Saturday, June 25, 2011

Home Inspection

You are contemplating a purchase of a foreclosed property and want to make sure that the price is right. Realizing that there will be a certain amount of investment that needs to be made in order to bring the home up to your standards, you decide to schedule a home inspection. But who can you trust to give a complete and unbiased report on your prospective new home? Whether it’s an investment property or a home that is to be occupied by your family, you want to have confidence and peace of mind. If you do a search of qualified inspectors or companies, you will find many who are supposedly certified. But who are they certified by? There are numerous online schools and agencies that will certify just about anyone who is willing to pay the tuition or the certification fee.
These schools are very professional and do provide valuable knowledge to their students but the best qualification comes from the experience gained from being in the construction industry for many years. After all, how can someone that has recently been certified by an online school possibly have better credentials than a seasoned veteran of the construction industry that has 40 years of field experience?
Don’t just hire a certified home inspector by thumbing through the yellow pages or conducting an online search. Do some homework and look for a qualified inspector. By qualified that doesn’t mean that they have to be certified. For example, in the state of California there is no requirement for a home inspector to be certified. Although this certification may add to the credentials of a home inspector which in turn may enhance his business prospects, that doesn’t always mean that he will provide the best service. Although some home inspectors do have bonafide field experience, many have limited experience if any. Instead their credentials simply consist of the certification
that has been obtained through some online study course. In other words, they have simply bought their certification. What does this do for you? Sure you will receive a report that seems official but is it a complete review of the property in question?
When choosing an inspector, it is important to thoroughly review their entire scope of work. In other words, what does their inspection consist of? You will notice that some scopes call for only a certain percentage of electrical outlets or plumbing fixtures to be tested. What good is this? What about the one room with the electrical problems that failed to be tested? What about the one sink that leaks? Or the part in the scope stating that the inspector will not walk on the roof but instead will only inspect it from ground level? Are you kidding me? What part of the roof can you inspect from ground level? It goes on and on but the point is that you really have to read the scope of work to know what value you will receive from your home inspection. Always check the true qualifications of your home inspector. Don’t just rely on a certification. You may be disappointed only to find out when it is too late.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Summertime BBQ

With summertime rapidly approaching, many of us are already planning our activities in the great outdoors. Number one has to be that great American past time – the outdoor BBQ. Of course we will need a nice gathering place, usually a patio or deck. But we haven’t built one yet. So let’s get busy.
A wood deck is ideal for a gathering place and can be constructed to fit almost any terrain. Flat areas are simple and easy to design. While hillsides and multi – level areas can be a lot tougher, they do offer advantages; primarily the view. These situations will also allow you to create your own unique design. Viewing platforms, steps, stairs and benches will make your deck stand out from the rest.
Once the deck has been designed, the type of material must be chosen. For many the first thing that comes to mind is redwood. While redwood is a beautiful product whether it is left natural or stained or varnished, it still has it’s drawbacks. While it is termite resistant, it is not completely immune. In time, it can be attacked by termites. So why take a chance? New products are being introduced all of the time. Recently,composite deck material has become the popular alternative. It is termite proof and with pre - finished textures and colors of your choice, it doesn’t need maintenance. Once your deck is built, you can sit back and enjoy it without having to worry about repainting or resealing.
Next you will need shade. Again many people immediately think of wood for their shade structure. But the same problem exists. Wood is susceptible to warping, cracking, paint peeling,fungus and mold. You want to be able to enjoy your patio cover after it is built, not have to worry about maintaining it. Again there is an answer - Alumawood shade structures come in a variety of designs and colors to compliment the finish of your home. Other features include:

· The embossed texture simulates real wood.
· A variety of designs are available. Choose lattice or solid top. Choose rafter styles.
· Other options include architectural columns and railings, ceiling fans and post lights.
· Offered in a variety of colors to compliment your stucco or wood finishes.
· It is virtually maintenance free. Just rinse it off once in awhile.
· Never paint again. Paint will not chip, crack or peel.
· Fire retardant.
· Termite proof.
· Possible tax rebates through the Energy Star program.
· Peace of mind.

And for the finishing touches, how about an outdoor fire pit. that can be enjoyed at night under the stars? Then a little patio furniture. and sit back and relax.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

An Article on Dryer Vent Safety

Are your ducts in a row?

Dryer-venting systems should be cleaned to reduce the risk of fire caused by lint

Jay Romano
New York Times Syndicate
April 30, 2006
NEW YORK -- A 2003 study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that more than 15,000 fires in 1998, resulting in 20 deaths and 370 injuries, were attributable to overheated clothes dryers. Typically, the fires were caused by a buildup of lint in the dryer venting system.
Dryer-vent systems in most houses are no more than 5 or 10 feet long. But the venting systems in multifamily buildings (including co-ops and condominiums) can be hundreds of feet long and can contain decades-old accumulations of lint, fabric, small articles of clothing and just about anything else that can make its way from the dryer into the venting system.
"This is something most people never think about," says Stuart M. Saft, a Manhattan lawyer who is chairman of the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums. "But when you have a building that's 70 years old and has a dryer venting system that hasn't been cleaned in years, you can be sure it's going to be full." Saft says that in addition to being a potential fire hazard, accumulated debris can be a breeding ground for mold and can significantly reduce the efficiency of dryers. Joel Greenberg, president of 1-800-Chute-Me, a vent-cleaning company in Montclair, N.J., agrees. "Only a handful of New York City's newer buildings are equipped with high-volume dryer exhaust systems," Greenberg says. In most multifamily buildings, he says, dryers in laundry rooms are connected by flexible plastic or metal vent hoses to lint boxes, which are connected to a duct system that runs to the building's exterior.
Although the lint boxes were originally designed to be cleaned regularly, Greenberg says, many have been hidden behind walls or partitions, making access for cleaning difficult and putting the boxes "out of sight and out of mind."
"The lint box usually feeds into an exhaust system that runs through the interior of the building," he says, adding that usually the venting takes a circuitous route before it reaches daylight. "In one large building on the Upper East Side that we just worked on, the dryer exhaust system ran for 350 feet through walls, into mechanical rooms, past some street-level stores, and then through ceilings to a roof fan that hasn't worked in years."
Usually, Greenberg says, vent systems are not cleaned until the dryers stop working. So when the time comes to clean the system, it can yield a considerable amount of gunk.
"In one building, we took out 35 lawn-and-leaf bags full of lint," he says. Cleaning a hidden ventilation system, he says, typically involves cutting holes in walls and ceilings to gain access to the ductwork and then sucking out the lint with a high-efficiency vacuum. Depending on the job's complexity, he adds, the cost could range from a few hundred dollars to $10,000 or more. So who is responsible for cleaning the dryer venting system: the building owner or board or the laundry-room contractor? "Usually, the contractors say it's the building's responsibility, and the building will say it's the contractor's responsibility," Greenberg says. "The result is that the venting doesn't get cleaned." Saft says that while most laundry-room agreements do not address the issue, it is certainly a legitimate bargaining point in renegotiating a laundry-room contract. "When you renegotiate, it's a good bet that the company will be replacing some machines," he says. "That would be a perfect time for the company to clean out the venting."
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