Don’t Let Your Dream House Become a Nightmare!
10 Action Tips
“Though there’s no such thing as a perfect house, the trick is to make… sure the home is free of any major problems before signing on the dotted line.” (Zillo)
If you are planning a home purchase it is critical that you arrange to have experts conduct an in-depth, “forensic”, physical on the home before making a commitment. That way, you will know what additional repair/renovation expenses await you if you choose to purchase.
If you currently own your home, you should give your home a comprehensive physical once a year. When you detect problems early, you can correct them, or have them corrected before you suffer an unexpected disaster. Deferred analysis of your home’s major structures and systems most often results in expensive, budget-busting consuming repairs.
- Check Things Out Seasonally – Even if you are not buying or selling a home, you should give your house a physical at least once a year – even better, seasonally. Just like with your personal doctor’s physical, early detection pays off!
- Review Your Home Insurance – Is your home covered against unexpected calamities? Read through your home insurance policy(s) and know what is and what is not covered. What are your deductibles? Is your home insured to its replacement value? Check with your insurance broker with questions and when in doubt call several brokers for opinions and quotes.
- Remember, “Homeowners insurance covers mold damage if it was caused by a “covered” peril or mishap. Learn what mishaps are and are not covered and you will probably determine that your homeowner’s policy will likely not cover mold damage when that mold resulted from a preventable water leak, flooding, or high humidity.” (insurance.com)
- Inspect Your Home’s Systems on a Set Schedule – With time, systems deteriorate! Find and read all of your systems and appliance warranties. Inspect all major systems: electrical breakers and service panels; smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors; plumbing connections, valves, toilets and drains; sump pump; water heater; and HVAC units.
- Note – All of the above are often best left to professionals. Each of these systems requires specific expertise, tools, and equipment.
- Control Humidity and Sources of Moisture – When the humidity and moisture combine, it can lead to destructive and health-endangering mildew and mold. Keep the humidity at an ideal low throughout the house–between 30 and 50 percent.
- Recommendation – Under most circumstances do not use a whole house humidifier! They add unwanted moisture.
- Check your walls for Moisture and Mold – Here are three things to do: A) Push on the wall – moisture-damaged drywall will feel soft and spongy, while wood-sheathed walls may feel slightly solid even with a moisture problem. B) Smell the walls – if the wall smells musty, it’s a sure sign of a problem; C) Invest in a moisture meter! They are incredibly powerful and accurate instruments for detecting moisture, which can reveal potential mold colonies. Units start at about $50.00 with non-invasive measurement techniques (no holes in the walls).
- Note – Mold can be washed off but that will not get to the source. When dealing with mold, this is a job best left to the pros.
- Have your home inspected for lead-based paint and radon – Your house could be poisoning you, your family and guests! Since lead was last used as a legal paint ingredient over 35 years ago, most people have no idea what the paint in their current home contains. Radon comes from deep in the earth and is typically found in basements and crawl areas. Heavy concentrations are suspected of having a cancer-causing effect when exposure to radon is continued for years.
- Caution – Lead paint abatement and radon remediation are best left to professionals!
- Inspect Your Home’s Basement, Crawl Spaces and/or Slab – Remember to check the exposed systems in these areas: plumbing, electrical, heating pipes, and ducts; drains, etc. Look for cracks in basement walls that can lead to termite and other problems. Check for mold or water stains on wood, particularly near water lines that may indicate a leak that needs repair.
- Reminder – Cracks and water stains may indicate a problem with the foundation. Call a professional!
- Inspect Those Often Forgotten Space Above Your Head –- Attics and Crawl Spaces. Inspections should include structural truss damage; insulation; ventilation; water damage; damage around the chimney; condition of electrical conduit and wiring; signs of pests – tiny poop pellets left behind by the critters: squirrels, raccoons, possums, rodents. They often enter attics through the eaves or loose boards. Also, check for signs of carpenter ants and termites–look for piles of wood shavings.
- Note – Your chimney should be inspected annually, and cleaned periodically. The chimney carries dangerous gases from your fireplace, wood stove or furnace out of your home.
- Check Outdoor Home Features – Regular inspections of the eaves, gutters, and soffits are an essential part of home maintenance because these areas are particularly susceptible to water damage and can be a cause of mold. Undetected problems can lead to unexpected and hefty costs.
- Reminder – Inspect your property’s trees and bushes. Untrimmed vegetation can cause moisture-related concerns, can stain the siding of your home, can give thieves a hiding place, can promote insect infestation and more. Take preventive action and trim the trees and shrubs away from your home’s foundation and near utility poles.
- Get a Sewer or Septic System Inspection – A professional should use a digital camera that is inserted into the sewer line and pushed through to the main line to check for blockages and deterioration.
- Note – These same digital camera systems can be utilized to inspect your water, heating and drain pipes.
In Closing – While your home should bring your family and your joy, pride, and comfort, homes can be full of surprises! Weather, deterioration, wear and the effects of time can cause the systems in your home to break down. Sometimes these conditions can develop suddenly. Even the most careful homeowners could have home-related issues that require immediate attention without even knowing it. While attempting DIY solutions is often tempting, in most cases the inspections and solutions to problems are best left to professionals.
As Lifehacker points out, “DIY home improvements can definitely be very rewarding, both in terms of saving money and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel as you turn your living space into your dream home. Choose the wrong projects, however, and all your time and effort will be wasted—not to mention you’ll end up paying more to have the work redone correctly. Also, some improvements are just plain dangerous for regular homeowners (even experienced DIYers) to do themselves.”
A forensic, in-depth, comprehensive home inspection, should be conducted by a team of professionals who are able to assess whether or not the major structures and systems in a house are functioning safely and efficiently.
And that’s what the PPR WatchDog can do for you!!