8 Cleaning Tasks You Might Be Overlooking

Keeping a neat and tidy house is no easy task, and you’ll inevitably overlook a few much-needed cleaning duties from time to time. Here are eight oft forgotten jobs that are worth the extra effort for a healthier, happier home.

Pet Supplies

When’s the last time you cleaned your furry friend’s bowls? Their favorite blanket? Their toys? Odds are, these items don’t make your regular to-do list, but the good news is that they’re easy to take care of.

Bowls and Hard Toys: Many pet bowls are dishwasher-safe, and you can place them in the top rack with your regular load of dishes. If you’re not sure, it’s best to wash them by hand with hot water and a drop of gentle dish soap. Hard dog toys can also be placed in the dishwasher or washed gently by hand.

Blankets and Soft Toys: Blankets can be cleaned in the washer and dryer, and believe it or not, so can squeaker toys. For a load of pet items, you can use natural, or “free” laundry detergent, but our favorite is several capfuls of white vinegar. This should be added during the rinse cycle for the best results.

Blankets and toys can be dried at a low setting, but if you can, it’s best to let toys air-dry naturally. You may have to squeeze water out of toys to get them totally dry, but once they are, they should be in perfect condition, squeakers and all.

The Crevices in Kitchen Appliances

Whether you’re dealing with a stove or a dishwasher, every kitchen appliance seems to come with its fair share of hard-to-reach places. Under burners, around and behind knobs and the underside of handles can collect lots of dirt and grime. To get at the tightest places, we recommend using a mixture of mild soap and water or baking soda and water on an old toothbrush. Scrub away and then wipe clean.

Trashcans

Trashcans bear the brunt of a lot of germs and general nastiness, and sometimes leaks go undetected. That’s why it’s important to keep your trashcans clean by giving them a good wipe-down on a regular basis. The best way to give them a thorough cleaning is to take them outside and fill them with water, dish soap and bleach. Let them soak, then spray them off with a high-powered hose and allow them to air-dry.

Doorknobs and Light Switches

Doorknobs and light switches are among the most frequently touched surfaces of most homes, but for some reason, they never seem to be on our radar when the cleaning supplies are out. A disinfectant wipe will easily take care of any dirt, germs or stickiness.

Baseboards

Looking for a way to give any room an instant facelift? Cleaning baseboards will make everything noticeably brighter. Run a fabric sheet along baseboards to remove any dust that’s collected or break out the vacuum and use the hose attachment. Depending on the last time you cleaned your baseboards, you may be able to get away with just dusting, but if dirt and dust have collected in crevices, you’ll need to follow up with a wipe-down. Dip a sponge in warm, soapy water and then scrub away any stuck-on grime or stains.

Ceiling Fans

If you don’t use your ceiling fan daily, its blades are probably harboring a thick layer of dust. A duster with an extender will do the trick, or you can look into buying a special vacuum attachment at your local hardware store.

Remote Controls

While your TV remotes may not look or feel grimy, they’re frequently used objects that are susceptible to bacteria accumulation. Remote controls can be cleaned just like light switches. Just grab a disinfectant wipe and go to town. And while you’re at it, you can check the batteries to make sure they’re still in good shape.

Under the Bed

Dust bunnies are notorious for gathering under furniture, and beds can collect the most of all due to their surface area. Whether you have hardwood floors or carpet, your vacuum hose can take care of any accumulated dust quickly and easily. With hardwood, it may also be worth it to follow up with a mop.

Call National Property Inspections for a Full Assessment of Your Home

We have the professional training and experience to help assess the condition of your home’s structure and major systems. Give us a call today to schedule your pre-listing or homebuyer’s inspection.

Do I Need a New Roof? Here’s How to Tell

If you’ve asked yourself the question, “Do I need a new roof?” you might be wondering exactly how you can tell. Since it’s far better to get your roof replaced on a regular 20- to 25-year schedule than to wait until you experience leaks, we’re here to help you determine if it’s time for an overhaul.

Roof Age

The first indicator of whether it’s time to replace your roof is age. How old is your roof? As we mentioned above, the average roof lasts about 20 to 25 years. Keep in mind that this could vary significantly based on the materials your roof is made of and the types of weather it has been exposed to over the years. If it’s been 25 years or even longer, it’s pretty much a given that it’s time to start planning for a replacement.

Missing and Damaged Shingles

Did a particularly violent storm recently leave your yard littered with shingles? If not a full replacement, it’s definitely time to call a professional out for a consultation. Even if you can’t recall any storms in your recent past, you may want to grab a ladder and carefully take a look for missing shingles anyway. As roofs age, shingles tend to loosen in strips, and this could be an indicator it’s time for a new one. Look for shingles that curl, buckle, crack or appear to be losing granules.

Chimney Flashing Materials

Flashing refers to material that’s used over joints in a roof to prevent water seeping in. As you can imagine, damaged flashing can be one of the worst-case scenarios for your home’s overall condition. Once upon a time, it was common for roof flashing to be made from roof cement or roof tar. Now, the preferred flashing material is aluminum or galvanized steel. If your spot outdated flashing materials on your roof, it’s a safe bet that a replacement is right around the corner. To determine any damage, we recommend having a professional out to assess your roof’s flashing.

Moss and Algae Growth

Algae is more of an eyesore than a real threat to a roof, but it can cause damage to shingles over time. The most common type of algae is an airborne strain that leaves behind black streaks.
Moss often grows in areas with limited sunlight, and it’s also a cosmetic issue with potential to damage shingle granules. You’ll want to hire a professional for removal and the diagnosis of any accompanying problems.

Your Neighbors Are Replacing Their Roofs

This isn’t about keeping up with the Joneses, we promise. It only makes sense that homes that are a similar age and that have experienced the same weather patterns over the years would need replacing in the same timeframe. If your neighbors are shelling out, take note.

Call National Property Inspections for an Assessment of Your Roof

We have the experience and expertise to perform an inspection of your home’s overall condition, including the roof, foundation and more. Give us a call today to book your appointment.

How to Tell If You Have Hard Water

Hard water. Soft water. If you’re not sure what the difference is, or what that difference means for your home, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll explain everything you need to know about hard water and how to tell if it’s an issue in your home.

Is Hard Water Safe?

We’re getting this out of the way first thing. Yes, hard water is completely safe to drink, cook with, wash clothes in, and anything else you’d use water for in your home. Hard water is simply tap water that has a higher than ideal content of minerals, namely calcium and magnesium.

While hard water isn’t dangerous in any way, it can be a hassle to deal with. As we’ll see, if your home has hard water, you’ll see the effects every time you cook, clean or bathe.

Sure Signs of Hard Water

It can be hard to tell whether your water is hard—since you can’t determine the mineral content of your water by sight, you have to rely on the signs hard water leaves behind. Here are some of the ways to tell:

  1. You notice odd stains. Whether it’s on the porcelain kitchen sink or the inside of the toilet bowl, reddish brown or grey stains mean hard water. These can be caused by excessive iron or other minerals deposited on these surfaces over time. You can get rid of them temporarily with a product like CLR and some elbow grease, but they’ll keep coming back unless you treat the cause of the problem.
  2. You wrangle with soap scum. Some soap scum is normal, but if you find it collecting on your shower doors in thick deposits that are difficult to get rid of, it’s a good sign you have hard water.
  3. Your dishes are always spotty. Whitish spots on your dishes after they’ve gone through the washer are calcium deposits. Over time these will get tougher and tougher to get rid of if the root problem isn’t addressed. You can also buy special dishwasher detergents and rinse aids that are formulated to combat the effects of hard water.
  4. Your clothes aren’t getting clean. Hard water affects every one of your water-using appliances, including your clothes washer. Minerals and detergents don’t mix well—in fact, elevated mineral content in your water can keep detergent from rinsing clean. This residue trapped in clothing fibers causes clothes to re-soil faster, and can even lead to other problems like increased skin allergies.
  5. Your soap and shampoo don’t lather. If you feel like you don’t really get clean in the shower, you probably have hard water. Excess calcium and magnesium in your water lead to problems like weak or non-existent lather and can make it nearly impossible to rinse products completely. This filmy buildup can make your skin and hair feel dull, rough and unmanageable.
  6. Your appliances wear out faster than they should. Hard water is notoriously rough on washing machines, refrigerator icemakers and more, leaving scaly buildup over time that significantly shortens the life of your appliances.

What to Do About Hard Water

The simple answer is investing in a water-softening system. Water softeners treat your hard water with certain types of salt through a process called ion exchange. This process swaps the calcium and magnesium in hard water with another element, usually sodium, so you can avoid all the downsides of hard water listed above. Water softening systems can cost anywhere from $400 for a bare-bones model to $3,000 for a metered or timed system.

A couple other things to keep in mind:

  • Depending on how hard your water is to begin with, even a water-softening system may not solve the problem completely. Homes with water over 100 GPG (grains per gallon) when measured with a water test kit probably won’t get their water fully soft, but it’s still the best solution available.
  • Water-softening systems deposit sodium into your home’s water supply, so if you’re on a sodium-restricted diet, you’ll want to check with your doctor before drinking or cooking with soft water. To bypass this problem, many people opt for a secondary reverse-osmosis system for their drinking water.

Call National Property Inspections Today

For answers on the condition of your home’s major systems, call us today. Our inspectors can help you buy or sell with confidence by assessing your home and providing a full report.

Your Guide to the Humble Hammer

Your Guide to Hammer Types

When it comes to tools, we all know this one. The hammer is probably the first tool you ever bought, and for good reason. Few tools are more essential and multifunctional than a hammer, and ever since cavemen started strapping rocks to sticks with strips of leather back around 30,000 BCE (true fact), hammers have been a part of the human toolset.

Hammers aren’t as simple as they look, though—there’s a variation for every job you can think of, and using the wrong one for your project can waste time, material and can even be dangerous. Here’s a handy guide to some of the most common hammer types so you’ll know exactly how to use each one.

1. Claw Hammer

Claw Hammer

This is the hammer you probably have taking up space in your junk drawer. The workhorse of the hammer world, a claw hammer is useful for a wide range of household tasks, but it’s mainly designed for driving and pulling nails. Its curved claw is designed with a V-notch to easily grip nail heads and lever them out of wood. In a pinch, the claw can also be used as a pry bar to pull up floorboards or baseboards for simple demo work.

2. Drywall Hammer

Claw Hammer

If you’re planning to work with drywall, this funny-looking hammer will be your best friend. Its serrated front face and lighter weight helps it connect with nails and drive them into drywall without breaking the paper facing. Drywall hammers often incorporate magnetic materials to secure extra nails, and have a hatchet side for creating rough cuts for outlets, air vents and other necessary holes.

3. Electrician’s Hammer

Electrician's Hammer

An electrician’s hammer looks suspiciously like a claw hammer, but it has a few features that make it uniquely suited to electrical work. For instance, it has a long face that’s perfect for driving nails in tight spaces like electrical boxes, and features a handle made of non-conductive materials for safety.

4. Sledge Hammer

Sledge Hammer

When it’s time to break out the big guns, reach for the sledge hammer. They’re made with long or short handles with heads that weigh in at a hefty 8 to 20 pounds. Sledge hammers are unique in that they distribute force over a wide area, unlike other more precise hammers. This makes them especially good for demolition work, breaking through drywall or structures that have been nailed together. They’re also great for breaking concrete, something few other hammers can do.

5. Soft-Faced Hammer

Soft-Faced Hammer

A soft-faced hammer or mallet can be made of any number of materials, including plastic, copper and rubber. This type of hammer is most often used on delicate projects where a harder steel hammer would mar the surface you’re working on. Soft-faced hammers often feature interchangeable faces made of different materials that make them even more versatile.

Call National Property Inspections for a Full Report on Your Home’s Condition

Our NPI inspectors have the knowledge and expertise to assess your home’s major systems and provide a full report. Call us today to buy or sell with confidence.

How to Remove Paint from Wood

Remove Paint from Wood

You found the perfect piece of wood furniture at your local flea market, but you can’t stand the paint job. It’s rough, splotchy and on top of that it’s an ugly color, but don’t give up on it just yet! Removing paint from wood can be painstaking, but it’s definitely worth it for the results. We’ll show you the best tools and techniques to make the process as easy as possible.

The Tools You Need

Every job is a little bit different, so depending on what item you’re trying to remove paint from, you’ll need a combination of some or all of these items.

  • Scrapers: Found in the paint section of any hardware store, these metal or plastic tools come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to tackle any job.
  • Heat Gun: This tool works by heating paint to its melting point so it’s easy to scrape off, but not hot enough to damage the wood underneath.
  • Sandpaper, Sanding Block or Handheld Sander: These are used to roughen up your painted surface so paint strippers can adhere and penetrate better. Never use these on lead-based paint (more on this below).
  • Paint Stripper: Paint stripper comes in many different formulations of varying intensities depending on the job requirements, but they all work similarly. Apply it with a paintbrush, let it soften the paint, then scrape.
  • Mineral Spirits: This helps clean the wood of any paint stripper residue, so that your new coats of paint or varnish adhere perfectly.
  • Face Mask or Respirator: This is non-negotiable when working with paint stripper or a power sander. Fumes and dust are not your friends.
  • Safety Glasses: Same as above. Protect your eyes—you won’t regret it.

A Word on Lead Paint

If you’re working on an older piece, know that the paint you’re removing may be lead-based, which means no sanding. There’s only one way to know for sure whether you’re dealing with lead paint, and that’s by testing it. You can use an at-home test kit (least expensive), mail a sample out to a lab (a bit more expensive), or hire a professional to come in and perform an X-ray fluorescence test (most expensive by far).

If the paint you’re removing contains lead, there are a few things to keep in mind. Use a heat gun or paint stripper to avoid kicking up lead-laced dust, and work over a 6-mil plastic drop sheet extending 10 feet past the item. Once you’re done, dispose of the plastic sheeting in a contractor bag and seal it with duct tape.

What’s the Wood Like Underneath?

Before you start to strip the paint from your furniture, you have to get a good idea of what’s underneath. If you’re looking to remove the paint and varnish the piece instead, you’ll want to know that the wood will look attractive when you’re done. Starting in a hidden spot like a drawer, scrape away the paint layer by layer—if the first layer is paint, chances are the wood isn’t pretty. Attractive wood would usually have been varnished to begin with.

First Method: Sanding

Once you’ve confirmed that you’re not dealing with lead paint, you can start sanding your project with either sandpaper, a sanding block or a power sander. For more delicate work, you’ll want to stick with manual sanding with 80 to 180-grit sandpaper, but if you have a large area to work on with multiple layers of paint to remove, a power sander is your best bet.

Sanding is best used when you’re planning on painting the piece afterward. In this case, it’s not important to remove every last fleck of old paint—you just want to rough the surface up enough so new paint will adhere to it.

Start by cleaning the surface you’re working on with soap and water. After the piece is prepped and dry, start sanding with 180-grit sandpaper until it becomes dull. If you need to tackle thicker paint blobs, switch to a rougher 80-grit paper. Once you’re finished, clean the surface again to remove any dust. If the surface is rough, you can prime the surface and repaint.

Second Method: Stripping

If you want to show off your wood’s natural grain, you’ll have to get rid of all the old paint, which is nearly impossible by sanding alone. In this case you’ll want to use paint stripper. There are many kinds available in varying strengths, but they all come in liquid, gel or paste forms and work by chemical reaction to soften paint, making it easy to scrape away.

After donning your protective gloves, respirator and safety glasses, transfer some paint stripper into a small bowl. Using a paint brush, paint the thinner onto small sections of the piece you’re working on. Make sure to apply thinner evenly to avoid splotchy results. Once the paint starts bubbling, you can use a scraper to easily remove the paint—if any areas of paint remain, repeat the application and scraping process. Once all of the paint has been removed from your piece, clean its surfaces with mineral spirits to remove all traces of thinner. Now your piece is ready to be varnished!

Call National Property Inspections Today

NPI helps you keep your home in its best condition, and can even help you make the most of your investment when you buy or sell with a full home inspection. Call us to make an appointment.

How Long Your Appliances Will Last

How Long Do Appliances Last

Whether you’re getting ready to move into your new home with its own set of aging appliances, or you’re just taking stock of the ones you already own, it’s helpful to know just how much life they have left in them. New homeowners typically forget to budget for the average of $9,000 in hidden expenses they’ll run into in the first months and years of home ownership, and appliances are a substantial part of that expense. Here’s a breakdown of how long your home appliances should last, and how you can lengthen their lifespans to save money in the long run.

For All Appliances

Before we get started, the numbers you’ll see below are averages. You can get a rough estimate of how long your appliances have left before they give up the ghost based solely on their age, but what’s more important is how much use they get. A washing machine that handles clothes for a family of 5 will see a lot more action than a bachelor’s, for example, which will shorten its lifespan accordingly.

Oven Range: 13-15 Years

Whether you have a gas, electric or induction range, they tend to have similar lifespans. The best way to extend the life of your range is with regular cleaning. For gas ranges, make sure to clean the burner ports using a straight pin on a set schedule (usually once every three months)—this ensures that the ports don’t get clogged with grease that can cause uneven cooking and wear on the stove.

Dishwasher: 9-13 Years

The best advice for maintaining your dishwasher? Run it regularly. If you don’t, the rubber gaskets and seals that keep water where it’s supposed to be can dry out and fail. You should also clean out the filter regularly to avoid buildup that can keep water from draining from the dishwasher at the end of a cycle.

Refrigerator: 11-19 Years

Depending on the style you have, refrigerators can have very different lifespans. Typical side-by-side fridge/freezer combos normally last 14 years, while two-door fridges (top freezer, bottom refrigerator) last around 17 years. Since standalone freezers have to work harder than refrigerators, they also wear out faster. These last only about 11 years.

You can help your fridge last longer by reducing how hard it works on a daily basis. This means keeping the doors closed as much as possible, and keeping the temperature off the “coldest” setting.

Microwave: 9-10 Years

With not a lot of moving parts and even fewer serviceable ones, your microwave oven is one of the most durable appliances in your kitchen. That being said, there’s not a lot you can do to make yours last longer, besides keeping it clean and taking it easy on the door hinge.

Garbage Disposal: 10-12 Years

When it comes to garbage disposals, the most important thing to remember is what not to put down it. This includes foods like rice, egg shells, fibrous vegetables or grease, which can clog the disposal and dull its blades. To keep your garbage disposal clean, cut a lemon into smallish wedges and put them down the disposal, along with a handful or two of ice cubes. The acid in lemon juice combines with the gentle abrasive action of the ice to loosen stuck-on debris and eliminate odor, too.

Washing Machine/Dryer: 10 to 14 Years

For washing machines and dryers, lifespan is determined by which style you have. Top-loading washing machines tend to last a little longer than front-loading ones—the reason for this is up for some debate, but it may come down to the fact that front-loading washing machines are generally more technologically advanced. More moving parts, bells and whistles equal more opportunities for things to break down.

Dryers come in on the lower end of the lifespan range, simply because their heating elements tend to undergo more stress than washing machines.

Furnace: 15-18 Years

A gas furnace will normally outlast an electric one by about three years, and the reasons are twofold. First, gas is a more efficient fuel source than electricity, so the system doesn’t have to work as hard to provide the same amount of heat. Second, gas furnaces are usually less complex, with fewer parts that can wear and break. Also, today’s high-efficiency furnaces will outlast those using older technology.

AC Unit: 10-15 Years

In order to work with optimal efficiency, your air conditioning unit needs regular care and maintenance, starting with making sure the coils and foil fins are clean and straight. You’ll also want to call in a professional once a year to check the system’s refrigerant levels—if they’re too high or low, you’ll end up with problems like iced-over coils or too much stress put on the system.

Water Heater: 10-25 Years

Tankless water heaters can easily last over two decades, while more common tank models generally fall in the lifespan range of 10 to 15 years. Electric models wear out sooner, again because they’re less efficient. Other factors come into play with water heaters as well—for those with hard water, excess mineral buildup and scaling can shorten the life of this appliance, while those on a well water system should also look out for sediment deposits.

Call Your NPI Inspector Today

Our NPI inspectors have the knowledge and expertise to assess your home’s major systems and provide a full report. Call us today to buy or sell with confidence.

5 Signs You Might Have a Foundation Problem

5 Signs of Foundation Problems

Foundation issues can easily be one of the most expensive things you’ll deal with as a homeowner. The thing is, most of the time it’s kind of hard to tell what a real foundation problem is and what isn’t. Since literally everything rests on your foundation, you can see subtle signs that might spell foundation trouble all over your house—you just have to know where to look.

Before We Begin

It’s important to note that the following warning signs of foundation problems don’t necessarily mean you have one. The truth is that all houses settle over time—there’s no way around it, and a little bit of settling is to be expected. However, if you’re noticing many of these occurring at once, it’s a good idea to bring in a professional to get their opinion.

Also, keep in mind that the age of your home isn’t the only factor involved with foundation issues. Depending on the condition of the soil, the climate and more, even new houses can exhibit the problems below.

1. Doors and Windows are Tough to Close

A substantial shift in your foundation often causes doors and windows throughout the home to misalign. Windows might be difficult or impossible to open, while you’ll find that doors won’t latch easily and might catch on the frame and jamb.

2. Sagging Floors or Ceilings

Sagging floors or ceilings can indicate a number of problems: excessive settlement, termite infestation, or improperly spaced or altered floor joists. Sagging floors will generally be easy to recognize—you might notice some separation between your floorboards and baseboards, and you may even be able to feel the slope of a floor when standing on it.

3. Your Chimney’s On the Move

If your chimney’s starting to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, don’t ignore the issue. This can be a sign that the soil beneath your home has eroded and isn’t able to support it. Even if it’s not noticeably tilting, though, looks for signs of movement like cracked mortar or an uneven hearth that can signal the beginning of larger problems to come.

4. A New Mold Problem

You haven’t had mold problems in the past, but now it seems like new spots are popping up everywhere, including the basement. Before you blame the humidity, take a look at the state of your walls. Are there any cracks letting in moisture from outside? Cracks can be a normal part of house settling, but if they’re letting the elements in, they need some attention, stat.

5. Cracks in the Walls

This bears repeating—just because you have cracks in your walls, doesn’t mean you need to panic. Small vertical cracks around windows or doors are most likely normal and due to seasonal expansion and contraction of drywall and the wooden structure underneath. Cracks that are more than one-eighth inch wide, are horizontal or diagonal, or show a telltale “stair step” pattern in masonry joints are more of a cause for concern. Call in the experts when you see these signs.

Call National Property Inspections Today

NPI inspectors are professionally trained to identify the condition of a home’s most important features, including the foundation. Call us today to schedule an inspection before you buy.

Building Permits: Why You Need One and How to Get It

How to Get a Building PermitAs a home improvement guru and self-styled master of DIY projects, you might have the idea that building permits are a nuisance. After all, shouldn’t you be able to just build what you want, where you want on your property? While it’s true that building permits can be a pain, they actually serve a very important role that makes the process worthwhile. We’ll explain why building permits are a thing, why you need one and how to get one.

Building Permits and Building Codes

To understand why building permits are important, we need to start by talking about building codes. Building codes, simply put, are the standards put in place by local governments to ensure buildings are constructed using the best methods for your area. While some building codes are practically universal, others vary by your local jurisdiction. If you’re building a deck, for example, how deep your footings need to be will be different depending on where you’re building it—in colder environments with a deeper frost line, footings need to be deeper to be considered safe.

In other places, such as coastal areas that regularly deal with high winds, your home’s roof and other features may need to be built using special techniques and materials to ensure they can stand up to the elements. Building codes are put in place to keep our communities safe, and building permits are the way that local governments make sure new buildings are constructed according to those standards.

When You Need a Permit

While you may not need a building permit in some situations, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Generally speaking, building permits will be required in urban and suburban areas more often than rural ones, but that doesn’t mean building codes shouldn’t be adhered to if you live in the country. If you don’t get a permit for construction that requires it, you may be fined, forced to tear down what you’ve built and redo it, or both. Here are some of the most common situations you’d need a building permit for:

  • New Construction: Any time a new building goes up, you can bet it needs a building permit. This goes for any building you can think of, including homes, garages, storage buildings and gazebos.
  • Extensive Renovations: Even if you’re not building a new structure from the ground up, you may need a permit to make sure anything new you put in is up to modern building codes.
  • Home Additions: Adding a new room to your home, or putting in a new deck, porch or patio? You’ll most likely need to get a permit, depending on your area.
  • Changes in Structure: Different from additions or renovations, structural changes usually involve altering the “bones” of your home or other building. This includes things like taking out load-bearing walls.
  • Electrical, Plumbing and More: Whenever you’re dealing with systems like plumbing, electrical or other mechanical systems, building permits will be required. Sometimes separate forms will also be required, so check with your local authority.

How to Get a Building Permit

Securing a building permit for your project starts with a visit to your city or county’s Permits and Inspections (P&I) Division website. A quick Google search for “building permits” is usually enough to bring up the page you’ll need, although the name of the department might vary depending on your area. From there, you may be able to apply for a permit online, request an inspection and find answers to other questions you may have throughout the process. For more involved projects, you may be required to submit a plan along with your application.

If you want a guide through the permitting process, you can enlist the help of a permit service. These are companies that help you organize the materials you need to get your permit, filling out necessary paperwork and keeping track of the various fees and inspections you’ll need to budget for. Permit services take the guesswork out of permitting, making the process simpler and less stressful for you.

Call National Property Inspections Today

Call us today today to schedule a full assessment of your home. NPI inspectors have the training, knowledge and expertise to document the condition of your home’s major systems.

September 2018: End of Summer

Ask The Inspector

Ask The Inspector

Building Permits: Why You Need One and How to Get It

As a home improvement guru, you might have the idea that building permits are a nuisance. While it’s true that building permits can be a pain, they actually serve a very important role that makes the process worthwhile. We’ll explain why building permits are a thing, why you need one and how to get one. Learn more

5 Signs You Might Have a Foundation Problem

Foundation issues can easily be one of the most expensive things you’ll deal with as a homeowner. Since literally everything rests on your foundation, you can see subtle signs that might spell trouble all over your house—you just have to know where to look. Learn more

How Long Your Appliances Will Last

Whether you’re getting ready to move into your new home with its own set of aging appliances, or you’re just taking stock of the ones you already own, it’s helpful to know just how much life is left in them. Here’s a breakdown of how long each appliance should last and how you can lengthen their lifespans. Learn more

Expert Advice

Ask The Inspector

 

How to Remove Paint from Wood

Removing paint from wood can be painstaking, but it’s definitely worth it for the results. We’ll show you the best tools and techniques to make the process as easy as possible. Learn more

Your Guide to the Humble Hammer

Few tools are more essential and multifunctional than a hammer. Hammers aren’t as simple as they look, though—there’s a variation for every job you can think of, and using the wrong one can be a waste of time and material, or even dangerous. Here’s a handy guide to some of the most common types of hammers and what they’re used for. Learn more

How to Tell If You Have Hard Water

Hard water. Soft water. If you’re not sure what the difference is, or what that difference means for your home, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll explain everything you need to know about hard water and how to tell if it’s an issue in your home. Learn more

Snapshots From The Field

What’s wrong with this picture?

Pictured here is the entrance to the attic in a brand new construction. But there appears to be something blocking the doorway—a roof truss!

When building or repairing a home, blocking any entry point should be avoided at all costs, but trusses present an especially big challenge. Since attic trusses support your home’s structure and help bear the weight of the roof, they play an endlessly important role in your home’s overall condition. Some trusses are more crucial than others, but it’s difficult to tell exactly what the “workload” of each truss is. To keep your home and family safe, you should never cut or attempt to remove a truss without a consultation from a professional engineer.

As for whether the truss blocking access to the attic in this new home will present a problem, it’s still up in the air. At worst, if any mechanical systems have been installed in the attic, it could be impossible to remove them for maintenance or replacement down the road without cutting the truss. At best, the partially obstructed access could prove an annoyance for the homeowners when it comes to placing items in the space for storage or other maintenance matters.

Maintenance Matters

Ask The Inspector

Do I need a new roof?

If you’ve asked yourself the question, “Do I need a new roof?” you might be wondering exactly how you can tell. Since it’s far better to get your roof replaced on a regular 20- to 25-year schedule than to wait until you experience leaks, we’re here to help you determine if it’s time for an overhaul. Learn more

8 Cleaning Tasks You Might Be Overlooking

Keeping a neat and tidy house is no easy task, and you’ll inevitably overlook a few much-needed cleaning duties from time to time. Here are eight oft forgotten jobs that are worth the extra effort for a healthier, happier home. Learn more

 

Monthly Trivia Question

Question: Which type of furnace typically lasts longer by up to three years, gas or electric?
Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbucks’s gift card. Submit your answer to find out if you’ve won.