Unfinished Room

Sometimes dealing with Wet Basements is easy

Sometimes it’s an easy fix. We recently inspected a house during a heavy rainstorm. Everybody was surprised to see about a foot of water in the basement. It was easy to see that the gutters and leaders were completely clogged and overflowing. Water built up along the foundation, saturated the soil, and created water pressure below grade. It poured into the basement through a crack in the foundation wall. Within a week, the owner had the gutters and downspouts cleaned, and installed downspout extensions.  Shortly after the work was done it rained hard again for a full day. We were asked to come back and check the basement while it was raining; it was completely dry. So, like I said, sometimes the fix is simple and cheap.

Of course, it’s not always that easy, but it’s always the 1st thing to check.

Moral of the story? Clean your gutters and downspouts twice a year (even more in the fall). And make sure the water is directed away from the foundation.

We hope this info will come in handy for you in the future.

For more related information click on this link: https://safeharborinspections.com/

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We don’t give repair estimates

During our inspections, we’re constantly asked, “how much will it cost?”. Our answer is: “It’s against company policy to give estimates, we suggest calling a contractor.”  Even when they say “they won’t hold us to it, we just need a ballpark,” we still won’t give estimates.

There are too many variables for us to try to get involved with estimates.  The only way to get a valid estimate is to get one from a contractor, someone that’s willing to do the job for the price they quote.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject so feel free to reply.

For more related information click on this link: https://safeharborinspections.com/

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Drain surrounding by rocks

French Drains

I always wondered why they’re called French drains.  Why aren’t they called Italian drains or Spanish drains?  I checked it out; according to Google it’s because a guy named Henry French invented them.  But I digress!

Basically, French drains are way too direct water to a planned location so that it’s not a nuisance.  For example, drainpipes can be connected to roof gutters/downspouts enabling the water to be directed to a dry well or down a hill.

French drains can also deal with water in a basement.  Trenches are dug around the perimeter of the foundation wall and pipes are installed to drain foundation water to a sump pump which collects and then pumps the water to a harmless location.  After the trenches are dug and the pipe is installed, new concrete is applied over the piping to match the rest of the floor.  Often, there is a slight opening between the new concrete and the foundation wall to enable water to drain off the foundation wall into the pipes.

French drains do work!  They can make a wet basement dry and solve the water problem on a long-term basis.  But they only work if they have electrical power.  And when do you need a French drain, mostly?  During a storm, and when does the power go out?  During a storm.  So, battery backup systems are a great idea, as is a generator.

Pricing goes by the linear foot.  Figure about $60 to $70 dollars per linear foot.  So if you have a basement 50’ x 30’ it calculates to about $10,000.

Anyway, we hope this information is helpful to you in the future.  For more related information click on this link: https://safeharborinspections.com/

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high wall with a red arrow

Is that crack in the Masonry Block Wall of an industrial warehouse building a problem?

Hi, so you’re walking around the exterior of an industrial/warehouse building and you see step cracks in the walls.  Is it a big problem?

The question is, is the block wall supporting the structure?

If the block wall is supporting the roof structure (steel or wood beams and roof joists), then any substantial cracking of the masonry wall can be a structural problem that needs repairs.

If the block wall is not supporting the structure, it’s similar to a partition wall and a few cracks are not that significant and can likely be repointed/repaired fairly easily.

So, how do you determine which type of wall you’re dealing with?  Go to the inside of the building and look for steel columns supporting a steel structure which supports the roof and holds the building together.  That means the masonry wall is more like a partition wall and does not support the structure.

However, if you’re looking from the interior and you don’t see steel columns and beams and instead you see the roof structure supported by the masonry wall, then cracks are more serious.

We’re not suggesting that you should formally come to a conclusion about cracks, but it may be helpful information just the same. Obviously, there’s a lot more that goes with this topic, but hopefully this info can help you when you’re your walking around an industrial/warehouse building.

For more related information click on this link: https://safeharborinspections.com/

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Man in a lined parking lot

Commercial Parking Lot re-pavement costs

A very common cost associated with commercial properties is parking lot pavement.  A parking lot expected useful life is 10 to 15 years and that estimate is greatly impacted by the condition of the existing pavement and frequency of heavy truckloads.  Removal and total replacement of the parking lot is the best approach, but obviously is the most expensive.  Typically, property owners elect to apply an over-layment rather than start from scratch with a new parking lot.  An over-layment can cost between $1.50 and $2.50 per square foot.  So, on average over-laymenton a 10,000 square-foot parking lot would cost somewhere in the $20,000 range.  On top of that, parking lot striping and bumpers are extra.

For more related information click on this link: https://safeharborinspections.com/

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Central air unit

Electric Generators

If you don’t have a generator, you probably wish you had one based on the last storm!

The crème de la crème is a whole house generator (capable of powering up everything in the house) fueled by natural gas or propane (you don’t have to worry about filling a fuel tank).  The generator automatically starts up when the power goes out, and entire electrical system in your house is energized. These systems are usually on a service contract and have a self-testing capability making them reliable. Whole house generators cost somewhere in the range of $5,000-$10,000 plus installation.  These systems get installed by the equipment dealers.

The other type of generator is usually portable and typically runs on gasoline.  It does not power up the whole house, but it may power up essential circuits (heat, refrigerators, important lights, electric stoves, laundry machines, even air-conditioning (depending on the power output of the generator).But you have to take the generator out of storage, move it to the right location, make sure that it works, and keep the gas tank full.  Oil needs to be changed periodically and the gas tank needs to be emptied after the storm. Portable generators range from $600 to $2,000 depending on capacity and quality plus installation of a transfer switch and wires by an electrician. Transfer switches disconnect the house from the public electrical grid (so that somebody working on the public power grid doesn’t get shocked).

We hope this information is helpful to you, and we wish you good luck during the next storm.

For more related information click on this link: https://safeharborinspections.com/

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Fail/Pass Signs

Home Inspections DO NOT Pass Or Fail

Sometimes people (often the sellers) think buyers home inspections either pass or fail.  That is a misnomer.  We don’t pass/fail home inspections. The town building/code inspector may pass or fail a code inspection, but, a buyer’s home inspection is a physical conditions assessment and can’t pass or fail; as Yogi Berra would say, it just is what it is.

You probably already know this but we figured we’d mention it anyway.

For more related information click on this link: https://safeharborinspections.com/

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Hot WaterHeater

Water Heaters

These days, there are several types of water heaters, all have their pros and cons.  It pays to do your homework (there’s plenty of information on the web) and take the advice of a few knowledgeable, licensed and qualified plumbers.  There are too many variables to get into details in a short email like this, so here’s a quick summary.

Efficiency ratings can go as low as 40% all the way up to 98%.  Of course, you get what you pay for.

1) Tankless on demand water heaters are the most expensive and highly efficient and can produce hot water all day long and will never run out.

2)  Indirect fired water heaters are a great choice and can be very efficient while producing high quantities of hot water.

3) Plate heat exchangers can be very efficient and can produce hot water continuously and are minimal in cost.

4) Conventional tank style water heaters are mid-efficiency and can run out of hot water and have a relatively short lifespan.

5) Tankless coils (contained in a conventional boiler, these are not on demand heaters) can have fluctuating temperatures and can be inefficient, especially in the summer and especially when they’re older.

One of the most important things to know about water heaters is when to replace them.  If you have a conventional tank style water heater older than 12 years, seriously consider replacing it right away on a preventive maintenance basis.  The downside is a flood if the tank bursts.  Plan ahead, do your research, and discuss it with at least one licensed and qualified plumber. In fact, consider meeting a few plumbers to get differing ideas and opinions.  Making the right choice can make a big difference in your wallet and comfort for years to come.

For more related information click on this link: https://safeharborinspections.com/

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Little house surrounded by coins

We Never Say Buy or Don’t Buy

Our clients often ask us “should we buy this house?” We never answer that question because it’s not our place to give that kind of advice. Our job is to help them understand what they’re buying so that they can make a good decision.

After we tell them that we can’t give advice regarding buy or don’t buy, they often say “okay, would you let your daughter by the house?”  Then, we stick to our policy and repeat “we can’t advise you to buy or not to buy. That’s just how we roll.”

We hope you agree with this approach. For more related information click on this link: https://safeharborinspections.com/

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Building Inspector completing an inspection form on clipboard inside living room

A Home Inspector’s Creed

All good home inspection companies have a philosophy they follow that guides their home inspection and reporting process.  Here is what Safe Harbor Inspections Inc. believes:

If someone orders an inspection, they have already picked a house, negotiated a deal, and are taking the next step towards the closing table. All this has taken place before we even get involved.

The buyer wants to buy the house, and the seller wants to sell the house. We don’t want to stand in the way of the deal. Far from it. Rather, we want to help our clients by truthfully, thoroughly, and expeditiously convey our inspection findings in a balanced, clear, calm and non-alarmist way.

Do you agree? I would love to get your thoughts!

For more related information click on this link: https://safeharborinspections.com/

 

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