Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying a House With Water Damage

Water Damaged FlooringYou find a home that you and your family absolutely love. You’re just about ready to make an offer, but then a routine home inspection reveals signs of past water damage. Could this cause more problems in the future? Should you abandon the home altogether? There are a few important things to consider before following through with the deal.

Water damage can cause mold, rot and more.

If it isn’t properly remediated, water damage can cause lingering issues for years. Homes that have been water damaged may be more prone to mold and mildew growth, for example. They may also require structural repairs if the damaged was extensive enough to cause beams and joists to rot. Be sure you have a clear understanding of the extent of the damage and the work that was done to repair it before you think about buying the home.

It can also bring down the value of a home.

If water damage isn’t properly assessed and repaired, it can also significantly reduce the home’s resale value. If you’re willing to negotiate for repairs, or make the repairs yourself, you may be able to use this to your advantage as a buyer. On the other hand, if you don’t want to invest that kind of time and money in the home, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.

The damage isn’t always immediately obvious.

Some signs of water damage, such as mold growth and drywall stains, are pretty easy to spot. Others, like the effects of water damage on a home’s electrical system, require a trained eye to identify. If you notice superficial signs of water damage during a walkthrough, a home inspection may reveal more serious underlying issues as well. Be sure to have the home inspected by a professional before making a final decision.

Want to make your dream home won’t turn out to be a money pit? Give us a call or contact us online to get your quote with First Choice Inspectors today!

How to Prepare Your House for a Home Inspection

Home Inspection ReportGetting ready to schedule a home inspection prior to selling your home? If so, it’s a good idea to prepare your property for the inspectors before they arrive. Today we’ll look at a few simple steps you can take to make sure your home inspection go as smoothly as possible.

Make sure home inspectors can access every room in your home.

Do you typically keep your garage locked? Do you have an office in your basement that is usually off-limits to outsiders? Is there a crawl space access door that’s blocked by a piece of furniture? You need to make sure a home inspector can check out every part of your house. That means unlocking doors, creating clear paths to hard-to-reach areas, and providing access to unfinished spaces in attics and basements.

Clear out space around utilities.

There are many people who use their utility rooms as added storage. They may have boxes and other items piled around their water heaters and electric panels, for example. If this sounds familiar, be sure to declutter these areas so that a home inspector can access your utilities without having to wade through a pile of personal belongings.

Compile documents related to maintenance and repairs.

Have you renovated your home in recent years or tackled a large repair project? Home inspectors and buyers will want to see records of this work, so put together a folder with documents related to the maintenance and repairs you’ve had done during your time in the home. You may not have documentation for every little maintenance item you’ve worked on in the home, but you should at least have records of any major renovations, upgrades and repairs you’ve made.

Once you’re ready for your home inspection, feel free to give us a call or contact us online for your free quote!

How to Negotiate Repairs Following Your Home Inspection

Home BuyersBefore you commit to buying a home, you should always have a home inspection done. A professional home inspection can not only identify areas of concern and items that need to be repaired, but also give you more leverage at the negotiating table.

If your inspector finds that the home does need some work, you shouldn’t necessarily back out of the deal altogether. Instead, you may be able to negotiate repairs with the sellers.

Think about what needs to be fixed before you move in.

Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to get a seller to fix every issue your home inspector uncovers. There are very few homes that are in perfect condition, and some basic wear and tear is to be expected.

Consider the repairs that your home inspector recommends, and decide which items absolutely need to be repaired before you move in. For example, if there’s an electrical issue that constitutes a safety hazard, you should ask the sellers to remedy the issue before you agree to purchase the home.

Send the seller a list of repairs you want done.

Sit down with your real estate agent and generate a list of repairs that you would like to see done before you sign on the dotted line. The seller might not agree to all of them, but they’ll probably agree to most repairs as long as they’re within reason. Many sellers are willing to swallow these extra repair expenses if it means they can secure a reliable buyer for their home.

Ask about repair credits.

There might be a few items on your list that would be impossible for a seller to do without racking up substantial costs. For instance, if the home’s subfloor in disrepair, it might not be possible for the seller to replace it without ripping out the old carpeting and replacing it, which would cost a lot of money.

In cases like these, you should ask to receive a credit on the price of the home so that you can tackle the job later. This will help you save money and give you the freedom to make repairs on your own.

To schedule your next home inspection, give us a call or contact us online today for your free quote.

These Minor Flaws Can Be Signs of Serious Underlying Issues

Low Water PressureAre you in the process of searching for a new home? If so, it’s important to keep a close eye out for issues that could require expensive repairs in the future. Some of these issues – like outdated electrical panels or cracks in the foundation—are pretty easy to spot if you know what to look for. Others, however, are more difficult to identify. In some cases, minor cosmetic defects can even be signs of serious structural or mechanical problems.

Water Pressure Issues

Low water pressure might seem like a trivial annoyance, but if the problem is widespread it could mean that the house is in need of a complete plumbing overhaul. Old houses with outdated galvanized steel pipes tend to have bad water pressure, for example. If you notice the faucets in a house are all running slow, be sure to ask about when the plumbing was last updated.

Wall and Ceiling Discoloration

Discoloration might just mean that a home hasn’t been repainted in a while, but it could also be a sign of past water damage. Be especially wary if you notice extensive discoloration on basement walls. Yellow spots on white walls and ceilings are also tell-tale signs of leaks. If you notice a musty odor in conjunction with the discoloration, there’s a good chance the home has mold and moisture issues.

Sagging, Sticking Doors

A single stuck door is probably nothing to worry about, but if all the doors in a home are sagging it could be a sign of an uneven foundation. Fixing an uneven foundation can be extremely costly, and foundation repairs can sometimes necessitate plumbing and electrical replacements as well. If you notice a number of stuck or sagging doors, check the foundation for cracks and other signs of damage.

Uneven Floors

Is there a noticeable dip or rise in the home’s flooring? Even if the change in elevation seems relatively minor, it could be a sign of a serious issue such as termite damage or a sagging foundation.  If any of the flooring in a home appears uneven, you should have it inspected by a structural engineer before you consider making an offer.

Want to make sure the house you’re looking at isn’t going to wind up being a money pit? The team at First Choice Inspectors can conduct a thorough, professional home inspection to identify a variety of potential problems. Give us a call or contact us online to get your quote today!

Keep These Tips in Mind Before Buying a Foreclosed Home

Home ForeclosureFollowing the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007, home foreclosure rates increased dramatically across the country. Some savvy investors were able to capitalize on the huge foreclosure inventory by buying homes at a fraction of their market value. But for every success story you hear about someone getting a great deal on a foreclosure, you can find many more horror stories about people buying money pits that demand extensive renovations. Buying a foreclosed home can be a worthwhile investment, but only if you’re careful to buy the right home. You can start by making a realistic budget that includes more than just the purchase price.

Include renovations in your budget.

Don’t let the attractive sticker price fool you. Some foreclosures can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate. Before you start shopping around, determine how much you’re willing to spend on renovations and include that figure in your overall budget. You should also consider what types of renovations you’re willing to take on. You probably want to steer clear of homes with foundation issues or serious water damage, for example.

Consider how long it’s been vacant.

Homes can quickly fall into disrepair when they’re not occupied. Homes that sit vacant for months or years at a time are prone to pest infestations, plumbing issues, sewage backups and more. The exterior might look fine, but there may be serious problems hiding just beneath the surface. If a home has been vacant for more than a few months, approach with caution.

Find out if the home has been winterized.

This is especially important here in the Chicago area. When unoccupied homes aren’t properly winterized, sub-zero temperatures can cause pipes to freeze and burst. This, in turn, can cause costly water damage and contribute to the growth of mold and mildew. If the home you’re looking at has been vacant during the winter, make sure the utilities were effectively winterized to prevent this type of damage.

Invest in a home inspection.

You should get an inspection anytime you buy a home, but it’s especially important when you’re shopping for foreclosures. A comprehensive home inspection can identify serious structural and mechanical issues that might otherwise go unnoticed. It can also give you a better idea of just how much the home will cost to renovate. By spending a few hundred dollars on a home inspection now, you can save many thousands of dollars in repairs down the road.

At First Choice Inspectors, we offer inspections designed specifically for foreclosed homes. To learn more, feel free to give us a call or contact us online today.

Beware of These Common Household Electrical Hazards

Electrical FireMany electrical devices and appliances are invaluable household tools, but they can also constitute dangerous safety hazards if you’re not careful. The first step toward preventing electrical hazards is educating yourself about them! Today we’ll address a few of the most common fire hazards to keep an eye out for in your home.

Overloaded power strips

Surge protectors are designed to prevent dangerous electrical surges, but they can still be overloaded with too many appliances. This is why you should never create chains of power strips by plugging them into one another. It’s also a good idea to replace old, outdated surge protectors with new ones periodically.

Appliances placed too close to water sources

You’re probably well aware of the fact that water and electricity don’t mix, but that doesn’t stop some people from using devices like blow dryers and radios in wet bathrooms. These hazards are also quite common in kitchens, where plumbing issues can cause electrical appliances to short out and generate sparks. Clean up liquid spills as soon as you notice them, and be especially careful about standing on wet floors while using handheld electrical appliances.

Outdated electrical wiring

If the electrical wiring in your home hasn’t been updated in several decades, it could be more prone to fire hazards than modern wiring. Worn-out insulation can leave wires exposed to moisture, for example. If you’re not sure about the condition of your home’s wiring, it’s important to have it inspected by a professional to make sure it’s safe and up to code.

Do you have some lingering questions or concerns about the electrical system in your home? Feel free to give us a call or contact us online to request an inspection today!

It’s National Radon Action Month!

It’s National Radon Action Month!

Have you had your home tested for the presence of radon gas? This month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is raising awareness about the importance of radon testing in observation of National Radon Action Month.

Although radon tests can be conducted at any time of year, winter is widely regarded as the best time to get a radon test. That’s because it’s easier to get an accurate reading when all the windows and doors in a home are closed. It’s especially important for homeowners in our area to get radon tests, because many counties in Illinois have documented histories of elevated radon levels.

So what is Radon, and why is it a public health concern?              

Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that is a natural byproduct of trace amounts of uranium in soil undergoing radioactive decay. As the gas is release from the soil, it emits cancer-causing alpha radiation into the air. Currently, Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the nation. The U.S. Surgeon General estimates that radon-related lung cancer claims the lives of about 21,000 Americans each year.

The good news is, radon exposure is a preventable health risk.

There are several effective radon mitigating techniques available that can reduce indoor radon levels by up to 99 percent. Before exploring these options, however, you must first have your home tested for the presence of radon. At First Choice Inspectors, we offer professional radon inspections to help homeowners determine whether or not they’re at risk of radon exposure. If we detect elevated levels of radon gas in your home, we can connect you with a qualified radon mitigation company to help you resolve the issue once and for all. Schedule your inspection online, or give us a call today to learn more!

Is Your Dryer Creating a Fire Hazard in Your Home?

Is Your Dryer Creating a Fire Hazard in Your Home?Most Americans who own a home have a washer and dryer tucked away in a laundry room. In the late 1990’s, The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that roughly 75 percent of American households had either a gas or electric dryer. A dryer has become an essential appliance for many people, but it can also constitute a fire hazard if it isn’t properly maintained. That same study also found that dryers caused more than 15,000 fires across the U.S. in the sample year 1996, and caused more than 300 injuries and 20 deaths.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent your dryer from becoming a fire hazard.

You can start by making sure you clean out your lint screen or lint trap after every single dryer use. The vent and exhaust duct should be inspected and cleaned periodically as well. Never place any rags or clothing items with gasoline, cooking oil or other volatile organic compounds on them in the dryer. Doing so could be catastrophic.

When moving into a home, be sure to have a home inspector take a look at the dryer to make sure it’s in good condition. If the home inspector has any reservations about the dryer, you should then either work with the home seller to have a new dryer installed, or inquire about what kinds of repairs will need to be made to ensure the dryer is safe and fully functional.

If you’re thinking about buying a new home, the experienced professionals at First Choice Inspectors can conduct a thorough inspection to identify a variety of potential safety issues. Give us a call or contact us online today to learn more.

Health Risks Associated With Asbestos Insulation

Danger Asbestos Removal SignBefore its negative health effects were widely understood, asbestos was a common feature of building materials such as tile and insulation throughout much of the 20th century. Fortunately, when left undisturbed, the health risks associated with asbestos insulation are fairly negligible. If you are buying an older home, however, it’s important to have an asbestos inspection conducted before you do any renovating or remodeling.

There are a number of different health issues associated with asbestos exposure.

If you inhale airborne asbestos fibers, they can land in the lower regions of your lungs and cause asbestosis, which is a fibrotic lung disease that can impact your respiratory function and even lead to death. Asbestos fiber inhalation can also increase your risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma. Frequent asbestos exposure can even lead to cardiomegaly, a condition in which the heart is enlarged.

Fortunately, there’s a simple step that you can take to avoid asbestos-related health issues.

Prior to moving into an older home, ask your home inspector to conduct a thorough asbestos inspection. If the inspector does find asbestos, you should ask the seller to have it removed completely prior to closing. The last thing you want to do is have to pay for asbestos remediation after you’ve already moved into the home.

At First Choice Inspectors, our professional asbestos inspection services can give you the peace of mind of knowing that your new home is safe and free of asbestos-based building materials. Give us a call or contact us online today to learn more.

Things to Check Before You Turn on Your Furnace This Season

Things to Check Before You Turn on Your Furnace This SeasonIt’s starting to get cold outside, and that means that it won’t be long before you’re depending on your furnace to keep your home’s interior warm and comfortable. Heating a home for several months can put your furnace under quite a bit of stress, so there are a few things you should double check before you turn it on to ensure it functions effectively.

Have you cleared everything away from the furnace?

Over the course of the summer, items can build up on and around your furnace. From cleaning rags to children’s toys and other household items that you don’t have room for elsewhere, it’s easy to allow stuff to pile up near your furnace. Before you turn your furnace on, move these items away and make sure it has plenty of clearance to allow for proper airflow. If left unchecked, these stray items can constitute a fire hazard as well.

Have you replaced your furnace filter?

Your furnace filter cleans the air that circulates through your furnace and HVAC system. This filter can pretty filthy over time, and when it does, it will reduce the efficiency of your furnace. It will also allow dust, germs and other pollutants to become airborne in your home. This can have a detrimental effect on your air quality, and even make you and your family sick. Make sure you have a fresh filter to start the season off right.

Have you had your furnace inspected recently?

If you have a fairly new furnace, you might be able to get away without having a furnace inspection. Generally speaking, however, you should have your furnace inspected at least once a year. This will allow you to deal with any potential technical issues and keep your furnace up and running all winter long.