News

Pre Listing Inspection

June 27th, 2016

For sale

Pre-Inspected Listings, The Future of Real Estate

Home inspections have traditionally been for the benefit of the purchaser. Pre-inspected listings benefit all parties – purchasers, vendors and Realtors.

Deals Won’t Fall Through

Home inspections, performed as a condition of the offer, can kill deals. Sometimes this is because the purchaser gets cold feet; sometimes there’s a big problem no one knew about. Sometimes it is because the house has been misrepresented; sometimes it is because the home inspector scared the purchasers by not explaining that minor and typical problems are just that – minor and typical.

If the home inspection is performed prior to the house being listed, all parties will be aware of the physical condition of the house before an offer is drawn. There will be no surprises after the fact. Deals will not fall through.

Will you

Pre-inspected Listings Avoid Renegotiation

In a buyers’ market, most houses have to be sold twice. It takes a lot of work to get a signed Agreement of Purchase and Sale. Then the home inspection is done and the purchaser wants to renegotiate.

If all parties know the condition of the house prior to the offer, there is no need for renegotiation. As most real estate agents know, renegotiation is very difficult. Vendors have already mentally sold the house; purchasers are suffering buyers’ remorse. Egos, pride and frustration can muddy the already emotional waters.

A vendor who pays for a home inspection will be further ahead than one who has to renegotiate. He of she may even sell the house faster.

 

Sim

Unrealistic Vendors

An inspection at the time of listing can also help a Realtor deal with a vendor who has unrealistic expectations. The inspection report is good ammunition for explaining why you can’t ask top bucks for a house which is not in top condition.

Rep

Repairs Prior To Sale

Sometimes, the home inspection will reveal items which should be repaired immediately. A pre-inspected listing allows the vendor to repair the problem prior to putting the house on the market.

If the inspection occurs after the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, the purchaser could walk, renegotiate or, depending on the inspection clause, the vendor may have the option to repair. A repair done by an unmotivated vendor may not be the best repair and may not meet the purchasers’ expectations. This has caused more than one deal not to close.

Peace Of Mind For The Purchaser

There is no doubt that part of the value of a home inspection is a guided tour of the house for the prospective purchaser. The inspection company can return to do a walk-through with the purchaser, if requested.

LOGO

Reputable Inspection Companies

Pre-inspected listings will only have value if the home inspection company is perceived to be reputable, qualified and properly insured. Prospective purchasers will have little or no faith in a report done by someone they perceive to be in the vendors’, or Realtors’ pocket.

 

Sold

 

Copyright 2015/2016 Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd.

All rights reserved

What Are Ground Fault Circuit GFCI Receptacles?

May 17th, 2016

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter GFCI’s

The outlets with the colored “Test” and “Reset” buttons are specially designed to better protect people than ordinary outlets. GFCI’s have been used in houses since the 1970’s.

Why Are They Used?

GFCI’s are designed to shut power off if there is a very small leak of electricity (a ground fault) which ordinary outlets wouldn’t notice. Normal outlets are shut off by a fuse or breaker if more than 15 amps flows. This prevents fires, but since people can be killed by 1 amp or less, fuses may not protect people from shock. GFCI’s shut off power if a leak as small as .005 amp occurs.

How Do They Work?

A GFCI detects a leak by comparing how much electricity comes back through the white wire to how much was sent in the black wire. When everything is working correctly, the current flow is the same. If a little electricity is leaking out, it may be going through a ground wire or through part of the house. If this happens, the black wire will have more electricity than the white wire. Electricity, like most people, will follow the path of least resistance. If a person touches a leaky electrical system, they may present a better route to ground for electricity, since they may offer very little resistance.
Another way of saying this, is that the person may be a very good conductor or the person may not be well insulated. The electricity will flow through the person, giving them a shock. Without a GFCI, this can be fatal. With a GFCI, the little leak would be detected and the power would be shut off.

GFCI outlet

Where Are They Used?

In Canada, GFCI’s are now required by Code for outdoor outlets, bathroom outlets and whirlpool outlets. Electrical systems for swimming pools are also GFCI protected. In the United States, kitchen outlets within six feet of the sink must also be GFCI protected.

Can The Outlet Be GFCI Protected If There Is No Button?

Yes, if for example, the circuit breaker back at the panel has a “Test” button, it is a GFCI breaker. This will protect everything on that particular circuit. Any outlets wired downstream of a GFCI outlet are also protected if the GFCI is wired correctly.

Can They Be Added To Older Houses?

Yes, GFCI’s can be added to any electrical system. They are more expensive than regular outlets ($15-$20 vs. $1-$2), but are inexpensive insurance. While they do not replace grounding systems exactly, some Codes do allow GFCI’s in lieu of grounding in some cases. It is safe to say that a circuit protected by a GFCI is better protected than one without.

 

Contents of this site Copyright 2015/2016 Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd. All rights reserved.

 

Questions That You Should Ask When Shopping for a Home Inspector

April 5th, 2016

Ask right questions

Q: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN BUSINESS?
A: Home inspectors come and go. The long time firms are here to stay. They’ll be here if you have a question or a problem down the road.

Q: WHAT ARE YOUR INSPECTORS’ QUALIFICATIONS?
A: The industry is essentially unregulated. Anyone can call themselves a home inspector.

Q: CAN I FOLLOW ALONG AT THE INSPECTION?
A: If they won’t let you go to the inspection, don’t use them. We actually encourage you to attend. This is a valuable learning experience for most home buyers. It is the perfect opportunity to ask specific questions about the condition of the home. Also, where defects are identified, the engineer can discuss these so that you understand what repairs are required, when and at roughly what cost.

Q: ARE YOU MEMBERS OF AIBQ AND ASHI?

Questions

Q: DO YOU DO REPAIRS OR RECOMMEND CONTRACTORS?
A: No. We are a consulting firm specializing in building inspections. We consider it a conflict of interest for a home inspector to recommend or refer a contractor to perform repairs.

Q: HOW MUCH DOES AN INSPECTION COST?
A: Some factors will affect the fee. If you are comparing home inspection firms, the fee charged should not be the sole deciding factor, unless of course the level of service offered is identical.
We suspect the house you are buying is not the cheapest house, but rather a house that you feel represents good value. We urge you to choose your home inspector the same way.

Q: HOW LONG DOES AN INSPECTION TAKE?
A: A typical home inspection takes between 2 and 3 hours. Some older and/or larger homes can take longer. As a courtesy to the vendor, they should be informed of the time involved once the inspection is arranged.

Q: DO YOU PROVIDE A WRITTEN REPORT?

An electronic version of inspection report will be provided to the client within 48 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

Q: WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT?
A: Inspect the major systems of the house. These include the Roof, Exterior, Structure, Electrical, Heating, Cooling, Plumbing, Insulation and Interior. The goal is to identify any existing major problems that would affect a typical purchasers buying decision.
We will add significantly to your knowledge of the home, but still cannot tell you everything about the house. All home inspections are entirely visual. No destructive testing is performed. The inspection and report will put you in a much better position to make your decision.

 

 

Q: CAN WE CONTACT YOU WITH QUESTIONS AFTER THE INSPECTION?

Questions You Should Ask

 

Q: DO YOU LOOK FOR UFFI, ASBESTOS, MOLD, PYRITE, RED OCHRE?
A: The only way to guarantee it is not present – is to do the test. We will inform you if we will see any evidence and if you have to go for further evaluation.

 

Copyright 2015/2016 Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd.

All rights reserved

Vermiculite Insulation

March 1st, 2016

VERMICULITE INSULATION

 

What Is It?

If you have never seen vermiculite insulating an attic, you may have seen it in potting soil. Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral worldwide. When heated rapidly to high temperatures, this crystalline mineral expands into low density, accordion-like, golden brown strands. In fact, its worm-like shape is what gives vermiculite its name. The worms are broken into rectangular chunks about the size of the eraser on the end of a pencil. In addition to being light, vermiculite chunks are also absorbent and fire retardant. These characteristics make it great as an additive, for example to potting soil. It also makes a good insulating material.

Where Was It Used?

Sold under various brand names, such as Zonolite Attic Insulation, the insulation came in big bags. Thousands of homeowners simply opened the bags and poured the vermiculite onto their attic floor and sometimes down exterior walls. It was generally not used in new construction.

zonolite

When Was It Used?

Worldwide, vermiculite has been used in various industries as long ago as 1920. With the upsurge in home ownership during the baby boom, vermiculite insulation was a popular material in the 1950’s, and continued with the energy crisis into the late 1970’s. In Canada, it was one of the insulating materials allowed under the Canadian Home Insulation Program from about 1976 to the mid-1980’s. The CHIP program provided grants to homeowners to increase insulation levels, reducing energy consumption.

What Is The Problem?

The majority of the vermiculite used worldwide was from a mine in Libby, Montana, owned and operated since 1963 by W.R. Grace. The mine was closed in 1990. As well as being rich in vermiculite, this mine had the misfortune of having a deposit of tremolite, a type of asbestos. When the vermiculite was extracted, some tremolite came in with the mix.
For Canadian use, the raw product from the Libby mine was shipped to Grace subsidiary F. Hyde processing plants in Montreal, St. Thomas, Ajax and Toronto, and Grant Industries in western Canada. At these plants, it was processed and sold as Zonolite.

risk
What Is The Risk?

Asbestos minerals tend to separate into microscopic particles that become airborne and are easily inhaled. People exposed to asbestos in the workplace have developed several types of life-threatening diseases, including lung cancer. Workers in and around the Libby mine developed serious health problems.
Like any hazards, length and intensity of exposure are major factors in the risk of asbestos-related respiratory illness. To assess the risk of asbestos exposure at a house, a sample of the vermiculite would need to be analyzed by a lab. Since most of the vermiculite used in Canada was taken from the Libby mine, the odds are quite good that there is asbestos in the vermiculite in Canadian attics.

The good news is that we don’t live in our attics. In addition, as long as it is undisturbed, neither the asbestos fibers bound up in the vermiculite chunks nor the dust will be released into the air. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the U.S., “Most people who get asbestos-related diseases have been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time.” Lastly, most of the time the air in your house flows from the house into the attic, rather than into the house from the attic.
The bottom line is, like most household products that may contain asbestos, and there are many, doing nothing is often the best approach. Naturally, the risk of exposure increases with the amount of time spent in the attic.

 

Recommendations
risk

If the attic or walls of a house contain vermiculite insulation, leave it alone. Avoid disturbing the material. Do not sweep it or vacuum it up. Do not store belongings in the attic.
If work is planned that involves these areas, for example installing potlights in a room below the attic, send a sample of the vermiculite to a private lab. Send several samples, and use a lab specializing in asbestos analysis. If it is found to contain asbestos, or if you just assume it does, precautions should be taken. The safest approach would be to have the insulation in the affected areas removed by a qualified environmental contractor.

noDIY

For smaller jobs it may be sufficient to isolate work areas with temporary barriers or enclosures to avoid spreading fibers, use disposable protective clothing, and use proper respiratory protection. An important note – disposable respirators or dust masks are not appropriate for asbestos. Again, it is best to consult a qualified contractor.

 

Copyright 2015/2016 Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd.

Grow Houses

February 1st, 2016

Grow House

Grow Houses

 

Have you ever wondered why your neighbors never surface from their home, rarely have any garbage to pick up, always have the blinds down or windows covered, come and go at unusual hours and never invite you over for a barbecue? If this is the case, there is a possibility you are living beside a grow house. With an estimated 50,000 grow houses in Canada, there is growing concern about health, fire, safety, and structural implications for home buyers. But what risk is there in owning a grow home?

 

What is a grow house?

 

A grow house is a home that has been converted into a marijuana operation. Larger homes in quiet areas with unfinished basements are preferred, although grow houses can exist in any neighborhood.

 

What are the signs and the risks?

 

There must be ideal greenhouse conditions for these operations. The electrical system is usually altered to power the hydroponic equipment. Operators may also steal electricity by tapping into the electrical service before it enters the electrical meter, and bring power into the house through a hole in the foundation. Additional circuitry is usually added inside the home to bring electrical power to the equipment, and operators rarely make sure that these alterations meet electrical codes. While these modifications can create a hazardous electrical situation, improvements can be made to ensure the electrical system remains safe for a potential homebuyer. Holes cut in the foundation wall can be repaired as well, but if not done properly, the potential for water leakage remains.

 

Plants require light, ideal temperature, water and nutrients in order to thrive, and with the heat generated by hydroponic lighting, a significant amount of humidity is produced in the process. While humans, animals, and plants need humidity, too much can cause mold, mildew, and rot to form in the home, especially in or on exterior surfaces. Often, modifications are made to the home to help vent the excess humidity to the outdoors and bring in fresh air from the outside. Fireplaces and chimneys can be used as channels for removing excess moisture. Structural members such as floor and ceiling joists are sometimes cut to accommodate additional ductwork. The structural integrity of the home may be compromised by the combination of cut framing members and high humidity. Signs of high humidity are usually most visible in attic spaces, where the moist air is often dumped. Darkening of attic surfaces is generally a good indicator that mold and mildew are present.

 

Mold comes in many colors and may be visible and distinct. It can also be very subtle. Surface mold may be the tip of an iceberg, with considerable mold concealed behind the wall. In other cases, the mold is only on the surface. The toughest situation occurs when the mold is not visible. Home inspectors pay particular attention to intersecting walls and ceilings where air circulation is poor or areas that have been chronically damp or wet. The good news is that many grow houses are in operation for less than a year, which may not be enough time for mold to thrive and cause serious structural damage.

 

Mold Damage

 

Other clues

 

Look for painted concrete floors in the basement, and walls that have been painted white to reflect light. Screw holes and patches are often visible in the foundation wall where equipment was mounted above the floor level to avoid any water on the floor. Multiple splices in the plumbing system may be present to nourish the crop. Chemical odors, including fertilizers and pesticides are also used, which can create health hazards through poor indoor air quality.

 

Conclusion

 

While it is expected that realtors who are representing sellers or landlords of these properties should make every effort to ensure that all parties are notified of the potential issues, a home inspection can help quantify the severity of these issues. In most cases, with proper clean-up and some repair, these homes can be lived in without concern. Unfortunately, insurance companies are also being very cautious and focusing on reducing loss ratios, not on acquiring business, making it more difficult to get insurance on high risk homes such as grow homes. By exercising good judgment and due diligence in obtaining proper information on the condition of the home, purchasers can rest easy knowing that with a little tender loving care, the home will provide the comfort and security they deserve.

 

 

Copyright 2015/2016 Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd.