Our Blog

Windbreaks – A Help For Your Home

A windbreak is basically a long row of trees and shrubs that keeps the wind speed to a reduced level before it reaches a building. How can they be helpful to your home and your family? Well, that will be the topic of discussion for our article today.

First of all, a uniform layout of trees and shrubs can be quite appealing to one’s eye, especially when in a field near someone’s home. They can even screen out undesirable scenery such as a factory, a neighbors home, or other things as well. It’s also interesting to note that windbreaks are great at sound reduction. Basically the sound gets sent through the bushes and trees, and then deflected by the large branches and leaves.

In snow torn areas, windbreaks can also act as snow breakers. These well-placed windbreakers will prevent snow from drifting onto your driveway, or even to block it from drifting into the road. With these things in mind, you will be able to protect your home and your family from an increase of wind pressure.

Single Ply Roofing

Single ply roofing is something that we find sometimes on home inspections, and very regularly on commercial building inspections. But what is single ply roofing?

These are flexible sheets called single-ply membranes made from compounded synthetic materials. In total, there are three different types – thermosets, modified bitumens, thermoplastics. With this material, you are provided with strength, durability, and flexibility. With pre-fabricated sheets, they have a broad appeal and this is mainly because of the high quality which is versatile in how it can be attached. Once installed, they will be watertight and durable for years to come regardless of what attachment method is used. 

Thermoset Membranes – Compounded from rubber polymers, EPDM is the most common polymer used and this can also be referred to as ‘rubber roofing’. In addition to being able to deal with the sunlight, this material can also handle the various chemicals found on the roof. For a watertight seal in the overlaps, an adhesive such as tape or liquid needs to be used and this is how you can identify thermoset membranes. 

Thermoplastic Membranes – Based on plastic polymers, PVC is the most common option and includes plasticisers in order to become more efficient. As opposed to using adhesives, thermoplastic membranes will be joined by using heat or chemical welding. Overall, this is seen as a stronger method which is then complemented by a reinforcement layer of fibreglass or polyester. 

Modified Bitumen – Essentially, these are hybrids that take the advantages of single-ply – pre-fabrication and the high-tech formulation – and then mixes it with some of the more traditional installation practices. Starting with asphalt in factory-fabricated layers, it is then modified with rubber or plastic in an attempt to increase its life, strength, and flexibility. Today, there are two main types of this in styrene butadiene styrene (STS) and atactic polypropylene (APP) and the choice will be made depending on the method of sheet installation. Whilst some use hot asphalt to mop down, others will use torches so that the asphalt melts. Then, the seams are also sealed in this way. 

Whatever your roofing material, be sure to contact us for a comprehensive roofing inspection!

Drowning In The Sea Of Real Estate

If you are buying a home, you may feel like you are drowning in information

That is understandable too, because there are so many laws and regulations involved, and they always seem to be changing. Even if you have bought a home in the past few years, you likely notice that things have already changed.

Interest rates, housing laws, attorneys, agents, appraisors, taxes, transfer documents, and more. It can be overwhelming and frustrating.

But there is one part of your transaction that does not need to be so frustrating – the home inspection. We keep it simple and straight forward. We perform a thorough, detailed home inspection at a fair price and you get a detailed report with our findings – it’s that simple.

​So contact us today for your complete home inspection!

Simple ways to use less energy in the home

A lot of people don’t realize how easy it can be to use less energy in the home. With just a few simple adjustments you can save a lot of money. Here are a few simple ways this can be done:

​These are just a few of the many things that can make your home more energy efficient, however for a more detailed assessment of the energy reducing potential in your home, please contact us, your local Certified Home Inspector.

How can I make my aging parents’ appliances more convenient?

As our aging loved ones get older they are in need of extra care, but do not necessarily want the upheaval of moving from their residence.  This is described as ‘aging in place’. This term refers to the desire of aging ones and their families to adjust their current residence in order to cater to their growing needs. While there are many different ways to help them with these needs, making appliances more convenient to use may be a good place to start.  Here are some tips;

These are just some ideas to help our aging loved ones ‘age in place’ and make it easier while they use their appliances.

Ways to prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer as it has no odor and cannot be seen, and so attacks without warning. Many instances of Carbon Monoxide poisoning occur in the home, this is largely due to faulty, fuel burning appliances found in the home.

What are some ways that CO Poisoning can be prevented?

It is very important to install Carbon Monoxide detectors, that meet appropriate safety standards on every level of your home, also make sure they are quite close to the bedroom so that they would be easily heard if the alarm goes off.

All appliances need to be installed properly and have maintenance performed on them regularly

If you have a chimney, get it inspected to make sure there is no damage or blockages, also a yearly clean is important

It can be very tempting to try to heat the house with a household appliance such as an oven, but this is very dangerous and should not be done.

Do not keep your car running in the garage, this can be lethal

​Please call us to schedule an inspection or if you need help with any questions.

Aluminum siding

While Aluminum siding is not too popular these days in the construction of homes, it can still be found on many older homes. Here are a few helpful things to know about Aluminum siding.

Is Aluminum siding durable?

Yes, it can actually last up to the life of the building, but only if it is maintained well. It doesn’t rust, and it wont be affected by termites.

How safe is it?

If installed properly, it gives great waterproof protection.

In case of a fire, it will not melt or burn.

Is it aesthetically pleasing?

It can be, as it can be easily painted, however this does tend to need to be redone every few years. It should also be noted that Aluminum siding is prone to scratches and dents which can look rather unattractive and is not too easy to fix.

Some home owners may also have a problem with the noise it can make when rain falls on it.

This is just a very simple look at what to consider with Aluminum siding , however for a more thorough inspection, please contact us and we will be happy to advise you or schedule an appointment.

Fibrous Concrete Reinforcement

Reinforcing concrete to keep it from cracking is nothing new. Even the earliest civilizations used natural fibers to inhibit cracking in masonry structures. Today, synthetic-fiber reinforcement is available to reinforce non-structural concrete applications with superior results. Currently, the most widely used form of reinforcement is welded-wire fabric (WWF), a mesh of steel wires that is placed in concrete. However, synthetic-fiber reinforcement avoids the increased labor costs and difficulty in placement that are associated with WWF.

Synthetic-fiber reinforcement prevents cracks in concrete, unlike WWF, which controls crack width. Cracks actually need to occur before the WWF goes to work. Small-diameter synthetic fibers, such as nylon, glass, steel and polypropylene, are now being added to concrete to reduce shrinkage-cracking by more than 80%, according to independent lab tests. Reducing cracks improves concrete impermeability, increases its toughness and long-term weatherability, and can reduce callbacks in concrete slab floors, decks, driveways, and walkways. According to fiber manufacturers, the placement, curing and finish characteristics of the concrete are not affected by the addition of fibrous reinforcement.

When added at higher content by volume, larger-diameter synthetic fibers, such as steel and polyolefin (added at 0.5% to 1.5%, respectively), also enhance hardened flexural strength, but at an increased cost.

Fibrous reinforcement is used primarily to reduce cracking in non-structural concrete applications. However, steel fibers rust and can cause surface discoloration.

Modular Block Retaining Wall Systems

Modular block or segmental retaining walls employ interlocking concrete units that tie back into the earth to efficiently resist loads. These pre-engineered modular systems are an attractive, economical and durable alternative to stone and poured concrete retaining walls. The inherent design flexibility can accommodate a wide variety of site constraints, project sizes, and aesthetic preferences.

Individual (and usually identical) precast concrete units interlock, offset-stack, or are placed structurally independent of each other and anchored into the backfill. These independent tier systems are advantageous for seismic areas.

The components of a complete system can include foundation soil, leveling pad, precast concrete units of high-strength concrete, shear pins (if units don’t interlock), multiple-depth walls, and additional soil reinforcement, such as geotextile, welded-wire fabric, and dead-man anchors (if the wall is over a certain height), retained soil, and drainage fill.

Some systems have relatively shallow units, while others have units with a tail for deep embedment for taller and more vertical walls (walls are never perfectly vertical). The soil reinforcement consists of horizontal layers that extend into the backfill.

Being gravity structures, these systems rely on their own weight and coherent mass to resist overturn and sliding forces. The segmental feature affords the wall a permeability to relieve hydrostatic pressure, so less material is required for resistance. Because they are considered flexible structures, the footings usually need not reach the frost line. Some systems allow for landscaping of the wall between tiers (depending on site conditions), while others are designed as structural frames to be covered with landscaping.

These systems have been installed all over the U.S.; distributor locations vary per manufacturer.

Bulging Walls

Masonry walls sometimes show signs of bulging as they age. A wall itself may bulge, or the bulge may only be in the outer wythe. Bulging often takes place so slowly that the masonry doesn’t crack and, therefore, it may go unnoticed over a long period of time. The bulging of the whole wall is usually due to thermal or moisture expansion of the wall’s outer surface, or due to contraction of the inner wythe. This expansion is not completely reversible because, once the wall and its associated structural components are “pushed” out of place, they can rarely be completely “pulled” back to their original positions.

The effects of the cyclical expansion of the wall are cumulative and, after many years, the wall will show a detectable bulge. Inside the building, separation cracks will occur on the inside face of the wall at floors, walls and ceilings.

Bulging of only the outer masonry wythe is usually due to the same gradual process of thermal or moisture expansion; masonry debris accumulate behind the bulge and prevent the course from returning to its original position.

In very old buildings, small wall bulges may result from the decay and collapse of an internal wood lintel or wood-bonding course. This can cause the inner course to settle and the outer course to bulge outward.

When wall bulges occur in solid masonry walls, the walls may be insufficiently tied to the structure, or their mortar may have lost its bond strength. Large bulges must be tied back to the structure; the star-shaped anchors on the exterior of masonry walls of many older buildings are examples of such ties (check with local building ordinances on their use). Small bulges in the outer masonry course often can be pinned to the inner course or dismantled and rebuilt.

Using a Generator

Finding the Home of Your Dreams

We all would like to find the home of our dreams and to avoid falling into a nightmare. But what is the right way to go about that?

One of the best ways to do this is to think about the home inspection before you even put an offer in on the house.

Why is this important? Because one of the hardest parts of being a home inspector is finding serious issues that could have been caught before we even arrived for the inspection.

So before you start thinking about color schemes, how much you like the neighborhood, and how beautiful the kitchen is, try to look at the home with a critical eye.

You don’t need to be an expert, just pay attention to detail. Look up at the ceilings – are there any moisture stains? Look at the floors and walls – do they look level. Turn up the heat, walk around, and do your best.

You may not be as good as a home inspector, but you may be surprised at what you are able to catch on your own.

Preventing Garage Fires

We all know how important it is to be conscious of any potential fire hazard in our home, especially here in Florida, but what about our garage – especially when it’s attached to our house?

Garage fires can occur very easily, this is because our garage is where we store most of our flammable liquids ( paint cans, varnish, gasoline cans to name but a few).

It is also the place we are most likely to work on the car, motorbike, lawn mower etc. Here are a few tips on preventing your garage from being a potential fire hazard:

Clear your garage floor of anything with the potential to ignite easily such as oily rags or paper items, also clean up any spills and mess you may have made while working
Store all your potentially hazardous materials in clear, well-labeled containers
Check that the door that leads to your home from the garage is free from any gaps and is properly sealed, as dangerous fumes such as carbon monoxide can seep into your home
It is recommended that you have the garage checked by a Certified Home Inspector, as they can check to see if your walls and doors meet proper standards of fire safety, and also point out any areas that might need attention.

Having A Retirement Plan For Your Home

If you are approaching retirement age, preparing for a time when advancing age may mean you will be less active is not an enjoyable prospect. It is the course of wisdom though, to plan now to ensure life is a little easier in the future. What kind of plans can be made?

Of course, a healthy lifestyle is important to staying young, but what about our living situation? Can we make adjustments in our home to accommodate changing needs?

Start by looking at any areas of the home that are starting to need work. It might be a good idea to have areas like the roof or heating system inspected. That way you will know what to start budgeting for. Do you have plans to remodel any rooms of the house? Perhaps you could add certain features that would be good for someone with limited mobility.

Do you have family members who will be taking care of you should the need arise? Now is a good time to discuss the plans you have with them, that way they will know your wishes and be able to act accordingly. One subject that is wise to discuss is whether you would like to stay in your home if you become less mobile or if you would be content to move to a place that is equipped for your needs.

This might be a fitting time to think about putting money aside in a separate account for future home maintenance? This can eliminate worry later on. Review your finances and retirement plans to make sure they are all up to date and in order

Although thinking about this is not pleasant, preparing for it will help give you and your family better peace of mind.

Buying a Fixer-Upper

The TV shows make it all look so easy. Buy a fixer-upper, make some repairs, and then live happily ever after. Unfortunately, it is not quite that easy.

Before you buy a fixer-upper, consider a few things. First of all, your skill level. We all would love to think we are master level carpenters. But what about when things come up that you have never handled before? Learning is great, but not on an active heating unit, or with your home’s foundation.

Also, think about time. Do you work full time? Then fixing that house up may take up the majority of your free time.

Think too about the stress levels, especially if you are living in the house while remodeling it. Going without a kitchen is fun for a short time, but weeks go by and the stress of the remodel can build up.

Buying a fixer-upper can be a fun project and a great investment, but be sure you are ready for some of the downsides as well.

Pet Odors in Your New Home

So you found the home of your dreams. You were careful during the buying process, you viewed the home several times, and you checked everything very carefully. But the day you move in – you start to smell it…

This is, unfortunately, a pretty common scenario. Pet odors are pretty easily covered when listing a home, but they often come back afterward. So what can you do with pet odors?

Pet odors are difficult to get rid of, but not impossible. So let’s start with the basics.

First, wash all hard surfaces and repaint. Most people do this anyways when they move in.

After that, get your ductwork professionally cleaned. Many people clean their house, but forget about all of the dander and odor in their ductwork.

Also, if you have any carpeting, consider replacing it and treating under the carpeting at the subfloor. This may seem extreme (and expensive) but carpeting is very (very) difficult to properly clean from pet odors.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions!

Buying a Foreclosed Home

Aluminum Wiring….. Know the dangers

If you are thinking of buying an older home, you might want to consider the possibility that its wired with aluminum wiring.

Is this something you should be concerned about?

Here are a few factors to consider;

As you can see from this very brief overview, aluminum wiring can be quite dangerous especially as it poses a much greater fire risk than copper wiring

Please contact us for more information and also advice on what to do if you have aluminum wiring is in your home.

When Home Inspections Matter the Most

 

You have found the “perfect” home. It has everything you want, is in the right neighborhood, and best of all – it is well maintained and shouldn’t have any problems. Or at least it seems that way.

Whenever someone says they have the perfect house, that is when they need a home inspection the most. Why is that?

Because when a home seems perfect, we can mentally and emotionally put on “blinders” to issues that may be there. We have found some of the most serious defects on properties where people never expected it.

So keep you, your family, and your investment safe and have us perform a professional home inspection for you.

Dryer Fires is Louisiana

Whenever I see a story of another dryer fire in the news, it really hits me. Many times as I am performing home inspections here in LA I see the makings of a dryer fire, which is sad because many times it can be prevented. In the interests of my clients, here are a few reminders about hoe to prevent a dryer fire in your home:

  1. Clean your lint trap after EVERY use
  2. Don’t forget to clean the inside of the dryer as well (the lint trap doesn’t catch everything)
  3. If you own a gas powered dryer, be sure to regularly check for gas leaks
  4. Clean and check the vent hose regularly
  5. Clean the area around the dryer well and keep it free of too many items