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Inspections in the Snow

The Piedmont Triad area of NC typically only receives what many northern parts of the country may call a “dusting” of snow once or twice over the winter months. However, this weekend, a nice thick blanket came down. Winter home shoppers are fortunate our area has such a mild climate, because, snow is one of several conditions that can inhibit a home inspector’s ability to observe and report defective conditions.

In any season, inspections have encounter challenges observing key components of the home. Often we find issues which have been concealed by furniture, storage, landscaping, or simply by containment within the construction or burial beneath the ground. Snow, however, is particularly problematic because it can prevent inspection of two particularly sensitive and essential areas within the scope of a home inspection: roofing conditions and ground drainage.  As experienced inspectors, we can still look for clues that can provide insight if the systems are working properly.

Depending upon the severity of weather conditions and the depth of snow coverage, inspection of roofing can be significantly limited by winter conditions. Removal of snow buildup is typically not advised because a heavy layer of snow and ice sliding off a roof can cause personal injury. However, it is possible for an inspector to gain some perspective with regard to roof conditions without viewing the entire roof surface. Exposed edges can reveal the numbers of roof layers, and a representative number of shingles can be inspected by scraping the snow from roofing at the eaves. Additionally, the likelihood of roof leakage can be ascertained because the slow melting of ice and snow can produce leaks more readily than rain runoff.

Regardless of snow coverage, the attic space remains accessible, and this is another area where evidence of leakage can be detected. Additionally, an attic inspection can reveal when snow loads are adversely affecting the integrity of the roof framing.

Snow coverage also prevents evaluation of site grading and ground drainage, conditions that can have major implications in some cases. If possible, snow should be cleared at the building’s perimeter to enable a reasonable inspection. If this is not possible, you can request that some of the sellers’ proceeds be withheld at the conclusion of the sale, pending further inspection during warmer weather. Sellers may not be warm to this kind of arrangement, but such proposals are definitely negotiable. As much as possible, assume the approach that protects your financial interests and seems most reasonable, in accordance with observed conditions at the property.  Fortunately, we thaw out pretty quickly here in North Carolina, so a re-inspection is typically not an issue.

Private Water Supply: Quality and Quantity

Homes with a private water supply are common in the Piedmont Triad. Private water sources most often consist of a pump and a source of water, such as a well, river, lake, or cistern.  Some developments will institute community wells, where water is drawn from a single source, pumped, and distributed to many houses within the development. In these cases, homeowners will pay a fee to share in the maintenance of the equipment.   Private water supplies are not monitored by the city, so when you buy a home not connected to a municipal source of water, maintenance and testing will be your responsibility.   In all cases where a private water supply is involved, it is important to know the quality of the water and the quantity of water to the home.

Water quality testing is a service we offer at Parkwood. We check your water quality by sending a sample of the water to a laboratory.  Certain mortgate loans require testing of water for bacteria, pH, and other impurities, such as minerals, chemicals, and silt. Even if your loan doesn’t require a test, it is good to sample during the due diligence process so that you can be aware of any potential problems before you buy the home.

Another critical component of buying a home on a private water supply is knowing if you will have a sufficient supply of water.  When we do a water quality test, we also do a basic test for flow rate.  In general, a flow rate of 5 gallons per minute, that can be maintained over time, is considered to be good. A flow rate of 3 gallons per minute is considered acceptable. It is important to note that water volume from a well can change seasonally.  Requesting owner disclosure about year-round supply is highly recommended.  When in doubt, some buyers may opt to pay for a well-drawdown test to verify well capacity.  In these tests, which are typically several hundred dollars to conduct, the water level in the well is monitored while a steady supply is pumped out.  If the water supply is strong, the well will be replenished by the groundwater quickly, and the water level in the well will not drop dramatically.  Although again, due to the seasonal fluctuations in groundwater, a good test in April may not yield a good test in September and new homeowner have a tough time knowing the overall water supply situation.  Further, some owners may not allow the more invasive well drawdown test because the large volumes of water drawn off the well may stress the well. Additionally, if the water out of the well is put into the septic system, it can create stress on the septic system.

If the owners, for whatever reason, can’t disclose the year- round adequacy, neighbors may be an invaluable source of information.  At Parkwood, we are happy to offer guidance and talk you through the process to understand your results thoroughly and your next course of action.

November 5th: Operation Inasmuch

Being part of the community is one of our core values.  Two organizations we support in our community, Community Housing Solutions and Housing Consultants Group, partner with the City of High Point to do “repair blitzes” on homes in areas in need of financial support.  Home ownership comes with expenses, and in low income communities, these expenses can start a downward spiral into a home’s disrepair. We can all relate with unexpected repair bills dramatically impacting our month financially.  In the homes we are supporting, we encounter home owners who have become desperate because when you can’t afford one repair, it leads to more damage, and everything begins to snowball.  These homeowners are proud of their homes and their community.  These nonprofit organizations support home ownership in low income communities because home ownership promotes pride in an area.   In addition to helping with these repair blitzes, these organizations support the community with educational support.  

Sherlock 5K Dog Walk

Want to see dogs in cute costumes? Parkwood Property Inspections is proud to team up with Keller Williams Realty of Greensboro in sponsoring a booth at the Skerlock 5K Dog Walk!
The event is THIS SATURDAY, October 22, 2016, from 9:00 am to 12:00 at Country Park in Greensboro. Admission:$25 10/11 – 21; $35 walk up. Be sure to find us to receive a treat for you AND for your pup! See the link below, and hope to see you there!

http://earlier.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=597

Update: Here are some pictures of our event!

Thank You!

At Parkwood, we pride ourselves on being available at all hours to the people that have trusted us with their home purchases.  A testament to this dedication is that our home inspection business has grown beyond our wildest expectations.  While it is easy to get wrapped up in work, it is ever more important to stop and remember the reasons we are putting in so much time: an increased amount of flexibility to be available to our children.

We have just returned from our children’s first trip to Disney World.  It has been a highly anticipated birthday excursion for them both, and we were excited to spend time away as a family.

We would especially like to thank our agents and clients for their support over the last week as we scheduled inspections around this trip. Your loyalty and willingness to work with us has been greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Brant and Jennifer

Maintenance Inspection

We do most of our inspections before homes are purchased or sold. But as the seasons begin to change, have you considered how important it may be to schedule a maintenance inspection?  Think about it: When was the last time you were in your crawl space? Is your water heater down there? What about your furnace?  Have you climbed up on the roof to investigate your roof covering for signs of wear?  Have you been in the attic to check for leaks?  Do you have annual services contracts with providers to check your major systems? If not, chances are you are running the risk for a shortened lifespan on your equipment. Have you changed your air filters, or checked your smoke detectors?  Do you have a septic system, and when was it last inspected or pumped?