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.
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.
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.