This report published on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 7:19:41 PM EDT
What Really Matters:
Buying a home? The process can be stressful. A home inspection is supposed to give you peace of mind, but often has the opposite effect. You will be asked to absorb a lot of information in a short time. This often includes a written report, checklist, photographs, environmental reports and what the inspector himself says during the inspection. All this combined with the seller's disclosure and what you notice yourself makes the experience even more overwhelming. What should you do? Relax. Most of your inspection will be maintenance recommendations, life expectancies and minor imperfections. These are nice to know about. However, the issues that really matter will fall into four categories:
Major defects. An example of this would be a structural failure. Things that lead to major defects. A small roof-flashing leak, for example. Things that may hinder your ability to finance, legally occupy or insure the home. Safety hazards, such as an exposed, live buss bar at the electric panel. Anything in these categories should be addressed. Often a serious problem can be corrected inexpensively to protect both life and property (especially in categories 2 and 4). Most sellers are honest and are often surprised to learn of defects uncovered during an inspection. Realize that sellers are under no obligation to repair everything mentioned in the report. No home is perfect. Keep things in perspective. Do not kill your deal over things that do not matter. It is inappropriate to demand that a seller address deferred maintenance, conditions already listed on the seller's disclosure or nit-picky items.
The above is an excerpt from Sell Your Home For More by Nick Gromicko.
A home inspection will not reveal every problem that exists or ever could exist, but only those material defects observed on the day of the inspection.
There is no way that you can eliminate the costs of owning a home; things will break down, even with regular maintenance, just like your automobile does, just like your health does. Habitation Investigation LLC is not authorized to issue home insurance. Habitation Investigation LLC recommends that you obtain appropriate insurance on your home, its appliances, and its systems, and that you read the fine print in your homeowners insurance policy before accepting and paying for it. Habitation Investigation LLC does not guarantee the life expectancy of any system or component.
Report dissemination: The Company does not approve of the reports dissemination to anyone except the client signing this contract and will not provide an original nor copy to any other person or entity unless properly prepared, written authorization is provided by the client. Dissemination of the report by the client, or as requested by the client, to any other person or any entity is strictly at the clients own risk and the client agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless Habitation Investigation LLC its directors, officers, employees, and agents, and their successors and assigns for all costs, expenses, legal fees, awards, settlements, and judgments in any legal proceeding brought by any third party who claims he/she/they/it relied on representations made in such report and was damaged in any way whatsoever.
This report is the exclusive property of Habitation Investigation LLC. This report was made for the exclusive benefit of the client and no other person may rely on this report for any reason. Use of this report by any unauthorized person(s) is strictly prohibited. Unauthorized use may result in legal action.
Present during inspection: Client(s), Property owner(s)
Weather conditions: Cloudy
Temperature: Cool Low 50's
Ground condition: Wet
Foundation type: Finished basement
1) Comment - The following items are not included in this inspection: humidifiers, dehumidifiers, electronic air filters; solar, coal or wood fired heat systems; thermostat or temperature control accuracy and timed functions; heating components concealed within the building structure or in inaccessible areas; underground utilities and systems; safety devices and controls (due to automatic operation). Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not provide an estimate of remaining life on heating system components, does not determine if heating systems are appropriately sized, or perform any evaluations that require a pilot light to be lit. It is beyond the scope of this inspection to determine if furnace heat exchangers are intact and free of leaks. Condensation pans and drain lines may clog or leak at any time and should be monitored while in operation in the future.
2) Comment - Some wall, floor and/or ceiling surfaces were obscured by furniture and/or stored items. Some areas couldn't be evaluated.
3) Safety, Repair/Replace, Conducive conditions - Flashing is missing from above one or more deck ledger boards. This can cause moisture to accumulate between the ledger board(s) and the structure. Rot may result in this area and cause the ledger board fasteners to fail. The deck may separate from the structure in this event and poses a significant safety hazard. A qualified contractor should install flashing above ledger board(s) where necessary. For more information on installing deck ledger boards visit: http://www.hometime.com/Howto/projects/decks/deck_4.htm
4) Repair/Replace - One or more wooden deck support posts are in contact with soil. This is a conducive condition for wood destroying insects and organisms. However no damage from wood destroying insects or organisms was found. Standard building practices require that there be at least 6" of space between any wood and the soil below, even if the wood is treated. If possible, soil should be removed or graded so a 6" clearance is maintained. Otherwise recommend installing borate based Impel rods to prevent rot.
5) Repair/Replace - The perimeter grading slopes towards the structure in one or more areas or should be improved. This can result in water accumulating around the structure's foundation, or in basements and crawl spaces if they exist. Accumulated water is a conducive condition to wood destroying insects and organisms. Wet soil may also cause the foundation to settle and possibly fail over time. Recommend grading soil so it slopes down and away from the structure with a slope of at least 5% (10% or better is optimal) for at least 6 feet.
6) Repair/Maintain, Conducive conditions - One or more minor cracks (1/8 inch or less) were found in the foundation. These don't appear to be a structural concern, but recommend sealing them to prevent water infiltration and monitoring them in the future. Numerous products exist to seal such cracks including:
7) Repair/Maintain - Vegetation such as trees, shrubs and/or vines are in contact with or less than one foot from the structure's exterior. Vegetation can serve as a conduit for wood destroying insects and may retain moisture against the exterior after it rains. Vegetation should be pruned and/or removed as necessary to maintain a one foot clearance between it and the structure's exterior.
8) Comment - The following items are not included in this inspection: swimming pools, spas, hot tubs, water features and related equipment; playground, recreation or leisure equipment; landscape lighting; areas below exterior structures with less than three feet of vertical clearance; irrigation systems; invisible fencing; sea walls, docks and boathouses. Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not test or determine the adequacy of drainage systems for grounds, walkways, below-grade stairs and roof downspouts. The inspector does not provide an evaluation of geological conditions and/or site stability, compliance of pool or spa fencing with municipal requirements, or determination that deck, balcony and/or stair membranes are watertight.
9) Comment - Approximately three downspouts terminate above roof surfaces rather than being routed to gutters below or to the ground level. This is very common, but it can reduce the life of roof surface materials below due to large amounts of water frequently flowing over the roof surface. Granules typically are washed off of composition shingles as a result, and leaks may occur. Recommend considering having a qualified contractor install extensions as necessary so downspouts don't terminate above roof surfaces.
10) - The following items are not included in this inspection: below-grade foundation walls and footings, or those obscured by vegetation or building components; exterior building surfaces or components obscured by vegetation, stored items or debris. Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Some amount of cracking is normal in concrete slabs and foundation walls due to shrinkage and drying. Note that the inspector does not determination the adequacy of sump pumps, seismic reinforcement, nor determine if support posts, columns, beams, joists, studs, trusses, etc. are of adequate size, spanning or spacing.
Roof covering: Asphalt or fiberglass composition shingles
Estimated age of roof: 8 years
Gutter & downspout material: Aluminum
Roof ventilation: Adequate
11) Repair/Replace, Evaluate - Four or more composition shingles are damaged, deteriorated and/or missing, and should be replaced. Leaks may occur as a result. A qualified roofing contractor should evaluate and make repairs as necessary.
12) Repair/Replace, Evaluate - Approximately one composition shingles has raised, most likely due to nails that have loosened. Leaks may occur as a result. A qualified roofing contractor should evaluate and make repairs as necessary, such as reseating nails.
13) Repair/Maintain, Evaluate - Rain / moisture has rolled under the shingle edges in various areas. Recommend evaluation and repair by a roofer. Some deterioration was observed in small areas.
Typical repair may involve the installation of drip edge flashing.
14) Repair/Maintain - Roofing nails in one or more areas have loosened, backed out or have exposed nail heads. Leaks may occur as a result. A qualified roofing contractor should evaluate and make repairs as necessary, such as reseating nails and applying sealant.
15) Comment - The following items or areas are not included in this inspection: areas that could not be traversed or viewed clearly due to lack of access; areas and components obscured by insulation; solar roofing components; any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not determination if rafters, trusses, joists, beams, etc. are of adequate size, spanning or spacing. The inspector does not provide an estimate of remaining roof surface life, does not determine that the roof has absolutely no leaks at the time of the inspection, and does not determine that the roof won't leak in the future. To absolutely determine than no leaks exist, complete access to all roof structure areas must be available during a wide variety of weather conditions, including prolonged heavy rain, high wind from varying directions, heavy accumulations of snow and/or ice, and melting snow and ice.
16) - Kick out flashing is missing in the area indicated. Kick out flashing is designed to divert rain away from exterior walls that extend past a roof surface. Repair.
17) Safety, Repair/Replace, Evaluate - The auto-reverse mechanism on the vehicle door opener is inoperable or requires too much force to activate. This is a safety hazard, especially for small children. A qualified contractor should evaluate and repair as necessary. For more information on garage door safety issues, visit: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/523.html or http://www.ohdstl.com/safety.html
18) Safety, Repair/Replace - The garage-house door isn't equipped with an automatic closing device such as sprung hinges. This door should close and latch automatically to prevent vehicle fumes from entering living spaces and/or to slow the spread of fire from the garage to living spaces. A qualified contractor should install automatic closing device(s) as necessary, and as per standard building practices, so this door closes and latches automatically.
19) Safety, Repair/Replace - The wall-mounted control for the vehicle door opener is less than five feet off the floor, or within reach of children. This is a safety hazard, especially for children. Children should not be able to operate vehicle door openers. Controls for door openers should be relocated as necessary so they're at least 5 feet above floors and/or out of reach of children. For more information on garage door safety issues, visit: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/523.html or http://www.ohdstl.com/safety.html
20) - This stain was observed in the garage. The surface in the garage was dry at time of inspection, however the water infiltration appears to be ongoing.
21) Safety, Repair/Replace - Extension cords are being used as permanent wiring in one or more areas. They should only be used for portable equipment on a temporary basis. Using extension cords as permanent wiring poses a fire and shock hazard, and is an indication that wiring is inadequate and should be updated. Extension cords may be undersized. Connections may not be secure, resulting in power fluctuations, damage to equipment, and sparks that could start a fire. Extension cords should be removed as necessary, or a qualified electrician should evaluate and make repairs as necessary. For example, install additional circuits and/or electric receptacles.
22) Repair/Replace, Evaluate - Two or more areas of the roof structure were wet or had elevated levels of moisture at the time of the inspection. There appears to be an active leak in the roof or structure exterior. A qualified contractor should evaluate and repair as necessary.
See also the comments regarding the roof.
23) Repair/Replace - Ceiling insulation is uneven in some areas. This is likely due to someone having walked on or through the insulation. Recommend installing additional insulation where necessary to restore the original R rating.
24) Minor Defect - No insulation is installed over the attic access hatch. Recommend installing insulation above hatch for better energy efficiency.
Insulation batt is present but off to the side.
25) Minor Defect - No weatherstrip is installed around the attic access hatch. Weatherstrip should be installed around the hatch to prevent heated interior air from entering attic.
26) Comment - Some attic areas were inaccessible due to stored items, lack of permanently installed walkways, the possibility of damage to loose fill insulation, and/or low height. These areas are excluded from this inspection.
27) Comment - Access to the attic space above the kitchen and front room was sealed shut. Recommend inspection after access panel is opened.
Primary service overload protection type: Circuit breakers
Service amperage (amps): 150
Service voltage (volts): 120/240
Location of main service switch: basement
Location of main disconnect: Breaker at top of main service panel
Service entrance conductor material: Aluminum
System ground: Ground rod(s) in soil
Main disconnect rating (amps): 150
Branch circuit wiring type: Non-metallic sheathed
28) Comment - The following items are not included in this inspection: generator systems, surge suppressors, inaccessible or concealed wiring; underground utilities and systems; low voltage lighting or lighting on timers or sensors. Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not determine the adequacy of grounding or bonding, does not determine if this system has an adequate capacity for the client's specific needs, nor determine if this system has any reserve capacity for additions or expansion. The inspector does not operate circuit breakers as part of the inspection, install or change light bulbs, nor determine the operability of every wall switch or outlet.
Location of main water shut-off valve: Basement corner
Location of main water meter: Basement
Location of main fuel shut-off: exterior of house
Water service: Public
Service pipe material: Polyethelene
Supply pipe material: Copper
Vent pipe material: Plastic
Drain pipe material: Plastic
Waste pipe material: Plastic
36) Safety, Repair/Replace - The clothes dryer is equipped with a vinyl or foil, accordion-type, flexible exhaust duct. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission considers these types of ducts to be unsafe, and a fire hazard. These types of ducts can trap lint and are susceptible to kinks or crushing, which can greatly reduce the air flow. This duct should be replaced with a rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct, and by a qualified contractor if necessary. Most clothes dryer manufacturers specify the use of a rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct. For more information on dryer safety issues, see http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/5022.html
37) Comment - The following items are not included in this inspection: private wells and sewage disposal systems; main, side and lateral sewer lines; gray water systems; pressure boosting systems; incinerating or composting toilets; fire suppression sprinkler systems; water softeners, conditioners or filtering systems; plumbing components concealed within the foundation or building structure, or in inaccessible areas such as below tubs; underground utilities and systems; overflow drains for tubs and sinks; backflow prevention devices. Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not operate water supply or shut-off valves due to the possibility of valves leaking or breaking when operated. The inspector does not test for lead in the water supply, the water pipes or solder, does not determine if plumbing and fuel lines are adequately sized, and does not determining the existence or condition of underground or above-ground fuel tanks.
38) Repair/Replace - A wood burning fireplace has been converted to use gas logs, and no glass doors are installed on the fireplace. For gas conversions like this, the fireplace damper is modified so it is permanently open to prevent combustion gases from the pilot light and main burners accumulating in living spaces. Since the damper is always open, unconditioned air from outside can enter living spaces through the chimney, and conditioned air from inside can exit through the chimney. This can result in higher energy costs from heating and cooling. The client(s) should consider having a qualified chimney service contractor install glass doors on the fireplace to reduce or eliminate this air flow.
39) Comment - It is impossible for a home inspection to determine with any degree of certainty whether the flue is free of defects. In accordance with recommendations made by the National Fire Prevention Association to have all chimneys inspected before buying a home, you should consider having a Certified Chimney Specialist conduct a Level II inspection of the chimney flue prior to close of escrow. A Level II inspection is very comprehensive and can better determine the condition of the flue than can a limited generalist inspection or a Level I chimney inspection.
40) Safety, Repair/Replace, Evaluate - No ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection device is visible for the sump pump electric supply. A qualified electrician should determine if a GFCI protection device (receptacle or circuit breaker) exists for the sump pump and install one if missing to reduce the danger of electric shock.
41) Comment - The GFCI reset for the basement outlets is in the garage.
42) Repair/Replace - The range hood fan vents into the kitchen rather than outdoors. Ventilation may be inadequate and moisture may accumulate indoors. Recommend having a qualified contractor make modifications as necessary as per standard building practices so the range hood fan vents outdoors.
43) Comment - The following items are not included in this inspection: free-standing or portable appliances such as dishwashers, trash compactors, refrigerators, freezers, ice makers; specialty appliances such as hot water dispensers, water filters and trash compactors; appliance timers, clocks, cook functions, self and/or continuous cleaning operations, thermostat or temperature control accuracy, and lights. Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not provide an estimate of the remaining life of appliances, and does not determine the adequacy of operation of appliances such as dishwashers, garbage disposals, trash compactors, ovens, broilers, etc.
44) Repair/Replace, Evaluate - Elevated levels of moisture, soft floor structure, and/or dark staining at vinyl flooring around the base of two of the toilets. A qualified contractor should remove toilet(s) where necessary for further evaluation and repairs. The floor structure and flooring material below may need repair or replacement. Adequate time should be allowed for enclosed, wet floor structures to dry out after repairs are made and before floor cavities are closed off to prevent mold growth.
Half bath and the bathroom in the hallway.
45) Repair/Replace, Evaluate - The "flapper valve" in one or more toilets did not reseat after flushing. Significant amounts of water can be lost through such leaks. A qualified plumber should evaluate and repair or replace components as necessary.
46) Repair/Replace - Drain screen missing for the master shower stall.
47) Repair/Maintain, Conducive conditions - Caulk is missing or deteriorated above one or more bathtubs, where the tub surround meets the tub. It should be replaced where deteriorated and/or applied where missing to prevent water intrusion and damage to the wall structure.
48) Comment - The following items are not included in this inspection: overflow drains for tubs and sinks; bidets, heated towel racks, saunas, steam generators, clothes washers, clothes dryers. Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not determine the adequacy of washing machine drain lines, washing machine catch pan drain lines, or clothes dryer exhaust ducts. The inspector does not operate water supply or shut-off valves for sinks, toilets, bidets, clothes washers, etc. due to the possibility of valves leaking or breaking when operated. The inspector does not determine if shower pans or tub and shower enclosures are water tight, or determine the completeness or operability of any gas piping to laundry appliances.
49) Safety, Repair/Replace - Gaps larger than four inches were found in one or more guardrails. This is a safety hazard, especially for small children. A qualified contractor should make modifications as necessary so gaps in guardrails do not exceed four inches. For example, installing additional balusters or railing components.
Small area at bottom of basement steps.
50) Safety, Minor Defect - Cover plate(s) are broken at one or more electric boxes, such as for receptacles, switches and/or junction boxes. They are intended to contain fire and prevent electric shock from exposed wires. This is a safety hazard due to the risk of fire and shock. Cover plates should be replaced where necessary.
51) Repair/Replace - The weatherstrip around one or more exterior entry doors is not sealing properly. Weatherstrip should be installed where missing and/or replaced where deteriorated, and by a qualified contractor if necessary.
52) Comment - The following items are not included in this inspection: security, intercom and sound systems; communications wiring; central vacuum systems; elevators and stair lifts; sources of obnoxious odors; cosmetic deficiencies due to normal wear and tear in wall, floor and ceiling surfaces and coverings, or in equipment; deficiencies relating to interior decorating; low voltage and gas lighting systems. Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not evaluate any areas or items which require moving stored items, furnishings, debris, equipment, floor coverings, insulation or similar materials. The inspector does not test for asbestos, lead, radon, mold, hazardous waste, urea formaldehyde urethane, or any other toxic substance. Some items such as window operability are tested on a sampled basis. The client should be aware that paint may obscure wall and ceiling defects, floor coverings may obscure floor defects, and furnishings may obscure wall, floor and floor covering defects. If furnishings were present during the inspection, recommend a full evaluation of walls, floors and ceilings that were previously obscured when possible. Determining the cause of odors is not within the scope of this inspection.
53) Comment - Based on the age of this structure and the appearance of existing smoke alarms, the alarms may be older than 10 years old. According to National Fire Protection Association, aging smoke alarms don't operate as efficiently and often are the source for nuisance alarms. Older smoke alarms are estimated to have a 30% probability of failure within the first 10 years. Newer smoke alarms do better, but should be replaced after 10 years. Unless you know that the smoke alarms are new, replacing them when moving into a new residence is also recommended by NFPA. For more information, visit this article: NFPA urges replacing home smoke alarms after 10 years.
Fewmore years to go.
54) Comment - Ceilings were free of stains. Stains provide clues to roof and plumbing leaks.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION CONTINUES You should not regard this inspection and report as a guarantee or warranty of the property and its components. It is not. It is simply a report on the general condition of the property at a given point in time. Furthermore, as a homeowner, you should expect problems to occur; roofs will leak, drain pipes will become blocked, and components and systems will fail without warning. For these reasons, you should take into consideration the age of the house and its components and keep a comprehensive insurance policy current. If you have been provided with a home protection policy, read it carefully. Such policies usually only cover insignificant costs, such as that of rooter service, and the representatives of some insurance companies are very likely to charge you for a service call and then deny coverage on the grounds that a given condition was preexisting or not covered because of an alleged code violation or a manufacturers defect. Therefore, you should read such policies very carefully, and depend upon our company for any assistance and consultation that you may need.
Roof Information There are many different roof types, and every roof will wear differently relative to its age, the number of its layers, the quality of its material, the method of its application, its exposure to direct sunlight or to other prevalent weather conditions, and its maintenance. However, regardless of its design-life, every roof is only as good as the waterproof membrane beneath it, which is concealed and cannot be examined without removing the roof material, and this is equally true of almost all roofs. In fact, the material on most pitched roofs is not designed to be waterproof only water-resistant. There are two basic roof types, pitched and flat. Pitched roofs are the most common, and the most dependable. They are variously pitched, and typically finished with composition shingles that have a design life of twenty to twenty-five years, or concrete, composite, Spanish, or metal tiles that have a design-life of forty to fifty years, and gravel roofs that have a lesser pitch and a shorter design-life of ten to fifteen years. These roofs may be layered, or have one roof installed over another, which is a common practice but one that is never recommended because it reduces the design-life of the new roof by several years and requires a periodical service of the flashings. These are serviced with mastic, which eventually shrinks and cracks and provides a common point of leakage. However, among the pitched roofs, gravel ones are the least dependable, because the low pitch and the gravel prevent them from draining as readily as other roofs. For this reason, they must be conscientiously maintained. In this respect, the least dependable of all roofs are the flat ones, which are also called built-up ones. Some flat roofs are adequately sloped toward drains but many are not, and water simply ponds and will only be dispersed by evaporation. However, the most common cause of leakage results when roofs are not serviced or kept clean, and foliage and other debris blocks the drainage channels. What remains true of all roofs is that, whereas their condition can be evaluated, it is virtually impossible for anyone to detect a leak except as it is occurring or by specific water tests, which are beyond the scope of our service. Even water stains on ceilings, or on the framing within attics, will not necessarily confirm an active leak without some corroborative evidence, and such evidence can be deliberately concealed. Consequently, only the installer can credibly guarantee that a roof will not leak, and they do. We cannot, and do not give any such guarantees. We will examine every roof, evaluate it, and even attempt to approximate its age, but we will not predict is remaining life expectancy, nor guarantee that it will not leak. Naturally, the sellers or the occupants of a residence will generally have the most intimate knowledge of the roof and of its history. Therefore, we recommend that you ask the sellers about it, and that you either include comprehensive roof coverage in your home insurance policy, or that you obtain a roof certification from an established local roofing company. There are a wide variety of composition shingle roofs, which are comprised of asphalt or fiberglass materials impregnated with mineral granules that are designed to deflect the deteriorating ultra-violet rays of the sun. These roofs are warranted by the manufacturer to last from twenty to twenty-five years, and are typically guaranteed against leaks by the installer for three to five years. The actual life of the roof will vary, depending on a number of interrelated factors besides the quality of the material and the method of installation. Poor maintenance is the most common cause of roof failure, but a southern exposure can cause a roof to deteriorate prematurely, as will the practice of layering over another roof. However, the first indication of significant wear is when the granules begin to separate and leave pockmarks or dark spots. This is referred to as primary decomposition, which means that the roof is in decline, and therefore susceptible to leakage. This typically begins with the hip and ridge shingles and to the field shingles on the south facing side. This does not mean that the roof is ready to be replaced, but that it should be serviced or monitored. Regular maintenance will certainly extend the life of any roof, and will usually avert most leaks that only become evident after they have caused other damage. This is important, because in accordance with industry standards our inspection service does not include a guarantee against leaks. For such a guarantee, you would need to have a roofing company perform a water test and issue a roof certification. However, the sellers or the occupants will generally have the most intimate knowledge of the roof, and you ask them about its history and then schedule a regular maintenance service.
Concrete Slabs/slab foundations Bolted, slab foundations are the most modern and they can vary considerably from older ones that have no moisture barrier beneath them and no reinforcing steel within them to newer ones that have moisture barriers beneath them and adjustable reinforcing steel within them. This type is called a post-tension slab, but is often impossible to distinguish one slab type from another in which even the size and spacing of the bolts can vary, although most are concealed. Our inspection of slabs conforms to industry standards. We examine the visible portion of the stem walls on the exterior of the structure for any evidence of significant cracks or structural deformation. However, we do not move furniture or lift carpeting and padding to look for cracks, and we do not use any specialized tools or measuring devices to establish relative elevations or determine any degree of differential settling. Significantly, many slabs are built or move out of level, but the average person would not realize this until there is a difference of more than one inch in twenty feet, which most authorities describe as being tolerable. Interestingly, many slabs are found to contain cracks when the carpet and padding are removed, but there is no absolute standard for evaluating them. However, those that are less than 1/4" and which exhibit no significant vertical or horizontal displacement are not regarded as being structurally threatening. They typically result from common shrinkage, but can also be caused by a deficient mixture of concrete, deterioration through time, seismic activity, adverse soil conditions, and poor drainage, and if they are not sealed they can allow moisture to enter a residence, and particularly if the residence is surcharged by a hill or a slope, or if downspouts discharge adjacent to the slab. However, in the absence of any major defects, we may not recommend that you consult with a structural engineer or a foundation contractor, but this should not deter you from seeking the opinion of any such expert.
Cast Iron Pipe Cast Iron if being used in the drain, waste, and vent portions of the plumbing system. This type of pipe is normally known to deteriorate from the inside outward. Either point of corrosion may lead to pitting of the cast iron piping, and can eventually lead to pipe failure and leaking. Failure of the pipe under the slab can result in settling and cracking of the foundation. If the cracking and settling occurs towards the center and away from the perimeter of the slab foundation, the process of leveling and stabilizing the slab becomes more difficult and expensive. Thus, cast iron pipe represents a double concern to homeowners and potential homebuyers; it results in the increased possibility of both future plumbing and foundation repair expenses. Plumbing repairs involving replacement of failing pipe under the slab foundation requires tunneling under the slab, which is expensive. But tunneling is also the preferred method of foundation piering. So it is important in cases of cast iron pipe failure to coordinate the work of the plumbing contractor with the work of foundation leveling contractor, so that they can coordinate the digging and use of the tunnels thus reducing the overall cost of restoring the property. There is another solution. For pipes that are pitted, but are not yet indicating failure (they can still pass a hydrostatic test) a process exists for stabilizing the cast iron pipes in place. The technology is an adaptation of an industrial process that is scaled down and designed for residential applications. For a fraction of the cost of potential plumbing and foundation repairs, a homeowner can arrest the corrosion in its current state, and dramatically increase the life of the plumbing and the life of the foundation. Some providers of this cast iron stabilization process offer warranties on both the plumbing and the foundation.
What is Asbestos? Asbestos is the name given to a number of naturally occurring fibrous silicate minerals that have been mined for their useful properties such as thermal insulation, chemical and thermal stability, and high tensile strength. The three most common types of asbestos are: a) chrysotile, b) amosite and c) crocidolite. Chrysotile, also known as white asbestos and a member of the Serpentine mineral group is the commonest. Asbestos can only be identified under a microscope. Asbestos differs from other minerals in its crystal development. The crystal formation of asbestos is in the form of long thin fibers. Asbestos is divided into two mineral groups --- Serpentine and Amphibole. The division between the two types of asbestos is based upon the crystalline structure. Serpentines have a sheet or layered structure where amphiboles have a chain-like structure. As the only member of the serpentine group, Chrysotile( A, B) is the most common type of asbestos found in buildings. Chrysotile makes up approximately 90%-95% of all asbestos contained in buildings in the United States. In the amphibole group, there are five types of asbestos. As an acronym for the Asbestos Mines of South Africa, Amosite is the second most prevalent type of asbestos found in building materials. Amosite is also known as "brown asbestos." Next, there is Crocidolite or "blue asbestos," which is an asbestos found in specialized high temperature applications. The other three types (Anthophyllite, Tremolite, and Actinolite) are rare and found mainly as contaminants in other minerals. Asbestos deposits can be found throughout the world and are still mined in Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the former Soviet Union. Asbestos is made up of microscopic bundles of fibers that may become airborne when distributed. These fibers get into the air and may become inhaled into the lungs, where they may cause significant health problems. Researchers still have not determined a "safe level" of exposure but we know the greater and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk of contracting an asbestos related disease. Asbestos is not always an immediate hazard. In fact, if asbestos can be maintained in good condition, it is recommended that it be left alone and periodic surveillance performed to monitor its condition. It is only when asbestos containing materials (ACM) are disturbed or the materials become damaged that it becomes a hazard. When the materials become damaged, the fibers separate and may then become airborne. In the asbestos industry, the term friable is used to describe asbestos that can be reduced to dust by hand pressure. Non-friable means asbestos that is too hard to be reduce to dust by hand. Non-friable materials, such as transite siding and floor tiles are not regulated provided it does not become friable. Machine grinding, sanding and dry-buffing are ways of causing non-friable materials to become friable. If you suspect that you may have asbestos materials in your home. Consult a specialist.
Pests/Vermin Vermin and other pests are part of the natural habitat, but they often invade homes. Rats and mice have collapsible rib cages and can squeeze through even the tiniest crevices. And it is not uncommon for them to establish colonies within crawlspaces, attics, closets, and even the space inside walls, where they can breed and become a health-hazard. Therefore, it would be prudent to have an exterminator evaluate the residence to ensure that it is rodent-proof, and to periodically monitor those areas that are not readily accessible.
What are Molds? Molds are simple, microscopic organisms, present virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Molds, along with mushrooms and yeasts, are fungi and are needed to break down dead material and recycle nutrients in the environment. For molds to grow and reproduce, they need only a food source and any organic material, such as leaves, wood, paper, or dirt and moisture. Because molds grow by digesting the organic material, they gradually destroy whatever they grow on. Sometimes, new molds grow on old mold colonies. Mold growth on surfaces can often be seen in the form of discoloration, frequently green, gray, brown, or black but also white and other colors. Molds release countless tiny, lightweight spores, which travel through the air. Everyone is exposed to some mold on a daily basis without evident harm. It is common to find mold spores in the air inside homes, and most of the airborne spores found indoors come from outdoor sources. Mold spores primarily cause health problems when they are present in large numbers and people inhale many of them. This occurs primarily when there is active mold growth within home, office or school where people live or work. People can also be exposed to mold by touching contaminated materials and by eating contaminated foods. Molds produce health effects through inflammation, allergy, or infection. Allergic reactions (often referred to as hay fever) are most common following mold exposure. Typical symptoms that mold-exposed persons report (alone or in combination) include: Respiratory problems, such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, and shortness of breath Nasal and sinus congestion, Eye irritation (burning, watery, or reddened eyes) Dry, hacking cough, Nose or throat irritation, Skin rashes or irritation Headaches, memory problems, mood swings, nosebleeds, body aches and pains, and fevers are occasionally reported in mold cases, but their cause is not understood. Molds will grow and multiply whenever conditions are right and sufficient moisture is available and organic material is present. Be on the lookout in your home for common sources of indoor moisture that may lead to mold problems: If you suspect that you may have mold, contact a specialist.
Water/Moisture "Water can be destructive and foster conditions that are deleterious to health. For this reason the ideal property will have soils that slope away from the residence, and the interior floors will be several inches higher than the exterior grade. Also, the residence will have roof gutters and downspouts that discharge into area drains with catch basins that carry water away to hard surfaces. However, we cannot guarantee the condition of any subterranean drainage system, but if a property does not meet this ideal, or if any portion of the interior floors is below the exterior grade we cannot endorse the grading and will recommend that you consult with a grading and drainage contractor, even though there may not be any evidence of moisture intrusion within the residence. Our visit to the site is limited, and the sellers or occupants will obviously have a more intimate knowledge of the property than we could possibly hope to have, but we have confirmed moisture intrusion in residences when it was raining that may not have been apparent otherwise. Moisture can not only compromise building materials but can facilitate the growth of potentially hazardous molds. Regardless, moisture intrusion remains potential with any structure, but unless we happen to be performing an inspection during the rain, or fortunate enough to discover moisture damage within a residence, we cannot predict the future performance of any moisture barrier."
DATES GFCI REQUIREMENTS WERE ESTABLISHED Keep in mind the requirements that were in place during construction.
1971 Receptacles within 15 feet of pool walls 1971 All equipment used with storable swimming pools 1973 All outdoor receptacles 1974 Construction Sites 1975 Bathrooms, 120-volt pool lights, and fountain equipment 1978 Garages, spas, and hydromassage tubs 1978 Outdoor receptacles above 6ft.6in. grade access exempted 1984 Replacement of non-grounding receptacles with no grounding conductor allowed 1984 Pool cover motors 1984 Distance of GFCI protection extended to 20 feet from pool walls 1987 Unfinished basements 1987 Kitchen countertop receptacles within 6 feet of sink 1987 Boathouses 1990 Crawlspaces (with exception for sump pumps or other dedicated equip.) 1993 Wet bar countertops within 6 feet of sink 1993 Any receptacle replaced in an area presently requiring GFCI 1996 All kitchen counters ? not just those within 6 feet of sink 1996 All exterior receptacles except dedicated de-icing tape receptacle 1996 Unfinished accessory buildings at or below grade 1999 Exemption for dedicated equipment in crawlspace removed
When Things Go Wrong There may come a time that you discover something wrong with the house, and you may be upset or disappointed with your home inspection.
Intermittent Or Concealed Problems. Some problems can only be discovered by living in a house. They cannot be discovered during the few hours of a home inspection. For example, some shower stalls leak when people are in the shower, but do not leak when you simply turn on the tap. Some roofs and basements only leak when specific conditions exist. Some problems will only be discovered when carpets were lifted, furniture is moved or finishes are removed.
No Clues. These problems may have existed at the time of the inspection but there were no clues as to their existence. Our inspections are based on the past performance of the house. If there are no clues of a past problem, it is unfair to assume we should foresee a future problem.
We Always Miss Some Minor Things Some might say we are inconsistent because our reports identify some minor problems but not others. The minor problems that are identified were discovered while looking for more significant problems. We note them simply as a courtesy. The intent of the inspection is not to find the $200 problems; it is to find the $2,000 problems. These are the things that affect people's decisions to purchase.
Contractors' Advice The main source of dissatisfaction with home inspectors comes from comments made by contractors. Contractors' opinions often differ from ours. Don't be surprised when three roofers all say the roof needs replacement when we said that, with some minor repairs, the roof will last a few more years.
Last Man In Theory While our advice represents the most prudent thing to do, many contractors are reluctant to undertake these repairs. This is because of the "Last Man In Theory". The contractor fears that if he is the last person to work on the roof, he will get blamed if the roof leaks, regardless of whether the roof leak is his fault or not. Consequently, he won't want to do a minor repair with high liability when he could re-roof the entire house for more money and reduce the likelihood of a callback. This is understandable.
Most Recent Advice Is Best There is more to the "Last Man In Theory". It suggests that it is human nature for homeowners to believe the last bit of "expert" advice they receive, even if it is contrary to previous advice. As home inspectors, we unfortunately find ourselves in the position of "First Man In" and consequently it is our advice that is often disbelieved.
Why Didn't We See It Contractors may say "I can't believe you had this house inspected, and they didn't find this problem". There are several reasons for these apparent oversights:
1. Conditions During Inspection It is difficult for homeowners to remember the circumstances in the house, at the time of the inspection. Homeowners seldom remember that it was snowing, there was storage everywhere in the basement or that the furnace could not be turned on because the air conditioning was operating, et cetera. It's impossible for contractors to know what the circumstances were when the inspection was performed.
2. The Wisdom Of Hindsight When the problem manifests itself, it is very easy to have 20/20 hindsight. Anybody can say that the basement is wet when there is 2 inches of water on the floor. Predicting the problem is a different story.
3. A Long Look If we spent 1/2 an hour under the kitchen sink or 45 minutes disassembling the furnace, we'd find more problems too. Unfortunately, the inspection would take several days and would cost considerably more.
4. We're Generalists We are generalists; we are not specialists. The heating contractor may indeed have more heating expertise than we do.
5. An Invasive Look Problems often become apparent when carpets or plaster are removed, when fixtures or cabinets are pulled out, and so on. A home inspection is a visual examination. We don't perform any invasive or destructive tests.
Not Insurance In conclusion, a home inspection is designed to better your odds. It is not designed to eliminate all risk. For that reason, a home inspection should not be considered an insurance policy. The premium that an insurance company would have to charge for a policy with no deductible, no limit and an indefinite policy period would be considerably more than the fee we charge. It would also not include the value added by the inspection.