NY Metro ASHI News
A Publication of the NY Metro Chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors
Edited by John Gerardi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Articles published in the NY Metro ASHI News are the sole opinion of the author and we publish these articles for educational purposes only and not to endorse or state a position for or against the content of the article.
Tino’s Steak House
Route 100, Hawthorne, NY
Date: Thursday, July 31, 2003, 6:00PM
Next Meeting's Program Allison Iacopini from FREA will be speaking on how to select errors and omissions insurance.
Guests are welcome at all meetings.
President’s Message: ASHI is now accepting nominations for the John E. Cox and Phillip C. Monahon Award which must be submitted by Sept. 30th, 2003. - Sherman Price
May Education Session
by: Colin Albert, P. E.
A representative from G&S Associates presented the new high efficiency condensing boiler by Peerless known as Peerless Pinnacle. The boiler has a modulating burner, which means that it automatically adjusts its output to accommodate different load requirements. It does this by sensing the temperature differential between the supply and return water. The boilers are available in three sizes 80, 140 and 199 MBH input with the respective burner modulation range of 27 to 80, 46 to 140 and 66 to 199 MBH burner input. It was observed that the boiler was lightweight with a very compact design. It has a stainless steel heat exchanger with minimum provision for storage of the water. The boilers are only available as gas (natural or LP) models. A neat feature is that there is zero clearance to combustible requirement. However they are not permitted to be installed on carpet. The unit is so neatly compact that there is not much to inspect. The boiler is supposedly very quiet with a 92% efficiency, estimated life of 20-25 years with a water temperature range of 70 degree - 195 degree. It should be noted that these boilers have a 12 years pro-rated warranty whereas the cast iron boilers have a limited lifetime warranty.
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VIC'S (AD)VICE COLUMN
BITS & PIECES
by Victor J. Faggella
This column originally started out with a question and answer format. However, due to lack of questions from the membership it evolved into its present state. I would like to return, at least in part, to the original concept of answering questions. In order to do that, however, members will have to call me with questions or problems. Please cooperate. Call me at 1 (845) 628-0941.
An article was recently published. in the Journal News, by Rhonda Abrams, the author of "The Successful Business Plan: Secrets and Strategies." The article dealt with the mistakes made by both individuals and companies when attempting to market themselves through advertising. This includes business cards, brochures, newspaper and magazine ads and other forms of advertisement. This column is based on that article and my own experience.
The most common error is leaving out necessary details such as what does the company sell or what services does it offer, what is the company's location and phone number. This may seem basic, but it happens all the time. I'm sure you've all seen ads in the Sunday paper where you could not locate the address of the nearest store or had difficulty in locating the phone number.
Ms. Abrams provides the following information in her article to aid in producing an ad, flier or brochure. I have modified the information to make it applicable to our particular field:
1. The name of the company as well as the services that you provide.
2. Where you are located and the areas which you serve.
3. Web address.
4. Phone number with area code. If you are not going to be able to answer calls, record a message with all the vital information.
5. Special terms and conditions. Cite ASHI standards.
These are the basics. Once you've got these covered. what can you do to make your ads. fliers or brochures effective in getting clients? - Develop a logo. This will help clients to remember your company. -Create an eye-catching "headline" to get attention. This doesn't have to be clever. The "Best Inspection in the Industry" gets my attention. -Explain your benefits. Let potential clients know why they should be interested in doing business with you. This can be something as simple as. "The most comprehensive inspection in the industry." - Provide lots of information regarding your services. It has been found that ads chock-ful with specifics are surprisingly effective. -Include a call to action, such as "Call today to book your appointment!" Finally, before you go to print, have your material read by at least two other people. You can read your own copy many times and still miss the same mistakes.
TOXIC MOLD???? In a summary of a report by doctors associated with ACOEM, they state, “Current scientific evidence does not support the proposition that human health has been adversely affected by inhaled mycotoxins in home environments." However, they further state, "Mold growth should not be tolerated because it destroys the building on which it grows, is unsightly, and is likely to produce allergic responses in allergic individuals. For the full report go to: http://www.acoem.org.
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What is radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas, It is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and chemically inert. Unless you test for it, there is no way of telling how much is present.
Radon is formed by the natural radioactive decay of uranium in rock, soil, and water. Naturally existing, low levels of uranium occur widely in Earth's crust. It can be found in all 50 states, Once produced, radon moves through the ground to the air above. Some remains below the surface and dissolves in water that collects and flows under the ground's surface.
Radon has a half-life of about four days - half of a given quantity of it breaks down every four days. When radon undergoes radioactive decay, it emits ionizing radiation in the form of alpha particles. It also produces short-lived decay products, often called progeny or daughters, some of which are also radioactive.
Unlike radon, the progeny are not gases and can easily attach to dust and other particles. Those particles can be transported by air and can also be breathed.
The decay of progeny continues until stable, non-radioactive progeny are formed. At each step in the decay process, radiation is released.
Sometimes, the term radon is used in a broad sense, referring to radon and its radioactive progeny all at once. When testing measures radiation from the progeny, rather than radon itself, the measurements are usually expressed in working level (WL) units. When radiation from radon is measured directly, the amount is usually expressed in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L).
What health effects are associated with radon exposure?
The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. There are currently no conclusive data on whether children are at greater risk than adults from radon. No specific subtype of lung cancer is associated with radon exposure.
Only smoking causes more cases of lung cancer. If you smoke and you are exposed to elevated radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides radon risk comparison charts for people who smoke and those who have never smoked, Stop smoking and lower your radon level to reduce your lung cancer risk.
Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As they break down further, these particles release small bursts of energy. This can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer over the course of your lifetime. Not everyone exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cancer, and the amount of time between exposure and the onset of the disease may be many years.
Breathing radon does not cause any short-term health effects such as shortness of breath, coughing, headaches, or fever.
Research suggests that swallowing water with high radon levels may pose risks, too, although risks from drinking water containing radon are much lower than those from breathing air containing radon. A NAS report on radon in drinking water, "Risk Assessment of Radon in Drinking Water," was released in 1999. It concluded drinking radon in water causes about 19 stomach cancer deaths per year.
What is the "acceptable" level of radon in air?
EPA states that any radon exposure carries some risk; no level of radon exposure is always safe. However, EPA recommends homes be fixed if an occupant's long-term exposure will average 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher.
What is a "picocurie" (pCi)?
A pCi is a measure of the rate of radioactive decay of radon. One pCi is one trillionth of a Curie, 0.037 disintegrations per second, or 2.22 disintegrations per minute. Therefore, at 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter, EPA's recommended action level), there will be approximately 12,672 radioactive disintegrations in one liter of air during a 24-hour period.
What is a "working level" (WL)?
Some devices measure radiation from radon decay products, rather than radiation coming directly from radon. Measurements from these devices are often expressed as WL As noted above, conversions from WL to pCi/L are usually approximate. A level of 0.02 WL is usually equal to about 4 pCi/L in a typical home.
If a working level (WL) value is converted to a radon level (pCi/L), the conversion is usually approximate and is based on a 50 percent equilibrium ratio. If the actual equilibrium ratio is determined (which is rare), it should be stated. The 50 percent ratio is typical of the home environment, but any indoor environment may have a different and varying relationship between radon and its decay products.
Technically speaking, 1 WL represents any combination of short-lived radon decay products in one liter of air that will result in the ultimate emission of 1.3 x 105 MeV of potential alpha energy.
How often is indoor radon a problem?
Nearly one out of every 15 homes has a radon level EPA considers to be elevated - 4 pCi/L or greater. The U.S. average radon-in-air level in single family homes is 1.3 pCi/L Because most people spend as much as 90 percent of their time indoors, indoor exposure to radon is an important concern.
How does radon get into a building?
Most indoor radon comes into the building from the soil or rock beneath it. Radon and other gases rise through the soil and get trapped under the building. The trapped gases build up pressure. Air pressure inside homes is usually lower than the pressure in the soil. Therefore, the higher pressure under the
building forces gases though floors and walls and into the building. Most of the gas moves through cracks and other openings. Once inside, the radon can become trapped and concentrated.
Openings which commonly allow easy flow of the gases in include the following:
. Cracks in floors and walls . Gaps in suspended floors
. Openings around sump pumps and drains
. Cavities in walls
. Joints in construction materials
. Gaps around utility penetrations (pipes and wires) . Crawl spaces that open directly into the building
Radon may also be dissolved in water, particularly well water. After coming from a faucet, about one ten thousandth of the radon in water is typically released into the air. The more radon there is in the water, the more it can contribute to the indoor radon level.
Trace amounts of uranium are sometimes incorporated into materials used in construction. These include, but are not limited to concrete, brick, granite, and drywall, Though these materials have the potential to produce radon, they are rarely the main cause of an elevated radon level in a building
Outdoor air that is drawn into a building can also contribute to the indoor radon level. The average outdoor air level is about 0.4 pCi/L, but it can be higher in some areas,
While radon problems may be more common in some geographic areas, any home may have an elevated radon level. New and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements can have a problem, Homes below the third floor of a multi-family building are particularly at risk,
Can the radon level in a building's air be predicted?
No, it is not possible to make a reliable prediction.
The only way to determine the level is to test. EP A and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon.
A map of radon zones has been created to help national, state, and local organizations to target their resources and to implement radon-resistant building codes. However, the map is not intended to be used for determining if a home in a given zone should be tested for radon. Homes with elevated levels of radon have been found in all three zones.
In addition, indoor radon levels vary from building to building. Do not rely on radon test results taken in other buildings in the neighborhood - even ones next door - to estimate the radon level in your building.
The National Safety Council's Radon Hotline provides a toll-free number, (800) 767-7236. Through this automated number, callers can order a brochure on radon. It contains information on ordering a low-cost short-term test kit. In addition, users are instructed to call another one of our numbers, (800) 557-2366, if they wish to speak with our information specialists. They are available to assist callers between 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (Eastern) on business days. They can answer specific questions and mail free, single copies of many radon documents, including the EPA booklet Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon.
Multiple copies of many EPA documents can be ordered through EPA's National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP), (800) 490-9198, fax (513) 489-8695. Publication requests can also be mailed, called, or faxed directly to:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP) P.O. Box 42419 Cincinnati, OH 42419
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Foam Foundation Walls
Article from the Journal of Light Construction 12/93
Submitted by Victor J. Faggella
The makers of foam foundation forms want you to believe that the fourth little pig, had there been one, would have built his house out of polystyrene and concrete. Flip through any building magazine and you'll find that the manufacturers of rigid-foam concrete forms are spending a bundle on ads extolling the virtues of their products. Is it time for you to jump in and try one of them? The 25 builders interviewed for this story noted some quality advantages to foam forms and Intend to keep on using them. But they also admitted that foundations and walls built with foam forms cost more, and that using these products involved a learning curve.
Product Choices: Most foam forms fall into one of three categories: molded, stackable blocks; sheet-foam panels; and large- core molds.
Stackable blocks typically have 2 or 3-lnch-thick expanded polystyrene sidewalls held apart by molded foam cross-members, or plastic or metal braces. They Interlock. with teeth. grooves, or Lego like knobs. Horizontal rebar is laid over the metal or plastic cross-members everyone to three courses, depending on the product; vertical rebar spacing varies with the block design and the height of backfill. The finished assembly gets braced with 2x's and the concrete placed with a pump truck.
Sheet foam systems resemble traditional concrete forms. They consist of 8- inch-high by 4-foot-long strips or 4foot by 8-foot sheets of expanded or extruded polystyrene foam connected by plastic or metal ties (some builders report that the expanded poly is more dimensionally accurate and easier to work with). Concrete is poured into the space between the foam walls just as with wooden forms. You can place concrete without a pump truck, and you only need rebar where building codes or good construction practice would require it for a conventional foundation. Sheet forms can be ordered assembled from some dealers, or you can assemble them on site. Large sections are "stitched together" quickly at butt joints by wrapping polypropylene bailing twine around plastic tie plates. Mechanical ties are also available.
Large-core molds produce what is essentially a concrete post-and-beam structure. The long cores in the foam block are aligned, and filled with rebar and concrete. Some of these cores run horizontally, some vertically. Large-core molds use less concrete than the sheet forms or blocks.
Above-grade use: Foam forms and blocks can be used above grade, too, a practice that's especially popular in the Southwest, where a growing number of builders are choosing foam forms as an alternative to wood framing. Says Bruce Bertram, a builder in Minden, Nev.: "With 2x10s varying by as much as l/2-inch in width, people are taking the alternatives more seriously." Las Vegas builder Len Steinberg chose American Con-Form Smart-Blocks for some of the above-grade walls of the "New American Home" he built for the National Association of Home Builders' February 1994 convention. His reasons included decreased wood use, greater strength, higher insulating value, and lower sound transmission.
Energy savings: One big advantage of foam-formed walls is their energy performance. One builder had peak cooling bins of $104 in July for his 2,700-square-foot Ice Block home half the amount of the highest bill in an equally sized home he had lived in earlier. And in Phoenix's severe cooling climate, another builder, who guarantees maximum annual heating and cooling bills, uses WA.M. Inc.'s Ice Block foundations as part of his energy package. ENERG CORPOne manufacturer, 3-10 Insulated Forms, actually warrants that homes built with their Polysteel system (including the foundation and above grade walls) will consume at least 70% less energy for heating and cooling than an equally sized wood-framed home that's built to code and insulated with fiberglass.
Bracing Requirements: Foam forming systems have simple but important rules that you'll need to follow for a successful job. These include:
. Securing wood guide plates to the footing
. Starting lay-up at a corner
. Staggering block joints
. Stacking cavities directly above one another
. Using adequate bracing
Bracing is one of the most critical elements of a good job. Requirements vary dramatically between manufacturers. At one extreme is U.C. Industries' R-Form, a sheet-form product that calls for horizontal wood bracing every 16 inches, inside and out. At the opposite extreme is The Greenblock Company's ArgisolGreenblock. These walls can be poured using one plumb brace every 7 feet on the interior side of the walls. Other products fall somewhere between. Gluing the blocks' tongue-and-groove joints reduces the amount of bracing needed. One builder uses about 48 tubes of a foam-compatible construction adhesive for a 1,500-square-foot basement. Bracing for wind: In windy areas, however, you may want to add extra bracing. Once a 60-foot-long by 9-foot-high wall with Lite-Forms was bowed by the wind after the concrete was placed.
These builders say that if there's any wind, you should check for plumb for several hours after the pour.
Pouring the Walls: Most pours into stackable blocks require 25% to 33% less concrete than a standard 8-inch wall, while the amount needed for sheet forms is about the same as for a standard wall. Pump trucks are nearly always used for blocks, though many builders use them on sheet forms as well - especially when pouring above grade.
Preventing blowouts: Nearly all the builders have had a few blowouts often several times on the first few foundations - yet few of these mishaps have led to more than minor delays.
Blowouts can be prevented, however. One key, say most builders, is to develop a good understanding with your concrete supplier: If the mix is too soupy, the higher pressure created by
the extra water can increase the number of leaks and blowouts. Most manufacturers recommend a 5-inch slump mix of 3,000 psi concrete. Some contractors have plasticizer added to the mix to make the concrete more slippery and help it flow around obstructions.
Eliminating voids: Some products require you to vibrate the concrete to eliminate voids. Casteel uses a needle-shaped vibrator but others have learned to improvise.
Size problems: A few builders have noted that the size of the blocks didn't measure up exactly asadvertised. That can be a problem. One 40 ft wall came up 1 inch short.
Curing: Since the insulating formwork is left in place after the pour, foam-formed walls cure at a slower rate than conventional ones. And slow curing means greater strength - manufacturers claim between 25% and 50% more strength than conventionally formed walls. Cold-climate builders like the fact that they can pour in weather down to 0 F.
Electrical and Plumbing: All foam forms are compatible with plumbing and electrical wiring, but some presetting of vents, drains, and electrical conduit may be required. Nearly every builder agreed that running electrical wires is straightforward. A router or a shaped hot knife is used to make a 3/4-inch-wide groove in the face of the foam - small enough to jam Romex into and have it bind and stay in place. Space for shallow boxes is cut out and boxes either glued or screwed to the concrete. Casteel claims that using a hot knife to make the grooves IS faster than drilling studs in standard wood framing. "We've had no complaints from our electricians and plumbers" Foundation walls can be damp proofed with a variety of products, but builders caution against using solvents because they attack the foam. Hart spilled a few drops of ABS cement and watched it eat 3/4 inch into the foam. Similarly, drywall should only be glued to foam walls with non-solvent based adhesives.
Speed and Scheduling: Most of the builders said that the forms saved them some time, though probably not much. One builder claims that while foam formed foundations take about as long as conventional ones, above grade walls are faster than wood framing because they eliminate sheathing, insulating, and vapor sealing. Eliminating the foundation sub was important to a number of small builders. Foundation contractors had five- and six-week backlogs. Now the builder's crew can set up the blocks.
Comparing Costs: Comparing different manufacturers' prices for the block alone is misleading. While the blocks cost anywhere from $2 to over $3 per square foot, there are a host of other variables. They include the size of the blocks, the amount of concrete used, as well as the engineering and labor required. The only meaningful price is the finished cost of the wall. Cost range form $5.50 to $7.50 per sq. ft
Codes and Inspections: Code acceptance isn't a problem with sheet forms like Lite-Form. Since sheet forms provide builders with a relatively conventional concrete wall - albeit sandwiched between two layers of foam they seem to be consistently and readily accepted by inspectors. Not so with stackable blocks, where acceptance varies by jurisdiction (rather than between products). One building inspector was interested, even enthusiastic, about foam block systems. Another builder had to pay up to $750 extra to have engineering done on Ice Block foundations on walkout basements. Fortunately, some builders say that the requirements for special engineering are beginning to drop away as block manufacturers gain wider code approvals. Now that EnerGCorp has their ICBO number you don't have to engineer every job. Most builders are happy with the factory support they receive.
Curveballs from Manufacturers: Most forms are made from medium-to high density expanded polystyrene (EPS), with an R-value of about 4.35 per inch. A wall with 4 or 5 inches of foam and 8 inches of concrete provides a continuous insulating value of R-18 to R-22. Unfortunately, when it comes to "effective" R-value claims, some manufacturers stretch the facts. A few go as far as to claim R-35.
Precautions should be taken to guard against regional insects, either on site or by purchasing treated foam. AFM Corporation (P.O. Box 246, Excelsior, MN 55331; 800-255- 0176) recently introduced Perform Guard, an EPS foam treated with Tim-Bor (a borate-based wood preservative effective against termites) to fend off bugs. It can be used with the Lite-Form ties.
The Bottom Line Despite the problems, most builders who have used foam forms swear by them. Some builders have sold their concrete forms. The product is better now, and there are more of them to choose from, some of which have stood the test of time. But we're still just scratching the surface of the construction industry.
See the entire article with photos in the Dec. 1993 issue of JLC
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Inspect Inspectors Before You Hire
Noreen Seebacher For The Journal News
Saturday-Sunday, June 14-15, 2003
Submitted by Tom Rooney and Joe Staub
The quality of the home inspection you get depends on the skill of the inspector you hire. But in a state like New York, where home inspection is unregulated, finding the best inspector can be a challenge. A confusing array of industry acronyms only adds to the problem. Just recently, the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHl) formed a Hudson Valley chapter for home inspectors in Westchester and Putnam counties. It is just one of multiple acronyms buyers encounter. There's ASH!, NYSAHI, NABIE and FREA; SPREI, AAHI, NIBI and HIF. For baffled buyers, one may seem to be the same as the other. There are, however, significant differences between them.
Some organizations require potential members to complete one or more tests, as well as show evidence of their training and experience. Others give membership status to anyone willing to submit an annual fee. Still others are virtually meaningless outside the home inspection industry. The acronyms represent organizations offering professional or political benefits to home inspectors. But unless they're familiar with the groups and understand the distinctions between them, buyers are likely to confuse them.
Anyone, including someone with little or no construction expertise, can offer his services as a home inspector. You don't have to hire an engineer, but you should at least be clear that the person understands residential construction.
Some buyers assess competency by the organizations in which the inspector belongs. 'There are many professional associations involved in the home inspection industry," said Dennis J. Sunday, owner of Home Inspection Systems in Brewster. "like political parties, you tend to seek out the association which best suits your needs and vision of what the industry should be." Sunday is one of the charter members of the New York Chapter of NACHI, whose members cover the Bronx, Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange and Sullivan counties. The organization currently has about 14 members, and many of them hold memberships in multiple professional groups. "Some associations are better at helping their members maintain a higher degree of professionalism, and achieve financial success," Sunday said. Others offer professional discounts for continuing education courses, reduced laboratory test fees, or referral services.
A total of 25 states, including Connecticut, license home inspectors. Connecticut law requires inspectors to have a minimum high school or equivalent education, a year of home inspection experience, a total of at least 200 home inspections, and to take a competency test. Other states are more lenient, requiring home inspectors to do little more than fill out a registration form and submit it with the required fee.
In New York, there have been several attempts to regulate home inspectors, but none has become law. That makes it especially important for New York home buyers to understand the differences between the acronyms professional inspectors may use in their advertising and marketing materials. The best time to learn is before you need to hire an inspector.
"Home inspections have become as much a part of the home buying process as the mortgage and appraisal. However, the selection of an inspector is too often left to the last minute and done without a full understanding of what constitutes a quality inspection," said ASHI President Rich Matzen, owner of a Seattle-based home inspection service. Matzen said buyers should search for a qualified inspector while they're still looking at homes. "Many times, consumers will spend weeks searching for the best loan, as well they should, only to take the first inspector to be recommended by their real estate agent or friend. We urge consumers to exercise great care," he said.
Both NACHI and ASHI - the American Society of Home Inspectors - require members to pass proficiency exams and meet other criteria, such as participating in ongoing education. The two organizations share similar goals, and follow almost identical standards of practice.
- ASHI requires members to perform a minimum of 250 paid professional home inspections and successfully complete two written examinations that test knowledge of building systems and components, report writing, the ASHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, and the diagnosis of building defects. The organization, founded in 1976, is headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill.
- NACHI offers a base membership to anyone who passes a free online exam and promises to abide by its Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics while actively working toward full membership. Full members are required to complete at least 100 home inspections, and maintain ongoing professional education. NACHI is based in Valley Forge, Pa.
- NYSAHI -- New York State Association of Home Inspectors - represents home inspectors. Unlike NACHI or ASH!, it is not a certifying or qualifying organization. Rather, it was founded to ensure that any regulatory initiatives represented the inspection industry's best interests.
- NABIE - the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers - is a chartered affinity group of the National Society of Professional Engineers. It represents the interests of professional engineers who work as home inspectors. In lieu of licensing or other regulation, some buyers find hiring an engineer to do a home inspection as a guarantee of a certain level of knowledge.
- FREA - the Foundation of Real Estate Appraisers - offers inspectors benefits like discounted errors and emissions insurance as well as continuing education.
- SPREI - 'The Society of Professional Real Estate Inspectors is a national organization dedicated to providing continuing education to inspectors. "Anyone who is interested in improving his or her skills as an inspector is welcome to join. SPREI does not require past experience or background in the home inspection profession," the organization states.
- AAHI - The American Association of Home Inspectors - is a professional organization that certifies Horne Inspectors who meet educational and/ or experience criteria.
- NIBI - The National Institute of Building Inspectors - certifies inspectors. It requires them to complete a training course and fieldwork, and participate in a yearly re-certification program.
- HIF - the Housing Inspection Foundation - requires applicants to complete 50 inspections and submit a $195 fee.
No matter what designations home inspectors use, ask questions before hiring anyone. "It's the same as in the medical or legal profession. Everyone may share the same professional designation, but some are top notch, some are mediocre and some are poor," said Victor J. Faggella, owner of Centurion Home Inspections in Mahopac and a former ASHI Inspector of the Year.
. Ask for credentials. Is the inspector an engineer, a former home builder or a retired plumber who thinks he knows just as much about electricity and roofing as his own trade?
. Find out if the inspector has liability insurance, particularly for errors and omissions. An inspector without such coverage is likely to close up shop if the purchase leads to a lawsuit.
. Ask what the inspection will include. An exceptionally thorough inspection will include a check for environmental hazards in the neighborhood.
. Ask how long the inspection will take. A thorough inspection of even a small house should take at least 2 to 2.5 hours.
. Ask if you can be present during the inspection. It helps familiarize you with the house and any potential concerns or problems.
. Shop around. Get recommendations from your real estate agent, but keep in mind she probably represents the seller. You may get more objective information from your mortgage lender, family and friends.
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