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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!

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Close-up Of A Shocked Woman Looking At Mold On Wall

So what’s the story with Mold?

Many of our inspection clients (especially first-time homebuyers) are concerned about the presence of mold. Especially if they have young children.

There’s mold in the air wherever we go, even outside. But if there is a lot of mold inside, it may cause health issues.If there’s a musty smell, usually it’s because there’s mold. It can grow on cardboard, sheetrock, wood, carpets, clothing, etc. Anything organic, including dust.

If it’s a fairly small area, less than 10 square feet, it can be dealt with by a homeowner. A mixture of 10% bleach and 90% water in a spray bottle can do the trick. There are lots of DIY mold cleaning products available in home improvement stores.

If it’s a larger area, you should call a New York State licensed Mold Assessor who will analyze the situation and write a prescription (report) for curing the issue. (The assessor is forbidden to remediate because of the conflict of interest.)

A Mold Assessor typically takes swabs (samples) of the mold and does air tests in order to determine the extent and type of mold. The test materials get sent to a lab and ultimately the Mold Assessor will advise you what to do. Once you have the Assessor’s report, you can have a Remediator do the work.

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Man holding building plans

What is a PHASE 1 and PHASE 2 Environmental Assessment?

A Phase 1 environmental site assessment is for commercial properties and is an investigation that looks for potential or existing environmental issues. It includes the land as well as well as the buildings. Testing is typically not included in a Phase 1, but, investigation of public records and discussion with occupants is included. It’s generally considered a first step in the process of finding out if there is an environmental issue.

If the property appears to have contamination issues, a Phase 2 can be done as part of due diligence. A Phase 2 is considered much more intrusive and involves actual collection of samples, testing and a more detailed investigation. It’s typically done if the Phase 1 results in suspicion of environmental issues.

We hope this bit of information is of interest to you. For more related information click on this link:

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Large House with blue sky

How much is a New Roof?

One of the more expensive items that come up during our home inspections are old roofs that need replacement older style basic 3-tab shingles have a life expectancy of approximately 20 years. Newer style “architectural” shingles (the most common these days) have a life expectancy of about 30 years and are much more attractive. There are upgraded architectural shingles available that can have a life expectancy of 50 or more years. Slate roofs can last hundreds of years!

Is a new roof really needed?  Perfectly good roofs sometimes leak around chimneys or other penetrations. Sometimes roofs have mechanical damage from falling branches, and wind. So, they can be dealt with by repairs rather than replacement. Roof repairs can be in the hundreds of dollars while roof replacement is thousands of dollars.

According to several websites, the average roof replacement performed by licensed and qualified roofing contractors for a typical 2,500 SF ranch style house ranges between $7,000 and $13,000 (architectural style shingles). This includes removing the existing roof shingles, which is highly recommended for longevity and is required by the shingle manufacturer in-order to honor the warranty.

Of course, there are many variables in the pricing, but I hope this basic information is of benefit to you.

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Indoor atrium

What is PLP and CAM?

PLP is a term used in commercial real estate and stands for PUBLIC LIGHT AND POWER. There’s usually a separate electrical meter that feeds power to the common areas of the building, such as hallways, stairs and parking lot lights. PLP is one of the components of CAM.

CAM stands for COMMON AREA MAINTENANCE. Common area maintenance also includes cleaning, landscaping, and repairs/maintenance. All this stuff gets added up and charged back to the tenants on a pro-rata share basis. There are lots of variations on this theme and it’s all dictated by the leases in effect for the tenant spaces.

You probably already know all of this, but I figured I’d mention it anyway.

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