To Walk, or Not To Walk

To walk,or not to walk that is the question.  Whether ’tis nobler to use a selfie stick or to climb a ladder.  For who would risk damage or personal dangers.  The slings and arrows of discovery and proper identification is the answer.   We are not sure if this is what William Shakespeare had in mind when he wrote Hamlet but for a home inspector this is one of the first tests they have to take when inspecting a home.

A home inspector is not required to walk a roof.  Most trade organizations, National Associations and state statutes only require the inspector to identify the method used to inspect the roof.  Many clients have the expectation that every roof should be walked.  It is truly up to the inspector to make that determination at every home and during every different condition.


Walking a roof is typically the easiest way to cause damage to it.  If a roof has a significant slope the walking of the roof will loosen the ganuales and potentially cause damage.  The steeper the slope the more difficult it will be for the inspector to walk the roof without damage.  If the conditions are very hot the roof will be extremely pliable or hot as well.  The walking of a roof could leave footprints or damage as well.  How about the bitter cold.  If the roof is older and it is bitter cold the roof shingles will be brittle and could also be damaged.

This is why many inspectors use different methods or techniques to inspect the surface of the roof.  One could be on a ladder at the roof’s edge.  This is very effective for getting a bird’s eye view of the representative surface of the roof.  The inspector can lift, bend, touch, and visually inspect the condition of the roof surface.  The typical condition at the edge is consistent throughout the entire roof system.    Another method could be form a second floor window.  Opening the window and physically touching the roof is similar to the roof’s edge method.

The inspector could use a drone.  Drones have become very popular.  Flying the drone around the roof will certainly provide a bird’s eye view of the entire roof system.  This could include the chimney, venting, flashing and skylights as well.  Yet another very effective and less damaging method could be using a long camera mounted pole.  This places a camera high in the air and can see the entire upper areas of the roof and the roof systems without having to fly a drone or damage anything.  The only potential danger is to the inspector.  The inspector has be careful around live electricity and lightning.  Either of these methods provide an excellent view of the roof conditions.

The inspector’s responsibility is to work hard for every client and provide the best inspection possible.  They also have a responsibility to work safe and go home every night to their family.  Most inspectors have the experience to quickly identify whether the conditions necessary to inspect the roof are safe or not safe.

I you would like to schedule a The BrickKicker Home inspection please hit the button below.

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Pre-Listing Inspections

Pre-Listing Inspections have never really taken hold in our industry. There are a lot of reasons why but the most commonly reported is that Sellers do not want to have to disclose the results of their Pre-Listing Inspection. This argument may have some merit but unless there are material defects, the findings should not cause a disclosure issues. Material defects that are known by the seller can often be worked into the price and disclosed upfront so they do not derail the negotiations later. In my experience the Seller’s Disclosure is so frequently inaccurate that I wonder if these types of claims are even actionable. (I refer to the Seller’s Disclosure as “The Book of Lies.”)

Recently there has been a huge (and largely unsuccessful) push from the home inspection industry to make Pre-Listing Inspections the norm. I don’t think this is news to anyone but the reasons why it is happening now should really raise an eyebrow. Real Estate agents have been spending tons of money for online leads and it has drawn the attention of some people who see it as an opportunity. There are several groups in the inspection industry that have come up with different strategies to capture buyer leads and sell them to the highest bidder.

Here is the basic premise: A home inspector can offer a free or discounted home inspection to a seller in exchange for ownership of the report. The seller and their agent will advertise the availability of the report online and direct interested parties to a website where they can download the pre-listing inspection for a small fee. Anyone who is willing to pay $5-$10 dollars for a home inspection report on a listed property is probably a qualified buyer. The home inspector has now captured their information and will be able to sell the lead to real estate professionals, mortgage brokers, insurance agents and anyone else who has an interest in a qualified buyer. Some programs even have the agents pay a subscription fee to be eligible to receive the leads. The buyer may have spent $10 on a report but they are typically encouraged to have their own pre-purchase inspection.

Another type of Pre-Listing Inspection we are seeing is one that advertises the home as “Move-In Certified.” This inspection will also post the report online and available for download but the seller pays full price for the inspection and the inspector may even edit or update the report after the homeowner has made certain types of repairs. This tactic is typically promoted by new inspectors who have difficulty obtaining business from buyers so they want to short circuit the process and do the inspection for the seller. Since it is the inspector that is actually promoting the home as “Move-In Certified” the seller is off the hook for everything the inspector misses and the buyer has no claim against the inspector because they didn’t hire them in the first place. This tactic is sometimes successful in tricking the Buyer into believing they have completed their due-diligence when they have not.

There is third option that I think is much more suitable for all parties in the transaction. I call it the Pre-Listing Walk and Talk. This is not an inspection at all but a consultation. Ideally the Seller has the consultation before they even put the home on the market. They will hire a qualified Home Inspector (an ASHI Certified Inspector if one is available) to review the home in the same way they would for a buyer during a home inspection. The seller will learn what deficiencies or deferred maintenance will be highlighted during a typical home inspection and they can decide how to handle them. The inspector may also advise them on what issues are frequently misunderstood by other inspectors in the area and what issues are real safety concerns. There is no written report, but the seller can take their own notes and decided what will be updated, repaired or disclosed before settling on a list price with their Realtor. In this way they can allocate their resources appropriately, they will be able to anticipate any concessions the buyer may request and they can price the home accordingly.

At The BrickKicker of Athens, we offer the Pre-Listing Walk and Talk for 50% of whatever we would charge for a Pre-Listing Inspection that included a written report. Other The BrickKicker operations have similar programs.  This is a win for every party involved. (Also, there is no need for a seller to disclose that they had a consultation with a home inspector.) If there are material defects that they were not aware of, the Seller can address them before setting a purchase price, whether by repair or disclosure. They can also plan concessions before agreeing on a list price or accepting an offer. (Sure, it has been a “Sellers’ Market” but that often means frequent terminations.) The Agents win because the due diligence period will have no surprises. There is no increase in liability because material defects are disclosed or repaired before the house goes to market. The contract is less likely to be terminated because of issues that come up during the home inspection. (That doesn’t mean another home inspector isn’t going to blow some deferred maintenance out of proportion.) The buyer wins because material defects are disclosed before they make their offer and they can complete their due diligence without any surprises.

My advice to Sellers and their Agents is to find a qualified Home Inspector before you list the house. Let them tell you what issues are going to come up and address them before you set the list price. This may be your most powerful negotiation tool. By disclosing material defects you have removed them from the equation. Don’t be tricked into schemes like “Move-In Ready” that are designed to discourage buyers from completing their due-diligence. A discerning buyer may interpret this as a sign that the seller is hiding something and may avoid making an offer at all.

Home Maintenance Review (HMR)

What is a Home Maintenance Review (HMR)?  The best way to describe an HMR is that it is all the best parts of a The BrickKicker home inspection without having to sell your home.  It will put all unbiased expertise and inspector knowledge to use in your home and help you keep this huge asset in top working order.

The BrickKicker has been providing expert, professional, unbiased home inspections since 1989.  We have tens of thousands of clients how have relied on us to help them make informed decisions before they purchase their homes.  Who better for you to rely upon to help you keep it maintained, then that same trusted expert.

We recommend having your home reviewed at least every eighteen months.  We will focus on many of the same elements as your original home inspection but will focus on the maintenance aspects.  If you have future plans for a remodel or an enhancement.  The BrickKicker inspectors are experts at homes.  We can be there to help you avoid certain mis-steps or expensive design extras which can directly effect the budget.

Remember, often times if you call a professional in a certain discipline they will likely recommend the replacement of an entire system.  If you call someone who is unbiased and not there to sell anything, you will only receive a professional opinion.  Isn’t that what you are looking for?

Consider contacting your local The BrickKicker and schedule your HMR today.

Water Heaters

What is a Water Heater?

First, before we say one more word.  It is a water heater.  Many will say “Hot water heater” and they would be WRONG.  If it was a “hot water heater” the water would be supplied to the home or the unit already hot.

Like many other household conveniences, a good supply of hot water is only truly appreciated when it stops.  And if it stops when you’re in the shower, this realization can arrive quite abruptly.   Fortunately, it doesn’t happen that often.

The systems that provide hot water are generally reliable and operate for years.  Most homes have a tank-type water heater.  While others have a stand-alone instantaneous water heater.  Either way, there is an appliance present which creates the hot water for a home or a fixture.

Water Heaters

Not all water heaters are created equal.  What is a tankless water heater?  What are the differences between a tankless water heater and a conventional tanked water heater.  This article will look at the differences.

Tank-Type Water Heaters

The standard water heater comes in two flavors: electric and fuel-fired. In the latter, the fuel most commonly used is gas, either natural or propane, but oil-fired heaters are popular in many areas. Fuel-fired units have a vent pipe at the top to carry away exhaust gases. Electric models, on the other hand, simply have a power cable that connects the heater to your electric service panel.

The job of the tank-type heater is not only to heat the water, but to store it until it’s ready to use. Therefore, in addition to the tank’s heating system, every tank is equipped with insulation to help keep the water warm between heating cycles.

On top of every tank you’ll find the water supply and delivery pipes. The supply pipe routes cold water to the bottom of the tank through the dip tube. The hot-water delivery pipe takes water from the top. For safety, all water heaters are equipped with a T&P valve (temperature-and-pressure relief valve). This valve opens if either the temperature or pressure of the water exceeds a safe limit. The valve is connected to a pipe that runs down the outside of the tank, ending about 6 in. from the floor. It’s a good idea to keep a bucket under the end of the pipe to catch water if the valve opens. The T&P valve should not be connected to a drain. If the valve did open, a sign that a problem exists, you might never know that it had opened.

Most tanks are made of steel, which is glass-lined on the inside to help prevent corrosion. In fact, corrosion is the primary reason that tanks fail. Once rust produces a hole, there are temporary fixes, but the tank should be replaced. All tanks also have an anode rod to control corrosion. The magnesium anode rod protects the tank by corroding in place of the steel. Because the rod is designed to corrode, it will eventually wear away. After this happens, corrosion of the steel accelerates. It’s a good idea to check the anode rod once a year, and replace it if necessary. At the bottom of every tank is a drain cock to empty the heater, and a valve on the supply pipe allows you to shut down the hot-water plumbing without affecting the cold-water supply to the house.

Heater Effectiveness

Because water heaters both heat and store water, the rate at which the water is heated and the capacity of the tank affect the supply of hot water at your fixtures.

The speed at which a unit heats water is called its recovery rate. This figure indicates the amount of water in gallons that can be heated to 100 degreesF in 1 hour. Once you draw water faster than it’s heated, the temperature drops.

However, because the tank stores hot water, its capacity also affects the ongoing availability at the tap. Choosing a water heater that has an appropriate capacity and recovery rate depends on how much water your home demands and how your unit heats the water. Typically, heaters with low recovery rates have a high tank capacity. Although it takes longer to heat the water, there’s more of it for intermittent use. Electric heaters fall into this category. On the other hand, a fuel-fired heater with a high recovery rate needn’t have a large tank, because it can heat the water faster. In general, electric models have the lowest recovery rate, and oil-fired units have the highest.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters, a.k.n as On-demand or Instantaneous water heaters, provide hot water  only when it is needed.  They do not have a reservoir holding heater water for or the storage of heater water waiting for use or distribution in a home.


Tankless water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. 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, tankless 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. However, a tankless water heater’s output limits the flow rate.

Typically, tankless water heaters provide hot water at a rate of 2–5 gallons per minute. Gas-fired tankless water heaters produce higher flow rates than electric ones. Sometimes, however, even the largest, gas-fired model cannot supply enough hot water for simultaneous, multiple uses in large households. For example, taking a shower and running the dishwasher at the same time can stretch a tankless water heater to its limit. To overcome this problem, you can install two or more tankless water heaters, connected in parallel for simultaneous demands of hot water. You can also install separate tankless water heaters for appliances — such as a clothes washer or dishwater — that use a lot of hot water in your home.


For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, demand water heaters can be 24%–34% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters. They can be 8%–14% more energy efficient for homes that use a lot of hot water — around 86 gallons per day. You can achieve even greater energy savings of 27%–50% if you install a demand water heater at each hot water outlet. ENERGY STAR® estimates that a typical family can save $100 or more per year with an ENERGY STAR qualified tankless water heater.

The initial cost of a tankless water heater is greater than that of a conventional storage water heater, but tankless water heaters will typically last longer and have lower operating and energy costs, which could offset its higher purchase price. Most tankless water heaters have a life expectancy of more than 20 years. They also have easily replaceable parts that extend their life by many more years. In contrast, storage water heaters last 10–15 years.

Tankless water heaters can avoid the standby heat losses associated with storage water heaters. However, although gas-fired tankless water heaters tend to have higher flow rates than electric ones, they can waste energy if they have a constantly burning pilot light. This can sometimes offset the elimination of standby energy losses when compared to a storage water heater. In a gas-fired storage water heater, the pilot light heats the water in the tank so the energy isn’t wasted.


Why Shouldn’t We Test A/C’s in the Winter

It is April and we are getting asked about testing the air conditioner.  The standard and appropriate response is,”..not yet.” The client response is typically, “…why not?”  There is a pretty simple and clear reasoning behind the strict guidelines most home inspectors follow. In fact, most air conditioning manufacturers and HVAC professionals agree, an outdoor condensing unit should be be run in cold weather for any reason.

The reason behind this prohibition is the oil used to lubricate the compressor is a weight that does not lubricate well when it is cold.  The lubricant for an air conditioner is not unlike the lubricant for your car. There are different grades like summer-weight and winter-weight.  The summer-weight oil used in the standard air conditioner is a heavy grade oil and only works well in the warmer months or during warmer conditions.  In cold weather, the oil is too thick for safe operation of the system.

Most HVAC technicians and home inspectors won’t operated the central air conditioner unless the daytime temperatures are well above 65 degrees for at least 24 hours.  This would limit the window for many locations of the country. A good median to consider is May through September. The only exception would be those units with a crankcase or sump heater.  This is a heating strip placed around the compressor and oil reservoir with the hopes of keeping it warm and moving. There are even some, more sophisticated units, with low-ambient temperature sensors that prevent cold weather operation.

If you do not know if there is a crankcase heater or you do not know if your unit has a thinner grade of oil do not take the risk.  Do not operate your central air conditioner until the 24 hour temperatures are over 65 degrees. The risks are too high. Operating a unit at that temperature could otherwise damage a perfectly good operating unit.

Is a Home Inspection Franchise Right For You?

Starting a business and being an entrepreneur can be a scary proposition for anyone.  Deciding whether or not to enter the market by purchasing a franchise can be daunting.  For many, owning your own business is part of the American Dream.  The idea of calling your own shots, building your legacy has a familiar sound many have experienced and succeeded with.


There are three logical methods of entering the business and career of home inspections.  These are: as an employee of another firm, as an independent and new firm, and buying into a Franchise operation.  For the purposes of this article I will focus on the last two.


The professional of home inspections, for most, is a second or third career.  The demographics are dominated by an age group over 45 and many come from the trades or have an engineering background.  Most home inspectors have a thirst for information and are full of opinions and technical information.   But, they might lack the knowledge of how to enter the marketplace.


If an inspector or entrepreneur decided to enter as a self-designed and independent company they will be solely responsible for one-hundred percent of everything created, designed, and maintained by this new endeavor.   They will absolutely have the ability to seek out and rely upon any experts they can find the guide them along the way.  But, imagine, any marketing or sales collateral has to be designed by them.  The website has to be designed by them.  The reporting system has be determined and maintained by them.


If an inspector was to enter the marketplace by purchasing a franchise from a reputable and accepted national franchise company much of the heavy lifting is done.  The new operation will have the reporting system already designed and maintained.  The sales and marketing collateral will have been designed and possibly purchased through a national program.  The website will be designed and maintained by others and there will be a resource and play book established to help with success model.


Now if an inspector enters the marketplace as an independent company they will have the ability to be very unique and build a reputation on their own backs and merit.  They can go into the marketplace using technical resources and trade groups like InterNACHI (Inter National Association of Certified Home Inspectors).  But they are still alone.  As a franchise you will have a very unique and qualified resource there to help sort through aspects of the business you have difficulties with.  Everything the franchise does is franchise specific and not generic.


Owning a franchise does come with certain responsibilities and costs.  There will be an initial cost to purchase the franchise.  There will also be a royalty cost paid typically monthly and based upon a specific measurable, typically revenue.  As an independent inspector you will not have these costs.


Every business goes through a natural cycle and at some point your business will retire, close or sell.  The best scenario is to sell your business.  If a service business was built as an independent and a single inspector operation, when the operator leaves so does the business.  The referral sources become very attached to the inspector and when the inspector is not there the referral source might go elsewhere.  As an independent inspector  you will have to not only find a buyer for your business but transition all of your referral sources, who or confident with your work, to a new inspector and new business they have yet to be confident with.


If you own a franchised business there is a larger name and reputation presumably attached to it.  There is a certain cache and cash value associated with the name.  This goes beyond the single independent inspector.  Selling you franchise business then transfers all of the support mechanisms to this new operator and might allow you to vacate quicker and cleaner.


Regardless of whether you enter the world of home inspections as an independent inspector or as a franchise operation do so with the knowledge necessary to be responsible and trustworthy.  Your client’s deserve your very best.

For more information about home inspection franchises go to:

What Home Buyers Should Understand About Their Home Inspection

As a new home buyer, you’re about to embark on a journey full of information, stress, and excitement. One of the most important steps in the home buying process is your home inspection. It is not a step you should take lightly, as it will hopefully be one of the most informative steps to your home buying experience. You will likely have an agent the recommends a top notch inspector and as a buyer, you should do your due diligence in searching through their online footprint. Do they have good reviews? Are they prompt when responding to questions? Once you have decided on the right one, it is important to understand what they will do and how they will do it.

As a buyer, you need to understand that the home inspector is following a standard of practice. This standard ensures uniformity across the profession and provides you with the correct information when making decisions about a property. Ask your inspector what standards they subscribe to so you can understand what to expect. There are two dominant standards of practice in the industry; InterNachi (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, and ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors). These standards will explain what, at a minimum, the inspector should be explaining in your report.

It is important for your inspector to follow these standards in order to provide you with the most informative inspection report possible. As a buyer, you are looking for the most accurate, unbiased and objective information about the home to help you make one of the biggest financial decisions of your life.

We often get asked, will you inspect this…look at that etc. Always remember that the standards set the tone of the inspection and likely determine what the inspector should be inspecting.

Find the ASHI standards of practice HERE.  Find the InterNACHI standards of practice HERE.

Things to look for during your inspection:

  1. Does your inspector exceed the standards of practice to provide you with more information that may be useful in the future?
  2. Do they make recommendations to correct or monitor the problems observed (Inspectors are NOT required to determine methods, materials, or costs of corrections) but in some instances may to better help address the buyers concerns.

How you can prepare for a more productive inspection:

  1. Make sure the seller moves personal belongings from important components of the home ( In front of electric panels, waste line clean-out, attic access, etc.)
  2. Have a list of questions to ask the inspector ( Where is this, or that and how would I go about doing this?)
  3. Bring something to write on. Although you will be provided with a report, sometimes good information may come from an inspector while you’re just conversing. These tips and pointers may help you in the future.
  4. Understand that the inspection is not intended to point out cosmetic defects. A scratch on the wall or a paint color you’re not a fan of is outside the scope of the inspection.


Great inspectors are not just good at visualizing a home and determining what issues are present. Great inspectors also provide you with the tools to be a successful homeowner. Look for inspectors to tag important valves and explain how things function, give you ways to document and organize the home and remind you when to perform important maintenance tasks.

The home inspection industry has come along way from the early inspections of the 1960’s and 70’s. As the consumer demand for more information on new platforms has grown, so has the inspection industry. Hopefully, your inspector helps you become a good steward of your home and provides you with the tools necessary to make home ownership enjoyable.



Jordan Bird

Franchise Owner

The BrickKicker of Greater Baltimore

Commercial Building Inspections

Most States, but not all, require a home inspector to have some form of credentialing.   This could be a state issued license or a state sanctioned registration but, very few if any, require a license to provide commercial property to building inspections.   It is for this reason you should do your research before choose your commercial building inspector.

Here are some tips to choosing the right commercial building inspector:

First, make sure they are insured to provide the scope of services and inspections you need.  Even though certain home inspectors might be qualified to do commercial building inspection they may not have the proper insurance endorsements and without that you will be potentially left exposed.

Second, ask for a project list or list of experience.  Most commercial inspectors are proud to provide you with a list of projects or even a client list.  Knowing you commercial inspector has a historical reference or experience with a property you are looking to purchase can help in the process.

Third, clearly understanding the scope and extent of the inspection is key.  Most commercial inspections are performed using the ASTM 2018-01 Guidelines.  This establishes a clear reference point and client expectations.  It will also allow both the client and the inspector the ability to create a very specific project standard as well.

Lastly, price is not everything.  Most residential home inspectors do not understand the complexities and building dynamics associated with a commercial structure.  The pricing is much like that of a residential inspection.  A commercial inspector will typically look at the building and determine the price based upon the certain factors, limitations and scope they see unique to the project.

The BrickKicker has been an expert in providing both residential and commercial building inspections since 1989.  Please call and talk with your The BrickKicker prior to your next commercial inspection.

Home Maintenance Checklist

As a homeowner, there are many things you must do to maintain your home’s appearance, worth and safety. By keeping a checklist handy, you can properly delegate the tasks needed to be done to keep your home 100% safe, looking its best and clean. These chores must be completed both in the interior and exterior of your home. Prevent problems of tomorrow by staying on top of your home today. Here are some of the most important to remember:


 Attic: Your attic, if properly insulated, can help maintain your home’s temperature. It is important that if your attic does not have a ridge vent to keep gable vents open all year to ensure it is properly ventilation for you and those who live in your home.

Basement: A dehumidifier is a great addition to a home, clean it regularly to keep it running efficiently. Also, check for any dampness on the walls or floors to keep heat or air inside the home and to keep the foundation secure. This will also prevent any costly repairs in the future.

Faucets: Evaluate each of your home’s faucets checking for leaks. Replace any washers if needed. This prevents water loss and wasted money.

Fireplace: Be sure to always clean your fireplace of ashes and debris. Also, make sure that there is no missing or loose mortar within your chimney. Have your chimney professionally cleaned after each winter season to help maintain its effectiveness. Make sure to close the damper tightly in the spring; however if your home is not air-conditioned leave it open for better ventilation.

Filters: Filters lie all over your home, whether in your dryer, stove hood, room fans or your air conditioner. Clean or replace these filters once a month or as needed (whichever you believe is best for your home). Also, keep all vents away from draperies and furniture.

Heating System: Each cold weather season have your heating system services by a professional HVAC company. They will suggest you change any filters associated with your furnace. Always keep your heating system clean and away from potential fire hazards.

 Hot Water Heater: Each fall season drain your hot water heater and remove any sediment from the bottom of the tank. This will keep it working efficiently and to cut down on energy costs (if your water heater is electric).

Refrigerator: A properly-sealed refrigerator is important to keep energy costs down. The best home test is with a dollar bill – place the bill within the seal, if you can easily remove it, the seal may need to be replaced or adjusted. If you have an older model refrigerator that is coil-back, vacuum the coils at least twice yearly. This will create a more efficient appliance.

 Safety Devices: Most fire departments suggest that each year as you change your clocks (once in spring, once in fall) to change the batteries in your home’s carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Also, ensure you have a working fire extinguisher in your home.

Toilets: Check the seal of the toilet to make sure no water is leaking from the seal. Repair or replace any faulty parts.

Washer / Dryer: Clean all filters and check hoses for any leaking. Repair or replace any leaks. Keep your dryer free from lint both in and around your dryer and in the ducts. This will keep it more energy efficient and save you money.


Air Conditioner: If you live in a cold weather climate, each fall remove your window air conditioners or put weatherproof covers on them to keep cold air out. For central air conditioning systems, place a heavy duty cover (and secure in place) and also remove any debris from the surrounding area.

 Downspouts: Keep all downspouts cleaned. Inspect and/or repair any weak areas to prevent replacing them in the future. Also, check to make sure they drain properly.

Gutters: Clean your gutters at least once each year as well as your drain pipes. Also, drain outside faucets to ensure that leaves don’t clog the pipes.

Roof:  Check all interior exterior areas (roof, chimneys, vents and/or skylights) for leaks. Repair any leaks if necessary. Also, check the eaves, flashing and soffits. This will help prevent any costly repairs in the future.

Siding and Paint: Walk the exterior of your home checking for any holes or cracks in the paint or siding. If siding must be repaired or replaced, remove caulk. A fast tip to removing caulk is by using a carpet knife. Slice down the siding (in both direction) and use the knife to lift the old caulk away.

 Storm Windows/Screens: Each fall remove any screens and replace them with storm windows in each exterior doors. Each spring, remove the screens from storage, clean them and replace them with the storm doors. Inspect all screens prior to installation ensuring that all window and door screens have no holes. If there are holes in any screen, use a patching kit to repair them.

 Windows and Doors: Ultimately, windows and doors are the most important openings in one’s house. Ensuring that they are sealed properly can help save you money in energy bills. Seal any drafty windows or doors. Also, replace any seals as any cracks where heat or cooling escapes is essentially just like having a window open in your home. Why let your money go out the window?

 This list is just a checklist/reference for you as a homeowner to follow each year. While there may be other obligations or responsibility, this list serves as a basis to inspecting and maintaining your home so it is safe, functional, energy efficient and clean.   The BrickKicker would can help provide an unbiased and professional look at all of these items.  We call it our Home Maintenance Review.  Give us a call and we can talk about it.  Good luck!

What is and EASEMENT Anyway?

Recently Nicor Gas Company notified me that it would be installing a new gas main and a new gas service line at my home. I did not think much about it at the time, nor after JULIE located the buried cable, gas and water lines. But then a few weeks later I was surprised to see a large machine tearing up my yard one morning. I knew there was little to be done, since Nicor was operating within its easement over my property.

An easement is the right of another to cross or otherwise use someone else’s land for a specified purpose. In my case, public utilities have an easement over my property for the purpose of installing and maintaining overhead electric and television lines along with underground electric, water, sewer, telephone and cable lines.

When adjacent landowners are feuding over easement rights, usually it occurs when one is claiming an easement by prescription or by operation of law. These are usually not recorded in the county recorder’s office. In claiming one of these easements over another’s property, how the claimant has used the neighbor’s property, or how it needs to use the other’s property is driving theme behind the claimant’s desire for an easement.

Recorded easements on the other hand, are typically uncovered when a title search is performed on a parcel of property. This most often occurs in connection with the purchase and sale of land.

Public utility easements are created and defined when the property was originally platted. This is true for many properties connected to a city power grid, sewer and water system. Without such easements, your favorite cable company would not have the right to come upon your property to make repairs or improvements to its equipment.


The above article appeared in Positively Naperville, written by Chuck Keough, an attorney practicing community association law and civil litigation. Contact Chuck at or (630) 369-2700 ext. 211