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The Kitchen….Revealing A Homes Condition

​We are well aware that for many homeowners one of the most important rooms of the house is the kitchen. Therefore, we make sure to inspect them thoroughly. We can also learn a lot about what kind of condition the rest of the house is in by the state of the kitchen. If you are looking around a potential new home what are some possible warning signs to look for in the kitchen?

Check the kitchen sink. What is the water pressure like when you turn on the faucet? If it seems low, then try to find out why. Does the water drain well? Check in the cabinet under the sink and look for any water damage or signs of water leaks.

Dishwashers are another area of concern. Again, check the surrounding area for signs of a water leak, what do the surrounding cabinets look like inside? If you are able to check the hoses and seals, what kind of condition are they in? These can be serious issues because water damage can cause rotting of the sub floor and even mold problems so it’s not something to ignore.

Countertops. Look for any signs of damage here as well. All kinds of bacteria can form in cracked tiles, grout or cracked laminate and although they can be replaced relatively easily, you might not want the extra expense.

Do all the electrical outlets work? If not, you will need to find out why as this might indicate a bigger issue with the house. Is the oven gas? If it is, do you smell any gas in the area of the stove? Is it working properly?

Although a home inspection will expose any major problems with a house, it’s helpful to know what to check for when looking around a home. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

Underhanded Sales Tactics

If you are thinking about constructing your own home, there is much to think about. Finding the right developer is a key to making this a success. So, what are some ways to make sure you hire the right company? One way is to be on your guard against dishonesty. Whether it’s the developers themselves or their high-pressure sales team, it’s good to be aware of some of the sales tactics that might be used to get you to sign up. Here are a few of the underhand sales tactics to be aware of:

You may have seen advertised some very low prices but then find out that all of the so-called low priced lots have gone. Be careful if at this point you are offered much higher priced lots.

Do not allow yourself to be convinced that you will “miss out” if you don’t decide to buy there and then. Quick decisions often lead to long term regrets.

Many people choose to purchase lots from developers because of all the amenities they have been promised. Make sure that all of the things you’ve been promised are fully listed on the property report.

Be cautious of allowing yourself to be led by the assurance that you are buying an excellent investment. An underhand sales tactic is to tell you all kinds of facts and figures about population growth and real estate prices in the area, but this may not apply to the precise area you are looking to buy. It might not be that easy to resell the lot either, particularly if the developer still has lots for sale.

While not all developers and sales teams are dishonest, its good to be aware of some of these sales tactics so you can avoid becoming being misled.

How Many Smoke Alarms Should Your Home Have?

Many of the house fire-related deaths that occur each year in the United States could have been avoided if the home had working smoke detectors in it. With this in mind, it’s good to periodically check over our homes and look for ways to improve on fire safety. To start with, it’s good to think about how many smoke detectors your home should have.

A good general rule to follow is to have a smoke detector on every livable floor of the home. You would also want to include the garage and basement. For extra safety, it’s wise to have one in each occupied bedroom as well.

Regularly checking all smoke alarms (and carbon monoxide alarms) is another important way to stay safe. Every month go through the home testing all the alarms, making sure they do not need new batteries and that they are in good working order. It is a very bad idea to disconnect a smoke alarm, even if cooking food sets it off constantly. This is because it is all too easy to forget to reconnect the alarm again.

All members of the household must know exactly what to do in the event of a fire, this is why it’s good to perform a periodic fire drill. Everyone should be able to hear smoke detectors and recognize the alarms sound so it should be loud and distinct.

You can never be too careful when it comes to fire safety in your home. Taking time to follow these brief suggestions will go a long way to helping your family in the event of a fire emergency.

Insulation – Hazardous Or Helpful?

Insulation comes in all shapes and sizes. It could be cellulose, perlite, and other types that are made for specific types of homes. But that are some things you must know about insulation before you install it into your home or replace some in your home. With these tips in mind, you can further protect yourself and your family.

Insulation uses all sorts of chemicals when combined with each other in order to create a thick layer to keep the heat inside your house, and the cold outside of it. For example, fiberglass insulation can have tiny glass particles as well as deadly dust if taken into your lungs over time, it can heavily affect your breathing and can cause irritation to your skin.; Wearing the proper ppe during the project is definitely a must if you wish to remain healthy and free from the chemicals in insulation.

Keeping these things in mind regarding insulation will continue to allow yourself to protect yourself as well as your family while maintaining a safe and warm environment in your home.

You Have The Power

When you need to connect several electronic devices to power at once, you more than likely plugged in a power strip to make sure you had enough receptacles to plug them all in. That is the purpose of a power strip, and it will definitely fulfill your needs at the time, but there is a correct way and an incorrect way to use power strips. Why does it matter? If you were to overload a power-strip, you could cause a fire.

How could you end up overloading a power-strip? There are many different ways in which this could happen. For example, you should never plug one power-strip into another. If you do that, you could end up with too much current going through the first power-strip. You also shouldn’t run a power-strip underneath a carpet. Having it covered by carpet can easily cause it to overheat. There are many appliances that shouldn’t be plugged into a power-strip because of the amount of power that they draw. Remember that the purpose of a power-strip is not to function as an extension cord, but just to give you more receptacles to use.

Keeping Cool With Your AC

Depending on where you live, temperatures and air humidity can make it quite unbearable to live without it. It is especially important for older ones since they often have other health problems that get exacerbated when exposed to extreme temperatures.

Central air conditioning is very convenient, since unlike window mounted air conditioners, it doesn’t require any extra work when the seasons change. However, it is important to make sure that it is kept in good shape, since a system replacement can cost quite a bit.

You could choose to have a service company do regular checkups, but if you don’t want to have that extra expense, many basic parts of the air conditioning system can be maintained by you yourself.

Changing filters in your unit is very important, since a dirty or clogged filter will make your air conditioner less efficient. You should also make sure that your vents are sealed well. If you notice that there is unusually cold air in crawl spaces or other areas that aren’t supposed to be climate controlled, you might have a leak dumping cool air in those areas.

Home Safety…Tip-Over Risks

Although better standards of safety are put into practice each year by furniture manufacturers, the fact remains that many injuries are still caused as a result of furniture items tipping over, with many of these accidents involving children. The main reason for this is that those standards of safety have not been implemented in the home. So, let’s look at some of the ways to avoid tip-over hazards in the home.

Furniture items such as shelving units and dressers, etc. need to be stabilized by securing them to a wall. You can do this using L brackets or straps.

If a child sees an object they desire they will often try to reach for it using any means necessary, like climbing on the furniture. Although it is a good idea to keep certain items out of a child’s reach, its also best to store them out of sight as well.

When shopping for furniture look for sturdy items that have a wider base. Store heavier objects in the lower drawers of a dresser to increase sturdiness and prevent them from becoming top-heavy. This would apply to a shelving unit also.

Televisions tip over easily so place them as far back as possible on a low tv unit or stand. Be wary of loose hanging electrical cords as these are a big risk for small children.

As you look through your home, you may notice many more areas that could be a tip-over risk and, as we have seen, several things can be done to prevent this type of accident.

Well, Well, Well…

Having a well is something that many homeowners find reassuring. They like the fact that they have control over their own water source, as well as, the feeling that their water is higher quality. This is, however, not always the case. Why is that? There are many things that can contaminate your well water. If you were to spill any chemicals near the location of your well, it can seep down all the way to the well and end up in your drinking water. This is why you should never park a vehicle on top of your well, since they could leak out harmful chemicals.

Your septic system could also contaminate your well if it is less than 50 feet away from it.

To check your well water, you can send in a sample to a lab, and they will let you know exactly how good your water is… or how bad.

Trees Around The Home

Do you have a house with trees around it? Of course, most of the United State’s population have trees all around them, so when heavy storms come rolling through, what could happen? Unfortunately, trees have the potential to fall on family’s homes, and it happens a lot more then people think it does. How can you keep the risk of a tree falling down on your house to a minimum? Here’s a few tips for you.

Number 1: Make sure that all of your trees around your house are trimmed neatly, none of the branches are right up against the house, and that no tree roots are beginning to grow beside your foundation. When this happens, the roots can’t grow right into the foundation, but the roots can grow into cracks into the foundation and spread them apart. To keep this from happening in the first place, make sure that trees are far enough away from your house where if the tree roots grew, they have plenty of room to do so.

Number 2: You will also want to take down any trees that are currently within a 30 foot space around the house. Any number of trees can fall on your house during a storm, but if you pull them back far enough away from the house, your defensible space around the house will be perfect. If you do have to cut down trees that are right next to your house, make sure that an accredited professional handle this. If you were to do it by yourself, then you will cause more problems than there were before. By keeping track of these two helpful tips, you will continue to have a happy and safe environment for your family to grow in.

Do You Need a Safe Room?

You have probably heard about safe rooms, but have you ever considered if you need one? Your first thought might be that only rich and famous people need something like that, but the sad reality is that home invasions and other crimes committed in homes are becoming more and more common, especially in bigger cities. A safe room can protect you from burglars, kidnappers, natural disasters and other dangers. If you do decide to have one installed, there things that need to be taken into consideration.

Your safe room needs to be located in a place you can easily get to without crossing paths with a potential intruder. It should be made from a material that can withstand great force, and this means that a safe room will be very heavy. In many cases, this could mean that you need to reinforce the flooring where it is installed. You should have plenty of food, water and first aid materials in your room in case you need to stay in there for an extended period of time.

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.