|HOME INSPECTIONS||FIRST TIME BUYERS INSPECTION|
|BUILDING INSPECTIONS||PREMARKET INSPECTIONS|
|COMMERCIAL PROPERTY INSPECTIONS||BULKHEAD AND DOCK INSPECTIONS|
|COOP AND CONDO INSPECTIONS||ON SITE OR CUSTOMIZED REPORTS AVAILABLE|
|FORECLOUSURE INSPECTIONS||TERMITE CERTIFICATION WITH EACH REPORT|
to view the terms and definitions:
Foundation | Bulkheads | Wet Basements |
Electrical | Roofs | Plumbing | Heating | Termites |
Lead Paint | Mold
The structure can be considered the bones of a house. The structural components are typically made up of wood, brick, concrete, steel in any number of combinations and are what makes the house stand up and the floors able to support weight without sagging. All of the structural components in a house or building should have been designed by a licensed engineer or a registered architect. This will ensure that the structure meets local building codes. Some older homes may have been built prior to the establishment of local building codes. This does not mean they are unsound. An engineer or architect should evaluate the home before any changes are made. We at Sure Check have inspected homes as old as 400 years to brand new construction.
In many cases problems are found in a home that are caused by a homer who either does work himself or hires a contractor to make alterations without any engineering such as removing a structural wall, enlarging a door opening or installing a heavy granite counter in a kitchen. Other causes of structural problems can be design error in the original plans, poor quality of workmanship, insect infestation, defective material, water or fire damage. Structural defects can sometimes be seen almost immediately or may take years to become apparent. A prepurchase home inspection by a Licensed Professional Engineer can find these problems before they become your problems.
The foundation is what the house sits on and what connects the house to the ground. Soil varies greatly in its ability to hold weight. If you were to build a house on the ground without a proper foundation the house would probably settle, crack and eventually fall down. There are many different types of foundations such as Concrete, brick, stone, rubble, and piles. Each foundation is designed to support the house or building on the ground without settling.
Problems with a foundation can be caused by external changes such as a water condition due to poor drainage, changes in the building such as adding an addition, poor design, workmanship or materials. Foundation problems can be quite costly to repair. Only a Licensed Professional Engineer should inspect a foundation to determine if it is structurally sound. We at Sure Check have designed and inspection all types of foundation and are familiar with typical foundation construction practices in the New York Long Island area.
Bulkheads are usually found on waterfront property. They are that wall you see where the land meets the water and are used to keep the soil from being washed away. Bulkheads can be constructed from wood, metal, stone or concrete and usually consists of piles being driven into the ground with a wall then attached to the piles. Soil is then placed against the bulkhead on the land side. A bulkhead that has failed can allow the adjacent water to then erode away the soil and eventually cause the adjacent house or building to collapse. As a bulkhead is in water it should be inspected by a professional to insure that it is sound.
Most basements are not waterproof or do they need to be. Most basements are damp proof. If the ground water table is above the level of the basement floor then it requires that the basement be waterproofed. As to thoroughly waterproof a basement is very expensive most builders of residential homes and small commercial buildings will not build below the water table.
What are the causes of a wet basement? Most of the time the cause can be poor exterior drainage around the foundation. Rain water or water from melting snow that is allowed to accumulate around the foundation will eventually find its way into the basement. Other causes of water entering a basement can be from foundation cracks, around pipe penetrations, poor sealing basement windows and doors, leaky pipes or even a high water table. Recent construction in an area can sometimes cause an existing water table to rise flooding basements.
To stop water from entering a basement seal all foundation cracks and pipe penetration with a good silicon caulking or hydraulic cement. Improve the exterior drainage around the foundation so that water does not drain to the house. Install splash blocks at the base of all down spouts. Replace poorly sealing windows and doors. Install rain covers over all window wells. If water continues to enter the basement have an engineer evaluate the possible causes and make recommendations as to solving the problem.
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Most houses today are wired 100 to 200 amps and are 220 volts. The amperage is the amount of power coming into the house while 220 volts means that there are 3 wires coming into the electrical panel from the utility company. There are very few houses today that have only 110 volts coming into the panel. Whether or not the electrical service is sufficient is determined by many factors such as: is there gas in the house or are all the appliances electric? Is the wiring well distributed? Is it circuit breakers or fuses? Is there any aluminum wiring or old knob and tube wiring? Do you plan on putting an addition to the home? All local building departments require that a licensed electrician do any wiring in a home and that it is inspected by the Fire Underwriters. In reality after a house has been built and inspected a homeowner my do some electrical work themselves or hire an unlicensed electrician to do some work. Our engineering staff will look at your electrical service and wiring and determine if it is sufficient or if there are defects that need to be addressed.
There are many types and styles of roofing on homes. There are flat roofs, pitched roofs, shed roofs, mansford style roofs, gables, etc. There are also many styles of roof coverings. There are slate shingles, asphalt shingles, tile, rolled asphalt, rolled rubber, tin and copper just to name a few. Each style of roofing has its own unique way that it should be installed, rated life and specific application. Roof leakage usually occurs due to poor instillation or the flashing wears out. The flashing is that material that is used to connect the roofing material to a wall or other object. The best way to spot a roof leak is from the underside of the roof usually by going into the attic.
The plumbing in any house can be divided into water lines and drain lines. The water lines are usually made up of copper or brass pipe while the drain lines are cast iron, galvanized iron or plastic. Much of the plumbing in a house can not readily be seen as it is hidden inside walls and ceilings. When a pipe starts to leak it is usually a slow drip at first and can be detected as a small water stain on a ceiling or wall. Other problems with the plumbing can be improperly pitched pipes, cracked or rotted pipes, improperly vented drain lines or just an old fashioned clog. Water and drain lines must be of the correct size for the number of bathrooms and sinks to properly function. Pipes that are too small will result in poor water pressure or overflowing drain lines.
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There are four types of heating that are found in most houses. They are steam, electrical, hot water and forced hot air.
Steam: is usually found in older homes. A steam system consists of a boiler fired by oil or gas. Water in the boiler is heated until it turns into steam which is then sent by pipes to the radiators which then heat up the home. The pipes for a steam system are large, usually anywhere from one to two inches. This allows the steam to travel easily to the radiators.
Hot water: is in many newer homes. A boiler heats water to about 180 degrees. The water is then pumped through copper or plastic pipes to the radiators or baseboards then back to the boiler. Hot water systems use smaller pipes usually half to one inch and can be made of iron, copper or plastic. Hot water systems can usually be zoned, that is to say you can have more than one thermostat to have individual control the heating in separate rooms.
Forced Hot Air: Can be found in both older and newer homes. The heating unit is called a furnace and consists of a heat exchanger, a source of heat and a fan. The heat exchanger is heated up and air is then blown across it. This heated air is blown through metal ducts to openings in the walls of each room called heat registers.
Fuel for the above systems are usually oil or gas but they can also use coal, electric, etc.
Electric: Electric heating consists of an electric baseboard with a heating element. Electricity is connected to the heating element which then heats up to warm the room. This type of heating requires individual units placed in each room requiring heat.
There are also several other types of heating systems such as electric heat pumps, solar, radiant heat and geothermal.
There have been many advances in heating technology. If you were shopping today for a new system you could purchase a traditional boiler or a high efficiency unit. High efficiency units are smaller and more compact than a standard boiler or furnace but cost a bit more. The initial cost of the unit is usually offset by the fuel savings.
We at sure check are familiar with all types of heating systems and can answer any of your questions.
Termites are insects that eat wood. They live in the ground in a colony and venture out to find a food source. They do not live in the wood they eat and must return to the colony or they will die. Termites need a lot of moisture to survive. They become a problem when they try to consume the wood in a house or garage as food. As they live in the ground, most termite damage is confined to the basement and first floor of a house. It is very rare that termite damage is found on the second floor.
There are several steps a homeowner can do to minimize the chances of termite infestation.
As termites need moisture, improved drainage around the foundation will go a long way in prevention.
Minimize wood to earth contact. Do not put any wood directly into contact with the dirt. The wood will absorb moisture and give the termites a path to enter the house.
Do not store wood outside against the house. Wood piles for fireplaces should be raised above the dirt and stored away from the house.
Termites can be very hard to detect as they can be inside of walls, behind cabinets, and in places that a homeowner may never look. At Sure Check Home Inspections, we are licensed by the EPA for termite inspections and include a termite inspection on an FHA form with every inspection.
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Asbestos is a mineral that is very resistant to heat and chemical decomposition. This made it ideal for use in thousands of different products. The problem with asbestos is that when asbestos is ingested through the mouth or nose it has been known to cause various cancers and therefore considered a carcinogen.
Asbestos in some form can usually be found in older homes built before the seventies. The most common place to find asbestos is associated with the heating system. Asbestos was used as insulation on heating pipes, duct work, boilers, and furnaces. This type of insulation is usually friable (able to crumble and cause asbestos dust). Where possible, the asbestos should be either encapsulated or removed. This should always be done by a professional to avoid contamination of other parts of the home.
Your engineer will be able to point out asbestos hazards that should be addressed.
For further information contact the EPA at http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/
Asbestos insulation on heating pipes
Lead was used in paint until the late seventies. You could still buy lead-based primers into the mid seventies. Most homes in the New York and Long Island area were built prior to 1980; there is a good chance of having lead paint in them.
Lead paint is only dangerous when it is ingested, as in eating lead paint chips or breathed in from construction dust. Most lead paint in a home by now has been covered over by several layers of newer paint and is no longer considered hazardous.
If you have an older home, the following can minimize lead contamination.
If you have peeling paint, steps should be taken to remove all the loose paint and the painted surfaced primed and repainted to seal in any potential lead dust.
Keep children away from any construction activity that has the potential to disturb painted surfaces. The area should be sealed off from the rest of the home when possible.
Always use the appropriate dust filter to avoid breathing in lead dust.
When dust making activities are completed, make sure the area is thoroughly cleaned to prevent possible cross contamination.
For more information about lead paint in homes, contact the EPA at http://www.epa.gov/lead/
Mold produces tiny spores that can be harmful to humans. It can cause varying forms of breathing problems. Mold can grow very quickly and spread very fast. The key to mold growth is moisture. Stop the moisture and stop the mold.
To prevent mold growth, repair any leaks in a home as quickly as possible and dry damp or wet areas within 24 hours. Clean mold on hard surfaces with detergents. The use of a diluted solution of chlorine bleach is very effective. Mold on very absorbent materials may require the item to be replaced.
For more information about mold contact the EPA at http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldresources.html