Monday, February 6, 2017


A home with residual tobacco smoke odor is harder to sell and fetches a lower price compared to an odor-free home. If you are considering buying a home formerly occupied by a heavy smoker, be sure that the discount from market value you are getting is enough to offset the cost of odor removal. A recent tobacco odor mitigation by a professional contractor for a home in the Pensacola, Navarre areas cost the buyer approximately $5,000 for a 2600 square foot house.

If you decide to tackle the project yourself, here’s what has to be done, assuming you are working with an empty house that has had all furniture and personal belongings removed:

1)Remove and replace all carpeting and curtains. Scrub the floor under carpeting before replacement. For light smoke odor, professional cleaning of carpet and curtains may be acceptable.

2)Walls and ceilings coated with a sealer and repainted. It may be necessary to lightly clean some surfaces first, to remove any surface oils/grease. We recommend Zinsser’s B-I-N shellac-based primer/sealer as a first coat to keep any odors from penetrating the final coats of paint.

3)Throughly clean all hard surfaces, such as kitchen cabinets, windows, blinds, and plumbing fixtures. Ammonia or a stain and odor removal product with an oxidizing agent is recommended.

4)Replace light bulbs.

5)Use a filter at the air conditioner that has a layer of activated charcoal, such as the 3M Filtrete Odor Reduction Filter, set the fan at “ON” to run continuously, and change filter frequently until odor is gone.

Don’t get burnt. Be sure to allow for both the expense of the cleaning and also the lost time that the house cannot be occupied while the smoke odor is being mitigated when you negotiate the purchase price, otherwise any  savings will go up in smoke.

Thursday, February 2, 2017


A gable roof slopes inward on two sides, and the other two sides have a wall with a triangle shape at the top; whereas, a hip roof slopes in on all four sides. The photo above shows intersecting gable and hip roofs: the hip roof is in the back on the main part of the house, and gable roof at the protruding garage. 

And here they are again below, represented in diagrams along with other popular roof styles. Hip roofs are more complicated and labor-intensive to build, but are also more wind-resistant in a storm. Gable roofs are easier and less expensive to build, but the triangle-shaped “gable end” is prone to collapse in a hurricane force wind if not properly braced, with a domino-effect knocking down a row of roof framing members once the gable end collapses.

Because hip roofs have been proven in wind tunnel tests to be significantly more hurricane-resistant than gable roofs, there is a windstorm insurance discount for homeowners in Florida that have a roof shape that is at least 90% hip. The calculation is made by measuring the length of the perimeter (edge at fascia) of the roof that is a hip shape as a proportion of the total perimeter. The big gable end at the garage door in the home above would disqualify it for the hip roof discount.

As you might expect with an insurance industry calculation, there are several complicating factors. A gable roof that covers an open entry area, and a porch roof that is attached to the main structure only at the fascia and is not over an enclosed living space, are both not considered as deductions in the calculation of hip perimeter length. Also, a very low-slope or flat roof that is more than 10% of the total roof area over the living space of the home overrides all the other calculations and eliminates the discount.

While engineers and insurance companies evaluate these two most common roof structures based on strength and cost parameters, architects see the two types of roofs as part of their design vocabulary, and it is currently popular to have the main mass of the house topped with a hip roof, with smaller gables added as a kind of embellishment for entry porches, dormers, and garages.

The roof shape is just one element in what your insurance agent calls a “wind letter”  or “wind mitigation form,” but is officially known as the “Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection Form.” To find out more about the form, go to our blog: What is a wind mitigation form for homeowner's insurance?

If you have had a windstorm mitigation inspection and did not get the discounts you were expecting, see our blog post: Why did I get no discounts or only a small discount from my wind mitigation inspection?

You can discover more ways to reduce your homeowner’s insurance premium at our blog: How can I lower my homeowners insurance cost?

To learn about the average lifespan of different roof materials, check out our blog or facebook: What’s the average lifespan of a roof?

To recognize when it’s time to replace your roof, go to our blog or facebook: How can I tell if the house needs a new roof?

If you want to understand the difference between an “architectural” and a regular shingle roof, see our blog or facebook: 

What's the difference between an "architectural" and a regular shingle roof?

To figure out why your roof is leaking, go to our facebook: Why is my roof leaking?

If you can find the answer to any of the above questions, contact either Van or Bill at SitePro 850-934-6800


Double pane windows provide insulation with an inert gas that the manufacturer seals into the space between the panes. It is usually argon or krypton, both of which are better insulators that air. 

All insulated windows lose their gas over time as air gradually leaks into the gap between the panes, which brings along moisture. Manufacturers insert a desiccant, such as silica, between the panes to absorb any moisture intrusion, but it eventually becomes saturated and allows condensation to form on the interior surfaces of the glass. Dust in the air collects on the condensation and builds up over time, which gradually clouds the window. This is a normal process for a double or triple pane window as it reaches the end of its lifespan. The cloudiness is a cosmetic issue, but the loss of inert gas reduces the insulating ability of the window and affects the energy efficiency of the home.

A back-and-forth action that has been dubbed “thermal pumping” contributes to the loss of the gas over time. It is the expansion and contraction, along with flexing in and out, of the glass and surrounding frame and seals with changes in temperature. Sides of a home exposed to direct sun are more prone to the effects of thermal pumping and it can’t be avoided.

But pressure washing double pane windows creates even more pressure and flexing of the outside pane, with corresponding movement at the seal. It is possible to break the seal sufficiently to lose all the inert gas quickly when blasting a window with high-pressure water. We sometimes visit a home less than 10-years old that the homeowner has pressure-washed and 90% of the windows are clouded over. 

 So don’t do it. Avoid expensive window replacements by washing your windows the old-fashioned way with a soapy solution and garden-hose water pressure. Although pressure washing is one cause of premature clouding of double pane windows, a manufacturing defect or poor installation that squeezes the frame can also cause seal failure. Further investigation may be necessary if you have a large number of windows in your home cloud over at the same time, but no history of pressure washing.