Tag Archive | Inspection

Concrete Cracks

We were on an inspection last week and part of the inspection is about concrete cracks in the driveway, sidewalks and other concrete areas on the exterior of the home.  A lot of times the cracks go unnoticed and are forgotten about. And we do our due diligence by reporting them. But this time it struck me odd. And the realtor almost broke her ankle due to the cracking in the driveway. So I wanted to take this time about the cracks and why they are a so a must to repair. So lets begin.

Normally when we see cracks there is either 3 different causes. Your typical settling and aging cracks of the concrete. These are those tiny hair line cracks that you will notice in the garage, the driveway, sidewalk or porch. Sometimes they appear around the decking of the pool. They are not major but they should not be overlooked. Over time these cracks will seperate more. This is the time to have them repaired and be done.

Then we have the type of concrete cracks that over time have been ignored. The concrete has gotten moisture intrusion and with hot and cold temperatures the cracks have separated more then a 1/4″ gap.  This usually happens after a freeze or winter. Still a moderate easy fix. But anyone who wears any type of heal will catch the heal in the gap and is definitely a safety hazard. When we see this, it is noted as well but more of a safety hazard instead of monitor. Now this separating of the crack should not had happen overnight. Its over time. Remember it starts out as a tiny hairline then grows to a 1/4-1/2″ gap.

And lastly we have the omg style cracking. This is usually occured when some type of structural or mechanical elements fail. For example water lines under the slab. Or you may have an area that ground erosion has started to occur. This is a bit more serious. The concrete may have lifted or settled and sometimes be intact. (tree roots sometimes do this) There is a cure to fix this but it will be more costly then the simple hair line crack.

So in closing remember every few months while doing exterior maintenance on the home, walk and check the concrete around your home. Unless you specifically look for something you may not see it.  To learn more about this feel free to look us up at; http://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or better yet give us a call. 352-322-2700. We perform concrete scanning and all concrete is noted on our inspections such as annual home maintenance, general inspection, and 11 month warranty inspection. The areas are the Gulf Coast, Central Florida, Brooksville, Tampa, Polk City, and Webster areas are just some of the areas. Thank You.

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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