The Overly Disclaimed Home Inspection Report

Inspection Report

Let’s say you are buying a house and you’re ready to have it inspected. You go with your Realtor’s recommendation for a home inspector, give him/her the necessary information about the house and set up your inspection. The inspector tells you to check your email for the preinspection agreement, which will need to be signed before the inspection can be done.

When you open the preinspection agreement, you find that is really long — more than five or six pages. Then, after the inspection, your inspector delivers a report that is 75 to 100 pages long. You notice that both the preinspection agreement and the report are full of disclaimers, such as, “In an occupied home with furnishings,” “Depending on usage, “Except under extreme conditions,” and “The inspector may not be able to guarantee discovery.” If this is the case, you may be the recipient of an overly disclaimed home inspection report.

Because home inspectors may be held responsible for damage or problems that are visibly present at the time of inspection but not included in the inspection report, some inspectors include an overabundance of disclaimers in their preinspection agreements and reports. While it is important that home buyers know the limitations of a home inspection, an overly disclaimed inspection report is needlessly long and tedious.

So, what do those disclaimers really mean?

  • In an occupied home with furnishings: The inspector likely had limited visibility of certain areas due to furniture, clutter, moving boxes, etc.
  • Depending on usage: The inspector is covering the bases by saying that using the component too much (or too little) could affect its life span.
  • Due to the weather: The inspector should note the weather at the beginning of the report, as rain and snow may impede his/her ability to inspect components like a roof or grading.
  • Except under extreme conditions: This is unclear, as “extreme” is often a matter of opinion.
  • The inspector may not be able to guarantee discovery: Again, this is usually stated in the preinspection agreement and maybe at the beginning of the report. It doesn’t need to appear more often than that.

How to Spot a Good Inspection Report

Each section of your home inspection report should state the facts about the property’s condition at the time of inspection. Any disclaimers, within reason, and limitations should be listed in the “scope of work” section of the preinspection agreement. There’s no need for an inspector to add a disclaimer to every statement or note in the report.

A competent inspector will clearly outline any limitations and exclusions specific to the inspection. For example, “The roof was not accessible for inspection due to snow,” or “The attic was not inspected due to home owner’s personal possessions blocking the access.” In situations such as these, the inspector should document the disclaimer statement with a photograph.

The main reason you’re having an inspection is to find out any problems with the house, right? So, in the inspection report, your inspector should state any problems, include a photograph of each problem, explain why something is or could be a concern, and describe the corrective course of action. Your inspector may also point out outstanding or superior features of the property. If the inspector sticks to this process, then there is really no need to include an excess of disclaimers, and certainly not in every statement throughout the report.

Your inspection report should be written in simple laymen’s terms, with comments that are clear and concise. You (and your real estate agent) are less likely to read an entire report that is overwritten. Regardless of the report’s length, do make sure to read the entire report, and if there’s terminology or anything you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to call your inspector and ask for clarification.

By Randy Yates, Training Consultant Administrator, NPI/GPI Corporate

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.

Painting Upholstery: Easier and More Effective Than You Think

  • painting upholsteryWe have to admit, the idea of transforming a piece of furniture that’s seen better days with just a little paint seems too good to be true. Believe it or not, painting upholstery actually works, provided you know the right technique. Here’s how you can achieve a soft finish and the best results.

Get Some Practice In

It might seem like a pain, but it really helps to try out painting upholstery on a “practice” piece of furniture before you try it out on a piece you’re set on keeping. Maybe a friend or family member has a chair, couch or loveseat they wouldn’t mind passing along. You can also scout yard sales and thrift stores for a great deal. If the piece is a similar color to the one you’re flipping for real, you’ll also have the added bonus of being able to swatch colors pretty accurately.

The Secret to a Soft Finish

You’re probably wondering if painting upholstery leaves it stiffer. In some cases, with certain materials, yes, you’ll definitely achieve a more leather-like finish that might even be prone to a little cracking. Our technique is designed to leave your furniture as soft as it was originally. And the secret? It’s just about the simplest ingredient you can think of: water. Yep, the key to treating paint so that it works more like a fabric dye is to dilute it with water.

For this project, you’ll need:

  • Water
  • A spray bottle
  • Measuring cups
  • A stiff brush
  • 1 quart Latex paint in the color of your choice
  • Fabric/Textile Medium (plan on two to four bottles for a chair and more like four to eight for a sofa)
  • Large container for mixing (you may want to opt for a disposable bowl for easy cleanup)
  • Sand paper

Step 1: Mix Up Your Paint and Get Your Spray Bottle Ready

You’ll be working with this ratio:

1 part paint : 1 part fabric medium : 2 parts water

Use your measuring cups to get the ratio right and mix everything in your container or bowl. Then fill your spray bottle up with water—room temperature is fine, don’t worry about going ultra-cold or hot.

Step 2: Apply the Mixture

Before you apply the mixture, you need to make sure that the fabric is damp, but not soaking wet. Getting the fabric damp will keep your paint mixture from running all over the place and creating a mess.

Don’t spray the entire piece at once. Instead, you’ll work section by section. Spray a section, then use long strokes to paint the mixture on with your brush. You’ll be adding multiple coats to take care of any splotches or patterns peeking through, so you don’t need to worry about applying it too thick. Just one thin layer will do. Allow the first layer to dry completely.

Step 3: Sand Down Pills

Once the first layer of paint is completely dry, you’ll probably notice a little pilling. Use your sandpaper to gently remove it. Sanding also helps keep the fabric nice and soft, so it’s not a bad idea to go over the whole piece. You shouldn’t notice much, if any, paint loss.

Step 4: Apply Another Layer

Using the exact same method described above, apply another layer of paint, first taking care to dampen the fabric. Allow it to dry completely and repeat the sanding process. You may find that two coats is enough, but it does depend on the type and color of the upholstery. You can repeat the painting and sanding process until you’re satisfied with the results.

Call National Property Inspections Today for Your Home Inspection Needs

At National Property Inspections, our highly trained expert inspectors can help determine the condition of your home’s major components. Call us today and buy or sell with confidence.

How to Clean a Leather Couch in 4 Steps

how to clean leather couchWhen it comes to upholstery, leather is one of the most durable options out there. And while it doesn’t require a lot of routine maintenance, it does still need a little extra TLC from time to time. Learn how to clean your leather couch like a pro with these four simple steps.

Gather Your Materials

We could teach you how to clean a leather couch with those specially-made wet cloths. In that case, it would take little more than wiping your furniture down and letting it dry. But all-in-one products don’t always get the job done. And at any rate, if you still decide to go the wipe route, you can get even better results by prepping your couch first. You’ll need:
A vacuum, preferably with a brush attachment

  • A clean microfiber cloth
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • A bowl or bucket
  • Clean rags

Step 1: Remove dust and any other debris.

You never know what kind of hard-to-see debris might be hanging out on your couch. Before you take any liquid cleaning products to your leather couch, it’s important to make sure it’s completely free of any dust and dirt. Use your vacuum brush attachment to thoroughly sweep your sofa, and be sure to get down between the cushions.

Step 2: Wipe your leather couch down.

Once you’ve given your couch a thorough once-over with the vacuum, grab your microfiber cloth and wipe it down again. You should be seeing a clearer picture of which areas of your couch need special attention due to wear and tear.

Step 3: Mix up an all-natural cleaning solution.

We all know that vinegar is an excellent all-natural cleansing agent. Turns out it’s even great for leather! Mix equal parts vinegar and water in your bowl or bucket to make your cleaner.

Step 4: Wipe down your leather couch.

Lightly saturate a cloth so that’s it’s damp, but not dripping with the vinegar cleaning solution. Then concentrate on the areas that need the most attention first. Lightly wipe the couch, rinsing the cloth often so that you don’t move around any dirt that comes up. Immediately follow by wiping the area with a dry cloth. It’s important to never over-saturate or leave excess moisture on leather for long, as this could cause permanent damage.

For Stains That Won’t Come Up

It’s always better to attack a stain as soon as it happens so that you don’t give it time to set. But if you see a mysterious spot long after the fact, it’s worth it to try and remove it. These methods just might work for tougher stains:

For Ink Stains

If you have a white or beige leather sofa, it’s probably seen its share of ink stains. To remove them, try dipping a cotton swab into rubbing alcohol till it’s damp (the same rule applies here—don’t over-saturate). Then lightly swab the ink stain till it comes up, following immediately with a dry cloth.

For Food and Beverage Stains

We’re generalizing a little here—this solution is really for any unidentifiable blemish. Mix together equal parts lemon juice and cream of tartar until the ingredients form a paste. Carefully apply the paste to the stain and let it set for 10 minutes before wiping it away with a damp cloth and following with a dry one.

For Grease Spots

Grease spots are the trickiest offenders of all because using water on them could help the grease soak into your leather upholstery. It’s crucial to identify them correctly. When in doubt, try sprinkling baking soda on the spot to help absorb any oils. You’ll need to leave the baking soda on the stain for a few hours up to overnight and then gently brush it away.

Call National Property Inspections to Feel Confident in Your Investment

A home inspection helps you invest with success in any residential or commercial property. Call us today to schedule your inspection and receive a comprehensive report, complete with high-quality digital photos.

May 2018: The Outdoors

Ask The Inspector

Outdoor Kitchen Ideas to Plan Your Dream Cookout

Could your grill setup use a refresh? If you’ve been checking out your neighbor’s slick outdoor kitchen, we’ll show you the key things to keep in mind when planning your own. Learn More

The Best Birdfeeders for Every Backyard

When it comes to birdfeeders, there are a surprising number of options for attracting (and repelling) the right flock. Here, we break it down for you so you can choose the best type for inviting a variety of colorful birds to your backyard. Learn More

Expert Advice

Your Deck Railing Height and Other Safety Stuff That Slipped Your Mind

Is your deck up to the challenge of all those backyard barbeques that are just around the corner? We’ll show you everything you need to know to get your deck up to safety standards just in time for Memorial Day. Learn More

Low-Maintenance Landscaping Ideas for Any Yard

If you’re sick of devoting most of your free time to yardwork, it may be time to reevaluate your approach. Here are a few low-maintenance landscaping ideas that will help you have a beautiful yard with half the upkeep. Learn More

Snapshots From The Field

Our inspectors are constantly coming across interesting finds in the field. Sometimes they help us identify potential safety hazards, and sometimes they illustrate a maintenance DIY that didn’t quite go as planned. This month’s Snapshot from the Field is the latter.

What’s wrong with this picture?

The skylight on this 20-year-old metal roof was leaking like crazy. That’s because the homeowner attempted to seal it with the yellow spray foam insulation you see around the perimeter in order to keep bats out of the house. This caused significant damage to the flashing around the skylight and entire roof panels to pop up as a result!

This homeowner had the right idea when it comes to dealing with bats—every gap does need to be sealed up in order to prevent their entry into a home. But spray polyurethane foam is not recommended for use on roofing materials, nor is it recommended for use in such large quantities. The homeowner would have been better off ordering an inspection of the roof to discover any holes and then using a sealant recommended for use on roofing materials. Check and double-check your labels, and when in doubt, call a professional for advice.

Maintenance Matters

Speed Cleaning Tips for Your Busiest Days

Who has time to clean every day? Not us! Shave hours off your chore list with these room-by-room speed cleaning pointers. Learn More

How to Clean a Leather Couch in 4 Steps

When it comes to upholstery, leather is one of the most durable options out there. And while it doesn’t require a lot of routine maintenance, it does still need a little extra TLC from time to time. Find out how to clean your leather couch like a pro with these four simple steps. Learn More

How to Hang a Hammock

While we can’t promise that hanging your hammock will be as relaxing as actually laying in it, we’re here to make the process go as smoothly as possible. Here’s how to hang a hammock on your property for the ultimate spring resting spot. Learn More

Painting Upholstery: Easier and More Effective Than You Think

We have to admit, the idea of transforming a piece of furniture with paint seems too good to be true. Believe it or not, painting upholstery actually works! Learn how to achieve a soft, crack-free finish and the best results with the right technique. Learn More

Monthly Trivia Question

Question: What is the minimum height required for a deck railing on a residential deck, according to the most widely accepted code?

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