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General contractors performing inspections vs. Certified/Licensed home inspectors. - 3/19/18

More than 25 states around the country require home inspectors to have a state license before performing a home inspection, however California is not one of them. What does this mean for you? It means you need to be more careful when selecting a home inspector or a home inspection company to perform your home inspection. The person that is offering home inspections for $149.99 or $199.99 may not even have any experience. In fact, it may be the first home they have inspected. Most professional inspectors in California choose to become members of a home inspection association like InterNACHI (the largest home inspector association worldwide) or ASHI who set standards for home inspectors who join them. They both have tests, and prerequisites that inspectors must complete/meet to become certified. Be aware, that when someone is charging less than the average going rate for a home inspection (around $385.00) there is a good chance they are either: not that experienced, they may not be insured, they may not stand behind their work, the report they produce may not be as helpful as it should be.

Some people choose to have a general contractor evaluate their home before purchasing. In states without home inspector licensing, this is a better alternative than simply choosing someone that advertises themselves as a home inspector, without any verifiable experience or certifications. However it is not quite the same as having a professional home inspector inspect your home. Certified home inspectors have received specialty training relevant to inspecting your home. They have received training on each component/system of your home, and tend to have a better eye for small details that many contractors might miss. This is not to say that a home inspector knows more than a general contractor, but they may know more of what to look for specifically. Chances are, an experienced home inspector has inspected many more homes, and seen many more material or safety defects than a contractor that performs inspections in his/her free time.

Home inspection warranties, are they worth it? - 3/8/18

Many home inspectors these days offer limited warranties, or even home warranties with their inspection. But just what do you get with these warranties, and are they a reason to choose one inspector over another? Its a tough question to answer that's for sure. On one hand, a limited warranty can come in handy especially when a necessary repair is discovered shortly after moving into the home. But, as anyone who has utilized a home warranty or even their car insurance company knows, it can sometimes be a difficult process in itself to submit a claim-much less have it covered. There are many different companies out there that offer warranties to inspectors that they can in turn pass on to their clients. My recommendation to you is to do your research on these warranties, or the company that provides them and determine if they are worth it to you and if it is a company that you want to do business with should you have to submit a claim in the future. Also remember, no warranty can protect you from a bad inspector, that performs a bad inspection. You should choose your inspector based on his/her knowledge, experience, reviews, and services offered.

What is a home inspection, and do I need one? - 2/8/18

So you have found your next home? Congratulations. But now, you have heard mention of a home inspection. Your realtors tells you its just a formality and says they have an inspector they recommend, and he is really cheap. You have heard your friends horror story of the home that they moved into with tons of issues, she told you she wished she had a hired a good home inspector. You've looked online and it sounds like a pretty simple thing to do, maybe you could inspect the home yourself, right? Wrong. You, and everyone else that is buying a home needs a home inspection!

By definition a home inspections is a limited, non-invasive examination of the condition of a home, often in connection with the sale of that home. Home inspections are usually conducted by a home inspector who has the training and certifications to perform such inspections. The inspector prepares and delivers to the client a written report of findings. The client then uses the knowledge gained to make informed decisions about their pending real estate purchase. The home inspector describes the condition of the home at the time of inspection but does not guarantee future condition, efficiency, or life expectancy of systems or components.

Inspectors check the roof, basement, heating system, water heater, air-conditioning system, structure, plumbing, electrical, and many other aspects of buildings. They look for system and major component defects and deficiencies, improper building practices, those items that require extensive repairs, items that are general maintenance issues, and some fire and safety issues. A general home inspection is not designed to identify building code violations, although some deficiencies identified may also be code violations.

Home inspection "standards of practice" serve as a minimum guidelines that describe what is and is not required to be inspected by the various associations mentioned during a general home inspection. Many inspectors exceed these standards (permissible) and may also offer ancillary services such as inspecting pools, sprinkler systems, checking radon levels, and inspecting for wood-destroying organisms.

A home inspection can uncover all sorts of issues with your home. The inspector will typically rate the importance or priority of repairs so that you know which items need immediate attention, and which items can be dealt with later on down the road. You should take advantage of any additional services offered to you at the time of your inspection, you never know what may be uncovered with additional testing or more in depth investigation!

Ancillary services, do you need them? - 1/23/2018

So your ready to order your home inspection, but your not sure if its worthwhile to pay the extra money for a thermal inspection, a sewer scope, or a mold test. Lets first consider the cost of your home, and than consider the cost of your home inspection. Lets say your homes selling price is $400,000, and your home inspection fee with the extras mentioned above is $600.00. This represents just over 1/10th of 1% of the price of your home. Now, lets think for a minute about the last time you bought a new cellphone, did you sign up for the warranty? Most people do, and the cost is around $15 per month. This might represent as much as 5% of the cost of your cell phone! So in summary a home inspection fee is very inexpensive for the headache it could potentially save you!

Now, will every home have an issue that is uncovered by a thermal inspection or a sewer line inspection? The answer is no. There is actually a good chance that the inspection won't yield any issues at all. We can not guarantee results one way or the other with any of our additional services. But the same could happen with your home inspection. Although far less likely, there is a very small chance that a home inspection doesn't uncover any issues at all! Was it still money well spent? That is up to you to decide, but if you are considering having a home inspection performed you benefit the most by having us perform as many additional services as possible! You never know what may turn up, and we would hate for an issue to be discovered later on down the road that could have been repaired had you known about it at the time of our inspection, just because you didn't want to pay the extra $100.00! A damaged sewer line that could be discovered during a sewer line inspection can cost up to $4,000 to fix. An active leak that recently developed within a wall or ceiling, that could only be located with a thermal inspection could cost $2,000 or more to repair. Order a thermal inspection or a sewer line inspection with your home inspection today!

Be sure to check out the different packages we offer, they are a significant cost savings over paying for each service individually. Also, at the time of scheduling if you are interested in more than 1 ancillary service not currently available in a package, ask if you can get a custom package price put together for you!

Outdated Electrical Panels - 1/8/2018

If you own an older home (built before 1990), you might have one of these outdated main electric panels/boxes hiding in your home.

And these outdated panels don’t just make you uncool like a pair of outdated bell-bottoms might. They can also be extremely unsafe.

You see, electrical panels contain safety devices (either fuses or circuit breakers) that trip and shut off the power when too much electricity flows through them. This helps prevent fires caused by overheating wires.

Yet many Sarasota-area homes have old, outdated panels that might not work as intended, leaving them vulnerable to a house fire. Here are 4 types of unsafe panels you should consider replacing if you have them...

Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Panels

For a long time (1950s-1980s) Federal Pacific Electric was one of the most popular manufacturers of electrical panels in the United States. And they were installed in millions of homes.

But these panels are extremely unsafe.

Why they’re unsafe: FPE electric panels’ circuit breakers fail to trip when they should (when there’s a short circuit or circuit overload). This problem has lead to thousands of fires across the United States, including this one in Central Florida.

There are also many reports that FPE circuits in the off position still send power to the circuit. This can cause electrocution when working on a circuit you believe to be off.

How to tell if you have one: FPE panels are most common in homes built between 1950 and 1980. Federal Pacific Electric will likely be written on the cover of your breaker box. Inside, look for the name Stab-Loc (the brand name of the circuit breakers).

Zinsco Panels

Zinsco or GTE-Sylvania panels were popular electrical panels installed in homes throughout the 1970s. Zinsco is now defunct, but many homes still have these panels.

Why they’re unsafe: The circuit breakers inside many Zinsco panels melt to the main ‘bus bar’. This means the breaker can’t ever trip, even when there’s a short or overloaded circuit. So if there ever is a short or other problems, the surge of power melts wires and starts fires in your home.

How to tell if you have one: The name Zinsco anywhere on the panel is a sure sign it should be replaced. Also, many GTE-Sylvania or Sylvania panels are simply re-branded Zinsco panels or contain the problem Zinsco design. These should also be replaced.

However, not all Sylvania and GTE-Slyvania branded panels are dangerous. So if you have one, an electrician will need to inspect it to see if it has the problematic design.

Split-bus electrical panels

A typical modern circuit breaker has a single metal bus. Electricity comes into the panel, passes through a main breaker and to the bus. The bus then connects to each individual circuit breaker, providing power to your entire home.

You can then shut off power to the bus (and therefore your entire home) simply by turning off the main breaker.

Split-bus electrical panels are different. They have 2 buses and no single main disconnect. They have up to 6 breakers labeled “main”. One of these main breakers controls power to half (the bottom) of the breakers in the panel. The other main breakers connect directly to the first bus.

Above is a photo of a split bus panel with front cover removed. You can see how the top 3 breakers are connected directly to the incoming power (large black wires at the top). Then the 3rd breaker supplies power to the lower breakers (see the blue wires connecting them).

Why they’re unsafe: By themselves, split-bus panels aren’t unsafe. However, these types of panels haven’t been used for over 40 years. That puts them past their expected lifespan, meaning the circuit breakers may not trip as they are designed to.

Plus, electrical code no longer allows for multiple disconnects.

How to tell if you have one: Open the front cover of your electrical box. Are your breakers divided into 2 groups? Is there no single disconnect breaker? These are good indications that you have a split-bus panel.

Fuse box

Fuse boxes are old electrical panels that use fuses instead of circuit breakers to protect your wires from becoming overloaded. When a circuit draws too much electricity, the fuse burns out and must be replaced.

Why they’re unsafe: Fuses aren’t inherently unsafe. They work just like circuit breakers (except they can’t be reset and must be replaced.) However, most fuse boxes in homes today are unsafe because they’ve been modified to try to serve today’s energy demands.

Homeowners (and sometimes contractors) create problems in many fuse boxes that make them unsafe. Here are a few:

  • Placing too many things on a single circuit. Because fuse boxes typically have fewer circuits, homeowners often end up plugging in too many electrical appliances to a single outlet. That leads to fuses that blow a lot, which can lead homeowners to...
  • Replacing a fuse with a bigger fuse. If you replace a 15-amp fuse with a 20-amp fuse (or larger), your fuse may stop blowing. However, you’ll also create a massive fire hazard. The wires in that circuit are only rated for 15-amps, not 20!
  • Replacing the fuse with something metal. Some homeowners go a step further and insert a metal object (like a penny) where the blown fuse once was. Again, this eliminates blown fuses, but also completely removes the safety that fuses provide. Your wires could pull large amounts of electricity, overheat and start a fire.

How to tell if you have one: Chances are if you have a fuse box, you already know it. But if you’re not sure, find your main electrical panel and open it up. Instead of a bunch of switches (circuit breakers) you should see fuses.

What to do if you have one of these panels

If you have one of these unsafe and outdated electrical panels, we highly recommend replacing them. At the very least, you should have an electrician inspect the panel to see if there are any signs of problems.

Quoted from https://energytoday.biz/