Yesterday, WRAL asked me to check out several still-occupied units at MacDougald Terrace in Durham after many were evacuated because of elevated carbon monoxide levels. What I found was very concerning and will hopefully be addressed immediately by DHA. There were dangerously high CO levels coming from one tenants gas stoves when operated. This also serves as an important reminder to check your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to make sure they are working properly. January is the deadliest month for CO poisoning - at least two people die each day from carbon-monoxide poisoning in January—three times the fatality rate recorded in August and July.
What serious concerns do you see in these pictures and what is the main cause of these concerns? Pictures 1 and 2 are suspected MOLD. Picture 3 is rotted a rotted wood beam. What do they all have in common? Moisture. It's the number one enemy of your crawl space and your home and all kinds of bad things happen when it is present. Sometimes it is an easy fix that involves making sure your downspouts drain away from the home and there is a proper vapor barrier on the floor of the crawl space. Sometimes the fix is more involved and costly. But one thing that is always true is that the sooner you catch it, the better off you'll be and since most people don't enter their crawl spaces very often (if ever), a pre-listing, pre-purchase, or maintenance home inspection is so extremely important and cost effective.
Did you hear about the actress Anna Faris and her 12 family members who nearly died over Thanksgiving because of carbon monoxide poisoning? The vacation home they were renting had NO detectors. The furnace was leaking carbon monoxide into the home at over five times the recommended level. The safety feature of having working carbon monoxide detectors is absolutely one of things that gets called out in our reports and it is also one of the cheapest and easiest fixes. PLEASE check your home to make sure there is a working carbon monoxide AND smoke detector on each floor. We want you and your family to be safe and healthy to experience the joy of another holiday season and ring in the New Year!
What are your thoughts on gutter leaf guards? Did you know that even with leaf guards, your gutters still need to be monitored and cleared at least three times a year? It is especially important to check on your gutters in the fall - an October, early December, and April cleaning will help keep water flowing down and away from your home. Water is one of the most damaging things to your home so it pays to be vigilant! While leaf guards do help prevent gutters from getting clogged, you can't solely rely on them despite what the salesperson might tell you. Call us at 919-914-0606 and we will perform a full home inspection to make sure the water drainage system and all other components in and around your home are working properly.
This thermostat is in a brand new construction home and was working when I tested it at the beginning of the interior portion of the isnpection. At some point, however, I heard the HVAC switch off and when I checked the thermostat, it had gone completely blank and did not respond to any touch commands. I headed to the attic to investgate. The furnace switch was tested and the air handler fan started, however, the heating elements did not light. Since the thermostat had stopped sending signals to the furnace, it was no longer heating the home. This is another example of why home inspections even on brand new homes are so important because this may not have been discovered until the buyer moved in - and having to deal with a headache like this on moving day is not fun!
REALTOR Spotlight: Kelly Alexander, Go Realty - Better Homes and Gardens. We have had the privilege of working with Kelly and her clients on many occasions and we have seen first-hand her dedication to the people she represents and her knowledge about the buying and selling process in the Triangle area. She is very responsive to calls and texts, coordinates the MANY moving parts in a real estate transaction, and helps educate her clients along the way. She attends inspections and joins me in the crawl space just so that she can see herself what I've found. On one occasion I arrived at an inspection to find her helping a client move a refrigerator out of the home. Her level of attention to her clients is top notch and we highly recommend her to buyers AND sellers! You can reach her at 919-414-9307 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for all you do, Kelly!
Any guesses? If you were to say "FIRE HAZARD" you would be correct! This is a dryer vent that exits outside of the home and it obviously has not been cleaned in a while. Old lint, dirt, leaves, and other debris have built up over time, slowly blocking the vent and preventing moisture, heat, and lint from escaping when the dryer is operated. Wonder why your clothes take forever to dry? A clogged vent can dramatically impact the efficiency of your dryer. And of course, when lint builds up and you add the heat of the dryer, the risk of a fire sharply increases as well. We've highlighted this issue before because it is so simple to fix yet so damaging if not addressed - so go check your dryer vent! And then call us at 919-914-0606 for a whole home maintenance or pre-listing inspection and we'll make sure you don't have any other safety issues like this!
Our home inspections cover A LOT. Typically, we inspect every single room and component inside and outside of your home or prospective home (when accessible). Imagine buying a home and moving in and then realizing the oven doesn't work, the exterior wood trim is decayed and letting water in, the crawl space lights don't function, several outlets have open grounds or reverse polarity (which is a safety issue), the spare bedroom window is broken, and there is a mysterious stain on the ceiling in the master bedroom closet. Issues like this will get discovered in your home inspection and included in the web-based report (with pictures AND VIDEO). Even new houses and houses at the 11-month warranty deadline will have issues - but houses that are 5+ years old and older DEFINITELY need to be inspected and more than pay for themselves in every inspection I have done over the years.
In a perfect world, brand new homes and homes less than a year old would be flawless. Every nook and cranny carefully created and perfectly assembled. And mostly this is true - builders do really want you to have your perfect home. But important things DO get missed ALL THE TIME. I have never done a New Home/End of Warranty inspection and not discovered issues, which is why these types of inspections are so important. The builder will fix these things if notified in time.
Did you buy a newly constructed home last fall? Did you know that you should absolutely get an End of Warranty home inspection and that many builders require that if you plan to get one, you must get it before the end of the 11th month in your new home? Builders typically want at least four weeks' notice to correct any concerns/deficiencies and if you wait too long and don't give them that four weeks, your warranty will expire without them addressing your concerns.
Even with new homes, I have never conducted a home inspection WITHOUT finding an issue (and often, far more than one). The key is to catch these problems early before they can lead to serious situations down the road. So don't forget to schedule your End of Warranty inspection at least 4 weeks from the anniversary of your closing. I'll make sure you know exactly what information to provide to your builder in the form of a modern, web-based report that highlights all concerns.
What's wrong with this picture?
If you said the chimney is missing a chimney cap, you're right! Such a simple, inexpensive fix. However, if this is left like this, you could be facing one or more of the following issues:
1. Chimney caps keep out birds, BATS, squirrels, and other small rodents. If something crawls into your chimney but gets stuck and can't get out (which happens a lot), not only is that awful for the animal, but you will also be dealing with a dead critter, bad smells, and even bugs (maggots, etc.). Yuck.
2. SAFETY ISSUE - wood burning fireplaces sometimes emit large burning embers that float up the chimney and without a cap, can land on your roof or something equally flammable.
3. Chimney caps help reduce water/moisture that can damage your chimney liner and other components and can also lead to mold.
4. A correctly placed cap can help block downdrafts and excessive wind (especially during hurricanes and other serious weather events) from channeling down your chimney and blowing smoke and/or soot into your living space. Caps also prevent debris like leaves and small branches/twigs from getting inside your chimney.
So what does all of this mean? If you're buying a house, make sure it has a chimney cap! If you own a house with a chimney, go take a look and make sure you have one and that it is securely placed. If you can't tell, then it's time for a roof inspection.
IF YOUR HOME WAS BUILT IN THE 1960s-80s, CHECK TO SEE IF YOUR HOME HAS THIS ELECTRICAL PANEL: Federal Pacific(FPE)/STAB-Lok electrical panels are panels that have been the subject of UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and consumer concerns related to inadequate safety protection. Consistent evidence has been presented that STAB-LOK breakers have a tendency to become loose and experience failure of unit circuit protection. The breakers often do not trip in the event of an emergency leaving the circuit unprotected - this is a SIGNIFICANT FIRE HAZARD. In addition, this particular home that I recently inspected had frayed rag insulation (see red circle), adding another safety hazard to this situation. Click this link for further information about these panels and the dangers they pose: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home/despite-previous-safety-concerns-this-circuit-breaker-is-still-in-homes/2018/05/08/8927af86-4ef9-11e8-b725-92c89fe3ca4c_story.html?utm_term=.5e452ed7097f
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and sometimes, a video is worth a thousand pictures. In this case, we see a brick support pier that looks a little askew at first glance. But as the video shows, it has completely separated from the wall which can jeopardize the stability of the structure. We use short videos like this when necessary to highlight concerns in a very direct and easy-to-see way. These videos go directly into our web-based home inspection reporting software so that when you receive your report, you are not only getting pictures and detailed language, but also videos when pertinent.
You likely wouldn't know it by looking at it, but the first two photos are of a ROOF. A Mansard-style roof, to be exact. And yes, those are leaves and plants growing ON the roof. A Mansard roof is characterized by having very steep slopes/pitch on each side of the house and a flat or nearly flat roof surface which can lend to very spacious attic areas and more living space within the home. However, this style of architecture must be cleaned and cleared of debris on a regular basis especially when surrounded by trees. This particular roof was covered in extensive tree debris, moss, plant growth, and even puddles from a recent rain. This has caused and will continue to cause improper drainage to the gutter, slope blocking, and it adds weight to the surface of the roof. Water/moisture is the NUMBER ONE cause of damage and deterioration for all homes. All water should shed away from the roof surface and foundations. The ponding water on this roof compromises the integrity of the roof structure and during colder months will freeze and thaw, further damaging the roof. These photos were taken during one of my home inspections on a house that was for sale. As you can imagine, this is not an ideal way to showcase a home and it of course led me to problems in the attic as well. This is a perfect example of how home inspections shed light on concerns around the home - whether you are a buyer, seller, or looking for maintenance issues.
We were privileged to perform a recent home inspection for the buyer of this beautiful home, who came to us as a referral. The majority of our work comes from referrals and repeat clients because we combine experience and knowledge with good old fashioned customer service. We answer the phone, we explain all phases of the inspection, we answer questions and provide helpful tips, and we always make your satisfaction a top priority. Anything we can do to make this process easier and more enlightening is our goal. We provide convenient online scheduling and clearly outline our fees. We provide a web-based interactive inspection report (which also includes the traditional PDF) and the ability to create customized repair requests which is very helpful for your realtor. Call us at 919-914-0606 or visit https://www.dohertyhomeinspections.com/fees-schedule-997549.html to schedule your inspection. We looks forward to working with you!
I could see from the ground that part of the stone ledge above the garage was loose. When I got on the ladder to check it out, I merely touched it and it completely came off in my hand. From that height, this could have seriously injured someone (especially a child) if it had fallen on their head. Whether you’re buying, selling, or a homeowner who hasn’t had an inspection since you bought your home, this is the kind of stuff that I find. It is SO WORTH the small investment.
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.
When you call Doherty Home Inspections, there is an excellent chance you will be speaking to co-owner Lori Doherty. And on the off chance she can't answer your call, if you leave a message she WILL call you back asap. That in itself is a bit of a rarity these days and as simple as it sounds, answering the phone and promptly returning calls is hugely important to us. One of the advantages of this husband-wife team is that even when Rick is out in the field doing home inspections, our clients and their agents know they can reach us - and in the world of real estate, time is of the essence!
Lori brings to this family business a solid background from the business and non-profit sector, most recently serving for 12 years as the Deputy Director of Development for the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City. She had the great privilege of joining the then newly-launched foundation when the Memorial and Museum were still ideas and renderings. Over the years, she witnessed the healing and rebirth of sacred ground, watched as hundreds of trees were planted, memorial pools were filled, the stories of 9/11 were shared, and the nation moved forward from tragedy. The relationships she formed with 9/11 family members and survivors, donors, Lower Manhattan residents and businesses, and foundation colleagues is something for which she will be forever grateful.
Following Rick's retirement from the NYPD in 2015, Lori and Rick and their young daughters moved to charming Chapel Hill and began their next exciting chapter, including utilizing their unique and complementary skills to launch their own family business. Never known as one to turn down an opportunity to meet new people, Lori has recently joined several local groups and committees, including as an advisory member of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, and is looking forward to continuing to connect with all of you wonderfully dynamic and diverse Triangle residents!
.Can you spot the problem here?
We'll give you a hint... it rhymes with 'hissing clownsprout'.
This gutter is missing a downspout (right side). That means that all of the water from rain, melting snow, etc. drains directly into the area next to and into the foundation. As water penetrates into the foundation month after month, year after year, the foundation starts to deteriorate and the area beneath the home (crawl space) is subjected to repeated exposure to moisture (hello mold). It is recommended that a gutter system with extended downspouts at least 3-6 feet away from the home be installed to protect the wall cladding and foundation areas of the home. This is a common concern/defect that the home inspector finds during his inspections and a very easy fix!
Thinking about buying a home? Join us this Saturday, March 9 in Chapel Hill! It’s free and packed full of excellent information and opportunities to ask questions. Our very own home inspector, Rick Doherty, will be on hand to explain the home inspection process and share tips on what to look for when searching for your perfect home. See you there!
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.
Testing water temperatures from all hot water faucets and shower heads is an important part of our comprehensive inspections. This process helps alert the inspector to potential problems with the hot water heater or the plumbing delivery system. Personal preference plays a large role in determining what temperature setting is right for your family, however, safety is a key issue here. It is recommended to set your water heater no higher than 120 degrees F. By the time that water reaches your faucets, it typically cools to about 105-108 degrees. Anything hotter than that can start to feel uncomfortable for adults and can be dangerous for young children.
Photograph taken onsite courtesy of Trevor Holman Photography
The crawl space is one of the most crucial areas a home inspector should inspect. This particular opening isn't exactly large, but trust us, our inspector Rick has gotten into MUCH smaller spaces (attic openings are especially fun!). A home's crawl space often contains HVAC components, exposed plumbing pipes, insulation, and vapor barriers and/or other encapsulation materials. All of these items should be carefully inspected to ensure they are functioning as intended. Signs of trouble can also be spotted in the foundation and in crawl spaces that are wet and musty - dry is what he's looking for!
Image courtesy of Trevor Holman Photography
Rick Doherty, NC Licensed Home Inspector, on a roof checking for wood and structural damage. Roof inspections, when safe and accessible, are just one of the critical areas covered in our comprehensive home inspections. Rick moves through your home (or potential new home) foot by foot in order to provide the most thorough inspection possible.
Image courtesy of Trevor Holman Photography.
From Rick & Lori:
Yes, we've joined the 21st Century and started a (mini) blog! Check here for great updates and tips about your current or prospective home.