Introduction To Building Inspections

inspection

Home Owners for maintenance, renovation, improvements, updating the properties and to protect against future problems.

Families Considering to buy a home, a revenue property or a cottage in the future. It is recommended before leasing a space to establish a business.

Offers to Purchase to check the condition and operation of the property and to see what would be required to upgrade the property to avoid problems in the future.

Single Family Homes as it is often the first major purchase for a family. It can greatly influence the pleasurable or difficult experience of a family for years to come.

Multiplex, Duplex and three-plex properties carry very different components, condition of use, equipment and operation. Services and equipment need to be identified and found adequate. Their use and operation need to be described.

Apartments are revenue properties for the owners and a home for the tenants. Properly updating older buildings such as insulating ducts, heating and domestic hot water pipes and basements can very much decrease the cost of operation.

Businesses with long term leases can sometime partially update their premises to save on heating and air conditioning costs.

Large Commercial areas like shopping centers may sustain enormous damages by simply improperly removing accumulated snow and ice on the large area roofs after a major storm.

Institutional properties like older schools, churches, convents, state, provincial and city buildings may only have 1/20 of the insulation recommended economically today.

Governmental properties often more than 50 years old are not efficient to operate and some updating costs could be upset by the savings in less than one year.

Industrial and manufacturing complexes are oriented principally toward production. Buildings and facilities are often less cared for or upgraded. At times the heat lost produced by some industries is equivalent the needs in energy and heating of a small village.

 

Outside the Property

The Landscape

Drainage of runoff is extremely important to avoid sudden damages. The water table, foundation drains, the height of foundations, sump pumps, city sewers and ditches, outlets of septic tanks need to be checked if accessible. These information must be given to the purchaser for future use.

Slopes are as important. Is the building in a depressed area or on a bump? What is to be done about it?

Embankments with white stones, bark chips and crushed bricks or clay, top soil and impervious materials.

Retaining Walls and the causes of their toppling. The proper design using different materials.

Landscaped Terraces, their design and what to avoid.

Swimming Pools. The kinds and their location on a property.

Trees. The influence of their shade and roots.

Sun Orientation when adding windows, terraces, additions and attached solariums or greenhouses.

Fences location, use, utility, kind.

Privacy enhancement and use of trellises and vines.

Security needs and property design, fictive or real, behind your own bars or controlled opened space.

The Roof:

Type of Roofs, shapes, construction and materials. Basic standards of concepts, even when using new materials, need to be respected. As much the impervious membrane is needed, in the majority of cases, the aggregates or crushed stone layer is needed to protect and dissipate the sun heat.

Condition of actual roof, what should be seen and what should not be seen. What are the improvements and how to avoid replacement. See maintenance below.

Attic Vents The different kinds, placement at ridge as exit and the lower entrance soffits. Are they sufficient? Many kind of conditions are shown in this section further supported by photos.

Winter Conditions related to ventilation of attics and amount of insulation.

Summer Conditions related again to ventilation of attics, insulation and air conditioning. The rapid deterioration of roofs by heat entrapped in attics.

Attic Insulation for warm and cold climates, in winter and summer.

Maintenance of roofs and the need to improve some new conceptual roofs. The waterproof membrane and the protective cover of aggregates are both needed.

Replacement of roof caused by a lack of repair or lack of maintenance. Are new roofs better than old designs? Why guaranties have gone down from 20 to 25 years to 10 and in some cases only 5 years.

Outside Walls:

Material of Walls kinds, structure, construction, resistance and the problems and deterioration and their cause.

Maintenance of walls. Old and new ways to build walls with different materials. Advantage and disadvantages of some materials. The use of walls for different purposes.

Efflorescence or whitening of walls by calcium or lime. The causes, correction and components to be added to the walls to avoid future deterioration.

Weeper Holes and vent slots in window sills and at the base of brick walls on foundations.

Insulation of attics, walls and basements. What to do or avoid.

Windows of different kind. Their advantage and proper operation. The improvement of existing windows. What are the main reasons to consider replacing the windows.

Doors made in wood, aluminum, metal or other materials; old and new, advantages and setbacks.

Outside Entrance or main access, balcony, porch or verandah.

Balconies. The suspended balconies on upper levels or stories, materials, flaw in designs and maintenance.

Raised Terraces often in wood. Their foundation and basic design and what to avoid.

The Foundation:

of cracks , their importance, their causes and their repair. How to avoid the formation of cracks in walls, foundations and in basement or garage floors.

Columns of metal, solid concrete, concrete blocks, telescopic adjustable posts or wood. Their strength and soundness.

Foundations material, height, of cracks , maintenance and false or erroneous concepts. Material used for repairs.

Stucco on foundations or walls. How to use and what to avoid.

 

Inside the property

Attic and what can be seen and checked.

Stories/Floors what to check and expect to see.

Main Floor treated differently than other floors as it lies directly on the main structure of posts and beams.

Basement structure, insulation, room addition, accesses, windows, equipment, humidity, danger of inundation, protection.

Inside Walls, partitions, structural walls, supporting walls, divisions, fire walls, of cracks and maintenance.

Heating sources and distribution. The advantages and drawbacks.

Ventilation of the attics, ventilation of the different floors and the basement.

Water Supply, amount and quality, pressure and flow. Ways to improve the system. Some materials and choice of sizes may be questionable.

Sewers and drains, rainfall and storms evacuation, foundation drains, floor drains and sump pumps.

Electricity in older and new buildings; needs, adequacy, loads, improvements, safety. Size in relation to other sources of energy.

Humidity in attic, inside and basements. Also in all closed areas.

Security with operation of facilities or equipment.

Exits from different levels and areas.

Home Inspection – How Do You Check A Toilet

blocked-toilet-repairs-services-in-penrith-nsw

How Do You Check A Toilet?

Both the tank and bowl of the toilet must be filled with water before a toilet can be tested. When the lever on the tank is pressed, it flips up a rubber stopper called a flapper, which releases the water in the tank to flow into the bowl. The water flushing action is accomplished by water shooting from small holes around the inner ring of the top of the bowl, in coordination with a siphoned jet hole at the bottom of the bowl. The bowl should be rinsed clean at the end of the flush, as the flapper resets itself over the opening at the bottom of the tank and the tank refills.

Here’s what we check:

Bullet The tank and bowl should have a smooth, cleanable surface without any cracks.
Bullet The inspector will straddle the toilet bowl between his legs with a gentle rocking action to see if the connection to the floor is loose. A secure, bolted connection to floor is important: a loose bowl will eventually open the wax seal connection to the drain pipe in the floor, and allow slow leakage to spread across the floor. When the toilet is sitting on a wood floor structure, wood rot will weaken the floor over time. Also, he will confirm with a nudge that the connection between the tank and the bowl is not loose.

When flushed, the bowl should drain promptly and completely, and the tank should refill in a reasonable amount of time. We note if the toilet fill valve opens intermittently due to a small leak or runs continuously. If uncertain about a leak, we put a small dye tablet in the tank and wait a couple of minutes. Any dye color that shows up in the bowl indicates a problem. An infrared camera or moisture meter may also be used if we suspect moisture around the base of the toilet.

THE STANDARD RESIDENTIAL TOILET IS A CALLED A GRAVITY TYPE. MORE SOPHISTICATED DESIGNS INCLUDE THE VACUUM-ASSIST AND PRESSURE-ASSIST TOILETS, BOTH OF WHICH HAVE AN ENHANCED–BUT NOISIER–FLUSH.

A FEDERAL MANDATE IN 1994 REQUIRES NEW TOILETS TO HAVE A MAXIMUM 1.6 GALLON FLUSH VOLUME, BUT ONE VARIATION ON THE STANDARD TOILET IS A DUAL-FLUSH, WITH A CHOICE OF TWO BUTTONS FOR EITHER A LOW-VOLUME (1.0 GALLONS, FOR LIQUID ONLY) OR REGULAR (1.6 GALLONS, FOR SOLID WASTE) FLUSH.

EVERYONE IN THE BUILDING TRADES HAS A FAVORITE TOILET STORY. OURS IS ABOUT AN OLD-TIME BUILDER WE KNOW WHO WOULD PUSH THE MERITS OF BUYING ONE OF HIS BRAND-NEW HOMES VERSUS AN OLDER ONE BY SAYING: “YOU KNOW, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO SIT ON ANOTHER MAN’S TOILET!”

Inspecting Windows

take-a-close-look-at-your-windows-is-it-time-to-replace

What Are The Common Problems You Find When Inspecting Windows?

Here’s how we look at windows: we start while examining the exterior of the house, looking for missing or damaged trim, deteriorated caulking, clouding due to lost insulating gas in double-pane windows, and bent, damaged or missing screens. We also check for flashing at the top of the window trim. Later on, while testing sprinklers, we note any heads that are spraying on the windows.

Then, inside the home, we test the window locks, open the the window, and look for evidence of water intrusion—such as powdered or stained drywall/plaster and cracks due to movement of wet wood. We verify that bedroom windows have emergency egress size openings (big enough for a person to get out and a fireman with a backpack to get in).
Also, while doing an infrared scan of the interior walls and ceilings we pay special attention to the areas surrounding each window. Most of the water intrusion damage observed is found in the wall framing below the window.

Here’s our top 10 list of common window defects:

1)Fogged windows due to lost insulating gas – An insulated window has two panes of glass with an inert gas sealed between them which provides the thermal insulation. When the seal is broken, through damage or deterioration, moist air and dust come into the center area and condense on the interior surface of the glass, eventually building up a hazy film. The leakage of the insulating gas also reduces the R-value of the window.

2)Damaged wood trim on exterior – Seasoned carpenters like to talk about avoiding “water traps” when installing a window sill and trim. A water trap is any surface that is not sloped downward away from the wall and allows rainwater to sit until it evaporates. These areas soon develop spots of wood rot and, if left unrepaired, allow water to enter the wall and begin to rot the wood framing.

3)Cracked window panes – A cracked glass pane lets a minor amount of outdoor air into a home, but is mostly a safety concern. The fracture line shifts slightly over time and develops a sharp raised edge. Also, once the glass is cracked, any further stress will cause it to shatter.

4)Lack of exterior flashing – One hallmark of a quality building contractor is a strip of metal flashing that covers the top of the window trim and is secured behind the siding directly above the window. It’s an effective deterrent to water entry at the top of the window. Some builders depend on a bead of caulk to seal the seam between the siding and top trim, but the caulk eventually fails.

5)Missing or damaged screens – Sometimes they are stored in the attic or a corner of the garage. We check around before declaring them missing.

6)Windows do not open or difficult to operate – We test each window that is reasonably accessible, and note any problems operating them. If the seller has furniture in front of the window, or delicate bric-a-brac on the window sill, sometimes can’t risk moving the belongings to test the window

7)Evidence of water intrusion – Staining, especially around or below the window sill, is our visual clue of water intrusion. Further evaluation with a infrared camera and/or moisture meter follows.

8)Broken locks – Older window locks that don’t function can be due to damaged lock hardware or misalignment of the sash.

9)Missing operating handles – Can’t test the window without them.

10) Lack of tempered glass at required locations – We look for the “bug” (manufacturer’s tiny imprint on the glass indicating tempering).

“Fenestration” is a fancy word that architects use to describe the door and window openings in a building. Because problems often show themselves around these openings, we look at each of them carefully.