8 Important Things to Do Before Selling Your Home

 Home Inspections Frederick, Germantown, Potomac, Clarksburg, Silver Spring MD
Are you getting ready to sell your house, but can’t figure out how to start preparing? Making sure you have your ducks in a row is the key to a smooth listing and selling process. Here are 8 important things to do before selling your home:

Get a Pre-Listing Inspection

The buyer’s home inspection during the contract contingency period often stalls negotiations between buyer and seller when it uncovers hidden issues. Don’t forget that once you are made aware of a significant defect in your home, you will have to disclose it to any future buyer. To avoid this headache, consider getting a pre-listing inspection.

In addition to giving you back some power, you also may discover problems that could completely derail a sale, such as a hazardous electrical panel or foundation cracks. This gives you the opportunity to address the issues before they pop up on an inspection report. You also get more freedom over who does the repair, which could save you money.

Make Necessary Repairs

Using the information you gained from the pre-listing inspection, make any repairs that may hold up the selling process. You especially want to fix major defects such as leaky roofs or broken windows while also taking care of the little details like a dripping faucet and re-caulking tubs, showers, and sinks. Don’t forget the exterior: have the gutters cleaned, the driveway sealed, and make sure there are no trip hazards. Attention to detail will make buyers feel confident that you’ve treated the rest of the house with that same level of care.

Declutter & Organize

Messy is a distraction. You want the buyers to be able to see how much room there is for them to put their own possessions in your house, and that stack of old magazines could be blocking out that perfect nook they would love otherwise.

But don’t just throw the clutter in a closet, or stuff it in the garage; buyers want to see every part of the home, and the last thing you want is for them to open a door and have piles falling on them! Make sure even the cupboards are organized, and take small steps like neatly stacking dishes and organizing your clothes. Again, attention to detail is key.

Repaint

If your home is full of bright and fun colors, you may want to tone them down a bit. While you might love intense colors throughout your home, most buyers are looking for a clean slate. Neutral colors allow buyers to concentrate more on the space and not think, “Wow, this pink is really bright.”

Fix the Decor

Just like the wall colors, you don’t want your decor to be too over-the-top. Some pieces of art and furniture may be more of a distraction than a help to the selling process.

You also want to put away any personal items. It may be hard to put away those framed pictures from your wedding, but the buyers want to be able to visualize themselves and their memories in the house. Use this as an opportunity to get a head start on packing!

Packing up big pieces of furniture also will help. You want your spaces to appear large and open, so if you have an awkwardly placed couch that closes off your living room, consider moving it or putting it in storage.

Make It Dreamy

Your end goal here is to make buyers picture themselves in your home. Many buyers spend their time looking for their “dream home,” so deliver on that! Make your bathrooms feel like miniature spas with soft towels and fancy soaps. Bake cookies to make the kitchen and adjoining areas smell nice. Open the windows on a nice day and let as much natural light in as possible.

When you make your house feel like it has the potential to be a home, you encourage buyers to get their imaginations going.

Clean, Clean, Clean!

This might seem obvious, but it cannot be stressed enough that a clean interior is one of the most (if not the most) important parts of selling your house. Cleaning the house should not be a quick project – this should take you most of the day before you start showing and require constant attention throughout the selling process. Here’s a checklist that covers most of what you’ll need to pay attention to:

  • Wash windows (inside and outside)
  • Power wash exterior and sidewalks
  • Dust cobwebs
  • Polish faucets and mirrors
  • Clean out the refrigerator
  • Vacuum
  • Wax the floors
  • Dust furniture, ceiling fans, and light fixtures
  • Bleach dirty grout
  • Keep fresh towels out
  • Air out musty areas

This isn’t a full list, so make sure you’re aware of what your home needs in order to shine!

Focus on Curb Appeal

Just like books, people may judge your home just from what’s on the outside. Make sure it looks welcoming and presentable. Mow the lawn, paint any faded window trim and the mailbox, plant flowers or other attractive plants in beds or front porch plots, pay attention to hedges and bushes, and make sure the house number is clearly displayed.

Getting your home prepared to sell can be a major project, but one that can be tackled with ease once you know where to start!

Thorough Pre-Listing Home Inspections in Maryland

Make sure you won’t have anything holding up your home’s selling process with a pre-listing home inspection by Inspections by Bob. We take our time, looking over every inch of your home so we find anything that might be a problem. After our inspection, you get a detailed report with recommendations, and our inspectors are available to answer any questions you might have. Contact us today to schedule your pre-listing home inspection!

7 Essential Home Maintenance Projects to Schedule Today

As home inspectors, we’ve seen it all. We’ve seen the damage that failing to perform even simple routine maintenance tasks can do, often leading homeowners to unnecessarily expensive repairs or replacement.

Here are 7 home maintenance projects to schedule today to save yourself from pricey repairs tomorrow:

Drain the Sediment from Your Water Heater

Over time, the bottom of your water heater accumulates sediment. This sediment can create hot spots and may lead to damage to the water tank if you have a gas-powered water heater. If your water heater is electric, the sediment can damage the lower heating element and may lead to failure.

Taking a few minutes each year to drain the sediment using the lower valve on your water heater can pay off in the long run. Not only will it improve the longevity of your water heater and prevent a catastrophic failure, but it can even save you money on energy costs. Win-win!

Clean Dryer Vents

According to the United States Fire Administration, more than 2,900 home fires each year are caused by clothes dryers, with 34 percent of those fires caused by unclean dryer vents. Lint builds up in your dryer vents and can spark a flame or, at the very least, causes your dryer to work harder and requires you to run your dryer longer with each load.

Use a vacuum with a flexible hose or specialized dryer-cleaning kit to clean the accumulated lint from the dryer vent and lint trap at least once every 6 months. This is especially important if you use fabric softeners, as they can cause increased lint build-up. If possible, remove the vent from the back of the dryer and the exterior of your house and remove any build-up. Smooth metal ducts help decrease lint accumulation, so consider swapping them out for corrugated metal vents. And if you have plastic dryer ductwork, replace it as soon as financially possible. Plastic ductwork increases the risk of fires.

Test Your Sump Pump & Backup Pump

A clogged or non-working sump pump can cause severe basement flooding, damaging your belongings and your home’s foundation. The time to find out if your sump pump is working is not during a heavy storm!

At least once a year, pour a bucket of water into the sump pump pit, making sure your pump switches on and drains the water. If you have a backup sump pump, repeat this process after switching off your main sump pump. If you have a battery-powered backup pump with a battery that’s more than 2 years old, replace the battery even if it seems to be working fine during your test.

Check Your Foundation

Your home’s foundation is among the most important things to keep in good repair. A faulty foundation can settle, leading to cracks that can let in water and damage your basement walls.

Twice a year – we recommend spring and fall – inspect your home’s foundation. Ensure that your landscaping grades away from the foundation by at least 6 inches over 10 feet. Also, check all water downspouts to make sure they extend at least 5 feet away from the base of the foundation. If you see damage or improper grading, fix the issues yourself or hire a professional.

Clean Gutters & Downspouts

Clogged gutters and downspouts can lead to short-term and long-term damage to your home. In the short term, clogged gutters can mean improper drainage and water pouring off your home’s roof during a storm. Over time, this can lead to water damage inside your home, damage to your foundation, sagging and broken gutters, or roof damage.

Get up on a ladder at least twice a year – in spring and late fall – and clear all leaves, sticks, and other debris. Use a hose or a bucket of water to make sure water flows properly through the gutters and downspouts. While you’re up there, check your roof for signs of damage. If you don’t feel comfortable getting up that high, bring in a handyman to help.

Get HVAC & Air Conditioning Systems Cleaned & Inspected

Have you ever been at home in the middle of a frigid day when your heater stops working? It’s expensive to get a repair person out to service your HVAC system, can take days because of an influx of calls, and is downright uncomfortable in the meantime.

Calling in a pro once per year, especially if you have an aging HVAC or air conditioning system, is vital to preventing these emergency repairs. A professional will clean and inspect your entire HVAC or air conditioning system, recommending maintenance to keep everything running smoothly. You can also take an active part in your HVAC and air conditioning maintenance, covering your air conditioner each winter. Also stay on top of changing your furnace filters. It’s recommended you change smaller (1”-2”) filters every 90 days and larger filters every 3-6 months, or more often if you have pets or anyone in your home has allergies.

Check Window Seals & Wells

Broken window seals mean air is escaping your home, decreasing your home’s energy efficiency and increasing your energy bills. Clogged, dirty, or damaged window wells could prevent water from properly draining outside your home, which can lead to flooding or water damage indoors.

At least twice per year, open your windows and clear the wells of any debris or dirt. This can be accomplished with traditional home cleaners or a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. As you clean, check the wells for damage and inspect around the windows themselves to see if you have any cracked or missing seals.

Expert Home Inspections in Central Maryland

At Inspections by Bob, we want to help you protect one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make by providing thorough, quality home inspections. Contact us today to schedule your personalized home inspection.

How long will it last? Average life expectancy of 6 Home Fixtures

Nothing lasts forever, especially not home appliances.

As a homeowner, you have to ask yourself how much longer you have until something needs replaced. Whether it’s a kitchen appliance, such as a refrigerator, or your favorite quality of life enhancement – the air conditioner – every bit of your home only has so long before it gives up the ghost. Outside of a major, obvious issue, how long can you expect before things need replaced?

Washer & Dryer

Although we put the washer and dryer together, they actually have different life expectancies. Washers are usually good for 11-14 years, depending on type, while dryers have an expectancy of 13 years. To keep these units in tip-top shape, practice routine maintenance and preventative measures. This include replacing any stretched belts, making sure they are level on the ground to reduce rattling, keeping the washer at least four inches away from the wall to help the water supply hoses from kinking, and, last but not least, not overloading the appliances.

Wiring

One of the scarier items on this list, damaged or insufficient wiring can be a real thorn in the side of the average homeowner. On the bright side, if everything is in working order, you can expect any copper-plated, copper clad aluminum, or bare copper wiring to last a lifetime. One important piece of maintenance homeowners can do is test circuit breakers. Beyond that simple test, you shouldn’t have to do much to keep your wiring going unless you have more serious issues brewing. Always err on the side of caution when it comes to anything electrical, and remember “better safe than sorry.” If electrical work seems intimidating or too dangerous, always consult a professional before attempting anything on your own.

Water Heater

These days there are two types of water heaters to consider: tank and tankless. Tank water heaters are the traditional model we all know, and you can expect one to last 10-13 years. Protective gloves, eyewear, and clothing are strongly advised while working on a water heater. The two easiest things you can do to keep your traditional water heater going is to occasionally test the pressure release valve and drain the tank to remove as much sediment as possible.

When it comes to the tankless models of water heaters, they are expected to keep going for more than 20 years. The only annual maintenance option with tankless water heaters is to flush the tank according to manufacturer’s directions.

Air Conditioner

The workhorse of summer sits in the middle of the pack with an expectancy of 10 to 15 years. As for maintaining your air conditioner, it’s all about cleaning out the dirt and debris. Removing the top fan gives you access to cleaning out the entirety of the unit’s interior. Making sure you get every bit of grime you can find out of the fins and then attempting to straighten any misshapen fins goes a long way. Finally, blowing the debris off of the air conditioner’s evaporator coil and leveling the unit helps keep everything running smoothly.

Refrigerator

Expected to have a good 14-19 years of life, many owners replace refrigerators before they run the risk of breaking down for good. There are a few steps you can take regarding fridge maintenance: clean the door seals and check that they are sealing properly, clean out the condenser coils and remove any surrounding dust, and make sure it’s never empty.

Gas Range Oven

The champion of the kitchen is your average gas range oven, which clocks in with an expectancy of 15 years. The best (or maybe worst) part about the gas range oven is that it keeps running smooth with a little TLC in the form of elbow grease. Get some soap, water, and a rag and go to town cleaning every bit of the inside and outside on a regular basis.

Keep in mind that none of the above numbers are set in stone, and life expectancy may depend on how well any previous owners treated the item. Regular maintenance of all of these items will keep them going for a long while, and make things much easier on your wallet. For more information on life expectancy of basic home components, check out our Lifespan of House Components brochure!

Careful Inspections – Our Specialty!

What Sets Us Apart?

We take our time. We look in every closet and bathroom, in the attic, the crawl space, and behind the furnace to give you the most thorough picture of your new home.

Even with our new electronic reporting, it still can take an hour per 1,000 square feet of space for a full inspection. A small vacant condo can take an hour or more including all the post-inspection work. For the average house, it takes us about three hours from start to finish.

Because we take our time, our inspectors can only complete two inspections each day. This allows them to be on top of their game for you so they don’t have to worry about finishing your job and rushing off to their next inspection. If we were a franchise or a large inspection company, it’s not uncommon for inspectors to have three appointments per day; this means they don’t really have the time to carefully examine every area of the house. This could lead to missing important issues!

We strive to make our reports short and understandable. Even with pictures, our electronic reports typically are between 25-30 pages long. We don’t include pages of boilerplate language, disclaimers, and padding about why a loose toilet can destroy your house. There is also a summary section to highlight the major issues.

Some issues really do need more explanation, but they don’t need to bog down your report. Inspections by Bob has created brochures on many topics, including wells, septic systems, generators, lead paint, and roofing. After each inspection, we choose from these brochures and present them to you at the end of the inspection in a custom-printed three-ring binder for, along with a home maintenance manual. This binder becomes a perfect starter to your “home book.,” a living document to record all the information about the maintenance, repairs, and improvements you make over the years so it’s all in one place.

We offer a limited set of additional services, such as radon and water quality testing. We send these tests to certified labs so the experts can do their jobs. There are some things, such as septic and chimney inspections, that require specialized equipment or knowledge to perform properly. For these jobs, talk with your agent to line up trained experts.

Although it can be nice to make one call to one company to get everything done, one-stop shops aren’t always the wisest choice. At Inspections by Bob, we don’t try to do too much. We do home inspections and only home inspections. Great home inspections.

When Home Inspectors Are Buyers, Part 2

On closing day, we got the keys to our new home and went over to start planning our to-do list. Our first critical task was to get a locksmith in to replace all three exterior door locks. That was accomplished the next morning.

Next on the list was to start choosing which projects would be tackled first. We created a shared document on Google, which allowed us both to make edits whenever we had an idea, and helped us really get a handle on what the priorities were.

There were three pretty obvious “must do” projects: redo the painfully-small and poorly-laid-out kitchen, upgrade the HVAC system, and convert the double electrical service back to one meter. There were a few more projects that were important to get done sooner rather than later as well: removing several large dying trees from the front and back yard, and doing something about the damaged chimney and fireplace. Getting all these projects done would put us at our budget for renovations. Of course, the house had other plans.

We knew there were some pretty bad problems with the electric and plumbing. Specifically, the previous owner’s work to split the house into apartments included dubious choices, such as running water lines through the unconditioned attic, and overstuffing junction boxes with too many wires. After a week or two of analyzing the issues and deciding what to prioritize, we started getting estimates from contractors.

After interviewing at least five companies, we settled on a local company to do most of the work, and hired a chimney company to do the chimney and fireplace, and a tree company to remove the trees. Then it became a question of getting on everyone’s schedules and start writing deposit checks (ouch).

First up was the tree removal, since one of the trees was blocking the chimney where scaffolding would need to be erected to repair the chimney top. With the help of a crane and a four-man crew, it took only a few hours to remove the diseased trees and grind the stumps (notice in the picture below that they had to lift the tree sections high up and over the power lines). One down!

Crane removing trees in back yard- Home Inspector, Radon Testing, Warranty Inspector- Frederick, Great Falls, Clarksburg, Gaithersburg, Germantown MD

One of the things we did not like about the house was that the fireplace was in the most illogical spot you could possibly imagine: right next to the front door. There was no way any kind of furniture could be arranged to enjoy it without blocking the entry. After some thought, we decided to abandon the fireplace entirely, and just have the chimney remain as a decorative feature of the front of the house. It was done in a way that would allow a future owner to restore the fireplace if desired. The chimney company rebuilt the top of the chimney and sealed up the fireplace and the two ash dumps in the basement. Two down!

Home Inspector, Radon Testing, Warranty Inspector- Frederick, Great Falls, Clarksburg, Gaithersburg, Germantown MD

Meanwhile, our contractor had started on the rest of the renovation. It involved removing the existing two kitchens (remember, it was two separate apartments), and leaving the appliances in the living room to be disposed of. Rather than just sending them to the dump, we sold them on Craigslist. After all, they were still working fine.

 

Remember about those surprises?

The renovation uncovered issues that were missed by three home inspectors (both of us, plus our hired inspector). So many issues were covered up with drywall, or behind insulation, or behind appliances. Fortunately, none of them were major, and just meant slight adjustments in the work we were already doing, but it was yet another reminder that even home inspectors will not be able to see things if they aren’t readily accessible. The reality  TV “home inspector” can cut open walls and punch holes; in real life we can’t.

One day we were sitting in the living room (what little of it was accessible due to most of the place being a construction zone), when we heard a very unwelcome noise. Dripping water.

Home Inspector, Radon Testing, Warranty Inspector- Frederick, Great Falls, Clarksburg, Gaithersburg, Germantown MD

Yep, we had a leak in the roof, and when we looked outside we saw the streak of moisture running down the wall. This showed us that the leak was most likely at the junction of the dormer window and the roof — a prime spot for water intrusion. This was something that hadn’t shown up at all during the sale process, mostly due to the fact that there had been very little rain during that time (and the ceiling had been freshly painted). But now we had had several days of moderate rain, and it was enough for the roof to cry uncle at that spot.

Our contractor shifted gears and sent over a crew to remove the shingles from the affected area, which revealed a large patch of rotted sheathing that needed to be replaced. It also required cutting a hole into a wall upstairs to access a kneewall crawl area, and… hello, is that bat guano?

Rotted sheathing due to water leaks-Home Inspector, Radon Testing, Warranty Inspector- Frederick, Great Falls, Clarksburg, Gaithersburg, Germantown MD

So now we had to add the unexpected roof repairs and animal exclusion to our project. So much for staying within our budget. Fortunately, we had some flexibility to go a bit past it, but it would mean postponing other improvements for a year or two.

 

A Bumpy Ride to a Great Outcome

Overall, the renovation process went reasonably smoothly. There were a few bumps along the way: the sink we had purchased ended up not fitting, and we had to do a mad scramble to find a replacement the day before the kitchen would be measured for counters. Lots more wires in the attic ended up needing to be replaced due to damaged insulation (nibbled off by squirrels). We had to get a Radon remediation system installed. And the wonky wiring throughout the house gave the electricians fits because the arc fault circuit breakers kept tripping (the cause turned out to be a combination of improperly shared neutrals, along with wires crimped inside light fixtures). In the end, though, we have a house that is comfortable for two empty-nesters. The only really visible improvements are the new kitchen, and some new flooring in one upstairs room. The rest is really infrastructure.

The old kitchen:

Home Inspector, Radon Testing, Warranty Inspector- Frederick, Great Falls, Clarksburg, Gaithersburg, Germantown MD

The new kitchen, from the same angle:

New kitchen viewed from dining area-Home Inspector, Radon Testing, Warranty Inspector- Frederick, Great Falls, Clarksburg, Gaithersburg, Germantown MD

This is one of the things we like to point out to our clients, especially those looking at flipped houses: The cosmetic fixes are really not where the money goes. Rather, it is the infrastructure, the invisible stuff, that eats up the budget. It’s easy to be blinded by gleaming stainless steel appliances and pretty new flooring, but it is far more important to know whether things like the foundation, plumbing and electrical systems are working properly. Only about a third of our budget was spent on the kitchen; the rest was infrastructure. And there is still more infrastructure work to be done (like upgrading the virtually non-existent insulation in the attic).

Our new home is a work in progress, as nearly all homes are that were built in the 20th century. There will always be something to fix, or upgrade, or paint, or replace.

Remember infrastructure comes first. Being fixated on “Oooh, shiny!” cosmetic work put on top of degraded and dangerous infrastructure is money wasted as you will likely damage or destroy your nice new shiny thing when it has to be removed to fix the infrastructure below. Better to get the infrastructure done first (and done right) rather than falling victim to “lipstick on a pig”!

Got questions on how (or why) we did things during our renovation? Feel free to ask!

When Home Inspectors are Home Buyers

Late last year, we sold our home of 20 years and started the search for a new place to live. Our kids were grown and on their own, and we were looking for something a lot smaller, with less maintenance, and also wouldn’t need extensive repairs or upgrades. We figured it wouldn’t be too hard to find something that would fit our needs.

Well, a few weeks into the process and we realized that it was going to be harder than we anticipated. After spending years scrutinizing houses for defects and safety issues, it was nearly impossible to “turn off” the home inspector brain and start thinking about all the other things that make up a home: the layout, the kitchen, the yard… all the myriad little things that tell you, “I could live here!”

As home inspectors, we are trained to turn off that side of our brains during an inspection. We’re not there to determine whether a particular kitchen layout will work for your type of cooking; our job is to check the cabinets, appliances, and other components to make sure they are installed correctly and operating normally. We’re not looking at the bedrooms with an eye towards placing our furniture and whether there’s enough closet space for us; instead, we’re testing the outlets and windows.

Our wonderful Realtor drove us to house after house. As soon as we were in the door, we headed to the basement to look at the foundation and utilities. On a few occasions, we would know within a few minutes that it wasn’t the house for us based on what we saw. Even houses at the top of our price range had some pretty serious issues.

Once a house passed this first crucial test, then we would start thinking about things like whether we liked the kitchen, or which direction the front door faced, or where the master bedroom was.

Home Inspector, Radon Testing, Warranty Inspector- Frederick, Great Falls, Clarksburg, Gaithersburg, Germantown MD

“This might be the one!”

We did finally find a house that met a lot of our criteria, except for one: it would need extensive renovation. It had been split into two apartments, and we would have to restore it to a single family dwelling. But it met all our other requirements with regards to square footage, lot size, and location, and even with renovation, it would be within our budget. We made our offer.

Although we had done our own “home inspection” as if we were inspecting it for a client, we knew we could not do the official home inspection as it would be a pretty clear conflict of interest. So we hired our own home inspector. Even though he didn’t find anything we hadn’t already found ourselves, having his independent report gave our Realtor the ability to do some pretty serious negotiations. Finally, in early January, we closed on our new home and immediately started the process of getting estimates for the work to be done.

 

Coming in Part 2: A House with Surprises

Now Offering Home Energy Score Assessments!

We are proud to announce that we are now officially certified by the Department of Energy to perform Home Energy Score Assessments! Welmoed completed the training and passed all the tests to receive her certificate this week.

Welmoed Sisson receives her certificate-Home Inspector, Radon Testing, Warranty Inspector- Frederick, Great Falls, Clarksburg, Gaithersburg, Germantown MD

What is the Home Energy Score?

This is a new program started by the Department of Energy to serve as sort of an “Miles per Gallon” rating for houses, so people can get an accurate idea of their energy costs, and how to reduce them in the future. Getting the score can also mean a reduction in your mortgage rate! You can read all about it here!

During the Assessment, we will take careful measurements of the floor area, the ceiling heights, insulation, appliance condition, and more. Even the color of the roofing is factored into the final score, which is a number from 1 to 10. The higher the number, the more energy efficient the house.

How can you get your assessment?

Just give our office a call at (301) 208-8289 to schedule your appointment. The fee is $200, but if the assessment is done in conjunction with a home inspection, the fee is $100. We gather the required information on site and you will receive the completed report as a PDF file. The report will include suggestions for improvements you can make to lower your energy bills.

 

Boring home inspections and why you want one

You may not realize it, but you really do want a boring home inspection.

Home Inspector, Radon Testing, Warranty Inspector- Frederick, Great Falls, Clarksburg, Gaithersburg, Germantown MDYou hope we’ll find nothing broken, old, dirty, worn out, toxic, hazardous, with special needs, needing servicing, scary or otherwise noteworthy. That we will just document what is there, and show you where all the valves and shutoff are.

Sorry to say, boring inspections are very, very rare. Even new houses have things that need fixing, cleaning, adjusting, etc.

We like boring houses, sort of. They make for quicker inspections (less to write down or take pictures of), so we might get to relax and enjoy our lunch for a change rather than scarfing a burger in the car on the way to the next appointment. But sometimes our clients feel shortchanged; they just spent money to find out the house they are buying is perfectly fine. What a waste!

Of course it’s not a waste. We like to compare it to having a well-equipped fire department. You want to know that they have the very best equipment, and the best possible training, but you really hope they never have to pay you a visit. The same goes for home inspections: you want an inspector with extensive training and knowledge to spot the problems, but you really hope they don’t find any.

Sometimes clients do want us to find things. They want that exciting, scary thing in the dark back reaches of some closet/attic/crawlspace so they can negotiate a better deal. However, it’s not our job to help you reduce the sales price. In fact, we don’t care what the house may be worth, or what your negotiated price is, or even how much those new granite countertops added to the value. We are focused solely on whether the house is safe, comfortable, will keep out the elements, and that everything in it is doing its job properly. That’s it.

When we schedule an inspection, we allow time for an average house of whatever size, with an average amount of issues, with an average amount of discussion, and then add a little extra for insurance, “just because.” We’ve had inspections go way past their scheduled time slots because of the myriad issues that cropped up. We’ve never yet left an incomplete job because another one was scheduled to start. In these cases we have dispatched our second inspector to take that second appointment so we can devote all the attention necessary to finish up the first.

Sometimes we find things, and then we find more, and then still more. Pretty soon the client realizes we have just saved them thousands of dollars because they didn’t realize it was a money pit, and wasn’t in as good shape as they thought it was…

Boring is Good. You really want to be happy to pay for Boring.

Hidden Leaks: Home Inspectors Don’t Have X-Ray Vision

A few months ago our daughter bought her first home. She asked us to do a home inspection on it prior to writing her offer, and also had another inspector do the official inspection on it (to make sure there was no whiff of bias when presenting the report to the seller). There were a few issues, and she negotiated with the seller to address them. They closed and moved in and have been happy.

Last Friday, we were headed up to visit her (her house is about half an hour away). We were less than a mile from her house when Bob’s phone rang: “Drive faster! My house sprang a leak!!”

When we arrived, she was setting any available pot, bowl, or other container in the basement to catch the water that was dripping from the ceiling. She told us she had just taken a shower, and was walking into the kitchen when she thought she heard water running. She went down to the basement to investigate and saw the leaks. After shutting off the main water valve, she called us.

Flooded Utility Room-Home Inspector, Radon Testing, Warranty Inspector- Frederick, Great Falls, Clarksburg, Gaithersburg, Germantown MD

Bob started poking holes in the drywall to relieve the pressure and allow the water to drain. Then he cut a hole in the ceiling to find the source of the leak. It didn’t take long: the culprit was the hot water pipe leading to the master bath shower.

Loose Pipe-Home Inspector, Radon Testing, Warranty Inspector- Frederick, Great Falls, Clarksburg, Gaithersburg, Germantown MD

It looked like one of the pipes had come completely loose. But where? There was no access panel for the plumbing in that bathroom, so another hole had to be cut into the drywall. This revealed the problem: there was a PEX plumbing pipe glued to a CPVC elbow, and the joint simply pulled apart. PEX is not meant to be glued at all; it’s like Teflon. There’s nothing for glue to grab on to.

PEX glued to CPVC doesn't work-Home Inspector, Radon Testing, Warranty Inspector- Frederick, Great Falls, Clarksburg, Gaithersburg, Germantown MD

Fortunately, Bob was able to fix the pipe (by patching it with mechanical fittings, rather than glue), and all is well. Because she was home and acted quickly, the carpet wasn’t ruined, no belongings were damaged, and they only have a few drywall patches to make. But now Diana and her fiance are wondering just how many other such glued joints there are in the house. They are going to purchase a borescope to examine the plumbing as best they can, so they can address any problem joints before they have another leak. Since the entire basement is finished, this will mean more holes in the drywall. But it beats having to recover from a flooded basement.

All fixed, with mechanical fittings-Home Inspector, Radon Testing, Warranty Inspector- Frederick, Great Falls, Clarksburg, Gaithersburg, Germantown MD

The moral of the story is that no home inspector could have spotted this issue. The joint was inside a wall, with no access panel, and no way to see the condition of the pipes or joints without doing destructive testing. She was just unlucky that the sellers had done sub-standard work on the house. Yes, they were flippers. It’s one of the reasons we warn our clients about flipped houses! Home inspectors do not have X-ray vision, and here’s proof!

Why We Go Above Minimum Requirements for State Continuing Education Courses

To be a licensed home inspector in Maryland, we are required to obtain a minimum of 15 continuing education credits per year in state-approved classes. Inspections by Bob believes that a good home inspector needs to surpass this required minimum, to increase education in subjects that ultimately benefit our home inspection business and the lives of our home inspection clients.

It Broadens Our Home Inspection Knowledge

As members of the American Society of Home Inspectors Association (ASHI), we have an even higher requirement: at least 20 credits per year. We routinely exceed this, with multiple seminars, conferences, on-line classes, video chats, and even teaching classes for home inspection certification. Although we may not operate as electricians or plumbers for example, the refresher courses we take in the various trades are helpful to us so that we understand their services and what manufacturers and/or states require of them. This not only helps us perform better, but also creates a greater appreciation for what these trades do.

It Benefits Homeowners

Attending a wide range of classes and events does more than just benefit us directly; it allows us to pass on information about energy efficiency, security and operation of products people use every day. Non-credit events such as home shows can help us learn about the new products that are entering the market. Recently we saw a new high-end shower enclosure with multiple controls that homeowners love; by attending the show, we were able to learn how it worked so we could demonstrate it to our clients when we came across it at a home inspection. We spent several hours at a high-end kitchen appliance showroom, learning about the latest in appliance technology, including how to operate and test unusual appliances such as steam ovens and internet-connected refrigerators.

As stated before, attending these home and builder shows, remodeling shows and expos provides Inspections by Bob with more knowledge about new products and techniques.  Ultimately it benefits homeowners. If you happen to see us at any of these events, make sure you say hello. We’d love to hear how your home is doing and are here to offer more assistance.

Contact us or call us at 301-208-8289 to learn more about our home inspection services.