Categories
Uncategorized

HOME SECURITY TIPS

In 2016, Canada saw around 1.2 million property crime violations, including breaking and entering, mischief and theft, with 28% (320,000) of these incidents occurring in Ontario. With the alarming amount of property crimes in Ontario, we thought it would be a great idea to share some of our best home security tips with our clients.

Moving into a new house? One of your top priorities on move in day should be to change the existing locks! You never know how many people (previous owners’ friends, family members, neighbours) have a key to that property. One of the more obvious tips for new homeowners is to have a security alarm installed. There are reports that state even fake home security stickers and signs can deter intruders from targeting your home. Lastly, check to make sure your windows are in good condition and that doors are made of solid material, such as metal.

The outside of your house plays an important role! It is important to install motion detector lighting outside of your home to ward off potential intruders; they are more likely to go to houses that are dark since homeowners may not be home, and there’s less chance they will be seen in the dark. Don’t forget to remove large trees and bushes that are close to any door, again, because intruders will less likely to be seen if trees are blocking entrances.

Take pre-cautions when traveling. When leaving your house for a vacation, try to create the illusion that you’re still home. Have trusted neighbours check inside and outside your house every couple of days, and ask them to bring in your mail. If you can, park a car outside, and leave an outdoor light on. Lastly, do not post that you will be out of town on any of your social media channels, especially if you have minimum security settings.

Protect your identity. Before throwing away confidential papers, including credit card bills and anything from the government, be sure to shred it! Even every day mail in your recycling bin can contain enough information for someone to steal.

And finally, our number one tip… Lock your doors and don’t hide a key outside of your house! Gone are the days that you could just leave your house unattended, or leave a spare key under the front door mat. These common spare key locations are very common and make breaking into a house much easier.

Categories
Uncategorized

HOME MAINTENANCE TIPS FOR THE FALL

We wish it weren’t true but the summer is quickly coming to an end! As fall approaches, more time is spent around the home which makes the autumn months the perfect time to complete maintenance projects. We’ve compiled a list of the top things to inspect and maintain in and around your home before the winter rolls around.

Check your alarms. It is suggested to test and change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at the beginning of each season. Fall is the perfect season to get rid of extra clutter that could create fire hazards. It’s also a great idea to create a fire escape plan for your home, and do a trial-run with your family, especially if you live with young children who might need reminders of what to do in case of an emergency.  

Prepare your yard. Raking fallen leaves is a given during the fall, but don’t forget to get rid of dead branches, trees and plants to prevent issues during harsh winter storms. Clean up and get rid of certain flowers in your garden; annuals will not make it through the winter so removing them now prevents a messy spring. Don’t forget to clean out and organize your garage and shed to make room for all of your summer equipment, including lawn mowers, patio sets and gardening supplies.

Take a closer look at your roof. Look for missing or damaged shingles and don’t forget to check for water leaks. During the late fall, it is important to clean your gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage on your property.

Inspect and prepare heating sources, including fireplaces, woodstoves and furnaces. Have a professional inspect and perform routine maintenance on your heating sources to ensure they are safe to use for the winter. Chop or buy wood for your fireplace and make sure to store in a clean, dry area. Don’t forget to replace your furnace filter – it is suggested to do so every 2-4 months!

Prepare your windows for colder weather. Inspect your windows and doors for cracks in which air might come in from. If you notice any gaps, seal them with caulking.  

Although this list might seem overwhelming at first, it is important to note that the better you prepare your home in the fall, the less damage will occur in the winter and hopefully, less work will be needed in the spring. Spread this list out over September, October and November so that you still have time to enjoy the beautiful Canadian colours that the fall brings!

Categories
Uncategorized

COMMON HOUSEHOLD ISSUES

Owning your own house is a very exciting adventure, but common household issues and dangers can arise! Learn more about these common hazards and how to prevent potential issues in order to keep you and your family safe.

Household Hazards

According to a Home Safety Council study, the top home hazards include falls, poisoning, fires/burns, choking and suffocation, and drowning. Let’s take a quick look at these dangers below:

  • Falls: When living with small children and older adults, it is imperative to continuously watch out for fall hazards. Wet floors, cluttered areas and play equipment all pose safety threats and are things you must pay attention to. Installing handrails/supports, using safety gates, and purchasing non-slip mats are great ideas to prevent falls.
  • Poisoning: Carbon monoxide detectors are now required in all homes in Ontario to prevent accidental poisoning. A detector should be placed near all sleeping areas of the house to ensure the home is fully protected. Additional poisoning threats include medicine/vitamins, paint, and common household cleaning products, which all should be kept in a safe place where children cannot reach.
  • Fires/burns: Most fires are completely avoidable by inspecting your home for potential risks regularly. Unplugging unused appliances, decreasing clutter around water tanks and furnaces, and never leaving candles unattended will lower your risk of accidental house fires. By installing and changing batteries of smoke alarms, having a fire extinguisher available and planning escape routes, you will be prepared in case of a fire emergency.
  • Chocking and suffocation: Unintentional chocking and suffocation is the leading cause of death for infants under the age of one. By removing common chocking hazards around the house, such as small objects, cords, and soft bedding, the risk of chocking and suffocation is reduced.
  • Drowning: Drowning in a bathtub and pool is quite common among children, which is why it is important to never leave a child unattended when near water, monitor water levels and place gates around pool areas.

Mould

If you’ve noticed a musty smell, and have persistent allergy-like symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing and red eyes, you may want to search your house for mould. If your house has had water leaks, flooding and/or condensation, you may want to take a closer look to see if mould is present. In order to prevent major problems, it is important to look for signs of mould and to have it safely removed be professionals before it becomes a bigger issue.

Asbestos

When asbestos containing materials are disturbed and the fibres become airborne, a health hazard arises, which is why it is important to be aware of asbestos while doing any renovation! You cannot identify asbestos containing materials visually, the only way to know, is to have suspect materials tested by a laboratory before additional work continues. If the product does contain asbestos, you will then want to hire a professional asbestos removal specialist to get rid of it before continuing your renovation.

Lead Containing Paint

In 1978, the federal government banned lead-containing paint, however, lead paint is still present in millions of homes! Lead from paint and lead-contaminated dust is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning. If your home was built before 1980, you can purchase a home lead test kit or send a sample to a laboratory to see if your house has leaded paint.

Although home inspectors do not specialize in these areas and do not provide testing services, they can help identify suspect materials and make recommendations as to how to proceed and ensure a safe living environment for you and your family.

Categories
Uncategorized

WHAT IS AN INSPECTION REPORT?

Homeowners will receive a comprehensive and thorough post-inspection report after every property inspection completed by the Building Insights team. Every home is unique; therefore, every report will be different! To give you an idea of what our inspection report will contain, we’ve outlined what a typical report looks like.

Introduction

The first few pages of your inspection report will have information regarding the property, including your name and property address, as well as a table of contents to direct you through the report. A standard pre-inspection agreement will follow, which outlines the purpose of the inspection, legal information and what is included in the inspection. You will also be able to see your invoice in this section, which outlines the inspection date, customer/property information, cost of services and payment information.

The next page will outline key terms and definitions which will be used throughout the report. A short description of the property and the day of inspection weather conditions will be summarized.

Exterior Components

The next few pages will be dedicated to the findings of the property’s exterior, including windows, gutters, drainage, decks, porches, walkways, and retaining walls. Each section and feature will be rated acceptable, marginal, not inspected, not present or repair/replace. Information about the condition of the roof and flat roof areas will follow. Pictures and comments of the findings, especially areas of concerns, will be presented.

Internal Components

The next few pages will summarize structural components of the property, including foundation, framing and support, floor, attic space, cold room and crawlspace. From there, we will outline electrical information, plumbing and heating/ventilation. Pictures and comments of the findings will again be presented, and important dates of equipment and lifespan of equipment will be noted.

Interior

The last section of the report will discuss the condition of the inside of the property, including floors, steps, windows, appliances, sinks, and insulation.

Summary

Your report will conclude with a written summary of all of the findings and recommendations going forward. The summary is not the entire report, so it recommended that clients read the complete report for full understanding of issues.

After completing a home inspection with Building Insights, your report will be available to you in HTML or PDF format, and can be easily downloaded, forwarded or printed and remains accessible for five years through our website. To view a sample report for yourself, check out: https://www.homegauge.com/report/6372270/StandardReportFormat%28Upload%29.html.

Categories
Uncategorized

TERMITES

Termites, also known as the “silent destroyer”, can be a scary thing to think about! To help you understand what termites are, where they live and how to prevent them, we’ve outlined crucial information that every homeowner should be aware of when it comes to these disruptive insects.  

Ontario Termites

Termites thrive in most southern spots in Canada, and especially along the coasts. In Ontario, we have several termite hotspots including Kincardine, Toronto, Guelph, Elora, Fergus and Kitchener.  Although there are many types of termites in the rest of the world, the only type found in Ontario are called “subterranean termites”.

The city of Guelph has seen a steady decline in active termite activity, and is at the lowest level since 1999, when Guelph started recording termite activity. Dr. Tim Myles implemented a five-year experimental period to use zinc borate, which he called the Trap-Treat-Release method, to fight against termites. 

What do termites look like?

The city of Guelph states that subterranean termites are “small insects, approximately the size of a grain of rice, are creamy white in colour, and have 6 legs”. Some experts say that termites look like white ants but without a constricted waist.

Where do they live?

Termites occur in large colonies, live underground and feed on virtually every type of wood. All termites are drawn to dark, damp places and can be found in wood in or around your home.  

Can you prevent termites?

All homes (even new homes) can provide food for termite infestations, which is why every homeowner should learn key prevention tips to avoid an infestation.

  • Clear your property of any unused wood, including tree stumps, dead trees, and wood chip mulch.
  • Fix any cracks in your housing foundation/entry points, as termites can enter through them.
  • Store firewood and lumber off of the ground, ideally in the sun, and as far away from the house as possible.
  • Fix any moisture problems that you house may have.
  • Consider having your house pre-treated for termites, especially if your building a new home.

How to Spot Termites

Between April and November, it is recommended that homeowners hire a professional to do an annual inspection to look for termites, but there are also things homeowner can look for themselves. Examine any wood inside or outside of your house to observe the condition of it; if you notice any small holes or sawdust, this may indicate a termite problem. You may also see live or dead termites, droppings and wings near or in wood. You will also want to examine wood stumps, compost bins and under porches/decks to see the condition of the wood.

What to do if you suspect or find termites in your home

Once discovering or suspecting a termite infestation, it is highly recommended to hire a professional exterminator to eliminate these pesky insects. You will also want to notify your neighbours to inform them of the infestation, so they too can search and eliminate any potential problems. Some cities, such as Guelph, have strict termite procedures for anyone living within termite management zones, however, other cities, such as Kitchener and Waterloo, do not track addresses where termites have been found.

For more information about termites in Guelph, including termite management areas, check out http://guelph.ca/living/house-and-home/termites.

Categories
Uncategorized

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING A HOME INSPECTION

Visiting your potential home during a home inspection can be an exciting but nerve-wracking time; the house of your dreams is so close to being yours, but you’re not sure what problems could arise. On the other hand, if you’ve scheduled a pre-listing inspection before selling your house, the same anxieties can arise regarding the condition of your property.

Whether you are buying or selling, a home inspection is an invaluable investment, and we’re here to walk you through what goes on during an inspection.

Home Inspection Basics

On average, a home inspection takes between two to three hours. A home inspection will provide you with an unbiased, objective assessment of the property you are about to sell or buy. To put you in the best position to make a decision about your investment, clients are highly encouraged to attend the full inspection, ask questions about any concerns and learn more in-depth information about the property.

During the Inspection

Home inspectors will walk their clients through the interior and exterior of the property and will visually assess major mechanical and electrical systems. They will take their time to explain what they are specifically looking for and what they find along the way. Items that are typically inspected are plumbing, electrical, grading, roofing, siding, windows, doors, HVAC systems, the foundation, and much more! Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns at any time during the inspection.

After the Inspection

After the inspection is complete, the inspector will verbally go over what was found, the severity of potential issues and share their objective recommendations going forward.

They will also provide you with a comprehensive computer generated report detailing the current condition of the property. This report will include digital pictures of significant findings of the property, as well as comments with recommendations. Since all problems can be repaired, a home inspection won’t pass or fail. Potential buyers can take their time to discuss the findings privately, as well as with their real estate agent, to plan the next steps in the home buying or selling process.

Categories
Uncategorized

7 WAYS TO PREPARE FOR A HOME INSPECTION

Some homeowners feel a bit anxious before a home inspection occurs since the findings can influence the property price and ultimately helps buyers decide if they want to continue on with the buying process.

Here are 7 ways to prepare your home before a potential buyer and inspector visits.

1) Clean inside and outside. Not only will you want to make sure the inside of the house is easy to maneuver around in by removing clutter, you will also want to make sure you clean out your gutters in the spring/fall, and remove snow from around your house in the winter.

2) Clear access to all areas of your house. Home inspectors will inspect areas of your house that may not get much use, which results in cluttered and blocked off areas. Make sure the home inspector can easily get to your electrical box, furnace, hot water heater, air condition, and attic. 

3) Make sure everything works. Go around you house and test everything! This includes light bulbs, smoke detectors, doorbells, sinks/faucets, outlets, toilets, windows, and appliances. Most of these issues are quick and easy fixes and will improve the final inspection report.

4) Fix known issues before inspection. If you’ve noticed any signs of water damage, mold, or electrical issues while living in your house, address these issues with a professional beforehand. These common issues have resulted in potential buyers walking away from a house, or re-negotiating the price, which is why it may be worth the cost to fix beforehand.

5) Take a closer look at your basement. Basements aren’t always used, so it’s important to closely inspect this area before an inspector visits. Look for leaks and cracks that may suggest foundation and water issues.

6) Make paperwork available to inspector. To give the inspector greater knowledge of your property, leave any documentation/receipts regarding recent maintenance and repairs you may have done, including information about your roof, furnace and water heater.

7) Be prepared to leave your home during inspection. While potential homeowners are encouraged to attend home inspections to learn more about the property, it is suggested that the current homeowners leave for a few hours, and take pets with them. Be mindful that home inspectors usually show up a bit early to visually assess the outside of the property before their clients arrive.

Home inspections shouldn’t be a scary thing, and a little preparation before can go a long way! Following these simple steps can help ensure your home inspection goes quickly and smoothly. 

Categories
Uncategorized

THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF HOME INSPECTIONS

Whether you are buying or selling a house, a home inspection is invaluable to both parties. Most homeowners are aware of the standard pre-purchase inspection, but many do not know the benefits of a pre-listing or pre-offer inspection. 

Pre-Listing Inspection

A pre-listing inspection takes place by the seller prior to putting the property on the market, and has countless benefits for homeowners, realtors, and potential buyers. The valuable information found during this inspection can be used to assess a reasonable value sale price. If issues are found during this inspection, homeowners have time to fix them, which will increase the value of their home.

Knowing your house from top to bottom can facilitate a quicker sale and eliminate the need for re-negotiating. Sharing your findings of this inspection will give potential buyers a good idea of the condition of your home, and can help eliminate conditional offers. Many homeowners will use this report as a marketing tool to sell their home; potential buyers will read the report, consider the potential issues and make an informed decision, resulting in only serious buyers putting in offers.

Pre-Offer Inspection

A pre-offer inspection is done by buyers prior to putting an offer in on a property, and will be as thorough and informative as a pre-purchase inspection. This type of inspection is beneficial for buyers for many reasons, including making their offer more attractive to the sellers. Removing the condition of a home inspection from the offer may speed the purchasing process along. In addition, buyers will be able to make an educated price offer based on the information provided in the inspection.

Pre-Purchase Inspection

Deciding to have a pre-purchase inspection allows potential homeowners to walk through the property with a professional inspector after putting an offer in on the property. The home inspector will provide valuable information so that homeowners can make an educated decision whether they want to continue with the buying process. In addition, the home inspector will explain how your potential new home operates, how to take care of it, and repairs you can anticipate in the future.

Having an objective and comprehensive review of the condition of a property by a qualified, professional inspector is beneficial to both buyers and sellers in all stages of the home buying/selling process. Purchasing a home is one of the biggest financial investments a person will make, however, having all of the essential information provided by a home inspection will make sure you are confident in your decision.

Categories
Uncategorized

HOW TO SELECT A HOME INSPECTOR

A home inspection is the first thing you will invest in during the home selling or home buying process. Not all home inspectors are created equal, which is why it is important that you do your homework before selecting one.

When it comes to hiring a home inspector, here are some important questions to ask:

Do they belong to an association?

While joining a home inspection association is a great first step when becoming a home inspector, customers should be aware that inspectors pay a fee to join an association. This means that they don’t necessarily have any other certifications or experience to back it up.

What are their qualifications?

You should make sure that your inspector has their registered home inspector certification (RHI), which ensures they are trained to objectively provide you with a comprehensive analysis of the home, while abiding to a specific code of ethics. Although the Ontario government has passed a bill to licence the industry, it has not yet taken effect and it may be some time before it does. Therefore you must remain diligent in your selection.

When an inspector has relevant trade experience, they bring so much more expertize to the table. Look for someone who not only has their registered home inspector certification, but has more hands-on experience in certain trades, such as electrical, plumbing or roofing.

How long have they been in the business?

The amount of years a home inspector has been in the business reflects highly on the quality of their work. Picking someone who has been trusted by hundreds of home owners and has a great reputation in your community will give you confidence that you can really trust their analysis and recommendations.

How well do they communicate?

Not every home owner has experience in spotting and understanding potential issues in a home. When selecting a home inspector, you should pick one that you feel at ease with and that encourages questions. An expert inspector should take the time to explain how your home operates, how to take care of it, and discusses repairs you can anticipate down the road. Do they share their experience and recommendations in a way that everyone can understand? The answer should be yes! 

Purchasing a home is a major decision, that comes with a huge amount of stress. Most consumers spend weeks, months and even years searching for their dream home, but won’t take much time to consider who will search this home for potential issues. It is imperative to maintain the same standards when it comes to choosing your home inspector, as you do when choosing your new house.

Categories
Uncategorized

CARPENTER ANTS

While last month’s newsletter we discussed how to humanely evict bats and raccoons from your property, this month we discover what carpenter ants are really about, and how to deal with them.
 
Like all insects, carpenter ants (Camponotus pennsylvanicus) are cold blooded. They congregate in dead trees and other hidden places during the winter and search for food in the warmer spring and summer months.
 
It’s during this time, as the sun shines through your kitchen window, you’ll notice carpenter ants on your hardwood or linoleum floor. They are red or black ants that vary in length from 6 to 25 mm. They are on a trek for carbohydrate-rich foods.
 
Carpenter ants are omnivorous. They can eat a wide variety of plant and animal foods, including fruits, sweets such as syrup and jam, and meat. Despite what their name implies, they cannot digest wood cellulose like termites.
 
Typically, when a person spots a carpenter ant inside the home, they assume the worst. They fear a swarming, thriving ant colony is breeding within the house. This is rarely the case. Carpenter ants live in hollow trees, logs, landscaping timbers, and soil, and will march hundreds of metres from their colony in search of food.
 
According to Gary Umphrey, an ant expert and mathematics professor at the University of Guelph, there’s a 90% likelihood the ants are only passing through.
 
The 10% exception is homes with decaying wood structures due to an ongoing moisture problem. Carpenter ants will burrow and nest in the moist, decaying wood. Evidence of them nesting in your home may include small holes and trails of sawdust.
 
If these signs of infestation are visible, structural damage may be extreme. You’ll want to contact a Registered Home Inspector for professional advice.
 
To deal with carpenter ants, the federal government’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency recommends correcting humidity issues that may be affecting wood structures, removing sweets, grains and meat products, and carting away firewood that may have transported ants into the house.
 
Other natural and humane ways to keep ants at bay include:
  • sprinkling bay leaves or cayenne pepper near cracks and entry points. Ants hate the scent and will move elsewhere.
  • spray a cleaning solution of vinegar, water, and about ten drops of tea tree oil around your counters and doorway
  • draw chalk lines around your doorways and windowsills. Ants do not like particles sticking to their feet
  • If a colony is well established in the home, various chemical treatments are available (although they are not ecologically friendly or humane).
 
Regardless, you’ll see ants less in the summer months. Ants, like humans, tend to scale back their work activities as the weather gets hotter. In the autumn, as their food stores fill, they become even more scarce before disappearing for the winter.
 

Thanks for reading this month’s newsletter. Hopefully this article shed new light on the unduly maligned carpenter ant. A little understanding about these creatures can save a lot of unnecessary anxiety and expense!
 
Next month we’ll be back with more insights on home ownership. Until then, enjoy the summer.