Questions to Ask Your South Florida Home Inspector

June 11th, 2013

For many real estate buyers and investors, hiring a South Florida home inspector can be a daunting experience.  For some who have never hired an inspector before, they are not exactly sure what to expect nor how to go about finding a professional they can trust.  But as mentioned on this site previously, a home or commercial inspection should never be ignored.  And hiring an unqualified inspector is the same as not having an inspection at all.  Why risk your investment?

For those that are looking for a south Florida inspector, there are some questions that any professional inspection company should be happy to answer:

1.  How long have you been in business?  How many inspections has your company completed?

A professional inspector must be able to offer their experience and qualifications for you to review as well as referrals for you to contact if necessary.  This also brings up the point if new inspectors are worth hiring?  Many new to the industry work with other professionals or have access to experienced inspectors, so if you are considering someone that is relatively new, determine if they will have assistance.

2.  How long will the inspection take?

Shy away from anyone that claims they can inspect your home or commercial property in an hour or less.  Of course, it depends on the size and age of the building, but a thorough and proper investigation should take several hours.

3.  What can I expect with your inspection?

It is mandatory that your inspection meets all Florida requirements while complying with a strict code of ethics.  Inspectors should provide copies of recently completed property inspections for a client’s review and confirm what areas of the home or commercial building are covered.  Because in South Florida many home issues are weather related, special attention should always be focused on areas where water can pose a problem.

4.  When will my report be ready to review?

Professional inspectors understand that those buying a property need an inspection report in a reasonable amount of time due to the nature of contracts and negotiations with a seller.  Although some reports may take longer than others, typical home inspection reports should be made available within 24 to 48 hours.

5.  I would like to attend the inspection so will I be able to?

Any professional inspector would not only agree to this, but they should welcome it as well.  This is an excellent opportunity for a buyer to ask questions and learn more about the building itself.  For example, if you are looking a home, you will want to know where to turn off the water in case of an emergency. This is true with gas and breaker units as well.  If you have specific questions about a repair and the cost to fix or replace, an inspector can be helpful in this area as well.  Should an inspector decline your request to attend an inspection, this would be a major concern and an excellent reason not to hire this particular company.

6.  May I see your license?  What other professional organizations do you belong to?

Of course, you want to make sure your inspector is licensed in the state of Florida and belongs to any appropriate associations.  Three of the best inspector associations are F.A.B.I (Florida Association of Building Inspectors), InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors) and A.S.H.I. (American Society of Home Inspectors).  This is also a good time to check to see if any complaints have been issued or a license has been revoked for any reason.  Florida Home Inspector licensing can be verified at www.myfloridalicense.com. Another common problem in Florida is inspectors performing termite inspections without the proper wood destroying organism license.

7.  What are the most common problems one finds when inspecting homes in South Florida?

Again, weather plays a huge role with home repairs so careful attention is always paid where water may be of a concern.  Also, as we all know, the hot, humid temperatures of this region mean you want a home that has a properly working air conditioning system.  Mold is another issue that requires serious attention.  Regardless, you want to make sure that your home inspector pays careful attention to all areas of your home, as each property is different.

8.  Is your home inspection guaranteed?

Keep in mind that no home inspection is a guarantee but rather a professional inspection.  Nor does a home inspection estimate your home or property value.  It simply is a valuable resource for a buyer where the homes external and internal systems are evaluated. However, some companies do stand behind their work with limited warranty programs.

Doing the research before hiring an inspector and then asking the tough questions means that chances are, you will end up with a property that will pose no unwelcome surprises.

Why You Need A Comprehensive Mold Inspection

April 11th, 2013

If you live in Florida, then chances are, you know that mold is a common concern among homeowners and buyers.  Even new construction that has been vacant for some time is not immune to this unwelcome guest.  And as much we enjoy the enviable Florida lifestyle, the combination of moisture and warm temperatures provide excellent conditions for mold growth.  So it’s understandable why our state has persistent problems with mold. 

Unfortunately, mold is a significant threat to property and buildings. If not caught early, it can spread quickly, providing damage and significant health issues.  Simply touching mold or breathing air that has mold spores can cause a variety of reactions.  For some, it may include coughing, runny nose or skin and eye issues.  For others, the effects can be more dangerous.  

A brief rundown:  Mold occurs when you have moisture, nutrients and warmer temperatures.  Once mold spores find their way into a home or property, mold can settle and grow quickly.  The question is not how to get rid of mold spores from entering a home as they are not visible to the naked eye and exist virtually everywhere, both indoors and outdoors.  Rather, the issue is how to discover and remove mold once it has been discovered. 

1.  Maintain moisture control in air:  

Moisture can come into our homes or commercial property in a variety of ways.  Whether it be through damp air or water, it can arrive through windows, doors, cracks, as well as through dishwashing, showering, laundry or cooking.  Leaks and plumbing problems are also popular ways for water to get inside.  In fact, likely culprits are washing machine hoses and water heaters as being the top two sources of expensive water damage, which can then result in mold issues. 

2.  Eliminating Nutrients: 

Mold will quickly settle and spread when it has a food source.  Natural fibers, found in furnishings, clothing, paper products, books and other materials are popular feeding grounds.  Mold also grows on walls, closets, clothing and showers.  In fact, soap scum found in shower stalls provides nutrients for mold growth.  The best way to eliminate this pest is to keep a clean home, which will discourage mold from spreading.  

3.  Temperature Control: 

Again, with warm summer months just ahead, its good to remember that hot weather encourage mold growth.  Mold makes itself right at home in temperatures between 75 – 87 degrees.  While air conditioning certainly helps, if the air is more humid, then it is unable to prevent mold from growing.  Pay particular attention to areas where the air doesn’t flow, such as inside cabinets, closets and under kitchen or bathroom sinks, as these areas are usually the warmest in a home.  

So again, the best way to eliminate mold growth is to do the following: 

  • Regularly clean and sanitize your home. 
  • Clean shower stalls to remove soap scum as well as moisture. 
  • Keep fans on, as it will circulate the air. 
  • Keep an eye out for any wet areas, standing water or condensation. 
  • Don’t ignore any leaky faucets or plumbing problems. 
  • Don’t allow foundations to stay wet.  Make sure there is drainage and the area is properly sloped away from foundation. 
  • Make sure air conditioning is properly maintained and HVAC drip pans are thoroughly cleaned, flowing correctly and unobstructed. 

Despite all best preventions, it is not surprising when owners are unaware they have a mold problem with their home or commercial property.  In fact, most are genuinely shocked to hear that their home is infested with mold.  Often, mold is hidden, may be covered or the leak is behind walls, or other locations that are not clearly visible. That is why it is necessary to inspect any property for mold, especially if: 

  • Owners or tenants have allergic reactions, such as itch eyes, sneezing, runny nose with being in a certain area or room of house or building. 
  • To determine that source of moisture has been stopped with no mold growth. 
  • To verify there is not a mold issue or moisture that is often associated with new construction, building or property that will be rented or purchased. 

Finally, there are some important things everyone should know in regards to mold inspections.  The most important facts are: 

  • It is necessary to hire a professional, qualified and experienced mold inspector. 
  • A mold inspection should include looking for current and past mold problems. 
  • Mold is not often known or visible, so good inspectors utilize specialized equipment such as moisture meters and infrared cameras.  This equipment can often detect moisture which is not visible to the naked eye. 
  • Mold inspections should always be on the look out for moisture.

It is recommended that anyone who suspects a mold problem, to have a complete and comprehensive inspection.  Mold related illness, particularly in our area of Florida, is not uncommon and should be treated immediately.

Home Inspection in BallenIsles, Palm Beach Gardens

April 4th, 2013

Last week I performed a home inspection on a gorgeous house nestled in a private back enclave of Vintage Isles in BallenIsles, Palm Beach Gardens.  This beautiful 4,640 square foot home has four bedrooms, four full bathrooms (including a magnificent master bathroom), a pool, lanai, and beautiful stained glass front doors.  This place was great, it even has waterfall like fountains which pour water into the pool.  The pool looks even better with the tropical landscaping which acts as a privacy separation from the golf course behind the property.

If you’re not familiar with BallenIsles, it’s a fantastic community which spans from the Turnpike to Military Trail and from PGA Boulevard to Northlake Boulevard.  This private gated community houses an award winning golf and country club with world class resort amenities for the lucky residences of its’ 1,574 homes.

The sale of this property was made possible by Gene Arky from Illustrated Properties.  Over the past 20 years Gene specializes in the luxury homes located in BallenIsles.  Gene can be reached by calling 561-714-4568 or by emailing earky@aol.com

Why South Florida Homes Need A Home Inspection

March 12th, 2013

Ask any professional real estate agent in south Florida and they will tell you: Never waive a home inspection when buying a home. Why is this? It could end up costing you a fortune.

Unfortunately, some buyers will ignore a proper home inspection for a variety of reasons:

• “It doesn’t matter what’s wrong with it, I’m going to buy it anyway.”

• “This house looks terrific! I can’t see anything wrong with it.”

• “I know the owner! They would never sell me a house that needs repairs!”

Many buyers believe that if an inspection isn’t mandatory, then why should they pay for a service that may not necessary? The answer to that is, a home inspection is not only necessary it helps ensure the home you are buying is a quality investment. Consider this: If you were going to invest a significant amount of your own money in the stock market, wouldn’t you do some research prior to writing a check?

The good news is that in South Florida, the real estate market is on the road to recovery. We are once again seeing homes receive multiple offers, with many going above the asking price. Anything in a highly desirable area that is priced correctly is moving quickly. As we see with multiple offers, buyers will concede many things, and often this may be a home inspection despite a real estate agent’s warning. This is because a home inspection may be the best money you ever spend.

In Florida, some of our biggest inspection issues revolve around our weather. While people move from all over the world to enjoy our sunshine, the truth is that our climate plays a large role in water damage to our homes. Properties need to be checked to determine if a seller has properly maintained their homes from water issues, particularly with windows and doors.

Electrical issues are also problems Florida homeowners encounter. Older and damaged wiring are not only dangerous but often installed improperly. An inspection can clearly give you peace of mind to ensure that your home’s electrical system is safe for you and your family.

How would you like to live in your new home with a sub par air conditioning system. With the hot temperatures we experience here in South Florida, it’s no surprise then that this is a feature that most of us use daily so it’s necessary that a buyer wants a home where the AC unit has been properly maintained. But maybe a unit is on its last legs or hasn’t been checked in some time. A good inspector can determine the condition of the air conditioner to determine if it is in good working order.

Another prevalent home issue common in south Florida is mold. Once inside a home, mold spreads quickly and is difficult to get rid of unless it is properly remediated. Professional home inspectors can detect mold where it’s most likely to occur, under sinks and ceilings or where moisture can be a problem.

Of course, inspecting those hard to reach places, such as attics and crawlspaces often find overlooked and potential problems. Here, you may find water damages, poor plumbing, bad insulation and structural damage among other things.

All of these problems, including others, are why it’s necessary to hire a home inspector. Imagine moving into a home that has been infested with mold that hasn’t been detected by you or the previous owner? Or maybe an air conditioner that doesn’t work properly and suddenly breaks down? These can be expensive repairs that may very well rest on the buyer to pay.

New construction should also have a professional home inspection since subcontractors handle the majority of construction. While a buyer may well be familiar with the homebuilder, chances are, they won’t know who is pouring their foundation, handling the plumbing and electrical issues as well as the framing and other required jobs. Mistakes are often made and not discovered until it’s too late.

A proper home inspection can be viewed as a check-up for your future home. Here, you will have the opportunity to know if the condition of the physical structure of your home is safe and where repairs could be necessary. It’s knowledge that you understand exactly what condition the home is that you are buying. But it also provides peace of mind that you are making a good and educated decision when buying your property.

Quality services lead to satisfied customer feedback

October 3rd, 2011

Rick Jenkins and his BIS team have been the best home inspectors that we have ever used over our 25 + military moves around the country. Having over 13 years of real estate experience, and numerous experiences with many name brand inspection companies, this company was far and away the most thorough and helpful with our latest personal home purchase, than any other inspection company.

The reports provided helped us to obtain the best possible insurance coverage, because they were clearly written and extremely detailed. If there were findings, the report allowed us to understand what we needed to correct (or request the seller to fix) and why. Rick was frequently available by phone to answer several follow up questions we kept thinking of!! We had a contract on one house, BIS found hidden faults within the structure of the home and we were able to withdraw from that purchase. Thank Goodness!!

The second home we found and purchased in Coconut Grove, we asked BIS to do all of our inspections, the general for us and the 4 point one for our insurance company. If you are buying a house I would 100% recommend Rick and his BIS team to do all of your inspections. If you are selling, I would also recommend an inspection so you can correct anything and nullify any findings a prospective buyer may find, so you can defend your selling price (especially in this market). It is the best fee to pay to protect your investment. Well worth it!

Janet K.
September 22, 2011

The Truth about Chinese Drywall

September 20th, 2011

When buying a house, one of the newest and most serious problems your new house may have is hazardous imported Chinese Drywall.  You may have heard about it on the news, on the internet, or even from your real estate agent.  However, most people don’t realize how bad the problem really is.  The truth is that hazardous Chinese drywall has been found in over 4,000 properties, most of them located right here in South Florida.
In 2004 and 2005, because of hurricanes and other factors, construction material was in short supply.  So builders began importing materials (including drywall) from other countries.  Surprisingly, the hazardous drywall wasn’t even from China.  The most notorious exporter of the hazardous drywall was a company called Knauf out of Germany.  Knauf obtained the raw materials from a gypsum mine located in China.  Although we haven’t been able to trace the exact cause of the contamination in the gypsum, it is believed that poor pollution controls in China allowed the raw gypsum to be contaminated within the mine.  Since then, millions of sheets of this hazardous drywall have been imported and installed into homes and business across America.

Although the hazardous Chinese drywall is mostly found in homes constructed around the years 2004 and 2005, it has been found in homes as early as 2001 and as late as 2009.  It is recommended that any house constructed or renovated between the years 2001 and 2009 be fully inspected by a qualified home inspection professional.  In addition to having your home professionally inspected, you can review a self assessment guide at Florida’s Department of Health’s website: (http://www.doh.state.fl.us/environment/community/indoor-air/inspections.html).

Although the chances of your home having Chinese Drywall are minimal, the cost of remediation can be astronomical.  Building Inspection Services, a home inspection company specializing in Chinese Drywall, recommends Chinese drywall remediation to include the complete replacement of the following:  all drywall, all electrical wiring, the air conditioning system, all metal plumbing components, all appliances with major metallic components, all carpeting, all wall insulation, all wood flooring, all wood baseboards or crown molding and all metallic bathroom fixtures or components.  As you can imagine, the cost of this work can easily skyrocket to $50,000 to $100,000 depending on the home.

With that being said, most people will want to avoid buying a home with Chinese Drywall.  However, some people with an entrepreneurial spirit have made a great profit on these homes.  I spoke with an investor who purchased a townhouse in the Orchid Grove community in Pompano Beach a few months ago.  He purchased a townhouse for $35,000, remediated the entire place in 2 months, costing him $60,000, then sold it for over $130,000.

Written by: Mike Jenkins, Home Inspector
Building Inspection Services / www.BIS-Inspections.com
954-564-5227

Major Roof Leak?– Or Something Less Serious?

August 24th, 2010

You’re a real estate professional and a new couple has contacted you regarding one of your listings. These prospective buyers are absolutely in love with this house. So you set up an appointment and take them in, showing them all the wonderful features of the house. It almost seems like this house was built for this couple. It’s absolutely perfect. As the couple looks around for a bit, the wife lmiami roof inspectionooks up and notices some paint peeling on the bedroom ceiling near the air conditioning vent. The husband reaches up and touches the peeling paint and it’s wet. There was a rainstorm last night so the husband immediately believes it’s a roof leak. The couple informs you that they don’t have money for a new roof, and they would rather just keep looking then to waste time and money on continuing with this house.
I’m sure many real estate agents have seen similar situations to this more than once. But a bit of knowledge could mean the difference between this couple walking away immediately, or at least waiting until Miami home inspectors can fully evaluate the situation.
Finding moisture around air conditioning vents is extremely common in South Florida, especially in older homes. While the cause of the moisture could be anything from a roof leak, plumbing leak, or some other deficiency; it is more commonly caused by condensation of the vent or the ceiling box (also known as the boot, or ductwork boot).
commercial building inspectionCondensation occurs on a surface that is below the dew point of the air. The temperature of the cold air in the ductwork could range from 50 to 65 degrees (depending on many different factors). During our summer months the temperatures can reach upwards of 100+ degrees which dramatically raises the dew point of the air. The temperature is even higher in your attic which raises the dew point of the air even more. When the cold metal on the ceiling box or the vent register gets below that dew point, condensation will occur.

Repairing this is often very easy. All that needs to be done is to prevent the hot air of the attic fromroof inspection touching the cold metal surfaces of the ceiling box or vent register. There is a wide variety of insulation or ductwork sealants that can be used for this. The problem is usually an inadequate seal between the ceiling box and the vent register due to improperly cut drywall. Hiring a contractor for this repair could cost anywhere from $75 to $150 per location. This is a huge difference from a roof repair that could cost $500 or worse, a roof replacement which could cost tens of thousands of dollars! If you need someone to check out your roof, use our Miami roof inspection services.

Still using low-cost or under qualified inspectors?

March 8th, 2010

Recommending a low-cost or under qualified inspector could have dire consequences for yourself and your company’s reputation.  The following article in Sunday’s Miami Herald shows exactly what can happen when under qualified inspectors are used.  Don’t let your name appear in the next newspaper article like this one!  Recommend only one Miami home inspection company and make sure they have the knowledge and experience to not miss a major structural problem like this.  See the qualifications of a BIS inspector at www.bis-inspections.com

Floor collapses at Marco Polo resort; two injuredBy PARADISE AFSHAR

An elderly woman and her daughter were hospitalized Sunday night after a floor collapsed under them in the subterranean mall of the Marco Polo Beach Resort in Sunny Isles Beach.The 15-foot-wide hole, seven feet deep, opened into an empty area under the hotel structure.The resort at 19201 Collins Ave. passed a building inspection recently, according to the property manager Victor Sala. Read More…

Hazardous Chinese Drywall

December 2nd, 2009

Chinese drywall was imported between 2001 and 2006, however most of the problems are with houses built between 2004 and 2006. You might need a home inspector in Broward to come check it out.

Problems with Chinese Drywall

  1. Foul Odor (could smell like rotten eggs or ammonia)
  2. Corrodes metal surfaces, especially copper
  3. Potentially causes adverse health effects.
  4. Not yet proven, but the potential exists that the sulfur gases can penetrate and corrode wood and concrete, which can potentially cause structural failures.
  5. All of the above conditions can still exist after the drywall has been removed if it’s not remediated correctly

Chinese Drywall Inspection

  1. Smell for foul odor when you first walk in. Be aware that the chemicals temporarily cause your sense of smell to diminish so you won’t smell it for long.
  2. Look at all metal surfaces including plumbing fixture handles and faucets, kitchen appliances, etc.
  3. Remove all panel covers from the air handler unit and check the coils and wiring for corrosion or blackness.
  4. Remove electrical receptacle cover plates and check for corrosion or blackness.
  5. Remove the distribution panel cover and check for corrosion or blackness of the panel box, cover breaker and wires. Pay close attention to copper wires.
  6. In the attic, look at the back of drywall. Look for the following writing:
    -Made in China
    -Knauf
    -Knauf Tianjin
    -KPT(which stands for Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin)No official protocols exist for remediation of drywall yet but contractors are having success with removing and replacing the following components:

    1. Drywall
    2. Insulation
    3. All electrical wiring
    4. Distribution panels including all breakers
    5. Appliances and similar equipment including alarm systems and intercoms
    6. Air handler units

    Chinese Drywall

    For Real Estate Professionals: For more information, a knowledgeable inspector from Building Inspection Services can come to your next office meeting to discuss the Hazardous Chinese Drywall Inspections as well as the impacts it is having on our real estate market free of charge. Call (800) 255-3317 and ask for Mike Jenkins for more information.

Fishtank Explosion!

September 8th, 2009

Back when my husband and I first got married, we did what many newlywed couples did- we made purchases to enhance our brand new condominium unit. One of these was a large 50 gallon fishtank complete with a wooden cabinet stand. We spent a great deal of time picking out accessories for our fishtank and setting it up. My husband filled it with water and set up the pumps. Then, we followed the instructions that said we should let it sit for a few days before adding any fish. The following day, my husband I went off to work.

We returned home that evening to find a DISASTER! The Condominium Association had broken into our apartment because of complaints from the unit below that water was pouring down from their ceiling. The fishtank glass had somehow burst and our unit was flooded with shattered glass and water. Our furniture and carpeting was ruined! Not only that, but water had seeped through the wall behind the fishtank and had destroyed clothing, books and other items! The wall had significant amounts of water damage, not to mention the damage on the flooring and to the roof and wall of the unit below us. We were devastated. We contacted the manufacturer of the tank and they sent out a public adjuster to assess the amount of damages. The numbers that he claimed were extremely low and not enough to even come close to repairing the damage to our unit and the unit below us. At the time, my husband and I weren’t aware that we were entitled to have our own public insurance adjuster represent us. We didn’t realize that the insurance adjuster that had come out to our home was representing the best interests of the fishtank manufacturer, not us.

By: Jamie Yonan