17 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your House



Selling your house can be both exciting and stressful, especially if it’s your first time. Regardless of why you decided to sell your home, there are a number of pitfalls you can easily fall into, making your home selling experience less than ideal. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of the most common home selling mistakes people make so you can sell your home knowing you have your bases covered. 
Underestimating the cost of selling your house
While you should ultimately profit from the sale of your home, many home sellers forget about the costs associated with selling a house. For starters, you should expect to use five to six percent of the total sale price of your home to cover the commissions of both the seller and buyer agents. For example, if you sell your home for $300,000 you could wind up paying upwards of $18,000 in commission. 

Furthermore, this hefty cost doesn't include possible concessions homebuyers might want you to make during the negotiation phase, such as making repairs suggested by a home inspector.
Not budgeting for your move
When you consider the moving process, you have two options: hiring a moving company or borrow your buddy’s truck and doing it yourself. 

By hiring a moving company, rather than doing it yourself, you’re getting someone who will pack, move, and then unpack your belongings. This means that a full-service mover can be well worth the investment when you’re preoccupied with all of the other tasks associated with selling your home. Not to mention,when you hire movers your belongings are insured so you’re covered if anything breaks.
Selling a house you owe more on than what it’s worth
If you still have a remaining balance on your mortgage, you’ll most likely use a portion of the sale proceeds of your home to pay off the existing mortgage. Make sure you don’t owe more on your mortgage than what your house is actually worth or you won’t make enough money on the sale to pay off your mortgage. The best option is almost always to wait on selling your home so that it can build more equity. This way you can sell your home and buy a new one without having two mortgages at the same time.
Pricing your home incorrectly
If you price your home too high, your home may fall into seller’s limbo, sitting on the market for what feels like an eternity. On the other hand, if you price too low then you will likely sell your home quickly but you risk missing out on a significant amount of money. 

The first step to understanding how much your home is worth is utilizing an online calculator. Afterward, meet with your real estate agent to discuss a good pricing strategy for your home. They will look at other comparable properties in your neighborhood that sold recently as well as bring keen insights into what the housing market is currently doing. Together, you’ll determine a good starting price as well as a pricing strategy that will incentivise buyers if your house begins to sit on the market for too long.
Skipping a pre-listing home inspection
Selling a house is stressful enough, even when everything goes right. But if a homebuyer hires an inspector who catches an issue like mold, pests, or a cracked foundation, then your stress levels will multiply as you risk losing a potential sale entirely.

Given the affordability of home inspections, there’s not much reason to avoid them. Getting a pre-listing home inspection will put your mind at ease as you’ll either know that your home is in sound condition or you’ll be able to tackle problems before homebuyers have the chance to bring them up during the negotiation phase. If an issue does arise, you can either fix it or you can let buyers know and then make a concession during the negotiation phase by reducing the price of your home accordingly. 
Not refinishing hardwood floors or cleaning your carpet
If you’re reading this at home, look down. How do your floors look? Even if they don’t look terrible, there’s a pretty good chance they’re starting to show their age. Since potential buyers are going to be inspecting every aspect of your home, you should start thinking of refinishing your hardwood floors and cleaning your carpet.

The best time to have your carpet cleaned or hardwood floors refinished is right before you stage your home. Since you’ll already be moving most (or all) of your furniture to either a new home or a storage unit, this is a great time to get your floors done and make them a selling point to potential homebuyers.
Not staging your home for a quick sale
The main point of staging your home is to allow potential homebuyers the chance to picture themselves living in your space. They get to see a home with furniture and art that’s arranged in a way that highlights key features of your home, rather than an empty house that echoes every sound. Staging your home pays off too as 21 percent of agents told the National Association of Realtors that staging a home increased its’ sale price by as much as 10 percent, making it a worthwhile investment. 
Forgoing professional real estate photos
With the advent of cameras on smartphones, everyone likes to think of themselves as a photographer these days. Even though that picture you took of your dinner last week looked like it could be featured in advertisements, you’re still probably not ready to take your own real estate photos. A real estate photographer will make sure that your home looks great when you list it because not only do they have the equipment, they understand the angles that best sell a home. 

If you have a large home, a stunning view you want to show off, or a large amount of land, you may also want to consider having aerial photos taken of your home. The views that drones are able to capture are impressive and can help show off your home in a way that will make sure it stands out from other houses in your area that are on the market. Even better, drone technology makes this option more affordable than ever before, allowing you to get a lot more bang for your buck.
Trying to sell a poorly lit home
You want to show your home in the best light, so take the time to really gauge the quality of your lighting by closing your curtains/blinds and looking at each room as though you’re a potential homebuyer. Make a note of any rooms that are poorly lit or just seem dark and then call an electrician so that you can have some additional lighting installed. 

Even worse than a poorly lit room, however, is when the lights don’t work at all. Sometimes the light bulb is just burnt out, while other times the socket itself is in need of repair. Consider calling an electrician before you begin showing your home to make sure it’s shining its brightest. Potential buyers (and your bank account) will thank you for the investment.
Not making your home energy efficient
If you’d like to spend less on your utility bills, you aren’t alone. A study by the National Association of Realtors found that 33 percent of homebuyers see high-efficiency HVAC systems as an important factor when looking at a new home. If you have an older home, you should look into either retrofitting or replacing your HVAC unit altogether as your current system might be using a lot more energy than it needs to be. This will ensure that you have a system that is meeting your home’s needs, while also lowering your utility bill.

If you’re committed to energy-efficiency then there are a few extra things you can do. These options include making sure your home is properly insulated, ensuring that you don’t have any leaky air ducts, and buying a smart thermostat. Whichever route you pursue, having an energy-efficient HVAC system will make your house stand out from the competition. 
Not cleaning your house before trying to sell it
Most of us would probably be lying if we said our homes weren’t overdue for a good cleaning, so don’t forget to check this box before listing your home for sale. There’s nothing more off-putting during a home tour than realizing the house is dirty, and potential homebuyers may wonder what else you’ve been neglecting. By hiring a professional cleaning company, you’ll guarantee that not only is your home spotless but that you’re going to make a great impression on homebuyers when they tour your house. 
Not addressing the exterior of your house
Over the years, your home’s exterior has taken a beating from the elements. With everything mother nature throws at it every year, the paint on your home’s exterior and the stain on your deck have likely lost a bit of their luster. So before listing, be sure to pressure wash your house first. In addition to making sure your house looks its best in the listing photos, you will also enhance the overall curb appeal when buyers eventually show up for a tour. 

In addition to pressure washing your house and deck, you can also take the time to pressure wash your garage door, fence, patio, driveway, and any walkways you may have. 
You never got around to repainting
One of the first things a potential buyer will notice when they pull up to your home is the paint. If you want to make a good first impression, then you’ll need to ensure that your home is painted an inviting color and that the quality of your paint job is top-notch. While the job of repainting your house might take a few days, the value of painting your house before selling will be well worth the effort.  A recent study found that painting the exterior of your home has a 51 percent return on investment. 

Don’t stop with the exterior though! We’ve all seen some pretty questionable color choices on the walls of homes. If you happen to have a lime green or bright purple wall, you’ll want to repaint them to be a more buyer-friendly neutral color. Doing so will make it easier for buyers to be able to picture themselves living in your home as it makes them think of your walls as a blank canvas.
Selling a home with a yard in need of some TLC
The other way to make a great first impression is by wowing potential buyers with your yard. Start by cleaning up anything that may be cluttering your yard, porch, or pathways (things like gardening equipment or a child’s bicycle). Then you can move onto mowing the lawn, weeding your garden, and planting some new flowers. If your yard has a damaged pathway, you may also want to think about fixing or even replacing it as well. 

If these touch-ups seem like a lot to tackle while you’re trying to sell your home, don’t be afraid to hire a landscaper as the cost is well worth it. A study by Turf Magazine found that a home’s value tended to increase by as much as 10 to 12 percent after making upgrades to the landscaping.
You have mismatched appliances
Maybe your black stove died a couple of years ago and you replaced it with a brand new stainless steel one. Or maybe you swapped out that white kitchen faucet you always hated with a copper one that caught your eye. Either way, the result is mismatched appliances. While it won’t necessarily impact the overall sale price of your home, many homebuyers are going to find the mismatched color scheme off-putting, so consider making some changes before you sell. 

The best way to proceed is to decide which kitchen appliances are your favorite and base the color scheme off of them. So if that fancy new stove you bought last year is stainless steel, then make sure your other appliances are too. Luckily, many appliance manufacturers offer discounts if you purchase multiple appliances with them at once.
Lingering during a home tour
Nobody likes a lingerer, especially when they also happen to be the owner of the home you’re currently touring. If you don’t leave the home during a showing, then potential buyers feel awkward as they attempt to discuss what they like and dislike about the house. You also prevent your listing agent from being able to do their job to the best of their abilities as you’re naturally going to want to answer any questions the buyers have rather than leaving those questions to your agent. So instead of staying in your home during a showing, try taking the opportunity to go shopping, run errands, or visit some friends instead. Your agent will thank you.
Taking a Lowball Offer Personally
Regardless of your reasons for moving, the fact that you’ve probably lived in your home for years means that you have a lot of strong feelings attached to it. So when you receive a lowball offer, it’s natural to be offended. 

Instead of walking away, send them back a counteroffer that you and your real estate agent think is fair. If they really are interested, then you’ll be glad you didn’t let your emotions get the better of you.

Originally published on Redfin

Do You Need a Real Estate Agent For New Construction Homes?

As a home inspector, I see this issue all the time.  When we get a call for an inspection of a new construction home, one of the questions we ask is if the buyer has an agent.  Looking back, it seems about half of the buyers we work with do have an agent.  Our experience has always been, that when the buyer has an actively involved buyer's agent representing them, the process of buying a new construction home is much smoother.  Recently, we saw this very issue play out in an ideal situation to show the difference.  Two buyers were buying new construction homes in the same development, and working with the same builder.  The first buyer, had an agent.  The second didn't.  We did inspections on both of these homes, and found a very similar problem in both homes.  In the first one, the condensate line from the air conditioner was broken in the attic, and condensate water was leaking out into the attic and had damaged a large area of the ceiling drywall.  This water showed up great on the thermal image we took of the ceiling.
Thermal image of water leak in a new construction house
After this buyer's agent brought the issue to the builder, the damaged drywall was quickly removed, the condensate line was repaired, and everything put back together.  I don't think the closing was even delayed.  
The second buyer was a friend of the first, and she referred Veteran Home Inspections to them, and we went out to do the inspection.  Or at least we tried to.  The first time we went out, the builder had scheduled interior painting for the same time as the inspection.  Well, we can't do an inspection while the painters are there with spray paint equipment, so we had to reschedule.  Since I was there anyways, I took a quick look around, and found that the condensate line for the air conditioner wasn't even hooked up, and was just pouring water all over the upstairs bathroom, inside the cabinet, and draining into the master closet ceiling.  Here's an image of the water in the master closet.  Again, the purple shows the extent of the water intrusion.  
Thermal image of water leak in a new construction house
Unfortunately, the second buyer didn't have an agent representing him, and the builder took advantage of that.  They only cut out small holes in the ceiling to allow the drywall to "dry out" and they refused to replace the bathroom vanity that had significant water damage already showing.  They eventually forced this client to close on the house before I was able to get in to verify that everything was repaired.
Remember, these are both buyers with the same builder, in the same neighborhood.  The inspections were within a few weeks of each other, and the only difference was the agent the first buyer had.
So, if you are looking to buy a house, either new or pre-owned, make sure you have an agent working for you.  The seller (or builder) pays this cost out of their proceeds, so there really isn't much disadvantage to working with your own agent.  
I hope this little example also convinces you that even if you're buying a new construction home, you need to get it inspected by your own inspector.  Hopefully if you are in the San Antonio or Texas Hill Country area, you will call us to do your inspection, but even if you don't, make sure you call someone that is working only for you.
You can book your new construction foundation, pre-drywall, final, and 11-month warranty inspections online at www.vhillc.com, or call us 24/7 at 210-202-1974.

Galvanic Corrosion

Galvanic corrosion (also known as bimetallic corrosion or dissimilar-metal corrosion) is an electrochemical disintegration that occurs when dissimilar metals come in contact with each other while immersed in an electrolyte. Galvanic corrosion is of major concern anywhere moisture can reach metal building components. Corrosion asGalvanic Corrosion a broader category is defined as the disintegration of a material into its constituent parts, which may be caused by crevice corrosion, microbial corrosion, and high-temperature corrosion.
There are three conditions that must exist for galvanic corrosion to occur:
The Statue of Liberty is perhaps the most famous case of galvanic corrosion. Contact between the wrought-iron support and the outer copper skin amidst rainwater exposure has allowed the structure to gradually corrode. The famous icon’s builder anticipated this problem and installed asbestos cloth soaked in shellac insulation in the 1880s.  This worked for some time until it dried up and became porous, acting as a sponge that held saltwater close to the contact points between the two metals. An inspection in 1981 revealed severe galvanic corrosion of the iron supports, causing them to swell and push saddle rivets through the copper skin. This rapidly worsening situation was the main drive to restore the statue in 1986, when the iron was replaced with a variety of corrosion-resistant steel. The solution has held up, and native New Yorkers and visitors alike have been able to enjoy a landmark free from corrosion that will last long into the 21st century.   
Examples in Houses
Galvanic Corrosion Can be Prevented in the Following Ways
 
In summary, galvanic corrosion is the disintegration of metals in the presence of an electrolyte. It can occur in homes wherever dissimilar, joined metals become damp. 

To have your home inspected by a Certified Master Inspector, visit www.vhillc.com or call 210-202-1974.

What to Look for When Buying a House

Veteran Home Inspections was asked to contribute to this article on Redfin:
What to Look for When Buying a House
If you’ve ever been to an open house or toured a home then you’ve most likely marveled at different home layouts, lamented over beautifully designed kitchens or critiqued the color choice in the bathrooms. But beyond the veneer that makes a house shine to potential home buyers, have you ever wondered what could be lying below the surface?
Is the home you’re touring actually in good shape or are there hidden issues that only a trained eye can spot? Here’s your chance to learn what to look for when buying a house so you too can begin touring homes like a professional home inspector.
Inspecting the driveway
All parts of the home need to work in unison and that includes your driveway. When entering a driveway you’ll want to look at its surface conditions, levelness, and the areas around the driveway.
Walk the entire driveway, noting any deterioration, cracking, heaving or settling. Driveways are known to crack over time but the reasons behind these cracks can vary, such as:
Scot Baker
Baker Inspection Group – Modesto, CA
Inspecting the living room
When inspecting the living room, use three passes to look at everything.
On the first pass, walk the floor in a circle and look for any signs of the floor moving or shifting, water damage, or any damage to the floor itself.
During the second pass, check out the ceiling by walking around the room again. Check for water stains and any cracks that could indicate a structural problem. Also, check out any air conditioning vents to see if they are clean, as dust or other debris around these vents may signal a lack of maintenance.
On your third pass, look only at the walls, keeping an eye out for cracks or separations between the walls, the ceiling, or the fireplace that could be another indication of a structural problem. Look at the electrical outlets to make sure they are clean (not painted) and don’t show any indications of smoke or burn marks. And don’t forget to check all of the light switches and ceiling fans to make sure they work.
David Selman
Selman Home Inspections – Dallas, TX
Inspecting the fireplace
Fireplaces can be an attractive focal point in many homes. It’s a place where family and friends get together to relax and warm themselves during the cold winter months. That’s why when touring a home you’ll want to know if that fireplace with a great mantle is a winner, or if it will be in need of repair.
First, you’ll want to inspect the exterior of the chimney by looking for any structural issues around the foundation, as well as the chimney case, crown, flue and cap (if installed). Whether it’s around the foundation, firebox area, or chimney case you should make a note of any signs of cracks as these indicate some deterioration. These cracks could have occurred from normal settling of a home, movement from past earthquakes, or the deterioration could have been caused by years of moisture seeping into these cracks, resulting in more damage. Most of the time these areas can be repaired by a mason.
Inspection of the chimney crown, flue and cap usually means a trip up to the roof, which during a home tour you most likely won’t do. If you decide to make an offer on the house, your home inspector will look for any damage to these areas to make sure dangerous carbon monoxide or moisture is not reentering the home.
Inside the home, you’ll want to inspect the fireplace for signs of cracked or damaged mortar and brickwork. Your home inspector will go one step further by inspecting the fireplace throat and determine if it has a proper sized hearth and that the mantel is secured properly.
Mike Phegley
Napa Valley Home Inspections – Calistoga, CA
Inspecting fire and carbon monoxide detectors
In a newly constructed home, smoke detectors should be installed inside each bedroom and in the adjoining area outside the bedroom door (such as a hallway). Newer homes are required to have smoke detectors wired into the electrical system with battery back-ups. They should be interconnected so that activation of one alarm sets off all alarms. In older homes, at least one smoke detector is required per floor, including basements, and should be within 21 feet of each bedroom.
Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are highly recommended for homes with gas appliances such as stoves, hot water heaters, furnaces, and when the home has an attached garage. They should be installed on each floor of the home and within 15 feet of all bedrooms.
After you buy a home, it is a good idea to test the smoke and CO detectors every 2-3 months to ensure functionality. You’ll also want to replace your batteries regularly and it is recommended that you replace your devices after 10 years.
Ryan Sorensen
Sorensen Construction & Inspections – Pilot Rock, OR
Inspecting the kitchen
A good idea for prospective homeowners attending an open house or touring a home privately is to look under the kitchen sink, which can actually tell you a lot about the overall condition of a house.
If you see a well-kept cabinet under the sink, it’s usually a good reflection about the upkeep of the rest of the home. In fact, if you see water damage or possible mold under the kitchen sink, it usually means the rest of the house is in disrepair. Of course, this doesn’t always hold true but more often than not, it’s a great barometer of the house as a whole.
When touring a home like a home inspector, the kitchen is obviously a major component since they are unique in regards to the volume of items that can have issues.
During a typical inspection, home inspectors usually operate all installed appliances such as the dishwasher, range/oven, microwave, vent hood, disposal, and sink. They also note issues with the countertops, cabinets and drawers, R/O systems, compactors, and built-in refrigerators (if any).
Liz O’Neall
AZ Property Inspections – Phoenix, AZ
Inspecting bathrooms
In each bathroom, you will want to turn on all the lights and the bathroom fan. If there isn’t a fan, make sure you take note because if you end up buying the house you’ll need to open a window every time you shower. Also, you’ll want to check and make sure there is a heat/air conditioning vent.
Next, look for water stains around the toilet, the bathtub/shower, and especially under the sink. You’ll also want to make sure the toilet is secure. Start by straddling it and then using your knees see if the toilet rocks or moves.
Look at any glass within five feet of the shower or bath and make sure there is a tempered stamp etched in the corner. Do the same for the shower doors as well if they are glass. You’ll also want to check for water damage around windows of the shower enclosure. Then make sure the shower head pipes and faucets don’t wiggle.
Check for an electrical outlet within thirty inches of each sink and that they are 3-prong (grounded). One of the bathrooms should have a GFCI electrical outlet. You can easily spot it as it’s the outlet with the two buttons in the middle.
Finally, look at the ceiling, walls, and floors to make sure there isn’t any damage. If the bathrooms are on an upper level, go downstairs and look for water stains or patches on the ceiling under the bathrooms.
Michael Marlow
Veteran Home Inspections, PLLC – San Antonio, TX
Inspecting bedrooms
Houses with bedrooms that are too small, too few or on the wrong floor can make a great house dysfunctional for your needs. Luckily, when it comes to inspecting, bedrooms are easy for most homebuyers to evaluate for themselves.
You’ll want to note the number of windows each bedroom has. Something that most people do not realize is that building codes do not require a bedroom to have a closet, so make sure to see if each bedroom has one.
Bedrooms also require several important features and security measures, such as a smoke alarm, an emergency escape/rescue opening (such as a window or door), heat, and some means of light and ventilation. The condition of the bedroom will often be indicative of the overall condition of the house as damaged and scratched doors, stained walls and carpets, and dirty ductwork can indicate a poorly maintained home. Consider the heating and cooling system for each room and note any bedrooms above garages as with older houses these can be less comfortable.
Dylan Chalk
Orca Inspection Services – Bainbridge Island, WA
Inspecting the basement
The basement may not be the place you seek out first on a home tour. However, basements can offer great extra space in a home that you can potentially use as extra bedrooms, a family room or playroom, or storage area.
If the basement is unfinished and insulation is not covering the foundation walls, then you have a great opportunity to view the foundation wall for signs of structural concerns.  While minor concrete cracking is somewhat typical, larger cracks and, in particular, horizontal cracks, can be an indication of structural movement.
A white powder-like substance called efflorescence, can be an indication of poor drainage around the home and possibly a grading or gutter issue. Your nose is one of the best tools for inspecting a basement. If things smell musty or damp, this can also be an indication of moisture concerns.
Lastly, look around for signs of any unwanted insects or rodents who tend to make their way into a home through the basement. Droppings could indicate a pest concern.
George Scott
Scott Home Inspection – Denver, CO
Inspecting the garage
When entering the garage make sure all light switches work. Though you most likely won’t check electrical outlets during a home tour, your home inspector will do it for you during the home inspection and report any that are not working.
You’ll want to check the walls and ceiling to see if they are fully sheetrocked. Sheetrock provides a fire barrier to your home when properly installed.Also, make sure that the access point to the attic also has a sheetrock cover; if it’s just plywood this would be a breach in the fire barrier.
Test the garage doors and the wall mounted remote as well. Look at the condition of the springs, tracks, and rollers of the garage door. Do they appear to be in good condition? Your home inspector will go further by testing all remotes, the laser eye barrier, and reverse sensor to make sure it meets minimal resistance.
Look at the garage floor, also known as the garage slab. Slight cracks are pretty common, but you should take note if you see excessive cracks or settlement.
Clinton Betchan
Betchan Home Inspections – Guthrie, OK
Below are things you won’t typically see during a home tour. However, your home inspector will certainly look into these areas of the house during a home inspection.
Inspecting the HVAC
One of the largest systems in the home, the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems (HVAC), require periodic maintenance to ensure they run properly for years. Neglected and dirty HVAC equipment is the main reason for system failures. Though you most likely won’t inspect these systems, here’s an overview of what’s involved during an inspection:
The average gas furnace lasts 15-25 years, the heat pump about 12-20 years, and standalone AC 12-15 years. An annual inspection is a small investment to protect your HVAC system. It’s a good idea to maintain your HVAC system biannually in the spring for air-conditioning units and the fall for furnaces. To improve efficiency, use a small portable vacuum to remove any dust buildup on the system and the air-conditioning coils.
Grant Waller
PacWest Home Inspections – Beaverton, OR
Inspecting water heater
You probably won’t personally inspect the water heater during an open house, however, you can count on your home inspector to:
 Matt Fellman
Crawford Inspection Services – Portland, OR
Inspecting the home’s exterior
When approaching the home, take a look at the roof ridge to make sure it is level and not sagging. This will give you a clue that the house itself is not sinking and the walls are not spreading. It can also give you a feel for the solidity of the roof support.
Look at the grounds around the home and make sure the soil is sloped away from the home and that gutters, downspouts, and downspout extensions are present and in good shape. This is especially important if the home has a basement as it helps prevent water intrusion into the basement and to protect the integrity of the foundation.
Walk around the home observing the condition of the siding, eaves, fascia, and soffits.  Look for wood rot, termite damage, and water staining, as well as carefully examine caulking and flashings.  Look for deteriorated or missing caulk and flashings especially around windows, doors, butt joints, and siding transitions.  These simple observations can save some huge expenses down the road.
Michael Stanford
Watch Dogs Home Inspectors – Las Vegas, NV
Inspecting the Landscape Irrigation (sprinkler) System
On a home tour, take note if the property has an irrigation sprinkler system, as many homes have these types of systems to water the lawn. Though you probably won’t be able to test it, your home inspector will inspect the irrigation system controller along with each sprinkler zone.
Any broken sprinkler heads and leaks found will be noted, and the backflow valve will be visually inspected for damage.  The findings of the inspection will be included in your home inspection report along with photos of each zone during operation.
Danny Smith
Semper Fi Home Inspections – Dallas, TX
Inspecting fences
Inspecting the fence of a residence is extremely important as it provides for the safety and security of a home. During a home tour, you’ll first want to note what material the fence is made of (most commonly treated wood) and then see if there is any indication of rot, damage, and other signs of deterioration.
The home inspector will also look for those same things but then test the amount of resistance the fence can withstand and what type of code may need to be applied. Once those items have been identified, the inspector is notified about the property line to ensure they are inspecting the proper fencing for the specific property. Next, the inspector will then assess whether the standard expectations associated with the fence have been applied, including:
Only if all of these standards are identified with the fence in mind can the inspector be sure that the fence is meeting code and will provide safety and security for the homeowners.
James Beck JR
Sound View Home Inspections – Seattle, WA
Inspecting decks
Decks can be a great asset, especially during the summertime, but also they may have hidden hazards. Often times, they were added to a home by do-it-yourselfers who had good intentions but may not have used safe construction methods.
During a home tour, pay particular attention to how decks attach to the home, which is usually done with a ledger or starter board. A pro will use ½” lag bolts with washers in a staggered pattern to attach this board. They also will protect the ledger with flashing to stop water infiltration. If there is no flashing water will weaken and rot the ledger over time, possibly finding its way into the home and causing hidden pockets of rot and mold.
Railings also get extra scrutiny at inspection.  Did you know that railings need to resist 200 pounds of force at any point along their length? Always look at a deck with safety in mind. If someone stumbles at your next BBQ, the railing needs to prevent them from going over the edge.
There are many considerations when it comes to deck construction and all decks should be professionally inspected and regularly maintained.
Steve Nadeau
Metro Home Inspections – Denver, CO
Inspecting retaining walls
Retaining walls are used to hold back earth and landscaping and are typically made of poured-in-place concrete and then backfilled. You want to make sure these walls are perfectly plumb (vertical) without any leaning away from the retained earth.
This rule also applies to basement foundation walls as well. Besides the retaining wall being plumb, there should not be any significant cracks. Small fractures are typical but any differential movement on either side of the crack may be of concern.
If there is a crack, see if it is wide at the top and narrow at the bottom, which would indicate one portion of the wall is sinking in relation to the other. If one part of the wall is sticking out in relation to the other side of the crack, that is a concern as well. Sometimes these walls can be lifted back into position or pulled back towards the earth but this generally requires excavation and added structural support.
Joe Konopacki
Insight Property Services, Inc. – Naperville, Illinois
Inspecting the roof
Each type of roofing has a different life expectancy. However, the variables of installation, exposure, attic venting, and maintenance are what determine the actual life of each roof.
Roof inspection begins in the attic by checking for water staining, leaks, damaged roof members, and evaluating the available venting. Heat and moisture build up quickly in improperly vented attics and shorten the lifespan of the roof.
An accurate assessment of the roof condition can only be determined from closely examining the surface of the roofing. Inspectors will look to determine the number of roof layers, such as multiple layers of roofing hold more heat which causes more wear. Once on the roof, we evaluate the surface of the roofing, flashing, and roof transitions. We also evaluate roof penetrations (skylights, vents, chimneys) and note conditions like overhanging trees that can damage the roofing.
Chad Sulloway
PDX Inspect Inc – Portland, OR
Inspecting the foundation
The most important part of any home, foundations are primarily built with stone, brick, concrete or block. A home inspector will inspect the foundation for any damage that can affect the integrity of the house.
When inspecting the foundation the inspector looks at both the exterior and interior for cracks, deterioration, and other environmental factors. Most foundation damage is the result of water infiltration such as a missing gutter system, which can result in water entering cracks and crevices of the foundation and then, in the colder winter months, freezing, resulting in damage due to hydrostatic pressure.
Type, size, and location of cracks in the foundation are very important to note. Any cracks in the foundation should be monitored over time for movement and water penetration. Shrinkage and settlement cracks are common in most homes, as are hairline cracks in foundations. V-Shape cracks are something to be concerned about as these could be evidence of structural settlement. Depending upon the size and location, these cracks generally require further evaluation, especially those greater than 3/16 of an inch.
Thomas Herbst
Clayton Home Inspection Inc. – Boston, MA
Inspecting crawl spaces
Every part of the country has their own unwanted pests, so when inspecting the crawl space be aware that you might not be alone. As such, a strong flashlight and keen eyesight are required.
The most important system in the crawl space is the foundation. There are several types of foundations, each with their own unique components and possible problems. Regardless of which type of foundation the home has, look for loose material (stone, bricks, etc..), bulging walls, excessive settling, sagging, moisture intrusion, and how the building structure is secured.
Ventilation and moisture control are another key factor. Is a vapor barrier required in your area? Is there sufficient vent area for outside air to displace the moisture? Dryer vents should never end in the crawl space, and HVAC ducts should be supported and insulated. In colder climates, the floor should be well insulated from underneath.
Plumbing components in the crawl space should not only be inspected for leaks but also for proper supports, hangers, and insulation. Some crawl spaces have a sump pump to remove excess water and these should be inspected as well.
Electrical connections and terminations must be contained in sealed junction boxes and often, mechanical systems are found in the crawl space and require inspection.
Steven Von Ehrenkrook
White Glove Home Inspections – Peoria, AZ
Source: Redfin

Fire Separation Doors from the House to the Garage

I’d like everyone to take a minute to think about two potentially very dangerous situations.  Both of them have to do with your garage.  If your garage is attached to your house, you should have a door between them.  The door needs to be able to withstand a fire in the garage, as well as help keep deadly gasses from seeping through (like Carbon Monoxide).  Because of these threats, the door must meet some very specific requirements.  These are addressed in the International Residential Code:
“R302.5.1 Opening protection. Openings from a private garage directly into a room used for sleeping purposes shall not be permitted. Other openings between the garage and residence shall be equipped with solid wood doors not less than 1-3/8 inches (35 mm) in thickness, solid or honeycomb-core steel doors not less than 1-3/8 inches (35 mm) thick, or 20-minute fire-rated doors, equipped with a selfclosing device.”
Fire resistance:  The door must be able to withstand a fire in the garage long enough for you to get out of the house.  Preferably long enough for the fire department to get there and extinguish the fire.  One of the most common defects I find in my area is that the door isn’t thick enough.  The common practice here is to use a solid wood door, which would normally be fine.  However, a flat panel door doesn’t seem to fit in the decor of all the houses here, so most often I see 6-panel doors.  These doors are about 1-5/8″ – 1-3/4″ thick, but if you measure the thickness at the recesses in the door, it’s less than 1-3/8″.  These doors do not meet the stated requirement, and should be replaced with a door that does.
Self-Closing:  This requirement is there for one purpose, to make sure the door is fully closed so that it can do its job.  It can’t keep fire and carbon monoxide out of the house if it’s open.  The way the requirement is written, a lot of people read it that a self-closing device is only required on 20-minute fire-rated doors.  The confusion comes about because of the oxford comma before the last requirement.  I reached out to the International Code Council (the group that writes the International Residential Code) for clarification, and they replied: “The self-closing device is a requirement for all the types of doors mentioned in Section R302.5.1”
So, please take a minute and go check the door to your garage.  If it looks like the door in this picture, you probably have an improper door.  Also make sure that the self-closing devices reliably close the door to the point the latch catches.  If not, have them adjusted.  Your safety could depend on it.
Improper Fire Door
Improper Fire Door
Of course this is just one of the many things we inspect during our comprehensive home inspection.  To book your inspection, call 210-202-1974, or click here to book online.

Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI)

We frequently get asked what the difference is between AFCI and GFCI protection is.  Here is a short post about AFCIs, describing their function, as well as their importance.

Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are special types of electrical receptacles or outlets and circuit breakers designed to detect and respond to potentially dangerous electrical arcs in home branch wiring.

How do they work?
AFCIs function by monitoring the electrical waveform and promptly opening (interrupting) the circuit they serve if they detect changes in the wave pattern that are characteristic of a dangerous arc. They also must be capable of distinguishing safe, normal arcs, such as those created when a switch is turned on or a plug is pulled from a receptacle, from arcs that can cause fires. An AFCI can detect, recognize, and respond to very small changes in wave pattern.

What is an arc?
When an electric current crosses an air gap from an energized component to a grounded component, it produces a glowing plasma discharge known as an arc. For example, a bolt of lightening is a very large, powerful arc that crosses an atmospheric gap from an electrically charged cloud to the ground or another cloud. Just as lightning can cause fires, arcs produced by domestic wiring are capable of producing high levels of heat that can ignite their surroundings and lead to structure fires.

According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Agency for the year 2005, electrical fires damaged approximately 20,900 homes, killed 500 people, and cost $862 million in property damage. Although short-circuits and overloads account for many of these fires, arcs are responsible for the majority and are undetectable by traditional (non-AFCI) circuit breakers.

Where are arcs likely to form?
Arcs can form where wires are improperly installed or when insulation becomes damaged. In older homes, wire insulation tends to crystallize as it ages, becoming brittle and prone to cracking and chipping. Damaged insulation exposes the current-carrying wire to its surroundings, increasing the chances that an arc may occur.

Situations in which arcs may be created:

Where are AFCIs required?
Locations in which AFCIs are required depend on the building codes adopted by their jurisdiction.

The 2006 International Residential Code (IRC) requires that AFCIs be installed within bedrooms in the following manner:
E3802.12 Arc-Fault Protection of Bedroom Outlets. All branch circuits that supply120-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-amp outlets installed in bedrooms shall be protected by a combination-type or branch/feeder-type arc-fault circuit interrupter installed to provide protection of the entire branch circuit.
Exception: The location of the arc-fault circuit interrupter shall be permitted to be at other than the origination of the branch circuit, provided that:
  1. The arc-fault circuit interrupter is installed within 6 feet of the branch circuit overcurrent device as measured along the branch circuit conductors, and
  2. The circuit conductors between the branch circuit overcurrent device and the arc-fault circuit interrupter are installed in a metal raceway or a cable with metallic sheath.
The National Electrical Code (NEC) offers the following guidelines concerning AFCI placement within bedrooms:
Dwelling Units. All 120-volt, single phase, 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits supplying outlets installed in dwelling unit in family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, sun rooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms or areas shall be protected by a listed arc-fault circuit interrupter, combination-type installed to provide protection of the branch circuit.
What types of AFCIs are available?
AFCIs are available as circuit breakers for installation in the electrical distribution panel, as well as replacement receptacles to add protection on household circuits.. 
Nuisance Tripping
An AFCI might activate in situations that are not dangerous and create needless power shortages. This can be particularly annoying when an AFCI stalls power to a freezer or refrigerator, allowing its contents to spoil. There are a few procedures an electrical contractor can perform in order to reduce potential “nuisance tripping," such as:
Arc Faults vs. Ground Faults
It is important to distinguish AFCI devices from Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) devices. GFCIs detect ground faults, which occur when current leaks from a hot (ungrounded) conductor to a grounded object as a result of a short-circuit. This situation can be hazardous when a person unintentionally becomes the current’s path to the ground. GFCIs function by constantly monitoring the current flow between hot and neutral (grounding) conductors, and activate when they sense a difference of 5 milliamps or more. Thus, GFCIs are intended to prevent personal injury due to electric shock, while AFCIs prevent personal injury and property damage due to structure fires.
 
In summary, AFCIs are designed to detect small arcs of electricity before they have a chance to lead to a structure fire. 


Now, before you go further, go to your electric panel, and make sure you have AFCI breakers.  Push the test button on each one, and make sure it trips and you can reset it.  If it doesn't trip, or you can't reset it, call an electrician to have it replaced.  Make sure you test these breakers monthly.

To schedule your comprehensive home inspection (which of course includes an electrical inspection) either on a new home, or a home you already own, call 210-202-1974 or click here.

by Nick Gromicko, Mike Marlow and Kenton Shepard

Garage Doors

Garage doors are large, spring-supported doors. Garage door openers control the opening and closing of garage doors, either through a wall-mounted switch or a radio transmitter. Due to the strain that garage door components and openers regularly endure, they may become defective over time and need to be fixed or replaced. Defective components may create safety hazards as well as functional deficiencies to the garage door assembly.
 
The following facts demonstrate the dangers posed by garage doors:
Home owners should not attempt to fix any garage door defects they may encounter. They should have the door examined and repaired by a trained garage door technician. The following components should be present and devoid of defects:
 
  1. colored red;
  2. easily distinguishable from rest of the garage opener system; and
  3. no more than 6 feet above the standing surface.
  1. fatigue;
  2. cracking and dents. Aluminum doors are especially vulnerable to denting; and
  3. separation of materials.
  1. a spring warning label, attached to the spring assembly;
  2. a general warning label, attached to the back of the door panel;
  3. a warning label attached to the wall in the vicinity of the wall control button, and;
  4. a tension warning label, attached to garage door’s bottom bracket.
Note:  Do not operate the door until you have inspected the track mounts and bracing. Doors have been known to fall on people and cars when they were operated with tracks that were not securely attached and supported.
In addition, the button must:
  1.    be mounted in clear view of the garage door; and
  2.    be mounted away from moving parts.
Important note:  You should always make sure to disable the manual lock on the garage door before activating the switch.
Methods for testing the automatic reverse system:
  1. This safety feature can be tested by grasping the base of the garage door as it closes and applying upward resistance. Use caution while performing this test because you may accidentally damage its components if the door does not reverse course.
  2. Some sources recommend placing a 2x4 piece of wood on the ground beneath the door, although there have been instances where this testing method has damaged the door or door opener components.
 
Safety Advice for Home Owners:
In summary, garage doors and their openers can be hazardous if certain components are missing or defective. Inspectors should understand these dangers and be prepared to offer useful safety tips to their clients.
Inspecting the garage door and installed openers is just one of the many things we inspect during a Veteran Home Inspection.  To schedule your inspection, call 210-202-1974 or book online at www.vhillc.com.

Dryer Vent Safety

One of the most common issues we note during home inspections is with dryer ducts.  For what appears to be a simple system, there are some very important intricacies that have to be followed to make sure they are safe.
Clothes dryers evaporate the water from wet clothing by blowing hot air past them while they tumble inside a spinning drum. Heat is provided by an electrical heating element or gas burner. Some heavy garment loads can contain more than a gallon of water which, during the drying process, will become airborne water vapor and leave the dryer and home through an exhaust duct (more commonly known as a dryer vent).
A vent that exhausts moist air to the home's exterior has a number of requirements:
  1. It should be connected. The connection is usually behind the dryer but may be beneath it. Look carefully to make sure it’s actually connected.
  2. It should not be restricted. Dryer vents are often made from flexible plastic or metal duct, which may be easily kinked or crushed where they exit the dryer and enter the wall or floor. This is often a problem since dryers tend to be tucked away into small areas with little room to work. Vent elbows are available which is designed to turn 90° in a limited space without restricting the flow of exhaust air. Restrictions should be noted in the inspector's report. Airflow restrictions are a potential fire hazard.
  3. One of the reasons that restrictions are a potential fire hazard is that, along with water vapor evaporated out of wet clothes, the exhaust stream carries lint – highly flammable particles of clothing made of cotton and polyester. Lint can accumulate in an exhaust duct, reducing the dryer’s ability to expel heated water vapor, which then accumulates as heat energy within the machine. As the dryer overheats, mechanical failures can trigger sparks, which can cause lint trapped in the dryer vent to burst into flames. This condition can cause the whole house to burst into flames. Fires generally originate within the dryer but spread by escaping through the ventilation duct, incinerating trapped lint, and following its path into the building wall.
InterNACHI believes that house fires caused by dryers are far more common than are generally believed, a fact that can be appreciated upon reviewing statistics from the National Fire Protection Agency. Fires caused by dryers in 2005 were responsible for approximately 13,775 house fires, 418 injuries, 15 deaths, and $196 million in property damage. Most of these incidents occur in residences and are the result of improper lint cleanup and maintenance. Fortunately, these fires are very easy to prevent.
The recommendations outlined below reflect International Residential Code (IRC) SECTION M1502 CLOTHES DRYER EXHAUST guidelines:
M1502.5 Duct construction.
Exhaust ducts shall be constructed of minimum 0.016-inch-thick (0.4 mm) rigid metal ducts, having smooth interior surfaces, with joints running in the direction of air flow. Exhaust ducts shall not be connected with sheet-metal screws or fastening means which extend into the duct.
This means that the flexible, ribbed vents used in the past should no longer be used. They should be noted as a potential fire hazard if observed during an inspection.
M1502.6 Duct length.
The maximum length of a clothes dryer exhaust duct shall not exceed 25 feet (7,620 mm) from the dryer location to the wall or roof termination. The maximum length of the duct shall be reduced 2.5 feet (762 mm) for each 45-degree (0.8 rad) bend, and 5 feet (1,524 mm) for each 90-degree (1.6 rad) bend. The maximum length of the exhaust duct does not include the transition duct.
This means that vents should also be as straight as possible and cannot be longer than 25 feet. Any 90-degree turns in the vent reduce this 25-foot number by 5 feet, since these turns restrict airflow.
A couple of exceptions exist:
  1. The IRC will defer to the manufacturer’s instruction, so if the manufacturer’s recommendation permits a longer exhaust vent, that’s acceptable. An inspector probably won’t have the manufacturer’s recommendations, and even if they do, confirming compliance with them exceeds the scope of a General Home Inspection.
  2. The IRC will allow large radius bends to be installed to reduce restrictions at turns, but confirming compliance requires performing engineering calculation in accordance with the ASHRAE Fundamentals Handbook, which definitely lies beyond the scope of a General Home Inspection.
M1502.2 Duct termination.
Exhaust ducts shall terminate on the outside of the building or shall be in accordance with the dryer manufacturer’s installation instructions. Exhaust ducts shall terminate not less than 3 feet (914 mm) in any direction from openings into buildings. Exhaust duct terminations shall be equipped with a backdraft damper. Screens shall not be installed at the duct termination.
We see many dryer vents terminate in crawlspaces or attics where they deposit moisture, which can encourage the growth of mold, wood decay, or other material problems. Sometimes they will terminate just beneath attic ventilators. This is a defective installation. They must terminate at the exterior and away from a door or window. Also, screens may be present at the duct termination and can accumulate lint and will be noted as improper.
M1502.3 Duct size.
The diameter of the exhaust duct shall be as required by the clothes dryer’s listing and the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
Look for the exhaust duct size on the data plate.
M1502.4 Transition ducts.
Transition ducts shall not be concealed within construction. Flexible transition ducts used to connect the dryer to the exhaust duct system shall be limited to single lengths not to exceed 8 feet (2438 mm), and shall be listed and labeled in accordance with UL 2158A.
Required support for lengthy ducts is covered by the following section:
M1502.4.2 Duct installation.Exhaust ducts shall be supported at intervals not to exceed 12 feet (3,658 mm) and shall be secured in place. The insert end of the duct shall extend into the adjoining duct or fitting in the direction of airflow. Exhaust duct joints shall be sealed in accordance with Section M1601.4.1 and shall be mechanically fastened. Ducts shall not be joined with screws or similar fasteners that protrude more than 1/8-inch (3.2 mm) into the inside of the duct.
In general, we may not know specific manufacturer’s recommendations or local applicable codes and will not be able to confirm the dryer vent's compliance to them, but will be able to point out issues that may need to be corrected.

To schedule your home inspection, visit www.vhillc.com or call 210-202-1974
by Nick Gromicko, Mike Marlow, and Kenton Shepard

Home Repair Rip-offs

by Nick Gromicko and Mike Marlow
 Here in Texas, every time we get a hail storm through the area, the shady contractors show up offering to replace your roof.  Additionally, contractors don’t have to be licensed except in the larger cities, so anyone can call themselves a contractor.  It’s truly buyer beware around here, so read on to learn more about some of the schemes that are pulled.
Homeowners have more to worry about than being ripped off by shady contractors in this lagging economy, but such a climate brings desperation — and with it, sadly, fraud. Of course, the majority of tradesmen are generally honest professionals, but there is a large number of unscrupulous contractors who will fix items that don’t need fixing, or grossly overcharge you for services or parts. Worse, there are plenty of con artists posing as tradesmen who will simply take your money and run. Inspectors are often the first ones to uncover such fraud, so they too need to be familiar with its common forms in order to best serve their clients.Yes, this fortress was made by thousands of termites, but it is not evidence that any of them have entered your house.
Some common home repair scams include:
Homeowners should heed the following advice whenever they hire a contractor:
In summary, homeowners and inspectors alike should be wise to the plethora of ways that home repair contractors, or those posing as such, rip off their clients.  Don’t be afraid to call Veteran Home Inspections at 210-202-1974 to have us inspect your home for needed repairs, or to check up on your contractor’s work.  We do not work on houses we inspect, so we are completely impartial.  You can also check us out online at www.vhillc.com

Foreclosure Home Inspections - Trust Your Gut

So, you want to buy a house cheap, and you look to the foreclosure market. Considering the over-abundance of these properties and just how little many of them are going for, it’s tempting to jump on the bandwagon and buy up. And it may pay off as a long-term investment.  But, like any other major purchase, you should know as much as you can about a property before you buy it, which is why home inspections, performed by certified InterNACHI inspectors, are necessary.
 
Unfortunately, many real estate agents, who don’t like bargaining with banks, are advising clients that home inspections are of no value as a bargaining tool, since banks don’t negotiate on “as is” properties. As an added disincentive, banks selling properties “as is” have no legal responsibility for any lurking defects. While the agent's advice to forgo an inspection as a means to negotiate on the price may be logical, it is startlingly counter-intuitive, and possibly even negligent. Would you buy a car without knowing whether it has a transmission?  The same premise holds true for a house, regardless of whether you intend to live in it, or fix it and flip it. The Realtor may be trying to salvage a deal that could possibly be scrapped if an inspector uncovers damage that the bank is unwilling to pay for, and you, as the buyer, have to realize that the agent's advice is not in your best interest. In this case, they’re putting you at risk in order to ensure they get their commission.
 
Any Realtor advising against an inspection on a foreclosure (or neglecting to recommend that one be performed) is ignoring the likelihood that, long before the previous owners stopped making mortgage payments, they deferred required maintenance tasks. Moisture intrusion leading to leaks and mold are just a few of the major problems commonly found by inspectors in foreclosed properties.  Tales abound of bizarre discoveries in abandoned properties, from wild boars to colossal bees nests. Former owners may loot their own properties, taking with them anything they can pry up or unscrew, and leave behind trash and junk that you have to pay for to have removed.
 
There are also stories of foreclosed properties that have been intentionally vandalized by their former owners in acts of retaliation against their banks. In one infamous case in early 2010, an Ohioan bulldozed his $250,000 home after the IRS placed liens on his carpet store, and then threatened to take his house. The damage done by the owner was apparent, but there are probably less extreme situations where the damage isn’t as obvious, making a home inspection of utmost priority.
 
You should always get a home inspection before buying a property, especially when you’re buying a bank-owned foreclosure.  In such cases, it may be impossible to find out how well the home was cared for, or whether major damage was done right before the past owners left the property. Ask the bank how much time you have after your initial offer to have an inspection performed, and schedule one immediately. If it goes well, you’ll enter into the deal with peace of mind and a better idea of what repairs you’ll have to deal with. That alone is worth the price of an inspection. If the inspection reveals a costly disaster, you can back out of the deal and save tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To schedule your home inspection, call 210-202-1974, or visit www.vhillc.com/request-inspection to schedule online.

by Nick Gromicko, Mike Marlow, and Kate Tarasenko

What Every Home Inspector Wished Their Home Buyers Knew

We were recently asked to contribute to an article about what we wished our clients knew about the home inspection process.  Here is the final article: http://bit.ly/2oRYkv0 and there is some great information from some very experienced home inspectors.

Modular vs. Manufactured Homes

While the terms “modular home” and “manufactured home” refer to two very different things, they are sometimes used interchangeably. Perhaps some of this confusion stems from the fact that modular homes are, in fact, manufactured (“manufactured” might be an unfortunate label.) Also, traditional “site-built” homes are not necessarily better than modular homes, despite the stigma associated with their assembly-line origin. There have been cases where Realtors and builders of manufactured homes have misrepresented manufactured homes as modular homes, and buyers were not informed enough to know the difference. Everyone (especially inspectors, who make their living examining residences) should understand the distinguishing features of these two types of houses.

Modular Homes
 
Modular homes are residences constructed entirely in factories and transported to their sites on flatbed trucks. They are built under controlled conditions, and must meet strict quality-control requirements before they are delivered. They arrive as block segments and are neatly assembled, using cranes, into homes that are almost indistinguishable from comparable ones built on-site. Wind and rain do not cause construction delays or warp building materials. In addition, modular homes:
Proponents of modular homes claim that their indoor, environmentally controlled construction affords them greater strength and resilience than homes built on-site. They also tend to be constructed using more precise building techniques and with more building material than comparable site-built residences. One reason for this is that they must be able to withstand the stress of highway transport. A study by FEMA found that modular homes withstood the wind and water from Hurricane Andrew better than most other homes in the area. They take less time to construct than site-built homes, are more energy-efficient, and generally cost less.

Manufactured Homes
 
The term “manufactured home” is the most recent label for what were once called “mobile homes” or “trailers.” They are relatively inexpensive, small, and are held to less stringent standards than modular and site-built homes. Their obvious advantages are their mobility and affordability, factors that allow buyers to make home purchases without a serious monetary or geographical commitment. They are available in three sizes that escalate as follows: “single-wide,” “double-wide” and “triple-wide.” In addition, manufactured homes:
Despite their manufacturing process, modular homes are essentially the same as homes that are built on-site. They are treated the same under the law, and their basic structural features are almost indistinguishable from site-built homes, once assembled. Manufactured homes are relatively small, inexpensive, mobile residences that require a smaller commitment than is required by modular and site-built homes. It is important to understand the differences between these home types in order to reduce the influence of stigmas, misrepresentation and ignorance.
 
Many lenders will also ask for a foundation certification from an engineer to certify that the foundation is proper.  Through our partnership with an engineering firm, we can handle this requirement at the same time as the home inspection.
 
To have your modular or manufactured home inspected, call Veteran Home Inspections at 210-202-1974 or visit www.vhillc.com to book online.

Indoor Air Quality is a Rising Concern for Home Buyers

The spring and summer months are the busiest time of year for the real estate market. Whether you are building your dream home or purchasing an older home that has been listed on the market, indoor air quality should be a major priority during your search. Learn about how you can make sure your future home’s air is safe and healthy by addressing these concerns BEFORE you buy.
Indoor air concerns when building new construction:
Opting to build a new home will provide you with the greatest opportunity to ensure your indoor air quality is healthy. During the past decade, home builders have documented a sharp increase in the number of buyers looking for eco-friendly building materials. From cabinets to flooring, buyers want to purchase materials that are sustainable for the environment and free of dangerous chemicals such as formaldehyde.
Builders that are able to address a buyer’s health concerns about toxic building materials and indoor air quality have a higher perceived home value and positive brand impact when compared to other builders. Buyers are willing to spend more money in order to select from eco-friendly building materials that are not only better for the environment but that are also better for your family.
Indoor air concerns when buying an existing home:
It will require more diligence on your part when you are buying an existing home and want to ensure you and your family will be breathing clean, healthy air. A home inspection by the highly trained professionals at Veteran Home Inspections can alert you to the presence of organic threats such as mold but you will need to go the extra mile in making sure the home does not contain dangerously high amounts of other chemical toxins.
The recent media coverage concerning high formaldehyde levels found in laminate flooring purchased through Lumber Liquidators has increased consumer awareness in regards to the number of household items and building materials that contain toxic levels of chemicals. As more consumers become aware of the chemical hazards found in flooring, common furniture and cabinet adhesives, particleboard furniture, and dozens of other building materials, consumer demand for safer building materials is on the increase.
The only way you can be certain the air you and your family are breathing is healthy is by performing an IAQ Home Survey test to alert you to the presence of indoor air pollutants. This test will provide you with an extensive and accurate assessment of a home’s air before you move in.
Veteran Home Inspections can provide you with high quality air testing for Volatile Organic Compounds, Formaldehyde, and even Tobacco Smoke Compounds.  Call 210-202-1974 today to schedule your IAQ Home Survey.  You can also schedule online at www.vhillc.com

Do I need an inspection for new construction homes?

In short, YES!
With the amount of new construction going on in this area, an inspection on new construction is critical.  First and foremost, outside of the major cities, there isn’t any code enforcement.  In other words, the city or county doesn’t inspect the builders work.  Some builders will hire their own inspectors to check up on their work, but this is really not sufficient.  I have seen these inspectors on site, and to be honest, I was not impressed.  They work for the builder, and therefore, are beholden to them.  Some have even outright lied and tried to tell buyers that the city inspected it, when they are outside city limits.
Most new construction contracts allow for 2-3 inspections throughout the building process.  The most common are pre-drywall and pre-closing (or final) inspection.  Some will also allow for slab inspections.  Make sure you get an inspector in at every opportunity, as we always find issues.  If you are presented with a contract that limits inspections to less than these, don’t sign it.  Also, beware of clauses that may restrict the inspector.  One large builder recently tried to prevent inspectors from things like inspecting the roof, opening the electric panel, and running appliances.  I think they were publicly shamed into changing their stance on that though (but if you get something like this, let me know).  Also, make sure you can pick your inspector.  Some will try to steer you to the blind inspector that never finds anything major.  We’ve had a couple builders try to blacklist us because we found too much, but thankfully (for our customers) they didn’t succeed.
So, what do we find on new construction?  Just over the last few months we’ve found issues with just about every major component.  Missing rebar in the foundation, damaged and improperly installed roofs, framing deficiencies, improper gas lines, electrical issues galore, heat registers that weren’t hooked up, plumbing leaks too numerous to count, missing insulation, and dangerous decks.
Another inspection that people are starting to get more frequently, is the 11-month warranty inspection.  Almost every new home comes with a 1-year warranty.  Make sure you get an inspection at the 11 month mark, so that we can not only find hidden issues that may have popped up, but we can also document that they were there before the warranty expired.
We know that you are spending a lot of money for your new home, and an inspection is just one more expense.  I can honestly say though, that we have never found less in needed repairs than our fee.  We do offer discounted packages for more than one inspection on a new construction house.
To schedule your new construction home inspection, call 210-202-1974 or visit www.vhillc.com to schedule online.

Septic Systems

Septic systems treat and disperse relatively small volumes of wastewater from individual and small numbers of homes and commercial buildings. Septic system regulation is usually a state and local responsibility. The EPA provides information to homeowners and assistance to state and local governments to improve the management of septic systems to prevent failures that could harm human health and water quality. 
 
Information for Homeowners
If your septic tank failed, or you know someone whose did, you are not alone. As a homeowner, you are responsible for maintaining your septic system. Proper septic system maintenance will help keep your system from failing and will help maintain your investment in your home. Failing septic systems can contaminate the ground water that you and your neighbors drink and can pollute nearby rivers, lakes and coastal waters.
 Ten simple steps you can take to keep your septic system working properly:
  1. Locate your septic tank and drainfield. Keep a drawing of these locations in your records.
  2. Have your septic system inspected at least every three years. Hire an inspector (like Veteran Home Inspections) trained in septic inspections.
  3. Pump your septic tank as needed (generally, every three to five years).
  4. Don’t dispose of household hazardous waste in sinks or toilets.
  5. Keep other household items, such as dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, and cat litter out of your system.
  6. Use water efficiently.
  7. Plant only grass over and near your septic system. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs might clog and damage the system. Also, do not apply manure or fertilizers over the drainfield.
  8. Keep vehicles and livestock off your septic system. The weight can damage the pipes and tank, and your system may not drain properly under compacted soil.
  9. Keep gutters and basement sump pumps from draining into or near your septic system.
  10. Check with your local health department before using additives. Commercial septic tank additives do not eliminate the need for periodic pumping and can be harmful to your system.
How does it work? 
A typical septic system has four main components: a pipe from the home, a septic tank, a  drainfield, and the soil. Microbes in the soil digest and remove most contaminants from wastewater before it eventually reaches groundwater. The septic tank is a buried, watertight container typically made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. It holds the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle out (forming sludge), and oil and grease to float to the surface (as scum). It also allows partial decomposition of the solid materials. Compartments and a T-shaped outlet in the septic tank prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into the drainfield area. Screens are also recommended to keep solids from entering the drainfield. The wastewater exits the septic tank and is discharged into the drainfield for further treatment by the soil. Micro-organisms in the soil provide final treatment by removing harmful bacteria, viruses and nutrients.

Your septic system is your responsibility!

Did you know that, as a homeowner, you’re responsible for maintaining your septic system? Did you know that maintaining your septic system protects your investment in your home? Did you know that you should periodically inspect your system and pump out your septic tank? If properly designed, constructed and maintained, your septic system can provide long-term, effective treatment of household wastewater. If your septic system isn’t maintained, you might need to replace it, costing you thousands of dollars. A malfunctioning system can contaminate groundwater that might be a source of drinking water. And if you sell your home, your septic system must be in good working order.
Pump frequently…
You should have your septic system inspected at least every three years by a professional, and have your tank pumped as necessary (generally every three to five years).
Use water efficiently…
Average indoor water use in the typical single-family home is almost 70 gallons per person per day. Dripping faucets can waste about 2,000 gallons of water each year. Leaky toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons each day. The more water a household conserves, the less water enters the septic system.
Flush responsibly… 
Dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, paper towels, and other kitchen and bathroom waste can clog and potentially damage septic system components. Flushing household chemicals, gasoline, oil, pesticides, anti-freeze and paint can stress or destroy the biological treatment taking place in the system, as well as contaminate surface waters and groundwater.
 
How do I maintain my septic system?
Why should I maintain my septic system?
 
A key reason to maintain your septic system is to save money! Failing septic systems are expensive to repair or replace, and poor maintenance is often the culprit. Having your septic system inspected (at least every three years) is a bargain when you consider the cost of replacing the entire system. Your system will need pumping every three to five years, depending on how many people live in the house and the size of the system. An unusable septic system or one in disrepair will lower your property’s value and could pose a legal liability. Other good reasons for safe treatment of sewage include preventing the spread of infection and disease, and protecting water resources. Typical pollutants in household wastewater are nitrogen, phosphorus, and disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Nitrogen and phosphorus are aquatic plant nutrients that can cause unsightly algae blooms. Excessive nitrate-nitrogen in drinking water can cause pregnancy complications, as well as methemoglobinemia (also known as “blue baby syndrome”) in infancy. Pathogens can cause communicable diseases through direct or indirect body contact, or ingestion of contaminated water or shellfish. If a septic system is working properly, it will effectively remove most of these pollutants.
Veteran Home Inspections will be adding septic inspections to our available services in March 2018.  In the interim, we can also coordinate a septic inspection for you.  To schedule, call 210-202-1974 or visit www.vhillc.com to schedule online.

FAQs about Home Inspection

What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is a visual examination of the home’s major structure, systems and components that are visible and safely accessible.  The inspector should substantially adhere to a standards of practice that outlines what should be covered during a general home inspection, as well as what is excluded. Some inspectors may strictly follow the standards of practice, while others, like Veteran Home Inspections, may exceed the standards and inspect other items, or perform a more detailed inspection. Whatever the inspector includes in his or her inspection should be discussed prior to the inspection – this is known as the scope of work. The inspector should be able to provide you with a copy or online link to the standards of practice they follow.  The inspector should provide you with a written report, which may include photos and/or recommendations, of his or her findings of the inspection.  Read InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice to find out what is typically included and excluded in a home inspection.  For Texas Specific Standards of Practice, click here.

Why should I get a home inspection?
Buying a home is typically the biggest investment you will ever make, so it’s important to get a home inspection because the inspector should be able to discover and document defects that may or may not be obvious to you as a prospective buyer.  Such defects can range from simple replacements or repairs, to severe damage or safety and health concerns. Additionally, most mortgage companies require a home inspection on a property before approving the home loan. Read InterNACHI’s Top 10 Reasons to Get a Home Inspection.

Where can I find a home inspector in my area?
There are several ways to find a home inspector. You may be able to find one online or in local ads. You may also find inspectors’ brochures by visiting a real estate office. There is no single method that is superior when it comes to finding an inspector who’s right for your inspection needs.  If you are in the greater San Antonio, TX and Hill Country area, click here to schedule your home inspection, or call 210-202-1974.
If you are outside of our service area, here are some online resources for finding a home inspector near you:
How can I be sure that a home inspector is qualified?
It is important to choose a home inspector who is qualified and holds a license or certification in the field. Many jurisdictions do not regulate home inspections, meaning that anyone could call themselves a home inspector. However, just because someone performs home inspections doesn’t mean that they’re actually qualified to do so. If you are buying or selling a home in an unregulated jurisdiction, make sure to look for a home inspector with the proper certifications. If you are located in a state or province that does require licensing of home inspectors, you should hire only a licensed professional.  Texas does license Home Inspectors.
Contact your state by phone or online to find out whether they license home inspectors, and what qualifications they’re required to have.  License numbers in licensing states may vary in appearance, but you should be able to independently verify it. If your state doesn’t require licensing, find out what qualifications and certifications your home inspector has. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors – InterNACHI® – is the largest and most trusted home inspector association in the world.  Its members undergo rigorous training to become Certified Professional Inspectors (CPIs)®.  They also follow a Standards of Practice and adhere to a Code of Ethics.  Also, the Master Inspector Certification Board grants qualified inspectors the title of Certified Master Inspector® (CMI®), which is the highest professional designation in the inspection industry.  Find out if your inspector is licensed and/or a CPI or CMI® before you hire him or her. This will ensure that you are hiring only an individual who has received the best training to become a home inspector. Veteran Home Inspections is led by a Certified Master Inspector.
How much does a home inspection cost?
There is no set cost for a home inspection. The cost will vary based on the inspector, the local market, the geographic region, the scope of the inspection to be performed, and more. Before the inspection, you should find out what will be included in the inspection and what won’t, and these details should also be outlined in the inspection agreement that you will need to sign prior to the inspection.

How long does a home inspection take?
Depending on the home’s age, size, and location, as well as the home inspector’s own work protocols and ethic, your home inspection may take up to three hours. Adding square footage, outbuildings, and/or ancillary services (such as mold or lead paint testing) will increase that time. It may be necessary for your inspector to bring in a helper for a very large property. If your general home inspection takes significantly less than two to three hours, it may indicate that the inspector was not thorough enough.

At what point in the real estate transaction should I schedule a home inspection?
A home inspection is usually scheduled after an offer has been made and accepted, but before the closing date. That way, the inspector can rule out any major defects that could be dangerous or costly. In rare cases—due to timing or contractual issues—the inspection can be scheduled after the closing date. If this is the case, the home buyer should schedule the inspection for the earliest possible date after closing.

Should I be present for the inspection?
You should attend the inspection, and you should reconsider hiring an inspector who doesn’t allow this. You can learn a lot by following an inspector through the home. You will certainly gain a better understanding of the home’s condition, which will give you insight into its potential sale points and defects. Additionally, you will likely learn information about the home’s maintenance, systems and components that may provide useful for the transaction and ongoing maintenance of your home.

Can the home inspector also repair any defects he or she finds?
What if your home inspector is also a licensed contractor? Sounds great, right? Not always. Although it may seem convenient to have an inspector who is also a contractor, it poses a conflict of interest. According to InterNACHI’s Code of Ethics:
The InterNACHI member shall not perform or offer to perform, for an additional fee, any repairs or associated services to the structure for which the member or member’s company has prepared a home inspection report for a period of 12 months. This provision shall not include services to components and/or systems that are not included in the InterNACHI Standards of Practice.
If an inspector financially benefits from finding any defects, this can impact the accuracy of the report (whether intentional or not). Make sure the inspector you hire abides by a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

What happens if the inspection reveals problems?
If your home inspection reveals any problems, it is important to understand the severity of the defect. For example, a missing shingle or dirty air filter can be easily fixed at a low cost. However, if the defect is more extreme, such as a major foundation crack, wood-destroying organism infestation, or evidence of mold, you should find out how these problems can be addressed, and whether you can negotiate their cost with the seller. If it is determined after you move in that your home has a severe defect that wasn’t reported by your InterNACHI® Certified Master Inspector®, you should check to see if he or she participates in InterNACHI’s “We’ll Buy Your Home Back” Guarantee.  Veteran Home Inspections offers this on all home inspections.

What is the Buy-Back Guarantee and how does it work?
If your InterNACHI® Certified Professional Inspector® participates in the Buy-Back Guarantee, InterNACHI® will buy your home back if the inspector misses something on your inspection.
Here’s how this program works:

What about warranties?

A normal home inspection is just a snapshot in time, and there is no warranty of future conditions or issues that will arise.  Some home inspection companies, like Veteran Home Inspections, offer a full package of warranties that provide some protection to you for stuff that pops up within 90 days of the inspection.  The best home inspection companies will also offer an extended home warranty at an additional cost that can cover you for 18 months after purchase.  For information on our 90 day warranties, click here.  To check out the best 18-month home warranty in the industry, click here.  If you are shopping around, make sure the inspector will actually stand behind their inspection.

Formaldehyde Testing

Formaldehyde is a colorless, pungent-smelling chemical widely used in industries that manufacture building materials and numerous household products. Thus, it may be present in substantial concentrations in indoor environments.
Where indoors may formaldehyde be found?International Association of Certified Indoor Air Consultants
Is it dangerous?
Several years after concern arose over high levels of formaldehyde found in some FEMA trailers, there is still a great deal of confusion regarding permissible levels of airborne formaldehyde in indoor environments.  Additional attention was drawn to formaldehyde when elevated levels were found in laminate flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators.
Formaldehyde is known to cause the following conditions:
In 1992, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) declared formaldehyde a “toxic air contaminant,” meaning that there is no safe level of exposure. In June 2004, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reclassified formaldehyde from “probably carcinogenic to humans” to “carcinogenic to humans,” specifically concerning nasopharyngeal (upper throat) cancer, while the National Toxicology Program (NTP) continues to classify formaldehyde as “reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen in humans” for nasopharyngeal cancer.
Steps to Reduce Exposure
In summary, formaldehyde is an irritating and potentially dangerous gas that may accumulate in indoor environments.  Now, for the good news!  We can do non-destructive testing to determine if your home has elevated formaldehyde levels.  We offer this service either with a home inspection, or as a stand-alone service.  Contact us today at 210-202-1974 or www.vhillc.com to schedule your formaldehyde testing.

FREE Real Estate Agent Online Continuing Education

     Attention Texas Real Estate Agents!  Like you, I understand the chore of having to do continuing education.  What's even worse is having to pay someone else to take these courses just to maintain your license.  Because of this, I'm happy to be able to offer you a free course for 2 approved CE credits.  This course, Home Energy Score for Real Estate Professionals, is a great course that will teach you about the Home Energy Score program, and how you can use it to help your clients.


     To access the course, go to www.nachi.org/agentce and select Texas.  When it asks you for the ID of the NACHI inspector that referred you, enter NACHI14020415.  

     Once you've learned about the Home Energy Score program, contact Veteran Home Inspections to get your clients their score.  Not only can it help them save money on energy costs, it can help them get stretch FHA debt-to-income limits or get a larger Fannie Mae HomeStyle Energy loan!  

Lead Paint Hazards and Testing

Are you buying a home built before 1978?  Maybe you live in one currently.  If so, please read on.

Lead was a common additive to paint up until it was banned from use in residential housing.  As a paint additive, it worked great.  Unfortunately, the health effects were ignored, so there is a lot of it still in housing today.  There are a lot of rumors going around about lead paint, so this post will address several of them and also provide you with information on what to do next.

Rumor 1: "My kids don't eat paint chips!"  Paint Chips are only one source of lead poisoning.  The most common source is actually dust from lead paint.  Some of us older folks remember "self-cleaning paint."  This was nothing more than the lead in paint seeping out, and chalking on the surface.  After it rained, the dirt (and lead) would be washed off and the paint would look great.  The same dust is created by all lead paints, and the lead dust accumulates in your house.  The most common surfaces are the floor, window sills, and window wells.  Young kids, especially those crawling or playing on the floor a lot, pick up the dust on their clothes, hands, pacifiers, toys, etc. and put them in their mouths.  As for the paint chips, they are still a hazard.  One of the properties of lead is that it has a sweet taste.  This encourages kids to eat it.

Rumor 2: "If it's been painted over, it's not a risk"  Painting over lead paint is not an accepted method of remediation.  It may help mitigate, but it doesn't eliminate the risk of lead poisoning.  Additionally, the biggest sources of lead dust (window tracks, door jambs, painted floors, and other friction surfaces) can quickly wear down exposing the lead paint again).

Rumor 3: "It only affects kids."  While children under 6 years old are at the greatest risk to lead poisoning, lead will affect all ages.  In adults, lead can cause cardiovascular, neurological, kidney, and reproductive issues.  Lead can also pass from mother to child while pregnant and through breast milk.

Rumor 4: "They pretty much stopped using it around 1950."  I have personally inspected homes built in 1977 that had lead paint in them, some of them massive amounts.  On the flip side, I have inspected homes built in the early 1900's that had no lead paint at all.  Bottom line, the only way to know is to do a full surface-by-surface inspection to see if there is lead paint in the house.  For a report on the prevalence of lead in housing, click here.

Rumor 5: "I'll just use the test kits I can buy at the hardware store"  These tests are not 100%, and they have a standard set at 1.0mg/cm2 (small concentrations are ignored).  Additionally, proper use requires damaging the paint to ensure all layers are tested.The price of these swabs run about $5 each, and you need a new swab for each location.  In a typical 1500 square foot house, a lead inspector will test over 100 locations.

I'm sure by now you realized that not only is lead a hazard to your entire family, but there has to be an easy way to find out your risk.

We are Texas certified lead risk assessors and inspectors.  We can easily check your house for lead paint and help you determine the risk that it has on your family.  We'll also help you build an action plan to mitigate that risk. We use a combination of methods to find and assess lead paint, including an XRF machine that conducts instant non-destructive testing of painted surfaces.  The great thing is that it can see through all the layers of the paint, so even if there was only one layer of lead-based paint covered by several layers of non-lead-based paint, we will know.  Because it's fast and non-destructive, we can test all the painted surfaces in your home in a reasonable amount of time.  An average house of 1500 square feet takes about 60-90 minutes to test.  We can also do this inspection at the same time we do your home inspection.  If we do find lead paint, we can take dust wipe samples to determine if there is lead dust present and the concentrations.  These wipes have to be sent to a lab for analysis, but the turnaround time fairly quick.  Armed with this information, you can make an educated decision on how best to manage the risk to your family.

If you own rental properties that were built before 1978, you should also get them tested for lead paint.  This can help manage your risk as a landlord.

If your child has been found to have an elevated blood level, we can also perform EBL Investigations to help you find the source of the lead poisoning.  Hopefully your local health department will provide this, but if not, we are available to assist.

Are you doing renovations on a home built prior to 1978?  Make sure you know if and where there is lead paint.  We can do an inspection of the area to be renovated to let you know if you need to take lead paint RRP precautions.

What are the different types of inspections:

A Lead Inspection is an inspection to determine and report the presence of lead-based paint.

If lead paint is found, you should do a full Risk Assessment, which determines the existence, nature, severity, and location of lead-based paint hazards.

If you are buying a pre-1978 house, you have the right to conduct a lead paint inspection.  Don't waive this right in your contract, and have the house inspected.

To schedule a lead paint inspection or full risk assessment, contact Veteran Home Inspections at 210-202-1974 or schedule online at www.vhillc.com.  Based in Bandera, TX, we cover the San Antonio, TX and Hill Country area.


Flood-Damaged Homes & Buildings


by Nick Gromicko & Mike Marlow
 
Home and business owners should be prepared to protect themselves and their family members from the unique challenges posed by flood-damaged buildings. 
 
Hazards in and around flood-damaged buildings include the risks of:Good boots can protect against sharp debris in flood-damaged buildings
Inspection Tips
We here at Veteran Home Inspections wish everyone in the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey the best.  Take care and be safe.

Mike & Jamie Marlow
Veteran Home Inspections, PLLC
www.vhillc.com
210-202-1974

Protect Your Property From Water Damage

With the predicted rainfalls coming from the hurricane headed towards the Texas coast, now is a good time to take a look around your property to see where your vulnerabilities to water are.  A little maintenance and repair now can keep you dry and keep your home or business safe.

Water may be essential to life, but, as a destructive force, water can diminish the value of your home or building. Homes as well as commercial buildings can suffer water damage that results in increased maintenance costs, a decrease in the value of the property, lowered productivity, and potential liability associated with a decline in indoor air quality. The best way to protect against this potential loss is to ensure that the building components which enclose the structure, known as the building envelope, are water-resistant. Also, you will want to ensure that manufacturing processes, if present, do not allow excess water to accumulate. Finally, make sure that the plumbing and ventilation systems, which can be quite complicated in buildings, operate efficiently and are well-maintained. This article provides some basic steps for identifying and eliminating potentially damaging excess moisture.

Identify and Repair All Leaks and Cracks
The following are common building-related sources of water intrusion:
Prevent Water Intrusion Through Good Inspection and Maintenance Programs
Hire a qualified InterNACHI inspector to perform an inspection of the following elements of your building to ensure that they remain in good condition:
Protection From Water Damage
Act Quickly if  Water Intrusion Occurs
Label shut-off valves so that the water supply can be easily closed in the event of a plumbing leak. If water intrusion does occur, you can minimize the damage by addressing the problem quickly and thoroughly. Immediately remove standing water and all moist materials, and consult with a building professional. Should your building become damaged by a catastrophic event, such as fire, flood or storm, take appropriate action to prevent further water damage, once it is safe to do so. This may include boarding up damaged windows, covering a damaged roof with plastic sheeting, and/or removing wet materials and supplies. Fast action on your part will help minimize the time and expense for repairs, resulting in a faster recovery.

For water intrusion and mold inspections, call Veteran Home Inspections at 210-202-1974.  You can also book online at www.vhillc.com

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Detectors

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that forms from incomplete combustion of fuels, such as natural or liquefied petroleum gas, oil, wood or coal.
 
Facts and Figures
Physiology of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
When CO is inhaled, it displaces the oxygen that would ordinarily bind with hemoglobin, a process the effectively suffocates the body. CO can poison slowly over a period of several hours, even in low concentrations. Sensitive organs, such as the brain, heart and lungs, suffer the most from a lack of oxygen.
High concentrations of carbon monoxide can kill in less than five minutes. At low concentrations, it will require a longer period of time to affect the body. Exceeding the EPA concentration of 9 parts per million (ppm) for more than eight hours may have adverse health affects. The limit of CO exposure for healthy workers, as prescribed by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration, is 50 ppm.
 
Potential Sources of Carbon Monoxide

Any fuel-burning appliances which are malfunctioning or improperly installed can be a source of CO, such as:
 
 
 
 
PPM
% CO 
in air
Health Effects in Healthy Adults
Source/Comments
0
0%
no effects; this is the normal level in a properly operating heating appliance

35
0.0035%
maximum allowable workplace exposure limit for an eight-hour work shift
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
50
0.005%
maximum allowable workplace exposure limit for an eight-hour work shift
              OSHA
100
0.01%
slight headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, 
errors in judgment

125
0.0125%

workplace alarm must sound (OSHA)
200
0.02%
headache, fatigue, 
nausea, dizziness

400
0.04%
severe headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, confusion; can be life-threatening after three hours of exposure
evacuate area immediately
800
0.08%
convulsions, loss of consciousness;
death within three hours
evacuate area immediately
12,000
1.2%
nearly instant death

 
 
CO Detector Placement

CO detectors can monitor exposure levels, but do not place them:
Do place CO detectors:
In North America, some national, state and local municipalities require installation of CO detectors in new and existing homes, as well as commercial businesses, among them:  Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont and New York City, and the Canadian province of Ontario. Installers are encouraged to check with their local municipality to determine what specific requirements have been enacted in their jurisdiction.
How can I prevent CO poisoning?
 

In summary, carbon monoxide is a dangerous poison that can be created by various household appliances. CO detectors must be placed strategically throughout the home or business in order to alert occupants of high levels of the gas.

To schedule your home inspection in San Antonio, TX, call 210-202-1974 or book online at www.vhillc.com

From https://www.nachi.org/carbon-monoxide.htm by Nick Gromicko 

Barbecue Safety

With tomorrow kicking off the summer, most of us will break out the BBQ sometime soon.  When you do, make sure you keep safety in mind.  And for tomorrow, take a moment to give thanks to the military men and women that gave their lives to allow us to live ours in freedom.
 
 
With barbecue season already here, homeowners should heed the following safety precautions in order to keep their families and property safe:

Safety Recommendations for General Grill Use
In summary, homeowners should exercise caution when using any kind of grill, as they can harm life and property in numerous ways. 

Remember, you can schedule your home inspection by calling 210-202-1974 or book online at www.vhillc.com

Adapted with permission from https://www.nachi.org/barbeque-safety.htm by Nick Gromicko

Attached Garage Fire Containment

To continue the information on garage fire safety, if the worst should happen, how can the fire be contained to the garage?
 
 

An attached garage is a garage that is physically attached to a house. Fires that begin in attached garages are more likely to spread to living areas than fires that originate in detached garages. For this reason, combined with the multitude of flammable materials commonly found in garages, attached garages should be adequately sealed from living areas. A properly sealed attached garage will ideally restrict the potential spread of fire long enough to allow the occupants time to escape the home or building.

Why are garages (both attached and detached) fire hazards?
Doors
The 2006 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC) states the following concerning doors that separate garages from living areas:
R309.1 Opening Penetration
Openings from a private garage directly into a room used for sleeping purposes shall not be permitted. Other openings between the garage and the residence shall be equipped with solid wood doors not less than 1-3/8” (35 mm) in thickness, solid- or honeycomb-core steel doors not less than 1-3/8” (35 mm) thick, or 20-minute fire-rated doors.
In addition, Veteran Home Inspections can check for the following while inspecting doors that separate garages from living areas:
Walls and Ceilings
The 2006 edition of the IRC states the following concerning garage walls and ceilings:
          R309.2 Separation Required
The garage shall be separated from the residence and its attic area by not less than 1/2-inch (12.7 mm) gypsum board applied to the garage side. Garages beneath habitable rooms shall be separated from all habitable rooms above by not less than 5/8-inch (15.9 mm) Type X gypsum board or equivalent. Where the separation is a floor-ceiling assembly, the structure supporting the separation shall also be protected by not less than 1/2-inch (12.7 mm) gypsum board or equivalent. Garages located less than 3 feet (914 mm) from a dwelling unit on the same lot shall be protected with not less than 1/2–inch (12.7 mm) gypsum board applied to the interior side of exterior walls that are within this area. Openings in these walls shall be regulated by Section 309.1. This provision does not apply to garage walls that are perpendicular to the adjacent dwelling unit wall.
In addition, inspectors can check for the following while inspecting walls and ceilings:
Ducts

The 2006 edition of the IRC states the following concerning ducts that penetrate garage walls and ceilings:
R309.1.1 Duct Penetration

Ducts in the garage and ducts penetrating the walls or ceilings separating the dwelling from the garage shall be constructed of a minimum No. 26-gauge (0.48 mm) steel sheet or other approved material, and shall have no openings in the garage.
Dryer exhaust ducts that penetrate garage walls are serious fire hazards. These ducts are generally made from plastic and will easily melt during a fire, creating a large breach in the firewall.

Floors

The 2006 edition of the IRC states the following concerning floors in garages:
          R309.3 Floor Surface
Garage floor surfaces shall be of approved, non-combustible material. The area of the floor used for parking of automobiles or other vehicles shall be sloped to facilitate the movement of liquids to a drain or toward the main vehicle entry doorway.
Inspectors should also check for the following:
Concerning items placed on the floor, inspectors should check for the following:
General safety tips that inspectors can pass onto their clients:
In summary, attached garages should be sealed off from the living space so that fire may be contained.

To schedule your home inspection, call Veteran Home Inspections at 210-202-1974 or schedule online at www.vhillc.com

Adapted with permission from https://www.nachi.org/attached-garage-fire-hazards.htm by Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard

Attached Garage Fire Hazards

The purpose of this article is twofold. First, at Veteran Home Inspections, we’d like you to take measures to keep your garage free from fire. Fortunately, there are ways this can be done, some of which are described below. Secondly, garage fires do happen, and we’d like you to make sure that a fire cannot not easily spread to the rest of your house. While you can perform many of the recommendations in this article yourself, it is a good idea to hire Veteran Home Inspections to make sure your home is safe from a garage fire.
Why do many garages pose a fire hazard?
The following tips can help prevent garage fires and their spread:
If there is a door that connects the garage to the living area, consider the following:
Concerning items placed on the floor, you should check for the following:
In summary, there are plenty of things that you can do to prevent garage fires from spreading to the rest of the house, or to keep them from starting in the first place. However, it is highly recommended that you have your garage periodically examined by an inspector.

To schedule your home inspection, call Veteran Home Inspections at 210-202-1974 or schedule online at www.vhillc.com

Adapted with permission from https://www.nachi.org/garage-fires-client.htm by Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard