General

Thermal imaging/Infrared helps to find Siding Leakage

Siding systems are continually evolving, changing and sometimes improving as new materials are developed and new understandings in building envelopes are improved.

We are always looking for the sidings that need less maintenance, are inexpensive and, are easy to install with very little instruction. Those three attributes fuel the evolution of sidings and over the years some have been great and some have not been so good. In the last 20 years there has been a siding that has worked well in other parts of the country but has failed so consistently in the northwest it has actually been banned in Oregon! This wonderful siding is very adept at allowing water into the wall cavity while appearing visually good.

Synthetic stucco, Exterior Insulating Finishing Systems (EIFS), or even by the brand name “Dry-vit.”

Like most siding systems the problems arise with poor installation. Lack of proper installation training appears to be at the heart of the problems with EIFS. If EIFS is installed precisely and maintained aggressively, it can shed water properly.

Perfect installation is very rare. So rare, that I have only seen one home that had a proper EIFS installation and the home had just undergone a $100,000+ insurance claim siding remodel that involved forensic siding specialists!

If you are going to buy a home that is covered in EIFS you should plan on having an inspection that will include invasive probing. The foam boards that make up the substrate can be a very clever thermal barrier…

EIFS is still allowed on commercial buildings and on a recent inspection in Salem, my clients did not negotiate for invasive probing and thankfully the pictures that the thermal camera captured made the total replacement of the siding a compelling option:

Infrared finds leakage in Stucco
Leakage in Siding noted with Infrared/ thermal imaging
Visual view of the EFIS stucco siding      The blue is the moisture that can be located with infrared/thermal imaging
Blue = leakage noted with Infrared/ thermal Imaging
More Infrared located leakage

How can I Buy Agent Referrals? Or Why I don’t give out Chocolates and Pens.

A few years ago the Construction Contractor’s Board did some revising to one section of their “Standards of Practice for Home Inspections.”  The section referred to gifts or rewards for the purposes of referrals.  It was always a little ambiguous and in order to clear up some confusion they posted 4 pages worth of, “what the rule really means.”

If you would like to read the post in its entirety it is here: http://ccbed.ccb.state.or.us/WebPDF/CCB/Publications/HI_FAQs.pdf

Here are the highlights as I see it:

2. May a home inspector advertise on a website

containing listings for homes for sale? In general, the

answer is yes. However, if the website is maintained by a

real estate agent and the home inspector buys the

advertisement to induce the real estate agent to refer

business to the home inspector, the practice is prohibited.

3. May a home inspector advertise on a real estate agent’s

website if the home inspector did not pay for the

advertisement? Yes, so long as the home inspector did not

pay the real estate agent nor give the real estate agent

anything of value.

10. May a home inspector share the cost of joint

advertising with a real estate agent? No. The real estate

agent would receive the benefit of the reduced cost of

advertising. Joint advertising likely implies a recommendation

of the home inspector by the real estate agent.

11. May a home inspector hand out to the general public

pens, notepads, magnets, coffee mugs, calendars,

candies or similar items with the home inspector’s

name? Yes. The rules do not prohibit home inspectors from

providing items of nominal or actual value to the general

public or to potential or actual customers.

12. May a home inspector deliver to a realty agent pens,

notepads, magnets, coffee mugs, calendars, candies or

similar items with the home inspector’s name? No.

Since the items are likely to be used or consumed by the

realty agent, the implicit purpose is to encourage a referral.

The conduct is prohibited. It does not matter that the items

may have only a nominal or small value. The rule does not

distinguish on the basis of the value of the items.

20. May a home inspector with a booth at a realty agent

trade show offer a (relatively modest) door prize torealty agents?

No. Since the door prize is intended for

realty agents, to obtain business referrals, the conduct is

prohibited.

21. May a home inspector with a booth at a realty agent

trade show offer chocolate candies to the realty

agents? No. Since the chocolate candies are intended for

realty agents, to obtain business referrals, the conduct is

prohibited. The new rule does not distinguish on the basis of

the value of the item provided.

22. May a home inspection company that operates on a

national or regional basis hold a contest or drawing,

open both to the general public and to realty agents,

and give out randomly won prizes? Yes. Presumably,

there is no distinction between entrants, be they realty agents

or other members of the general public. (There may be other

government regulations that restrict contests or drawings.

Our answer does not address those laws.)

These rules and definitions come from a good place.  There is no good that comes from buying referrals.  Inspectors that do not precisly understand that they are contracted to protect the client’s interest may have feelings that they are there to help the referring agent.  This only creates bad feelings and distrust throughout the entire realestate process.

My main referral source is the great agents that recommend me to their clients.  The only reason these wonderful agents recommend me is because I protect their clients and, indirectly, their good name and real estate license.  These agents realize that even though deals may fall apart by the time I am done it is because of the home’s condition and the inability of the buyer and seller to come together.  For better or for worse their clients should know as much as possible about their home before the deal closes.

Seller’s inspections are good for everyone!

Buyer: “I do not want that home.”

Listing agent: “….but the defect in the roof is relatively minor, and can be fixed for a few hundred dollars.”

Buyer: “If the contractors did this wrong who knows where else they cut corners!”
fungus growing on roof sheathing on this new home Missing building paper on this home's roof in Dallas Oregon.  Noted on a home inspection.
This situation happens more often than you would think. A good home inspector is paid to enter a home and tell the client about how the home works and how the house compares to a perfect house. Home inspectors that have been in the business for some time rely heavily on professionals in the real estate field who refer us. Finding relatively small material defects that cause our clients to want to scrap the deal happens more often than most of us would prefer. Our client’s risk tolerance is not up for us to decide and a relatively minor defect in one person’s eyes can be looming shadow over the entire rest of the house in another’s.

To combat the dreaded “surprise defects,” seller’s inspections have become more and more popular. In my opinion these inspections are one of the best things that can be done by a seller to prepare their home to sell.

There is no such thing as a “perfect” home. This is one the first things that I tell a client, whether they’re buying or selling a home. The purpose of a good home inspection is to be a consultation. As a comparison I use a “perfect home,” as a fictitious example of the ways and a home could be better.

Every home has issues and as a part of preparing your home to sell, it should be in the best possible condition. Repair issues that can be easily taken care of, by a seller, can and do scare away buyers. This can only be prevented by discovering defects early. This early discovery allows you to take care of the issue on your terms.

Having your home inspected first can also attract buyers. If a buyer knows that there are no big issues with a home they will be more comfortable. Another benifit to consider……
Buyer’s agents may be more likely to show your home if they know that it will not be a waste of time.

Seller inspections are good for everyone involved in the transaction

Electric Eyes Save Indiana Jones!

Written By:  Jim Allhiser

Copy written by Perfection Inspection Inc.

Who doesn’t remember the scene where Indiana Jones dives under the stone wall that is closing barely squeezing to safety!? Cinematic excitement at it’s finest and something that most children would love to recreate. Garage doors that are closing appear very similar to that scene and unfortunately not every child has cleared the door before it closed shut.

Garage doors are the largest and heaviest moving parts on our homes and can be very dangerous if ALL of the modern safety features are not installed properly. Several years ago the auto-reverse feature became standard. This feature reverses the closing door when the door meets a certain level of resistance. This safety feature is good however the pressure is still enough to hurt or even kill kids or pets.

The most recent advancement is the infrared beam safety feature. Straight out of a high security spy movies the little sensors reverse the door when the beam that shoots across the bottom of the door opening is broken.  These infrared beams are great but even intelligent high tech safety features are of little use if they are not installed where they are intended.
Most manufactures state that the beam should be no higher than 6″ off the ground.  The homes around Salem, Oregon that I inspect usually have foundation walls that extend up to around 9″ above the floor of the garage.  Consequently I usually see the little beams installed around 10″ above the floor, after all it is much easier to attach to wood sill plate than have to drill and anchor into concrete!

Of course if that is still too much trouble there is always an option to just slap them together and secure them above the opener.

But that installation is really for those who are too smart to let kids or pets get in the way of the closing door…..

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This outlet was more than it appeared!

A large part of my job is learning. Learning about materials, techniques and styles allows me to be a resource when questions arise. it is important for home inspectors to be “know it alls” about most things relating to homes. Just as important as knowing about stuff is realizing that there is always new stuff to learn about. I am never surprised when I discover something completely new and that is one of the best parts of my job.
The video below was taken on a re-inspection. I had griped about the lack of power to the second outlet in the bathroom on the initial inspection. The sellers enlightened me on the more secretive purpose for this particular outlet!

Universal Symbols of Destruction noted by this Marion and Polk County Home Inspector

Universal symbols are everywhere these days. Traffic signs especially have pictures and symbols instead of words so that any person, know matter what language they speak, can understand what is expected of them.  There are universal symbols that all good home inspectors should recognize as well.  Mushrooms growing out of your siding, large cracks in foundations and carpenter ants streaming out of a sill-plate are all things that any home inspector should recognize as a universal symbol of problems.

 

 

Another important universal symbol for home inspectors recognize in this area are two small copper lines, going into the ground in garages or crawl spaces.  These copper lines, can be indicative of underground oil tanks. These tanks, if not remediated properly can be a significant cost and an environmental hazard to a home-owner/home-buyer.

 

 

The Department of Environmental Quality in Oregon does maintain a database of remediated oil tanks.  As I wrote previously, the database is relatively new and unless the tank has been remediating recently, there would not be record of the tank.  This means that it is still important for home inspectors to keep their eyes out for the universal symbols and to let the buyers, agents and sellers that are involved in the transaction know about this potential environmental issue.

That is not garbage!

The cabinet under the kitchen sink is a highly neglected area.

This is the area that we shove highly noxious cleaners and surfactants. Many people even have garbage cans under their sinks. For me, the soap and cleaners are no exception however I do not keep any garbage under my sink. In fact I keep a tub to collect some of the best stuff that my household produces.

The tub holds all kinds of material that is just full of macro and micro nutrients. It is organic, all natural and when I take it to it’s place of magic, outside, it is just teeming with molds, fungus and all sorts of wiggling organisms doing their part to better my life.

The tub is a significant part of the process however the real magic does not happen till it goes outside.  Once the tub’s payload is delivered the previously mentioned critters go to work.  Through (hopefully) aerobic bacterial action the complex materials are consumed and wastes are excreted.  Sounds gross but it is actually exactly what I want!

Once most of the available complex materials are consumed most of the micro organisms die.  Sad, but it is an integral part of the process, and their death releases tons of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium as well as all sorts of other trace elements that are ready and waiting for the lucky plants that get to grow their roots in to the piles of decomposed micro organisms.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am talking about the lowly compost pile.  It begins as a pile of food debris under my kitchen sink but ends up feeding my plants what they need to grow strong and healthy.

Your home fails the Home Inspection

By:  Jim Allhiser  President

The term “home inspector” brings to mind report cards where a home “passes” or “fails.”
To some other inspectors this may be their reality. Through confusion and posturing other inspectors get to pretend like they get to make decisions. This is a small and disappointing group of my profession, as most good home inspectors want to make it very clear that home inspectors don’t pass or fail anything!

As a good inspector all I am there to do is to consult.  I should take a good look at the home and compare it to a perfect home (which is fantasy, by the way). There is no way that I could predict what my client will find important so I tell them about everything!   Besides that, I am not loaning my client money and I am not going to be living with them.   I really don’t care if the gutters get cleaned or if the window trim gets caulked properly. I am simply an observer and suggester.

This utter lack of authority can be very confusing to some people involved in the transaction.   I frequently hear agents, who should know better,  talk about how homes “passed.”  Or clients ask me if I “require” this or that. I just have to smile and tell my poor buyers that the only people that can pass or fail things are the people that are buying the home.  This can be frustrating for some that wish to hide behind an inspector, but I am about empowering people.  With proper education, my empowered buyer can ask the seller to have the deterioration in the flooring repaired and feel that this is reasonable.

Buyers often ask me, “..Would you buy this home?”  This is an impossible question for me to answer and that is not a cop-out!  The fact is that I have not been looking for a home.  I have not been mentally preparing for the change in lifestyle, finances, and the move.  I do not know what the school is like.  I have no idea what the other similar homes are like.  My buyers are frequently much more savvy about the competing homes than I am.  They have been doing serious real estate research!  I have not.  Homes can be a very emotional decision.  How could I guess the emotional state my clients are in after spending 3 hours poking around a house?

Trust a good inspector to do a great job at observing most all of the things that buyers will find important relating to the CONDITION OF THE HOME. Ask as many questions as you would like but don’t be surprised if we never tell you if the home passes or fails!

That is NOT how your sliding glass door is supposed to lock!!

There are things that well trained and practiced home inspectors can find on homes over and over.  Many times these are issues that relate to components that are or have worn out.  Water heaters are a great example because

there is not a whole lot you can do to prevent them from wearing out (short of changing the anode rod).Other things relate to the difficulty of proper installation.  Sliding glass doors for instance, many people that can read a level and drive a nail with a hammer can install a sliding glass door.  However getting the door to latch properly takes a higher level of patience and/or skill.

The wall plate must be in a precise position to allow the lock bolt to clear as the bolt is thrown.  If the wall plate
is too high, the bolt will come in contact with the wall plate and not open fully.  You have probably seen the sliding doors that you must open the lock partially while the door is open, then close the door, and finally close the latch.  While this does get the job accomplished it is not proper.
If the wall plate is too low the latch will not engage at all and the door can be opened with the lock fully engaged.  This is seen less often but is also not proper and a stick in the door should not be relied upon! 

The wall plate could also be in the wrong position side-to-side.  This is likely the cause of most of

the installation defects that I encounter.  If the position of the wall plate will not allow the bolt to clear properly and up and downadjustments do not improve the situation the plate may need to be shimmed to allow proper operation.
Once the wall plate is in the right spot to allow you to close the door, then throw the bolt and have the bolt engage it is time to install the 3” or better “security screws.” This is another item that I see missing over and over.  The long screws tie the whole door frame to the wood frame of the home.  This is much better than relying on the vinyl frame and provides a more stable lock. 

Hearing about contractors that state, “this is how the door is designed to lock,” is the worst and I must explain to my client’s that it is time to find a new contractor.

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Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
http://SalemOregonHomeInspections.com
503.508.4321         jallhiser@perfectioninspectioninc.com

“Always on the cutting edge”

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A River of Thermal images

This is a short video I took while on a home inspection of the water in the North Santiam river.

My handy little thermal camera can show all sorts of nifty temperature differences.  Including electrical hotspots, structure, insulation, leakage, critters and apparently the water temperature in the river.

Looks a bit cold for swimming but I am sure the salmon and steelhead that are headed upriver find those temperatures just right!


Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
http://SalemOregonHomeInspections.com
503.508.4321         jallhiser@perfectioninspectioninc.com

“Always on the cutting edge”

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape
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