Home Inspection

Five Home Maintenance Areas That Can Snag the Sale of Your Home

The last thing you want when you are selling your home is to find out that there are problems that could jeopardize the sale. This is particularly true when you are selling the home yourself – also known as a FSBO or for sale by owner.

A home inspection will reveal the condition of your home. However, you will not be as concerned by issues that come up if you have kept your home well maintained. Good home maintenance you help you to avoid some of the most common issues and problems found by home inspectors.

These maintenance tasks are often put off for various reasons. Lack of time, lack of money, lack of skills, lack of knowledge or simply lack of interest can all cause maintenance to not be done. However, when it comes time to sell your home buyers are looking and it is time to take care of these issues.

Things you think are little may be major issues to a prospective home buyer. If left unresolved they could cost you the sale. You can eliminate the vast majority of problems impacting the home sale and avoid stress on yourself by checking on five important areas.

1. Dirty filter and coils in the furnace, air conditioning or heat pump system. Having your heating and cooling system serviced by a professional on a yearly basis is a basic maintenance item. The filters should be replaced every one to three months, depending on the requirements of your system and your home. This maintenance has a large impact on the life of your unit, efficiency, fuel savings, and the assurance that the home will have operational heating and cooling. If this has not been done you need to do this prior to putting the home on the market.

2. Poor Caulking of Ceramic Tile in the Tub and Shower Area. The cost to repair or replace a rotted shower wall can be thousands of dollars. A few dollars spent to caulk tiled areas can save a lot of money and frustration. If a crack in the calk or grout is large enough to see than it is large enough for water to get in. Poor caulking, cracked or peeling caulking or just a messy caulk job will raise questions with a home inspector and therefore the prospective buyer. Make sure that the caulking on the tub, shower and sink areas is done and looks nice before listing your home.

3. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) not functioning properly. GFCI outlets are those electrical outlets that have “Press” and “Test” buttons. They can reduce or prevent the chance of electrocution when the outlets are used. Push the “Test” button to see if the GFCIs are working as they should. If not replace the outlets. They are not expensive to replace and usually take only about fifteen minutes to install. Call a professional electrician if you are not comfortable performing the replacement. A good home inspector will test all the GFCI outlets in the house. It is not a good idea to wait until then to find out that one of your GFCI outlets is not functioning properly.

4. Wood rot. This is a big one, and it will often snag the sale of your home. Prospective buyers are scared by wood rot because it can be difficult to determine how severe the damage is and therefore how costly the repair will be. If there is visible rotting wood anywhere on your home have it fixed or replaced before you sell your home.

5. Amateur Workmanship. When amateurs do home projects it can usually be spotted by an experienced home inspector. Sometimes the materials used are not the right materials for the intended purpose, or the materials are of poor quality, or both. Sometimes the installation of the work is not good and will stand out as being done by an amateur. Amateurs seldom get permits or have the proper inspections done on the work. Unfortunately amateur work can complicate a home sale. If you are not sure, consider hiring your own inspector for the home before you sell it.

Keeping a home maintained can make the selling process go more smoothly. If for whatever reason the maintenance has not been done then go through the home and repair these items before selling the home. When you are doing a FSBO in Louisiana you can make your home more appealing by taking care of these issues.

Your Home Inspection Checklist—Inside Your Home, Garage and Attic

When you are preparing to sell your home, a professional home inspection can help. The inspector will give you a thorough report on your home’s condition, so you’ll know what needs to be done to get it ready to sell.

You can do your own pre-inspection first. Have a notebook in hand and walk through the interior of your home and also around the outside of your home. Write down anything you notice that may need attention. Your inspector can help you determine which items should be fixed. Also, make a list of any other questions to ask your inspector.

For now we’ll focus on the inside of your home, specifically the kitchen. Then we’ll look at the attic and garage.

* Test the drainage of the kitchen sink.

* Look for faucet leaks and leaks under the sink.

* Do all the cabinet doors and drawers open and close properly? Check for loose hinges or sticking drawer slides.

* Turn on the disposer if there is one. Listen for signs of obstructions or problems with the motor.

* Turn on each stove burner to be sure they turn on quickly and properly. Watch for unwanted sparking or bursts of flame. Gas stoves should have an even blue flame.

* Check the gasket on the oven door for signs of wear and tear.

* If you have a gas broiler, turn it on to be sure it lights properly.

* Locate the gas shutoff valve. Make sure it is working properly. You should be able to turn it until it is completely perpendicular to the pipe.

* Next open the dishwasher. Spin and lift the washer arm by hand to make sure it is not stuck. Be sure the drain hose is properly attached. It should arc up to prevent backwash from the drain into the dishwasher.

* Look under and around the dishwasher for signs of any leaking.

* Be sure water filters have been changed recently.

* Check the floor for popped nails, loose boards, loose tiles, and springy spots

* Look at ceilings for stains, which could indicate a leak above.

* Check walls for popped screws and nails on drywall. Are there new cracks in the walls?

* Check around any ceiling fans to be sure they are well-secured to the ceiling. They could be working their way loose with all the use they get during the summer months.

As for the attic and garage here are some items for your inspection checklist:

* Look around the attic space during daylight hours with the lights turned off. Look for any holes in the roofing that let light in.

* Keep an eye out for signs of animal activity or entry points for animals in the attic. This can include animal droppings or signs of disturbance in the insulation or any items stored in the attic.

* Check around roof vents for gaps. Look at attic fan motors for frayed wiring or loose screws.

* Examine the joists and rafters for any structural damage. Look at vents that run through the attic and see if any supports were cut to allow room for the vents.

* Check the action of the garage door. Look for dents in the tracks or cracks in the door. Test to see if the automatic door unit has an safety stop for obstructions and if it is working properly.

* Make sure tool storage and hanging rakes and shovels do not pose a hazard where they could fall on someone or cause them to trip.

Familiarize yourself with the current condition of your house inside and out. This will help you when working with your home inspector and make your house more appealing to prospective buyers.

A Pre-Sale Home Inspection Can Help You Sell Your Home

If you’re thinking of selling your home, have it inspected by a professional home inspector. A home inspection is not an appraisal of your home’s value. However, you will get a report from your inspector about the condition of your home. This can be used to take steps that will make it more marketable and possibly raise its value. At least you’ll have greater confidence in knowing the home is worth the asking price.

A pre-sale home inspection is a worthwhile investment with several benefits. You will have the opportunity to make any necessary repairs now, before a buyer’s inspector discovers the issues. The repairs will also put the house in better selling condition. You will have the satisfaction of knowing you are making the house better for the people who will be buying your home. The fewer apprehensions they have, the greater the chance they’ll buy. They want fewer issues after moving in, too.

It can be more work for you if an inspection finds serious problems. However, it can also prevent a potential sale from being cancelled later. It also means less chance of worry or regret on the part of the buyer. You can make the home even easier to sell by having it inspected again after repairs have been done. Make the revised report available to potential buyers as this can make the deal go more smoothly.

A pre-sale inspection alerts you to specific tasks you can do to make your home more appealing. These can be as minor as trimming trees and shrubs that touch or overhang the house. Most likely new caulking and weather-stripping around windows and doors is in order. Cleaning gutters or repairing and replacing cracked or broken gutters, downspouts, and extensions are common tasks. These will ensure proper drainage and prevent water from leaking into the basement and foundation. Replace bathroom caulk or grouting where necessary. While these will make your home look nicer, they are also items the buyer’s inspector will be checking and including in the buyer’s inspection report.

Fixing your home makes a good impression on your prospective buyer. For example, repair leaky faucets, tighten loose doorknobs, replace damaged screens and thoroughly clean the clothes dryer vent, to name a few

Your home inspection report could also alert you to safety matters you may want to fix. For example, be sure smoke detectors are installed on each level in strategic places. Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI’s) in “wet” areas, such as kitchen counter tops, bathrooms and exterior outlets.

Of course, the bigger issues will need your attention in order to make the home more marketable. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) surveyed its members and found that a common problem area listed was the electrical system. That included situations such as insufficient electrical overload protection and potentially dangerous amateur wiring. Other commonly reported problems include roof damage (often from trees) and mechanical problems with the heating and air conditioning systems.

In summary, a pre-sale home inspection advises you of the condition of your house so you can take steps to make it more appealing when selling. An inspection followed by needed repairs can make your house sell more quickly and for a better price. That can be of great benefit to you as the seller no matter what the market conditions are like.

Home Inspection: Diagnosing the Ailments of a House

No home is perfect. Even a newly constructed residence can have flaws. It is not so much the issue of a place having flaws but the impact of the flaw. For instance how serious is the problem, does it pose a health or safety risk, and what are the costs to repair or replace the problem?
A home inspector can help protect you by performing a visual review of the dwelling to identify these issues and to help you to know the level of impact of the flaw.
Buying a home is a costly investment. It can be even more costly if you unknowingly buy a residence that has serious flaws that you do not know about because you did not have it inspected. Also important is the quality and skill of the service professional that you hire. The person you choose should have proper training, be licensed in the state where the property is located and should have skill at identifying potential problems and the level of potential impact of the problem.
Ideally the service should be provided by a skilled professional but there are inspectors who are better at their trade than others.
You are putting the safety of your dwelling and your finances in the hands of the inspector you select. This is because items that are missed during an inspection can sometimes affect the safety of the people living there. And also any repair or replacement can be costly but some can be very expensive.
For example, what if the dwelling has an accessible attic and the professional did not go up and visually review the area. It is possible that a major roofing issue would show itself in the attic and yet not anywhere else on the premises. This person would have missed reporting on a potentially expensive issue.
Protect yourself by making sure that the person you are hiring is a qualified and licensed inspector.
A home inspector will check out the structure from your foundation to your roof. He will look out for electrical problems, plumbing problems, issues with equipment, and much more. He will check out the basement and accessible attic space.
The service professional will be looking for problems, previous problems that have may have been hidden and for potential problems. Afterwards, he will give you the full details of his findings in a detailed inspection report. This should include digital photos to document the findings.
If you attend the inspection you will be able to ask questions and get answers about the property. The service professional should be able to show you a lot about the house including the routine maintenance you will need to do on the place.
After you review the report and the information provided to you it will be your decision what to do with this information. You may decide to proceed with the purchase as-is, you may decide to negotiate to cover some of the repairs or replacement, or you may decide not to proceed based on the findings provided in the report. There is no pass or fail in a home inspection. There is information that is provided so that you can make an informed decision.
If only minor issues are noted during the process then you get to have the peace of mind that you have made a sound investment decision. You will know that you and your family will be safe and so will be your finances. A home inspection can provide you the assurance you want when buying a home.

A Home Inspection to Ensure the Safety of Your Electrical System

Chances are good that electronics have invaded your entire premises. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to have a home inspection done to your home. Whether you are buying or selling or if it’s just been awhile since you moved in.
Your electrical service comes into your home and into a panel. From there wires connect to fixtures, outlets and receptacles around the house. The electrical wiring spreads throughout the kitchen area to enable you to use a blender, toaster, or oven as you make a beautiful dinner for yourself or for your family or guests.
The system exists in your child’s bedroom for lights, switches, and maybe even a radio. The truth is that wiring is behind every outlet and every fixture in the house. That’s why it is easy to imagine how having a home inspection could benefit you and your family.
In order to get to know what you could possibly be getting yourself into, it’s important to lay down some basic rules and guidelines about this service. This is a visual examination conducted by an individual on your premises examining everything perceptible.
You should employ the services of a professional home inspector. The choice is yours so long as you make sure that the individual you hire is fully qualified to conduct inspections. A home inspection is only as effective as the person conducting it. Therefore make sure that you hire an accredited inspector
There are numerous systems involved in a home inspection. This leads us back to the prevalent system of the house. The electrical system when unchecked could lead to a number of dangers. There is a large cost associated with replacing fixtures and appliances damaged by faulty wiring. Electrical shock can be annoying, painful or even fatal. Fire is a real concern and possibility when electrical problems exist in a home. Protect your family by having a professional home inspection performed on your home.

A Home Inspection for Sturdy Roofing

Don’t you hate it when it rains inside the house? It brings a new meaning to the saying when it rains it pours. It’s not a good situation. Of course this normally doesn’t happen but if it happens perhaps it’s time to check the state of your house with a thorough home inspection. And if you are buying a house you certainly don’t want to move into a house and find out later that there are issues with the roof.

For the unfortunate, they can probably relate to the situation where pails and buckets have to be set beside leaky ceilings and even dangerously wet sockets and receptacles. This can happen whether your place is old or new. An improperly installed roof can have problems quickly. And in older residences, leaves fill up the gutters and everything becomes clogged to the extent that no one is spared from the onslaught of the downpour. These issues however, can be assessed and possibly even prevented through a home inspection.

This is actually a visual examination of the premises. The inspection is thorough in that the inspector scours through the house from top to bottom. In many areas, you have the choice of hiring between select individuals and agencies which specialize in the task or have it listed as part of their services offered. As much as possible you should utilize the best choices by hiring accredited professionals for the task. A home inspection is a service that should be handled by a qualified and trained professional.

The rigors in the process of selection don’t stop there. Almost no home is going to be perfect, even a new home or recently built construction. A home never passes or fails an inspection. It’s a report on the current condition and issues of a home, to help inform the buyer or seller or to assist a home owner.

A home inspector does inspect a wide variety of things.

For example, the exterior of the housing would be assessed. This covers a wide range of items from sidewalks, windows, foundations, clogged gutters, and of course the roof. Aside from the exterior, interior systems are even more complex and mind boggling. The number of issues and dangers a home inspection could reveal about the placement of sockets and wiring is astounding. The installation and functioning of the plumbing and drainage can easily be ascertained by qualified professionals.

Most importantly, a thorough examination deals with the roof and the attic. This includes framing, quality of materials, the manner of construction, ventilation, flashing and gutter. A home inspection does not normally include a guarantee of roof condition or roof certification. However this does not at all preclude the possibility of having the roof and gutter scrutinized for quality control.

All the faults found by the inspector will be included in an inspection report provided to you. Danger levels and observations are carefully noted and annotated for you to understand. Your report will also include pictures to document the findings. It’s not good practice for the home inspector to give you recommendations. Truly there is much to learn from a good home inspection. Home inspectors provide whole-house inspections or often-times they can provide a specific inspection such as a roof inspection.

Home Inspector Gives Tips On Caulking And Hoses

There are some home maintenance items that need to be done every two to three years and every homeowner should know how to do them. One of these is caulking. Caulking itself around a shower or tub is not really that hard to do. The hardest part is actually cleaning out the old caulk and making it look like a decent job.

Use a scraper or a razor blade to scrape off the old caulk. Then wipe down the area with some kind of household cleaner. It is very important to clean the area that you just scraped off. New caulk will not stick to a dirty surface. So it is necessary to wipe it down before applying the new caulk.

Denature alcohol will remove any soap scum or residue from the cleaning agent and will make new caulk to adhere to the new surface and seal it. The caulk that you should use should say on the tube that it is water cleanup type for bathrooms. It is important to use the proper type of caulk.

There are two types that you can use and either will do. The first type is a tube that is used with a caulk gun. The caulk gun cost is under five dollars. If you’ve never used one before ask how to use it when you buy it. They are simple to use but if you don’t know how you could wind up with caulk pumping out of tube and going everywhere and you don’t know how to make it stop.

The second type is a tube that you just squeeze. Again, either type is fine. Just make sure that the caulk you buy says water cleanup for bathrooms on it.

The tricky part of making a good looking job is the way you remove the excess caulk after it is applied. Using a sponge and a bucket of warm water and while the caulk is still wet, gently wipe down the caulk. The sponge will push the caulk into any of the cracks and the bead will look great. Rinse the sponge out frequently with the warm water and take your time.

Some people use their finger to create a nice caulk joint. For some this is easier to control. It just depends on you and how nice a caulk line you can make with your finger. There are also inexpensive tools to help you with removing the excess caulk. If you do not remove the excess caulk you will have a very messy, unprofessional bead of caulk.

After you finish let the caulk dry for at least 24 hours before using the tub or shower. You will be amazed at how great the job looks when you are done.

Another home maintenance item is to check your washing machine hoses. A bad washing machine hose is one of the leading causes for water damage in residential homes. Most people do not realize that the standard rubber hose is really only good for three to five years. You can buy upgraded hoses which are braided and cost about $20. Or you can buy a Floodchek washing machine hose which is about $50 but they also have a 20 year guarantee. This can give you peace of mind.

These hoses can be bought at most hardware stores. It only takes just a few minutes to put these hoses on your washing machine. So if you have not changed your hoses in the last three to five years, be sure to inspect your washing machine hoses after you read this article.

These are just a couple of tips that you can do and save yourself money. Most of the time there is no reason to get a professional involved. Sometimes the simple problems can cost you the most money if they are not resolved before the damage happens. So take the time to learn how to do a few of these things yourself. You never know, you might have fun doing the repairs yourself.

The Home Inspection—Knowing What to Expect

If you’re buying or selling a home, it’s essential to have the home inspected by a qualified home inspector. Your home inspector will examine the house from top to bottom, inside and out, and give you a report on the condition of the home to help you make a wise buying decision.

Once at the home, your inspector will conduct a walk-through of the property and the home itself. He’ll note the property’s overall appearance and condition. If it looks like it has been well taken care of, it’s far less likely to have serious problems.

Your inspector will take note of the building’s style and period and try to determine when it was built. Then he’ll examine the quality of the home’s design and construction. How does it compare with other homes in the neighborhood? There’s no substitute for good design and sound, durable construction.

One of the most critical things your inspector will look at is whether there is any dampness or water damage to the home. Water damage is usually a home’s biggest enemy. A dry building is less likely to have problems with fungus or decay, termite damage or corroded and rusted equipment.

The home inspector will check over the home’s site and its outside and inside. He’ll take note of anything he believes is relevant and significant.

In the process of the home inspection, he’ll investigate the condition of the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems. (HVAC is heating, ventilation and air conditioning.) He’ll note the size, capacity, and other relevant information about each system or component as needed.

Most inspections consist of observing, measuring, and testing building parts that are exposed to view. The inspector will not inspect areas that are not accessible. So it is important that the home be free of obstructions so that the inspector can do the best inspection possible.

If there are areas that are not accessible the inspector will note that in the report. You may want to make arrangements to have the inspector return once those areas are made accessible. For example if packed boxes were piled in front of an enclosure where the water heater is located then it would be in your best interest to get the home owner make that area accessible and have the inspector come back to inspector the water heater.

Once your inspector has thoroughly looked things over, he’ll make a report. It will have information to help with any decisions that need to be made concerning remodeling, repairing or replacing anything in the home.

Home Inspection Tips—Moisture Problems and Crawl Spaces

Any home inspector can tell you that most crawlspaces have moisture problems. There are two different types of crawlspace setups – vented and non-vented.

Vented crawlspaces have vents that allow for cross ventilation and the home’s sub floor is insulated along with the pipes in the crawlspace to prevent freezing. There is a vapor barrier on the ground and vents are closed in the winter time. A small heater or heat tape may also be used to help keep the pipes from freezing in addition to insulation on the pipes.

With non-vented crawlspaces, foundation walls are insulated, but the sub-floor is not. The vents are blocked off with insulation all year long, and a vapor barrier is in place on the ground. Air is conditioned with a dehumidifier. A small heater and pipe insulation may still be used.

Problems arise when there are inadequate or no rain gutters. Did you know the average roof lets go of 1,000 gallons of water during 1 inch of rain? You can keep water from falling along the foundation and finding your crawlspace by using solid rain gutter covers to cover the gutter opening. This allows water to come in by curling under the cap. Unfortunately, mesh and screen covers get clogged up or collapse.

Do downspouts end along your foundation? They need to let water run 6 feet or more away from your home.

Does your terrain slope toward your foundation? Water must be directed away from the home because water can cause serious foundation damage. If the terrain around your home slopes towards your foundation this can lead to serious water damage. If the terrain is flat it may still allow excess water to damage your foundation.

Do you remember to open the vents when weather warms up? The vents in a vented crawlspace need to be closed each winter but also opened again when the weather is above freezing. Your house needs to breathe. Low decks and shrubs can block vents and make them useless. Make sure that there is sufficient clearance in front of the vents to allow air into the vents. Your home’s crawlspace needs a minimum of 1 square foot of ventilation for every 150 square feet of crawlspace floor area. Vents should be within 3 feet of the corners allowing for cross ventilation.

Could your insulation be installed upside down? You may have insulation in the flooring. The paper side of the fiberglass insulation should face the heated living space and be placed against the sub flooring. Otherwise it will trap moisture between the sub floor and the paper and hide moisture damage. A properly set up non-vented crawlspace won’t need insulation.

Is your moisture (vapor) barrier damaged or loose? It should be a 6 mil thick poly vapor barrier on your crawlspace ground and should be overlapped and sealed around columns and walls. This keeps ground moisture vapors from rising up into your framing.

If you have a sump pump installed, make sure it is at the lowest point in the crawlspace. All areas should easily drain to it. Inspect your pump regularly. Does it work automatically? It should be in a plastic cylinder in the ground and eject water outside, away from the building and not into the septic or sewer system.

If your crawlspace is non-vented, you must have a dehumidifier, and the collected water should be piped to a sump pump or condensate pump. If you don’t do this, you’ll have to dump water daily, and who wants to do that? Incidentally, buy a good quality dehumidifier with an adjustable, automatic setting so it does not run all the time.

Is your crawlspace kept neat, clean and accessible? Inspect it often for signs of moisture or mildew. Check with the local code official for any repairs you might need. Don’t underestimate the importance of your crawlspace and what you can do to prevent that all too common moisture damage.

Your Home Inspection Checklist—Outdoors

Are you ready to sell your home? If so you’ll need to have it inspected by a professional certified home inspector. You will get a thorough report on your home’s condition, and you’ll know what needs to be done before you put it on the market.

Before you hire a home inspector take a look at doing a pre-inspection first. All you need to do is write down anything that looks like it needs attention or is out of the ordinary.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the list that you have written down. The inspector will be glad to go over your list with you. These questions will also help you if you need other professional service people.

For now we’ll focus on things to look at around the outside of your home.

* Check for cracks in the asphalt or concrete on your driveway, sidewalks, and paths. These can cause people to trip and can also collect water that will do more damage during cold months. These will be noticed by buyers and buyer’s inspector so fixing them now is important.

* Make sure retaining walls have no bulges or loose areas. A heavy rain or snowfall could cause a mud slide. Check to see that any weep holes built into the wall are clear.

* Examine porches and decks. Look for sagging floors, sagging roofs. loose rails or boards. Also check for damaged steps. Check to see if posts are firmly rooted in the ground or that they’re not rotted out of their footing.

* Look at fences and stone walls, and their gates. Be alert for leaning and loose parts, which could fall or blow off during a storm. Make sure the gates work properly and easily. When the property is being shown you don’t want buyers struggling with a gate that just needs a little attention and maintenance.

* Look for stains on your home’s siding. Stains could be a sign of a water problem or roof trouble. If the siding is dirty power wash it yourself or hire someone to clean it.

* Observe where paint is peeling, brick mortar is missing, or stucco is cracking on siding.

* Look for signs of insect or bird nests in and under eaves or attic vents. Check for animal waste and try to figure out what could have left it.

* Check to see if the chimney is leaning. Also check the condition of the flashing. Is it peeling up or missing?

* Check gutters and downspouts for debris. Are they positioned properly for good drainage? You may need to observe this sometime when it’s raining. Check the undersides of gutters as well. Stains could indicate a leak.

* Carefully examine the foundation for cracks and bulges.

* Take a look at the sill at the base of your home’s framework. Check for rot and insects. Look for raised mud channels. These indicate the presence of termites. Use a sharp knife to see how much the wood gives.

* See whether the grade of the ground around the foundation slopes away from the house.

* Look at the roofing. Are there missing shingles, cracks, or crumbling pieces? Check for shingles that are dry, blistering, or curling. Look for splits or rot in wood. Check slate and tile roofs for broken pieces. Look for holes in flat roofs.

* Check the flashing and vent/chimney caps for missing or damaged parts. Also look for rust.

* Look for moss and other debris on the roof.

* Look carefully under trees where falling branches or jumping animals could have done damage. In the fall when leaves are off the trees, look more closely to see where branches touch the house.

Being familiar with your home inside and out will give you an advantage when dealing with your home inspector and prospective buyers. Simple repair and maintenance before putting your home on the market can make your home sell more quickly.

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