Trust a Home Inspector with Electrical Inspections

Every home has electricity. So, if you’re moving into a home, you need to make sure that the electrical work is up to code. You could take a whack at it on your own, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Here are 3 reasons to trust a home inspector with the electrical inspection on your home:

Electrical Work is Complicated – If you’re not a an electrician, look at a bunch of wires could look like Latin. If you speak Latin then it looks like some language that you don’t know. You may be able to notice when certain lights or outlets don’t work, but figuring out why or noticing less obvious bu harmful problems won’t be so easy.

Electrical Work can be Dangerous – When inspecting a home’s electrical state, you have to know what you can and cannot touch, as well as other safety precautions and potential hazards. The layman could go into any hazardous situation thinking it’s a walk in the park, so trust someone who knows electrical danger when they see it!

Inspectors Are Not Electricians – This might sound negative, but it’s actually positive. Inspectors will know how to recognize electrical hazards, but they won’t point out things for the sake of finding problems. Look at it this way: have you ever taken your car in for mechanical work? Did the mechanics suggest a bunch of stuff that cost more money and that didn’t seem necessary? An inspector, on the other hand, will only suggest that you fix things that actually need to be fixed.

5 Common Problems in Foreclosed Homes

Buying a foreclosed home can be a very good investment if you have the time and energy to make up for all of the problems that arise from foreclosure. So, before you buy a foreclosed home, get a foreclosure inspection. Here are some common things we see as Chicago home inspectors:

1 – Mold – When people aren’t around to clean, mold grows with ease. Moisture accumulates and the home becomes the perfect environment for various species of mold. This could mean a lot more than cleaning, you may have to replace drywall, beams, etc.

2 – Broken Windows & Siding – The elements and vandals alike love foreclosed homes. Don’t be surprised by broken windows or siding. And remember, siding isn’t there for the sole purpose of making things look nice, it’s there to protect your home, so it’ll need to be fixed.

3 – Infestation – Again, when people aren’t around, rodents, felines, canines, insects and birds make homes. You can’t blame them, but you can’t live with them either. Just because you don’t see them in the living room or basement doesn’t mean they aren’t there. A month after moving in, you might find them in your walls, attic or cupboard.

4 – Malfunctioning Faucets & Toilets – When these go out of use for extended periods of time, they break. Pipes need use to be operational. So, be prepared to call a plumber.

5 – Electrical Malfunctions – This can happen for all sorts of reasons. Animals chew away at wires, lightning hit the house, the prior residents stole electrical components before leaving… anything could happen. Sadly, we can’t live without lights, refrigerators and other electrical appliances, so you’ll need to have these issues looked into.

Keep all of this in mind, have a professional home inspector look into any foreclosed homes for you and good luck in searching for your home!

Avoid Hazardous Dryer Duct Materials!

You probably don’t think too much about your dryer duct. You set it up, it discards dryer air out of your house and there’s not much more to think about.

Or is there?

We encounter this sort of thing all the time during foreclosure inspections. Think about it: dryers create intense heat in small, usually confined spaces in your home. The dryer duct connects directly to your wall and if something goes wrong, you could be left in serious trouble.

Here’s a run down of dryer duct materials:

Plastic – This is an absolute don’t. Plastic can catch fire and spread it at a rapid rate (in other words, plastic ducts are flammable), leading to huge home damage. Stay safe and don’t use plastic!

Foil – While foil is not flammable, it can still virtually disintegrate if a fire starts within it. Some inspectors will not pass a home using this, though it is safer than plastic (and easier to use that semi-rigid aluminum).

Semi-Rigid Aluminum – This material is definitely the best and safest. Like any material, it can deteriorate under intense circumstances, but it has far greater integrity than foil or plastic. The UL listed semi-rigid dryer ducts will definitely offer the preventative safety that your home needs.

Avoid danger by choosing the right dryer duct material. As you know, certain materials withstand heat a lot better than others, in this case the aluminum. You also probably know that it only takes a spark to start a decent fire in the midst of certain materials. So, if you have a plastic or foil duct, get rid of it! Stop the fire when it’s still a spark, avoid danger and pass the home inspection with a semi-rigid aluminum dryer duct.

No – Brick is not Indestructible!

A week or so ago, The Chicago Tribune posted an article about brick homes. After reading it, you might just think that brick homes require no maintenance or upkeep. You might even think a brick home is entirely indestructible. Well, a quick look a this panoramic photo of San Francisco, after the earthquake of 1906 reveals that brick architecture is, in fact, destructible.

Granted, an earthquake produces a little more energy then normal wear and tear from weather and average elements. Even so, that does not mean that the earth beneath your home does shift. Those shifts can really affect the brick structure and, if you’ve ever played Jenga, you know how bricks fall over if compromised in the right way.

So, if you look to buy a brick home (new or used) make sure to conduct an accurate home inspection. A proper structural inspection will reveal if you’re about to walk into the finale of a Jenga game. Only, unlike Jenga, you won’t be laughing if everything topples over!

The Importance of a Good Home Inspection

A recent Chicago Tribune article tells of a family who made an offer on a home before the home inspection. This is probably not too strange in most cases. In any case, as the article states, the couple made an offer of $225,000 on a home in Texas before the inspection proved that the home required between $20,000-$30,000 in repairs.

So, what does this story say? First of all, if you read the article, you’ll see that they mention how online realtors are are great at posting only photos which make the house look good. So, don’t get your hopes up too much based on photos alone.

Secondly, make sure to get a good home inspector! Whether the home is years old or brand new, you need to be sure that all of the money you’re about to fork out is going to something that’s worth it! Plus, you want to make sure that you won’t be spending even more money after purchasing the home.

Unlike cars, homes don’t have a blue book. But, similar to cars, not everyone is an expert at home engineering and architecture. Trust the experts and get a good opinion in order to ensure the best home purchase possible!

3 Warning Signs of a Bad Roof

We all fear it: a roof in need of repair. In denial we ignore the warning signs, but you can’t hold off on roof repairs. Of course, you can definitely benefit from full roof inspection, but don’t let the warnings pass by!

1 – Ceiling Stains – Several factors can cause ceiling stains, but if you’re noticing them this could be a tell-tale sign that you need roof repair.

2 – Missing Shingles – Where did my shingles go?! Well, they could just be sitting in your yard somewhere, but if they are not on your roof, it doesn’t matter. You have to replace them immediately!

3 – Rust / Corrosion – If your flashing rusts or corrodes, these point to bigger issues in your roof. Any time roof-related metals have damage, make sure to take a closer look, as something bigger could be at stake!

Please contact First Choice Inspectors today if you have any need of Chicago home inspection! We’re here to make sure that your home is up to code!

Setting the stage for a home sale

Courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer

Spring, is traditionally, the best time to buy or sell real estate, even through the downturn.  Al Heavens from The Philadelphia Inquirer writes about how to set the stage for a home sale.  For sellers, it is time for real estate theater; the house is the star.  “The cast includes agents and brokers, home inspectors, title people, mortgage companies, lenders, underwriters and, obviously, buyers.”  Some sellers are very hands on, while others do not want to bother with the day to day.  Paul Leiser of Avalon Real Estate in New Jersey said he believes that the internet has empowered the sellers and buyers.  Realtors are dealing with more informed involvement on both buyers and sellers, so confrontation can be minimized if an agent keeps the seller informed.  Sellers seem open to agent’s suggestions, the home staging will be up to the owner rather than the agent.  The seller who thinks he or she knows all may end up disappointed and a house that sells for less.  The house should be available for showings but at no point should the seller enter into conversation with potential buyers, the agents, appraiser, or home inspector.  The job of the agent is to educate the buyer and seller on the present climate and conditions.


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Location of Cracks can reveal what is happening to your Foundation

Leader-Telegram publishes can article about how the location of cracks can reveal what is happening to your foundation.  Wall cracks appear as the result of overloading, settlement or heaving, which may give you information on what is going on with the foundation.  Vertical cracks are often caused by “settlement of the home, soil compacting and soil washing away under the footings.”  This occurs when an upward force is next to a downward force, while angle cracks occur when the up force and down force offset each other.  This can appear when there is a difference in the soil under the house from one another, which causes the soil to push up.  Horizontal cracks can be caused by pressure from the outside, which can be attributed to pressure against the wall, improper backfilling, and surface problems.  “Skrinkage cracks appear on the foundationwalls as part of the curing process. These cracks can appear because there was too much moisture in the concrete when it set.”  This could be caused by mortar set in cold weather that froze and later expanded before having a chance to cure.

 

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Home-building Industry poised for Green Future

Mike Holmes from Leader-Post speaks about the current trend is definitely moving towards green products and options. The green movement is still so new that it is hard to know which regulations and certifications are the legitimate ones.  This is still so new that the one green move that is full proof is the switch to energy efficiency and durability.  Building an energy-efficient home is becoming the standard for homeowners.  “It’s a way of thinking that says it’s better to invest in more insulation than a granite countertop. It’s cool to have solar panels, energy-efficient appliances and a green roof. These features are becoming the new eye candy of the modern and contemporary home.”  Since energy costs are rising we, as homebuyers and homebuilders, must begin to turn to energy-efficient elements.  As we move forward we will begin to see more homeowners choosing renovations that will bring their homes to higher performance levels.  There are a few options that don’t require too much restructuring:

  1. Increase and/or replace old insulation in the attic.
  2. Always purchase energy star appliances.
  3. Install a programmable thermostat that can regulate the temperature of your home between day and night.
  4. Replace old toilets with ones that are low-flow to save 30 to 50 per cent of the water normally used.
  5. Install a domestic hot-water recovery system that can recapture heat gathered from hot water used during dishes, showers, etc.

 

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Don’t Forget a Home Inspection with a New Construction Home

Dan Steward from RIS Media writes about the importance of not forgetting a home inspection after the construction of a new home.  Many homebuyers have the false belief that new homes should be flawless, when that is never the case.  The issues found in new homes are different than the problems with resale homes.  When assessing a resale home, the problems sit with older systems that are nearing the end of their self-life; while the complications with new homes is typically incomplete work, damaged systems, or missing pieces of key materials.  Hiring a home inspection company before closing on a new home can help save homebuyers money due to unexpected home repairs down the road.

New home construction problems fall into four categories:

  1. Incomplete work: Many new home constructions are not completed properly.  “A home inspection company will uncover these issues prior to the move-in date.”
  2. Damaged systems and finishes: New homes often experience damage during construction due to rain, snow, and storage damage.
  3. Missing elements: Oversights during construction due to human error are more common than many realtors and homebuyers think.
  4. Imperfect or sloppy workmanship: While everyone would love perfect workmanship, that is not ideal; any number of things can go wrong during the construction of a new home.

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