Feb 242010

We at Iron View Inspections want to thank Marketplace for educating the public about a huge problem existing in the Canadian real-estate market, by airing “Can you trust your home inspector?” (Feb.12, 2010). Wow!!! The statistic quoted was one grow-op per neighbourhood. Not only does Marketplace raise the issue of grow-ops, it also provokes the audience to think more deeply, to reflect on how an entire system can fail the individuals making the most important investment of their lives. This system begins with the home-owner, the initial disclosure in the property transaction and follows with Realtors, Inspectors, lending institutions, and possibly as seen in this show the police, insurance companies and judicial courts.  Unfortunately not all grow-ops are busted. We’ve read some of the blog posts in response to this show and many share the same questions that have been raised by us at Iron View Inspections. Most important, how can these homes be allowed marketability, especially after a bust without proper remedial action? Allowing them to become a marketable investment, of course, is claiming they are fit to be the homes for families.

The show exposes that these homes were not fit for habitation, as places that should offer comfort, a safe shelter in a world where one can find a modicum of peace, privacy and rest. The affected homes offered quite the contrary. However, people were living in those homes and the air quality of the Brampton home was shown not compromised once tested. What we learned from this documentation of Marketplace was a lack of accountability, concern and integrity of all the service representatives mentioned above, involved in those particular transactions on the show, not just the inspectors who seemed to be the focus of the show. It proves that all investors must be discerning and self advocate at every level of the transaction. However another question remains, how can we be discerning when the show points out that;

“many have no idea what to look for. And accreditation or other fancy titles aren’t much of a guarantee either. … One claims to be an engineer, two are certified and another is a registered home inspector.”

We learned too that the inspectors used in this show failed in their discovery. We would suspect many more inspectors would have failed detection if the ceilings and walls were totally replaced rather than patched as shown in the airing episode. The pertinent question to ask as a consumer, especially when hiring an inspector prior to meeting them, is again, How do you know you’ve got the real deal? The answer is that we must all be discriminate and take time to research our choices.

It is understood that most home and property inspectors are trained and certified to observe and report on only those safely accessible and visible areas. Iron View Inspections reports do not only show what we have seen but also note that which we have not been able to see. We include the reasons for why areas may not have been visible. We don’t just tell you “we didn’t look there”. We do look there and tell you why we were unable to look there. The use of an infrared, thermo-graphic imaging camera is used at the inspector’s discretion. Inspections with out infrared are considered “essential.”  Note that when dealing with inspectors who do use such cameras, the inspection is then considered “premium” and the cost is extended. So use of an infrared camera is optional during a full inspection and given the high cost many inspectors will not have use of one. So how do you detect mold whether induced by a grow-op or other moisture problem, if you cannot smell or see it or you don’t have use of infrared equipment?

Iron View Inspections offer a separate Mold Inspection, which includes the full basic inspection. This inspection recommends further testing if mold is suspect. We detect the kind of mold and its severity by taking samples of air and lift samples of suspected mold. These are sent to a local lab for testing and results are returned within 48 hrs. We know that not all molds are harmful to health, but all are harmful to the materials in buildings.  Some may be easily remedied, however any detection of mold should be noted in the report, whether detected by smell or visibility. The presence of mold, whether a grow-op or not, means there is a humidity or moisture problem.  The source of the humidity or moisture problem is what we really want to find in any inspection. We never offer how mold can be remedied. We offer information so the owner or prospective owner can further investigate with mold remediation experts or environmental consultants. These issues can be negotiated in the transaction.

One thing we know for sure no matter who certifies the inspector, none are contracted to go beyond the Standards of Practice. All are expected to respect the property of the owner thus not disturbing furnishings, carpeting or finishes. An inspector would never rip up carpeting or poke holes in the wall. As pointed out, in the episode, a good inspector would not have to resort to that kind of action.

Iron View Inspections has a history of hands on experience in the field of demolition, renovation and new construction in both the residential and commercial arenas. To the many years of experience is added site supervision of all trades involved. Part of site supervision is investigation, inspection and setting standards of workmanship on the job site. Our Senior Inspector, Jim, decided to research the area of property inspection and gain certification vowing to continue upgrading regularly with the ever-changing market. Some of the courses are taken on-line not unlike university courses that are offered on-line for those studying to become health care professionals, other courses are 2-3 day intensive workshops at accredited institutions.

Iron View Inspections is built on a vision, to hire only those inspectors with hands on experience and only those willing to train through a reputable organization for mold detection, air quality and upgrade regularly to include infrared thermo-graphic imaging. We insist that the owner or prospective owner attend the 2-4 hour inspection or at least have a representative in their place barring their attendance.

Again we thank Marketplace for enlightening us to very real problems that exist in the systems of law and real estate. We hope this will help find solutions possibly toward the creation of a regulatory board in this field. We approve of the suggestions offered by Marketplace encouraging consumers to ask questions of Realtors and Home Inspectors. We think more importantly, the consumer needs to ask questions of the references of Realtors and Home Inspectors.  We ask all viewers and readers of these shows, articles and blogs to keep in mind that even though the events portrayed seem dramatic, there is validity to the questions raised.

Practically speaking there are those in every profession and trade whether certified or holding tickets or license to perform task that can rate as poor, mediocre or excellent.  We encourage certification and acquiring tickets or license yet it has been our experience that some of the best we have encountered in the contracting trades are those who have never taken a course or have yet to be certified or ticketed. These are the masters of a craft or trade with which they were gifted and performed with integrity and passion.

We at Iron View Inspections petition all inspectors to grow and keep their training relevant and up to date. The real estate market is not static. It is ever changing and requires a life long learning sensibility to perform accountable, inspections that offer peace of mind for property investors, giving them confidence as we take a Solid Look at their potential investment.

We welcome all commentaries and encourage you to visit our blog regularly. Our next blog will proceed with the 4th in a series of the Do’s and Don’t’s of Inspectors.

~Be as Fully Informed as You Can Be~

Feb 182010

Here it is folks. The 3rd in the series of The Do’s and The Dont’s, requirements of a property inspector.  Structure = the bones of the building. If the Iron View Inspections Inc. inspector thinks  the structure is compromised and an engineer or architect is required to  investigate further, the inspector will note such on his report.

~Be As Full Informed As You Can Be~

Reporting structural observations is part of a home inspector’s job.  Offering a definitive determination as to the cause of any defects or anomalies is NOT.  So, remember:  Home inspectors are barred from providing engineering services.  The job of the home inspector is to OBSERVE and REPORT.

An inspector is required to: *Observe and Report (O&R)

  • Visible foundation walls *(O&R)
  • Floors, columns, walls, roofs, attics *(O&R)
  • Report any general indications of foundation movement observed by the inspector, such as but not limited to drywall cracks, brick cracks, out-of-square door frames or floor slopes and concrete wall cracks *(O&R)
  • Report on cutting, notching and boring of framing members which may present a structural or safety concern *(O&R)
  • Chimneys *(O&R)
  • Wood in contact or near soil *(O&R)
  • Crawl spaces, basements *(O&R)
  • Observe and report any evidence of deterioration from insects, rot or fire *(O&R)

An inspector is not required to: *Observe and Report (O&R)

  • Inspect areas that are not reasonably accessible or visible *(O&R
  • Enter any crawl spaces that are not readily accessible or where entry could cause damage or pose a hazard to the inspector *(O&R)
  • Move stored items or debris *(O&R)
  • Identify size, spacing, span, location or determine adequacy of foundation bolting, bracing, joists, joist-span or support systems *(O&R)
  • Provide any engineering or architectural service *(O&R)
  • Report on the adequacy of any structural system or component *(O&R)

Performing the structural portion of a home inspection on a finished and occupied dwelling is a daunting task.  Time limitations are a reality during any home inspection.  Furniture, insulation, clutter, stored items–all present potential limitations on view and access.  Lighting, painted surfaces and edges can play tricks on the inspector’s eyes.  Distractions, fatigue and stress can all take their toll.

Throughout the home inspection, try to keep conscious of the fact that almost everything you observe provides information about the home’s structural integrity.  A holistic approach to performing home inspections is always best.

Sources: Inspect4U & InterNACHI

Feb 112010

Have you been anticipating the 2nd of this series: The Do’s and Don’ts of the requirements of a property inspector?

~Be As Fully Informed As You Can Be~

An inspector is required to: Observe and Report *(O&R) Perform Task **(PT)

  • Floors, walls, ceilings and trim. *(O&R)
  • Fire separating walls and party walls. *(O&R)
  • Stairs, guards and railings. *(O&R)
  • Observe condition of permanently installed counters and cabinets. *(O&R)
  • Observe and report on any evidence of water penetration and condensation. *(O&R)
  • The presence of smoke detectors. *(O&R)
  • Randomly select and operate where reasonably accessible a representative number of doors and windows. **(PT)

An inspector is not required to: Observe and Report *(O&R) Perform Task **(PT)

  • Treatments such as paint, wallpaper, carpeting, blind, drapes, and other similar treatments. *(O&R)
  • Kitchen, bathroom, and laundry appliances. *(O&R)
  • Observe fireplace insert installation. *(O&R)
  • Solid fuel burning appliances, including fireplaces and wood stoves. *(O&R)
  • Any items or facilities not directly related to the interior systems and components such as swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs, ponds and water falls. *(O&R)
  • Move furniture, stored items, or any coverings like carpets or rugs in order to inspect the concealed floor structure. *(PT)
  • Move drop-ceiling tiles. *(PT)
  • Operate or examine any sauna, steam-jenny, kiln, toaster, plug-in kitchen appliances, or other ancillary devices. *(PT)
  • Inspect elevators. *(O&R)
  • Inspect remote controls.*(O&R)
  • Inspect appliances. *(O&R)
  • Inspect items not permanently installed. *(O&R)
  • Examine or operate any above ground, movable, freestanding, or non-permanently installed pool/spa, recreational equipment or self-contained equipment. *(O&R)
  • Sources: InterNACHI & Inspect4U

Feb 042010

A client should be aware of what an inspector is required to do and not required to do. It is important to keep in mind that the inspector will not move furnishings, draperies or window coverings, or push plant materials aside. Nor will the inspector move obstructions to windows, doors, electrical or mechanical elements. The inspector respects the property and so leaves all belongings and obstructions where they are placed. Moving such could result in damage to flooring, coverings  and personal belongings on the property. A thorough and impeccable inspector will  adequately make note  of obstructions to  observations. Those notes will be disclosed in the clients report.

This post is the first in a series of  The Do’s and The Dont’s. What are the requirements of a property inspector? Iron View Inspections  Inc. is confident these publications will be an aid to the client’s understanding  of what an inspection entails.

~Be As Fully Informed As You Can Be~

An Inspection Report shall describe and identify, in written format, the inspected systems, structures, and components of the dwelling, and shall identify material defects observed. Inspection reports may contain recommendations regarding conditions reported or recommendations for correction; monitoring or further evaluation by professionals.

An inspector is required to: *Observe and Report (O&R) **Perform Task (PT)

  • Exterior wall covering/surfaces, eaves and trim *(O&R)
  • Doors, windows, and flashing *(O&R)
  • Garages and carports that are attached to the main building *(O&R)
  • All exterior doors, decks, stoops, steps, stairs, porches, railings, eaves, soffits and fascias *(O&R)
  • Observe and report impact of lot grading and vegetation *(O&R)
  • Retaining walls when these are likely to adversely affect the structure *(O&R)
  • Walkways and driveways on the building *(O&R)
  • Test the operation of power operated garage door openers, including the stop and automatic reverse functions **(PT)
  • Balconies including stairs, guards and railings **(PT)

An inspector is not required to: *Observe and Report (O&R)

  • Geological, hydrological and/or ground and soil conditions *(O&R)
  • Yard fencing *(O&R)
  • Seasonal accessories such as removable storm windows, storm doors, screens and shutters *(O&R)
  • Storage sheds and other structures not part of the building *(O&R)
  • Any items or facilities not directly related to the building structure, such as swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs, tennis courts, etc. *(O&R)
  • Seawalls, break-walls, and docks *(O&R)
  • Playground equipment or recreation facilities *(O&R)
  • Erosion control and earth stabilization measures *(O&R)
  • Drain fields or dry-wells, septic systems or cesspools *(O&R)
  • Determine the integrity of the thermal windows seals or damaged glass *(O&R)
  • Verify or certify safe operation of any auto reverse or safety function of a garage door *(O&R)

Sources: Inter-NACHI and Inspect 4U.

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