Our house is breaking in two

“Dear God, Martha, Our House is Breaking in Two!”

When I arrived at the home, the sellers were sitting at the kitchen table and the wife was in tears. “Our house is breaking in two!” “My husband has been laid off and the contractors are telling us it’s going to cost more than $10,000.00 to repair our cracked foundation.” I asked if I could see the floor crack. The husband took me into the living room and showed me. It was about 3/8-1/2-inch wide and extended across the entire width of the room, from the back wall toward the front. He explained, “we pulled up the carpet to put down hardwood flooring and we found this.” “It’s pretty bad, isn’t it”, he exclaimed. I peered around the room in a 360-degree glance and did not see any drywall cracks in the walls or ceiling. I walked across the floor and did not detect any floor slope. Finally I explained, “Mr. Smith, you have nothing to worry about!” This is simply a shrinkage crack. It is not a structural crack or sign that your foundation is breaking apart. It’s purely cosmetic. Read more

Why is My Ceiling Cracking

Why is My Ceiling Cracking?

There are a number of reasons why ceiling cracking happens:

Reason 1 – Heavy Moisture

ceiling cracking
Leaks in the roof from heavy rains is a common source of ceiling cracks.

Moisture damage from above the ceiling, either from the floor above or from damage to a roof, can cause significant ceiling damage. Cracks may appear along with crumbling, discoloration or peeling paint. Also, if your ceiling has drywall tape affixed to it, the tape may separate from the ceiling and hang down in strips. Read more

Unnecessary Panic: Mold

Unnecessary Panic!: Mold & Fungus In the Crawlspace

I recently received a call from a Realtor who is selling a home. He asked if I could double-check the findings of another home inspection company that requested expert advice on some mold/fungus they found in the crawl space of the home. I gladly obliged.

After my inspection I wrote the following report: Read more

Differential Settlement

What is Differential Settlement?

Differential Settlement can be simply defined as “unequal settling of a building’s foundation.” Differential Settlement can result in damage to a building, leaving small and/or large gaping cracks in exterior brick veneer and concrete blocks.  To gain a better understanding of how differential settlement occurs, let’s first review how a foundation is laid.

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Contaminated Water

Contaminated Water: Are You at Risk?

In light of the recent EPA advisory concerning water contamination for 8 Alabama water systems, now is a good time to discuss at-home water contamination. While the EPA advisory is due to outside contamination sources beyond a homeowner’s control, there are risks for contaminated water, at-home, that a homeowner can control and prevent.

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Deck Failure

Deck Failure: What Happened to my Deck?!

With the onset of summer, people will be spending time outdoors on wood decks. Wood decks should be inspected annually for signs of decay, missing flashing, and corrosion of fasteners or connectors, especially at the connection to the house. Guardrail details and connection are also important. Besides maintenance-related problems, some decks, especially older ones, may be poorly designed leading to deck failure. Read more

Everything You Need to Know About Radon

Everything You Need to Know About Radon

Is Radon gas an issue that homeowners should be concerned about? Since recent Alabama state surveys show that 2 homes in 5 have elevated radon levels, perhaps we should get more familiar with it!

  • Radon is a radioactive gas.How does radon enter a house
  • It is produced by the natural breakdown (radioactive decay) of uranium.
  • You cannot see, smell or taste it, but it may be in your home, nonetheless.
  • It is the second leading cause of cancer in the United States (behind cigarette smoke).
  • Current state surveys show that 2 homes in 5 have elevated radon levels.
  • Radon enters the home through cracks in foundations or slabs, joints, underground service penetrations, untrapped floor drains, sumps, exposed soil/crawl space areas, and other openings.
  • It can also enter a home through the water supply.
  • It is nine times heavier than air, and thus tends to stay close to ground level.
    Radon levels in a home’s basement can be two to five times greater than the level of upper floors.

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Water Level Survey JADE

Water Level Survey: Are You Smarter Than an Egyptian?

Are you smarter than an Egyptian? If you’re not using a Water Level Survey to determine the levelness of a house, then the answer to that question is “No!”

The History of the Water Level

Historians say that the ancient Egyptians were the first to use water levels as far back as 1100 B.C while building the pyramids. The bedrock was networked with narrow trenches, then filled with water.  The Egyptians understood the physics of water, that water always resigns itself to be completely level, so the waterline was marked on all the trench walls, the protrusions were cut down, and the trenches re-filled with stone to create a level base. Read more

Two Major Real Estate Deal Breakers

Two Major Real Estate Deal Breakers

There are two places within most homes that the homeowner seldom visits… the attic and the crawlspace. Because these two places are seldom visited or inspected, the homeowner is completely unaware of the issues– major real estate deal breakers –that are “hidden” from their view. As the old saying goes “Out of sight, out of mind.”

As a home inspector, I would guess that of the all the deals “I’ve purportedly killed” over the past 31 years, most of them would likely be based on problems that I found beneath the home or inside the attic space. Whenever I’ve found a problem and explained it to the buyer, they naturally became alarmed. When the Realtor told the seller, they became offended, and the next thing (it seemed), everyone was mad at each other. All of this could have been avoided had the homeowner requested a pre-listing home inspection. In a pre-listing home inspection the attic and crawlspace are carefully inspected to ensure that the homeowner is made aware of issues they might not have known existed. Necessary repairs can be made before the home is listed. As a result, when the future home buyer requests a home inspection, there won’t be any “unexpected surprises”.

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When it Comes to Home Inspections, is Cheaper Better?

When it Comes to Home Inspections, is Cheaper Better?

It never ceases to amaze me that the number one question home buyers ask about a home inspection is, “How much do you charge?”

I certainly understand this to a degree, but when they go on to try and negotiate price, or ask for discounts, I can’t say I get it.

Here’s why: “A home inspection is (not) a home inspection is (not) a home inspection.” In other words, you get what you pay for – and cheaper isn’t always better.

Why would someone want to spend hundreds of thousands on real estate, and skimp on the inspection? If something truly is wrong, it’s that very inspection that could possibly keep them from making a colossal mistake — that is, if the inspector hired to do the job is a seasoned professional. Read more