Friday, October 4, 2013

Hiring a Home Inspector; 7 Questions to Ask?

When purchasing a new or existing home; the most critical part of the buying process is the home inspection.  Never sign a waiver to surrender your rights to a home inspection, even on a new home.  A home inspection is your right in the buying process and should never be relinquished.   The home inspection process is in place for your protection, to discover any defects or building flaws unknown or not disclosed by the seller.

Once you have selected your dream home; how do you find the right home inspector to investigate your future home and investment?  In the selection process; there are seven critical questions you should ask a home inspector.


https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp?mode=0&SID=
1.     Is the home inspector licensed by the state or approved agency?  Many states require a home inspector to obtain a state license to inspect homes.  If you are obtaining financing through a government program, VA, HUD, or FHA; that agency may also require an additional certification or approval for the home inspector.  You should verify the license with your state or agency prior to contracting the home inspector.

2.     What is the inspector’s background and certifications?  The inspector’s background certifications are critical to their understanding of building technologies.  Your inspector should have a basic knowledge of the construction process to thoroughly evaluate the property being inspected.  The inspector should be able to determine whether a crack is structural or cosmetic based on their knowledge of the buildings obscured structure that lies beneath the drywall.  Has the inspector stayed current on modern building technologies and what certifications have they completed?  Home inspector organizations, like National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI), require inspectors to stay current and take continuing education units (CEUs) that often exceed state requirements.  Ask if they are a member of a national organization.

3.     How many years has the company been in business?  Has the company met the requirements to stay in business and are they current with modern building technologies.

4.     Ask how many inspections a day does the inspector complete?  Is the inspector working for your best interests or his?  One or two is the answer you are looking for.  If the inspector is completing three or more, it is likely they are cutting corners to complete all the inspections.

5.     How much time is spent at an inspection?  This number should vary based on the size of a home.  The basic number you are looking for is 1 hour per 1000 square feet.  If the inspector is inspecting a 3,500 sq. ft. home in less than 3½ hours on site, they are most likely not the best inspector for your family.  This time should not include the completion of the written report.

6.     Written Report, How Long? How many Photos? There are many styles of written reports, which will be determined by the preference of the inspector.  That being said, style is not as important as content.  There should be at least one summary page, one page per system (7) and one page per room.  A typical 3 bedroom, 2 bath, and two car garage should have a minimum of 20 pages excluding photos.  Photos again may be a personal preference but should include at least one per deficiency noted in the report.  The minimum number is 15-20, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, 20-30 is better.  

7.     Does the Inspection Company and the Inspector carry insurance?  Who would the courts consider liable for damage to the property during the time of the inspection?  What type of insurance do they carry and what is the liability amount of the insurance?  Many states require an inspector carry minimum liability insurance, but would it cover full damages to the property in the worst case scenario? 
When purchasing your home, you may not have to be an expert on the home, but you should have a knowledgeable inspector on your side.  You should feel secure in the knowledge that your family and your investments are safe.  Choose wisely, when selecting a home inspector and never put your family’s safety at risk by waiving the inspection.  Never select an inspection company based on price or how quick they can complete an inspection.  One item found by a competent inspector can save you thousands of dollars in repairs down the road.

Frank Carr is the Owner / Inspector at First Choice Home Inspections in Deltona, FL serving Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Lake Counties.  Formerly in the building trades, Frank’s focus is a safe home and building FCHI. We believe that consumers have the right to expect the highest standards of thoroughness, fairness and effectiveness from their home inspector and that is exactly what we provide.
 
First Choice Home Inspections 
(386) 624-3893
Email:  home.inspections@aol.com
Website: 
Http://www.1homeinspector.com

Saturday, September 21, 2013

4 Pt Home Inspection in place of a Home Inspection



Can you use a 4 Pt Inspection in place of a home inspection?  Many home buyers are under the impression that a 4 Pt Insurance Inspection is just a cheaper version of a Home Inspection.  The fact is they are not the same.  By opting to have a 4 Pt Inspection instead of a Home inspection, you must sign a waiver that you are waving your right to a home inspection.

A four point insurance inspection will be required by an insurance company for the purpose of obtaining a new insurance policy or renewing an existing policy.   A Four-Point Insurance Inspection is far less in scope than a standard home inspection.  It covers the information the insurance companies require on the four components that cause damage to a home when they fail. 


The Four Point Insurance Inspection is a limited, visual survey of the heating/air conditioning, roof, electrical and plumbing systems.  The purpose of the four point is to collect information for the insurance company about the systems age and condition and to note any safety concerns of these systems.

Insulation is one of many important systems not covered by a 4 Point Insurance Inspection.
A Home Inspection is a comprehensive snapshot of a house on the day of the inspection. It is a non-invasive, visual, and detailed evaluation of the property's structure, foundation or basement, interior, exterior, roof, electrical, plumbing and heating and cooling systems. The purpose of a home inspection is to detect major visible problems or defects and unsafe conditions.

The home inspection is used to assist a client in making a more informed purchasing decision.  It is often required by the finance or mortgage lender for the purchase of the home.  The inspector may also educate the buyer as to typical life expectancies, items to budget for replacement as well as how to take care of and maintain the property.

A four point inspection takes about an hour to complete and only covers four of the many systems of a house.  The home inspection takes many more hours to complete and is a considerably more detailed examination of the entire home and all of its accessible components.

It is the opinion; of this home inspector, that conducting a four point inspection for the purpose of purchasing a home is much the same as sending a $40,000 dollar second-hand car to the mechanic to inspect the tires prior to purchase.  The mechanic has the knowledge to tell you everything about the car and its systems but if you only ask him to check the tires, that’s all you’re going to get.  Much the same with the home inspection if you opt to only have a four point inspection, that is all the information you will get and you are waving your right to a home inspection.




Frank Carr is the Owner / Inspector at First Choice Home Inspections in Deltona, FL serving Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Lake Counties.  Formerly in the building trades, Frank’s focus is a safe home and building FCHI. We believe that consumers have the right to expect the highest standards of thoroughness, fairness and effectiveness from their home inspector and that is exactly what we provide.
First Choice Home Inspections 
(386) 624-3893
Email:  home.inspections@aol.com
Website:  Http://www.1homeinspector.com

Saturday, August 3, 2013

What time is best for a home inspection?

Why is it not a good idea to schedule a summer home inspection in the afternoon?

There are many systems in the attic that require detailed investigation for a home inspection report.  The systems of the attic are trusses/rafters, sheathing, HVAC and exhaust duct work, electrical, insulation, ventilation, plumbing and in some cases HVAC components, chimneys and hot water heaters.

The plain and simple answer is the attic temperatures in Southern and even Northern states can reach extreme temperatures of 140 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit or even higher.  If you are paying for a home inspection and schedule your inspection for the afternoon; you will, most likely, not be getting a thorough inspection.  According to most state standards of practice(SOP) a home inspector does not have to enter the attic if the temperature in their opinion is extreme and dangerous to the inspector.

ASHI SOP
F.  Inspectors are NOT required to:
1.  Perform any procedure or operation that will, in the opinion of the inspector, likely be
dangerous to the inspector or other persons or damage the property or its systems or
components.


NAHI SOP
1.13 The inspector shall report on any system and component included in these standards of practice which were present at the time of the home inspection but were not inspected and provide the reason they were not inspected.

2.10 The inspector is not required to enter any premises that visibly shows a physical threat to the safety of the home inspector or others nor inspect any area or component that poses a danger to the inspector or others.

InterNachi SOP
III. The inspector is not required to:
C.  enter or access any area that may, in the opinion of the inspector, be unsafe.
F.  do anything which may, in the inspector's opinion, be unsafe or dangerous to the inspector or others, or damage property, such as, but not limited to:  walking on roof surfaces, climbing ladders, entering attic spaces, or negotiating with pets.
IV. The inspector is not required to:
A.  enter the attic or any unfinished spaces that are not readily accessible, or where entry could cause damage or, in the inspector's opinion, pose a safety hazard.

It is the general opinion of the national associations and many of the states, that it is dangerous to the inspectors health to be exposed to extreme heat for prolonged periods of time.  Rules have been drafted into the SOP of each to protect the inspector and the buyer during the inspection process.

A recent discussion regarding inspections of attics in one of the national home inspectors forums:

I do not take random temperature readings of the attics I inspect. I do know that during the summer months attics in my area will hit 130f without any trouble. Once they get that hot I do not spend much time in them!  - Inspector from Tennessee

Location: Las Vegas, NV; single family, ranch style, home; south facing; reading of decking was south roof field; roofing material asphalt/fiberglass 3 tab shingles, one layer; approximately 10:30 A.M.; outside temp about 99 degrees.  I don't know what the air temp was in the attic but I didn't stay there very long either! - Inspector from Las Vegas.

I was in one last week and it was 189, let me see if I can find the pic.  Inspector from Utah

I also have recorded the 180 degree (upper) range in the attic when there has been very little wind movement and exterior temperatures exceed 115 degrees. No, you won't stay up there for long . . . Inspector from Las Vegas.

135 is common for me.  Inspector from Illinois.
In South Florida the typically daytime temperature might be 92 degrees to 95 degrees and the attic temperature might vary from 120 degrees for a tile roof to 140 degrees for a dark color shingle roof. - Inspector from South Florida.

As you can see from the inspectors comments that they are concerned about getting out of a hot attic as it can be dangerous to their health.  If you are looking for a thorough inspection, schedule it early in the day before attic temperatures reach extreme levels.  In the cooler hours of the morning inspectors are more likely to spend the necessary time in the attic investigating the systems you should be concerned with.





Frank Carr is the Owner / Inspector at First Choice Home Inspections in Deltona, FL serving Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Lake Counties.  Formerly in the building trades, Frank’s focus is a safe home and building FCHI. We believe that consumers have the right to expect the highest standards of thoroughness, fairness and effectiveness from their home inspector and that is exactly what we provide.
First Choice Home Inspections 
(386) 624-3893
Email:  home.inspections@aol.com
Website:  Http://www.1homeinspector.com



Friday, June 14, 2013

Clothes Dryers, A Leading cause of House Fires in the Deltona.

Clothes dryers have become an indispensable part of American family life.  Today, people are not aware that clothes dryers are a leading cause of fires in the home – approximately 15,000 every year.   It is important to rigorously inspect and clean dryers.  A little preventative maintenance can keep them in good working order and keep your family safe.

Causes of dryer fires?

One of the most common causes of dryer fires is lack of maintenance.  When lint traps do not get cleaned as often as they should be, the resulting build-up in the screen or other areas can cause the dryer to perform poorly, operate at elevated temperatures and possibly overheat with dangerous results.  Vent systems must also be checked and cleaned to maintain proper air flow for the same reasons.  The floor area surrounding the dryer must be lint, dirt, and clothes free.  A lint ball, sock or clothing item can easily be sucked from the floor in front or beside your dryer into the heating coils igniting it and the lint in your dryer vents.

Problems also occur when people place improper items in their dryers, such as foam backed rugs or athletic shoes.  Ensure whatever you put in your dryer is approved and safe to place in a dryer.  When in doubt, check the washing instructions on the tag of the clothing or consult the manufacturer’s website for more information.  Plastic or vinyl exhaust vent materials should never be used.    

Reduce your risk of dryer fires!

Ensure that your dryer has rigid or flexible metal venting and ducting materials to help sustain airflow. This will also reduce operating costs and extend the life of the dryer and clothing due to lower drying temperatures.

In addition:

  • Clean the lint trap before or after drying each load of clothes.
  • Don’t forget to clean the back of the dryer where lint can be trapped.
  • Ensure the floor around your dryer is free of debris, lint and clothing.
  • The interior of the dryer and venting system should be cleaned periodically by qualified service technician.  If drying time is longer than normal, clean the vent system thoroughly to ensure proper airflow.
  • Replace plastic or vinyl exhaust hoses with rigid or flexible metal venting.
  • Do not dry clothes or fabric on which there is anything flammable (alcohol, cooking oils, gasoline, spot removers, dry-cleaning solvents, etc.). Flammable substances give off vapors that could ignite or explode. 
  • Gasoline should not be stored near dryers or water heaters and should only be stored in approved containers.
  • Read manufacturers’ warnings in use and care manuals that accompany new dryers.  Warnings can usually be found on the inside of the dryer’s lid and take only minutes to read.


Did you know that?

  • Clothes dryers can be found in 80 percent, or 81.5 million homes throughout the United States.
  • A full load of wet clothes placed in a dryer contains about one half gallon of water.  Lint is created from the clothes as water is removed.
  • Clothes dryers are one of the most expensive appliances in your home to operate.  The longer it runs the more money it costs you.
  • The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that 15,500 fires associated with clothes dryers occur annually. These fires account for an average of 10 deaths and 310 injuries and more than $84.4 million in property damage annually.





Frank Carr is the Owner / Inspector at First Choice Home Inspections in Deltona, FL serving Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Lake Counties.  Formerly in the building trades, Frank’s focus is a safe home and building FCHI. We believe that consumers have the right to expect the highest standards of thoroughness, fairness and effectiveness from their home inspector and that is exactly what we provide.


First Choice Home Inspections
(386) 624-3893
Http://www.1homeinspector.com

Monday, May 6, 2013

Contaminated Chinese Drywall in Deltona


Health problems and metal corrosion in homes
Contaminated Chinese drywall has high levels of sulfur, which may be responsible for a rotten egg smell in affected homes, blackened or corroded pipes, failure of air conditioners and other household appliances, and health problems such as asthma, coughing, headaches, sore throats, and irritated eyes.

Health Problems Associated With Problem Drywall
Health problems that may be caused by contaminated Chinese drywall include:

  • irritated and itchy eyes and skin
  • difficulty in breathing
  • persistent cough
  • bloody nose
  • runny nose
  • recurrent headaches
  • sore throats
  • sinus infections
  • asthma attacks

Contaminated Drywall Problems
Homeowners with contaminated drywall usually notice:

  • a rotten egg smell within the home
  • corrosion or blackening of copper and silver items within the walls and home
  • frequent failures of air conditioning units and other appliances and electronics
“Contaminated drywall is indicated if two of the below corroborating conditions are present and drywall was installed between 2005 and 2008; or if four of the below corroborating conditions are present and the drywall was installed between 2001 and 2004”, according to the CPSC:

  • copper sulfide or sulfur in the home as confirmed by tests
  • drywall is marked as coming from China
  • high levels of strontium in drywall core
  • high levels of sulfur in drywall core
  • elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide, or carbon disulfide emitted from drywall when tested in a chamber, and
  • Corrosion of copper metal when placed in a test chamber with drywall samples.

Electronics and Appliances
Copper coils turn black
Contaminated drywall corrodes piping and wiring, which causes electronic devices and household appliances to work erratically or fail completely.  Components and devices that may be affected by contaminated Chinese drywall include:

  • Central air conditioning evaporator coils
  • Refrigerators, dishwashers and electrical ovens and ranges.
  • Televisions, computers, and video gaming systems.

Identification and Replacement
According to the CPSC, “A visual observation of corroded air conditioning evaporator coils and/or electrical wiring by trained inspectors is believed to be a prerequisite for consideration of a home as having problem drywall. The Florida Department of Health has long included such corrosion as part of its definition of problem drywall homes.”

The cost of remediation for Chinese drywall can be immense including drywall, plumbing and electrical.  Remediation may include removal of contaminated drywall and installing new, problem-free drywall, removal and replacement of copper; plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems.

Additional articles on Chinese Drywall:






Frank Carr is the Owner / Inspector at First Choice Home Inspections in Deltona, FL serving Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Lake Counties.  Formerly in the building trades, Frank’s focus is a safe home and building FCHI. We believe that consumers have the right to expect the highest standards of thoroughness, fairness and effectiveness from their home inspector and that is exactly what we provide.

First Choice Home Inspections 
(386) 624-3893
Http://www.1homeinspector.com

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dangers of Aluminum Solid Branch Wiring

Due to a shortage of copper in the mid-1960s, builders increased the use of aluminum wire in residential electrical distribution systems.   Homes built before 1965 are unlikely to have aluminum branch circuit wiring.  Homes built, remodeled or with electrical upgrades from 1965 to the mid-1970s may contain aluminum wiring.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff and other government Officials have investigated numerous hazardous incidents and fires throughout the nation involving aluminum branch circuit wiring.  The Franklin Research Institute conducted a national survey for the CPSC.  The survey showed that homes built before 1972, and wired with aluminum, are 55 times more likely to have one or more wire connections at outlets that reach “Fire Hazard Conditions” than homes with copper wire.

The fire hazard investigated by CPSC occurs at connections with aluminum wire, including receptacles or switches and junction boxes; or the hazards occur with major appliances, including dishwashers or furnaces, for example. There are several deterioration processes in aluminum wire connections that cause increased resistance to the flow of electric current, resulting in damage that is cumulative in effect. That increased resistance causes overheating, sometimes at hazardous levels, when current is flowing in the circuit.

Signs of electrical system problems include receptacles or switches with face plates that are hot-to-the touch; inoperable circuits; flickering lights; or the smell of burning plastic at outlets or switches.

Aluminum wiring can be replaced or repaired to effectively and permanently reduce the possibility of fire and injury due to failing wire connections and splices. It is highly recommended that you hire a qualified electrician, familiar with aluminum solid branch wiring, to perform this remediation.

Replacement of the aluminum branch circuit conductors with copper wire eliminates the primary cause of the potential hazards, the aluminum wire itself.  Depending on the architectural style of your home, it may be relatively easy for a qualified electrician to rewire your home.  A new copper wire branch circuit system would be installed, and the existing aluminum wire could be abandoned inside the walls. This is the best method available; but for many homes, rewiring with copper is impractical and/or prohibitively expensive.
 
 
 
Frank Carr is the Owner / Inspector at First Choice Home Inspections in Deltona, FL serving Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Lake Counties.  Formerly in the building trades, Frank’s focus is a safe home and building FCHI. We believe that consumers have the right to expect the highest standards of thoroughness, fairness and effectiveness from their home inspector and that is exactly what we provide.


First Choice Home Inspections
(386) 624-3893
Http://www.1homeinspector.com

 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Polybutylene - Is it a problem?



Acetal fitting shows signs
 of flaking
As a home inspector, I often run across polybutylene plumbing.  Home buyers and home owners always ask, “Is it a problem?”   The facts are polybutylene pipes have an unusually high rate of failure under normal operating loads.  Deterioration linked to water additives like chlorine and fluorides react with the polybutylene piping and acetal (a strong stiff plastic) fittings causing them to scale and flake and become brittle.  Micro-fractures result and the basic structural integrity of the system is reduced.  The system becomes weak and may fail without warning causing damage to the building structure.

Polybutylene is a form of plastic resin that was used extensively in the manufacture of water supply piping from 1978 until 1995. Due to the low cost of the material and ease of installation, polybutylene piping systems were viewed as "the pipe of the future" and were used as a substitute for traditional copper piping.

  • Polybutylene pipe is grey, black or blue.  Interior polybutylene plumbing is almost always grey and exterior polybutylene plumbing is mostly blue.
  • Polybutylene pipe was installed and manufactured from the late 1970's till the mid-1990's, however, stockpiles of polybutylene pipe at supply vendors, such as supply risers were still known to be available up to 1999.
  • The most common sizes for polybutylene pipe are 3/8", ½", ¾" and 1".
  • Polybutylene piping was easy to install and often used as a replacement for copper.
  • Polybutylene was often routed through the attic, a disaster in waiting.
  • Polybutylene piping was used for both residential and commercial water distribution piping.
  • Polybutylene pipe connectors can be copper, brass, or plastic. The connector types are barbed with a crimp ring or compression with a plastic or metal ferrule.

Polybutylene pipe with plastic fittings or metal fittings will ultimately suffer damage; polybutylene piping is not reliable under any circumstances. If a pipe has been leaking for some time without the knowledge of a homeowner, severe structural damage to the home can result, making repairs extremely difficult.

Damage from polybutylene pipe leaks can be costly, in some cases more than the original cost of the house.  Insurance companies require a home inspector to note any polybutylene plumbing on a four point inspection report.  Policies may be cancelled or refused for homes with known polybutylene problems, and it is difficult to market a home that has such an unreliable plumbing system.

You can get a good deal when purchasing homes with polybutylene plumbing but have a plumber estimate the cost to replace the plumbing.  Factor in the cost of replacement of the plumbing system into the offer for the property.  Make sure you replace the plumbing system sooner than later.  Polybutylene may be stable for years or it my burst at any time.

In the opinion of this home inspector, the only good polybutylene is no polybutylene.  Polybutylene is unstable and could burst at any time.

Frank Carr is the Owner / Inspector at First Choice Home Inspections in Deltona, FL serving Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Lake Counties.  Formerly in the building trades, Frank’s focus is a safe home and building FCHI. We believe that consumers have the right to expect the highest standards of thoroughness, fairness and effectiveness from their home inspector and that is exactly what we provide.

First Choice Home Inspections
Phone:  (386) 624-3893
Email:  home.inspections@aol.com
Website:  Http://www.1homeinspector.com