HOME INSPECTIONS & MORE...
Do I need an Inspection? - We would like to say definitely, because no home is perfect,
even a newly built home could have problems. It is better to know about the conditions before
you move in rather than finding out later. Our job is to help you make an informative decision
before you buy.
Pre-Listing Inspections - This inspection is done for the seller before the home goes on the market.
It helps to determine if there are any major concerns to deal with and will give you time to correct them. This type of
inspection helps to reduce any uncertainties and conditional offers. Once the home is sold, a copy of the home
inspection report is left for the new owners. The new owners are encouraged to call the home inspector that
performed the inspection if they have any questions or concerns.
Benefits of Pre-Listing Inspections:
• The home has the potential to sell quicker. Helps to reduce any uncertainty the Buyer may
have on any issues.
• Eliminates the need to re-negotiate the purchase price based on the Home Inspector's findings.
• Allows you the opportunity to consider possible repairs before your home goes on the market.
Buyers Benefits for the Home:
• Helps you to make an informative offer and with confidence.
• Eliminates the need to put an inspection clause in the offer
What does a Home Inspection include?
The home inspector will review the major structural components: including: foundation, framing,
exterior wall covering, flashing, trim, all exterior doors, attached decks, balconies, steps, porches,
railings, eaves, soffits, grading, surface drainage, retaining walls, walkways, patios, roof, skyights,
chimneys, drains, waste, and vent systems.
The home inspector will review all internal walls, ceilings, floors, steps, stairways, railings,
countertops, cabinets, doors, windows, garage doors, garage door openers, the ventilation of
attics and foundation areas, fire places, chimneys.
In addition the electrical, heating, and air conditioning systems are also inspected,
Once these and much more items have been inspected, the inspector will review the results of the
inspection and advise on issues that are of concern.
For a list of Home Inspectors,
Infrared Thermal Camera Inspection
Home inspections are going hi-tech. Infrared thermal camera inspection is a process whereby a home inspector scans the home using a special camera that detects a difference in temperature on the walls using thermal infrared imaging technology.
In addition to a regular home inspection; an infrared inspection can determine:
· If a home has any undetected water leaks or damage.
· Where the water leak is coming from and how significant it may be.
· Identify any sign of mould behind drywall.
During a home inspection an infrared camera allows you see the invisible heat radiation on a camera screen varying from: human body heat, electrical wiring, to heat radiators.
A water leakage issue can be caused by a leaking window, foundation crack (leak behind a wall), a skylight, a shower, deck, or eaves troughs. The greatest concern any home owner has is that moisture in walls, or floors can lead to the growth of mould, and other health issues.
The infrared cameras can also detect:
A water leak coming from a window
Circuit breaker panel showing an indication of an overheating and a fire hazard!
Leak in the plumbing that is behind the wall.
A water leak appearing on your carpet or floor but visible to the human eye.
Regular furnace maintenance is very important to an efficient heating system. Dirty filters, improper settings can drastically reduce furnace efficiency. Failure to keep up with furnace maintenance can lead to high expenses and possibley become dangerous. Regardless of what type of central furnace you have, it is recommended that you get a yearly inspection by a qualified service technician and replace or clean filters on a monthly basis.
Carbon Monoxide Test
Central furnace systems that have heat exchangers have the potential of filling every room with poisonous undetectable, carbon monoxide gas. You should clean/brush and vacuum the heat exchanger surfaces every year, if recommended by your owner's manual. Also, it is highly recommended that you have your heat exchanger checked by a qualified heating contractor before you use your heater in winter months. At that time, the contractor will probably replace the filters, and check the fan belt and oil.
You should inspect your burners carefully to ensure that the flames are burning blue. If you see a yellowish-red flame that indicates that the fuel is not burning clean and hot. It is very common for the burners to rust or corrode which will reduce efficiency.
You should always clean or replace disposable furnace filters periodically during the winter and you should check the filter monthly.A permanent air screen or electronic air filter should be cleaned according to manufacturer's recommendations. When typical filters become clogged with debris, they cut down on a furnace’s efficiency and, over time, can cause parts to wear out faster. This is why you should change filters quarterly or sooner if they look dirty. Keep in mind, pleated fabric filters are a good, inexpensive choice for reducing dust and allergens.
The Facts About Aluminum Wiring
In the 1960s and 1970s, many homes used aluminum wiring instead of copper wiring as a way to save money and lower construction costs. However, a number of electrical fires have been attributed to aluminum wiring. Many building codes have been rewritten to not allow the use of aluminum wire for branch circuit wiring in houses.
Tests have demonstrated that aluminum wiring has certain properties that make it more susceptible to fires when it was not installed properly.
Aluminum tends not conduct electricity as well as copper, it generates more heat, is more brittle than copper, is more likely to break or crimp if it is brittle, and is more likely to corrode than copper.
Arcing can occur if a wire breaks or crimps. This can cause very high temperatures inside the wall or ceiling.
Aluminum will oxidize if it comes in contact with moisture. This oxidation removes the pure aluminum and what makes the wire thinner. If you have a thinner wire; more electrical current is running through it, causing heat. Oxidation also causes the wire to expand; this puts pressure on the protective plastic coating on the wire, and can cause the plastic to split. If any of these situations occur, arcing may result which can cause a fire.
Aluminum expands and contracts more than copper. This puts additional stress at all connections such as outlets and switches. If these become loose, arcing can occur at these points.
After all this is said and done, there are many ways that you can remedy this situation. One way is to rewire the entire home with copper wiring; this situation would be costly and disruptive, the other solution would be the use of COPALUM connectors. These are the recommended upgrade solution for aluminum wiring. Using these connectors and tooling is fast and efficient. This is the ONLY CPSC* approved repair, although some connections may be inaccessible.
If you are contemplating buying an older home with aluminum wiring or updating a home with aluminum wiring; please feel free to contact us so that we can show you how we will guide and protect you in this matter.
* The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) is the official Federal Agency that deals with recalls, reports and alerts.
The pictures below are a demonstration of the areas of the home to review and COPALUM connectors.
All ABOUT GROW HOUSES and HOW THEY CAN AFFECT YOUR HOME
Did you know that there is an estimated 15,000 grow operations just in Ontario!
Marijuana Grow Houses can exist from rural to urban areas and can operate out of residential homes or industrial units.
Professionals tend to favor renting or purchasing 2 storey homes for growing Marijuana. This way if anyone walking by looks in, they will not see what is actually happening on the second floor or basement. These homes or industrial units are operated at a minimum of 27 degrees Celsius and are maintained at a relative humidity of 80% or higher.
Extreme humid conditions can cause extensive mould growth. These conditions are considered extremely hazardous because of their toxigenic nature. Mould growth found in these buildings in most cases posses mycotoxins which can be extremely hazardous and life threatening for anyone who enter. In many cases mould growth is growing inside wall cavities out of sight without any indication of a problem or any visible signs of moisture damage.
In many cases marijuana grow houses pose structural and mechanical hazards as well as a fire hazard due to the modifications made to for this illegal operation.
It is not uncommon that these homes could have bombs and traps to protect their operation. This poses a threat to life and safety to first responders like police, fire, ambulance, building inspectors.
Once local authorities have discovered and shut down these operations, these homes can continue to pose a health threat to new occupants if the mould growth and biohazards are not identified and cleaned up.
When professionals decide on a home for their marijuana grow operations, usually the electrical in the home is modified. High intensity lighting is needed to grow a healthy harvest. This needs hydro, which is expensive. What many operators do is by-pass the electrical system illegally and 'steal' their power from the city or neighbors. This is why some neighbors next to the grow operations see their hydro costs increase. This is done by cutting into the basement foundation and directly tapping into the outside electrical lines so the hydro meter does not record hydro usage. This causes structural problems to the foundation, which may crack and leak. Some times, the home is rewired to add more power to the basement and reduce power to the upstairs. This can cause electrical fires and electrocution for the current or new owners of the home as well as power outages for the neighborhood.
Usually these operations construct a ventilation exhaust system going up through the home and out the attic. The heat and humidity venting through the attic will eventually weaken the attic structurally and will likely grow mould. Improperly installed exhaust fans can also cause structural damage.
Chemicals used in the operation are toxic and improper disposal can lead to soil and water contamination on the property, which can affect your home as well as homes close by. These toxic gases can build up in the home or be vented to the outside, affecting all neighbors as well. Everyone living in the home (including children) will be exposed to these chemicals as well as the fungus that is produced. The fact that a grow operation requires 80%+ humidity levels, and the average home should be at most 55%, mould will be prevalent in walls, insulation, floors and will be circulated throughout the home via the furnace and ventilation system.
What to look for when trying to identify a Grow House:
-You rarely see the occupants; and if you do it is only for a few hours at a time. You may see different people there or visitors showing up at odd times of the day or night.
-Windows could be darkened or covered up to hide activities
-You may see people bringing in lights, plant pots, fans, etc.
-Hydrometer outside is tampered with, or holes dug around the meter
-Strong odors coming from the home. Marijuana has a skunk-like fragrance, not is not easy to miss.
-Uncollected mail or newspapers are signs of neglect around the property (snow not shoveled, grass not cut, etc.)
-Little or no garbage is put out on garbage day
-May hear a humming sound coming from the home In winter, the roof does not have any snow on it (from excess heat being vented into attic or an unusual amount of steam coming from the exterior vents
-Windows are often barred, gates are chained, and guard dog signs are clearly visible.
What Do You Do If You Suspect a Grow House?
Call your local Police Department or Drug Enforcement Unit immediately. Grow house operations take only a few months to potentially ruin a home, lowering the entire neighborhood’s property values and brings crime into the neighborhood. For safety reason, Never try to investigate yourself or approach the occupant.
What Should You Look For Inside The Home?-
Outlines of where plant pots once were
-Indications of added roof / foundation ventilation
-Concrete patches inside garage (for added ventilation)
-Alteration of fireplaces (to be vented directly from operation area to outdoors)
-Rust in and around furnace (from extreme humidity levels)
-Topsoil in corners of basement floor
-Added, redirected or blocked vents in the duct system
-Visible signs of mould growth
-Water stained walls / floors / windows from dripping condensation
-Skunk-like odor in basement or throughout home
-Added water supplies in basement
-Excess electrical wires hanging from basement ceiling that serve no purpose
-Signs of previous extensive alarm or security camera systems in the home
If You Are Considering the Purchase of a Known Grow House:
Major repairs are required to a marijuana grow house, the home is often ruined and considered as non-inhabitable, and lowers property values of surrounding, neighboring homes. The only benefit of buying a known grow house is that the price will be reduced. If you are handy and looking for a home to fix-up, this can be ideal for you. Before purchasing a Grow House, we recommend that you call on the following specialists:
-Professional Home Inspection
-Atttic Inspection by a certified building scientist
-ESA (Electrical Safety Authority) Inspection
-Foundation Repair Expert
-Licensed HVAC Specialist
-Indoor Air Quality Assessment
These specialists will give certificate clearance for their industry standards and can price out the cost of necessary repairs. The Insurance Bureau of Canada, estimates that the average claim to repair a grow house is $60 000 - $80 000, you need to be prepared to spend much time and money to do it right and safely.
The pictures below show a grow house in full operation and how the hydro is bypassed from the main hyrdro meter.
Smoke and Fire Alarms
As of March 1, 2006, every home in Ontario is required to have working smoke alarms on every storey or level, including basements. According to information from the Ontario Fire Marshal and as drafted in the Ontario Fire Code, “a smoke alarm is required to be installed between each sleeping area and the remainder of the dwelling unit.
Where the sleeping areas are served by hallways, the smoke alarms must be installed in the hallways.” In addition, at least one smoke alarm is required to be installed on each story that does not contain a sleeping area.
Non-compliance with the Ontario Fire Code smoke alarm requirements can result in a ticket for $235 or a fine of up to $50,000 for homeowners, tenants and individual landlords, and up to $100,000 for corporations.
The Ontario Fire Code has specific methods for determining what is considered a story in a dwelling unit. For detailed information on this and other aspects of this new requirement, please see the Ontario Fire Marshal’s web site (www.ofm.gov.on.ca) and click on “Working Smoke Alarms: It’s the Law”, and then on “Q&A’s”.
Urea formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI)
Uffi has been talked about for many years. UFFI was approved in Canada for use in exterior wood-frame walls only. Urea formaldehyde foam insulation was used mainly in the 1970’s. This was the era when there was a push to create more energy efficient homes. During this period, governments offered financial incentives to improve the insulation levels in your home. This program was called CHIP (Canadian Home Insulation program). There was an estimated 100,000 homes in Canada that were insulated with UFFI. UFFiI is still considered to be one of the best insulations created.
Uffi originates back to the 1950's in Europe where it was developed as a way to insulate difficult to reach places in walls. Uffi consists of urea formaldehyde resin, a foaming agent and compressed air. When this is injected into a wall, the urea and the formaldehyde cure and form an insulating foam plastic. UFFI has a good insulating value (R value rating) which is used to measure or evaluate the insulations ability to resist heat flow.
Formaldehyde is colorless, and has a very strong odor. It can be found in diapers, cosmetics, paints, cigarette smoke, dry cleaning chemicals, gas appliances, wood stoves, fireplaces, no-iron fabrics, and paper products.Typically formaldehyde levels in homes are 0.03 to 0.04 parts per million (ppm). Homes with new carpeting can reach levels of 0.16 ppm.
Temperature and humidity effect the rate at which formaldehyde gases are released from materials into the air; as the temperature and humidity increase, so will the gas that will be released.
UFFI was banned in Canada in December 1980, because during the insulation process, an excess of formaldehyde was added to ensure complete “curing” with the urea, which produces urea-formaldehyde foam. The excess was given off during the curing process within one or two days of injection.
If UFFI was installed properly, there may have never been any problems. However, there where UFFI was improperly installed or improperly used in locations where it should never haven been, problems started.
It was reported that some people experienced respiratory difficulty, eye irratation, running noses, and headaches as a result of having UFFI in their homes. When UFFI comes into contact with water or moisture, it can break down. UFFI should only be removed by a trained professional.
After much research, it appeared that urea formaldehyde foam insulation did not been the health risks that was initially thought.
Concerns of health risks with homes that has or had UFFI created a stigma, and makes selling the home very difficult. . Even if the UFFI was removed, the perceived health issues made selling a home at market value very difficult.
Prior to 1993, mortgage insurer's would have the Seller sign a declaration stating that to the best of their knowledge, there was not UFFI used to insulate the home. This declaration was discontinued since then.
If you would like any additional information on UFFI, please give us a call.
When the Seller leaves the property in a mess?
One of the most disappointing calls that we receive as Realtors is when one of our Buyer’s calls us to inform us that the home that they purchased was left in a mess.
Some of the calls that we receive after the deal has closed, and the seller has moved out is that the Seller has left their unwanted junk. We have seen empty bottles, empty paint cans, old furniture, broken tools, broken glass, or a garage or shed just full of debris.
When Sellers leave the home is this state, they are actually in breach of their signed and accepted Agreement of Purchase and Sale. We inform our Buyer’s that one section of the purchase contract states, that the property must be maintained in the same condition as it was on the date of the offer was accepted. (Within reason normal wear and tear).
The difficulty is the fact that the condition of the property is discovered after the transaction is completed. We usually include at least one or two re-entries into the property prior to the closing. The main purpose of this last re-entry is to view the property to determine if the Seller has maintained the home. It’s also gives us an opportunity to see if any of the agreed upon repairs (if any) have been completed.
The remedies that the Buyer has if the property is left in poor shape, is to notify their solicitor as soon as possible. The Buyer’s solicitor will in turn write and send a letter to the Seller’s solicitor. At this stage most of the Sellers have little motivation to co-operate. In the event that the lawyers can’t resolve the issue, the only other remedy is small claims court. With small claims court it is usually is not worth the expense, time and energy for the amount that the clean up would cost; unless there is substantial damage.
The other issue that arises is to determine how both parties will agree on the cost of damages. This can cause additional legal expenses and frustration on both sides.
Typically, most Sellers are conscientious and clean their homes before they leave. Unfortunately, there is always a small percentage of sellers who unfortunately do not.
How swimming pools affect property values
The price of purchasing and installing a pool can range from $10,000 to $70,000 or more. If you live in a home and want to invest in a pool, you should be aware that your investment would NOT be recouped when you list your home for sale. A pool is for your enjoyment but not as an investment.
Most homebuyers do not like purchasing a home with an in-ground pool.
The main reason is safety. Especially Buyer’s with young children want to avoid the risks that are associated with in-ground pools.
Maintaining a pool can be also is expensive. Buyers who are considering purchasing a home with a pool should first research the costs of cleaning and maintaining the pool, including the using the chemicals, etc.
Home insurance costs also increase when you have an in-ground pool.
When you have an in ground pool, you will require to take all needed precautions to prevent accidents. You should check with the city to familiarize yourself with the local by-laws regarding fence requirements around pools.
In general the marketplace does not consider a pool as an asset; unless your pool is in a higher end home, with a large lot. Most Buyers’ purchasing a home with a pool understands that they are receiving the pool for free or at a minimal cost.
An in-ground pool can limit you resale value and will also decrease the number of Buyer’s that will even consider viewing your home. Most Buyer’s just do not want an in ground pool.
If you truly would like a pool, you can consider purchasing an aboveground pool. They are less expensive than in ground pools and can be easily dismantled/removed when you are selling your home.
Another option is to consider a hot tub. Unlike pools, hot tubs don't limit the number of potential Buyers when it comes time to sell your home. In fact, hot tubs can actually improve the appeal of your home, because you can use the hot tub all year long. Because the covers are heavy and can be locked, hot tubs aren't considered a threat to children as pools
Can the electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) cause health effects?
An "electromagnetic field" is an electric field generated by charged particles in motion, and radiated fields, which includes, TVs, hair dryers, radios, and microwave ovens.
The field is always strongest when you are close to the source and decreases as you move away from the source.
These energies can affect you from great distances. The radiation from a radio tower allows you to pick up a signal from distant radio antenna.
All agree that more research is required to determine safe or dangerous levels.
(ES) Electromagnetic hypersensitivity, is a physiological disorder caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields. It produces neurological and allergic-type symptoms.
Symptoms are: dizziness, skin irritation or rash, eye irritation, headache, nausea, facial swelling, pain in joints and/or muscles, buzzing/ringing in the ears, weakness, fatigue, skin numbness, abdominal pressure and pain, breathing difficulty, and irregular heartbeat.
Individuals may experience these symptoms following exposure to a new EMF source, such as: a new computer or new fluorescent lights, a new home or work environment:
To help reduce risk:
Try to increase the distance between yourself from your computer terminal, don't let children play directly under power lines, and turn off your computer monitor and other electrical appliances when you aren't using them.
Be aware of your surroundings, hair dryers, alarm clocks, microwave ovens, and computers emit EMFs . Try to rearrange your furniture, desks, beds, and couches away from heaters, fluorescent lights, wiring, and electric doorbells.
Finally, use shielding devices on your computer screens, on your cell phones, on your household wiring, and circuit box/ transformer.