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.
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.
Happy 2019 everyone! Doherty Home Inspections had a very successful year helping home buyers and sellers prepare for their next big life adventure. We are so grateful to all of you - our clients and real estate agents - who have entrusted us with your current or future homes. We are thrilled to begin 2019 and look forward to another fantastic year working with you! Thank you, thank you! Rick & Lori Doherty
New year, newly built home? Sounds great to us! But just because a house is new does not mean it is without fault. Often we see issues that are not readily obvious and can be missed during the final walkthrough. In this case, a second floor guest bedroom window had a significant crack in it and needed to be replaced. Other common issues include improper drainage and faulty plumbing, all of which you want performing perfectly when you move in. A great home inspection (and inspector!) is a very wise investment that is guaranteed to save you time and money, no matter how old - or new- the house is. Hover over each picture to find out more.
HVAC TIP: Check to make sure there are no gaps! Gaps in the metal exterior duct that leads from the HVAC to the home lets heat escape and lets water in. It can also contaminate the air supply with undesirable fungal growth (think mold). The metal box should be flush and sealed to the home to prevent these serious issues from occurring.
Did you know that you should clean your dryer exhaust vent at least once a year (and even more often in larger households)? Nearly 15,000 fires a year are caused by dryer-related fires so this safety maintenance is VERY important. You can hire a professional or you can purchase a kit at a hardware store and do it yourself. In this video, the lint is being blown from inside out as well as using the lint brush connected to a power drill. A clean vent is not only far safer but will also save you time and money as your clothes will dry faster. Win win!
This water stain on the ceiling might seem pretty obvious - but would you, the buyer OR the home owner, notice this in the guest bedroom closet? That is where I found this stain and it led me to the attic to investigate further, where I found evidence of a past active leak. Leaks like this lead to damaged drywall and/or sheathing and possibly mold and should be addressed immediately. Home inspections are crucial to the upkeep and proper maintenance of your home, not just during the buying and selling process.
These roof shingles have heavy moss growth presence on the front side of the roof line. The moss growth damages the shingle asphalt base and could result in accelerated aging which usually advances at the end of the shingles' life. Good roof maintenance is KEY and getting regular home and roof inspections is an important part of that.
Mushrooms on your burger with swiss cheese? Yes, please! Mushrooms in your crawl space (with or without cheese)? That's a big NO. Mushrooms love and need the one thing you absolutely do NOT want in your crawl space or basement - moisture. I know we sound like a broken record, but we can't stress enough how important it is to keep your crawl space dry. If it's wet enough to grow mushrooms, it's wet enough to grow other organic material like mold and over time, it can compromise your foundation as well. Plus all that moisture has a tendency to creep up into your living space.
With Halloween just around the corner, we thought we would show you something REALLY spooky! These vines growing up this home's siding are scary indeed. Not only can their roots damage your siding, but the vines serve as a conduit for bugs and can trap moisture. Trim all vegetation at least 12 inches away from your home.
This week I performed two inspections in a row that had leaking dishwashers. When I begin an inspection, I always run the dishwashers on a normal cycle. Since my inspections last a minimum of three hours, I always have a chance to check on the dishwasher during and at the end of an inspection. In both cases, these dishwashers started leaking within 10 minutes, with one of them pouring a significant amount of water on the floor (pictured) in a very short period of time. These issues highlight how important a thorough home inspection is and how much time, money, and aggravation you will save yourself by getting an inspection before you buy. It is my job to find things like this and to provide you with a comprehensive overview of your potential new home and I take this responsibility very seriously. Plus, it is a great feeling knowing we helped our clients and likely saved them money as well.
Does this look odd to you, too? This is a picture of two exhaust fan pipes from two separate second floor bathrooms vented into - but not out of - the attic. Excessive moisture from these fans is constantly vented directly into the attic, which causes condensation on the wood sheathing of the roof, on insulation, and anything else that is kept in the attic. This excessive moisture has led to what appears to be mold growth on the wood sheathing. This growth will continue to spread and the wood will eventually deteriorate. This means a leaking roof in addition to the undesirable effects of mold and/or other organic growth that you most definitely do NOT want in your home. In a nutshell, ALWAYS VENT OUTSIDE. You will save yourself money and headaches (and undesirable living conditions) if you do!
After all the rain from Hurricane Florence, we thought it would be a good time to remind everyone about a very simple fix that can save you thousands of dollars in water/foundation damage.
ALL of the downspouts and pipes around your home should extend at least 6 feet away from your foundation. You can do this yourself by adding flexible pipe (found at Lowes or Home Depot) to the end of the downspout, or if you want something more aesthetically pleasing, you can have piping like a French drain added below ground, leading away from the foundation.
If you don't address drainage issues (like the one pictured), water - especially heavy rainfall - will continually seep into the foundation, crawl space, etc., and will gradually weaken the foundation and make your home unstable. Cracks in the foundation will eventually form under these conditions and could lead to major (and costly) damage over time.
Eighteen months ago, we took a chance and combined our individual strengths and knowledge and combined passion for all things "house" and put them together to create Doherty Home Inspections. In that time, we have had the great privilege of working with some amazing families and incredibly dedicated realtors and it just KEEPS GETTING BETTER. How lucky are we that we get to be a part of these huge life moments for our clients and also work as a husband and wife team doing it? It is an absolute gift. And the icing on the cake is being able to spend more quality time with our two young daughters. Our motivation to do an excellent job comes from knowing that this is what we do - this is ALL we do - and this is what matters. Being available, being approachable, being knowledgeable, professional, reliable, accountable. And being grateful - for you. Thank you so much to Lindsay and David and all of our other wonderful clients we have had the blessing to know. Thank you.
Hurricane Florence can't keep us down. It may have knocked us around and it definitely caused a lot of damage and heartache, but we are an amazing group of humans here in the Carolinas and we will come back from this stronger than ever. If you would like to volunteer your time or supplies that will go DIRECTLY to those in need, please check out: OPERATION AIR DROP, A JUST FLORENCE RECOVERY. https://www.facebook.com/groups/319817688781393/about/
Volunteers are mobilizing and meeting at RDU. Join the FB group to learn more.
We've got you covered, even if your prospective home's outlets aren't. Missing outlet covers are easy to miss when they are hidden behind furniture and other household items. Without these covers, electrical wires can be exposed presenting hazardous conditions especially to children and pets. Outlet covers are designed to protect you from electrical shock and fire hazards and are something we look for at each home inspection. It is shocking (pun intended) how many homes we see with this easily-fixed issue. We'll put it in your inspection report to alert you of this commonly occurring safety issue.
Do you remember "hanging chads"? Well this might be even more cringe-worthy. Hanging insulation is pretty darn useless (at best), as it is not doing its job of protecting your home and your hard-earned money. Condensation has made this insulation wet, which causes it to deteriorate and it will eventually fall to the ground. Wet insulation supports mold growth and insects/vermin, and leads to unfavorable environmental conditions in your home (cold floors, poor air quality, lost heat). Crawlspaces can be dirty, cramped, uncomfortable spaces (with shockingly large spiders in residence) so oftentimes people tend to avoid them, which is why insulation and moisture issues go undetected. Our home inspector is well-versed in cramped crawlspaces and will thoroughly inspect yours to ensure all is well.
Did you know that our home inspector checks for things like leaky faucets and if there is hot water (he even tests the temperature)? These issues are easy to overlook when a buyer is touring a home because there are so many things on your mind. However, things like leaky faucets are not only a nuisance to discover once you've moved in but can become a real problem down the road. Where does the leak start? Is water seeping into the walls or flooring? Should a plumber investigate further? Catching items like this before you buy can save you time, money, and headaches. Call us at 919-921-8400 or book your inspection right on our website and we'll make sure your faucets are shipshape!
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.