Pool Maintenance

Well we are all in the middle of summer. A lot of us enjoying the pool with family and friends. The night time cook outs with the kids and just soaking up the sun. Some of us enjoy the pool all year long. While some of us have the use of the pool til September. While we are on inspections we perform the pool inspection for clients. But that unknown fact of maintenance is more important for life long time of the systems. So I wanted to share with you some basic tips to keep the pool dude away and save you some money. So lets begin.

First its important to maintain the pool water area at all times with the right chlorine or salt balance. Too much or too little will affect the water and your skin. If we get a heavy rain for few days it is best to shock the water. This kills off the algae. And yes you have the leaves that we all hate, but they have to be skimmed daily too. But there is a bit more too it then just that. For example, the coping and tile. These areas will receive the abuse from the sun, the water and just usage. It is a good idea to check to make sure the grout is in tact, the coping sealant is not shrinking or ruffled and no loose tiles. This is also easy maintenance items that a home owner can do or the pool dude.

Now lets get into the pump area. It may seem like its a maze but really it isn’t. The time clock if it is analog you want to make sure that the stops are on tightly. That the weather cover is in tact and that the clock is set properly. Nothing like having the pump come on at 3 am.  And here is the mystery math about how long to run the pump. You should run it 1 hour per 10 degrees of outside temperature. So for example if its 90 degrees you should run the pump 9 hours.

Of course we will be gladly to assist you with this or contact your local pool maintenance company. We inspect pools as a primary service in the Clearwater, Ocala, Tampa and Lakeland Florida areas. We will go to other communities as well. http://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com

Thank You.

Door Knob Hardware

I wanted to share with you something that came across us on an inspection about a week ago. Its about the door knob and a bit of preventive maintenance. So, lets begin.

While we were on an inspection in Lutz, Florida we noticed that the door knobs to the home was not engaging the key freely for the front door. Yes, we check the keys as part of the inspection process. When we further continued we noticed that the key was slightly bent and that the lock was aged.  So after documenting that the front door lock and key should be repaired or replaced the locksmith shows up.

The locksmith was there to replace all the exterior door locks do to the property being bank owned. When he was there I asked about any tips on the lock hardware. He basically told me that one, the locks should be lubricated about once every 4 months or so because of the pins and springs in the lock. This is what causes the locks to be tuff to enter the key. Additionally, it was stated that the keys that you get made at the big box stores are a different metal gauge then from the locksmith. Also, the locks with the combination keypad the batteries should be replaced every 6 months.

So from our expert we have now included recommendations and comments about lock hardware in our reports. Its funny that we have a simple device and yet never think that it too needs a bit of preventive maintenance.

In closing I personally want to thank everyone for the continuous support and followers from our blog. It was just about 4 years ago I had decided to follow thru for the training for home inspections. And glad I have.  So for more information about lock hardware or any other type of inspections that we perform in the Tampa, Brooksville, Lakeland or Clearwater Florida area, feel free to go to http://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or call 352-322-2700. And lastly I would like to wish everyone a Very Happy July 4th Holiday.

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Mobile Home Inspections

Well I know its been a while since our last blog. Some family travel and work. So today I wanted to blog about Mobile Home Inspections. And the key point that should be known if you plan on buying one. So lets begin.

A mobile home inspection is similar to a regular home inspection. There are some differences though. For example, they do not have a foundation, they sit on blocks. They normally have a heat pump or an air conditioner with auxiliary heat. And a lot of times the piping for the plumbing maybe PEX instead of CPVC.  Now I am going to get into abit of technical below of what is good and bad and should be upgraded.

Mobile homes have straps to hold the home down incase of bad storms, especially in Florida. The concrete block should be in a shoe or resting on a plate. Older homes will not. The biggest key to the blocks is making shore they do not crack. If cracking is involved in the block then there is some kind of movement. The HVAC system hardly ever has an air handler unit. Its normally one unit outside. Its very important to keep these maintained. The heater part is 3 coils like a toaster with a small fan. The air conditioner part has coils and need to be cleaned to improve air flow.  And now the piping. Years ago manufactures where using polyethylene style pipe. The fittings were faulty and would blow apart. Now not all gray pipe is this style. A newer system has come out and is PEX. The key component to this is making sure the fittings are proper.

Additionally, for a mobile home you may want to consider adding a salt treatment for the water and probably some kind of purification system.  Your roof if it is metal you will want to keep clean and remove debris. You want your inspector to inspect the crawl space fully! And lastly the major difference between a mobile home and a slab style home is the data tag. This is the vin number of the home or side. If it is a double, you have 2. Key reference point to any mobile home inspection.

For more information about mobile home inspections or any other type, feel free to call our office anytime at 352-322-2700. Look us up on the web at www.emeraldinspectionservice.com

We will glad to perform this type of inspection and several others in Mulberry, Hernando, Clearwater and Land O Lakes Florida anytime. Thank You.

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Quarterly Home Maintenance

This weeks blog is about home maintenance when the seasons are about to change. Four times a year there should be certain items that we do for our home to maintain and maybe just check on a few things that we normally forget about. So lets begin.

As we are trying to get out of winter and into spring there are some items that should be checked, changed and maybe repaired. For instance. Most of the country was in a deep freeze. Now is the time to check your windows and screens. Making sure that the window balances or cranks are working. Maybe they need a bit of lubricant. Check the screens. They maybe need to be re-screened. This is an example of a few things.  But below is a more detailed list for you.

Monthly

  • Inspect, and possibly change out HVAC filters. Many experts will say to change the filters monthly, but that’s not always necessary. For smaller families without pets or allergies, you’ll likely be okay changing the filters every 2-3 months. If the filter is dirty, change it out, otherwise inspect it again next month. I’ve also been told by handymen to go with cheaper filters and replace them more often versus going with the expensive filters.
  • Clean kitchen sink disposal. There are a bunch of ways to do this, but the handiest and best all-around solution seems to be vinegar ice cubes. Put some vinegar in an ice tray and let it freeze, then run the ice cubes through the disposal. It freshens it, but as a bonus, ice sharpens the blades. You’re welcome.
  • Clean range hood filters. If you’ve never thought of doing this, you’re in for a real “treat” when you get that filter off the hood to clean it for the first time.
  • Inspect your fire extinguisher(s). We’ll assume you have and know how to use an extinguisher. This inspection doesn’t require much: ensure it has easy access (not being blocked by a garbage can or anything else), that the gauge shows adequate pressure, and that it has no visible signs of wear and tear.

Quarterly

  • Test smoke/carbon dioxide detectors. Another simple task; your detectors should have a “test” button. If the alarm sounds, you’re good to go. If not, replace batteries immediately and test again. If it still doesn’t sound, it’s possible there’s simply corrosion on the battery terminal, and it won’t detect new batteries.  Clean it and try again. If it still doesn’t work, you’ll likely need a new detector.
  • Test garage door auto-reverse feature. In 1993, federal law required all garage doors to have this feature after multiple child deaths. Test every month by placing a 2×4 on the ground where the door would close. It should reverse after a second or so when the door hits the wood. Also test the photo-electric sensors if you have them by placing something in front of them (not your body). If the door doesn’t immediately go back up, you have a problem.
  • Run water and flush toilets in unused spaces. This mostly applies to guest bathrooms, or any other sinks/water sources you don’t use on a regular basis. The idea is to prevent grime or any other kind of build up. Regularly running a little bit of water through will prevent this.
  • Check water softener, add salt if needed. You shouldn’t need to add salt every month, but better to check anyway, as it only takes about 5 seconds.

Biannually

  • Test your water heater’s pressure relief valve. This will prevent mineral and corrosion buildup, which safeguards against leaks. It will also help your heater run more efficiently.
  • Give your house a deep clean. Take one Saturday every six months with your whole family, and give the whole house a proper deep clean. Appliances, windows, dusting every nook and cranny (including the basement), etc. Keeping things clean and not letting dirt/grime/dust build up over years and years will help keep your home in tip-top shape.
  • Replace batteries in smoke/carbon dioxide detectors. I’d never heard this before, actually. I just assumed you changed it out when it started giving you the low battery beeping noise. This tip was in everything we researched, however. With something as important as this, you can’t be too careful, and batteries won’t break your bank. Change ‘em out every six months.
  • Vacuum your refrigerator coils. I actually learned this tip from a refrigerator repairman, and our research confirmed it. The fridge can use up to 15 percent of your home’s total power, so you want it running as efficiently as possible. Over time, the coils get dirty and your fridge requires more juice. You can save up to $100 a year by doing this, and it’s not at all a difficult task.

Annually (Organized by Season)

Spring

Spring is a big month for home maintenance. They don’t call it “Spring Cleaning” for nothing. Especially focus on the exterior of your home as it’s just gone through winter and is preparing for summer heat, and in some parts of the country, brutal humidity.

  • Check the exterior drainage. Will rain water flow away from the house? Puddles should not stand around your home for more than 24 hours. If water stays, or moves toward your foundation, you have a few options. First, check your gutters. It could be a bad spout or a loose connection there; they may also just need cleaning. Second, you can grade the area around your home yourself with some dirt; this has worked just fine for me in the past. Third, for pavement, you can have professionals come out and raise it so it drains away from your home.
  • Clean out gutters. They’ve likely accumulated leaves from the fall and grime/sediment from the winter snows and/or rains.
  • Inspect the exterior of your home. Is any paint chipping? Is any siding damaged from winter? Are there any holes in your brick? Take a close look all around your house, and make any repairs as needed. Also be sure to check the foundation for any cracks. A good silicone/caulk can fix a lot of your problems.
  • Get your air conditioning system ready for summer; consider having it serviced. This one really depends on your individual home, and even which part of the country you live in. Some places mostly just use window air units, while other places (like my home in Colorado) use a big swamp cooler up on the roof — these are fairly basic machines where a quick internet search can help you fix any issues that come up. Also refer to the user guides for specific regular maintenance. Central air is obviously a more complex system. Getting it serviced by a professional should be around $100 or less, and it will save money and headaches down the road.
  • Repair/replace damaged window screens. You don’t want bugs making their way in because you missed a hole in a window screen. And no, duct tape doesn’t count. It can be a quick fix, but don’t leave it for long. It just looks bad.
  • Clear dead plants/shrubs from the house. This could double as a gardening tip, but if you didn’t trim trees or shrubs in the fall, do so now. Plants can weasel their way into cracks and holes on the exterior of your home, causing damage and shortened longevity. Nip that in the bud before it’s an issue. If you have decorative vines on the exterior, pay close attention.
  • Check trees for interference with electric lines. Have professionally trimmed if necessary.
  • Inspect roofing for damage, leaks, etc. Repair as needed; you may need a professional.

Summer

Summer is a great time to focus on the exterior of your home, as well as your lawn and garden. It’s also perfect for having that garage door open and utilizing the prolonged daylight to work on any manly projects you’ve had on the backburner.

  • Check grout in bathrooms, kitchen, etc.; repair as needed. This will prolong the life of your tiled surfaces and just looks better.
  • Inspect plumbing for leaks, clean aerators on faucets. Go around to all your faucets and toilets and check for any small leaks. If you have poor water pressure out of a faucet, the aerator is the likely culprit and it’s an extremely easy fix.
  • Take care of any insect problems you may have. Summer is their playground. You probably won’t have to look too hard to notice any insect problems. Ants, spiders, moths, etc. are all common, and fairly easy to take care of. Keep cobwebs clear, have ant poison handy, make sure all doors are tightly closed, etc. If termites are common in your area, this handy article gives some tips on how you can do some inspection and prevention yourself.
  • Clean and repair deck/patio as needed. It generally just needs a good washing. A deck may also need re-staining. Also check for any loose boards or posts and repair as needed.
  • Clean out window wells of debris. If you have a basement, you also have window wells. All kinds of things can get down in there from leaves, to trash, to animals.
  • Check and clean dryer vent, other exhaust vents to exterior of home. While the dryer is running, check that the exhaust is coming out. It should smell nicely of fresh laundry. If there isn’t much exhaust, check for blockages as well as you can. You may need a professional. Also vacuum the lint from the hose at the dryer.
  • Clean garage. Cleaning the garage should be a summer ritual for every man. Keeping it clean and tidy will extend its life, and it often gets neglected of regular care. With all the extra dust it gets from the manly projects you’re working on, you should actually clean it even more. Once a year, however, give a thorough going-through.

Fall

Fall is an in-between season where you’re finishing up your summer home maintenance tasks as well as getting your home ready for winter. Cold, snow, and rain can do a number to a home, so you don’t want to ignore winter preparation.

  • Flush hot water heater and remove sediment. This prolongs the life of the heater and helps with efficiency as well.
  • Winterize air conditioning systems. Remove and store window units. If you have central air, cover the outside unit with a tarp or plastic sheeting and secure with bungee cords.
  • Get heating system ready for winter. Check for any leaks in windows or doors; these can cost an arm and a leg. Make sure heating vents are open and not blocked by furniture. Get furnace serviced/inspected at least every other year, preferably annually. As with the AC, this shouldn’t be a huge expense. Don’t forget about fireplaces if you have them.
  • Turn off and flush outdoor water faucets. Also flush hoses and store them. Winterize sprinkler systems as well, if you have one.
  • Get chimney cleaned, if you have one. Some folks say to do this in the spring, some say fall. Either way, just make sure it’s done once per year.
  • Test sump pump. You don’t want to wait until you need your sump pump to find out it’s not working.
  • Check driveway/pavement for cracks. Make sure to have re-sealed before winter; water can freeze and expand in the cracks, causing more damage.
  • Buy winter gear. Have sidewalk salt, good shovels, etc. ready for winter. You never know when that first snow will come!

Winter

Winter is the time to go around the interior of your home and check for any little things you may have overlooked, or perhaps noticed and said, “I’ll get to that later.” Winter is your later. If you have any interior honey-do projects, whether it be painting, building shelves, etc., now is a great time to tackle those as well.

  • Regularly check for ice dams and icicles. De-icing cables that sit at the front of
  • the roof work well. Don’t let icicles grow, as much as the kids may want you to. They’re not only a danger to people standing beneath them, but they’re incredibly heavy and can cause damage to your home. They also can cause water damage to your foundation when they  melt.
  • Test your electricity to the extent that you can. Always, always be extra careful when working with electricity. You can do a couple things on your own, though. Check that all outlets work; if they don’t, you can re-wire them on your own. Also, test your GFCI outlets. There are wildly varying opinions on how often to test this. Some say monthly, others say annually.
  • Tighten any handles, knobs, racks, etc. Go through the house and inspect anything that could have a loose screw.
  • Check all locks and deadbolts on your doors and windows. If anything doesn’t work right, replace.
  • Check caulking around showers and bathtubs; repair as needed.
  • Remove showerheads and clean sediment. This prolongs its life and helps with water pressure as well.
  • Deep clean and inspect the basement. Basements are notoriously overlooked, especially if they’re primarily just storage areas. Dust ‘em up, clean any windows, make sure there isn’t mold anywhere, etc. Give your basement a good inspection at least once a year.

Energy Audits

This weeks blog is about energy audits. I am not going to bore you with the formulas used to calculate how your kilowatts used is billed by the electrical company. I am going to excite you to explain how to save money on your electric bill and certain ideas to keep a few pennies in your pocket. So lets begin.

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On a recent inspection in Webster Florida we had a client asking about how to lower the electric bill. The first way is to check the insulation in your attic as heat loss and cold air will be a big factor. But she went on and stated that the insulation was not the problem. What she was referring to was that from one year ago til that day she knew she used less electric as certain appliances and devices weren’t being energized but got the same bill. This is what brought about this blog and how we assisted her to find out what was going on in the home.

There are several types of ways to perform an energy audit. You have the blower door type, you can have assessment from the electrical company to analayize your electric bill then you have what we did. We did an assessment of her kilowatts used in the past 12 months. They usage was about the same per month. However, our client insisted that certain devices and appliances were not being used as she was traveling and turned off certain ones. This is what really brought “the raised eyebrow” If you are being billed a similar amount but using less electric yes the bill should be lower. So here is what we did.

First thing we did was to make sure that the panel box had no double taps. Maybe a neighbor had tapped into their electric box. (Could happen since they are on the exterior.) Then we turned on the appliances. The dishwasher, heat-pump, let hot water in the shower run for 20 minutes so the elements on the new hot-water heater were energized and the well pump was pumping water.  We turned on the oven and stove to assimilate we were cooking. (we did make coffee)  Then had all the lights on with ceiling fans going. And finally lowered the temperatures on the refrigerator and chest freezer to engage the compressors to turn on. Now keep in mind we did check the windows to make sure there was no heat loss. The windows were energy efficient and installed correctly. We even used an infrared camera to determine if there was any difference in temperatures. And for the most part they were fine. So, what is causing this issue.

As the appliances were in full energized mode we went to each one and checked electrical connections, insulation, and checked any electrical components. So first we checked the hot-water tank. That was performing perfectly. Then went down the list of the above mentioned appliances. And here is where it got interesting.

When we checked the loads and amps being used we found 3 aging appliances. We found that the chess freezer was over 12 years old. The gasket on the door was in its bonus life. This could affect the appliance to work more as it is loosing cold air. Then moving forward we checked the fans, the heat-pump and the oven. All working perfectly. So as we are nearing the end of the audit the last appliance we tested was the well pump, faucets and hose bibs. And here is where we found the culprit making the electrical bill high. The hose bibs on the side of the home were dripping. Just enough for the well pump to engage. Then checking the load on the well pump we found that the motor was engaging high amperage. To the point that the breaker did not trip as it was an incorrect breaker installed. The wingdings in the motor were winding faster and drawing more amperage then recommended. And with the incorrect breaker the breaker did not trip. And this would make the electric bill high.

So, in closing we found that that freezer gasket needed to be replaced as this could allow cold air to escape and which would engage the compressor to come on more then it should. The hose bibs were leaking enough for the well pump to engage and the well pump motor using more amperage then it should. Now keep in mind the home owners were traveling so alot of the devices were not energized but the major components were being worked more and defective. This audit assisted the home owner to know how to get the correct repairs and safety devices replaced.

If you feel that your energy bill maybe high let us perform an energy audit on your home. For a minor fee it could save you more then you realize. We perform this type of service in Hernando, Clearwater, Lakeland and Land O Lakes Florida all the time and have helped home owners save on their electric bill. For more information feel free to call us anytime at 352-322-2700 or look us up at http://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com  Thank You.

GFCI Receptacles and Breakers

Our last 2 blogs have been on electrical. Double taps and AFCI circuit breakers. This will be the 3rd part of the electrical. The purpose of these 3 blogs were to show home owners electrical safety, electrical components and how the electrical theory has developed from the knob and tube wiring. So with that said lets begin with GFCI’s.

As we mentioned last week a GFCI receptacle is a device that shuts off an electric power circuit when it detects that current is flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or a person. It is used to reduce the risk of electric shock, which can cause the heart to stop or cause burns. They can also prevent some fires, like when a live wire touches a metal conduit.

And as we mentioned last week the difference between AFCI and GFCI is one is to prevent fires mainly and the other to prevent shock. But with GFCI’s you also may have GFCI breakers. Yes I know, lets add bit more confusion. The main purpose of the GFCI breaker maybe, older homes that have had electrical upgrades. Especially from the 2 prong receptacles. You will see GFCI breakers protecting the kitchen and bathroom receptacles. But you may have a receptacle or ceiling fixture connected to these as well, in an adjoin room. Occassionally during a home inspection a GFCI Receptacle will be installed and installed improperly in a bathroom or kitchen. So it maybe necessary to have the GFCI breaker installed as well. 

So in conclusion. GFCI’s are very effective and a need for the home. However just like any device it has to be installed correctly. This as to not have any open grounds or reverse polarity. So please do not be an expert and think you can add these devices to your home, unless you are trained to do so. To find out more about this, feel free to call us at 352-322-2700. Look us on the web; www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or www.brandonhomeinspectors.com  Thank you all again.

 

 

AFCI Breakers

Good Day Everyone. This weeks blog is about AFCI Breakers. We are going to explain exactly what this type of breaker is and at the end the difference between a regular circuit breaker and a GFCI breaker. So lets begin.

An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) is a type of circuit breaker that breaks the circuit when it detects a dangerous electrical arc in order to prevent electrical fires. An AFCI distinguishes between a harmless arc that occurs incidental to normal operation of switches, plugs, and brushed motors, and an undesirable arc that can occur, for example, in a lamp cord which has a broken conductor. (technical definition)

With today’s electrical code many homes have been upgraded with this device or they are installed for new construction. You will normally see AFCI’s in the living rooms, bedrooms, home office and maybe dinning room. Basically, where there is living occupied space. Where people have basements, there will be AFCI circuits as well. Now do not confuse these with GFCI’s for the kitchen, garage and bathrooms. When detected the AFCI will trip quicker then a normal circuit breaker for that branch circuit. Also when installed you entire branch circuit will be protected from that circuit breaker. The devices are great and an added safety feature for the home. However, the one little downside of this device is the CFL bulbs will occasionally trip the breaker and sometimes the bulbs will not last the life of the manufacture. Alot of electricians will be against the CFL bulbs because of that and additionally, these bulbs in my opinion really don’t save money. They get us away from carbon but I still prefer the traditional incandescent type light bulb.

So, whats the difference between an AFCI and GFCI. Well for one, a GFCI will be used for the wet areas of the home. Kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and in Florida you will see them in garages.  GFCIs prevent shocks, and AFCIs prevent fires. Both should be installed by a qualified electrician to make your home safer.

So in closing, we do not suggest that the home owner or the reader replace the breakers with AFCI or GFCI type breakers. Save that for the professional electrician. However, at Emerald Inspection Service, when performing the electrical inspection, we test both types. Yes, I am sure you have seen the little tester at the box stores for GFCI’s. However for the AFCI’s they are a bit pricier and you will normally not see for retail. Additionally, we also check for heat on the breakers. This is the common sign of the breaker maybe failing.  To find out more about this and all of our other services, that we perform in Tampa, Land O Lakes, Hernando and Clearwater Florida,  go to www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or www.tampahomeinspectors.net  You can call as well at 352-322-2700

Double Taps On Breakers

This weeks blog is about “double taps”. During the inspection process we inspect all electrical panels. There are several reasons why this process is done. And in this blog I am going to share about electrical inspections and electrical safety. So lets begin.

During the inspection process part of the electrical inspection is to inspect the panel box and sub-panel boxes. In Florida, we have with new construction a main breaker at the meter then that feeds to the panel box that maybe in the garage or bedroom. This is nice when a technician has to work on the panel. So while inspecting we check both. A lot of times the main disconnect may have a breaker for outside lighting or the pool equipment. With some homes, they almost use it as the main panel to feed the shed and/or other equipment. However, we also have the double tap as well.

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Some non-experienced workers will run a feed for an exterior circuit to the main electric feeds. Or if there is a small amp circuit for an additional receptacle they will tap off a 20 amp breaker because the panel box is full. Neither are appropriate and are not safe. The entire purpose of the breakers are in-case the amperage is to high the breaker will trip. Imagine operating heavy mechanical equipment that require 30 amps in your bedroom from the circuit that is only 15 amps. The circuit will trip every time and then the eventually cause damage to the main. As so this is true double tapping any other breaker or main. If the panel is full then either a sub-panel is needed or a complete upgrade. Yes it can be costly but it is safer. Now I have seen also where people will install an exterior receptacle and tap it to an appliance breaker. This is not good either. The starting amps for an appliance is going to be within 10% of the breaker allowed amperage. So if there is a tap to the heat-pump for that circuit and the unit comes on as you start up a weed wacker again you could trip the breaker or cause more damage then known.

So whats the solution. When adding additional circuits there is a proper process. Yes you can look on the internet but if you do not know electrical math to gain the resistance and amperage of a said circuit you could really do damage to the homes wiring. When we find these deficiencies we immediately tag the circuit. If the circuit is not energizing any food appliances we suggest to the home owner or agent that we would like to shut off the breaker as it is unsafe.  This deficiency is marked in the report and we usually have to do a return visit to inspect the deficiency being corrected.  By no means is this a deal killer for a transaction but it needs to be attended too.

For more information about electrical inspections and double taps, feel free to call us anytime. 352-322-2700. Or look us up at, www.brandonhomeinspectors.com or www.emeraldinspectionservice.com We perform this type of inspection solely or with a 4 point inspection and general inspection in the Tampa, Hudson, Hernando, and Clermont Florida areas.

Permits

As we are now into the new year, I hope everyone had a great holiday season. This weeks blog is about Permits. Not about home inspectors needing permits, however home inspectors searching for permits on the property they are inspecting. So, lets begin.

Just about every scenario we do, we are always in contact with the local building departments for building permits. At the end of the year a repeat client of ours was purchasing another property. They wanted to know about any open permits since the home had been just recently renovated. So, in our search we found 2 open permits.  Which brings us to this blog.

The work for the permits had been performed correctly. The building department was in error because they did not close the permit. It happens. Now what about other scenarios. For example, there maybe new electrical panel box and no permit. This is always noted on our reports. Or new garage door and opener but no permit. This happens too. So why permits?

A permit is to protect the home owner and government. For example, if the current home owner applies for a permit for finishing a garage area then their is multiple trades involved. Additionally, it protects government because they have a record on the property. If there is ever a bad error then the work can be pointed back to the contractor on record or the building department. Also, if no permit then their maybe repercussions when closing and a property appraiser sees new work that was not properly recorded.  The worst case scenario is a home is about to close and no permit was applied for upgrades and the county records office catches that a new kitchen was installed prior to closing. This will definitely raise a red flag.

So, when you are about to purchase a property or change insurance companies and need an insurance inspection, ask your inspector about permits. It is easy to obtain and we provide this service at no cost to our clients. For more information contact us anytime at 352-322-2700 or www.emeraldinspectionservice.com  Our inspections usually range from Clearwater to Odessa and from Zephyrhills to Hudson Florida areas.

 

Happy New Year 2017

 

A New Year has tiptoed in.
Let’s go forward to meet it.
Let’s welcome the 365 days it brings.
Let’s live well with love in our hearts towards God and all people.
Let’s walk through its corridors with praise songs on our lips.

Happy New Year to everyone and thank you for another great continuous year. Our normal office hours will continue on Monday 02 January 2017. And next weeks blog will continue as well and will be about building permits and how they can affect real-estate closings.

 

 

Happy Holidays

We would like to take this time to wish our followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Word Press, and all other social media sites a Very Happy Seasons Greetings.

Wanted to share a bit of history about the Jolly Man in the Red Suite.

The Santa Claus we all know and love — that big, jolly man in the red suit with a white beard — didn’t always look that way. In fact, many people are surprised to learn that prior to 1931, Santa was depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to a spooky-looking elf. He has donned a bishop’s robe and a Norse huntsman’s animal skin. In fact, when Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper’s Weekly in 1862, Santa was a small elflike figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years, changing the color of his coat from tan to the red he’s known for today.

Thank You all again and Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa.

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Air Quality

This blog goes in accordance with last weeks blog about dirty air vents. The main reason I decided to do a 2 part blog is because of the time of the season. Even in Florida we use the heat occasionally this time of the year. But we some how forget about the vents, filter and outside units. While some of us in different parts of the country are in full heat mode, I am sitting here with shorts and tank at 80 degrees. (Rough Life) So lets begin about Air Quality.

When we talk about air quality in the home or office a lot of things will come to mind. First, we have the air we breathe. This could be at your desk at work, the hobby shop in the backyard shed, or just areas around the home. When we go from different closed environments our senses and possible allergies will be affected. For instance, lets say you are in an office setting and they just turn the chiller on to heat mode due to the chill outside, or you turn your heat on at home. That time they maybe dust in the vents that could cause the allergy affect. So, as we go from season to season there is a few things to think of.

For instance, a lot of us forget about the ducts. It is a good habit to have your ducts cleaned about every 2 years. Yes, the filter gets replaced every 1-3 months and we vacuum the dust around the vents to help. But, the actual dirt still gets in the ducts. And this is true as well with pet dander from the hair. Perfect example, if you the person who lived before you had pets and you turn the ac or heat on you will smell the pet odor that has been absorbed in the home, especially when people are allergic to dogs. (Like me) This will affect the you with the allergies and sneezing. This is a small area of air quality.

Other areas may include having mold in the ducts, dirt, debris and other elements. When there is mold in the insulation it  is due to some type of moisture. Moisture will be drying in the ducts and can cause mold. A lot of us could be allergic to some type of mold. When we do air quality testing this is a common test as well as just dust.  The samples are taking to the lab and the laboratory technician will diagnose the sample. From there a plan of action needs to be placed for removing any mold in the ducts.  Alot of times duct cleaning companies will be able to handle this. It is very important that when people clean ducts they are actually cleaning the duct work and not just spraying an air freshener to the ducts.

So in closing, the ducts need to be on a maintenance schedule as well. If you are experiencing sneezing for example at home or the office but it clears up once you are out of that environment then there is some kind of element affecting your allergies. To learn more about this, feel free to call us at 352-322-2700 or look us up at www.emeraldinspectionservice.com.  As we close this year, we will have 2 blog announcements for Season Greetings.  This will be our last technical blog of the year. We want to wish all our followers a Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

New Home Warranty

This week’s blog is about new home warranty.  When we buy a home after 1 year the builder will conduct an inspection.  So why should you obtain a 3rd party inspection on your home. Well let’s begin.

When we buy new homes, we really don’t think of deficiencies with our home. Then after we buy the home, we really do not think of issues with our home after a year.  However, it happens.

When you buy a new home the Realtor will inform you about the warranty from the builder. Now this is nice. But, they just usually say. The builder has a warranty with the home in case of any small drywall cracks so they can come back and repair.  True but not true. The builder is responsible for everything they did to the home. Small cracks to Windows and doors not functioning properly.  And after you move in, if these deficiencies are not corrected promptly the warranty will expire.

So you maybe curious of how a 3rd party inspector plays in this role.  (me too).

Before the 11 month of new home ownership the builder will want to schedule your appointment to do a walk thru and make a list of deficiencies.  This is when you call a home inspector for the inspection too. Yes you want to compare apples to apples. Remember this is your home.  The builder will not conduct an inspection such as a home inspector.

Once the appointment is made let the home inspector know why you want this. And also let the builder know you are obtaining a 3rd party inspection. Let’s be fair to everyone. The inspector will conduct a normal home inspection. Check every room, roof, appliances, mechanical systems and exterior to report the deficiencies.  Once this report is obtained let the builder know.  They will send an employee out to do an inspection. Compare the two reports. Have the builder agree to the deficiencies to be repaired. Then schedule the appointment for the repairs.  This appointment is crucial for keeping do not miss this appointment as you maybe pushed back weeks and then a simple repair may turn into a major job and cause a conflict between the builder and home owner.

Normally, after the repairs are done there will be one more inspection near your 2 year mark. Alot of times it’s a simple follow up. However, things can occur.  Let the builder know and if you feel you need another inspection, then call the same inspection company.

So in closing the main purpose of this type of inspection is so that you and the builder know that an independent 3rd party inspected the home to report the deficiencies and it’s properly recorded. Most builders will honor the reports and repair the deficiencies.  But just in case a builder will not then you have the report to refer too.

If you like to learn more about our 11 Month Warranty Inspection, go to www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or call us anytime at 352-322-2700. We perform these type of inspections on new homes in Plant City, Tampa, Hernando, and Pinellas Park Florida as well as other areas.

Also, from our Family here at Emerald Inspection Service, we like to wish everyone a Very Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Pool Inspections

This weeks blog is a topic that people in colder environments are not thinking about at this moment. However in Florida we still use our pools. Most home inspection companies will have an ancillary service for pool and spa inspections. At Emerald Inspection Service, we do as well. But provide this service as a main entity as well. So I wanted to make this weeks blog about Pool & Spa inspections and some tips how to maintain the pool areas. So, lets begin.

Pool and spa inspections are some what simple to an experienced inspector. But for a beginner if the inspector is not properly trained and certified the inspection process can be horrific. Some inspectors today are stating to customers, yeah I can look at it for free, but if you want me to thoroughly inspect the pool they recommend a pool service company. This will increase the inspection process and delay the venture more. We don’t believe in that. Its kinda like taking your car for an oil change to one mechanic then going to the tire dealership to rotate the tires and then maybe the electric shop for replacing the headlamp. YUK. Too much confusion and too much cost.  And for a lot of our followers they know and clients we provide the one stop shop. So, pool inspections has a few major components that we inspect and we have listed them below.

You have the main component, the pump. The pump is the back bone of the system. It needs to be free of leaks, running properly, and bonded. If not there will be a deficienicy on the report. The pump will also allow backwashing for the system, This is something that only trained inspectors should test. Main reason is for the fact you could harm the pump or hoses if too much pressure is on the system.

A few other features on the system is the automatic fill for the water level and anti-siphon valves. The auto fill is a mechanism that detects the water level and will fill up the water as needed. The anti-siphon valve allows no pool water back into the main water supply. These are small items that need to be checked for operation as if either element is failed the water could re-enter the plumbing system or overfill the pool.

From there you have the time clock and pool filter. The time clocks have gotten a bit more complex. The original kind was an analog type with an on and off time. The biggest thing was to make sure the time is set, the stops are engaged and moisture barrier is in place to protect the wiring. Some pool timers are digital and may control the heater, pump, and other elements of the pool. Again, the digital type a more experienced inspector will be able to inform their clients. (as we are). Then the pool filter. There are several types, the main one is a cartridge style. On the inspection we do inspect the cartridge. Mainly to make sure its clean, not torn and no debris in the container. The container is usually under a vacuum seal from the water, so if its not open properly the people near by will get a bit wet. Additionally, the pressure guage should be operating and the glass should be clear and present. If not this is a major deficiency. The pressure should be near 22 psi.

Then the pool area should be inspected. The water should be clear, not cloudy or opaque. The pool lamp should illuminate. The tile and grout should be clean and intact. The skimmers should be free of debris. The pool coping should have no cracks as with the decking. If water gets into these areas it could cause major damage. The railing and diving board should be secure, no rust and free of chips or cuts into the surface.

The heaters when present are normally utilized in cooler months. They may service the spa and pool. This is an awesome feature especially here in Florida for the pool or built in spa. Think about it. Thanksgiving is approaching and we are in the pool that day as friends of ours in the north are a bit chilly.  Anyway, the heaters should only be tested when temperatures allow. Some heaters are gas, electric or solar. The gas heaters should have the lines inspected for leaks. The electric heaters should make sure the service cables are proper and grounded. The solar type heaters are self maintain. The panels need to be free of debris and their can not be any leaks on the system. Solar heaters usually are leased and have a warranty with them.

Lastly we get asked alot about stand alone hot tubs. These are great added feature to any home. Yes we inspect them as an ancillary service only. Alot of the same elements as mentioned above are in these units. The biggest componet to inspect is the 20 amp receptacle and make sure its a GFCI outdoor wet area use. Or check to see if its hardwire for 220v because of the heater mainly. The inspection and write up are the same and it again takes an experienced inspector to inspect these.

So in closing, when we have a pool or spa we need to maintain these elements of the pool. A lot of pool companies do offer a service to maintain the chlorine or salt levels and monitor the equipment. The main thing about the pool is keeping it clean, free of leaks on the equipment and water levels adequate for the pumps.  If you have questions about your pool and spa, feel free to call us anytime. 352-322-2700 or look us up on the web, www.emeraldinspectionservice.com/services.html

We gladly will provide pool and spa inspections in Clearwater, Lakeland, Land O Lakes and Hernando Florida as a primary service. We will service other areas as well. Feel free to inquire anytime.

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Appliances

This weeks blog is about appliances. A lot of us are thinking wow, Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays are near. Some of us will travel to friends and family and some will cook for those who visit. (I am cooking). So this weeks blog is about checking the appliances, making sure they are working properly, performing the routine maintenance and if needed scheduling the technician to service. So lets begin.

When we have appliances we take for grant it that we just turn them on and they operate the way they should. We may clean the oven or change the exhaust filter occasionally. But there is a bit more. Below is some items to think about and maybe some preventive maintenance items.

In the kitchen area, for the range/stove top. If you have gas you want to make sure the burners are working properly and all ignited. A lot of times food products and liquids will spill on to them and cause them not to be fully ignited. This could slow cooking time down. Additionally, before cooking that turkey or ham, clean the oven and use a thermometer to check to make sure the cooking temperature is the same as the thermostat. (Keep in mind an allowance of +/- 10 degrees is acceptable) Range hood fans absorb a lot of grease. Clean the range hood including the fan and housing area. Change the filter with a good charcoal filter and not one that is at the dollar store. The dishwasher is also a biggy. Its a good practice to run the dishwasher on a full load cycle with heat dry. Don’t place any dishes in there. And see how the operation is. This also will flush a lot of small items out in the drain. The garbage disposal, is one that once a week, I place old fruit like lemons or oranges in to clean the disposal out. It also makes the sink smell cleaner too.

Now you may think ok, the kitchen I need to attend too. And above is just a few ideas to make sure the appliances are working properly. But now lets think about the other appliances. In home inspection an appliance can be the hot water tank, the washer and dryer or garage door openers. These items need attention too. Depending on the type of item listed above there are some simple maintenance items to help prolong the life of that appliances.

So lets take the hot water heater. The hot water heater if its electric or gas should be cleaned out once a year. In the tank you get calcium deposits from the water source. And they attached to the anode rod or dip tube. (see picture below) Some tanks you may not be able to clean. But you can always drain the tank and flush out the tank with the water supply for a few minutes. (Now if you not comfortable with this, please call a plumber) When doing this, think about the aerators on the faucet. Change them. They are few dollars and it will remove any of those calcium deposits. If you have any type of purification systems check the manufacture for maintenance and changing filters. For example I change the filter on the ice maker on the refrigerator every November.

And lastly the washer and dryer is one that nobody likes to worry about. But did you know that simple monthly maintenance can make the operation life extended into many years. A lot of washer tubs should be wiped out as this is to remove the residue on the tub. Also, occasionally use bleach on a large load selection and just run. This cleans out the filters and pumps. Your dryer will always hold lint. Lint will hold moisture from your clothes. Cleaning the lint filter is one thing. However, cleaning the dryer is another. I recommend at least 2 times a year cleaning the vent out with a vacuum. As this will help with the operation.

So in closing, as you can see this could be an appliance inspection. It is. There are more appliances in your home as well that should be inspected and maintained. We go could go on forever about this but we wanted to give you an idea of a few.  A lot of maintenance items are easy for the home owner. However, we perform these all the time especially for warranty companies and rental properties. We perform these type of inspections in Lutz, Winter Haven, Ocala and Zephyrhills for example. Of course always around the Greater Tampa Florida area. For more information about appliance inspections, call us at 352-322-2700 or look us up at; www.emeraldinspectionservice.com

Lastly, check out our other websites too. http://www.tampahomeinspectors.net and http://www.brandonhomeinspectors.com

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Mobile Home Inspections

Hello everyone. This weeks blog is about mobile home inspections. We did a blog about this a year or so ago and wanted to re-visit this because people have the perception that its not needed. So lets begin.

A mobile home inspection is very similar to our general home inspection. There are a few differences though. First the crawl space has to be inspected. This is a must. In the crawl space you will see a lot of deficiencies guaranteed. For example there will be electrical lines not in conduit. Plumbing pipes will be there, so to see if there is a leak on drain or the main service. My favorite is the main service water line is never insulated. Also you have the vapor barrier. If there was a previous leak a lot of times the vapor barrier will be open and insulation will be dangling.  This is just a small portion of the deficiencies you may find.

Now, you also have the roof and inside that has to be inspected. On double and triple wides you have a “marriage wall”. This is where each portion is tide together. And you wanna make sure there is no leaks. (we use an infrared camera).  So your inspector needs to know where to look and inspect. Also you have a data tag. For mobile homes this is the identification number for each portion. Singles have one tag, doubles have 2 and so on.

Then you have the remaining part of the inspection which is room to room and utilities. A lot of times the panel box inside the home is energized by the main disconnect at the meter. Your main shut-off valve for the water is at the meter but you also have a valve in the crawl space about 6’0 before the water enters the home too.

So you may be thinking OK, this is easy. No its not. A true inspector will have to undergo some extreme conditions to inspect the home properly. Crawl space usually has varmints or water, the roof is hot and need to know where to walk, the main disconnect can have insects inside the box. The reason I mention this is because these are 3 areas of major concern about the mobile home and are usually neglected.

So if you are thinking about buying a mobile or modular home think about these things. You want an experienced inspector that will do, due deligience. We take pride in these type of inspections as this is a major investment for a home owner. We provide mobile home inspections in Clermont, Ocala, Largo, and Winter Haven Florida to name a few communities. We will gladly inspect in the State Of Florida.  Feel free to call us or look us up on the web: 352-322-2700 or www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or www.tampahomeinspectors.net

New Website

I would like to announce a new website. As times change with technology so do we. Our new site is www.tampahomeinspectors.net  

Feel free to check it out. Our original site is still up and running strong. This site is merely a quick information page and will link you to Emerald. Thank You.

Away From Home Inspections

First I wanted to let everyone know that I am near Tampa Florida and Hurricane Mathew had no affect on me. I got just a little rain. So today, I wanted to share about a type of inspection that people hardly have anymore. This type is for when people are away from their homes. So lets begin.

An away from home inspection is the type of inspection to give people that are traveling or part time residents piece of mind about their homes. This type of inspection is very economical and the owner of the property sets the standard. For example. Lets say you are away for work or vacation for 10 days. Emerald Inspection Service can visit the property once or twice and make sure that the home or condo is OK.  Some clients want us to just check the exterior to make sure that there is no broken glass, the landscaper has cut the grass on there scheduled day and to make sure there is no damage to the property.  A more extensive inspection would be for us to enter the property and make sure that the electrical system is operating normal. There were no leaks that occurred and that the HVAC system is operating.

A lot of people do not think about this type of inspection because they fear the cost. Or they may think, I just get a neighbor to keep an eye out. OK, our reply to this is 2 fold. One, the cost starts at $25.00 and second part is what if your neighbor gets sick or has to go out of town un-expectantly. Hiring a professional inspection firm is your best way to know that your property is being watched and you will have total piece of mind.  To inquire about this service or others we do, visit us on the web; www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or call us at 352-322-2700. We gladly perform these inspections in Land O Lakes, Lakeland, Tarpon Springs and Brooksville Florida all the time.

Anti-Siphon Valves

Happy Autumn. Its been few weeks since our last blog. We have had a charity event in Land O Lakes, Florida which we raised $1500.00 for various charities at a rib cook off. So this took a bit of time. So back to the routine. I wanted to blog this week about an inspection that should share some light on things. Anti-siphon valves. What are they and what is the purpose. So lets begin.

An Anti-Siphon valve is a valve that connects to the end of your hose bibs. (Exterior water faucet for garden hose.) Anti-siphon valves can be as simple as a spring-loaded one-way valve which opens when water pressure is applied to it in one direction, but closes and seals when water pressure is applied from the other direction. Now there are many types and manufactures for different purposes of this device. For example automobiles have them now to prevent gasoline theft.

Now the main purpose to installing the anti-siphon valve prevents the water currently resting in the sprinkler systems pipes from being siphoned back into the home where it could be emitted from a faucet and consumed.  Alot of home owners will have one maybe on the hose bib they use to wash the car. But that far side of the house that the hose bib isn’t used may not. This is probably near the pool equipment or rear deck. So here is a thought. What if you are watering flowers and place the hose in soapy water bucket you are using to wipe down the furniture. The water in the bucket is now entering the home’s water supply. Lastly, we usually see near the well pump that the hose bib near there does not have one. We always report that as a deficiency.

This part of our home inspection is for the plumbing section. We always list this as a deficiency and a safety issue. So for more information, please contact us anytime at 352-322-2700 or visit us on the web: http://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com.

Infrared Thermography

If you have been following our feeds on social media, lately we have been posting about infrared thermography. This is not some word we made up for new social media phase. This is actually a technology that some home inspectors will agree on that it is a must needed tool and some will say its a waste of money. We have spent time on research and have found that this gives the client a much clearer reference point and better reporting then using other tools. So this blog will explain a bit more of infrared thermography and why client’s should ask about it. So lets begin.

Infrared technology has been around for several years. The military and medical field has used it for many years. From night vision glasses to examining a limb on the body. The different type of equipment can range from $150.00 to thousands of dollars. But for home inspectors doing a one type reporting few times a week it has to be economical and clearly able to explain to the client of what they are reporting and difference between moisture being present and insulation in the wall. The different type of cameras will go from showing a small moisture area in side the wall cavity, for example to being able to determine heat loss from lack of insulation. The inspector has to be trained and certified in infrared. Without the certification, the inspector has a very expansive gadget and a lot of times may report a finding incorrectly. For example; “Emmittance” which means a measure of how much heat a material will radiate as a material cools down. Or my favorite Thermal Imagery. This term only means that property of an object that describes its ability to absorb and radiate heat. So while doing a spot target picture. The wall may show inside the wall cavity at 115 degrees Fahrenheit. OK, that’s the temperature but where does that figure come from. That is up to the trained inspector to determine.

Its not rocket science to determine these images. The biggest thing is knowing your tools. Some cameras are great for showing if electrical components are going to fail. Some will give more precise detail and there are the ones that will just tell temperature. And here is a thought. Chef’s even use these now instead of the old fashioned temperature probe. So as you can see this technology has been modernized for various types of trades. Keep in mind a chef is not going be able to determine what the factor of a leak is or issues in a wall cavity. Nor is a home inspector using infrared technology determine the diagnosis of a broken arm with the camera as well.

So in closing, why are we adding this service. Several reasons. One we want to be ahead of the competition. Secondly, we want to be able to have a various of avenues of clients that can call on us. A small apartment complex just last week in #Brandon Florida reached out to us because of moisture intrusion. We were able to provide a synopsis and detailed report with clarity to explain the scope of work that should take place to repair this issue.

We provide this type of service as many others throughout the Tampa, Brooksville, Lakeland and Clearwater Florida areas. And many more. This type of service can be added as an ancillary service or as the general purpose of the service. For more information, please visit us on the web at: www.emeraldinspectionservice.com Or call us anytime at; 352-322-2700.

As a footnote, I would like to add to this blog. That 9/11 is upon us. Please take a moment of silence to remember those in New York City, The Pentagon in Virginia and Shankesville Pennsylvania for those who were killed in the horrible terrorist acts. May we never forget that day and may one day we end the fight against terror by defeating our enemies foreign and domestic.

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Tropical Storm Preparedness

As the storms are going to be arriving in the Gulf Area and the Coast on the Atlantic. We wanted to share with our followers some easy tips and helpful reminders. This blog is not to alarm anybody and the weather can change to where some places in Florida may receive a sprinkle of rain and others 5 inches. So, lets begin as you ride the storm out.

Take a walk around the perimeter of the home. Bring in the lawn chairs or stow them securely. If there are items for the pool or the grill is on wheels. You may want to secure them as well. Then take a peek at your gutters and tree branches. If you see debris in them it maybe a good time to remove it. Some flooding can be caused by drainage systems backing up. If you notice any tree limbs that are brushing against the home. Take time to trim them back at-least 18 inches. And finally as a small tip, on items around the home. Make sure that all outdoor receptacles are covered. Lastly, do not park your car under trees, if you can help it.

Now for what we like to call for the preparedness storm box.  First remember when you loose power you have no wifi and tv unless you have a back up generator. So, you may wanna consider a few items to get you thru the storm if you loose power for a couple of hours. For example. Batteries, 2 sets, for 2 flash lights. Candles to be placed in dark rooms like bathrooms. Have a few cases of bottle water. If you are on a well pump. The commode will not flush properly after you loose power. May need to consider a couple of coolers with ice. Depending on how long you loose power. (Normally the food in the refrig is good for few hours.) Then you want to consider charging up any batteries such as for drills or other tools. Now lets go into comfort zone. This may seem funny. But if you have gas or charcoal grills this is your cooking device. Make sure you have plenty on hand. Nothing wrong with a steak as you are watching the storm. Then grab some chips and games. The simple pleasures of keeping your mind occupied will help.

The forecast for the Gulf Coast of Florida looks like heavy rain. So I hope all is well to everyone. Make sure you have on hand all important telephone numbers. And not just speed dial on your phone. Educate yourself with government services such as shelters, hospitals, fire and police stations and their contact information. Your family knows where to go if you get separated and don’t forget about our four legged family either. Have cats and dogs near you and their crates ready to go if you need to evacuate. If you need us or have questions, feel free to call us anytime. 352-322-2700.  If you receive hail and wind damage and your insurance company needs inspections completed, please remember we are certified in Hail & Wind Damage Assessments. We service the Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Hernando County areas immediately.

Rib Cook Off Charity Event

This weeks blog is to announce the charity event that Emerald Inspection Service is co-hosting. Also, the story behind the reason we are doing this event. So, lets begin.

Emerald Inspection Service is co-hosting a Rib Cook-Off for charity on Sunday, 25 September 2016. The time is 1-5. The event will take place at the Land O Lakes Community Center at, 5401 Land O Lakes Blvd. Land O Lakes, FL 34639. The charity we have selected is TAPS. Tragedy Assistance Programs for Survivors. The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) offers compassionate care to all those grieving the death of a loved one serving in our Armed Forces. Since 1994, TAPS has provided comfort and hope 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a national peer support network and connection to grief resources, all at no cost to surviving families and loved ones. Their website is: www.taps.org     for more information about this great charity.

The other Co-Host is James Harris. Great friend of mine and opening up a new commercial mobile kitchen.  Jimmy BoDeans BBQ & Catering. www.jimmybodeansbbq.com   His charity is Paws For Friendship. www.pawsforfriendshipinc.org   Their purpose is; Paws for Friendship commitment to visiting those in nursing homes, hospitals and assisted living centers is paramount. There are 2 other sponsors I also would like to mention. RGA, www.rganetwork.net and Pasco Home Remodeling & Repair. www.pascoremodel.com

The winner of the cook-off will have 50% of the proceeds donated to their charity. As other cookers are on board the other 50% will be donated and split equally to their charities.

So in closing I would like to let everyone know how this event came about. About a month ago I was asked to cook ribs for a cookout at a friends house. It had been about a year or so since I did this. With the help of a friend of mine, the ribs were slow cooked and the taste was delicious. As James saw the pictures of the event on Facebook, there was a bit of talking going back and forth about ribs. So, I initiated the challenge. With that it was going to be a small party at my house and from there with the guidance of RGA it formed an official event. If you like to make a donation, please call or email us. 352-322-2700 or info@emeraldinspectionservice.com Please see flyer link below.

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Happy 3rd Anniversary

Wanna share the story of how Emerald Inspection Service, LLC came to life. About this time 3 years ago, Emerald Inspection Service, LLC was born. Emerald Inspection Service was born in Columbia Maryland originally. In Maryland I was in class for education hours for home inspection. During this process it was an exhilarated course. 7 days a week 10 hours per day. During this time we had mock inspections, learning different mechanical systems, new technology in the homes and administrative and legal as well.  Once I completed the course and passed I was certified with American Home Inspectors Training Institute. However that was not licensing.  The next step was to take what I learned and prepare for my test. I found out that Maryland accepts the National Certification Of Home Inspectors test. This also allows me to work in other states as well without taking another state test. Different states may require additional education hours, such as Florida.  Once I passed the test, I was legally in business.

In February of 2014, I received my Florida Home Inspectors License. Now moving to Florida, I learned that Florida required about 40 more educational hours. Being the aggressor that I am. I enrolled in about 120 more hours. This giving full course credit from #AHIT. Since then, I have completed other courses as well to stay up on industry standards and license requirement.

Moving forward into our new year, Emerald Inspection Service has serviced over 200 clients in MD and FL. We provide certified floor consulting, 203k consulting, construction inspections for contractor or the home owner, and radon testing just to name a few. We offer warranty service with our inspections and this has expanded to termite warranty. Our normal service coverage area ranges from #Hernando to #Sarasota. And from #Clearwater to #Clermont Florida.

So in closing I would like to thank the clients and referral partners that have helped us get where we are today.  Alot of people have asked why then name Emerald Inspection Service? Well in short, the Emerald is the stone of prophecy. The stone can keep the worrier calm and bring to reason. So at Emerald Inspection Service, there is no reason to worry about your next property inspection service. Which is why our slogan, Quality Inspections With Clarity! Again, Thank You!

New Home Construction Inspections

This weeks blog is a bit late but is more organic and about an actual occurrence that happened the past weekend.  A good friend of mine is buying their first home in the Riverview Florida area. In the north we call them town homes down in the south they are refereed to as villas. The name description of your new home is what they use wording according to the area.

I was asked to inspect their home. When I saw that it will be a built up stucco home for the second level, I took note to the outside sheathing. Additionally while inspecting the interior we noticed framing deficiencies in rooms over 6 inches. This is huge. The potential home owner can not be at site during construction in all phases. But when a small villa is to be built, it needs to be built by the specifications of the blue prints.

When building a home you have stages and yes you have rain delays in any type of construction. However, your General Contractor  should have a representative to coordinate daily construction activity and know typical deficiencies about the sub contractors. When I went to inspect the home, I found that the sheathing on the top floor has brown wood, turned edges and additionally the window wells are not covered for moisture.  Brown wood refers to a pieces of sheathing that is over weathered and should not be used, as it is has gathered extreme moisture in that pieces. The turn edges reflect that the corners that the ends have moisture entered the ends of the sheathing and needs to be replaced. These are items that should be addressed to the builder or general contractor to replace these deficiencies. Also, a home inspector should inspect the final product. A true home inspector will use their tools in the tool box to make sure moisture is not irreverent in the home.

We can do these type of inspections and we are working to gather our building inspection certificate with State of Florida. We will gladly perform this inspection from Clearwater and Sarasota to Orlando and Hudson.  To find out more contact us at 352-322-2700 or get us on the web; www.emeraldinspectionservice.com  Thank You.

Electrical Inspections

This weeks blog is about inspecting the electrical systems in the home. Now when I mention about this remember you have low voltage systems as some home still have outside lighting or be apart of the intercom, alarm panel and security systems, and then the main electric panel and circuits. So lets begin about our process and why this is a main entity in any inspection and has been a stand alone service as well. So lets begin.

Lets talk about the electric panel and circuits first. Every home is going to have a service entry cable coming from the pole. Some newer homes are underground buried in conduit that is connected to the meter on the side of the home. This is becoming more common now especially with wind and heavy rain storms. It is a lot safer and in time more economical for utility companies. However, you do have the overhead type as well. This goes to a mass head that is fed to the meter from the roof or side of the home. The biggest part of this is that their is enough clearance and a rain loop on the wires so water does not drip on the wires going into the conduit. Also you do not want tree branches near the service cable either. Now in the panel box newer systems are using copper multi-stranded wire instead of aluminum. Aluminum is fine as long as its not used for the branch circuits. Additionally, an oxidizing agent needs to be applied to the wires to maintain them so rust does not appear on the wires over time.

The branch circuits in the home start at the panel box. You have a breaker that will control usually up to 6-8 receptacles and or switches. For example you may have one breaker that controls receptacles in the living room but will control the bedroom adjacent to it. Normally circuits in each room there is one light or device on another circuit so the room does not go completely dark if the breaker trips. Alot of times when we are inspecting the circuits, some will have an AFCI breaker and we usually test them with our tester. This is a different type of tester then GFCI. We also test them in the kitchen and bathrooms. When we are inspecting we find alot of open grounds, reverse polarity or my favorite the hot and neutral are reversed. This is not an alarm to kill a deal. It just means an electrician needs to repair it properly. Also, another of my favorite is the ground slot usually is broken on the receptacle. This comes from pulling the plug from a device. This should be replaced too.

So, lets touch base on the low voltage systems. These have been becoming more popular in newer homes. Alot of homes are being pre-wired for internet, cable, intercom, sprinkler and some for outside lighting. All of these have a transformer. Even the thermostat on the wall has low voltage. Alot of inspectors do not inspect these. We do. We need to know in advance but we do. Here is why. Lets say the outside lighting is not working properly. The receptacle on that branch circuit is ok. But if the transformer is bad or bad wiring to these lights its just as much as a hazard as it is for an open ground on the branch circuits in the home. Same with the sprinkler system. Again, low voltage but you want to make sure the sprinkler heads are installed in proper place as to not rust out the housing on an ac unit or cause damage to windows.

So in closing when we are performing these type of inspections we give a complete, prompt, and accurate report. Not just a one line item. We have performed #electrical and #low voltage system inspections from #Largo to #Lakeland, from #Hudson to #Howey In The Hills Florida. Additionally this is part of the 4 point inspection process as well. For more information about electrical inspections and other services Emerald Inspection Service can provide, please call us anytime at 352-322-2700 or visit our website; www.emeraldinspectionservice.com

Concrete Scanning

We are proud to announce that we offer concrete scanning as one of our new services. So you may think ok why do I need the concrete scanned. Well down here a lot of pipes are underground and same with wires.  By hiring us we can pin point exactly where a wire, pipe or other objects are. You do not want to take a chance of redoing some ones home and hit a wire or pipe.  But that’s not the only reason. Say for example you are working on a home and some of the concrete, whether it be a slab or driveway, needs to be repaired. So you use a demo hammer and not knowing touch a wire and you become the ground.

So to find out more about this service we will be doing a live demonstration at the summer expo in Largo FL. Or call our office 352-322-2700 anytime. We perform this and other services throughout Florida. For example; Clearwater, Tampa, Clermont, and Hudson.

Inspecting Older Homes

We get asked a lot about inspecting older homes. There are several older homes in St. Petersburg, Dade City, Sebring and Brooksville, Florida that we inspect all the time. Age wise, an older home is about 20 or more years in age. When performing a home inspection, the inspector should have knowledge of systems in that era. For example, back then people were upgrading the panel box from 60 to 100 amp breaker panel. Now days it common to see 150 or even 200 amp service for a home. But what if it is an older home and not been upgraded. Is it a bad property. NO. The trained inspector is going to see how the house is. Yes, the appliances maybe aged or the windows are not energy efficient. But certain items can be upgraded and at the same time, they may not need to be.

If an older home has systems in place from 20 or more years the inspector should take extra time to see how that system is performing. For example, the range maybe aged, but is working just like a new one. To me there is nothing wrong with it, other then its not a stainless new one. Alot of people who bought homes back then, might had bought to down size or start over by themselves. You may had a couple that is just them, no kids. So there isn’t computers, hair dryers and other stuff on all the time. Just like water heaters, I have seen some that have gone into the bonus life way beyond the warranty. That is something that should be monitored but if there is no rust or the seams are not leaking then hey, leave it be until there is an issue.

So, when purchasing an older home, make sure that the home has been well maintained and understand how the people lived. Sure you may need to upgrade certain elements in the home for either more modernization or for your life style. But the biggest thing is making sure the inspector is experienced with inspecting those type of properties. For more information on this and other services, visit; www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or call us anytime at 352-322-2700 or 844-RADON-40. And Have A Happy & Safe 4th of July.

Working With The Realtor

Good Morning Everyone. Its been a bit since our last blog. But with vacation and family issues back north, I had to put off the blog for a bit. So this weeks blog is about working with the Realtor. Its important that the buyer, seller, home inspector, finance company, title company, pest contractor, and all other parties have a working relationship that helps the sale go smoothly. So lets begin.

Normally, the buyer agent will be a key person in the real estate transaction. That person will be managing appointments with several individuals. The process literally starts from the time the offer is accepted to the buyers being qualified. I know for a fact alot of Realtors will not even talk to you unless its a cash sale or you are already qualified by a lender. The term pre-qualified is really not qualified. They just look over your tax records and make sure you can afford a certain bracket.  Anyway, the home inspection, pest inspection and certain testing should be done all coordinated at one time. Certain home inspection companies can coordinate this. For example on our inspections we work closely with a pest company. We perform the pool inspection. We also can perform the well testing, radon monitoring and insurance inspections.

The seller agent also will take notice of how the transaction can go smoothly. For example, if they are alot of issues with the transaction, the seller may pull out of the deal. Mainly because the agent will know the house can be sold just not to that person. Also, agents are now looking for a one stop shop. If a home inspection company can take care of alot of the process instead of multiple people, this eases the stress on all parties.

So the next time somebody is about to purchase a home. Look at the steps that it takes from qualifying to closing. If you can combine the process in some of them, this will make it easier for everybody. We perform this style of inspections in Wesley Chapel, Tampa, Clearwater, and Hernando Florida all the time. For more information, visit our website: www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or call us anytime, 352-322-2700. Thank You.

4 Point Inspections

This weeks blog is about 4 point inspections. The purpose of 4 point inspections and some tricky sales gimmicks of other companies that inflate the inspection process. So lets begin.

A “Four-Point Inspection” is an inspection catered to the insurance companies. With this type of inspection an insurance carrier does not want to go thru 50 plus pages of a home inspection report. There is a lot of software out there and all is different reporting styles when it comes to the actual 4 points.

The 4 Points inspected are: Roof, Electrical, Plumbing, and HVAC. So for example, the roof is inspected to make sure no leaks, no turn shingles and also no condensation in the attic. The electrical has to be in good working order. This means the panel box has no double taps, no over heated breakers and that if aluminum multi-strand wire, the wire has an oxidizing agent applied to the wire. When the plumbing is inspected there can not be any leaks under sinks, hot water heater is in good working order, no corrosion on pipes and if a well is on premise the well pump and filtration system is in good working order.

Lastly, is the HVAC system. Here in Florida, a lot of times we will see heat pumps. This is your a/c and heat. The air handler unit is usually in the garage or the attic. We check to make sure the system is performing properly. No burnt wires inside the housing, the coils are cleaned on the units, drip pans are not clogged, the disconnects to the units work properly and the thermostat is working properly. I usually check the ambient temperature to compare to the outside. Keep in mind that the a/c can not be checked if the outside temperature is below 60 degrees. This may cause damage to the compressor and other components of the system.

So above is the inspection points of the Four Point Inspection. The inspector also, has to check with the local government building department for permits on the home, for the 4 Points.

Now lets briefly discuss why insurance companies require them. First of all, any home over 25 years old the systems may start to enter the bonus life of the system. For example, if a hot water heater is over 15years of age. Its time to replace or really start to budget for that item. So the insurance carrier wants to see if there are any updates been done to the home. The 4 Point Inspection is not to be considered a full general inspection, nor is it never to be. The reporting for the 4 Point is on insurance dedicated forms. For example, “Citizens Insurance”, ” Tower Hill” or “State Farm” insurance.

In closing a lot of home inspection companies will offer this service as an ancillary service with the home inspection, only. We offer this service as a full service for our clients. And you may here from time to time catch phrases during the inspection process of 7 points, 21 points, etc. Pay no attention to them. At Emerald Inspection Service, you have your 4 Point Inspection, our self generated 5 Point Inspection which is for mobile homes and investors only, and the General Inspection. We perform these type of inspections from Sebring to Hernando. From Saint Petersburg to Sumterville Florida within a 24-36 hour time frame. For more information about #4PointInspections  go to our website: https://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com/4-point-inspections.html

Or call us anytime, 352-322-2700 or 844 RADON 40.

4PointInspector

Wind Mitigation Inspections

This weeks blog is about wind mitigation inspections. For some in certain places of the country, you do not have this type of inspection. However in the south, Florida, we do. So I want to share with you about how to save money on your insurance and what is actually performed during the inspection process. We perform these type of inspections in Citrus, Hernando, Sumter, Hillsborough, Polk, Pinellas and Pasco Counties of Florida normally within a day notice. We use the Citizens Insurance Reporting Form. There are others that we use but this is the most popular reporting form.

So lets begin. A wind mitigation or wind-borne inspection is a process where the home inspector will inspect the roof for any shingles that may be loose, separated or torn. Additionally check the ridge vent and valleys for defects. Also the inspector has to determine the roof style for the report.  And then the skylights. The sky lights will have a rating on there if its rated for hurricane winds.

Secondly, the inspection process is to check to see if there any shutters that maybe attached to any windows. These type of shutters are metal shutters that cover the window or patio door in case of hurricane winds. These type of shutters have a rating that can be used to determine what the shutter can sustain in case of an object being flown and impacts the shutter. This is not the shutter that attaches to the home next to the window or the wood style that close. While inspecting for any shutters, the inspector additionally inspects the glass. The glass if it has sticker that states, Brovard County or Miami-Dade rated then this is additional discount. This is also if you are going to update the windows get the rating for this, to save money on the home owners insurance. After this, then the inspector checks to see if there is any glass block. Some older style homes will have glass block maybe for crawl spaces, bathrooms or part of the wall that allows light thru in a sun room for example. There are different ratings for glass block but also a great idea to have shutters for these as well.

Thirdly, the inspection process continues if there to check the garage door. The garage door normally has a style of missile bracing on the inside of the door. This is to protect the interior. Not necessary the door. Missile bracing is referred to if a small limb or tree is being blown around. Normal garage doors are thin metal and an object flying around can be a missile and go thru the door.

Then the process continues to the attic. My favorite part on a hot summer afternoon. (no seriously) So in the attic, the inspector will measure the distance and determine what the lenght of the nails are for the sheathing. A good rating is usually 8D and about 2 1/2 inches in depth of the framing member. The inspector will also check to see what type of type downs there are. For example, the trusses or rafters may have wraps, or straps. There maybe clips holding framing members to a main roof structure. Then on a lot of newer homes there are bolts that go from the foundation to the top plate of the wall. And of course inspect the framing members to make sure no cracked or split joists. And to check for any moisture or leaks on the sheathing.

Once this process is complete, the inspector has to check with the local municipality to check for any permits when the roof was either installed or re-roofed. Without a permit or any roof information this could be a deterrent to getting any credits for the roof.

So in closing having a wind mitigation inspection could save approximately 10-40% off your home owners insurance premium. At Emerald Inspection Service we can schedule these within 24 hours if you live in or near the areas of  Tampa, Clearwater, Brooksville, Polk City Florida.  For more information check out our website link on wind mitigation at https://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com/wind-mitigation.html

Or feel free to call us anytime at 352-322-2700 Thank You.

Wind-Mitigation

Water Testing

This weeks blog is about water testing. Water testing is crucial whether you are living in a community that has public water or you have a private well. We will discuss a few different aspects of why it is important to test the water.

In real-estate transactions a lot of lenders will require the future home owner to obtain a water test when the property has a private well.  This maybe for FHA/VA funding. When performing the test there are 3 parts. We test for bacteria, lead and nitrates. The test capsules are rushed to a lab for next day early am delivery. Our lab that we use we have the results within 48-72 hours.  We review the report with our clients then send it immediately to  the client. Sometimes the lab report will come back with a fail for one of the tests. Does this mean the well is not suitable for drinking water. No. Alot of times it could be minor maintenance and updates needed for the drinking water to be safe. A well is just like any other part of the home. It has components that need to be maintained. This is one area that is a lot of times forgotten about in a home. So you may ask, I have been in my home for a while, should I get mine tested. The answer to that question is yes. If you can not remember the last test results it would be recommended just for simple knowledge that the drinking water is safe.

Now lets talk about, if you have public water. Alot of home owners have invested in a small purification system for water at the kitchen sink. But lets think about that. We may drink the water from bathroom sinks, shower or the refrigerator that has the ice maker. Some may have built in filters that needs to be changed periodically. But is the water coming into that filter safe. It may sound odd but the water traveling thru the pipes may or may not be safe even though it is from a public source. Like the city or a big water tower for the community. As mentioned in the previous paragraph the test is 3 parts. Lead is part of that. Plumbers can not use lead solder on water pipes anymore. As said, lead is part of that test. So it would make sense for piece of mind to have the water tested as well. As the water maybe safe from the source. The travel that it has to go thru may not. The after market filters also have to be changed periodically and the aerators as well. It should be a semi to quarterly idea on home maintenance to change your aerators. Next time remove the aerator from the bathroom sink and you will see debris in the screens of the aerators.

Lastly, in a commercial setting the water should be tested too. To protect the staff of the office. I just found out this week, especially in Hillsborough County, that for day care providers they need the water tested quarterly under health regulations by State of Florida. So in closing, if the State of Florida wants water tested on a routine basis, it maybe a great idea to have the water tested for your home as well.

At Emerald Inspection Service, we do water testing as part of our regular services and schedule this type of service rather quickly. We perform this type of service in a 48 hour time frame in Pasco, Hillsborough, Hernando, and Pinellas Counties. We can perform this in other areas as well. To learn more contact our office at 352-322-2700 or visit our website www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or the EPA page,

http://www.epa.gov/learn-issues/water-resources#drinking-water

 

 

Insulation and Ventilation

No matter what part of the country you are in, this is winter season. Some of us in the North are experiencing freezing temperatures as the high. Where some of us in the South are experiencing mild temperatures in the 60’s. No matter where you are at, your attic, crawl space, basement, and ventilation systems should be proper. This weeks blog will discuss this topic in detail.

So, lets begin. For home owners that have a basement this area will get cold first. Its usually best to have the area set at a comfortable temperature when not in use. If its un-finished, then it maybe best to put a couple of heat lamps in the lights and have on at night. This is an inexpensive way to keep the chill from coming up into the living areas.

For those of us, who have crawl spaces with vents. Close the vents in the block. This will help keep the wind and cold from entering the area. If you have the ability to have lights in there, heat lamps at night also will help. Especially, if you have tile floors. The warmth will help keep the tile a bit warm and not that chill at 6am.

Alot of people think that closing the soffit vents in winter will help keep the house warm in the attic. As this may help the attic stay warm this will also hurt the roof. The attic is your main area for heat to escape. Yes even in winter. I recommend to make sure the soffit is not restricted so the air can enter and leave the home freely. I would recommend closing the gable vents though. This will help with the chill at night or if you live in the north the snow coming in.

Lastly, the insulation. Alot of people think oh. Let me just add more R-30 to the attic. Or I will insulate the rafters. Before doing that, check with a contractor. Over insulating an area is more harmful then no insulation. For example, if you have cellulose in the attic. There is a proper depth for the insulation. The insulation should be at that depth and not walked on. Insulating the rafters unless approved by a GC is sometimes harmful and will make the shingles sweat and per-maturely age them.  However, adding insulation to the floor joists in the basement area is an economical way of keeping the chill from entering the living areas.

The purpose of this blog, is that soon homes will need energy audits. By following some few tips to help with the keeping the energy bill low will additionally help you with the audit. We are in the process of obtaining the certification. For more information, visit us at; www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or call us anytime. 352-322-2700. We will be happy to perform an attic or crawl space inspection anywhere in Florida. We typically can perform this with a quick turn around in Tampa, Ocala, Clearwater and Polk City Florida.

203K Construction Loans

First my apology for not blogging in awhile. Traveling and a bit of sickness from travel has put me bit behind. This weeks blog is about 203K Loans. What are they, are they right for you and can anyone obtain one. To start out, a 203K loan is a construction loan based on the appraised value after the repairs. This type of loan is funded by FHA. Below is a detailed preview of 203K loans.

The 203(k) program can be used in one of three ways with one-to-four unit dwellings:

  • To purchase the dwelling and the land and then rehabilitate it
  • To purchase the dwelling and move it to another mortgaged property and then rehabilitate it
  • To refinance the borrower’s existing mortgage and then rehabilitate the dwelling

FHA 203(k) loans are available in two types:

  1. The Standard 203(k) (sometimes referred to as the Consultant K or Original K) is intended for more complicated projects that involve structural changes such as room additions, exterior grading and landscaping, or renovation that would prohibit you from occupying the residence. A Standard 203(k) is also used if your project requires engineering or architectural drawings and inspections. Under this program a single family property may be converted into a two-, three- or four-unit dwelling or vice versa so long as the owner occupies one of the units.
  2. The Streamlined 203(k) is designed for less extensive improvements and for projects that will not exceed a total of $35,000 in renovation and related expenses. This version does not require the use of a consultant, architect, and engineer or as many inspections as the Standard 203(k). As a result, when applicable, the Streamlined 203(k) generally becomes the simpler, less costly option.

Once the home buyer finds a property to purchase, the process of obtaining a loan insured under the provisions of the 203(k) program begins in earnest. The mortgage must be the first lien on the property being improved.

The maximum mortgage amount allowable under the 203(k) program is the lesser of:

  1. The as-is value or the purchase price of the property before rehabilitation, whichever is less, plus the estimated cost of rehabilitation, or
  2. 110 percent of the after-improved value of the property.

FHA 203k Features and Benefits

  • Only a 3.5% down payment is required, which can be gifted by family members
  • More flexible qualification requirements allow buyers with less than perfect credit to purchase a home at competitive rates
  • A single loan for the purchase and improvement of the home means only one loan application and one set of closing costs – saving both time and money
  • Can be used for either a purchase or refinance along with renovation costs
  • 15 and 30 year loans are available
  • Interest rates can be variable or fixed
  • FHA loans are assumable with no prepayment penalties
  • An FHA Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) allows the borrower to qualify for a larger mortgage to add improvements that will lower utility expenses
  • Can be used for a variety of improvements from the most simple to very complex
  • Renovation costs are wrapped into the mortgage, allowing the borrower to pay for the improvements over time at a much lower interest rate than conventional alternatives
  • Rather than paying a premium for a home in “perfect” condition, buyers can take advantage of discounted prices available on foreclosures or other homes on the market that are in need of repair or remodeling
  • Instead of paying for a previous owner’s improvements, 203(k) allows the buyer to renovate the home adding the features, colors, styles, etc. that suit their tastes and needs
  • Using the program could allow a buyer to purchase more home for the money in a more desirable location

Qualifying Home Buyers

To qualify as a home buyer under the FHA 203(k) program requires that the buyer:

  • Is purchasing a property that is eligible for the program
  • Is purchasing a property in need of at least $5,000 in rehabilitation
  • Earns enough income in order to make the monthly mortgage payments
  • Applies through an approved FHA lender

Qualifying Home Owners

In addition to the purchase of a home, the FHA 203(k) program is also available to homeowners who want to refinance their principal residence, consolidating all existing loans and have funds available for renovation purposes at the same time.

The FHA 203(k) program allows the homeowner to:

  • Refinance existing mortgages and wrap them into one loan that also allocates funds to cover renovation costs
  • To borrow up to 97.75 percent of the after-completed value of the property
  • 30 year fixed or adjustable rate loans available
  • All closing costs can be included into the new loan
  • Qualify with a minimum credit score of 640 (some lenders will allow a score of 620)

At Emerald Inspection Service, we are an approved 203K Consultant firm. We perform draw inspections for the home owner and contractor to make sure the work is complete. If its a streamlined loan, we will perform the minimal property standard (MPS) then complete what is called a project analysis. Now keep in mind the MPS is not a general home inspection, nor are they similar.

So if you are considering of refinancing your home to do repairs or purchase a property that needs some updating, this program may be for you. We perform these type of inspections throughout Florida. But we concentrate typically in the Tampa, Orlando, Hernando and Sarasota areas and within. For more information, contact us anytime at 352-322-2700 or check out our website: www.emeraldinspectionservice.com

 

New Year New Homes

First Emerald Inspection Service, we like to wish everyone a Happy New Year.  Now for this weeks blog, we are going to talk about new home inspections. A new home inspection can be very crucial prior to closing. Having an inspection report to give to the builder is piece of mind for you and your family.

So, first thought maybe well its a new home. Why do I need this. Or everything should be perfect the builder would not let anything go. Well as your new home may look perfect there could be small deficiencies that can add up to having the home in need of those minor repairs.  Now our inspection report for a new home or a home that is 20 years old the report and the inspection process is the same.  However, we inspect a little more to detail, elements that could be over looked.

For example, all tile grout should be sealed 24 hours after its installed. The sealant is to resist any color fading or if any spills occur to prevent discoloring. Another element, is we inspect all the appliances. We operate the dishwasher for a full cycle to make sure that all cycles, cycle in the dishwasher. Also, one deficiency we always see is the irrigation system is installed because some of the heads are to close to the heat pump.

These are just a few things we see on new homes. With our report, you can always provide the report to the builder so they may correct any deficiencies. It is important that you have the builder acknowledge and repair the deficiencies prior to closing. We perform these type of inspections in Plant City, Tampa, and St. Pete all the time but will go anywhere to perform these inspections. For more information, go to our website; http://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or call 352-322-2700.

Christmas Tree and Holiday Lighting

As we approach the holiday season we are probably putting the finishing touches of our decorations inside and outside our home. As with some of us, we maybe travelling as well. So this weeks blog is about the lights that we may be having decorated our home and the Christmas tree lights.

When we are installing festive lights on the exterior of the house, you want to make sure that the lights are for exterior use. These type of lights have a thicker insulator on the wire then inside lights. Additionally, the lights should be connected to a receptacle that is GFCI or the branch circuit is GFCI by the breaker. Now don’t worry you can buy a GFCI adapter to plug into the exterior receptacle, if you don’t have them.  Additionally any extension cords should be for exterior use and of quality heavy durability. Do not use interior light weight type of extension cords. They can be affected by weather and could be hazard from the weather.

Now for the Christmas tree. Believe it or not if you have a live tree you have water near electric. The receptacle is probably not going to be GFCI protected. So, you should have an adapter to plug in the lights that is GFCI then that plugs into the receptacle. Also, keep an eye on the tree. The tree will loose needles as it drys out. This maybe a time to undecorate when you start seeing alot of needles dropping.

These are just a few ideas to help you with decorating that will make sure that the lights and tree are safe. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Lead Paint

First I would like to take this time to let everyone know its been awhile since our last blog. We have opened new office and just about settled. So this weeks blog is about Lead Paint Inspections and Testing.

If you are buying, selling or living in a home that was constructed prior 1978, you may have lead paint on the structures of the home. Now having lead paint can be safe, as long as its contained, not chipping, peeling, cracking or flaking. Lead Paint was used in the 60-70’s for homes. The EPA had banned the paint in 1978 due to home owners getting poisoned by the paint and dust.

During the 1980’s and 90’s alot of companies where abating lead paint and would cost thousands. Then thru regulation and technology, some where encapping the surface with a drywall overlay, wrapping window ledges and wood areas. This worked for awhile. But the major issue as anything is its still there. So, as time went by more technology came about for testing and some common sense from government.

A home can be lead paint safe. Now you may ask, how? Well, first the walls maybe aged and that the new paint has several layers over the lead paint. Some areas maybe be encapped to rid of the flaking of the paint.

An inspector can inspect the home and perform a sample test for lead paint. We at Emerald Inspection Service, LLC will perform the test and send to the lab along with any government agency. The results are certified by professional labratory. If you do have lead paint, the test will show. From there we can assist with a plan make the home better and safer.

To learn more about lead paint the link for the EPA is below. And of course you can contact us anytime. 352-322-2700 (Florida) or 410-852-6663 (Maryland) or our websites at; www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or www.marylandinspect.com

EPA Website: http://www.epa.gov/lead

 

Appliance Inspections

#Appliance, #Inspection, #Bartow, #Land O Lakes, # Sumterville, #Clearwater, #Range, #Outdoor, #Kitchen

This weeks blog is about appliances and an inspection process that very few inspection companies offer. So you may ask yourself, what is an appliance inspection?  And with Thanksgiving around the corner you don’t want to have grief while preparing your holiday dishes, so lets begin.

An appliance inspection that Emerald Inspection Service, LLC offers is different then a technician coming to your home to check for operation of that appliance. We do not just inspect the kitchen appliances. And we don’t come to your home to make sure the stove comes on and be done. Our inspection process is very detailed oriented, we inspect all the appliances and we can offer a warranty with the inspection.

The process of the inspection starts in the kitchen. With each appliance we check the door seals, then from there we check to make sure the unit is level, lights are working, and inspect the motor area. Normally, this area should be cleaned every 3 months because it becomes a dust area. For the range, we test all elements and make sure the oven is working at its designated temperature. Then the inspection process moves from the kitchen once all the appliances are tested and inspected. We inspect the HVAC system, the central vacuum system, the garage door openers, water softener, any whirlpool tubs, and exhaust fans. We can inspect the irrigation system, pool pump and outdoor kitchen for an additional nominal fee.

Below is a sample list of the appliances we inspect. To find out more about this type of inspection and other services, call or email us anytime. We schedule these inspections normally within a 2 day time frame from the initial call. Our service area for these type of inspections are Bartow, Clearwater, Land O’ Lakes and Sumterville Florida. However, we do service other communities as well within this time frame. 352-322-2700 or info@emeraldinspectionservice.com

Inspected Appliances 
  • Dishwasher Inspection
  • Food-Waste Disposer Inspection
  • Range Exhaust Vent Inspection
  • Refrigerator Appliance Inspection
  • Electric/Gas Range, Cook-top & Oven Inspection
  • Microwave Oven Inspection
  • Trash Compactor Inspection
  • Mechanical Exhaust & Bathroom Heater Inspection
  • Garage Door Operator Inspection
  • Doorbell & Chimes Inspection
  • Dryer Vent Inspection
  • Whole-House/Central Vacuum System Inspection
  • Suggested Specific Limitations

Optional Systems

  • Lawn & Garden Sprinkler System Inspection
  • Pool, Spa & Hot Tub Inspection
  • Outbuilding Inspection
  • Outdoor Cooking Equipment Inspection
  • Gas Supply System Inspection

Floor Inspections and Consulting

This weeks blog is about floor inspections and what a flooring consultant does. There is a difference between a floor inspector and a floor consultant. They both perform similar activities and this blog will educate on the difference.

So lets begin with a floor inspection. We all have or had carpet, tile, laminate and hardwood floor products installed in our home. Carpet there is many types of manufactures but are made with similarities’. Laminate flooring has gotten popular over the years and is easy to maintain. Just as such as pre-finished wood products. Of course we are all used to the hardwood floors from grandma back in the day. However, you may not know that products being mass produced may have flaws in the product and may not be caught by quality control from the manufacture. So what happens if there are flaws in the product. What happens to the consumer that if there is an installation issue. And believe it or not there is tolerances and variances allowed by ANSI. With all that you may think, is it worth the hassles.

Well first there are tolerances and variances that is acceptable from ANSI. However, these are so small or unknown that the product to the naked eye will not show. Just like a carpenter installing crown molding. There maybe slight uneven-ness but a true tradesman will not let it show. The same goes with floor products. However, a lot of times there are issues with a product and installation. On the installation of a product any consumer knows if its a good install or bad. They may have questions and not know everything about the product and rely on the installer to further educate them. But remember as a consumer if you are not happy with the job, tell the crew to stop. Whether its the performance of the install or the product itself. You may see flaws of a product and not happy with it. If this is the case a floor inspector or consultant will help with this problem.

An inspector or consultant is trained to perform inspections of this nature. This type of inspection is not the same as a home inspector. This type of person is probably certified from an agency. I, George K. Swatzbaugh III, am Nationally Certified thru IFCI. The inspector will come out to the job site and search for deficiencies in the product. However, there is a great deal of research in this inspection. The inspector has to know the tolerances of the product. Also, has an understanding of how the product is installed. Additionally, their report writing tells a story to anyone from start to finish on the where the product is installed and what the deficiencies are. Lastly, the floor product maybe within standards but the installer did not perform the install correctly.  Or there maybe a issue of the product and has to report it back to the manufacture.

The difference between the floor inspector and a floor consultant is similar. They both perform the same work. However, the inspector will have a commissioning agent who they report back too. A floor consultant will work directly for the end user or known as the home owner. Both titles mean just about the same. A certified inspector or consultant will be able to be an expert witness if need be.

For more information about this topic, go to www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or call us anytime at 352-322-2700. We will perform inspections of this type nationally. However, we typically stay in the Tampa, Lakeland, Ocala and Clearwater Florida areas.

#Floor, #Consultant, #inspector, #tile, #hardwood, #Laminate

Floor installation not installed correctly

Allergens & Autumn

Allergy, allergen, dust,

This weeks blog is about the change of the season coming up and allergies. Here in Florida we do get a bit lucky, with the change of the season. Floridians, get to open the windows and get away from air conditioning mode.  However, we can still suffer from allergies.

With the change of the season to Autumn, we are doing outside work in the yard, and that fall cleaning. Now is a good time, to replace the furnace filter but go one step further and have your ducts cleaned by a professional duct cleaner. Also, do that complete dusting around the house which could lead to allergens.

If you feel like for some reason you are sneezing and wheezing more, then you should have air samples taken to see what pollutants are in the air and duct work. We can provide that type of service. For more information on air quality and our tests, please contact us anytime. 352-322-2700 or www.emeraldinspectionservice.com

Commercial Property Inspections

Commercial Property Inspection, Roof, Electrical, Plumbing, Phase I

This weeks blog is about commercial property inspections. This term is used very broadly. The term commercial property can be categorized as a store front in a strip mall. Additionally, office space maybe in an office building or a house that is converted over to a commercial property for a small business. Alot of business owners do not get a property inspection because they are leasing the property or will do some light remodeling and assume, the contractor will see aspects of the property that may need addressing. The commercial inspection can be done anywhere such as the high rises in Tampa and Clearwater. The strip malls in New Port Richey and the older homes converted to a restaurant like in Reddington Shores, Florida.

So, why should a business owner get a property inspection on their commercial space?  The reasons could be endless but we will touch base on the major ones. The first reason is so that the business owner can have full knowledge of the property. For example, on a commercial property the electrical may have had additional circuits added to the panel box such as battery back ups for a server or computers. The circuit breakers maybe weak due to the constant additional energy being used for the space of the office previously. The panel box may need to be upgraded and a skilled home inspector will determine that upon an initial assessment with the client. The plumbing and water should be tested. The old filter system maybe outdated which will cause sickness to the workers. The piping maybe corroded or leaking in a bathroom that may not be used for the tenant space. Inspecting the rooms to make sure there is proper egress if an emergency happens. Inspection of the roof is a major factor because a lot of times the property owners and management company rarely check the roof until it is an issue. Inspecting the HVAC system is keen too. The system may not have been maintained in a long time. This can cause dust mites and possible other allergens to the workers in the space.  The building could have been a storage area for auto parts or an old garage. A Phase I assessment with the commercial property inspection will determine previous tenants.

So as you can see, the reasons for the property inspection is just a small scale of why any business owner needs to have property inspection on their prospective space.  The major thing to remember is that an inspector will give its due diligence of reporting for this client.  The inspection is not to say anybody is wrong but just to assess the property and report any deficiencies that should be repaired, monitored and or that element replaced.

For more information about commercial property inspections, Phase I Assessments, and due diligence, please visit our website http://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or call us anytime at 352-322-2700.

Roof Certifications

Roof, Styles

First I want to wish everyone a Happy Labor Day Holiday.

Roof certifications is a very important document for your insurance company. First, the insurance company wants to know the condition of the roof, the age of the roof, and if there were any permits provided for the roof.

A roof certification is very important also when it comes to buying or selling a home. If you are the seller and have a roof certification, then this is telling any potential buyer that the roof is good for so many additional years on the home. Being a buyer, this can be a great negotiating tool on any real-estate transaction. For example, if the roof life expectancy is only 5 years then you may want to use this as a bargaining product for the transaction.

Lastly, a roof certification, maybe used for third parties. The third party certification can be used for roofers to certify their own work. Possibility, of Home Owner Associations to inspect the roofs for informational purposes to monitor the roofs near the end of its life span. And also, for expert testimonials when needed for lawyers and arbitration issues.

So with this blog of #Roof Certification, I hope this will help you in your needs for the next roof certification as you need. Most certification write-ups will be on the Citizens Roof Certification form and is excepted by the majority of insurance companies and Realtor. For more information, about this or any other services we offer, please visit our web-site at www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or call our office anytime at; 352-322-2700 or toll free at 844-RADON-40.

Thank You,

G.K. Swatzbaugh III

#Roof #Certification

Citizens Roof Certification form

Modular Home Inspections

This blog this week is about, manufactured, modular or mobile home inspections and what they entail. So lets start off about the difference between the three,  (3).  Down here in #Florida, there is a big controversy of the name. For the norm, buyers call them mobile homes. However, a modular home is similar but in many ways different. Manufactured homes still come on the truck but no landing gear. Additionally the inspection process is majorly different. Last week, we were asked by an insurance company if we were certified in modular home inspections. Below you will learn the difference and also how the inspection process is different but some elements are the same because it is a residence.

Lets begin, with Modular Home Inspections. A modular home is a home that is constructed in a factory, brought by truck with or with out landing gear and placed on your site.  The modular home sometimes can be categorized as a single wide. Which means about 14’0 in width and the length will vary upon manufactures. There can be double and triples to this entity but the key point is that a modular home has the landing gear, it may had been removed to set in place on the concrete pillars. Some homes are approved by HUD but need to be verified. A true certified home inspector will determining this when funding is an issue.

Now, lets talk about the manufactured home, The manufactured home is brought by truck. however, no landing gear. These homes are approved by HUD, the reason being is that the standards for this type of home even if in sections,  has a HUD tag on the home. Normally the landing gear is removed to set the home and you have a “marriage wall” that joins the part a to part b and so on. Also, these homes have upgraded insulation as you will find in a stick built home on foundations in communities such as #Wesley Chapel, or #Dade City.

Then we have the #mobile home. A mobile home is basically the fifth wheel that the owner placed permanent on a site. They enclosed the tongue of the fifth wheel and made that area decorative. This type of home is a trailer on wheels and still has a tag like a registration of your car or truck. These homes are normally upgraded minimally and the buyer should look at the front of the home if they see a triangle of the area.

Now that we covered the differences, you may ask how the inspection process is similar and different. First of all, all homes have the exterior, grounds, roof, plumbing, electrical, crawl space, HVAC, and major rooms such as kitchen, bathrooms, and living areas. These areas with our software are inspected the same as any type of home. However, when inspecting the different types, the trained inspector will know what type of home the buyer is purchasing, the difference of weather its a mobile, manufactured or modular.  Keep in mind, we perform these inspections all over Florida. But these type of homes are normally in Zephyrhills, Clearwater, Saint Petersburg, and Sumter Florida.

AT, Emerald Inspection Service, LLC we are specifically certified and trained on all aspects of a home inspection and the different types. For more information go to; http://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or contact us directly via email or phone. info@emeraldinspectionservice.com or 352-322-2700.

Thank You

George Swatzbaugh

Home Inspection Prices

#Home, #Inspection, #Prices

This weeks blog is about the price of a General Home Inspection and how the price is constructed for the client. We get calls about how much a home inspection cost, but also we get calls for other types of inspection services and their costs. So lets begin of what the average national price may be, and why you should think when somebody drastically cuts everyone’s price.

Depending upon the area, the average price of a home inspection ranges from $320-350.00 for a home inspection that is approximately 2100 square feet or less. In a home of this size you normally have 2-3 bedrooms and usually 2 bathrooms. So a few of the rooms may not take as long during the inspection. However, you still have the major components of an inspection. For example; The Roof, The Exterior, The Grounds, The Porch and Deck, The Plumbing, The Electrical, The HVAC System, The Kitchen, one Bathroom, and possibly The Garage and Laundry Room.  From that point you then have your interior rooms, extra bathrooms, pool, spa, possibly of an exterior building and other areas of the property. To complete an inspection for this size usually takes about 2-3 hours. However, once the walk thru is completed with the client, there is normally a bit of paperwork to complete before the client receives the report. All quality inspectors usually review the report, create a summary and overview of the property. For each report that is generally about another 30-45 minutes of time that is not seen. So as you can see now a home inspection report can take up to 4 hours of time.

When the property is larger then the 2100 square feet, a lot of inspection companies will usually add $50-75.00 extra per 800-1000 square feet to the base price. This is to allow for the extra time needed to complete the inspection. Additionally a lot of companies will add a small fee for properties over 15 years of age and older. Again, the property inspection may take longer and the company may need to allocate for that time.

Now, with Emerald Inspection Service we try to provide additional services while we are on site doing the inspection. For example maybe a wind mitigation during the inspection process or radon testing, or possibly roof certification if the roof is over 15 years of age. This process saves the client, the realtors, the home owners and the inspector time as well. Remember, the scheduling of an inspection is critical to all parties and the worst thing anybody wants is to have to return for an additional service and coordinate with the realtor, home owners, etc.

So, lets talk about companies that charge differently then we and many of our friends do. Some inspectors are new to the industry, so they think by drastically cutting the price will make you as a consumer want to hire them. However, if their report takes 2 hours to complete totally, and is done. Is the report going to show every part of the element being inspected. Is the report showing colored pictures as the inspector takes them. Is that report going to be readable and understandable if problems exist in the future. So for a company to charge approximately $35-40.00 less to entice you for their business is something to consider. Additionally, will that company and inspector be there if you have questions in the future about an entity of the inspection report.

In conclusion of this weeks blog, remember that sometimes the cheaper price is not always the best price. Buying a home is a major investment in anybody’s portfolio. This maybe a first time home owner, an investor, or the family that is downsizing into a smaller home. Consumers should trust their judgement, listen to what the inspection company offers for the cost of the inspection and see what the norm is for that area. If 2 people are charging about the same price or within $25.00 and one is charging $40.00 less, then the question should be why is one far less and what does everyone bring to the table with their inspection package.

These summaries of prices can be in any area, however for reporting purpose we have used the Tampa, Hernando, Orlando and Sarasota Florida as reference for our research on this blog.

For more information, please visit our website: www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or call us anytime @ 352-322-2700 or email us directly to; info@emeraldinspectionservice.com

Floor and Rug Inspections

Rug Inspector

This weeks blog is about floor and rug inspections. This type of inspection process is a different entity then a home inspection or other ancillary services we provide.  I just completed a certification course with the Institute of Floor Covering Inspectors ( #IFCII) in Atlanta, Georgia. This type of certification is normally wanted by the “end user” or “commissioning party”. And this blog will tell you more about this type of inspection and how to utilize the report.

At IFCII, we were the first class to graduate in June 2015. The class was sponsored by IFCII, Quest Inspect and Inspect Solutions. Together the inspectors that taught the class bring over 100 years of experience from the trade. The information gathered and presented can not be duplicated and was the best I have seen in a hands on inspection class.

So, you may ask, what is a Rug and Hard Surface Inspector? Basically, these type of inspectors are to provide an inspection that will determine if a product is fault from a manufacture, an installer, the distributor or the consumer. Varies claims may come in such as the carpet is shadowing, the carpet when vacuumed goes in different directions, the patterns on a pattern carpet are mis matched or there is fuzzing from the carpet. Additionally, with laminate floors, engineered flooring and hardwood flooring complaints or claims may arise. For example, the floor buckled, there is delamination in the laminate flooring, the seams are gaped, or maybe the floor shrunk in a wood product.  Additionally, these type of inspectors can inspect for moisture in the concrete which may cause a floor product to fail.

The certification process for an inspector is very technical and the inspector should be certified. A home inspector that is certified for home inspections is not certified to perform this type of inspection unless they have a specific certification for Rug and Hard Surface.  At Emerald Inspection Service, LLC we are awaiting certification. All of our tests and inspections have been submitted. (The process takes about 30 days from this blog date)

At Emerald Inspection Service, LLC  we have a dedicated department just for Rug & Hard Surface inspections. We are members of, IFCII, WFCA, Floor Reports, and NICFI. Please email this department anytime at: floors@emeraldinspectionservice.com or feel free to call us anytime at; 352-322-2700 for more information.

Tools Of The Trade

Camera, Infrared, Endoscope

This weeks blog, I wanted to share is about the tools inspectors use and how they can make a report better and additionally assist the buyers and sellers in an inspection.  Now while each state has its own standards of practice for inspections, normally most inspectors will be up to date on technology and tools.

Years ago, the typical inspector would have a camera, (Polaroid Instant), clip board, electrical tester, and flashlight.  They may have forms that were printed or they just take notes and complete the report when they return to the office. Believe it or not some inspectors are still this way but upgraded to a digital camera.

So lets begin with the inspector of today. When I started Emerald Inspection Service, my initial investment was approximately $700.00. You may say ok, what did you buy. Well first of all, we use a tablet that has a camera and is internet ready. We don’t use our phone. Then over the course of the year we upgrade on tools and equipment.

We use a laptop for wind mitigation, 4 point inspections and Chinese drywall inspections with a camera because of the standard forms. Our digital camera is waterproof and is very high in pixels. We have CO2 detector, for any type of gas lines. We don’t use soap or the bubbles as they will corrode the pipe eventually. We have a million candlelight power hand held spot light. This is great if somebody, painted over an old stain.  We use pin-less and pin moisture meters to determine if any wood or drywall or flooring is holding moisture. If we suspect something in the wall or can’t get to an area, we use a 16’o inspection camera scope or use our endoscope camera. Additionally, some inspectors can not perform energy audits because they are not certified nor have an infrared camera. We have that too.

So, as you can see this is just a sample of the tools in our toolbox. When you are looking to hire an inspector, ask him what type of tools they have. Also, ask them if there is extra charges for using some of these. Some we don’t charge because it makes the report a lot better. However for an Infrared Inspection, we charge in the range of $250-550, depending on the type of inspection.

If you like to know more about this or have questions, feel free to call us or email us anytime. Our office numbers are 352-322-2700 or toll free at 844-RADON-40. Email anytime at; info@emeraldinspectionservice.com

New Toll Free Number

We did not post a blog last week due to some up to date filing and updating our systems. We have a new toll free number. 844-RADON40. or 844-723-6640. Please disregard our previous number for the system is outdated. Again our new toll free number is 844-RADON-40 or 844-723-6640.

Construction Inspections

203-K Consultant, Construction Inspection

This weeks blog is about “Construction Inspections”.  The past week, Emerald Inspection Service, LLC performed 2 construction inspections and resulted into a mold testing. This weeks blog will focus more on construction inspection. So to start, what is a construction inspection and is the home inspector licensed in Florida and experienced and certified  to perform this inspection.

A “Construction Inspection” is an inspection that is catered to the client. The construction inspection can be very detailed and code oriented, a 203-K Consultant,  or a quality assurance/quality control inspection. Most home inspectors will not perform this due to the paperwork involved depending on how the inspection is performed.  Below in detail will be a description of each type of inspection and credentials required to perform each type.

Lets talk about the 203-K Consultant and Inspection process. The inspector that performs this type of reporting first has to be a licensed home inspector in the state they practice. The inspector has to have liability insurance at the state’s requirements and should have and Error & Emission Policy. The inspector then becomes a “Consultant” for the new property owner to inspect the property under FHA Standards. This is not an inspection for a buyer or seller. The inspection process is known as “The Minimal Property Standards” by FHA. This process also requires the consultant to inspect the work being done by licensed contractors and performed to an acceptable building standard and during the construction work for draw  inspection.                                                                                    (A future blog will be on 203-K Inspections Only and a very detailed explanation of the process.)

For the next type of construction inspection, this can be detailed toward code and specifications of the building plans which sometimes mirrors a quality control/quality assurance inspection. A third party inspection that is generated to inspect that the contractors are performing the work as required to specs and code is usually simple. Yes, you will have a building inspection. Yes different trades will be inspected by the local municipality, however if the specifications in the blueprints state a specific item to be built over and above the local codes this may not be addressed by the local building official. This is where sometimes a third party inspection is required. The building official will inspect for their requirements and be done. A third party inspector may address deficiencies of code or specifications and need to be addressed to the contractors. This is the part that a QA/QC sometimes mirror each other. This is also where the client that wants this type of inspection wants to know that the inspector has a background in construction, remodeling and or a previous contractor. Not a handyman. If the inspector can safely state contractor experience and provide licensing, even if prior, then that maybe the inspector deemed toward this type of inspection.

Now for the third type of inspection. Quality Assurance and Quality Control. A QA/QC inspection starts when the homeowner has concerns about the quality of the current contractors and their performance. Usually, a homeowner seeing work performed by the contractor will know if they are happy in the performance of the specified plans and specifications. When they are not, a third party inspection is usually the best alternative to rectify any concerns. Specifications on blueprints will override any general documentation on the prints and supersedes what the plans are. For example, the client may had want “aging in place” support framing. The contractor did not perform that so the deficiencies are reported to state what the contractors’ need to correct.  With this, many deficiencies are usually noted to the client in a detailed report. The client of ours, then takes our report to let their contractors know of their concerns. Sometimes a repair verification report maybe required to make sure the deficiencies were performed correctly.

Lastly, is a great tool for any home owner. We all have our careers and family as well and a simple construction inspection will give you, our client piece of mind not to worry during remodeling times. Or as our logo states; Providing Inspections With Clarity.

Thank You for taking the time to read this lengthy blog. We are certified with the IRC for construction inspections. This process is performed a lot with us in Plant City, Mulberry, Tampa and Port Richey Florida. However, we will go anywhere in Florida to perform this type of inspection. But having construction inspections can be your best way to know the work was performed correctly, according to specifications and safely. For more information, feel free to contact us anytime at: info@emeraldinspectionservice.com or 352-322-2700. www.emeraldinspectionservice.com

Microwave Testing

Microwaves

Have you ever thought about your microwave. Does it leak, Is it safe? Am I putting radiation in my food or hurting my family with microwave foods.  Don’t get me wrong, sitting in front of the television and watching a movie with the family or your favorite show we all have put that bag of pop corn in the microwave and 3 minutes later its ready and yummy to share as we watch our movie or show.

This weeks blog is about how to test a microwave and if its leaking radiation. Normally, home inspectors do not test the microwave. We test if the light works, fan is working, if its a plug in connection note that and how the fan is discharging the exhaust.  But the other day, I was on an inspection and something different happened when I was testing for the microwave for operation, as I mentioned above. The unit was a newer microwave and above the range and had the exhaust unit. The exhaust was extinguished to the exterior for cooking, which was excellent. This considering some just bypass the exhaust back in the room and have a charcoal filter. The oddest thing happen and it was my keys sparked near the microwave. Now this happened because, I was told my truck alarm was going off. So I clicked the button and the keys sparked. This has never happened in the 2 years of my inspection business. I have installed several like units, with my construction company (GK Construction Company, LLC)  and never thought of anything. So after this incident I have done some research.

The microwave can leak radiation and also inside of the microwave has many DC volts that if touched wrong can cause many injuries or burns. I found out that the microwave, mentioned above, was leaking radiation because my keys sparked. Furthermore, I use a lab, Pro-Lab Inc.,  for mold and radon testing and found that they have a microwave test. My company went back and did a radiation test and found that the microwave was leaking radiation. So, if my keys did not spark near the unit, it would had never been known.

So, below, I want to share some household ways to let you know how to test for the microwave if its leaking.

House keys or flashcube method

  1. Check a Microwave for Leaks Step 12.jpg

Look for any sparks coming off the keys. See any? Then you have a leaking EMI gasket.

Additionally, we now can test for the microwave if its leaking with a certified result. The cost is very economical and could be essential to any microwave, especially ones that are 5 years or older and are a range hood. We do not test a microwave that is a unit by itself. However, this test can be done the same way.

So, the next time that you use your microwave, please give this some thought. We do not want radiation in our home or in our food. Like all appliances they expire at times and sometimes are defects from the manufactures. If you have any questions about this inspection process, please contact us anytime at; info@emeraldinspectionservice.om or call us at, 352-322-2700. We will be gladly to assist with any process you desire. Thank YOU, always.

Emerald Inspection Service LLC.

Roof Inspection and Certifications

Roof, Styles

This weeks blog will be about roof inspections and roof certifications that are sometimes needed for insurance policies. Lets start off with a roof certification, or sometimes known as a roof condition report. A roof condition report for an insurance company, will report the age, condition, covering of the roof (s) and the permit from the county. This process is usually for parts of Tampa, Lutz, Lakeland and Port Richey Florida. Also, there is approximately 6 pictures that need to be taken during this process. If there is more then one roof, then all are reported the same. An insurance company will request this when the roof is metal or any style that is 10 years of age or older.

Performing a roof inspection is the process of inspecting more then just the roof covering and age. During the roof inspection, the inspector will identify and inspect over 20 line items on the roof and state their condition and if any deficiencies.  Also to be able to identify and report the style of the roof. The following information is an inspection for an asphalt shingled roof.

During the roof inspection, the inspector will first inspect the roof covering and report the type of covering. If the roof covering is starting to separate, blister, or curl at the edges. If there are any nail pops on asphalt roofs.  Additionally, looking for any torn or missing areas of the roof covering. Secondly, the valley’s will be inspected (if any) to look for debris collecting in the area, ponding, if flashing is shown and the condition, and this is a spot where nests and moss will collect. The next process of the roof inspection is inspecting the drip edge, chimney flashing and the area that joins the house siding to the roof. The drip edge is the metal strip that secures the felt paper to the sheathing. From there on newer roofs, a thin trowel covering of tar should be placed over the seam. The chimney flashing is inspected to make sure that no tar is separating from the chimney, a cricket is secured or needs to be installed and it is not damaged. Lastly is the area of the house that meets the roof. Sometimes there maybe flashing, and sometimes there is not. It depends on the style of the home. But in this aspect the inspector should be checking if there is any water collecting, nail pops, stucco cracks, j-channel filled of debris or j-channel missing, to name the majority of items.

For flat roof, a lot of the similarities as mentioned above but the big difference is the seams. The seams have to be water tight, no blistering and no curling. On flat roofs, we may see a tar covering over the roof. This is good for 5 years. After 5 years the sun and weather will affect the roof covering by a blister or separation effect.

I will continue this blog next week about clay tile and concrete and metal roofs. If you have any questions feel free to contact us anytime at; info@emeraldinspectionservice.com or call 352-322-2700. http://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com

Moisture Intrusion & Inspection

Moisture Intrustion, Inspection, My house leaks
This weeks blog is about Moisture Intrusion and inspecting.  Since we are about to enter the rain season here in Tampa Florida this I felt would be a great source of information
Moisture intrusion can be the cause of building defects, as well as health ailments for the building’s occupants. Emerald Inspection Service, inspectors have an understanding of how moisture may enter a building, and where problem areas commonly occur. This is mainly true about older homes such as the ones along the beach area of Largo Florida.
Some common moisture-related problems include:
  • structural wood decay;
  • high indoor humidity and resulting condensation;
  • expansive soil, which may crack the foundation through changes in volume, or softened soil, which may lose its ability to support an overlying structure;
  • undermined foundations;
  • metal corrosion;
  • ice dams; and
  • mold growth.  Mold can only grow in the presence of high levels of moisture. People who suffer from the following conditions can be seriously (even fatally) harmed if exposed to elevated levels of airborne mold spores:
    • asthma;
    • allergies;
    • lung disease; and/or
    • compromised immune systems.

Note:  People who do not suffer from these ailments may still be harmed by elevated levels of airborne mold spores.

How does moisture get into the house?

Moisture or water vapor moves into a house in the following ways:

  • air infiltration. Air movement accounts for more than 98% of all water vapor movement in building cavities. Air naturally moves from high-pressure areas to lower ones by the easiest path possible, such as a hole or crack in the building envelope. Moisture transfer by air currents is very fast (in the range of several hundred cubic feet of air per minute). Replacement air will infiltrate through the building envelope unless unintended air paths are carefully and permanently sealed;
  • by diffusion through building material. Most building materials slow moisture diffusion, to a large degree, although they never stop it completely;
  • leaks from roof;
  • plumbing leaks;
  • flooding, which can be caused by seepage from runoff or rising groundwater; it may be seasonal or catastrophic; and
  • human activities, including bathing, cooking, dish-washing and washing clothes. Indoor plants, too, may be a significant source of high levels of humidity.
Climate Zones
 
In the northern U.S., moisture vapor problems are driven primarily by high indoor relative humidity levels, combined with low outdoor temperatures during the winter. In the southern U.S. (especially the southeast), the problem is largely driven by high outdoor humidity and low indoor temperatures during summer months. Mixed climates are exposed to both conditions and can experience both types of problems. Humid climates, in general, will be more of a problem than dry climates. Wind-driven rain is the main cause of leaks through the building envelope.

Inspectors can check for moisture intrusion in the following areas:

Roofs

A roof leak may lead to the growth of visible mold colonies in the attic that can grow unnoticed. Roof penetrations increase the likelihood of water leaks due to failed gaskets, sealants and flashing. The number of roof penetrations may be reduced by a variety of technologies and strategies, including:

  • consolidation of vent stacks below the roof;
  • exhaust fan caps routed through walls instead of the roof;
  • high-efficiency combustion appliances, which can be sidewall-vented;
  • electrically powered H.V.A.C. equipment and hot water heaters that do not require flue; and
  • adequate flashing. Oftentimes, inspectors discover missing, incorrectly installed or corroded flashing pipes.

Plumbing

  • Distribution pipes and plumbing fixtures can be the source of large amounts of moisture intrusion. If the wall is moist and/or discolored, then moisture damage is already in progress. Most plumbing is hidden in the walls, so serious problems can begin unnoticed.
  • One of the most important means of moisture management in the bathroom is the exhaust fan. A non-functioning exhaust fan overloads the bathroom with damp air. If the exhaust fan doesn’t turn on automatically when the bathroom is in use, consider recommending switching the wiring or switch. The lack of an exhaust fan should be called out in the inspection report. The fan should vent into the exterior, not into the attic.
  • The bathroom sink, in particular, is a common source of moisture intrusion and damage. Although overflow drains can prevent the spillage of water onto the floor, they can become corroded and allow water to enter the cabinet.
  • Use a moisture meter to check for elevated moisture levels in the sub-floor around the toilet and tub.
  • Bathroom windows need to perform properly in a wide range of humidity and temperature conditions. Check to see if there are any obvious breaks in the weatherstripping and seals. Are there are stains or flaking on the painted surfaces?
  • Check showers and bathtubs. Is the caulking is cracked, stiff or loose in spots? Are there cracked tiles or missing grout that may channel water to vulnerable areas? If some water remains in the bathtub after draining, it may be a warning sign of possible structural weakening and settlement in the floor beneath the tub.

Utility Room

  • The water heater tank should be clean and rust-free.
  • The area around the water softener tank should be clean and dry.
  • Check that all through-the-wall penetrations for fuel lines, ducts, and electrical systems of heating system are well-sealed. All ducts should be clean and dust-free. Inspect the air supply registers in the house for dust accumulation.
  • Filters, supply lines, exterior wall penetrations, vents, ductwork and drainage of the cooling system must all be in good working order to avoid moisture problems.

Attic

  • Look for stains or discolorations at all roof penetrations. Chimneys, plumbing vents and skylight wells are common places where moisture may pass through the roof. Any such locations must be inspected for wetness, a musty smell and/or visible signs of mold.
  • Are there areas of the insulation that appear unusually thin?
  • Rust or corrosion around recessed lights are signs of a potential electrical hazard.
Foundations

Model building codes typically require damp-proofing of foundation walls. The damp-proofing shall be applied from the top of the footing to the finished grade. Parging of foundation walls should be damp-proofed in one of the following ways:
  • bituminous coating;
  • 3 pounds per square yard of acrylic modified cement;
  • 1/8-inch coat of surface-bonding cement; or
  • any material permitted for water-proofing.
In summary, moisture can enter a building in a number of different ways. High levels of moisture can cause building defects and health ailments.
If you like to know more about this subject feel free to contact us anytime at 352-322-2700 or email; info@emeraldinspectionservice.com

Door Knob Hardware — Emerald Inspection Service, LLC

I wanted to share with you something that came across us on an inspection about a week ago.

via Door Knob Hardware — Emerald Inspection Service, LLC

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