Month: September 2009

The Door between the Garage and the Home: Your first line of Defense

The door between the garage and the home can be a very important part of fire safety in modern homes.  The issue that I routinely run into as a home inspector is this fact has only been an accepted building technique since the early 80s.  If a home was built before that, chances are that the door is not a “fire rated door.” The garage is a great place for a fire to start.  As far as house fires go,  the garage is where a vast majority of fires are started.  Paint cans, gasoline, natural gas appliances are all things that are usually in garages and are great for burning the house down.

If a fire does start in the garage a proper fire rated door and properly constructed fire wall are the best lines of defense to allow you to make your escape before the fire comes into the home.

There are a few ways to tell if your door has been updated.  Most solid-core and metal doors are fire rated.  There can also be a little metal tag on the hinge side of the door that will give some more information.

The pictures show what a hollow-core door looks like with thermal imaging/Infrared.  The strips you can see are actually sections of cardboard.

Jim Allhiser President/Inspector

“Always on the cutting edge”

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Pest and dry rot?? More confusing real estate terms (part 2 of 3)

What is “pest and dry rot?” Seriously I am a home inspector, shouldn’t I know to what these

terms are referring?

The words, “pest and dry rot,” are really confusing to this poor home inspector. What exactly is a pest? I know a family here in Salem, Oregon that has the south side of their home covered in box elder bug

s every year! They do not do any damage to the home (they eat tree sap) but they definitely qualify as pests.

To limit the confusion with these terms I try to not use them. I will always trade P&D with WDO

(wood destroying organism report).

Spiders, box elder

Not even close to a Wood Destroying Organism

bugs, nosy neighbors can all be terrible pests however they will not destroy your home.

Carpenter ants, wood boring beetles, termites, fungal deterioration will be part of my report and they are what home owners need to pay close attention too and control aggressively.

Pest and dry rot Wood Destroying Organism Part 1

P and D Wood Destroying Organisms Part 3

Not even close to a Wood Destroying Organism.

Appriaser thinks he is an inspector and burns down the home!

This week I had the misfortune of inspecting a home while a piece of appraiser did his “work.”
This excuse for a person spoke to the buyer’s agent about me right in front of me while never bothering to even look in my direction.  He told the poor agent that he would need access to the crawl space, that had a piece of wood screwed in place. (like she could do anything about the screws?)  She asked me if I would be so gracious as to remove the lid for her/him.  I told her that I would be glad to rent my screw driver to the highest bidder.

I save the crawl space till very last so this appraiser was all done with his work way before I was ready to go in the crawl space and again, although I was standing right there, he looked right past me and asked the poor agent, “…can we could get this panel off of the crawl space.”   She looked pleadingly at me and I looked at the dude and pretended like I didn’t know what was going on.  Finally he asked me if I could open the panel for him.  I told him that it is a real bummer when you don’t bring the right tools to work with you and that I knew where he could rent a screw driver…….

After the appraiser left the inspection continued and at one point the agent mentioned that he had said that although the attic had insulation there was very little and that the owner could add insulation.  That is typical on a 1920 house until I opened the attic access panel…..

The picture shows knob-and-tube wiring that is in contact and covered with cellulose insulation.  Knob-and-tube (KT) is the original type wiring that was run in this 1920s home and it can be prone to heating up while it is under load.  Covering this wiring with insulation can cause heat to build and is a very really fire safety concern.  So the moral of the story is: Appraisers please don’t comment on things you do not know about.  If I hadn’t been there to tell my client why insulating the attic was a bad idea who knows what would have happened.

I don’t mean to gripe, but I get a bad taste in my mouth when a total stranger feels it is necessary to be rude to me.  Get to know me first.  Then if you must be rude to me, at least you have a good reason!

Jim Allhiser President/Inspector

“Always on the cutting edge”

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Your Cat is Killing this Salem, Oregon Home Inspector and Your Home’s Crawlspace

Part of my job is crawling around under
people’s homes.  This is by far the
nastiest part of being a home inspector here in Salem, Oregon.
Most of the ti
me crawl spaces are really not all that bad.  Spiders, yes but in the Salem, Oregon area we
have very few seriously poisonous ones.
Spiders don’t chew on your
home and I am quite a bit bigger than most of
them so, they don’t bother me that much.

cats can get access, things get really nasty.
Your fluffy-wuffy

uses crawlspaces for a litter box, urinal, and
graveyard.  Yep, it can get nasty when
old Garfield can get under your home.

only does Mr Snookums defecate in the areas I need to crawl, he also shreds and
disconnects ducts, and crawls between the heated floor and the insulation and
ruins the fiberglass insulation.

there are signs or other critters: rats, mice, raccoons, opossums.  They all like crawlspaces but it seems that,
per capita, the cats have market share on shear crawlspace destruct


Jim Allhiser President/Inspector

“Always on the cutting edge”

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Pest and Dry Rot? What is That?? Explanations of some confusing Salem, Oregon real estate terms.

Pest and Dry Rot.  Seems like some pretty straight forward items eh?  Actually this can be a little more confusing than you might think.

Pest and Dry Rot is an unbelievably ambiguous term that gets thrown around a lot during the course of a real estate transaction.  To limit the amount of confusion lets dissect the parts and expectations of a Pest and Dry Rot inspection:

Most of the time, around Salem, Oregon the “P and D,” is what loan companies want to see (if anything) as far as the inspections.  So right from the start, things can get weird.  Unlike an appraiser I, the home inspector, do not work for the loan company.  My contract is with my clients (usually the buyers) and I do an inspection for my client’s benefit.  I do not care about what a loan company finds important, they did not hire me.

What is a pest?  I have had neighbors that definitely qualify as pests.  I have even known some real estate agents and mortgage officers that might fall under that guise.  So how am I, your well meaning home inspector, supposed to comment on Pests?  Stay tuned and I will further delve into what this term actually means……:

Wood Destroying Organisms Part 2

Wood Destroying Organisms Part 3

Jim Allhiser President/Inspector

“Always on the cutting edge”

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Brand New Clothes Dryer Technology for Salem, Oregon Homes

As part of my business model I try to constantly stay on top of and educate myself on the very latest in information that is out there in regards to home inspections, building science, home maintenance, appliances and so on.  A large part of this education recently has been a “green” movement that hopes to do more with less and improve efficiencies in general.

One of these brand new technologies has to do with clothes drying.  This technology, unlike most “green” innovations actually is cost effective.  It is relatively inexpensive and it can even pay for itself in a few short months. (unlike most other “green” products)

I am happy to share this wonderful advancement I spotted in Salem, Oregon with you and I hope that you will keep me up-to-date if you see a wonderful industry disruptive technology.

Jim Allhiser President/Inspector

“Always on the cutting edge”

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Appraise this

I have noticed that recently appraisers are starting to
look at the condition of homes.  Although
I have no real issue with this practice I am curious about the training that
these appraisers have obtained that allows them to comment on rot, deterioration, electrical, plumbing
and various other issues.

While doing a
home inspection here in Keizer, Oregon the other day, the client and agent mentioned that the
appraiser had commented on the rot in the siding at the front and side of the
home.  This was good and I did not disagree but what about
the large section of garage door trim that you could stick your finger

through?  The appraiser apparently missed
that section.

I am not
concerned for my job as an independent home inspector/ consultant.  I am just curious about the direction of the appraisal industry.  I have no training and very
little knowledge about home values, so I try to not comment on, or even pay
attention to home prices.  I thought the inverse might be true for appraisers.  There is no
doubt that an untrained person could recognize significant deterioration in the
siding but what about the termite infestation at the very back of the stairs
that was not recognized because the person has no training on wood destroying
organisms?  Does that not become a condition of the loan?

I guess I am just venting/wondering out loud.  Where do you think this issue/appraisal industry is headed?

Jim Allhiser President/Inspector

“Always on the cutting edge”

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Thermal Imaging/Infrared sees electrical issues before problems occur on a South Salem Home Inspection

I was doing a home inspection the other day on a very nice, and newer home here in south Salem today.  The home had very few minor issues but one thing popped out when I used the thermal camera to scan the master bedroom.

The circuit did not appear to be hot enough to cause a fire however there was no significant load on this circuit and it should not have been heating-up.  As it turns out there was a loose wire in the heated outlet in the picture.  The heat was produced because of the looseness/resistance of the connection.

Just another issue that can be easily resolved with the help of thermal imagining/Infrared.

Jim Allhiser President/Inspector

“Always on the cutting edge”

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On-line Billboards for this Salem, Oregon Home Inspector

I was telling my father about my on-line marketing and how it was effective at driving business and contacts to me for very little money.  I was telling him that my blog and FaceBook are serious tools that allow me to be found when I am doing other things (like home inspections!)  He mentioned that he really had no idea what I was taking about.  So I started to think about my understanding of this on-line world that I have so-far been able to leverage.

I watched the movie, “I love you man,” the other day and I got to thinking about billboards.  In the movie, the real estate agent’s friend puts up all kinds of silly billboards for his friend.  The advertising was very visible and really got the agent noticed.

I told my dad that blogging and networking on-line was kind of like that.  I put up a billboard in cyberspace every time I write a blog or post a comment.  The freeway on and off ramps are controlled by search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN).  If you are looking for, say a Home inspection in Salem Oregon, for instance, you would drive your car into cyberspace and ask one of those engines to show you where to go and the applicable billboards.

Now to back track a little;  the way a search engines work is by continually cruising around on those freeways.  They all have little robots or spiders that are driving around looking at billboards that are being erected in cyberspace.  They take note of these billboards and catalog them according to what is on the billboards and where the billboards point.  The more entries the spider robots get in their catalogs that point at one place, the higher they rank that location for those terms.

Of course that is a very down and dirty explanation of things and there can be a significant amount of refinement and development.  That is a basic idea of how Search Engine Optimization works.  The point of this; is that blogging and on-line social networking is very inexpensive compared to real world (as opposed to cyber-world) advertising.  For much less than $1000 dollars a year I have easily doubled my business and done my fair share of puttin’ my name out there where it is going to be seen.


Jim Allhiser  President/Inspector

“Always on the cutting edge”

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