Things to Look for in a Home Inspection

Usually, by the time you schedule a home inspection, you’re at least halfway in love with a house. You’ve walked through it many times, and you’ve likely made note of any concerns you have regarding the home’s condition. The inspection is the last hurdle separating you from the house of your dreams, so it’s only natural for you to want it to go well.

Ultimately, though, you really don’t want a home that doesn’t pass the most rigorous inspection. Hire an impartial inspector who has no loyalties to anyone involved except you. The most qualified home inspectors do cost more than one you might find by happenstance, but when you compare this cost to the overall investment you’ll be making in this new home, it becomes clear that this is not the moment for penny-pinching.


Plan to be present when the home is scheduled to be inspected. Bring a notebook with your questions and concerns listed. Take clear, detailed notes of any key pieces of information.

If you’re able, we suggest making a video recording of the inspection process. Your home inspector can tell you important and helpful things about your home that you may think you’ll be able to remember, but when it’s 2 a.m. and you find yourself struggling to recall what that home inspector said about your water heater three years ago, you’ll be glad you have it on tape.

While no home is perfect (even a brand-new home can have flaws), there are a few serious issues you should consider immediate deal-breakers.


Improper Water Drainage and Water Damage

Anytime water drains back toward the home instead of out and away from it, you’ve got a real problem. Improper drainage leads to damp and wet crawlspaces, foundation displacement, dry rot, and mold.

Look for:

  • Musty smells
  • Walls that are discolored near the floor
  • Warped baseboards
  • Windows that are no longer square
  • Interior doors with gaps that show at the top when the door is closed
  • Slanting floors

If you observe any of these issues, we strongly suggest moving on to a new property. Water damage is difficult to assess without tearing into walls and flooring, but it is almost always breathtakingly expensive and complicated to repair.


The Stucco Home’s Vital Weep Screed

Stucco homes are popular for good reason; stucco is attractive, and, when applied correctly, will endure for a lifetime. However, when a stucco exterior is applied incorrectly, water will flow into the walls and interior of the home!

Here’s how a weep screed works: contractors know that water will sneak past a stucco exterior anywhere it can find a crack or unsealed home fixture, so they install a component called a weep screed around the home. The weep screed protects the home itself from the water by redirecting any incidental flow back down the weep screed and out of the home.

Unfortunately, when concrete close to the home’s walls has been poured too high, the weep screed becomes buried and can no longer function as intended. Instead, water will accumulate and damage the home.

During the inspection, walk around the home and trace the weep screed. If at any point the weep screed disappears into a concrete surface, wave down the inspector. The inspector should be able to tell you if the flaw you’ve detected will lead to water damage down the line.


Degraded Roofing Materials

The age of a home, the materials used, and the level of craftsmanship all must be considered when evaluating the home’s roof. If the home you’re considering has aged more than ten to fifteen years, find out when you’ll need to fully replace it.

The average cost of a full roof replacement is around $7,000. Ideally, your new home would have at least 10 good years ahead of it, but if you find a place you truly love at a price that can’t be beat, it might be worth springing for a new roof if it’s the only major repair required.


Common Roofing Materials

  • Asphalt
    • Life expectancy: 15 – 40 years
    • Red flags: blisters, cupping, and granular disintegration
  • Wood
    • Life expectancy: 15 – 40 years
    • Red flags: cupping and curling, lifted shingles, insect damage, rot, and missing tiles
  • Terra Cotta, concrete, and slate
    • Life expectancy: 20 – 100+ years
    • Durable but brittle, and susceptible to damage from rapid temperature changes
    • Cannot be walked on due to its brittle nature, so a very high ladder and binoculars will be required to spot damage
    • Cracking, missing tiles, and substandard repairs are all red flags and might mean extensive water damage

Substandard Electrical Wiring

Ask any fire chief: home fires started by older or substandard electrical wiring happen ALL THE TIME. While modern houses are usually wired correctly and amply, older homes often are not.

Warning signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Extension cords run from room to room
  • Exposed wires in any area of the home
  • Open splice wire using electrical tape or connectors (should be considered a serious fire hazard and must be fixed immediately)
  • Outlets that are not grounded properly
  • Aluminum wiring should be replaced and will cost thousands of dollars

These issues are the most serious and costly repairs you may encounter during home inspections, but your real estate agent will do their utmost to convince the current owners to pay for repairs. Remember, other potential buyers will encounter the same issues with the home if they have hired a skilled home inspector, so it’s likely that any sale will be made with due consideration to any outstanding repairs.

Pursue the home of your dreams by all means, but also be prepared to engage in some haggling if your inspection turns up anything serious. In the end, remember that accurate information and a skilled realtor are all you need to make a savvy decision while house hunting.

Home Care Tips to Start on Today

While we no longer depend on a fireplace for heat and therefore don’t need to do a post-winter deep clean for soot and dust, the idea of spring cleaning is still alive and well. While not needed for fireplace grime, a good spring cleaning and maintenance session are not only good for the soul but one of the smartest thing to do for the longevity of your home.
 
By spending a little time and effort now, you’ll save huge expenses and potential disasters down the road. A little bonus? You get the best version of your home to enjoy over the summer.
 
Below is a list of recommended yearly spring maintenance:

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Prep Your Home for Fall and Winter

Last week we posted a list of easy home maintenance tasks you can do yourself to lower your energy costs this Fall and Winter. But many homeowners don’t realize the savings that can be achieved by spending a little money up front to properly maintain your home each year. We’ve consulted some local experts at Roscoe Brown to bring you the best annual maintenance checklist.

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Tips for Fall and Winter Energy Savings

 

With fall just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to give your home an energy efficiency assessment. Are you setting yourself up to save money in the coming chilly months, or will you need to pay through the nose again this year?

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The Pros and Cons of Smart Home Technology

 

Smart home technology has been something that we as a population have longed for; science fiction shows and movies have wowed audiences with ideas for home automation that most of us would really like to enjoy in our day-to-day lives.

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How Homeowners Can Conserve Water

 

This is a sponsored post brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.

Water is an important resource, however many homes use more of it than they realize. As such, it’s vital to consider the ways homeowners can conserve water as this will ultimately create positive environmental changes and cut costs for them as well.

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At Home Pet Safety Tips

 

July 15th is Pet Fire Safety Day. At first glance, it seems like another obscure “holiday” that was more or less invented out of nowhere by the news spreading on social media. But by all means, this is no “National Cheeseburger” type of day. In fact, it’s a day to think about the unthinkable and plan ahead for emergencies to keep your furbabies safe.

Not only is it important to have emergency escape plans put in place for your pets, but it’s incredibly important to know how to prevent pets accidentally causing fires.

An estimated 500,000 pets are affected annually by fires each year.

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Energy Saving Tips This Winter

Energy Saving
As the year shifts further into autumn, temperatures continue their downward trend in most parts of the US. With the approach of winter weather, many people are looking for new ways to save energy (and money).
 
Perhaps you need to conserve your energy use due to budget constraints or a desire to build up your savings. You may also be thinking about your carbon footprint and its effect on our planet. Whatever your reason(s) for wanting to save energy this winter, you’ll benefit from putting at least some of the following tips into action:

     

  • Layer up – Get into the habit of keeping your heat set a few degrees lower than you have in the past. The general rule of thumb is that you can save 5% on your heating bill for each degree that you lower your thermostat. Stay comfortable by wearing more layers around the house – including a cozy sweater, thermal underwear (if needed) and fluffy socks. Add an extra blanket to your bed as well.
     

  • Use solar power – Even if you don’t have solar panels in your home, you can still take advantage of the sun’s rays to heat up your home. To do this, keep your south-facing window coverings open during the day to welcome in the sun’s natural heat. When the sun goes down, make sure all blinds and curtains in your home are closed to keep as much heat in the house as possible. Additionally, invest in thermal blinds or drapes to help keep drafty windows from letting in too much cold air.
     

  • Winterize your windows – If you have especially drafty windows that are still letting in too much cool air even with thermal window treatments, you may need to take extra steps to stay warm. The two most effective ways to winterize drafty windows are by caulking around the exterior of the window and applying plastic wrap over the inside. The plastic stripping you’ll need comes in easy to install window insulation kits and can be found at most hardware stores.
     

  • Change your filters – It’s recommended that you have your heating system examined once every year before severe winter weather arrives. This yearly check-up by a professional will catch any problems before they cause your heating system to fail, which could prove to be inconvenient, uncomfortable and even dangerous if it happens when temperatures are extremely low. At the very least, be sure to replace your heating vent filters on their recommended schedule. When filters are not replaced on time, they become ineffective at doing their job, and they start to restrict air flow throughout your home. This will increase your energy costs.
     

  • Don’t heat the whole house – This is especially true if you have a large home, but small and medium-sized homes will also use less energy if you focus on heating the rooms you actually use. To do this, close the heating vents in rooms you don’t use and seal them shut with a vent cover. Close the doors to any unused rooms, and make sure that heating vents are open in the rooms you spend the most time in.

Preserving Your Historic Home

PreservingYourHistoricHome

If you’re lucky enough to live in a character-filled historic American home, by now you realize the importance of ensuring that it remains preserved in its historic condition so as to accurately represent the historic period in which it was built.
Many historic homes of significant age have been left to wilt in disrepair for decades, requiring a complete renovation in order to restore their grandeur and beauty. However, if your historic home has been well-maintained, it obviously won’t need a total overhaul to fall in line with its proper design time period.
Regular care, upkeep and repairs (as needed) will guarantee that your historic home holds onto its historic character and curb appeal. What follows is a list of features on the exteriors of historic homes that make the biggest impression. Pay close attention to these areas of your historic home:
  • Shutters – From the late 1700s into the early 1900s, proper shutters were used functionally in order to offer protection from the elements (usually rain or hail) while still allowing the homeowner to enjoy the outside air through the shutters’ vented slots. Although shutters are still found on many homes today, they often don’t have the same size dimensions that traditional historic shutters had. Today’s imitation/non-functional shutters are purely decorative; in order to stay in line with your home’s historic period, the shutters should be large enough to cover the entirety of the window(s) they surround when pulled closed (if it were possible to do so).

 

  • Exterior doors – If your historic home’s exterior doors are currently painted white, take a closer look around the edges or in any nicks in the paint. Many historic homes still standing today originally had dark-colored outside doors as well as window sashes. If your home was built in the 1800s or early 1900s, select an extremely dark green or black for at least the front entry door. The window sashes should be painted to match.

 

  • Storm doors – The storm doors we see on homes today were added after the home was originally built and don’t fall in line with the historical design of the rest of the home. To improve the look of your home’s entry, select a storm door with very little paneling or design on it. Opt for full-view so that your (now appropriately dark) front door can shine through. It’s best to choose a storm door made from a material that can easily be painted to match the color of your dark front door, like wood or metal.

 

    • Exterior coverings – Many older homes were covered with siding in the mid-1900s. By removing as much artificial siding (aluminum, vinyl, etc) as possible, you’ll literally be exposing your home’s original design. Ideally, you’ll be able to remove siding from all sides of the home; alternatively, remove as much as possible. Expose the original brick or stone that was used to build the home for maximum curb appeal.

 

By keeping your historic home within the design styles used when it was built, you’re performing a very important task in helping us hold onto our valuable American history.

Sound Systems: How to Listen to Music this Summer

Sound Systems: How to Listen to Music this Summer

Sound_systems

As you plan fun and exciting adventures with your friends and family this summer, some of them are bound to find you entertaining at home, especially if you have a welcoming outdoor living space and/or swimming pool.
 

Relaxing with your loved ones in the comfort of your own home has a variety of benefits – not the least of which is the money you’ll save over gathering at a fancy restaurant, club or hotel. Being at home is also where we’re all our most authentic, relaxed and comfortable.
 

If you’ve invested significantly in an outdoor living and entertaining area, you’re quite likely to have multiple get-togethers at your place as the weather heats up – especially if you have a pool. However, keep in mind that although your guests will undoubtedly spend countless joyful hours splashing about, they’ll eventually get hungry and ready for a change of pace.
 

Accordingly, in planning summertime events at home, ensure that everyone will have plenty to eat by asking each guest to bring one hot food, beverage or dessert item. Additionally, prepare other ways to keep everyone entertained and happy. One thing that’s certain is that music is a universal form of pleasure! If your party eventually moves indoors, just be sure that your indoor stereo system is queued up ahead of time.
 

If you want to add to the summer ambiance by providing your friends with outdoor music, there are several good ways to make this happen:
     

  • Portable speakers for your mobile phone – These are probably the most commonly used and popular way to listen to music when among friends without plugging up your ears with earbuds, thereby making conversation nigh on impossible.

 

  • Wired outdoor speakers – A little more involved and expensive than portable speakers is a permanent set of speakers made specifically to stand up to any and all kinds of weather. The sound quality you’ll get from a permanent, wired sound system will blow any portable speakers out of the water. Many sound systems today also have the option to plug in your mobile device so you can play music directly from your favorite playlist.

 

  • Fake rock speakers – A double entendre, these speakers can indeed play rock music with the bonus of also looking like natural sandstone rocks that belong in your backyard. If you’re not into the look of high tech stereo equipment hanging around your pool or lounge area, a set of Bluetooth rock speakers will do the trick quite nicely while looking like a real piece of nature. Most decent rock speakers, like the set by Sound Appeal, found on Amazon, are rugged and hold up quite well to most weather conditions.

 

  • Go old school with a portable radio or boombox – If your gathering is relatively small, and your crowd prefers to listen to CDs or the radio, you can opt for a number of extremely affordable boombox options that also have the added benefit of being super portable. This might be the route to go if you’re listening to a sports broadcast, reminiscing over favorite albums, or have a favorite radio show you and a few friends enjoy listening to together.