May 2017: Driveways and Sidewalks

Ask The Inspector

Inspecting Driveways

Q: Aren’t all driveways the same? As long as I can drive on them, why should I care what condition they are in?

Ask The Inspector

Driveways are not all created equal, or even made of the same materials. Driveways can be formed from concrete, asphalt, gravel, epoxy stone, pressed concrete, brick or other materials. Driveway length, width or clearance may be a consideration depending on the location of the home, vehicle size and weight.

NPI professional inspectors are knowledgeable about local guidelines, maintenance, and safety issues. Photos of many aspects of the home, including heaving, differential settlement, excessive gaps and tripping hazards when found on driveways and sidewalks, are included in the inspection report. This makes it easy to pinpoint the problem and repair what can be a safety issue for pedestrians.

In the case of driveways, sidewalks and patios, many of the issues can be fixed relatively easily with a patch, filler, sealant or the replacement of a specific section. For additional information on a property inspection by NPI, contact us today.

Be Advised

Sidewalk Right-of-Way

As a property owner, understanding your rights and responsibilities when it comes to sidewalks in the right-of-way is important. The right-of-way refers to property adjacent to a road or other thoroughfare where people have the right to travel. These areas can be roads, sidewalks or alleys, and generally connect with residential and commercial properties. They are unmarked except during road repairs.

Be Advised

These right-of-ways may be owned by a city, other municipality or part of another tax-levying body, such as an improvement district. As a residential property owner, it is likely you will be responsible for some of the maintenance in the right-of-way that abuts your property.

In many places, homeowners are responsible for sidewalk installation, repair and maintenance in the right-of-way. Homeowners may also be responsible for keeping trees trimmed, vegetation mowed and garbage or debris picked up in the area. Many times, municipalities will have ordinances governing how residents remove snow from the area, or height limits for low-hanging branches that could reduce the line of sight for vehicle drivers in the area.

Being aware of your rights and responsibilities in regards to the right-of-way near your property can be helpful as you prepare to buy or sell a home. A little time spent researching these issues can allow you to be prepared for maintenance and replacement costs.

Snapshots From The Field

What Is Wrong With This Chimney?
Snapshots From The Field

  1. The shingles are old and worn out.
  2. There is no step flashing present on the chimney.
  3. The grout around the chimney isn’t properly recessed.

Correct Answer 2.There is no step flashing present on the chimney.

Noteworthy News

Home Re-inspections

Many home and commercial property inspectors will offer clients a one-time re-inspection of a property for a free or reduced rate. A re-inspection commonly occurs after significant safety or maintenance items outlined in the original inspection report are repaired.

Noteworthy News

A re-inspection generally takes significantly less time than a complete inspection and focuses only on the items that were marked as marginal or defective in the original home inspection report. In general, it’s a good idea to prioritize safety items such as electrical issues or loose railings, before making cosmetic changes.

The re-inspection is also a good opportunity to again ask the inspector to point out important shut-offs for the heating, electrical and plumbing systems. Mark these components so that they are easy to find in the event of an emergency.

Other things you might consider when you first move into a property include:

  • Labeling the circuits in electrical panels.
  • Having wood burning appliances inspected by a licensed professional before the first use.
  • Changing the locks on all the doors and install dead bolts for increased security.

An NPI inspector will work with you to make sure suggested safety or maintenance repairs meet industry standards. See how NPI service, like re-inspections, can help you get your new home in the condition you expect it to be.

Maintenance Matters

Driveway and Sidewalk Resealing

Regular resealing of the surface of a driveway or sidewalk can help prevent moisture from moving under the surface material and causing cracks or heaving. Sealants are available for both concrete and asphalt surfaces.


The important thing to remember about sealing a driveway is the weather forecast. To be effective, the surface must be clean and dry before the sealant is applied and should remain dry long enough to cure completely. Some other tips when it comes to sealing the driveway surface include:

  • Make sure to purchase a product appropriate for the type of surface you have.
  • Water-based sealants will result in a matte finish because they soak into the surface. Oil-based sealants will result in a shiny surface and sit on top of the asphalt or concrete.
  • Fill cracks and make repairs before sealing.
  • Sealant can be messy and difficult to clean up. Be sure not to track it into a building on clothes and shoes.

With driveway repairs it’s important to follow the above suggestions every 2 to 3 years to keep surface conditions in great shape. With proper maintenance, your driveway will be in excellent condition for years to come.

Did You Know?

Controlling Bees and Wasps

Both bees and wasps can be beneficial to the natural environment. Wasps are predators, helping to control other insects. Bees pollinate plants and produce honey and wax. That doesn’t mean they should be invited to share our living spaces.

Paper wasps commonly build paper-like nests under the eaves of homes, businesses or other structures. Bees typically build their colonies once they have found their way inside an open cavity, preferably a hollow tree, but sometimes a wall, attic or unprotected chimney. Preventing bees or wasps from taking up residence means limiting access to nesting sites, food and water supply.

  • Caulk all holes around the exterior of the building. Use screens of less than 1/8 inch opening in weep holes or over soffit vents.
  • Cover outside trash cans tightly.
  • Remove trash frequently.
  • Fill in low spots where water pools after it rains.

If you find evidence that bees or wasps are living on or in your building, the best thing to do is to call a licensed professional. In the case of honey bees, extermination is not the end of the story. The hive must be located, the honeycomb removed and repairs made to seal the area completely or another colony may move in on top of the old one.

Monthly Trivia Question

I have a swarm of bees hanging on a tree or bush in my yard. What should I do to protect my family?

  1. Do nothing
  2. Kill them by any means necessary
  3. Try to shoo them away to get them away from your home

Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbuck’s gift card. Submit your answer to find out if you’ve won.