NPI/GPI Franchise Owners Win Big at 2014 Annual Conference

Thirty-nine awards were given to top performers

NPI/GPI President's Club Winners

NPI/GPI President’s Club Winners

National Property Inspections, Inc., parent company of National Property Inspections in the United States and Global Property Inspections in Canada, gave awards to 39 franchise owners who are top performers in four categories: the Platinum Award, the President’s Club, the Pinnacle Award and the Rising Star Award.

The awards banquet was held during the 2014 NPI/GPI Annual Conference in downtown Omaha, Nebraska, Nov. 14 and 15. Franchisees from across the United States and Canada attended, as well as their spouses and employees.

The awards are based on three main criteria:

  1. Reported earnings and percentage of growth from the previous year
  2. Size and location of franchise market
  3. Length of time the franchise has been in operation

“These awards are our way of recognizing our top performers in various markets,” said Roland Bates, president of National Property Inspections, Inc. “The awards also add a special touch to our annual conference; everyone looks forward to the banquet dinner and awards ceremony.”

The following NPI and GPI franchise owners won Platinum Awards: Steve Anderson, Goodyear, Arizona; John Braddock, Castle Rock, Colorado; Mark Crowley, Bettendorf, Iowa; Brett Freebody, Westbury, New York; Andy Hasler, Camarillo, California; Steve Mangekian, Merrimack, New Hampshire; Bob McDonough, Atlanta, Georgia; Charlie Panellino, Smithtown, New York; and David Riley, Savannah, Georgia.

The following franchise owners were the recipients of the NPI/GPI President’s Club Award: Rich Buhrman, Hedgesville, West Virginia; James Childre, Stuart, Florida; George Gabbert, Pueblo, Colorado; Ron Griffith,

Clinton, Connecticut; Jim Giuffre, Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina; Terry Haynie, Indian Springs, Ohio; Eldon Holliday, Olive Branch, Mississippi; Greg Mathias, Lloydminster, Alberta; Gerry Millen, Regina, Saskatchewan; Stephan Quigley, Forest Hill, Maryland; Ron Schenck, Kennewick, Washington; Matt Tracy, Doylestown, Pennsylvania; and Rodney Twyford, San Antonio, Texas.

Recipients of the NPI/GPI Pinnacle Award were the following franchise owners: Jason Bancroft, Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania; Tim Brown, Grand Forks, North Dakota; Lawrence Englehart, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; George Gould, St. Charles, Missouri; Wes Grant, Indian Trail, North Carolina; Stephen Gregory, Floyd, Virginia; Mike Hogan, Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia; Ed Lannon, Miramar Beach, Florida; Tony Marino, St. Petersburg, Florida; Chris Marshall, Doylestown, Pennsylvania; Todd Newhook, Markham, Ontario; Steve Thomas, Yorktown, Virginia; Fred Tonte, Wesley Chapel, Florida; Tom Trotter, Troy, Ohio; and Doug Versaw, Golden, Colorado.

NPI franchise owners Ed Fillpot, Round Rock, Texas, and Brian Nygaard, Sartell, Minnesota, received Rising Star Awards as top performers in their first year of business.

National Property Inspections, Inc., extends congratulations to all of its award winners. “These franchise owners have worked extremely hard to become our top performers,” Bates said, “and we appreciate their dedication to NPI and GPI. Congratulations to all of them.”

For information about franchising with NPI or GPI, visit http://www.npifranchise.com or http://www.gpifranchise.com.

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Ask the Inspector: Proper Egress Windows

Submitted by Lawrence Englehart, GPI franchise owner, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Empty RoomQ. Recently, a home inspector reported that we have a bedroom window that is not a proper egress window. What does this mean, and is it important?

A. This is a great question to ask. The issue with an incorrectly sized egress window is one that I and my fellow home inspectors come across way too frequently. Sadly, this issue tends to occur with older homes that have had their windows upgraded. The replacement windows are now the problem.

Ironically, the requirement for a properly sized bedroom window has been around since 1980, and subsequent code changes since then have made it even easier to understand how a bedroom egress window is defined.

Having said that, I simply can’t understand why the wrong type of bedroom window could have been installed within the past 30 years.

Unfortunately, very few of us think of a bedroom window as a “life-saving” feature. However, if there was ever an emergency situation, like a house fire, then having the properly sized egress window in the bedroom could be the difference between life and death.

That is why the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) has very clear requirements as it relates to bedroom windows and how a bedroom window can serve three distinct purposes in the home:

  1. Light (at least 5 percent of the floor area served)
  2. Ventilation (at least 0.28m2 or 3 ft2 or an adequate year-round mechanical ventilation)
  3. Emergency Escape: (Article 9.7.1.3 & 9.7.1.4) An emergency escape requires that each bedroom must have a door that leads directly to the exterior of the building or have a properly sized egress window that can be opened from the inside without the use of keys, tools, hardware or special knowledge* (unless this bedroom has a sprinkler system installed).

The size of an egress window is not based on the physical size of the window frame, but on what the unobstructed clear opening is (once the window has been fully opened).

For a bedroom window to be compliant, it must provide an unobstructed opening with a minimum area of 0.35m² (3.77ft²) and at the same time no horizontal or vertical dimension/opening can be less than 380 mm (15”).

It is further recommended that the bottom of any egress window opening or sill not be higher than 1.5m (5ft) above the floor. Now, this can be somewhat challenging for any bedroom in a basement, so they recommend installing some means of built-in furniture below the window to assist in the event of an emergency.

However, if a bedroom window opens into a window well, then the window well must allow at least 550mm (21.7”) in front of the window. This is to ensure that the window well does not obstruct or block the ability to use the window as a means of emergency escape. Where a casement-type window is used, the window well must also project out enough to allow for the full 90o swing of the window opening.

Unfortunately, an out-swing awning window is usually not permitted for egress when it opens into a window well, as it tends to fully block all means of escape.

Now, I’ve come across many examples of single-hung windows that simply won’t stay open. In other words, when I slide the lower window up, the window immediately slides back down. This would be an example of when egress is restricted by a defective opening mechanism — and that would be considered a safety hazard.

Regardless, the assessment of the bedroom windows in the home is part of a typical home inspection.

So, if you are contemplating replacing an existing bedroom window, or adding a bedroom to your basement, you need to ensure each bedroom window meets the minimum egress window requirements.

You can find great information on egress windows by visiting the Halifax Regional Municipality website or contact any of the window and door specialists in our area, or even your local hardware store.

If you are hiring a contractor to do this work, then you must make certain to tell them the window in question is for a bedroom, and they should be able to provide you with various window options that you can use that will safely comply with bedroom egress requirements.

*Note: It is important to note that the term “special knowledge” is interpreted as one simple motion to unlock the window and one simple motion to open the window, without the use of special tools, keys or knowledge.

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What You Need to Know About Your Overhead Garage Door

Submitted by Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Garage Door2Generally, overhead garage doors are used a lot but don’t receive a lot of TLC. They are fairly uncomplicated but have many components. To keep this brief, I will mention only some of those components. What follows is a fairly common installation.

Suffice it to say, the automatic opener is the electric motor mounted to the garage ceiling that raises and lowers the door and auto reverses should something be in the way of the sensors.

Whether the garage door is a single- or double-car door, the panels and components are essentially the same. The panels could be aluminum, some type of insulated panel, wood, etc. Routinely, the door will consist of four or possibly five panels stacked on top of each other. The panels are held in place by hinges, rollers and vertical tracks located on each side of the door. The reason there are individual panels is so the door can continue to rise up and through the curved portion on the vertical track. A four-panel door likely will have five rollers on each side; a five-panel door will likely have six rollers on each side. The shaft ends of the rollers are held in place by the hinges and the roller portion glides up and down inside the vertical tracks.

The cumulative weight of the door panels can be significant. Thus, two torsion springs are usually mounted on a horizontal spring shaft. The left spring is wound to the right and the right spring is wound to the left. This is to remove some of the burden from the automatic garage door opener. These springs are under so much torque that even experienced installers have broken an arm trying to replace one. (So, don’t try this at home, kids.) Should you ever hear one of these springs break, it sounds like a shotgun.

The last components that I will mention are the cables and cable drums located on each side of the door. The cables are attached to the bottom panels and wrap around the cable drum located at the top of the door and affixed to the horizontal spring shaft. The cables along with the door arm mounted at the top and center of the top panel actually lift the door, along with the automatic door opener, of course. Should either of these cables or one of the torsion springs break, it’s unlikely that the average homeowner could open the door without calling a garage door company.

The bottom of the garage door has a tendency to contour to the shape of the garage floor. For example, if there were a hump in the middle of the garage floor, the door would stop/rest there and, over time, the two other edges of the door would settle toward the floor. (The exact opposite would happen if there were a dip in the center of the floor.) Reinforcing brackets can be attached to the panels to help prevent this, but time and gravity and powerful forces to overcome long term.

A few closing comments relative to maintenance:

  • Keep the vertical tracks lubricated.
  • If the door starts to make more noise than in the past, it might be a sign that the rollers need to be replaced.
  • There are a lot of bolts holding all the hinges, etc., together. Over time, these can work loose and may need to be retightened.
  • Keep an eye on the cables on either side of the door, as they can become rusted or frayed.
  • The weather stripping around and on the bottom of the door can become worn and at some point might need to be replaced. This helps keep out cold air, rain water, melting snow and the like.
  • Check the auto-reverse function of the door from time to time.
  • Make sure the eyes, or sensors, on the bottom and sides of the door are in alignment and not otherwise damaged or obstructed. When Mom (never Dad) hits one of the vertical tracks with her car bumper, it is easy to get these eyes out of alignment and the door might not go down or stay down. Although unlikely, excessive dirt or sun glare on the eyes could activate the auto-reverse function of the door and prevent it from closing.
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Is Your Family at Risk for Lead Poisoning?

Submitted by Kenn Garder, Technical Support, NPI/GPI Corporate

Family watching television together uidLead is a highly toxic substance that is suspected to cause several health problems, typically in young children. When lead is absorbed into the body it can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs.

Lead can be found in all parts of our environment: in air, soil, water and inside houses. While lead can enter the house in a variety of ways, if the house was built before 1978, there is a good chance that the house contains lead-based paint on the walls or the trim. When the paint peels and cracks, it creates a lead dust, and children can be poisoned when they swallow or breathe in this dust. Furthermore, some water supply systems may use lead pipe to supply water to the building, or the materials used to join pipes together may contain lead. This can contaminate the water supply.

Lead is particularly dangerous in children, as their growing bodies tend to absorb more lead that adults, and their brains and nervous systems seem to be more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. Babies and young children tend to chew on items or put their hands in their mouth more often than adults.

Exposure to lead can be minimized by doing the following:

  • Inspect and maintain all painted surfaces to prevent paint deterioration.
  • Keep the house clean and fee of dust
  • Clean around painted areas where friction can generate dust. Wipe these areas with a damp cloth.
  • Use only cold water to prepare food or drinks
  • Flush water outlets used for drinking or food preparation, open the faucet allowing the water to run for a time.
  • Clean debris out of faucet screens on a regular basis.
  • Eat well-balanced meals. Children with a healthy diet absorb less lead.
  • Home renovators should be Lead-Safe Certified to perform renovations in a home.

Local health departments are a good resource for the proper protocol for testing for lead in a house, and you can click here to visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s section on lead.

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Are Foundation Cracks Found During an Inspection a Deal-breaker?

Submitted by Scott Ward, NPI Franchise Owner, Southern Johnson County, Kansas

IMG_2349

Diagonal foundation crack.

Here in the Midwest, there are generally three types of foundations. Homes here usually have a basement or a crawl space, or they are built on a slab. Sometimes they are a combination of two or more of those types of foundations. A majority of homes built since the 1950s have either a poured concrete foundation or a concrete block foundation. Homes older than 1950s may have a stone or brick foundation.

The types of foundations can be very area-specific depending on the builder or developer. This article will focus on poured concrete foundations, as they are most prevalent in the central Midwest. Most of the issues can be applied to other types of foundations to some extent.

What You Need to Know About Cracks in Foundations
Cracks in the poured concrete foundations can appear for many reasons. Cracks that are less than 1/8-inch with both surfaces even are generally caused by the shrinkage that occurs as concrete cures. Most of the time, these cracks will be vertical in nature and occur along the joints where the foundation forms come together. These are common and usually of no concern.

IMG_3900

Horizontal foundation crack

Diagonal cracks, many times starting in a corner or at a window or door opening, or horizontal cracks indicate foundation wall movement. This movement is usually inward. These types of cracks are caused by pressure exerted inward from the soil around the foundation. Water, whether it be rain or groundwater can cause the soil surrounding the foundation to expand and contract creating a hydraulic ram effect pushing the wall inward.

With diagonal cracks, even cracks less than 1/8-inch should be of a concern, as they do indicate movement and should be monitored. Cracks larger than 1/8-inch should also be monitored, especially if there are signs or moisture intrusion. As a rule of thumb, any wall leaning in more than 2” from plumb is structurally unsound and should be inspected by a foundation specialist or structural engineer.

A significant number of homes that we inspect around the Kansas City area do have at least a few cracks visible. A small crack in a newer home is of more concern that a small crack in an older home. We discuss the severity of the crack(s) with the buyers, such as location and type of crack, and advise them not to pass on a house specifically because of cracks. Unless there are structural or moisture issues, most can just be monitored and, if needed, many repairs are not hugely expensive. However, keep in mind that foundation issues come in many forms, and, when in doubt, you should consult a specialist.

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Vertical foundation crack

Minimizing the Potential for Foundation Cracks
There are three basic things you can do to help prevent or minimize the potential for foundation cracks:

  1. Add soil as needed around the foundation to divert water away from the structure.
  2. Install downspout extensions on all downspouts to move water away from the foundation at least 3-4 feet. Remember to keep gutters clear of debris and free flowing.
  3. During periods of extended dry spells, thoroughly water around the foundation to keep the subsurface soils moist. The repeated periods of dry/wet cycles can accelerate the hydraulic ram effect.
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Winterizing Your House or Cabin

wàNow that the cooler weather is here, you’re probably not going to visit that cabin up north, and you may be leaving your home in a colder climate for a destination in a warmer one. That means preparing your cabin or house for cold weather between Oct. 30 and April 15. Here’s a handy checklist:

  • Remove all food to prevent pests and rodents from invading your cabin or home.
  • Remove all bottles, cans, etc., that could burst if they freeze.
  • Unplug ALL appliances. Don’t forget the microwave, stereo and televisions. If you unplug the fridge, make sure to completely empty the fridge and freezer, and wedge them open.
  • Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl space and attic and insulate around outdoor water pipes and faucets that you use for irrigation.
  • Seal air leaks that allow cold air into your garage and house where pipes may be located, especially around electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes.
  • Shut off the water main and thoroughly drain water out of pipes. Use an air compressor to blow excess water from the pipes. Close the tub and sink drains.
  • To prevent the water in the toilet trap from evaporating and allowing sewer gasses to enter the house, lift the toilet seats and cover all toilet bowls with plastic cling wrap.
  • Disconnect garden hoses and empty pipes leading to outside faucets.
  • Shut off the electricity or pilot light on the water heater and drain the water heater into a floor drain.
  • Turn off the pilot lights and gas on stoves and fireplaces.
  • Keep the heat on at a low setting — 55 to 60 degrees — to prevent pipes from cracking and leaking.
  • Give the house or cabin a good cleaning to deter pests and rodents.
  • Dispose of all flammable items, such as oily rags.
  • Close flues and dampers.
  • Store all outdoor furniture in a shed or garage.
  • Make sure all points of entry are locked up tight, and don’t leave any valuables in the home.
  • Arrange for a neighbor or a home watch service to check on the home regularly.
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What’s Wrong With This Photo?

LadderA. This is not a preferred method for placing a ladder on a stairwell.
B. This method for placing a ladder over a stairwell is OSHA approved.
C. It is better to place a ladder directly on the stair treads.
D. It is better to place a stepladder at the top of the stairs and lean over as far as you can to reach things.

 

 

 

 

 

Correct answer: A. This is not a preferred method for placing a ladder on a stairwell. Always use caution whenever placing or using a ladder on a stairwell.

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What You Need to Know About Ladder Safety

Inspector on LadderEvery year, hundreds of people fall from ladders while hanging holiday decorations, and many people hang their holiday decorations in the fall to avoid hanging them in the cold and snow of winter. You may think you know how to safely use a ladder, but here’s a review, based on an article by CPSC Blogger:

  • Select the proper ladder for the job. It should extend at least 3 feet over the roofline or working surface.
  • Place the ladder on level, firm ground. Use leg levelers on soft or uneven ground, and have someone hold the ladder at the ground.
  • Check the ladder’s maximum load rating to be sure it can support your weight.
  • Make sure that straight and adjustable ladders have slip-resistant feet.
  • Straight, single and adjustable ladders should be set at a 75-degree angle.
  • Use wood or fiberglass ladders — not metal — near electrical wires or equipment.
  • Make sure all rung locks and spreader braces are set and work properly.
  • Watch out for doors. Keep ladders away from doors that may swing open.
  • Only one person should be on the ladder at a time.
  • Keep your body centered on the ladder — don’t lean to one side or the other.
  • Do not stand on the top three rungs of a straight, single or adjustable ladder.
  • Do not use the top step/bucket shelf of the ladder.
  • Never leave a ladder that’s been set up unattended, as this could be a hazard for children and pets.
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