Home Inspection: What to Expect and What to Look for Before You Sign

Everyone I know is a bit skeptical when it comes down  to signing documents for home contractors, inspectors, insurance agents , etc. One of the reasons is that everyone is a bit afraid to sign.  Unless you know the contractor or home inspector, chances are you are dealing with a stranger you know nothing about.  You don’t know if they are trustworthy or competent, or whether they belong to an association where they have to follow a code of ethics. 

Asking some basic questions before you sign a contract can truly save you a lot of headaches later on.  You are the paying customer, ask them questions to make sure everyone is satisfied before the work begins.

For more about home inspectors, follow the links below.


Top home inspection deal breakers

A home inspection can be stressful for both parties. Almost every inspection comes back with at least some sort of repair and, most often, those problems are minor and easy enough to negotiate. However, there are some deal breakers that can cause buyers to run for the hills.

Mold

Erin Craft, home inspector with Destination Bay Home Inspections, says this is one of the biggest problems that can potentially kill a deal.

“We see this issue in attics, basements, or crawl spaces,” he said. “There is a lot of fear when it comes to mold, and we’ve had buyers stop us right in the middle of the inspection and say they are walking away. They see it as a huge risk, both to their health and their wallet.”

However, Craft says before ditching the deal, consider doing a bit more investigating, especially if it’s a home you really love.


Make sure you understand terms of service before paying a home inspector

I was buying a house and hired a home inspector. We went through the whole inspection, and I even paid him his fee. Then he gave me a form that indicated that he would not give me the written report unless I signed a document.

The document stated that I agreed that I could only get back the $400 I paid him in case there was a problem with the inspection or his report, or I could pay him an extra $1,500 and the cap would be eliminated. Don’t you think that he should have told me this before I hired him? He’s a member of ASHI.

We think it is highly questionable that a home inspector would spring those terms on you so late in the game. ASHI stands for the American Society of Home Inspectors, and they have a code of ethics. Among their code is a requirement for the home inspector to “act in good faith toward each client” and that ASHI inspectors should “avoid activities that harm the public, discredit themselves or reduce public confidence in the profession.”


Dear Monty: Agent tells home seller not to attend home

Q: We accepted an offer on our home. The contract is subject to a satisfactory home inspection. Our agent called to set up a time for the inspection and asked us to vacate the house. My thinking is that if there is some discovery made during the investigation that both parties observing will aid in understanding the issue. Do you agree with her suggestion?

A: Most of the states that regulate inspectors are seeking inspections that reveal “significant” material defects that negatively affect the value of the property or create a concern for safety that is not apparent at the times the buyer viewed the home. The customer can overlook the fact this is a pre-owned home. They sometimes compare a pre-owned home inspection with the “certified” used car. Most every home has a wart somewhere, which is the buyer’s responsibility unless the seller agreed to remove the wart as part of the contract. Education of all participants, which requires investing time, is a key to ensuring a home inspection goes smoothly.


 

Home Issues You Should Not Ignore

According to research done by the MacArthur Foundation between 2012 and 2014, more than half-52%-of Americans have had to make sacrifices in order to pay their mortgage.

Recent research also shows that almost 12 million Americans spend more than half of their income on housing ,which according to many analysts, that is way too much. They believed you should spend 30% of your income on housing, and considering you need to put aside 1% of the buying price of your home for yearly maintenance, that is a big stretch for many families.

The 1% you need to  put aside for maintenance does not include home insurance, that is only for the upkeep of the house.  Some of the upkeep includes, but is not limited to these:

  1. Basement waterproofing
  2. Loose shingles on your roof or other major roofing problems
  3. Fixing and restoring the rain gutters in your home
  4. Basic yard and gardening upkeep
  5. Air conditioning and the Ventilation system in your home
  6. Siding that comes loose or needs replacing
  7. Critter Infestation? Do you need to replace vents, or siding due to squirrels or other critters in your home?
  8. Painting a room or two require many supplies. Budget for them. Basic painting keeps the house looking pretty and healthy.
  9. Installing a humidifier in your basement can save you money and some headaches down the road.  Buying a good quality one is the only way to go.
  10. Leaking faucets can damage the wood under the sinks, the floor and even the walls in your home.  Don’t ignore them even if they don’t seem to be leaking too much.  You would be surprised the amount of water it can waste in just a few days.

Every home is different and so are the people living in them.  The issues listed here may not seem a problem to you, while they can be huge catastrophes for others. This list is obviously a short version of the problems one may faced at home, the point is to try to take care of the problems as they occur.  Postponing them may be worse down the road, and more expensive.


Protecting Your Home

Flood Insurance is not included in your policy in most cases.  You need to verbally ask and be offered flood insurance by the Insurance company and go from there.  Insuring your home is not only advisable but extremely important.  It can be a financial catastrophe if a natural disaster occurs and you are unprepared to face the consequences.  If you are in an area where flooding is likable, make sure you have flood insurance to make sure your home is protected.

Structural home problems start with a leaky basement that is not taken care of and is left unattended.  Cracks on the wall and bowed walls are serious problems that can play havoc with the structure of your home.

Mold and mildew are dangerous pollutants in your home. Clean air becomes a luxury if you have a wet basement.  Water seeping into the basement of your home jeopardizes the stability of the foundation, making your home less valuable in the long run.

Basements have served many families as storage facilities for many years, but leaky basements can damage and ruin your belongings.  With flood insurance you can protect your personal belongings and replace them in case of a flooding.  Make sure you talk to your insurance agent and understand the type of insurance you need and for the quantity you need to insure your home and your belongings.

There is a minimum amount you need to insure your home, but it does not include your personal property.  Ask questions before you agree to sign anything.  Make sure you have enough insurance to be properly covered.

Nobody can protect themselves from natural disasters, but it does pay to be protected in case the need arises.  Don’t procrastinate and leave something as important as your home for another day.  If you have a basement or foundation problem, call today to make sure your home and your family are safe.


Keeping The Basement Dry All Year

Not all contractors are created equal.  There are many companies and contractors that do an excellent job when they are hired for any house or business project.  And there are many other companies and contractors that do not.

Postponing a basement waterproofing job you need because of the kind of contractors you may be getting, is not something you really should do. A home with water in its basement, cracked walls, or foundation problems is a house in danger.  Foundation problems that you do not take care of right away, tend to be problems that will cost you much more later on.

Start checking the contractors you want to call through the Better Business Bureau and check their rating.  Many contractors will offer you a hassle free consultation without overselling.  Do your due diligence before you actually enter into a contract with anyone, but do not postpone a job you need for fear of the kind of contractor you might get.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


Wet basement? Avoid getting soaked

Is your basement wet? Are you thinking about calling a basement-waterproofing contractor?

Stop!

Many contractors will propose installation of expensive interior drainage systems  — even if you don’t need one — when most moisture problems can be solved through less-expensive means. You’re more likely to get good results — and save a lot of money — by exploring other possible solutions and hiring a basement-waterproofing contractor only if absolutely needed.  If your home was built within the last few years, check the builder’s warranty for clauses on seepage.

Most basements get wet when rainwater runs toward the walls of houses from roofs, yards, and driveways. So your first step is to force it to run away from your home.


Keeping mold away as flooding continues

Greece, N.Y. – As water continues to flood homes along Lake Ontario, homeowners are trying to keep their homes as dry as possible.

Mold remediation is a real possibility, but it has to wait until the water stops coming in.

His backyard is surrounded by sandbags, and he has extended his sump pumps since water started moving in.

“This is the outlet of the sump pump. We extended out to the lake to get it as far away from the house as possible,” said Kehoe.

His two sump pumps are working overtime.

“Both of them run pretty much every 30 seconds or every 60 seconds pumping out [water] right now,” he said.

Mark Frillici, who owns Healthy Spaces Mold Mitigation and Basement Waterproofing, says keeping basements and crawl spaces as dry as possible is key at this stage.


Q. My wife and I are in the planning stages of finishing off half of our basement into a couple of bedrooms, and a small living/TV room. I am concerned about water and water vapor creating that mildewy basement smell once all of the construction is complete. To that end, before we start I am addressing any water entry into the basement, to which I believe I have been successful.

So that leaves water vapor. Our foundation is poured concrete with footing drains, and a coating of emulsifier on the outside. I now run a dehumidifier 24/7 in the basement during the summer months to control the humidity. We will be insulating the exterior walls of the basement on the inside. What are our options for doing this (including any necessary wall coatings) that will give us a vapor barrier ranked best to worst in your opinion.

For extra credit, I’ve seen on HDTV a certain program about siblings remodeling a house, and one of them, let’s call him “the builder,” insulates interior basement walls with straight unbacked fiberglass insulation. Is this a West Coast thing, and even allowed here in Vermont?


Home Improvement Checklist

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have programs that help people renovate and repair their homes with the assistance of the U.S. Government.  They received many complaints of contractors that do shoddy work, and because of the financing, these contractors believe they can do the shoddy work with impunity.

The Ohio Attorney General’s website provides a list to follow for all people living in Ohio that want or need to have home repairs.

The list includes among others:

  1. Checking the contractors references
  2. Not signing anything without making sure you have read everything carefully
  3. Not signing with the first contractor you talk to
  4. The contractor has shown you proof of Licenses, insurance, and bonding
  5. You have checked with the Better Business Bureau for the company’s credentrials

At Pioneer Basement Waterproofing, we pride ourselves with the work we do, the commitment to our community, and the customer satisfaction history we have worked for since 1979.  We are a locally owned and operated company that is fully licensed, bonded and insured for the protection of our customers. We treat our customers the same way we treat our friends and family; the way we want to be treated.

If you are thinking about a home repair or improvement, inform yourself before starting any big or small project.

To read more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


7 Explosive Ways to Increase Customer Satisfaction

Follow these seven strategies to keep customers coming back again and again.

Customer satisfaction is crucial for any business to succeed, but satisfying increasingly demanding consumers can become a challenge. Poor customer experience is a catalyst for customer churn, and the damage of one unhappy customer is the 9-15 people they will tell about their encounter. Customer satisfaction is priceless when acquiring new customers—a process that’s 4-5 times more expensive than maintaining an established customer base.

So, customer satisfaction is important, but what can businesses do to drive their customer satisfaction up and keep it there? Below are seven effective ways to improve your customer experience and increase customer satisfaction.

Respect Your Consumers

Just as a bad experience can have a dramatic effect on your business, so can a positive one. Word of mouth packs a punch in the buying world, so treat your customers with respect and watch your customer satisfaction flourish. The secret to building a loyal customer base is creating respectful experiences for your consumers to share with their friends and family.

It all sounds pretty straightforward. However, finding the right balance and approach to respectful interactions can be tricky for both you and your customer. Respect your customers by providing them with tools to help themselves. Ensuring that your consumers can easily access frequently asked questions and information about your product on your user-friendly site is one simple way to create a respectful customer experience.


5 major tips to measure Customer Satisfaction

When it comes to mobile app customers, there is no better friend and foe for a mobile app business, especially in the current market conditions. Earn the customer’s trust and they would be devoted to your brand but if you treat them poorly then the tables can turn towards you. In addition, the major issue is that only 5% of unhappy customers really express their discontents. And sometimes it might happen that some of them won’t even come back. So what can you really do to determine the satisfaction of your customers?

The most effective way to measure that is using feedback surveys and communicating directly with the customers. Being cautious regarding the customer experience and its influence on your business conversions is vital to the business’s success. Consider the following tips to measure the effectiveness of your app’s customer experience.

 


Do Your Customers Promote You?

Getting the right information about how satisfied your customers are with your services is the first step toward getting them to recommend you to others.

Few would argue that satisfying customers is a “must” if a company hopes to grow and prosper. Most companies even have some established means for measuring how satisfied customers are with their products and/or services, and they take these measures seriously. Too often, however, these internally developed measures do not provide a true picture of how satisfied customers really are. In fact, I would argue that many of the measures used by companies tend to skew results to be artificially favorable. This can lead to customer service complacency based on a mentality of “we haven’t heard otherwise, so things must be OK.”


Landscaping Your Home The Right Way

When selling or improving your home, the interior of the house is the place which we spend most of the time worrying about.  Is the kitchen up to date with the appliances? Are the countertops in good condition?  Is the bathroom on the first floor well maintained?

If selling the home your priority this year, make sure the outside of the home is being taken care of, and the landscaping makes a good impression to the potential buyer.  Shrubs, gravel, unleveled driveways, branches hanging from trees, are some of the easy to spot maintenance jobs you need to do before putting your home for sale.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


7 Landscaping Trends to Avoid When Selling Your Home

Aside from location, location, location, your home’s landscaping is one of the first things to make an impression on a potential buyer. And it’s not just curb appeal, although that is important.

Amenities like an outdoor fire pit or brick barbecue pit are not all created equal. The same goes for trees, shrubs, and outdoor lighting. If you don’t want to spend some real money on dressing up the outdoor space around the house, then don’t spend anything at all.

Jennifer Geddes at Realtor.com has created a list of seven landscaping trends to avoid as you get your home ready to sell. Her list follows.

Landscaping laid out with a ruler
Nice, neat lines used to be the trend for planting flower beds and bushes, but today’s outdoor look is much more natural.

The same cheap trees everyone has
Choose trees wisely, including eastern red cedar, sugar maple, Colorado blue spruce, and myrtle. Steer clear of the ones that rain leaves and needles (pecan, oak, sweet gum, eastern white pine), and your look will be neater and easier to maintain. And when it comes to placement in your yard, think strategically.


Certain landscaping materials prone to fast-spreading fire, officials say

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – What materials do you use in landscaping your yard? Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue released a new public service announcement warning homeowners and property management companies against using pine straw and similar products.

“When landscaping, use noncombustible material like rock instead of pine straw or mulch,” urges Lt. Jonathan Evans with MBFR. “If it can catch on fire, don’t let it touch your house.”

Fire officials warn that it’s not just landscaping material that can fuel fires near your home.

“Dry grass can be fuel for wildfires, so keep your grass and lawns hydrated and maintained,” suggests Lt. Evans.


Consider investing some green in your landscaping to increase your home’s worth

SIOUX CITY | If you want to turn your backyard into an oasis as seen on HGTV, be prepared to spend some money.

Mike Lutt, owner of Country Nursery Inc. in Wayne, Nebraska, said that makeover could cost anywhere from $1,000 to more than $200,000 depending on your wants, needs and square footage. The average cost of an outdoor patio is $12,000 to 15,000.

“People are going from wooden decks and synthetic Terex decking to a raised paver patio for the same cost,” said Lutt, who said multi-level raised paver patios allow homeowners to incorporate more elements and designs into their outdoor spaces. “It used to be just slapped up against the house. Now, they bring it out further.”

Lutt said there are benefits to using VERSA-LOK retaining walls, made of high-strength, low-absorption concrete, and Willow Creek Paving Stones, composed of high-strength aggregates. He said these materials don’t have to be stained or sealed as wood does, and they don’t fade.

Protecting Your Basement From Spring Rains

Spring weather is here and along with it comes the rain.  It is inevitable that as homeowners we want to ensure the basement of our home is dry and free of humidity, mold or mildew, and that is a safe place to spend time with our kids.  Knowing if you have a problem with your basement, is the first step in solving a problem that may go undetected for years.  The humidity in your basement may be an early indicator to problems with water leaking into the basement of your home.  Taking care of humidity issues right away, ensure your foundation won’t sustain damages that are more troublesome and can jeopardize the structure of your home.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


Many people associate a wet basement with seeing water, but that’s not the only symptom of a potential problem, according to Wes Pfleiger, marketing manager at Mid-Atlantic Waterproofing.

In addition to water seepage, loose or crumbling mortar between stones and plaster, mold and mildew, musty odors and cracks or dark spots in basement walls and floors can all be signs of a basement with a water problem.

Mid-Atlantic Waterproofing is primed to educate consumers as a vendor at the Northeastern PA Home and Better Living Show April 8 and 9 at the Lodge at Montage, 1000 Montage Mountain Road in Scranton.

The event is presented by the Home Builders Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania and sponsored by Scranton Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram, Window World and Bath Fitter/Kitchen Saver.

Pfleiger said trained professionals from the 52-year-old company will be on hand at the event to answer “any and all questions” about basement waterproofing. Mid-Atlantic Waterproofing will also offer free, no-obligation basement inspections for home show visitors.


Basement flooding season begins

(WTNH) — I have been lucky to never see basement flooding in my house, but whether you’ve lived in your house for 20, 30, or even 40 years, it does not mean it can’t happen to you. So how do you prevent it from happening in the future, and if it does, what can you do to make sure it doesn’t happen again? Well let’s find out.

Weeks of above average rainfall and lots of snow melt have helped us hugely to lower our drought numbers, but with a saturated ground and more rain on the way, your basement may flood over the coming weeks, so what can you do?

“It’s real imperative for residents throughout the state to be looking for signs of water seepage. Is it damp around cracks, and the floor wall seam. Is it damp to the touch? These are all indications that the soil around the outside of the house is over saturated and it could be poised to flood any time,” said Mike Lane, Sales, Connecticut Basement Systems.

There are some things you can do to help prevent this. Buy gutter extenders to keep water from dripping close to your foundation, and try to make sure that if you live on a hill, rain water gets routed away from your home. If all else fails, call a professional.


Home Repairs That Can Save You Money

Maintenance is the key to keep your cars running smoothly, your appliances working, and your house looking beautiful.  There are a few maintenance tips for your home that can help you avoid costly repairs later.  Cleaning the gutters of your home and making  sure they are not loose or clogged can save you repairs  due to leaking water to the basement, or damage done to the roof. Making sure the water downspouts adapters are firmly attached, and are taking the water away from the foundation of your home, can save you from having water sitting around the foundation and eventually finding a way to the basement. Prevention is the key to saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unnecessary repairs.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


5 Home Repairs to Make Now to Avoid Problems Later

If you put off fixing a wobbly fence post or squeaky door hinge, it’s probably not going to end in a homeowners insurance claim. Other home repairs, if left unchecked, can quickly domino into major disasters. Water is a factor—if not the primary cause—in the majority of high-risk situations. Here’s how to identify priority home repairs and handle them at their source:

Runaway Rainwater

Telltale signs: Rain pouring over gutters and puddling along foundation walls.
Why you need to act: Water can deteriorate siding and foundation walls, eventually finding its way to interior spaces and damaging them.
What to do: Inspect the entire gutter system for clogs and corrosion; you can clear clogs yourself, but if your gutters are corroded, you’ll want to talk to a pro about having them replaced. Check that the soil around your home’s foundation slopes away from the house at least 1 inch per foot for 6 feet or more. Regrade the soil if the slope is insufficient.


Tips from the happy homeowner playbook: Don’t let your cash go down the drain or out the window.

Whether your live in a 19th-century farmhouse or 1990s colonial, chances are you’re leaving real money on the table each year in the form of excessive energy consumption. Simple behavioral changes, such as turning off power-hungry video game consoles, can add up to serious savings. The following energy-efficiency advice also includes high-hanging fruit, like upgrading your water heater and making the investment in rooftop solar.

Eliminate Drafts

Here’s an easy way to pinpoint air leaks in your home that make for drafty rooms in the winter and can drive up annual heating costs by $100 or more. First, turn on every exhaust fan in the house, including a whole-house fan and kitchen range hood, and hold an incense stick up to suspected leaks around windows, doors, and even electrical outlets. If the smoke blows sideways, you have a leak large enough to undermine your home’s comfort and efficiency. For around $30 worth of caulk, weatherstripping, and expandable foam sealant, you can plug the leaks for good.


How to Afford All Your 2017 Home Improvements

A leaky roof or a sagging gutter can be hard to ignore. The same goes for some old-school wood paneling in your den or that hideous palm tree wallpaper you put up in a (misguided) attempt to recreate your honeymoon. Unfortunately, most home improvements don’t exactly come cheap.

In fact, it may even feel like you’re basically saving up another down payment on your home to fix it up. There are some ways, however, to sock some dollars away and have your new sink and bathtub in the new year, too.

Here’s how to work some much-needed home improvements into your 2017 budget.

1. Save

Sure, you may feel inclined to rush into renovations — and when it comes to certain home repairs, things must be readily done. But it still behooves you to save where you can before crossing things off the to-do list. One trick?

“[Set] an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account to take place every two weeks on your payday so that the money leaves your account before you ever have a chance to spend it,” Brian Davis, director of education for real estate blog SparkRental, said.


 

Is Your Sump Pump Working?

This winter in Northeast Ohio hasn’t been bad.  Temperatures are nothing compared to what they used to be a few years back, and snow accumulation has been minimal — my daughter is still waiting for enough snow to build our annual igloo — and unless February brings too much snow to make up for January’s, the climate in Northeast Ohio is not too shabby.

Spring will come sooner than you think.  The rains will undoubtedly come too, and with the rains come flooded basements in many homes around here.  We are humans, and busy humans to boot.  We don’t check many things around the home, unless we have an emergency or pay someone to do it for us.  For example: When was the last time you checked the sump pump to make sure it works? Do you know if you have one?  A sump pump can be an incredible help if you have a flooded basement, and making sure is in working condition can be very beneficial for your whole family.

If you have a sump pump and are wondering what to do, these are some of the basic things you need to check to make sure it’s working properly.

  1. The electrical system of the sump pump can suffer from damages over time.  Power surges during storms can damage it and leave you with a sump pump that no longer works.
  2. If you are testing the sump pump, make sure you go outside to make sure that is discharging the water.
  3. Replace the battery every couple years.
  4. Make sure the motor of your sump pump is not making strange noises when running it.  If it is, follow the manufactures’s instruction to fix the problem, or call a knowledgeable company to fix it for you.
  5. Make sure the drain lines are clean, and will not block the water exits.
  6. Maintenance is key for your sump pump.  The manufacture’s instruction booklet can give you clear instructions on how to properly maintaining your sump pump, and keep it working for years.

If you have already one installed, checking it before the rains arrive can be a very helpful aid when you most need it. Look into the manufacture’s booklet to know what steps to take before you test it, or call a knowledgeable person or company to do it for you.

Looking at any Home Depot, or Lowes store, you will find that there are hundreds of sump pumps to choose from.  Make sure that if you are going to replace the one you have, you need to make sure it is the right one for your home.  A too little or too big sump pump for your home cannot be good and even shorten its life. Talk to a professional if you are unsure what to buy.


Flood Sensors and Other Solutions For Your Basement

When we offer articles in this magazine about cost effective solutions to waterproof your basement, and you think you can do the job by yourself, we want you to think carefully first about the problems that you are facing.  If your basement’s problem is only humidity, a humidifier will do wonders to the place.  If on the other hand you have water sitting on the basement floor or there is seeping as well, the problem is no longer as easy to fix.  A basement waterproofing company with a long history in your community can be the only solution you have.  Contact us, we will offer you a  hassle free consultation for your basement needs.


Flood sensors for your basement

Cnet rating: 4 stars out of 5

The good: D-Link’s Water Sensor is smartly designed and features all the important perks to make it an effective flood detector.

The bad: D-Link’s only real weakness is that it relies on being plugged in, which means power outages are its Achilles’ heel.

The cost: $57 to $90

The bottom line: The D-Link Water Sensor is one of the best flood sensors on the market. If you’re considering buying such a device, this should be the first option on your list — especially if you don’t already use a smart-home hub.

Fibaro Flood Sensor

Cnet rating: 4 stars out of 5

The good: The Fibaro Flood Sensor combines clever design with an open interface, allowing users to creatively pair it with sirens, complementary sensors and more.

The bad: The tilt sensor can be hit-or-miss, and the price is definitely steep, especially if you want to monitor multiple areas at risk of water damage.

The cost: $60

The bottom line: The Fibaro won’t be for everyone, but its versatility and reliable design make it one of the best water sensors for homes at risk of flooding.


Wet basement? Try these cost-effective solutions before calling a contractor.

Wet basement? Thinking about calling a basement waterproofing contractor? Stop.

Many contractors will propose the installation of expensive interior drainage systems — even if you don’t need one — when most moisture problems can be solved through less expensive means. You’re more likely to get good results and save a lot of money by exploring other solutions and hiring a basement waterproofing contractor only if absolutely needed. If your home was built within the past few years, check the builder’s warranty for clauses on seepage.

Most basements get wet when rainwater runs toward the walls of houses from roofs, yards and driveways. So your first step is to force it to run away from your home.

Start by cleaning your gutters, repairing holes, and making sure they slope toward downspouts and have not come loose from the house, allowing water to fall directly from the roof to the ground. Test downspouts to make sure they spill water at least four feet away from the house.