Home Inspection Part 2

Home Inspection


Home Inspection

I’ve been asked on more than one occasion about Home Inspections and Inspectors. There are a few things to keep in mind.

Is a Building Inspector the same as a Home Inspector?

First, the person that inspects your deck or addition when you build it is the Building inspector. They inspect it for compliance to codes, not usually for a real-estate transaction. This is different than the Home Inspector we are talking about. The Building inspector is employed but the local Municipality. A Home Inspector is employed by the Home buyer for inspection for a real-estate transaction, not code compliance.


Recently,  I was called in on a case were the Home Inspector did miss some glaring issues. Some of them health and safety, some code items. Upon numerous re inspections by myself and others, including another reputable Home Inspector, we documented items that should have been brought to the fore front. I would hope bringing this to light now can help you later when you are looking for your new or next home.


What should the Home inspector look for?


A thorough home inspection is one of the most important steps in the home-buying process. Yet many potential homeowners don’t know what, exactly, an inspection entails — and some real estate agents, eager to make a sale, won’t do much to help a client understand what they should expect.


In its simplest form, a home inspection is a visual assessment of the structure and operational systems of a home.

Inspect the Homes Exterior

That includes an inspection of entryways (all the doors, including garage doors), the home’s foundation, exterior (siding, brick, stone, etc.), porches, windows and roof.

Inspect the Roof

If you can find one, hire an inspector who is willing to get up on the roof and inspect it for damage, or at the very least is experienced enough to check the roof from the ground using binoculars (though things can be missed this way).

Is the roofline sagging? Are there water spots in the attic? (That’s a sign that there is a leak, or that there may have been one in the past). How does the spouting and flashing look? If there are skylights, do they show signs of leaking?

Inspect the Foundation

Are there cracks in the siding, loose mortar between bricks, rotted wood? Is the porch sturdy? Is it pulling away from the house, or sagging? Is the foundation cracked, and if so, is it a flaw that affects the structural integrity of the home? Are there obvious signs that there are roots growing into, or near, the foundation or any power, water or sewer lines? In the basement or crawl space, is there rotted or soft wood, or insect damage where the house meets the foundation?


An inspector will also look at balconies, fascias, soffits and eaves for damage or structural problems.

Inspect the Land

A home inspector should also access the land around the house. Are there obvious drainage problems? What’s the condition of the sidewalks and the driveway?

Interior Inspection Items

Inspect Plumbing

Plumbing systems should be checked for pressure, leaks, age, and if the proper vents are installed and working. Septic systems should be checked as well: Do drains in the house empty slowly? Does sewage back up into the house? Are there wet, smelly spots into the yard or foliage? Does the dishwasher or laundry drain into the yard? Does the entire system drain somewhere else, like a ditch? Inspectors will often run three faucets simultaneously for about 45 minutes to test for slow drains, leaks, backups and more.

Inspection of Electrical Systems

The inspector should also check the electrical system. Is everything properly grounded? Is the breaker box adequate? What kind of wiring is in use? Is it a fire hazard, such as knob-and-spool or aluminum? Switches and outlets should be checked to ensure they work, and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors should be inspected, too. Are there ground fault circuit interrupters installed in the bathrooms and kitchens? If the garage doors have an electric opener, does it meet the current safety codes?

Inside the home, the inspector should look for uneven floors, walls or ceilings. Are there cracks? Signs of leaks? Do the windows open and close properly? Are there any visible signs of mold or rot?

Inspect the Basement

The inspector should also check the basement, examining any exposed plumbing or wiring, and checking any exposed insulation and vapor barriers.

Inspect Ventilation

An often-overlooked area of the home is its ventilation system. Is there an adequate vent in the kitchen or bath (not just a fan, that blows things around but not out)? Can moisture build up inside the home, causing problems with mold and rot?

Inspect Appliances

Appliances need to be checked, too. Dishwashers should be run through a cycle, and any other appliances that are to be included, such as stoves or refrigerators, should be tested as well.

Inspect Fireplaces

Ensure your inspector also takes a look at any wood stoves or fireplaces in the home. They need to ensure the chimney and flue are intact, clear and in working order.

 Inspect HVAC

Finally, heating and air conditioning systems should be checked. Do they work properly? How old are the systems, and are they gas, electric, oil, geothermal? If it’s oil or gas, is the furnace working properly, and are any leaks, cracks or other concerns about tanks or lines?

The exterior inspection is not expected to include outbuildings or fences, or any evaluation of hydraulic or geologic conditions.


The number of things an inspector should check may seem overwhelming, but keep in mind that you’re making what could be the biggest investment in your life. You don’t want to buy a home based on emotion, only to find out when it’s too late that it’s a money pit, not a dream home. Choose your inspector wisely, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Home Inspection Checklist

You can also print out a home inspection checklist here:



A Home Inspector may find issues that are not within their realm of specialty, ie a structural issue. At that point they should indicate that you may want a engineer, termite or HVAC technician for further evaluation.


Hopefully with this as a starting point it can help elevate stress down the road and help circumvent heartache and buyers remorse!

Read the first part of the home inspection series Home Inspection Part I




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Home Inspectors, What You Need To Know, part 1.

What to look for in a Home Inspector
When Buying a New Home

Moving into a home should be a time of excitement, a time of planning for the future, and a time of joy.

It shouldn’t be a time of anxiohire a home inspector when buying a homeusness, a time of planning emergency repairs, or a time of buyer’s remorse

Yet for some home buyers — first-time and veterans alike — what should be a dream come true turns into a nightmare.

There are a few things that you, the homebuyer, can do to prevent the nightmare from ever happening in the first place. And there are laws in place for your protection, too — because, while there are many reputable agents and inspectors out there, as in any business, there are also those who are interested only in increasing their bottom line at your expense.

To start with, hire a reputable, licensed, independent home inspector.

What to look for when hiring a Home Inspector

  1.  Is the inspector a member of a national organization? For instance, ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) , http://www.homeinspector.org/ and NAHI (the National Association of Home Inspectors),http://www.nahi.org/home-inspector-search/ or  IHINA (Independent Home Inspectors of North America), http://www.independentinspectors.org/ or InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors). ASHI and NAHI are generally recognized as the predominant sources of home inspectors.
  2. Is the inspector a member of the Better Business Bureau? Have there been any unsatisfied complaints filed about the inspector?
  3. Ensure that your inspector carries “errors and omissions” insurance, and ensure that there is a clause in your contract calling for binding arbitration. Essentially, this guarantees that if the inspector misses something, you can hold him or her liable for it, and the inspector’s insurance will pay to have the problem fixed — without the expense of litigation.
  4. Check out your inspector’s credentials. That can include asking for references, double-checking the inspector’s qualifications, and finding out how long the inspector’s been in business. If an inspector isn’t willing to share that information, find another.
  5. Find the inspector yourself. Do not rely on the real estate agent (or homeowner) to recommend one — and do not let the agent tell you whom you can — or cannot — hire. According to the PA Home Inspection Law, it is illegal for the inspector to accept or deliver any type of “kickback” to the real estate agent or seller. It’s also illegal for the inspector to be employed by the agent or seller:

A home inspector, the employer of a home inspector, or any business or person that controls or has a financial interest in the employer of a home inspector, may not: (1) Perform or offer to perform for an additional fee repairs to a structure for which the home inspector or the employer of the home inspector prepared a home inspection report within the preceding 12 months. (2) Inspect for a fee any property in which the home inspector or the employer of the home inspector has any financial interest or any interest in the transfer of the property, unless the financial interest is disclosed in writing to the buyer before the home inspection is performed and the buyer acknowledges this disclosure in writing. (3) Offer or deliver any compensation or reward to the seller of the inspected property or to an agent for either or both the seller and the buyer for the referral of any business to the home inspector or the employer of the home inspector. (4) Accept an engagement to perform a home inspection or to prepare a home inspection report in which the employment itself or the fee payable for the inspection is contingent upon the conclusions of the report, pre-established or prescribed findings or the closing of the transaction.

The following information, from the IHINA website, further clarifies the law: http://www.independentinspectors.org/conflictofinterest.html

If a real estate agent tells you that you cannot use an inspector of your choosing, or insists that you use one of their “recommended” or “approved” inspectors, you should contact your attorney. (You should also wonder why they don’t want you using an independent inspector of your choosing.) A real estate broker or sales agent who tries to get you to use an inspector of the agent’s choice is trying to control the home inspector selection process. Prospective home buyers must keep in mind that real estate agents who receive a commission from the property seller, are working in the best interest of their client, (the seller.)

Next time, we’ll talk about the types of things a home inspector should look for — and what you, as a homebuyer, should be aware of when having a home inspected.

David Wallace
East Penn Energy Solutions

This is the first part of a multi-part article, stay tuned for more.

Read the article Home Inspection Part II.


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Advice on Saving with the Electric Bill

Power Lines

How to save on your electric bill….Wind Turbines

Here are some steps and information about Energy Choice PA

A few years ago the PUC deregulated the energy companies as we know them. This has been a blessing and a curse. Yes, there is more competition for lowering the cost of electricity delivered to the customer but it can be a curse in that if you are not careful, you will regret your change. Here are some things to consider when looking at your electric bill:

The cost of electricity is about $0.10 to $0.12 per kwh. However, the cost to compare on your bill is different, usually around $0.07 per kwh. Why is this? There are some fixed costs that cannot be negotiated, like the distribution. When you shop for electric you can choose who generates it, but the same electric company still delivers it ¬— that is the fixed cost. The part of the electric bill you are comparing is the cost of generation.

I have found that there are issues with this system. You need to be very proactive if you are going to change generators. Without due diligence, you may regret the switch. There are some things to know before you get started.
• Is it a rate you lock into? Meaning, is it a fixed rate or variable? I recommend a fixed rate plan. Variable rate plans can start low, then increase.
• Is it renewable? I like to support renewable energies. Also, is it from PA or outside of PA? The cost for renewable energy often comes at a slightly higher price.
• Is there a fixed service fee?
• What is the term of the rate? Four months? Six? !2? Is it indefinite?
• Introductory rate? Be wary of this. When it expires, the rates can skyrocket! This is why you need to be on top of your plan.

The pitfalls I have found are that customers don’t stay up on the fluctuating energy market. This is a dynamic system, much like the stock market. You need to be aware of the rates, or the variable rate and the introductory rate. The bottom line is, you think you are getting a great rate and saving money, but after the introductory period the rate skyrockets up to $0.26 per KWH! I have found customers suddenly have a $1000 electric bill due to the variable rate from the introductory period expiring. This is what you need to look for.

Be diligent and you can save a bunch. Watch for the term expiring, if you get a variable rate, and don’t be surprised if your costs change.

Below is the link to the PA PUC Energy Choice website. It is very self-explanatory and straightforward. If you switch your generators, you will want to bookmark the link so you can stay in touch with the plans as they change.


Good Luck!

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How to save with Window AC units

AC Widow Sealed

Now it Cooling season, now what?

Well when trying to save on your cooling costs and you have a window air conditioner, there is something you will want to know.
I often go into homes and see that the lower sash is raised for the unit to go in, and there is a space were the two sashes meet. When the windows are closed this is sealed, but not when the AC unit is installed. Remember that 1” gap along the width of the windows is open. Hand towels or tee shirts are what I use. If you have ever wondered what the short section of foam that comes with the window that you threw out last year, that’s what it’s for. Be sure that this gap is sealed. This lets the cool air out, or heat in. Either way it’s not efficient once you think about it. When you have more than one, the gap really adds up in losses, so fill the gap. It’s a great use for those old tee shirts too!


air-conditioner-extra-cooling-capacity-window-unit-hvac         AC Widow Sealed

Posted in Energy Efficiency, Uncategorized Tagged with: ,

OSHA announces a New Confined Space rule

Confined Space

OSHA has announced a New Confined Space Rule that has great bearing on the Home Performance Industry. It reflects some of the conditions that we find ourselves in with attics and crawl spaces. Essentially if its big enough to get into with limited access/exit, this new rule will apply. Take a look and see how it affects your business.

There have been some casualties with spray foam in attic spaces without enough ventilation, some fire issues again with out enough ventilation. I know it has come up in a few conversations in the past with some contractors I have spoken with. Now is the time to hopefully prevent more accidents. Unfortunately it takes federal action for what would appear common sense issues. Make sure there is enough ventilation as always, reduce the risk of flash over from volatiles, and make sure you have a way out and don’t forget to employ the “Buddy System”.Blowing in Spray foam roof

For more information, click the link below.



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Laub Builders

”Here at Laub Builders we always knew we built an energy efficient home but had no idea how efficient or how to prove it. With the HERS rating performed by your company we have a thorough & detailed report to do just that to our customers.“ – Laub Builders

E. Tars of Philadelphia

”East Penn Energy Solutions provided outstanding service from beginning to end. They gave a professional assessment, with absolutely zero, if not less-than-zero sales pressure, telling us where we would get the most improvement for our investment, and what, while good, was probably not cost-effective.” – E. Tars Philadelphia

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