Blog Archives

Author:
• Sunday, February 27th, 2011
We all are working for the same common goal, and that is to make a good living.  The question is about your professional integrity.  I have performed so many Home Inspections over the years that I have seen it all. Brand new homes, 100 year old homes and everything in between.  To be quite honest I have never once Inspected a home or commercial property that has not had at least a few (minor) issues.
 
I have met many, many real estate agents and have worked with some that their agenda was to close the deal no matter what. They would prefer a “Fluff” inspection where the inspector sugar coated their findings.  On the flip side I also have worked with (and still do) many agents that actually do care.  Obviously they want to close the deal as soon as possible also but the difference is these agents want their clients to get the best bang for their buck.  These agents want the real “Nuts”.
 
As a Professional, Licensed Maryland Home Inspector we evaluate the properties condition as we see it.  We consider the property as our client and our client is asking us to tell it “How Am I” ?  Whether good or bad, minor or major the condition of all properties “Is What It Is” and as a Professional Inspector we are being paid for that unbiased evaluation of the condition of the property at the time of the inspection.
 
My question to you is are you just looking for a sugar coated “Fluff” inspection ?  OR do you prefer the real deal and want the “Nuts” from your Home Inspectors?
 
I realize there will be some people that do not want to reply here in public, for those I want you to ask yourself,
 
“Fluff or Nuts, Where Do You Stand” ?
Author:
• Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Ok so I am an old school Rock n Roller and it seems that Lately as I am walking up to the front door at an Inspection I can’t stop humming to myself (sometimes even out loud) Stevie Ray Vaughan is one of my all time favorites. Stevie
is Maryland Home Inspection Services approved.
Enjoy !!

Author:
• Thursday, February 10th, 2011

OK well today I performed another Home Inspection on a brand new home. This home was just completed by the builder and in fact the settlement is not until tomorrow.  The home owner is a very nice young single mom.  This is a very nice (gorgeous) in my opinion) 3500 sq ft single family with finished basement, 2 car garage and all the bells and whistles.  OK well the girl was told that it is a waste of her money to get a Home Inspection on this house because it was brand new.  Well as a Professional Maryland Home Inspector and ex-builder I told her “I beg to differ”.  I informed her that since this is going to be one of the biggest investments of her life, that a few hundred dollars for an unbiased, third party trained professionals opinion/assessment would prove to be a wise move.  OK so she agreed and we did the inspection.

 As a rule of thumb I typically start on the outside.  So as she walked with me the first thing I see is the ground wire sticking outside just dangling and NOT connected to the ground rod.  OK so we proceed to walk around the 1st corner and BAM there is the backside of the chiming and what do we see?  well a hole in the ground next to the foundation about 3 feet deep, 2 feet long and 2 feet wide, just waiting for some rain to fill up with water and no place to go except for inside the house.  We continue walking around the house and I point out that there are NO splash blocks on any of the downspouts.  OK well between the hole and the missing splash blocks I sure hope the builder gets these deficiencies corrected before the next rain. 

 OK now we round the front corner and are standing on the driveway looking at the garage and what do we see? 
a piece of trim around one of the garage doors with a 12″ split in it.  The split appears to have been caused from a screw used to attach it was tightened a bit to hard.

OK so we now proceed to the inside.  I take off my shoes as that is standard practice if the ground outside was a bit muddy.  For the most part everything was beautiful and in good working order other than a few items.  The Gas fireplace did not operate at all.

OK well I will end here with my 2 cents that ALL homes whether Brand New or Many years old can use a good Home Inspectionby an experienced, Licensed, and well trained Professional Home Inspector.

Author:
• Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

As a Member of the International Association Of Certifies Home Inspectors (NACHI) I am privileged to get access to many awesome articles.  This being said a new article just came out that I find very informative and wanted to share it with all my visitors of Maryland Home Inspection Services.

Most people don’t know how easy it is to make their homes run on less energy, and here at InterNACHI, we want to change that. Drastic reductions in heating, cooling and electricity costs can be accomplished through very simple changes, most of which homeowners can do themselves. Of course, for homeowners who want their homes to take advantage of the most up-to-date knowledge and systems in home energy-efficiency, InterNACHI energy auditors can perform in-depth testing to find the best energy solutions for your particular home. 

Why make your home more energy efficient? Here are a few good reasons:

  • Federal, state, utility and local jurisdictions’ financial incentives, such as tax breaks, are very advantageous in most parts of the U.S.
  • It saves money. It costs less to power a home that has been converted to be more energy-efficient.
  • It increases indoor comfort levels.
  • It reduces our impact on climate change. Many scientists now believe that excessive energy consumption contributes significantly to global warming.
  • It reduces pollution. Conventional power production introduces pollutants that find their way into the air, soil and water supplies.

1. Find better ways to heat and cool your house. 

As much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward heating and cooling. The following are a few ways that energy bills can be reduced through adjustments to the heating and cooling systems:

  • Install a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can be used in place of air conditioners, which require a large amount of energy.
  • Periodically replace air filters in air conditioners and heaters.
  • Set thermostats to an appropriate temperature. Specifically, they should be turned down at night and when no one is home. In most homes, about 2% of the heating bill will be saved for each degree that the thermostat is lowered for at least eight hours each day. Turning down the thermostat from 75° F to 70°F, for example, saves about 10% on heating costs.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat saves money by allowing heating and cooling appliances to be automatically turned down during times that no one is home and at night. Programmable thermostats contain no mercury and, in some climate zones, can save up to $150 per year in energy costs.
  • Install a wood stove or a pellet stove. These are more efficient sources of heat than furnaces.
  • At night, curtains drawn over windows will better insulate the room.

2. Install a tankless water heater.

Demand water heaters (tankless or instantaneous) provide hot water only as it is needed. They don’t produce the standby energy losses associated with storage water heaters, which will save on energy costs. Demand water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. Therefore, they avoid the standby heat losses required by traditional storage water heaters. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. Either a gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don’t need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water.

3. Replace incandescent lights.

The average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. The use of new lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), can reduce energy use required by lighting by 50% to 75%. Advances in lighting controls offer further energy savings by reducing the amount of time lights are on but not being used. Here are some facts about CFLs and LEDs:

  • CFLs use 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
  • LEDs last even longer than CFLs and consume less energy.
  • LEDs have no moving parts and, unlike CFLs, they contain no mercury.

4. Seal and insulate your home.

Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy efficient -– and you can do it yourself. A tightly sealed home can improve comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility bills. An InterNACHI energy auditor can be hired to assess envelope leakage and recommend fixes that will dramatically increase comfort and energy savings.

The following are some common places where leakage may occur:

  • electrical outlets;
  • mail slots;
  • around pipes and wires;
  • wall- or window-mounted air conditioners;
  • attic hatches;
  • fireplace dampers;
  • weatherstripping around doors;
  • baseboards;
  • window frames; and
  • switch plates.

Because hot air rises, air leaks are most likely to occur in the attic. Homeowners can perform a variety of repairs and maintenance to their attics that save them money on cooling and heating, such as: 

  • Plug the large holes. Locations in the attic where leakage is most likely to be the greatest are where walls meet the attic floor, behind and under attic knee walls, and in dropped-ceiling areas.
  • Seal the small holes. You can easily do this by looking for areas where the insulation is darkened. Darkened insulation is a result of dusty interior air being filtered by insulation before leaking through small holes in the building envelope. In cold weather, you may see frosty areas in the insulation caused by warm, moist air condensing and then freezing as it hits the cold attic air. In warmer weather, you’ll find water staining in these same areas. Use expanding foam or caulk to seal the openings around plumbing vent pipes and electrical wires. Cover the areas with insulation after the caulk is dry.
  • Seal up the attic access panel with weatherstripping. You can cut a piece of fiberglass or rigid foam board insulation the same size as the attic hatch and glue it to the back of the attic access panel. If you have pull-down attic stairs or an attic door, these should be sealed in a similar manner.

5. Install efficient shower heads and toilets.

The following systems can be installed to conserve water usage in homes:

  • low-flow shower heads. They are available in different flow rates, and some have a pause button which shuts off the water while the bather lathers up;
  • low-flow toilets. Toilets consume 30% to 40% of the total water used in homes, making them the biggest water users. Replacing an older 3.5-gallon toilet with a modern, low-flow 1.6-gallon toilet can reduce usage an average of two gallons-per-flush (GPF), saving 12,000 gallons of water per year. Low-flow toilets usually have “1.6 GPF” marked on the bowl behind the seat or inside the tank;
  • vacuum-assist toilets. These types of toilets have a vacuum chamber which uses a siphon action to suck air from the trap beneath the bowl, allowing it to quickly fill with water to clear waste. Vacuum toilets are relatively quiet; and
  • dual-flush toilets. Dual-flush toilets have been used in Europe and Australia for years, and are now gaining in popularity in the U.S. Dual-flush toilets let you choose between a 1-gallon (or less) flush for liquid waste, and a 1.6-gallon flush for solid waste. Dual-flush 1.6-GPF toilets reduce water consumption by an additional 30%.

6. Use appliances and electronics responsibly.

Appliances and electronics account for about 20% of household energy bills in a typical U.S. home. The following are tips that will reduce the required energy of electronics and appliances:

  • Refrigerators and freezers should not be located near the stove, dishwasher or heat vents, or exposed to direct sunlight. Exposure to warm areas will force them to use more energy to remain cool.  
  • Computers should be shut off when not in use. If unattended computers must be left on, their monitors should be shut off. According to some studies, computers account for approximately 3% of all energy consumption in the United States.
  • Use efficient “Energy Star”-rated appliances and electronics. These devices, approved by the DOE and the EPA’s Energy Star Program, include TVs, home theater systems, DVD players, CD players, receivers, speakers and more. According to the EPA, if just 10% of homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 1.7 million acres of trees.
  • Chargers, such as those for laptops and cell phones, consume energy when they are plugged in. When they are not connected to electronics, chargers should be unplugged.
  • Laptop computers consume considerably less electricity than desktop computers.

7. Install daylighting as an alternative to electrical lighting.

Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate the home’s interior. It can be achieved using the following approaches:

  • skylights. It’s important that they be double-pane or they may not be cost-effective. Flashing skylights correctly is key to avoiding leaks;
  • lightshelves. Light shelves are passive devices designed to bounce light deep into a building. They may be interior or exterior. Light shelves can introduce light into a space up to 2½ times the distance from the floor to the top of the window, and advanced light shelves may introduce four times that amount;
  • clerestory windows.  Clerestory windows are short, wide windows set high on the wall. Protected from the summer sun by the roof overhang, they allow winter sun to shine through for natural lighting and warmth; and 
  • light tubes.  Light tubes use a special lens designed to amplify low-level light and reduce light intensity from the midday sun. Sunlight is channeled through a tube coated with a highly reflective material, then enters the living space through a diffuser designed to distribute light evenly.

8. Insulate windows and doors.

About one-third of the home’s total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors. The following are ways to reduce energy lost through windows and doors:

  • Seal all window edges and cracks with rope caulk. This is the cheapest and simplest option.
  • Windows can be weatherstripped with a special lining that is inserted between the window and the frame. For doors, weatherstrip around the whole perimeter to ensure a tight seal when closed. Install quality door sweeps on the bottom of the doors, if they aren’t already in place.
  • Install storm windows at windows with only single panes. A removable glass frame can be installed over an existing window.
  • If existing windows have rotted or damaged wood, cracked glass, missing putty, poorly fitting sashes, or locks that don’t work, they should be repaired or replaced.

9. Cook smart.

An enormous amount of energy is wasted while cooking. The following recommendations and statistics illustrate less wasteful ways of cooking:

  • Convection ovens are more efficient that conventional ovens. They use fans to force hot air to circulate more evenly, thereby allowing food to be cooked at a lower temperature. Convection ovens use approximately 20% less electricity than conventional ovens.
  • Microwave ovens consume approximately 80% less energy than conventional ovens.
  • Pans should be placed on the correctly-sized heating element or flame. 
  • Lids make food heat more quickly than pans that do not have lids.
  • Pressure cookers reduce cooking time dramatically.
  • When using conventional ovens, food should be placed on the top rack. The top rack is hotter and will cook food faster. 

10. Change the way you wash your clothes.

  • Do not use the “half load” setting on your washer. Wait until you have a full load of clothes, as the “half load” setting saves less than half of the water and energy.
  • Avoid using high-temperature settings when clothes are not that dirty. Water that is 140 degrees uses far more energy than 103 degrees for a “warm” setting, but 140 degrees isn’t that much better for washing purposes.
  • Clean the lint trap before you use the dryer, every time. Not only is excess lint a fire hazard, but it will prolong the amount of time required for your clothes to dry.
  • If possible, air-dry your clothes on lines and racks.
  • Spin-dry or wring clothes out before putting them into a dryer. 

Homeowners who take the initiative to make these changes usually discover that the energy savings are more than worth the effort. However, you should consider that inspectors can make this process much easier and perform a more comprehensive assessment of energy saving potential than you can. For a qualified inspector, visit www.InspectorSeek.com. Ask the inspector if they are trained in performing energy inspections.

 by Nick Gromicko, Ben Gromicko, Rob London and Kenton Shepard

Author:
• Thursday, January 20th, 2011

OK we all love a nice warm, cozy, crackling fire especially in the wintertime.  OK well you must remember a few important safety facts regarding your fire.  Fireplaces get HOT!!!  The mantle, screens, hearth, surrounding materials, utensils and especially Glass.  If you have a glass front the glass can get Extremely Hot and can burn just by a quick touch.  Also all the components of the fireplace can burn you and especially kids.  All of us here at Maryland Home Inspection Services want all of you to enjoy your fireplaces, but just always remember to be safe and exercise caution when the fireplace is in use.  Keep all infants and small children at a safe distance and never leave them alone near a hot fireplace.

Author:
• Monday, January 17th, 2011

1. BEFORE YOU DIG call MISS UTILITY 1-800-257-7777 (2 day notice is required). Please note that the Maryland High Voltage Line Act prohibits any person or object from getting closer than 10 feet from high voltage power lines.
2. Ensure candles are in sturdy metal, glass, or ceramic holders and placed where they cannot be easily knocked down. Most importantly, keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.
3. Never leave the house with candles burning and never leave burning candles unattended.
4. Over half (55%) of home candle fires start because the candle is too close to some combustible material. If you do use candles, ensure they are in sturdy metal, glass, or ceramic holders and placed where they cannot be easily knocked down.
5. If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
6. When buying electrical appliances look for products evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
7.  When lighting a gas fireplace or gas space heater, strike your match first, then turn on the gas.
8. Never use a gas range as a substitute for a furnace or space heater.
9. Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away
10. Purchase an ABC type extinguisher for extinguishing all types of fires. Fire extinguishers should be mounted in the kitchen, garage, and workshop and should only be used on small fires. If there is a large fire, get out immediately and call 911.
11. Smoke alarms should be installed in each sleeping room/bedroom, outside of sleeping rooms/bedrooms and on each level of your house. Make sure to test your smoke alarms each month and change the batteries at least once a year.
12. Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help.
13. When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Sprinklers are affordable – they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.
14. Test your smoke alarm each month and change the batteries at least once a year.
15.  Plant fire prone trees and shrubs away from your home and far enough apart so they won’t ignite one another.
16. Install noncombustible 1/4 inch or smaller mesh screening on chimney outlets, attic/soffit vents and around elevated wood decks.
17. Maintain a “defensible” space around your home by clearing all flammable vegetation a minimum of 30 feet around all structures. Clear dead leaves and branches to leave widely spaced ornamental shrubbery and trees.

Author:
• Sunday, January 16th, 2011

OK so I did another Home Inspection yesterday (Saturday).  To start off with the home was a very nice single family, 1 car garage, 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathrooms, deck, and VERY well maintained.  We did a Full scale, Inspection with Radon test and also Termite inspection.  In the end there were only a few minor deficiencies that needed noting and repair, but for the most part this was a very nice home for the new owners.  OK so what was interesting about this Home Inspection was the amount of people present.

 OK I show up about 25 minutes early which I like to do so I can get a little bit familiar and actually start the Home Inspection from the outside.  So I am doing my thing and the 1st person to show up is the buyers agent.  A very nice lady who I got along with fantastically and hope to do a bunch of future work with as we saw eye to eye and got along very well.  OK next pulls up the new Homeowners, both the Mr. and the Mrs..  A very nice young and friendly  couple.  I believe we also hit it off very well as they had many legit learning questions for me, and of course I had many answers for them.  I really tried to go a step above and teach them a ton of things regarding their new home and how different systems work.  OK next to show up are the in-laws.  The Mrs. brought her mom and dad (also very nice people).  Now we were starting to get a full house here, and yes EVERYONE was firing off questions and concerns at me, and the replies and learning lessons continued to flow.  It was quite the fun teaching event. 

OK so just to top it all off, about 1 hour into the Home Inspection the Sellers agent pops on in.  hahaha  wow now we really have a full house going on here and yes I am the center of attention.  Lots of good questions from all of them, and yes, lots of Great answers from me.

In the end this couple is buying a very, very nice home, with only a few minor things to have fixed.  In my opinion they stumbled onto a great deal for their 1st home together, and I wish them all the best as they seem to be great people.

For me it was an interesting Home Inspection as I have never had that many people who fully participated in the entire Home Inspection at the same time.  But I also feel that I did an outstanding job and started a new working relationship with a great new up and coming Realtor in the Maryland area.

Author:
• Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

The International Building Code (IBC) is the most widely adopted building code in the United States. The International Code Council, a membership association dedicated to building safety and fire prevention, develops the IBC and other International Codes.

When referenced in local, state or federal legislation, the International Building Code becomes the minimum requirement for construction. A jurisdiction either uses the code as is or amends it to fit specific needs of the community.

The International Code Council is committed to meeting or exceeding the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Accessibility requirements are incorporated into the International Codes as the codes are updated, through the International Code development process.

To find out what codes and local amendments are enforced in your area, contact your local building department.

Author:
• Saturday, January 08th, 2011

Well today I was scheduled to perform an Inspection at 10:00 am for a very nice young couple.  This was going to be their very first home and thus their first experience with a Home Inspector,
The home was built in 1959 is a split level here in Maryland. The couple wanted a thorough Home Inspection as well as a Radon test.  Well I wake up and look outside and wouldn’t you figure SNOW !!
not to much only about 1-2 inches, but just enough to cover the roof and all exterior grounds, decks ect.  The phone rings and it’s my client, postponing until next week.  Oh well what can you do.
At least I can now watch the playoff  football games.  Have a great weekend everyone.

Author:
• Friday, January 07th, 2011

Buying a home?  The process can be stressful.  A home inspection is supposed to give you peace of mind, but it often has the opposite effect.  You will be asked to absorb a lot of information over a short time.  This often includes a written report, checklist, photographs, environmental reports, and what the inspector himself says during the inspection.  All this combined with the seller’s disclosure and what you notice yourself make the experience even more overwhelming.  What should you do?

Relax. Inspectors are professionals, and if yours is a member of InterNACHI, then you can trust that he/she is among the most highly trained in the industry. Most of your inspection will be related to maintenance recommendations and minor imperfections. These are good to know about.  However, the issues that really matter will fall into four categories:

  1. major defects:  An example of this would be a structural failure;
  2. things that lead to major defects: a small roof-flashing leak, for example;
  3. things that may hinder your ability to finance, legally occupy, or insure the home; and 
  4. safety hazards, such as an exposed, live buss bar at the electric panel.

Anything in these categories should be addressed.  Often, a serious problem can be corrected inexpensively to protect both life and property (especially in categories 2 and 4).

Most sellers are honest and are often surprised to learn of defects uncovered during an inspection.  Realize that sellers are under no obligation to repair everything mentioned in the report.  No home is perfect.  Keep things in perspective.  Do not kill your deal over things that do not matter.  It is inappropriate to demand that a seller address deferred maintenance, conditions already listed on the seller’s disclosure, or nit-picky items.