If you're buying a home with an FHA loan, there are some things you need to know beforehand. FHA has certain requirements that the prospective home that you're looking to purchase must meet BEFORE they will issue a loan to you. This was created to insure the health and safety of the occupants and /or the marketability of the property.
There is a checklist which the FHA uses, titled the, "FHA Existing Property Condition Screening Checklist" which is in a nutshell the MINIMUM requirements that the home and property MUST meet.
The list is pretty extensive, beginning with the exterior of the home and which includes such items as site hazards (such as sinkholes), soil contamination (underground storage tanks), grading (and evidence of significant water leakage in a basement), wood boring insects (infestation or even wood touching the ground), framing problems (significant cracks), attic problems such as no ventilation), electrical, plumbing, HVAC and many more items. Even visible peeling paint on the interior or exterior of the home, if built before 1978 can pose a huge problem!
If you are buying a home with a well, you'll need to have an FHA water test performed, which is far more extensive than the usual bacteria test.
Any questions you may have, just give us a call (610 681 4012) and we'll be glad to direct you and help you in any way we can!
Happy home hunting!
February 13th, 2014
Had Enough Yet?
The picture to the left is a roof I was recently on. It was quite hairy to navigate and frankly, I've aged a lot this winter due to climbing these snowy death traps! No wonder I now possess a permanent facial twitch and shaky handshake! (only kidding!) I've had enough, how 'bout you?
Well, what can I say about the weather in general, and the snow and cold in particular? I'll say one thing for sure, I think they'll be a lot more people migrating south from the area before next winter arrives! This has been a brutal winter, both in terms of temperatures and in snow / ice storms. We can't seem to catch a break of more than a couple of days before the next cold wave or blizzard strikes!
If you want to bet on a sure thing, you know that when the temperature begins to climb and the snow stops coming someday (!!#$?%^&*), many, many people are going to have problems with their basements and crawlspaces because of the meltdown. There is sure to be problems everywhere, and there will certainly be a run on sump pumps at all the big box stores. In addition to this, many people will find that their gutters, downspouts and sump pump discharge pipes have been broken or altered in some way due to the snow, ice and cold. And to add insult to injury, improper grading tends to be a problem at the majority of the homes I inspect and poor grading will aid in the flooding problems to come, in fact, almost every home has grading problems that need to be rectified. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait until spring to address any serious grading issues.
So what do you do to protect your home from flooding problems? There are a few things that you can easily do and a one that will take a little more effort. First, the easy things.
Double check that if you have a sump pump, it is in fact operating (manually lift the float to be sure!). In addition, make sure that the discharge piping from the pump (if visible or readily accessible), is intact and discharging far enough away from your home. Also, make sure that all downspout extensions are attached and terminate as far away from the house as possible. A note on pumps. It might be wise to invest the money to have a back up pump, in case the one you have fails before or during the coming thaw. Its always a great idea to plan ahead for worst case scenarios!
Now, something that is far more difficult, but quite important nonetheless, is to go outside in the cold (yes, I know how cold it is!) and shovel (yes, I'm for real!) and clear away all those snow drifts that have made the perimeter of your home look like one of those scientific observations outposts at the North-pole! If you can get the majority of the snow away from your home, you will have accomplished a great feat that will go a long way towards keeping your home's lower level dry.
One more thing. Although this is a topic for another day, I just spoke about the need to plan ahead for worst case scenarios. Well, you know what might happen when the temperature starts to climb, especially if its accompanied by some type of crazy spring storm? The power might go out! Then what?
Well, then unless you have a generator and either a transfer switch or some other type of alternative wiring set up in your home that will run your sump pump, you're in trouble! So in addition to buying a back up pump, you'll want to seriously consider buying a generator because sooner or later, you'll need it and truly wish that you had one, not only for this type of issue, but also to help you through any number of natural disasters.
Thanks for your time!
ODE TO A SEPTIC By Marc C Shanley
OUT IN THE YARD, ALL BY MYSELF
WATCHING AND WAITING AND WORKING WITH STEALTH
NORMALLY I'M FINE AND NEED LITTLE CARE
THOUGH THERE'LL ALWAYS BE SOME WEAR AND SOME TEAR
FOR I AM A SEPTIC SYSTEM, AND AS YOU CAN SEE
MY NAME IS NOT MENTIONED, IN POLITE COMPANY
IT'S NOT LIKE I'M NOT NEEDED, FOR TRULY I AM
IT'S JUST THAT I'M IGNORED, TILL' YOU'RE IN A JAM
BUT REST ASSURED, IF YOU CONTINUE THIS WAY
YOU'LL SURELY BE SAD, AND QUITE SORRY ONE DAY
FOR WHEN I NEED FIXEN, ITS USUALLY EXPENSIVE
ESPECIALLY IF THE DAMAGE IS VERY EXTENSIVE
SO MAKE THAT CALL, DO IT TODAY
HAVE MARC COME OVER, PLEASE DON'T DELAY
DO YOURSELF A FAVOR, DON'T GET OVER YOUR HEAD
CAUSE IF YOU WAIT TOO LONG, I'LL SURELY BE DEAD!
What a difference a day makes!
As a professional home inspector, I run across all types of structures, including multi-family apartment buildings, typical ranch homes, log cabins and mansions. I get to inspect all sizes of homes as well, ones ranging from 8000 sq.ft + to modest small two room dwellings under 500 sq. ft. That's what makes my job so satisfying, rewarding and interesting. Its certainly NEVER boring!
Recently, I had the good fortune to inspect an incredibly gorgeous, very expensive and quite large home (7000 sq.ft +) in the exclusive suburbs north of Philadelphia; the very day after inspecting a vacant, severely neglected and frankly creepy property in an older and very modest community near the Poconos. The contrast between the two properties could hardly have been greater. It was a humbling experience on both ends, not because I had never inspected properties such as these, for I have, and do so regularly, but because I can't remember the last time I'd done so back to back as these two inspections were! Rags and riches!
I was humbled because it really hit home what a contrast of life styles there are and how vastly different people live, or what is known in sociological cycles as, "the human condition". The small mansion was humbling in the sense of how people of wealth live, and knowing for certain that short of a miracle, I could never own such a place myself, though I could apply for domestic help in an emergency! On the other end of the spectrum, the very small, abandoned and filthy half of a double home was truly not habitable for human life, not even for most animals that come to mind, except the always "willing to occupy" rat and creepy crawling insect! This place had purportedly been "home" to an unfortunate recluse obviously suffering from an assortment of mental issues, including paranoia, as evidenced by the windows that were boarded up with homemade peep holes. I'll sum it up in a nut shell by telling you that there was no discernible bathroom present, (nor heating for that matter) and I'll leave the rest to you imagination!
So what is the take home message? In fact, there are many, but for me, a few come to mind (and I didn't make these up, they are widely known and accepted across all lines of faith and even those of goodwill who don't practice any organized religion.
1. Count your blessings in life, whether your rich or poor, because your fortunes can change, sometimes overnight.
2. There will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself, so be humble.Remember, scripture says, "he who humbles himself shall be exalted, and he that exalts himself, shall be humbled".
3. Help those less fortunate than yourself to whatever degree possible. By doing so you yourself will be rewarded, both in this life and in next.
Sump Pump Maintenance
Sump pumps. They're not normally on your priority list of things to look at or to think of, but they should be! For many people, they are true life savers who are like a quite, yet alert, sentry garding the gates of your little castle, which is your home. They are kind of like our cars, we tend to forget about their importance until they malfuction. Neglected and underappreciated, they are indeed an invaluable component of your home and should be constently monitored and tested for proper functioning.
One of the first things to look at to ensure that your pump is working properly is to check there is power going to it and then to actually test it under "normal" conditions, which just means that you should pour enough water into the pit to activate the float switch which should turn the pump on. Assuming that the pump did indeed come on and remove the water out of the pit, you still have something else to do which is almost as important as the pump actually working.
Go outside and see where the discharge location for your sump pump is. Hopefully, you'll see or know where it discharges and that that point will be far enough away from the structure, at least five to seven feet away, but here is an example where more is better, say ten feet or more would be ideal. If you cannot find the location, you might have to refer to any available blue prints of the home. If after all this, you still don't know here the sump pump piping discharges, you might either look for evidence of newer or older water staining on the foundation walls, near where the piping exits the foundation or look out in your yard for signs of depresssions where water may have eroded a portion of the lawn.
The take home message is this. Take care of your sump pump and it will take care of you. Don't wait wait until a storm hits, like the recent tropical storm Sandy, to find out it doesn't work. And for those who want to take their protection to the next level, consider installing a battery backup system. The benefits will far outweigh the costs. Wishing you all a dry basement!
Gutter discharges too close to the home!
GET GOING WITH YOUR GUTTERS!
With all the rain we've had recently, and with more certainly on the way, now is the time to pay attention to an extremely important component of your home, gutters! The following necessary actions are normally very easier to perform, and also very inexpensive.
Fall is upon us, and with its beautiful days and crisp nights comes something else most of us would just as soon forget, leaves. Now is the time to make sure your gutter system is functioning properly. I have seen first hand over the last couple of weeks, homes I've inspected where multiple problems have been found regarding gutters and in a few instances, these problems have been the direct cause of mositure and water penetration in the basements of these particular dwellings.
Lets make a quick list of things you need to do this week. First, be safe! If you do not feel safe getting up on a ladder to clean your gutters, than hire someone who does. Next, make sure that all the gutters and downspouts are properly pitched, secured and in working order. For those of you whose gutters discharge below grade, this will include making sure the downspout is properly within the connector leading underground. Then you want to make sure that your gutters discharge far enough away from your home, at least 5-7 feet away. This last tip is imperative, is often neglected and is one situation where MORE IS DEFINITELY BETTER! Discharging your gutters even further away from the house usually ensures even greater protection from water infiltration. Those little splash blocks you can buy just about anywhere are only nominally effective, in most cases. First of all they're usually are too short in length, secondly, unless they're a heavier type, they have a tendacy to move around, crack or get altered very easily. Some really light ones can actually blow away in the autumn breeze! Do yourself a favor and don't cheap out here! Get extra downspout material, black corregated piping or even PVC.One last thing, make sure your discharge locations aren't near driveways or walking paths, because you could end up slipping, especially at this time of the year, on some ice that formed overnight in these areas.
Don't be caught unprepared! There is a direct correlation between improperly installed, maintained and functioning gutters and wet basements / crawlspaces! Proper grading is also crucial, but that topic is for another day. For now, use the means given you to properly channel and control the water around your home. Remember the old saying, "WATER WINS!"
Marc Shanley- Owner of Trinity Inspection