We Will Buy Your Home Back Guarantee

buy-back-guarantee-1The BrickKicker of Middle Tennessee is proud to announce a new program offered in conjunction with International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). If one of our inspectors misses anything during a home inspection then InterNACHI will buy your home (or your client’s home) back.  This powerful tool will help homebuyers be more comfortable with the home inspection process. The inspector will give each client a Buy-Back Guarantee certificate that explains the program and gives the web address to see additional information. The following was copied from InterNACHI’s Buy-Back Guarantee webpage:

If your participating inspector misses anything, we’ll buy your home back.

And now for the “fine print:”

  • Honored for 90 days after closing.
  • Valid for home inspections performed for home buyers by participating InterNACHI members.
  • We’ll pay you whatever price you paid for the home.
  • The home must be listed with a licensed real estate agent.
  • Excludes homes with material defects not present at the time of the inspection, or not required to be inspected per InterNACHI’s Residential Standards of Practice.

Privacy Policy:  We don’t collect identifiable consumer data; therefore, we can’t sell or release it.  No data is sold or released to any third party.

Forum Selection:  The exclusive venue for any litigation arising out of InterNACHI’s Buy Back Program shall be in Boulder, Colorado.  Any person that brings an action against InterNACHI waives trial by jury and agrees to pay InterNACHI’s attorney’s fees, expenses, and costs if InterNACHI prevails.

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We recommend that you visit their Buy-Back Guarantee webpage to watch the video testimonials of customers that have participated in the program and a real estate company that only uses inspectors that participate in the program.

Scott Moore, Chief Inspector and Certified Master Inspector, at The BrickKicker of Middle Tennessee ensures that the highest standards are held and implemented at each inspection. Additionally, he trains and monitors the other inspectors that work for him.

For more information on the program or if you would like to book an inspection call 615.789.9122 or email: smoore@brickkicker.com

Press Release

Certified Master Inspector
Contact:

J. Scott Moore, CMI
The BrickKicker of Middle Tennessee, Inc.
615.789.9122
smoore@brickkicker.com
www.bkhomeinspector.com
www.brickkicker.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
J. Scott Moore Earns Certified Master Inspector® Designation

Dickson, TN. (Dec. 1, 2016)– The BrickKicker of Middle Tennessee is pleased to announce that J. Scott Moore is now credentialed as a Certified Master Inspector (CMI)®, which is the inspection industry’s top professional designation.

The Master Inspector Certification Board has awarded the Certified Master Inspector (CMI)® designation to Mr. Moore for demonstrating the highest level of competency by completing 1,000 fee-paid inspections and/or hours of inspection-related Continuing Education, for having been in the inspection business for at least three years, for abiding by the industry’s toughest Code of Ethics, and for agreeing to periodic background checks.

Mr. Moore wishes to thank his clients and colleagues for their continued support of The BrickKicker of Middle Tennessee.

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The BrickKicker of Middle Tennessee has been serving the Middle Tennessee area for over two years, specializing in historic home and new-construction inspections, with an emphasis on indoor air quality. Previous to moving his business to Middle Tennessee he served the South Florida area for several years.

Why Get a Home Inspection If You’re Buying “As Is”?

by Mark Cohen, J.D., LL.M., InterNACHI General Counsel, and
Nick Gromicko, InterNACHI Founder

 

Some sellers – often, those working without an agent – want to sell their home “as is” so they don’t have to invest money fixing it up or take on any potential liability for defects.  There is nothing wrong with buying a home “as is,” particularly if you can buy it at a favorable price, but if you are considering buying an “as is” home, you should still hire a competent home inspector to perform an inspection.  There are several reasons for this.

First, you don’t know what “as is” is. Sure, you can walk through the home and get an idea of its general condition.  You may even spot some defects or items in obvious need of repair.  But you won’t obtain the same detailed information you will receive if you hire a home inspector.  Home inspectors are trained to look for things you are not likely to notice.  InterNACHI inspectors, for example, must follow InterNACHI’s Residential Standards of Practice and check the roof, exterior, interior, foundation, basement, fireplace, attic, insulation, ventilation, doors, windows, heating system, cooling system, plumbing system, and electrical system for certain defects.  Armed with a home inspector’s detailed report, you will have a better idea of what “as is” means regarding that home, which means you’ll be in a better position to know whether you want to buy it.  You may also be able to use information from the home inspection to negotiate a lower price.

Second, many states require the seller to provide you with written a disclosure about the condition of the property.  Sellers often provide little information, and a few even lie.  A home inspection can provide the missing information. If an inspector finds evidence that a seller concealed information or lied to you, that may be a sign that you don’t want to buy a home from that seller.

Finally, if you buy a home “as is” without hiring a home inspector and then later discover a defect, all is not lost.  A home inspector may be able to review the seller’s disclosure and testify as to what the seller knew or should have known about.  The inspector may find evidence that the seller made misrepresentations or concealed relevant information from you.  Even the seller of an “as is” home may be held liable for misrepresentation or concealment.

But the better choice, obviously, is to hire a home inspector first.  Remember:  The cost of a home inspection is a pittance compared to the price of the home.  Be an informed consumer, especially when buying an “as is” home, and hire an InterNACHI Certified Professional Inspector®.

To find an InterNACHI inspector in your area, click on the icon below.

 

InspectorSeek.com

Rusted Lintel – What’s the big deal?

What Is It?

A lintel or header is a horizontal beam used in construction of buildings and is a major architectural contribution of ancient Greece. Lintels usually support the masonry above a window or door opening. They may be made of wood, stone, steel or reinforced or pre-tensioned concrete.

What Happens?

Bricks over doors and windows are often supported on a steel lintel that is exposed to the weather and will rust in time. Rusting causes the steel to expand and will actually gradually lift the bricks overhead, until the familiar step-crack pattern becomes visible.

What’s The Solution?

A little caulk and paint is usually all that is needed to slow this process. Badly rusted lintels may require replacement.

 

Radon – Should you test for it?

According to the EPA, The Surgeon General and State of Tennessee the answer is YES!  The EPA states: “Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon.” Now for the “why.”

Radon is a radioactive naturally occurring tasteless, colorless, and odorless gas that is produced by the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil.  The EPA estimates that 21,000 deaths in the U.S. a year are radon-related and 2,900 are deaths from people that have never smoked. This makes radon the number one leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and the #2 leading cause in smokers. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels you are at a much higher risk of lung cancer due to the synergistic effects of smoking and radon.

Since you can’t taste, smell, or see radon the only way to know if your house has radon is to test for it.   According to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) radon is a very serious problem in our state. They claim that there is potential for radon to enter your home regardless of which county you live in.

tennessee_sm

For a full page version of the above map go to www.eps.gov/radon/pdfs/statemaps/tennessee.pdf

The EPA recommends that you install radon mitigation systems in your home if the test results come back at 4 pCi/L or higher. They also recommend that you consider fixing your home if the results are between 2 and 4 pCi/L.  Radon is not an issue outdoors since it dissipates quickly out in the open. However, indoors it can build to dangerous levels.

How to Test.

There are several ways to test for radon. First, is to hire a certified radon tester. These professionals have received training to ensure that they understand how to set up the equipment to ensure the most accurate results. They also are able to interpret the test results. The author of this article is a certified radon tester and actively performs radon testing in Middle Tennessee. You can also go to:  www.inspectorseek.com

The second way to test is to do it yourself. Either buy a test kit at a store like Lowe’s or Home Depot or go to www.tn.gov/health to signup for a free kit. The kits come with instructions. After the test kit has been set up for the appropriate amount of times (usually 2 – 4 days) ship the test kit back to the laboratory and in two to three weeks the results will be returned to you.

For more information on this topic go to:

www.epa.gov/radon/aboutus.html

 

www.tn.gov/health/article/rado

 

Next Blog: I have radon above 4 pCi/L…now what?

Septic Systems – Easily Prevent Problems

As a home inspector I run across many septic systems and realize that often neither the buyer nor seller know much about these systems. That can be costly.

Taking care of a septic system is much more important than most people think. If the drainage system fails because the system has been neglected you will likely have to replace the system and this can be very expensive.Septic SystemThe typical septic system consists of a tank and a drainfield. Wastewater from the house flows into the tank. The heavier solids sink to the bottom forming a sludge layer. The lighter solids and grease float to the top creating a scum layer. This process takes about 24 hours. The leftover water (called effluent) gets pushed out to the drainfield as new wastewater enters the tank.Septic Tank CutawayBacteria in the tank breakdown some of the solids into liquid. The remaining solids stay in the tank. The effluent flows into the drainfield where it is absorbed into the ground. Additional bacteria in the ground filters and purifies the water prior to it entering the groundwater.

As time passes the amount of solids in the tank increases reducing the amount of space in the tank. Eventually there will be so many solids in the tank that there is not enough room for the wastewater. The wastewater will be pushed out before the solids have separated properly.  When this happens the solids enter the drainfield and may clog the drainfield. When the drainfield becomes clogged there is nowhere for the wastewater to go and it will backup into the house.

The above scenario is easily prevented. The following are dos and don’ts of septic use:

  1. Have your septic pumped every 3 – 5 years. How often you pump your septic system depends on the amount of water your household uses. The more people using the septic system the faster it will fill with solids. Pumping a septic tank in Dickson County, TN costs about $200. This is a tiny fraction of what it would cost to replace the system if it becomes clogged.
  2. Be water wise.
    • Repair leaky faucets and toilets as soon as possible. According to the EPA a slow leak from a faucet can generate 15 to 20 gallons of water per day.
    • Use low-water fixtures.
    • Spread laundry washing through the week so that you don’t overburden your septic system.
    • Only flush toilet paper down the toilet. Even things that are labeled as “flushable” may not be suitable for a septic system.
    • Don’t drain hot tubs or swimming pools into the septic system or onto the drainfield as these can saturate a drainfield and reduce its effectiveness.
  3. Be careful what you plant on the drainfield. Grass is the best plant for drainfields. Plants with long and deep roots such as trees or shrubs can damage a drainfield. Keep trees at least 10 feet away (preferably 50 feet).
  4. Don’t pour paints, solvents, pesticides, or similar products down your drain. These kill the bacteria in the septic system and keep it from doing its job. Additionally, some of these chemicals pass through and contaminate the groundwater. The above does not pertain to ordinary household cleaners, laundry soaps, etc. Used normally, these do not overly affect the septic system.
  5. Don’t put trash or grease down the drain. Trash is just another solid that needs to be processed and will cause the tank to fill faster. Grease can clog pipes, so avoid pouring it down the drain as well.
  6. Don’t allow roof or driveway runoff into the drainfield. Saturation of the drainfield reduces its ability to process wastewater efficiently.

I hope this helps clear up some misconceptions about septic systems and prevent unnecessary problems in the future.  

Keep Mold Out!

This is a picture I took a week ago in a crawlspace here in Middle TN

This article is going to focus on preventing mold from growing in your crawlspace and invading your living space. Home inspectors are not supposed to use the word mold when we see fungal growth such as the picture above. The reason being that you can not be positively sure it is mold unless you take a sample and have it analyzed by a laboratory that specializes in mold. However, we know it exists and sometimes grows in, around, or under our homes. Therefore it is important to take the necessary steps to keep it from growing. According to the Institute of Medicine indoor exposure to mold can cause upper respiratory tract symptoms, such as coughing, and wheezing in otherwise healthy people. Additionally they state that exposure to indoor mold can cause respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.

Mold is everywhere and we breath it all the time. The key is to ensure the levels do not get to high. How much is much mold? There are no government or industry standards for acceptable levels of mold. The industry rule of thumb is the level of mold inside the house should be about half the level of mold outside the house. The only way to determine your levels of mold are to hire a mold professional to collect airborne samples inside and outside your house. These will be sent to a laboratory for analysis. The lab will create a report that compares the mold volume in your home to the sample taken outside.  The report will also tell you what types of mold are in the air inside your house. Many home inspectors, including the author, have the ability to take mold samples and send them into a laboratory for analysis.

Regardless of whether you get the test done or not, there are things you can do to ensure the mold levels in your home are as low as possible. This article will focus on crawlspaces, sense they are the dampest areas I see during inspections.

Mold needs three things to grow: Food, Air, and Water. Water is always the missing ingredient as the other two are abundant everywhere. Therefore, the key to minimizing mold growth is eliminating the water.  There does not have to be an active leak or a puddle of water for mold to grow. It starts growing at about 70% relative humidity (RH). However, if you have a leak under your house the resulting water will add to the RH.

As a home inspector I see mold or mold like substances all the time. Normally it is in a crawlspace that is very damp. The crawlspace never dries out, so the RH stays high. This causes the mold to grow. To stop it from growing you must remove the moisture.

This was taken around the middle of July 2015.
This picture of possible mold and fungi was taken around the middle of July 2015.

This time of year moisture comes from several sources. The first source is rainwater seeping under and through the house’s foundation. To prevent this keep your gutters clean so the water doesn’t spill over the top. Also ensure the downspouts are directing water five to seven feet away. Vegetation should be cut 8 – 12 inches away from the house to promote air circulation so that the soil can dry next to the house.

Secondly, open up those foundation vents. This too helps air circulation. Homeowners forget to open them up after winter.

Third, have someone inspect your crawlspace (or do it yourself) for water leaks. Just yesterday I found a water leak under a house that was coming from the master bathroom. You could not tell there was a leak in the house, but once under it the leak was plain as day. Mold only needs moisture for 24 – 48 hours to start growing so catching leaks early is key.

Fourth, ensure your vapor barrier (a fancy name for a big sheet of plastic) completely covers your crawlspace floor and goes approximately six inches up the walls and posts. The job of this big sheet of plastic is to keep water vapor (hence the name) from rising from the ground and raising the RH in the crawlspace.

The last major cause of moisture in a crawlspace that I run into most often is condensation on air conditioning ducts. I could write a whole separate article on this. Basically, condensation occurs when hot humid air comes in contact with a cool service and loses its ability to hold water. The water collects on the cold or cool surface and eventually drips down.

This picture was taken during a new construction inspection.
This picture was taken during a new construction inspection.

The cause of this is typically a lack of insulation or insufficient insulation on the ducts. If there is no insulation, which I seldom see, then add insulation. However, if there is insufficient insulation it is much more difficult to add additional insulation. In this situation I recommend you change your approach and remove the moisture from the air with a dehumidifier. They are relatively inexpensive (~ $250.00) and you can attach a drain hose that runs the water outside. Some come with internal pumps that pump the water out.

To summarize, keeping your crawlspace dry is an important step in protecting you and your family from the harmful effects of too much mold. Remember, water is almost always the missing ingredient when it comes to mold growth. Remove the moisture and the mold won’t grow.

For more information on mold visit these sites:

www.epa.gov/mold/

www.cdc.gov/mold/dampness_facts.htm