Why Are Home Inspections Important?

A home inspection is an all-encompassing examination of the condition of a home.   The home inspection process is often but not always performed at the time of the sale of the home. A home is one of the most important purchases one will ever make.  A home inspection is an inexpensive way to discover the universal condition of a home.  It is important to conduct a home inspection to avoid a costly mistake by purchasing a property in need of major repairs.  Even if you think you have found a “dream home,” it is a home inspector’s responsibility to let you know that your “dream home” may not be just right.
A certified home inspector is a professional who will conduct an inspection of the general condition of the home.  A good home inspection will assist a buyer in understanding exactly what they are about to acquire.  A home may look move in ready, but an inspector will cover features of the house such as electrical wiring, plumbing, roofing, insulation, as well as structural features of the home and may unveil issues that are not noticeable to the buyer’s eye.  As a buyer, you are making a vast investment, and it is important to understand exactly what you are purchasing.  Having a certified home inspector conduct a thorough inspection of the prospective property, could be compared to taking out an insurance policy against all potential operating costs.
There are many different types of home inspection processes that you may want to conduct before the purchase of a home.  First and most importantly, you would need a general or residential inspection performed on the home.  The certified home inspector would inspect the structure, exterior, roof, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, interior, insulation and ventilation.  Once the inspection is completed, the home inspector will generally provide the buyer with a report suggesting any improvements or repairs deemed necessary to bring the home up to current standards.  Home inspections may often reveal problems with a home that could be pricey to fix.  This could be used as a great tool in purchasing negotiations with the seller.  As the buyer you may be able to negotiate the price dependant on what the inspector has found.  If flaws were found within the home, the buyer now would have a couple more options in negotiations.  A buyer could negotiate a credit with the sellers, have the seller pay for repairs before the closing, purchase the home as is, or walk away from the purchase if the issues seem too problematic.
Other inspections that you may want before purchasing a home may be well water testing, oil tank testing and septic tank testing.  General home inspectors may be qualified to perform all of these tests and/or inspections for additional fees. It is important that you ask your potential inspector what his/her qualifications may be.
If at all possible, it is recommended to attend your home inspection process.  This is a valuable educational opportunity. Never pass up the chance to see your forthcoming home through the eyes of an expert.  The cost of a home inspection may vary depending upon the size, region, and age of the house.  A home inspection could take anywhere from 2-5 hours, again, depending upon the size and age of the home.  It is not an inspector’s responsibility to correct, or repair any potential issues found in the home.  An inspector may recommend repair, or to seek out skilled professionals in each trade for further information.
A home inspection will definitely give the buyer peace of mind and put the buyer’s mind at ease that the home is in good shape. It can also become a negotiation tool in closing, and could inform the buyer of potential future maintenance and upkeep.  A seller of a home may also request a home inspection before the home is put on the market.   This may assist the seller in setting a price, correct any issues with the home before it is put on the market, or merely having a pre-inspection report available for buyers informing them that the seller has nothing to hide.

How important is Proper Grade or Slope?

As we all know, water runs downhill. That being the case we must give it a path that will allow it to run away from the building or more specifically, away from the foundation. It really doesn’t matter if you have a crawl space, basement, or slab-on-grade foundation they all need proper drainage.
So, how do you tell if the slope/grade is correct? Over time and with experience you will be able to look and see if it is a positive (away from the building) or negative (towards the building) grade/slope. In the meantime, you can use either a 4-foot level or a ball bearing (at least 3/4″) to determine slope. Obviously, the ball bearing is only going to work on hard surfaces like walks, drives, and patios. The level is for grass, landscape materials, etc.
The rule of thumb is for the grade to slope away from the building at the rate of about 1- inch per foot for the first 6-feet. This is rarely the case in real life. We hope that it is at least flat and not negative. Look for signs of puddling water, erosion or settling of the soil near the foundation, and basement windows that are partially buried. All of these are probable indications of improper slope/grade.
Now, even if the grade is correct the water running off the roof can wreak havoc on the foundation as well. In homes with basements or areas with expansive soils, gutters should always be recommended to carry the water away from the foundation at least 4-6 feet. This will help tremendously with wet basements!
City Spotlight: Irvine California 
Irvine has all the surf, sand, and sun Southern California is known for, with 44 miles of bike trails, 20,000 acres of parks and preserves, and a beach 10 miles away. Thanks to smart planning, this big city can feel surprisingly small. The 40-year-old community is divided into 40 “villages,” and a minimum of five acres of park space is added for every 1,000 newcomers. Home prices are high, but new development is creating more affordable options – along with new schools, bike paths, and green spaces.
There are 33 public schools in Irvine and a total of 8,313 public schools in California. There are 18 private schools in Irvine and a total of 3,445 private schools in California. There are 8 post-secondary schools in Irvine and a total of 1,086 post-secondary schools in California.
The income per capita in Irvine is 38% greater than the California average and 62.4% greater than the National average. The median household income in Irvine is 41.1% greater than the California average and 73.8% greater than the National average. The median household income in Irvine for owner occupied housing is 87.6% greater than the median household income for renter occupied housing in Irvine.
The median home value in Irvine is 50.9% greater than the California average and 237.8% greater than the National average. The median price asked for homes in Irvine is 40.1% greater than the California average and 214.1% greater than the National average. The median rental rates in Irvine is 48.4% greater than the California average and 123.2% greater than the National average.
The highest average temperature in Irvine is August at 71.7 degrees. The coldest average temperature in Irvine is December at 55.7 degrees. The most monthly precipitation in Irvine occurs in February with 2.6 inches. The Irvine weather information is based on the average of the previous 3-7 years of data.
There are a total of 3 airports within 30 miles of Irvine and a total of 12 Amtrak train stations within 30 miles of the city center. The average travel time to work in Irvine is 10.3% less than the California average and equal to the National average. The number of people who take public transportation in Irvine is 72.2% less than the California average and 62.8% less than the National average. The number of people who carpool to work in Irvine is 47.6% less than the California average and 35.9% less than the National average. The number of people who work from home in Irvine is 21.2% greater than the California average and 78.8% greater than the National average.

Hose Bib Maintenance

A hose bib (exterior faucet) is a threaded faucet also known as a wall hydrant. An example of a hose bib would be the standard exterior faucet of a residence. In colder climates the exterior hose bib will be mounted on an interior wall to prevent freezing.
There are two basic types of hose bibs that are used for exterior use. One is a standard hose bib. With this hose bib the water line extends all the way through the exterior wall and hose bib threads onto the pipe itself. The other is a frost proof hose bib. This hose bib has a long stem and it extends well into the heated space. These come in standard sizes of 8”, 10”, 12”, 14” and 18”. All lengths may not always available at all locations where you shop.
The frost proof will also have an anti-siphon device. An anti-siphon device will not allow water to siphon or to be drawn back into the potable water. The Standard hose bibs can be adapted by adding an anti-siphon device. You can pick up one of these devices at your local hardware store or at super store like Home Depot, Lowes, or Menards. They simply screw on. Once you screw this device on there is a nut that you can tighten down until it twists off.  It should not be able to be removed.
In colder climates or climates the reach below freezing temperatures there are a few other points to look at to keep your water lines from freezing. Make sure that you remove hoses from the hose bibs as fall arrives. Hose bibs will hold water and can cause the pies to burst in certain situations. On standard hose bibs (and possibly on frost free) there should be a stop valve on the inside of the home to shut the water off. Once the water is off make sure that the lines are drained to prevent freezing.

San Clemente is a city in Orange County, California which became incorporated in 1928. The population was 63,522 at the 2010 census. Located on the California Coast, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego at the southern tip of the county, it is known for its ocean, hill, and mountain views, a pleasant climate and its Spanish Colonial style architecture. San Clemente’s city slogan is “Spanish Village by the Sea”.

There are 12 public schools in San Clemente and a total of 8,313 public schools in California. There are 3 private schools in San Clemente and a total of 3,445 private schools in California. The student to teacher ratio in San Clemente for public schools is 23:1, which is 16.4% greater than the California student to teacher ratio and 43.2% greater than the National student to teacher ratio.

The median home value in San Clemente is 87.2% greater than the California average and 319.2% greater than the National average. The median price asked for homes in San Clemente is 167% greater than the California average and 498.7% greater than the National average. The median rental rates in San Clemente is 28.8% greater than the California average and 93.7% greater than the National average.

The income per capita in San Clemente is 51% greater than the California average and 77.7% greater than the National average. The median household income in San Clemente is 31% greater than the California average and 61.4% greater than the National average. The median household income in San Clemente for owner occupied housing is 91.6% greater than the median household income for renter occupied housing in San Clemente.

The highest average temperature in San Clemente is August at 69.5 degrees. The coldest average temperature in San Clemente is December at 51.6 degrees. The most monthly precipitation in San Clemente occurs in February with 3 inches. The San Clemente weather information is based on the average of the previous 3-7 years of data.

There are a total of 2 airports within 30 miles of San Clemente and a total of 7 Amtrak train stations within 30 miles of the city center.

The average travel time to work in San Clemente is 3.4% greater than the California average and 15.4% greater than the National average. The number of people who take public transportation in San Clemente is 39.1% less than the California average and 18.5% less than the National average. The number of people who carpool to work in San Clementeis 28.4% less than the California average and 12.3% less than the National average. The number of people who work from home in San Clemente is 16.6% greater than the California average and 72.1% greater than the National average.

Ten Tips to Speed Up Your Home Inspection

Speed up your home sale by preparing your home ahead of time using the following tips. Your home inspection will go smoother, with fewer concerns to delay closing.

  1. Confirm that that the water, electrical and gas services are turned on (including pilot lights).
  2. Make sure pets won’t hinder the home inspection. Ideally, they should be removed from the premises or secured outside. Tell your sellers about any pets at home.
  3. Replace burned-out light bulbs to avoid a “light is inoperable” report that may suggest an electrical problem.
  4. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and replace dead batteries.
  5. Clean or replace dirty HVAC air filters. They should fit securely.
  6. Remove stored items, debris and wood from the foundation. These may be cited as “conducive conditions” for termites.
  7. Remove items blocking access to HVAC equipment, electrical service panels, the water heater, attic and crawlspace.
  8. Unlock any locked areas that your home inspector must access, such as the attic door or hatch, the electrical service panel, the door to the basement, and any exterior gates.
  9. Trim tree limbs so that they’re at least 10 feet away from the roof.  Trim any shrubs that are too close to the house and can hides pests or hold moisture against the exterior.
  10. Repair or replace any broken or missing items, such as doorknobs, locks or latches, windowpanes or screens, gutters or downspouts, or chimney caps.
Checking these areas before your home inspection is an investment in selling your property.

Amidst a wave of Chinese import scares, ranging from toxic toys to tainted pet food, reports of contaminated drywall from that country have been popping up across the American Southeast. Chinese companies use unrefined “fly ash,” a coal residue found in smokestacks in coal-fired power plants in their manufacturing process. Fly ash contains strontium sulfide, a toxic substance commonly found in fireworks. In hot and wet environments, this substance can off gas into hydrogen sulfide, carbon disulfide, and carbonyl sulfide and contaminate a home’s air supply.

The bulk of these incidents have been reported in Florida and other southern states, likely due to the high levels of heat and humidity in that region. Most of the affected homes were built during the housing boom between 2004 and 2007, especially in the wake of Hurricane Katrina when domestic building materials were in short supply. An estimated 250,000 tons of drywall were imported from China during that time period because it was cheap and plentiful. This material was used in the construction of approximately 100,000 homes in the United States, and many believe this has lead to serious health and property damage.

Although not believed to be life- threatening, exposure to high levels of airborne hydrogen sulfide and other sulfur compounds from contaminated drywall can result in the following physical ailments:

  • sore throat;
  • sinus irritation;
  • coughing;
  • wheezing;
  • headache;
  • dry or burning eyes; and/or
  • respiratory infections.
Due to this problem’s recent nature, there are currently no government or industry standards for inspecting contaminated drywall in homes. Professionals who have handled contaminated drywall in the past may know how to inspect for sulfur compounds but there are no agencies that offer certification in this form of inspection. Homeowners should beware of con artists attempting to make quick money off of this widespread scare by claiming to be licensed or certified drywall inspectors. InterNACHI has assembled the following tips that inspectors can use to identify if a home’s drywall is contaminated:
  • The house has a strong sulfur smell reminiscent of rotten eggs.
  • Exposed copper wiring appears dark and corroded. Silver jewelry and silverware can become similarly corroded and discolored after several months of exposure.
  • A manufacturer’s label on the back of the drywall can be used to link it with manufacturers that are known to have used contaminated materials. One way to look for this is to enter the attic and remove some of the insulation.
  • Drywall samples can be sent to a lab to be tested for dangerous levels of sulfur. This is the best testing method but also the most expensive.
Contaminated Chinese drywall cannot be repaired. Affected homeowners are being forced to either suffer bad health and failing appliances due to wire corrosion or replace the drywall entirely, a procedure which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. This contamination further reduces home values in a real estate environment already plagued by crisis. Some insurance companies are refusing to pay for drywall replacement and many of their clients are facing financial ruin. Class-action lawsuits have been filed against homebuilders, suppliers, and importers of contaminated Chinese drywall. Some large manufacturers named in these lawsuits are Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, Knauf Gips, and Taishan Gypsum.
The Florida Department of Health recently tested drywall from three Chinese manufacturers and a domestic sample and published their findings. They found “a distinct difference in drywall that was manufactured in the United States and those that were manufactured in China.” The Chinese samples contained traces of strontium sulfide and emitted a sulfur odor when exposed to moisture and intense heat, while the American sample did not. The U.S. Consumer Safety Commission is currently performing similar tests. Other tests performed by Lennar, a builder that used Chinese drywall in 80 Florida homes, and Knauf Plasterboard, a manufacturer of the drywall, came to different conclusions than the Florida Department of Health. Both found safe levels of sulfur compounds in the samples that they tested. There is currently no scientific proof that Chinese drywall is responsible for the allegations against it.
Regardless of its source, contamination of some sort is damaging property and health in the southern U.S. The media, who have publicized the issue, almost unanimously report that the blame lies with imported Chinese drywall that contains corrosive sulfur compounds originating from ash produced by Chinese coal-fired power plants. Homes affected by this contamination can suffer serious damage to the metal parts of appliances and piping and lead, potentially leading to considerable health issues. While no governing body has issued regulations regarding contaminated drywall, it is advisable that home inspectors be aware of the danger it poses and learn how to identify it.

Buying a home?  It is probably the most expensive purchase you will ever make.  This is no time to shop for a cheap inspection.  The cost of a Orange County home inspection is very small relative to the home being inspected.  The additional cost of hiring an InterNACHI-certified inspector is almost insignificant.

You have recently been crunching the numbers, negotiating offers, adding up closing costs, shopping for mortgages, and trying to get the best deals.  Do not stop now.  Do not let your real estate agent, a “patty-cake” inspector, or anyone else talk you into skimping here.  InterNACHI-certified inspectors perform the best inspections by far.
InterNACHI-certified inspectors earn their fees many times over.  They do more, they deserve more, and, yes, they generally charge a little more.  Do yourself a favor…and pay a little more for the quality inspection you deserve.
Licensing of home inspectors only sets a minimum standard.  Much like being up to code,any less would be illegal.  Imaginary people, children, psychics (who claim to “sense” if a house is OK) and even pets can be home inspectors.  InterNACHI, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, front-ends its membership requirements.
InterNACHI inspectors:
  • have to pass InterNACHI’s  Online Inspector Examination  every year.  (This general, not association-specific exam, is open and free to all);
  • have to complete InterNACHI’s online Ethics Obstacle Course. (This open-book Ethics course is open and free to all);
  • have to take InterNACHI’s online Standards of Practice quiz (This open-book Standards of Practice quiz is open and free to all);
  • have to sign and submit an Affidavit;
  • have to adhere to InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice;
  • have to abide by InterNACHI’s Code of Ethics;
  • have to continue seeking skills and education (24 hours per year), per InterNACHI’s Continuing Education policy;
  • have to maintain a Member Online Continuing Education Log (free), per InterNACHI’s Continuing Education policy;
  • have to submit four mock inspections to InterNACHI’s Report Review Committee (free) before performing their first paid home inspection for a client (if the candidate has never performed a fee-paid home inspection previously);
  • within 30 days of joining, have to successfully complete InterNACHI’s comprehensive online Standards of Practice course (free);
  • within 60 days of joining, complete InterNACHI’s comprehensive online Roofing Inspection course (free), including all the quizzes within, and pass its final exam;
  • within three months of membership, apply for a member photo I.D. (free);
  • have to re-take and pass InterNACHI’s Online Inspector Examination again, every year (free);
  • have to attend at least one chapter meeting or educational seminar every two years (reasonable exceptions apply);
  • have access to Inspector’s Quarterly, delivered to their doorstep;
  • have access to InterNACHI’s free Visual Aid Inspection Frames to help them learn;
  • have access to InterNACHI’s free library for improving their inspection skills;
  • have access to InterNACHI’s message board for exchanging information and tips;
  • have access to InterNACHI’s “What’s New” section so they can keep up with the industry;
  • have access to InterNACHI’s specific-topic advisory boards;
  • have access to “Dear InterNACHI” for detailed advice;
  • have access to a time-tested Inspection Agreement, which keeps them (and you) away from lawsuits;
  • have access to InterNACHI’s Report Review/Mentoring service;
  • have to submit passport photos for their membership I.D.;
  • have access to InterNACHI’s free online inspection courses;
  • have to carry E&O insurance (if their state requires it);
  • have access to a real estate agent hold-harmless clause;
  • have access to InterNACHI University;
  • have access to the InterNACHI Mall;
  • have a consumer hotline for their clients;
  • have access to an Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Service; and
  • have access to a Client Satisfaction Survey.
So, the next time you need to refer your clients to home inspectors, make sure they are members of InterNACHI.