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?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Home Inspectors in Ventura County honor Earth Day 2015!

Earth Day is about coming together as a society to raise awareness and promote environmentally friendly activities. After all, we only have one Mother Earth - we should take care of her!

Structure Inspections honors Earth Day by emphasizing green methods including: 
  • Reducing and monitoring paper use and using eco-friendly paper whenever possible
  • Reducing energy consumption including making sure we have energy-efficient bulbs and turning off lights and equipment when not in use
  • Carpooling when two inspectors will go to one job

You can help too! On Earth Day April 22, 2015 pledge to switch to at least 1 new 'green' activity. For ideas on what you can do check out 50 Ways to Help the Planet.

What is GFCI and Why is it Important?

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, ESFi, each day 7 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for electrical shock or burn injuries caused by wall outlets.

GFCIs can save your life - read why here:

What is a GFCI?

GFCI is an acronym for a Ground Fault Circuit Interrrupter. It's an inexpensive electrical component used as a safety measure that can be installed in your home to protect people from electric shock and appliances from overheating and causing fires in case of a Ground Fault

The National Electrical Code has set requirements for GFCIs in places such as the exteriors, bathrooms, kitchens, laundry and utility sinks, and whenever the outlet is near water. However, these only apply to new construction and major renovations. Homes built prior to these requirements are likely without GFCI protection. 

What is a Ground Fault?

A Ground Fault occurs when there is a disturbance in an electric circuit between the intended path of the current's travel. Ground faults can be the result of a damaged or defective tool being plugged in, bad appliances or bulbs, touching water that touches electricity or live wires. The electrical current takes the unintended path through the user, causing burns, injury or even death. 

How does a GFCI work?

It does just as the name suggests: Interrupts the Ground Fault. A GFCI is a fast acting circuit breaker that detects when the electrical current has been interrupted by any imbalance and is designed to shut off (trip) the electrical power in a fraction of one second. When properly installed and maintained, GFCIs will interrupt power before electricity even has a chance to reach a person's heart and create electrical accidents. 

GFCI Protection

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), "The GFCI will not protect you from line contact hazards (i.e. a person holding two "hot" wires, a hot and a neutral wire in each hand, or contacting an overhead power line)." Nonetheless, GFCIs are inexpensive added safety measures that protect families from common electrical hazards.  

We recommend homeowners take proactive steps to protect their family and their home and upgrade their system with GFCI protection.  You may already have GFCI receptacles in your home. You can usually identify these by their push buttons that say "reset" and "test." If you're unsure if your home has circuit-breaker and receptacle-type GFCI protection, you can contact a home inspector to find out. All installations should be completed by a qualified electrician; you should not attempt to install yourself.

Structure Inspections checks for GFCIs in every inspection and recommends upgrades when needed. Our experienced inspectors remain current with building practices to provide the best home inspection and commercial inspections in Ventura County, northern Los Angeles, and the Santa Barbara area. We are just a phone call away from taking care of your next inspection! Call us today at (805) 815 - 3000. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Problems with Drones for Home Inspections

There are many articles about drones transforming the way home inspectors conduct roof top inspections. Inspecting roofs that under ordinary circumstances would be impossible for an inspector to view seems promising with this new technology. But every tool has its uses and issues. 

As a home inspection company that uses a DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Drone as a tool for commercial and residential inspections in and around Ventura County, we can assert that in fact, there are problems with the use of drones for inspections. 

Drones can cause Injury or Property Damage

While the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ can be used with Ground Station that allows it to fly itself so the inspector can focus on the camera, it is still missing one thing: autonomy. 

No matter how advanced they are - drones don't have brains. They are unable to sense when they are coming in contact with people, buildings, trees, power lines or something other. It relies on the accuracy of the inspector to fly it properly or set its GPS traveling points. An inexperienced pilot can easily crash a drone causing injury to people or property damage.

Even experienced inspectors can have trouble piloting a drone...

Drones become Unstable with Wind

The atmosphere can be unstable. Windy conditions, including updrafts, are common in areas like Ventura County and drones can become difficult to navigate if caught in one. Unstable winds can pull a drone up and out of sight quickly making it difficult to steer before it crashes on the roof or elsewhere. We've experienced safe flights in wind speeds 9mph and under. After that point, drones become a little more difficult to maneuver and control. We deem wind speeds (or current gusts) above 17mph unfitting conditions for flying a drone.

Invasion of Privacy Issue

Although an invasion of privacy complaint is unlikely - it's possible. Therefore it should be a reason to think twice when close to other buildings or people. In California it's prohibited (and expensive) to capture images of property or people without permission with any device, including drones. You may have permission to inspect a particular roof top, however, what about their neighbors? If the property is in close proximity to another, you run the risk of capturing unauthorized video or images of something or someone which can cost you a minimum of $5,000 in fines. 

A way to steer clear of this liability is to fly the drone very low and close to the roof being inspected to avoid capturing anything else. This poses a problem with homes in heavy populated cities, including Oxnard, where some homes are less than 10 feet apart in certain areas. Use of drones is ideal for remote areas, such as a Simi Valley or Moorpark ranch.

As such, our inspectors do not use their drone in heavily populated areas or under an unfitting wind condition in an effort to avoid injury, damage or privacy issues. 

While still under review, the use drones for commercial gain is currently illegal because of safety concerns, including those mentioned in this post. You can check out InterNachi's FAA concerns to learn more.

The DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ drone is a great tool that helps inspectors when a roof is really inaccessible by ladder. We use a drone as an added tool for our inspectors and do not charge extra. We will continue to use it only under proper conditions or until use is banned altogether. Every tool has its uses and issues, and it's an inspector's duty to know when it is safe or hazardous to operate a drone.

As new technology emerges, we will be some of the first to try it, because we're always looking for ways to provide more efficient services. Stay tuned for our update on the Eye-Stick, a new innovative way to inspect roof tops and crawlspaces from the convenience of standing on the ground.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Get a Home Inspection during National Home Inspection Month

Whether you’re buying or selling a house, or just a current homeowner looking to maintain your home, you'll benefit from a home inspection. A home inspection by Structure Inspections is your reliable source of information to ensure that your current – or future – home is in the best condition possible.  This April, take part in National Home Inspection Month

Home Buyers: Home inspections help buyers uncover potential problems with the property of interest and negotiate the best possible price when undisclosed issues are found.

Home Sellers: Home inspections help sellers learn more about their property and address problems before the buyer gets discouraged with the sale.  Fixing issues found during a seller’s inspection helps sellers negotiate top dollar for their property.

Homeowners: Homeowners benefit from getting a home inspection even when they have no interest in selling since it’s important to keeping the home in good shape.  Maintaining a home is far less expensive than repairing it, and the cost of a check up inspection can help identify potential issues early on and save you money.

Structure Inspections’ inspectors have your best interest in mind. Our goal is to give you the most accurate information possible regarding the current condition of the home to help you make informed decisions.  With 20 years of experience in the field, you can trust that we will help you move forward. There is no better time to schedule a home inspection than this April, during National Home Inspection Month, when you will receive 10% off our already competitively low prices!

Get a quote, or schedule your home inspection in Ventura County, Los Angeles or Santa Barbara by calling (805) 815-3000 or e-mailing us at

Cannot be combined with any other discounts, vouchers, or offers.  By appointment only, subject to availability. Valid for any home inspections scheduled and completed between April 1, 2015 through April 30th, 2015. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

How do I know when Mold is bad?

The term 'toxic black mold' is very popular. Family, friends, friends of friends and just about everyone warns about its dangers. Hearing stories may frighten someone, especially since mold is very common in homes. But as the CDC explains, the term 'toxic black mold' is inaccurate. Mold itself is not toxic. Rather, some (very few) molds produce mycotoxins which can be hazardous to one's health. These are not commonly found in homes. Instead, homes often have other types of mold, known as allergenic molds. 

What people commonly refer to as 'toxic black mold' is not precisely black. Instead, mold associated with hazards looks thick, dark greenish-black, slimy and fuzzy when wet and fuzzy or powdery when dry. It will have already grown in a large area rather than one or two spots on a wall. This is less common and usually appears in areas that are left wet or are repeatedly wet. 

However, it's important to know that when left untreated for a long period of time, all molds can potentially become hazardous. That's because mold is a living fungus that depends on whatever it is feeding on to grow. The longer a mold issue is left untreated, the bigger chance there is that it can expand and become hazardous.

If you have a large mold issue you should consult with a mold remediation company for advice and removal. Although it might not be 'toxic black mold' it is still best to address the issues right away and mitigate any damages.

If you want to know more about mold, check out these articles:
EPA Brief Guide to Mold Clean Up
3 Indicators of Mold in your Home
Molds in the Environment
CDC Facts about Molds

3 Indicators of Mold in your Home

Because mold is very common, people often worry about the existence of mold in their own home.  How do you detect mold? While a mold remediation company can do the work for you and test for mold, you should know that you can usually smell, see, and feel mold.

Mold smells old and musty. It makes you want to open the windows as soon as you enter your home. For example, say you leave your wet laundry in the washer and forget all about them until you open the lid three or four days later. When you take the clothes out, you'll likely get a 'musty' odor. Imagine this odor day-in and day-out, and it will start smelling 'old'. The same happens with cabinets, carpets, walls, and just about everything else when exposed to moisture and left wet - it begins to smell old and musty and can be an indication that mold is growing. Because a person's sensitivity to odors can differ, mold is not always detected by smell.

Household Mold

Often times you can see mold. Depending on how much moisture is in contact with it, mold will be either powdery or slimy, and have a (visible or not) fuzzy texture. Mold often looks like a lot of spots botched together.  It is typically black or gray in color, yet can range in colors including green, yellow, white and brown.  Mold usually begins to grow about two days after moisture exposure, especially when there is a large leak.  But it is not always visible so early. Other times, mold may be hidden inside the walls or around cabinets and will take long before it becomes visible.

At times, your health can feel mold. The CDC advises there may be health concerns associated with molds.  Some people may not have an adverse effect to exposure, while others including those with weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses may be sensitive to mold and experience reactions. Indicators includes a sudden onset of allergies, nasal stuffiness, wheezing, skin and eye irritation, fever or shortness of breath. Although there may be other causes, if you experience any of these symptoms you should look further into the potential of mold growth in your home or workplace.  If you're concerned that a mold issue is making you sick you should consult with your physician to help find remedial steps.

If you smell, see or feel mold you should consult with a mold remediator to help you determine the severity of the issue and address the problem. While mold exposure is unavoidable, it is manageable. Properly maintaing a home, thoroughly cleaning after leaks or floods, ventilating a home and keeping moisture levels under control can help reduce expansion. 

If you want to know more about mold, check out these articles:

EPA Brief Guide to Mold Clean Up
How Do I know when Mold is Bad?
Molds in the Environment
CDC Facts about Molds

Mold in Homes

Mold has been around for millions of years - and it's not going anywhere. There are thousands upon thousands of species of mold (fungi) that exist in different environments. Mold is very common in households and just about anywhere there is moisture or food sources. 

Mold is keen on dampness and will grow happily in places with a lot of moisture, including carpets, wood, roofs, pipes, drywall and other household materials. It can be the result of any type of leak or wetness such as a flooded home not properly dried out down to a small glass of milk dropped on the carpet and left uncleaned. It exists in the air and outdoor surfaces and can enter a home by attaching itself to items coming in (such as clothes, shoes, etc.).  Regardless of where it grows, the one thing mold needs is moisture. 

Most types of mold can be cleaned easily at home following cleaning mold recommendations. According to the EPA, if an area with mold is "less than 10 square feet, less than a roughly 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch," then clean up can be handled by the homeowner. However, with larger mold issues, clean up should be done by a professional. 

Mold is not the problem; it is simply the cause of a water problem. Mold will reappear after cleaning unless you address the actual problem. 

The reason mold grows in the first place is because something wet is out-of-place. There are many problems that could trigger mold growth. Perhaps a pipe under the sink or in the walls is leaking, or the roof leaks, or the carpet was exposed to wetness, or something other.  In order to prevent mold from reappearing, the root of the problem needs to be found and fixed. 

While mold exposure is unavoidable, it is manageable. Properly maintaing a home, thoroughly cleaning after spills, leaks or floods, properly ventilating a home and keeping moisture levels under control especially in wet areas such as the bathrooms can help prevent or reduce expansion. 

If you want to know more about mold, check out these articles:

EPA Brief Guide to Mold Clean Up
3 Indicators of Mold in your Home
How Do I know when Mold is Bad?
Molds in the Environment
CDC Facts about Molds

Monday, March 23, 2015

How long does it take to get a Home Inspection Report?

Delivery of the report after an inspection is an important aspect in the buying process.  Naturally, reports need to be completed as soon as possible after inspection so the buyer, seller and their agents can move forward with any repairs, additional inspections or negotiations.

Many factors affect the time it takes to complete a report including:

  • The structure of the report - Does it only have check boxes or will it also include descriptions and recommendations? Are comments generic or are they written specifically for each report? Does it have pictures?
  • The day and time the inspection is completed as inspectors do not normally work 24/7- Is it done on a Saturday evening or a Monday morning?
  • The size and condition of the property - The more there is to include, the longer it will take.  

On-Site Inspection Reports

Some home inspectors offer on-site delivery of reports.  For the most part, these reports have previous generic comments inserted. As someone who is paying for a service, you should decide whether obtaining a generic report is what you want. On-site reports hinder the ability for an inspector to review his/her findings, write organic comments regarding each deficiency and provide useful recommendations. 

24 - 48 Hour Inspection Reports 

Some home inspectors will deliver an inspection report in no more that 48 business hours after an inspection.  Ideally, you want to hire an inspector who delivers reports within 24 business hours but it shouldn't be upsetting if it takes slightly longer, considering the factors listed above. This delivery time frame is the most common amongst home inspectors.

Longer than 48 Hour Inspection Reports

Inspection reports that take longer than 48 business hours to complete should be a red flag - or at least yellow. While at times there may be hurdles that arise that can legitimately delay the report, that is not common. If a report will take longer than 48 business hours, the inspector should be able to explain the reason(s). 

Always discuss the time frame of delivery with the home inspector prior to hiring his/her services. Let them know your time constraints (if any) and ensure the inspection report will be provided to you with sufficient time to review and make decisions. 

"Home Inspections are like a Box of Chocolates…"

Know the saying? Forrest Gump said it best, "You never know what you're gonna get."

Home inspections can reveal many things. Some homes are in a near perfect condition, while others could use a lot of their new owner’s TLC. 

Most homes fall somewhere in between those extremes and have only normal problems that can be addressed quickly.  New owners, including first time buyers, should understand that deficiencies will likely be found and unexpected repairs may still arise at one time or another. The important thing in any case is that the sellers or potential buyers take proactive steps to protect their investments by getting a quality home inspection. 

Really, it’s what you don’t clearly see that can be the major problem. Getting an experienced home inspector to evaluate the condition of the home is always recommended as it's the best way to know the true condition of the property.

You may not always know what you're going to get in life, but you can know what you'll get before buying a home by getting an inspection.

Don't forgo the Home Inspection process - Get it inspected.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Water Heater Issue can slow FHA Loan

A common issue found during the home buying process is improper (or missing) water heater seismic straps.  

California has double-strapping requirements for water heaters. Knowing the requirements can help facilitate the selling process, especially when dealing with a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured loan.

The FHA requires that a home complies with local building codes and makes sure certain issues are addressed before the loan is approved. In earthquake-prone California, water heaters require seismic straps [braces or anchors] in the upper and lower 1/3rd of the tank to prevent displacement, health and fire hazards during movement.  

The FHA obtains an appraisal report from an approved home appraiser who also performs a basic inspection to make sure the home is habitable. If the appraiser reports improper seismic strapping, the FHA will place the loan on hold until it meets the requirements. Additionally, a seller is required to certify that standards have been met. This issue has slowed many buyers' FHA loans.

Sound complex?

Properly installing water heater seismic straps is quick, easy and inexpensive. 

Correctly double-strapping a water heater (as seen in the photo to the right) can be done professionally by a licensed plumber for about $120 - $150 in less than one business day. It is recommended that straps be heavy gauge metal, not plumber's tape as it's less resistant to severe movement.

Why is this important?

If you're looking to close the deal soon, taking care of issues like this helps expedite the sale. An appraiser will likely find this deficiency and report on it. And you (the seller) may be asked to correct the issue anyway.  Waiting to fix simple issues will only cause delays.

As a seller, you can have your home ready for the appraiser and make it faster to process a buyer's FHA loan. Even though a buyer will not always have an FHA loan, it's always wise for sellers to address simple issues before any delays or inconvenience arise. 

Taking proactive steps to address simple, but important, issues means a faster smoother transaction for everyone involved. 

It's important to note that an appraiser's role is not to inspect the home.  Sellers should still consider hiring a home inspector for a thorough pre-listing inspection to find concerns and help address issues quickly.

Follow this blog for more posts about issues relating to home inspections. Comment below if this story about addressing simple but important issues sounds all-too familiar, or if there is something else you'd like to share.