A regular real estate home inspection and a first time home buyer inspection differs slightly in the fact that I highly recommend a first time home buyer needs to be there during the inspection. Someone who has owned homes before already understands where to look for the main water shut off, The main septic clean-out and where re-set buttons are on the garbage disposal, and The furnace or how to set the temperature on the hot water heater or how to prime the furnace after running out of oil. These are just a few things I like to point out to new home buyers. How do you expect someone to know how to change their furnace filter which only takes a minute, if they didn’t even know they had one! Or how to put a mirror in the chimney clean out to see if it needs cleaning or not. All people know to take lint out of their dryer but new home owners might not know you should clean out the lint vent leading outside at least once a year. New home owners may not understand the importance of making sure outside faucets lead away from the basement or the importance of having proper ventilation in the attic. All good home inspectors have no problem helping out new home buyers at no extra charge for this service and I highly recommend all first time home buyers ask if the Inspector is first time home buyer certified. I also like to let all clients of my inspections to feel free to call anytime about any questions they may have about their home even if it is a year or so later. I enjoy being there for you and being allowed the opportunity to be of assistance. If I didn’t like this profession I would be doing something else
Here is what We offer in our Annual Log Home Inspections….
It is very important to have yearly inspections professionally performed and to keep an inspection log for your home. It is vitally important to keep a good maintenance log of your home listing all materials purchased for maintenance, any updates or improvements made to the home and all dates as well as who performed each service. These should all be kept in a loose bound binder often provided by the Builder.
1) Are there any logs contacting foliage, organic mulch, or the ground within 18 inches from the home? We look for any landscaping that may have grown up against the house or soil grade that has become too close to the sill (bottom) log.
2) We perform an adhesion test where we Press a piece of masking tape onto the log ensuring good adhesion and after pressing it on hard wait 3 minutes. Next we rip it off. If a lot of stain came off with the tape we recommend you should remove the finish before applying anything new. We try this in a few different spots as some areas wear faster than others. This takes an experienced eye to know how much is too much.
3) We look to see if there are any discolored areas. Does it seem to be underneath or above of the finish. If it’s under the finish we recommend for you to remove the finish to get at it. If it is on top you can clean it off and seal over the old sealant which is the most common. Some issues are created from an improper PH balance
4) Now we take a water spray bottle and spray down areas of the wall to see if the sealant is properly repelling the water. If it beads up and rolls of or quickly drips off it is fine. If it soaks in then there is a problem with the sealant
5) With a rubber mallet, we tap of the wood listening to listen to hear any hollow spots and use a moisture pin meter to check that the wood is within acceptable levels.
6) Inspect all Chinking for cracks or peeling away from the log
7) We inspect the interior with thermal imaging (IR Camera) to detect air and moisture issues.
8) Looking for signs of any insect holes, sawdust or insect debris. All log homes will have a few insect holes, but most, not all, insects are only interested in wood that has high moisture content. Many times you may find a hole where a insect who was in the tree and just wants to leave the wood for greener pastures.
9) We check for any soft, decayed areas and upward facing checks, under windows, and the lower few courses of logs Also, we try to figure out where all the excess moisture is coming from
10) We look for any gaps that have developed due to settling and shrinkage drying. This is a greater concern on homes that are less than five years old, but regular soil settling and erosion can occur around a home of any age.
Now it is report time. Here we write up a report showing our findings and comparing the report to the previous year’s report. This should be added to you Home Maintenance log.
© 2014 AnnRuel Home Inspections.com
The most common issue I find is double tapping. Here you see 2 wires going into a circuit breaker made to only tighten down on one wire. This causes a poor connection on both wires and a major hazard. Make sure you have no double tapped circuit breakers in your panel and if you do call a qualified Electrical contractor.
Many home owners live in their home day by day giving no thought to the condition of the various systems until something needs service and by that time the problem usually cost thousands more than the cost involved to prevent the problem. A perfect example comes from a recent home physical. A home owner called me in to check out his house since he was thinking of leaving it for a few months while he was going overseas and wife and children would be there alone. The first thing I noticed while doing an exterior survey of the property was how the deck was starting to pull away from the house which he had never noticed. I pointed out that this ledger board was only nailed in and should have special Ledger bolts attaching it to the house and this was an accident ready to happen. He said he would take care of this right away. I then continued to the basement where I found his chimney clean out was over full and moisture had compacted it to become quite solid which is a fire hazard. I also noticed he had installed a new hot water heater and he did not have a drip pan and the overflow elbow was missing so it was already starting to rust on top and the bottom weaken the structure of the heater and shortening the life. Next checking the waterlines I found a small leak that was up against a wall that was about to blow and become a large issue. If that wasn’t enough he had a handyman friend help wire in a few exterior outlets that were doubled tapped and Not GFCI compliant. In a total I found 23 issues that could all be corrected for a few hundred dollars but could have easily turned into thousands of dollars of repairs not to mention personal property damage or health risk. Anyways about 2 weeks later he called me. He said I was very right about the deck and he wished he had acted sooner. He had a graduation party for his daughter on the deck which collapsed and 5 of her friends were hurt as well as the deck being destroyed and a window smashed out. Luckily it was only a 5 foot drop but he was warned and could have avoided this thanks to a home physical. He told me he is now acting on the other issues, now that he understands how serious it is and booked me to come back next year.
Manufactured homes and sheds must have anchors and tie-downs to keep them in place during high winds. Compared to site-
built homes, manufactured homes and sheds are relatively lightweight. They have flat sides and ends, and they are built on
frames rather than foundations. Almost all manufactured homes and
sheds are elevated, situated on t
op of some sort of pier or
foundation system. Wind can get under the homes and lift them up. In addition, the wind passing over the top of your
manufactured home can create an uplift force.
To resist wind forces, you need two different types of tie-downs.
In older homes, a vertical or over-the-top tie-down is needed
to compensate for the uplift force. A diagonal or frame tie-down is needed to compensate for both lateral and uplift forces.
Singlewide manufactured homes need both types of tie-downs. Doublewide homes only need the diagonal ties
Tie Down Requirements for manufactured homes
• Singlewide manufactured homes require both diagonal and vertical ties.
• Doublewide manufactured homes require only diagonal ties.
• To determine the length, do not include the draw bar.
• Numbers based on minimum working load per anchor of
3,150 pounds, with a 50% overload of 4,725 pounds.
• Diagonal ties must deviate at least
40 degrees from a vertical direction.
• If your home has special site considerations, a registered professional engineer or architect can devise an alternate anchoring
Anchoring system components
Types of tie-downs.
The type of tie-down you select usually depends
on when your manufactured home was built. Older homes
often have exposed over-the-top tie-downs. This is an effective syste
m, but it does detract from the appearance of your house.
The straps are placed over the siding and roof. Until recent
years, most manufactured homes
came equipped with concealed
over-the-top tie-downs. These straps are located just under the
exterior siding and metal roof. The end of the strap hangs out
under the manufactured home. Newer model
homes might not have any type of over-t
he-top tie-down. Because of increased
structural strength of manufactured homes, these models are secured with anchoring straps attached to the home’s steel frame
rails, called frame anchors. Doublewides
are also secured with frame anchors.
Types of anchors.
You’ll find anchors available for different types of soil
conditions, including concrete slab. Auger anchors have been designed for both hardsoil and soft soil. Rock anchors or drive anchors allow attachment to a rock or coral base. This type of anchor is also pinned to
the ground with crossing steel stakes. If you will be pouring a concrete base, you can install a concrete anchor first.
You need to know your soil type to select the right
usually include: rock/hard pan, heavy, sandy gravel,
heavy sand, silty gravel,
clayey gravel, clay, silty clay, clayey
fill or peat/organic
Whatever type of anchors you select, care fully follow the installation instructions.
Auger anchors (screw-in anchors) can be installed
manually by inserting a metal bar through the top of the anchor for added leverage or with a machine designed for this purpose. It’s important to screw this type of anchor in. Do not dig a hole to instal Hook-up and tension device:
The tie-down must be connected to the anchor with a system that allows for adjusting the tension. It must also be weather resistant and strong enough to support as much weight as the anchor and tie-down. If the tie-down is fastened to a ground anchor with a drop-forged turnbuckle, the turnbuckle should be ½ inch or larger galvanized steel. The turnbuckle should have forged or welded eyes, not hook ends.The roof protector. If you have exposed over-the-top tie-downs, you must have some sort
of roof protectors placed under the strap or cable at the edge of the roof. Roof protectors are also called roof brackets, buffers or thimbles. These prevent the tie-down strap or cable from damaging the roof and will prevent the edge of the roof from cutting through the tie-down. Wood blocks
will work, and are better than nothing, but commercial protectors
will do a better job of distributing the pressure of the cable.
Commercial protectors will last longer, too.
Make sure all your anchoring equipment (anchors, turnbuckles, straps, hookups) is capable of resisting an allowable working load of at least 3,150 pounds. The equipment must also be capable of withstanding a 50 percent overload,
4,725 pounds. This also applies to the attachment point on t
he manufactured home. Only use anchoring equipment that is
weather and corrosion resistant. YOU MUST ALIGN EXPOSED OVER-THE-TOP
TIE-DOWNS WITH A ROOF RAFTER TO PREVENT DAMAGING THE ROOF.
Tie-downs can be either cable or strap. If cable is used, it
should be galvanized steel or stainless steel. Minimum diameter size is
3/8 inches for 7 x 7, or ¼ inch for “aircraft” cable, 7 x 19.
If flat steel strapping is used, it must be a minimum of 1-¼ inches wide x
.035 inches thick.
Tie-down and anchor installation
Installing a tie-down and anchoring system is not too complicated for most do-it-yourselfers. It’s wise, however, to seek
experienced help to make sure you are using the proper anchor
for your soil conditions, enough anchors for your wind conditions,
the correct tension on your tie-down, and proper angle for your
frame tie-downs. At the very least you should have a building
inspector or a trained installer check over your finished work.
STEP 1: Level house
Make sure your home is level before anchoring it to the ground.
STEP 2: Check chartsCheck
the wind zone chart
for your location and determine the required number of anchors recommended for your zone. You
should regard this number as the minimum needed for your home.
STEP 3: Determine soil type
Merely looking at the ground under your home isn’t enough. Some
types of anchors need to be installed five feet deep. Talk to a
building inspector to determine your soil type. If you will be attaching your tie-downs to a concrete foundation, make sure it is at least 4 inches thick.
STEP 4: Select anchors
Talk to a supplier or installer for advice.Your soil type will determine the type of anchor.
STEP 5: Select hook-up
Depending on your tie-down system, over-the-top or frame, select the appropriate hook-up and tensioning device. Make sure the
entire system is certified to a 4,725 pound capacity.
STEP 6: Locate wires/cables Mark the location of your electric, cable, gas, water, sewer and phone lines on the ground before you install anchors. Make sure you have located everything prior to digging.
STEP 7: Position over-the-top tie-downs
If you are installing an exposed over-the-top
tie-down, the strap or cable should be positioned over a roof rafter. Protect the edges of your roof with a roof protector of some type. Make
sure the strap or cable does not cover a window or door.
STEP 8: Install anchor
You’ll find specific installation instructions with your
anchor. Follow them carefully.
For a vertical tie-down, the anchor is installed vertically.
For a frame/diagonal tie-down, the anchor can be installed to the same angle as the tie-down. This angle should be at least 40 degrees.
The anchor can be installed vertically
if you also install a stabilization device to keep the anchor from moving sideways. A metal stabilization device can be attached to the t
op of the anchor and buried in the ground.
Another option is to pour a concrete collar around the top
of the anchor. The collar should be at least 10 inches in diameter and 18 inches deep.
STEP 9: Adjust tension
Alternating from side to side,
adjust your tie-downs to the appropriate tension. Don’t do one side of your house and then the other.
Anchoring and tie-down systems vary greatly. It’s important for you to contact the local building inspector for regulations regarding
anchoring and blocking installation in your community. Regulations
vary considerably from one community to the next. In some
states, tie-downs aren’t required.
In other states, tie-downs are stringently regulated and inspected.
To be tied down safely, find out from your local manufactured
home association or building inspector how many tie-downs and
anchors you need for your wind and soil conditions. The cost of installing additional tie-downs and anchors is small compared to
the potential cost of wind damage to a manufactured home that was not properly tied down.
I have done over 1000 basic Insurance Inspections and Reconstruction Value reports for companies like Allstate, Liberty Mutual, Tower, USAA and many others. By having this experience I have an edge on knowing what your insurance company is looking for when adjusting your rates. I have also done countless reports for companies to report on progress of repairs and construction for lenders. New home buyers should use this as a guideline when looking to purchase a property to know what they will be looking at from their insurance company. When The Insurance company comes out to see your property this is usually what is included in an Exterior Report.
1. Photo’s of all sides of the home
2. Photo’s of all angles of the roof
3. Identify the type of siding and roof material
4. Does the home have dead blots on all exterior doors
5. Is there any siding , roofing, window , door, chimney or chimney crown, steps, decks or porch damage.
6. Any damaged soffits, eaves, fascia or siding dry rot or paint peeling or gutters missing or pointing in the wrong direction.
7. Are there any decks higher than 36 inches without a railing
8. Any trees over hanging the home with over hanging branches larger than 6 inches
9. Identify and photograph any and all attached and detached structures on the property.
10. Is there a in-ground pool and is it properly fenced and a lock on the gate
11. Is there any aggressive dogs on the property or farm animals
12. How far is the nearest fire hydrant or body of water that can be used for a fire
13. Is there a trampoline or skateboard ramps
14. Is the foundation in need of repair
15. Is there second story exits
16. Is the home vacant or occupied
17. Is the sidewalk/driveway in need of repair
18. Is there a business on premises that creates additional hazards/exposures
19. Is the property in need of maintenance
20. Does the property contain an attractive nuisance
21. Is the property under construction
22. Discover the year built
If the Policy Holder is home ask if they have smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher
On several inspections I have been asked “Why do I check over previous leaks issues so closely, if they have already been repaired?” There are several things I look for on things added or repaired recently.
1. What caused the problem in the first place
2. Could it happen Again
3. Was it repaired properly
4. Has the repairs made any changes to the Support structure of the home
5. What can be expected as a result from the repairs
Too often I find fresh paint, new sheet rock or carpets placed over the damaged material and it is labeled as repaired. The seller usually is not trying to be deceitful in this practice, they just don’t know better.
One New home I found a plumber had cut into a lot of the support beams to add duct work which caused sagging issues the builder knew nothing about and the way the plumber covered it was unsafe to the structural integrity of the home.
Another home they repaired the damage done to the home yet did nothing to prevent the flooding from happening again.
The issue with flooding is to create a water mitigation system to keep water from entering a basement or crawlspace, NOT to just add sump pumps and expect to correct the problem by pumping the water back out. Water leaking in through a foundation is causing damage to everything it has contact with. You want to shed water away from the home to begin with.
Newly shingled roofs are also another place to look closely since it is too often the case that home owners will have a roof shingled over previously damaged roof decking.
I have just found it works best for me to be a bit of a detective on these issues and do a little bit of a further investigation.
Winterization is the process of preparing a home for the harsh conditions of winter. It is usually performed in the fall before snow and excessive cold have arrived. Winterization protects against damage due to bursting water pipes, and from heat loss due to openings in the building envelope. Inspectors should know how winterization works and be able to pass this information on to their clients
Water damage caused by bursting pipes during cold weather can be devastating. A ruptured pipe will release water and not stop until someone shuts off the water. If no one is home to do this, an enormous quantity of water can flood a house and cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. Even during very small ruptures or ruptures that are stopped quickly, water leakage can result in mold and property damage. Broken water pipes can be costly to repair.
- All exposed water pipes in cold areas, such as attics, garages, and crawlspaces, should be insulated. Foam or fiberglass insulation can be purchased at most hardware stores. Insulation should cover the entirety of a pipe.
- Plastic is more tolerant of cold expansion than copper or steel. Houses in colder climates might benefit from the exclusive use of approved plastic plumbing.
- Water supply for exterior pipes should be shut off from inside the house and then drained.
- Sprinkler systems are particularly vulnerable to cracking due to cold-weather expansion. In addition to turning them, it helps to purge the system of any remaining water with compressed air.
- Homeowners should be aware that much of the plumbing system travels through areas that are significantly colder than the rest of the house. Because it is impossible to monitor the temperature of every portion of the plumbing system, indoor air temperature should be kept high enough throughout the winter to keep pipes in any unheated places from freezing.
Leaks in the Building Envelope
- Windows that leak will allow cold air into the home. Feeling for drafts with a hand or watching for horizontal smoke from an incense stick are a few easy ways to inspect for leaks. They can be repaired with tape or caulk.
- On a breezy day, a homeowner can walk through the house and find far more leaks than they knew existed. Leaks are most likely in areas where a seam exists between two or more building materials.
- Because hot air rises into the attic, a disproportionately larger amount of heat is lost there than in other parts of the house. Like a winter hat that keeps a head warm, adequate attic insulation will prevent warm indoor air from escaping. Attic insulation should be 12 inches thick in cold climates.
- Storm doors and windows should be installed to insulate the house and protect against bad weather.
- Test the furnace by raising the temperature on the thermostat. If it does not respond to the adjustment quickly it might be broken.
- Replace the air filter if it’s dirty.
- If the furnace is equipped with an oil or propane tank, the tank should be full.
- Use a hose to remove leaves and other debris from the outdoor condensing unit, if the home is equipped with one. Protect the unit with a breathable waterproof cover to prevent rusting and freezing of its components.
- Remove and store window air conditioners when they are no longer needed. Cold air can damage their components and enter the house through openings between the air conditioner and the windowpane.
- Ceiling fans can be reversed in order to warm air trapped beneath the ceiling to recirculate. A fan has been reversed if it spins clockwise.
- The chimney should be inspected for nesting animals trying to escape the cold. Squirrels and raccoons have been known to enter chimneys for this reason.
- The damper should open and close with ease. Smoke should rise up the chimney when the damper is open. If it doesn’t, this means that there is an obstruction in the chimney that must be cleared before the fireplace can be used.
- A chimney-cleaning service professional should clean the chimney if it has not been cleaned for several years.
- The damper should be closed when the fireplace is not in use. An open damper might not be as obvious to the homeowner as an open window, but it can allow a significant amount of warm air to escape.
- Glass doors can be installed in fireplaces and wood stoves to provide an extra layer of insulation.
- If debris is left in gutters, it can get wet and freeze, permitting the formation of ice dams that prevent water from draining. This added weight has the potential to cause damage to gutters. Also, trapped water in the gutter can enter the house and lead to the growth of mold. For these reasons, leaves, pine needles, and all other debris must be cleared from gutters. This can be done by hand or with a hose.
- Missing shingles should be replaced.
- Patio furniture should be covered.
- If there is a deck, it might need an extra coat of sealer.
Winterize toilets by emptying them completely. Antifreeze can be poured into toilets and other plumbing fixtures.
Winterize faucets by opening them and leaving them open.
Water tanks and pumps need to be drained completely.
Drain all water from indoor and outdoor plumbing.
Unplug all non-essential electrical appliances, especially the refrigerator. If no electrical appliances are needed, electricity can be shut off at the main breaker.