Flat Lot Considerations

One of the most important decisions a home builder has to make is whether to build their house on a flat lot or a sloped lot. Both types of plots offer unique advantages and disadvantages, and before you decide on a house plan, it’s important that you choose a plot of land that can actually accommodate your vision. 

There are certain types of house features that are difficult to build on flat lots and easy to build on sloped lots, vice versa. If you’re considering a flat lot house plan, read on to learn about the capabilities and limitations of level land, as well as for sloped plots. If you have your eye on a plot, and you’d like to know if it’s a wise option for your blueprints, contact your Naperville home inspectors, the BrickKicker! 

Basement Considerations

If you are looking to install a basement in your home, and you live in an area where the soil beneath the home is not going to drain well, you should avoid a flat lot foundation. That’s because water can erode your basement foundation and cause it to sink. If you’re unsure of whether the soil on a lot will accommodate your future basement, consult one of our specialists. They can assess how well your plot drains water, and whether the lot can accommodate a basement. Remember that the cost to build a basement foundation can greatly increase if you don’t take early precautions by getting a drainage analysis before you start building. 

Advantages of Building on a Slope 

If drainage or the cost of building a basement are important to you, then there are many benefits to choosing a sloped lot foundation over a flat lot. For example, if you choose a sloped lot, it is going to make it possible for you to design your home using a walkout basement, which means that you could use windows or doorways on one side of your basement in order to provide the space with some natural ventilation and light. Another consideration is that, in some areas, you will be able to use frame construction on the open side of your walkout basement, and this is generally going to be a lot more cost-effective in comparison to a concrete block or poured concrete basement.

If you absolutely have to build a basement foundation, but you are dealing with a flat lot house plan that has poor soil for drainage purposes, then it is going to be a wise idea for you to hire a professional subcontractor that can help you with the waterproofing and drainage considerations that your home is going to need.

Waterproofing Exterior Basement Walls

When you hire a specialist to help with your drainage and waterproofing, they can install footing drains that can drain water to a sump pump or an area in your property with lower elevation. Before you hire someone to waterproof your basement and increase the drainage effectiveness of your lot, make sure you consult your city’s zoning department to identify local or state building codes that could apply to whatever new drainage system you install. You can also call a home inspector near Aurora, IL for a thorough consultation.

Non-Basement Building Considerations

If you’re not interested in building a basement, it’s more beneficial to choose a flat lot house plan. That’s because sloped lot foundations often require you to simulate a flat lot foundation. This can be done by leveling part of a hill, which is incredibly expensive, or by building a crawl space under your house. Crawl spaces are more expensive than slab foundations, and are at risk of rot and termite issues. That said, they provide excellent storage space for pipes, HVACs, and other mechanical aspects of your home’s system. 

Which is Right for Your Needs and Budget? 

If you’re shopping for a lot, it’s important that you consider whether it can accommodate your house plans. Here’s a quick recap of the most important considerations when choosing between a flat and sloped foundation: 

  • Flat Lot Recap: These are good options if you don’t need a basement. They’re less expensive to build traditional foundations on. If you are set on a flat lot and want a basement, bear in mind that, while it’s possible to build, it’s going to be expensive and complicated. It will also be expensive if you were considering a crawl space for mechanical storage. 
  • Sloped Lot Recap: Sloped lots are more expensive to build foundations on, because they often require leveling parts of hills or build crawl spaces in order to have level support. That said, they have excellent drainage, and if you’re looking to build a basement or crawl space, it can be done far cost-effectively and safely than if you were to add these features onto a flat lot.  

Reach Out to the BrickKicker for Help! 

If you’d like to hire a Chicagoland home inspector to analyze your lot, the BrickerKicker can swiftly identify how suitable the land you’re considering is for your house plan. Take a look at our residential services and environmental services to learn more about all the benefits we can provide!

Foundation Settlement

What is Foundation Settlement?

Foundation settlement happens when soil shifts beneath a home and it is a serious deal for a homeowner, and often requires that swift action be taken to prevent structural damage from occurring to the home. The causes behind settlement of the foundation are actually rarely due to the actual design or the under design of the home itself. The most common causes for the damage that leads to foundation settlement have to do with changes that occur to the soils around the foundation and the soils that are responsible for surrounding and supporting the entire structure. The following is a look at some of the potential causes for foundation settlement and what they can mean for the future of the foundation and the structure itself.

Weak Bearing Soil Issues

There are certain types of soil that are simply not capable when it comes to supporting the weight of the foundation or bearing the pressure that the foundation of the building exerts. Resulting from this fact, the foundation’s footings can press down or sink into softer soils. In cases such as these, the footings are going to need to be designed in such a way that they are going to spread the load across the weaker soils. The purpose for this is so any potential settlement of the foundation can be reduced.

However, you still need to be aware of the fact that in most problems involving the settlement of the foundation where the bearing soil is weak, the reason is because the residential construction used standard footings rather than better load bearing footings. The reason for this is because the footings are typically going to be designed based on general guidelines rather than on soil information that is specific to the site.

Poor Compaction Issues

Both when developing commercial subdivisions and residential subdivisions, there is a common practice that people will place fill soils. Generally speaking, buildable lots are created by cutting down hilltops or by filling in valleys in order to create spaces that are flat and compacted. Fill soils that are placed properly and compacted properly should be more than capable of creating an adequate amount of support for the foundation of these businesses.

However, it is important to note that when these fill soils are compacted but not in an adequate manner, then they may be capable of compressing under the load of the foundation. The result is that the structure and the foundation can settle, causing structural integrity problems in the future.

Changes in the Moisture Content

When a foundation soil experiences an extreme change in the moisture content, then this can result in damage to the foundation in the form of settlement. An excess amount of moisture is capable of saturating the soil of the foundation, and this can easily lead to a softening or a weakening of silt or clay soils. When the soil is no longer capable of supporting the load, the result is often settlement of the foundation. An increased amount of moisture within the soil beneath the foundation often comes as a consequence when there is poor drainage on the surface around the structure, when there is a leak in the water line, when there is a leak in the plumbing or when there is a raised groundwater table.

Soils that have a lot of clay content in them can also generally have a tendency to shrink when it comes to the loss of moisture. As soils with high clay contents begin to dry out, they can contract or shrink. This is going to result in the general and gradual decrease of the soil’s volume. As a result, settlement damage is often going to be observed when it comes to structures that are supported on soil that has become dried out. Drying out of the foundation soil can often be caused by conditions that are extensively drought-like as well as other causes. For example, maturing vegetation and trees can cause a drying out of the foundational soil. Another cause for drying of the foundation soil is a leaking of an HVAC or heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in the subfloor.

Maturing of Trees or Vegetation

As mentioned above, this is another problem that can lead to settlement of the foundation, and so it must be watched for with time. Maturing of the trees, bushes and any other types of vegetation that are in close proximity to the building of the home is a common reason for foundation settlement to occur. When trees and other types of vegetation mature, they are going to grow in size and as such, the demands they place on the soil for water and nutrients are also going to grow. The root system for these types of vegetation is also going to grow and expand on a continuous basis with time, and as such, the roots are going to be trying to draw moisture out of the soil around and beneath the building’s foundation.

Soils that are rich in clay, as a result of this action, are going to shrink with time as they lose their moisture content. This is going to result in a settlement of the overlying structure including the foundation and the building built over the top of the foundation. Many building owners and home owners have said that they never had any problems with the settlement of the foundation until many, many years following the building of the structure.

Unfortunately, it can take as many as several decades before this type of problem becomes apparent, and so it can make things difficult for the home owner who suddenly has to make repairs to the foundation below the home. The reason for this is because it takes many decades for new vegetation and trees to really grow, and that is why these types of foundation issues really do not crop up until later on in the life of the building.

Foundations that are closer to the surface of the ground are generally going to be affected more often by soil dehydration issues. The reason for this is because of tree roots. Basement level foundations and foundations that are deeper are generally not going to experience as many problems with this type of soil settling issue. As a general sort of rule, the diameter of the root system for the tree is going to be at least as big as the canopy of the tree. Considering this may help you determine whether or not you are going to have issues with mature vegetation in the future.

Soil Consolidation

The concept of soil consolidation is something that occurs when a structure’s weight compresses down on a weaker, lower soil, or when newly placed soil for the purpose of filling does the same thing. A lower clay-based soil that is naturally weaker is not going to be able to withstand the pressure from the structure or the heavier fill soil, and so soil consolidation is going to occur as a result. The applied load is generally going to force some water content out of the weaker clay soil. What this is going to do is to allow for individual soil particles to space out in a denser manner. The consolidation is going to result in a downward movement of these overlying structures, or in a settlement of the foundation as a result.

When settlement is caused by a consolidation of the foundation soil, it typically occurs over a lengthy period. This type of foundation settlement can generally occur over several weeks, several months or even several years before it is considered to be complete.

Dealing with Foundation Issues

Unfortunately, when foundation settlement begins to occur, you are already in trouble. It is vitally essentially that you start dealing with this problem as soon as possible so that you can nip it in the bud before it becomes even more serious. If your foundation is sinking or settling, then there is a good chance that it is going to continue to do so until help is provided. The best thing that you can do is to determine the exact cause of the foundation settling so that you can prevent it from becoming worse.

If you are ever in doubt about what is causing your foundation to settle, it would be very wise for you to bring in some professional help so that you can get feedback and advice. Because it is so essential that you stop allowing the foundation to sink or settle, getting quick and effective professional help is going to be a really important consideration for you to make.

Dealing with a settling or sinking foundation quickly and effectively is the best way to save and preserve the structural integrity of your structure, allowing it to stay in good condition for many years to come. If you do not address the problem, the continued settling may jeopardize the structural integrity of your building, causing it further harm and potential damage in the process.

Does a Home Inspector Walk a Roof?

While many Naperville clients have the expectation that every roof should be walked, 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. With multiple ways to inspect a roof, it’s truly up to the inspector to make that determination if walking a roof is required. In short, the answer to “Does a home inspector walk a roof?” can vary depending on the home and condition. Read on to learn more about the methods of roof inspection. We’ll also cover when to check your roof for leaks, how often to replace your roof shingles, and when you should get your roof replaced. Once you’re done reading, if you’d like a home inspector to take a look at your roof, reach out to your Chicagoland home inspection team, The BrickKicker!

How to Inspect a Roof

When it comes to how to inspect a roof, there is no one size fits all approach. Different situations can call for different techniques, such as the use of a drone. However, a trained inspector will be able to provide a thorough inspection, no matter their approach.

Ways to Inspect a Roof

  • Walking a roof – Typically the easiest way to cause damage to it. If a roof has a significant slope, the walking of the roof will loosen the granules and potentially cause damage. What’s more, if the conditions are very hot, the roof will be extremely pliable, and if the conditions are cold, roof shingles will be brittle and easily damaged.
  • Using a ladder – 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.
  • Second-floor window – Opening the window and physically touching the roof is similar to using a ladder at the roof’s edge.
  • Drones – Flying the drone around the roof will certainly provide a bird’s eye view of the entire roof system, including the chimney, venting, flashing, and skylights.
  • Long camera mounted pole – This places a camera high in the air and shows the entire upper areas of the roof and the roof systems without having to fly a drone or damage anything. The inspector does have to be careful around live electricity and lightning when using this approach.

How to Check Your Roof For Leaks

One thing you can do yourself if you dare venture out on your roof is to check your shingles now and then for leaks. This is a good way to prevent problems before they develop. To identify leaks, look for missing or deformed shingles. You can also look for roof leaks inside your house. If you notice water stains on the ceiling, patches of your interior walls that bulge, or musty smells inside your house, you might have a roof leak. To find out, go into your attic on a rainy day with a flashlight. Water is reflective, so you should be able to see it glimmer on the ceiling if there are any leaks.

When to Replace Your Roof  

Now that you know about the different methods of roof inspection, let’s take a look at how often you should replace your roof shingles. If you have wood shingles, replace them every 20-25 years. If you have: 

  • Composite Shingles, replace every 12-20 years
  • Asphalt Shingles, replace every 15-30 years 
  • Rubber Roofing, replace every 30-50 years
  • Metal Roofing, replace every 50-75 years

Schedule a Roof Inspection With The BrickKicker

Now that you know about the different methods of roof inspection, when to replace your roof, how to check your roof for leaks, and how often to replace your roof shingles, if you’d like an inspector to evaluate the roof of your Aurora or Lisle home, reach out to The BrickerKicker. The inspector’s responsibility is to work hard for every client and provide the best inspection possible. At The BrickKicker, we’ll use whatever method is required to provide a high-quality inspection without damaging your roof. Just give us a call at (800) 821-1820 to book your appointment, and don’t forget to explore our blog for other helpful reads, including our overview of chimney inspection considerations and more!

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.

How Long Do Water Heaters Last?

p>If you’ve ever dealt with an unexpectedly cold shower on a freezing morning, then you already know just how important a water heater can be! While most units work well without a hitch for years and years, many customers wonder just how long do water heaters last before they need to be replaced. Whether you have a tank water heater or a stand-alone unit, learn more about the different types of water heaters, how tankless water heaters work, and other home maintenance with The BrickKicker.

How Tank Water Heaters Work

Tank water heaters are some of the most popular on the market today, and with good reason. These steel units are durable and effective – as well as budget-friendly. A tank water heater uses either electricity or fuel, like natural or propane gas, to heat the water. The tank also serves as a storage unit, equipped with plenty of insulation to keep the water warm between heating cycles. While the steel tank is incredibly strong, it is prone to corrosion. There are two methods of dealing with this:

  • Each tank comes with glass lining to prevent corrosion from occurring. If a hole forms, the entire tank must be replaced.
  • Tanks also include a magnesium anode rod that is designed to corrode instead of the tank itself. However, once the rod has worn away, it must be replaced.

A storage water heater typically has a lifespan of 10 to 15 years.

How Tankless Water Heaters Work

More and more homeowners are turning to tankless water heaters – also known as on-demand or instantaneous water heaters. Why? These types of water heaters tend to be more energy-efficient, especially for smaller households. While a tank heater warms and stores massive quantities of water at a time, a tankless design only heats water as needed using a gas burner or electric element. Though this affects your flow rate, a tankless heater can produce around 2–5 gallons of hot water per minute! Those with larger households can even install two tankless heaters to improve flow rate. And the energy savings can be well worth the initial investment:

  • For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, demand water heaters can be 24 to 34% more energy-efficient than conventional storage-tank water heaters.
  • They can be 8 to 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 to 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.

A tankless water heater can have a lifespan of over 20 years when properly maintained.

Find Out More with The BrickKicker

Not sure if your tank needs a replacement? Thinking about upgrading to an on-demand design? The BrickKicker can help. Contact us to learn how to get the best bang for your buck in your current or potential home. Our certified experts can perform a thorough home inspection to assess any issues and maximize your energy efficiency, so don’t hesitate to reach out!

Why Shouldn’t We Test AC Units in the Winter?

Many of our Naperville customers have been asking us when they can test their AC units. They keep asking, “Why shouldn’t we test AC units in the winter?” Learn more about the hazards of testing your AC unit in winter here, what happens if you run your AC in winter, and when you should test your AC unit. Then, if you have questions, contact your Chicagoland home inspection service, the BrickKicker. We’re always happy to help!

Why Test Your AC in Warm Weather?

Most air conditioning manufacturers and HVAC professionals agree an outdoor condensing unit should not be run in cold weather for any reason at any time. The reason is that the oil used to lubricate the compressor does not lubricate well when it’s cold. The lubricant in a home air conditioner is not unlike the lubricant in your car. There are different grades, like summer-weight and winter-weight. The summer-weight oil used in the standard air conditioner is a heavier oil grade and only works well during warmer weather conditions. In cold weather, the oil is too thick for safe operation of the AC system.

What Temperature is Too Cold For Air Conditioners?

When it comes to testing AC in winter, you may be wondering what temperature is too cold for air conditioners? Most HVAC technicians and home inspectors refuse to operate the central air conditioner unless the daytime temperatures are well above 65 degrees for a minimum of 24 hours. So when should you test your AC Unit? Wait to test and use your air conditioner only between May through September.

Are There Any Exemptions?

Now that you know why you shouldn’t test AC units in the winter, you might be wondering if there are any exceptions to these guidelines. The only exception to waiting for warmer weather to test your AC unit would be for those units with a crankcase or sump heater. These have a heating strip placed around the compressor and oil reservoir that help keep it warm and moving, but it’s still best to wait. There are even some more sophisticated units, with low-ambient temperature sensors that prevent cold weather operation.

What Happens If You Run Your AC in Winter?  

As we mentioned earlier, when you run your AC in the winter, your oil can become far too thick as its molecules compress in the cold. This makes it difficult for the oil to circulate and your compressor to overheat. This could cause a perfectly good AC unit to fail, so the risk isn’t worth it. A much more energy efficient way to cool down your Aurora home in the winter is to simply open the window and let some of the cold air into the house.

The BrickKicker is Always at Your Service

If you don’t know if you have a crankcase heater, or you don’t know if your unit has a thinner grade of oil, it’s best to avoid testing your AC in winter. Please do not operate your central air conditioner until the temperature is over 65 degrees for at least 24 hours. The risks are too high. Running a unit at that temperature could cause significant damage to a perfectly good operating unit. Now that you know what happens if you run your AC in winter and when you should test your AC unit, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or to schedule a home inspection. We are always ready to help! If you have other questions related to home care, be sure to explore our blog for dozens of other helpful reads about problems to look out for, DIY home care tips, and home inspection service intervals!

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: www.brickkicker.com

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.

Cheers!

 

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:

Interior

 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 using DIY plumbing tips. 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.

Exterior

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!