Poor drainage = poor results

Water is vital in many aspects of our lives yet, water can also be costly and sometimes deadly. Proper drainage around your home can have positive effects. Proper drainage can add years to your investment but without proper drainage, trouble brews.

Having a good gutter system on your home is not only cost effective but cost preventative. Gutters carry away the rain water and distributes it away from your structure. Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause more damage as water cannot be diverted away. Clogs, improper slope, poor installation or damage can allow water to run behind and cascade over the front of gutters which can impact the grade around the foundation.

A proper grade around the base perimeter will ensure the water stays away and does not pool in this area. Dirt should slope away from all sides of your foundation six inches in ten feet. When this is not possible a drainage system may be used to drain water away from the foundation.

Grading at the foundation often directs water underneath sidewalks, driveways and parking lots. Contours can be formed so that runoff and excess irrigation water are directed away from concrete and asphalt. Underground drainage systems may be used, where contouring is not possible, to carry drainage to an appropriate place.

Today’s homes are built to last many years with proper maintenance. I have seen many homes lacking gutters which can cause 10’s of thousands of dollars to properly repair. If your home or potential new purchase is lacking a gutter system and/or improper grade around the foundation, consult a licensed contractor to help you save money on your investment. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – unknown.


Four point vs full home inspection

I’ve always wondered why someone would take a short cut in the home buying arena. Today was a perfect example. I had been hired to perform an inspection for a previous client whom I had done an inspection 4 months earlier. I asked what happened to the last property and she told me based on the report I had given her, it was too much work and money for her, so she backed out using my report. So, here we are 4 months later, and another inspection.

As I approached the home, the owner came out and was leaving. She had informed me that the rear bedroom window was leaking, not from the roof, but from around a window. Ok, good start and an honest home owner. I proceeded to do my usual questioning and found she had bought this last September and had no issues back then. I asked if she had a home inspection and is it available for review? Yes, it’s on the counter and the Inspector said the roof was good for another 8 to 10 years.

I proceeded to grab my ladder to go look at the roof. As I climbed the ladder (heavy rain) I immediately noticed 2 layers of shingles. Then, an area above the window had been holding water in a depression and plenty of roof tar at the edge of shingles, (to seal against rain, I guess) and at the gutter clips. The sheathing under the shingles had deteriorated and water is entering the structure.

Getting to the point, or as my friends would say, Wayne, land the plane already. At this point I turned and asked the realtor for the “Home Inspection report” the owners had done in September. There it was, just as I expected. I was handed a 4 point Insurance inspection. I wasn’t surprised, at all.

People, a 4 point Insurance Inspection is just that, 4 point. A 4 point inspection only covers the 4 major items in the home and structure isn’t one of them. A 4 point is the visual assessment of the HVAC, Roof, Plumbing and Electrical systems only. Again, visual only. These reports are not in place nor should they replace a full home inspection. What happened here was the Inspector did his job, although his perception of roof age was off, (less than 3 years left but leaking now) he was hired to do just that, a visual of the four components. Had there been a full inspection as a purchase He may have noted interior wall anomalies which would have red flagged the past leaks. Regardless, I was able to help the client and get her out of the contract with the inspection report and it’s issues.

My advice going forward with a home purchase? Get yourself a full Inspection by a licensed home inspector who will go from roof ridge to slab and everything in between. Realtors will advise their clients that some homes are sold as is, so just get the 4 point, it will suffice. NOT! A 4 point will not help break a contract. A 4 point does not cover ceilings, windows, walls, floors, doors, structure or appliances. It doesn’t cover exterior issues such as drainage, tree root damage etc..

Note: I also found out since the September purchase the current owner had to repair a leak at a front window. He tore the roof back and improperly repaired it as well as the wall area above and around the window which was still soft and not properly supported. Buyer beware, Inspect the uninspected.

Integrity in your Inspector

The cost of doing business varies from profession to profession but the fact remains, some are in it just for the money. I love my job. I enjoy waking up and going to work and helping people with a big decision. I like that at the end of the day I made a difference. How many of you can say you love your job?

So, let’s talk about the bottom line. What is the cost of doing business, and, I’m talking about the value, not the price. You always get what you pay for, that’s a given. How many of you can say you shop around for value, not price? How many of you check 3 companies prior to selecting one? The WWW is a great tool and today everyone has access one way or another. Within seconds you have all you need right there at your fingertips, everything from how long someone is in business to how much training and/or education someone has as well as credentials such as licensing and certifications. So, it behooves me when someone calls me for information and tells me their experience looking for a Home Inspector.

This morning I received a call from a potential client. She immediately told me I was her 3rd call. Her and her husband are looking at a 2006 Manufactured home in a local park. The previous Inspector she called had told her that a 2006 unit did not require an inspection, but if he did it, it would be $250.00. I’d like to say I was shocked but I wasn’t. I was then asked what I charge and I told her $325.00. I was asked why my price was so different? I base my time on the square foot of the structure (not room count) and I schedule enough time so I can do the best job without rushing to the next one. I explain maintenance and how things work. Apparently the other 2 guys just priced or talked themselves out of work for some reason. As a business owner we all look at our bottom line but some of us feel the real value is in experience and Integrity. I do not drop prices when inventory is low or just to beat the competition. Over 30 years in the industry learning and teaching along the way. I work strictly for my client(s) and make sure they are well informed. I value my experience and it is a continuous learning curve as our industry changes year to year with updates. All this is taken into account by the savvy buyer. Integrity can’t be bought and I’ve set my prices to meet industry standards and to compete with others in the field who take their Professions seriously. Our number one job is to protect the consumer from a costly mistake. I love my Job. Inspecting with Integrity.

Home Owners Insurance

Do you have the right coverage? Are you paying too much for insurance? Your house is your home which includes your family and their health and happiness. are you covered for contents?  Your furnishings, your tools, your family car or your weekend toys? What happens if we endure a weather related tragedy or a homeowner error causing loss. All this can be taken care of ahead of time. Remember, you can never predict but you can always prepare. Checking yearly and comparing quotes can save you money.

Another way to save money is yearly maintenance. Keep up with conditions and you will save money. Keep your Wind Mitigation Verification reports up to date for qualifying discounts. Older homes over 25 years will need to maintain the 4 major components in order to insure their homes, a yearly 4 point insurance report can provide you and your agent with the condition and age of your Roof, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning), Electrical and Plumbing components. Your homes roof should be checked yearly to ensure for weather tightness.

If you have had any work or remodeling done and used proper permits, you may be eligible for discounts. Have you recently purchased new furniture, computer equipment?

It is important to keep in mind that insurers have made major changes to what risks are covered and the costs required to insure against them. The costs of rebuilding your home typically increase from year to year. The amount of homeowner’s insurance coverage you have now may not cover the cost to rebuild your home at today’s prices.If you haven’t updated your coverage recently, you could be under insured.

Keep in mind, protect your investment.Only you can assure your home will maintain it’s integrity and value. Stay on top of maintenance and check to make sure you protect you and your family. Need help, Just ask.

Yearly home maintenance

I know, home maintenance, not your favorite topic. But, without it, it becomes house maintenance or worse, the banks issue. Actually, home maintenance shouldn’t be a chore, rather a way to mindlessly block out the normal day to day. Don’t look at it as a challenge but a goal. Most homes here in sunny southwest Florida are a one story ranch style with not more than 10′ to the gutter. Others may need more ladder and nerve , otherwise, maintenance covered here is the same.

If you had the mindset to have a home inspection and your report is still available, use it. The inspection has every aspect covered and, if you go section to section you can spot trouble areas before they get worse or perform the basic maintenance needed at that time. A visual inspection can save you time and money in the long run. Neglect costs money, isn’t your time valuable?

A typical 30 minute walk around the house inspection can make you aware of potential failures just by sight. Many are cosmetic, some only by sound and still others that just fail. You can usually spot the warning signs of failure before deficiencies make the checklist.

  • Look at your roof and roof components such as vent pipes and ridge vents
  • Check your trim boards and soffits, look for loose damaged sections
  • Exterior walls, chalky paint, damaged siding, cracked stucco, dirty surfaces
  • Windows, doors and trim. Any damaged glass, rusty doors, missing caulking?
  • Gutters and downspouts, clean and seal. Extend diverters where needed
  • Landscaping, cut and remove if close to structure. Trees 20′ and bushes 2′ away from structure which will help keep moisture away from home.
  • Grading. If water is pooling against structure, regarding and more drainage is needed
  • Driveways/walkways/patio surfaces. Clean all surfaces, seal cracks or reset pavers
  • Screen cages or enclosures. Check anchor bolts and screening, replace as needed
  • Plumbing, HVAC, Electrical components, if visual looks like it needs attention, consult a licensed professional for advise on repair or replacements.
  • Pools, seawalls, docks and decks all require annual maintenance. Check each component and repair/replace as needed
  • Pests such as ants, termites, rodents and bees can all be spotted and deterred if caught in the early stages.

Keeping the exterior will help ensure the interior will stay dry and comfortable for many years. As always, many components of your home will require proper permits and/or a Licensed contractor to perform some of your annual maintenance. Pay a little today or pay a lot later, your choice.

Questions to ask your Home Inspector

How does it work?

Most Inspectors will show you where the main components are and how to operate them. Typical items such as the main water shut off valve and the main electrical shut off and breaker panel. HVAC systems require maintenance as well as the plumbing and roof systems. Your inspector can point out these items and explain typical maintenance requirements.

Is it really as old or bad as it looks?

Inspections are based on facts. If it looks old, it probably is. Many mechanical components in homes have data plates or tags that may or may not be readable or legible. Now it becomes the “opinion” of the inspector as to its age. What may look like a major costly repair to you could be just a cosmetic issue in the inspectors mind. Many items have life expectancies and your inspector may call it out just based on age, sometimes, that straightforwardness makes it hard for you, the home’s buyer, to understand what a big deal is and what so much isn’t. All this information is what you need to know whether to move forward with the deal, whether to renegotiate and what to plan ahead for.

Can you show me?

During the inspection your inspector will be busy collecting data, crawling through spaces and doing laps around the perimeter. You take this time to visualize where your new sofa will go and wonder will it be too big for this room. Soon you realize somewhere the inspector is inputting data and you had a question. If the inspector is finished he/she should take 10 or 15 minutes and walk you through the place, pointing out all the items they’ve noted need repair, maintenance or further inspection.  When you get the report, then, you’ll know what and where the various items belong. Also, choose an inspector who takes digital pictures and inserts them into each section of their reports!

If you were to buy this, what would you do first and how soon?

Our job as inspectors is to point out all items in need of upgrade or repair to include maintenance and routine time lines for future inspections and possible failures.

But, no home is perfect.  What should you do if something is at the end of its useful life? My opinion may be “Do nothing until it breaks”. That could be today or 6 months from now. Point is, we can’t predict a failure, but we can prepare. We can give you a better understanding of what does and doesn’t need to be repaired, how to repair in order of importance, and how a home warranty can be a big help during the buying process to protect your money in the long run.

Can you refer me to someone to fix it?

Most home inspectors will probably tell you that you can fix some things yourself. This may help minimize the laundry list of repairs at the end of an inspection report to know that a number of them are really DIY-type.  Even uncomfortable Buyers feel empowered to either (a) watch a few YouTube videos that show them how it’s done, or (b) hire a handyperson to do these small fixes, knowing they shouldn’t be too costly.

And even on the larger repairs, your home inspector might be able to give you a few referrals to the plumbers, electricians or roofers you’ll need to get bids from during your contingency period, which you may be able to use to negotiate with your home’s seller, and to get the work done after you own the place. And same goes for any further inspections they recommend – if neither you nor your agent knows a specialist, ask your home inspector for a few referrals.


When do I need a Home Inspector

When do I need a Home Inspector? Do some research. While you may have already decided on looking for a new home, why not start your search for a home inspector as well. Referrals work well, I still recommend checking credentials as well as experience. If you can not get a referral, many sites offer services you may need and, they already did your homework and checked the credentials.

If your buying a home, once you have reached an accepted offer, you can now get your inspection scheduled. Most contracts give you a 10 day inspection window where others may only have 7 days. Check with your Realtor agent.

Pest inspections or Wood Destroying Organism Inspections may be required by your lender.

If you need one of three insurance inspections as per requirement, before  a new policy or renewal, contact an inspector right away to get on the schedule. Most inspection companies can accommodate insurance inspections within 48 hours. These inspections are as listed; Wind Mitigation Verification reports, Four Point Insurance Inspections and Roof Certification reports. All must be performed by a qualified Licensed Inspector on approved forms.

Anyone wishing to put their home on the market would benefit from a pre sale inspection. A pre sale would give you the edge, knowing what the issues are before listing. Many items found during a pre sale inspection could be corrected and minimize the repairs or conditional requests from potential buyers. Most buyers who purchase a home with a pre sale inspection will waive the inspection period, resulting in a quicker sale.

11 month warranty inspections can be ordered within the 11th month. These inspections cover all aspects of the home 11 months after build to avoid an out of warranty issue.