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!

Home Inspection Tip – Five Home Maintenance Areas That Can Snag the Sale of Your Home

The last thing you want when you’re selling your home is to discover problems that could jeopardize the sale. While a home inspection will reveal the condition of your home, you won’t have to be afraid of issues that come up if you’ve kept your home well maintained. With good home maintenance you can avoid some of the most common imperfections and problems found by home inspectors.

Home maintenance tasks are often put off for various reasons, such as lack of time, lack of money, or simply lack of interest. However, when it comes time to sell your home and you know buyers are looking, it’s time to take care of business.

The little things that nag you may be major issues to a prospective home buyer, and they could cost you the sale. You can eliminate the vast majority of problems and stress 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 once a year should take care of this problem. You should also clean or replace filters every one to three months, depending on the requirements of your system. This is important for long life of your unit, efficiency, fuel savings, and the assurance you’ll have proper heating and cooling in your home.

2. Poor Caulking of Ceramic Tile in the Tub and Shower Area. It can cost thousands of dollars to repair or replace a rotted shower wall. You can avoid this by caulking tiled areas for a few dollars. If you can see a crack in the calk or grout, you know it’s large enough for water to get in.

3. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) not Functioning properly. Those electrical outlets with the “Press” and “Test” buttons are GFCI’s. They’re very important in reducing or preventing the chance of electrocution. Push the “Test” button to see if the GFCI’s are working as they should. If not, they’re inexpensive to replace and should only take about fifteen minutes to install. If you have questions or concerns, call a professional electrician.

4. Wood rot. This is a big one, and it can snag the sale of your home. What inspector wouldn’t love to report that a home is free of wood rot and structural damage? Selling your home can be made simpler and more enjoyable if you are knowledgeable about preventative maintenance. For example, have a good moisture barrier under the crawl space. Keep an eye out for leaks around windows, doors and the roof.

5. Amateur Workmanship. Did you weekend handyman brother-in-law help you remodel the kitchen last year? When amateurs do home projects, often the materials used aren’t right for the intended purpose, or they’re of poor quality, or both. Inspections are seldom performed or permits obtained when such projects are done by amateurs. Unfortunately amateur work can complicate a closing.

Be sure to keep your home in good shape to make things go smoothly for your home inspector and for the selling process as a whole. You’ll be glad you did.

Best Home Inspection Tips

What are the best home inspection tips? Should you hire a home inspector?  If you are new to buying a home or even if you have purchased homes in the past, it’s always easy to overlook a problem. Even professional home flippers make mistakes and find unknown problems after closing. But if you take the time to do a pre-inspection before you make an offer, you can save yourself lots of time and money.

Before you look at a house, you should arrive earlier than the Realtor and drive the neighborhood. Look carefully at the conditions of the homes in the neighborhood. Take a street photo as well as a picture of the exterior of the house you are looking at. If you look at a lot of houses, a digital photo will help you keep clear in your mind what the good and poor aspects of this house are.

Remember to bring a flashlight with you. Often empty homes do not have utilities and some areas of the house do not have adequate lighting to inspect fully.

Here’s my list of the best home inspection tips:

  1. Inspect the roof carefully for worn or curly shingles. A worn roof can cause lots of problems inside that you might not see if water has infiltrated the structure and mold has built up.
  2. Look at the foundation walls carefully for cracks or signs of poor drainage. Foundation problems can be either a big red flag or an opportunity to get a really low price from the seller.
  3. Look for stains on the ceilings – this could be another sign of roof problems
  4. Check the windows for proper operation and signs of rot. Does it look as if they are allowing lots of air infiltration. If they are double pane windows, is there moisture between the two layers of glass?
  5. If there is a crawl space or basement look for telltale signs of termites. A pocket knife can help you check how solid the wood is.

Once you have made an offer on a house it is a good idea to hire an home inspector. I’ve used home inspectors to learn the skills needed to be able to do a pretty thorough inspection.