Category Archives: Inspections

Why Seeing Homes in the Rain Is A Good Idea

Last Thursday it poured rain, and I was showing houses to clients most of the day.  When I say it poured, I mean cats and dogs.

In my opinion, there’s no better time to see a house than when it’s raining.  Now, I don’t mean it has to be The Flood 2 or anything, but a nice steady rain is a good time to see a house, and I said so on Twitter.  At the very next house, my rationale was explained – we walked into the basement to find standing water, a squeegee, and everything stored off the floor on portable Island Plastics shelving.

See, rain isn’t always a bad thing!  While getting in and out of cars and traipsing through a house might not be your idea of a great time, if you really want to get a close look at a house, I’ve found that seeing it when it’s raining can often be helpful.  Most of the time it’s not quite as serious as a swimming pool in the basement; sometimes it’s as simple as a window seal that’s showing condensation that might not otherwise be there during a dry time, or standing water in poor-draining sections of a backyard.

So next time you want to take a really good look at a house, let me know; I’ll bring the waders.  But so we’re clear, I also like looking at houses when it’s sunny, too.

Thanks to Roger for the picture.

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Is There Radon in Blacksburg or Christiansburg

This is completely, 100 a rip-off of a post Jim Duncan did a while ago, but I warned him I was stealing it and his is the best explanation I can find on the issue of radon.  I’ve reformatted it for Blacksburg,  Christiansburg and Radford by inserting [brackets] around my changes.


Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that may cause serious health issues, including cancer.  How you deal with it – whether you remediate it or go about your everyday activities – is up for discussion.  Thanks, Jim, for this recap.

This is what I tell my clients – a radon mitigation system accomplishes at least three things –

1) Provides peace of mind – for homeowners and buyers
2) Can be an asset when you sell your home – it’s one less potential objection from the buyers
3) It provides for a safer environment in which to live.

Radon is a colorless and odorless gas that may cause lung cancer.

Do we have it in the [Blacksburg/Christiansburg/Radford] area?

In my experience, about 50% of the houses I sell have “actionable” levels of radon – described by the EPA as being more than 4 pCi/L.

What does this mean to me as a buyer?

You may want to have the house you’re considering buying tested for radon. If the levels come back high, you may be able to negotiate with the seller to have the radon mitigated.

How much does it cost?

Painting with a broad brush – testing generally costs between [$75 and $150]. Mitigation generally costs between [$750 and $1500].

Everything I’ve been told is that the short-term test was designed specifically for the real estate transaction; long term tests are supposedly more accurate.

Often, at the time of sale, it is desirable to know a building’s potential for radon exposure, independent of how the building is currently used.  Short-term tests are typically conducted over a two or three day period.  Results of short-term tests represent the radon potential of the home, rather than actual exposure encountered under normal living conditions, unless residents keep the home’s windows and doors closed year-round.  That’s because EPA guidelines for short-term radon tests require “Closed-House Conditions,” to promote maximum radon concentration during the brief test period.

Also, if it rains while the test is in place, the results may come back high.

In most buildings 95% of the radon entering the structure comes from the rock and soil under it. The radon is pulled into the building by air pressure differentials. These differentials are created by natural and mechanical ventilation. Natural ventilation occurs because of stack effect (hot air rising in the home), wind, and temperature differences between inside and outside air. Rain and low barometric pressure can also increase radon entry. Exhaust fans in the home, as well as negative pressure relative to the outdoors caused by heating systems also increase radon entry.

Start your research at the EPA’s site.

Through The Seller’s Eyes – The Home Inspection

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Last month, I wrote "What Is A Home Inspection?"  I fully intended to write more … but I didn't.  

Then Jay Thompson in Phoenix wrote about the home inspection from the Seller's point of view.  I think he wrote it better than I could.

The seller should be looking at the inspection in much the same way as the buyer is:

"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." 6a00d8341c36d553ef01053496139a970b-800wi

In our area of Virginia, if you agree in whole or in part to the repairs requested in the home inspection Amendment, make sure there is a completely ratified (signed and initialed) Amendment.  The home inspection contingency is then removed and you can move forward with the Contract.  As a seller, you want to make sure there's a specific dollar amount specified for repairs (it varies on what that amount is, sometimes as little as $500, but the Contract should state very clearly what that amount is.  If you can't come to an agreement with the buyer regarding which repairs will be completed, then the Contract can be terminated (again, in writing), the buyer can get their earnest money back, and your house can be put back up for sale.

I can't say that we see many deals fall through over home inspections, but sometimes negotiations just don't work out as planned and the house has to go back on the market.  Remember – if one buyer didn't like that the roof was falling apart, it's probably that another buyer's not going to like that either.  If you can make some of the repairs suggested in the report prior to putting the house back up for sale, it might be a good idea.  Another even better idea might be to have the house inspected prior to listing it; then you can provide potential buyers a little more confidence that yours is one they need to seriously consider.

Thanks Jay, for the great write-up.

Bifocals and Anderson.

What Is A Home Inspection?

Home-inspectionLast 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

 

Radford Finally Gets It Right


Well, they’re on their way, at least.

At last night’s Town Council meeting, Radford got two pieces of business right … they passed – unanimously, I might add – a rezoning for Tyler Place, a five-story mixed use development with a five-story garage.  They also voted – again unanimously – to begin inspecting rental housing in two areas of the city.

Radford

Can’t We All Just Get Along

Why is unanimous important?  Because it’s nice to see a Town Council actually agree on something that’s 
good
for the citizens they serve.   Tyler Place has the opportunity to provide locals, as well as the university population, a space that’s unique to our region – let’s hope they don’t change their minds midstream like Blacksburg and end up with several lawsuits on their hands.

Belushi
Additionally, there’s a need throughout the Valley – including here in Blacksburg – for landlords to take care of the properties that they own.  This pilot program is a way for the City of Radford to monitor and enforce zoning that might have otherwise been overlooked.  There are some real dumps in the rental inventory right now … this is a good call on Council’s part. 

Dear Rental Inspector

If you wouldn’t mind, please give me fair warning before visiting the 300 block of Clement Street.  My tenants have been leaving a ton of garbage outside the door, I’d sure hate to get cited for their filth. 

Inspections Just Got A Little Tougher

Thumbsupag3Haven’t believed me when I’ve said that our real estate market has stayed consistent and steady?  All the news nationally says otherwise, but this morning in a meeting I heard it announced that a home inspector we work with on a regular basis was now asking for 8 DAYS advance notice on inspections.

8 DAYS.

I usually write 3-5 days in for home inspections to be performed.  This summer just might be a better real estate market than I’ve been suggesting.

New River Valley Home Expo

Don’t forget, the 2008 Home Expo will be held this weekend at the Christiansburg Rec Center on North Franklin Street.  Admission is $4, and will offer more than 140 booths, a silent auction and more!  I know Auz-Bloc will be there, you can meet Bill and check out this amazing product while you’re there!

Download home_expo.pdf

Here’s a video I did earlier this winter about the thermal mass of the house at 153 Gracie Lane:

Let’s Keep Home Inspections In Line, Please

It could be argued that this post is a post about agents, or a post about our clients.  It’s neither … it’s a post about expectation management, and the lack of it is driving me crazy.

Every buyer has the right to do a home inspection by a licensed home inspector.  I encourage it – it’s a great opportunity to take a closer look at the real guts of a home, the structure and it’s systems.  We have several we use on a regular basis when representing buyers, in fact, and they do a great job (shameless plug – if you’d like to have your home inspected even though it’s not recently purchased, call Pillar to Post, Inspections Inc or National Property Inspections … they’ll all do a great job).  For a few hundred dollars, you can spend a couple of hours with a nationally-certified home inspector and learn some really valuable insights into how the home is designed, what systems and features are working well and what might be potential problems if left untreated.  It’s  agreat source of information, and I recommend everyone take advantage of it.

Our Contract reads that the purpose of the home inspection is "RESTRICTED TO DETERMINING ONLY that the plumbing (including well, well pump and septic system, 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."  That’s a pretty comprehensive list at the major nuts and bolts of a house – so why am I getting these home inspection reports and Amendments from Agents and their buyers with these silly, cosmetic requests for repairs?

I bought a house once that had a rusty furnace.  The rust was literally falling into the pilot flame and burning orange – According ;to the professionals at http://www.ahheatingair.com that’s a major safety issue as it relates to the HVAC system, particularly when there was a family of six living with the potential fire hazard.  You can bet we got that fixed as a result of the home inspection!  A wet basement could be indicative of a foundation problem, and a sagging roof could be a sign of insufficient framing trusses.  Those are issues of major concern.  A white, vinyl post cap missing from the front porch railing you just walked past is not of major concern.  Neither are burned out light bulbs, a stain on the laminate countertop, missing drain stoppers or mini-blinds.   

A house can be a home, but please stop asking sellers to make their homes good as new.  If you want new construction, we work with a number of excellent builders – you’ll have to buy your own window blinds though.  Expectation Management. 

Let’s Keep Home Inspections In Line, Please

It could be argued that this post is a post about agents, or a post about our clients.  It’s neither … it’s a post about expectation management, and the lack of it is driving me crazy.

Every buyer has the right to do a home inspection by a licensed home inspector.  I encourage it – it’s a great opportunity to take a closer look at the real guts of a home, the structure and it’s systems.  We have several we use on a regular basis when representing buyers, in fact, and they do a great job (shameless plug – if you’d like to have your home inspected even though it’s not recently purchased, call Pillar to Post, Inspections Inc or National Property Inspections … they’ll all do a great job).  For a few hundred dollars, you can spend a couple of hours with a nationally-certified home inspector and learn some really valuable insights into how the home is designed, what systems and features are working well and what might be potential problems if left untreated.  It’s  agreat source of information, and I recommend everyone take advantage of it.

Our Contract reads that the purpose of the home inspection is "RESTRICTED TO DETERMINING ONLY that the plumbing (including well, well pump and septic system, 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."  That’s a pretty comprehensive list at the major nuts and bolts of a house – so why am I getting these home inspection reports and Amendments from Agents and their buyers with these silly, cosmetic requests for repairs?

I bought a house once that had a rusty furnace.  The rust was literally falling into the pilot flame and burning orange – that’s a major safety issue as it relates to the HVAC system, particularly when there was a family of six living with the potential fire hazard.  You can bet we got that fixed as a result of the home inspection!  A wet basement could be indicative of a foundation problem, and a sagging roof could be a sign of insufficient framing trusses.  Those are issues of major concern.  A white, vinyl post cap missing from the front porch railing you just walked past is not of major concern.  Neither are burned out light bulbs, a stain on the laminate countertop, missing drain stoppers or mini-blinds.   

A house can be a home, but please stop asking sellers to make their homes good as new.  If you want new construction, we work with a number of excellent builders – you’ll have to buy your own window blinds though.  Expectation Management.