Landscape-Inspection

Home Inspection “Deal Breakers” – When to Stay and When to Walk Away

 

Buying a house is one of the most exciting experiences in life – you’ve thought long and hard about what you want and need, you’ve gotten approved for a loan and found a realtor, and then you find a house you love. But before you sign on the dotted line and start planning paint colors, it’s time to schedule a home inspection. 

 

Milwaukee Home InspectorsA standard home inspection covers all the visible elements of a home or property, assessing their condition and where repairs may be needed. You can expect your home inspector to look at the HVAC/air conditioning, furnace or heating system, plumbing, electrical, roof and attic, ceilings, walls, windows, floors, basement, foundation, and other major elements. Then, the home inspector creates a detailed report on their findings. 

 

A home inspection is not a pass-or-fail test. Just like every home is different, every home buyer has an ideal budget and a unique plan for how much work they want to put into a home. So, the types of necessary repairs that would cause one buyer to walk away might not be a problem for the next buyer. 

 

In order to understand your own personal home inspection “deal breakers,” you need to do some thinking and planning. Here are our tips for creating your “when to stay and when to walk away” plan: 

 

Know what you want in a home beyond style, location, and price. Before you even start the search process, know your own dealbreakers. Are you looking for new (or newer) construction or do you dream about owning an older home with vintage charm? Do you want to look at “fixer-uppers” or do you want a home that is move-in ready? Is central air a “must” as soon as you move in, or are you ok with wall units? Are you all about an open plan? A big yard? A basement? Knowing what you want beyond the basics of style, location, and price will help your realtor guide you to homes that fit your vision, budget, and plans for the future. 

 

Create an informed budget. You’ve saved for your down payment and a few cosmetic updates – so you’re ready to buy a house…right? Not so fast. Any home – even new construction – will require repairs and maintenance throughout the time you own it, and it is up to you to decide how much you can afford to spend on both the initial and ongoing costs of homeownership. Beyond your monthly payment, understand how much cash you will have handy to do immediate repairs or upgrades. If your home inspection turns up serious issues like a leaky roof or basement mold, do you have the budget to fix these problems right away? The more you understand what you can and cannot afford to take on, the easier it will be to know when to move forward with the purchase and when to walk away. 

 

Get involved with your home inspection. The most important home inspection advice we can give is to attend your home inspection and ask questions. Your home inspector should be prepared to have you join them as they move throughout the home and be able to answer questions and point out important points along the way. Not only will attending your home inspection help you get familiar with the location of important elements of your home, but it will also give you a chance to speak in person about the condition of elements of the home and pick the home inspector’s brain about your options. 

 

Know that there are always other fish in the sea. Once you know your deal breakers, you are in a great place to make an informed decision on when it’s time to walk away from a home. However, that doesn’t mean it will be easy to say no to a home you’ve fallen in love with. As you move forward in your home search, know that the market is always changing and there are new homes put up for sale every day. By taking your time and understanding your deal breakers, you can ensure you’ll end up in the right home for you and your family. 

 

A home inspector cannot tell you whether or not to buy a home – that is a big decision and one you must make after considering a number of factors that are important to you. The results of a home inspection will equip you with the information you need to make the best decision about whether or not to move forward with purchasing the home. 
Looking for a reliable, professional, and experienced home inspector in Milwaukee? Here at Towne & Country, we have more than 20 years of experience helping local people like you make informed property investments. Give us a call with questions or to book your home inspection today.

Who-Should-Attend-the-Home-Inspection

Who Should Attend the Home Inspection

Who Should Attend the Home InspectionHome inspections are an integral part of a complicated recipe; if you don’t have all of the proper ingredients or know the measurements, the final product can end very poorly. Every chef should have all of the pertinent information before completing his dish.

Property inspections are not just for the homebuyer or the home seller, but for everyone involved in the transaction, a process which is often times misunderstood. If you’re wondering who should attend a property inspection, you’re not alone. Not only should the home buyer be present, but ideally the buyer’s agent and the listing agent should also attend.

There are several reasons that all three parties should be present at the inspection, not the least of which is to ensure the inspection is thorough and all questions are answered. If you have a home inspector who does not assess the areas that all parties are interested in, you are left with an incomplete recipe. Being at the assessment allows everyone to have first-hand knowledge of the findings, ask questions for clarity, and have a complete understanding of the findings. Here are some of the reasons that the buyer, the buyer’s agent and the listing agent should all attend the home inspection.

1. Agents can learn much more than just about the home- Inspectors can be a valuable resource for agents, not only in better understanding the inspection itself, but by using that knowledge throughout their careers.

2. Home inspections are not all the same- Not all home inspection reports are written in the same language, meaning that certain details such as seller’s credit or the list of the buyer’s wanted repairs may not be abundantly clear. The listing agent, buyer’s agent and the buyer will all want to make sure these details are included.

3. Repair requests are clear- First hand knowledge of which areas the property inspector says are major issues versus those that do not present a problem will help all those involved in the process sift through what needs to be repaired and what does not. This is much more easily done in person when questions can be asked, rather than reading through a report after-the-fact.

4. Home inspections can be skewed to favor one side or the other – Many home inspections are going to come away with a red flag, or several.  This can lead to the agents attempting to use these as leverage to get what they want from the seller or having to start the process all over again. If all parties are present, everyone will know which of these red flags are truly important.

5. Attendance by all creates a clear picture for all- The considerations listed above can be a deciding factor in whether or not a deal happens. By making sure the seller’s agent, the buyer’s agent, and the buyer are all in attendance, all expectations should be on the table and everyone on the same page. Be sure that your home inspector is willing to accommodate all. 

The success of a transaction is conditional upon all parties agreeing, and that is more readily achieved if everyone has the same information first hand. In today’s modern world, agents are mobile and should be able to prioritize being available for property inspections.

 



 

Homeowner Tips for Winter Home Prep

 

Home Inspection | Winter in MilwaukeeHomeowner Tips for Winter Home Prep

Preparing a home for winter can take a lot of planning and execution. It is a worthwhile task for homeowners who want to welcome the new year with greater comfort and energy efficiency. These tips help homeowners know where to put their focus, and when they should be asking for expert advice.

Ensuring Effective Heating and Ventilation

Keeping the heating system working well all throughout the winter is often at the forefront of a homeowner’s mind, and for good reason. When the heating system fails for some reason, every other aspect of home function and comfort is compromised. Furnaces running on fuel must also be properly ventilated for safe use. HVAC systems can have complex problems relating to appliances or the equipment used to deliver heat and ventilate the home. Hiring an expert to inspect the system in the fall helps to identify possible issues and provide homeowners enough time to arrange for necessary repairs.

Assessing Insulation

Confirming that a home’s heating is in ideal working order is only one part of ensuring comfort in winter. Heated air moves from one space to another in a process known as heat transfer. In winter, the insulation of the home serves to keep that heated air inside longer. Better insulation leads to a slower rate of heat transfer and greater efficiency for the heating. This promotes a steady temperature throughout the home and saves money on energy costs. The trouble is that many homes do not have adequate insulation, especially older homes. Requesting an inspection of the insulation allows homeowners to make plans to improve it before the cold weather hits.

Fixing Air Leaks

Air leaks in a home’s exterior have a surprising ability to make a home feel drafty and cold in winter. Air leaks can happen almost anywhere on a home’s exterior, but are particularly common around doors and windows. The frames around doors and windows can eventually have gaps through which air can easily pass. It is not quite like leaving a door or window open in the dead of winter, but can lead to notable inefficiencies in heating. Homeowners can usually seal air leaks around windows and doors with caulking or weather-stripping, but may need help from a professional for leaks in places like the attic.

Protecting Plumbing

One home system that relies heavily on the home’s effective heating is the plumbing. Any homeowner who has experienced a frozen or burst pipe knows that it is troubling and can be very expensive to fix. Since so much of a home’s plumbing may not be visible, it is often difficult for homeowners to know if their plumbing is adequately insulated. Sprinkling systems need to be drained fully before winter. Indoor plumbing should be properly insulated if it is located in any place that is not consistently heated to 55 degrees or higher, such as an unfinished basement. Insulating pipes and a water heater tank with designated materials will also reduce heat loss, saving energy.

Safe Use of Fireplaces and Chimneys

Of course, not everyone uses a furnace to heat their homes. Some homeowners like to use fireplaces from time to time for added warmth or ambiance in their homes. Safe use of the fireplace is absolutely key to preventing a tragedy from happening. Wood-burning fireplaces collect creosote as a byproduct that sticks to the chimney. If the chimney is not kept clean, the creosote could ignite and create a chimney fire. To avoid this problem, homeowners should arrange for a yearly inspection of the chimney and fireplace. The flue or damper should be easy to open and close, and the glass doors ought to be in good condition.

Roof Considerations

More than any other part of the home’s exterior, the roof keeps the elements out of the home. A roof’s solid condition and upkeep could easily make a home feel like a haven during winter. The roof requires at least a visual inspection in the fall, to identify any missing or damaged shingles or tiles. The gutters should be cleared of leaves and other debris until the trees are bare for the year. Clogged gutters may freeze into blocks of ice and damage the roof. Homeowners must confirm that all downspouts are in good condition and turned away from the home, so that rain or melting commercial snow removal Milwaukee can flow away from the home’s structure.

Every minute spent getting a home ready for winter will be repaid with countless hours of contentment within an ideally heated, ventilated and insulated space. If homeowners take the initiative in the fall, they will reap the benefits of a home that is more comfortable and has better efficiency and a longer lifespan for the home systems.

 

How to Fix a Window Screen

How to Fix a Window ScreenWindow screens play an important role in keeping your home comfortable during the warmer months. When they tear or snag, they are not able to do their job of letting fresh air in your home while keeping bugs out.

Fortunately, repairing a broken window screen is a quick and easy home DIY project that anyone can do. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Get the materials and tools you’ll need:
    • New screening
    • A new “spline” (plastic cording specific to window screen installation)
    • Rolling spline installation tool (often packaged together with spline cording)
    • Small flat-head screwdriver, nail punch, or other sharp object
    • Scissors
    • Tape or clamps
    • Utility knife
  2. Remove and discard old screen. The material on the window screen is held in place by a spline, or thin plastic cord. Using a nail punch, flat-head screwdriver, or other sharp object, lift the spline out of the frame starting in one corner. Remove the spline all the way around the screen, then discard the spline and old screening material.
  3. Size and cut new material. Working on a flat surface, lay out window screen frame and roll out enough new screening material to cover the entire frame, leaving a 2-inch border on all sides. Cut away extra screening material.
  4. Position and prepare the screen. Place newly cut screening material flat over the frame, leaving a 2-inch border on all sides. Pull screening material tight and clamp or tape in place at both ends of the frame.
  5. Insert the new plastic spline. Use the convex side of the rolling tool and, starting at one corner and working your way around, push the screening material into the channel of the frame. Be sure to pull material taut as you work your way around. Then, use the concave side of the rolling tool to install the spline into the same channel. Once the new spline and screening material is in place, use a utility knife to trim away any extra material.
  6. Place your repaired screen back in the window and enjoy!

And if you know of anyone looking for a home inspector in Milwaukee, be sure to have them call Town & Country Building Inspection, Inc. We’re here to help homebuyers make smart property investments.

Window Well Covers: What to Know and How to Install

Window Well Cover | Home InspectorsIf you live in the Milwaukee area, and have a basement, chances are you have basement windows and window wells. While these basement windows provide much needed light in your basement, they often cause problems by making your home vulnerable to nature and intruders, and can even be a safety hazard.

Don’t fear! Your answer to all of these concerns is simple: window well covers. By making this easy home improvement, you can protect your home and its occupants from a range of issues.

Common Window Well Problems:

  • Window wells collect debris such as leaves, twigs, mulch, rain, and snow that can cause rot or mildew when held close to your home’s siding or foundation. Ice can even cause foundational cracks. Window wells are also the perfect hiding and nesting place for animals and insects. A well-fitted window well cover keeps all of the elements away from the foundation of your home.
  • Window wells present a tripping or falling hazard, especially if edged with bushes or rocks. You must be especially careful to watch children or pets running and playing near window wells. Most window well covers have traction to prevent tripping and can even hold up to several hundred pounds of weight.
  • Even though they are meant to increase the safety of your home, because of their proximity to the ground, egress windows can be tempting to burglars or intruders. Many window well covers come with safety features such as locks that are accessible only from inside the window. Window wells are also the perfect hiding and nesting place for animals and insects.

 

DIY Window Well Cover Installation

A professional handyman in Milwaukee can help you find and install window well covers. However, if you’re feeling confident, window well covers are also an easy DIY project. Just gather your materials and follow these steps.

Materials

  • Adjustable Wrench
  • Tape Measure
  • Painter’s Tape
  • New Window Well Cover

 

How to Install

  1. Measure the width of the window well at both the front and back, where it makes contact with the house. Then, measure from the house to the outside edge of the window well in at least two places. Be sure to measure each window well to make sure they are all the same size.
  2. Look at the shape of your window well. Some window wells are rounded, squared off, or come together in a gentle U shape. Check to see if the back of the window well cover should fit into an opening between the window and siding.
  3. Place the new window well cover over the window well with the back side flush against the house.
  4. Measure 4-6 inches in front the house wall on both sides of the cover where it meets the window well edge and mark with painters tape.
  5. Remove the new cover and place the taped section of the cover on top of a piece of 2’x4’ wood. Drill a hole through the marked section of the tape and into the cover that is slightly larger than the screws supplied with the new cover.
  6. Install the window well cover clips (they should have come with the cover) so they will fit snugly over the edge of the window well.
  7. Fit the cover on the window well. Make sure there is no bends in the clips or buckling in the cover.
  8. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

If you have any questions about window wells, protecting your home, or new a home inspection in the Milwaukee area, give us a call today!

Your Handy Caulk Guide

Caulk | Home Inspector | MilwaukeeThe caulk or sealant on your bathtub, shower, and sink plays an important role in preserving your bathroom and preventing water damage and mold. With the right materials and our handy guide, re-caulking is an easy DIY project that can be done for low cost in a short amount of time.

But first, let’s understand the difference between caulk and sealant.

Caulk vs. Sealant

Often, the words “caulk” and “sealant” are used interchangeably to describe the material that fills the gaps around your bathroom fixtures. However, there are some important differences between the two materials.

Caulk and sealant are mainly different in their elasticity. Caulk tends to be a more rigid material when dry, and should be used in places that will not often expand or contract. Sealant is a more elastic material, perfect for those areas that do tend to expand and contract.

Acrylic caulk material is paintable, and messes or smears can be easily cleaned with water. However, caulk is more likely than sealant to dry out and may crack when exposed to temperature swings.

Sealants, usually made of silicone, create a watertight barrier no matter the temperature it is exposed to. Unlike caulk, sealant is not paintable and is more difficult to clean up in the event of a smear or mess; you would have to use a solvent or scrape the material off the wall after it dries. Sealant can also give off fumes, making it slightly more dangerous and uncomfortable in the application process.

Both materials are applied using a caulking gun.

Re-caulking Step-by-Step

Materials & Tools Needed

  • Razor/utility blade
  • Caulking gun
  • Vacuum
  • Tile silicone or acrylic caulk
  • Caulk softener
  • Rubbing alcohol

Step 1

Using a putty knife, razor blade, or utility knife, completely remove old caulk or sealant wherever you see gaps, cracks, or discoloration. Be sure to check the wettest areas, like the corners or base of the tub or shower. You may also want to use a caulk softener to help the removal.

Be sure to completely remove any old caulk off tile. Tile is durable, so don’t be afraid to use some elbow grease.  It is not easy to marry new and old caulk, so you will want to start fresh in any area where you are replacing caulk.

Step 2

After removing old caulk, vacuum up any dust or debris. Dab a paper towel in rubbing alcohol and use that to clean any remaining caulk residue off of the tile where you plan to reapply. Let dry completely.

Step 3

Gather your caulking materials – caulking gun and caulk or sealant. Use your utility knife to trim the end off of the tube of caulk, and a long nail to pierce the foil of the tube. Insert into the gun and start the flow of caulk.

Position the tip of the caulk gun at the beginning of the area where you would like to caulk and drag backward, moving quickly enough so that the caulk comes out in an even line. If you have some uneven areas, with more or less caulk than others, this is easily fixable (see step 4).

Step 4

To fix uneven areas, dip your finger in water and run it down the length of the new, wet caulk. This will force extra caulk into the gaps and create a smooth line. You may use a paper towel over your finger, but be sure to refold it several times to avoid transferring caulk onto the tiles.

If you encounter an area that needs more caulk, either wipe excess from another area or apply a thin line of caulk from the gun, immediately smoothing with your finger to marry it to the existing line.

Caulk and silicone often dry quickly, so use a razor blade to remove any excess material that may have gotten on the tiles. Be careful not to disrupt the watertight seal of the caulk on the tile.

Planning a move? Here at Town & Country Building Inspection, we help customers make smart property investments. Give us a call to schedule your home inspection today!

13 Summer Home Maintenance To-Do’s in Milwaukee

Warmer weather and longer days make summer ideal for checking items off your home maintenance to-do list. Here are some ideas to get started:

  1. Milwaukee Home Inspection | Lead PaintTouch Up Exterior Paint

Touching up the paint on your home’s exterior is a great first summer project. The Milwaukee weather can do a number on the exterior of your home, including siding, trim, and gutters. Grab a ladder, paint, and paintbrush and touch up paint where needed.

Look for gaps and openings on exteriors surfaces of any type to avoid water penetration and wear issues. Window ledges and sills, wood or metal trim, anywhere a little snow can sit, melt and refreeze, opens a little gap for water to enter. Touching up or repainting these areas in summer can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Plus, nowadays if you aren’t sure of the exact color of your home, you can ask any experienced paint professional to match it for you. Technology makes it easy to match colors these days.

 

  1. Clean WIndowsWash Exterior Windows

Nobody likes dirty windows to look out of. Start enjoying your view, and let the outdoors in.

This project requires a little elbow grease, particularly if you haven’t washed your exterior windows in a year or more. Skip the Windex and grab a sponge (or a strip applicator for picture windows) and a bucket of warm water with a squirt of soap, the less foamy the better.

After scrubbing, use a squeegee in an “S” pattern beginning at the upper corner of the window. Wipe the squeegee clean with a dry cloth after each pass. 

 

  1. Clean Window Screens

Regular, light maintenance or an occasional deep clean on your window screens will keep them in good shape.

darrin-henein-78676For regular maintenance (weekly or bi-weekly), wipe screens with a cloth or duster or run a vacuum cleaner with the soft brush attachment and a light touch.

For a deep clean, take all screens off of the house and clean them at once, outdoors. You could also clean them in the garage, basement, or bathtub – anywhere with a drain. Use a hose, a little soapy solution, and a sponge to clean the screen. Remember to be gentle on the mesh.

 

  1. Clean the Exterior of your Home

Grime, moss, and bacteria on your home’s exterior not only contribute to diminished curb appeal, but can cause damage that costs a lot of money to fix. So keeping your home’s exterior clean is worth the effort.

Be sure to research proper techniques for cleaning the specific materials that make up your home. For most types of siding, you can use a hose and a long-handled sponge to scrub with soapy water.

Pressure washing is another great option, but requires a large, heavy duty washer. It also requires a bit of skill. If it’s not done properly, pressure washing may damage your home.

 

  1. Reverse Ceiling Fan Direction

pexels-photo-280208When your ceiling fan runs counter-clockwise, it forces air straight downward, creating a breeze. In the summer, this will keep your home cool and increase the effectiveness of air conditioning.

On most ceiling fans, the direction switch is located on the body of the fan, above the blades. Wait for the blades to come to a complete stop before attempting to access this switch. Use a step-stool or small ladder to reach. Flip the switch, then turn the fan back on. 

 

  1. Clean Your Air Conditioner Filter

An air conditioner filter should be cleaned every two weeks to ensure proper functioning, particularly if you run it often. While some newer models have a self-cleaning function, most a/c filters can be cleaned by washing with warm water or with a vacuum cleaner.

 

  1. Check Your Furnace

Just like your air conditioner, your furnace has a filter that needs to be cleaned. Turn off the power before locating the furnace behind the service panel or door. If necessary, unscrew the panel and remove the filter to be washed (if reusable) or replaced (if cardboard).

When replacing an air filter, make sure the air-direction indicator is facing the correct way – in the direction of the furnace.

Get a professional furnace inspection and tuning every year or every other year to ensure the proper functioning, safety, and longevity of your furnace.

 

  1. Maintain Your Washing Machine

LaundryCheck inside the body of the machine for soil or residue build-up and clean using a sponge and a mixture of ¾ cups bleach with a gallon of warm water.

Next, clean out your fabric softener dispenser using a damp cloth and hot water. And to polish the outside of your washing machine, use vinegar and water, or an all-purpose cleaner like Fantastik.

 

  1. Clean Your Driveway, Patio, and Walkways

The best method for cleaning large, hard outdoor surfaces like driveways, decks, and patios is by using a pressure washer. Before you begin, be sure to inspect all surfaces for weeds or cracks.

WalkwayFor most concrete and brick surfaces, a pressure washer with about 3gpm and 3,000 psi works well.

Use a wide tip for the washer to ensure the surfaces do not degrade during washing. The last thing you want to do is crank up a strong pressure washer using the straight tip spray, and then all of a sudden you cut marks into your beautiful patio or deck…

 

  1. Make your Baseboards Shine

BaseboardsThis is a tedious, often-ignored task that, nevertheless, contributes greatly to the overall look and feel of your home. Use a damp cloth to wipe down all baseboards in your home. Be sure to protect your knees by kneeling on a folded towel. And then throw on some music or a podcast to make this boring task more tolerable J.

 

 

  1. Clean Dishwasher and Garbage Disposal

LemonOnce every month or two, flush your garbage disposal with hot water and dish soap, or use a store-bought cleaner. This will give it a nice rinse. And if you ever eat lemons, or use them for a drink, toss the used lemons into your disposal. When you run the disposal, your kitchen will smell like wonderful… unless you’re some weirdo that doesn’t like lemons ;)

 

To ensure a clean dishwasher, pour 2 cups of vinegar into the bottom of the machine and run on low.  Also, be sure to grab some rags or paper toweling and give then bottom inside of your dishwasher a good scrub to get rid of any extra food or dirt.

 

  1. Inspect HosesHoses

At least once per year, inspect all household hoses for leaks or other damage, including dish and clothing washers, dryers, dehumidifiers, refrigerators, and toilets. All hoses should be replaced every 3-5 years.

 

  1. Get a Home Inspection

Towne & Country - Milwaukee Home InspectorOk, so this doesn’t need to be done each summer, but it’s always a good idea to make sure your home is in good shape. Letting problems go, or not noticing problems with your home can turn into huge expenses later on.

 

So if it’s been a few years since you’ve had a home inspector look over your home, consider spending a few hundred dollars to have your home checked over by a professional home inspector. They’ll notify you of potential red flags or problem areas that you should consider addressing.

 

And if you’re considering selling your home, a pre-listing home inspection will give you plenty of time to address any issues that may arise when you go to sell.

 

 

Live in the Milwaukee area? Book your home inspection today!

Improve your odds of selling with a Landscape Inspection

landscape-inspectionWhen looking to purchase a new home, curb appeal isn’t the only thing you should consider in your buying decision. The appearance of your potential home is important but making sure that the landscape is healthy can save you thousands.

Landscape Inspections
Landscape inspections are often overlooked, leaving buyers vulnerable to poor soil or susceptible to the consequences of having aging trees surrounding the house.

AAA Tree Experts Inc. arborist Bruce Avery, recommends that the landscape inspection includes review of “retaining walls, patios and decks, outdoor kitchens, water features, fireplaces and fire pits, irrigations systems, fencing, pools and spas, lighting, playgrounds, lawns and trees”.

All home owners, new and old, should consider having their landscape inspected. Prolonged inspections can make damages more severe and repairs more costly. The best way to minimize and prevent potential landscape related expenses is to be proactive and have your lawn or yard professionally inspected.

 

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Landscape

  • consider slow-release or organic fertilizers
  • measure the treatment area and calibrate the spreader to apply the proper amount of fertilizer
  • avoid applying fertilizers and pesticides on paved surfaces
  • use rain barrels to store rainwater

 

Do you have a question regarding your existing or future home? 
Send us an email at scot.mclean3@gmail.com

INSULATION – Doing More than Just Keeping You Warm

doing-more-than-just-keepingInsulating does more than protect you against the cold — it protects your most valuable asset when costs rise.

With energy costs increasing every year, insulating your home could be an excellent way to save natural resources and ease the strain on your pocketbook. The project sounds simple: add a little insulation, and the savings roll on. However, this is not the case. Modern homes are complex, interactive systems. Insulation must be added with a lot of thought and planning.

Done right, insulation reduces heat loss and increases the comfort of your home. Done incorrectly, it will not increase energy efficiency; instead, you will waste your money and might even cause serious damage to your home. So where should you start?

Because our homes consist of complex systems of many interrelated components, numerous interactions push or pull air through our homes. Some are easy to understand, such as wind blowing against our home pushes its way in. However, some air movement is more subtle.

 

doing-more-than-just-keeping2For instance, warm air rises, creating a stack affect; pushing  air through any penetrations into the attic. The same stack effect can draw air up a chimney when the fireplace damper is open while a fire is burning. The chimney attached to any gas-burning appliance constantly draws air up and out of the home.

You want to stop these pesky air leaks, and you want to invest in your sealing and insulation dollars where you will have the biggest improvements in comfort and payback.

Start with simple insulation projects. Check your attic first:

  • Make sure that the insulation level is appropriate for your climate.
  • Close any leaks or air bypasses into the attic.

 

Survey the attic for potential air leaks through the thermal boundary to your home. Common culprits include the following:

  • The area around chimneys
  • Plumbing vents
  • Wire penetrations
The trap door or stairway to the attic can also be a major channel. “Can” lights that penetrate the insulation also create a big problem. You may need a professional to help address these leakers.
To find an air bypass into the attic, lift the fiber insulation around the hatch door or near the plumbing or electrical wiring. If you see darkened insulation. You have just found and air leak into the attic. The fiber insulation is blackened because it is filtering out dirt as air passes into the attic.
When insulating your attic, you can definitely add insulation over the top of existing insulation. However, you will want to avoid any air gaps, and the insulation should fit tightly to the existing insulation.
Part of adding insulation to the attic is maintaining adequate attic ventilation or improving ventilation above the insulation. In most cases, there should be 1 square foot of free-vent space for every 300 square feet of attic space.

 

doing-more-than-just-keeping3When insulation is added, it is very important to keep the areas above the soffit vents clear for air movement. If you block these areas, you can create moisture problems. In older homes, these areas should be checked, because often they are blocked with insulation.

You can also consider a professional energy evaluation of your home. Home evaluators are trained to check all systems and components of the home and provide a prioritized list of energy improvements with energy-efficiency payback for each item.

It is a good idea to have a professional evaluate the condition of your home and do most of the insulation work. If you re considering blowing in insulation or addressing “can” lights, you definitely need professional help. A professional will be a big help with details and climate specific information as well.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to consider the type of work that will be most beneficial to your home and plan for the specific work that needs to be done. Done right, improving the insulation of your home can save money and natural resources while making you and your family more comfortable this winter.

 

Do you have a question regarding your existing or future home? 
Send us an email at  scot.mclean3@gmail.com

DIVORCE- Avoiding further Loss when having to Sell

avoiding-further-loss-when-having-to-sellHiring a home inspector is common sense when it comes to purchasing a house. A house is a large investment, and people should know exactly what they are getting in to. But what about when you are getting a divorce? What a lot of people don’t know is that being informed on the condition of your house is just as important when you are going through a divorce as it is when you first buy a house.

Typically in a divorce, the house is considered a monetary asset that will be divided between the two individuals. Sometimes one spouse may decide to buy the house from the other individual or the house may be sold and the assets split accordingly. In any case, it is important to be informed on the value of the home before agreeing to any settlement.

Couples usually rely on house appraisals when determining the value of their home. However, these appraisals are usually inaccurate because they typically only depend on things such as square footage, location, and other amenities. What house appraisals do not take into consideration is the condition of the home.

 

Repairs can be expensive
Things that may seem minor such as cracks in the basement wall, full gutters and downspouts, exteriors with peeling paint or fractures, even general wear and tear can potentially lead to costly repairs. A home inspection provides an unbiased, visual review of the apparent condition and defects of the home.

Everything from major repairs to minor fixes should be taken into consideration when deciding the value of a home. Any one of these issues can affect not only the value of the house but also how marketable it is. If the house can’t be sold on the market or is in so need of repair a bank will not lend on it to a buyer, it doesn’t matter how much the house is worth.

These hidden costs are such an issue that divorce attorneys and realtors often encourage their clients to invest in a home inspection. Many times individuals will try to reopen a completed divorce case due to home-related issues. However, these after-the-fact attempts are often too little too late. It is the individual’s responsibility to make sure that they are informed on the value and condition of the house before coming to a legal settlement with their partner.

 

Get a house inspection BEFORE you SELL
A house inspection will help identify any current or potential issues and give the couple an idea of the costs involved. Most of the repairs will not be made until only one of the individuals owns the house, and that one individual will be responsible for all the costs. It is better to know exactly what the house is worth and how much it will cost to make it marketable so you don’t get stuck with the bill. A house inspection helps to ensure that the individual getting the house is getting a fair deal.

A very small percentage of couples actually engage a home inspector, usually due to the stress and emotion that is involved in divorce. Bu the truth is that someone will have to deal with the house repairs eventually. It is better to be smart and invest in a home inspection before the final papers are signed and save yourself a lot of future heartache.

 

Do you have a question regarding your existing or future home? 

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