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Walk Through Checklist While House Shopping

Walk Through Checklist While House Shopping                        

When you’re ready to buy a house, you may be thinking of how that couch of yours is going to look in the living room or what paint colors you plan to change.  However, there are other things to look for as you look at potential homes.

What to Bring – It’s a good idea to take a notepad along; after looking at several homes, it may be difficult to remember the features or problem areas of any one.  Also, a flashlight is important as poorly lit rooms often hide issues.  And of course, a measuring tape will always come in handy.

Now let’s look at the basics:

Foundations – Pay attention to the foundation and/or crawl space underneath.  Check inside and out for cracks, paying close attention to walls ceilings and floors as a whole.  Open and shut all doors, as a sticking or “phantom door” may signify movement.  Take a few steps back and look at the structure for any bowed walls or sagging roof areas.

Grade and Drainage – Take a good look at the grading around the house and make sure there are no areas where water can pond.

Insulation – Attics should have a minimum of R-19 insulation in a moderate climate, and R-38 in colder and hotter climates.  Find the attic access and take a look.  Also, if the insulation is too old, it will settle and compact, loosing R-Value.

Plumbing – Turn on several fixtures at one time to assess the pressure.  Check to see if there is a plumbing clean-out outside (usually by the water meter).  This will let you know if the waste line is old and outdated which could be a costly repair.

Systems and Appliances – Try to find out the age/condition of the major systems; AC unit, furnace, water heater.  Is the water heater big enough for your family’s needs?  Check to see what appliances are staying and what condition they are in. Is there a dishwashing machine and if not is there room to add one?

Hope this helps out and happy house hunting!

Keep Your Energy Bills Out of Hot Water

 

Keep Your Energy Bills Out of Hot Water

By Ben Gromicko on August 22, 2012 in Saving Energy and Money, Water Heating

Water heating is the third largest energy expense in your home. It typically accounts for about 15% of your utility bill. There are four ways to cut your water heating bills: use less hot water, turn down the thermostat on your water heater, insulate your water heater, and buy a new, more energy-efficient model. Look for the ENERGY STAR label.

Water Heating Tips

  • Install aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads.
  • Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time.
  • Lower the thermostat on your water heater. Water heaters sometimes come from the factory pre-set at a high temperature, but setting it at 120° F provides comfortably hot water for most uses.
  • Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank, but be careful not to cover the thermostat. Follow the manufacturer’s      recommendations.
  • Insulate your natural gas or oil hot-water storage tank, but be careful not to cover the water heater’s top, bottom,      thermostat, or burner compartment. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations; when in doubt, get professional help.
  • Insulate the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater.
  • If you’re in the market for a new dishwasher or clothes washer, consider buying an efficient, water-saving ENERGY STAR model to reduce hot water use.
  • Install heat traps on the hot and cold pipes at the water heater to prevent heat loss. Some new water heaters have built-in heat traps.
  • Drain a quart of water from your water tank every three months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. The type of water tank you have determines the steps to take, so follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Although most water heaters last 10 to 15 years, it’s best to start shopping now for a new one if yours is more than seven years old. Doing some research before your heater fails will enable you to select the best one that meets your needs.

Long-Term Savings Tips

  • Buy a new energy-efficient water heater. While it may cost more initially than a standard water heater, the energy savings will      continue during the lifetime of the appliance. Look for the ENERGY STAR and Energy Guide labels.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR label on efficient water heaters in the following categories: high-efficiency gas non-condensing, gas condensing, electric heat pump, gas tankless, and solar.
  • Consider installing a drain water waste heat-recovery system. A recent DOE study showed energy savings of up to 30% for water heating using such a system.
  • Consider a natural gas on-demand or tankless water heater. Research has found that savings can as high as 30% compared to a standard natural gas storage tank water heater.
  • A heat pump water heater can be very cost-effective in some areas and climates.

Solar Water Heaters

If you heat water with electricity, have high electric rates, and have an unshaded, south-facing location (such as a roof) on your property, consider installing an ENERGY STAR-qualified solar water heater. Solar units are environmentally friendly and can be installed on your roof to blend in with the architecture of your house.

More than 1.5 million homes and businesses in the United States have invested in solar water heating systems, and surveys indicate that more than 94% of these customers consider the systems a good investment. Solar water heating systems are also good for the environment. Solar water heaters avoid the greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity production. During a 20-year period, one solar water heater can avoid more than 50 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. When shopping for a solar water heater, look for the ENERGY STAR label and for systems certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation, or the Florida Solar Energy Center.

 

 

 

Preventative Maintenance Inspections

Regularly Scheduled Preventative Maintenance Inspections Can Help You Save Thousands!

It is recommended that you receive a Home Maintenance Inspection every 2 years after the purchase of your home, or immediately following severe weather.  A Maintenance Inspection provides a detailed report about any damage or issues found to the systems or structure of the home, identifies differed maintenance, and educates the homeowner how to properly stay on top of this maintenance.

For about the cost of a basic automotive tune-up, a Home Maintenance Inspection can help identify problems and damage in a home before they become extensive.  Ironically, homes are maintained far less frequently than cars (though a house often costs ten to twenty times as much as a car). A home rarely receives a “check-up”, and problems that occur in a home are typically only addressed after something breaks or after extensive damage forces one to make repairs. Most homeowners don’t consider that, if found early on, repairs will often be less expensive.

One reason that homeowners don’t get their homes periodically inspected is because they aren’t aware that the service is available outside of the real estate transaction period. I regularly educate customers about maintenance inspections and truly believe in their benefit to a homeowner.  I am able to save customers thousands of dollars by finding issues before they become larger and more costly and also educate my customers how to perform most of their own maintenance themselves. Please feel free to call if you have more questions, and as always, protect your investment!

 

Jared L. Beard

Owner of Site Hawk Home Inspections, LLC

512 – 221-3929

Home maintenance checklist to help avoid insurance claims

When people think about home insurance claims, they often envision major disasters, but in reality, many claims are completely preventable.   By conducting a regular maintenance check around the house, you can greatly reduce the risk of an unnecessary claim. Most of these checks can be performed every three months unless otherwise noted.

Plumbing:

  • Make sure to locate the water shut-off valve outside the house and mark it properly so that the water can be shut off quickly in case of an emergency
  • Check the supply hoses going into the washing machine. Look for signs of fraying or rust around the coupling.  If you see anything suspect, replace the hose.
  • Inspect the waste pipes under all sinks; make sure not loose and no sign of leakage
  • Inspect all hot and cold supply lines and shut off valves (do not turn the valves, just look for corrosion or leakage and call a licensed plumber if detected)
  • Call a plumber immediately if there’s rust in the tap water
  • Be on the lookout for big changes in your water bill. A significant hike can be the first indication of a costly leak.
  • Check water heater for signs of corrosion or leaks
  • Flush your water heater to remove sediment build-up. (removing a few gallons from the bottom of the tank will do this)
  • Check temperature relief valve on the water heater for corrosion or leakage. (do not open valve, rotate in a circular motion to make sure valve is not stuck)
  • Call a licensed plumber if anything is suspect with the water heater
  • Locate and make sure no water is coming from the emergency drain line for the HVAC unit. (this drain is usually located over a window or door so can be easily noticed)  Water dripping from the emergency drain line is a warning indicator that something is drastically wrong with primary condensate drain system and a qualified service technician is needed.
  • Check HVAC emergency drain pan for water (call service tech if water is found)
  • Pour a cup of half bleach/half water into the access for the drain line every 6 months to prevent mold/mildew buildup which can clog the drain

Fire Prevention:

  • Locate and mark your gas shut-off valve so you can close quickly in an emergency
  • Have baking soda and a fire extinguisher readily available in the kitchen (Be particularly careful when heating oil or grease and never leave pots unattended)
  • Clean the lint screens in the clothes dryer frequently and have the exhaust pipe cleaned out professionally once a year.
  • Change the batteries in smoke alarms every six months.
  • Clear your yard of dead brush and trim back tree branches and shrubs away from the house
  •  Stack firewood away from your home — not against it.

How to keep your house cool in summer heat

                       Protect your home and wallet from summer heat

As temperatures reach their peak this summer, we have the luxury of escaping indoors to air-conditioned comfort. Unfortunately, our home’s exterior isn’t as lucky.  It must bear the brunt of summer’s heat and humidity.  Because of this, the inside of our home absorbs added heat, causing our air conditioner to work harder to keep the home at a comfortable temperature, greatly increasing our energy costs.

That’s why, it’s important to take measures that can keep your home as cool as possible.  Here are a few tips that can help:

 

  • Dealing with sunlight

Keep your windows, blinds and curtains closed on hot, sunny days to keep your house from heating up. Your air conditioner will have to work a lot harder to lower the temperature if you allow the sun to heat up your house.

An even better option would be to add solar screens to windows facing the most sun.  Solar screens can offer temperature reduction of up to 15 degrees and savings of up to 25-30% of the cooling portion of electric energy costs.  They also offer UV protection, eliminating fading and discoloration of indoor materials.

 

  • Use your fan along with your AC

By turning on a fan in the room that you are in, you can have your thermostat set one or two degrees higher and not even notice the difference.

 

  • Proper attic ventilation

Temperatures in the attic can easily exceed 150 degrees F.  This heat can penetrate your ceilings, contributing to higher cooling costs.  Improper attic ventilation can also accelerate the aging process by decreasing the life of your roof shingles, ruining your attic insulation, damaging roof framing members, and contributing to mold growth.

Proper ventilation should provide continuous air flow, entering from the soffit vents (under roof overhangs and exiting from roof or ridge vents at the top.  This process happens naturally through convection.  As the warm air rises, it draws cooler air from the soffit vents.  Because of this process, half of the vented area of your roof should be high and the other half low.  Consult with a qualified roofing company if you believe you are in need of proper ventilation.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Landscaping

Strategically placed trees and shrubs can help cool a home.  Place deciduous trees and shrubs on your home’s east and west sides to block sun from entering your home. Also, plant leafy ground covers to cool the area around your home. Is your AC unit in direct sun?  Planting a shade tree or bush near the unit (be careful not to clog the unit intake by planting too close) can reduce the amount of energy required to cool your home by 10 percent.

Why Certification is Important

The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) promotes a high standard of professionalism, business ethics and inspection procedures. InterNACHI members subscribe to the following Code of Ethics in the course of their business.

I.   Duty to the Public

  1. The InterNACHI member shall abide by the Code of Ethics and substantially follow the InterNACHI Standards of Practice.
  2. The InterNACHI member shall not engage in any practices that could be damaging to the public or bring discredit to the home inspection industry.
  3. The InterNACHI member shall be fair, honest, impartial, and act in good faith in dealing with the public.
  4. The InterNACHI member shall not discriminate in any business activities on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, sexual orientation or handicap, and shall comply with all federal, state and local laws concerning discrimination.
  5. The InterNACHI member shall be truthful regarding his/her services and qualifications.
  6. The InterNACHI member shall have no undisclosed conflict of interest with the client, nor shall the InterNACHI member accept or offer any undisclosed commissions, rebates, profits or other benefit, nor shall the InterNACHI member accept or offer any disclosed or undisclosed commissions, rebates, profits or other benefit from real estate agents, brokers or any third parties having financial interest in the sale of the property, nor shall the InterNACHI member offer or provide any disclosed or undisclosed financial compensation directly or indirectly to any real estate agent, real estate broker or real estate company for referrals or for inclusion on lists of preferred and/or affiliated inspectors or inspection companies.
  7. The InterNACHI member shall not communicate any information about an inspection to anyone except the client without the prior written consent of the client, except where it may affect the safety of others or violates a law or statute.
  8. The InterNACHI member shall always act in the interests of the client, unless doing so violates a law, statute or this Code of Ethics.
  9. The InterNACHI member shall use a written contract that specifies the services to be performed, limitations of services, and fees.
  10. The InterNACHI member shall comply with all government rules and licensing requirements of the jurisdiction where s/he conducts business.
  11. The InterNACHI member shall not perform or offer to perform, for an additional fee, any repairs or associated services to the structure for which the member or member’s company has prepared a home inspection report for a period of 12 months. This provision shall not include services to components and/or systems that are not included in the InterNACHI Standards of Practice.

II.  Duty to Continue Education

  1. The InterNACHI member shall comply with InterNACHI’s current Continuing Education requirements.
  2. The InterNACHI member shall pass InterNACHI’s Online Inspector Exam once every calendar year.

III.  Duty to the Profession and InterNACHI

  1. The InterNACHI member shall strive to improve the home inspection industry by sharing his/her lessons and/or experiences for the benefit of all. This does not preclude the member from copyrighting or marketing his/her expertise to other Inspectors or the public in any manner permitted by law.
  2. The InterNACHI member shall assist the InterNACHI leadership in disseminating and publicizing the benefits of InterNACHI membership.
  3. The InterNACHI member shall not engage in any act or practice that could be deemed damaging, seditious or destructive to InterNACHI, fellow InterNACHI members, InterNACHI employees, leadership or directors.  Accusations of a member acting or deemed in violation of such rules shall trigger a review by the Ethics committee for possible sanctions and/or expulsion from InterNACHI.

  4. The InterNACHI member shall abide by InterNACHI’s current membership requirements.

  5. The InterNACHI member shall abide by InterNACHI’s current message board rules.

From Home Inspector Code of Ethics – InterNACHI http://www.nachi.org/code_of_ethics.htm#ixzz1xc5Dtn3r

(Information taken from the interNACHI website)

Site Hawk Home Inspections, LLC Copyright 2012. Produced by Hot Dog Marketing