All posts by Mike

The Time is near

The time of cooler weather is getting near and according to Dave Murray, we’re supposed to have a really cold one this year? So, now is the time to get your home ready for winter.

I know there is a lot of information out there saying do this, do that or whatever. Instead of getting confused about what to do, I will keep it simple. We will start with air sealing. This is by far, one of the most important aspects of home energy savings. Keeping the air that you pay to heat or cool where you need it is our goal! A one-inch hole in an exterior wall can be equivalent to leaving a window open all winter. The wind will literally pull the conditioned air from your home. This is known as stack effect.

EPA Air Leaks

As you can see from this image, air will find a way into and out of your home. With air sealing, we are going to try and stop that. But where do we start?

First, you must test your home for air-tightness. This can be done very easily by getting yourself an incense stick or smoke pen. Then, on a windy day, take your incense stick or smoke pen and place it near your exterior doors, windows, electrical outlets or boxes, plumbing fixtures (especially under your sinks), ceiling fixtures, attic openings and any other areas where air may leak to the outside. If the smoke stream travels through any of these areas, then you have just found an air leak. The good thing is that most air leaks can be corrected by using just 3 or 4 items;
caulk, foam sealer, weather stripping and maybe some window seal.

CaulkFoam SealerWeather StrippingWindow Seal

Here you can download the Energy Star Air Sealing Guide to help you further. Once you have identified the easy air leaks, go ahead and fix them now.

Next time, we will discuss the ABC’s of air sealing.

Final Phases

Time to take care of your shortcuts!

The home you are trying to sell now is most likely the first one you bought. I know that once everything was finally signed, you were probably scared out of your mind. Now, you know how a young family will feel when they purchase your home. Are you going to leave them the same problems you may have had? Just remember, KARMA is a bitch! This is the time to be completely honest about the way you have taken care of your home. Is it in better shape than when you bought it? Maybe not, but it should be in good condition for the next homeowner. In the long scheme of things, I actually work for the house itself. Because once I put my findings on paper, those things that have been neglected for years will finally come to light and have to be fixed. I receive tremendous satisfaction when I am able to help young families make sound decisions. And of course, you know that buying a house can be a horrific decision to make.

If you have cut some corners over the years taking care of your home, now is the time to have them done properly. If your buddy down the street put in a bigger electrical service, you should probably hire a licensed electrician to check things out and make sure it is up to code. Having this done now will save you a big headache later! The buyers’ inspector will find this and it could cost you the sale of your home until it is corrected. Then you may be forced to shell out a nice hefty fine payable to your local building department and believe me, this is time and money you don’t want to spend.

Now let me say this, as a home inspector; I am not an electrician, plumber or HVAC technician. I look for things that are not quite right or working as they were intended. When I find deficiencies in the home, I recommend that my customer hire a professional in that specific field to further inspect those areas, figure out what the problem is and how much it will cost to fix. In many cases, the prices they receive will be overinflated due to the short period of time involved. And guess who might be on the line for those costs? So as I said before, if you have taken shortcuts, take care of them now!

Don’t be a cheapskate when it comes time to sell your home. As I said, you will probably spend around $1500 getting everything checked out. That money will be well spent because now you will be in a better position to get your asking price. When that buyer comes knocking, don’t turn them away by not being prepared.

Now let’s discuss some of the final things you can do to ensure your home sells fast. In week one, I asked you to take some pictures of your home. Now is the time to start looking at them. Fix those things you can, get the overdue touch-up stuff done, and then get a Home Check. I am talking about a complete Home Inspection. This inspection will cover all areas of your home that are accessible. From the roof to the foundation, everything in between will be inspected. Getting your home inspected early in the game gives you time to get most of the deficiencies corrected at the best prices and conditions you can negotiate. If you’re under the gun trying to get things fixed after the buyers’ home inspection, then you will be paying more than you need too. You might not be able to get everything fixed, but at least you will be aware and can set your price accordingly. Your Realtor can help with setting the best price for your home. The housing market is fierce, and you have to be ready for it. If you have taken the time to show the buyer your home is ready, and that any potential problems are disclosed, your time and efforts will be rewarded.

When you’re ready to list your home, please listen to your Realtor. They will probably give you some great advice about giving your home some curb appeal. If you have already moved out, then you may want to have your home staged so that potential buyers will see the home as it is lived in. And during your Open House, please have copies of warranties and your finalized home inspection report available for Realtors to share with their potential buyers.

Ready, Set, SELL!

How to save your home buyer time and money.

I am going to go through quite a few things you can do that will help speed up the home selling process. Over the past month, I have had a few inspections that made me wonder why these homes are even on the market. Even the simple little things were not completed for the home to be ready for sale. This is piss poor preparation at its best. Selling your home is not rocket science, but it important to properly prepare your home. In most cases, your home is your biggest investment, and if it’s not properly taken care of you will not get a good return on your investment.

The old saying “It takes money to make money” does apply here. Depending upon the condition of your home, you can invest as little as $1500 to ensure that your home is going to be ready for the market. I am going to start off with some of the most common areas of your home that a buyer will be concerned about.

Let’s start with potential health hazards that may be lurking in your home. Has your home ever been tested for Radon Gas? A current radon test of your home will help the selling process tremendously. The Radon test will take about 2-4 days to complete, and there is nothing strenuous that you have to do. Simply put the tester in the desired location and do not disturb it. The State of Missouri if providing FREE radon test kits to all homeowners. You can get your free test kit by following the link and filling out the information listed on a page. You should receive your radon test kit in about 10 business days. Radon gas is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. If your radon gas levels are above the acceptable levels, you will have the time to perform proper mitigation. And also, by performing this test, you will be helping your family. You won’t know if you don’t do the testing.

Let’s go into the sewage disposal of your home. If your home is on a public sewer system, you are responsible for the piping from your connection to the main line. If you have never had a sewer lateral inspection, it would be very wise to complete this testing. It will notify you of tree roots or damaged sections of pipe that you might not be aware of. The cost of a basic sewer lateral inspection is about $180. I feel this is well worth the cost, especially if further problems are discovered. If there are, you have time to get the best pricing on repairs. With this and any other repairs, you may need throughout your pre-listing planning, ensure that you have transferrable warranties which will also put the buyer at ease?

For those in rural areas that are currently on their own septic systems, a septic inspection and service is a must do. The service will empty the septic tank and prepare for it for new homeowners. The inspection of your system will, of course, ensure it is in proper working order. Currently, the price to replace a failing septic system is well over $10,000. The costs of a service and inspection are probably around $300 to $400. Prices will depend upon your location. As you can see though, the $300 spent could save you thousands in the long run.

And now for something most people overlook and take for granted. That is your heating and cooling system. I recommend that a seasonal checkup is performed on your HVAC system. The cost of this will vary, but it should be under $200 in most areas. Ideally, a service should be completed on an annual basis to ensure your system is operating efficiently. This will help you save money each year by reducing your energy usage. By having your system serviced, you are giving the buyer confidence that the AC will work during the hot summer months and they will not freeze in the winter.

Next week, we will get into the bones of your home.

Sell your home faster

Hello and Welcome!

Over my last 5 years of business, I have been primarily focused on helping people with their most important investment by providing them with critical information about the homes they were wanting to buy. And during these last four years, I have seen many different homes with just as many different conditions! Now I want to change my focus a little and help homeowners to sell their homes faster. Over the next few weeks, I will discuss many options to get your home ready to sell. These options are my opinions and based on my experience as a home inspector. I may be very blunt in areas, but this is to emphasize the importance of some of the options.

Okay to get things going, I will refer to the 5 Ps. If you’re not familiar, the 5 P’s are: Poor Planning Prevents Proper Performance. There is another P that can be added, but proper planning before you list your home can help you sell faster. Yes, of course, many decisions are going to be made and made fast. The most important is when do you plan or need to move by. Determine your time schedule and work according to it. Home inspections are performed in sequences that make the inspection process manageable. It is very easy to get sidetracked, so now is the time to get everything in order.

We will start with clutter. Clean up the Clutter! Consider this time your pre-moving pack out. Get a good supply of empty boxes and go through your home inside and out to determine what you will absolutely need during the moving transition. Then, determine what you need to pack up such as off-season clothing, decorations, the blender you haven’t used in five years and anything else of this nature. And of course, there will be those things that you simply need to get rid of or throw away. This might be a good time for a garage sale or making some charitable donations. You’re trying to sell your home, not your personality. If moving day is not too far away, it would be wise to rent a storage unit or POD to put your unneeded items in. If you’re not able to do this, please store the boxes out of the way of major components such as; the furnace, electric panel or water heater or anywhere else a home inspector may need to look. During some of my home inspections, I was not able to properly inform my customer of the home condition due to the lack of access to very important areas.Reality Property Inspections In the photo, it was just one of those days if you know what I mean. And of course, the garage door opener did not work. It made inspecting the electrical panel very difficult.  Please, make room for home inspectors to critical areas of the home. This could possibly make some home inspectors mad, especially if they have other inspections to complete that day. And believe me, you do not want a pissed off inspector poking around your home. Simply put, a home inspector needs to have access to the home, not your belongings.

Now that everything is out of the way, it is time to find out the actual condition of your home. Preferably, on a rainy or very cloudy day, go around the exterior your home and take many pictures from every angle you can. Be sure to include everything on the outside such as the roof, air conditioning unit, decks, patios, sheds and anything else. When you are good and wet, come inside, dry off, and start taking pictures of the interior in every room and space you can. Be sure to get pictures of your utility-mechanical room, attic and major systems such as your furnace, plumbing, and electrical components. The reason I ask you to do this on a rainy day is that your home will look just the same as that poor little puppy that got left outside in the rain; wet and miserable!
Once you have a few hundred pictures, load them on to your computer and organize them into separate folders for each room, component, and area. A simple label system can be similar to the home inspection sequence.

• Roof, Exterior and Garage
• Interior Rooms and Areas
• Kitchen & Bath
• Attic, Basement or Crawlspace
• Plumbing, Electrical & HVAC (Heating and Cooling Systems)

Now get some real manila folders and label them as you did the computer ones. These actual folders will be used for any related lists, past or current receipts or work orders and any transferable warranties you may have. Once you’ve done this, work on one folder at a time. This will help you keep organized and on track with your schedule.

As a home inspector, I see many conditions that make me wonder what were they thinking. Some people are not being properly advised on how to sell their homes. In most cases, the realtor is brought in to list the home after everything has already been completed and can only make minor suggestions. So, I’m betting it is the home shows that are the culprits. Consider who sponsors these programs. Those big box stores of orange and blue! And these guys only want your money, they don’t care if you sell your home or not. I do not recommend doing anything on these DIY shows when you are trying to sell your home, especially landscape makeovers or any remodeling.

Don’t get me wrong, if your home is in need of repair, DO IT! You want your home to be clean, functional and presentable to potential buyers, especially the exterior. You can get Wash Safe’s eco-friendly cleaners for your concrete, siding, deck and even the roof.  Please spend your money wisely on those things that you can fix around the home and please, stop using color-coordinated trim or anything to do with color. Leave all of that to fantasy land. You will, of course, need to paint many areas of your current home, but you cannot predict what colors a potential buyer may or may not like. Don’t waste time trying! Please remember, time wasted on useless color coordination is time that you won’t be able to spend looking around for your new home!

Light and neutral colors are what you want to use. In most cases, using these colors will make your home appear larger than it is. No bold colors! In fact, if you have bold colors in your home, please paint over them to save the buyer the time of doing it. Let me put it this way, if I’m looking at a house to buy and walk into a room painted in a color I do not like, this automatically means that I have work to do! Strike one! The main thing is to get your home as close to the original condition as you can. In this case, less is more! Leave the buyer a blank canvas to start with so they can do whatever is it they want to do.

Next week, I will discuss things you can do to help the buyer save time and money during their 10 day home inspection window.

Quit spending money on wasted energy!

That’s right, wasted energy.

A simple home energy check could save you hundreds of dollars each year! That’s hundreds of dollars you could be doing something worthwhile with. According to the Energy Information Administration, Missourians spend an average of $2344 each year with nearly half of that amount going to heating and cooling costs. You can view their findings “Household Energy Use in Missouri” here. Many things that can be done over a weekend could help you save up to 25% on your energy costs each year. We like to keep it simple for you. Because in most cases, all the little things can add up to substantial savings each year!

A thermal scan of your home can reveal many secrets your house has been hiding from you. Primarily it will be lack of insulation and air leaks. Most older homes were not properly air sealed because the common thinking was to allow the house to breath. Well, that is the equivalence of leaving a barn door open on the side of your house. I can come into your home and identify most areas that are leaking, then also identify those areas that need more insulation. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

So don’t just sit there! Pick up your phone and give me a call to schedule your Home Energy Check today!

Be ready to Sell Your Home!

If you’re going to be selling your home, then let me help you get ready!

You can start off by getting your Home Check today! A Home Check is a complete home inspection of your home using the rigorous standards set forth by InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors).

There are many advantages to having your home pre-inspected before listing.

  • You can choose to inspect your home first, which may prompt the buyer to waive his own inspection contingency.
  • You can assist during the inspection and even make some minor repairs, which is something not normally done during a buyer’s inspection.
  • A Home Check will alert you to any immediate concerns that you may not be aware of!
  • It will also allow you to take the proper time to shop for contractors to make any repairs, instead of having to rush any repair work.
  • You can attach any repair estimates or paid invoices to the inspection report
  • It removes over-inflated buyer-procured repair estimates from the negotiating table.

I will also share and provide you with other critical information that can put you one more step ahead of other home sellers.

Once your Home Check is completed, you can now prioritize any repairs, set your budget and properly price your home. Once any necessary repairs have been completed, I will then update your inspection report complete with photos and have multiple copies printed up for your open house. This will show potential buyers that you are ready to sell and can give them confidence in you.

A pre-inspected home means that you have taken the time to ensure your home is in good condition. This also tells the buyer that you can confirm there are no major systems or components in need of urgent repair or replacement, and there are no known safety hazards in your home. Show prospective buyers that you are dealing in good faith. Avoid last minute negotiations and delays, and justify your full asking price by having your home pre-inspected now. Call me today to schedule your Home Check and let’s get your home SOLD!

Septic System Inspections

For those who are buying a home with a Septic system (OSWT) and or a well, it is required by the State of Missouri that the inspector be licensed through the Department of Health and Senior Services for all real estate transaction related inspections. Please read the law Governing Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems  (19 CSR 20-3.070 Requirements for On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems Inspectors / Evaluators page 44)  before hiring an individual to perform your OSWT (Septic) inspection.

Please beware of Home Inspectors that offer septic inspections that are not licensed through or received training from the Department of Health and Senior Services. An improper septic inspection could cost you tens of thousands of dollars after the closing.

Here is a licensed OSWT inspector that I trust. If you need a well and/or septic inspection call Chris!

Show Me Soils

Quality Assurance Inspections

Do you really trust your sub contractors? Here are a few photos that I snapped during a couple of QA inspections. Unfortunately, the customer already paid the invoice.

QA InspectionsQA Inspection

If you have properties, it is important that needed repairs get completed quickly and properly. These are just a few of the QA inspection discrepancies that I have found for property owners after the invoices were paid. Then of course, they can not get in touch with the contractor to fix or complete their work.

Free Radon Test Kits

Good news for Everyone!

The State of Missouri will now provide homeowners with a Free Radon Test Kit. If you are interested in getting your free home radon test kit, please follow this link to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website. Free Radon Test Kit

If you are not sure how to perform the test, please follow this link for the instructions. Radon Test Kit Instructions

Radon is dangerous! Don’t play around with it! If you have never tested your home, please get it checked out now. Radon is the 2nd leading cause of Lung Cancer.