5 Home Inspection Tips For Spring

Ahhhh, the birds are chirping….flowers are starting to bloom…you actually think of putting your parka away (hey, I’m from WI what do you expect?)…but what’s that outside? A missing shingle? A crack in the foundation? Now what are you to do? Here’s some great tips from Dana Wilson of Safeguard Home Inspection, to get your home ready for the warm weather & to help you assess any damage done by Old Man Winter..

1) The effects of ice damming, if you had water penetration and what to look for inside and outside now that the snow has melted. Ice damming is actually the snow compacted against your roof that is melting due to the warmth coming from the house & the cold of the outside air/snow. This melting snow can get underneath the shingles (especially if damaged/missing), the roof paper or into your gutters and then back up. You MUST make sure gutters are sloped properly, clear & clog-free, no missing/broken shingles. If you have ice damming, there will be water marks on ceiling or walls of home, a “waterfall” of ice overflowing from a gutter that is clogged or damp walls even down to the basement!

Dana also stated that you need to be VERY CAREFUL when breaking off the icicles as the weight can pull down a gutter, smash a window (one of Dana’s clients!) or injure yourself!!

2) Spring is a good time to look for water penetration from basement to roof. Water will take the path of lesat resistance and work its way down from the roof to the basement. Dana used the example of an ant farm as an illustration…Check your foundation for water tracks or damp walls. If you have this, you want to make sure your yard is sloped away from the house foundation: 1-3″ sloped AWAY from the home at least 3′. You can use dirt or bark mulch…NO STONE unless you use it OVER dirt that is properly sloped. Proper home ventilation is key here as well-your home needs to breathe! (This will be a topic for an upcoming show). If you have concrete around the foundation of your home, no landscaping, Dana suggested sealing this with caulk to prevent water seepage.

3) Time to start thinking about air conditioning. Make sure the unit is LEVEL-unit should also be on a sturdy platform, such as a concrete/stone platform and not on dirt as this can cause unit to sink. Remove any/all debris that has accumulated around it. Turn unit on & let run for 30 minutes. When running, the unit should sound like any other household electrical appliance-no scraping or “funny” noises, if so, call an expert to check it out. After running for 30 minutes, take a thermometer and check air temp coming out of vent, it should be a nice cool temp (approx 55-60 degrees). Again, if any problems, call for a tune-up. You also need to check the foam insulation around the copper tubing that runs to the outside unit-make sure it’s still intact.

4) Insects that come out in the spring. Bees, carpenter ants, termites & other assorted pests start to “swarm” in spring to find new homes to nest in. They are attracted to damp environments, hence the importance of catching ANY water damage ASAP! If you have an insect problem, deal with immediately & then check for cause (ice damming, leaky roof…)

5) Punch list of things you wish you did before last winter hit so you budget throughout this year and be better prepared for next winter. Check your roof, any tree/branch overhangs, foundation “issues”, grading…all the good stuff to be better prepared for the coming year. Dana also suggested 2 things: ALWAYS get 3 estimates to “keep ’em honest” and for any project (especially the big, expensive ones) consider hiring an inspector to oversee the work to make sure corners aren’t being cut & that work is being done properly. This added cost will help to save you thousands of dollars & time & energy spent dealing with a major problem (i.e. not cleaning out gutters can cause you to have to pull out drywall, insulation & maybe repair your roof for not hiring someone to get up on your roof to clean a gutter and/or fix some shingles…). There are even companies that just do spring & fall maintenance work & take care of this for you. It can well be worth the couple hundred dollars to save your thousands down the road!

No get out there & clean those gutters!

4 Home Inspection Tips for a Buyer’s Peace of Mind

Buying a home is a major event for most people. Since we do it so infrequently, there are many facets of the process which are not familiar to the average buyer. One very important aspect of the home buying process is getting a professional home inspection.

Home inspections can uncover hidden flaws an untrained person would not notice. Sometimes the inspectors discover defects that could cost hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to correct. Even when they discover minor flaws, you can add to your contract that the seller will correct them. Alternatively, you will have some ammunition to possibly negotiate a lower price. Here are a few inspection tips:

Home Inspection Tip No. 1

Be sure to select an inspector who has had training and a lot of experience in inspection. An experienced inspector will be familiar with good construction methods, and will recognize any visible defects in the structure, or in the installation of ancillary systems such as electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems. He or she will likely be aware of current recalls of various appliances and what options are available to owners.

Home Inspection Tip No. 2

Choose an inspector from the local area. An inspector from the area will be familiar with local building codes. He or she will also be familiar with common problems associated with the neighborhood, and with individual home builders in the area.

Home Inspection Tip No. 3

Be sure you are present and tag along with the inspector while he or she inspects your potential purchase. Most inspectors prefer you to be there so they can point out specific defects, as well as the good features of your prospective purchase. This will give you a much better understanding of the items in his or her report. Ask questions about anything you see or don’t understand.

Home Inspection Tip No. 4

Don’t plan on doing your own inspection. There are hundreds of items that need to be inspected. Without formal training or years in the home construction trades, the average person will not be able to recognize many potential defects. A professional home inspection only costs a few hundred dollars to protect your investment of more than 500 times as much. This is no time to be penny wise and pound foolish.

You will get an unbiased evaluation from your inspector. You should expect to get a detailed report, with a description of both good and bad findings, along with appropriate diagrams and photos as necessary to document those findings.

Following the tips above will make you aware of any potential problems, and allow you to proceed with your transaction with the confidence that you are buying a sound property, or will be once any potential defects are addressed. A thorough inspection takes the emotion out of the equation, and gives you peace of mind knowing you are making your decision based on the facts.

Does Your Home Inspector Have a System

Choosing a home inspector can be a nervous undertaking especially if you have no one to ask so as to get a referral to one. When choosing a home inspector try to find a home inspector that has system to what he or she does.

Most people have heard the horror stories of home inspectors that arrive late, are dressed like they just woke up or recently crawled out from underneath a car, and spend only 45 minutes or so at a house and claim that they are done. Often these inspectors use a sloppy hand written report and still leaves questions. I have read home inspection reports that provide little useful information.

When Habitation Investigation arrives for a home inspection, they arrive a few minutes early and wearing a pair of clean khaki pants, and a clean blue shirt. A tool pouch and computer are carried in to the home and set up in the kitchen where the notes on the home inspection will be entered into the computer and the reporting software. The home is then inspected in a sequence that aids in locating issues such as water leaks.

Habitation Investigation has a system and a sequence to the inspection process. The use of the computer and the report writing software allows for consistency and detail in the comments regarding the inspection findings. The report system also has the areas and systems of the house tabbed to ensure that each area is completed.

My typical home inspection takes 2.5 to 3 hours at the home to complete. After this time I will return to my office to place the digital images taken during the inspection in to the report. This makes the inspection report one of the most detailed around and the easiest to understand.

When searching for a home inspector be sure to select a person or company that has a system to help ensure consistent and high quality inspections. Finding a inspector that uses a computer and takes pictures as part of the inspection report also helps ensure that there is a system to the inspection process. There are several report writing programs available to home inspectors and are all decent. The biggest factor in if your home inspection experience will be positive or negative depends on the home inspector. It takes effort to do a thorough inspection, doing inspections is not a career for the lazy. Look for an inspector that has a good reputation, positive comments and a system to conduct the inspections.

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