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Crawl Space Nightmares

Your home’s crawl space is a place that many homeowners never visit and may be a nightmare. It can already be a confined space and even more severely limited by structural supports, plumbing, electrical wiring/conduits, or heating ducts. Rodents, spiders, and other critters love this space, as they are generaly left alone to build nests and multiply.

Only when there is an issue such as with utilities, structural deficiencies, or bad odors do we think to have this space inspected. It is then that we can find water ponding, insulation issues, missing or damaged vapor barriers, dry rot, mold and mildew, or pest infestations.

One of the most common concerns is with loose or damp insulation. Keeping your home’s crawl space and attic well insulated is incredibly important when it comes to saving money on your energy bills. More importantly, good insulation helps maintain your family’s health, reduce toxins inside of your home, and provides you with better air quality. Insulation is often removed and not replaced during contractor repairs. Make sure that your contractor notes if insulation is missing or damaged.

If water is present have it properly removed from the crawl space, Holes or cracks in a crawl space can allow moisture and water to enter into the structure of your home.

The bottom line is that your crawl space should be routinely inspected. As most homeowners are not willing to get down and dirty, routinely hire a contractor to inspect, remove and replace all old insulation, rotten wood, animal feces, and mold. Your home will last longer, energy saving will likely offset any repairs, and your family may be healhier in the long run.

Construction and Maintenance

Sound construction and proper maintenance is critical to avoid costly home repairs. Some warning signs to look for include: peeling paint or soft spots present in siding, trim, soffits, or fascia board; improper flashing and caulking installed on windows, doors, chimneys, and roof penetrations; overflowing rain gutters or any standing water. Even a very small opening can allow water vapor to enter into the interior of a home and cause a great deal of damage. Paying attention to the “small” problems before they become larger problems can ultimately save you from more costly repairs.

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Ants

Ants are one of the most dominant organisms in the world. They are social creatures and a single nest with a satellite nest can include up to 100,000 ants. “They develop by metamorphosis (egg, larva. pupa, adult) and queen ants can live for many years. Colonies usually start from a single queen. In western Washington, carpenter ants are the most important wood infesting insect that can affect the integrity of your home.” Carpenter ants do not eat wood, but excavate tunnels and can cause significant damage. Indicators of carpenter ants include sawdust, presence of workers, rustling noises, and any trails. Homeowners with ant infestations should contact a licensed professional for an inspection and ideas how to rid the home of these pests.

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Electrical Circuit Protection

A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), or Residual Current Device (RCD) is a device that shuts off an electric power circuit when it detects that current is flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or a person.

Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are special types of electrical receptacles or outlets and circuit breakers designed to detect and respond to potentially dangerous electrical arcs in home branch wiring.

According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Agency for the year 2005, electrical fires damaged approximately 20,900 homes, killed 500 people, and cost $862 million in property damage.

Situations in which arcs may be created:
electrical cords damaged by vacuum cleaners or trapped beneath furniture or doors.
damage to wire insulation from nails or screws driven through walls.
appliance cords damaged by heat, natural aging, kinking, impact or over-extension.
spillage of liquid.
loose connections in outlets, switches and light fixtures.

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Inspection Types

Types of home inspections offered:

Buyers Full Inspection

A pre-purchase inspection is the most common type of home inspection that is initiated by the buyer. Generally, when inspecting a home, we will be looking for the following:

  • Structural Soundness:  Are there squeaks, leaks, cracks?
  • Safety Issues: Are there any features of the home that may effect the safety of the occupants?
  • Maintenance:  Are the major appliances new or in need of  replacement?  What does the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems look like?  Does the home look like it’s been well maintained and updated?

Our extensive report includes digital photographs that document every major component of the the home.

Sellers Full Inspection

A pre-listing inspection following all the standard inspection practices will be tailored to identify potential defects that may effect the purchase price of your home.  Suggestions will be offered that could greatly enhance your final negotiated selling price.

Buyers or Sellers Pre-Inspection

Our pre-inspection service is typically provided for sellers or buyers on tight schedules.  Frequently, these are properties with multiple offer situations. This is an hourly service based on the needs of the client and the property to be inspected.  Typically, photographs without written documentation are provided, but written summaries can be included as well. Once an offer is accepted, it is recommended that buyers consider completion of a full inspection to cover their bases before they own an expensive problem.

Owners Warranty Inspection

This inspection is provided for new home owners as protection prior to the expiration of their home warranty. We make every effort to see that you get the value that you paid for in purchasing your new home.  If there are problems, we carefully document them with photos and written descriptions.

 

Sewer Inspection

The time to find out if a sewer is faulty or needs replacement is before buying a home, not after the fact. Very few first-time home buyers ask for a sewer inspection before buying a home. They know to get a home inspection, but sewer lines are almost an after-thought. Yet it can be one of the most important inspections a buyer of especially older homes should conduct.

Sewer scope inspection services can be arranged to inspect the structural integrity or possible obstructions of the home sewer system. This service typically runs about $275, which includes our markup to cover scheduling and overhead fees. We will be happy to provide contact information should you desire to directly hire a sewer inspector.

 

Preparing for Your Inspection

Home Sellers

Let’s start off with the sellers’ inspection. Many homeowners today are having their homes inspected before they are put on the market. This is a very savvy marketing tool to help your home sell quicker and more profitably. For your home inspector to do the best job possible, he or she will need several things to be done before they arrive to check the house over.

Please make sure the driveway is clear of debris, leaves, ice or snow. An inspector cannot see through this stuff, thereby limiting the inspection.
Please make sure that all utilities to the home are in operation mode. Inspectors do not light pilot lights, turn on water mains, or main panel breakers. If these are not in regular operating mode, the inspection will be limited and less beneficial to you.
Make sure attic access is not obstructed in any way. You inspector will need to get in here to check insulation, roof sheathing, trusses, etc.
I realize that if you are selling, you will be packing. However, please do not have every packed box crammed into a corner in the basement, or else your inspector will not be able to see the walls and foundation.
If permits are needed in your area for remodeling have copies of these ready. In some areas an inspector will need these.

Home Buyers

Now, if you are a buyer, your list will be a little shorter. But, it is still just as important to do your homework. You are paying for the inspection, so stay on top of everything.

Once you call the inspector and set a date and time, call your real estate agent and verify this time. Some inspectors do this for you and some don’t (I call the agent myself, and they relay to the seller when we will be there).
If this is a vacant foreclosure or bank owned property, find out who you need to contact in order to get ALL utilities turned on and into normal operation mode. Again, inspectors will not turn these items on for you at the time of the inspection. If they are not on, they will be disclaimed as not inspected.
If you are having any specialty testing like lead, mold, water, septic done, try to do these on the same day if the house is occupied. Sellers will thank you for not making too many trips and inconveniencing them.