Tips for Moving Into Your First Home

By Hunter Newell, NPI Property Inspector, Milledgeville, Georgia

Couple + Moving Boxes_shutterstock_154243535Buying your first home is an exciting, though sometimes stressful, experience. It is easy to overlook some things while you are caught up in all of the paperwork, stress and deadlines. Here is a list of things you may have forgotten:

Debug Before the Move: If at all possible, consider scheduling a pest exterminator to set off a “bug bomb” before you move your stuff into the house. This can be incredibly helpful and one less thing you have to deal with after your belongings arrive.

Change Your Address: It is important to notify your local post office whenever you move into a new home. You can pick up change-of-address forms at your local post office. Also be sure to notify friends and family, your bank, your credit card company and your subscription services of your new address.

Take Inventory: As you pack, make an inventory list of everything you are moving. After everything has arrived at the new house, check the list to make sure all of your belongings are present. When moving an entire home’s worth of belongings, it is easy to lose a thing or two.

Unpack Methodically: It may seem overwhelming when staring at the fort of boxes in front of you. That’s OK, everything needn’t be unboxed at once. Locate the essentials, such as bed and bathroom accessories, and unpack them first. Take everything else at a slow pace and organize it as you go. It’s OK to take days, weeks and even months to unpack everything. Be sure to enjoy your new home.

Remember, moving can be an exciting experience, but don’t stress yourself out. Congratulations on your new home!

Newell PhotoHunter Newell is professionally trained NPI property inspector working for franchise owner/inspector Buddy McKenzie in Middle Georgia. If you live in the area, call 478.412.6741 to schedule your home inspection with Buddy or Hunter.

Before you move, make sure to have your house inspected by an NPI or GPI home inspector. Visit the links below to find an inspector near you.

Tagged: , , , , ,

Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

Summer House_shutterstock_104946530Did you know that your local NPI or GPI home inspector can provide you with a printed copy of our seasonal home maintenance guide? Call or email your inspector if you’d like one. We also have assembled a handy summer home maintenance checklist that should help you keep your house in tip-top condition.

  • Check the operation of any attic fans and roof-mounted turbine vents.
  • Caulk exterior joints around windows and doors
  • Clean and seal decks, which will require three sunny days. Click here for a step-by-step guide.
  • Have your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep. Do it before the fall, as there’s plenty of time for repairs and you’ll have an easier time scheduling appointments.
  • If you didn’t check for overhanging tree limbs in the spring, check your trees and trim them if needed.
  • Wash your siding using an ordinary garden hose and a mild detergent. Be careful if using a pressure washer, as it can damage the siding or force water under siding, encouraging mildew and rot.
  • Check for cracks on brick veneer that are wider than 1/16 inch.
  • Remove vines growing on the house, siding, brick or mortar.
  • Check vinyl and aluminum siding for cracks or damage.
  • Check your yard’s grading to assure that water drains away from your home’s foundation.
  • Summer is the perfect time to paint your siding if the paint is cracked and/or peeling.
  • Clean your dryer vent.
  • Clean the gutters on your house and garage.
  • Have your air conditioning unit checked and serviced to ensure proper cooling during the hot summer months.
  • Inspect your house for signs of termite infestation if they are prevalent in your area.
  • Check your basement or crawl space for dampness and/or leaking.
  • Clear leaves and other debris away from your outdoor air-conditioning unit(s).
  • Disconnect your air conditioner and wash off the fins on the outside.
  • Get your pool ready for summer by cleaning it, leveling the water, ensuring pumps are working and balancing the chemicals.
  • If you didn’t do it in the spring, then it’s time to de-winterize your sprinkler system.
  • Wash your exterior windows. You can use a window cleaner that attaches right to the hose to reach high windows.
  • Clean the porch. Give it a good sweeping and washing. Repaint if you have cracked or chipped paint.
  • Check exterior faucets and hoses for leaks, which can really add to your water bill.
  • Clean out and organize the garage. Properly dispose of any hazardous materials, such as paints and solvents.
  • Inspect driveways and walkways for cracks and holes, and have them repaired.

NPI and GPI home inspectors have the tools and knowledge to assess your home from roof to foundation. Consult with your local NPI or GPI inspector for your next home inspection. To find your local inspector, visit one of the links below.

Tagged: , , , ,

Prevent Hot Water Burns

Family at Home_shutterstock_151320977Protecting young children and others in your home from burns caused by hot water can be a concern. Water temperatures over 120° F (48° C) can potentially cause scalds. That’s why a water temperature assessment is part of a general home inspection.

This assessment has two parts: First, the inspector uses a thermometer, usually held under the water in the shower while operating at least one other water fixture to determine any significant changes in water temperature. The temperature in the shower is adjusted to about 105° F (40° C). Next, the inspector will flush the toilet and turn on the sink. If the water temperature in the shower shifts more than five degrees, the inspector will note it in the inspection report. This same test is also used help assess and report on water volume and flow in the home. The inspector will note visible changes in the water volume or flow when all three fixtures are operating.

To test the general temperature of a home’s hot water, your inspector will turn on the hot water in the kitchen and test it with the thermometer. Inspectors frequently find that a home’s water is too hot, but the temperature setting usually can be changed on the water heater to protect people in your home.

NPI and GPI home inspectors have the tools and knowledge to assess your home from roof to foundation. Consult with your local NPI or GPI inspector for your next home inspection.

Tagged: , , , , ,

What Did My Inspector Mean When He Talked About Grading and Slope Around My House?

Grading_shutterstock_135142733The exterior of your house is just as important as the interior systems when it comes to a well-functioning, well-sealed structure. Because of this, home inspectors should begin the inspection long before they ever reach the door, assessing grading, utility hookups, walkways, decks, driveways, windows and doors, roofing, and exterior cladding or siding.

The grading around your home’s exterior helps prevent water intrusion, which can cause wood rot, mold and mildew. Proper grading also prevents structural movement and damage, keeps out unwanted pests, and helps regulate temperatures inside your home.

Preventing water intrusion begins with the grading of the lot, or the way the ground is shaped around the house. For best results, the ground should visibly slope away from the structure (positive slope). Negative-sloped grading around a home (the ground slopes toward the house) can cause water to pool at the foundation and eventually soak into the walls. Positive slopes move water away from the home and help prevent damage to the foundation.

When a house is built at the bottom of the hill, swales (small ditches) may be built to direct water around the house and away from the foundation. Your home inspector should assess the property’s slope and grading, noting the specific location of negative slope or pooling water. One common problem area is the garage apron. If the flooring is not poured with proper slope, then water will run under the door and pool inside. Inaccessible or obstructed areas of the foundation will also be noted in your inspection report.

Tagged: , , , , , ,

My Three Favorite ‘Photo Follies’

By Randy Yates, Training Consultant Administrator, NPI/GPI Corporate Office

Our home inspectors frequently send me pictures for my “you won’t believe this” file — known here at NPI and GPI as “photo follies” — so I thought I’d share three of my most favorite. To be honest, each is my favorite in its own right. These are pictures of things our inspectors have found during the course of their inspections of items, construction practices and installations. They are often amateurish, shoddy work or projects done by home owners who think they know how to build, fix or install things. Of the three I‘ve selected, some are self-explanatory and others you may have to think about.

This is what the home owner got with a brand-new roof installation.

This is what the home owner got with a brand-new roof installation.

 

I call this one, “The note says it all.”

I call this one, “The note says it all.”

 

Do you see the problem? If not, look at the roof shingles creeping up the siding. They’re not supposed to do that.

Do you see the problem? If not, look at the roof shingles creeping up the siding. They’re not supposed to do that.

 

Yates PhotoWith more than 10 years of experience in his current position and over 30 years of experience in remodeling and contracting, Randy Yates provides technical training to new NPI/GPI inspectors and provides field support to all NPI/GPI inspectors.

NPI and GPI home inspectors have the tools and knowledge to assess your home from roof to foundation. Consult with your local NPI or GPI inspector for your next home inspection.

Tagged: , , , , , ,

Common Mistakes Home Owners Make

Couple Planning Remodel_shutterstock_111839573Your home may be the largest purchase you ever make, so it’s worth your time to keep it in good repair. What you don’t want to do is create more work for yourself. The following are some common mistakes home owners often make in the name of maintenance or home improvement:

Ceiling fans: Ceiling fans are not ordinary light fixtures. Their weight, size and motion require extra support. Never hang a ceiling fan from a light fixture box or install it without the proper electrical connections or support. Improperly installed ceiling fans will be noisy and potentially dangerous.

Wooden fences: To help prevent wood-destroying insect (WDI) problems, keep wood — including fences — away from the walls and foundation of your home. Use decorative rocks or other materials instead of wood mulch, and avoid nailing wood fence posts to the walls of the house.

Permits: Before starting any home remodeling project, determine what permits and inspections are necessary. Check with your local building department or other regulatory agency to ensure that your project adheres to the proper safety and local building codes. This can save you money in the long run, and prevent problems when you sell the house.

NPI and GPI home inspectors have the tools and knowledge to assess your home from roof to foundation. Consult with your local NPI or GPI inspector for your next home inspection.

Tagged: , , , , ,

The Top 5 Things Sellers Should Do to Prepare for the Home Inspection

By Wes Grant, NPI Franchise Owner, Indian Trail, North Carolina

Inspector + Electrical9When you’re selling your home, preparing everything for the home inspection can prevent unnecessary delays during the closing process. For liability reasons, home inspectors are not required, nor advised, to move items blocking access to areas that need to be inspected. If you don’t provide access to these areas during the inspection, it can lead to incomplete results, callbacks, additional fees or a frustrated buyer. Most home inspectors charge an additional fee if they must return to the property to inspect items which were not accessible.

If you’re selling your home, you probably want to make the process as smooth as possible. Here are five tips to help you along:

1. Make sure all utilities (power, gas, water, etc.) are on for the inspection. Few things are more frustrating to a home inspector than arriving at a scheduled inspection only to find that none of the utilities are turned on or the pilot flames are not lit. This normally requires the inspection to be rescheduled and oftentimes results in the buyer having to extend due diligence, which therefore extends the closing date.

2. Create clear access to the electrical panel, water heater, furnace, attic and crawl space. If major appliances are not readily and easily accessible, the inspector will be unable to closely examine the equipment, which may again result in a return trip after you have cleared access to these important components of the home. Again, this will result in a delay and additional costs.

3. Board or kennel the pets. The home inspector is there to perform a thorough inspection, which takes a great deal of skill, knowledge and concentration. I love dogs (not so much a cat guy, though, sneaky critters), but we go in and out of the house quite a lot during a home inspection as we check different components of the home. Dogs that bark endlessly or cats that like to run out of an open door affect the inspector’s concentration, which could be detrimental to you or the buyer.

4. Don’t stuff the garage or the attic. It’s always a good idea to de-clutter your home in preparing to put it on the market, but don’t do so at the expense of stuffing everything in the attic or garage, as that will make those areas inaccessible (see No. 2 above). There are potentially defects that need to be noted in the attic and garage, and as has been the case for everything so far, that could lead to a return trip, delays and additional costs. It’s better to rent a storage unit or a POD that can be stored on your property.

5. Do some repairs and cleaning. I always recommend that sellers spruce up the house by doing some of the maintenance they may have let slip. Change burned-out bulbs in light fixtures; and caulk or seal around bathtubs, exterior windows/doors, anywhere there are gaps that allow water or pest intrusion. Dust, paint areas that need it, clean windows, clean bathrooms and the kitchen. Like they say, “Dress to impress.”

In conclusion, if you as a home seller follow these “Big 5” recommendations in preparing your home for an inspection, the process will go a lot smoother with no delays and minimal frustration. You will also be able to concentrate on your own schedule of finding another another home without the frustration of rescheduling inspections for the buyer of your current house. Happy selling, and remember to call NPI before you buy — or sell!

Grant PhotoWes Grant is a professional National Property Inspections home inspector in Indian Trail and the surrounding Union County area in North Carolina. If you live in the area, call 704.628.6601 to schedule your home inspection with Wes.

NPI and GPI home inspectors have the tools and knowledge to assess your home. Consult with your local NPI or GPI inspector for an assessment of your home, from roof to foundation.

Tagged: , , , , , ,

Nice Touch!

By Tim Shuford, NPI Franchise Owner, Jamestown, North Carolina

Bathroom_shutterstock_103857686Property inspectors routinely discover things in homes that are unusual or “out of the norm.” Unfortunately, there are often deficiencies (electrical, plumbing, structural, safety, etc.) associated with some of the handiwork that went into creating these unusual features, and the deficiencies are the things documented in an inspection report.

As an inspector, I’m sure that I often don’t pay much attention to the “nice touches” that may be incorporated into or added onto a home — unless there’s a deficiency associated with it. I try to note positive features in a house that required extra thought or effort on somebody’s part to provide some added convenience, functionality or aesthetic appeal on the home, regardless of whether there are associated deficiencies or not.

Here is a sample of my observations and discoveries that might fall into the “nice touch” category:

  • Location: An 89-year-old, 1,400-square-foot bungalow with a crawl space and partial basement in a not-so-great part of town. Some of the things I’m likely to see are water intrusion at the foundation walls, sagging and out-of-level floors, cracks in the plaster, foundation problems, inadequate support of floor framing — and, yes, they were all present. Something that jumped out at me before I entered the home was a decorative mosaic tile feature in a brick paver walkway about halfway to the backyard, with an inscription in Latin that appears to be translated as “Way of Life,” or possibly “Pathway of Life,” given its location on a path to the backyard that had a nice little patio area for relaxing. Somebody spend a lot of time creating this piece of art, which is located where almost no one will ever see. Nice touch!
  • During the course of the inspection on the same home, I had noticed that some improvements to the bathroom had been done, but I didn’t look too closely until it was time to inspect that room. To my surprise, there sat a nice jetted tub (equipped with a heater and proper GFCI protection) in the space where the original tub had been. The bathroom was the only place inside the home that had received any upgrades. Nice touch!
  • While inspecting an 11-year-old, 1,400-square-foot home, I noticed that there were at least four exterior electrical receptacles installed on the home. (Nice touch!) The amazing thing was that each of these receptacles and the receptacles in the bathrooms were individually GFCI-protected. So, if GFCI protection trips, the home owner doesn’t have to launch an all-out search for where the tripped GFCI receptacle is located. Pretty convenient for not a lot of added cost. (I’d like to nominate this electrician to revise some construction standards.)
  • While inspecting a roof that was at least 20 years old, I become curious about an anomaly at the ridge cap shingles in one area. What I discovered was a dollar sign ($) carved out of a shingle and nailed on the ridge of the roof. Not sure what that was about, but I got a chuckle out of it. Given the state of the plumbing vent flashings, I may have been the first person to see this handiwork since it was installed. Thanks for the chuckle, Mr. Roofer. Nice touch!

StaircaseThere’s nothing terribly spectacular about any of these examples. But, I do believe that each helps illustrate my point. Somebody made some extra effort, put some thought into, spent some extra time, and/or put a few extra dollars into creating a “nice touch” feature. I’m also challenging myself to spend a small amount of time trying to figure out what might have motivated folks to create some of the things that evoke the, “That’s unusual,” or “That’s strange” reactions when I see them, and maybe better appreciate the effort that went into making them happen. Some thoughts, questions for pondering, and examples:

  • It must have taken a tremendous effort to get the jetted tub into the bathroom of the home mentioned above. I assume that they broke the original cast iron tub into pieces in order get it out, as the doorways are narrow, there tight corners to navigate getting to the bathroom, and there’s very little working space once the tub is inside the room. There was no apparent damage to the hardwood floors, walls, door trim, etc. The home owner must have had some motivation for installing this tub that was greater than getting a bathtub upgrade for the home. Maybe the owner needed the tub for health reasons. Maybe the owner’s loved ones gifted the installation as an expression of their love. I guess I’ll never know.
  • What would motivate the roofer to carve the dollar sign and install it? Maybe he was bored. Maybe this was his “signature mark” that he put on every roof he installed. Maybe he’d been out of work, and this roofing job provided the first opportunity in a long time to bring home a paycheck and provide for his family.
  • What was the motivation for an unusual placement of some feature in a home (such as the laundry location, bathroom location, a seemingly random sink location, some kind of cabinet or storage nook, etc.)? What was the motivation simply an over-engineered contraption that doesn’t have an intuitive purpose? Maybe a husband was trying to provide a convenience for his stressed-out wife (or vise-versa) that would save two extra steps every day. Maybe a grown child was trying to provide added convenience for a frail parent. Depending on the installation, there is probably at least one plausible explanation.

If I could find a potential reason and/or purpose behind something unusual that I find, then it might just take on a “nice touch” perspective, even if it still seems strange.

The home inspection report probably doesn’t provide the best avenue to elaborate on “nice touch” features discovered, but a photo with a little description might provide some added value for the client (and Realtor). A wrap-up discussion with the client is certainly a great time to point out any “nice touch” features and discuss the potential reasons behind things that seem odd. It could also help take the edge off any deficiencies associated with the oddities.

Shuford PhotoTim Shuford is a professional National Property Inspections home inspector in Jamestown, North Carolina. If you live in the area, call 336.823.6605 to schedule your home inspection with Tim.


NPI and GPI home inspectors have the tools and knowledge to assess your home. Consult with your local NPI or GPI inspector for an assessment of your home.

Tagged: , , ,

Your Home’s Foundation: Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

Severe cracks in walls can signal settlement and foundation problems.

Severe cracks in walls can signal settlement and foundation problems.

Most houses are supported underneath by concrete or a stone, referred to as the foundation. It’s a simple truth that most people keep their sights on things that are at eye level. Whether you are inside or outside your house, your attention is often drawn to wall hangings, furniture, doors, windows, the siding. You may not think much about the foundation of your house, especially if it’s a slab foundation.

However, it is imperative to check the foundation of your home, as the expenses to repair it can become overwhelming if problems are left to worsen. It’s important to inspect your foundation regularly, so you can catch problems in the early stages, before they become expensive repairs.

Common Problems

There are typically three types of foundations: basements, crawl spaces and slab. Regardless of the type of foundation you have, several foundation problems are common:

  • Bulges and outward bumps are commonly caused by temperature changes and can lead to serious problems in the future, including abnormal settlement and potentially building collapse.
  • Cracking is commonly caused by soil settling and vibrations from nearby elements. Normally cracking is repairable and not seriously threatening to the structure and safety of the building. However, be sure to monitor cracks and call in a professional if you notice any warning signs.
  • Leaking occurs when water penetrates through cracks in a foundation and enters the inside of the house. Water can cause erosion and spawn a breeding ground for mold, which can ruin nearly anything, including cherished belongings like photos and keepsakes.

The Top 10 Signs of Foundation Trouble

  • Uneven and sloping floors in the house
  • Cracks in exterior or interior bricks
  • Displaced or cracked moldings around doors, windows, etc.
  • Wall rotation
  • Cracks or bowing in walls
  • Cracks in floors, floor tiles or the home’s foundation
  • Doors and windows that won’t open or close properly, doors that swing open or closed on their own
  • Separation of doors, windows or garage doors
  • Gaps or spaces between walls and the ceiling or floor
  • Walls that are separating from the house

Unfortunately these types of problems do not correct themselves, and procrastination may cost you as the problem persists and worsens.

Photo courtesy of Gustty via EveryStockPhoto

Photo courtesy of Gustty via EveryStockPhoto

Do keep in mind, however, that some amount of settlement is normal in any house. Some cracks in foundation walls are minor and do not require you to take action right away, only to monitor them. If you have an old house with evidence of minor settling, it’s probably nothing to worry about. If you suspect you have major settlement or foundation problems, you can contact your local National Property Inspections or Global Property Inspections home inspector as a first step. Your home inspector will be able to tell you whether the problem is serious and you need to call in a structural engineer.

Foundation Repair Costs

Basements are the most expensive and complicated type of foundation to construct, as the depth of a basement is commonly 8 feet. Basement repair costs generally range from $500 to $10,000, depending on the type and extent of damage.

A slab foundation is a concrete pad poured directly on top of 4 to 6 inches of gravel with a sheet of plastic between them designed to keep out moisture. A slab is the easiest and least expensive foundation for a building or house. The downside is that there is no easy access for foundation work that may be needed. In addition, sewer lines are embedded in the concrete slab. Expenses for repairs vary wildly and can range from $100 to $15,000.

Crawl spaces are similar to slabs; however, they raise the house off the ground and allow for easy access to plumbing and ductwork. The cost to build on a crawl space is comparable to that of a slab. Expenses for repairs can range from $1,500 to $15,000.

Make a foundation inspection a part of your annual spring home maintenance checklist. If you have a basement or crawl space, check the inside and outside for damage.

Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

What’s the HWBB Heating Pipe Doing in the Attic?

By Lawrence Englehart, GPI Franchise Owner, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Englehart_Kitec

My client was wondering why their house’s addition above the garage was so difficult to heat during our Canadian cold winter season, and why their heating costs were so high. I guess that’s what happens when an incompetent contractor (nine years ago) installs the Kitec hot-water baseboard (HWBB) heating pipe on top of the attic insulation, which runs for more than 20 feet in an unconditioned space! The attic was relatively warm on the day I inspected it, about 0° C (32° F), versus this pipe at 70° C (162° F).

Englehart PhotoLawrence Englehart is a professional Global Property Inspections home inspector in Halifax, Nova Scotia. If you live in the area, call 902.403.2460 to schedule your home inspection with Lawrence.

NPI and GPI home inspectors have the tools and knowledge to assess your home. Consult with your local NPI or GPI inspector for an inspection of your home or a home you are planning to purchase.

Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,