Answers for your home inspection questions. This is what a buyer should know before choosing a home inspector for a property inspection.

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Running a home inspection company, it takes more than being a home inspector because we need to have people skills. This article is about how you handle the phone call you are getting from a potential client. As any inspection company we are getting a larger volume of phone calls in the spring than in the cold season.I,personally get lots of phone calls from angry clients telling me that they called at least 3 inspection companies and the inspectors were rude, do not let them talk or do not explain what is covered in the inspection. They feel like they called and talk to a phone robot redirecting them to the inspector’s website to read “more regarding an inspection”. I personally take my time and explain what is included in the inspection, what is making the pricing (this would include experience, insurance, certifications, travel, etc). Most of the callers return to me regardless the pricing and told me that they felt comfortable and were treated well from the beginning. In my opinion, the first 30 seconds phone call is vital for getting the job. The first question of most callers is: How much do you charge for a home inspection? You would probably ask them: What is the address of the property, what is the square footage of the housemate. You collected the necessary info to give them a quote and you spell out the numbers. There is silence on the other end…

The questions are:
Are you patient and explain the client what makes the pricing?
Do you let people negotiate your fees even the business is slow?
What is your percentage of getting the new clients?
Do you give a discount for performing the 2nd or 3rd inspection to the same client?

Termites, also known as white ants, can cause devastating damage to your home. The damage is so great that termite damage is not covered by insurance – meaning that it’s a problem that you need to keep on top of!

Termites or white ants can cause long-lasting structural damage to your house that can be incredibly expensive to fix – so it’s important to make sure you get rid of the problem before it can get out of control.

Termites are a serious pest in United States, which attack timber in buildings, causing serious destruction. It’s not just old houses that are at risk – any house no matter how new or well built can be at risk from termites.

The family home is often the biggest and most important asset and should be protected from harm. The fact that the homes in Illinois are affected by termites is frightening, especially when you consider that termite damage is not covered by household insurance.

The damage caused by termites can leave the homeowner with an expensive repair bill.

Home Inspection Star recommends having you property inspected for termites. The termite inspections are usually requested by the lenders (banks) or new homeowner.

Before you decide on a termite control solution, it’s very important to do your research. Some white ant treatments are effective at the time they are applied, but only last for a year or two. If you decide on this kind of treatment, you need to make sure you know what is involved in on-going pest control.

Recently, I had a client who called me to assist him at the closing. His inspector was not available and he really wanted to make sure that the seller’s “repairs” were properly done. The client provided a summary report which was including the caulking at exterior, bathroom sinks and kitchen countertops. I was shocked to find out that the inspector gave him a 125 pages inspection report (showing the faucets brand) and asking for maintenance repairs in the summary report. Walking around to see the caulking “repairs” on this average size house I did noted damaged deck wood boards, unlabeled electrical main service panel and unsafe damaged flexible metal conduit. These issues were not noted in the initial (official) inspection report.

“A home inspection is a limited, non-invasive examination of the condition of a home”. Is the faucet brand part of home inspection? Does the buyer want to know what is the condition of the home (damaged, missing and safety items) or formal things? Last year I have seen an inspection report with a ten seconds video showing a loose (interior stair) handrail. Is this really necessary? These inspections are out of scope of standard home inspection and the inspectors are overcharging the client. The attorney, realtors and client have now to read a home inspection “book” report. In my home inspection journey, I meet a realtor who had to cancel all her appointment for that day because the inspector told her to go out and get some lunch because the inspection (1200 sq single family house) it will take 7 hours. She did not believe at first, but that is what it took to the professional inspector to complete the job. What is happening with the “standard home inspection”? Some inspectors are losing the concept of a good home inspection report and are getting lost in the advanced technology. I am forty years old not sixty, so do not get me wrong, I like and use the new futures but this is getting out of control.

According to the Standard of Practice, the inspector should inspect and describe the water supply, drain, waste and main fuel shutoff valves, main water valve and shutoff valve. The inspector is NOT required to determine the size,temperature or life expectancy of the water heater.

The new home owner should know about the layout of the existing septic system. The absorption field should not be disturbed by new construction or vehicular traffic, or covered by fill, trees or dense vegetation. No storm water should be directed into the septic systems. A typical system has an average life expectancy of up to 20 years under normal conditions.

The Septic tank, if properly maintained should pump every two to three years. Keeping records of pumping is recommended. Lack of periodic pumping will cause solids to be carried into the absorption field, clogging the leaching beds and shortening their useful life. The presences of dark green vegetation over the leaching beds throughout the growing season are signs of clogged absorption field. This is caused by nutrient-laden wastes being pushed up through the soil, wet or soggy areas in the field or distinct sewage odors.

The Septic tank should contain:
Inlet, outlet, chamber baffle, outlet baffle, first chamber and second chamber.

Lead-based paint is found in most US homes built before 1940.The paint used in home construction industry was heavily leaded. In 1978, the US consumer product safety commission set the limit of lead in most types of paint to a trace amount. After this time (1978) the houses built should be nearly free of lead- based paint. This material has been determined to be a significant health hazard if ingested, especially by children. The lead can damage the brain, the nervous system and affects behavior and learning, slow growth and can cause hearing related problems. Another related health issues regarding lead-based paint was high blood pressure, pregnancy, memory loss and concentration. In 1996, the US Congress passed a law which mandate the real estate agents, sellers and landlords to disclose the known presence of lead-based paint in properties built before 1978.If the Lead-based paint is in good condition and out of reach for kids, it is usually not a hazard.Chipping, peeling, cracking and chalking lead paint is a hazard and would required immediate attention. Lead based paint can be found on the windows, window sills, doors, doors frames, stairs, porches and fences. Lead dust forms when the lead paint base is dry-sanded, dry-scraped or heated. It also can form when painted surfaces rub together such as when windows are operated (open and closed).Chips and dust lead can get on the surfaces or objects that people can touch. The settled lead dust can re-enter the air when people disturb it as for example sweeping or vacuuming. If the house is thought to contain lead paint, consider having a qualified professional check it for lead. A paint inspection will identify the lead content on every painted surface in the house and a risk assessment that would determine whether there are any major lead exposure (such as peeling paint or lead dust). If the home inspector suspects lead paint, he will recommend you a Lead paint test. The only way to prove that the paint is lead based is to have it tested. A typical Lead paint test runs about $ 500.00. It is important to follow your home inspector recommendation and have the Lead –based paint test before the closing. The cost of Lead based paint removal could cost tens of thousands if the property is very large. If you move in a home and you getting sick, have breathing problems or memory loss problems, you should contact a qualified professional to have the property inspected. If lead paint is not found, there might be Mold, Asbestos or Amphetamine components in the property.Again, the only way to find out it is to test it.

1. The service panel cover “dead front” should not be painted. The main panel should be labeled in index. For an added safety, type AFCI circuit breakers should be installed in the main electrical panel for the bedroom, living room and dining room circuits.
2. All bathroom sinks, kitchen countertop, garage and exterior electrical receptacles must be GFCI protected.
3. The glazed shower door is hazardous. It shall be made of tempered glass and must contain an indentifying label.
4. The dryer (foil) venting pipe is a fire hazard and should be replaced with a manufacturer approved venting material.
5. The water heater temperature pressure relief pipe cannot be made of PVC. A (non threaded at the bottom) metallic pipe or an approved TPR piping material shall be used.
6. The exit (rear or side) door must not have a “dead bolt” type lock. They are considered “fire escape” doors and should be open able anytime.
7. Smoke and Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed per city/village requirements and should be tested monthly. They do not last forever and should be replaced every 2 years.
8. Replacing the furnace air filter one to three months (depends on filter) increases the habitable air quality and life expectancy of the unit. The furnace should be serviced annually regardless the age.
9. Clean you gutter at least twice a year. Most of the water/moisture intrusion at the foundation is caused by lack of gutters cleaning and maintenance. The downspouts extensions (minimum six feet) should divert the water away from foundation walls.
10. Each fireplace and flue in a house should be inspected by a certified chimney sweep every year.

A home inspection is supposed to give you peace of mind, but often has the opposite effect. You will be asked to absorb a lot of information in a short time. This often includes a written report, a checklist, photographs, environmental reports, and what the inspector himself says during the inspection. All this, combined with the seller’s disclosure and what you notice yourself, makes the experience even more overwhelming. What should you do?

Relax. Most of your inspection will be maintenance recommendations, life expectancies for various systems and components, and minor imperfections. These are useful to know about. However, the issues that really matter will fall into four categories:

major defects. An example of this would be a structural failure;
things that lead to major defects, such as a small roof-flashing leak, for example;
things that may hinder your ability to finance, legally occupy, or insure the home; and
safety hazards, such as an exposed, live buss bar at the electrical panel.
Anything in these categories should be addressed. Often, a serious problem can be corrected inexpensively to protect both life and property (especially in categories 2 and 4).

Most sellers are honest and are often surprised to learn of defects uncovered during an inspection. Realize that sellers are under no obligation to repair everything mentioned in the report. No home is perfect. Keep things in perspective. Do not kill your deal over things that do not matter. It is inappropriate to demand that a seller address deferred maintenance, conditions already listed on the seller’s disclosure, or nit-picky items.

In case you are wondering what a general home inspection is about, here is some information that can help you understand what I do. A general home inspection is a non-invasive, visual examination of the accessible areas of a residential property performed for a fee, which is designed to identify defects within specific systems and components defined by the Standards of Practice that are both observed and deemed material by the home inspector. Inspection reports may include additional comments and recommendations (see the Inspection report sample on my website). For any Real Estate Inspection the certified home inspector would take a significant number of pictures and will be included in the home inspection report. The Home Inspection Report will be emailed to the client within 24 hours.The licensed and certified home inspector is the ONLY and BEST home inspection service to you. Call or book online your commercial or residential inspection today!

Recently, I had an inspection as in the west side of City of Chicago. The house was recently remodeled by a well known construction company (I been in another houses done by the same company) and at the first look I told myself “this will be an easy one”…. Finishing inspecting the exterior, bedrooms, bathrooms, all interior including the kitchen and the garage, we went down to the basement to inspect the utility room and the electrical panel. The three utility service lines come into the panel. The two “hot” leads should be attached to a two-gang main circuit breaker that connects to two “hot” buss bars. The electrical panel was brand new (200Amp) and easy to find. As usually, I carefully removed all the screws and I pulled out the cover. The client and I were shocked; one of the “hot” high voltage wires was loose and hanging out of the box. This power supply wire was not connected to the main disconnect breaker. It took me less than two seconds to remove the cover and the wire was sticking out. There is something I always do when I remove the cover panel: I make sure that the cover does not slide down and pull it fast towards me with both hands to make sure that there is no any loose wire that could touch it when the cover is removed. To be honest, I never expected to see a live high voltage wire loose or disconnected. The other hot service wire was connected to the main disconnect breaker. A wire gauge number 14 was tapped on the other connector of the two gang main disconnect breaker. This is a very unsafe condition and needs immediate attention. I used my thermal imaging camera just to show how hot this wire is. I tried myself to understand what the electrician wanted to do and I could not find an answer. My client is a general contractor and has his own construction company. He said that he had never seen something like this. He was very happy with the inspection but we both left the property in shock. I went to the next inspection and I could not forget what I seen. This could be my last inspection. This job is definitely dangerous! Sometimes the people don’t understand why you do not walk on some roofs. I once inspected a vacant commercial building and I have been on the flat roof. I did this first because I got there early and wanted to save time. There was nobody around and like I said, the building was vacant. It was impossible to identify how many layers of the rolled roof were installed. I noticed on some areas of the roof some sandy residue left from the water evaporation. I decided not to walk on those particular areas knowing that I been over twenty five feet above the ground. And guess what? When we got inside, the ceilings were open and I could see the rotted (plywood) and moldy structure holding that roof. Again, that could be my last inspection. Thank you for reading. Your suggestions and comments are welcome.

Did you know that the house you live in or the one are planning to purchase might have Asbestos?

Where can you find Asbestos?

The Asbestos can be found as wrapping insulation on the old water heater water supply pipes and 9X9 inches floor tiles from your common area stairs and basement.

Why is Asbestos Hazardous?

Asbestos use was discontinued in the late 1970s upon being found to be a hazard to human health. Today, asbestos is classified as a known human carcinogen. The durability properties, which made asbestos so desirable to manufacturers, are that which make asbestos hazardous. Because asbestos fibers are microscopic (roughly .02 the diameter of a human hair) they are easily inhaled. Once inhaled, the fibers cling to the respiratory system, including the lining of the lungs and inner cavity tissue. As asbestos fibers are typically quite rigid, they lodge easily in the soft internal tissue of the respiratory system and are not easily expelled or broken-down by the body.

Because asbestos use was so prominent until it’s hazards became clear in the late 1970s, hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to the mineral in some capacity. There is no safe type of asbestos and no safe level of exposure. Nearly all those with exposure history are potentially at risk of serious respiratory health complications.

Who is At Risk of Exposure to Asbestos?

There were hundreds of occupations affected by asbestos exposure. Asbestos was used in thousands of commercial products and industrial capacities and those working with the material in these industries are potentially at risk of harmful exposure. Industries in which asbestos use was particularly prevalent include shipbuilding, commercial product manufacturing, power plants, and construction. Workers employed in these industries prior to 1980 likely encountered asbestos products.

While asbestos exposure is hazardous, not all asbestos products are inherently hazardous. Because asbestos must be inhaled to represent a health risk, only loose asbestos fibers or those in the air supply (a condition known as friable) represent a true hazard. Stable asbestos compounds, such as intact cement, tiles, or other products are generally not an immediate hazard.

Exposure to friable asbestos fibers was common when grinding, chipping, demolishing, or retrofitting asbestos products. Each of these functions could potentially release asbestos into the air supply where it would be easily inhaled.

What Health Conditions are Associated with Exposure to Asbestos

There are three major lung conditions traced directly to asbestos exposure. These are lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Lung cancer risk, typically associated with tobacco use, is known to be exacerbated by exposure to asbestos. Symptoms include coughing, chest pain, and difficulty breathing.

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer of the lung and inner body’s cavity lining- a thin membrane known as the mesothelium. Mesothelioma is typically recognized as the most clearly attributable disease resulting from asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma originates in three locations. Pleural mesothelioma forms in the lining of the lungs and is the most common form of the disease. Peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma are less common and form in the lining of the abdominal cavity and lining of the heart.