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Hiring a Home Inspector

June 26, 2019

For a Quick Response
CALL or TEXT Martin at:
(250) 661-7363

Hiring a Home Inspector

Protect Your Home Purchase by Hiring a Professional Home Inspector

If you are like most people, purchasing a home will be the biggest single expenditure of your lifetime. To protect your purchase, it is very important to have an independent and knowledgeable building or home inspection done on your potential home. This is not a time for emotion to control, but for logic to rule. And don’t scrimp on the quality of inspection to save money – this could cost you a lot more in the future. A good inspector is worth their price.

A seller will usually put ‘their best foot forward’ when it comes to showing the home, so it’s important that the home inspection is thorough enough to alert you of any problems (some difficult to spot) that could cost you money after you make your purchase.

What Does a Home Inspector Do?

A home inspector’s job is to assess the condition of the building and advise on anything dangerous; anything that could cause problems in the future and report on aspects of the building that will need future and potentially costly maintenance (the roof for example). If you’ve watched the popular TV series ‘Holmes Inspection’ featuring Mike Holmes, you will know that it is important to ask the right questions about your potential home inspector. Here are a few of the things a good inspector should do:

  • Provide a visual inspection of the home’s interior including electrical, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, plumbing, insulation, flooring, foundation, ceiling and walls, windows and doors. A home inspector is not qualified to inspect a wood-burning appliance such as a fireplace or wood stove unless they are WETT (Wood Energy Technology Training) certified. This may also incur an additional cost.
  • Inspect exterior components including roofing, flashing, chimneys, gutters, downspouts, wall surfaces, windows, doors, the foundation and the grading around it. Most inspectors will not venture onto a roof due to safety issues but will inspect from a ladder or the ground.

Since an inspector cannot damage the home, his inspection is normally visual. Where possible they may make use of devices such as moisture meters, spot thermometers and thermal cameras to help them in their work. Unless otherwise arranged, a typical inspection does not include appraisals, exact quotes for repairs, or determine compliance with regulatory requirements. A home inspection is not intended to provide warranties or guarantees.

A typical inspection can take up to three hours. Most inspectors will provide a written report, and do a walkthrough with you. Of course, an inspection is best done in the daylight, when problems are easier to spot.

In the province of BC, home inspectors must be licensed. Reputable building and home inspectors generally belong to a provincial or regional industry association. The Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI) is one such association. Its members must abide by a standard of practice and code of ethics as well as undertake ongoing education to help ensure the competency and professionalism of its home inspectors.

Some Points to Watch For When Choosing a Home Inspector:

  • Your inspector should work for you alone and not have any ties to the seller or incentives from the real estate agent.
  • Your inspector should have been in business long enough to gain experience and ideally have worked in one or more of the building trades. Don’t forget to ask to see a copy of their license to practice in BC.
  • Ask for several references for their work. If possible, call the references to find out if they were happy with their inspection.
  • ‘Google’ their name to see if anything untoward comes up, and check them with the Consumer Protection Authority and their professional association such as CAHPIBC and other community work associations.
  • Check their website for information and testimonials.
  • Are they offering to do repair work on the home? If so, make sure their license allows them to do so and get at least two other quotes.

In the end, nothing will guarantee that you will have ‘smooth sailing’ when it comes to your home inspection. If you follow the above guidelines, however, you will go a long way toward ensuring that your choice of building or home inspector will be a good one and that they will deliver the information you need to make a wise purchase.

Also read: Hiring a Home InspectorAluminum Wiring in Your HomeChecking for Molds in Your HomeLeaky CondosHome Inspection Companies in Victoria BCWhat to Do With a Wet BasementVictoria Home Inspection

We provide you the most comprehensive, professional home inspectionavailable in the industry. Locally owned and operated, Fairhome Building Inspections is committed to providing the highest level of professional service to every client, every time.

Martin Kent
Fairhome Building Inspections Inc.
ADDRESS
2500 Cadboro Bay Rd Victoria, BC V8R 5H9
PHONE
(250) 661-7363

Aluminum Wiring in Your Home

June 26, 2019

For a Quick Response
CALL or TEXT Martin at:
(250) 661-7363

Aluminum Wiring in Your Home

How Safe is Aluminum Wiring?

Aluminum electrical wiring was installed in some homes and multi-family dwellings as early as the mid-1960s, but mostly during the 1970s.

Aluminum wiring is considered to be less safe than copper wiring under some circumstances. The problem is not so much with the aluminum but with the connections. Aluminum wiring acts as a partial electrical insulator. This can result in higher temperatures at connections (depending on the amount of power used). Aluminum will also expand and contract more than copper wire with the same temperature change. This can increase the stress at connection points. Aluminum is also more brittle than copper and can develop micro cracks at the surfaces. These attributes can increase the chances of a fire.

Due to safety concerns, in 1977, the Government of Ontario established a Commission of Inquiry on the use of aluminum wiring in the home. Following a thorough investigation, over a period of 18 months, the Commission recommended that aluminum wiring should continue to be authorized for residential use.

Do You Have Aluminum Wiring in Your Home?

According to the British Columbia Safety Authority, it is estimated that there are over 450,000 homes in Canada that are wired with aluminum wiring. Check your wiring by looking between open floor joists, in the basement or attic or at the service panel. If the wiring is aluminum and was manufactured before 1977, the outer covering of the cable will be marked, at least every 12 inches, with the word ALUMINUM, or an abbreviation, ALUM, or AL. If the cable was manufactured after May 1977, the marking may be either ALUMINUM ACM, ALUM ACM, or AL ACM.

You may find that a mixture of aluminum and copper wiring is installed in your home. If your home has aluminum wiring and you need to replace a switch or wall receptacle, the replacement device recommended to install has been of a type that is specifically approved for use with aluminum wiring. Devices approved for the use bear the marking “CO/ALR” and CSA. This means “Copper Aluminum Revised” to differentiate these devices from earlier models. The CO/ALR marking identifies the equipment as having been tested and found suitable for use with aluminum or copper wiring by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Updating is typically required at all outlet receptacles and switches.

“Pigtailing” is a term used to connect copper tails at working connections. Typical locations for pigtailing would be at light fixtures, major appliance receptacles and GFCI receptacles for example. In order to connect copper pigtails to aluminum, special connectors are used along with a special paste to stop a chemical reaction. Ask your electrical contractor what he recommends for upgrading at all working connections.

Signs of Possible Concern

If you notice any of the following conditions in your home, the causes should be investigated:

  • warm faceplates on switches or receptacles;
  • strange or distinctive odours in the vicinity of receptacles or switches;
  • persistent but intermittent flickering of lights that can’t be traced to the appliance or other external causes
  • unusual static on radio or television.

Because of the specialized knowledge and techniques required for working with aluminum wiring, it is recommended that any retro-fitting be done by a qualified electrician. If you are considering purchasing a home, make sure that inspection for aluminum wiring is a part of the process. Aluminum wiring need not be of undue concern as long as you have it properly inspected.

Also read: Hiring a Home InspectorAluminum Wiring in Your HomeChecking for Molds in Your HomeLeaky CondosHome Inspection Companies in Victoria BCWhat to Do With a Wet BasementVictoria Home Inspection

We provide you the most comprehensive, professional home inspectionavailable in the industry. Locally owned and operated, Fairhome Building Inspections is committed to providing the highest level of professional service to every client, every time.

Martin Kent
Fairhome Building Inspections Inc.
ADDRESS
2500 Cadboro Bay Rd Victoria, BC V8R 5H9
PHONE
(250) 661-7363

Checking for Molds in Your Home

June 26, 2019

For a Quick Response
CALL or TEXT Martin at:
(250) 661-7363

Checking for Molds in Your Home

Types of Molds

If you are buying a new home, one of the most important aspects your inspection should cover is mold. Mold – both visible and invisible – can be very detrimental to your family’s health. Unfortunately, many home environments encourage molds. Even modern home design can in some cases contribute to the growth of molds if the home is built too tightly (not properly ventilated). New homes can also suffer from molds due to moisture created by evaporation from concrete and lumber.

Molds can appear and feel powdery or cottony, and be green, gray, brown, black, white, or a combination of these colors. Molds growing on textiles are called mildew (technically the same). Some molds produce extremely potent toxins called mycotoxins that can cause serious health effects. This includes certain of the dangerous “toxic black molds”. These molds are not to be confused with many black molds that are common in homes – particularly in bathrooms and basements. If in doubt, get expert advice.

In order to grow, molds need moisture, suitable temperature, and organic materials for food. They grow on just about anything including paper products, ceiling tiles, wood products, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, and fabric. They produce spores (seeds), which carried through the air, can form new colonies wherever they land.

Controlling moisture is very important if you are to successfully battle molds. Basements and crawlspaces are prime areas for mold since concrete is actually porous. Water seeps in through the pores in concrete, in the form of invisible water vapor. Capillary action in the concrete also contributes to moisture. In fact, the average basement can let in more moisture than your bathroom and kitchen combined. Signs of seepage include white powdery deposits on the foundation wall.

Musty odors in basements are often caused by hidden molds living on organic matter. These emit water, carbon dioxide, and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) like alcohols and aldehydes. When inhaled, these chemicals irritate respiratory passages. You cannot deal with these musty smells with air fresheners. You need to treat them at the source.

If you have a wet basement, dealing with the causes of the moisture will ensure that molds don’t get a chance to grow. It’s also important to control other mold hot spots by regularly cleaning your fridge (and drip tray), humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and air-conditioning condensing units.

Removing Molds

Be very careful if you tackle molds since they release particles and mold spores when disturbed. Wear a mask or respirator, gloves, goggles, and coveralls. If the mold growth exceeds 10 sq. ft., calling in a mold remediation professional is recommended. Damaged sheetrock or paneling, and moldy porous items like carpets, clothing, and upholstered furniture may have to be discarded.

As far as household cleaning solutions, chlorine bleach should be avoided or used with caution. It is highly caustic to skin and the fumes are a lung and eye irritant. In addition, it is not very effective as it lacks penetration and its effects don’t last. Better remedies for household use are available for dealing with surface moulds.

Negative Health Effects

The documented health problems associated with mold exposure include allergy, infection, irritation and toxicity. Mold spores can trigger or aggravate asthma, particularly, in children. The incidence of allergies and asthma has doubled in the last decade, which has been linked to the increase in airborne molds in modern “energy efficient” homes.

While it may be difficult to eliminate molds completely, reducing the concentration of molds in your home will have a positive effect on reducing the incidence of infection and allergic reactions your family experiences. Again, if you are unsure what kind of mold you are dealing with, get it inspected by a professional.

Also read: Hiring a Home InspectorAluminum Wiring in Your HomeChecking for Molds in Your HomeLeaky CondosHome Inspection Companies in Victoria BCWhat to Do With a Wet BasementVictoria Home Inspection

We provide you the most comprehensive, professional home inspectionavailable in the industry. Locally owned and operated, Fairhome Building Inspections is committed to providing the highest level of professional service to every client, every time.

Martin Kent
Fairhome Building Inspections Inc.
ADDRESS
2500 Cadboro Bay Rd Victoria, BC V8R 5H9
PHONE
(250) 661-7363

What to Do With a Wet Basement

June 26, 2019

For a Quick Response
CALL or TEXT Martin at:
(250) 661-7363

What to Do With a Wet Basement

Wet Basements Top Homeowner Complaints

Wet basements are top of the list for complaints by homeowners. According to The American Society of Home Inspectors, over 60% have moisture seepage of one kind or another and 38% have a molds problem. The three primary ways that basements collect moisture are leakage through cracks and openings, seepage through concrete and condensation.

Signs of Moisture

If you are purchasing a new home, these are some of the signs of moisture you should be watching for:

  • dampness at the base of walls
  • rust at the base of steel posts or the heater
  • stains, discoloration or decay on wood partitions, paneling, drywall, wood posts
  • efflorescence (“white powder”) on the concrete
  • peeling floor tiles or mildewed carpeting
  • stains or mildew on objects stored on the floor
  • damp smell in the carpeting and finishes
  • musty smell indicates that molds or mildew have already taken hold
  • condensation on windows and concrete
  • plugged or damaged rain gutters
  • improper grading, pooling of water, and the growth of moss.

Concrete is Porous

Concrete is naturally porous. And while the pores are too small to see, they are huge when compared to water molecules. Under normal circumstances, concrete will keep water out, however, pressure – for example, from a rainstorm – can push it through. In addition, condensation on the interior can cause the wall to get wet causing sorption. The pores then draw in water from outside by wicking action.

If you have a wet basement, it is important to rule out sources within the house such as a leaky plumbing system, water heater, washing machine, or malfunction of the cooling system. During the summer months, condensation on cold water piping and on cool foundation walls can also be mistaken for leakage. It is important to address these issues. For example, water piping can be wrapped with the appropriate insulation.

High Humidity Can Contribute to a Wet Basement

High humidity in the home can also contribute to a wet basement. This can give molds, mildew, dust mites, and other biological contaminants the moisture they need to grow. Ideally you will want to keep the humidity in the home within certain limits. The recommended target is 30% relative humidity in winter or 50% in summer. To measure humidity, you can purchase an inexpensive hygrometer.

If the problem is your foundation, it may be due to its initial construction. Most residential foundation walls are damp proofed but notwaterproofed. Damp proofing is usually done at the time the building is constructed. In many cases, an asphalt coating is painted on the exterior of the foundation to prevent seepage. However, this does not always work.

The cure could be an expensive one, however, before spending money on your foundation, ensure that water does not get near your foundation in the first place. Water from the roof should be directed away from the house with proper gutters and downspouts, and any pooling should be redirected away from the home through proper landscaping. Even houses with porous foundation walls and no drainage tiles will not leak if the surface water flows away form the house and is not allowed to saturate the soil around the building. Also check for obvious cracks in the foundation wall. Often these can be repaired from the inside.

A damp basement is something to be avoided at all costs. Inspect a new home carefully before your purchase. If you do have to deal with a damp basement, make sure to take a careful assessment of the situation and eliminate the simplest causes first. Do your research and get professional advice. In the case of advice, get three opinions from reputable contractors before you invest in costly remedies.

Also read: Hiring a Home InspectorAluminum Wiring in Your HomeChecking for Molds in Your HomeLeaky CondosHome Inspection Companies in Victoria BCWhat to Do With a Wet BasementVictoria Home Inspection

 

We provide you the most comprehensive, professional home inspectionavailable in the industry. Locally owned and operated, Fairhome Building Inspections is committed to providing the highest level of professional service to every client, every time.

Martin Kent
Fairhome Building Inspections Inc.
ADDRESS
2500 Cadboro Bay Rd Victoria, BC V8R 5H9
PHONE
(250) 661-7363

Leaky Condos

June 26, 2019

For a Quick Response
CALL or TEXT Martin at:
(250) 661-7363

Leaky Condos

Leaky Condos – Some History in BC

Having a leaky condo is no fun. Just ask thousands of folks in BC who got stuck with this problem. Some blame the provincial government who in the late 1980’s began requiring air-tight building systems. Before that, homes could breathe more easily, allowing moisture to escape. As an architect I know once said, “it’s almost impossible to keep water out of a home, so you have to allow it a way to escape”.

In contrast, in 1998 the Barrett government established a commission on leaky condos and placed the blame on poor design and construction including the following:

  • The need to effectively manage drainage and importance of air barriers in a complete wall system
  • The misuse of face-sealed systems and lack of rain-screen provisions
  • Inadequate roofing design
  • Penetration through poorly designed open walkways and balconies
  • The absence of roof overhangs
  • Complex design components such as visually appealing  joints and arched windows which are prone to failure

Certainly, changes in building design from the more traditional west coast features like wider overhanging roofs which kept rain away, to California style architecture – including flat roofs – that were less suited to our damper climate had an impact. Combine this with changes to the building code and a recipe for the current disaster was created.

So what can you do to protect yourself if you are considering buying a condo today? In a study conducted in 2002 that was partially funded by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, real estate agent Nancy Bain came up with the following checklist:

  • A Property Disclosure Statement
  • An inspection by a professional property inspector
  • Minutes of strata corporation meetings
  • Since July 2000, a Form B Information Certificate
  • An engineering report

However, Ms. Bain notes that “All of the investigative tools have shortcomings, individually and collectively.” Therefore it is crucial that you do your research carefully. I would add a couple more items to her list: use a qualified and experienced realtor with knowledge of the buildings in the area, and talk to current owners to find out if they have had any water issues with their condos.

New Techniques to Prevent Leaky Condo Syndrome

Thankfully, there are new techniques gaining in popularity that can prevent ‘leaky condo syndrome’. One example is rain screen technology. It works like this: the exterior wall deflects most of the water that contacts the wall. However, a cavity is provided behind exterior cladding so that if water penetrates, it reaches the cavity and cannot move further into the wall assembly. Instead, water in the cavity will drain down on the inside face of the cladding or on the waterproof membrane at the other side of the cavity, to be deflected outside. The rain screen acts both as a moisture break and an air space, preventing water from becoming trapped inside the walls, and making sure the frame dries completely after the water drains off.

Some buildings may employ varying types of rain screen technologies depending when they were built or remediated. Some older buildings may employ a combination of exterior systems. Many older buildings with exterior stucco siding appear to be standing up well to our environment. It depends on the design of the building, flashing details, how well the exterior has been maintained over the years etc.

Your building inspector or home inspector should be on the lookout for visible signs of problems. If concerns are raised, further evaluation may be recommended. However, some buildings do not show any visible signs of moisture intrusion yet they develop problems. This is why buildings in question require ‘destructive testing’ and monitoring by specialists, usually over several months or even years to evaluate their condition. This is not a job your building inspector or home inspector can undertake.

If you are buying a new condo, ask your developer and building inspector or home inspector if they are employing rain screen technology. And if you are considering purchasing an established condo, ask your home inspector or building inspector if there appears to be a rain screen in place. Do your research carefully and seek qualified advice before you purchase. It could save you considerable emotional and financial cost.

Also read: Hiring a Home InspectorAluminum Wiring in Your HomeChecking for Molds in Your HomeLeaky CondosHome Inspection Companies in Victoria BCWhat to Do With a Wet BasementVictoria Home Inspection

 

We provide you the most comprehensive, professional home inspectionavailable in the industry. Locally owned and operated, Fairhome Building Inspections is committed to providing the highest level of professional service to every client, every time.

Martin Kent
Fairhome Building Inspections Inc.
ADDRESS
2500 Cadboro Bay Rd Victoria, BC V8R 5H9
PHONE
(250) 661-7363

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We provide you the most comprehensive, professional home inspectionavailable in the industry. Locally owned and operated, Fairhome Building Inspections is committed to providing the highest level of professional service to every client, every time.

Martin Kent
Fairhome Building Inspections Inc.
ADDRESS
2500 Cadboro Bay Rd Victoria, BC V8R 5H9
PHONE
(250) 661-7363

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