Licensed in Maryland and member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). One of fewer than 2% of home inspectors in the country who are female. Happy to answer any home inspection, home maintenance or home safety questions!

Inspections by Bob -- I'm "Mrs. Bob"!

Edited: Wow, thanks for all the great questions!! I need to leave the computer for now, but will check back in the morning and try to answer more.

Comments: 253 • Responses: 83  • Date: 


I'll be buying my first house in the next year or so. What are some rookie mistakes for me to avoid?

welmoed52 karma

It's hard for home buyers to keep a dispassionate view; they're busy imagining where Grandma's china hutch will go, or which kid will get which bedroom. You need to do a personal "risk analysis" before starting to look at houses. By this I mean you need to decide how much money you are prepared to spend to fix problems in the house after you've purchased it. Never assume the seller will fix things or give you money back, especially for bank-owned properties. Share this information with your realtor, so he/she doesn't show you houses that will require more work than you're prepared to take on.

The real biggies in terms of repairs include:

  • New roof (can be $8K or more, depending upon size & material)

  • New HVAC ($8K and up)

  • Foundation issues (Can be VERY expensive, like $15K)

  • Polybutylene plumbing ($10K and up)

  • Aluminum wiring ($50 per outlet/switch to remediate)

  • Chimney damage (chimney repairs can be VERY expensive)

  • Dangerous decks (life of a deck is less than 20 years)

  • Work done without a permit (can mean an insurance claim being denied in the future)

This is just a partial list, of course. The main thing is to be fully aware that any house you will look at will have issues. Choose your own home inspector; interview them and make sure you like how they communicate with you. Don't just blindly hire the one the realtor recommends; they may be great, but you want to have the final say.

Surlytaco13 karma

Polybrutal plumbing ($10K and up)


Source: Have PB in floor heating in a 20 year old house. Interestingly, it affects our cast-iron boiler because the polybrutal tubing isn't an oxygen barrier. The oxygen diffuses straight through the floor, the concrete subfloor, and the tubing and with that oxygenates the water-glycol fluid. That gets back to the boiler, and if things aren't connected and run properly, rust can form! Yayyyyyyyy... sort of.

Source of source: Dad is a 1st class power engineer. He's kind of a big deal ...

welmoed4 karma

Thanks; I'm going to appropriate that.

en_route18 karma

I'm selling and will have an inspection soon. Anything I should do to prepare?

welmoed45 karma

Great question! One of the best things you can do is to make sure the inspector can access everything they need to. This includes the attic access, furnace and water heater, and electrical panel. Want the inspector to really love you? Leave a note in the kitchen that tells us the age of the roof, the HVAC, and the water heater.

Have the HVAC serviced if you haven't had that done in more than a year, and have the service report available.

Don't leave a car parked in the garage during the inspection; it prevents us from testing the garage door opener.

Since we'll be running the dishwasher, go ahead and fill it up with dirty dishes and put soap in the dispenser.

Make sure there are no burned-out light bulbs anywhere; since we can't know if it's the bulb or the fixture that's not working, we have to write it up as a defect.

Allow enough time for the inspector to do their job. I've had sellers of 5,000-square-foot homes who are indignant that we need more than two hours to perform the inspection. Figure on the inspector needing an hour per 1,000 square feet, including the basement space.

Take your dogs with you when you leave, and let us know if there are any cats that either are allowed to go out or not, or must be confined to a certain space.

Doing these things will make the inspection go smoother for everyone!

Beeb29412 karma

Don't leave a car parked in the garage during the inspection; it prevents us from testing the garage door opener.

I'm curious, why?

welmoed13 karma

Because of the small but not impossible risk of either the garage door falling or a tension spring snapping. Either could damage a vehicle, not to mention doing some damage to the inspector!

JustDroppinBy3 karma

Garage door spring are no joke. Those things could kill someone.

Source: shattered windshield and cracked body of dad's '96 corvette

sathirtythree1 karma

Isn't the lack of safety cable in the spring a knock on an inspection?

welmoed2 karma

Yes, but it's not unheard of for the safety cable to have frayed.

Derekabutton-1 karma

Water heaters all have their age written in some code on the sticker that has all the specs and whatnot.

welmoed4 karma

Sure, most equipment has coded dates. It's just nice when sellers don't make us hunt for it.

pedantic_dullard1 karma

My water heater got replaced under warranty last summer. Because I have an awful memory, I used a permanent market and wrote "replaced June 2014" and "warranty expires June 2018" since the warranty was prorated to the remainder of the one they replaced.

Someone will appreciate that one day, I suppose.

welmoed1 karma

Great idea!

1893Chicago17 karma

What are some things that you find that sellers may try to hide from you? How do they hide them, and how do you discover the problems?

welmoed25 karma

Sellers try lots of things. That's why I'm always suspicious of fresh paint and carpeting. Also, lots of air fresheners make me wonder what's being covered up.

Most of the time, we spot things because we follow a trail of clues. Bubbling paint on a ceiling can point to a leak in the roof, so we'll look at the underside of the roof very carefully while we're in the attic. We also get suspicious when there are stacks of boxes or other belongings in just one spot in the basement; we generally can't move an owner's things. But when we see water stains on the bottom edge of those boxes, we start to look more carefully!

GeorgeGuffey15 karma

What is the weirdest thing you've found in a house?

welmoed34 karma

Golly, we see so many weird things! But for me, I think the weirdest was finding an Emmy award in a garden shed. I thought it might be a fake, but I noted the name and looked it up when I got back to the office. It was real.

Battlemage1711 karma

My house has some small cracks in the walls is this ok? Or do i need to get them looked at? Thanks for your time :)

welmoed12 karma

Most small cracks are due to normal settling, especially if they radiate from the top corners of openings like doors and windows. Much depends upon the age of the house and the type of material used. Every house is expected to settle a bit after construction. The time to be concerned is if the cracks are more than about 1/4" wide, or there is displacement (i.e. one side of the crack is no longer on the same plane as the other), or the crack widens as it goes along.

Mr_M_Burns3 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. This one comment has alieviated some worry I've had about a narrow crack extending diagonally from a second floor bedroom closet.

welmoed2 karma

Glad to help!

JasWarf10 karma

Are you Mike holmes?

welmoed34 karma

LOL! No, I'm certainly not. He does things we home inspectors cannot, like ripping out drywall. Then he states that the inspector should have found stuff behind that wall.

gofauvism10 karma

Hi! I have two questions.

After helping my parents prepare their house for sale and being along for the careful buying process twice, I also found myself into building stuff and doing some side jobs doing repair work, so I sort of have a thing for craftsmanship, safety, and keeping an eye out for shoddy work. I also just love looking at where and how people live... So I've thought about becoming a home inspector before. Does my view sound naive, or is this the sort of mind to have that makes for a home inspector?

Secondly, I'm also a lady. When considering the job, I've wondered if being female would make customers more or less inclined to hire. I know this is sort of speculating on gender-pretension, but it seems like some people would love the idea and others would hate it. Does it make any difference?

welmoed13 karma

Curiosity about houses is one of the hallmarks of a good home inspector! While the vast majority of inspectors have some sort of professional construction background, I came at it from the homeowner's side, having lived in several "challenged" homes.

When I started doing inspections, I was worried that being female would put off clients, or that I would be snubbed by the home inspection community. Fortunately, neither has been the case. Rather than being a "woman home inspector" I am a "home inspector who happens to be a woman."

Being a woman has helped in a few instances. For example, I did an inspection for a woman who had a small infant with her, and at one point she needed to nurse the baby. She was perfectly comfortable nursing him as we went over the inspection report; I'm not sure she would have done the same had it been my husband who was doing the inspection!

Some people have asked me if I get nervous being alone in a house with a (male) client. I always say "Not at all; I've got a heavy flashlight at my hip and a sharp probe in my tool pouch."

Idiotsgod9 karma

As an owner of a home inspection company to your south, in VA, I would like to thank you for doing this. It has never crossed my mind to do an AMA for the business. What is your opinion on Realtors who direct their client to "their" home inspector instead of educating them on finding a good inspector on their own?

welmoed4 karma

Hi there, colleague! We're very proud of our independent status (meaning we don't market to realtors at all). We get calls from people whose first question is, "Do you work for the realtor, or for me?" We always advise potential clients to find inspectors either by visiting the ASHI website, or going through Angie's List, or asking friends who recently had home inspections. Ask lots of questions to find out how your potential inspector works, to make sure you'll be comfortable asking questions at the inspection.

geekthegrl9 karma

What are your thoughts on aluminum wiring? Is it as dangerous as the hype makes it out to be? Would you warn someone against buying a house that still has it?

welmoed13 karma

The problem with aluminum wiring isn't the wire itself; it's the connections made between the wiring and the fixture. Aluminum expands more than copper does when it heats up, which can lead to arcing in the fixture. It can be fixed, but it's expensive -- like $50 per outlet or switch.

Keep in mind that there are some places where aluminum wiring is okay, like stranded aluminum for range or HVAC circuits. You'll usually see this type of wire on the higher-rated 240-volt circuits. What you want to avoid is the solid aluminum wire on what are called "branch circuits" -- the 15- and 20-amp circuits that power most of the lights and outlets in the home.

Aluminum wire was typically used during the Vietnam War years; some wire that looks like aluminum is actually tinned copper. It can be tricky to tell the difference, but usually if I see what looks like aluminum in an older home, it will likely be tinned copper.

plutonic008 karma

As an Electrician, I would not buy a house with Aluminum wiring. The problem is that Al becomes brittle over time and can break easily, this can be combated somewhat by installing copper 'pig tails' on each wire terminating to a device (plug or switch) in the house, to do this you need special wire nuts that have an anti-oxidant inside them, these are expensive (you'll likely need 3 per outlet and 2/3 per switch). Where I live you cannot get house insurance without this being done. Much higher risk comes when you try and do a reno and move or adjust the Al wires, they can easily break inside the PVC jacket and you will never know (it may even keep working for awhile), I'd recommend replacing all the Al wire you run into when doing any reno's. The only acceptable Al wire in a house is to the range, or other large loads, and your main service conductors.

welmoed2 karma

Thanks for chiming in. Yes, Al wires are vulnerable to invisible damage; great point. There's a lot of good information about aluminum wiring at this site; they also show the newly approved connectors that are less expensive than the Copalum crimp (which is still the preferred remediation method). The blue jelly-filled wire nuts have fallen out of favor where we are.

a_bloody_taco9 karma

Do clients ever disagree with you after an inspection?

welmoed12 karma

Sure, sometimes. But the pushback most often comes from realtors or sellers. We had one client who gave us a terrible rating after we did the inspection on the house he was buying; we had found numerous issues in the 6000-square-foot 1890 house (including some structural problems and a barely-functioning ancient oil furnace), but he was mad that we failed to notice that two windows on the main floor were missing hardware, and hadn't noted that one of the hose bibs was not a frost-free type.

mesocookie8 karma

Do you find that the quality of homes has generally gone down in newer homes (80s-now) as opposed to older homes (20s-40s)? Do you always look for a certain thing when inspecting newer homes that many people may presume as 'in good shape' or less risky than an older home?

welmoed12 karma

To be honest, I wouldn't want to live in a house built after 1980 simply because of the current reliance on engineered materials. No one knows how long they will last. In new homes try to look at the joists and trusses, but they're often blocked by drywall.

New home construction is profit-driven; builders are motivated to keep costs down as much as possible, which can lead to less-than-stellar homes. We've written some of our longest reports on new homes.

On our website we have a Hall of Shame that has pictures of lots of the things we find. I also post stuff on Instagram (@InspectionsByBob).

addcream2 karma

Yikes, this is alarming (about engineered materials). Any particular engineered materials you strongly suspect are no good?

welmoed3 karma

It's not always the material; it is also the installation. There are two common problems: cracked roof trusses, and damaged floor I-joists. Damaged roof trusses require documented, engineered repairs. Wooden I-joists should never have any kind of cutting or notching of the top or bottom flange. Yet these are problems we see in nearly every new home.

One new material is certainly a problem: CSST gas lines. Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing usually has a bright yellow outer sheath. It is strongly associated with pinhole leaks when not bonded properly. We call it out as a safety hazard.

avaslash8 karma

Whats the scariest thing youve found?

welmoed11 karma

Well, what's scary is a matter of personal opinion, of course! I'm not squeamish, so spiders and mice don't bother me. One time I did nearly jump out of my skin when I opened the door to a furnace room and there was a bear staring at me! Turned out to be a bearskin rug, but that first glance was good for a quick "yikes!" We've also pulled live black snakes out of electrical panels; they like the warmth and since they're dry, they generally don't get electrocuted.

sweetbeans22 karma


welmoed5 karma

Yeah, we've found our share of dead ones too. And dead mice lying on circuit breakers, or spider webs, or mouse nests. All inside electrical panels.

formulate7 karma

When a property for sale is listed "as is", do you generally expect an inspection to reveal issues with the property beyond mere cosmetic fixes?

welmoed10 karma

Not necessarily. Many of the issues we find overall can be traced back to what we call "deferred maintenance" -- lack of service on the furnace, or failing to keep gutters clean. The real indicator for us of the likelihood of issues is whether the property has been vacant for an extended period, or worse, winterized. Modern homes (anything built after around 1980) simply weren't designed to be empty and unconditioned.

cantthinktoday5 karma

Why is a home that has been winterized an issue? Many homes I've been looking at online (Zillow) have the sinks/toilet blocked off with tape stating it's been "winterized." From a future first-time homebuyers perspective, I thought it was good that they've taken this precaution.

welmoed9 karma

The issue is that modern homes are engineered to have the interiors be within a pretty narrow range of temperature and humidity levels. Older homes were designed to be winterized (think of summer homes on the Cape) and can withstand much wider conditions. Empty homes that have been winterized can see temperatures range anywhere from below freezing to blistering hot. Wood contracts and expands, pipes loosen, wires flex, flooring buckles. If electricity has been shut off, the sump pump won't work, and the basement could flood.

We've inspected houses that have been winterized, and it's not pretty. In one case, the water was turned back on but nobody went inside to check the faucets; turns out the shower faucet had been left open after the system had been drained, and the shower head was pointing outside the stall. The water was turned on more than a day before the inspection, which meant that the shower sprayed onto the bathroom floor for more than 24 hours. When we got there, the water was oozing out from under the garage door (the bathroom was over the garage). There was considerable damage to the bathroom, the framing, and the garage.

miller_life7 karma

Is it really common to get sued? I've heard of people suing inspectors for missing 1 thing.

welmoed7 karma

Most inspectors have been sued at least once. When we get a complaint, sometimes it is someone trying to come up with a way to get the inspection fee refunded, just so they can save a few bucks. We've probably had about half a dozen of these over the last 12 years.

Most complaints never get to the lawsuit level; the inspection fee gets refunded and that's the end of it. When we refund a fee, we get a signed release from the client agreeing that no further action will be taken on their part. They also have to send the inspection report book back to us.

themeatbridge2 karma

What percent of complaints are legitimate?

welmoed6 karma

Home Inspectors aren't infallible; we do miss things. Sometimes the complaints are really nit-picky. A client demanded a refund because we failed to report a stain on the drywall in the basement; it had been behind a heavy sofa so we didn't see it. In another case, a client complained because we failed to note the wood floor had been sun-bleached where it wasn't covered by carpet. We explained to him that this was a cosmetic issue and therefore not part of the inspection.

In both these cases we refunded the inspection fee.

G-Note7 karma

In my area home inspections have become a sham because the selling agent usually offers a free home inspection. This is obviously a conflict of interest but has become the norm. Have you ever had a real estate agent try to get you to ignore deficiencies to make a sale?

welmoed14 karma

The agent isn't our client; it's the buyer. I've had agents try to get us to play down issues, but most know that we are out to protect the buyer, not the agent's commission. This is why we always recommend doing your own research to choose a home inspector.

Remember, "free" is often worth exactly what you paid for it.

Beautifulderanged7 karma

How many toilets have you used when inspecting houses?

welmoed13 karma

Heh. We call that "testing the plumbing." I'd say I end up testing it about 20% of the time. It's why I carry a roll of toilet paper in the truck.

Mr_Tomatoe_Head6 karma

What is the most interesting thing you've found?

welmoed13 karma

Every house has had its interesting things. It's fascinating to see how people choose to live! But there are two standouts. First was a house with several very specific Japanese-themed rooms in the basement, including a Tea Ceremony room, an Incense room, and what I think was a Shinto shrine. This house also had a piece of polybutylene piping that was leaking and about to burst; had it done so it would have flooded the basement and done about a million dollars' damage.

The second was a house listed at more than $1 million, lushly decorated and outfitted with the very latest in 1980s glossy enameled wood built-ins. It had a black-and-white marble master bathroom with a walk-in shower that was a windowless room, all done in black marble, with a solid door. Heaven help you if the lights went out. This house also had the worst termite infestation I've ever seen; the colony had swarmed the night before and every windowsill was covered with dead and dying termites. The window frames were just about hollow, riddled with tubes. The owners were likely facing having to gut the entire basement.

common_s3nse5 karma

I just put an offer on a two story house built in 1978 with a pier & beam slab.
What common problems do you normally see in houses built around 1978?

welmoed6 karma

That's an unusual construction type. I take it you're in the south somewhere? I don't think that kind of foundation would work anywhere that the ground freezes. Also, there should be at least 18" of air gap between the bottom of the joists and the ground. The joists need to be protected from the moisture rising from the ground.

1978 is the cutoff date for the sale of lead paint; most painters stocked up on it, so we can see it in houses after that. Some inspectors have told me they've found it in houses built as late as 1994.

Another common issue is faulty electrical panels. You want to watch out for anything that says Federal Pacific, Zinsco, or Bulldog Pushmatic. These three are hazardous and should be replaced.

There probably won't be any GFCI outlets in wet areas.

NYComrade4 karma

How often to do you get bribed?

welmoed8 karma

Wow, I don't recall ever having been bribed. We've gotten strong hints from realtors that they can send us a lot of future business, but we always smile and say we are working for the client to give them the best possible report.

We have gotten the occasional tip from a client, though, which is a nice surprise. And last year I did a pre-listing inspection and the seller gave me a huge mature jade plant, which I have so far managed not to kill.

Ganbattekudasai1 karma

Would you do a shorter, less detailed inspection for a realor/seller or contractor who you have a good relationship with (like someone who you know usually does good work)?

Conversely, are there things a seller could do to rub you the wrong way and make you look more closely for problems? Are there ways to get on your "bad side"?

This may be hard to answer, but I'm curious. After all, I'm sure you can ALWAYS find some kind of issue if you look hard enough.

welmoed2 karma

When we first get to an inspection site, we do a quick "survey" of the property, looking for huge red flag issues. If we find something major in that walkaround, we give the client the option of aborting the inspection and paying a smaller fee.

We've also done pre-offer inspections for buyers who just want to know if there are huge issues before they write a contract. They're treated like consultations rather than inspections.

We don't have relationships with any realtors or contractors, so that doesn't factor into it. As for contractors who "usually do good work," much of the time the issue isn't the contractor but the subcontractors. We had a case where the duct sub ran the dryer vent pipe, but then the electrical sub came in and cut the pipe to place a can light because that's where the plan called for one.

Sellers who boast about their know-how always set off the alarm bells. Just because the house hasn't burned down yet doesn't mean they know how to do electrical wiring. As for ways to get on our bad side, just constantly questioning why we're looking at something, or going behind us and trying to fix whatever it is we just reported... Grr.

porcinepolynomial4 karma

I live in a home that was converted into multiple dwellings in NY.

One of our outlets is tied into another occupants electrical box.

I've read that this is a big deal, as the landlord could be made liable for the electric bills until it's sorted out, and my understanding is that if you start electrical work, the whole building will need to be brought up to code.

The building has changed hands twice while I've lived there. I'm just curious, since the building has been inspected twice, is this something that ever gets looked at?

welmoed5 karma

Unless you're metered separately, it shouldn't be an issue. Most home inspectors don't trace circuits to see what's connected to what; we do note if the panels aren't properly labeled. Do you have access to the main panel?

Also, you may want to check that proper permits were pulled when the conversion was done. The rules for multi-family dwellings are usually different than for single family homes. Home inspectors aren't code inspectors, but in general, yes, if a system is updated or modified, it must be brought up to current standards.

heyitscory4 karma

My furnace went out recently and I had an HVAC service out to look at it. They noted that the duct work isn't properly braced, the under-home furnace is sitting on the ground and there isn't lighting or an outlet available, and there isn't sufficient access or clearance. All issues that cause everything to not be up to code. My gas & electric company won't even look at it because they consider the access to be unsafe. The house wasn't an as-is and was inspected prior to purchase 5 years ago. Going back and looking at the inspection reports, the ONLY thing noted is that the duct work is disconnected at one junction. Is there any recourse for this with the inspector? I contacted my real estate agent and the response was "well, I was mostly worried about making sure there weren't termites." Looking at spending several thousands of dollars in repairs and permits and I'm so frustrated that I wasn't even made aware of the issue.

welmoed5 karma

How did you choose your inspector? When was the house built? In general, HVAC systems must have safe access and an outlet within 25 feet. Since the inspection was five years ago, I doubt there's recourse from the inspector as most have a limitation of liability of one year following the date of the inspection.

pedantic_dullard1 karma

Do you have any thoughts on how a home buyer could avoid this situation?

welmoed3 karma

Question everything if you're not comfortable with what the inspector is telling you. Google is your friend; call manufacturers and ask what their installation requirements are for the model you have. If an access seems wrong, call the county and ask what the local rules are.

addcream3 karma

do you know of a book (or online checklist) that really walks a buyer through every detail?

welmoed6 karma

There's a brochure on our website called the DIY Home Inspection that details what is covered by a home inspection; that should give you a good start.

Pm_me_some_dessert3 karma

Is a good home inspector going to provide any actual analysis on the report, or just facts? When I bought my first house, the kitchen floor (which was in the oldest section of the house) was over spanned and I had to have that repaired before I was allowed to put in a dishwasher and new cabinets (according to my contractor).

I went back to my realtor and the home inspector basically said "well, you should have told me you were going to remodel." Now, this kitchen had sagging floors, a leaking sink, no cabinet doors and a shitty layout so it seemed like it should have been obvious...but should the guy have told me that the floor would have needed the extra work, or is that really up to me to interpret?

welmoed2 karma

Overspanning is a tricky issue. Home inspectors usually aren't structural engineers, and whether something is overspanned is usually dependent upon the species of timber. However, if I were to note a sagging floor and see that there was minimal support underneath it, I would call it out and recommend an evaluation by a structural engineer.

A home inspection is a "snapshot in time," but I will usually ask the client what their plans are for the home before I start the inspection. That way I have an idea what kinds of issues may arise.

I'm sorry you had a bad experience with your home inspector! It's people like that who give our profession a bad name.

Pm_me_some_dessert1 karma

I'm glad to hear it was something that many people actually WOULD have said something. The house that I had purchased was pretty terrible (literally th cheapest in town, had been on the market for almost a year, etc.) so any future house I look at will definitely be much newer.

One last question, are home inspections still done on brand new homes? As in, if we have a house built, will it get inspected after it is finished but before we sign final documents, or is that something we have to request?

welmoed8 karma

We do a lot of inspections on new construction. They are usually done at three points: just before the drywall is hung, then just before closing, and finally just before the 1-year walk-through.

New construction inspections are crucial because of the types of building materials that are used in modern houses. Until about 1980, houses were built with actual lumber, which has a fair amount of margin of error when it comes to construction techniques. But when the housing boom started, builders switched to "engineered materials" -- Oriented Strand Board (OSB) instead of plywood; manufactured I-joists instead of conventional framing, and pre-assembled roof trusses instead of rafters and ridge beams. These modern materials have very specific installation requirements, and if those methods are not followed, the structural integrity of the house could be compromised.

Houses used to be built to last 100 years or more. We've inspected houses dating to the early 19th century whose framing is still holding strong. They used old growth timber, which is incredibly dense, and the people who built the houses were craftsmen. Now the houses are assembled out of engineered material, by crews of subcontractors, and cost-cutting is key. Houses go from bare ground to move-in ready in about 90 days, and sometimes faster.

One thing to keep in mind when talking with builders who say they build everything "to code" is that "code" is merely the lowest standard of quality legally permitted.

thebraken1 karma

Just want to point out that new construction will also require code inspection, which is handled between the contractor and authority having jurisdiction (generally the inspection office of the municipality), to make sure that the building was constructed in accordance with current* code. This pertains mostly to things like your electrical, plumbing, framing, etc.

I put an asterisk by the word current simply because the current code for a given project may not be the most recent code, especially on a multi-year project.

welmoed2 karma

Sure, there will be a code inspection by the AHJ. But they usually have maybe 15-20 minutes to look over the whole house. We'll be there for several hours.

One time we did a new-construction final walk-though and spotted an issue with the air supply for the furnace; the gaps in the door to the furnace room were too small, starving the furnace for air. The code inspector didn't catch it. Turns out the entire development had been done this way; the builder had to go back and redo every single house to make sure the furnaces had proper air supply.

Doofnoofer3 karma

I'm also a home inspector in California, so my question is more about the business side of things. What marketing strategies have helped you the most?

welmoed3 karma

Since we can't market to realtors, we've had to come up with other strategies. We've had a lot of success with Angie's List. We also have a blog, as well as a monthly e-newsletter (signup is on our home page). We also have signage on our vehicles, carry business cards everywhere, and are active on our community listservs.

We also have imprinted tape measures we hand out to everyone at an inspection. We buy them by the pallet! We've had clients call us six years after an inspection to say they need another inspection and had held onto our tape measure, which is how they found our number again.

Are you involved in your local home inspection community? I love being part of ASHI and going to the monthly chapter meetings. I've also taught at the ASHI national conference, which was just last week.

Doofnoofer3 karma

Why can't you market to realtors? My dad and I work together. He is a member of CREIA and they meet with ASHI. The local guys are extremely rude and unhelpful, so I'm pretty sour on that organization locally. I'm sure that as a whole is a good group. I'm looking into InterNachi. I'm pretty active in the local real estate association.

welmoed3 karma

It was a business decision on our part. We're members of the Independent Home Inspectors of North America (IHINA).

I'm sorry the local ASHI people haven't received you well. That shouldn't happen. Feel free to shoot me a PM with more info and I'll pass it along to national; they WILL respond. Any chapter that treats potential new members rudely is not fulfilling the objectives of ASHI, which is to be supportive of all home inspectors. I'd encourage you to give them another try.

zeninguem453 karma

How much attention do you really pay to the inspection job? Do you offer any kind of warranty?

welmoed3 karma

When I'm on site, I am focused on the property. My client owns me for the entire time of the inspection. I don't answer the phone (I turn it off), and don't engage in much idle chit-chat. I'm there to do a job.

Some inspectors offer third-party 90-day warranties, but we don't. Warranties often come with so many exclusions as to be nearly worthless. An inspection is a "snapshot in time." Systems can and do fail spontaneously, with no warning. There's simply no way to predict the future.

HalloweenBen3 karma

I'm looking at a 10th floor apartment in a 1980's concrete building tomorrow. What questions should I ask? What should I look for?

welmoed5 karma

Buy yourself a circuit tester at Home Depot and test the outlets.

defcon-123 karma

I bought a house with a bad deck a year ago. I knew it needed worked when we bought it. This summer I had a friend of a friend who's an unlicensed contractor take a look, and he thought it just needed some new decking.

We went ahead with the work, but when the decking was pulled off it was obvious that the frame itself was in bad shape. Without thinking too much about it I told him to go ahead and replace everything.

A couple of weeks after the work was done I thought "oh crap, since it turned into structural work I probably should have had it done by licensed contractors and permitted". The contractor I used says it's no big deal since we just replaced what was already there, and the new structure uses better materials anyway (higher quality lumber, more joists, better hardware, etc), but I'm pretty sure it should have been permitted. The deck is now usable, is much higher quality, and structurally more sound than the old deck.

I'm not sure exactly what I should do now. Should I have a licensed contractor look at it and try to get it permitted? Just leave it and hope no one notices if I sell it, since it's the same design as the original permitted one? What should I do?

welmoed4 karma

Deck replacement using the existing footings shouldn't need a permit, but those rules can vary by AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction).

A few things to look for in a deck are: *flashing behind the ledger board at the house *staggered bolts, with at least one bolt per joist space *beams that rest on the posts, rather than side-bolted *railing posts that are fastened to the beam or joist, not just the rim joist

We have a Deck Safety brochure on our website that you're welcome to download.

thebraken1 karma

A thing to consider or look into would be an owner/builder permit.

I don't know how they work everywhere but in my area at least a homeowner can do work on their own home without any special licensing, and any buddies who happen to come over for a beer and chip in don't need to be listed.

Again around here at least, once the work is already done you can go down to the city office and apply for the owner/builder permits after the work is done, they'll send a code inspector out, and you either pass and you're all squared away, or they tell you what you need to change.

welmoed1 karma

Most jurisdictions let owners pull permits and do their own work. Around here you can do decks that way as well. You can also take a short test and be allowed to pull an electrical permit.

theclawww3 karma

What's the nastiest thing you saw in a house?

welmoed3 karma

It was probably the house where the floor was littered with dog feces. We took one look and went out to put on our disposable coveralls, nitrile gloves, and respirators.

hogjowl3 karma

I am having a house built right now from a well-known national contractor that generally gets excellent ratings. It's so easy to get caught up in the idea of "new house = no problems" but the pragmatic side of me knows that's not the case. What should we look for when it's time to close at the end of April? What should I look for when hiring an inspector?

welmoed3 karma

Ask other people in the neighborhood who they used when they got their homes inspected. Look for an inspector who has experience doing new construction. Remember, the builder may have a great reputation, but it's really the subcontractors who are doing the work.

One of the best signs of a truly conscientious builder is a squeaky-clean furnace at closing. Furnaces need to be protected during the drywall process; this is done by sealing off the return air ducts and registers so no dust gets sucked into the system. Drywall dust that gets into a furnace gets baked onto the blower fan, and will dramatically reduce its life. The best builders will never use the house's furnace to warm the property; they will bring their own heaters in.

We've seen some pretty bad stuff done to new houses... One I remember vividly was opening up the furnace and discovering it reeked of urine. The subcontractors had been peeing into the return air duct. Since the furnace hadn't been turned on and no air was circulating, the smell hadn't permeated the house... yet.

condimentia3 karma

I'm a retired real estate attorney. I have advised nearly every single client contemplating a home purchase, where I've had to review a contract or resolve a dispute, to buy a whole house inspection.

I've shared with clients a redacted (names removed) house inspection report as a sample and highlighted various things which never would have been discovered had it not been requested. I'm not even talking about anyone deliberately hiding damage. There can be real issues which are not obvious to anyone, including a homeowner of many years.

It's one of the single best investments a buyer can make, and given the relatively low price charged by our go-to inspector over the years, it boggles the mind why someone would contemplate a $100-300K purchase without investing $500-1K in a detailed inspection (our guy charged $400 per when we started using him 30 years ago, went up over the years)-- even if you have to pay for it yourself and the cost isn't shared by all parties to the sale.

Our firm considered it a critical step and we thank you and hour fellow inspectors for how many of clients you've helped over the decades. You made our jobs so much easier, both before and after purchases, and during lengthy legal disputes.

Have you found that buyers and sellers are willing to share costs up front when it's suggested by the attorney for one or either party? Or, do you find just the fact an attorney is involved (albeit proactively) is too scary and puts them off?

welmoed2 karma

Thanks so much for chiming in! What really amazes me is when people are getting ready to pay $1 million or more for a home, but balk at spending $1200 to get it inspected.

We really have no idea what kind of payment agreements buyers and sellers may get into; we are always paid at the time of the inspection.

One of the avenues we're getting into is inspections for divorcing couples. Knowing the condition of the home can greatly impact the settlement. We've got an article on our website about our non-traditional home inspections.

potatoasteroids2 karma

What is your opinion on PWF (pressurized wood foundations) vs concrete? Is one better then the other? We are looking at homes and have decided to stay away from wood foundations just because we are not sure of the stability and resale of it. Thanks!!

welmoed3 karma

Wood was a common foundation material a long time ago, but remember that was old-growth timber, which was very dense and naturally insect- and rot-resistant. The chemicals used to treat lumber these days can eventually leach out and leave the wood vulnerable. I'd probably stick to concrete.

Carbsv22 karma

I'm a bit of a diy 'er. What's the biggest diy 'er mistake you run across?

welmoed2 karma

Mostly electrical stuff. Here is a prime example. The homeowner finished the basement (without permits). There is usually an outlet under the electrical panel. Rather than bring the outlet forward, he plugged a power strip into the outlet and stuck the wire through the drywall, leaving the power strip hanging. What made him think this was a good idea?!?

Cogitaire2 karma

Have any houses ever been damaged beyond repair?

welmoed2 karma

We've seen one or two that really should have been dumpster fodder. One was so riddled with rot and mold that only the foundation was in decent shape. But just about any house can be saved; it is simply a matter of how deep your pockets are.

TrimHer2 karma

Are some home inspectors motivated to overlook potential problems to avoid "blowing up deals" and getting a bad rep. with the realty community? I've bought/sold several houses and always feel like there's not an honest effort to dig in and find EVERYTHING.

welmoed4 karma

There will always be home inspectors who do the "soft" reports in order to satisfy the realtor and protect their referrals. Those aren't the good ones. We have had realtors threaten to tell "everyone they know" that we are terrible inspectors. And yet we've had a few of those same realtors call us for inspections when they have a family member buying a house.

discounteggroll2 karma

what's the weirdiest/funniest thing you have seen someone tride to hide or temporarily fix in hopes of passing an inspection?

welmoed5 karma

I think it was this one. The homeowner knew there was a serious water issue in this corner of the foundation (water coming into the foundation from a poorly-draining downspout). Rather than fix the problem properly, he knocked a hole in the drywall to try and ventilate the wet area, and then disguised the hole with a return air register cover. It was only visible if you got down on the floor and looked up through the vanes. After seeing this, I used my moisture meter and showed the client that the entire wall was soaking wet. This was going to take some major work to fix!

canoxen2 karma

How much would you estimate it would cost to replace ungrounded wiring with new, grounded type? Do older houses sometimes have a ground wire in the wiring sheath?

welmoed2 karma

Older homes often used the metal sheathing around the wires as a grounding method rather than having a separate ground wire. However, some jurisdictions won't allow that as a grounding method. In our 1942 home, the electrician determined that most of the AC (armored cable) had a ground wire, so we were able to put in properly grounded 3-prong plugs.

However, if there is no ground wire, you can still get equivalent protection by replacing the outlets with GFCI outlets. You will need to label them as "ungrounded", but they will serve the same purpose as a standard grounding method.

Running new wiring is usually prohibitively expensive, but it would be worth your while having an electrician come in and take a look. How many amps is your electrical service?

canoxen1 karma

Well, we're actually house hunting and we have found a lot of houses with old 2-prong outlets so I'm assuming that the wiring has no ground wire with it. I did read somewhere that some old wire actually has a ground wire that was never hooked up.

Can new wiring be ran through the attic and existing wiring be abandoned in place? I'm in southern AZ so no crawlspaces or anything.

welmoed1 karma

Sure, new wire can be run if you want. It's very important to make sure the old wiring is properly tested to make sure it's not connected to anything and has the ends protected against ever coming in contact with anything conductive.

totally_rocks2 karma

Probably too late, but here goes.

Do you allow the home owner or buyer to follow you on the inspection. If so, what's your opinion on this?

welmoed7 karma

We absolutely encourage the buyer to accompany us during the inspection. It's their opportunity to learn everything they can about the house. However, having the buyer tag along is awkward, as they tend to criticize our findings or try to explain away problems. But it can be amusing: sometimes an owner follows us around and keeps up a running commentary. But when they suddenly shut up, we know we're near a problem and start looking v-e-r-y carefully.

h3isenburg2 karma

Hello. Thanks for doing this Mrs. Bob.

  1. House doesn't stay warm. It's an old house. What cheap and expensive ways can I get insulation done. I assume I start in the attic?

  2. Lots of cracks in the house. What's a good solution?

  3. Slow drainage. City Inspector didn't see anything. Now when I shave, there's like a gallon of water backing up (I don't waste water)

  4. Any tips on anything random?

welmoed12 karma

  1. Insulation is always a good thing. First you need to block air flow into the attic space. Air can leak into the attic around any penetration in the ceiling: can lights, air ducts, electrical boxes, etc. You need to seal all of them (but be very careful with can lights: unless they are rated "IC" (insulation contact), you need to leave space around them. Check the current issue of "Fine Homebuilding" for a great article about can lights). Once that's done, you can have fiberglass insulation blown into the attic space. And be sure you also insulate the attic access hatch; that's an area that's usually forgotten.

  2. Cracks in drywall aren't a big deal in an old house; cracks in plaster are even more common as it has no flex at all. The time to be concerned is if windows and doors aren't square in their frames anymore, or door stick when they didn't use to. You want to monitor cracks for change. Easiest way to do this is to get a glass microscope slide. Put a small blob of epoxy on each end, then put it over the crack, perpendicular. This will tell you at a glance whether there has been movement; if the glass breaks, something moved. You can use this for any crack in the house, even on foundation walls.

  3. Slow drainage usually means the drain needs to be cleaned out. We had the same thing in our house (built in 1942); the trap was clean. I ended up calling a drain company; they snaked the drain and now all is well.

  4. Random tip: change your furnace filter monthly if you use 1" filters; every 90 days if you use 4" filters. You'll increase the life of your furnace.

Another random tip: if your smoke detectors are between 7 and 10 years old, change them. Make sure you buy PHOTOELECTRIC smoke detectors; they are much better at alerting you to smoldering fires, which are the kind that kill people. Put one on every level, PLUS one in every sleeping space. And if you have anything in the house that uses oil, natural gas or propane, or a wood-burning fireplace, get a carbon monoxide alarm and install it in the hallway outside the sleeping areas.

the_grand_chawhee3 karma

I'm an HVAC installer on residential builds and remodels and I'd say 1 in 3 homeowners I interact with have no clue there air handler has a filter.

welmoed6 karma

"Oh, you mean that felt pad in the furnace?" It boggles the mind. When we find a dirty furnace, we write the company initials (IBB) in the dust, and take a picture of it. That way, when we come back to do a re-inspection, we can see immediately if the unit was cleaned.

AgentNose3 karma

You mean Ionization smoke alarm. Photoelectric will alarm with ANY obscuration in the photo chamber. Dust, spider, grease smoke, etc.

An Ionization smoke alarm will only alarm when the presence of burt micro materials are present in the smoke(obscuration).

I'm a fire alarm engineer.

welmoed2 karma

No, I mean Photoelectric. More and more studies are showing that ionization smoke alarms can take 30-45 minutes to sound in the presence of smoldering fires. Here's a good start, written by Skip Walker, who has been researching the issue and has devoted most of his life to spreading the word about the dangers of using only ionizing smoke detectors.

coldfarm2 karma

Is there a requirement to replace Stab-Lok panels before selling a house or condo? Or is it just something most inspectors recommend?

I’m a Maryland resident who is considering selling his condo. I’ll probably have the Stab-Lok replaced regardless, but I’m curious about my options. I’ve also read online that there are modern, safe retrofits that fit in the existing box. I’d really like to avoid tearing out a section of wall!

welmoed7 karma

Stab-lok panels should certainly be replaced. They have a tendency to have a weak connection to the bus bar, which can lead to arcing and fire.

Here's the issue with condos, though: you may not have the right to change the panel. In general, condo ownership is "paint inwards," meaning you don't own the wiring. But if you do get permission, the units adjoining yours haven't, so if their panels have issues, your unit could be affected. Most condo associations will not acknowledge the hazard of such panels, because if they do, they will be forced to replace EVERY panel in the building.

coldfarm2 karma

Thanks for the response.

Our condo association specifies that any wiring or electrical equipment is our responsibility once it enters our unit. We’re not a “paint inwards” as much as an “exterior wall inwards” community. So, Ill be on the hook for a hefty sum, I know.

welmoed3 karma

Replacing a panels really isn't a huge expense; for a condo, I'd think it was less than $1000. But still, there will be that risk of adjoining units not replacing theirs. You might want to get together with a few of your neighbors and propose approaching an electrical firm with the offer of doing multiple panel replacements in the building in exchange for a discount. Couldn't hurt to try.

coldfarm2 karma

I was thinking about that very thing. The impetus for this is that the unit above me is being sold. I was chatting with the prospective buyer while their inspector was doing his thing. I gave the inspector and the buyer as much info as I could based on 17 years of living here. I was aware of Stab-Lok’s bad rep before, but the inspector made it sound like we had to have them replaced, by law.

Anyway, the buyer is having an electrician come this week to look at his panel, and I thought I would discuss a “group rate”.

welmoed1 karma

As far as I know there's no law requiring replacement of Stab-Lok panels. I'd ask the inspector to cite his source. That said, it's a really, really good idea to replace them before they cause problems.

I actually won't open a Stab-Lok, Federal Pacific, or Zinsco panel because of their known issues. Some inspectors do; it's our company policy not to.

Kyanche1 karma

Here's a crazy one for you:

The house I'm renting has a stab-lok panel and an addition with a separate (new from last year) sub panel attached to that.

I have no idea how they passed an inspection o_O

welmoed1 karma

Did they actually have a permit? If the subpanel was run off of an existing breaker in the main panel, they probably wouldn't have been required to upgrade anything. However, you can check with your municipal permit office and find out what, if any, permits were pulled.

FYI, building permits are public information. Many local governments have their permit systems online, and anyone can search them. I highly recommend checking permits on any property you are either buying or renting.

AssholeInRealLife2 karma

I'm the second owner of my house and listing soon. The first owner took it upon himself to start finishing the basement, but never finished. Im not concerned with the half-built room, we just use it for storage, but his electrical work is less than perfect. There is an ugly mess of wires above the circuit breaker box. ("Work done without a permit " sounds about right...) Is this something we should have professionally inspected and possibly addressed before listing to keep potential buyers from being scared off? We were too naive to think much of it when we bought.

welmoed2 karma

I would definitely recommend getting the wiring straightened out properly before listing the house. Sloppy electrical work is a huge red flag in our reports; it is a fire risk.

highfornever2 karma

  1. what is the path to become a home inspector like?

  2. how is work stress/happiness level?

  3. what is typical payscale progression throughout one's career? just some rough numbers..

welmoed4 karma

  1. Most people come at it from a construction background. However, I've met a lot of home inspectors who came from engineering, IT, teaching, manufacturing... You name it. The training required varies from state to state; in Maryland, you must take an approved 72-hour (minimum) class, pass the National Home Inspector Exam, and have liability insurance. You must also take a minimum of 15 hours of approved continuing education per year to renew your license.

  2. Inspecting is fun!! Bob used to be in IT; it was a high-stress/low-happiness job. He got out before it killed him, fortunately, and friends suggested that since he liked houses and figuring out what was wrong with them, he might like doing home inspections. That was more than 12 years ago and we've never been happier.

  3. It's very tough to get established. If you start your own company instead of going with a franchise, it can take up to five years to really gain traction. Once you get established, though, it's possible to make some pretty good money. We were able to draw about $70K salary last year.

DrDarkness2 karma

Could we seek some kind of damages against our home inspector for failing to go under the house and see the obvious termite damage to our floors?

welmoed3 karma

It depends on whether the space was accessible, and whether the inspector specifically excluded termites in his service agreement. Also, most inspectors limit their liability to one year following the inspection. The best thing to do is to contact the inspector and tell him what was found. Give him the opportunity to come look for himself.

altoidsyn1 karma

I've been fascinated by this profession since my parents bought a new house 2 years ago. How does one get into the business though? My research into the field led to some sketchy websites offering 'free certification classes'. If I wanted to be in this career what steps do I need to take?

welmoed1 karma

The first step is with your state's department of licensing. You can usually find this information online. In Maryland, the training must be done in a classroom; online training is not accepted. Training classes are sometimes held at community colleges; that's where I took my class. It cost $895 plus the textbooks.

You can also go to the ASHI school, which is more expensive and takes longer but will give you a better all-around education. Also, contact your local ASHI chapter and ask to attend one of their monthly meetings; we get people coming to our chapter who are interested in becoming inspectors and they are always welcomed.

juuaans1 karma

Do you love CSS?

welmoed4 karma

Do you mean CSST (Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing)? No, not fond of it at all. I always call it out as a safety hazard as it has a history of developing pinhole leaks if not properly bonded.

Ihadanapostrophe1 karma

This AMA has been very interesting. I have a question about a tricky situation.

My parents purchased a house at the end of the last millennium. They had it inspected and have had constant insurance coverage from the beginning. Last year they found a large crack in the foundation. It will end up destroying the house if not fixed. The inspection didn't mention the crack and the insurance is saying they won't cover it since it might be from before the purchase.

Should a foundation check be part of an inspection? Where can I find a record of the inspection? Have you dealt with any similar situations? Any advice for where to start figuring out responsibility/liability?

welmoed3 karma

Foundation checks are part of an inspection. However, a lot can change in a house in fifteen years. They should have kept a copy of the inspection report from when they purchased it. In most states, an inspector is only required to keep copies of reports for five years. In any case, the inspector's liability period ended long ago.

Yes, we've dealt with foundation cracks before. One house we inspected had a long horizontal crack with bulging in the block foundation in the crawl space -- probably the worst kind of crack to have. We reported it, the buyer walked. Later we found out that the owner had known about the crack and failed to disclose it; the owner then fired his realtor, and hired a new one... and didn't tell her about the crack. I've always wondered what happened to that house.

TheSwart1 karma

I've a friend who is currently deployed and has to sell his house almost immediately after he returns. There are leaks in the roof, an unfinshed wood floor, and a variety of other problems. My question is what is most important when it comes to repairs before selling?

welmoed3 karma

The "Big Five" that need to be in good shape are plumbing, electric, heating, appliances and roof. Most lenders won't finance a house with any of these five areas in bad condition. Nowadays lenders want at least five years' life left in a roof before they finance the property.

That said, the right price can overcome a lot of obstacles. The best thing is to keep the weather out; water can cause immense damage. So at the very least the roof should get fixed. But much depends upon your friend's goal: a quick sale or best price? It would be good for him to interview a few agents and get their input before deciding what to do.

RoosterTooth1 karma

In the top post, you mention:

Don't just blindly hire the one the realtor recommends; they may be great, but you want to have the final say.

Me and my wife are looking at buying our first house in the next couple months and this is something that I'm concerned about. Having never done this before, I would be inclined to just go with the one referred by the realtor, if any.

What are some key things to keep in mind when researching inspectors? Anything you can recommend to help find the best?


welmoed3 karma

You want to hire an inspector who you feel comfortable with. If at all possible, talk to the person who will be doing the inspection, rather than just with an answering service. Visit their website and poke around; this can also give you a feel for their communication style.

Ask about licensing, professional affiliations, experience and services. Ask if they are familiar with the age or type of home you are purchasing.

Ask what form the report will be in, and when it will be delivered. Some inspectors (like us) deliver the report on-site; some email it anywhere from a few hours to a few days later.

Don't hire an inspector who belittles your questions, makes you feel rushed, or is otherwise impatient with you. You have every right to question them about their services, and only by asking questions will you discover if this is a person you can work with.

We've had people talk with us for half an hour on the phone before deciding to book an inspection. Sure, it takes time. But we always keep in mind that the people who call us are about to make an enormous investment in their future, and want to make sure they're doing the right thing.

diary_room1 karma

I've always been interested in the profession of home inspection. How does one get started in this field? Do you start in a trade and gradually expand your knowledge set or is there a defined vocational path?

welmoed2 karma

Some home inspectors go in straight out of high school. Most states just require a high school diploma. It's great to have some working knowledge of construction, but it's not a requirement. The less you know about houses, the more important it is to take the very best training class you can find. The ASHI School is one of the best training programs out there.

Along the way, be curious. Look at houses. Try to identify systems. Learn what different furnaces look like. Here's a little hint: estate sales are fantastic training grounds; you can generally poke around the entire house, and can do most everything an inspector does (except take the cover off the electrical panel, or go into the attic or on the roof, of course). You'll get to see a great variety of furnaces, water heaters, kitchens, bathrooms, etc., and that will help expand your knowledge base.

baumee1 karma

On the second story of my house, one room has a noticeably slanted floor. The door frames are also very crooked. The rest of the rooms on the same story seem fine though, as does the one above it. What could cause this, and is it reason for concern?

welmoed1 karma

Has it always been this way, or is this a new thing? I would take a careful look at the foundation beneath this section and see if there are signs of sinking. I would probably be a good idea to ask a structural engineer for an evaluation.

anon8371 karma

When buying a foreclosed home, what are some of the major things to look out for? Obviously you want the skeleton to be strong. What about mold in the drywall and AC ducts? Leaky pipes? Electricsl Wiring? Sewage and cesspools?

welmoed1 karma

One of the issues with foreclosed homes is that if the owners didn't have the money to pay the mortgage, they also didn't have the money to properly maintain the home. The HVAC will probably need servicing.

As for mold, I use my nose as the best indicator. If I smell anything musty, I look for where the water's getting in. Mold cannot grow without moisture. About 85% of wet basements are caused by issues with the gutters and downspouts; start there first.

Leaky pipes aren't always immediately obvious; it can take days of steady use for a pinhole leak to soak through drywall. Wiring usually isn't an issue unless they messed with it.

If the house has a septic system, ALWAYS get it inspected by a septic company. Fixing a septic system is incredibly expensive, and sometimes it can't be done if there isn't another spot on the property for a new field. Also, some jurisdictions won't allow you to repair a septic system if the home is now accessible by municipal sewer. You'll be required to hook up to the city system at YOUR expense.

thesesimplewords1 karma

I looked at a house recently that had very poor grading on the land plot. It was a foreclosure, and though I'm not afraid to do some work on a house, this was just too much with a baby on the way. We passed it up. Anyway, when it rained the entire side yard was swampy with standing water. It was built on a slab with no crawlspace. How bad is that for the foundation? What sorts of problems have you seen with poor grading in the past? This house was built in 1998.

welmoed1 karma

Water issues aren't as bad with slab foundations, but poor grading is still something that needs to be corrected. Water is a powerful force; given enough time, it can wash away the soil under a foundation. You should never have standing water if you can at all avoid it.

cptnamr71 karma

Shower question- can't run the waterline in an attic, but can you run a secondary or even primary shower line in a non-insulated space? Working on renovating my house and would love to put a dual showerhead system in the master but both the top and side are in attic space and I'd rather not stub it out.

welmoed2 karma

No water line should be run without protection from freezing. You could consider framing an enclosure in the attic above the shower that is insulated, allowing you to run the water lines without the risk of freezing.

Mogrix1 karma

I have a home I'm contemplating putting on the market.

My home is vinyl siding, but my crawl space is brick.

One of the vents in the crawl space has a crack on the bottom corner that runs almost all the way down (it stops at the last visible brick from the ground).

1) What could cause this?

2) is this considered a "crack in my foundation"? I've heard those dreaded words, but don't really know what that means.

Pictures Included.

3) Can hiring a general contractor fix this without loosing value to the home? Approximate cost of repair?

welmoed2 karma

A few questions: Is this structural brick? Or a brick veneer? Does the crack go through to the inside wall? Can you take a "long shot" showing more of the surrounding space (like, from 20 feet away) so I can see the "context" of the crack?

Mogrix1 karma

I had to google "Brick Veneer."

As far as I can tell, it's structural brick. I only go under the house to change the water filter. I don't recall seeing any other kind of support system under there.

I've also never checked the other side of the brick. I assumed it would have been on both sides, so never checked.

I'm at work at the moment, but i can try and get some pictures tomorrow if you're still available.

Can you possibly give me a worst-case-scenario considering all this crappy-info?

welmoed3 karma

Put up some more pictures tomorrow and I'll take a look.

common_s3nse1 karma

I have seen similar cracks on brick veneer when the concrete slab foundation at the bottom shows no cracks, what normally causes that on veneer?

welmoed4 karma

Brick veneer needs to be properly vented to allow moisture to escape. The veneer is porous, and water can get behind it especially when it's wind-driven. This water has to go somewhere. If there is insufficient ventilation behind the veneer, the water can get trapped in the brick, freeze, and cause cracking.

If you have brick veneer, you need to make sure the weep holes near the bottom are not blocked.

snakesandstuff1 karma

What are your thoughts on ASHI as an organization? Some say it seems to be going in the direction of NAHI InterNACHI. For example, more emphasis on marketing and getting membership numbers up rather than trying to attract competent members. It seems that some organizations main concern for membership is whether or not the check clears.

One issue that I have with ASHI is their latching onto Holmes on Homes, which is filmed in Canada and is NOT representative of what an ASHI SOP home inspection is. I think it sets unrealistic expectations and bashes home inspectors needlessly. For example I've seen episodes where they complain that a house has a small amount of asbestos, even when the inspector pointed it out in their inspection report. It seems that the ASHI code of ethics stipulates that home inspectors should not overstate or understate the significance of any deficiency discovered.


welmoed1 karma

ASHI is all about education, both for home inspectors and home buyers. I just got back from their national conference (I was one of the presenters, which was great), and came away with a deeper understanding of so many systems in the home. Bob just ended a three-year stint on the national board, so we get a lot of insight into the workings of the organization.

It's not easy to become an ASHI inspector. I had to submit a random sample of my finished reports, which were reviewed by a standards committee, before I was allowed to call myself an "ASHI Inspector" and use the ASHI logo. Bob is an ASHI Certified Inspector, which is the highest certification level, and requires more inspections and can take a new inspector several years to attain. I will probably get my ACI this year.

I'm not sure about ASHI's association with Mike Holmes; I'll have to look into that and get back to you. I do know that most inspectors don't take him seriously at all; he's got great marketing but is more interested in getting other inspectors to buy into his franchise than actually making the industry better.

Sadiestory1 karma

I'm thinking of building a home but have no idea where to start. What things should I consider and what essential materials/techniques are considered to be top notch these days?

welmoed1 karma

Building a house requires skilled workers and good materials. Most new construction is done with engineered materials (pre-assembled roof trusses, laminated beams, I-joists) that must be installed properly.

One idea is to go into the neighborhood you're considering and knock on some doors. Ask the owners how they like their houses, how the building process was, and any suggestions they may have.