Topic: Inspections

Are There More Termites This Year?

TermitesThe short answer? Yes.

it seems like, this year, we are seeing more and more pest inspections come back with evidence of active termite infestation. On the surface, that’s not necessarily a big deal, but left untreated, the little buggers can wreak havoc on a structure, and one of the main contingencies of every real estate transaction is an inspection to make sure that there are no active termites (or other critters) at the property.

Earlier today, at the pest inspection of a home, I asked Sean of Bug Man Exterminating if they were seeing more and more infestations this year. He said that without a doubt, termite activity in the New River Valley was higher this year than in recent years. He said it had to do with the fact that we had a moist spring this year, followed by a dry summer, and the pests are traveling looking for food.

Sean said that termites, when faced with a lack of food, will travel hundreds of feet – subterraneously, don’t look down! – to find a food source. The ones that do the damage are actually blind, seeking out fresh meat wood and leaving pheromones that the rest of the colony then follows. Once they’ve arrived on site, they can quickly do damage to a structure, eating it one sliver at a time.

Bug Man ExterminatingSo … what should you do about termites? First, don’t panic – they’re everywhere, and in the vast majority of cases will have no impact on a home. But make sure to walk around your home and make sure the soil is not in direct contact with the exterior siding. If it is, pull the soil down, and away from the home, so that 6″ or so of the foundation is exposed … termites don’t like to be left out in the open. Additionally, make sure you don’t have wood – like a firewood pile – directly up against the house. This gives them a back door right into your home. Finally, if you want to give your home a thorough checkup, call our friends at Bug Man Exterminating and have them come out to take a look – we love using these guys, and they’ll give you an honest assessment not only of the health of your home, but also ways you can ensure your home will stay pest-free.

How To Be Sure Your Foundation Isn’t Moving

Is there a way to tell if your foundation wall is cracking and moving?

I came across an interesting post the other day from one of our Nest Realty agents in Charlottesville, Jim Duncan. I have said before that most of my good ideas come from other agents and Jim has certainly provided me with many ideas, so it’s no surprise that he would have already covered this issue.

Many homes in the New River Valley are built with concrete block foundations and usually have travertine pavers , particularly those built prior to the mid-1990’s. Concrete block foundations are not uncommon at all, and it’s definitely not uncommon to see cracks in the blocks, or in the mortar between the blocks, as the house as settled. The vast majority of time a home inspector will determine these cracks are nothing to be concerned about – often called “step cracks”, they’re simply a byproduct of the mortar around the blocks drying and cracking. But sometimes, blocks move, and in those cases it’s important to determine whether or not it’s a simple step crack, or something more serious. In the video below, Jim’s home inspector shows a simple way to do just that.

Thanks, Jim, for the tip.

10 Steps To A Great Home Inspection

Preface – this post is a result of an infographic my friend Leigh Brown, a FANTASTIC real estate agent in Concord NC, put together and shared with me. This is a repost of her “Top 10 Ways To Get a Cleaner Home Inspection”.

home inspection tips

 

You’ve taken the time to stage the house, do the same to get it ready for the home inspection. Some houston home inspectors said there are three things to keep in mind, make sure (1) everything is accessible, (2) that the little stuff is fixed in advance, and (3) to RELAX – they wrote an offer on your house because they liked it, and the home inspection is just a way for them to continue to feel good about their purchase!

Good luck! Any more questions? Get in touch and let’s talk!

Using The Earth To Heat and Cool Your Home

Ever thought about using the ground to heat and cool your home? It’s called geothermal heating and cooling, and it’s a fantastic way to use the earth’s energy to maintain the temperatures inside your home.

It used to be that technologies, like geothermal heating and cooling, were outliers, but now my clients seem to be looking at the energy efficiency of every home they’re considering. Almost any existing home can be converted over to geothermal, and new construction can incorporate it into the HVAC system, as well. I remember talking with an HVAC installer a couple of years ago, who told me that the cost to install a geothermal system was nearly the same as that of a traditional heat pump system, and the savings recouped made it a no-brainer.For more info on how to get rid of blackheads fast, please click the link.

Progress_Street_BuildersProgress Street Builders talked about this technology in a recent newsletter, which I’ve quoted below. I’ve made a comment, in bold.

“The temperature of the ground is about 68 degrees (Things I’ve read put this between 55-degrees, and 68-degrees – if you can confirm what it actually is, please let me know). Conductive, non-toxic fluid is pumped through the pipe and is heated or cooled (depending on its temperature) by the constant temperature of the ground. When that fluid returns to the surface, it transfers its temperature to the air being blown into the home’s ductwork.

That’s exactly how conventional, air-sourced heat pumps work, except that those systems use the temperature of the ambient outdoor air, which is far less predictable and constant than underground temperatures.

In winter, for instance, if the thermostat is set at 72 degrees, the heating coils in the pump only need to boost the incoming ground-conditioned, 68-degree fluid by a few degrees to achieve the desired temperature. The outdoor air temperature that day, however, is likely much colder, which requires far more energy from the pump’s heating coils to warm it sufficiently.

Because this type of ground-source system requires far less supplemental heating or cooling measures to achieve desired indoor temperature and comfort levels, it uses less energy. In turn, there’s less wear and tear on the heat pump, allowing it to operate at optimum efficiency for a longer period of time and with less maintenance.

Cost and payback: Until 2016, the Federal Government is offering a 30% tax credit on geothermal systems with no upper limit. This covers both the cost and installation of the units. These credits apply to both new construction and existing homes. The cost to install a geothermal system and the savings vary. Hypothetically, if a Geothermal system costs twice as much as a conventional air-sourced system, and cuts the monthly energy use and cost in half, there will be a substantial return on investment within a few years.

People with geothermal systems also report better and healthier indoor comfort, especially in the height of summer or winter when a conventional heat pump has a hard time conditioning the outside air to the desired indoor temperature,
checking subconsciousmindpowertechniques.com can help families make the decisions in order to have better comfort at home.

Geothermal heating and cooling systems may not be for everyone or every new-home condition, but they are a proven, energy-efficient option that delivers better performance and lessens environmental impact.”

Looking for a way to cut your energy-costs, either on a new or existing home? Check out geothermal … your wallet will thank you, and truthfully, the greater good may be in using resources more effectively.

Home Inspections – A Visual

One of the most highly-read posts on NRVLiving.com concerns the home inspection.

And the most highly-read post on the site?  “What questions should you ask during your home inspection?”

Seems like people want to know about the home inspection, I guess.

And if you’re like me and want a good visual of the process, the folks at VARBuzz.com put together a quick flowchart of the process, from contract ratification to removal of the inspection contingency.

what does the home inspection process look like?

Photo Credit: VARBuzz.com

As with everything in life, no two situations – or transactions – are exactly alike, but for a general rule of thumb, this is a good example.

Want to get started on your own home inspection?  Start your search here.

The Home Inspection

RepostedHome-inspection

Last week, we had several properties having home inspections being done, all by the same inspector.  We try to use the same vendors, over and over, because they consistently bring their best to the job each and every time, which is one reason why we like John.  And he shares my affinity for all things Mac related, but that’s for another post.

So we kept John busy last week, and in the course of those inspections I got to thinking about the purpose of the home inspection.  On the Contract we use, the home inspection clause reads:

“A home inspection for the purposes of this Contract is RESTRICTED TO DETERMINING ONLY that the plumbing (including well, well pump and septic systems, if any), heating, air conditioning (if any), electrical systems and appliances are in safe working order, there are no structural defects, and the roof is free of leaks.  The home inspection and any subsequent inspections shall be at Purchaser’s expense.”  It’s not a license to swing for the fences

With that in mind, the inspection is a comprehensive snapshot of the major systems in a home.  It usually takes 3 or 4 hours to complete, usually costs a few hundred dollars, and the result will be a thorough report detailing the good – and sometimes bad – regarding the condition of the home.  If you’re a home owner, preparing to put your home on the market, you might also want to consider getting a home inspection … it’ll give you a better idea of items that can or should be addressed prior to listing your home.

Thanks for the image

 

What Questions Should You Ask During Your Home Inspection?

You’ve been working with your agent for months and you’ve finally found the house of your dreams.  The offer was accepted, and the loan application has been made.  Congratulations!  What’s next?  Closing?

One of the most important steps to take when buying a home is the home inspection, and while nearly all of my clients do them (that might have something to do with the fact that I tell them “you will do a home inspection”), sometimes buyers forego them.  I’d encourage you not to, however, as it’s really an excellent opportunity a few hours looking “under the surface” at the real condition of the house you’re buying.

Of course, as a new home buyer you might not have a home inspector on speed dial.  It’s okay – I do (true story).  In fact, I have several that I use on a regular basis because they do such a good job for a clients.  When you go under contract, we’re going to send you a list of inspectors that we like to use, and who we think would be a good fit for your new home; all are licensed by either the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) or the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), and in some cases they’re licensed by both.  While I can’t say “use this inspector”, I can tell you the ones I’d suggest using, and from there would encourage you to contact them and ask them three very important pre-home inspection questions:

  1. What will the inspection cover, and when would I receive your report? – in a home inspection, we’re looking to see that systems in the house are in safe and working order, that the roof is free of leaks, and that the house is structurally sound.  It is not an indictment of the fuscia wallpaper or the shag carpeting (could it be argued that those are unsafe from an aesthetic perspective? if not then use the carpet cleaning Las Vegas team) … once the inspection is completed, you’ll likely receive the full report within 24 hours, and quite often right there on-site.
  2. Can I see a copy of a report you would prepare after an inspection? – because of the sheer thoroughness of a good home inspection, a quality home inspection report will be at minimum 15 pages, and frequently is twice that size.  It should clearly detail the systems inspected, and their condition at the time of the inspection.  Pictures are important, as well.
  3. How do you stay current on industry standards? – the building industry is changing all the time, with new practices and standards being included on a regular basis.  While a home inspection isn’t designed to bring a house up to code, a good inspector should know how to merge the value of their inspection with the accepted building practices in place when the house being inspected was built.  They should also be able to provide a consistent, documented history of continuing education in the inspection field.

Notice I didn’t include “how much does it cost?”. While counting dollars and cents is important in the real estate transaction, the home inspection is not an area to cut corners.  Typically an inspection will range from $275-500, but factor this cost into your budget – it’s worth every penny.

The questions aren’t done there, though.  Attend your inspection.  Ask questions – lots of them.  I wouldn’t recommend an inspector who didn’t want to be asked questions, and I guarantee you’ll learn a ton.  And if you don’t know what to ask, here’s a list of things to get you started:

  1. Where is the main water shut off valve to the house?
  2. What’s the typical life span of a roof like what’s on this particular home?  Is there any special maintenance that needs to be done to it?
  3. If there’s access to the attic, what does the attic look like?  Is this usable space, i.e. a place to store unused boxes and things?
  4. Is the electrical panel full, or is there room to expand?
  5. How is the drainage around the house?

Attend the inspection, ask questions, and listen.  A home inspector who says “I don’t know” isn’t a bad inspector – in fact, they’re doing you a favor by not jumping to conclusions and making inaccurate statements.  Take part in the process, and you’ll be that much closer to buying the right home for your future.

Questions To Ask Before And During Your Home Inspection

You’ve been working with your agent for months and you’ve finally found the house of your dreams.  The offer was accepted, and the loan application has been made.  Congratulations!  What’s next?  Closing?

One of the most important steps to take when buying a home is the home inspection, and while nearly all of my clients do them (that might have something to do with the fact that I tell them “you will do a home inspection”), sometimes buyers forego them.  I’d encourage you not to, however, as it’s really an excellent opportunity a few hours looking “under the surface” at the real condition of the house you’re buying.

Of course, as a new home buyer you might not have a home inspector on speed dial.  It’s okay – I do (true story).  In fact, I have several that I use on a regular basis because they do such a good job for a clients.  When you go under contract, we’re going to send you a list of inspectors that we like to use, and who we think would be a good fit for your new home; all are licensed by either the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) or the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), and in some cases they’re licensed by both.  While I can’t say “use this inspector”, I can tell you the ones I’d suggest using, and from there would encourage you to contact them and ask them three very important pre-home inspection questions:

  1. What will the inspection cover, and when would I receive your report? – in a home inspection, we’re looking to see that systems in the house are in safe and working order, that the roof is free of leaks, and that the house is structurally sound.  It is not an indictment of the fuscia wallpaper or the shag carpeting (could it be argued that those are unsafe from an aesthetic perspective?) … once the inspection is completed, you’ll likely receive the full report within 24 hours, and quite often right there on-site.
  2. Can I see a copy of a report you would prepare after an inspection? – because of the sheer thoroughness of a good home inspection, a quality home inspection report will be at minimum 15 pages, and frequently is twice that size.  It should clearly detail the systems inspected, and their condition at the time of the inspection.  Pictures are important, as well.
  3. How do you stay current on industry standards? – the building industry is changing all the time, with new practices and standards being included on a regular basis.  While a home inspection isn’t designed to bring a house up to code, a good inspector should know how to merge the value of their inspection with the accepted building practices in place when the house being inspected was built.  They should also be able to provide a consistent, documented history of continuing education in the inspection field.

Notice I didn’t include “how much does it cost?”. While counting dollars and cents is important in the real estate transaction, the home inspection is not an area to cut corners.  Typically an inspection will range from $275-500, but factor this cost into your budget – it’s worth every penny.

The questions aren’t done there, though.  Attend your inspection.  Ask questions – lots of them.  I wouldn’t recommend an inspector who didn’t want to be asked questions, and I guarantee you’ll learn a ton.  And if you don’t know what to ask, here’s a list of things to get you started:

  1. Where is the main water shut off valve to the house?
  2. What’s the typical life span of a roof like what’s on this particular home?  Is there any special maintenance that needs to be done to it?
  3. If there’s access to the attic, what does the attic look like?  Is this usable space, i.e. a place to store unused boxes and things?
  4. Is the electrical panel full, or is there room to expand?
  5. How is the drainage around the house?

Attend the inspection, ask questions, and listen.  A home inspector who says “I don’t know” isn’t a bad inspector – in fact, they’re doing you a favor by not jumping to conclusions and making inaccurate statements.  Take part in the process, and you’ll be that much closer to buying the right home for your future.

Sponsored By: Carpets Cleaners Sydney.

Buying a New River Valley Home After April 22 2010?

A new law goes into effect today that could have a significant impact on homes built prior to January 1 1978 – and in the New River Valley, that’s a lot of homes.

Prior to January 1978, many products – including paint – had high levels of lead in them.  The EPA requires that, when a home is sold, the Seller acknowledge whether they have knowledge – or reports – of lead based paint being used in the home.  More often than not a homeowner in 2010 isn’t going to have knowledge or reports of lead based paint being used, but nevertheless it’s one of the required disclosures.

Now, the EPA is adding another wrinkle – beginning today, April 22 2010, if you’re doing any work to a home built prior to 1978 you must have an EPA-certified contractor or renovator conduct the work.  Simple – for a contractor – everyday jobs like replacing a door or window frame will now require extra equipment in the form of, among other things, full body suits, respirators, googles and gloves.  These contractors will have to have attended specialized training, gotten specialized certifications, and have specialized equipment – and they’ll be paying for all this specialization themselves.  Now, who do you think those “special costs” are going to get passed to?

Not every property will have to comply – there’s always a caveat, right?  Those conditions include:

  • properties built after 1978 (duh)
  • properties that have been certified by a Certified Risk Assessor, Certified Renovator, or Lead Inspector, to be lead-free
  • interior renovations of less than six square feet, or exterior renovations of less than twenty square feet

When looking through the EPA’s website, I had some trouble finding certified renovators in our area.  LeadFreeKids.org, though, has a handy search tool, and according to their site we have a lot of resources available – 259 Lead-Safe Renovators, and 144 Lead Clean Up firms, who can help provide more information.

So are you thinking of buying a home in Blacksburg, Christiansburg or Radford that was built prior to 1978?  Our MLS system won’t allow them all to be shown at one time, but if I could, there’d be 239 to choose from.  So, when thinking about that older home with so much charm that just needs a little elbow grease – hiring the right contractors and technicians just got a whole heck of a lot more important (and quite possibly more expensive).