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Safety Glass – An Overview

March 27th, 2009

Hi all,

My name is Rob, I’m a technical writer at InterNACHI and I’m in the process of creating helpful articles for home inspectors.

If you are curious about what safety glass is and its different sub-types, please check out my article on safety glass. There, you can also find the 2006 International Residential Code’s rules and recommendations regarding different situations in which these types of glass are most effective as well as ways to identify safety glass that is not labeled.

I hope you find this information useful

Rob

This blog entry was posted by Rob London.

Sellers: How to Survive Your Home Inspection

March 23rd, 2009

Simply following the steps provided in this article will help you survive having your house inspected. Your home inspection is just one more stressful event to add to a likely growing list of events unfolding in the process of selling your home. What with moving, getting the list of needed repairs done, achieving and maintaining that “curb appeal,” the last thing you need is some stranger tromping through your home, looking in all those dark corners. Well, take a deep breath, pick up that last dust bunny under the chair, sit down a moment and read further. I provide real solutions to at least make the Home Inspection part easier.

Please have a clean home

Inspectors are accustomed to dealing with “OPD” (Other Peoples Dirt), however it is always preferable to have a clean home to work in. Don’t worry about a little mess or disorganized clutter. Packing boxes and a little dirt are OK. We do not inspect for cleanliness, however we are human and do not particularly enjoy spending several hours (sometimes on hands and knees in bathrooms) inspecting a foul nest. Even though you are likely tired of keeping things spotless for open houses and potential buyers coming through, please don’t drop the ball on cleaning completely. Extremely dirty homes may be indicative of defects and deferred maintenance.

Windows and doors should all be operable and accessible

It is a great help to have all the windows and doors accessible so I can easily check the condition and operation of them. If you have casement windows and have removed the cranks, please have them available at windows. Open all blinds and curtains for easier access, and if possible move furniture to allow for access. Any breakable or valuable items on window sills should be removed (the inspector will not move them or move furniture).

Turn on all lights and ceiling fans

You may wish to turn all the lights and ceiling fans on in the home just before the inspector arrives. It also helps if you know what all the electrical switches in the home do. The inspector can spend untold time trying to determine what each switch operates. If the inspector wishes to turn on all the lights and fans in your home, please do not follow behind him turning them off (yes, I have had numerous homeowners do this). He has likely done this for the same reason that I do this. Having all the lights on is part of the test of the electrical system to ensure it is checked under a reasonable load. The inspector will turn off the lights and fans when he is done.

Make certain all lights and fans are functional

Have any remote controls for ceiling fans available. If there are inoperable lights and they just need a bulb replaced, the inspector will not know this and does not carry bulbs with him. Inoperable lights will be written up as a defect (why pay an electrician to check them?).

Have all appliances ready for the Inspector to operate

Some inspectors will check appliances, and some do not. Let the inspector start the appliances such as the dishwasher and washing machine. Do not have clothes in the washing machine or clothes dryer (they will need to be removed by the inspector).

Remove your pets

Please be prepared to have your animals gone during the inspection. I like dogs, cats, lizards and most critters, but during an inspection they can be in the way or a nuisance (try doing an inspection with a dog barking every time you move). The inspector also does not want to be responsible for having animals escape from the home and then retrieve them. The opposite side of this coin is a funny short story: I was inspecting a villa that was situated next to a lagoon. I was outside and came in, leaving the sliding door open for just a moment, and when I turned around, a mother duck and her ducklings were proudly waddling in to the villa (I quickly scooted them outside again). Later I had a good laugh and realized just how much they quacked me up. Seriously, I will try not to let any strays in your home.

Inform the inspector if you are to have visitors to the home

Inform the inspector of any expected visitors (if you will not be there) so he can allow them in and not have to worry about whether they should be there or not. Also be prepared if the buyer (and other family members) should elect to attend the inspection. Ask your real estate agent or the buyer’s agent to attend if this occurs (the inspector should not be responsible for others).

Provide access to electrical panel

Please have access provided to your main electrical panel (fuse box or circuit breaker box). The inspector has to remove the panel cover to check the interior components. It is not fun (or safe) to stand in a crowded area and work with electricity. A charred and smoking inspector is not very fragrant either.

Be punctual

If you are meeting the inspector at the home, please be on time. Most of us invest an enormous amount of time for the money earned, and appreciate punctuality. If I am going to be late I will call.

Please have all utilities on, including gas for fireplaces as necessary

Having pilot lights lit will help, since most inspectors will not light pilot lights.

Provide access to attics

Please make certain access is clear and unencumbered to all attic accesses.

All doors should be accessible

Ensure all interior and exterior doors are accessible, and if there are any locked closets or utility type sheds, please provide keys as necessary.

Should I stay or should I go?

This is a good question people often ask me. Usually I like to meet with the owners to ask a few questions. Once I have asked the various questions that help me do my job better, feel free to leave or stay. Most often it makes no difference to me. If you are comfortable with leaving someone in your home, (assuming you will be there) plan on an inspection lasting from 3 to 5 hours on average. Ask your home inspector how long it will take. Most inspectors (including myself) are licensed and bonded.

Alert the Inspector to any safety concerns

If you know of any safety concerns in your home, please let the inspector know. Items such as attic pull down stairs that have a tendency to fall on your head (yes this has happened-ouch!) or perhaps shocking electrical fixtures or receptacles.

Do not ask what defects the inspector has found

Most Inspectors will politely tell you that the home purchaser (who is paying for the report) is the only person he can share that information with. However the inspector should inform you of any known safety concerns that may impact you. Keep in mind that if the inspector gave you the list of defects and you set about to repair them all, you may have repaired some items needlessly. That defective refrigerator or oven may be something the buyer does not care about anyway. He may have plans to replace it. For that reason, you may wish to wait until you have the requested list of repairs from the buyer, before repairing items.

Have your own inspection performed

Consider having your own inspection (pre-listing inspection) before you have a home inspection the buyer has arranged for. You get to choose the home inspector, and there are other benefits. A pre-listing inspection allows you to find out early what repairs might be needed, and to get the repairs done early. This usually is a cost savings, since you can take your time and shop for the best price for the repairs. Having the pre-listing inspection also eliminates a lot of anxiety and stress. It also allows for the home to be more realistically priced in some instances. For example, if you find out the home needs a new roof, but you do not want to invest in a new roof, it is likely you will want to adjust your price accordingly, or at least be prepared for a price reduction. On the plus side, if you get a fairly clean pre-listing home inspection report, you may wish to let your pricing reflect this (raise pricing perhaps). Most buyers will still have their own inspector inspect your home. However it conveys a positive attitude to the buyer when you have your own inspection. Presenting a list of the repaired items is also positive. Simply put, having a pre-Listing inspection can reduce anxiety, save money, and make for a smoother and quicker home sale.

Treat your home inspector as a guest in your home

I do my best to leave each home as I found it, and treat the home and occupants with respect. I know that I am a guest you may not welcome me with open arms. I also know you do not need any additional stress. Offering coffee, a soda, or water is a nice gesture and helps to set a nice tone.

Simply performing some or all of the above steps will help you remove a lot of the stress associated with a home inspection. This article does not take into account fixing or repairing common defects, so you may also want to repair any known defects as you see fit. Best wishes with your home inspection.

John M. Wickline

http://JWInspect.com

Copyright 2009

This blog entry was posted by John Wickline.

I have been providing Home Inspection services to the Low Country of South Carolina, Hilton Head, Bluffton, Sun City, Beaufort, Hardeeville, Ridgeland, Callawassie, and Daufuskie Island since 1998. I provide a detailed and comprehensive narrative report with a clear Summary Page and lots of photos. "When Experience Matters"

How To Prepare For a Home Inspection

March 17th, 2009

When you are in the inspection process of your home buying transaction, there are several items that need to be done before the inspection.  In this article I am going to list and explain these items for a seller, buyer, and real estate agent.  With this information you will be more prepared for your home inspection, thereby helping the inspector perform a more thorough and complete home inspection.

Home Sellers

Let’s start off with the sellers’ inspection.  Many homeowners today are having their homes inspected before they are put on the market.  This is a very savvy marketing tool to help your home sell quicker and more profitably.  For your home inspector to do the best job possible, he or she will need several things to be done before they arrive to check the house over.

  • If it happens to be winter, please make sure the driveway is clear of ice and snow.  An inspector cannot see through this stuff, thereby limiting the inspection.
  • Please make sure that all utilities to the home are in operation mode.  Inspectors do not light pilot lights, turn on water mains, or main panel breakers. If these are not in regular operating mode, the inspection will be limited and less beneficial to you.
  • Make sure attic access is not obstructed in any way.  You inspector will need to get in here to check insulation, roof sheathing, trusses, etc.
  • I realize that if you are selling, you will be packing.  However, please do not have every packed box crammed into a corner in the basement, or else your inspector will not be able to see the walls and foundation.
  • If permits are needed in your area for remodeling have copies of these ready.  In some areas an inspector will need these.

Home Buyers

Now, if you are a buyer, your list will be a little shorter.  But, it is still just as important to do your homework.  You are paying for the inspection, so stay on top of everything.

  • Once you call the inspector and set a date and time, call your real estate agent and verify this time. Some inspectors do this for you and some don’t (I call the agent myself, and they relay to the seller when we will be there).
  • If this is a vacant foreclosure or bank owned property, find out who you need to contact in order to get ALL utilities turned on and into normal operation mode.  Again, inspectors will not turn these items on for you at the time of the inspection.  If they are not on, they will be disclaimed as not inspected.
  • If you are having any specialty testing like lead, mold, water, septic done, try to do these on the same day if the house is occupied.  Sellers will thank you for not making too many trips and inconveniencing them.

Real Estate Agents

Now let’s focus on what the real estate agent needs to do before each home inspection.  Some buyers may not realize what these people do for you.

  • If the inspector has not verified the appointment before 3:00 the day before the inspection, call to verify.
  • Help the buyer with getting utilities and the like into normal operating mode.  This will allow a more thorough inspection and speed up the sale.  It will work out better for you.
  • If you will not be attending the inspection, please let the inspector know how to gain access.
  • If there are going to be items not operating please call the client and explain this to them, so they may decide whether or not to reschedule the inspection.  Most inspectors do not come back a second time for zero fee.  Your buyer will be liable for this return fee, and probably upset about it.

I hope everyone can take something from this list and use it.  I really do feel bad sometimes when the inspection is limited due to a lack of communication between all parties involved.  If any of you have items that you feel should be on this list, please feel free to let me know.  I am always willing to listen and learn how others operate.

Ian A Niquette
WI Home Inspector

This blog entry was posted by Ian Niquette.

Ice Dams and Infrared (Thermal) Imaging

March 3rd, 2009

Ice dams in Massachusetts are a nuisance and can cause expensive damage to soffit areas, roof sheathing, gutters, and the most outer portion of living area walls.  These ice build-ups can be alleviated, but each house tends to have different reasons for the ice to accumulate in the first place.  First, let me explain how this massive ice mound forms on the edge of your roof, then we’ll discuss prevention.

  • Your roof accumulates snow.
  • The outside temperature drops to below freezing.
  • The temperature inside your attic is above freezing, thus raising the temperature of your roofing material to above freezing.
  • Because of the temperature differential and the warmer roof, the snow on top of the roof starts to slowly melt and the melted snow (now water) starts to cascade down the roof (underneath all the accumulated snow) in an attempt to drain off the roof or into your gutters.
  • As soon as the water reaches the outer edge of the roof (where the roof will not be as warm as the attic cavity) it gets exposed to the freezing air. The cascading water now freezes into an ice mound (that literally clings to your roofing material) along the edges of your roof and the gutters (if applicable).
  • As more and more melted snow (water) continues to cascade down your roof, it continues to freeze behind and on top of the previously frozen run off, forming a much larger ice dam. Once this ice dam takes shape, it will literally trap any water that is attempting to drain down and off the roof. Now, all the melting water is dammed and has nowhere to drain to, so it builds up. This accumulating water is simply backing up and is forced right under your roofing material and into your attic or soffit cavity (and then gravity takes over), and this water infiltration simply drips down onto your living area walls, causing the nuisance staining and damage that you are observing throughout your walls.

Preventing this ice from forming on the edge of your roof in the first place is absolutely possible.  Many homeowners are continuously researching articles on “HOW TO PREVENT ICE DAMS” and they learn that proper insulation and ventilation is necessary to prevent these ice dams. After most homeowners obtain their education on “HOW TO PREVENT ICE DAMS” they may attempt to correct their ice dam situation, but are still baffled and are unable to figure out exactly where these improvements are needed. That’s why they call me.

The solution to alleviate your ice dam issues is the use of Infrared technology. My infrared inspection is a brilliant method of providing you with an instant snapshot of any active heat loss through the most outer portion of your walls and ceilings of your home. Thermal imaging will visually show thermal mapping of any improperly insulated ceiling and wall cavities that are causing the ice damming at the outer roof edges of your home.

Take a look at the images below and see how easy Infrared detects un-insulated/problematic cavities where ice dams were occurring…

Infrared clearly detects cold air (blue color) infiltrating the living area:

Infrared detects an entire ceiling cavity missing insulation:

Thermal imaging detects cold spots from improperly installed soffit vents:

Infrared detects insulation issues above this bathroom ceiling:

If you have ice dam problems, and Infrared inspection will help you determine the best form of remediation.

This blog entry was posted by David Valley.

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