Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's The Small Details Of Home Inspection That Can Find Larger Problems

Electrical Double Tap?
electric panel
In order to perform a proper electrical evaluation, home inspectors must remove the electrical panel covers on every accessible electrical panel box. Besides other concerns, inspectors look for breakers that have two (or more) wires attached.
 Electrical Double Tap
The problem with multiple wiring is that additional wiring could put a substantial electrical demand on the breaker. Breakers will "nusiance trip" if excessive amperage passes thru them - this prevents overheating and reduces the chance of fire. Also, most breakers are NOT designed to have two wires screwed under a single wire clamp. This could result in loose connections, overheating at the connections and electrical arcing at the screw connection.
The solutions - Add another overload protection device so each wire has it's own breaker or, add a
Pig Tail
Example only - not proper gauge wire
special tandem breaker with two screw clamps. Usually the easiest and best repair is the "Pig Tail".  Theoffending wires simply get disconnected from the circuit breaker, connected to a single wire with a wire nut, and that single wire gets connected to the circuit breaker.  Now, I know what you're thinking: "What's so tough about that?"  The answer is nothing. 
**Double tapped wiring is ok if the circuit breaker is designed for two wires. If a circuit breaker is designed for two wires, it will say so right on the circuit breaker, and the terminal of the circuit breaker will be designed to hold two wires in place.  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

NFPA -- We develop the code. We know the code. We teach the code.

NFPA instructors are the best-of-the-best. The National Fire Protection Association represents over 70,000 active members involved in fire, building and life safety. Members of the NFPA technical committees share their expertise and contribute to the codes and standards process. And the best of those are tapped to teach. Bob Caputo is one of those instructors whose dedication and enthusiasm is clearly apparent in each of the over 1,000 training programs offered each year. For more information, go to

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Signs Your Roof Is Damaged - Even If You Can't See the Damage

There are several signs that signal your roof is damaged, the damage can be so small that even you, the homeowner cannot see the damage until it is too late. There are seven major danger signs that your roof system is not doing its job and protecting your home and your family from the elements:

· If you are lucky enough to spot any dark, dirty-looking patches on the roof, then it is time to replace the roof, or at least replace the dirty shingled area. The cause of this can be environmental pollution, vegetation on the roof itself, algae or/and fungus growth and possible loss of granules because of the age of your shingles.

· When you see missing, cracked, or even curling of the shingles, this is a danger sign. The obvious causes of this will be the shingles have just reached their full lifetime on the roof.

· Many homeowners complain of leaking water in there attic space after a hard rain. This is because of inadequate shingle underlayment, and flashing that has too much wear and tear.

· Your roof shingles, your sheathing on the roof and siding decay are another sign of damage to the roof that most homeowners do not notice. Homeowners can resolve this problem by making sure that the attic is properly ventilated.

· When blistering and or peeling of the paint that is on the outside of your home happens, it is most likely the cause of any excessive moisture or high humidity also due to poor attic ventilation.

· Every homeowner at one point or another have probably experienced stains on their interior ceilings, walls, or even mold and also mildew growth. The causes of this problem can be yet again faulty or problematic shingle underlayment that is allowing leakage or not enough air flow.

· Finally, homeowners are often times plagued by very high excessive energy bills. This can become very expensive and the cause of this is not enough attic air flow which causes the heating and cooling system to run more than needed.

The typical homeowner is subject to not knowing what to look for on their roof simply because they do not have the needed knowledge and most homeowners do not want to walk on their roof. Sometimes the homeowner, through no fault of their own just assume that the roof that is on their home will last for the set number of years they are told, say 20 years. But in reality, the roof is just like anything else, it needs regular maintenance and yearly inspection to ensure that the home is being protected by a sturdy and secure roof.

Homeowners that make the extra effort to learn about their roof system, how it works to protect their home and what danger signs to look for can catch a potential problem before it becomes too serious.

Article Source:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What Type Of Roof Should I Install On My House? Shingles, Rubber, Metal, Slate, Cedar?

So you need a new roof installed on your home. You have set some appointments with roofers and you were wondering what type of roof should I have installed? Please allow me to share some quick tips to help you choose the right roofing material for your home. No matter what type of roof you are leaning toward, make sure you are choosing a quality product installed by a professional. Many good products can have their warranties voided, or leak if they are not professionally installed to factory specs.

The first and most commonly used type of roofing are asphalt shingles. Over the last several years, Asphalt shingles have come a long way from their 3 tab predecessor. Architectural shingles also known as dimensional shingles. They have up to a 30 plus year warranty, and come in quite a few appealing colors. This coupled with their affordability make them a popular choice for many home owners.

Another roofing material is Metal Roofing. Like shingles, metal roofing products are far more superior than they once were. With developments in paint and steel, metal roofs can last decades without maintenance.

There are two most commonly known types of metal roofing. Standing seam roofing and corrugated metal. Standing seam roofing can carry up to a 50 year warranty, and has quite a nice curb appeal. It is the most common metal choice for residential uses. It is quite a bit more expensive than corrugated metal, and is available in many different colors.

Corrugated Metal is the least expensive metal roofing option. It also comes in many different colors. It is most often used for barns, sheds, or outbuildings, but is starting to become popular in some residential areas. It is very important that both Corrugated and Standing Seam roofing be properly installed and ventilated to assure they last as long as they should.

For flat or low slope Roofs, Rubber Roofing is the most common choice. Although there are a few other options like rolled asphalt, and pitch, these both do not hold a very long warranty and do not stand much ground against a good rubber roof.

Slate Composite and Cedar Shake Roofing are two types of roofing that fit into a smaller niche than the ones I described earlier, but have a very nice curb appeal and can be a very nice addition to the right home. They are the most expensive roofing options, but can carry a 40+ year warranty, and might just be the right fit for your home.

The most important thing to remember is that no matter what product you choose, make sure that it is being installed by a professional.

Article Source:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

4 Ways That Gutters Help in Protecting Your Home

Gutters are essential elements of any home. You might think of them as pipes that are placed on the edges of the roof to collect rain water as it runs off and diverts it to a specific location on the ground and this is accurate. This water control helps in protecting the home in a number of different ways.

1. Wall Protection

Installing gutters on all homes is a great idea, but those homes without an actual eave are the ones that find the most protection. The reason behind this is that water will take the path of least resistance, and that means it will not only run down the exterior walls during rain storms, but it will also trickle down behind the siding where it can do enormous damage.

Regardless of the building materials used, water can penetrate if it is not diverted away from vulnerable openings. Those tiny openings allow water to seep in and during colder weather freeze and expand, which is another danger when gutters are not properly installed.

2. Floods

The National Flood Insurance Program states that the primary cause of flooding in homes is rainfall. When a roof is absent of guttering, that rain can drip and run onto the ground right against the foundation. Sufficient enough accumulation of water that has not been directed away from the foundation typically finds its way into the home. Gutters solve this problem by providing a means for water to be relocated.

3. Erosion Prevention

Water is a principal component in soil erosion which is a natural process. Valuable topsoil is lost from lawns every year because of inadequate or missing gutters. When the soil is lost, landscaping becomes much more difficult and the exterior of homes is not as attractive.

Along with making lawns less appealing, soil is often washed into ponds and wetlands which increases the chances that flooding will occur. By diverting rain water, through the use of gutters, to less vulnerable places such as paved surfaces or French drains home owners are doing their part to redirect water to controlled locations.

4. Money Savings

It is estimated that when a home is flooded by as little as one inch of water it causes about $7,800 in damage. The most often quoted reason home owners install guttering is to save money over time. This simple measure reduces the risk of area floods by keeping sediment out of creeks, ponds and other water retaining areas. It also keeps walls and basements dry, and reduces the expense of home upkeep. It is worth installing gutters because this one action will deliver financial returns for years to come.

Article Source:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Burglar Resistant Home

There are a number of measures that homeowners can take to ensure that their homes are not attractive to burglars. If clients are concerned about break-ins, inspectors can pass on to them basic strategies for burglar-proofing their homes.

Some interesting statistics concerning break-ins in the United States:
  • InterNACHI estimates that theft makes up more than three-quarters of all reported crime. 
  • In 2005, law enforcement agencies reported more than 2 million burglary offenses.
According to a survey, burglars enter homes through the following locations: 
  • 81 percent enter through the first floor;
  • 34 percent of burglars enter through the front door;
  • 23 percent enter through a first-floor window;
  • 22 percent enter through the back door
  • 9 percent enter through the garage;
  • 4 percent enter through the basement;
  • 4 percent enter through an unlocked entrance;
  • 2 percent enter through a storage area; and 
  • 2 percent enter anywhere on the second floor.
Exterior Doors:
  • Doors should be made of steel or solid-core wood construction. Hollow-core wood doors are more easily broken than heavy, solid-core doors.
  • Doors should be free of signs of rot, cracks and warping.
  • Doors should be protected by quality deadbolt locks. Chain locks are not adequate substitutes for deadbolt locks, although chain locks may be used as additional protection.
  • If a mail slot is present, it should be equipped with a cage or box. Mailslots that are not equipped with cages or boxes have been used by burglars to enter homes.  Burglars can insert a contraption made of wire and cord into the mail slot and use it to open the lock from the inside, if no box or cage is present.
  • If a door is equipped with glass panes, they should be installed far from the lock. Otherwise, burglars can smash the glass and reach through the door to unlock the door.
  • Spare keys should not be hidden in obvious locations. Burglars are very good at finding keys that homeowners believe are cleverly hidden. The best place for a spare key is in the house of a trusted neighbor. If keys must be hidden near the door, they should not be placed in obvious locations, such as under a doormat, rock or planter.  
  • A peephole can be installed in doors so homeowners can see who is on their doorstep before they open the door.
  • Clients should consider installing bump-resistant locks on their doors. “Bumping” is a technique developed recently that can open almost any standard lock with less effort than is required by lock-picking. This technique uses “bump keys,” which are normal keys with slight modifications. Lock companies such as Schlage Primus and Medeco manufacture a number of locks that offer some bump-resistance.
Pet Doors:
  • Pet doors can be used by burglars to enter homes. Some burglars have reached through pet doors in order to unlock the door. It is advisable to not have a pet door, but if one is necessary, it should be as small as possible and installed far from the lock.
  • A crafty burglar may convince or coerce a small child to crawl through a pet door and unlock the door. Also, some burglars are children.
  • Electronic pet doors are available that open only when the pet, equipped with a signaling device in their collar, approaches the door. These doors are designed to keep stray animals out of the home, and may provide protection against burglars, as well.
Sliding Glass Doors:
  • They should be equipped with locks on their tops and bottoms.
  • They should not be able to be lifted from their frames.
  • A cut-off broom handle, or a similar device, can be laid into the door track to prevent it from being opened.
  • Lights should be installed on the exterior of all four sides of the house. Burglars prefer darkness so they cannot be seen by neighbors or passersby.
  • When building occupants are not home, a few lights should be left on.
  • It is helpful to install exterior lights that are activated by motion sensors. Burglars that are suddenly illuminated may flee.
  • All windows should be composed of strong glass, such as laminated glass, and be in good operating order.
  • They can be installed with bars, grilles, grates or heavy-duty wire screening. Barred windows must be equipped with a quick-release mechanism so occupants can quickly escape during a fire.
  • Windows should not be hidden by landscaping or structures. If landscaping or structures cannot be moved, lighting can be installed around the windows.
Landscape and Yard:
  • Shrubs and trees should not obscure the view of entrances. Shielded entrances can provide cover for burglars while they attempt to enter the residence.
  • Fences are helpful burglar deterrents, although they should not be difficult to see through.
While the house is vacant:
  • A loud radio can be used to make burglars think someone is home. Timers can be used to activate radios and lights to make the home seem occupied.
  • A car should always be parked in the driveway. A neighbor’s car can be parked there so that it appears as if someone is home.
  • The lawn should be cut regularly. Uncut grass is a clue that no one is home.
Other tips:
  • Dogs are excellent burglar deterrents. For clients who cannot own dogs, they can place “beware of dog” signs around the yard for nearly the same effect.
  • If no security system is installed, the client can post security alarm stickers around the yard.
In summary, there are a number of tactics that inspectors can pass on to their clients that will help safeguard their homes from break-ins. There is no substitute for a good alarm system. A quality, monitored alarm system can also contact help in the event of a fire, break-in, flood, or carbon monoxide leak even if you are not at home. For a free no obligation quote for an alarm system and monitoring, please contact SitePro Inspections at (850) 934-6800

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Patrick Mahoney Discusses Importance of Creating a Firewise Advisory Com...

Patrick Mahoney, Firewise South Regional Advisor, explains how creating a ( Firewise Advisory Committee for local communities in Florida helped them work towards reducing their wildfire risk.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Well and Septic Inspection Q and A

A first time homeowner Q&A with an expert. Well, septic and water inspection with Heidi Bryant of B.E.S.T., Inc and Jeremy Drobeck of AmeriFirst Home Mortgage. From testing the water for nitrites & nitrates, to uncovering you septic tank for an inspection, Heidi breaks down the process for the homeowner.

First time home buyers should inspect the well and septic of the house they want. This expert runs down some of the tips on what to look for, including how often you should test your water for bacteria, nitrates and nitrites.

AmeriFirst Home Mortgage firmly believes in educating home buyers and homeowners. Thanks to B.E.S.T., Inc for helping with this video. See more at

Monday, December 10, 2012

Understanding Firewalls in Buildings

Firewalls are one of the most important, yet least understood safety items that a home inspector checks. It is one of the many passive safety features built into a house that is often over-looked during a home inspection. Just like the air bag in your car we hope that it is never needed.
The intent of the firewall between the attached garage and the living space is intended to slow the spread of fire from the garage to the living space. In order to accomplish this several components of a house must be made of fire resistive materials, and all must be working together for the system to work. Drywall used on the garage side of walls shared with living space must have a one hour fire resistive surface. If the garage ceiling is not covered with drywall,
Fire wall to roof
Fire wall to roof
 then the common walls between the garage and living space must be covered all the way up to the underside of the roof sheating. You may see open rafters in the garage which is OK as long as there is no living space above the garage. In this example, if a fire starts in the garage, it cannot easily spread to the living space, or the attic above the living space. It will be contained to the garage.
In the picture below, there are numerous breaches in the firewall which must be addressed to restore the integrity of the firewall. Even though the fire-rated drywall extends up to the roof, a section of drywall was removed by the water heater due to some water damage. This must be patched. Fire could otherwise race up the wall if the water heater caught on fire. Other breaches include a missing switchplate cover at the garage light switch, and large holes in the drywall above the furance where the refrigerant lines pass into the attic. Finally, the fire rated door does not have a functional auto-closing device which is required in Florida to keep this door closed.
Several breaches observed in this firewall
Several breaches observed in this firewall

When the garage is “finished” and no framing members are exposed, the ceiling of the garage should be covered with 5/8 inch thick fire-rated drywall. In one story houses, this is necessary when the attic space over the house and garage are open, and there is no firewall between the space over the garage, and over the house.
Unfortunately many homeowners install pull-down ladders to access the attic space above the garage for storage.
Firewall required at ceiling of garage
Firewall required at ceiling of garage
 The problem is that most pull down ladders are not fire-rated. They are typically covered with a thin sheet of plywood that would quickly burn in the event of a fire. Homeowners who understand the concept of a firewall often try to remedy this by attaching a piece of drywall to the underside of the pull down ladder. The intent is that when it is in the closed position it should restore the integrity of the firewall ceiling. Most of the time the added weight of the drywall prevents the ladder from closing all the way leaving a gap. This gap will allow fire to get into the attic and is a breach 
of the firewall.
Note: wood pull-down ladders are acceptacle when a firewall exists in the attic between the areas above the garage and house. Fire-rated pull-down ladders are available.
Another common homeowner mistake is to installed recessed lights in the garage. When doing so, a box must be constructed around the light fixture to maintain the fire-retardancy of the ceiling. This can be done by using fire-rated drywall.
We often see holes cut into the firewall in attics between the garage and living space. These are often done to run
Hole in attic firewall
Hole in attic firewall
wires, or access a portion of the attic more easily. Your home inspector should be catching these items for repair as they are safety hazards. All breaches in the firewall must be patched. All drywall seams must be properly sealed with drywall compound, and small holes and penetrations must be filled with a firewall caulking.
Finally, the door between the garage and living space must be a fire-rated door. In most municipalities in Florida this door must be fire-rated to resist burn through for 20 minutes. This door can be a solid wood door or a metal door. The doors should have a fire rating tag on the top edge of the door, or at the hinge edge of the door. but these are often removed or painted over. In addition to being fire-rated, this door must close and latch without assistance. This is accomplished with a spring loaded hinge or a gas shock mounted at the top of the door.  
While this post is neither an exhaustive explanation of the building fire code, nor a substitute for a professional evaluation, it should give you a good idea of what home inspectors look for in the garage. If you have specific questions about the requirements for your house, please check with your local building department or a local home inspector.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The History Of 203K Mortgage -

Mike gives us a brief history of the 203K mortgage. Call Van at 850-934-6800 for more information.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Taping Windows To Prep For Hurricane Is Dangerous, Weather Experts Warn

(TALLAHASSEE, FL) Enter some text here to introduce the newsletter to your customers.It's dangerous to apply masking tape, duct tape and/or window film on windows or glass doors in preparation for a hurricane because it can create larger and deadlier shards of glass when broken.
This warning from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)® comes amid some otherwise well-meaning advice to the contrary as millions of people living in the path of Hurricane Sandy look for last-minute safety measures as the monster storm approaches.

"It is simply a myth to think windows and glass doors should be taped in preparation for a hurricane," said FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson. "Masking tape, duct tape and specially marketed 'hurricane tape' are insufficient and potentially dangerous substitutions for tested and approved hurricane shutters, impact-resistant windows or properly installed temporary, emergency plywood shutters."

Chapman-Henderson said experts, including FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Director of the National Hurricane Center Dr. Rick Knabb and FLASH have worked tirelessly in the months leading up to hurricane season to educate Americans on the truth behind this long-standing myth about the use of tape as a preparatory measure.

"And yet, we're still seeing and hearing people advise folks to do otherwise," she said. "The truth is, tape does not keep dangerous debris from coming into the home or prevent all glass from shattering. Doing so gives families a false sense of security. Even worse, tape can create larger shards of glass that can heighten danger. Applying tape wastes precious preparedness time and money that is better spent on tested and approved emergency or permanent hurricane protection."

Earlier this year, a FLASH survey conducted by Harris Interactive found that nearly seven out of 10 homeowners still think that windows and glass doors should be taped in preparation for a hurricane.

"This is why we are determined to continue to bust the dangerous window taping myth and are encouraging Americans to Go Tapeless® as part of its hurricane preparedness initiative," Chapman-Henderson said.

There is still time for families at risk to prepare for Hurricane Sandy. FLASH has step-by-step instructions for last minute preparedness activities that, in as little as one hour, can make homes and families safer and better prepared for potential severe weather.
Read entire article at for more tips:

Monday, December 3, 2012

Northwest Florida's Leading Home Inspection Company

As N.W. Florida's leading home inspection company we are always looking for innovative ways to provide better service and create the best possible experience for our customers. Over the years we have performed thousands of home inspections and we have a very good idea of what our clients are the most concerned with.

Being an independent home inspection company allows us to adapt to the ever-changing real estate and insurance markets. We invest in the latest technology available to home inspectors so that you get the best property inspection possible. We inspect hundreds of items in the house. Your report is computer generated providing you a professional report within 24 hours.

We are one of the few inspection companies in the country to include Infrared Thermal Imaging technology with a home inspection to help find moisture in a home - at no additional cost! Infrared Thermal Imaging Cameras allow us to find anomalies that may otherwise go undetected by other home inspection companies. Every home inspector in our company brings this technology to each home inspection, and we know how to maximize the results.

Our friendly office staff are available to book your appointment Monday through Saturday, or book online anytime. No more waiting for the home inspector to call you back. All of our home inspectors are well-trained, prompt, and Certified Residential Building Code Inspectors.

Van Hibberts, CMI, ACA