All home inspectors should understand the basic properties and general installation requirements of roofing underlayment. Find out more by reading our new article on Inspecting Underlayment.
If it’s a good idea for prospective buyers to hire an inspector before purchasing a home, then it should be an utmost priority before purchasing a bank-owned foreclosure. Foreclosures are notorious for their problems, from long-deferred maintenance to intentional looting and vandalism. Inspectors have even found wild animals in vacant foreclosures. Unfortunately, some Realtors have been recommending that inspections not be performed on foreclosures because most of these properties are owned by banks, who will not reduce prices to compensate for exposed defects. Fearing the inspection will be a deal-breaker, many Realtors will advise against an inspection, or simply “forget” to mention one, putting the future owners in great jeopardy. To find out more about this situation, check out our new article on foreclosure inspections.
Moving to a new home is such a stressful, intensive process that normal environmental concerns are sometimes sidelined. In the hassle of the move, homeowners may throw away their accumulated junk without even attempting to sell, donate or recycle. Relocating, as a consequence, is pretty hard on the environment, but you can go about the process in a responsible way. Yard sales are great ways to shed excess stuff and make some money in the process. Various charities and organizations will gladly take certain items from you, maybe even with a tax deduction. To find out more ways to relocate in an environmentally responsible way, check out our new article on eco-friendly relocation.
Bloom BoxesÒ are a new type of fuel cell that may one day revolutionize how we power our homes and businesses. These refrigerator-sized boxes are essentially mini-power plants that are designed to efficiently create electricity on site, and are located in the yard or the basement. They can run on a variety of fuel sources, from conventional natural gas to renewable, such as solar energy. Bloom BoxesÒ may replace power plants the same way that cell phones have overtaken land lines, but it’s going to be difficult to make the device affordable to the residential market. Twenty large companies in California, including Google, eBay and Wal-Mart, are already using them to produce electricity, and saving a lot of money in the process. To find out more about how these boxes work and how they might transform the world as we know it, check out our new article on Bloom Boxes.
You probably have never heard of aerogel, although there may be a time soon when it’s a household word. The least-dense solid on the planet, aerogel has been used for decades in scientific applications, but only recently has it seen service as a thermal insulator in buildings. It has an R-value that far exceeds fiberglass, cellulose and any other conventional insulation. Researchers have joked that a house protected with aerogel insulation could be heated with a single candle, except that it would get uncomfortably hot! To learn more about this incredible material, check out our new article on aerogel.
Know much about rockwool insulation? It was first discovered around volcanoes, where it forms naturally from wind-blown lava. Today, it’s manufactured from minerals that are heated to high temperatures and spun on a wheel like cotton candy. Rockwool has several unique qualities that make it desirable as a building material, and you can find out more about them in our new article on rockwool.
Perlite is useful as a component in potting soil, filter aids and insulation in buildings. Technically a volcanic glass, the mineral is cooked to high temperatures, a process that imbues it with many unique qualities that make it useful as insulation. Perlite is sometimes mixed with cement to improve its fire rating, but loose-fill perlite is common, as well. To find out more, check out our new article on perlite.
Most brick houses built within the past 30 years are not actually made from brick; the brick is mostly cosmetic, and if it were to be removed, the house itself would be just fine. Of course, this cannot be said of traditional brick houses that use bricks as load-bearing elements. Can you tell the difference? It isn’t easy, because brick veneer houses are designed to look just like old-fashioned solid brick, but a trained eye can tell the difference. For instance, solid brick has header bricks, but veneer has no need for them, while weep holes are found in veneer but not in solid brick. Each technique has its pros and cons, too. To find out more, take a look at our new article on solid brick vs. brick veneer.
Vermiculite has been used as insulation in tens of millions of homes in the U.S. alone, mostly in attics. A significant majority of vermiculite was mined from an asbestos-rich region of Montana, which has led to widespread fears of lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other life-threatening diseases. As an inspector, what should you do if you find vermiculite in a home? The situation is probably not that serious as long as the mineral is kept isolated from living areas and is not disturbed. To find out more about this interesting insulator, check out our new article on vermiculite.
The Number One way that people die on construction sites is by falling, and this fact often overshadows deadly falls from routine maintenance work on houses. Whenever people are on roofs, they are potentially in great danger, and this is why fall-arrest systems exist. More effective than simple railings or nets, fall-arrest systems use ropes, shock absorbers, harnesses and roof anchors to protect workers. But they must be installed and used properly in order to be effective. To find out more, check out our new article on fall-arrest systems.