As Is Home for Sale and a Home Inspection

I hear from many people that they cannot do a home inspection because the home is being sold AS IS. This does not mean you are not entitled to a home inspection so in the event we find additional DEFECTS not noted in the disclosure that the owner is required to fill out truthfully.

You can walk through the home and get an idea of its general condition.  You may even spot some defects or items in obvious need of repair.  But you will not obtain the same detailed information you will receive if you hire Tri-State Home Inspections LLC.  Tri-State Home Inspections LLC is trained to look for things you are not likely to notice.  Tri-State Home Inspections LLC must follow the state Wisconsin and InterNACHI’s Residential Standards of Practice and check the roof, exterior, interior, foundation, basement, fireplace, attic, insulation, ventilation, doors, windows, heating system, cooling system, plumbing system, and electrical system for certain defects.  Armed with Tri-State Home Inspections LLC detailed report, you will have a better idea of what “as is” means regarding that home, which means you’ll be in a better position to know whether you want to buy it.  You may also be able to use information from the home inspection to negotiate a lower price.

If you do buy a home “as is” without hiring a home inspector and then later discover a defect, all is not lost. Tri-State Home Inspections LLC  may be able to review the seller’s disclosure and testify as to what the seller knew or should have known about.  The inspector may find evidence that the seller made misrepresentations or concealed relevant information from you.  Even the seller of an “as is” home may be held liable for misrepresentation or concealment.

Here is an article from the Wisconsin Real Estate Magazine from June 3, 2011

“Uncovering the Truth: As-is Transactions”

An “as-is” clause may be used in the offer to purchase for any type of property. The reason why a seller may choose to use this type of clause may vary from financial constraints on the seller’s ability to commit any more funds to repairs, to environmental or other problems the seller does not want to confront, to an elderly person who is physically or mentally unable to deal with the situation. In other words, there are no limits on who may use an “as-is” clause or on the type of property that may be involved.

Generally, an “as-is” clause means that the seller (1) will not complete a Real Estate Condition Report (RECR) or other seller condition reports, leaving the buyer primarily responsible for determining the condition of the property being purchased, and (2) will not repair the property or “cure any defects.” Typically an “as-is” clause also alerts the buyer that he or she is responsible to determine the condition of the property being purchased.

The folklore of “as-is” urban legends are plentiful. However, the widespread tales, or a derivative there of, fit into one of the following five urban legends.

URBAN LEGEND # 1: A Seller Selling a Home “As-is” is Not Required to Make Any Disclosures

The Truth:
While the seller may believe deciding to sell “as-is” is as easy as playing the game Monopoly®, the use of an “as-is” clause is not necessarily a seller’s “Get Out of Jail Free Card.” The seller may still need to make some disclosures about the property.

  1. Seller cannot create risk: The seller has the duty to exercise ordinary care in refraining from any act which would cause foreseeable harm to another or create an unreasonable risk to others.
  2. Seller cannot conceal or prevent discovery of defects: the seller may be liable for misrepresentation if he or she actively conceals a defect or prevents a buyer from investigating the property and discovering the defect.
  3. Seller cannot make false affirmative representations: the seller may be liable if he or she makes false affirmative statements about the property.
  4. Seller must disclose defects that are difficult to discover: the seller may be liable in an “as-is” situation if he or she fails to disclose material conditions which the buyer is in a poor position to discover.

Thus the use of an “as-is” clause is not always going to be an escape for the seller from all disclosures.

URBAN LEGEND # 2: When Listing an “As-is” Property a Listing Agent is Not Required to Make Disclosures

The Truth:  The fact the seller is choosing to sell “as-is” does not eliminate the listing agent’s duty to disclose. Wis. Admin. Code § RL 24.07 requires licensees to disclose potential material adverse facts to the parties in writing and in a timely manner. In fact, where the buyer is purchasing “as-is” it is very important for the buyer to know the condition of the property. Generally, the buyer has professionals inspect the property as a condition of the offer to purchase, but this does not excuse the agent from his or her duty to assure that all known and information suggesting material adverse facts are disclosed in writing to the buyer.

URBAN LEGEND # 3: The Listing Agent is Not Required to Inspect the “As-is” Property

The Truth: 
License law requires all licensees to inspect the property by performing reasonably competent and diligent property inspections; regardless of the type of property or if it’s being sold “as-is.” § RL 24.07(1)(b) requires listing brokers to inspect the property prior to executing the listing and make inquiries of the seller on the condition of the structure, mechanical systems and other relevant aspects of the property as applicable.

The rule also states licensees shall ask the seller provide written responses to the licensee’s inquiry. Generally, this response takes the form of a RECR or a seller disclosure report. However, when a seller refuses to complete a report and sell “as is,” best practice for the listing broker would be to obtain written evidence that the licensee asked about the condition of the property and the seller refused to answer. The WRA Seller’s Refusal to Complete Condition Report form (SRR) could serve as that written evidence.

URBAN LEGEND # 4: A Seller of a Pre-1978 “As-Is” Property is Exempt From the Lead Based Paint Disclosures

The Truth: 
Lead-based paint (LBP) disclosure requirements are not waived with an “as-is” sale. Licensees are required to assure lead based paint disclosures are properly made. As of December 6, 1996, no offers on residential housing built prior to 1978 can be accepted without the LBP disclosure.

This disclosure requirement is independent of the RECR law. The penalties for noncompliance with the LBP law are federal and apply not only to the seller, but also to the real estate agents involved in the transaction who must ensure compliance.

URBAN LEGEND # 5: If a buyer is writing an offer on an “as-is” property, the buyer is prohibited from writing an offer contingent on a home inspection contingency.

The Truth:

While it is common for an “as-is” seller to counter out an inspection, the buyer is not prohibited from including an inspection contingency in the offer. If the buyer did not include this contingency, then the buyer would be buying the property “as-is.” An inspection contingency would generally give the buyer the option to back out of the offer if the defects were so bad that the buyer no longer wanted the property.

“As-is” language does not prevent inspection contingencies. It simply means that if the buyer goes through to closing, and defects are later found, they cannot go back to the seller for any compensation. The buyer is solely responsible for determining whether the property is in acceptable condition.

So how do you avoid getting slapped in the face by your state’s disclosure laws? Get a home inspection done before you list your house. The typical cost of a home inspection is around $200–400.3 That’s a small price to pay compared to losing a deal or getting sued for not disclosing a serious defect.

On a brighter note, providing potential buyers with a full disclosure report based on a professional home inspection proves you have nothing to hide, which could help you sell your home faster.

Here are a few examples of problems you might have to disclose to potential buyers:

Foundation damage

Plumbing problems

Electrical issues

Water intrusion

Mold

Remember, your real estate agent will be able to shed some light on your state’s disclosure laws so you’re not left in the dark, trying to guess what potential buyers legally need to know.

For more information please go to www.tristateinspections.com

Feel Free to Contact Tri-State Home Inspections LLC at

608-620-5320 / 563-380-2515 or tristate.org@gmail.com

Is PEX Waterline Always Okay, No It’s Not

PEX is a medium or high-density cross-linked polyethylene tubing used extensively to distribute water through homes.

Up to the 1960’s galvanized piping was used in homes and is very common to find yet today. Galvanized lines replaced lead water lines. After decades of exposure to water have caused galvanized pipes to corrode and rust on the inside. Many of these systems are outdated and in need or replacement.

From the 1960’ though 1980’s, copper tubing was the primary material for piping, but was a costly piping material. Copper is not only expensive but using a torch to solder every joint also makes it costly to install.

Through the mid-90’s, builders had a troubled relationship with polybutylene and CPVC water lines before switching in earnest to PEX.  PEX relatively easy to install and, for the most part, a robust material.

Compared to copper, PEX

·      resists scale build-up.

·      is more resistant to freeze.

·      does not pit or corrode when exposed to acidic water.

·      does not as readily transfer heat.

·      distributes water more quietly virtually eliminating “water hammer” noise.

PROBLEM WITH THE FITTINGS

F the most part PEX tubing is often joined together with brass fittings, which can de-zincify. It is believed hard water (water having high levels of carbonates, oxygen, chlorine or fluorine) leaches zinc from the fitting, leaving it porous and prone to failure. The leached zinc oxide also builds up inside the fittings and tubing, causing clogs and reducing water pressure at the faucets.

There are two types of brass found in residential water fittings:

  • Yellow brass, which is 35% zinc
  • Red brass, which has less than 15%.

Yellow brass is more prone to failure due to dezincification and three manufacturers have experienced problems.  

  • Zurn Industries used yellow brass from 1996 until 2010 to manufacture their “QPex” brand fittings. A US class action lawsuit alleging excessive failure was brought against Zurn who settled without admitting there was a defect.
    • Click here for more information regarding the Zurn lawsuit.
  • Kitec is another brand of plumbing system that was the subject of a class action suit in Nevada due to fitting failures. Manufactured by a Canadian corporation named IPEX, it sold in the United States until 2007. The Kitec system usually is made up of blue and orange tubing.
  • NIBCO also experienced problems with its yellow brass fittings. The October 2018 settlement referenced below also covers failures of their fittings manufactured until 2012.

TUBING PROBLEMS ALSO

At the end of October 2018, NIBCO INC reached a settlement to resolve issues related to its NEXT-Pure and DURA-PEX brand tubing that was manufactured until 2012. The NIBCO tubing can sometimes split and leak into wall cavities causing damage that is not visible until it has soaked through drywall or other building materials. The Settlement Class includes all persons that own or have owned a home that contains or contained NIBCO’s Tubing since January 1, 2005. The compensation is limited to those who have paid to repair “qualifying” leaks and covers only a portion of the cost to completely re-plumb a home that has experienced three or more separate “qualifying” leaks.

Click here for more information regarding the NIBCO lawsuit.

WHAT ABOUT TODAY?

To avoid the problem of dezincification, most PEX companies today use a resistant brass or PPSU (plastic) fitting.  NIBCO has not manufactured the 1006 type tubing since 2012 and I’m not aware of issues with other PEX tubing manufacturers.

WHAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE

No, PEX is not a cause for widespread panic – it requires routine inspection for signs of potential failure. Things to lookout for are corrosion and leaking, especially if the fittings are brass and have the QPEX or NIBCO brand. Refer your concerns to a licensed plumbing contractor. It can be difficult to identify, but installations of tubing labeled DURA-PEX, NEXT-Pure or CPI should be noted.

The information provided here is based on extensive research, but I am an inspector – not a licensed plumber. Always consult a licensed plumber regarding a particular installation.

Thinking of Skipping or Convinced Not to Do a Home Inspection?

Here is why that is a bad idea!

Buying a home can be a stressful process, and most likely the most important financial decision you will ever make.  Many first-time buyers do not realize that there are some crucial steps in home buying such as arranging for a home inspection. Maybe people also wonder, “do I need a home inspection or not?” A home inspection can provide the ounce of prevention to help you feel more secure in your new home and alleviate some of the stress of a first-time purchase.

On the other end of the spectrum, I hear stories of buyers that skip their home inspection as a negotiation tactic. Forgoing your inspection contingency can sweeten your offer in a competitive seller’s market.

Skipping your home inspection is an extremely risky thing to do. Only two parties will benefit from this the homeowner and the real estate professionals.

If you are thinking of skipping a home inspection, here is why you should not:

Gain a deep understanding of the home.

  • Every home is different. Pick two homes built in the exact same year in the same neighborhood, and I could give you a laundry list of differences between the two. This is especially true with older homes. Additions, renovations, and upgrades can change a home drastically. Because of this, you need an expert. Someone that has seen thousands of homes and has diagnosed the systems of each.
  • A home inspection gives a top to bottom overview of a home, its condition, its systems, its hidden flaws. TSI home inspections do not just highlights the bad news but lets you know the true condition of the home, good or bad. The home inspection gives you, the buyer, a deep understanding of the home. You can take this information and use it however you need.

A benefit to you before and after negotiation.

  • When buying a home, the number one reason to get a home inspection is to understand the condition of the home and to help negotiate problems found during the inspection. When you get the report, you and your realtor can put together your objections in hopes the seller will address them or price them into the sale.
  • However, a lot of items found in a home inspection report are current or preventative maintenance items. These smaller defects might not be worth asking the seller to fix, but it is great to have a punch list or a honey-do list for when you move-in.
  • This will help keep your home in great condition and prevent future issues.

Skipping a home inspection because of the seller.

  • A seller may “encourage” a buyer to waive the inspection or they’ll say the house is being sold “as is”. Even if the house is sold “as is,” you may be able to negotiate in a health and safety item that comes up during the inspection or learn that it may best to walk away and find another home.
  • Sellers are typically more prone to negotiation if a big health and safety item is found. This is because if you decide to walk away from the deal, they now are obligated to disclose these issues to the next buyer.
  • In rare cases, a seller may be trying to hide something in the home by selling the property as is as well. This is a very bad idea as a seller and can put them in a tough legal situation in the future. However, it still happens occasionally and as a buyer you do not want to get caught in the middle. A home inspection can help dig out these cover-ups and avoid them or mitigate the situation.

To be there… or not to be there

  • Whether or not you are available to be in the home at the time of inspection, be sure to read the reports in detail, to identify if any follow up is needed. A thorough home inspection can uncover information that can protect you in the short and long run. I always encourage our clients to attend if possible or at least come for a first-hand summary.
  • Even if you are not on the hip of the inspector during the inspection, this gives you time to walk the property yourself. I always thought it was crazy that people make one of the biggest purchase decisions of their lives, but only get to see the property for 15 mins during the showing.
  • The inspection gives you a 2-3 of hours to measure rooms, envision different furniture setups, and plan out any immediate remodel projects. You can make great use of the time!
  • Most inspectors will tell you that they perform a higher quality service when you are not following there every step, but this is a great time to voice your concerns to the inspector, so they are aware. It is also recommended you have your inspector show you your main emergency shut offs. These are documented in my reports but seeing them in person is beneficial.

As you can imagine, I do not recommend skipping a home inspection.

Obviously, Tri-State Home Inspections LLC, I advise people to not skip their home inspection. But I only say that because I truly believe in the value I am providing to future homeowners. My mission since the company was started was to help families live in safe, healthy, and comfortable homes, and I believe our home inspections help complete that mission.

Tri-State Home Inspections LLC recommends you use an InterNACHI or ASHI certified home inspector. Iowa and Minnesota do not require a state certification to become a home inspector.  Wisconsin requires licensing (I am a licensed Home Inspector 2402-106)  that meets the minimum requirement for the state

Using an ASHI certified inspector ensures your inspector has passed the national home inspection exam, has performed at least 250 inspections, and more. As of 2021 I have done over 5000 inspections. InterNACHI requires a certification process and 24 hours of education a year, more then ASHI or Wisconsin 20 hours.

At Tri-State Home Inspection LLC, I am licensed, InterNACHI and ASHI certified

If I have talked you out of SKIPPING your home inspection, then you can click here to get more information on Tri-State Home Inspections LLC

CSST Bonding

The CSST type gas line shown has not been bonded properly, that is only ELECTRICAL TAPE to cover the exposed piping.

The gas company and master electrician state that this is correct and does not need to be bonded. I downloaded the directions to do my own research into it again.

Here is what I located in the directions for this brand of piping used.

The TracPipe® CounterStrike® gas piping system shall be bonded in accordance
with these instructions and local codes.
In the event of a conflict between these
instructions and local codes, the local codes
shall control. The piping system is not to be
used as a grounding conductor or electrode
for an electrical system.

Then in a large box this stated in large bold letters on page 55:
WARNING
Failure to properly bond the TracPipe®
CounterStrike® flexible gas piping system
in accordance with NEC/NFPA 70 may
lead to damage to the CSST system in the
event of a lightning strike.
• A lightning induced fire in the building
could lead to serious personal injury or
significant property damage.
• Lightning is a powerful and unpredictable
natural force, and it has the capacity of
damaging gas piping systems due to arcing between the gas piping system and
other metallic systems in the building.
• If the building to be piped is in a high
lightning flash density area or a region
with a high number of thunderstorm days
per year, consideration should be given to
utilizing the Lightning Risk Assessment
method given in Annex L of NFPA 780 for
a determination of the need for a lightning
protection system.

So even if the local code does not require bonding it is still a safety defect, I will keep putting this into my reports as a safety issue and in the event that the gas line gets damaged, the electrician and/or gas company can take responsibility for the damage and or deaths. Manufacturer has no liability because they put the warning to inform the installer that it needs to be bonded.

National Fuel Gas Code – 2018
The NFGC requires bonding to help reduce possible electric
shock hazard and potential tubing damage. The specific
requirements in the 2018 NFGC are contained in Section
7.12 as follows:
7.12 Electrical Bonding and Grounding.3
7.12.1 Pipe and Tubing other than CSST. Each aboveground
portion of a gas piping system other than CSST that is likely to
become energized shall be electrically continuous and bonded to an effective ground-fault current path. Gas piping other than
CSST shall be considered to be bonded when it is connected to appliances that are connected to the appliance grounding
conductor of the circuit supplying that appliance.
7.12.2 * CSST. CSST gas piping systems and gas piping systems containing one or more segments of CSST, shall be electrically continuous and bonded to the electrical service grounding electrode system or where provided, lightning protection grounding electrode system.
7.12.2.1 The bonding jumper shall connect to a metallic pipe, pipe fitting, or CSST fitting.
7.12.2.2 The bonding jumper shall not be smaller than 6 AWG
copper wire or equivalent.
7.12.2.3 The length of the jumper between the connection to the gas piping system and the grounding electrode system shall not exceed 75 ft (22 m). Any additional grounding electrodes installed to meet this requirement shall be bonded to the electrical service grounding electrode system or where provided, lightning protection grounding electrode system.
7.12.2.4 Bonding connections shall be in accordance with NFPA 70, National Electrical Code®.
7.12.2.5 Devices used for the bonding connection shall be listed for the application in accordance with UL 467, Grounding and Bonding Equipment.
7.12.3 Arc Resistant Jacketed CSST. CSST listed with an arc
resistant jacket or coating system in accordance with ANSI LC
1/CSA 6.26, Fuel Gas Piping Systems Using Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST), shall be electrically continuous and bonded to an effective ground fault current path. Where any CSST component of a piping system does not have an arc resistant jacket or coating system, the bonding requirements of 7.12.2 shall apply.
Arc resistant jacketed CSST shall be considered to be bonded
when it is connected to appliances that are connected to the
appliance grounding conductor of the circuit supply that appliance.
7.12.4* Prohibited Use. Gas piping shall not be used as a
grounding conductor or electrode.
7.12.5* Lighting Protection System. Where a lightning
protection system is installed, the bonding of the gas piping shall be in accordance with NFPA 780, Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems, 2008.

Here is a link to the insallation manual:
https://drive.google.com/…/1DY4aeLmrDELf3oHx-285ZzUbG…/view…

Prepare Your Home For Climate Change

Whether you believe in climate change or not there is no denying the weather has been changing in the last few years.  With extreme storms, strong winds, snow, flooding, extreme hot and cold, we are all feeling a change in the air.

It is time to take in account the climate change when planning maintenance and updates to your home. There are some small steps that every homeowner can do to help prepare their home.

Roof

When shopping for a new roof, look at roofing materials that will protect your home against a wide variety of disasters. With the average roof lasting around 20 years, and most experts forecasting even more extreme weather to come, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Be sure to perform roof repairs and maintenance annually to have your roof, this will keep you from unexpected surprises

Insulation and Ventilation

  • Sealing your home with proper insulation and caulking can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs. Each year take a close look around your house to find any air leaks or drafts and work to reduce or eliminate them.
  • If your attic isn’t insulated sufficiently, it’s time to invest in insulating and air sealing out the heat and cold. Not only will an insulated attic reduce heating and cooling costs, it will also prepare your home for the more extreme weather that’s likely to come.
  • Adding insulation provides strong protection against cold and heat, but you need to make sure that your home is also properly ventilated. Proper ventilation will keep the attic dry and cool. The attic should have 1 square foot of ventilation for every 300 feet sq. feet of attic space

Plumbing

  • Even small climate changes can lead to plumbing failure. Water and air temperature changes will result in pipe bursts. Make sure your pipes can withstand colder weather and flooding. It may a good idea to have a professional come to your home to conduct a water audit, and also replace any leaky toilets, wasteful faucets or outdated irrigation equipment.
  • You can also install Smart products, like a Water Leak and Freeze Detector. These smart sensors will detect water leaks and freezing pipes before they cause damage in your home.

January is National Radon Action Month.

January is National Radon Action Month.

What is radon? Radon is a naturally occurring gas in rocks, soil, and groundwater that you cannot see, smell, or taste. Radon is a radioactive gas produced when uranium in soil decays; it can be found all over the United States. Radon gas moves up through the ground into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation, becoming trapped inside.

You can’t see, smell, or taste radon, but it can be harmful—it is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States among the population, and the primary cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon is estimated to cause over 20,000 deaths each year, according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA estimates that about one out of every 15 homes have elevated radon levels. In the Driftless area it is closer to one out every 10 homes have elevated radon. Check out the map below.

Any home can have a radon problem. Testing is the only way to know if radon levels are high in your home. If radon levels in your home are above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), the EPA recommends taking action to reduce your exposure.

Tri-State Home Inspections LLC does radon testing using a continuous radon monitor with results provided as soon as the test period is done, with a minimum of 48 hours from the time the test is started.

There are advantages to using a continuous radon test:

  • The continuous radon monitor has the ability to time integrate the radon measurement. Most continuous radon monitors, as a minimum, integrate hourly
  • Most models of continuous radon monitors come equipped with other environmental sensors to simultaneously measure other parameters like; ambient temperature, barometric pressure and relative humidity.
  • Most continuous radon monitors have the ability to collect and store their measurement data. This data can then be downloaded and used to generate various reports about the radon measurement.

Test kits can also be purchased from most hardware stores or the local county office may provide them. Test kits will need to be mailed into a lab to be analyzed and usually take 1-2 weeks to get the results.

If your home has high concentrations of radon there are ways to reduce it to acceptable levels. If you need a professional, you may wish to look at the list of certified radon mitigators for your state. Radon problems can be fixed by a do-it-yourselfer with the right knowledge and skills.

Risk Mitigation – What To Worry About With Your Home

Risk Mitigation – What To Worry About With Your Home

When purchasing a house or taking care of the home you have, keep in mind every house has problems whether they are 200 years old or 20. Usually what I find during an inspection is most of the problems is from previous home owners lack of maintenance and updating over the years.  In general, older houses I see are built better than new ones and doing updates will make an older house into a great home.

I tell a lot of people when inspecting a home, if the foundation and roof is good everything in-between can be fixed. But this is where you need to talk professionals about the cost because it is easy to get in over your head and you never want to have more in your home than you can get back out. Research is very important, so you know how much money to put into a house and still be able to get it back out when you decide to sell.

A good real estate professional and home inspector is important when you are looking for a house. The home inspector and real estate professional work for you and you are in charge. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into buying a house, before making the final purchase you need to be comfortable with the house and expectations of repairs and updates.

Here are areas to look at when buying a house and planning for updates

Foundation and structural problems. When first purchasing a house, it is very important to be sure the home is structurally sound because these problems can run into the 10’s of thousands of dollars to repair and on occasion it is cheaper to tear it down and build new house on the land.

Electrical system.  Many older houses may still have fuse panels with only 60-amp service, knob and tube, ungrounded or aluminum wiring that may need to be updated. A house should have a minimum of 100-amp service with most getting upgraded to 200-amp service

There are several reasons why malfunctioning, old or faulty wiring represents a huge problem for a few reasons. Some of them include:

  • An old electrical system creates a fire hazard, putting you and your loved ones at risk. One of the biggest causes of house fires is bad wiring. When the wiring becomes exposed or heated or when sparks are created, materials around it get ignited which eventually leads to a big fire.
  • The risk of electrocution increases. If the wiring gets old and there are signs of wear and tear, then the electrical current won’t be transferred properly. The insulation may have holes in them. In both these cases, there will be a serious risk of electrocution.
  • The lifespan of your electrical appliances will be cut down significantly as the faulty wiring won’t be able to manage the power in a safe manner, as it once did, and it may short your appliances. Further, the faulty wiring and electrical system may not have the capacity to support modern appliances which will cause your washing machines, dishwashers and microwaves to wear out quickly.

The cost to upgrade the electrical will depend on what’s to be done, the cost can be anywhere from $2500 – $20,000 depending on what you want from just a new electrical service to removal of old wiring and installation of new grounded wire.

Heating system. If the heating system has not been updated, maintained or in poor condition, the heating system can become a serious health and fire hazard. Depending on what the home has for heat will decide on the expense. Most houses will have a forced air gas or fuel oil furnace, boiler or electric heat.

When updating the heating system is can be as cheap as just a new furnace for $2500 or as high as $30,000 if you need a boiler, air conditioning, new duct work or hot water pipes and registers installed.

Another concern is many houses have the duct work or water pipes wrapped in asbestos. This can be large expense if it needs to be removed, that many new home owners do not think about.

Inefficient windows. Older house windows were single pane with poor sealing causing a large amount of heat loss in the home. There are many styles of insulated double, and triple pane windows available today, with replacement being easy in older homes. But the cost will be up there depending on how many windows you need and quality, not uncommon to spend $10,000 – $20,000 to upgrade the windows.

Your home inspection list of 8 missteps to avoid

Once your offer has been accepted, the next step is getting through your inspections. As the buyer, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared & know what to expect — and we’re here to help with that.

We’ve compiled a list of the eight biggest home inspection missteps that cost buyers money. Read them over to make sure you go into this process with your best foot forward:

1. Skipping the inspection entirely

You’ve probably heard that waving your right to inspections is a powerful negotiating tool to getting your offer accepted. While this is true, it’s also a risk. When you skip inspections, you’re essentially agreeing to buy the property, regardless of any damage that may be present. You’re also agreeing to take financial responsibility for the necessary repairs.

In contrast, if you elect to have a home inspection done, you’ll have the opportunity to walk away from the deal, if the damage is too extensive for you to handle.

You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons to decide whether not the extra bargaining power is worth it.

Ask yourself: Is this your dream home? Will you be devastated if it goes to someone else? Are you financially equipped to handle potentially-costly, unexpected repairs? Would you feel more comfortable looking at another home where electing to perform a home inspection is not a deal-breaker?

2. Hiring someone uncertified

As the buyer, you’re responsible for hiring the inspector of your choice. However, that doesn’t mean that you can bring in just anyone. While each state has its own specific requirements, most insist that in order for an inspection to be considered valid, the inspector must be properly licensed, certified, and up-to-date on their educational requirements.

You should look into your state’s specific regulations to make sure that any inspector you hire will make the cut, but in general, it’s a good idea to hire someone certified by one of the three, main associations. They are the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).

3. Neglecting to read reviews first

That said, being properly certified isn’t the only quality that you should look for in a home inspector.

Just as you would with any other contractor, you should do a little research to get a sense of their work history before hiring the person that you feel is the best fit. Reading reviews is a great way to know what you’re getting into.

Ideally, you’ll want to hire someone who has quite a few positive reviews to choose from. In particular keep an eye out for the following: Was the inspector on time? Was he or she easy to work with? Were the buyers able to understand the inspection report without too much difficulty? Were any mistakes discovered after-the-fact?

4. Having unrealistic expectations

The term ‘home inspection’ can be a bit vague, so it’s not all that surprising that many buyers aren’t sure what to expect. It’s important to know that this inspection only covers certain interior elements of the home – things like the electrical and plumbing, heating and cooling systems, and the condition of windows.

However, exterior elements like the roof, the sewage system, and any other exterior structures on the property are not covered. While you are, of course, welcome to have any of these other factors looked at, you’ll need to elect additional inspections in order to do so.

While putting your offer together, you should ask the agent you’re working with if any additional inspections are appropriate.

We’ve compiled a full list of home inspections we recommend you get right here.

5. Not showing up for the inspection

While the inspection report will give you a sense of the scope of the repairs a home needs, it’s not the same as seeing it with your own eyes.

The best thing you can do, as the buyer, to ensure that you’re going into the sale with open eyes is to attend your inspections. The home inspector will be there to explain any problems to you and answer your questions, if needed.

Arrive on-time and accompany the inspector as he or she examines the property. You should finish with with a realistic picture of the severity of any damage and a firm idea of when you can expect to have a report in hand.

6. Skimming the inspection report

Sometimes inspection reports can get a little long and dense, so buyers will make the mistake of skimming it rather than reading the whole thing. Unfortunately, this can have unexpected consequences, especially if you should happen to miss a huge – or expensive – issue.

The reality is, the inspection report is your get-out-of-jail-free card. If a problem is discovered during the inspection that’s too big for you to handle, you can walk away from the deal and get your money back – as long as you cite the problem during negotiations. If you don’t mention it, but discover the problem later, there’s no going back. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before your money is on the line.

7. Negotiating poorly

Most buyers wish that they could ask the sellers to fix all of the problems found on the inspection report. While that would be ideal, it’s also unrealistic. Negotiations are a give-and-take, after all, and it’s a much better idea to make sure that sellers feel compelled to fix the most important issues with their home, rather than letting them cherrypick the easiest ones from a long list.

When negotiating, we recommend that you focus on the two or three problems that are most important to you and chalk the rest up to the cost of homeownership.

Keep in mind that structural or mechanical issues are often big-ticket fixes that you’ll want the seller to handle. Smaller fixes that can be done by a handyman can often be taken care of at a later date and at little cost to you.

8. Forgetting to collect documentation

If your seller does agree to do some repairs, you’ll want to be sure to collect any documentation on the work that was done. Contractor invoices can give you reassurance that the repair was made by a qualified professional and will also give you someone to turn to in the event that there’s another problem down the road.

 

This article originally appeared on OpenListings.

 

Drying Out a Flooded Home

Once a home has been exposed to a large volume of water, either floodwater or rainwater, steps must be taken to dry the home out, assess damage, and plan for repairs and restoration.

Flooding may be quick but drying out a home is a time-consuming effort. Allowing natural ventilation and evaporation to work is better for the home than the use of heated forced-air or air conditioning systems. The rapid drying out of a historic building using hot air power drying systems can cause irreparable harm to significant features of the building.

Before starting to dry out your home, make certain to address health and safety concerns. Safety must come first; do not endanger yourself, your family, or other occupants. Assume all power lines are live. Do not trust the fact that power may be off all over the neighborhood; turn off the power to your house. Check for the odor of leaking LP or natural gas and turn off these services. Be aware that floodwaters may be contaminated with sewage or animal waste and present a health hazard. During clean up, protect eyes, mouth, and hands, and use disinfectants to wash hands before eating. If you are uncomfortable when entering your house and have any question regarding personal safety, do not go inside, but have a professional make an assessment.

Make a photographic record before you begin to clean up the damage. Documentation of the damages will be beneficial when negotiating with insurance companies or other agencies

Make temporary repairs to roofs and windows to prevent additional water from entering the building as you work to dry it out. Plan on temporary repairs lasting a minimum of six months. Temporary repair options include the use of tarpaulin, 30- or 90-pound felt paper, or plywood covered with tarpaper.

Water saturation affects a home in three ways:

  • Water causes direct damage to materials. Wallboard disintegrates; wood can swell, warp, or rot; electrical parts can short out, malfunction, and cause fires or shock.
  • Mud, silt, and unknown contaminants in the water get everything dirty and are unhealthy. Floodwater is more damaging than rainwater.
  • Dampness promotes the growth of moisture-related mold, mildew, and fungus that leads to dry rot.
Efforts to promote natural and controlled drying out of the home should start at the attic. If the insulation is wet, remove it and dispose of properly. After being wet, most insulation is ineffective, but it will continue to hold moisture for a long time and will create high moisture conditions which will damage metal, masonry, and wood.

Remove all water-soaked items stored in the attic for treatment. The weight of water-soaked boxes can cause cracking in the plaster ceilings of the floor below. Open windows and vents to allow fresh air to circulate. If your electrical system is safe and you have an attic fan, turn it on.

As you enter rooms, inspect ceilings carefully. Wet plaster and sheetrock are very heavy and can be a hazard. Be aware of bulging ceilings that may hold trapped water. If rainwater has collected in the ceiling, the rainwater will find its own route into the floors below. Collect water in buckets by poking holes at the edge of the bulging ceiling to release the water.

Plaster responds to drying out much better than sheetrock; however, durability depends on the plaster mix, the original application, the degree of water saturation, placement, and the type of lath used. Plaster over metal lath is likely to require replacement. Wood lath may expand if saturated, causing the plaster keys to break. Check for loose plaster and plan to reattach it using plaster washers. Plaster ceilings can be temporarily shored by using 2x4s nailed together to form a “T”, then wedging the top of the “T” to press plywood against the ceiling.

Most plaster walls can be saved if damaged by clean rainwater. Drain water that may be held within the wall cavity by removing the baseboard and drilling holes through the plaster several inches above the floor. Use cordless or hand drills to avoid electrical shock and be careful to avoid wiring within the walls. Remove any insulation if wet via the baseboard removal and allow the wall cavity to dry out thoroughly.

If sheetrock has been exposed to water for less than two hours, it can probably be repaired. If the sheetrock was exposed to floodwater for more than two hours, it will be saturated by contaminated water and require complete replacement.

Open windows in all rooms, even if there is no evidence of moisture retention. If the windows are swollen shut, remove the inside stop bead to free window sash. The use of window fans will help draw fresh air through the building, helping to dry out wall cavities between interior and exterior walls.

Wash down wood features, including trim, doors, mantels, and stairs, to remove mud and silt. Mold and mildew can be cleaned off using a weak solution of Clorox and water or commercially available disinfectant.

Remove wet carpets and furniture from the house. Drying out these items in the house only adds to the moisture level within the house. Remove sheet vinyl or linoleum flooring to allow for maximum evaporation.

If wood floors are coated with mud, wash down with fresh water. Floorboards may begin to warp as they dry, but further drying may bring the boards back to their original shape. The use of weights or shoring on the wood floors during the drying process may lessen the occurrence of severe warping and buckling. Remove vapor barriers and insulation from beneath the floor to allow for complete air circulation. Do not use heating, air conditioning, or other forced air to promote drying of wood floors. Rapid drying can promote cupping of the floorboards as the top surface dries out faster. Drying out floorboards may take several months.

If the duct work has standing water, wash it out with clean water. Replace electrical receptacles if water levels reached high enough to cover them.

If your basement is flooded, do not rush to pump it out. Draining the basement while the surrounding ground is saturated may create uneven pressure on the basement walls and floor resulting in cracking or collapse. Once water surrounding the house has drained off, lower the water level in the basement by two or three feet, mark the water line, and wait overnight. If the basement water level rises, then it is too early to fully pump out the basement. If the water level is stable or lower, then pump out another two or three feet and again check the water level overnight.

Water-damaged household furnishings including textiles, books, photographs, paintings, and furniture should receive proper treatment to minimize damage and ease repair and restoration. In general, wet mud should be rinsed off objects with clean water before air drying

Remember that air circulation is the key to completely drying out a structure. Heaters or air conditioners should not force the drying process. If you force your building to dry too quickly, additional damage to the building elements will occur.

Why Every Home Needs a Dehumidifier

Why Every Home Needs a Dehumidifier

Every basement in this area needs a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air, improving the usefulness of basements by controlling the dampness and potential damage to your home and possessions.

Humidity is the leading cause of mold growth in the basement.  Mold and mildew flourish when the relative humidity level is above 80%; therefore, all basements—finished or unfinished—should be kept at or below 50% relative humidity. I have seen where regular vents are installed in the basement to exhaust the moist air with no makeup air. Just sucking the air out of the basement will not maintain the proper humidity levels in the basement. When you pull air out of a basement, it pulls makeup air in either through the exterior or from the upper levels of the house. On a hot and humid day, the air from the house and the outside air will have a high moisture content thus introducing more moisture into the basement through the makeup air.

There are signs that you need a Dehumidifier:
•          Window and door condensation.
•          Mold spots on ceiling and walls.
•          Musty smell of odor
•          Recurring spring runoff dampness

What is a dehumidifier and how does on work?
A dehumidifier is essentially a refrigerator that never got the storage area. The basic mechanical function of a dehumidifier is the same as a refrigerator. Compression and expansion of a gas is used to lower the temperature of metal coils to freezing temperatures.

However, instead of the cooling action being directed into a closed box, a dehumidifier is designed to blow warm moist room air over these cold coils. The moisture in the room air condenses on the coils to become liquid water. The water then drips into a drip collection pan, or to a drain. The room air, now freed of much of its moisture, returns to the room slightly warmer than it was.

Dehumidifiers are controlled by a device known as a humidistat. This is an adjustable rotary switch which detects moisture in the room’s air. It automatically turns the dehumidifier on or off as it is needed, based on the setting you choose. If you wish, you can set the dehumidifier to the maximum setting for continuous operation.

The condensed drips go into a pan that will need to be dumped when it is full, in the warmer months this can be several times a day depending on the moisture level in the basement. I recommend making your dehumidifier be self-draining. This can be done by installing a hose to it and running to a drain, set the humidity level and you are good.

If you do not have a floor drain there are a couple solutions:

  • Installing a condensate pump that will pump the water to sewer system
  • Place the unit on a shelf high enough to drain into a sink
  • You could also drain it into a 5-gallon bucket, so you don’t have to dump as often
Do you need to perform maintenance on your dehumidifier?
Yes, there is some maintenance that will be needed. You should check the coils at least seasonally and keep them clear of dust and dirt. If the unit has a removable front cover, there may be a foam filter inside that should also be cleaned.

The purpose of this cleaning is two-fold. First, dust and dirt can insulate the coils from the room air, decreasing the efficiency of the dehumidifier. Secondly, this same dirt will get damp and possibly freeze. Freezing is the most damaging thing that can happen to your dehumidifier because it will run continuously but not dehumidify the air.

Remember that every basement in this area needs a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers remove moisture from air, improving the usefulness of basements by controlling the dampness and the potential damage to your home and possessions. So, unless you prefer to use your basement mostly for growing mushrooms and designer mildew, there should be a dehumidifier in your future!