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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Insight from the Inspector - The importance of rain gutters



by Dan Wos - NYS licensed Real Estate Inspector  www.housedetective.biz  888-692-2711  Saratoga Springs, NY  

 The topic of rain gutters is one that comes up often on a home inspection. I will give you a few options and let you know what is available & most common on houses today. You decide what is best for your particular situation.

 The 2 most common types of gutters found today are plastic and aluminum. Both can be found at your local home improvement store. The material comes in 10’ lengths, and all mounting hardware is available. This type of gutter is a common choice for the “Do-it-yourself-er”. There are some advantages and disadvantages to using these store bought systems. For starters, they can be installed with common tools and they are generally much less expensive than a professional system. The downside however, far outweighs the advantages (in my opinion). These systems require jointing at every 10’ length (unless you are using runs that are 10’ or less – which is uncommon). The gutter joints are the biggest area of failure because the rubber gaskets dry out, the joints eventually break loose & separate, and debris is more likely to build up at the joints because of the joiner brackets. Overall, this type of gutter system will require more maintenance – proving to be less cost-effective in the long run.



 There is an alternative. A professionally installed seamless aluminum gutter system appears to be the most stable, reliable and effective option. Here’s why: A seamless system has no joints that can break. This allows for less flow restriction, less debris build-up and less maintenance. The reason these systems have no seams is because they are made-to-length on-sight with a bending machine. The gutters are made from a continuous length of material and can be made as long in length as the installers can work with. These systems last much longer, allowing for a better return on investment. On home inspections, I most often see the seamed gutter systems, broken and useless. The seamless systems I inspect are most often in tact and operating efficiently. So, if you are trying to decide on a system for your house - keep that in mind.

 There are a few reasons we use rain gutters, but the most important is foundation preservation. I’ll explain. The surface of a roof collects a large amount of water during a rain storm. That large amount of water then gets condensed down to a small area and drops off the edge of the roof and lands next to the foundation of the house. That’s a lot of water landing in one small strip at the edge of your house. In most cases, the soil around the foundation can absorb and disburse the water before it creates any damage. This is assuming the soil is properly graded (allowing water to shed away from the house) and the region gets a moderate amount of rainfall. However, in some cases the lack of rain gutters allows the roof water to erode the soil grading as it falls from the roof - causing a negative slope which will direct the water exactly where you don’t want it – to the foundation. The problem with water entering along the side of the foundation wall is that it will penetrate the wall causing interior moisture issues. This can lead to mold growth and unhealthy living conditions. Water along the foundation wall can also have a hydraulic affect in which it’s expansion and contraction can cause structural damage to the wall. The purpose of rain gutters is to collect all that water and direct it to a safe location.

 This brings us to the next area of concern – downspouts and leader extension. The downspouts must be functioning properly and free of debris, so they can send the water to the leader extensions. The leader extensions must be functioning properly and be long enough to divert the water far away from the house. The idea here is to collect all that rain water and get it far enough away from the foundation so it has no chance of finding it’s way back via negative grading. Leader extensions can be found in a hinged version to make lawn mowing easy. They can also be removed for lawn and garden maintenance. Downspouts can be installed directly into underground drainage systems to avoid the use of leader extensions altogether. This process is a little more labor intensive, but well worth it, if you don’t like the appearance of extensions.


 A common problem that I often see on home inspections is a lack of leader extension. This can be worse than having no gutters at all because all the rain water is collected and dumped at one very specific location (usually the corner of the foundation). This can cause extreme damage to the corner of the foundation because the soil can’t absorb or disburse that large amount of water. Foundation damage can be costly to repair, but prevention is relatively inexpensive. In most cases, rain gutter are a good idea. If you’re not sure, ask your home inspector.

Thanks for reading,
Dan Wos
House Detective Inc.
Saratoga Springs, NY
518-884-0675

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Insight from the Inspector - the benefits of rain gutters



by Dan Wos - NYS licensed Real Estate Inspector  www.housedetective.biz  888-692-2711  Saratoga Springs, NY   

  


The topic of rain gutters is one that comes up often on a home inspection. I will give you a few options and let you know what is available & most common on houses today. You decide what is best for your particular situation.

 The 2 most common types of gutters found today are plastic and aluminum. Both can be found at your local home improvement store. The material comes in 10’ lengths, and all mounting hardware is available. This type of gutter is a common choice for the “Do-it-yourself-er”. There are some advantages and disadvantages to using these store bought systems. For starters, they can be installed with common tools and they are generally much less expensive than a professional system. The downside however, far outweighs the advantages (in my opinion). These systems require jointing at every 10’ length (unless you are using runs that are 10’ or less – which is uncommon). The gutter joints are the biggest area of failure because the rubber gaskets dry out, the joints eventually break loose & separate, and debris is more likely to build up at the joints because of the joiner brackets. Overall, this type of gutter system will require more maintenance – proving to be less cost-effective in the long run.

 There is an alternative. A professionally installed seamless aluminum gutter system appears to be the most stable, reliable and effective option. Here’s why: A seamless system has no joints that can break. This allows for less flow restriction, less debris build-up and less maintenance. The reason these systems have no seams is because they are made-to-length on-sight with a bending machine. The gutters are made from a continuous length of material and can be made as long in length as the installers can work with. These systems last much longer, allowing for a better return on investment. On home inspections, I most often see the seamed gutter systems, broken and useless. The seamless systems I inspect are most often in tact and operating efficiently. So, if you are trying to decide on a system for your house - keep that in mind.

 There are a few reasons we use rain gutters, but the most important is foundation preservation. I’ll explain. The surface of a roof collects a large amount of water during a rain storm. That large amount of water then gets condensed down to a small area and drops off the edge of the roof and lands next to the foundation of the house. That’s a lot of water landing in one small strip at the edge of your house. In most cases, the soil around the foundation can absorb and disburse the water before it creates any damage. This is assuming the soil is properly graded (allowing water to shed away from the house) and the region gets a moderate amount of rainfall. However, in some cases the lack of rain gutters allows the roof water to erode the soil grading as it falls from the roof - causing a negative slope which will direct the water exactly where you don’t want it – to the foundation. The problem with water entering along the side of the foundation wall is that it will penetrate the wall causing interior moisture issues. This can lead to mold growth and unhealthy living conditions. Water along the foundation wall can also have a hydraulic affect in which it’s expansion and contraction can cause structural damage to the wall. The purpose of rain gutters is to collect all that water and direct it to a safe location.

 This brings us to the next area of concern – downspouts and leader extension. The downspouts must be functioning properly and free of debris, so they can send the water to the leader extensions. The leader extensions must be functioning properly and be long enough to divert the water far away from the house. The idea here is to collect all that rain water and get it far enough away from the foundation so it has no chance of finding it’s way back via negative grading. Leader extensions can be found in a hinged version to make lawn mowing easy. They can also be removed for lawn and garden maintenance. Downspouts can be installed directly into underground drainage systems to avoid the use of leader extensions altogether. This process is a little more labor intensive, but well worth it, if you don’t like the appearance of extensions.



 A common problem that I often see on home inspections is a lack of leader extension. This can be worse than having no gutters at all because all the rain water is collected and dumped at one very specific location (usually the corner of the foundation). This can cause extreme damage to the corner of the foundation because the soil can’t absorb or disburse that large amount of water. 



 Foundation damage can be costly to repair, but prevention is relatively inexpensive. In most cases, rain gutter are a good idea. If you’re not sure, ask your home inspector.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Identifying Asbestos Tiles in Older Homes


http://workingwellresources.com/
Identifying Asbestos Tiles in Older Homes

Hi Working Well readers! This is Faith Franz with The Mesothelioma Center. House Detective - Home Inspections offered us the space to share some proactive wellness information with you, and we’re excited to have your attention.

I’m sure you’ve heard about asbestos before. But I’m also willing to bet you’ve been told it’s a threat of the past – something that went out of date in the 1980s.
In one sense, that’s true. Most U.S. companies no longer manufacture asbestos products, and the ones that do are regulated. Asbestos has not been banned in the United States; so many of the asbestos-containing products being used today are imported. And hundreds of U.S.-made asbestos products once contained the fibers – and many are still in place in older homes.
Asbestos tiles are some of the most prevalent products in these buildings (others include shingles, drywall sheets and bricks). And unfortunately, these innocent-seeming products can actually pose a major threat to your health if you are exposed repeatedly.
One University of Texas study examined several contaminated tile samples, and found that the asbestos fibers were smaller than 5 micrometers in length and 0.5 micrometers in diameter. Based on these qualities, the researchers deemed that they were “easily inhaled.” People who inhale airborne asbestos for several months or years have an increased risk of mesothelioma cancers such as pleural and peritoneal, lung cancer and similar diseases. The survival rate of mesothelioma cancer tends to be low for these patients.
The only reliable way to prevent these diseases is to know how to spot – and properly manage – asbestos products.
Identifying and Removing Asbestos Tiles
Unless the product itself is damaged and the fibers are spilling out, you can’t visually differentiate between a contaminated tile and an asbestos-free one. Most asbestos products (tiles included) lack an identifying label.
There is, however, one simple guideline that most organizations abide by: If the product was installed before the 1980s, you can assume that it contains asbestos. For confirmation – which you should always get before you perform any potentially destructive renovations – you’ll need to request a professional inspection.
Homeowners can legally remove or cover their own asbestos tiles. However, this is one of the easiest ways to inadvertently create an exposure hazard. From a safety standpoint, it’s much more appropriate to hire a professional.
Asbestos abatement companies work within current removal guidelines. After confirming the presence of asbestos in the tiles, licensed technicians can remove the tiles using the “wet method,” which reduces the number of fibers that enter the air. The company will handle post-removal cleanup and proper disposal (which can help you avoid major fines for inappropriate dumping). They’ll also make sure the air quality is safe before giving you the green light to go back into your home.
Author bio: Faith Franz has spent nearly two years researching and writing for TheMesothelioma Center. As an advocate for alternative medicine, she encourages patients to explore all of the treatment options that could potentially save their life.

Sources:
Williams, M.G. & Crossman, R. N. (2003). Asbestos release during removal of resilient floor covering materials by recommended work practices of the resilient floor covering institute. Applications of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene; 18 (6). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12746067

Thursday, June 14, 2012

5 Point Inspection


The 5 most important and most costly areas of a house to repair.

1. Roof

GOOD
Shingles laying flat

Proper roof venting
BAD
Lifting /Curling/Damaged or Missing shingles

Moss Present 


2. Furnace


GOOD
Burners and Burner Flame – All Burners w/Consistent Blue Flame

Service History Records Posted on Furnace by Licensed Professional

Venting Inspection – Power Vent Fan Working

BAD
Rust – Outside or Inside the Unit

Yellow burner flames

Gas Leaks

Black Soot

Leaking Pipes – Water on Pipes & Surrounding Area 

3. Electrical

GOOD
Box has a cover

Box is intact

Properly fastened to wall

150 AMP Service or above

Stapled Wires 

BAD
Rust or moisture on panel box

Loose Wires

Unfastened Ground Wires
or bonding 



4. Plumbing

GOOD
Water heater free of rust

Shut off valves, supply lines, drain lines free of leaks

BAD
Rust or leaks at water heater

improper electrical connections at water heater

Leaks at water lines, drain lines, sink traps or valves

5. Structure

GOOD
Dry basement walls and floor

properly fastened support posts and beams

Straight foundation walls

BAD
Cracks or moisture on basement walls or floor

Rust on support posts

Rot or damage on carrying beam, sill plate or floor joists
For a more detailed description please watch this video
Your comments are welcomed. Thanks for checking us out!
Dan Wos,
House Detective 
888-692-2711 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Are real estate professionals getting more "Investor" friendly?


The residential real estate sales process has always been primarily geared for the private home buyer. The group of professionals which is most commonly comprised of Broker / Agent, Attorney, Insurance, Appraiser, Banker, Title company and Inspector are typically set up to handle the purchase and sale process as a team.

 With the real estate industry changing like it has in recent years, most residential service providers have changed their process to accommodate the Real Estate Investor. Especially right now as the Investors are swooping in to buy bulk properties and in the process completely changing the sales number ratios.


 Most Investors are much more savvy than the typical home buyer and will call the shots on how their transactions will go. Many service providers have learned to work with Investors because they understand that Investment real estate is now a much bigger piece of the overall real estate sales numbers. It's a great example of a market economy. As uncomfortable as it may be to "old school thinkers", some would say this is how it is supposed to work and some might even argue that shaking up the system is a good thing.

 Real estate investors certainly do not follow traditional buying processes and often make transactions quicker and easier, due to many purchasing properties with cash. Babs Wagner of Area Home Owner Solutions says, "Realtors should add Investors to their buyer pool because Investor transactions are most often cash deals which eliminate bank delays".

 Being a big part of our market's Investor circles, I thought it would be a good idea to get the inside scoop and find out what Investors are really saying. So, with a little help from some of our area's biggest game changers, I put together a few of the most common struggles that Investors are having with industry service providers.

1. When an Investor is looking at a property, their focus is not necessarily on the emotional triggers of the property. Most Investors can separate "likability" from "cashflow" or "ARV (after repair value)". In other words, "How will I profit", not "How will curtains look".

 2. When an Investor is interested in a property, they want an Agent that understands cap rates, cashflow, creative financing and where values are headed. Mark Dobert of Action Investors Network says, "Understanding the market from a macro economic perspective is key, and if agents want to learn how Investors think, they should spend more time with them".

     3. Investors need an Agent that knows the expenses that go along with a property, such as: holding costs,  Interest costs, maintenance fees, management fees, legal fees and hidden costs that come with investment properties.  Glenn Schworm of Signature Home Buyers says, "It's very important to understand that Investor profits are not calculated with simple math. In other words, buying a house for $60k and selling it for $100k (contrary to popular opinion) does not equate to a $40k profit".                                                                                                                                                          
     From and Inspection company perspective, we at House Detective learned very early on that there would be a lot of action on the Investor's field. We could see it coming as soon as the "bubble burst", so we re-tooled our services to accommodate a larger in-flow of Investor clients as well as owner occupied buyers. Here are some new services we have created to better help our Investor friends.
    • An "a la cart" type service menu for buyers who don't need all the services an owner occupied buyer would need. An example would be: Partial inspections, if an Investor buyer wants only the foundation inspected. 
    • A team Inspector approach for inspecting a large number of properties in a shorter period of time. An example would be: multiple Inspectors on a 30 unit apartment house.
    • "Project Management and Consulting" which has been a huge success for Investors that want us to create a rehab job scope and perform periodic Inspections on their Contractors to assure quality, timeliness and cost effectiveness.
    • The "Pre-Listing" Inspection. This serves as an overview of the property to raise any issues before it hits the market. This gives the seller a "Heads up" to get any repairs done.



     I would like to hear your comments on this topic. Please feel free to post them below.

    Dan Wos - President
    House Detective Inc.
    (888) 692-2711
    www.housedetective.biz

    Thursday, February 2, 2012

    Home Inspection puts $3500 in home buyers pocket!


     You would be surprised if I shared all the things I've seen in my 10 years as a Home Inspector. Did you ever think a seller would nail pieces of 2x8 in to cover up termite infested wood at the sill plates? How 'bout loading all their belongings up against a deteriorating basement wall. Here's one: Nailing the attic hatch closed to prevent the Home Inspector from seeing the black mold on the underside of the roof decking.  Alright, so what do you do when you're a home buyer and you want to make sure your buying a house that you feel confident with? Or, what do you do when you're a Realtor and you want to protect your clients? Answer: you find a Home Inspector that really cares. A Home Inspector that loves what they do and wants to help the buyer get into a house they can make their home. A Home Inspector that also wants to help make the transaction as easy as possible, while educating everyone along the way.

     The importance of having a home inspection goes without saying. Well, you would think so but some people actually don't even get their house inspected. The way we look at that is, They don't know what they don't know. So, it's our job, "The Home Inspector" is to educate people on just how important a home inspection is. We hope to earn your business of course, but I couldn't sleep at night unless I know I've done everything I can to help home buyers and share my knowledge as a Home Inspector.

     A recent customer told us that they were not going to get an inspection because they had a relative that was a contractor, but their bank required an inspection by a licensed Home Inspector so they reluctantly called us.

     This is where it gets good......

     After they closed on the house, we received a thank you card in the mail. Here's what it said:

     " We just wanted to thank everyone at House Detective for a great experience. We were not going to have the house at xx xxxxxxxxx St.  inspected but our bank required it. After we had our contractor go through it and gave it a clean bill of health we thought it would be a waste of money to get an inspection. Boy, were we wrong! Not only did our contractor miss half the things you guys reported, but we also saved $5000 on the house due to the needed repairs in the report that only cost us $1500 to have done. We are now moved in with an extra $3500 in our pocket. We couldn't be happier! You did a fantastic job."


    So, there you have it. Thanks for reading. If we can answer any questions, please give our office a call. We are here to help you. It's why we do what we do!

    Dan Wos - President
    House Detective Inc.
    http://www.housedetective.biz
    888-692-2711