Five most commonly-noted issues in home inspections
Every inspector’s list will be different, but these are the top 5 most commonly-noted issues we have found in the homes we’ve inspected:
(1)Downspouts needing extensions. Downspout extensions promote good drainage and prevent foundation issues by directing water away from your home.
(2)Missing or incorrectly-installed safety overflow pipe on water heater. The safety overflow pipe prevents injury to occupants in the event the temperature & pressure relief valve (TPR valve) activates to relieve pressure build-up in the water heater. Some examples of incorrect installations are: (1) pipe too short (2) pipe routed to an inappropriate location (such as a crawl space – you always want the overflow pipe to terminate where you can see it) (3) pipes that have bends or more than one section (the pipe should always be straight and be a single piece).
(3)Improper condensate drain lines on HVAC systems. An HVAC condensate line that drains too close to the HVAC unit or the foundation can be trouble.
(4)Non-graspable handrails. A handrail that is too wide to be grasped easily creates a safety hazard.
(5)No anti-tip device on free-standing stoves & dirty dryer vents (tie). The anti-tip device is a small metal bracket that is installed at the bottom of the stove to secure it to the floor. As the name implies, the anti-tip bracket prevents the stove from tipping over if weight is applied at the front (such as placing a heavy roasting pan on the open stove door – yes, this has actually happened!). A dirty dryer vent is easy to overlook but is always a fire hazard.
The good news is these are all simple and relatively inexpensive to correct. Whether buying, selling or just living in your home, having these issues corrected now can prevent headaches and extra expense down the road.
Want to talk to an experienced, thorough inspector who can provide you with a great home inspection? I’m just a phone call away!
Determining the condition of the roof covering and related components is one of the most important parts of a home inspection. That being the case, the issue of whether or not to walk on the roof is a hot topic of debate among home inspectors, realtors and prospective clients. What follows is this inspector’s humble opinion and is not meant to imply that anyone with a differing viewpoint is wrong.
Reasons for getting on the roof:
There are realtors and clients who won’t hire an inspector who doesn’t get on the roof. There are home inspectors who would argue to their last breath that you can’t do a proper inspection if you don’t walk the roof. They’re all entitled to their opinion and I won’t argue with them, but I refuse to take unnecessary risks. It only takes one fall from a roof to be killed or crippled. I can do a proper and thorough roof inspection without getting on the roof. I’d be happy to prove it.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer. The length of a home inspection may be determined by several factors:
I’ve inspected many homes in the rain (the first inspection I ever did was during a heavy downpour). For instance, rainy day inspections give you a better feel for how well the roof system is functioning or if there are any drainage or foundation issues. Just be aware that bad weather can add to the time it takes to do a thorough inspection.
A less-experienced inspector may take longer because they are still learning and want to get it right. An inspector who is more thorough would obviously take longer than a “hit and run” inspector who is in and out in a hurry (true story – I had a recent client tell me he once had a home inspection where the inspector was done in just over an hour!).
As a general guideline, we allow at least 3 hours for our inspections and our clients and realtors understand and appreciate that.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer to the question “how long will my home inspection take?” The key is to hire an inspector who can provide a high-quality, thorough inspection in a reasonable amount of time.
Want to talk to an experienced, thorough inspector who can provide you with a great home inspection? I’m just a phone call away!
Polybutylene (also known as PB or Poly B) was a plastic piping manufactured between 1978 and mid-1995 for use in home plumbing systems. Polybutylene was popular because it was inexpensive and offered lots of advantages such as ease of installation, flexibility, and resistance to freezing. Pipes made from polybutylene were installed in up to 10 million homes in the United States. Despite the advantages, production of Poly B ceased in mid-1996 after numerous allegations surfaced claiming that polybutylene piping had ruptured and caused property damage. Homeowners who have polybutylene piping in their homes are faced with the choice to replace the pipes or risk a potentially expensive plumbing issue. Polybutylene piping may also make obtaining insurance coverage more difficult or make selling the home more of a challenge.
Here are some tips to identify polybutylene piping: (1) usually stamped with the code “PB2110.” (2) is flexible and sometimes curved (3) most commonly gray but can also be white, silver, black or blue (4) 1/2” to 1” in diameter. Some of the locations where you may see PB piping are at the main water shut-off valve, near the water heater, or protruding from walls to feed sinks and toilets. Look carefully as Poly B is sometimes confused with PEX plastic piping or other similar plumbing material. The photograph at the top of the post shows some gray PB piping that we located during a recent home inspection.
In Virginia, home inspectors are not required to note the presence of polybutylene piping, but we do so as an added service to our clients. We note the condition of the piping and recommend that the client have the piping evaluated by a qualified licensed plumber. We do not test or dismantle the PB piping as this is far beyond the scope of the home inspection and could damage the plumbing system.
Planning to put your home on the market? Want to know if your home contains polybutylene piping? Call us – we’ll check it out and help you have peace of mind!
When you trust me to inspect your home, I will do my utmost to give you the very best home inspection experience possible. From doing a thorough inspection to explaining my findings in a way that will educate and not scare you, my goal is to give you peace of mind. Here are several things you can do to help me:
1.Attend the inspection. Being at the inspection gives you the opportunity to meet your inspector (me!), share observations, and ask questions. It allows me to explain how we inspect and report and reduce some of your anxiety about the inspection. During the inspection, I can point out or explain things as we go along so you will know what to expect when you receive your report. I understand that you might not be able to attend due to work, family commitments, or other demands. If you can’t attend, I will make every effort to share my findings with you by phone before we leave the inspection site.
2.Limit the number of people present. I understand being excited about your (possible) new home and wanting your loved ones to see it, but having too many people in the house during the inspection increases the chance that I will miss something significant because of being distracted. You can help me a lot by asking that family members and friends not come to the inspection so I can concentrate on doing a great inspection for you. Please do not bring contractors, landscapers, decorators, etc. to the inspection for the same reason. Sometimes we will arrange for termite or radon contractors to come by during the inspection, but these folks are familiar with how home inspectors work and know how to do their job without getting in our way.
3.Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is your inspection. I’m working for you. There is no such thing as a silly question – I once had a first-time buyer who pointed at the plumbing vent pipes on the roof and asked what they were and why there were so many. She wasn’t being cute or silly, she honestly didn’t know. I thanked her for asking and explained how the plumbing vents worked without making her feel bad for not knowing.
Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. We’re here to help by providing a great home inspection that will give you the information you need to make an informed decision.
Want to talk with a home inspector? Call me!
Search the Internet and you’ll find any number of lists that tell you how to find and hire the right home inspector. Mine is shorter than most but I’ve added a “twist” at the end. I’m going to assume you already have a name (or names), so let’s jump right in.
1.Due Diligence: Do your homework! First thing to do is check out the inspector’s license. In Virginia, home inspectors must be licensed through the Virginia Department of Professional & Occupational Regulation (DPOR). Here is the link http://www.dpor.virginia.gov. The DPOR website will show the license status and expiration date (good to know to make sure you’re not hiring an inspector with an expired license). Reputable inspectors should be a member of either ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) or InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors). Both are outstanding organizations and promote home inspector excellence through training. Look at the inspector’s website, Google Business page, and any other Internet sources about them you can dig up. Read their reviews – what do their customers say? Keep in mind that even the best inspector may have a less than rosy review. Ask people you trust what they may know about the inspectors you are considering.
2.Sample report: The sample report can tell you a lot about the inspector. How thorough are they? When describing an issue, does the inspector use language that is clear, understandable and not overly alarming or dramatic? Does the inspector seem reasonable and balanced, or do they make a major issue out of every little flaw? Are the pictures clear? How about spelling and grammar? Home inspectors aren’t expected to be English majors but the report should not look like it was written by a third-grader. Is the information in the report really useful to the prospective buyer, or is it just filler? A good sample report can be a major selling tool for a home inspector.
3.Interview: Here is the twist! Once you’ve narrowed your list of prospects down to the final candidates, call them. Any home inspector who wants to work for you should be willing to give you a few minutes of their time. Do they encourage the client to attend the inspection? If not, that should raise a red flag. How many inspections do they do in a day? If they’re in a hurry to get to the next job, they may not give your inspection the time and attention it deserves. What are their prices? Be careful here as the cheapest inspector is not always the best one. No doubt you can think of many other questions to ask your prospective home inspector. Talking to the inspector will give you an idea of their personality, communication abilities and people skills. I once had a realtor call me out of the blue because his regular home inspector wasn’t available. We ended up working together on multiple deals, and the realtor later told me the reason he hired me was because I took the time to talk to him and I “sounded like a nice guy” when we spoke on the phone (I am a nice guy, by the way). If the home inspector sounds open, honest and sincere and you get a good vibe from talking with them, you may have a winner.
Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. Finding and hiring the right home inspector can help make the home buying process less stressful. So search carefully and choose wisely. You’ll be glad you did.
Want to interview a home inspector? I would be happy to talk with you.
The main reason is because they're misleading. A home inspector’s job is to observe and report, nothing more. Saying a house “passed” or “failed” an inspection is really going beyond and rendering an opinion. What is considered “passing” or “failing” by one inspector may not be so for another. The worst house we ever inspected had some $13,000 in needed repairs, but it did not “fail” the inspection. It was just a house needing a lot of attention. We reported what we saw in clear, candid and non-alarming language and everyone was satisfied. The buyer knew what they were getting and the sale went through because we avoided using misleading language.
When it comes to the word “code,” many people, including some home inspectors, confuse a home inspection with a code inspection. They are not the same. A home inspection is a limited, visual, non-invasive examination of a home’s condition at a given point in time. A code inspection is just that – An inspection of the home’s components and systems (HVAC, plumbing, structure, etc.) to determine if they conform to required codes. Home inspectors need to be familiar with various codes so they can recognize and point out issues observed during the inspection, but they are not code inspectors. Even if an inspector also happens to be a licensed electrician, plumber, etc., it would still be wise to avoid using the word “code” because it could give the client the wrong impression.
Using these words doesn’t mean the inspector is bad or dishonest. It just means they may need to work on their communication skills or re-think their understanding of what a home inspection is. Doing a great inspection is important, but just as important is communicating the findings to the client clearly and candidly. Avoiding misleading language will go a long way towards accomplishing that objective.
Have questions about home inspections? Call us – We'd love to talk with you.