It sure is beautiful in North Carolina this time of year. Everything is in bloom, it's not too hot out (yet), and the clouds of pollen have started to subside. Now that the trees and shrubs all have their leaves, it is easy to spot the ones that are overhanging your roof and touching your siding. This close contact is not good for your house for several reasons - vegetation touching siding and/or roofing can trap moisture, cause wear and damage, and be a conduit for insects. Trimming back all vegetation at least 12" from the home is recommended. So call your local landscaper today and have him or her give your greenery a little TLC. Your home will thank you!
Look who I found behind that screen, tucked away in an attic far from prying eyes. Can you tell by the outline of its pointy little ears? It strikes fear in the hearts (and wallets) of homeowners everywhere ... bats. Now bats in the wild are an extremely important part of our ecosystem and play a significant role controlling insect populations, which in North Carolina is no small fete. But bats in the home are another matter entirely. Having a few take up residence can and usually does lead to many, many more over the years as they build their colony. More bats = more bat poop, i.e., guano.
Bat guano is a carrier of the soil fungus histoplasma capsulatam. The spores of this fungus are microscopic and airborne and they can easily get into the living areas of your home. If inhaled, the spores of the fungus can cause a disease called histoplasmosis, which is an infection of the lungs. Another serious risk from bats, although rare, is the possibility of contracting rabies from a bite.
What do you do if your home has bats? Typically, you would need to hire a professional wildlife removal company. These folks know how to safely and humanely remove bats (if there are a small number) or how to encourage them to leave on their own. In that case, they allow an exit from the home but make it impossible for the bats to re-enter. At the same time, they don protective suits and masks and remove all of the guano. Eliminating bats from your home is not cheap, therefore getting regular home and pest inspections are strongly recommended because we go into spaces that are rarely seen by the homeowner and that can make all the difference when it comes to discovering unwanted roommates.
This is definitely NOT what you want to see when entering a crawl space. Nearly all of the beams and joists in this home were being supported by very unstable "piers" that have been cobbled together using bricks and other materials (including a doorstop!). These are temporary fixes at best and very dangerous, as small crawl spaces like this are rarely entered/monitored. If the pier(s) were to collapse, it could be months or longer before the homeowner realized that large portions of the home were not stable (not to mention all the termite damage!). This is another example of why inspecting crawl spaces is so important.
This home had a significant - but not obvious from the outside - gap in the attic. I discovered it during the home inspection and made sure to alert my client, the buyer. Gaps like this are an easy entryway for animals and insects like bats, squirrels, birds, hornets, etc. If a bat colony decides to set up residence in your attic, it is quite costly to have them safely removed ($1500 or more in most cases). In addition to unwanted house guests, gaps compromise the weathertightness of a home and make it less efficient and more prone to water damage. Findings like these are yet another reason why a good home inspector is well worth the investment.
From Rick & Lori:
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