As a home inspector, I get a chance to see things on a daily basis that will make one think, laugh a little, scratch your head a little, and be amazed quit often! In today’s society, so often home maintenance is an afterthought. Therefor I get to see things that most people do not. Here are a few examples:
As spring weather is approaching, there are chores around the house that need to be completed on a seasonal basis. With spring comes rain, wind, and storms. Follow this checklist to help keep your home in good working order:
Exposed wood siding and trim is susceptible to rot, so look for chipped or cracked paint along the exterior of your home. Scrape off any loose paint, sand the area, prime the bare wood surface, then paint it with a high quality paint.
- Trees and Shrubs
Trim overgrown trees and hedges away from your homes exterior to discourage the growth of mildew and moisture. Do not let branches hang over the roof as this could damaged the shingles.
- Lawn and Garden
Rake up any leaves that can suffocate your grass and stop it from growing. Pull up weeds and dead flowers in the garden and place new mulch.
- Power Wash
Concentrate on removing debris from the driveway, sidewalks, pavers or other outdoor space, and the exterior of your home.
Thoroughly cleaning your gutters every spring and fall will help keep water moving away from the home. Debris can build up and cause damage to your gutters and cause water damage to your roof and soffits. You will also want to make sure the gutters are extended out away from the foundation of the home.
- Sump Pumps Make sure your sump pump is in good working order before the spring rains arrive. Be proactive so you do not have a major flood due to a failing sump pump.
- Filters Change your furnace filter. Make sure to replace your filters on a regular basis. This is also a great time to have your A/C unit cleaned and serviced
- Home Inspection Great time of year to get your home inspected. This will help you determine how your home is operating and find trouble before it causes major damage to the home.
Just like with any home maintenance, make sure to hire a qualified professional if you are unsure about any of these items. New Start Inspections inspector is a Certified Master Inspector. You will be getting the best inspection available. Enjoy the spring weather…..If it ever gets here!
The holiday season can bring dangerous people and situations to your own home. Criminals are looking to turn a quick buck and the holiday are a perfect opportunity for them. As a home inspector, I have intimate knowledge of the inner workings of a home as well as peoples tendencies. I have outlined some small steps to help keep you and your family safe this holiday season.
- Install working motion lights around the home. Position them so windows and doors will be bright.
- Trim bushes and shrubs around windows and doors. This should work with the motion detectors so that criminals cannot hide around your windows and doors
- This next one will sound silly to most, but lock all your doors and windows. You would be surprised to know that the majority of homes I inspect have 1 or more windows left unlocked.
- Leave porch lights on through the night. If you are worried about your energy bill we recommend a new LED light bulb.
- Do not leave window shades open and do not leave expensive belongings in clear view.
- Alert your neighbors or someone you trust when going away for a few days. Have them check in periodically.
- When out, leave the impression that someone is home. Leave a light on a timer, leave a car locked in the driveway.
- Have a monitored alarm system and USE IT! Just having the alarm will not help if it is not armed!
- Make sure all exterior doors are secured with a secondary lock. For a main door this is usually a deadbolt. For a sliding door this could be a slide lock.
- Make sure you have 2 lines of communication in the home. This could be a home phone and a cell phone to dial 911.
Follow these tips to help keep you safe this holiday season. New Start Inspections wishes you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
As the fall season nears, protecting our homes from the cooler weather is an important step in home ownership. With the fall and winter comes more rain and cooler temperatures. Here are 8 maintenance tips that can be completed over the weekend. These tasks will prepare your home for the change of season as well as reduce the chance of needing a major repair.
- Heating System Tune up. For a minimal charge of $80-$100 an HVAC contractor can check your heating system to ensure optimal performance and discover minor problems before they turn into costly major repairs. It is also a great time to change your furnace filter. You may want to consider getting your ducts cleaned as well.
- Roof and Gutters. Gutters clogged with leaves can quickly damage a homes foundation. Clean gutters and make sure they drain completely. Also consider walking the roof to look for leaks or damaged shingles. Only do these tasks if you are comfortable on ladders and working on the roof, otherwise hire a professional.
- Caulking and Paint. Fall is a great time to check for cracked or damaged caulk around your windows and doors. Moisture can quickly leak into these cracks and reek havoc. Any chipped or damaged paint should be scraped, primed, and repainted.
- Downspout Extensions. Make sure your downspouts are extended to move water 4-5 Feet away from the foundation. This is an important step any time but especially the fall and spring as this tends to be the wettest part of the year.
- Trim Landscaping. Trim your bushes and shrubs so they are 1 foot away from the surface of the home. This allows for proper air flow and lets the area dry out. Also clean any leaves and debris from around the foundation.
- Disconnect Water Hose. This will help prevent your water line to the hose from freezing.
- Chimney. Great time of year to call a qualified chimney sweep to clean and inspect your chimney. This could prevent a dangerous and costly repair. Do not light your fireplace without an annual inspection to ensure your safety.
- Crawl Space. We tend to forget about the crawlspace because we hate getting in there. This time of year is a great time to get in the crawl space to make sure there is no trouble. Check your vapor barrier, sump pumps, look for water or insect damage.
Fall is a great time for an annual home inspection. Look to New Start Inspections to inspect your home this fall. We want to help you protect your home as it is your greatest investment.
Preparing your home ahead of the home inspection will make the selling of your home go much more smooth as well as prevent possible delays of your closing date. Follow these tips to speed up the process and get you top dollar for your home.
- Confirm all the utilities are on. This includes water, gas, and electric.
- Make sure any and all pets are secured or removed from the property. If they are left at the home put them in a cage or secured outside giving access to the entire home.
- Test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and replace any dead batteries.
- Replace dirty HVAC air filters and make sure they fit properly.
- Replace burnt out light bulbs as the inspector will not know if the light fixture is defective or just a bad bulb.
- Remove all items from around the electric breaker panel, HVAC equipment, water heater, attic, and crawlspace.
- Remove any wood stored near the foundation as this can be conducive conditions for termites and other wood destroying organisms.
- Make sure inspector has access to any locked areas. This could be Attic doors, garage door locks, or any exterior gates.
- Trim your trees back so the limbs do not hang over the roof. Please hire a professional as this can be difficult and dangerous.
- Repair or replace any items in the home you know to be defective. Examples would be cracked windows, broken door handles, or damaged screens.
Checking these things can be of great value and can reduce the stress of selling your home. New Start Inspections can come out and perform a pre-listing inspection to find any hidden trouble that may be found. This can prevent a delay to your closing or cost you the sale of your home.
New Start Inspections is now a proud participating member of InterNACHI’s buy back Program.
And now for the “fine print”:
- Honored for 90 days after closing.
- Valid for home inspections performed for home buyers by participating InterNACHI members.
- We’ll pay you whatever price you paid for the home.
- Excludes homes with material defects not present at the time of the inspection, or not required to be inspected per InterNACHI’s Residential Standards of Practice.
Louis Annee, CMI
Greenwood, IN. (Jan 2014)–New Start Inspections is pleased to announce that Louis Annee is now credentialed as a Certified Master Inspector (CMI)®, which is the inspection industry’s top professional designation.
The Master Inspector Certification Board has awarded the Certified Master Inspector (CMI)® designation to Mr. Annee for demonstrating the highest level of competency by completing 1,000 fee-paid inspections and/or hours of inspection-related Continuing Education, for having been in the inspection business for at least three years, for abiding by the industry’s toughest Code of Ethics, and for agreeing to periodic background checks.
Mr. Annee wishes to thank his clients and colleagues for their continued support of New Start Inspections.
New Start Inspections has been serving the Central Indiana area for the past 8 Years years, specializing in historic home and new-construction inspections, with an emphasis on energy savings and indoor air quality.
As the weather turns dangerously cold in my neck of the woods, there are some very important things to consider and remember. What if the power goes out. What if you cannot leave the house for days. It is important to be prepared and keep these tips in mind to keep you and your family safe during this cold weather.
1- Set fan on furnace to “on” to circulate air.
2- Pull all curtains and blinds shut in order to keep heat in.
3- Close doors to rooms that are not used, as long as there is not plumbing in them.
5- Make sure heating vents are not covered by furniture etc.
6- Check propane tank to make sure you have plenty of gas, this includes propane grills as you can cook if power loss occurs.
7-Leave cabinet doors under kitchen and bathroom sinks open in extreme cold to help prevent frozen pipes.
8- Avoid overloading electrical circuits with electric heaters, we recommend infrared heaters as they are not a fire hazard .
9- Be careful with fireplaces that haven’t been used or chimneys that have not been cleaned.
10- Make sure your heating equipment has been serviced annually.
11- Block off unused fireplaces, because they can suck the heat out.
12- Stay in contact with family and friends.
13- Set up a plan for shelter if you were to lose power.
14- If you have a generator, make sure it runs and that you have gas.
15- Make sure your cars and trucks are fully fueled.
16- Check on elderly as it is difficult for them during harsh weather
Stay safe and warm during this winter. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me anytime at:
New Start Inspections Corp
This time of year brings families and friends together. We have put together some safety tips to help ensure your holiday season is safe. Happy Holiday and Merry Christmas from New Start Inspections
Use caution with holiday decorations and, whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant and non-combustible materials.
Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials. Do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees.
Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings, and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. If you have any questions about electrical safety, ask an InterNACHI inspector during your next scheduled inspection. Do not overload extension cords.
Don’t mount lights in any way that can damage the cord’s wire insulation. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples–don’t use nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground-fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
- Use caution when climbing ladders. Keep all ladders clear of overhead power lines
Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel and artificial icicles of plastic and non-leaded metals.
Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp and breakable, and keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children.
Avoid trimmings that resemble candy and food that may tempt a young child to put them in his mouth.
Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.
Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays, and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding.(Or set up an ashtray on the porch or patio and ask guests step outside to smoke.)
Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet).
Test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what your fire escape plan is.
- Make sure all walks and driveways are clear of ice and are not slick
When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “fire-resistant.”
When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
Make sure the base is steady so the tree won’t tip over easily.
Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten.
Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
- Keep area around the fireplace clear from gifts, coats and anything flammable
Toys and Ornaments
Purchase appropriate toys for the appropriate age. Some toys designed for older children might be dangerous for younger children.
Electric toys should be UL/FM approved.
- Do not allow small children to play with small toys and parts they could choke on.
Toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings, cords, and parts small enough to be swallowed should not be given to small children.
Place older ornaments and decorations that might be painted with lead paint out of the reach of small children and pets.
Children and Pets
Keep decorations at least 6 inches above the child’s reach.
Avoid using tinsel. It can fall on the floor and a curious child or pet may eat it. This can cause anything from mild distress to death.
Keep any ribbons on gifts and tree ornaments shorter than 7 inches. A child could wrap a longer strand of ribbon around their neck and choke.
Avoid mittens with strings for children. The string can get tangled around the child’s neck and cause them to choke. It is easier to replace a mitten than a child.
Watch children and pets around space heaters or the fireplace. Do not leave a child or pet unattended.
Store scissors and any sharp objects that you use to wrap presents out of your child’s reach.
Inspect wrapped gifts for small decorations, such as candy canes, gingerbread men, and mistletoe berries, all of which are choking hazards.
Use your home burglar alarm system.
If you plan to travel for the holidays, don’t discuss your plans with strangers.
Have a trusted friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home.
- Have exterior motion activated lights and leave your front porch lights on.
- Do not post travel plans on Facebook or other social media sites.
This was written in conjunction with InterNACHI and Louis Annee, CMI with New Start Inspections Corp
What you need for an energy efficient house.
Part 1 – Building and Designing
Building and designing an energy-efficient home that conforms to the many considerations faced by home builders today can be a big challenge. However, any house style can be made to require relatively minimal amounts of energy to heat and cool, and be comfortable and healthy if this is taken into consideration from the start.
It’s easier now to get your architect and builder to use improved designs and construction methods. Even though there are many different design options available, they all have several of the following things in common: a high R-value, tightly sealed thermal envelope; controlled ventilation; and lower than usual heating and cooling bills. Some designs are more expensive to build than others, but none of them need to be extremely expensive to construct. Recent technological improvements in building elements and construction techniques, and heating, ventilation, and cooling systems, allow most modern energy saving ideas to be seamlessly integrated into any type of house design without sacrificing comfort, health, or aesthetics.
The following is a discussion of the major elements of energy-efficient home design and construction
The Thermal Envelope
A “thermal envelope” is everything about the house that serves to shield the living space from the outdoors. It includes the wall and roof assemblies, insulation, windows, doors, finishes, weather- stripping, and air/vapor retarders. Specific items to consider in these areas are described below.
Wall and Roof Assemblies
There are several alternatives to the conventional “stick” (wood stud) framed wall and roof construction now available and growing in popularity. They include:
Optimum Value Engineering (OVE)
This is a method of using wood only where it does the most work, thus reducing costly wood use and saving space for insulation. However, workmanship must be of the highest order since there is very little room for construction errors.
Structural Insulated Panels (SIP)
These are generally plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) sheets laminated to a core of foam board. The foam may be 4 to 8 inches thick. Since the SIP acts as both the framing and the insulation, construction is much faster than OVE or it’s older counterpart “stick-framing.” The quality of construction is often superior too since there are fewer places for workers to make mistakes.
Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF)
These often consist of two layers of extruded foam board (one inside the house and one outside the house) that act as the form for a steel reinforced concrete center. This is the fastest and least likely technique to have construction mistakes. Such buildings are also very strong and easily exceed code requirements for tornado or hurricane prone areas.
An energy-efficient house has much higher insulation R-values than required by most local building codes. It is important to remember that these are minimum standards. For example, a typical house in New York State might have haphazardly installed R-11 fiberglass insulation in the exterior walls and R-19 in the ceiling, and the floors and foundation walls may not be insulated. A similar, but well-designed and constructed house’s insulation levels would be in the range of R-20 to R-30 in the walls (including the foundation) and R-50 and R-70 in the ceilings. Carefully applied fiberglass batt or roll, wet-spray cellulose, or foam insulations will fill wall cavities completely.
Air / Vapor Retarders
These are two things that sometimes can do the same job. How to design and install them depends a great deal on the climate and what method of construction is chosen. No matter where you are building, water vapor condensation is a major threat to the structure of a house. In cold climates, pressure differences can drive warm, moist indoor air into exterior walls and attics. It condenses as it cools. The same can be said for very Southern climates, just in reverse. As the humid outdoor air enters the walls to find cooler wall cavities it condenses into liquid water. This is the main reason why some of the old buildings in the South that have been retrofitted with air conditioners now have mold and rotten wood problems.
Regardless of your climate, it is important to minimize water vapor migration by using a carefully designed thermal envelope and sound construction practices. Any water vapor that does manage to get into the walls or attics must be allowed to get out again. Some construction methods and climates lend themselves to allowing the vapor to flow towards the outdoors. Others are better suited to letting it flow towards the interior so that the house ventilation system can deal with it.
The Airtight Drywall Approach and the Simple CS system are other methods to control air and water vapor movement in a residential building. These systems rely on the nearly airtight installation of sheet materials such as drywall or gypsum board on the interior as the main barrier, and carefully sealed foam board and/or plywood on the exterior.
Foundations and Slabs
Foundation walls and slabs should be at least as well insulated as the living space walls. Uninsulated foundations have a negative impact on home energy use and comfort, especially if the family uses the lower parts of the house as a living space. Also, appliances that supply heat as a by-product, such as domestic hot water heaters, washers, dryers, and freezers, are often located in basements. By carefully insulating the foundation walls and floor of the basement, these appliances can assist in the heating of the house.
The average home loses over 25% of its heat through windows. Since even new modern windows insulate less than a wall, in general an energy-efficient home in heating dominated climates should have few windows on the north, east, and west exposures. A rule-of-thumb is that window area should not exceed 8-9% of the floor area, unless your designer is experienced in passive solar techniques.
In cooling dominated climates, its important to select east, west, and south facing windows with low solar heat gain coefficients (these block solar heat gain). A properly designed roof overhang for south-facing windows is important to avoid overheating in the summer in most areas of the continental United States. Energy Star rated windows or better should be used, according to the Energy Star regional climatic guidelines.
In general, the best sealing windows are awning and casement styles since these often close tighter than sliding types. Metal window frames should be avoided due to the condensation that occurs, especially in cold climates. Always seal the wall air/vapor diffusion retarder tightly around the edges of the window frame to prevent air and water vapor from entering the wall cavities.
A well-constructed thermal envelope requires that insulating and sealing be precise and thorough. Sealing air leaks everywhere in the thermal envelope reduces energy loss significantly. Good air-sealing alone may reduce utility costs by as much as 50% when compared to other houses of the same type and age. Homes built in this way are so energy-efficient that specifying the correct sizing heating/ cooling system can be tricky. Rules-of-thumb system sizing is often inaccurate, due to the difference between an air tight home and an older type construction, resulting in oversizing and wasteful operation.
**More to follow on this topic soon