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Now Offering: WDI (Termite) and Pest Inspections

Now Offering: WDI (Termite) and Pest Inspections

 inspection 

round rock termite inspectionsMost of my customers also need to have their homes inspected for Wood Destroying Insects or Wood Destroying Organisms. So I invested in the training and licensing to add WDI or Termite Inspections so it would be easier for clients to arrange. This is going to make things much easier and faster for everyone.

Along the way, I also learned about the issues that are growing with bed bugs in residential homes, yes, even the nice neighborhoods like yours.  Along with rodents and roaches and other pests, I decided to add a Pest Inspection license also.

So now when you call us to schedule your home inspection, you can add on a termite inspection and/or pest inspection and I will handle it all. My fees for these add ons are always a better deal than ordering them direct too. 

Check out what Bob Villa has to say about termites.

Give us a call to find out more. 512-296-2376

Buyer Beware: DIY Remodeling and Flipping

Buyer Beware: DIY Remodeling and Flipping

 

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Buyer Beware: DIY Remodeling and Flipping

I grew up in a real estate family. My grandfather was a builder in Dallas. My father bought and remodeled hundreds of properties in Dallas and Houston. While others were playing with friends at the age of 12, I was either crawling under a house to fix plumbing or repairing windows or helping resurface floors.

I have nothing against those who remodel and flip. But lately the craze on TV and in the neighborhoods is for anyone and everyone to take on dramatic remodels without a lot of help from qualified or licensed trades. This can result from wrong products being used like flex pipe under a sink to worse, safety issues when electrical plumbing or even structure changes are made….or hidden.

As a real estate inspector I see this weekly.

A beautiful updated home, new granite counters, farmhouse sinks or stainless appliances, beautiful floors and newly designed exteriors to pull in new homebuyers.

But the problem in more and more houses is what is not seen by the homebuyer will cause significant problems down the road.

Some issues, grading improperly changed and now foundations flood.

Electrical wired incorrectly and now there are missing grounds and missing bonds.

Plumbing that will eventually cause health issues.

Structural members cut in the attic that will eventually if not soon result in roof issues that may cause a loss of part if not all the house.

The list goes on. Best cases are when the cosmetics are updated but the electrical, plumbing, roofing and HVAC is ignored.  Then the buyer will find that systems will need to be updated much sooner and for thousands more than expected after they are the owner.

As an inspector, we want to help. Our mission and calling is to make sure you know what your house has to tell you, the good and bad. That way you won’t end up with a moat under your house and some critters in your attic you didn’t know lived there, or electrical systems that may not protect you when a short occurs, or HVAC systems in the attic that will soon be flooding those beautiful floors below.

Call us to find out how we can help you whether you are buying, selling or just want to know what is going on with your home. 512-296-2376

or, visit our site to learn more. Your ServusPartners

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Is Your Home Safe? Part 3 Safety Hazards to Watch for Around the House

Is Your Home Safe? Part 3 Safety Hazards to Watch for Around the House

Creating a safe environment where your family can grow and thrive is a top priority. Thankfully, though a number of serious safety hazards lurk around the average home, most of these concerns can be addressed pretty easily.

Make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your family safe. Consult this guide of nine common safety hazards in the home for quick, simple solutions to keep you and your loved ones out of harm’s way.

#1. Falls

Medline Safety Bar

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Injuries due to falls are one of the most common household hazards. In fact, one out of five older adults who falls incurs a broken bone or a head injury. Wet floors, slippery stairs, and scattered toys all create the potential for falls.

Ways to minimize risks:

Stabilize Staircases
Make sure all staircases have solid handrails, securely affixed flooring, adequate lighting, and safety gates if there are small children in the home. The Regalo Easy Step Walk Thru Gate is adjustable to most spaces and easy to use, even with a baby in your arms.Clear Outdoor Steps
Keep all outside stairs clear of debris and hazards like ice and snow. Add secured mats or grip tapeto make surfaces less slippery.Secure Bathrooms
Secure rugs to avoid slipping and water pooling on slick surfaces. Non-slip stickers are another good way to keep everyone in your home from slipping in the shower.Corral Toys
Provide an easy space for kids to stow toys and make sure every playdate ends without injury. Secure skateboards, bikes, and other mobile toys in a safe area where family members and visitors won’t trip on them.Install Supports
Install safety rails like the Medline Bathtub Bar to help family members old and young safely get in and out of the shower. Or use these Balance Assist Bars, which are small enough to fit in any shower, and more than one can be added to provide extra support to older family members and others who need additional help.

#2. Fires

Nest Smoke Alarm

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In 2015, there were more than 365,000 fires in US homes, causing everything from mild smoke damage to total devastation, including loss of life. Even candles or an unattended iron could lead to an accidental fire in your home, but there is a lot you can do to prevent a fire from getting out of hand.

Ways to minimize risks:

Install Fire Alarms
Install fire alarms on all levels of your home, and check and change the batteries at least annually. Consider investing in a smart smoke detector like Nest Protect. This alarm uses Wi-Fi to provide real-time updates and remote monitoring right on your smartphone or other mobile device.Monitor Candles
Never leave candles unattended or near loose cloth like drapes or blankets. Also, make sure they are out of reach of children and that pets can’t knock them over.Unplug Appliances
Avoid an electrical fire by making sure that all appliances are in good working order and no wires are frayed. Don’t overload electrical outlets, either. In fact, it’s a smart practice to unplug small appliances like toasters when not in use.Purchase a Fire Extinguisher
Keep at least one fire extinguisher in your home—and check it annually to verify it is in good working order and up to date. Keep a multi-purpose fire extinguisher, like the Kidee FA110, handy in the kitchen or near the fireplace.

#3. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Low exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) can cause headaches and dizziness, while high levels can lead to vomiting, impaired vision, and even death. Carbon monoxide is virtually impossible to detect by smell, sight, or sound, making it a difficult threat to discern. But there are things you can do to ward off CO-related injuries.

Ways to minimize risks:

Install a CO Detector
You can help keep your family safe by installing a carbon monoxide detector that alerts you if CO reaches dangerous levels in your home. A detector that plugs into an electrical outlet, like the Kidde Nighthawk Alarm, provides extra reassurance and saves you from needing to change batteries.Keep Up Home Maintenance
Prevent carbon monoxide leaks by having your HVAC system, water heater, and other appliances that use gas, oil, or coal serviced by a professional every year. When buying a home, have these systems inspected before purchase.

#4. Choking

Choking is the country’s fourth-largest cause of accidental death, claiming nearly 5,000 victims in 2014. From a bit of dinner going down the wrong way to a youngster accidentally swallowing a small item, choking is scary. Educate yourself about choking hazards and take measures to keep your family safe.

Ways to minimize risks:

Inspect Toys
Regularly inspect toys for any loose parts. Scour floors for small toys or items where little hands might easily find them.Keep Dangers Out of Reach
Be sure to keep small, hard foods like nuts or candies out of reach of children. Pay special attention at adult gatherings where children can more easily sneak something unnoticed.Monitor Playtime
Even if your child is no longer an infant, a baby monitor can still come in handy. Use this gadget to listen in for signs of choking when children are playing in another room.Cut Up Food
For children under the age of four, always cut up hard foods that can block airways. The same applies to softer foods like grapes, cherry tomatoes, and hot dogs. The OXO Tot Grape Cutter is a handy tool that makes safe snacking easy for you and your toddler.

#5. Cuts

This one seems like a no-brainer, but unfortunately there are a number of common items with sharp edges that are used inside and outside your home. Everything from an opened can to a garden hoe can present danger.

Ways to minimize risks:

Close the Trash
Use a locking garbage can to protect small fingers and pets from finding sharp edges on opened cans and lids. The Sterilite Locking StepOn Wastebasket is an attractive solution that adds an extra layer of safety to your kitchen.Store Kitchen Supplies
Knives, graters, and peelers are common items that can lead to nasty cuts. Properly store all sharp kitchen tools and lock them up if you have small children in the home.Put Away Yard Tools
Lawn tools, including rakes, saws, and lawn mowers, can cause harm if not used and stored properly. Stay alert when using power tools and never rush while mowing the lawn or using the weed whacker. Never leave tools lying around and always keep them locked in a shed or garage where kids can’t access them.Lock the Bathroom
If you use a razor, keep it on a high shelf or locked in a cabinet. Store extra blades in drawers with safety guards and keep other grooming tools like cuticle scissors safely stowed as well. Child safety locks are easy to install and keep little fingers away from dangerous implements.Point Knives and Forks Down
Keep little ones safe from sharp points by pointing knives and forks downward in the utensil basket of the dishwasher. Place the basket away from the front of the dishwasher as well, to make sharp objects even less accessible.

#6. Poisoning

There were over two million poisoning incidents reported to poison control centers nationwide in 2014. Several household items present poisoning hazards, including cleaning and home maintenance supplies. However, a little diligence and the right know-how can decrease the chance of anyone in your family becoming a victim.

Ways to minimize risks:

Store Medications Properly
Both over-the-counter and prescription medications need to be kept away from children and teens. Dispose of all unused medications and never leave them out on a counter. Solutions like the locking EVERTOP Medicine Cabinet are a convenient way to keep medications handy without making them vulnerable to accidental discovery.Keep Paint Out of Reach
Even paint that isn’t lead based needs to be properly stored and kept out of reach of children. Never put paint in a container other than the one it came in, otherwise your child may mistake it for a drink or other item.Make Sure Chemicals Are Secure
Protect both children and pets from accidental poisoning by cleaning supplies. Keep all household cleaners in a high cupboard with a safety lock to keep kids and animals from accidentally finding them. Lock up pesticides and items like turpentine in a cupboard or lockbox in the garage or shed.Put Away Personal Products
Keep all makeup, hair products, soaps, and other personal products out of the reach of children and pets. Use safety latches on all doors and drawers to help keep even the most determined youngsters out.Lock Up Detergent
As with all household cleaners, keep detergent locked out of reach of pets and kids. If you use detergent pods, make sure children don’t mistake them for candy. Never fill the soap dispenser until you’re ready to start a load and always check your dishwasher for leftover residue after each cycle.

#7. Strangling

Cords on window dressings like blinds or curtains present a common strangling hazard to small children and infants. Here are a few ways you can help make your home safer for little ones.

Ways to minimize risks:

Put Cords Away
Keep window and electrical cords out of reach of little ones. Never place a crib or bed under a window with dangling cords.Trim or Remove Window Cords
To keep children from getting tangled up, trim cords to a length that is only accessible to the adults in the home. Better yet, trade out window treatments for designs without cords. If you like the look of blinds, make your windows attractive and safe with Achim Home Furnishings Cordless Pleated Shades.Wrap Them Up
If you’re not ready to redecorate, you can make your home safe by installing blind cord wraps to your current window coverings. Dreambaby Blind Cord Wraps are affordable, easy to install, and transparent, so they won’t clash with your decor.

#8. Drowning

Drowning isn’t only a risk outdoors during summer—it can also present a hazard in the home. Deaths from drowning in a bathtub have increased by 70% in the past decade, so do your part to prevent this from occurring.

Ways to minimize risks:

Put Away Buckets
If you use buckets for cleaning, keep them empty and away from water sources. Attend to Bathing Children
It only takes a few inches of water for a child or infant to drown, so never leave a child unattended in the bathtub, and always close the toilet lid.

#9. Burns

Burns may not seem like a common household hazard, but they can be caused by both dishwashers and stoves. These convenient appliances pose risks, especially to small children. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can help ensure no one in your family is burned.

Ways to minimize risks:

Latch the Dishwasher
Make sure your dishwasher is securely latched at all times and can’t be opened by curious fingers, particularly at the end of a cycle when burns from steam are most likely to occur. Add the Safety 1st Appliance Lock as an extra measure to keep the dishwasher from accidentally being opened.Use Back Burners
Most burns occur in the home and workplace, and children and women are most likely to suffer a burn in the kitchen. To prevent burns, use the back burners when possible. This makes it more difficult for kids to accidentally touch a hot stovetop. Never rest tempting items like cookies or toys on the stovetop, even when it’s not in use.Add Stove Knob Covers
Stoves—especially gas ones—are the perfect place for something to accidentally catch on fire. Protect your home from a potential fire by adding stove knob covers, like these from Safety 1st. They keep small hands from turning on burners or grownups from inadvertently knocking burners to the “on” position.

Nothing is more important than keeping your family safe. Knowing what to look out for and which precautions to take makes your job as family protector a little easier, but no one can be on duty all the time, so you may want to get some help protecting your loved ones with a monitored security system. Most current systems offer home automation and remote access so you can make sure everything is okay as often as you want.

© 2018 Safewise. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Is Your Home Safe Part 4: 7 Easy-to-Follow Home Safety Tips

1. Don’t neglect safety housekeeping

Safety housekeeping refers to keeping minor safety hazards at bay by maintaining basic safety practices. The following are good safety housekeeping measures. First things first, don’t keep clutter in front of doors, stairways or steps and make sure all cords are out of areas of travel to avoid trips. Keep things where they can be comfortably reached, or use a ladder or stepstool to safely retrieve them, and keep drawers, cabinets and cupboards closed when not in use. Your home probably has some potentially dangerous solvent and cleaners, so make sure chemicals or other hazardous materials are safely and properly stored. In the kitchen, keep appliances off or unplugged when not in use.

2. Maintain adequate home security

Perhaps one of the biggest safety hazards that can accompany homeownership are potential security threats. These can be fires, floods, loss of power, invasion or worse. In order to avoid a potentially tragic occurrence, you should be sure to maintain adequate home security by having a security alarm and door locking system employed at your home. To maintain fire safety, always have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, and make sure to check the batteries and test them frequently.

It’s always beneficial to have an emergency action plan for your home, such as having an escape route, exit plan and emergency meeting place. Be sure to communicate these plans to all family members that live in the house, and only share house codes or house keys with those who you really trust. When going away from your home for long periods of time, don’t share on social media when you’ll be away. For additional safety, consider adding porch cameras, motion detector lights and cameras or video door locks.

3. Always remember home fire safety

Home fires can be extremely devastating if not life-threatening. While it’s difficult to live comfortably and conveniently while having eliminated all fire threats, there are steps you can take to ensure that high-risk home items are eliminated of potential risk. Never leave cooking unattended and keep stoves and counter surfaces free of clutter, grease and especially flammable objects like hairspray, bug spray or air freshener. Be sure to set a timer that will alert you when your cooking is complete since it is easy to forget. Additionally, wear tight clothes while cooking to ensure that nothing gets lit on fire. If you have a fireplace, candles or other sources of open flame, never leave it unattended, and place it on a non-flammable surface clear from any potentially flammable items.

4. Eliminate electrical risks

Electricity, while incredibly convenient, can also pose a lot of safety risks if not adequately maintained. Use the following electrical safety tips to eliminate potential electrical hazards. Replace all damaged or frayed wires and cords, and throw out old or faulty appliances. Make sure to follow the correct procedures when replacing light bulbs. Never overcrowd your electrical outlets, use extension cords if necessary, and only buy electrical products evaluated by the nationally recognized laboratory (i.e. UL). The UL is OSHA approved to perform product safety testing so look for products with this seal of approval. Additionally, all electrical systems should be repaired or installed by a certified professional.

5. Always practice proper food safety

Food safety isn’t always common sense and kitchen injury or foodborne illness is very real. In order to protect yourself and your family from potential food safety risks, follow the following safety tips. Make sure your kitchen is clean and adequately maintained, and be sure to avoid contaminating food by keeping raw meat and fish away from veggies. Thoroughly thaw frozen food before cooking, and ensure that food is cooked all the way by knowing safe temperatures and using a thermometer. To avoid spreading germs, keep your hands washed when handling raw meats, and to avoid injuries, carefully handle knives and other sharp cooking utensils.

6. Have the necessities

Your home should have all the typical emergency response items in an easy-to-access location. These items include:

A first aid kit complete with bandaids, gauze, anti-bacterial wipes, eye patches, pain-reliever, etc.Medicines for common ailments such as upset stomach or coldsInhalers, if necessaryEmergency numbers for contacts, doctors, hospitals or poison control centersAnything else that may be necessary for the unique needs in your home

7. Encourage safe habits

Sure, it’s easy for someone to go around the house every so often and eliminate potential safety risks, but to maintain safety in your home, it starts by having open discussions and encouraging safe habits. Talk to your family members, visitors and neighbors about safe habits and teach your children that safety is an important practice.

Call us to find out how we can help you whether you are buying, selling or just want to know what is going on with your home. 512-296-2376

or, visit our site to learn more. Your ServusPartners

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What Every Homeowner Should Do, But Most Do Not …and Why a Buyer Should Care

Home inspectors see a lot of issues. Some again and again. I know I do. Some every buyer should hear and act on.

This is what I try and tell every buyer.

Clothes Dryer Vents

If you are buying a preowned house assume the dryer vent has never been cleaned. Then, have a chimney sweep or company specializing in vent cleaning clean it for you. It’s cheap and could save you hours trying to dry clothes or could even save your life by avoiding a fire

.Chimneys

On your list of first-year things to do and before you even think of starting a fire should be to have a chimney sweep examine and clean / repair your chimney. This is another item that is never, ever cleaned and could result in a fire.

Gutters

First off, every home should have gutters all around the entire home. Not just where the builder thought it would stop you from getting dropped on. This is a recommendation I make for every house I inspect that doesn’t have whole house gutters. Without gutters, your yard will be beaten and soiled moved around the perimeter. It’s unsightly.

But worse, the water coming off your roof will fall against the foundation and could cause the foundation to move differently in different areas…which results in cracks and problems inside and out. Plus, if moisture is sitting next to your foundation it may very well be close enough to cause damage to the wall itself.

Key here is get the water away from the house.

Also, keep the gutters clean. I have houses in my neighborhood with trees growing out of gutters. Don’t be that person.

Weep Holes

At the bottom of your beautiful brick wall, or stone wall for that matter will be weep holes. Little slots usually but sometimes holes at the bottom of the run of masonry. Keep these clear and do not stuff with caulk, paper or whatever you can find thinking you finally found how to stop the bugs from getting in your house. You haven’t and they will continue.

Keep weep holes clear.

Trees Touching Roofs / Ivy / Bushes Touching House

Trees should be cut back so vermin or insects cannot use the limb as a path to your precious home and house materials. They love to eat your home as much as I love fried chicken. But no one does a great job of this.

Ivy looks beautiful against a wall, climbing up, forming an entire wall of green. But it can and will find any crack or loose mortar, any space in siding and grow there out of spite. And then it will grow and can cause damage and allow insects a free highway…no tolls paid. My advice is to rip it down.

This is another way for insects to enter your home and the inspector and termite inspector can’t tell see to know what is going on. Maybe paint your wall green if you must have green. Or live in a hobbit house.

Lastly, bushes that have been allowed to grow against a house will cause the same problems as mentioned above.

And before I finish, that crepe that looks perfect a foot away from your foundation now will tower over your house until you commit crepe murder year after year. Same goes for any tree. Envision what it will look like when it is fully mature and plant further away from the house…like way far away. I won’t mention how you should consider water and sewer lines when planting. No one is going to listen to that.

Roof Debris

We just finished the third installment of oak leaves and pollen and calkins following all over the Central Texas area. What are calkins? You know when pollen had spread over everything and there is those little brown stringy stuff left…that’s catkins.

Catkins like to clump and sit on shingles more than anything. They attract other clumps and before you know it you have a mound of catkins forming a bridge across your roof.

You may like that reddish brown mounds sitting all over your roof but it does not good for the shingles.

You see shingles are not waterproof. Nope.

They are only there to divert water down and off the roof. They do a good job at this until water stands in one place and then they will leak. Catkins cause leaks. Have someone blown them off before you have to have someone repair wet ceilings.

Fencing

Wood deteriorates in the weather. Wood that is painted deteriorates more slowly. Wood that is stained and sealed does a good job lasting much longer. Stain and seal your fence when it is new and it will look new longer. But nobody does this.

Annual or Seasonal Maintenance Assessments

The things I mention above are just a start to what homeowners should be thinking about. But there are also systems maintenance and small repairs that should be kept up every year and season. That’s how I can help.

Nope, I am not trying to sell you a bunch of repair work. I can do repairs that but I would rather be the guy that helps you prioritize work to be done and you can do it or have your favorite tradesman take care of it. That way the guy who is helping you estimate what needs to be done (that’s me) isn’t the guy who will benefit from a long list. I think it is a better arrangement for the homeowner.

My offer: Let me help you assess and inspect your house and then you will have a list to do with what you will.

or, visit our site to learn more. Your ServusPartners

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Tips for Doing the Final Walk-Through Before Closing a Home

BY ELIZABETH WEINTRAUB Updated November 01, 2018

Final walk-throughs are not home inspections, even though it might seem that way. A final walkthrough isn’t the time to begin negotiations with the seller to do repairs, nor is it a contingency of sale.

A final walk-through is an inspection performed anywhere from a few hours to a few days before settlement of the transaction. Its primary purpose is to make certain that the property is in the condition you agreed to in which to buy it. This means that agreed-upon repairs, if any, were made, and nothing has gone wrong with the home since you last looked at it.

Buyers are often pressed for time as the transaction closing date draws near, which means a buyer might be tempted to pass on the final walk-through. Many issues can come up though, and it’s never a good idea to skip the final walk-through.

Vacant Home Issues

Sellers often move out of their home before closing. In situations where the seller has already moved out, it is even more imperative that buyers conduct a final walk-through. Problems tend to arise when homes sit vacant for any period of time.

For example, when termite companies test showers, they plug the shower drain with paper and let the water run. Guess what happens if the termite inspector forgets to remove all the paper over the drain and doesn’t completely turn off the shower handle? A small drip, drip, drip can turn into a flooded bathroom. You don’t want to find out your home is flooded after you buy it.

Another thing that can cause floods is disconnecting refrigerators connected to the house water line, and moving out washing machines. Old plumbing the has not been used for a long time can spring leaks.

Example of a Final Walkthrough Gone Wrong

Say you have clients, a couple named Angie and Carl. They were a few days away from closing on an adorable California bungalow. This house was owned by a local sportswriter who had been transferred to Phoenix, and the owner left shortly after putting the home on the market. The home inspection went smoothly, and the home inspector did not note any items that required immediate attention. In fact, there was nothing about this situation that was cause for alarm.

The day Angie and Carl arrived for the final walk-through, they were advised to turn on all the lights, run the water and make sure the stove worked, but these buyers were engrossed in other spur-of-the-moment distractions and “new home” excitement. Instead of listening to their agent’s advice, they were discussing their sofa placement and which window treatments they should buy for the living room.

In this situation, the buyers clearly had no interest in the walkthrough check and would likely, if given the chance, have waived the final walk-through. While they were in the backyard talking about how far the present decking could extend before striking the fence, their agent wandered around the house turning on water features and then hit the handle on the toilet. Flush! All of a sudden Angie screamed. The agent dashed into the backyard in time to witness a geyser of water gushing from the ground!

And it smelled.

If the couple’s real estate agent hadn’t depressed the flushing mechanism on the toilet, they would not have subsequently discovered that the sewer line had tree roots growing in it, until after the sale had closed. The following day the couple received an estimate of $5,000 to fix the sewer. Since they were a few days away from closing, their agent had time to withhold that money from the seller’s proceeds and order the work completed.

List of Items to Check During a Final Walkthrough

The walkthrough serves as a final check for any remaining, unresolved issues with the home.

If you don’t do a walkthrough, you could end up paying more for a home than you should, because of the cost of repairs that you’ll need to absorb if you don’t get the seller to reduce the home’s price as compensation.

When you walk through the house, do the following:

Turn on and off every light fixture

Run water and check for leaks under sinks

Test all appliances

Check garage door openers Open and close all doors

Flush toilets

Inspect ceilings, wall and floors

Run garbage disposal and exhaust fans

Test heating and air conditioning Open and close windows

Make sure all debris is removed from the home

When the Home is Occupied During the Final Walkthrough

Sometimes sellers don’t move out until the day the transaction closes or even a few days after closing. In those situations, buyers should do a final walk-through in the presence of the seller. Why? Because the seller knows all the little quirks about the home and can answer questions the buyers may have.

A good question to ask a seller is “What is the one improvement you’ve always wanted but never got around to implementing?”

This is also a good time to ask the seller for a forwarding address so the buyers can send mail. It’s smart to stay on good terms with the seller although, in some parts of the country like California, buyers almost never meet the sellers. Moreover, because you never know when you might need to get in touch with the former owners, the final walk-through is an excellent opportunity for the parties to say hello.

If you would like to discuss how we can help you prepare for your Final Walk Through, give us a call. 512-296-2376

or, visit our site to learn more. Your ServusPartners

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