Hispanic couple sitting on the sofa reading a book at home with their baby son and young daughterYou can’t see it, smell it or taste it, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says radon gas is deadly. It’s second only to smoking as a cause of lung cancer.

Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. While smokers are particularly vulnerable, non-smokers aren’t immune. Nearly 3,000 non-smokers die each year from radon-related lung cancer, the EPA estimates. High radon levels occur in homes in every state and in every type and age of home. About one in 15 houses have it. Testing is the only way to find out your home’s radon levels.

Radon Testing

You can conduct the test yourself with easily available kits, or hire a professional. Short-term testing — two to three days — gives you a snapshot of current conditions. Long-term testing of 90 days or more gives you a year-round average.

Radon Results

A reading of 4 pCi/L — just 4 “picocuries” per liter warrants further testing. A “curie” is a unit of measurement for radioactive substances. A picocurie is one-trillionth of a curie. What if radon is there at levels of 4 pCi/L or higher? First, the EPA states that any radon at all can be dangerous, though risk decreases at lower levels. If you’ve got elevated radon levels, a professional radon contractor can help.

What is Radon

Radon is a product of uranium, found in small amounts in nearly all soils. As the uranium naturally decays, it releases radon gas into the outside air, or into homes through openings in the foundations such as cracks. Trapped inside the building, the gas builds up. It can and does happen whether buildings are new or old, drafty or tightly sealed.

How to Fix

Radon contractors have several methods for reducing home radon levels. The “soil suction radon reduction system” is one of the most common. A fan pulls radon gas from under the house and vents it to the outside through pipes and vents. What’s right for your home depends on its design and other factors. Costs also depend on the home’s design, as well as the extent of the problem.

For detailed information on radon, including sources, risks, testing, solutions and prevention, visit the EPA at this link.

Schedule your home inspection and radon test with Red Horse Home Inspection of the Black Hills.  Take a look at a sample home inspection reports and see customer reviews.  You can easily schedule your home inspection online.

November 18, 2021

Happy laughing african american young man rising up joyful son.There’s nothing like moving — whether it’s across town or across the country — to make you realize just how much stuff you have! When moving, you’re likely to let some things go, but probably also add some new appliances, furniture and other items to your list of possessions. That’s why once you’re settled into your new home, it’s an ideal time to create or update your home inventory. Here are the three components of an effective home inventory:

Photos or video.

You can take photos or video, but you’ll want shots of entire rooms and close-ups of items such as electronics, jewelry, collectibles, guns and any individual items of significant value. It’s a good idea if you’re using video to provide narration as you walk through each room, explaining what you are recording. Take your time while taking photos and videos. If you ever have to make an insurance claim, you’ll want as detailed information as possible about what you own. Don’t forget to include items inside closets and in drawers.

Take video outside the home as well, including the interior of any outbuildings or storage.

A written inventory.

You’ll also want to prepare a written inventory of your belongings. You can create a Word document on your computer or use a blank sheet of paper. Free apps and worksheets are available, too. Keep your written inventory with receipts for items you’ve purchased. Include as much detail as you can about each item. Rather than ’55-inch television set,’ include the year, manufacturer and model if you can. The more expensive the item, the greater your detail should be.

It’s a good idea to get in the habit of keeping receipts for big-ticket items in a file that can be included as part of your home inventory.

Safe storage. 

If you have a fireproof safe, keep both your visual and written inventories there or in another safe place. You also may want to keep a copy off-site as well, in a safe deposit box or with a trusted friend or family member. If your written and visual inventory is saved electronically, make sure it’s backed up.

Having a home inventory makes surviving and dealing with a home disaster a lot less stressful. Hopefully, you’ll never need one. But if you do, it can make all the difference in the world. Can you imagine trying to recount every single item in your home that was damaged, destroyed or stolen? With a home inventory, you’re more ready for the unexpected.

If you are buying a home in Rapid City or any where in the Black Hills, give Red Horse Home Inspection a call a 605-490-2916 or schedule a home inspection online.  Our thorough home inspection reports will give you the information you need to negotiate with confidence.  Take a look at a sample home inspection report and see our latest reviews.  We travel to Sturgis, Spearfish, Lead, Deadwood, Custer, Hot Springs, Hill City, Keystone, Hermosa, Box Elder, Summerset, Piedmont, Black Hawk, and Belle Fourche.

home inspection near rapid city, sd

The reasons why you may be looking into getting landscaping done at your home are almost endless. Having a beautiful oasis where you can entertain your family and friends, enjoy a cold drink after a long day, or just relax on the weekends can do wonders for the comfortability of your home. Besides just making your house more beautiful, why is landscaping an important part of owning a home? Below are a few of the main reasons why. 

It will help you love where you live 

You spend a lot of time at home and your environment has a direct effect on your mood, productivity and overall enjoyment of life. Having a backyard patio surrounded by beautiful gardens, or a water feature that you can listen to while taking an afternoon nap can turn your home into your own private paradise. By investing in landscaping, you’re not only investing in the value of your home, but you’re investing in the value of your everyday life and the enjoyment you’ll get out of your property. 

Landscaping makes your home more inviting 

If you love to entertain and have friends and family at your house, it will give you a chance to allow them to feel more comfortable while they are at your home. Well-designed landscapes are appreciated by everyone, and if you’re the type that likes to entertain, then creating a fun atmosphere that is natural and beautiful will have people asking when you’re going to throw your next barbecue. Just make sure you hire the right landscaping company to do the job! 

Improves your home’s curb appeal 

Improving the curb appeal of your home will do multiple things. It will give you a sense of pride in your environment, will help improve home value, and will have your friends and family complimenting you on your taste and style. Improving curb appeal is one of the main ways that landscaping will help improve your property value while allowing you to enjoy your property just a little bit more.

Making sure that your property is sloped to allow proper drainage can mean the difference between a trouble-free rainy season and a flooded basement a few times a year.  Unwanted moisture intrusion—even at a level not serious enough to cause interior flooding—can create insidious problems that will be difficult to completely eliminate, such as weakened structural elements, mold growth, and other damage and health hazards.

Most problems with moisture in basements and crawlspaces are caused by poor site drainage. The ground should slope away from window wells, exterior basement stairs, and other means of egress. The bottom of each of these areas should be sloped to a drain. Each drain should have piping that connects it to a storm water drainage system (if there is one) or that drains to either a discharge at a lower grade or into a sump pit that collects and discharges the water away from the building.

Rain:  During the next heavy rainstorm without lightning, grab an umbrella and go outside. Walk around your house and look around at the roof and property. A rainstorm is the perfect time to see how the roof, downspouts and grading are performing. Observe the drainage patterns of your entire property, as well as the property of your neighbor. The ground around your house should slope away from all sides. Downspouts, surface gutters and drains should be directing water away from the foundation.

One important maintenance task is to monitor and maintain the drains and piping. Drains and piping should be open and clear of leaves, earth and debris. A garden hose can be used to check water flow, although its discharge cannot approximate storm conditions.

House on a Hillside:  Where a building is situated on a hillside, it is more difficult to slope the ground away from the building on all sides. On the high-ground side of the building, the slope of the ground toward the building could be interrupted by a surface drainage system that collects and disposes of rainwater runoff. Swales can be used to direct surface water away from the foundation. There are two general types of surface drainage systems: an open system, consisting of a swale (often referred to as a ditch), sometimes with a culvert at its end to collect and channel water away; and a closed system, consisting of gutters with catch basins.



Well-maintained landscaping and other improvements are important for the enjoyment of a healthy and durable property.

Plants, Trees & Shrubs:  Check the location and condition of all trees and shrubbery. Those that are overgrown should be pruned or trimmed. Where trees or bushes have overgrown, complete removal may be necessary. Trees need to be trimmed.  Overhanging branches should not interfere with a chimney’s draft, be too close to utility wires, or deposit leaves and twigs on the roof or inside gutters and drains. Trees and shrubbery that are very close to exterior walls or roofs can cause damage. They can make it difficult to perform homeowner maintenance, inspections and repairs. Branches around the perimeter of the house should be pruned back. Tree roots under concrete walks can cause damage. Roots are usually exposed near the surface and can be cut back. Tree roots can cause a home’s foundation to crack by pushing against it from the outside. If you have any of these issues, consider hiring an arborist. An arborist is a specialist in the cultivation and care of trees and shrubs, including tree surgery, the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of tree diseases, and the control of pests. Find a certified arborist in the U.S. at www.nachi.org/go/arborists and www.nachi.org/go/caforests in Canada.  Schedule your home inspection with Red Horse Home Inspection. https://app.spectora.com/home-inspectors/copper-mountain-home-inspection-llc

Image source: Pexels

red horse home inspection rapid city investment propertyPurchasing an investment property can be a fantastic way to create wealth, and similar to any other investment, doing the research beforehand is a pivotal step you need to take. If you’ve decided make your first real estate investment, congratulations! Making a real estate investment can be an excellent way to secure your financial future, so your choice is wise. 

Buying Your First Investment Property


Everything, from doing your research to getting your finances in order to choose the area you want to buy in, requires due diligence on your part. Thus, if you want to make sure your purchase is worth it, in your best interest, and cash-flow positive, there are a few steps you need to take before you close on your first investment property.


Educate Yourself


Education is imperative to success in the real estate industry. There is a massive learning curve when investing in either rental or commercial properties. Still, you can ease it by equipping yourself with sufficient knowledge, especially since so much information is available on the Internet now. If you’re genuinely into real estate, the learning part will be fun, but if you have to force yourself to learn, this may not be the ideal path for you. 

Set Your Finances in Order


Master Passive Income points out that there are numerous options available today for financing your first investment property. As you’re learning how to purchase your first real estate, you might start considering applying for mortgage loans. Various loan options offer different benefits, so you need to spot and choose the right mortgage option that best suits your financial situation and goals. 


Still, there are a few things you need to take care of before going for a home loan. Unlike the 3-percent down payment on the property you’re living on, BiggerPockets notes that you’ll need at least a 20-percent down payment for purchasing investment properties. Besides, you shouldn’t carry debts with your investment portfolio, so pay them off before getting started in real estate investing.


As a real estate investor, consider running your business as a DBA (doing business as), which is beneficial as part of your marketing and branding strategy. A DBA name is basically a pseudonym for your legal business name. Many entrepreneurs use it to avoid using their own surname or, for corporations, because an assumed name makes expansion easier, as it’s not necessary to create a completely new corporation. 


Decide What You Want to Buy


Before proceeding further, you need to define your investment goals. For instance, do you want to buy a multi-unit property or a single-family home? Is the low-maintenance setup of a condo better suited for your long-term goals? You can typically get more revenue with a multifamily house, but single-family homes tend to have more equity appreciation potential if you decide to sell later on.


It’s also smart to nail down a price point and set your budget. Take into account the management of the property and who will do it, the rent you can charge according to the location of the property, home type, and eventual updates you plan to make. Besides the 20-percent down payment you need to have ready, consider other expenses you may have, such as conveyancing, the real estate agent, pest and building reports, and insurance. 


To attract lenders, you also need to clean the property, buy furniture if required, sort out the utilities, upgrade it and perhaps hire a property manager to continue taking care of the place after you are renting it. Make sure they are trustable, reachable, and do a great job in managing the property for you. Hiring a home inspector like Red Horse Home Inspection will also help assuage any major maintenance concerns the lender may have about the property.

Decide the Where


The geographical location is also imperative. When looking for an investment property, focus on the trendier neighborhoods in the area, and try to limit your search to homes zoned for particular amenities, such as a school, grocery store, national park, and so on. 

The Bottom Line


Buying investment property could earn you a good chunk of money, and many still consider it the ideal way to become financially independent. Once you educate yourself and learn about the industry, sort out your finances, and know what and where you want to buy, you are ready to make an offer on your first investment property. 


If you’re looking for home inspection experts to evaluate an investment property or a home to buy in Rapid City and surrounding areas, Red Horse Home Inspection is more than happy to help. Schedule your inspection or contact the professionals at 605-388-2924.  https://app.spectora.com/home-inspectors/copper-mountain-home-inspection-llc


July 15, 2021

by clinton_l

red horse home inspection near rapid city sd

contractor talking to clients

Do you understand the difference between a property appraisal and a home inspection? Surveys show that many home buyers — even those who have purchased homes before – have some level of confusion about these two key aspects of a home purchase.

Appraisals are designed to estimate a property’s value based on a number of different factors. They are typically ordered by lenders during the home buying process to make sure they don’t approve mortgages for more than properties are worth. Appraisers typically document and photograph property amenities, inside and out. Appraisal reports typically take into account a minimum of three comparable sales of nearby properties to arrive at an accurate appraisal value.

While an appraisal can give a home buyer a good idea of a property’s value, it is no substitute for a home inspection. A home inspection, by comparison, is a detailed, hands-on evaluation of a property’s condition. Inspections are typically ordered by a home buyer, not a lender. Homes don’t get a ‘pass’ or ‘fail,” a grade or rating. The inspector simply compiles what he or she observes in terms of property condition in a report. Anything an inspector sees that is unsafe or in need of repair is noted.

While a home appraisal is virtually a mandatory part of the home buying process if you’re taking out a mortgage loan, a home inspection is entirely voluntary. But that doesn’t make inspections any less important. Inspectors look for costly and hidden defects and problems, such as roof issues, faulty heating/cooling systems, structural problems and leaky pipes, that could lead to costly headaches down the line for anyone who owns the home. They’ll also document any of a number of less serious issues.

Many home buyers who pay for a pre-purchase inspection make their offer contingent upon that inspection. Inspections are even more critical when purchasing a distressed property, due to the more limited amount of information potential buyers may have access to about a property’s condition and possible problems.

When you’re ready to buy or sell a home, give us a call at 1-605-388-2924 to learn more about the importance of home inspections.  Easily schedule online todayhttps://app.spectora.com/home-inspectors/copper-mountain-home-inspection-llc

rapid city home inspector inspection black hills

Trying to find the perfect home? As you search through the options available on the market, you may come to a game-changing realization: Your perfect house doesn’t exist – yet. However, you can make your dream home a reality.


That said, you can’t do it alone. When it comes to building a home, you need experienced professionals by your side to guide you through the process. Here’s a look at the five pros you need, courtesy of Red Horse Home Inspection


  1. Realtor


The first step is to purchase the land your dream home will sit on. For this, you will need a realtor. Picking the perfect realtor, though, can be difficult. It’s important to ask questions, such as, “How many sales have you handled in my target neighborhoods?” “What’s your fee?” “Who else will be working with me?” and “Has a client ever filed a complaint against you?” Once you find someone who checks all the boxes, it’s time to move on to the next step.


  1. Builder


No matter what kind of home you want, you’ll need someone to build it. Creating a new home is hard work, and it requires serious industry knowledge and trustworthy experience. If the work is done incorrectly, fixing it can be an expensive problem. You need to know that your house is built properly so you can live a safe, happy, and affordable life inside of it.


The best way to find a reputable home builder is through recommendations, and by interviewing several different prospects. Checking out customer reviews gives you a good sense of what working with any given builder will be like. Interviewing a mix of home builders and getting multiple quotes will help you settle on the right person who can affordably make your dream home a reality. 


  1. Inspector


You need to get a good inspector like Red Horse Home Inspection to check your home at different building stages. Some builders have in-house inspectors, but it’s always a good call to have an independent inspector check out the work, as well. This way you have an increased sense of trust and confidence that the inspections are thorough and honest.


  1. Designer


Once your home is built, you’ll want to make the interior your own. Even if you have a pretty good sense of your own décor style, it’s a good call to hire a designer to help you bring it to life. There are many subtle aspects of interior design that can make or break your aesthetic. A pro will be able to identify all the best opportunities to make your space great.


To pick a great designer, take a look at several different portfolios and find a few that have examples you like. Meet them in person or do an informal interview over the phone. If you like their work and you get along well, it’s probably a good fit. Hiring an interior designer will typically cost between $2,000 and $5,000.


  1. Landscaper


Getting your interior in shape is only one aspect of making your dream home perfect. You also need to make sure the exterior looks the way you’d like it to. Regular care and maintenance might be manageable on your own, but consider hiring a landscaper to lay down the groundwork. A good landscaper will have a sense for where to put different kinds of plants and lawn décor.


There are several great things about having a professionally landscaped space. First and foremost, it will make your yard an escape from the hustle and bustle of regular life. Secondly, however, it can be very practical. Landscapers can advise which plants thrive in different environments, allowing you to make the most of your environment.


On the same token, consider hiring a tree removal service if you have any tree you no longer want or pose a risk to your property. Search “tree service near me” online to see what’s available, and then use review sites to get an idea of what customers think of these contractors. Keep in mind that it can cost between $50 and $1,500 to have a tree professionally removed.


The house-search grind loses its appeal when nothing’s quite right. If you can’t find what you want, why not build a new home? With these experts by your side, you’ll be able to bring your vision to life. 



Photo Credit: Unsplash 

From U-Factors to UV Rays, All You Need to Know


Did you know that 25% to 30% of your home’s heating or cooling bill is spent on heat gain or loss through the windows? That’s more than a quarter of the money you pay to run your furnace or air conditioner taken up by inefficiency. While no window can perfectly eliminate gain or loss, energy efficient windows can go a long way to help you better insulate your home, reduce your energy consumption, minimize your energy bill and help the environment.


It’s no wonder that there are government and industry rating systems and recommendations to help you make the most informed choice about what energy efficient window might be right for you. But these systems can sometimes seem impenetrable and meaningless without understanding the different kinds of benefits and savings energy efficient windows offer. Below is a quick primer to assist you on your way to bettering your home and helping the environment—with windows!


Bottom-Line Benefits of Energy Efficient Windows


Replacing your existing windows is not inexpensive, but it might be a wise decision for any one of the many benefits offered by energy efficient ones, including:


  • Savings on utility bills. The Efficient Windows Collaborative, a public-private non-profit promoting efficient windows, estimates that replacing your existing windows can save you at least 15% on your monthly heating costs in cold climates and between 11% and 37% in hot climates. New homes benefit too: by 24% for cold climates and at least 12% in hotter ones. Those are benefits you can take to the bank.


  • Consistent comfort. Inefficient windows become places where air is exchanged between your home and the outside world. Cold air can pool by your windows, fall to the floor and create an uncomfortable draft while hot air and excessive sunlight can warm rooms in your house to an unpleasant degree. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has determined that the more efficient your windows, the lower the probability of discomfort you’ll experience at home.


  • Avoid condensation. Have you ever had droplets form on your window panes during the winter? Did this moisture drip to the floor, leaving streaks on your wall? Energy efficient windows can reduce the occurrence of condensation and help save you from streaks, corrosion or other damage caused by moisture.


  • Protect your furniture from sunlight. Ultraviolet rays from the sun can damage your skin, of course, but they can also damage your sofa, carpets and wood floors through fading. Energy efficient windows can come with low-emissivity coatings that not only improve the insulating abilities of your windows, but protect your home’s things from UV damage as well.


Which Energy Efficient Window is Right for Me?


Depending on whether you live in a hot or a cold climate, what you need from a window might be different. There are three factors that can play a particularly important role in determining which energy efficient window is right for your home:


  • The U-Factor. This is the rate at which your windows permit non-solar heat to be exchanged between your home and the outside world. The lower the U-Factor, the less heat transferred and the more energy efficient your window is. Lower U-Factors are helpful for both those who want to keep the heat in and those who want to keep the heat out.


  • Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). This number reflects the amount of heat produced by the sun’s rays in your home through the window. The lower the number, the less heat can be produced. Those in cold climates might therefore want a higher number to allow the sun’s rays to provide some warmth outside of summer, while those who enjoy the hot sun most of the year might prefer the solar-blocking properties of a low SHGC.


  • Condensation Resistance. For those who live in cold climates a window with a higher number, which will be more resistant to forming water droplets indoors, might be the right choice. 


Though energy efficient windows can do a lot of work to help your home heating and cooling costs, they can only work properly if installed correctly. Great companies like Local Home Pro provide the level of expertise necessary to ensure the maximum benefit from your beautiful new windows. 


by Nick Gromicko, CMI® and Kenton Shepard

A fireplace hearth is the floor area within a fireplace. It is made from noncombustible materials, such as brick or stone. The hearth extension is the noncombustible material in front of and at the sides of a fireplace opening. Hearths and hearth extensions are designed to prevent sparks from leaving the fireplace and igniting nearby combustibles.
Guidelines for sufficient thickness and size of hearths and hearth extensions can be found in the International Phase I Standards of Practice for Inspecting Fireplaces and Chimneys and in the manufacturer’s instructions.
The following is from the International Phase I Standards of Practice for Inspecting Fireplaces and Chimneys:
The inspector should inspect for hearth extensions that have a thickness of less than 2 inches.
The inspector should inspect for hearth extensions that are less than 16 inches in front or less than 8 inches beyond each side of fireplace openings (6 square feet or less).
The inspector should inspect for hearth extensions that are less than 20 inches in front or less than 12 inches beyond each side of fireplace openings (greater than 6 square feet).
The inspector should inspect the hearth, hearth extension, and chambers for joint separation, damage and deterioration.
The 2006 International Residential Code (IRC) offers the following exception to the 2 inch-thick rule:
When the bottom of the firebox opening is raised at least 8 inches (203 mm) above the top of the hearth extension, a hearth extension of not less than 3/8-inch thick (10 mm) brick, concrete, stone, tile, or other approved noncombustible material is permitted.
Inspectors should note that carpet or tile may obscure the hearth extension so that it may be difficult to tell how thick it is.
In summary, hearths and hearth extensions are noncombustible surfaces designed to prevent fires from spreading beyond the fireplace. If they are not large and thick enough, they might not be sufficient to prevent the spread of fire.
This article is from InterNACHI and can be found at https://www.nachi.org/hearth-extensions.htm.
Red Horse Home Inspection LLC is proud to service the Black Hills of South Dakota.  We perform home inspections, radon gas test, and water testing.  We inspect homes in Rapid City, Sturgis, Spearfish, Lead, Deadwood, Hot Springs, Custer, Keystone, Hill City, Hermosa, Box Elder, Summerset, New Underwood, and surrounding areas.  If you are ready to schedule your home inspection give us a call at 605-490-2916 or easily schedule online.
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