Friday, July 31, 2015

Seller Pre-Inspection Easy Fixes

One of the most importance pieces of advice a seller can obtain when listing their home for sale is the importance of pre-inspections. Although there are many benefits to obtaining a professional sellers inspection there are also many benefits for sellers when they personally go through their home and conduct a visual inspection prior to selling.

Here's why:

Over half of the issues found during home inspections are issues that could be taken care of quickly and at a relatively low cost. Once it is written into a buyer's inspection report it can create more value for the buyer, and in retrospect, leave less to the seller.

Too many little issues begin what's known as a 'laundry list' of repairs and can discourage a potential buyer or, more commonly, make them feel entitled to receive many credits and a lower purchase price.

To diminish the chance of a laundry-list of fix-it items, sellers should go through the home and repair or update easy-to-fix things prior to having a buyer's home inspector come in. 

5 of the most common laundry-list items include:

Light bulbs - There is always a potential for electrical problems and buyer's think twice when they see too many bulbs not working.  Instead, make sure all light bulbs are replaced and working before you list your home.

Loose fixtures - Along with other fixtures, toilets are amongst the most common items listed as "loose" during a home inspection and require fastening to ensure proper service and prevent leakage. Making sure that this is addressed beforehand not only reduces the laundry list but also puts your home in better shape to help secure a better selling price.

Clogged gutters - Roof gutters are a very important part of the home as they help with drainage. They should be cleaned periodically and maintained in good condition to ensure service.  When filled with leaves or other debris they can't function properly. Home owners can clean roof gutters themselves or get professional help before a buyer's home inspector takes a look.

Water Heaters - Water heaters can have many issues. One of the most common found during home inspections is missing or incorrect seismic straps. Seismic strapping is required in California, the seller is required to verify that they've complied with water heater requirements and, particularly in cases dealing with FHA loans, they can even slow the closing process.

Smoke Detectors & Carbon Monoxide Detectors - Like water heater strapping, working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are required when selling your home. In fact, the seller is required to document that there are working when selling their home. Not addressing this beforehand will only add to the laundry list, and a seller will still need to address it at one point or another.

If you're thinking of selling and decided against getting a professional pre-listing inspection, just remember it's a good idea to personally go through the home and conduct a visual inspection, and address as many easy-fixes as possible… it may cost you more when the buyer brings it up.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Top 5 Roof Issues found during a Home Inspection

The condition of the roof is one of the most common concerns for current and future home owners. Unsurprisingly, roof deficiencies are some of the most common issues found during a home inspection. 

Although all roofs have a finite life and will eventually require replacement, home inspections reveal that not all roofs need to be replaced immediately. Actually, it's far from it. Most roofs have minor deficiencies that can be addressed quickly and at a low cost. Nonetheless, without proper maintenance and prompt repairs easy fixes can turn into potentially large problems.

The root cause of roof problems is poor maintenance. Without proper maintenance it will lead to rust and corrosion, leaks and other damage. 

Components on roofs, particularly when not maintained properly can cause negative effects. We have compiled a list of the top 5 roof issues found during home inspections:

1. Flashings - Sheet metal that surrounds the openings cut in the roof for chimneys, skylights and vents. 
Flashings are the first line of defense against leaks and should be properly installed and maintained. Commonly, flashings have screws that are missing or have come undone. They are also prone to rust. Loose or missing screws, bent, broken or rusted flashings will allow water to seep through, especially in larger openings. The seals at all roof penetrations and flashings, and the water tightness of rooftop elements should be checked periodically and repaired or maintained as required.

2. Shingles - Covering of a roof top consisting of interlocking/overlapping material, commonly made of asphalt or ceramic.
Weather elements, including the sun, wind and rain slowly - but surely - have negative effects on roofing shingles. When shingles become worn they blister, dry, curl, crack and/or thin out and come loose. This leaves the underlayment exposed to elements and likely leads to leaks if not fixed. Home owners often think that replacing damaged shingles will break the bank. That's not always the case, many times, particularly early on, roofing shingles can be replaced without having to replace the underlayment of a roof. This not only protects a home from future damage, it also helps save money.

3. Vent and Exposed Pipes - Intake and exhaust vents are used in homes to allow air to enter and exit attics and ventilation spaces.  
A poorly ventilated attic can also shorten the life of the roof. If it gets too hot, heat wears the shingles above. Next, because of their unavoidable contact with water and air moisture, a common problem with iron and steel vents and exposed pipes is rust and corrosion.  It is important to maintain these components by applying a rust-resistant sealant to help protect from rust. A home inspection company is able to help determine if they are in need of service or beyond repair. Once they have exhausted their useful life, it is important to replace them immediately, as severely corroded vent and exposed pipes will lead to moisture intrusion in the home.

4. Gutters - Ideally, a house will have a gutter along the eave of the roof system to direct rain runoff through a downspout.
Clogged, damaged or improperly sloped gutters and downspouts can cause water to overflow and damage the building. Maintaining gutters is one of the most important things you can do to prevent damage to your home. Most gutter problems can be fixed by the home owners themselves without the need to call in a professional, yet, most home owners forgo gutter maintenance until a problem arises.  If a home has no gutter at all, investing in one is a sound choice as they help protect the structural integrity of a home by channeling water away from the foundation.

5. Trees - Landscape trees, plants and bushes in close proximity to the home should be maintained, and branches in contact with the roof top should be cut.
Many homes have trees with branches in contact with the building. Not only does this serve as the perfect bridge for insects and rodents to enter a home, it can also wear and damage the roof if left unattended. A very common problem is moss. Although moss does not have an immediate direct effect on roofs, over time it can become problematic. Enough moss can cause damage to shingles and curl or lift them, allowing moisture under shingles and mold growth can occur. The good news is that moss is very easy to treat and should be taken care of before problems arise.

The roof system, including shingles, vents and skylight flashings, gutters and downspouts should be checked and maintained annually or after an extreme weather change. Home owners should also periodically check for leaks and paint peeling to make sure everything is in satisfactory condition. Most importantly, any deficiencies should be addressed timely before they become problematic. Future home owners can help protect their investment by getting a thorough inspection of the roof and fixing any issues found.

Your roof takes care of you - you should take care of it by keeping it in good shape. Consider the top 5 roof issues found during home inspections and check out your own home. Most maintenance issues can be fixed by owners themselves. If components are out of sight and out of reach, consider hiring a professional to look over your roof and the rest of your home. It is less expensive to prevent than to repair, and you'll thank yourself later. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

What Buyers should know about the Condominium Inspection Scope

When looking to hire a home inspector it's important to know what is and what is not covered under the inspection scope. Knowing the scope is particularly important in the case of a condominium (also apartment or town house) inspection.

That's because condominiums differ from single-family homes. Buyers are often surprised when they find out that the home inspector will not inspect certain things including the roof of the condominium or the foundation.

The reason: Shared building systems and components, aka common elements.

What is a shared system and component?

A shared system and component is anything in and around the home that will not be solely owned by the buyer upon purchase. Rather, it will be a shared responsibility of all homeowners in a particular building or community.

Why is a shared system and component (common element) not included?

Shared systems and components not included in a home inspector's inspection are covered by the technical audit of the Home Owners Association (HOA) or a similar governing community organization. HOAs set their own rules and guidelines, and only their designated technical audit can be deemed a compliant inspection.  Shared systems and components are a shared responsibility among all homeowners.

What is a Condominium Inspection Scope? 

A condominium inspection is a comprehensive, non-invasive visual evaluation of the interior building systems and components that can be reached, entered or viewed without difficulty, moving obstructions or requiring action which may result in damage to the property or personal injury to the inspector.  The inspection is limited to the condominium unit and does not include any areas not solely owned by the unit owner. 
Shared building systems and components such as the Exteriors, Structure, Roofing, Insulation and Ventilation and any other common elements are excluded from a condominium inspection.

Like a single-family home inspection, condominium inspections are not technically exhaustive. Meaning, there are no specialized tests or equipment used to identify hidden problems. They are not geared at identifying every problem that exists, or could ever exist. Rather, the purpose is to provide a professional opinion of the general condition of a property. Exhaustive inspections would require more time, equipment, additional professionals and cost much more than the cost of a general home inspection. 

The difference? A condominium home inspection is limited to the interior, while a single-family home inspection covers the interior and exterior of a property. 

How do buyers ensure a thorough Condominium Inspection? 

The answer lies in the Home Inspector. A good home inspector will go above and beyond the scope of inspection whenever possible. There is nothing that prevents the inspector from offering comments concerning their observations about the condition of common areas - as a courtesy only. However, buyers should know that any comments concerning common areas, or any lack of comments concerning common areas, should not give rise to any claim against the inspector as, again, they are made as a courtesy only. 

Unfortunately, many home inspectors don't do this courtesy for their clients. 

That's why most buyers still agree that it's beneficial to get an inspector's courtesy opinion and waive their right to a claim, instead of proceeding blindly into a sale when they know nothing about certain shared systems and components. 
Wouldn't you like to know that the railings and walkways in front of your home are all broken at the base and unsafe? Would you like to know if there are cracks on the exterior that could affect the structural integrity of the building? Or better yet, would you like the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the roof is in excellent shape? 
A home inspector can help answer those questions and more. They should be working for their clients and giving them all possible information regarding the condition of their property of interest. Only the home owners and the HOA can make final determinations about common areas, but a home inspector can help give groundwork information to begin making decisions. In order to ensure the best possible inspection, buyers (and sellers too) should understand the scope of the inspection, read the contract(s) entirely and ask questions to a potential inspector. 
When looking for your condominium inspector, make sure you know what is and what is not covered in their inspection by asking them: What will you inspect in this condominium? What will you not inspect in this condominium?