Laminate Floor Inspection

Laminate flooring is a multi-layer, synthetic flooring product installed as a cost-effective alternative to traditional wood floors. While home inspectors are not required by InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice to specifically inspect laminate flooring, knowing something about the various types, manufacture and characteristics can help them spot defects and potential hazards.

Legacy_address

Laminate flooring simulates wood and, less commonly, marble, limestone and granite, using a photograph installed beneath a clear protective layer. This image makes the laminate closely resemble a natural material, but the difference becomes apparent upon close inspection. Homeowners may choose from among common woods, such as maple, oak and pine, as well as exotic species, such as Brazilian cherry, mahogany and walnut. Beneath this layer is an inner core composed of melamine resin and fiberboard materials. Pergo® is the most popular brand of laminate flooring, although it is often mistakenly used to describe all laminate floors. Laminate floor manufacturers include DuPont® and Witex®.

Laminate floors are environmentally friendly — the paper and wood are made from recycled products — and easy to maintain, as they are resistant to scratches, dents and demarcations. And, unlike hardwood floors, laminate floors can be installed without any expensive equipment or training. They are more affordable than hardwood floors and they’re often the better choice for homeowners who require an inexpensive floor that is expected to take a beating. Hardwood floors, however, can be sanded and refinished, and tend to add substantial value to the entire house.

Here is a list of defective conditions common to laminate floors:

  • gapping.  Extreme temperature changes can cause the boards to pull away from one another. Builders should acclimatize laminate flooring to the conditions of the room in which the laminate will be installed;
  • peaking.  This condition occurs when panels push up against each other at the joints, creating unlevel high points. This defect is common where the boards were not installed with sufficient expansion space. As a remedy, the boards or surrounding molding may be trimmed;
  • buckling and warping, which is caused by high humidity, excessive surface moisture (such as that leaked from ice makers and pipes), and dampness rising from the sub-floor, along with the lack of a sufficient moisture barrier. Buckling and warping can be limited if a pressure-balancing layer is installed beneath the boards. Hardwood floors, by contrast, are naturally more resistant to moisture damage, as they will swell and shrink to accommodate changes in moisture;
  • mold, which is caused by excessive moisture. Mold is a potentially serious threat to building materials and the health of sensitive individuals. Refer to InterNACHI’s articles on mold for more information;
  • off-registration, in which the patterns on adjacent boards do not match;
  • “soft floor.”  This condition often results when the inner core, made from expanding high-density fiberboard, is subjected to moisture, causing it to swell and fall apart. These boards must be replaced;
  • formaldehyde-outgassing, which originates from the melamine resin in various laminate floors. Chemically sensitive individuals may select laminate flooring that has been treated to reduce formaldehyde emissions; and
  • sound penetration.  Laminate is a “floating floor,” meaning that occupants can hear a tapping echo when someone walks on the floor. Some manufacturers have added acoustical padding to muffle the sound.

Manufacturers’ warranties may cover some of the aforementioned defects, although many restrictions apply. For instance, the floors must be installed to the manufacturer’s specifications, such as leaving vapor barriers and expansion gaps where required.  Abuse, accidents, scratches, and many types of water damage are not covered.

 

6 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home Inspector

That “perfect” four-bedroom, two-bath house you stumbled upon in a beautiful suburban neighborhood could hide some serious problems. The best way for homebuyers to find out about potential issues is with a good home inspection.
In fact, you’ll have to get a home inspection to meet mortgage lenders’ requirements before you buy. But not all licensed inspectors will thoroughly inspect and report on your potential home’s defects.
So before you hire the first home inspector you find on Google or whoever your Realtor or lender suggests, do your homework. It’s acceptable to interview a home inspector before you decide to drop $300 or more on the inspection fee.
Here are the seven most important questions to ask before you schedule a home inspection:

1. What’s your background?
The best home inspectors are typically those who have experience in the building industry. You want to work with an inspector who knows what’s inside the walls of your home and understands the basics of local building codes and requirements. (Note: A home inspector will not be able to tell you if every single plumbing, electrical and/or structural aspect of your potential home is up to the latest codes. For this, you’ll need a more specialized inspection by a licensed plumber, electrician or contractor.)
Background is especially important if you’re planning to purchase an older home, as inspectors may need to look for problems in older homes that are uncommon in newer properties. So if you’re buying an older home – or a fixer-upper – find an inspector with a background in inspecting similar homes.

2. How much experience do you have?
It’s OK to work with a rookie home inspector who has a background in construction or home repair. But be sure you hire someone who has, at the very least, undergone extensive training – or who will have the assistance of a more experienced inspector during the inspection.

3. How long will the inspection take?
On average, a home inspection should take two to three hours to perform. If you’re dealing with a large home, a fixer-upper or an older home, the inspection should take even longer. Don’t hire someone who promises to be in and out within an hour or two, as this is too short a time to thoroughly inspect a home.

4. What will you inspect?
Keep in mind that it’s not a home inspector’s job to inspect things that can’t be seen. The inspection won’t reveal any wiring problems hidden behind drywall or any mold problems under the shower tiles.
With that said, an inspector should evaluate every possible visible place in your home, including the roof, basement and attic. And the home inspector should be in physical shape to access these places, even if a ladder or flashlight is required.
An inspector should also look at things such as the water heater, furnace and electrical box. Again, the inspector may be unable to tell you if your home’s systems are up to local codes. But the professional should have enough knowledge to inform you if the systems are safe or in need of major repairs.

5. Can I attend the inspection?
A refusal to this simple request is a red flag. A home inspection is a fabulous opportunity to learn about your home and talk about any possible repairs that may be needed. A good inspector will take you along on the inspection, if you wish. A great inspector will talk you through everything he sees.

6. What kind of inspection report do you offer?
Most inspectors will provide a report within 24 hours. It’s important to be sure the inspector’s reporting style will meet the requirements of your lender as well as your own personal preferences. Ask to see samples of their previous home inspections if you aren’t sure.
Of course, you’ll also want to ask about the inspector’s fees and schedule. But before you get to those, find the right inspector by asking these seven questions.
4

House Roof Inspection

Legacy Home Inspection always encourages you to get to know your home before you buy. This includes taking a long hard look at the roof, even in a new home. Here are some suggestions and photos that show you what you could run into. Call us today and we will guide you through the process and help you get the right solution..

IMG_2187

IMG_2857

A roof inspection is one of those preventative maintenance jobs that’s easy to overlook. Don’t. Add a once-a-year reminder on your calendar to go out on a warm day and fix any problems you find.
If you’re squeamish about heights, don’t worry. You can do a thorough inspection from the ground using a pair of binoculars.

Or, you can get up close and personal with your roof using a ladder. However, there’s no need to get up on your roof just yet. The less you walk around up there, the better for your roofing — and the safer for you. Work your way around your house, noting any potential problems.

Here’s what to look for:
• Cracked caulk or rust spots on flashing.
• Shingles that are buckling, curling, or blistering.
• Missing or broken shingles.
• Cracked and worn rubber boots around vent pipes.
• Missing or damaged chimney cap. (OK, that’s technically not part of your roof, but since you’re looking anyway.)
• Masses of moss and lichen, which could signal the roof is decaying underneath. Black algae stains are just cosmetic.

Garage Doors – Protect your entrance the right way

Garage Doors – Protect your entrance the right way

Legacy Home Inspection helps you to be prepared for home ownership. As part of this we like to educate you about the home systems you have and also how they should be maintained. When you buy a new home there may be items you don’t see although they are common issues. This week deals with garage doors. It might look OK outside but what can you find on the inside?

1

 

Garage Door Operation 101 – a homeowner’s guide to the garage door and how it works.

2
One of the most overlooked “appliances” in your home is the garage door. You press a button. It goes up. It goes down. Simple, right?

Not really. Like every other mechanical device you own – your cars, your kitchen and laundry appliances and your heating and cooling systems – your garage door and its operating system needs to be properly adjusted and regularly maintained in order to function correctly.

You can perform some simple safety and maintenance tasks yourself. Other tasks – such as spring repair/replacement, track and roller repair/replacement and door installation – are jobs best left to trained service professionals.

Just as it is common practice to have your home’s heating and cooling systems checked annually, it’s also a good idea to have your door checked annually by a qualified service technician to ensure that it continues to work properly and effectively. Use the Find a Dealer feature to locate a qualified service technician nearby.

Never take a garage door system for granted; always use extreme caution when working on it or near it. Make sure that children understand that the garage door and the garage door opener are not toys. Never let children play with the door or its operating system. For more safety information, check out theGarage Door Safety section of this site.

Sewer inspection

Legacy Home Inspection always encourages you to get to know your home before you buy. This includes taking a long hard look at the plumbing, even in a new home. Here are some suggestions and photos that show you what you could run into. Call us today and we will guide you through the process and help you get the right solution..

 IMG_3078 IMG_3076

Sewer inspection

Your inspector may be able to tell whether or not things are, um, “ flowing.” However, a sewer expert can use a “sewer cam” to discover cracks or breaks in the sewer line from the house to the street.

This is critical for properties that are heavily landscaped, where root growth can crack and clog the pipeline. Sewer issues can be a serious expense, so it’s better to find out sooner rather than later. Trust me, this inspection is worth its weight in gold. A sewer line replacement can be an enormous expense.

Avoid Mold in your home!

Legacy Home Inspection always encourages you to get to know your home before you buy. This includes taking a long hard look at potential mold, even in a new home. Here are some suggestions and photos that show you what you could run into. Call us today and we will guide you through the process and help you get the right solution..

Avoid Mold in your home!

DSC06266 IMG_1129 IMG_3738a IMG_3813

Mold exists in every household, no matter how spotless you keep it. It’s a natural part of the air in any home. Mold becomes a problem if it is allowed to grow and spread unchecked, which can lead to respiratory problems in those with suppressed immune systems, who suffer froms allergies or have asthma. Severe indoor mold infestations can also affect otherwise healthy people. Once you have located the mold, you can assess the seriousness of the problem.

Solution

Cleaning a small mold problem is not difficult, but you do need to wear a dust mask and rubber gloves. Scrub the area with dishwashing liquid and hot water, then dry it thoroughly. Do not use undiluted bleach to clean mold as the fumes can be irritating. Mix a little bit of baking soda with dishwashing soap if you need a mild abrasive to help remove the mold. Exact measurements aren’t necessary, you just want a paste thick enough not to drip, but thin enough to rinse off easily. Unscented dish soap is best as it will not mask the odor of the mold, helping you to find and remove it all. Keep checking the area during the next few days. If the mold comes back, it means you haven’t located the source of the moisture causing it. You may also have to remove and replace damaged drywall once the mold has been cleaned up, so don’t forget to wear your protective gear when you do so.

 

Do You Need A Home Inspection?

Legacy Home Inspection always encourages you to get to know your home before you buy. This includes taking a long hard look at the plumbing, even in a new home. Here are some suggestions and photos that show you what you could run into. Call us today and we will guide you through the process and help you get the right solution..

IMG_3650a IMG_3586b IMG_3078 IMG_3076 DSC05782 IMG_2737

 

Do You Need A Home Inspection?

Before you buy a home, one of the things you should do is to have the home checked out by a professional home inspector. Buying a home is expensive enough as it is – why would you choose to fork over another $400 if you’re not required to? In this article, we’ll delve into what a home inspection can reveal and why you shouldn’t forgo this optional procedure.

The Home Inspection Contingency
Your first clue that a home inspection is important is that it can be used as a contingency in your purchase offer. This contingency provides that if significant defects are revealed by a home inspection, you can back out of your offer, free of penalty, within a certain timeframe. The potential problems a home can have must be pretty serious if they could allow you to walk away from such a significant contract.

What a Home Inspection Examines
Inspectors vary in experience, ability and thoroughness, but a good inspector should examine certain components of the home you want to purchase and then produce a report covering his or her findings. The typical inspection lasts two to three hours and you should be present for the inspection to get a firsthand explanation of the inspector’s findings and, if necessary, ask questions. Also, any problems the inspector uncovers will make more sense if you see them in person instead of relying solely on the snapshot photos in the report.

Buying a Home? Inspect the Plumbing First

Legacy Home Inspection always encourages you to get to know your home before you buy. This includes taking a long hard look at the plumbing, even in a new home. Here are some suggestions and photos that show you what you could run into. Call us today and we will guide you through the process and help you get the right solution.

DSC05610 DSC05611 DSC05782 IMG_2737 IMG_3076 IMG_3078 IMG_3586b IMG_3650a

If you are in the market for a new home, it is wise to have the entire structure inspected, including the plumbing, before you close the deal. You can also inspect the plumbing system yourself if you know what to look for. Never take everything at face value, especially when it comes to a major purchase like a home – doing so can make you end up spending a ton of cash later on down the road when you discover problems within the plumbing system. Most sellers are motivated to get rid of their real estate right now, which makes pointing out any big problems that you find all the more important.

 

  • Inspect the home’s water heater. You will be looking to see if it is big enough to accommodate your needs (a family of four should have at least a 40 gallon tank), where it is located, and the water heater’s age.
  • Make sure that the plumbing throughout the home is prepared for freezing weather by having pipes wrapped. The vents throughout the home should be the type that can be closed off in the winter time during periods of intense cold.
  • Determine the type of sewage system the home has, whether waste goes to a municipal sewer system, or if there is a septic tank installed. Inside the home, check the kitchen faucets and bathroom faucets for leaks or drips. Check underneath sinks to check for leaking pipes.
  • Flush the toilet in each bathroom. They should empty and then refill correctly.
  • Turn on the shower in the room farthest from the home’s water source. Check the temperature of the water and the water pressure.

Inspecting Brick Veneer

1

A home inspector can easily identify the signs of problems in brick veneer. Weep holes can become blocked and not allow water to exit from behind the bricks, leading to deterioration of the brick and mortar. Additionally, brick ties can be improperly installed or loosened over time, and the veneer can separate from the wall. Separation or detachment from the wall is the most important thing to inspect for with brick veneer. Looking along window and door openings, you might see the lean of detached veneer, meaning more brick shows at the top than at the bottom.  A detaching veneer may have a decided bow to it or can show signs of cracking as it pulls loose and separates from the house.

As with solid brick walls, the home inspector should examine the wall for cracking in the brick and deterioration of brick and mortar. Examine weep holes in the lower course of bricks in the veneer to be sure they are open as water behind the wall cannot escape if weep holes are blocked.  Often times there is brick veneer on only a portion of the house, so be sure to check areas where the veneer meets other surfaces.

 

DSC05916 DSC06565 Hayes_Thomas_and_Dolores_Lakewood_051815G23 IMG_3530a IMG_3873a IMG_3883a

Common Electric Panel Problems

As a trained home inspector, I have opened and inspected hundreds of residential electric panels.  Whether they are main service panels or subpanels, there always seems to be a short list of recurring issues in these panels.  This post is designed to help you identify these potential problems and be able to contact a professional to have them corrected.

CORROSION

DSC06208   DSC06797a

OPEN KNOCKOUTS/NO CLAMPSDSC06133

DOUBLE TAPS

DSC06584DSC07132aIMG_2943

BAD PANEL TYPES

DSC06801a

These are just a handful of the problems I normally see inside an electric panel during a home inspection.  Call us today for assistance in your home inspection and guidance on how to correct the issue.