- Home Owner Tips
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- Inspection Guide
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Do I Have to waste money on having a Home Inspection? This question crosses the mind of many home buyers. When making the largest investment in your future, knowing what your buying can never be a bad thing. A Professional Home inspection will identify issues and deficiencies with a home that may otherwise go unnoticed. Small items on a home that are ignored can often become a very expensive repair and project.
Do I Have to Attend the Home Inspection? Yes, if at all possible attend the home inspection. This will be opportunity to become educated about your home and its major systems. With over 10 years of home inspection experience and 40 years of building inspection experience the Barrie Home Inspector can provide valuable advice and point out deficiencies, explaining their importance and any recommendations for repair.
Is There a Pass or Fail of a Home Inspection? No, there is no such “bench mark”which can be given to any home. A home inspection points out existing deficiencies and any potential expenses, such as roof life expectancy or remaining life for your gas furnace for example. Every person has a different view point on each and every item covered by a home inspection. For a professional inspector to impose his point of view to a client would be very unprofessional. The home inspection identifies the major and minor deficiencies in a home, the inspector will provide professional information about the issues but in the end it is the buyer’s choice whether to buy the property after being informed about the overall condition of the home.
Home Inspection Waiver – Typically home owners will have from 5 to 10 days to have a home inspection on the home they are purchasing. This contingency provides that if conditions are found during the home inspection that are significant, you can back out of your offer free of any penalties. In a Seller’s Market sometimes conditions are waived by buyers when facing a “bidding war” on a property they want to purchase.
Importance of Building Permits – If a renovation was completed on your home and no building permit was taken out you will be assuming responsibility for all the deficiencies that may be present. When a building permit is issued the builder or contractor will submit plans for approval to the local building department. Inspections are then carried out prior to any electrical, plumbing, structural or heating systems are covered in. A final inspection is completed and if there are no problems the Permit is closed with the Final Inspection.
Over the course of the past ten years I have come across many homes which have had problems that would scare any rational buyer away. Unfortunately not all buyers have a home inspection and find out the hard way about the true condition of their home.
Here are some deficiencies listed in no particular order which may give you some cause for thought.
Potable Water – Recently this past summer I was inspecting a home where the dug well was being inspected by a licensed well inspector. Both Realtors had already performed their own well test and the water had passed the requirements for potability. the well inspector asked me to look at the well after he had removed the cover and there was feces floating on top of water. The home had a UV light filter and a cartridge filter installed which removed enough contaminants to allow water to pass. The clients walked away from this particular home.
WETT Inspections – Many times individuals call to have a wood stove that they have been using inspected due to a request from their insurance company. Wood stoves have to meet the required distances to combustible material as listed on a plate usually located on back of the stove. Many older stoves were not Certified which then requires a minimum distance of 48 inches from front, back and sides to combustible material. When buying a home always request a WETT Inspection to ensure you can continue to use appliance safely.
Asbestos – Many older homes had boilers and/or furnaces that was insulated with asbestos. Over the years the boilers were removed and most of the visible asbestos was also removed. Unfortunately many ducts which travel between floors or under floor boards still were wrapped with asbestos. Your trained home inspector will usually detect this asbestos and often the seller will remove the asbestos at their expense. If you fail to detect the asbestos then you will be responsible for the expense of removal.
Knob & Tube Wiring – Homes built prior to the 1950’s usually had knob and tube wiring installed. Many insurance companies will not insure a home with any knob and tube wiring installed. Many times during a home inspection I have found knob and tube circuits still in use and some which have even been used to extend an existing circuit during a home renovation. Some home owners and some electricians will skip removing all the knob an tube wiring because it is hard to access or they just think no one will ever notice or detect the remaining circuits.
Galvanized Plumbing – Galvanized plumbing was used in built in the early 1960’s and earlier and was quite common. Many insurance companies will not insure a home which has pressurized galvanized plumbing lines. Galvanized plumbing can contain lead which has collected from old lead supply lines and is known for corrosion which can reduce water flow, especially in the hot water line. Galvanized pipes are also known for corroding at joints and should be regularly inspected for potential leaks.
Vermiculite Insulation – Vermiculite is a naturally occurring product which is treated with heat to create insulation. One particular mine in Libby, Montana produced a lot of this particular product which was later found to contain asbestos. The only way to determine whether asbestos is present is to have samples collected and then sent to lab for testing. Removing and replacing asbestos for a small bungalow can start at around $15,000.00 and up. Many people have just installed newer type insulation over existing vermiculite in an effort to make detection difficult.
Aluminum Wiring – Check with your insurance company prior to buying a home with aluminum wiring. According to the US insurance company statistics having aluminum wiring in your home can increase the risk of fire by 55%. Everyone has a different point of view on the issues of aluminum wiring and as a consumer it is advised you educate yourself on the implications of buying a home with aluminum wiring installed.
Foundations – Earlier this year I received a phone call from an individual who had bought a recently renovated property. After the purchase was complete, without a home inspection, his neighbours informed him that there was no foundation for home. The seller had constructed a fake foundation cover while the home was actually built on wood logs sitting on the ground.
Building Permits – Many Do-It-Yourself contractors think nothing of totally renovating a basement without obtaining a building permit. If you buy such a home you are assuming responsibility for everything in the home. I have inspected homes under 10 years old that have improper electrical wiring and plumbing that is visible in renovated basement. If the home was ever inspected by electrical, plumbing or building inspector the walls and floors would probably have to be removed and all work redone. There is no insurance for this type of problem and as the home owner you would be totally liable for all costs.
Flooding – After buying a home a client of mine discovered mould on walls and flooring when she moved in to home. She called me back to assist her in determining what had happened to cause this problem. After thoroughly investing the basement I went to the exterior to find a probable cause and found nothing. I then checked with neighbours to see if they had encountered a similar problem. Bingo, the one neighbour informed me that her daughter had to go over to house to mop up a flood caused by a sump pump failure which the seller would not acknowledge or disclose. This eventually ended up in small claims court where settlement was reached in favour of my client.
Caveat Emptor – Buyer Beware Ultimately when buying a home the responsibility is solely that of the buyer. That is why it is so important for potential home buyers to educate themselves prior to deciding what home to buy.
Most people have a home inspection prior to purchasing a new home and home sellers know this. A home inspection cannot protect you from sellers who knowingly hide or fail to disclose material defects in a home. For example, say the subject property has a water issue in the basement every spring. The home sellers paint the walls with a fresh coat of paint and sell their home in the fall when there is no water issue. There is no moisture or water present to be detected by the home inspector and everyone is satisfied that the home is safe and sound by all appearances. The next spring you find water staining on your basements drywall and you want to find out why you were not told about this prior to purchasing home? You call your Realtor who will refer you to your home inspector, but what can he do? There was no water or moisture at time of inspection! If you talk to your neighbours and they inform you that this was an ongoing problem you could go after the sellers and recoup costs for repairs but that can be expensive and very stressful.
If you require a WETT Inspection of your fireplace or wood stove in the Barrie or Simcoe County area call Roger Frost at 705-795-8255 or Email Roger
Settling sidewalks and sloped uni-stone patios are common causes of water being directed against your foundation. This can allow water or moisture to penetrate you basement wall and even cause potential settling of your foundation. Always ensure your exterior grade will direct water away from your foundations.
Roof shingles come in many colours and patterns. Most typical shingles will have a life expectancy of 18 to 20 years. The shingles installed on the south side roof will normal show signs of deterioration first due to exposure to sunlight. The granular material of the shingle is there to protect your shingle from UV rays of sun. Although there are many shingles which are advertised as 25 or 30 year shingles, it is unusual to see them last more than a couple of extra years when compared to regular shingles.
Electrical wiring issues is by far the most common problem found in most older homes with a renovated basement. The wiring issues are usually un-supported electrical cables, missing junction boxes and adding circuits to existing breakers in main panel. This is always an indication that the home owner has done the work and a licensed electrician should be called in to inspect and repair all the wiring. I will typically recommend that potential buyers ask for an electrical certificate for home which indicates that all wiring has been inspected and passed by licensed electrician.
Any renovation in your home is required to have a building permit. Part of the building permit process is having plumbing, structure, electrical and insulation inspected by your local building officials or electrical authority. When a renovation is done with out taking out a building permit you run the risk of un-seen problems coming back to haunt you and most likely costing a great deal of money to repair.
Annual maintenance and caulking of exterior joints in your home can prevent needless repairs and save you hundreds of dollars. Caulking seams in window sills and ensuring mortar is still in place on brick window sills can save a lot of repairs for a couple of dollars. Just caulking your asphalt driveway at joint where it meets your garage can prevent separation and sinking of driveway.
When installing pot lights in an attic ensure your lights are designed to be installed in insulation. So many home owners just stick a pot light in there attic without checking. This is a huge waste of energy and is also a big fire risk. The insulation in the attic is usually disturbed and not replaced causing more energy loss and increased heating costs.
Light is basically divided into two categories for the purpose of thermal imaging, visible light and invisible light. There is an almost infinite range of light beyond human range of vision. Light, as described in physics, is an electromagnetic wave that propagates through space at a fixed speed. This wave is further identified by its wave length, frequency and energy. As displayed below the actual wavelengths visible to the human eye is quite small.
Human eyes only see light in the wavelength range from 400 to 750 nm (nanometers). X rays and Gamma rays were initially thought to be particle rays rather than light rays, hence the terms rays. Radio waves are an example of low-energy light waves, and they are often described in terms of their frequency.
Sir William Herschel way back in the 1800’s discovered the presence of the invisible spectrum by using a prism and thermometers. He called his discovery thermometric spectrum, later this came to be known as infrared.
Although un-able to detect the volume of air leakage in a building the infrared device can identify the area of leakage. This is a quick and reliable method for testing the building envelope for leaks or failure of systems. Cold areas are quickly detected by using a infrared camera in the hands of an experienced professional. Prevention and detection are the two main uses of Thermal Imaging.
The main benefits of using an infrared camera are these; investigating air leakage areas prior to enclosing a structure which can save both time and money. Preparing structure for more exhaustive testing if any problems are detected during thermal imaging scans; Finding areas of air movement or moisture penetration which may cause damage or failure to the building products. Potentially protecting you from future expenses and repairs; Any exterior air pathways through the building envelope can also allow moisture to penetrate which can then be protected once identified. Failure to find these deficiencies can lead to rotting or material and mould growth; Professional inspectors who perform Energy Audits use blower doors to create a negative pressure in the home. The infrared camera can then identify all areas of air passage in the home. This can save time and money and ensure all defects in building envelope are identified and corrected.
During home inspections the infrared camera can be used to find hidden water leaks, missing insulation and leaks in window and door areas. The Barrie Home Inspector has been using the Thermal Imaging camera on home inspections for the past eight years and was the first to use this technology in Simcoe County.