In this month’s article I wanted to address the importance of completing a home inspection. Whether it is for the progression of a sale or merely just to get to know the condition of your current home, it is a major fundamental to owning a home that should not be taken lightly. If the factors that we are discussing in this article alone seem too overwhelming to be responsible for, than home ownership may not be the right decision for you at this time. I come across homes on a regular basis that have been neglected due to lack of maintenance or simply because the home owner is uneducated on how to maintain their largest investment. This results in depreciation to their home, along with large out of pocket expenses and potentially even bankruptcy and repossession for those who let their homes become in such disrepair that they are nearly unsalable or less than what is owed to the lender. This can be very detrimental to one’s life and future so educating you and confronting the responsibilities of home ownership is something that I want to focus on to help you avoid an extremely expensive mistake.
Safety precautions are also undeniably crucial when there are hazards that can put your life at stake such as electrical fires, household toxins such as mold, asbestos, carbon monoxides to name a few! Jim Nichols of House Master Home Inspections is an expert in the field; he is going to share his thoughts on some commonly asked questions that we encounter in the Real Estate Industry.
1. What part of the home do you feel requires the most attention and maintenance the most regularly?
Drainage is the most important and easiest to correct and is most often left forgotten. Ensure water can drain away from the foundation. The downspout discharge must be far enough away from the foundation. Check for soil erosion to determine where the water is directed. Also be sure that the gutters are cleaned out to avoid back up of the drainage system especially after a storm. Sump pumps should also be monitored to ensure good working order.
2. What is the most common mistake that you find home owners unknowingly do poorly or incorrectly which result damage to a home?
Air to air ex-changers should be serviced to avoid buildup of pet hair and dander, those with pets on a monthly basis, and those without on a pet try to do it quarterly. Homes with plenty of carpet will affect this system more as well. Also be sure to check the air intake vent outside, it can easily get dirty and clogged, especially on a new home or area with unfinished landscaping or debris from new development nearby. This can cause for a bit more monitoring and maintenance.
3. Being that we have long and cold winters and extreme weather changes; please tell us your procedure for ice damming prevention?
Proper ventilation is the most critical point to prevent ice damming. 1 ½ Storey Wartime homes typically do not have proper ventilation and the very minimal attic space which do not allow the option to add ventilation. Removing snow from the roof or adding de-icing lines may are solutions to this issue. The solution for bungalow and two storey homes are by having an adequate amount of attic vents, there should be 1 installed for every 300 square feet of attic space.
4. What are the most common hazard and safety issues that you have encountered when completing home inspections that home owners need to pay more attention to?
Electrical, Fire Safety & Carbon Monoxide
For home owners with properties of the 1965-1974 era could have aluminum wiring, if the electrical hasn’t been rewired it is important to have it inspected once every 2 years to eliminate the risk of a fire hazard. Watch for warm light switches and electrical outlets. Make sure to test your smoke detectors monthly, also check your carbon monoxide detectors and ensure there is no discoloration, if that is the case replace them.
Mold & Asbestos
Mold growth can result from a broken exhaust fan, improper air to air settings or no air to air system.
5. Considering we have a gumbo like soil and harsh hot and cold weather conditions in Regina, please give me your thoughts on prevention of foundation damage and what to look for to ensure a home is adequately reinforced?
Proper drainage is the main way to prevent damage to the foundation; this is why it has been referred to as a key form of maintenance to your home. If you have any concerns about the foundation in your home, a Certified Engineers Report must be obtained with instructions on how to repair. Things to watch for when observing bracing is 5” braces as per current code (old code was 4”) they should be spread 4ft apart from each other, and cemented into floor in block, fastened at the top and showing concrete in between the channel and wall.