.

Common Issues
There are a number of issues that may be flagged in a written inspection report, whether it was ordered by a home owner to get better insight into their home’s condition before listing and selling it – or by a prospective buyer wanting similar information prior to closing.

Common ones include, for windows, cracked or missing panes. That’s a problem because obviously absent window glass lets the outdoor elements inside. But even a crack can be an issue because it represents a hazard. Run your hand across it and you can get cut, even if the crack is barely noticeable. Cracks also lead energy, and they can cause a windowpane to shatter due to force exerted through the window unit upon opening or closing. Shattered glass that happens unexpectedly can offer all kinds of hazards.

If the frame of the window – the part than encases it – is structurally unsound or if the locks and other hardware don’t work properly – or if the window is stuck or otherwise doesn’t function smoothly for opening and closing, those are issues worthy of repair.

That goes for the framework of skylights, too, as does the point that a cracked or broken glass on a skylight is both a safety hazard and an easy way for energy – like heating and air conditioning – to escape. The most common problem with skylights, though, is leaking, especially around their frame.

Skylights are basically an intentional hole in your roof that has been filled with a special type of window. Whenever your roof has a hole, it has to be filled in a way that makes it perfectly sealed and tight. So the inspector who notices that the skylight may be leaking will flag it, so that if needed you can have it properly caulked, sealed, or reinstalled.

With screens, the frames can become warped so that the screen doesn’t really fit the window gap, and that means the screen is ineffective. Flies can get in through that wobbly frame, for example, just as they can enter through a rip in the screen. So can other insects. That’s a big reason why window screens are actually designed to protect your health, and if they are flagged by an inspector as not fully functioning, they need to be attended to in order to ensure your health and safety.

What to Do Next
If any issues pertaining to windows, skylights, or screens are mentioned in the inspection report, take those seriously. When you have any questions or need clarification, just as the inspector. Then follow whatever recommendations they have outlined. Usually that involves having a window specialist or other professional evaluate the items and make appropriate suggestions for repairs or other solutions. Ask for bids from at least three contractors, unless it is an easy DIY task such as buying a window screen and installing it. Then compare the bids and take whatever action is necessary to remedy any potential problems.

Follow-Up Procedures
If repairs or replacements are needed, have those taken care of and then the buyer and seller will want to negotiate the cost. The seller will usually do the repair prior to closing. In some circumstances they may also pay cash at closing or reduce the sales price to help accommodate the expense of the buyer doing the repair at a later date. At any rate, solicit 2-4 competing bids to figure out your actual costs. After repairs, upgrades, or replacements of windows, screens, or skylights it is always a good idea to have your inspector return for a follow-up visit to look over the work and give it a clean bill of health or make further recommendations as needed.

March 15, 2016

Home Inspection Issues: Red flags for floors in homes.

Filed under: Property Inspection — Chuck @ 3:51 pm

If you are having a home inspection in preparation for putting it on the market or are a buyer who ordered a home inspection to evaluate the condition of a property, the inspector may flag the floors within the report. Sometimes an inspection will reveal visible symptoms that the inspector believes warrant further investigation by a qualified contractor or flooring professional. In that case the report will mention those and recommend that you have the potential issue evaluated in more depth, and you should always heed these suggestions from your inspector. Don’t be alarmed, because some potential problems have really easy solutions. But do take the report seriously, because if the issues turn out to be serious they could impact your health and safety, as well as the value of the home.

Common Issues with Floors

• One issue that often surprises homeowners or buyers is when the inspection reports asks for an environmental inspector to evaluate the flooring materials for the presence of asbestos. But in older homes it was not uncommon for the linoleum-style flooring tiles to be made with asbestos fibers, which used to be added to give building materials more structural strength and durability.

• The problem, of course, is that if those fibers become dislodged they can get into the air and, when breathed, pose a serious health hazard. That can occur, for instance, if a tile is broken or if you break up the flooring in order to remove it or put a new floor on top of that old one.

• With ceramic tile floors, there may be tiles that are cracked, which typically occurs because the tiles are not completely level when they are installed, or because the adhesive used to install them has gaps or voids in it. Not only can this create trouble because those tiles can crumble or just look unsightly, but ceramic is a type of glass. If you have cracks, even tiny ones, the edges may protrude enough to cause cuts if you walk on them barefoot. That’s also a tripping hazard.

• Another telltale sign of problems is warping, particularly with wooden floors, because that normally happens when water seeps into the wood. It could be from flooding of the room or it could indicate that a plumbing leak has caused water to migrate underneath wooden flooring or into the wooden supports or sub-flooring beneath the floor.

• If the home has wall-to-wall carpeting, then the inspector may point out issues such as threadbare sections, rips, or wrinkles in the carpet that might pose tripping hazards. This is particularly common when stairs have been carpeted but have come loose or were not properly secured during original installation.

• Another issue related to flooring is the architectural molding attached where the flooring – regardless of what kind of flooring or floor covering it is – meets the walls. Oftentimes it is called “quarter round” molding, depending upon the particular profile or shape of the molding, and people may consider it a decorative touch. Moldings can certainly add to the visual appeal of the decor, but the ones where floors meet walls also help to secure the flooring so it doesn’t curl up, move, or leave flooring nails exposed that could injure someone.

What to Do Next
Read the report and if you have any questions or need clarification about anything, ask your inspector. When flooring issues have been identified, follow the recommendations – which usually advise that you call the appropriate flooring specialist or contractor and have them take a closer look. They can identify the extent of any problems and explain remedies. In some cases the repairs may be very simple and easy, but in other situations the outward symptoms may represent more complicated problems that necessitate work that extends beyond the flooring. If repairs are needed you should solicit written bids from 3 or 4 contactors.

When Repairs Are Needed
If repairs are warranted and the inspection was for a pending sale, the buyer and seller will have to decide whether they need to be done prior to closing or whether they can be postponed. They will also need to negotiate regarding any costs for repairs that are necessary. Normally either the buyer will pay them or they will give a discount to the seller to offset that expense, unless both parties agree to another financial arrangement. It is also a good idea to have your inspector return for a follow-up inspection to ensure that whatever repairs were done are adequate and were completed in a professional manner.

February 15, 2016

Home Inspection Issues: Potential plumbing problems.

Filed under: Property Inspection — Chuck @ 3:42 pm

February means a deep freeze across most of North America, and that typically leads to plumbing-related problems that may get red-flagged by a home inspector. There may be outdated pipe, inadequate water pressure, clogging, or a water heater without enough capacity. Or the issue mentioned in the report could be as minor as a leaking faucet or a toilet that needs a new flushing mechanism installed.

Keep in mind that the inspector’s job is to observe what could potentially be problems, and then convey those professional observations to the client through the written inspection report. When an inspection report discloses an issue it will usually be accompanied by a recommendation to have it further evaluated by a qualified plumber. Only after this kind of more intensive investigation will you know the extent of the problem, if indeed there is one, so don’t worry or jump to conclusions until you’ve had an opportunity to consult a plumber.

Common Plumbing Issues
The particular issues are noted in your report will depend on unique circumstances, but some of the most common plumbing symptoms that show up on inspection reports are related to pipe materials, the integrity of the plumbing, and equipment that works with plumbing to provide services to your household.

• This time of year, a pipe may have burst or sprung a leak that is relatively minor but could lead to bigger problems down the road. Sometimes that is a minor repair and you will want to also wrap insulation around the pipe to prevent freezing and cracking in the future. In other cases the damage could be extensive and require replacement of a section of plumbing plus repair from any water damage that resulted from the leak.

• Oftentimes inspectors find that home, especially ones that are older and have had additions and improvements that expand their size or increase demand for water, have outdated capacity. You may need to update the plumbing to restore water pressure, for instance, or replace a small water heater with a larger one or augment that appliance with an additional water heater.

• Homes that are heated with water – such as boilers that produce steam released through radiators – may be in need of repairs or updates to the boiler system, which has some plumbing components.

• Toilets that don’t stop running may need simple DIY repairs, and the same goes for dripping faucets. If drains are not working as intended, they may simply need a good cleaning. Then again, poor drainage may be a symptom that roots or other obstacles are blocking main plumbing arteries – and that is more substantial issue to solve.

• Oftentimes the materials that plumbing pipes are made out of are out of date, and that could require minor or major replacement of pipes. When iron pipes in older homes begin to corrode, for instance, they can rust and fall apart. Similarly, copper pipes and connectors popular in the 1960s sometimes corrode and need to be replaced.

What to Do Next
The next thing to do is to ask any questions you may have of the inspector, and then contact any plumbers other experts that your inspector may have recommended who should have a closer look. They can do a deeper investigation and diagnosis the source of whatever symptoms the inspector noticed. Study bids from at least three qualified professionals, pick the one that seems the most reasonable for the value delivered, and then schedule the repairs – unless you are in the process of selling your home and the buyer wants to handle any necessary repairs themselves. Have the Realtor negotiate with the other party to decide who will pay for the repairs and when they will be completed.

Negotiating Repairs
Sometimes the seller will not do the repair, for instance, but will offer a sales price discount or give cash at closing to the buyer to cover the repair cost. In other situations the buyer may want the repair done before closing, and the buyer and seller will need to reach a fair agreement regarding how soon they will be finished. Traditionally the seller pays for the repairs in that case, but that is also a point that can be negotiated. In the case of an “as-is” sale, for example, the buyer agrees to buy the home in its present condition, without any modifications or repairs.

Following Up Afterward
If you do order repairs done, it is always a good idea to have your inspector return for a follow-up visit after the plumbing contractors have finished their work. Your inspector can then recheck the plumbing system and ensure that the repair work that was properly executed.

October 15, 2015

Home Inspection Issues: Chimneys & Fireplaces

Filed under: Property Inspection — Chuck @ 11:24 am

The onset of fall and winter and colder weather means that home buyers may be on the lookout for listings with chimneys and fireplaces. Not only do those features add unique charm to a home, those that are functioning provide an extra safety net if the power goes out during a winter storm and you have no other heating source to rely on to keep your family warm. But these features often show up on home inspection reports, flagged by an inspector doing a general inspection before a homeowner lists a property or on behalf of a buyer who wants to have the home checked-out prior to closing.

What it Probably Means
Because general inspections don’t typically include chimneys and fireplaces, the inspector will likely recommend that you have those evaluated by a trained and experienced chimney and fireplace specialist. If you see that kind of comment in your report, don’t be alarmed. Your inspector is simply advising you to have a professional chimney expert take a closer look, since that is beyond the scope of a general home inspection.

In rare cases, if something is blatantly obvious to the naked eye, the inspector may, of course, flag a chimney or fireplace due to other more visible concerns. Say, for instance, that bricks are visible on the roof that have been dislodged from the chimney and have fallen. In that case consult with the inspector if you have any questions.
But normally a recommendation to have an expert take a look just means that you should have someone with the right tools and training study the chimney and fireplace to ensure that everything is in good, safe working condition.

What to Do Next
Usually this kind of evaluation can be done by a chimney sweep or brick mason who specializes in chimney and fireplaces. You’ll want to hire someone who has tool such as small video equipment that can travel all the way up the chimney column to detect any cracks, voids, or other problems inside the chimney itself. They should also check the outside of the chimney, including the flashing around it where it protrudes through the roof or is attached to the side of the house and the protective chimney cap.

The fireplace box also needs to be checked. The professional should ensure that the flue and other components are working properly, that the hearth protects the adjacent floor from heat or potential fire, and that any combustible building materials are a safe distance from any heat source along the way. Oftentimes the chimney also needs to be swept or cleaned so that there is no blockage and that any accumulated creosote or other flammable material is removed from the interior, to help avoid potential chimney fires.

Follow-Up Procedures
If repairs or maintenance are needed, have those taken care of and then the buyer and seller will want to negotiate the cost. The seller will usually do the repair prior to closing. In some circumstances they may also pay cash at closing or reduce the sales price to help accommodate the expense of the buyer doing the repair at a later date. At any rate, solicit 2-4 competing bids to figure out your actual costs. After repairs or upgrades it is always a good idea to have your inspector and the chimney specialist return for a follow-up visit to look over the work and give it a clean bill of health or make further recommendations as needed.

September 15, 2015

Home Inspection Issues: Little annoyances that may be symptoms of major structural problems.

Filed under: Property Inspection — Chuck @ 10:43 am

Sticky doors, wall cracks, and wobbly floors can be aggravating, but the annoyance is usually rather minor in the grand scheme of things. That is why homeowners or buyers who have hired an inspector to check-out a property – before they put it on the market or proceed with buying it – are often perplexed when these items show up on the inspection report.
But the inspector is trained to look for telltale signs and symptoms that could potentially represent even larger and more significant problems. That’s the reason why an inspection report may recommend further investigation if the inspector notices what, to the untrained eye, may appear to be minor or superficial things.

Symptoms That Could Be Red Flags
Consider these rather inconspicuous details, that could potentially represent the tip of an iceberg, in terms of deeper and more important problems lurking elsewhere.
Cracks Above Door and Window Frames

When cracks form at the corners atop door and window frames, that can be easily dismissed as just cracking paint. But it may also be a symptom of stress being placed on the wall that shows up as cracking in the places where the wall is weakest at openings for doors and windows. What may be happening is that the framing of the house is actually warping to create that unwanted pressure. The same kinds of cracks also frequently appear when the foundation of the house is not stable. As the foundation shifts, it causes the walls to move and those seemingly minor cracks could be a warning sign.

Uneven Floors
Similarly, an uneven floor could be the result of an uneven foundation – or it could mean that there is a plumbing leak under the floor somewhere that is causing the subflooring to swell up and buckle. Then again, if a section of the floor joists supporting the floor is deteriorating or not properly installed to do its job, that could cause a wobbly floor or a dip.

Doors That Stick or Fall Open
Doors swell due to humidity, especially in months like August. That will probably be remedied as soon as the weather dries out, or if you just run a dehumidifier in your home. But the reason the door is sticking can, once again, be because there is extra pressure being placed around the doorframe – caused by something much more serious like a framing or foundation problem. If you open a door and instead of standing in place it keeps swinging all the way open – or swings closed all by itself – that can also be one of those minor occurrences that is just a symptom of a tilted wall, floor, or room.

What to Do Next
If a home inspection report mentions these kinds of things, don’t overlook them. They may not be serious at all because such symptoms can also be due to a more superficial cause. But because of the potential for them to mean something more profound you own it to yourself to have them investigated further. If you have any questions talk to the inspector for clarification. Then, if the report recommends calling a contractor for an evaluation, get bids from 2 or 3 and then hire the most qualified one you can find to check it out and see if, indeed, there is something noteworthy causing the swelling, cracking, unevenness, or whatever was reported.

Negotiating Between Buyers and Sellers
If repairs are warranted, the buyer and seller need to decide whether they need to be done prior to closing or whether they can be postponed. They will also need to negotiate regarding any costs related to consultation with the contractor or any repairs that are necessary. Normally either the buyer will pay them or they will give a discount to the seller to offset that expense, unless both parties agree to another financial arrangement

June 15, 2015

Home Inspections: Issues in Attics

Filed under: Property Inspection — Chuck @ 2:04 pm

Probably the last place you want to visit during the hot days of June is the stuffy upstairs attic of your home or the home you are planning to purchase. But attics can be a source of problems, and it is important for you to have yours checked-out by a qualified home inspector before you buy. If you are a proactive seller you may also want to hire an inspector to first illuminate any trouble areas that need attention before you list the home.

Check your written report, and if anything in the attic has been highlighted for further investigation or otherwise flagged by the inspector, pay attention to that. Talk it over with the inspector if needed, to fully understand what they observed. Because there are a lot of different things going on in an attic, the kinds of issues that might be brought to your attention can vary quite a bit, and below are some examples of common things the inspector may notice.

Potential Problems
• Before the inspector even accesses that uppermost space, they will likely do a preliminary inspection of the ladder, stairway, or other access point that you use to get into the attic. If the ladder is not sturdy, stable, and safe, for instance, that may be flagged in the report for repairs.

• Similarly, if the door, trapdoor, or other portal leading to the attic does not close and seal tightly – which could mean that heated or cooled air from the home’s interior is leaking into the attic – that might be a situation the inspection calls to your attention to help you save on energy bills.

• Once inside the attic, the inspector will look for a light in that confined space in case someone needs to go up there. If the fixture doesn’t work or needs a new light bulb, for instance, or the wiring is frayed and unsafe then that, too, can be a red flag issue. In fact, any wiring in the attic should be properly installed and insulated so if the inspector notices anything amiss, it will be noted in the report.

• Is there are water heater in the attic? Is it in good working condition? If not, it could malfunction and that could create a problem of flooding through the attic into your home. In some cases, when the safety valve on a water heater corrodes and locks-up, the appliances can even get pressurized and explode. But have no fear, because your inspector will alert you to any symptoms that your water heater needs to be repaired or replaced.

• Attic floors need to be properly insulated, too, in order to converse energy and keep your home comfortable. Your home may have a fan, turbine, or vent in the attic – or a vent in the ridge of the roof, too, and those should be working as intended.

• If windows in the attic have cracked or missing panes, that can be a problem – or an invitation to birds and rodents to move into the attic. That leads to another potential source of attic problems, invasive critters or insects which may be flagged by a home inspector who notices signs of infestation or incursion.

What to Do Next
• Depending upon what kinds of issues were detected or mentioned in the report, you should then contact the appropriate kind of qualified contractors and have them take a closer look. if there is a problem, get estimates from at least three of them for how much they would charge to remedy the situation.

• If the repairs are relatively minor that could possibly be a do-it-yourself project. But be sure you know what you’re doing, otherwise if your repair is inadequate it will simply complicate things and could jeopardize the sale of your home with further delays and negotiations.

• When selling a home you have options regarding who pays for what. You can refuse to do the repairs, which may cause the buyer to back out of the deal. Or you can pay to have the repairs done to the buyer’s satisfaction and complete the transaction. You may also deduct those costs from the sales price. In that case the buyer usually agrees to do the repairs themselves after they move into the home.

It is always prudent to have your inspector return for a follow-up inspection after you have completed any required repairs, to ensure they were done correctly.

May 15, 2015

Home Inspections: Issues involving paint.

Filed under: Property Inspection — Chuck @ 9:45 am

If you are having a home inspection done to assist you with buying a home, or to help provide expert insight as you prepare to put your home on the market, the issue of painted surfaces may come up in the report.

Every home, even if it is a brick home, has painted surfaces that need to be painted not just so that they look nice, but more importantly so that they function properly. Paint seals and protects a home, so home inspectors will evaluate painted surfaces and then include their observations in the inspection report.

Kinds of Issues That May Arise
Paint may seem minor, especially compared to major components of your home like the electrical wiring, plumbing, foundation, or roof. But if you think of it like the skin of the house, and realize that on our own bodies our skin is actually the largest organ, it is easy to understand why paint is so important. In many ways it is first line of defense.

• Issues related to paint that an inspector may highlight in the report include, for example, paint that is curling and peeling away from a wall or other surface. That may mean that the old, existing paint should be scraped away and replaced with a new fresh layer of paint.

• But peeling can also occur because underlying layers of paint that were applied a long time ago are incompatible with the top layer. If you paint with latex paint over oil paint, for example, or try to apply a new coat of paint without properly prepping the underlying surface, that can cause the new layer to separate from the layer beneath it. In that case it’s necessary to scrape back enough layers to remove the problem and then start over with a new paint job that will hold properly and do its job.

• Another reason paint may peel is if there is paint underneath that contains toxic lead. Many older homes have lead-based paint on them, and to ensure your safety that needs to be carefully removed. That’s particularly true if you have children who are, unfortunately, often most affected by lead paint poisoning.

• There may also be bare or partially bare surfaces – like wood siding, for instance, that need to be repainted in order to keep moisture from damaging them or attracting pests like termites.

• Sometimes bathrooms are painted with a type of paint that does not hold up well against constant humidity and moisture, too, and that may mean that they need to be repainted correctly. Otherwise showering, for example, could create moisture than over time will deteriorate the walls and ceiling in those rooms – creating a much bigger problem.

What to Do Next
Regardless of what the paint-related issue may be that an inspector notices or suspects, it will be written up in the report with a thorough explanation. Depending on the report format your inspector uses, it may also show photos to help you understand what the inspector saw. Study the report carefully and then if you still have questions, consult the inspector.

Then you will want to have a qualified painting contractor do a more in-depth evaluation to identify any real problems. If lead paint is suspected, you’ll also want to have an environmental inspector – a home inspector who specializes in environmental issues – look at the problem areas. That expert can do tests to confirm whether or not the paint in question does actually contain lead.

Once you have a complete understanding of the situation, get bids from 2-3 qualified contractors who can fix the problem, repaint the home, or do whatever is required to remedy the issue.

Negotiating Repair Costs
If the inspection is related to a sales transaction in progress, the seller can do the repairs and pay for them before closing. Or the buyer and seller can just negotiate and perhaps let the buyer do the repairs after closing, in exchange for receiving a cash repair allowance or a discount on the sales price. Of course if the problem is serious enough and the seller refuses to do anything about it, the buyer may decide to walk away from the sale and hunt for a house elsewhere. But usually the Realtors involved can help negotiate a solution that is agreeable to everyone and does not delay or threaten the closing.

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