Your HomeTeamKC Report
March Issue: Tornadoes, Hailstorms and Drought
Welcome to the March issue of The HomeTeamKC Report. This monthly report provides REALTORS® and Homeowners with helpful information about residential homes from a home inspector's perspective.
As we enter another spring and summer season, Don Carter, Managing Partner of Foundation Engineering Specialists, was kind enough to share a very appropriate article from his archives. Don has many years of experience as a licensed structural engineer in the Kansas City area and we are proud to have a professional relationship with Foundation Engineering Specialists and Don. Their website is linked through www.kansascity-homeinspections.com. I think you’ll enjoy their article below.
Another article reprinted with permission in this month's newsletter is REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS REGARDING A PROFESSIONAL HOME INSPECTION. This article is so revealing and informative for clients that we have started including it at the end of every home inspection report. Properly setting expectations with clients regarding every facet of the homebuying transaction reduces stress for everyone involved…starting with the clients!
The agents that The HomeTeam accepts referrals from are professional, informed, and exhibit a sincere interest in the welfare of their clients. That is precisely why we accept referrals from those agents – and not from some others. We do no advertising, but rather depend upon word-of-mouth referrals. Quality begets quality. Let me say how much we appreciate the professional services that you perform for your clients. We receive many referrals from past clients as well, which is the most sincere form of flattery.
Be sure to view past issues of The HomeTeamKC Report archived on our website. Over time we are collecting there an extensive library of short lessons on the workings of a typical house.
Thanks for your interest and call or email us anytime with any questions you may have.
P.S. If you have problems viewing this newsletter in your email browser, click this link to view this and past newsletters from our archives.
P.P.S. Only a few of our agents are obtaining the CBS (call before showing) codes from the listing agent. I have a SUPRA key, however, as an affiliate, I can only access an I-Box with the CBS code. Each I-Box has a CBS code assigned to it. Obtaining the CBS code can save you time, and is a great backup if you are running late to an inspection. Thanks.
What you’ll find in this issue of
the HomeTeamKC Report:
·Things Learned from the 2003 Tornado, Hail Storm and Drought
·Quick Access to Our Current (January 2005) Pricing Sheet
·Reasonable Expectations Regarding a Professional Home Inspection
from the 2003 Tornado, Hail Storm and Drought
- The TORNADO came on May 4th and within 24 hours FEMA was requiring structural engineering evaluations for damaged houses. My partners and I were there early and saw the damage well before cleanup began. We observed block after block where some houses were leveled, then there would be 1 or 2 standing, then a couple missing and so on. We wondered why some survived and others failed. Often the answer was as simple as nuts and bolts. All the houses had anchor bolts to join the frame and foundation, but oddly only some had their nuts and washers on them. It’s kind of like putting your spare tire on without the lug nuts and expecting it to work. When the houses without washers and nuts got hit with high wind, they lifted and as soon as air got under them they were history. I now focus on this during inspections and see homes, in every price range, without nuts on their anchor bolts. This is a gray area for Codes Inspectors inasmuch as they check to see that the bolts are there, but do not typically confirm that nuts ever get installed. Check your home – it could make a big difference.
- The HAIL STORM came on June 23rd and cut a path of damage across South Johnson County. Wood roofs took a beating with nearly 100% replacement in some neighborhoods. My roof was only 3 years old and looked pretty good at first glance, however once tested it proved too damaged to save and we were faced with decisions about replacement. When our subdivision was platted, cedar shingles were the covenant-required standard, no exceptions. But the old rules got overturned and we had a chance to reroof with cedar, composition or steel. As part of their presentation, roofers asked if our house had an abnormal number of silverfish or spiders – which we do. Apparently silverfish are drawn to cedar roofs and then the spiders that feed on them follow. When the day came to strip off our old roof, I went into the attic which was then fully lit by daylight, and was astonished at the number of silverfish scurrying among the remaining cedar shingles. We replaced with composition.
- Summer was hot and dry, the second year in a row with below-normal rain fall. Officially declared a DROUGHT on July 22nd, lawns and trees began to show distress shortly thereafter. As clay soils lost grass cover and trees began to compete for ground water, houses started revealing the ugly signs of misalignment. I estimate that less than 5% of the drought damaged houses we assessed had sprinkler systems, suggesting that a lawn irrigation system is cheap insurance against drought. The logic is simple. A timer-controlled sprinkler comes on in June and wets the surface every 2nd or 3rd day. Grass stays green keeping the topsoil moist and bulky. This in turn protects the soil beneath from drying and shrinking. For about 1/8th the cost of fixing a misaligned house, you can own and operate a yard sprinkler. And when you get ready to sell the house much of that investment comes back in the form of higher appraisal.
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REGARDING A PROFESSIONAL HOME INSPECTION
There may come a time when you discover something wrong with the house, and you may be upset or disappointed with your home inspection. There are some things we'd like you to keep in mind.
- Intermittent or concealed problems
Some problems can only be discovered by living in a house. They cannot be discovered during the few hours of a home inspection. For example, some shower stalls leak when people are in the shower, but do not leak when you simply turn on the tap. Some roofs and basements only leak when specific conditions exist. Some problems will only be discovered when carpets are lifted, furniture is moved or finishes are removed.
- No clues
These problems may have existed at the time of the inspection, but there were no clues as to their existence. Our inspections are based on the past performance of the house. If there are no clues of a past problem, it is unfair to assume we should foresee a future problem.
- We always miss some minor things
Some say we are inconsistent because our reports identify some minor problems but not others. The minor problems that are identified were discovered while looking for more significant problems. We note them simply as a courtesy. The intent of the inspection is not to find the $200 problems; it is to find the $1000 problems. These are the things that affect people's decisions to purchase.
- Contractor's advice
A common source of dissatisfaction with home inspectors comes from comments made by contractors. Contractors' opinions often differ from ours. Don't be surprised when three roofers all say the roof needs replacement, when we said that the roof would last a few more years with some minor repairs.
- "Last man in" theory
While our advice represents the most prudent thing to do, many contractors are reluctant to undertake these repairs. This is because of the "last man in" theory. The contractor fears that if he is the last person to work on the roof, he will get blamed if the roof leaks, regardless of whether or not the roof leak is his fault. Consequently, he won't want to do a minor repair with high liability, when he could re-roof the entire house for more money and reduce the likelihood of a callback. This is understandable.
- Most recent advice is best
There is more to the "last man in" theory. It suggests that it is human nature for homeowners to believe the last bit of expert advice they receive, even if it is contrary to previous advice. As home inspectors, we unfortunately find ourselves in the position of "first man in" and consequently it is our advice that is often disbelieved.
- Why didn't we see it?
Contractors may say, "I can't believe you had this house inspected, and they didn't find this problem." There are several reasons for these apparent oversights:
- Conditions during inspection
It is difficult for homeowners to remember the circumstances in the house at the time of the inspection. Homeowners seldom remember that it was snowing, there was storage everywhere or that the furnace could not be turned on because the air conditioning was operating, etc. It's impossible for contractors to know what the circumstances were when the inspection was performed.
- The wisdom of hindsight
When the problem manifests itself, it is very easy to have 20/20 hindsight. Anybody can say that the basement is wet when there is 2" of water on the floor. Predicting the problem is a different story.
- A long look
If we spent half an hour under the kitchen sink or 45 minutes disassembling the furnace, we'd find more problems, too. Unfortunately, the inspection would take several days and would cost considerably more.
- We're generalists
We are generalists; we are not specialists. The heating contractor may indeed have more heating expertise than we do. This is because we are expected to have heating expertise and plumbing expertise, structural expertise, electrical expertise, etc.
- An invasive look
Problems often become apparent when carpets or plaster are removed, when fixtures or cabinets are pulled out, and so on. A home inspection is a visual examination. We don't perform invasive or destructive tests.
- Not insurance
In conclusion, a home inspection is designed to better your odds. It is not designed to eliminate all risk. For that reason, a home inspection should not be considered an insurance policy. The premium that an insurance company would have to charge for a policy with no deductible, no limit and an indefinite policy period would be considerably more than the fee we charge. It would also not include the value added by the inspection.
Reprinted from ASHI Reporter, By Permission of Alan Carson, Carson Dunlop & Assoc.
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