Home Inspections – What to Focus On

Shane Serra - Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Quite often when people are having a home inspection performed they can get all worked up over little things. A good home inspector will do their best to try and put issues into perspective for their clients and try and keep them focused on the bigger picture and things that really matter, like foundation leaks and structural problems.

Every house has problems, this is a simple fact. Having a home inspection performed isn’t about trying to find a perfect defect free home; it’s about getting as much information about the home that you want to purchase so you can make an informed decision. Buyers of all homes no matter how old or new should always plan to experience some sort of problem during their home ownership experience, it’s just a fact of life that at some point something will break, wear out or fail.

Importance of Paying Attention To Minor Problems During Home Inspection

When having a home inspection performed, the home inspector will likely not pay much attention to smaller low cost or minor problems. This is because the home inspector is there to look for major or serious problems that may deter someone from buying a home, whether it’s due to high repair cost or possibly a safety issue. Issues like foundation leakage, unsafe electrical wiring, a cracked roof rafter, or a furnace near the end of its life are bigger issues that buyers should pay more attention to when having their inspection performed.

In conclusion, if you’re having a home inspection performed, try to remain calm until all the facts are presented once the inspection is completed. From there you should be able to gather enough information as to whether you’re dealing with a home that might need a little TLC or is a money pit.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs home inspections, WETT inspections, thermal imaging inspections and mould inspections in Barrie, Alliston, Orillia, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach and Innisfil.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters & Home Inspections

Shane Serra - Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters or GFCI’s are a type of safety device commonly found in most homes during a home inspection. When present, home inspectors are required by their standards of practice to test GFCI’s to ensure they are working correctly at the time of inspection.

Aside from common outlet issues such as hot and neutral wires reversed, missing grounds and missing exterior weather covers, GFCI’s can also fail over time, be it from exposure to elements, frequent usage or just age. Most home inspectors will have a small GFCI tester that they will use to test or trip the GFCI when conducting the home inspection. If all is well the tester will trip the GFCI which indicates it’s in proper working order. If not, well it’s time to replace the outlet or breaker that serves the outlet.

Why are Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters Needed?

Where are GFCI’s needed? That’s a good question. In general GFCI’s are required in new builds pretty much anywhere water or moisture contact with an outlet is possible. As building codes started to adopt the installation of GFCI’s, they were initially required on exterior outlets and from there codes have changed to mandate installation in bathrooms, kitchens, garages and laundry rooms or any outlet that may be within one metre (three feet) of a moisture source.

Identifying GFCI Issues During Home Inspection

Some home inspectors may recommend in their inspection report that older outlets close to these higher risk areas be upgraded to a GFCI outlet for safety reasons. While GFCI outlets are not cheap in comparison to a typical outlet (usually about $15 to $25), they are worth every penny to anyone with common sense.

If your home inspector determines there is a problem with a GFCI during your home inspection, it is always a good idea to hire an electrician to perform any repairs or upgrades.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs home inspections, WETT inspections, thermal imaging inspections and mould inspections in Barrie, Alliston, Orillia, Wasaga Beach, Innisfil and across Simcoe County.

Importance of Downspouts

Shane Serra - Friday, July 21, 2017

By far one of the most common observations in regards to the roof system during a home inspection is the lack of downspout extensions. Unfortunately, current building codes do not require builders to install ideal downspout arrangements, therefore resulting in accelerated shingle wear and deterioration.

How To Prevent Drainage Off The Roof Using Downspouts?

So what can you do to help improve drainage off the roof and prevent accelerated shingle wear? Your home inspector will likely recommend a simple improvement such as extending downspouts directly into gutters. In two storey homes or homes with various roof levels, drainage from up high can be discharged onto a lower roof such as the garage or front porch roof. Simple downspout extensions here can save you from increased localized wear and premature leakage.

Maintenance of Downspouts

One other important aspect to downspouts is ensuring they discharge far enough away from the foundation to prevent potential basement leakage. Every home is a little different, but in general if downspouts are extended at least three to four feet away from the foundation, you can greatly reduce the risk of having a wet basement problem.

Also, ensuring the downspouts are in proper working condition helps prevent leakage onto exterior surfaces which can cause unsightly staining all the way to brick spalling.

Chances are if you’ve had a home inspection your home inspector has probably made some sort of comment or recommendation about improving downspouts and roof drainage. Most improvements can be done by homeowners themselves with very little cost and will help them save money in the long run.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. has been performing professional home inspections since 2006 in Barrie, Alliston, Orillia, Innisfil, Wasaga Beach and Collingwood.

Foundation Cracks & Home Inspections

Shane Serra - Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Foundation problems are a main focus of attention when performing a home inspection. While most homes do not have any serious or major foundation problems, they can occur and can be very costly to repair.

Dealing with Foundations During Home Inspections

Let’s start off with the most common topic when dealing with foundations and your home inspection that being the dreaded and awful foundation crack. Ok so most cracks are not that awful or serious, but at least we’ve got your attention now. Most cracks observed during a home inspection are in general, not a big deal. Many people assume that if the foundation has a crack that it is a major problem and they should run for the hills, not true.

Identifying the Severity of Foundation Cracks

All foundations will have cracks to some degree; it’s just part of the nature of the beast. Cracks will develop as the foundation settles and the concrete or mortar joints start to cure and shrink. Sometimes it can take up to a few years for cracks to occur. What matters is whether these cracks show evidence of serious structural movement or deficiency.

In most cases, the cracks observed during a home inspection are superficial and may only need sealing to help prevent them from leakage. These cracks are generally vertical in nature and are less the a few millimetres in width. Cracks like this can generally be sealed from the interior of the home with modern epoxy sealants which have a high success rate and are much less costly and disruptive than having to excavate and perform repairs from the exterior.

How To Tackle Foundation Cracks

During your home inspection you may observe cracks that show differential settlement, rotation or run in a more horizontal fashion, these are signs of trouble. These are the types of cracks where concern is warranted and professionals who deal with foundation repairs should be consulted as repairs may become very costly.

What should you do if cracks are observed during your home inspection? Most likely your home inspector will provide you with advice on how to move forward. In most cases, superficial cracks will require monitoring as they can potentially move and become worse, and sealing of existing cracks should always be performed and maintained to prevent unwanted leakage into the home. If the crack is more suspicious in nature or shows obvious signs of needing attention, then your home inspector will likely advise you to consult with a foundation repair specialist to further evaluate the problem and perform the necessary repairs.

The vast majority of foundation cracks observed during a home inspection are usually not serious, so try not to panic and overreact.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs home inspections, WETT inspections, thermal imaging and mould inspections in Barrie, Orillia, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, Innisfil and across Simcoe County.

Floor Pad Cracking & Home Inspections

Shane Serra - Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Floor Pad Cracking & Home Inspections

A common question asked by many clients while having their home inspection performed is whether floor pad cracks are a serious problem? In most cases your home inspector will likely say no. It is not uncommon at all for floor pad cracks to develop, especially within the first few years that a home is built while the concrete is still curing.

Identifying Problematic Floor Pad Cracks During Home Inspections

Small hair line cracks (less than a few millimetres in width) are typical and usually do not present any problems for most homes and their owners. Although some buyers or home owners may view this opinion with some skepticism, it is normal for cracks to develop and again they generally do not cause any serious problems.

There are some rare cases where floor pad cracks can be problematic and also be an indication of possible underlying problems. Cracks which are more than a few millimetres in thickness with evidence of heaving or differential settlement should be monitored very closely and if movement persists it will likely need to be addressed by a concrete specialist.

How Your Home Inspector Can Help Tackle Floor Pad Crack

Things like poor installation of substrate or high water tables can cause problems and lead to excessive cracking and potential structural problems. Sometimes alternative water drainage strategies need to be implemented, or in cases of poor quality construction, entire floors will need to be removed and redone. A general rule of thumb for thickness of a floor pad is at least three inches.

So if you observe some floor pad cracking during your home inspection, try not to get too excited as its most likely a normal scenario and nothing to get worked up about. Be sure to consult with your home inspector and listen to what they have to say before jumping to conclusions. Of course if your home inspector is competent they will let you know whether or not you really have something to address.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs home inspections, WETT inspections, thermal imaging inspections and mould inspections in Barrie, Alliston, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach and Innisfil.

Common Problems With Decks Found During Home Inspections

Shane Serra - Friday, April 14, 2017

Decks by far have to be one of the most common upgrades that homeowners will take upon themselves to construct. Unfortunately, decks are also one of the most common problem areas observed on the exterior of a home during an inspection.

Improper Deck Framing

Improper deck framing is a very common problem. There are many “weekend warrior” types that feel their construction skills are up to par for building a deck. Problem is most don’t have a clue, and this can lead to some serious safety issues. Improper deck framing is a problem commonly observed during home inspections.

Over spanned and over spaced joists, improper sized joist hangers, improper joist fastening, ledger boards not secured properly, improper joist supports, undersized beams, undersized beam columns, improper or damaged footings are all typical issues found during home inspections.

Some other common issues found with decks during home inspections are improper, damaged or missing railings, improperly constructed stairs, deck stairs not properly fastened to the deck itself, damaged or deteriorated treads and surface planks and rot and deterioration in general.

Implications of Deck Defects

Implications of these defects can sometimes be serious. If a deck collapses and someone becomes injured or seriously hurt, one could find themselves being slapped with a substantial lawsuit. This is why attention needs to be given to inspecting the deck to ensure it is safe to use.

More often than not, poorly constructed decks are observed during home inspections. Most homeowners also do not follow local code compliance regulations regarding proper deck safety and construction methods, again another reason to ensure your home inspector has a real good look at that deck.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs home inspections, WETT inspections, thermal imaging and mould inspections in Barrie and across Simcoe County.

Electrical Panels & Home Inspections

Shane Serra - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The electrical system is one of the major systems within a home and one of the systems of primary focus while performing a home inspection. Listed below are some of the most common defects observed during a home inspection in relation to the electrical panel itself.

Over Sized Fuses Or Breakers Inspection

Over sized fuses or breakers is very common. It’s not unusual for Harry the homeowner handyman to strike and install whatever size breaker or fuse that physically fits in the panel even though it may be oversized and become a potential fire hazard. It’s important to ensure fuses or breakers are properly sized for the gauge of wire they are supposed to protect, otherwise if there is a fault in that circuit, the fuse or breaker may not trip as quickly as it should, resulting in a fire. In general, correcting over sized fuses or breakers isn’t a big deal and not overly costly, but this doesn’t mean it should be overlooked and left uncorrected.

Missing Wire Clamps & Grommets Inspection

Missing wire clamps and grommets is another common defect found on electrical panels during home inspections. Same situation as above, an unqualified handyman probably doesn’t realize the value for proper wire isolation and might skip installing the proper clamps or grommets. This can lead to wire sheathing rubbing on the metal frame of the panel and someone getting electrocuted and again also a fire hazard.

Double Tapping Inspection

Double tapping or double lugging as some may refer to it is also another common defect found during home inspections. This is when someone decides it’s ok to install more than one wire end into the breaker or fuse receptacle. This can potentially lead to an overheating situation and cause a fire. In some cases double tapping is permissible if the breakers are designed for multiple wire use or where a low voltage device such as a transformer for a door bell is installed. In other rare cases double taps may be permissible if passed by a qualified electrician or electrical authority. In general it is considered bad practice though.

Incorrect Panel Cover Screws Inspection

Incorrect panel cover screws are also another common defect witnessed during home inspections. Panel covers must have flat tipped screws to avoid any possibility of piercing wire sheathing accidentally. All too often carless home owners have removed the panel cover, lost the screws and replaced them with longer wood type screws with sharp tips which may protrude into wiring.

Most of these issues commonly found in electrical panels during home inspections can be repaired usually without much grief and too much cost, so in most cases there isn’t a need to panic. That being said, they should not be left uncorrected and should be repaired by a qualified professional.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs home inspections, WETT inspections, mould inspections and thermal imaging inspections in Barrie, Alliston, Orillia, Collingwood and across Simcoe County.

Common Issues Found During Home Inspections – Mould in the Attic

Shane Serra - Saturday, February 25, 2017


Common Issues Found During Home Inspections – Mould in the Attic

Mould, it’s a very common occurrence in most homes, and it’s not unusual at all to discover mould growth during a typical home inspection. Mould can be found in a home due to a variety of reasons, perhaps there was a plumbing leak that soaked drywall or carpet, maybe a foundation leak into a finished basement, or maybe a venting issue inside the attic.

Many people have been influenced by sensationalized media when it comes to mould presence in their home and therefore tend to panic when mould growth is discovered when they are having home inspection. Lets discuss one of the most common mould issues found during a home inspection:

Mould Inside the Attic

There can be a few different reasons as to why mould may be present inside an attic. Perhaps there is a lack of proper venting, or someone has carelessly vented bathroom exhaust fan inside the attic, it could be due to a leakage problem or even due to a grow operation.

From our experience performing home inspections, usually mould growth inside the attic is due to careless bathroom exhaust fan venting inside the attic, or what is more commonly observed in homes constructed within the last 20 years or so, is soffit vented exhaust fans that sometimes allow moist air to enter back inside the attic space in a localized area, typically between a pair of rafters or trusses (see attached photo).

Mould Remediation

So, what are your options when mould is discovered in the attic during your home inspection? Moving forward, you always want to address the issue, in cases as mentioned above, if the mould growth is localized you probably don’t need to panic. You should at some point either remove the affected material, or have it properly treated by a qualified remediation specialist.

Removal of the affected material can be as simple as having the affected roof sheathing replaced the next time the shingles are replaced, or having a mould remediation specialist remove material through various media blasting or other chemical treatments. Depending on the situation, high cost can be a factor, but not always, so it’s best to consult with professionals to know what your options really are.

How to Prevent the Mould Problem from Reoccurring?

Once the affected materials are replaced or treated, it’s a really good idea to address the root cause to the issue to prevent the problem from recurring in the future as well. This can sometimes be as simple as relocating the exhaust vent to another suitable area or venting in another manner to improve the discharge of warm moist air away from the attic space.

In conclusion, not all attic mould growth scenarios are life threatening or severe problems, so if you are having a home inspection performed and mould is found, do not panic and take the time to consult with the correct professionals so you know what the best course of action moving forward is.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs home inspections, mould inspections, WETT inspections and thermal imaging in Barrie and across Simcoe County.


Carbon Monoxide and Your Garage

Shane Serra - Friday, January 20, 2017


A typical issue found in many homes during a home inspection is the lack of proper “gas proofing” between the garage and the interior of the home. Why is this so important?

Harmful Effects of Carbon Monoxide

In the past their have actually been deaths attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning due to poor or lack of proper gas proofing between the garage and the interior of the home. In older homes (prior to building codes) it’s not uncommon to have a wall which separates the attached garage from the interior that is poorly sealed or not sealed at all.

Building codes have been changed over the last number of years to address this issue and improve the sealing and separation between the garage and attached interior of the home. Things like self closing devices on inside entry doors, and properly sealed drywall between units are very common now in order to help prevent the possibility of carbon monoxide from entering into the home, should someone leave a vehicle running unattended inside the garage.

How Home Inspection Can Help Tackle Harmful Effects of Carbon Monoxide

Some common defects observed by home inspectors during a home inspection in regards to this issue are self closing devices that have been disabled or removed entirely from inside entry doors. Another common issue is poor quality drywall taping which falls off after the first few years after the home is built and leaves open seams as a potential space for gas to enter into the home.

Home owner modifications to garages can also come into play, things like poorly installed electrical wiring, central vac piping, plumbing supply lines, alarm system wiring, and dryer & kitchen vents; these must all be properly sealed at the separation wall to ensure carbon monoxide cannot enter into the home.

In most cases these issues that are discovered during a home inspection can be dealt with fairly easily and without much disruption or cost to ensure the safety of the occupants of the home. It’s surprising how many people today are still oblivious to these faux pas and wouldn’t have known any better unless their home inspector had made them aware of the situation. Just another reason why it’s important to perform a home inspection when buying a home.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs home inspections, WETT inspections, thermal imaging inspections, and mould inspections across Barrie and Simcoe County.


Why You Should Never Choose a Cheap Home Inspector

Shane Serra - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Many people generally view all home inspectors as the same and therefore may have a tendency to hire the cheapest home inspector they can find, big mistake! A typical observation is that most people assume all home inspectors are the same and therefore will provide the exact same level of service while conducting your home inspection. Wrong!

Unfortunately, the home inspection industry in Ontario is self regulated at this time and anyone who feels they are competent enough, can print off business cards, launch a website and plaster their vehicle with graphics calling themselves a “home inspector”. This can be a bit scary and unnerving for most folks who are looking to hire an inspector to help them make an informed decision about the home they are about to buy. Fortunately there are a few things you can consider while shopping around and interviewing potential inspectors.

What type of background does the inspector have?

Generally, a good home inspector will have some sort of background in construction or contracting, engineering or architectural disciplines. People with this type of background generally have the knowledge and experience needed to conduct a proper inspection and identify problems and areas of non performance within a residential home.

What type of training does the inspector have?

Having a suitable background isn’t enough, proper training is also required. Has the inspector worked with a seasoned home inspector and been mentored? Has the inspector taken a credible training program, such as the Carson & Dunlop Inspection Training Program? What other education and training does this person have? Be wary of so called “certified inspectors” that have taken nothing more than a 2 hour online course to get their “certification”.

Is the inspector a full time inspector or just doing it part time to supplement their income? This is important because many people perform home inspections on a part time basis and have little to no vested interest in their business or their clients should something go wrong. Someone doing inspections on a full time basis will surely have much more experience than a part timer.

Is the home inspector insured?

This one is really important should something unforeseen or big happen. Humans can indeed make mistakes, therefore it is imperative that the home inspector be properly insured, carrying both general liability and error and omissions insurance.

What type of report is provided?

Gone are the days of chicken scratch and checklist style reports. A quality report should include photos of problem areas in an easy to understand and read computer generated format.

When looking for an inspector consider these tips and factor them into your decision making process for hiring your inspector. If you are shopping home inspectors and one is much cheaper than the other you must ask yourself, why? Chances are you won’t be getting the service you require and the few bucks you saved will end up costing you in the long run. Don’t make your decision based solely on the inspection fee alone.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. provides home inspections, WETT inspections, mould inspections and thermal imaging in Barrie and across Simcoe County.