10 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home

Want to make 2019 the best year yet? It all starts with a happy home. Putting even one or two of these 10 household New Year’s resolutions into practice can help you create a healthy space for making all your dreams realities.

1. Improve your indoor air quality.

Make clean air a priority in 2019. Poor indoor air quality is a leading cause of respiratory issues, like asthma and allergies. It can also cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and general malaise. That’s because indoor air can harbor mold spores, dust, pollen and other nasty stuff you don’t want to be cooped up with all day.

Changing your furnace filter at least once a year can go a long way toward improving indoor air quality. Make sure your ventilation system is up to par, particularly in the kitchen and bathrooms. You should also use low-VOC paint and burn real firewood instead of pressed wood logs. This will help keep risky chemicals out of the air for extended periods of time. As an extra measure, portable air cleaners are available to help purify air in single rooms.

2. Declutter, room by room.

The beginning of the year is a great time to reevaluate your belongings. What do you actually use? What brings you joy? What feels stale? Since de-cluttering can get overwhelming quickly, and breaking tasks down into manageable chunks is key to achieving big results, it’s best to go room by room. Try designating one room for one weekend day until the job is done.

3. Simplify a chore that stresses you out.

We all have that one chore we dread. Maybe your vacuum just isn’t cutting it anymore, or putting away dishes is way more difficult than it should be because your cabinets are over-stuffed. Give yourself a break and simplify! This might mean hiring outside help, treating yourself to simply figuring out a new approach to organization. Whatever it may be, make your own happiness a priority and tackle it just because it’ll make your day-to-day life easier.

4. Volunteer your time in the neighborhood.

Nothing feels better than giving back to your community. You can do one better by taking on a special task in your neighborhood, like cleaning up a park, founding a community garden or organizing a neighborhood watch group. You’ll make new friends and creating a last positive impact.

5. Take tangible steps toward saving energy.

We’ve talked about saving energy time and time again on the NPI Home blog. If you haven’t taken steps toward energy conservation, the start of the new year is a great time to turn over a new leaf. Here are a few steps you can take this weekend to help:

• Use weather stripping to seal cracks and fix drafty doors and windows
• Switch out traditional lightbulbs for energy-saving lightbulbs
• Insulate your HVAC system’s ductwork
• Be diligent about keep lights off in unused rooms
• Set your thermostat to kick on only when you’re home

6. Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

When’s the last time you changed the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? If you can’t remember, the chore is probably past due. Go ahead and do it right away and make a note on your phone calendar or planner of the next date you’ll need new batteries. This way you’ll never miss another change.

7. Keep your kitchen stocked with healthy ingredients.

To keep your energy up and feel your best in the coming year, you need to fuel your body with healthy food. Make a point to keep your kitchen stocked with healthy snacks, as well as a few pantry staples that will allow you to throw together a nutritious meal in a snap. For healthy snacks, try string cheese, fresh fruit, nuts and crudités with hummus. For a meal in a pinch, keep black beans, eggs, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta and frozen veggies on hand, plus a protein of your choice. With a basic spice arsenal, these items can be leveraged into stir frys, casseroles and an array of one-pot dishes.

8. Treat yourself to something fresh and new.

If you haven’t updated your space in a hot minute, why not try something new? It doesn’t have to be big or expensive to create a fresh look and feel. You might try:

• Shopping Etsy or your local secondhand shop for a new art print
• Snagging a new houseplant (the easier to care for, the better!)
• Upgrading your sheets—bonus points if you pick a new color palette
• Swapping out your curtains
• Choosing some fun new throw pillows for your couch

9. Create a filing system for important documents.

Unorganized paper piles are Enemy Number One for the dedicated de-clutterer. This is the year you nip those sloppy stacks in the bud once and for all. Whether you opt for a full-blown filing cabinet, a portable accordion folder or a desktop file sorter will depend on your space, needs and budget, but any of these solutions will go a long way toward keeping your important documents organized and easy-to-find. If you’re stuck setting a few hours aside to sort and toss old documents, make sure you take the time to dispose of them the right way. If you have a shredder, you can shred them from the comfort of your own home. Otherwise, you can pay a fee (typically around $1 a pound) at most shipping and office supply stores, or wait for a free community shredding event.

10. Watch your water usage.

Did you know that even though 71% of earth is covered in water, only 0.5% is available for drinking? With rising populations, saving water becomes everyone’s responsibility. Not only will this minimize the effects of droughts, it helps preserve the environment for years and years to come.

If taking long, hot baths or showers is your favorite way to relax, it’s worth it to find a new way to treat yourself. Try a little aromatherapy with a scented candle or essential oils. Yoga and meditation are also great alternatives when you need a little alone time and rejuvenation.

Call National Property Inspections for a full home inspection today.

Our NPI inspectors are professionally trained to assess your home’s major systems and create a comprehensive report of its condition. Call us today.

Home Inspector Solves HVAC Mystery

John Nelson, NPI Franchise Owner, Manassas, Virginia

John Nelson, NPI Franchise Owner, Manassas, Virginia

Sometimes home inspectors do more than inspect homes for home buyers and sellers. Sometimes they are called in as sleuths to solve a home owner’s mystery. This story comes from NPI franchise owner John Nelson in Manassas, Virginia. It’s a good reminder that a home inspection is always a good idea, even on brand-new houses. Here’s what John told us:

Last August, I got a call from a distraught home owner. He bought a brand-new home from a well-known builder in September 2013. He didn’t have an inspection performed before buying the house — what could possibly be wrong with a brand-new home, right? After the weather turned cold and winter set in, the home owners found themselves in in a serious situation: It was cold on the upper floor (the bedroom level) of their 3,500 sq. ft. beautiful new home. So cold, in fact, that the heating system was running nonstop.

“Something must be wrong with the heat,” the owner thought. He called the builder, who promptly sent out the HVAC installer that put in the system during construction. The home actually has two HVAC systems — one in the basement, for the basement and first floor, and another in the attic for the bedrooms. The HVAC installer went to the house, went into the attic to check the system, did his thing and proclaimed, “The system is working fine. No problems found at all. It’s operating completely within the manufacturer’s specs.”

So the home owners suffer through the winter — thankfully it was not a bad one for temperatures. Spring arrived and everything seemed fine. Then June starts to heat things up. By the beginning of July, this poor home owner and his family are sweating up a storm. This poor guy has gone out and bought four window-mounted air-conditioning units for his brand-new home just so they can sleep at night!

He calls the builder again, knowing something isn’t right. Instead of going to the home to see what’s happening and investigate this poor guy’s situation, the builder calls Mr. HVAC Installer to find out why the HVAC system is not cooling the bedrooms. The HVAC installer returns, does his thing, whatever that is, and again proclaims that the system is working perfectly, completely within design specs …

The home owner is mystified. He has Googled HVAC systems, read everything he could about how the systems work. He came up with no answers. Then he finally decides to have a third party go to the house to investigate. “Forget the builder,” he thinks. “I need a home inspector!” The guy calls me and says, “John, I need your help!” He relays to me the entire story of what’s been going on with his HVAC. It’s now the first week of August, and in the Washington, D.C., area that means 95 degrees and 100 percent humidity.

I arrived at his house and went upstairs to the main bedroom hallway, and I stopped at the top of the stairs. The heat was oppressive. It was so hot that you could feel it on the back of your neck, like you’re outside and the sun is cooking your neck. Now, I haven’t been in the house more than two minutes at this point, and I look at the home owner and proclaim, without even looking at anything, “I know exactly what the problem is!”

I got my ladder and entered the attic to verify my suspicion. Keep in mind that the builder’s HVAC installer has been inside the attic three or four times over the course of the winter and summer and never noticed: THERE IS NO INSULATION IN THE ATTIC. None, nada. The attic is clean as a whistle. This poor family has been through a complete Washington, D.C., winter and the worst part of a Washington, D.C., summer with no attic insulation. The builder completely forgot to install it, and I guess an HVAC installer is not trained to notice little details like the fact that the attic was so clean.

I walked out of the house no more than 15 minutes after arriving. The homeowner was so grateful that he paid me double my fee. I feel like I really helped someone who needed it desperately and made a difference. And I never even had to check the HVAC system.

A few days went by and the home owner called me back. He said, “The builder has fully insulated the attic, and my AC is actually turning off all by itself sometimes! John, I feel like such an idiot for not having the house inspected before we bought it, I need you to come out and do a complete inspection. My wife and I discussed it, and we want you to go over the whole house.” I found a few more small issues, and the home owners were happy. I also ended up inspecting the neighbors’ houses on both sides of him within the next month. I guess the word got around.

Home Inspection 101: Inspecting a Home’s Grading

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An important component of a home inspection that is not always obvious to the home buyer is the grading of the yard. I have seen homes that are meticulously maintained inside but have poor grading, even holes in the yard. Unfortunately, grading is often considered a low priority, but the effects of improper grading can be disastrous.

Rainwater ponding outside, or worse, running toward the house, can wreak havoc. Basements can flood, damaging items in the basement, as well as drywall, carpet and more. Even a slab-on-grade house with no basement is susceptible to water damage, as it could develop mold from water seeping into the walls, and the moisture could attract termites. Furthermore, standing water in cold climates can freeze and damage brick paver decking and other hardscapes.

The ideal grading that the home inspector should look for is for the ground to slope away from the house in all directions a half inch per foot. Other factors besides the slope of the ground can cause problems, including downspouts that disperse water right against the building, instead of directing it away, and vegetation that holds water and keeps it from draining away.

If the property looks like it has drainage problems, then the best way to know for sure is to check during or immediately after a rainstorm. When this is not practical, the inspector could try running a hose in the questionable area.

While the best and most foolproof way to remedy the grading is to build up the ground to slope away from the house in all directions, it’s often just not possible. Small lot sizes, the elevation of the house, where the house transitions from foundation to framed wall, the elevation of the neighbor’s land, existing vegetation, hardscape and accessory buildings, and especially cost are all factors in the equation.

Remedies for improper grading include connecting downspouts to a pipe to direct the roof rainwater further away from the house and French drains, which are basically a trench filled with gravel or perforated pipe that catches the water in the yard and directs it away from the house.

For more information about grading, read our previous post, “What’s Your Grading Grade?

Submitted by Ken Roleke, NPI Franchise Owner, Tucson, Arizona

Home Inspection 101: Electrical Panel Inspection

Wire Box

When you’re buying a house, you want to know it’s safe. One of the main safety concerns is a home’s electrical system. Old wiring, improper outlets and an outdated service panel are problems often found in houses. Although older houses are at more risk for these issues, even newer houses can have electrical problems. This is just one more reason a home inspection is a good idea before you buy your dream home. Your home inspector will check all visible aspects of a home’s electrical system.

Inspection of the electrical panel should be performed only by either a licensed electrician or a trained property inspector — don’t try to inspect the panel yourself. Removal of the outer panel cover, and even removal of the panel-cover screws, poses a potential risk for electrocution. Your home inspector will approach the panel and first use either the back of their hand or a static electrical tester to check whether the service panel is energized — meaning there’s potential risk of electrocution from improperly installed interior panel wiring or the wrong type of screws to hold the panel cover in place.

(Flat-tipped screws should be used to hold the panel cover in place, not pointed-tip screws. The reason for flat-tip screws is that they reduce the risk of potential penetration into the insulation or sheathing that protects the wires inside the panel, which may not have been appropriately placed or safely tucked into the panel.)

Once the inspector removes the panel cover, he or she begins a visual inspection of the interior of the panel box. The inspector checks for and determines the size of the service coming into the house — how much power is coming in from the utility. The following are some other items an inspector checks for:

  • Whether the panel has fuses or circuit breakers
  • Properly sized wires coordinate to appropriately sized breakers
  • Presence of double-taps — when more than one wire is connected to a breaker (unless the equipment is rated for such use)
  • Dark, rusty or smoky residue on the panel
  • Age and wear of the panel
  • Improperly wired subpanels
  • Wires run in a neat and orderly manner
  • Presence of open splices or nicks in wires
  • All connections are tight

A common finding is open knock-outs — holes or knock-outs that wires may have been passed through at one time but which are no longer in use. These holes should be closed or plugged so that in the event of an arc or spark in the panel, the occurrence can be contained within the panel.

If your home inspector finds problems with the electrical panel, he or she will recommend that the panel be evaluated and repaired by a professional electrician. Don’t skip this important step before you purchase a house; your safety depends on it.

What’s Your Grading Grade?

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Spring is a great time to grade the grading of your house. Give yourself an “A” if the soil around your foundation is sloped away from the house at least 6 inches in the first 10 feet, with 3 to 4 inches in the first 5 feet on all sides.

Give yourself a “B” if you have any low spots at all around the foundation. These low spots many times are near inside foundation corners and near where utilities enter the house. Make sure to look under bushes and other landscaping, too.

Give yourself a “C” if the grading is at or near level around a significant portion of the foundation. If you have a yard that slopes toward the house and water pools at or near the foundation with wet, spongy ground in the vicinity of the foundation, give yourself a “D.” If you have moisture in your basement or crawl space, especially during rainstorms, and water stains on the interior side of the foundation walls, then you get an “F.”

Any time excess moisture is present around a foundation, the potential for foundation problems increases. The water itself creates what is called hydraulic pressure, which presses the foundation walls inward and can lead to cracks, settlement and shifting of the foundation. If left unchecked, this can ultimately cause structural failure and cost many thousands of dollars to repair. If you live in area with expansive soils, such as the Midwest, the effects tend to happen much faster. Ongoing moisture issues can also lead to mold, insect infestation and rot within the structure — all of which are expensive to repair.

In many cases, the proper grade can be achieved by simply adding soil around the foundation to slope the grade away from the house. Forty-pound bags of topsoil can be purchased at home improvement centers for about $1.50 for small projects, or you can have a truck load of topsoil delivered. Be advised that both soils are pulverized and will settle and compact a significant amount, so be sure to by extra. On large jobs or jobs that require extensive regrading, it may be best to hire professional. In the long run, this will be less expensive than repairing a foundation.

Remember to leave at least 2 to 3 inches of space between the soil and the top of the foundation or the bottom of the siding. This will prevent moisture from wicking into the siding and help limit insects from entering the structure. Adding downspout extensions and/or splash blocks is also a good idea to help move water away from the foundation. If you have a sump pump, make sure that it, too, is discharged well away from the foundation.

By Scott Ward, NPI Franchise Owner, Southern Johnson County, Kansas

Should You Be Concerned About Radon?

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Radon is a radioactive gas that is slowly released during the natural decay or breakdown of uranium in the earth, and it moves freely though any soil, rock and water. Because it is the heaviest gas in nature, radon can easily accumulate in high levels in the basement or poorly ventilated areas of a house or building.

Why Is Radon Dangerous?

As radon decays, it further breaks down to form radioactive elements that can be inhaled into the lungs, where they can damage the cells that line the lung, causing lung cancer.

Health Canada reports that radon exposure is linked to 16 percent of lung cancer deaths and is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. In Nova Scotia, the Department of Natural Resources has developed an amazing radon risk map; you can enter your physical address and it will show whether you are in a low-, medium- or high-risk area. In the United States, you can find a radon zone map on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website.

How Much Radon Is Too Much?

In North America, radon test results have shown that 40 percent of buildings in high-risk areas exceed Health Canada and EPA guidelines; however, even homes in low-risk areas should be tested, as this is the only way to know how much radon is in your home.

In Canada, radon is measured in Becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m3), and the current Canadian guideline for radon action is 200 Bq/m3. In the United States, radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L), and the current guideline for remediation is any level higher than 4 pCi/L. In both countries, the higher the number, the higher the risk. However, even the current action level is equivalent to the radiation exposure from 30 medical chest x-rays per year (assuming radon exposure at home for 12 hours per day).

Radon levels can vary over time and especially from season to season, which is why home owners should conduct radon testing over a duration of 91 days or longer to properly determine radon levels and better understand whether remedial action will be required.

For the average home owner, a simple do-it-yourself radon testing kit can be ordered online or purchased in a hardware or home improvement store.

Should You Test Your House for Radon?

When it comes to buying or selling a house, a long-term test is considered unrealistic, so a short-term test of lasting 48 to 72 hours should be performed. Make sure you hire a certified radon inspector who has been specifically trained to an industry-recognized standard of practice and are held accountable for working to established radon testing guidelines. Your home inspector may be a certified radon tester; if not, he/she can recommend a professional to conduct the test for you.

By Lawrence Englehart, GPI Franchise Owner, Halifax, Nova Scotia

January 2019: Happy New Year

Ask The Inspector

Ask The Inspector

Add Value to Your Home with These Improvements

You probably have a long list of remodeling projects you want to get around to, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. We’ve compiled the four best home upgrades that will put the most money in your pocket when it comes time to sell. Learn more

How to Survive Winter: 7 Genius Snow Hacks

Snow is stressful, but just because it’s the dead of winter doesn’t mean you should be left out in the cold. We’re here to make it easier with these seven brilliant snow hacks you can add to your winter routine right now. Learn more

Expert Advice

Expert Advice

How to Remove Salt Stains the Easy Way

If pesky salt stains are getting in the way of keeping your floors sparkling, you’ll want in on this secret: vinegar. Find out how this inexpensive household staple can help you get rid of winter salt stains in a flash. Learn more

How to Remove Static from Your Home

It’s that time of year again. . .you can’t walk across a room without feeling an irritating little zap.  Read on to learn about a few easy solutions for removing static from your home and your person. Learn more

DIY Countertop Repair for Scratches and Scuffs

If you cook a lot, chances are your countertops have seen better days. Every scratch and chip tells a story, from that pan you dropped to the knife that slipped. The good news is that there are some simple countertop repairs you can do yourself to make your counters look like new and save some money in the process. Learn more

Snapshots From The Field

Most of us have dreamt of having our very own indoor pool at one point or another. Many determined homeowners are willing to DIY their way there, no matter what it takes. So what’s wrong with this picture?

Snapshots from the field

Answer: it’s hard to know where to start! This 45,000-gallon aboveground pool was installed in a home by the owner. Though he didn’t get a permit, he had a lot of things technically “right.” Lights are rated for a wet environment, an exhaust fan helps keep humidity levels at bay and the pool’s surroundings are perfectly dry. What makes installing an indoor aboveground pool so problematic is the risk.

In addition to humidity from a pool potentially wrecking your home’s foundation, the humidity can also wreak havoc on the rest of your home—even all the way up to the attic! And it doesn’t stop at just water. A pool’s chemicals can slowly erode a foundation and cause metal corrosion over time. Though the lights check out for a wet environment in this case, the electrical outlets aren’t protected, leading to risk of electrocution and injury. And we’ll go ahead and throw out the obvious, too: if this pool fails in any way, it could lead to flooding, severe water damage and/or a collapsed floor.

Take it from us: as tempting as it is to swim indoors all year round, installing an aboveground pool in your home is simply not worth it!

Maintenance Matters

Maintenance Matters

Your Crash Course in Dryer Vent Cleaning

It’s hard to believe that your home’s dryer vent is also one of its most dangerous fire hazards. Luckily, preventing safety issues is easy as long as you keep the area free of debris. Learn more

The Best Electrical Outlets for Your Needs

As long as they’re functioning properly, electrical outlets are something most of us don’t even think about. But believe it or not, certain outlets are better for certain purposes. Find out how to protect your home and connect to all your devices with this quick outlet guide. Learn more

 

5 Ways to Know if You Need a Gutter Replacement

Healthy gutters are an integral part of any home. With winter in full force and spring on the way, gutters become more important than ever for keeping your house free of water damage. Look for these five telltale signs to determine if it’s time for a replacement. Learn more

 

Monthly Trivia Question

Question: How many times a year should you swap out your thermostat’s batteries?

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

December 2018: Preparing for Winter

Ask The Inspector

Top 5 Problems Revealed During a Home Inspection

Purchasing a house is a major decision, and a home inspection report can be used to assist in the decision-making process. Here are some of the more common issues our inspectors find during a home inspection. Learn more

How Should a Seller Prepare for a Home Inspection?

If your home is being inspected, there are certain things you’ll need to do to prepare. Find out the best way to get appliances, systems and more ready with this advice—straight from one of our Global Property Inspections inspectors. Learn more

Expert Advice

Prevent Injuries by Practicing Ladder Safety

A recent Consumer Product Safety Commission report on ladder safety showed some startling statistics: each year, thousands of people are injured and hundreds more lose their lives. By understanding the leading causes of ladder accidents, the vast majority can be prevented.  Learn more

How to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling

Love them or hate them, popcorn ceilings have a real presence in older North American homes. If you’re in the “no way” camp, the good news is you don’t have to live with your popcorn ceilings forever. Learn how to remove all that texture with a little DIY know-how. Learn more

Two-Prong Outlets vs. Three-Prong Outlets: Does it Matter?

Ever wonder why the older electrical receptacles have only two slots, and don’t have the hole below the slots to allow three prongs, or if they can be switched out? Sometimes they can, but other times that would be a potentially dangerous mistake. Here’s why. Learn more

Snapshots From The Field

What’s wrong with this picture?

This photo shows Styrofoam used as a filler in a poured concrete foundation wall of a house in an area of California at risk for earthquakes. As you may have guessed, Styrofoam is not an acceptable filler in this situation, and the home inspector recommended further evaluation by a qualified structural engineer.

Maintenance Matters

Drafty Windows? We Have Help

There is a chill in the air, the North Wind has an extra bite and a draft is coming through the windows. What can you do to keep the cold air out? Try these four tried and true DIY projects you can complete in just one weekend. Learn more

Water in My Basement? Never

No homeowner would knowingly do anything that would lead to a wet basement. “Knowingly” being the operative word. Here’s what builders, contractors and homeowners alike can do to prevent drainage issues and keep homes dry. Learn more

Tips for Proper Furnace Maintenance

Gas furnaces are a fixture in countless homes. To help your system stay strong throughout its lifespan, you’ll want to get on a regular maintenance program. Whether you decide to undertake upkeep yourself or you hire a professional, here’s what you need to know about your gas furnace. Learn more

 

Monthly Trivia Question

Question: True or False: New home constructions don’t need to be inspected.

False.

Water in My Basement? Never

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No home owner would knowingly do anything that would lead to a wet basement. “Knowingly” being the operative word.

Let’s start with the builder. Hopefully, every builder knows to grade the yard in such a fashion that rainwater will naturally run away from the house on all four sides. If that’s done, then so far so good.

Many home owners like to add flowerbeds next to the house to enhance the beauty of the property (the maintenance of which virtually eliminates any free time they might otherwise have, but that story is for another day). That flowerbed next to the house is now flat, or nearly flat, and won’t necessarily direct rainwater away from the house. Sometimes home owners go one step further and use landscape timbers to wrap or frame the flowerbeds next to the house. Now we have a framed-in, flat space next to the house that rather than shedding rainwater probably traps it. This is not a guarantee that this will lead to a wet basement, but it greatly increases the odds.

Let’s go back to the builder for a moment. I couldn’t find a picture that shows this and was too lazy to keep looking, so please use your imagination. Depending on how the builder ties a sidewalk into a patio or driveway and wraps that sidewalk back toward and close to the house, this trapped space between the sidewalk and house — just like the landscape timbers mentioned previously — can act as a dam that holds water that just might find a way into the basement.

A missing downspout is a common cause for a wet basement. It might be something as simple as the homeowner removed it while mowing the grass and forgot to replace it — and then it rained that night.

How about a wet basement and an optical illusion? My neighbor told me he got water in one corner of his basement every time it rained hard. The gutter and downspout in this corner looked fine, and the grading appeared sufficiently pitched to shed rainwater. However, when I pulled back all the mulch piled up in this corner, I found a significant depression causing negative grading. Rather than shedding rainwater away from the house, it was being funneled directly toward this corner. Once discovered, it was a relatively easy fix for my neighbor.

A point I would like to leave you with is this: A home inspector is not going to routinely pull back mulch to look for negative grading. It could be there and simply hidden by an optical illusion. A good inspector can tell you a lot, but based on the limited time on the premises, they can’t tell you everything.

By Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

November 2018: Autumn Continued

Ask The Inspector

Do You Really Need a Home Inspection? Yes!

In this special guest post, GPI inspector, Lawrence Englehart, shares why you always need to order an inspection when buying a home. He explains how an inspection report can help you make the best decision, as well as how to hire the best inspector for the job. Learn more

5 Home Inspection Myths You Shouldn’t Fall For

Ordering a home inspection is the most critical part of the buying process, and there are lot of myths floating around out there about your inspector’s role in all of it. We’re here to clear up some common misconceptions and help you know what to expect. Learn more

Look for These Problems When Buying an Old House

There are a lot of great things about owning an older home, but it’s not always all craftsmanship and charm. Be on the lookout for these costly problems that can sometimes come along with buying an older house. Learn more

Expert Advice

How to Use a Candle: 6 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Nothing’s better at creating ambience and a relaxing atmosphere in your home than a few well-placed candles, but you should know how to use them to get the best effect. Believe it or not, it’s more than knowing how to wield a lighter! Learn more

A Pajama Lounge? What It Is and Why the Trend is Taking Over

Have you heard of a pajama lounge? If you haven’t yet, you’ll probably be seeing the concept everywhere soon. We’ll give you a quick rundown of what a pajama lounge is and the different ways you can adapt it to your taste and living space. Learn more

How to Keep Your Pond from Freezing This Winter

Garden ponds provide a sense of calm in spring and summer. But as the days grow colder, it’s important to know the simple steps to take to keep your pond from freezing over until warmer weather returns. Here are the steps you need to take to keep your pond healthy. Learn more

Snapshots From The Field

Our inspectors are always sharing interesting things from the field so that we can all learn from each others’ homeowner wins and mistakes. Here’s one of the latest.

It’s pretty easy to spot what’s off about this picture. That wood definitely looks out of place! But why is it there in the first place?

It turns out that what started as a broken sink turned into an even bigger issue when a homeowner placed heavy dishes in it. The weight of the dishes started causing the sink to collapse. To make matters worse, the sink is installed in a granite countertop, which will likely lead to cracking and early replacement. This very DIY repair is not a lasting solution to the issue, and could cause even more damage in the long-run. With any sink problem, you’ll want to avoid using it or storing any dishes there, and you’ll need to seek a professional’s opinion as soon as possible.

Maintenance Matters

Make Your Refrigerator More Efficient with These 8 Hacks

When we think of ways to save energy, we don’t often turn to the fridge. It just does its thing, right? Well, not quite. Here are eight ways to get the most out of your refrigerator and even save a little money in the process. Learn more

6 Essential Fall Lawn Care Tasks

The air is crisp and the trees are changing colors. That must mean fall is here! Even if your yard isn’t fully blanketed in crunchy leaves just yet, you can still start on these essential fall lawn care tasks to get your yard ready for winter. Learn more