What Problems Could Affect a Home’s Foundation?

When buying a new home, there are many things to consider. You want to find something that has enough bedrooms and bathrooms in it for your family. You also want to find something that has been updated and that matches your personal style. And then, there are things like the local school system and property taxes that you will have to think about prior to making an offer. However, before you agree to buy a home, one of the most important things you need to do is check its foundation to ensure that it’s sturdy and problem-free.

A cracked foundation is one of the worst problems that you can have as a homeowner. The structural integrity of your entire house rests upon the strength and support of the foundation, so if there is a crack anywhere in it, it needs to be addressed and fixed immediately. Nevertheless, that isn’t the only issue you might encounter with a home’s foundation. Excessive settling is also an issue for many homeowners. Just about all homes settle into the ground and sink a little bit over the years. However, there are some homes that are built on top of soil that is not meant to hold up a house, and they tend to sink more than others. It could lead to a big headache down the line for you if you are living in a home like this.

If you are in the process of buying a home, it’s important for you to work with a home inspector to gauge how healthy the foundation of the home is. You shouldn’t enter into a binding contract to buy a home until you know for a fact that the foundation is going to hold up for you. Otherwise, you might end up spending an arm and a leg over the years trying to repair your foundation.

First Choice Inspectors can take a look at the foundation of a home you are looking to buy and inspect it for any structural damage. We can also analyze the other parts of a home to point out any potential problems to you. Call us at 773-429-9711 today to schedule an appointment with one of our inspectors.

Here’s Why You Should Have an Inspection Done Before Listing Your Home

When is the last time you had your home inspected? Most likely, it has been a long time since a professional looked it over, and that’s typical. But if you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, you should consider having First Choice Inspectors conduct a thorough inspection. Yes, you as the seller should get your home inspected. This is a proactive move on your part that can be used to more effectively market and sell the property. It’s like getting a “seal of approval” from an objective source. Furthermore, it allows you, the seller, to discover any problems that need repairs before they become a bone of contention in the negotiation process.

Potential buyers will feel more at peace about purchasing your home if they know it has been professionally inspected and they can read over the detailed report. The fact that you’re willing to share this information with them helps build trust.

If an inspector finds something in need of repair and you, the seller, are able to have it fixed before putting the home on the market, then you can show the potential buyer you took care of it so they wouldn’t have to– this also makes them feel better about their impending purchase. It’s better to address any problems before trying to sell a house than to have to deal with buyers nitpicking over things later on. Selling a home can be stressful, so whatever you can do to de-stress the process should be done.

Interestingly, the two main things that help sell a property are its price and condition. Therefore, it’s best to make sure the home is in its best condition before putting it up for sale. You won’t truly know how your house is “holding up” until you have a professional home inspector check it.

In the Chicago area, contact First Choice Inspectors to arrange a proper inspection.

What to Expect During Your Home Inspection

Home Inspectiion What can you expect during your home inspection? Typically your home inspector is a professional man who knows a lot about homes. He will give the home you’re interested in a thorough examination, much like a doctor checks a patient.

The inspector typically carries a clipboard with sheets of paper on it. On these pieces of paper are lists of various things found in a typical home, like the appliances in the kitchen, faucets in the bathroom, etc. The inspector goes from room to room in a house looking at things, testing them when needed. For instance, he may put a gadget into the outlet in a wall in the living room and that gadget will tell him if it’s getting electricity as it should. If it’s not, he’ll make a note of it.

Meanwhile, the inspector is likely to examine the “nooks and crannies” of the house– the basement, the attic, etc. Again, he’ll make note of what he sees, if everything is in good working order, and/or what needs fixing or replacing.

The nice thing about having a home inspection done is that you can follow the inspector along and ask questions. See that stain on the ceiling near the fireplace? The inspector can explain to you what he thinks is going on there. If it’s a big deal, you can then ask the seller to have it repaired before you buy the house. That way you’re not stuck paying for the problem!

A home inspector is an examiner who essentially gives your house a report card. Where it’s failing, improvements need to be done. In other areas, it’s fine– all’s well.

In the Chicago area, you can email info@firstchoiceinspectors.com or call 773-429-9711 to have a professional home inspector walk through the home you intend to sell or buy and then give you a detailed report of what he found. This information proves to be invaluable to people.

The Importance of Having an Inspection Done Before Buying a Foreclosed Home

Foreclosed HomesForeclosed homes can typically be bought for a “better” price than a non-foreclosed home. Think about it this way: the home, at one time, was utilized and loved. Now, however, it’s most likely owned by a bank just looking to get rid of it. This could be a very good deal for the right buyer.

Most foreclosed homes end up being unoccupied for quite some time. What happens to homes when no one’s around to maintain them? Things can go wrong. Boarded up homes don’t have air circulating through them. No one’s there to open the doors and windows frequently. Pipes can burst. Toilets can clog. Rodents can chew through wires. Holes in the roof can form, letting in water leading to ceiling damage… and the list goes on and on.

First Choice Inspectors offers a service you might consider when in the process of buying a foreclosed home. First Choice can do a foreclosed home inspection so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into before you’ve made the big purchase. You’ve heard the term “better safe than sorry,” right? This is true in this case, for sure.

Having a foreclosed home properly and professionally inspected allows a buyer to have better peace of mind than just buying the property “as is” and “hoping for the best.” An inspection lets you know if the purchase is truly a worthwhile deal or a money pit that’s not worth the headaches!

First Choice Inspectors, LLC, offers the best property inspection and house inspections in Chicago, Illinois, and its surrounding areas including Hoffman Estates. Email info@firstchoiceinspectors.com for more information about having a foreclosed home inspected before you sign on the dotted line to buy it. It’s better to know any problems with a home before you buy it than to discover them unexpectedly at inopportune times once you’re moved in and are just trying to relax after moving all your boxes and furniture and “stuff” into the new place.

 

Should You Have an Inspection Done on a Brand New Home?

New Home Inspections If you buy a brand new home, should you have an inspection done before you buy it and/or move in? The answer is yes. Even if the builder claims the inspection might void their insurance policy or says they’re afraid someone might get hurt during the inspection, you should still have an objective third party inspect it. If you are serious about protecting your investment and taking care of the home you’re going to assume ownership of, a fresh set of eyes should take a discerning look at what has been constructed. You want to know that what you’re buying is in great condition.

No home builder is perfect. People make mistakes. Even new homes can have defects. As such, it never hurts to have another set of eyes take care a look to make sure everything is on point.

Hiring a professional inspector from First Choice Inspectors is a good idea at three key times before you buy a brand new house. First, the site should be checked prior to the pouring of the foundation. Next, it should be checked prior to the installation of insulation and drywall. Finally, it should be checked prior to the final walk-through.

Don’t be afraid to tell your builder that you want the right to have an inspector of your choice do these inspections– put it in writing as part of the sales contract so it’s clear.

A house is probably the most expensive thing you’ll ever buy, so it needs more attention than other purchases. It’s best to have First Choice Inspectors provide a watchful eye over its proper construction than to find out later that the builder cut corners to the point where pipes are leaking, the basement is flooding, and there are cracks in the walls and ceilings.

What is Included in a Standard Home Inspection?

Home InspectionsFirst Choice Inspectors regularly inspects homes in the Chicagoland area. A standard home inspection looks for structural or mechanical defects. An inspector is trained to look for construction mistakes and shortcuts, as well as potential problems in a home.

A standard home inspection involves a detailed written report that’s like a report card for the house you’re interested in selling or buying. Some reports are provided within the same day as the inspection, though others take up to a week for delivery.

Standard home inspections will include both interior and exterior components. Inside, inspectors will look closely at both electrical systems (including breakers and fuses) and plumbing systems (including pipes, water heat tank, sump pumps, drains, etc.). Other interior areas the inspector will look at are walls, ceilings, floors, windows, stairs and more.

On the outside, inspectors will look at the structure of the home to make sure its foundation and framing is holding up properly. Other things a standard home inspection will entail include an examination of the heating system, cooling system, insulation system, fireplaces, chimneys and more.

Of course, a home is only as reliable as its roof, and the roofing system, including shingles and skylights will be major focus points.

Home inspection reports may or may not include photographs of certain items or areas of the home. Typical reports range from 25 to 50 pages long.

If you’re in the Chicago area, you can request an inspection by calling 773-429-9711.

Is Your Home At Risk For Lead Poisoning?

Lead PoisoningHow old is your home? If it was built before 1978, there’s a chance that its woodwork contains lead-based paint. Though the use of lead-based paints for homes has been banned in the United States since 1978, many people live in homes constructed before then, and those homes probably contain lead-based paint used in a bygone era before it was known to be detrimental to people’s health.

Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in a person’s body over a period of months or years. Little kids who eat lead-paint chips can end up with serious mental and physical problems. Adults who do home renovations and are exposed to lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are also at risk. In the old days, lead pipes, brass plumbing fixtures and copper pipes soldered with lead were commonly used in homes. Unfortunately, they could end up releasing lead particles into tap water.

Lead can get into the air, water and soil such that precautions need to be taken if and when a person lives or works around an area with high concentrations of lead.

How do you know if you have lead poisoning? With children, look for developmental delays, learning difficulties, irritability, loss of appetite, vomiting, constipation and other symptoms. As for adults, some lead poisoning symptoms include muscle and joint pain, memory loss, decline in mental functioning, mood disorders, abdominal pain, constipation, and high blood pressure. Pregnant women should be especially careful to avoid exposure to lead as it could harm their unborn child.

First Choice Inspectors of Chicago regularly conducts home inspections. During these inspections, your inspector can look for signs of peeling or chipped paint. Keep in mind that the lead material used in old paint only becomes a health hazard when it is disturbed. If the inspector finds that your home has old paint that’s disturbed, he or she may advise you to seek a professional renovation company to properly remove the old paint.

Signs Your Home Has Structural Issues

Home Inspections Does your home have “issues?” There are some key things to look for regarding signs of structural problems.

First, look at a home from far away. Go across the street, for instance, and take a look to see if you notice any walls leaning or tilting in ways that don’t look normal. How’s the ridge line of the roof and the nearby fascia line? If you see sagging, there could be trouble. Also, do you see any large cracks from your point-of-view? Large cracks are not good.

Next, get up close to the home and walk around its exterior. Take note of any areas where there is bowing inward or outward. Again, look for cracks. Are parts of the building moving apart from one another? For example, is the chimney coming unattached from the house or do you notice exterior decks coming loose? Over time, grounds shift and when that happens homes may need repairs.

Windows and doors are essentially openings in your home, so they’re also places where you’ll likely find problems. Look for cracked window panes. Check to see if windows and doors open and shut properly.

Indoors, you should pay close attention to the floors under your feet, noticing any soft spots or unusual sloping areas. Are floorboards creaking? Do you notice any loose floor tiles?

Structural issues are bound to come up with homes as they age. Just like people, homes need some “fixing up” the older they get.

Call First Choice Inspectors at 773-429-9711 if you’d like your Chicago-area home professionally inspected for structural issues.

What Does an Energy Audit Entail?

Energy Audit First Choice Inspectors regularly perform energy audits in and around Chicago. An energy audit involves professionals doing a comprehensive examination of a home or building’s thermal performance. In other words, where are the leaks?

Heating and cooling a building costs money, and when there are leaks, the heat or cool air you’re paying for might literally be going right out the leaky window. An energy audit involves checking around windows, skylights, and doors to measure the leakage rate of air to see how well seals are performing– or aren’t. In addition, walls and ceilings and floors are checked for leaks as well. Most people choose to have energy audits done in order to save money on their heating and cooling bills. Leaks can be stopped and therefore energy is no longer wasted.

First Choice Inspectors can provide a written report with photos to show a home or building owner exactly where leaks occur. Thermal imaging overlays can be included when necessary in order to estimate energy use given local climate criteria, thermostat settings, roof overhang and other factors. A home or building owner can get a good idea of how making certain changes could effectively save them money over time.

Specifically, First Choice Inspectors use sophisticated methods such as thermal imaging scanning and videoscopic borescopes to find problem areas.

Common problems an energy audit can find include leaks in the air conditioning duct system, worn-out insulation, and windows/doors in need of sealing and caulking.

Besides talking with home or building owners about their energy bills and energy habits that may be raising their bills, an energy audit from First Choice Inspectors can also include a list of repairs to be done to improve the home’s thermal performance, therefore lowering overall energy bills– oftentimes up to 30%.

Dryer Vent Safety 101

Dryer Vent Safety 101According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 17,000 house fires were caused by clothes dryers and washing machines in the United States in 2010. This accounts for roughly 4.5% of all the house fires in the country that year. Many of these fires were the result of clogged or improperly installed dryer vents that went unnoticed by homeowners. These vents are designed to remove residual moisture from your house during the drying process, but if neglected they can constitute serious fire hazards. Today, we’ll help you inspect and evaluate the safety of the dryer vent in your home.

Check Connections

Pull your dryer out and make sure that they dryer exhaust hose is, in fact, connected to the dryer. Typically the connection is located on the back of the dryer, but on some models it may be located beneath it. If the exhaust vent becomes disconnected, moisture will linger in your laundry room and flammable dryer lint will begin to accumulate within the back of the dryer. That additional moisture can promote mold growth in your home, while the dryer lint can easily cause fires.

Check for Kinks

Ideally, the exhaust hose behind your dryer shouldn’t be any longer than it needs to be. Long, loose lengths of hose are prone to kinks and twists that restrict the flow of air and moisture out of your home. As lint becomes trapped in the kinks in the hose and the airflow becomes further restricted, heat can build up in your dryer and eventually trigger fires.

Make Sure the Exhaust Terminates Outside

Sometimes, lazy installers will vent dryer exhaust into an attic or crawl space rather than the exterior of a home. Dryer exhaust must be vented outside and away from your home in order to avoid mold growth and minimize the chance of fire. Find out where your dryer exhaust terminates, and if it’s not outside your home take steps to have it rerouted as soon as possible. Please note that the total length of the exhaust hose should not exceed 25 feet in order to ensure adequate airflow.

The end of your exhaust vent should be fitted with a backdraft damper, but it should not be fitted with a screen. These screens accumulate stray lint and can become serious fire hazards if left unattended. Check the end of your exhaust vent periodically and clear any built-up lint deposits.

Here at First Choice Inspectors, we know how important it is for homeowners to stay mindful of this important maintenance item. If you’re concerned about the safety of your dryer vent, don’t wait for it to become a serious hazard. Give us a call today and gain the peace of mind of knowing your home is protected from dryer vent fires.