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 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.

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!

What is an Easement?

The team at The BrickKicker often gets asked, “What is an easement?” An easement is the right of another party to cross or otherwise use your land for a specified purpose. It’s a common thing in real estate, and there are different types of easements. Read on to learn more about easements, and if you have questions, contact us. We’re always happy to answer your questions at The BrickKicker.

Why is an Easement Necessary?

Sometimes adjacent landowners argue over easement rights, especially when one claims an easement by prescription or by operation of law. This is precisely why it’s essential to record easements with the county where the property is located. In claiming or requesting an easement over another’s property, how the claimant has used the neighbor’s property or how they need to use the other’s property is the predominant issue behind the claimant’s desire for an easement.

How is an Easement Created?

An easement is recorded with the county where the property is located. That way, the recorded easement shows up when a title search is performed on a property parcel. This most often occurs in connection with the purchase and sale of land.

What Are the Types of Easements?

Public utility easements are the most common type of easements, and they are generally created and defined when the property is platted initially. This is true for many properties connected to a city power grid, sewer, or water system. Your favorite cable company would not have the right to come upon your property to make repairs or improvements to its equipment without such easements, and no one wants that!

The BrickKicker is at Your Service

Now that you know what is an easement and the types of easements, please feel free to contact us if you have questions. We are here for all of your home inspection, from lead-based paint to mold inspection to septic inspection. We even provide lots of home care tips to help maintain your property or to get it ready for sale. Learn more about our services and how we can help you in the home buying process today!

How Does a Sump Pump Work?

Before we talk about sump pumps we need to describe what it is supposed to do.  The purpose of a sump pump is to remove storm water or flood water from your home.   A sump is a low space that collects liquids.  It is also referred to as an infiltration basin used to manage surface runoff water.   The most common location of all sumps is the lowest point in a basement or crawl space, into which flows water that seeps or is piped in from the outside.  If water is regularly flowing into this sump, a pump is added to move water outside and away from the foundation.

Perimeter Drainage

In areas where homes are more subject to heavy amounts of hydration or in jurisdictions where required, a perimeter drain tile is added underground around the foundation.  This drain tile is directed into the sump pit or crock.  The drain tile is, in most cases, perforated and will allow excess water at the foundation to enter the system before it has the opportunity to seep in through the foundation.

What is a Sump Pit?

The sump pit, also known as a sump crock, is a basin at the lowest part of the basement or crawl space that the perimeter tiles terminate into.  This basin is placed deep enough to allow the drainage pipe to fully evacuate all of the collected water and to not allow water to hold in the pipes.  Allowing water to hold in the pipes will keep unnecessary moisture against the foundation and provide for a damp feeling space and a potential for mold growth.  These drain pipes are extended into the pit far enough to create a well-sealed union.  If the drainage pipe does not extend into the pit, there will be a high likelihood or opportunity to have the extra hydration erode under the foundation or not be fully collected.

What is a Sump Pump?

A pump is placed in the pit.  So, what types of sump pumps are there? There are two basic types of sump pumps; submersible and pedestal.  Let’s take a quick look at the difference between these sump pumps:

  • What is a Submersible Sump Pump?
    • A submersible pump is a fully contained electric pump that is placed at the bottom of the sump it
  • What is a Pedestal Sump Pump?
    • A pedestal pump has the pump, or impeller, placed at the bottom of the pit while the motor is above the pit, in the open air

Both pumps should activate and operate automatically, doing so without fail and without human contact.  If the system has to be manually operated, there is a high risk for failure.  In order to operate automatically there has to be some form of switch. The two most common sump pump switches are float activated and pressure activated.  The float is a very common method.  Within the pit, there is a floating device this has a tilt sensor.  If the float rises to a pre-set level, it will activate the pump and allow it to remove all of the water from the pit.  If it is a pressure system, the level of water above the sensor causes the switch to activate the pump.

Regardless of the type of pump and sensor being used, there should always be a back-flow or check valve installed in the discharge pipe above the unit.  This prevents any discharge water from dropping back into the pump at the conclusion of the pumping cycle.

Common Sump Pump Issues

A sump pump can fail.  The most common life span of a sump pump is seven years.  The drain tiles can become clogged with debris or root intrusion.  You also want to monitor the float activation, as water in the pit should never be high enough to flow back into the drain tiles. However, the most common issue with a sump pump is the easiest to predict — without power the pump cannot operate.  To fully protect your foundation, and your home, consider installing some form of alternative power to operate your sump pump. Also, be sure to check out our seasonal home maintenance checklist for tips on other home care things to monitor.