second opinion

You Need a Second Opinion

Imagine for a moment that you fell to the ground and got a scratch on your arm. You go to a clinic to get the scratch looked at and they tell you that you need a $10,000 operation to save your arm. There were no broken bones...no internal organs damaged...just a minor scratch on your arm! Would you take their word for it that you need this expensive operation, or would you get a second opinion?

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drought-induced foundation settlement

Drought-Induced Foundation Settlement?

What's all this talk about drought-induced foundation settlement in houses?

Well, it could very well be true!  If you live in and around Huntsville, or many other areas in North Alabama, where your home is founded on a highly plastic clay soil you might be seeing some foundation movement due to the past hot summer and limited rainfall.

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Guide to Structural Cracks in Homes

Do you have a crack in your home that you're concerned about? Are you unsure if your concern is valid? Is there a way to know if that crack indicates serious structural distress or if it's just cosmetic? We'll help you figure it out. 

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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