I'll be honest...inspecting crawl spaces is not one of my favourite aspects of performing home inspections, BUT it is certainly one of the most important aspects of a home inspection. This is where the rubber-meets-the-road.
You know, there are many home inspectors who 'inspect' crawl spaces from their access opening only. They tell their clients that this visual inspection is all that is required to tell whether everything's OK. Some home inspectors say that it's too dangerous to enter crawl spaces and so they do not enter them for their own safety. With today's technology, a home inspector might even convince his client that sending in a little drone is just as good as him physically entering the crawl. Not so, and you'll see why....
From day one, I've entered crawl spaces because the inside of a home can be pristine but what's going on under the house is just as important if not more so.
When a home has a crawl space, I put on my coveralls and breathing mask and off I go into the great abyss. Most of the time, it's not so bad but I really don't like it when I shine my flashlight through the darkness and I see two little beady eyes staring back at me! That has happened on several occassions. My clients are always happy to know whether there are 'free loaders' who call this their home.
The dampness of a crawl space is crucial because excess moisture can lead to wood rot and air quality issues. When you think about it, the wood floor structure is exposed to the elements in the crawl space and that same floor structure is holding up the house! I've seen wood beams, joists and floor plates look absolutely fantastic from the crawl space opening. Upon a closer look though, my awl has poked a hole right through a wood beam! Also, examining the crawl space from all angles is crucial too. From one angle, everything looks fine until you maneuvre yourself around and see it from another angle and gasp.
Here are a few of the things that I've seen in my 25 years of doing home inspections:
So folks, now you can answer the question as to whether it is important to actually go into a crawl space to properly inspect it? Here are just a few pictures illustrating my point.
With the recent ice storm, I thought I'd write about how the winter months can affect a home inspection. People buy homes throughout the year but during the winter months, some components may not be inspected as they are not visible or cannot be operated in cold weather.
We at Home Inspection Consultants Inc. are like the post man. Our home inspector works through rain, sleet, snow and ice storms!
People buy homes year-round, so we do home inspections no matter what the weather entails. There is no doubt that the weather will slightly hinder a home inspection, however a home inspection is still imperative when you are considering the huge investment of buying a home.
Other areas affected by the winter weather are sidewalks, driveways, grade and patios. Many times these areas are covered with snow and therefore they are not visible for the home inspector to inspect. The home inspector will still educate you on what to look for when the weather clears and you can always call our home inspector to ask any question that might arise come spring.
Not all home inspection companies go up onto the roof but our home inspector does. However, if the roof is covered with snow and/or ice, this becomes a safety issue and the roof is examined from its edge. The central air conditioning unit cannot be operated if the outside temperature is not a minimum of 65 F for three consective days. However, we do inform our client on the age of the unit and any visible issues at the time of the inspection.
So, although there may be limitations on a home inspection performed in the winter, it is still a very good educational experience and well worth the money and time so that the home buyer is informed on the current condition of his/her investment.
On the other hand, having a home inspection performed during the winter can be an advantage as it will reveal issues not readily visible in warmer weather. That includes burst water pipes (usually in crawl spaces) and missing insulation which is readily visible using the infrared camera. Also, ice dams are noticeable in the winter as are areas of air infiltration such as around windows and doors.
So, don't shy away from a winter home inspection. Homes are typically cheaper in the winter and the snow and cold weather can reveal potential issues that are not visible in the summer months!
I thought I'd give you a peek inside a home inspector's tool bag. My bag has certainly changed throughout the years. I can't believe that when I first started performing home inspections in Windsor and Essex County over 25 years ago, my bag included a Polaroid Camera amongst other tools. Yup, back then, digital cameras were just starting to become available to the general public and so I'd use a Polaroid camera so my client got instant results. I thought I'd include a picture of a Polaroid camera for you young ones who don't know what it is.
Anyway, today's home inspector tool bag contains state-of-the-art equipment that helps the house inspector see and diagnose the various conditions of the home.
I come prepared with several ladders so every effort is made to reach what other home inspectors might consider inaccessible areas. Since a portion of the home inspection takes place outside, a large golf umbrella has saved many clients during inclement weather throughout the years. Once inside the house, I wear my slippers so that I can be as respectful as possible to the home-owner.
In addition to my home inspection business, I have also been doing home inspections in the Windsor and Essex County area for the Mike Holmes Group (you know the Holmes on Holmes TV personality). Mike insisted that his home inspectors get the best infrared camera to do the job right. So, that's what I did and this camera cost about half of what I paid for my first house! This thermal imaging camera reads temperature differences which can indicate a number of things including moisture, air infiltration, and missing insulation.
I like my all-weather digital camera too. It is frost-proof, water-proof and drop proof. I remember when I got one of my first digital cameras, they were really expensive when they first came out and unfortunately not waterproof. One camera met its early demise in a sump pit. :(
Another important tool for a home inspector is the moisture meter. When an area looks suspect, I pull this meter out to pinpoint the exact location of the moisture pocket. From there, I use my knowledge and experience to find out why the moisture is there and then I can provide useful recommendations.
A level comes in handy to confirm the slope of plumbing drains. Of course, a multi-head screw driver is necessary for removing the electrical panel cover. I've got my trusty hand-vac too which has been used on several occasions after removing dusty attic access doors. Binoculars come in handy when inspecting the exterior of homes, while my telescopic mirror has enabled me to see up chimneys as well as around the corner in ducts. A strong flashlight is a necessity to illuminate attics as well as all corners of the crawl space.
When inspecting a crawl space, I wear coveralls and a good face mask. I know a home inspector who was very ill for months and the doctors believe it was from breathing-in material from a crawl space.
I use a poker or awl to check for wood rot. The awl also comes in handy while making my way from one end of a crawl space to another....sometimes there are so many spider webs that I twirl it around the webs (I call this 'making cotton candy out of webs').
Lastly, my carbon monoxide detector and natural gas detector have potentially saved a lot of lives over the years.
There you have it. I might have left a thing or two out but you get the jist of it. It takes more than a screw driver and flashlight to perform a thorough, comprehensive home inspection. A home inspector's tool bag has come a long way since the Polaroid Camera days.
The ‘hot’ housing market in Windsor & Essex County has negatively affected home buyers in many ways. As a veteran home inspector with 25 years of experience with the oldest locally-owned home inspection company, I have experienced the ebb and flow of the housing market. However, the current trend to eliminate home inspections from offers-to-purchase puts home buyers in a precarious situation. Home buyers are being advised to purchase a home with no conditions because a condition will jeopardize their offer even if their offer has a greater dollar value than the next.
The Ontario Government protects car buyers with the Used Vehicle Information Package and Safety Standards Certificate. Yet, the governing bodies are not protecting Ontario home buyers. With the current trend, whoever 'wins' or out-bids others with their offer-to-purchase does not truly know the condition of the home they are buying! Ontario home buyers should have the RIGHT to take the time to have a FULL home inspection performed by an Ontario Government-Recognized Home Inspector so that they can make an informed decision on their largest investment. If each offer-to-purchase had a home inspection clause, THIS would protect each home buyer and they would all be on a level playing field.
Our home inspector is now performing post-purchase home inspections and more times than not, the new home buyers are surprised with our findings and are in deep regret because they feel that they have no recourse – they’ve already bought the house. They all wish that they would have gotten the home inspection performed prior to making the decision on their biggest investment.
Why did the Government regulate the car sales industry with Safety Standards Certificates and Used Vehicle Information Packages?....to protect car buyers! When will the governing bodies protect Ontario home buyers? We are back to square one…Caveat Emptor (buyer beware).
I was going to talk about this week's "Polar Vortex" weather which affected us here in Windsor and Essex County and how to prepare your home for such cold weather, but instead I must speak my mind on what I heard on the radio this week.
I want to make my comments as precise as possible so I tried to google what I heard on the radio but couldn't find any information. So hopefully I'm relating what I heard accurately.
Currently, the Windsor Essex County Real Estate Board Members cannot disclose information regarding "Offers To Purchase" but they can disclose that there is an "Offer To Purchase" on a home. They are now mulling over whether they should disclose the particulars of the "offers" because home buyers are apparently over-paying for homes here in Windsor and Essex County due to the market frenzie. It is believed that if the home buyers know what the other offers are, they can adjust their offer accordingly and that will protect them.
Anyway, here are my thoughts. Every "Offer To Purchase" should include a mandatory FULL home inspection clause! Therefore, each and every home buyer knows exactly what they are putting an offer in on. Just like buying a car....you have to get a Safety Certificate and a Used Vehicle Information Package right! But the Ontario Government doesn't feel it is necessary to protect home buyers like it is necessary to protect the car buyers. Instead, home buyers are pressured into putting in an offer without any conditions due to the home-buying market here in Windsor and Essex County. Honestly, I don't think that disclosing the conditions of other offers is going to do much in terms of protecting home buyers.
What will protect home buyers is mandatory home inspections. Just like cars must have Safety Inspections and Used Car Information Packages, homes should have mandatory full home inspections performed by an Ontario Government-Recognized Home Inspector! Seriously, it is just plain laughable that simply disclosing information on other "Offers To Purchase" will protect home buyers! This will result in an auction-type situation and apparently some organization thinks that this protects home buyers lol. Whoever 'wins' or out-bids others with their "Offer To Purchase" still doesn't know the condition of what they are buying! People in power......please protect ALL home buyers by insisting on mandatory home inspections. Therefore no home buyer is pressured into buying a home without having the RIGHT to have a FULL home inspection performed on their largest investment!
Disclosing the particulars of other offers provides insight into how much another home buyer is offering on a home but does not protect anyone. What WILL protect home buyers is the RIGHT to take the time to have a FULL home inspection performed so that they can make an informed decision on their largest investment.
Why did the Government regulate the car sales industry with Safety Certificates and Used Vehicle Information Packages? To protect car buyers! Now the Real Estate Board wants to 'protect' home buyers by disclosing information in other "Offers to Purchase"....That won't PROTECT home buyers!! It will give them more information but it won't PROTECT them. What will help protect them is mandatory home inspections.
The government stepped in and mandated Safety Inspections and Used Vehicle Information Packages on every vehicle purchased/sold. The RIGHT for each home buyer to have their own home inspection performed on the home they are considering on buying will give each and every home buyer the protection and leverage they need to go forth confidently with their Offer To Purchase.
The government mandates vehicle inspections but not home inspections! This is mind-boggling and does not protect the home buyer in any way. Yes changes need to be made to the Real Estate Industry but whoever suggested that disclosing the particulars of competing offers will adequately protect home buyers is seriously delusional.
Let's go back to the car industry. If you were to buy a car before the safety certificate and used vehicle package came into play, you would look at a car and if you were lucky, you could take it for a spin around the block and decide if you want to buy it without knowing anything about it's history or condition. That's the chance you took back in the day.
The government and Real Estate Board obviously think that is the chance you should take when buying a house....your largest investment. Yes, because they are not insisting on protecting each and every home buyer with the RIGHT to have a full home inspection on the largest investment that they are likely going to make.
As you may know, I've been doing home inspections in Windsor and Essex County for over 25 years. I'd have to say that 9 times out of 10, the homebuyer asks me "Would you buy this house?" or sometimes they phrase it as "Would you let your daughter buy this house?" If I got a dollar for every time I got asked those questions, I'd have over $10,000 because I've performed that many home inspections in Windsor!
You would think that my answer to both of those questions would be the same no matter how the homebuyer phrases the question but actually my answer to each would be different. You see, if my daughter were to buy a particular home, her skills, needs, wants, likes, dislikes, budget etc are completely different than mine. Also, having built homes from the ground up prior to beginning my home inspection career puts me in a different bracket than my 24 year old daughter who works at a daycare and is a photographer. You see what I'm getting at?
As a professional home inspector, I state the facts. When I discover an 'issue' during the home inspection, each home buyer processes the information differently. By the way, I put a quote around the word issue because what is an issue for one home buyer is not remotely an issue for another. What may be a stumbling block for one client is perceived as a cool weekend project for another. I always tell my clients that there is no pass or fail to a home inspection. There are just the facts.
Stating the facts allows the home buyer to put everything into perspective according to their skills, wants, needs, likes, dislikes, budget etc. It educates the client on what is likely going to be their biggest investment.
I've seen clients buy a home that I would never have bought and on the other hand, I've seen clients walk away from a home that I would have definitely bought. I guess my daughter could say the same thing. So, I never give a yes or no answer to the most-asked question that a Home Inspector gets. As a professional Home Inspector, I would be doing my client a disservice if I did because unless the home buyer is a repeat customer, I meet my client for the first time at the job site. I have no idea what their skills, budget, likes, lifestyle, dislikes, needs, wants etc are.
In my 25 year career of inspecting homes in Windsor and Essex County, I have never had a client call me and say that they should have bought a house that they walked away from, or that they wished they had never bought the house that I inspected. Why, because I state the facts and the home buyer makes a decision that is right for THEM.
By the way, I have often heard new clients say that they wished that they had never bought their house that other home inspectors had inspected, but I'll save those stories for another blog lol.
This blog is going to be ongoing. You might want to check here often to see some of the interesting findings that I come across.
Home inspection reveals critter in the attic!
Just the other day, while doing a home inspection in Kingsville, I found a live bat in the attic of a high-end home. Our client was so thankful that our home inspectors go into attics or the little critter may not have been discovered until our client moved in and he heard rustling in the attic in the middle of the night....not to mention the damage that this little guy caused with his nesting and fesces.
Home inspection reveals faulty plumbing repair!
During a recent home inspection in Windsor, the home inspector came across this little gem-of-a-repair. I wonder how often the homeowner of this house goes into his crawl space to empty the bucket! I guess someone thought that you repair a plumbing leak by placing a bucket there to catch the water lol.
Home inspection reveals sub-standard deck!
Our client had a hard time convincing his real estate agent that he wanted a full home inspection. The agent told the home buyer that there was no time for a 3 hour inspection! We informed our client that we would not perform a quick verbal inspection as they are not insured and are in contravention of home inspection associations' Standards of Practice. Therefore he insisted on having a full home inspection and so his agent finally agreed lol. Anyway, our client loved the newer huge back porch but was surprised to find out that it was likely not installed by a reputable contractor. Some of the deficiencies noted by our home inspector included inadequate joist supports, improper installation of posts, handrail too low & missing spindles and improper supports. We always tell our clients that no house is perfect. This client was very thankfull for insisting on a full and thorough home inspection!
Tecumseh home inspection reveals breach in exhaust vent!
Recently I performed a home inspection in Tecumseh on a newer home. I am often asked if it is necessary to get a house inspection when purchasing a newer home. Here is an example of why a home inspection is suggested no matter the age of the home.
What you see here is a breach in the exhaust vent to a rented gas hot water tank. The homeowner was unaware of this situation and was very thankful that it was identified by our home inspector.
Post-Purchase Home Inspection Reveals Many Things...
So you've decided it's time to buy a home. In this crazy real estate market, it can certainly be a challenge with vendors stating that they will only look at offers on a particular date or even realtors stating that if your offer includes a home inspection, you are certain to not get the home.
We've been hearing these horror stories for about two years now. It is unfortunate that the home buyer is placed in this predicament and that the government doesn't step in and insist that all homes for sale have a home inspection just like our cars MUST have safety checks.
Anyway, many home buyers are now getting the home inspection done first and then they can put in an offer based on all the facts instead of succumbing to these pressures and emotions. A professional home inspector is not interested in selling homes but the best home inspector is interested in objectively using his home inspector training and construction experience to remove the emotions and state the facts.
This article will help you choose a professional, qualified and the best home inspector. Here are 10 questions to take into account when choosing the perfect home inspector for you:
This is from the desk of Murray Parish, President of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors OAHI
Published on December 10, 2018 - Licensing home inspectors took another step forward today. Murray Parish, RHI and John Hansen, RHI, President and Vice-President of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI) respectively, met with senior staff members at the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) along with other industry-related stakeholders.
“Today’s meeting was a great opportunity for OAHI to advocate for its members to ensure that licensing home inspectors— in particular the fee structure— is done in a way that is reasonable to them while safeguarding consumer protection,” said Parish.
Bill 59, the Putting Consumers First Act, which includes an Act to Regulate Home Inspectors, received Royal Assent in 2017. OAHI has been representing home inspectors throughout the legislative process of Bill 59 to bring forth the concerns and interests of home inspectors and the consumers they serve.
“OAHI believes that overall the meeting went well. Furthermore, OAHI will continue to promote the high level of education and professional standards as it has since 1994,”said Hansen.
We reiterate that OAHI supports the establishment of common competency requirements for all home inspectors to operate in Ontario. Licensing offers a reasonable way of permitting an individual to begin offering home inspection services to the public with the assurance of that basic competency being in place.
About the OAHI
Through education and advocacy, the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors cultivates a thriving home inspection industry based on the highest standards of professional development and ethical standards. In doing so, OAHI cultivates the ‘gold standard’ for home inspectors among consumers and the government. OAHI is the only provincially recognized body of home inspectors by The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors Act, 1994. OAHI is a not-for-profit association.
This year, I've noticed that the homes in my neighbourhood are decorated more than they have ever been in the past. I don't know whether there is an unspoken competiton going on that I don't know about. But it has got me thinking...
During the Christmas season, many households find that they don't seem to have enough electrical outlets to light up all their Christmas decorations or their electrical outlets aren't located where they need them.
A thorough home inspection by the best home inspector may have pointed that out, however the easy solution for most people is to just use extension cords without giving it another thought.
If extension cords can’t be avoided (I'm guilty too as I'm using a couple in my home this Christmas season), you should use multi-outlet power bars that are CSA-approved and provide surge protection. Make sure that electrical cords of any kind are not concealed under carpets or rugs where they can be easily damaged. Avoid overloaded circuits and octopus wiring as well as the use of extension cords as permanent wiring.
Other helpful tips include:
Just some thoughts from Windsor's Most Meticulous House Inspector. With that being said, happy decorating and remember the reason for the season!
I've come across a lot of interesting tidbits of information during my 25 year career as a home inspector. I've been told that I'm pretty meticulous and a good 'teacher', so hopefully you'll find some interesting information here..