by Nick Gromicko, CMI®

 

Some sellers – often, those working without an agent – want to sell their home “as is” so they don’t have to invest money fixing it up or take on any potential liability for defects.  There is nothing wrong with buying a home “as is,” particularly if you can buy it at a favorable price, but if you are considering buying an “as is” home, you should still hire a competent home inspector to perform an inspection.  There are several reasons for this.

First, you don’t know what “as is” is. Sure, you can walk through the home and get an idea of its general condition.  You may even spot some defects or items in obvious need of repair.  But you won’t obtain the same detailed information you will receive if you hire a home inspector.  Home inspectors are trained to look for things you are not likely to notice.  InterNACHI inspectors, for example, must follow InterNACHI’s Residential Standards of Practice and check the roof, exterior, interior, foundation, basement, fireplace, attic, insulation, ventilation, doors, windows, heating system, cooling system, plumbing system, and electrical system for certain defects.  Armed with a home inspector’s detailed report, you will have a better idea of what “as is” means regarding that home, which means you’ll be in a better position to know whether you want to buy it.  You may also be able to use information from the home inspection to negotiate a lower price.

Second, many states require the seller to provide you with written a disclosure about the condition of the property.  Sellers often provide little information, and a few even lie.  A home inspection can provide the missing information. If an inspector finds evidence that a seller concealed information or lied to you, that may be a sign that you don’t want to buy a home from that seller.

Finally, if you buy a home “as is” without hiring a home inspector and then later discover a defect, all is not lost.  A home inspector may be able to review the seller’s disclosure and testify as to what the seller knew or should have known about.  The inspector may find evidence that the seller made misrepresentations or concealed relevant information from you.  Even the seller of an “as is” home may be held liable for misrepresentation or concealment.

But the better choice, obviously, is to hire a home inspector first.  Remember:  The cost of a home inspection is a pittance compared to the price of the home.  Be an informed consumer, especially when buying an “as is” home, and hire an InterNACHI Certified Professional Inspector®. https://www.nachi.org/as-is.htm

If you’re buying a home being sold “as is” schedule your home inspection with Red Horse Home Inspection.

Water may be essential to life, but, as a destructive force, water can diminish the value of your home or building. Homes as well as commercial buildings can suffer water damage that results in increased maintenance costs, a decrease in the value of the property, lowered productivity, and potential liability associated with a decline in indoor air quality. The best way to protect against this potential loss is to ensure that the building components which enclose the structure, known as the building envelope, are water-resistant. Also, you will want to ensure that manufacturing processes, if present, do not allow excess water to accumulate. Finally, make sure that the plumbing and ventilation systems, which can be quite complicated in buildings, operate efficiently and are well-maintained. This article provides some basic steps for identifying and eliminating potentially damaging excess moisture.

Identify and Repair All Leaks and Cracks 
The following are common building-related sources of water intrusion:
  • windows and doors: Check for leaks around your windows, storefront systems and doors.
  • roof: Improper drainage systems and roof sloping reduce roof life and become a primary source of moisture intrusion. Leaks are also common around vents for exhaust or plumbing, rooftop air-conditioning units, or other specialized equipment.
  • foundation and exterior walls: Seal any cracks and holes in exterior walls, joints and foundations. These often develop as a naturally occurring byproduct of differential soil settlement.
  • plumbing: Check for leaking plumbing fixtures, dripping pipes (including fire sprinkler systems), clogged drains (both interior and exterior), defective water drainage systems and damaged manufacturing equipment.
  • ventilation, heating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems: Numerous types, some very sophisticated, are a crucial component to maintaining a healthy, comfortable work environment. They are comprised of a number of components (including chilled water piping and condensation drains) that can directly contribute to excessive moisture in the work environment. In addition, in humid climates, one of the functions of the system is to reduce the ambient air moisture level (relative humidity) throughout the building. An improperly operating HVAC system will not perform this function.
Prevent Water Intrusion Through Good Inspection and Maintenance Programs
Hire a qualified InterNACHI inspector to perform an inspection of the following elements of your building to ensure that they remain in good condition:
  • flashings and sealants: Flashing, which is typically a thin metal strip found around doors, windows and roofs, are designed to prevent water intrusion in spaces where two building materials come together. Sealants and caulking are specifically applied to prevent moisture intrusion at building joints. Both must be maintained and in good condition.
  • vents: All vents should have appropriate hoods, exhaust to the exterior, and be in good working order.
  • Review the use of manufacturing equipment that may include water for processing or cooling. Ensure wastewater drains adequately away, with no spillage. Check for condensation around hot or cold materials or heat-transfer equipment.
  • HVAC systems are much more complicated in commercial buildings. Check for leakage in supply and return water lines, pumps, air handlers and other components. Drain lines should be clean and clear of obstructions. Ductwork should be insulated to prevent condensation on exterior surfaces.
  • humidity: Except in specialized facilities, the relative humidity in your building should be between 30% and 50%. Condensation on windows, wet stains on walls and ceilings, and musty smells are signs that relative humidity may be high. If you are concerned about the humidity level in your building, consult with a mechanical engineer, contractor or air-conditioning repair company to determine if your HVAC system is properly sized and in good working order. A mechanical engineer should be consulted when renovations to interior spaces take place.
  • moist areas: Regularly clean off, then dry all surfaces where moisture frequently collects.
  • expansion joints: Expansion joints are materials between bricks, pipes and other building materials that absorb movement. If expansion joints are not in good condition, water intrusion can occur.
Protection From Water Damage
  • interior finish materials: Replace drywall, plaster, carpet and stained or water-damaged ceiling tiles. These are not only good evidence of a moisture intrusion problem, but can lead to deterioration of the work environment, if they remain over time.
  • exterior walls: Exterior walls are generally comprised of a number of materials combined into a wall assembly. When properly designed and constructed, the assembly is the first line of defense between water and the interior of your building. It is essential that they be maintained properly (including regular refinishing and/or resealing with the correct materials).
  • storage areas: Storage areas should be kept clean. Allow air to circulate to prevent potential moisture accumulation.
Act Quickly if  Water Intrusion Occurs
Label shut-off valves so that the water supply can be easily closed in the event of a plumbing leak. If water intrusion does occur, you can minimize the damage by addressing the problem quickly and thoroughly. Immediately remove standing water and all moist materials, and consult with a building professional. Should your building become damaged by a catastrophic event, such as fire, flood or storm, take appropriate action to prevent further water damage, once it is safe to do so. This may include boarding up damaged windows, covering a damaged roof with plastic sheeting, and/or removing wet materials and supplies. Fast action on your part will help minimize the time and expense for repairs, resulting in a faster recovery. https://www.nachi.org/waterdamage.htm

If you’re buying a home in the Black Hills have it inspected by Red Horse Home Inspection. We inspect homes in Rapid City and surrounding areas.  Here are 10 tips that will speed up your home inspection.  Call or schedule your inspection online.

Speed up your home sale by preparing your home ahead of time using the following tips. Your home inspection will go smoother, with fewer concerns to delay closing.

 

  1. Confirm that that the water, electrical and gas services are turned on (including pilot lights).
  2. Make sure your pets won’t hinder your home inspection. Ideally, they should be removed from the premises or secured outside. Tell your agent about any pets at home.
  3. Replace burned-out light bulbs to avoid a “light is inoperable” report that may suggest an electrical problem.
  4. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and replace dead batteries.
  5. Clean or replace dirty HVAC air filters. They should fit securely.
  6. Remove stored items, debris and wood from the foundation. These may be cited as “conducive conditions” for termites.
  7. Remove items blocking access to HVAC equipment, electrical service panels, the water heater, attic and crawlspace.
  8. Unlock any locked areas that your home inspector must access, such as the attic door or hatch, the electrical service panel, the door to the basement, and any exterior gates.
  9. Trim tree limbs so that they’re at least 10 feet away from the roof.  Trim any shrubs that are too close to the house and can hides pests or hold moisture against the exterior.
  10. Repair or replace any broken or missing items, such as doorknobs, locks or latches, windowpanes or screens, gutters or downspouts, or chimney caps.

Checking these areas before your home inspection is an investment in selling your property. Better yet, have your InterNACHI inspector ensure that your home is Move-In Certified™.  Your real estate agent will thank you! https://www.nachi.org/tentips.htm

Red Horse Home Inspection is a proud member of InterNACHI.  We adhere to the InterNACHI Standards of Practice.  Every inspection meets or exceeds the InterNACHI Standards of Practice.  Read through the Standards of Practice so that you understand what you are getting with an InterNACHI Certified Professional Inspector.

Table of Contents

1. Definitions and Scope

2. Limitations, Exceptions & Exclusions

3. Standards of Practice

3.1.  Roof
3.2. Exterior
3.3. Basement, Foundation, Crawlspace & Structure
3.4. Heating
3.5. Cooling
3.6. Plumbing
3.7. Electrical
3.8. Fireplace
3.9. Attic, Insulation & Ventilation
3.10. Doors, Windows & Interior

4. Glossary of Terms

 

1. Definitions and Scope

1.1.  A home inspection is a non-invasive, visual examination of the accessible areas of a residential property (as delineated below), performed for a fee, which is designed to identify defects within specific systems and components defined by these Standards that are both observed and deemed material by the inspector.  The scope of work may be modified by the Client and Inspector prior to the inspection process.

  1. The home inspection is based on the observations made on the date of the inspection, and not a prediction of future conditions.
  2. The home inspection will not reveal every issue that exists or ever could exist, but only those material defects observed on the date of the inspection.

1.2.  A material defect is a specific issue with a system or component of a residential property that may have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property, or that poses an unreasonable risk to people.  The fact that a system or component is near, at, or beyond the end of its normal, useful life is not, in itself, a material defect.

1.3.  A home inspection report shall identify, in written format, defects within specific systems and components defined by these Standards that are both observed and deemed material by the inspector.  Inspection reports may include additional comments and recommendations.

2. Limitations, Exceptions & Exclusions

2.1. Limitations:

  1. An inspection is not technically exhaustive.
  2. An inspection will not identify concealed or latent defects.
  3. An inspection will not deal with aesthetic concerns, or what could be deemed matters of taste, cosmetic defects, etc.
  4. An inspection will not determine the suitability of the property for any use.
  5. An inspection does not determine the market value of the property or its marketability.
  6. An inspection does not determine the insurability of the property.
  7. An inspection does not determine the advisability or inadvisability of the purchase of the inspected property.
  8. An inspection does not determine the life expectancy of the property or any components or systems therein.
  9. An inspection does not include items not permanently installed.
  10. This Standards of Practice applies to properties with four or fewer residential units and their attached garages and carports.

2.2. Exclusions:

I. The inspector is not required to determine:

  1. property boundary lines or encroachments.
  2. the condition of any component or system that is not readily accessible.
  3. the service life expectancy of any component or system.
  4. the size, capacity, BTU, performance or efficiency of any component or system.
  5. the cause or reason of any condition.
  6. the cause for the need of correction, repair or replacement of any system or component.
  7. future conditions.
  8. compliance with codes or regulations.
  9. the presence of evidence of rodents, birds, bats, animals, insects, or other pests.
  10. the presence of mold, mildew or fungus.
  11. the presence of airborne hazards, including radon.
  12. the air quality.
  13. the existence of environmental hazards, including lead paint, asbestos or toxic drywall.
  14. the existence of electromagnetic fields.
  15. any hazardous waste conditions.
  16. any manufacturers’ recalls or conformance with manufacturer installation, or any information included for consumer protection purposes.
  17. acoustical properties.
  18. correction, replacement or repair cost estimates.
  19. estimates of the cost to operate any given system.

II. The inspector is not required to operate:

  1. any system that is shut down.
  2. any system that does not function properly.
  3. or evaluate low-voltage electrical systems, such as, but not limited to:
    1. phone lines;
    2. cable lines;
    3. satellite dishes;
    4. antennae;
    5. lights; or
    6. remote controls.
  4. any system that does not turn on with the use of normal operating controls.
  5. any shut-off valves or manual stop valves.
  6. any electrical disconnect or over-current protection devices.
  7. any alarm systems.
  8. moisture meters, gas detectors or similar equipment.

III. The inspector is not required to:

  1. move any personal items or other obstructions, such as, but not limited to:  throw rugs, carpeting, wall coverings, furniture, ceiling tiles, window coverings, equipment, plants, ice, debris, snow, water, dirt, pets, or anything else that might restrict the visual inspection.
  2. dismantle, open or uncover any system or component.
  3. enter or access any area that may, in the inspector’s opinion, be unsafe.
  4. enter crawlspaces or other areas that may be unsafe or not readily accessible.
  5. inspect underground items, such as, but not limited to: lawn-irrigation systems, or underground storage tanks (or indications of their presence), whether abandoned or actively used.
  6. do anything that may, in the inspector’s opinion, be unsafe or dangerous to him/herself or others, or damage property, such as, but not limited to:  walking on roof surfaces, climbing ladders, entering attic spaces, or negotiating with pets.
  7. inspect decorative items.
  8. inspect common elements or areas in multi-unit housing.
  9. inspect intercoms, speaker systems or security systems.
  10. offer guarantees or warranties.
  11. offer or perform any engineering services.
  12. offer or perform any trade or professional service other than a home inspection.
  13. research the history of the property, or report on its potential for alteration, modification, extendibility or suitability for a specific or proposed use for occupancy.
  14. determine the age of construction or installation of any system, structure or component of a building, or differentiate between original construction and subsequent additions, improvements, renovations or replacements.
  15. determine the insurability of a property.
  16. perform or offer Phase 1 or environmental audits.
  17. inspect any system or component that is not included in these Standards.
 

3. Standards of Practice 

3.1. Roof 

I. The inspector shall inspect from ground level or the eaves:

  1. the roof-covering materials;
  2. the gutters;
  3. the downspouts;
  4. the vents, flashing, skylights, chimney, and other roof penetrations; and
  5. the general structure of the roof from the readily accessible panels, doors or stairs.

II. The inspector shall describe:

A. the type of roof-covering materials.

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

A. observed indications of active roof leaks.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. walk on any roof surface.
  2. predict the service life expectancy.
  3. inspect underground downspout diverter drainage pipes.
  4. remove snow, ice, debris or other conditions that prohibit the observation of the roof surfaces.
  5. move insulation.
  6. inspect antennae, satellite dishes, lightning arresters, de-icing equipment, or similar attachments.
  7. walk on any roof areas that appear, in the inspector’s opinion, to be unsafe.
  8. walk on any roof areas if doing so might, in the inspector’s opinion, cause damage.
  9. perform a water test.
  10. warrant or certify the roof.
  11. confirm proper fastening or installation of any roof-covering material.
 

3.2. Exterior 

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the exterior wall-covering materials;
  2. the eaves, soffits and fascia;
  3. a representative number of windows;
  4. all exterior doors;
  5. flashing and trim;
  6. adjacent walkways and driveways;
  7. stairs, steps, stoops, stairways and ramps;
  8. porches, patios, decks, balconies and carports;
  9. railings, guards and handrails; and
  10. vegetation, surface drainage, retaining walls and grading of the property, where they may adversely affect the structure due to moisture intrusion.
II. The inspector shall describe:
  1. the type of exterior wall-covering materials.
III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:
  1. any improper spacing between intermediate balusters, spindles and rails.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. inspect or operate screens, storm windows, shutters, awnings, fences, outbuildings, or exterior accent lighting.
  2. inspect items that are not visible or readily accessible from the ground, including window and door flashing.
  3. inspect or identify geological, geotechnical, hydrological or soil conditions.
  4. inspect recreational facilities or playground equipment.
  5. inspect seawalls, breakwalls or docks.
  6. inspect erosion-control or earth-stabilization measures.
  7. inspect for safety-type glass.
  8. inspect underground utilities.
  9. inspect underground items.
  10. inspect wells or springs.
  11. inspect solar, wind or geothermal systems.
  12. inspect swimming pools or spas.
  13. inspect wastewater treatment systems, septic systems or cesspools.
  14. inspect irrigation or sprinkler systems.
  15. inspect drainfields or dry wells.
  16. determine the integrity of multiple-pane window glazing or thermal window seals.
  

3.3. Basement, Foundation, Crawlspace & Structure

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the foundation;
  2. the basement;
  3. the crawlspace; and
  4. structural components.

II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. the type of foundation; and
  2. the location of the access to the under-floor space.

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. observed indications of wood in contact with or near soil;
  2. observed indications of active water penetration;
  3. observed indications of possible foundation movement, such as sheetrock cracks, brick cracks, out-of-square door frames, and unlevel floors; and
  4. any observed cutting, notching and boring of framing members that may, in the inspector’s opinion, present a structural or safety concern.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. enter any crawlspace that is not readily accessible, or where entry could cause damage or pose a hazard to him/herself.
  2. move stored items or debris.
  3. operate sump pumps with inaccessible floats.
  4. identify the size, spacing, span or location or determine the adequacy of foundation bolting, bracing, joists, joist spans or support systems.
  5. provide any engineering or architectural service.
  6. report on the adequacy of any structural system or component.
 

3.4. Heating 

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the heating system, using normal operating controls.

II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. the location of the thermostat for the heating system;
  2. the energy source; and
  3. the heating method.

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. any heating system that did not operate; and
  2. if the heating system was deemed inaccessible.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. inspect, measure, or evaluate the interior of flues or chimneys, fire chambers, heat exchangers, combustion air systems, fresh-air intakes, makeup air, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, electronic air filters, geothermal systems, or solar heating systems.
  2. inspect fuel tanks or underground or concealed fuel supply systems.
  3. determine the uniformity, temperature, flow, balance, distribution, size, capacity, BTU, or supply adequacy of the heating system.
  4. light or ignite pilot flames.
  5. activate heating, heat pump systems, or other heating systems when ambient temperatures or other circumstances are not conducive to safe operation or may damage the equipment.
  6. override electronic thermostats.
  7. evaluate fuel quality.
  8. verify thermostat calibration, heat anticipation, or automatic setbacks, timers, programs or clocks.
  9. measure or calculate the air for combustion, ventilation, or dilution of flue gases for appliances.
 

3.5. Cooling 

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the cooling system, using normal operating controls.

II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. the location of the thermostat for the cooling system; and
  2. the cooling method.

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. any cooling system that did not operate; and
  2. if the cooling system was deemed inaccessible.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. determine the uniformity, temperature, flow, balance, distribution, size, capacity, BTU, or supply adequacy of the cooling system.
  2. inspect portable window units, through-wall units, or electronic air filters.
  3. operate equipment or systems if the exterior temperature is below 65° Fahrenheit, or when other circumstances are not conducive to safe operation or may damage the equipment.
  4. inspect or determine thermostat calibration, cooling anticipation, or automatic setbacks or clocks.
  5. examine electrical current, coolant fluids or gases, or coolant leakage. 
 
 

3.6. Plumbing

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the main water supply shut-off valve;
  2. the main fuel supply shut-off valve;
  3. the water heating equipment, including the energy source, venting connections, temperature/pressure-relief (TPR) valves, Watts 210 valves, and seismic bracing;
  4. interior water supply, including all fixtures and faucets, by running the water;
  5. all toilets for proper operation by flushing;
  6. all sinks, tubs and showers for functional drainage;
  7. the drain, waste and vent system; and
  8. drainage sump pumps with accessible floats.

II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. whether the water supply is public or private based upon observed evidence;
  2. the location of the main water supply shut-off valve;
  3. the location of the main fuel supply shut-off valve;
  4. the location of any observed fuel-storage system; and
  5. the capacity of the water heating equipment, if labeled.

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. deficiencies in the water supply by viewing the functional flow in two fixtures operated simultaneously;
  2. deficiencies in the installation of hot and cold water faucets;
  3. active plumbing water leaks that were observed during the inspection; and
  4. toilets that were damaged, had loose connections to the floor, were leaking, or had tank components that did not operate.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. light or ignite pilot flames.
  2. measure the capacity, temperature, age, life expectancy or adequacy of the water heater.
  3. inspect the interior of flues or chimneys, combustion air systems, water softener or filtering systems, well pumps or tanks, safety or shut-off valves, floor drains, lawn sprinkler systems, or fire sprinkler systems.
  4. determine the exact flow rate, volume, pressure, temperature or adequacy of the water supply.
  5. determine the water quality, potability or reliability of the water supply or source.
  6. open sealed plumbing access panels.
  7. inspect clothes washing machines or their connections.
  8. operate any valve.
  9. test shower pans, tub and shower surrounds or enclosures for leakage or for functional overflow protection.
  10. evaluate the compliance with conservation, energy or building standards, or the proper design or sizing of any water, waste or venting components, fixtures or piping.
  11. determine the effectiveness of anti-siphon, back-flow prevention or drain-stop devices.
  12. determine whether there are sufficient cleanouts for effective cleaning of drains.
  13. evaluate fuel storage tanks or supply systems.
  14. inspect wastewater treatment systems.
  15. inspect water treatment systems or water filters.
  16. inspect water storage tanks, pressure pumps, or bladder tanks.
  17. evaluate wait time to obtain hot water at fixtures, or perform testing of any kind to water heater elements.
  18. evaluate or determine the adequacy of combustion air.
  19. test, operate, open or close: safety controls, manual stop valves, temperature/pressure-relief valves, control valves, or check valves.
  20. examine ancillary or auxiliary systems or components, such as, but not limited to, those related to solar water heating and hot water circulation.
  21. determine the existence or condition of polybutylene, polyethylene, or similar plastic piping.
  22. inspect or test for gas or fuel leaks, or indications thereof.
  

3.7. Electrical

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the service drop;
  2. the overhead service conductors and attachment point;
  3. the service head, gooseneck and drip loops;
  4. the service mast, service conduit and raceway;
  5. the electric meter and base;
  6. service-entrance conductors;
  7. the main service disconnect;
  8. panelboards and over-current protection devices (circuit breakers and fuses);
  9. service grounding and bonding;
  10. a representative number of switches, lighting fixtures and receptacles, including receptacles observed and deemed to be arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI)-protected using the AFCI test button, where possible;
  11. all ground-fault circuit interrupter receptacles and circuit breakers observed and deemed to be GFCIs using a GFCI tester, where possible; and
  12. for the presence of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
II. The inspector shall describe:
  1. the main service disconnect’s amperage rating, if labeled; and
  2. the type of wiring observed.
III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:
  1. deficiencies in the integrity of the service-entrance conductors’ insulation, drip loop, and vertical clearances from grade and roofs;
  2. any unused circuit-breaker panel opening that was not filled;
  3. the presence of solid conductor aluminum branch-circuit wiring, if readily visible;
  4. any tested receptacle in which power was not present, polarity was incorrect, the cover was not in place, the GFCI devices were not properly installed or did not operate properly, evidence of arcing or excessive heat, and where the receptacle was not grounded or was not secured to the wall; and
  5. the absence of smoke and/or carbon monoxide detectors.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. insert any tool, probe or device into the main panelboard, sub-panels, distribution panelboards, or electrical fixtures.
  2. operate electrical systems that are shut down.
  3. remove panelboard cabinet covers or dead fronts.
  4. operate or re-set over-current protection devices or overload devices.
  5. operate or test smoke or carbon monoxide detectors or alarms.
  6. inspect, operate or test any security, fire or alarm systems or components, or other warning or signaling systems.
  7. measure or determine the amperage or voltage of the main service equipment, if not visibly labeled.
  8. inspect ancillary wiring or remote-control devices.
  9. activate any electrical systems or branch circuits that are not energized.
  10. inspect low-voltage systems, electrical de-icing tapes, swimming pool wiring, or any time-controlled devices.
  11. verify the service ground.
  12. inspect private or emergency electrical supply sources, including, but not limited to: generators, windmills, photovoltaic solar collectors, or battery or electrical storage facility.
  13. inspect spark or lightning arrestors.
  14. inspect or test de-icing equipment.
  15. conduct voltage-drop calculations.
  16. determine the accuracy of labeling.
  17. inspect exterior lighting.
 

3.8. Fireplace   

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. readily accessible and visible portions of the fireplaces and chimneys;
  2. lintels above the fireplace openings;
  3. damper doors by opening and closing them, if readily accessible and manually operable; and
  4. cleanout doors and frames.
II. The inspector shall describe:
  1. the type of fireplace.
III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:
  1. evidence of joint separation, damage or deterioration of the hearth, hearth extension or chambers;
  2. manually operated dampers that did not open and close;
  3. the lack of a smoke detector in the same room as the fireplace;
  4. the lack of a carbon monoxide detector in the same room as the fireplace; and
  5. cleanouts not made of metal, pre-cast cement, or other non-combustible material.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. inspect the flue or vent system.
  2. inspect the interior of chimneys or flues, fire doors or screens, seals or gaskets, or mantels.
  3. determine the need for a chimney sweep.
  4. operate gas fireplace inserts.
  5. light pilot flames.
  6. determine the appropriateness of any installation.
  7. inspect automatic fuel-fed devices.
  8. inspect combustion and/or make-up air devices.
  9. inspect heat-distribution assists, whether gravity-controlled or fan-assisted.
  10. ignite or extinguish fires.
  11. determine the adequacy of drafts or draft characteristics.
  12. move fireplace inserts, stoves or firebox contents.
  13. perform a smoke test.
  14. dismantle or remove any component.
  15. perform a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)-style inspection.
  16. perform a Phase I fireplace and chimney inspection.
 
 

3.9. Attic, Insulation & Ventilation

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. insulation in unfinished spaces, including attics, crawlspaces and foundation areas;
  2. ventilation of unfinished spaces, including attics, crawlspaces and foundation areas; and
  3. mechanical exhaust systems in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry area.
II. The inspector shall describe:
  1. the type of insulation observed; and
  2. the approximate average depth of insulation observed at the unfinished attic floor area or roof structure.
III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:
  1. the general absence of insulation or ventilation in unfinished spaces.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. enter the attic or any unfinished spaces that are not readily accessible, or where entry could cause damage or, in the inspector’s opinion, pose a safety hazard.
  2. move, touch or disturb insulation.
  3. move, touch or disturb vapor retarders.
  4. break or otherwise damage the surface finish or weather seal on or around access panels or covers.
  5. identify the composition or R-value of insulation material.
  6. activate thermostatically operated fans.
  7. determine the types of materials used in insulation or wrapping of pipes, ducts, jackets, boilers or wiring.
  8. determine the adequacy of ventilation.
 
 

3.10. Doors, Windows & Interior

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. a representative number of doors and windows by opening and closing them;
  2. floors, walls and ceilings;
  3. stairs, steps, landings, stairways and ramps;
  4. railings, guards and handrails; and
  5. garage vehicle doors and the operation of garage vehicle door openers, using normal operating controls.
II. The inspector shall describe:
  1. a garage vehicle door as manually-operated or installed with a garage door opener.
III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:
  1. improper spacing between intermediate balusters, spindles and rails for steps, stairways, guards and railings;
  2. photo-electric safety sensors that did not operate properly; and
  3. any window that was obviously fogged or displayed other evidence of broken seals.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. inspect paint, wallpaper, window treatments or finish treatments.
  2. inspect floor coverings or carpeting.
  3. inspect central vacuum systems.
  4. inspect for safety glazing.
  5. inspect security systems or components.
  6. evaluate the fastening of islands, countertops, cabinets, sink tops or fixtures.
  7. move furniture, stored items, or any coverings, such as carpets or rugs, in order to inspect the concealed floor structure.
  8. move suspended-ceiling tiles.
  9. inspect or move any household appliances.
  10. inspect or operate equipment housed in the garage, except as otherwise noted.
  11. verify or certify the proper operation of any pressure-activated auto-reverse or related safety feature of a garage door.
  12. operate or evaluate any security bar release and opening mechanisms, whether interior or exterior, including their compliance with local, state or federal standards.
  13. operate any system, appliance or component that requires the use of special keys, codes, combinations or devices.
  14. operate or evaluate self-cleaning oven cycles, tilt guards/latches, or signal lights.
  15. inspect microwave ovens or test leakage from microwave ovens.
  16. operate or examine any sauna, steam-generating equipment, kiln, toaster, ice maker, coffee maker, can opener, bread warmer, blender, instant hot-water dispenser, or other small, ancillary appliances or devices.
  17. inspect elevators.
  18. inspect remote controls.
  19. inspect appliances.
  20. inspect items not permanently installed.
  21. discover firewall compromises.
  22. inspect pools, spas or fountains.
  23. determine the adequacy of whirlpool or spa jets, water force, or bubble effects.
  24. determine the structural integrity or leakage of pools or spas.

4. Glossary of Terms

  • accessible:  In the opinion of the inspector, can be approached or entered safely, without difficulty, fear or danger.
  • activate:  To turn on, supply power, or enable systems, equipment or devices to become active by normal operating controls. Examples include turning on the gas or water supply valves to the fixtures and appliances, and activating electrical breakers or fuses.
  • adversely affect:  To constitute, or potentially constitute, a negative or destructive impact.
  • alarm system:  Warning devices, installed or freestanding, including, but not limited to: carbon monoxide detectors, flue gas and other spillage detectors, security equipment, ejector pumps, and smoke alarms.
  • appliance:  A household device operated by the use of electricity or gas. Not included in this definition are components covered under central heating, central cooling or plumbing.
  • architectural service:  Any practice involving the art and science of building design for construction of any structure or grouping of structures, and the use of space within and surrounding the structures or the design, design development, preparation of construction contract documents, and administration of the construction contract.
  • component:  A permanently installed or attached fixture, element or part of a system.
  • condition:  The visible and conspicuous state of being of an object.
  • correction:  Something that is substituted or proposed for what is incorrect, deficient, unsafe, or a defect.
  • cosmetic defect:  An irregularity or imperfection in something, which could be corrected, but is not required.
  • crawlspace:  The area within the confines of the foundation and between the ground and the underside of the lowest floor’s structural component.
  • decorative:  Ornamental; not required for the operation of essential systems or components of a home.
  • describe:  To report in writing a system or component by its type or other observed characteristics in order to distinguish it from other components used for the same purpose.
  • determine:  To arrive at an opinion or conclusion pursuant to examination.
  • dismantle:  To open, take apart or remove any component, device or piece that would not typically be opened, taken apart or removed by an ordinary occupant.
  • engineering service:  Any professional service or creative work requiring engineering education, training and experience, and the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical and engineering sciences to such professional service or creative work as consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning, design and supervision of construction for the purpose of assuring compliance with the specifications and design, in conjunction with structures, buildings, machines, equipment, works and/or processes.
  • enter:  To go into an area to observe visible components.
  • evaluate:  To assess the systems, structures and/or components of a property.
  • evidence:  That which tends to prove or disprove something; something that makes plain or clear; grounds for belief; proof.
  • examine:  To visually look (see inspect).
  • foundation:  The base upon which the structure or wall rests, usually masonry, concrete or stone, and generally partially underground.
  • function:  The action for which an item, component or system is specially fitted or used, or for which an item, component or system exists; to be in action or perform a task.
  • functional:  Performing, or able to perform, a function.
  • functional defect:  A lack of or an abnormality in something that is necessary for normal and proper functioning and operation, and, therefore, requires further evaluation and correction.
  • general home inspection:  See “home inspection.”
  • home inspection:  The process by which an inspector visually examines the readily accessible systems and components of a home and operates those systems and components utilizing this Standards of Practice as a guideline.
  • household appliances:  Kitchen and laundry appliances, room air conditioners, and similar appliances.
  • identify:  To notice and report.
  • indication:  That which serves to point out, show, or make known the present existence of something under certain conditions.
  • inspect:  To examine readily accessible systems and components safely, using normal operating controls, and accessing readily accessible areas, in accordance with this Standards of Practice.
  • inspected property:  The readily accessible areas of the home, house, or building, and the components and systems included in the inspection.
  • inspection report:  A written communication (possibly including images) of any material defects observed during the inspection.
  • inspector:  One who performs a real estate inspection.
  • installed:  Attached or connected such that the installed item requires a tool for removal.
  • material defect:  A specific issue with a system or component of a residential property that may have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property, or that poses an unreasonable risk to people.  The fact that a system or component is near, at, or beyond the end of its normal, useful life is not, in itself, a material defect.
  • normal operating controls:  Describes the method by which certain devices (such as thermostats) can be operated by ordinary occupants, as they require no specialized skill or knowledge.
  • observe:  To visually notice.
  • operate:  To cause systems to function or turn on with normal operating controls.
  • readily accessible:  A system or component that, in the judgment of the inspector, is capable of being safely observed without the removal of obstacles, detachment or disengagement of connecting or securing devices, or other unsafe or difficult procedures to gain access.
  • recreational facilities:  Spas, saunas, steam baths, swimming pools, tennis courts, playground equipment, and other exercise, entertainment and athletic facilities.
  • report (verb form): To express, communicate or provide information in writing; give a written account of.  (See also inspection report.)
  • representative number:  A number sufficient to serve as a typical or characteristic example of the item(s) inspected.
  • residential property:  Four or fewer residential units.
  • residential unit:  A home; a single unit providing complete and independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.
  • safety glazing:  Tempered glass, laminated glass, or rigid plastic.
  • shut down:  Turned off, unplugged, inactive, not in service, not operational, etc.
  • structural component:  A component that supports non-variable forces or weights (dead loads) and variable forces or weights (live loads).
  • system:  An assembly of various components which function as a whole.
  • technically exhaustive:  A comprehensive and detailed examination beyond the scope of a real estate home inspection that would involve or include, but would not be limited to:  dismantling, specialized knowledge or training, special equipment, measurements, calculations, testing, research, analysis, or other means.
  • unsafe:  In the inspector’s opinion, a condition of an area, system, component or procedure that is judged to be a significant risk of injury during normal, day-to-day use. The risk may be due to damage, deterioration, improper installation, or a change in accepted residential construction standards.
  • verify:  To confirm or substantiate.       https://www.nachi.org/sop.htm

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The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI®) promotes a high standard of professionalism, business ethics, and inspection procedures. InterNACHI® members subscribe to the following Code of Ethics in the course of their business.
  1. Duty to the Public
    1. The InterNACHI® member shall abide by the Code of Ethics and substantially follow the InterNACHI® Standards of Practice.
    2. The InterNACHI® member shall not engage in any practices that could be damaging to the public or bring discredit to the home inspection industry.
    3. The InterNACHI® member shall be fair, honest and impartial, and act in good faith in dealing with the public.
    4. The InterNACHI® member shall not discriminate in any business activities on the basis of age, race, color, religion, gender, national origin, familial status, sexual orientation, or handicap, and shall comply with all federal, state and local laws concerning discrimination.
    5. The InterNACHI® member shall be truthful regarding his/her services and qualifications.
    6. The InterNACHI® member shall not:
      1. have any disclosed or undisclosed conflict of interest with the client;
      2. accept or offer any disclosed or undisclosed commissions, rebates, profits, or other benefit from or to real estate agents, brokers, or any third parties having financial interest in the sale of the property; or
      3. offer or provide any disclosed or undisclosed financial compensation directly or indirectly to any real estate agent, real estate broker, or real estate company for referrals or for inclusion on lists of preferred and/or affiliated inspectors or inspection companies.
    7. The InterNACHI® member shall not release any information about the inspection or the client to a third party unless doing so is necessary to protect the safety of others, to comply with a law or statute, or both of the following conditions are met:
      1. the client has been made explicitly aware of what information will be released, to whom, and for what purpose, and;
      2. the client has provided explicit, prior written consent for the release of his/her information.
    8. The InterNACHI® member shall always act in the interests of the client unless doing so violates a law, statute, or this Code of Ethics.
    9. The InterNACHI® member shall use a written contract that specifies the services to be performed, limitations of services, and fees.
    10. The InterNACHI® member shall comply with all government rules and licensing requirements of the jurisdiction where he or she conducts business.
    11. The InterNACHI® member shall not perform or offer to perform, for an additional fee, any repairs or associated services to the structure for which the member or member’s company has prepared a home inspection report for a period of 12 months. This provision shall not include services to components and/or systems that are not included in the InterNACHI® Standards of Practice.
  2. Duty to Continue Education
    1. The InterNACHI® member who has earned the Certified Professional Inspector® (CPI) designation shall comply with InterNACHI’s current Continuing Education requirements.
    2. The InterNACHI® member who has earned the Certified Professional Inspector® (CPI) designation shall pass InterNACHI’s Online Inspector Exam once every three years.
  3. Duty to the Profession and to InterNACHI®
    1. The InterNACHI® member shall strive to improve the home inspection industry by sharing his/her lessons and/or experiences for the benefit of all. This does not preclude the member from copyrighting or marketing his/her expertise to other Inspectors or the public in any manner permitted by law.
    2. The InterNACHI® member shall assist the InterNACHI leadership in disseminating and publicizing the benefits of InterNACHI membership.
    3. The InterNACHI® member shall not engage in any act or practice that could be deemed damaging, seditious or destructive to InterNACHI®, fellow InterNACHI® members, InterNACHI® employees, leadership or directors. Accusations of a member acting or deemed in violation of such rules shall trigger a review by the Ethics Committee for possible sanctions and/or expulsion from InterNACHI®.
    4. The InterNACHI® member shall abide by InterNACHI’s current membership requirements.
    5. The InterNACHI® member shall abide by InterNACHI’s current message board rules.
Members of other associations are welcome to join InterNACHI®, but a requirement of membership is that InterNACHI® must be given equal or greater prominence in their marketing materials (brochures and websites) compared to other inspection associations.
Red Horse Home Inspection of the Black Hills services Rapid City, Black Hawk, Piedmont, Sturgis, Whitewood, Belle Fourche, Spearfish, Deadwood, Lead, Custer, Hot Springs, Keystone, Hill City, Hermosa, Box Elder, and surrounding areas.  Schedule your home inspection today.
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Roofs play a key role in protecting building occupants and interiors from outside weather conditions, primarily moisture. The roof, insulation and ventilation must all work together to keep the building free from moisture. Roofs also provide protection from the sun. In fact, if designed correctly, roof overhangs can protect the building’s exterior walls from moisture and sun. The concerns regarding moisture, standing water, durability and appearance are different, reflected in the choices of roofing materials.
Maintaining Your Roof
Homeowner maintenance includes cleaning the leaves and debris from the roof’s valleys and gutters. Debris in the valleys can cause water to wick under the shingles and cause damage to the interior of the roof. Clogged rain gutters can cause water to flow back under the shingles on the eaves and cause damage, regardless of the roofing material. including composition shingle, wood shake, tile or metal. The best way to preserve your roof is to stay off it. Also, seasonal changes in the weather are usually the most destructive forces.
A leaky roof can damage ceilings, walls and furnishings. To protect buildings and their contents from water damage, roofers repair and install roofs made of tar or asphalt and gravel; rubber or thermoplastic; metal; or shingles made of asphalt, slate, fiberglass, wood, tile, or other material. Roofers also may waterproof foundation walls and floors.
There are two types of roofs:  flat and pitched (sloped). Most commercial, industrial and apartment buildings have flat or slightly sloping roofs. Most houses have pitched roofs. Some roofers work on both types; others specialize. Most flat roofs are covered with several layers of materials. Roofers first put a layer of insulation on the roof deck. Over the insulation, they then spread a coat of molten bitumen, a tar-like substance. Next, they install partially overlapping layers of roofing felt, a fabric saturated in bitumen, over the surface. Roofers use a mop to spread hot bitumen over the surface and under the next layer. This seals the seams and makes the surface watertight. Roofers repeat these steps to build up the desired number of layers, called plies. The top layer either is glazed to make a smooth finish or has gravel embedded in the hot bitumen to create a rough surface. An increasing number of flat roofs are covered with a single-ply membrane of waterproof rubber or thermoplastic compounds. Roofers roll these sheets over the roof’s insulation and seal the seams. Adhesive mechanical fasteners, or stone ballast hold the sheets in place. The building must be of sufficient strength to hold the ballast.
Most residential roofs are covered with shingles. To apply shingles, roofers first lay, cut, and tack 3-foot strips of roofing felt lengthwise over the entire roof. Then, starting from the bottom edge, they staple or nail overlapping rows of shingles to the roof. Workers measure and cut the felt and shingles to fit intersecting roof surfaces and to fit around vent pipes and chimneys. Wherever two roof surfaces intersect, or where shingles reach a vent pipe or chimney, roofers cement or nail flashing strips of metal or shingle over the joints to make them watertight. Finally, roofers cover exposed nailheads with roofing cement or caulking to prevent water leakage. Roofers who use tile, metal shingles or shakes follow a similar process. Some roofers also water-proof and damp-proof masonry and concrete walls and floors. To prepare surfaces for waterproofing, they hammer and chisel away rough spots, or remove them with a rubbing brick, before applying a coat of liquid waterproofing compound. They also may paint or spray surfaces with a waterproofing material, or attach a waterproofing membrane to surfaces. When damp-proofing, they usually spray a bitumen-based coating on interior or exterior surfaces.
A number of roofing materials are available…
Asphalt
Asphalt is the most commonly used roofing material. Asphalt products include shingles, roll-roofing, built-up roofing, and modified bitumen membranes. Asphalt shingles are typically the most common and economical choice for residential roofing. They come in a variety of colors, shapes and textures. There are four different types: strip, laminated, interlocking, and large individual shingles. Laminated shingles consist of more than one layer of tabs to provide extra thickness. Interlocking shingles are used to provide greater wind resistance. And large individual shingles generally come in rectangular and hexagonal shapes. Roll-roofing products are generally used in residential applications, mostly for underlayments and flashings. They come in four different types of material: smooth-surfaced, saturated felt, specialty-eaves flashings, and mineral-surfaced. Only mineral-surfaced is used alone as a primary roof covering for small buildings, such as sheds. Smooth-surfaced products are used primarily as flashing to seal the roof at intersections and protrusions, and for providing extra deck protection at the roof’s eaves and valleys. Saturated felt is used as an underlayment between the roof deck and the roofing material. Specialty-eaves flashings are typically used in climates where ice dams and water backups are common. Built-up roofing (or BUR) is the most popular choice of roofing used on commercial, industrial and institutional buildings. BUR is used on flat and low-sloped roofs and consists of multiple layers of bitumen and ply sheets. Components of a BUR system include the roof deck, a vapor retarder, insulation, membrane, and surfacing material. A modified bitumen-membrane assembly consists of continuous plies of saturated felts, coated felts, fabrics or mats between which alternate layers of bitumen are applied, either surfaced or unsurfaced. Factory surfacing, if applied, includes mineral granules, slag, aluminum or copper. The bitumen determines the membrane’s physical characteristics and provides primary waterproofing protection, while the reinforcement adds strength, puncture-resistance and overall system integrity.

Metal

Most metal roofing products consist of steel or aluminum, although some consist of copper and other metals. Steel is invariably galvanized by the application of a zinc or a zinc-aluminum coating, which greatly reduces the rate of corrosion. Metal roofing is available as traditional seam and batten, tiles, shingles and shakes. Products also come in a variety of styles and colors. Metal roofs with solid sheathing control noise from rain, hail and bad weather just as well as any other roofing material. Metal roofing can also help eliminate ice damming at the eaves. And in wildfire-prone areas, metal roofing helps protect buildings from fire, should burning embers land on the roof. Metal roofing costs more than asphalt, but it typically lasts two to three times longer than asphalt and wood shingles.

Wood

Wood shakes offer a natural look with a lot of character. Because of variations in color, width, thickness, and cut of the wood, no two shake roofs will ever look the same. Wood offers some energy benefits, too. It helps to insulate the attic, and it allows the house to breathe, circulating air through the small openings under the felt rows on which wooden shingles are laid. A wood shake roof, however, demands proper maintenance and repair, or it will not last as long as other products. Mold, rot and insects can become a problem. The life-cycle cost of a shake roof may be high, and old shakes can’t be recycled. Most wood shakes are unrated by fire safety codes. Many use wipe or spray-on fire retardants, which offer less protection and are only effective for a few years. Some pressure-treated shakes are impregnated with fire retardant and meet national fire safety standards. Installing wood shakes is more complicated than roofing with composite shingles, and the quality of the finished roof depends on the experience of the contractor, as well as the caliber of the shakes used. The best shakes come from the heartwood of large, old cedar trees, which are difficult to find. Some contractors maintain that shakes made from the outer wood of smaller cedars, the usual source today, are less uniform, more subject to twisting and warping, and don’t last as long.

Concrete and Tile

Concrete tiles are made of extruded concrete that is colored. Traditional roofing tiles are made from clay. Concrete and clay tile roofing systems are durable, aesthetically appealing, and low in maintenance. They also provide energy savings and are environmentally friendly. Although material and installation costs are higher for concrete and clay tile roofs, when evaluated on a price-versus-performance basis, they may out-perform other roofing materials. Tile adorns the roofs of many historic buildings, as well as modern structures. In fact, because of its extreme durability, longevity and safety, roof tile is the most prevalent roofing material in the world. Tested over centuries, roof tile can successfully withstand the most extreme weather conditions including hail, high wind, earthquakes, scorching heat, and harsh freeze-thaw cycles. Concrete and clay roof tiles also have unconditional Class A fire ratings, which means that, when installed according to building code, roof tile is non-combustible and maintains that quality throughout its lifetime. In recent years, manufacturers have developed new water-shedding techniques and, for high-wind situations, new adhesives and mechanical fasteners. Because the ultimate longevity of a tile roof also depends on the quality of the sub-roof, roof tile manufacturers are also working to improve flashings and other aspects of the underlayment system. Under normal circumstances, properly installed tile roofs are virtually maintenance-free. Unlike other roofing materials, roof tiles actually become stronger over time. Because of roof tile’s superior quality and minimal maintenance requirements, most roof tile manufacturers offer warranties that range from 50 years to the lifetime of the structure.

Concrete and clay tile roofing systems are also energy-efficient, helping to maintain livable interior temperatures (in both cold and warm climates) at a lower cost than other roofing systems. Because of the thermal capacity of roof tiles and the ventilated air space that their placement on the roof surface creates, a tile roof can lower air-conditioning costs in hotter climates, and produce more constant temperatures in colder regions, which reduces potential ice accumulation. Tile roofing systems are made from naturally occurring materials and can be easily recycled into new tiles or other useful products. They are produced without the use of chemical preservatives, and do not deplete limited natural resources.

Single-Ply

Single-ply membranes are flexible sheets of compounded synthetic materials that are manufactured in a factory. There are three types of membranes: thermosets, thermoplastics, and modified bitumens. These materials provide strength, flexibility, and long-lasting durability. The advantages of pre-fabricated sheets are the consistency of the product quality, the versatility in their attachment methods, and, therefore, their broader applicability. They are inherently flexible, used in a variety of attachment systems, and compounded for long-lasting durability and watertight integrity for years of roof life. Thermoset membranes are compounded from rubber polymers. The most commonly used polymer is EPDM (often referred to as “rubber roofing”). Thermoset membranes make successful roofing materials because they can withstand the potentially damaging effects of sunlight and most common chemicals generally found on roofs. The easiest way to identify a thermoset membrane is by its seams, which require the use of adhesive, either liquid or tape, to form a watertight seal at the overlaps. Thermoplastic membranes are based on plastic polymers. The most common thermoplastic is PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which has been made flexible through the inclusion of certain ingredients called plasticizers. Thermoplastic membranes are identified by seams that are formed using either heat or chemical welding. These seams are as strong or stronger than the membrane itself. Most thermoplastic membranes are manufactured to include a reinforcement layer, usually polyester or fiberglass, which provides increased strength and dimensional stability. Modified bitumen membranes are hybrids that incorporate the high-tech formulation and pre-fabrication advantages of single-ply with some of the traditional installation techniques used in built-up roofing. These materials are factory-fabricated layers of asphalt, “modified” using a rubber or plastic ingredient for increased flexibility, and combined with reinforcement for added strength and stability. There are two primary modifiers used today: APP (atactic polypropylene) and SBS (styrene butadiene styrene). The type of modifier used may determine the method of sheet installation. Some are mopped down using hot asphalt, and some use torches to melt the asphalt so that it flows onto the substrate. The seams are sealed by the same technique.

Are You at Risk?

If you aren’t sure whether your house is at risk from natural disasters, check with your local fire marshal, building official, city engineer, or planning and zoning administrator. They can tell you whether you are in a hazard area. Also, they usually can tell you how to protect yourself and your house and property from damage. It is never a bad idea to ask an InterNACHI inspector whether your roof is in need of repair during your next scheduled inspection. Protection can involve a variety of changes to your house and property which that can vary in complexity and cost. You may be able to make some types of changes yourself. But complicated or large-scale changes and those that affect the structure of your house or its electrical wiring and plumbing should be carried out only by a professional contractor licensed to work in your state, county or city. One example is fire protection, accomplished by replacing flammable roofing materials with fire-resistant materials. This is something that most homeowners would probably hire a contractor to do.

Replacing Your Roof

The age of your roof is usually the major factor in determining when to replace it. Most roofs last many years, if properly installed, and often can be repaired rather than replaced. An isolated leak usually can be repaired. The average life expectancy of a typical residential roof is 15 to 20 years. Water damage to a home’s interior or overhangs is commonly caused by leaks from a single weathered portion of the roof, poorly installed flashing, or from around chimneys and skylights. These problems do not necessarily mean you need a new roof.

Fire-Resistant Materials

Some roofing materials, including asphalt shingles, and especially wood shakes, are less resistant to fire than others. When wildfires and brush fires spread to houses, it is often because burning branches, leaves, and other debris buoyed by the heated air and carried by the wind fall onto roofs. If the roof of your house is covered with wood or asphalt shingles, you should consider replacing them with fire-resistant materials. You can replace your existing roofing materials with slate, terra cotta or other types of tile, or standing-seam metal roofing. Replacing roofing materials is difficult and dangerous work. Unless you are skilled in roofing and have all the necessary tools and equipment, you will probably want to hire a roofing contractor to do the work. Also, a roofing contractor can advise you on the relative advantages and disadvantages of various fire-resistant roofing materials.
Hiring a Licensed Contractor
One of the best ways to select a roofing contractor is to ask friends and relatives for recommendations. You may also contact a professional roofers association for referrals. Professional associations have stringent guidelines for their members to follow. The roofers association in your area will provide you with a list of available contractors. Follow these guidlines when selecting a contractor:
  • get three references and review their past work;
  • get at least three bids;
  • get a written contract, and don’t sign anything until you completely understand the terms;
  • pay 10% down or $1,000 whichever is less;
  • don’t let payments get ahead of the work;
  • don’t pay cash;
  • don’t make final payment until you’re satisfied with the job; and
  • don’t rush into repairs or be pressured into making an immediate decision.
You’ve Chosen the Contractor… What About the Contract?
Make sure everything is in writing. The contract is one of the best ways to prevent problems before you begin. The contract protects you and the contractor by including everything you have both agreed upon. Get all promises in writing and spell out exactly what the contractor will and will not do.
…and Permits?
Your contract should call for all work to be performed in accordance with all applicable building codes. The building codes set minimum safety standards for construction. Generally, a building permit is required whenever structural work is involved. The contractor should obtain all necessary building permits. If this is not specified in the contract, you may be held legally responsible for failure to obtain the required permits. The building department will inspect your roof when the project has reached a certain stage, and again when the roof is completed.
and Insurance?
Make sure the contractor carries workers’ compensation insurance and general liability insurance in case of accidents on the job. Ask to have copies of these policies for your job file. You should protect yourself from mechanics’ liens against your home in the event the contractor does not pay subcontractors or material suppliers. You may be able to protect yourself by having a “release of lien” clause in your contract. A release of lien clause requires the contractor, subcontractors and suppliers to furnish a “certificate of waiver of lien.” If you are financing your project, the bank or lending institution may require that the contractor, subcontractors and suppliers verify that they have been paid before releasing funds for subsequent phases of the project.
Keep these points in mind if you plan to have your existing roofing materials replaced:
  • Tile, metal, and slate are more expensive roofing materials, but if you need to replace your roofing anyway, it may be worthwhile to pay a little more for the added protection these materials provide.
  • Slate and tile can be much heavier than asphalt shingles or wood shingles. If you are considering switching to one of these heavier coverings, your roofing contractor should determine whether the framing of your roof is strong enough to support them.
  • If you live in an area where snow loads are a problem, consider switching to a modern standing-seam metal roof, which will usually shed snow efficiently.
by Nick Gromicko, CMI® and Kenton Shepard

Influenced by the changes in the economic and legal environments over the past 30 years, home inspection reports have changed to accommodate increased consumer expectations, and to provide more extensive information and protection to both inspectors and their clients.

Development of Standards
Prior to the mid-1970s, inspection reports followed no standard guidelines and, for the most part, there was little or no oversight or licensure. As might be imagined, without minimum standards to follow, the quality of inspection reports varied widely, and the home inspection industry was viewed with some suspicion.
With the founding of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) in 1976, home inspection guidelines governing inspection report content became available in the form of a Standards of Practice. Over time, a second, larger trade association, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), came into existence, and developed its own standards.
InterNACHI has grown to dominate the inspection industry and, in addition to its Residential Standards of Practice, it has developed a comprehensive Standards of Practice for the Inspection of Commercial Properties.  Today, most types of inspections from mold to fire door inspections are performed in accordance with one of InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice.
As a consumer, you should take the time to examine the Standards of Practice followed by your inspector. If he is unaffiliated with any professional inspection organization, and his reports follow no particular standards, find another inspector.
Generally speaking, reports should describe the major home systems, their crucial components, and their operability, especially the ones in which failure can result in dangerous or expensive-to-correct conditions. Defects should be adequately described, and the report should include recommendations.
Reports should also disclaim portions of the home not inspected. Since home inspections are visual inspections, the parts of the home hidden behind floor, wall and ceiling coverings should be disclaimed.
Home inspectors are not experts in every system of the home, but are trained to recognize conditions that require a specialist inspection.
Home inspections are not technically exhaustive, so the inspector will not disassemble a furnace to examine the heat exchanger closely, for example.
Standards of Practice are designed to identify both the requirements of a home inspection and the limitations of an inspection.
Checklist and Narrative Reports
In the early years of the home inspection industry, home inspection reports consisted of a simple checklist, or a one- or two-page narrative report.
Checklist reports are just that; very little is actually written. The report is a series of boxes with short descriptions after them. Descriptions are often abbreviated, and might consist of only two or three words, such as “peeling paint.” The entire checklist might only be four or five pages long. Today, some inspection legal agreements are almost that long!
Because of the lack of detailed information, checklist reports leave a lot open to interpretation, so that buyers, sellers, agents, contractors, attorneys and judges may each interpret the information differently, depending on their motives.
In the inspection business, phrases that describe conditions found during an inspection are called “narratives.”  Narrative reports use reporting language that more completely describes each condition. Descriptions are not abbreviated.
Both checklist and narrative reports are still in use today, although many jurisdictions are now beginning to ban checklist reports because the limited information they offer has resulted in legal problems.
From the standpoint of liability, narrative reports are widely considered safer, since they provide more information and state it more clearly.
Many liability issues and problems with the inspection process are due to misunderstandings about what was to be included in the report, or about what the report says.
For example, in 2002, an investor bought a 14-unit hotel in California.  The six-page narrative report mentioned that flashing where the second-story concrete walkway met the building was improperly installed, and the condition could result in wood decay. Four years later, the investor paid out almost $100,000 to demolish and replace the entire upper walkway. In some places, it was possible to push a pencil through support beams.

Although the inspector’s report had mentioned the problem, it hadn’t made clear the seriousness of the condition, or the possible consequences of ignoring it. Today, a six-page report would be considered short for a small house.

Development of Reporting Software

Years ago, when computers were expensive to buy and difficult to operate, inspection reports were written by hand. As computers became simpler to operate and more affordable, inspection software began to appear on the market.

Today, using this software, an inspector can chose from a large number of organized boilerplate narratives that s/he can edit or add to in order to accommodate local conditions, since inspectors in a hot, humid city like Tampa Bay, Florida, are likely to find types of problems different from those found by inspectors in a cold, dry climate, like Salt Lake City, Utah.

Using narrative software and checking boxes in categories that represent the home systems, an inspector can produce a very detailed report in a relatively short time.

For example, using a checklist report, an inspector finding a number of inoperable lights in a home would check a box in the “INTERIOR” section labeled something like “some lights inoperable,” and that would be the limit of the information passed on to the client.

Using inspection software, in the “INTERIOR” section of the program, an inspector might check a box labeled “some lights inoperable.”  This would cause the following narrative to appear in the “INTERIOR” section of the inspection report:

“Some light fixtures in the home appeared to be inoperable. The bulbs may be burned out, or a problem may exist with the fixtures, wiring or switches.
If after the bulbs are replaced, these lights still fail to respond to the switch, this condition may represent a potential fire hazard, and the Inspector recommends that an evaluation and any necessary repairs be performed by a qualified electrical contractor.”

Standard disclaimers and other information can be pre-checked to automatically appear in each report.

Narrative Content

Narratives typically consists of three parts:

  1. a description of a condition of concern;
  2. a sentence or paragraph describing how serious the condition is, and the potential ramifications, answering questions such as, “Is it now stable, or will the problem continue?” or “Will it burn down the house?” and “When?”; and
  3. a recommendation. Recommendations may be for specific actions to be taken, or for further evaluation, but they should address problems in such a way that the reader of the report will understand how to proceed.

“Typically” is a key word here. Some narratives may simply give the ampacity of the main electrical disconnect. There is no need for more than one sentence. Different inspectors would include what they think is necessary.

Report Content

Inspection reports often begin with an informational section which gives general information about the home, such as the client’s name, the square footage, and the year the home was built.

Other information often listed outside the main body of the report, either near the beginning or near the end, are disclaimers, and sometimes a copy of the inspection agreement, and sometimes a copy of the Standards of Practice.  A page showing the inspector’s professional credentials, designations, affiliations and memberships is also often included.  And it is a good idea to include InterNACHI’s Now That You’ve Had a Home Inspection book.

Inspection reports often include a summary report listing major problems to ensure that important issues are not missed by the reader. It’s important that the reader be aware of safety issues or conditions which will be expensive to correct. With this in mind, some inspectors color-code report narratives, although many feel that color-coding exposes them to increased liability and don’t do this.

Software often gives inspectors the choice of including photographs in the main body of the report, near the narrative that describes them, or photographs may be grouped together toward the beginning or end of the report.

A table of contents is usually provided.

The main body of the report may be broken down into sections according to home systems, such as “ELECTRICAL,” “PLUMBING,” “HEATING,” etc., or it may be broken down by area of the home:  “EXTERIOR,” “INTERIOR,” “KITCHEN,” “BEDROOMS,” etc.

It often depends on how the inspector likes to work.

Sample Reports

Many inspectors have websites which include sample inspection reports for prospective clients to view. Take the time to look at them. Also often included is a page explaining the scope of the inspection. The inspection contract is usually included on the website, and it should give you a good idea of what will be included in the report.

In conclusion, for consumers to have realistic expectations about what information will be included in the home inspection report, follow these tips:

  • read the Standards of Practice;
  • read the Contract;
  • view a sample Inspection Report; and
  • talk with the inspector.

https://www.nachi.org/home-inspection-reports.htm

Red Horse Home Inspection is proud to service the Black Hills of  SD.  We service Rapid City, Black Hawk, Piedmont, Sturgis, Whitewood, Belle Fourche, Spearfish, Custer, Deadwood, Lead, Hot Springs, Keystone, Hills City, Hermosa, Box Elder, Wall, and surrounding areas.  Schedule your inspection with us today.

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InterNACHI® inspectors are trained and certified by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, the world’s largest association of residential and commercial property inspectors. InterNACHI® provides its members with accredited training and education, free benefits, expert advice, and peer support—all to help them serve their homeowner-clients with the highest-quality inspections for their largest investments.

As an InterNACHI® Certified Professional Inspector®: 
  • I’m required to stay up to date with the industry’s most rigorous Continuing Education through online, video and live training courses, which have been awarded more than 1,400 approvals and accreditations by governmental and other agencies;
  • I adhere to a comprehensive Standards of Practice to ensure that you receive a detailed and accurate home inspection;
  • I abide by a strict Code of Ethics, which puts my clients first and protects their rights as consumers; and
  • I use state-of-the-art inspection tools and reporting software so that my clients can make informed decisions about the homes they want to buy or sell.

My standard home inspection is an evaluation of the visible and accessible interior and exterior structure, systems and components. Your report will include my findings of any material defects I discover in an easy-to-read format. I will also provide my recommendations for monitoring, repair or replacement. And my job isn’t finished until you understand everything in your report.

For the Home Buyer 
A home is probably the largest purchase you’ll ever make, so it’s important to understand the condition of your investment. I will provide a non-invasive examination of the home’s accessible structure, systems and components. While a home inspection is not a prediction of future conditions, and cannot reveal every concern that exists (or ever could exist), it will significantly reduce your anxiety by arming you with the knowledge you need to make an informed home-buying decision.
For the Home Seller 
Are you selling your home? Let me inspect it before you even list it. A Move-In Certified Seller Inspection alerts you to any defects or problems with your home so that you can address them before prospective buyers discover them. You can then take the time you need to obtain reasonable repair estimates. Show prospective buyers that you’re dealing in good faith. Avoid 11th-hour negotiations and delays, and justify your full asking price by having your home pre-inspected now.
For the Real Estate Professional 
Your reputation is your most valuable asset. Your clients rely on you to guide them through a complicated and sometimes stressful process. Demonstrate to them that their trust in you is justified by referring them to me. As an InterNACHI® Certified Professional Inspector®, my experience, training and professionalism will deliver the information your clients need. The best advertising is a happy client.
I will provide a personalized inspection of your home. 
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This is an important legal document.  Please read it carefully.
 
1.  InterNACHI’s “We’ll Buy Your Home” Guarantee, also known as the Buy-Back Program (“Program”), is offered to home buyers and home sellers who hire a participating InterNACHI® Certified Professional Inspector® to perform their home inspection on a home in the U.S. or Canada.  Under the Program, if InterNACHI® determines that the inspector missed something that he/she should have identified and reported, InterNACHI® will buy your home back. 
 

The Program is subject to these legal terms:

 

  1. The Program is valid up to 90 days after closing.  Eligible homebuyers must submit a written or electronic request for InterNACHI® to buy their home to InterNACHI® within 90 days of the closing.
  2. The inspection must have been performed by a participating InterNACHI® Certified Professional Inspector (CPI)®.  (Not all InterNACHI® members participate or can participate.)
  3. The participating InterNACHI® CPI’s name must appear on his/her inspection report for the subject property.
  4. The inspector must have registered the home with InterNACHI within 30 days of performing the inspection (an exception applies when participating inspectors register homes in bulk) and before the homebuyer contacts InterNACHI® about an issue (no exceptions).
  5. The Program is only available to homebuyers who have moved into the home and made it their primary residence (not available for “flips,” rentals, company flop houses, vacant homes, second homes, etc).
  6. The home must be immediately listed for sale (for the same price that the home was purchased for) with a real estate agent licensed in the jurisdiction where the home is located, with a commission of no less than 6% split between the listing and buyer’s brokers.  In some special cases, InterNACHI® will grant an exception to the commission requirement.
  7. InterNACHI® will pay the homebuyer the purchase price of the home, as shown on the purchase contract when the homebuyer bought the home, less any credits received.  InterNACHI does not pay for the homebuyer’s closing costs or similar fees.
  8. The homebuyer who then decides to sell their home to InterNACHI® must sign the assignable sales agreement first, before InterNACHI® signs.
  9. The Program does not apply to homes with material defects not present at the time of the inspection. So, for example, if the home recently got swallowed by a sinkhole or hit by a meteorite, InterNACHI® will not buy it.
  10. The Program does not apply to homes that had issues that the inspector was not required to inspect for, according to InterNACHI’s Residential Standards of Practice.  You may read the Standards at https://www.nachi.org/sop.htm  For example, InterNACHI® will not buy a home back that had mold, structural issues, radon, asbestos, toxic (Chinese) drywall, wood-destroying organisms (termites), meth issues, a cesspool, or is located in a flood plain.
  11. The Program does not apply to homes that had material defects or issues that the inspector reported in the inspection report.  If the inspector caught it, he/she didn’t actually “miss” it.
  12. InterNACHI® will perform its own inspection(s) on the property.
  13. InterNACHI® will hire an appraiser to appraise the property.  The property must appraise for no less than the sale price. InterNACHI® will not buy a home for more than it is worth or that has gone down in value.  The Guarantee is not intended to be used as a remedy for homebuyers who may realize they overpaid for a home. That would be a different guarantee perhaps called the “If You Overpaid for Your Home, We’ll Buy It Back” Guarantee, and not a guarantee we currently offer.
  14. If the home is located within an HOA that requires HOA approval of the purchase, InterNACHI’s obligation is contingent upon the HOA’s approval.  Some HOAs do not approve sales to organizations or companies, even though InterNACHI® is not going to occupy the home.
  15. The homebuyer has a duty to mitigate damage, including making any repairs reasonably appropriate to prevent more damage.
  16. This Program is not available if the seller of the home failed to disclose a known issue.  InterNACHI® does not intend for this program to be a substitute for the homebuyer’s right to bring an action against the seller for nondisclosure or concealment.
  17. The Program does not apply to mobile homes or homes on leased land, such as mobile home parks.
  18. The Program does not apply to homes where repairs or remodeling have begun, but not completed.
2.  Duty of Cooperation. The homebuyer must provide InterNACHI® with the purchase contract, the inspector’s report, evidence showing that the inspector failed to report an issue that he/she should have found according to InterNACHI’s Residential Standards of Practice, and any other documents InterNACHI® reasonably requests.

3. Acceptance of Payment Is a Release / Non-Disparagement.  The homebuyer’s acceptance of payment from InterNACHI® constitutes a full release of the inspector and InterNACHI® from any further liability in connection with the inspection and the Program.  This release will need to be signed.  The homebuyer also agrees not to disparage the inspector, the Program, or InterNACHI® during the process, prior to closing.

4. Venue / Waiver of Jury / Attorney’s Fees. The exclusive venue for any action arising out of the Program is Boulder, Colorado.  The homebuyer waives trial by jury.  In any such action, the Court must order the losing party to pay the prevailing party’s attorney’s fees and costs.  Note: InterNACHI® insists on communicating solely by email (in only one email thread) so that everyone involved can be on the same page, literally. Read: https://www.nachi.org/email.htm . If you start separate email communications with InterNACHI®, you will delay the purchase of your home.  If you fail to include the real estate agent you are working with and your home inspector, you will delay the purchase of your home.  If you start a new email thread to send us a document we requested, you will delay the purchase of your home.  Everyone and every document must remain in one single email thread in order for InterNACHI to consider buying your home.  This is the email address you should use:  nick@internachi.org

Red Horse Home Inspection offers the InterNACHI Buy-Back Guarantee.  Schedule your home inspection today.

Your Homeowner’s Newsletter from Red Horse Home Inspection, LLC

Welcome to the Homeowner’s Newsletter!  Each month, you’ll find plenty of useful information for keeping your house in great condition so that you can enjoy it for years to come. Preserve your investment—and keep your family safe and healthy—by maintaining your home using the following tips.

Roof-Covering Maintenance

Although homeowners aren’t necessarily expected to climb on their roofs every season as part of regular home maintenance, there are some conditions that should be monitored to prevent roof damage and to help you get the longest life out of your roof-covering materials.  Certain types of damage can lead to water and pest intrusion, structural deterioration, and the escape costly energy.

Weathering
Hail and storm damage, known as weathering, can weaken a roof’s surface even if you haven’t lost any shingles/shakes/slates following a storm.  It’s the most common source of environmental damage for roofs.  Strong, sustained winds can cause uplift to the edges of shingles and shakes, which can weaken their points of attachment and allow rainwater and melting snow to reach the roof’s underlayment.  Wind can also send projectiles through the air, which can damage every surface of the home’s exterior, including the roof.  You should always inspect your roof after a heavy weather event, as far as it is practical to do so without taking any undue risks, to check whether you have lost any roof-covering materials, or if any parts look particularly weathered or damaged.  A small fix now could prevent costly repairs later.

Tree Damage
Tree damage results from wind-blown tree branches scraping against shingles and from the impact of falling branches blown by wind and/or because the nearby tree has dead branches that eventually break off and fall.  Branches that overhang the roof should always be cut back to avoid damage from both abrasion and impact, and to prevent the accumulation of leaf debris on the roof, its valleys, and in the gutters, which will interfere with proper drainage and lead to pooling of rainwater and snowmelt.  Of course, it’s especially important to make sure that tree limbs near the home’s roof and exterior are a safe distance away from utility and power lines.  Tree-trimming is a type of homeowner maintenance task should be undertaken by qualified professionals, as it can lead to accidentally cutting off the service or power from an overhead line, being electrocuted by an energized line, being struck by an unsecured tree branch, falling off the roof or a ladder, and any number of similar mishaps that the homeowner is not trained to anticipate and avoid.

Animal Damage
Squirrels and raccoons (and roof rats in coastal regions) will sometimes tear through shingles and roof sheathing when they’re searching for a protected area in which to build nests and raise their young. They often attack the roof’s eaves first, especially on homes that have suffered decay to the roof sheathing due to a lack of drip edges or from problems caused by ice damming, because decayed sheathing is softer and easier to tear through.  If you hear any activity of wildlife on your roof, check inside your attic for evidence of pest intrusion, such as damaged insulation, which pests may use for nesting material.  Darkened insulation generally indicates that excess air is blowing through some hole in the structure, leading the insulation to become darkened by dirt or moisture.

Biological Growth 
Algae, moss and lichen are types of biological growth that may be found on asphalt shingles under certain conditions. Some professionals consider this growth destructive, while others consider it merely a cosmetic problem.  Asphalt shingles may become discolored by both algae and moss, which spread by releasing airborne spores.

Almost all biological growth on shingles is related to the long-term presence of excess moisture, which is why these problems are more common in areas with significant rainfall and high relative humidity.  But even in dry climates, roofs that are shaded most of the time can develop biological growth.

What we commonly call “algae” is actually not algae, but a type of bacteria capable of photosynthesis. Algae appears as dark streaks, which are actually the dark sheaths produced by the organisms to protect themselves from the ultraviolet radiation of the sun. When environmental conditions are right, the problem can spread quickly across a roof.

Algae can feed on mineral nutrients, such as the calcium carbonate in limestone used as asphalt shingle filler. Calcium carbonate also causes asphalt to retain moisture, which also promotes algae growth, so shingles with excessive filler may be more likely to suffer more algae growth.  The rate of filler consumption is slow enough that it’s not generally considered a serious problem.

Algae attach to the shingle by secreting a substance that bonds it tightly to the surface. Growth can be difficult to remove without damaging the roof. The best method is prevention. Algae stains can sometimes be lightened in color by using special cleaners.  Power-washing and heavy scrubbing may loosen or dislodge granules. Chemicals used for cleaning shingles may damage landscaping. Also, the cleaning process makes the roof wet and slippery, so such work should be performed by a qualified professional.

Moss is a greenish plant that can grow more thickly than algae. It attaches itself to the roof through a shallow root system that can be freed from shingles fairly easily with a brush.  Moss deteriorates shingles by holding moisture against them, but this is a slow process. Moss is mostly a cosmetic issue and, like algae, can create hazardous conditions for those who climb on the roof.

Lichens are composite organisms consisting of a fungus and a photosynthetic partner, such as green or blue-green algae. Lichens bond tightly to the roof, and when they’re removed from asphalt shingles, they may take granules with them. Damage from lichen removal can resemble blistering.

“Tobacco-juicing” is the brownish discoloration that appears on the surface of shingles, under certain weather conditions. It’s often temporary and may have a couple of different causes. After especially long periods of intensely sunny days, damp nights and no rain, water-soluble compounds may leach out of the asphalt from the shingles and be deposited on the surface.  Tobacco-juicing may also appear under the same weather conditions if the air is especially polluted.  Tobacco-juicing won’t harm asphalt shingles, although it may run down the roof and stain siding. Although it’s more common in the West and Southwest, it can happen anywhere that weather conditions are right.  You can spray-wash or paint the exterior of the home to remove tobacco-juicing.

Your InterNACHI inspector should investigate signs of roof damage or deterioration before you call a roofing contractor.  That way, you’ll know exactly what types of problems should be addressed before you break out the checkbook for repairs.

Attic Insulation

Heating and cooling costs can be slashed by up to 30% per year by properly sealing and insulating the home. Insulating the attic should be a top priority for preventing heat loss because as heat rises, a critical amount of heat loss from the living areas of the home occurs through an unfinished attic.  During the summer months, heat trapped in the attic can reduce the home’s ability to keep cool, forcing the home’s cooling system to work overtime.

The lack of adequate ventilation in insulated attics is a common problem.  Ensuring that there is a free flow of outside air from the soffits to the roof vents is key to a well-functioning insulation system. Look behind the baffles to see if there is any misplaced insulation obstructing the natural air flow, and check the roof vents to make sure that outside air is exhausting properly. Also, look for spots where the insulation is compacted; it may need to be fluffed out.  If loose-fill insulation is installed, check for any thinly spread areas that may need topping up. Finally, look for dark spots in the insulation where incoming air is admitting wind-blown dust and moisture into the material.  Any unintended openings or holes caused by weathering or pest damage should be repaired first.

Installing Attic Insulation
The objective in an attic insulation project is to insulate the living space of the house while allowing the roof to retain the same temperature as the outdoors. This prevents cold outside air from traveling through the attic and into the living area of the home. In order to accomplish this, an adequate venting system must be in place to vent the roof by allowing air flow to enter through soffit-intake vents and out through ridge vents, gable vents or louver vents.

If there is currently a floor in the attic, it will be necessary to pull up pieces of the floor to install the insulation. In this case, it will be easier to use a blower and loose-fill insulation to effectively fill the spaces between the joists. If you choose to go with blown-in insulation, you can usually get free use of a blower when you purchase a certain amount of insulation.

When installing fiberglass insulation, make sure that you wear personal protective equipment, including a hat, gloves, goggles and a face mask, as stray fiberglass material can become airborne, which can cause irritation to the lungs, eyes and exposed skin.

Before you begin actually installing the insulation, there is some important preparation involved in order to ensure that the insulation is applied properly to prevent hazards and to achieve maximum effectiveness.

Step 1: Install Roof Baffles
In order to maintain the free flow of outside air, it is recommended that polystyrene or plastic roof baffles are installed where the joists meet the rafters. These can be stapled into place.

Step 2: Place Baffles Around Electrical Fixtures
Next, place baffles around any electrical fixtures (lights, electrical receptacles, etc.), since these may become hot while in use. Hold the baffles in place by cross-sectioning the rafters with 2x4s placed at a 3-inch clearance around the fixture.  Cut the polystyrene board to fit around the fixture and inside the wood square you have just created.

Step 3: Install a Vapor Barrier
If you are installing insulation with a vapor barrier, make sure it faces the interior of the house. Another option for a vapor barrier is to take sheets of plastic and lay them between the ceiling joists.  Then, using a staple gun, tack them to the sides of the joists.

Step 4:  Apply the Insulation
Begin by cutting long strips of fiberglass to measure, and lay them in between the joists. Do not bunch or compress the material; this will reduce the insulative effect.
If you’re not planning to put in an attic floor, a second layer of insulation may be laid at a 90-degree angle to the first layer. Do not lay in a second moisture barrier, as moisture could potentially be trapped between the two layers. This second layer of insulation will make it easier to obtain the recommended R-value. In colder climates, an R-value of 49 is recommended for adequate attic insulation. In warmer climates, an R-value of 30 is recommended. Fiberglass insulation has an R-value of roughly R-3 per inch of thickness; cellulose has an R-value of roughly R-4 per inch, but it doesn’t retain its R-value rating as well as fiberglass.

If an attic floor is in place, it will be easier to use a blower to add cellulose insulation into the spaces. The best way to achieve this is to carefully select pieces of the floor and remove them in a manner such that you will have access to all of the spaces in between the joists. Run the blower hose up into the attic. A helper may be needed to control the blower. Blow the insulation into the spaces between the joists, taking care not to blow insulation near electrical fixtures. Replace any flooring pieces that were removed.

Loose-fill insulation, either fiberglass or cellulose, is also a good option in cases where there is no attic floor. In such circumstances, you won’t need a blower; you can simply place the insulation between the joists by hand. You may also wish to even out the spread with a notched leveler.

Attic Access Pull-Down Stairs

An attic pull-down ladder, also called an attic pull-down stairway or stairs, is a collapsible ladder that’s permanently attached to the attic floor.  It’s used to access the attic without being required to use a portable ladder, which can be unstable, as well as inconvenient.

Common Defects
It’s typical for the homeowner, rather than the professional builder, to install the attic pull-down stairs, especially if it’s an older home or a newer home that’s been built upward in order to use the attic for living or storage space. That’s why these stairs rarely meet safety standards and are prone to a number of defects.
Some of the more common defective conditions include:

  • cut bottom cord of structural truss.  The homeowner may have cut through a structural member while installing a pull-down ladder, unknowingly weakening the structure. Structural members should not be modified without an engineer’s approval;
  • fastened with improper nails or screws. Drywall or deck screws may be used instead of the standard 16d penny nails or ¼x3-inch lag screws. Nails and screws that are intended for other purposes may have reduced shear strength and may not support the pull-down ladder;
  • fastened with an insufficient number of nails or screws. Manufacturers provide a certain number of nails with instructions that they all be used, and they do this for a good reason;
  • lack of insulation. The attic hatch or door is not likely to be weatherstripped and/or insulated, which will allow air from the attic to flow freely into the living space of the home, and this will cause the heating or cooling system to run overtime. An attic hatch cover box can be installed to increase energy savings;
  • loose mounting bolts, which is typically caused by age, although improper installation will hasten the loosening process;
  • attic pull-down ladders that are cut too short. The stairs should reach the floor;
  • attic pull-down ladders that are cut too long. This causes pressure at the folding hinge, which can cause breakage;
  • improper or missing fasteners;
  • compromised fire barrier (when the attic and access are above an attached garage);
  • attic ladder frame that is not properly secured to the ceiling opening; and
  • closed ladder that is covered with debris, such as blown insulation or roofing material shed during roof work; a
  • cracked steps. This defect is a problem with wooden ladders.

Safety Tips:

  • If yours is a sliding pull-down ladder, there is a potential for it to slide down too quickly, which can lead to an injury. Always pull the ladder down slowly and cautiously.
  • Do not allow children to enter the attic unattended. The lanyard attached to the attic stairs should be short enough that children cannot reach it. Parents can also lock the attic ladder so that a key or combination is required to access it.
  • If possible, avoid carrying large loads into the attic. While a properly installed stairway will safely support an adult, it might fail if you’re carrying a very heavy load. Many trips can be made to reduce the total weight load, if possible.
  • Replace an old, rickety wooden ladder with a new one. The newer aluminum models are lightweight, sturdy and easy to install.  If you do install a new ladder, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter, and test the ladder’s operation before actually using it.

Schedule your home inspection with Red Horse Home Inspection.