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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.

Dirty Air Vents

Well we have 4 weeks to go till the end of the year. We will have blogs leading up til then, but a little secret, 2 will be wishing you happy holidays. As 2016 rolls to an end the next 3 blogs will be informative of changes in the season and season changes in the home or office. So this week, I want to blog about dirty air vents and the air filter. So lets begin.

When we see dirty air vents, it mainly means there is a lot of dust or airborne dirt in the air. You may have dirty air vents and clean daily. This does not mean you are not taking care of your home. When we clean we really do not think of the air vent or inside the duct for the HVAC system. This is an area that really is not maintained and a lot of us including me sometimes forget about the return air filter too.

So to really talk about this, when an air vent is dirty a lot of times the dirt or dust is coming from the ground and being brought up to the ceiling area. Some of us will have the vents in the floor and dirt and debris will collect quicker. Just as an FYI, when you see air vents or registers in the floor they are normally from a northern or cold environment. As in Florida and in the south they are in the ceiling for the warmer and hot environment. Either way they should be cleaned monthly or at the minimum every 3 months. The main reason of cleaning the vents is because you do not want debris collecting into the vent or dust gathering and being brought back to the fan and unit. Eventually you will decrease the life of the components and have costly repair bills unexpectedly.

So, maybe you are thinking how the hell did the dirt or dust get there, whether in the ceiling or in the floor. This is elementary. Dirt or dust will collect and follow to any type of air flow. For floor vents the air maybe pushing the air up but when the system is off, then you have an opening to allow particles to collect. As far as ceiling vents, they collect dust particles from ceiling fans and centrifugal force. In the south we use our AC mostly due to the weather. Ceiling fans are a must, to manage the energy bill. But here is a secret that a lot of us forget. When we clean we usually forget about our baseboards. Originally the base boards back in the 1800’s were called dust boards. People had hardwood flooring and the dust collected from there. Another tip, in the early days crown molding was placed in rooms. Yes decorative and creative. But my great grandmother would wipe down the trim once a week to eliminate the dust in the ceiling area.

So, lets not forget about the return air filter. This is crucial to keeping the life expectancy of your system. A dirty filter will decrease the life expectancy of any element of the HVAC system by at least 30%. This will be next weeks blog about your filter.

So in closing, when you are doing your main monthly cleaning, think about the areas we normally do not see. The entertainment center, the dresser that collects papers, the desk of files. All this will collect dust and send into the air and you will breathe it. We are approaching the holidays and we do not want to show a dirty home. Also, do you really want Aunt Iris to say, I sneezed and coughed when I was at your house but when I got home I was fine. Simple tips are best and thank you again for following my blog.

To learn more about this blog call us anytime at 352-322-2700 or follow us on the web at: www.emeraldinspectionservice.com Thanks again.

4 Point Inspections

A Four Point Inspection is for insurance companies that insure homes 25 years or older. The inspection is the roof, plumbing, electrical and HVAC.

Source: 4 Point Inspections

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

A wind mitigation inspection can save you 10-40% on your home insurance.

Source: Wind Mitigation Inspections

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

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

203K loans have to versions, conventional and streamlined.

Source: 203K Construction Loans

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

Source: New Year New Homes

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