The honest, dishonest seller

It’s true, after pinching pennies and stretching them as far as the bank will let you, forking over another $300-$600 can be gut-wrenching. And for what? For some guy to come through and tell you everything you already knew was broken needs to be fixed? Besides, the owner of the house seems like an honest dude, and I trust him when he says there’s nothing wrong with the house. Have a little faith in humanity.

Well, you may be right.

But… You also may be wrong.

That’s just it; it’s a gamble. To be honest, it has nothing to do with the integrity of the seller, and everything to do with the facts. It may be very likely that the guy is being forthright and honest with you, but he can’t tell you what he does not know

When living in a home, you tend to overlook issues as you get used to them, or simply forget about them. This is normal, and not to be confused with a seller seemingly hiding problems with their home, just to get it sold. While there is definitely a fair share of dishonest sellers, I’d like to think that most are not trying to be.

This is why home inspectors are key in making sure all cards are on the table. I mean, after all, this is likely one of the largest single purchases you’ve ever made, and possibly will ever make.

As residents of Boise, Idaho, and the Treasure Valley, we live in a very low crime rate area, with honest, trustworthy people on every side of us. Sure, there’s always that one neighbor, but in general, we are blessed to live in such a great community! However, simply basing your decision on the trustworthiness of the seller can be a HUGE mistake.

I don’t go to a plumber for electrical answers, and similarly, I don’t go to an airline pilot (or whatever career the owner is in) for questions about their home. It’s simply a matter of expertise, not honesty. Though it definitely helps to have an honest seller!

If you’re in need of a home inspection, Home Inspection ID would be happy to assist you in scheduling yours either by phone (208-570-7685), or by simply scheduling your appointment online here.

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Compare your new furnace to this photo

I’ve noticed a trend in several houses I’ve been through on home inspections and at friends houses lately (at least in Idaho). Sometimes I like to think there is a good reason for this trend, but unfortunately I have a hard time believing it.

Take a look at this photo. Compare it to your furnace, and check specifically for the white PVC tube that juts out of the top left of the furnace. If you do not have this, but instead have a metal vent, you most likely have a mid to low-efficiency furnace and are free to move on to my next post! (unless you’re considering upgrading) This is for people who have a high-efficiency furnace in their home (which is most often uniquely characterized by it’s PVC venting). Keep in mind I’m not talking about the two condensate lines in the right hand side of the photo. Now that we know what we are talking about, let’s move on!

Assuming you have one of these furnaces, let me explain how they work:

Typically, you should see two PVC vents sticking out of your high-efficiency furnace. One brings fresh, outside air in, and one lets it back out (once all the oxygen has been starved from combustion). This is an ideal setup. It is sometimes referred to as a “closed loop system”, meaning that it does not let inside air escape outdoors through the exhaust.

You may have noticed that the picture I gave you does not include that second PVC pipe. Instead it has a little port that was left without the PVC. This means that the installer for some reason decided to use indoor air to supply combustion air for the furnace. If yours is set up similarly, you can verify that this is the case by simply placing your hand for a brief moment over that port, and you’ll feel the suction caused by the amount of air it pulls through it.

Manufacturers of these high efficiency furnaces usually allow these units to be installed like this, pulling air from the interior of the home instead of outside. But why?

It doesn’t seem to make much sense when you look at the drawbacks:

  • you can lose 1-3% of your efficiency by doing it this way
  • you create what’s called “negative pressure” in the home, which can be dangerous if located near any natural draft appliance (pulling combustion products back into the home instead of out the flue) such as a water heater.
  • It can sometimes prevent bathroom exhaust vents from doing their job to their full extent, by preventing humid air from escaping as easily (if left long enough, causing mold or mildew).
  • If the area the furnace is located in is not dusted very often (many aren’t as they are often in an unfinished basement), it pulls that right into the burner area (which is sealed off in the H.E. furnaces), possibly lowering the lifespan of the unit.

While I may have overemphasized some of these drawbacks, and made you think that your furnace is severely compromised, you don’t really need to worry all that much. After all, manufacturers are ok with it, and 1-3% efficiency reduction is barely if at all noticeable on your bills. These problems are often very small problems depending on the size of your home, location of the furnace, and the way the house was designed.

The only reason I bring all this up, is because it doesn’t take that much work to pipe it to the exterior. Seriously! There’s already one that’s piped outside, and they even sell double wall pipes that function as both the exhaust and intake air (without mixing them), so that you don’t have to pipe two separate lines.

I guess what I’m getting at, is if your considering purchasing one, maybe confirm with the installer how you want it installed, as they may tell you that the manufacturer allows it be installed the other way, but now, you know better… Make sure it’s done best, not just right!

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Why so many home inspectors love their job

Have you ever payed for a service, and the guy who showed up was just overflowing with a positive attitude? It was pretty clear that this guy really enjoyed his job! As a result, you received premium service and were left wanting to do business with this guy again.

That’s not just great business on his part, it’s also great work. We tend to do better at the things we enjoy doing, so wouldn’t it make sense to search for the guy who loves what he does? It seems so.

One thing that I learned years ago, was that I don’t like cooking. While yes, I was one of the fastest line cooks out there, and I did my job pretty well, I couldn’t keep it up. I didn’t enjoy it, so I moved on.

The one thing that has stuck with me for almost ten years now, is real estate. At the age of 14 I read a book on real estate investing, and I just couldn’t stop digging deeper! Understanding how a house with so many systems in it can function as one asset (and look so seemingly simple) intrigued me. While at the time I was more intrigued with the fact that it can also be a money making system, over time I became very interested in how houses worked, and how to make them work better.

Fascination can make you do crazy things. I wanted to learn more, so I spent many hours helping local house flippers (for free) remodel their houses, and read books upon books on real estate. Then, my brother-in-law (who is a house flipper in Oregon), mentioned that he had just became licensed as a home inspector. A home inspector… hmm, what do they do? Well, they learn how homes work, and what makes them work better. They even get paid to do it! It didn’t take long before I found myself going through the same training he did. It was difficult, but totally worth it. It was interesting, and challenging at the same time. That excited me, and does still to this day!

So, why do many inspectors love their job? Well, unfortunately I can’t answer for everyone else, but for me it’s a few things:

  • It’s real estate!
  • It’s a puzzle (challenge)
  • It can support me financially, while continuing to educate me more about what I love
  • It’s a wonderful balance of outdoor/physical labor, and indoor/mental work, and;
  • It’s flexible. I’ve always wanted to start a business and be able to work my own schedule.

So, for me there are many reasons to love my job, and I have a feeling I’m not the only inspector who feels this way. When looking for your inspector, I encourage you to get to know them a bit. You can tell a lot about them by simply asking questions and getting to know them!

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Do Home Inspections Really Affect Property Value?

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First time Meridian Idaho homebuyers

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What to expect from a home inspection

First time homebuyer here in idaho? I want to clue you in on some things to look out for, or at least be prepared for upon receiving your inspection report. Before we start, one thing to keep in mind is that home inspectors in Idaho are not licensed, and as such do not have a state regulated “standard” as to what we must report. Most inspectors follow one of two standards of practice created by the following two associations; American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), or International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). These “standards” specify what we are required to inspect, and what we are not. They are accessible for free to the public on their websites.

Now that you know how to find out what we must inspect (conditions permitting), let’s talk about cost. How much do they cost? Are they worth the cost? Well, the simple answer is (in Idaho), usually $300-$600, and most likely. One of many reasons they are usually worth the cost is simply to help you know what you are buying. The value of the home is directly affected by the condition of the home (most of the time), and therefor can be used as a negotiation factor, possibly saving you thousands of dollars! Another equally important factor to consider is you and your family’s safety. We look for safety issues in the home so that when you move in, it’s either already been fixed, or you are at least aware of the concern.

So, we’ve covered why home inspections are usually worth the investment. Now let’s cover another thing I don’t want you to be surprised about upon receiving your inspection report. Cost. Didn’t we already cover that? Yes, the cost of the inspection, but not the cost to fix everything. Construction of most any sort is not cheap. While many things in your report may seem small, costs can add up quickly! We recommend setting aside money beforehand for items that may be on your report, so that if by chance the owner is not willing to front the cost, you don’t have to lose your dream home!

The last thing I wish I could DRILL into every clients head before receiving their report, is that just because there are defects or areas of concern, does not mean that it is a bad deal, or “unfixable.” Trust me, EVERY house we or any other inspector inspects will have issues (new or old). It’s being able to tell when something is too much for you, and when it’s not. Also, many of the smaller issues can be fixed over time. If time or money is of concern to you, we encourage you to prioritize all the tasks, knock out the safety concerns first (depending on severity), and then work your way around to the smaller issues.

Finally, remember that houses are always a work in progress, and that’s ok. It’s home, it’s worth the work!

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Do Home Inspections Really Affect Property Value?

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First time Meridian Idaho homebuyers

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Is my home inspection idaho weather worthy?

It’s true, weather changes all the time here in Idaho, and it can sometimes be a good thing for us inspectors. I mean, after all, what’s easier to spot a leaky roof in; a rainy day, or a sunny day? Sometimes a home inspection in Idaho means we simply can’t walk a roof, especially if we have a winter like two years ago where we got the most snow Boise has seen in I think over 30 years! It can be a little disheartening to hear that your inspection may be “severely” limited by weather.

While weather can be a limiting factor, it is not a fair assessment of whether your home inspection will be a quality one or not. Our job as home inspectors is often times more a job of finding evidence, than the actual thing. I’ll give you an example:

Joe lives in Boise, ID, and has just gone under contract on a house in Meridian. The owner isn’t allowing him more than 5 days to complete his inspection. This would be fine, but because of the snowy weather, and the low availability of his preferred inspector, the roof is most likely going to be covered in snow. This means that the inspector will not likely risk his life trying to walk the roof. Should he have it inspected or rescheduled?

While there is definitely a disadvantage to this, it will not likely keep him from noticing if the roof has indeed already failed. Why? because we can still go into the attic and look for stains, penetrations, and such items that have left evidence, without necessarily seeing exactly what it looks like from the outside. A confirmation of when the roof was installed, as well as no obvious signs of leakage in the attic, can be a pretty good sign that Joe’s new roof is good to go! There is one more thing that many people forget that works to your benefit in these situations, too; pictures! In your report, you should receive a photo of the roof that clearly shows it was covered in snow at the time of the inspection. Depending on your terms, this could be extremely helpful in negotiation with the seller even after the inspection period.

So, in short, while weather can be limiting, it can also be revealing, so don’t fret if Idaho doesn’t cooperate with your timeframe!

Ultimate Checklist for Buying a House

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Do Home Inspections Really Affect Property Value?

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First time Meridian Idaho homebuyers

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