Apr 142014

Although Spring officially began March 20, 2014 we still had a few mini blizzards and ice storms to contend with in the GTA. March winds did not start blowing in until the first week of April. Blue skies, sunny days and  welcome warm wind storms along with evening showers of week 2, bathed away lingering patches of ice and snow hidden in the shadows. Temperatures in the 20-24 degree Celsius range this weekend makes it official  – Spring indeed is finally here.

The energy of Spring motivates us to begin the process of evaluating what we want to keep around and what we want to discard. You were probably cleaning closets and files the last few weeks of March in anticipation of outdoor activities. This was a great time to take stock of maintenance issues in and around our homes and businesses. Rising electric and gas prices  may also motivate us to secure minimal expenses in energy consumption, where we can.

It’s time to clean, repair and re-caulk roof vents and any other roof penetrations. Replace curled, missing or torn shingles. Clean gutters and downspouts replacing those that may have been damaged by the hardest hitting ice storm in GTA history. Pay attention to caulking around windows, window sills and door ways too. Check your dryer vents and fan exhaust vents for possible rodent, insect and feathered friend intrusions. We recently heard of birds finding their way into bathroom fan ventilation system and building their nests in cavities under a second story en-suite tub. Love waking up to birds singing in the trees outside however having them chirp right under your bottom while you are bathing?

Move inside to clean forced air heating duct work, arrange servicing for optimum operation of your A/C unit. Change burnt out bulbs now with energy efficient bulbs, while checking your batteries and operation of smoke alarms. Do the same for CO detectors. If you do not have these detectors get them now.  A law to make these detectors mandatory in all residences in Ontario passed November 2013. http://www.citynews.ca/2013/11/27/ontario-passes-mandatory-carbon-monoxide-detector-bill/. I think it is safe to consider that we all heard the news of those who lost their lives during the ice storm trying to stay warm. CO is deadly undetectable with out these devices. Make sure that you seal any penetrations from attached garages into your living environment to deter infiltration of vehicle CO fumes.

Only 70 days until summer officially arrives. It may seem a long way off yet it really isn’t. Finding a few hours to take a solid look at attending to these maintenance issues, during your time off regular work hours, this Easter weekend and next few will ensure your peace of mind allowing you to enjoy the outdoors without worry come the May long weekend.  Examine your environment, Execute necessary tasks, Ease into summer.

~Be As Informed As You Can Be~

May 052013

Spring came late to the GTA and with it came unusually humid weather following an unusually moist and precipitous winter. Along with this weather and influx of home sales, already reaching multiple bid proportions, came the unusually high call for Air Quality, Asbestos and Mold Inspections. Home sellers and buyers inspectors were making note of  particular concern in basements, walls and attics alerting realtors and clients to costly remediation. Better to catch the issue with sampling and testing, before an Inspector does, during a Pre-purchase buyers condition. The dealings get tricky as to who pays for what and some in order to save a few dollars will compromise due dilligence,  sometimes costing more in the long run.

Some buyers inspectors  note possible mold or asbestos but they do not perform testing. Iron View Inspections has recently been called in to perform a second  inspection  for mold or asbestos. We have had  verbal reports from clients and realtors that the first visual inspection indicated possible mold or asbestos. Some inspectors have made a claim that there is a definite presence so clients have called in remediation. We at Iron View recommend testing before any definitive conclusions or costly remediation or renovations be performed.

If a seller suspects mold or asbestos it is recommended they have Pre-listing  inspection and testing performed before a prospective buyer has their inspector detect possible mold or asbestos, putting into motion delays in the selling process and possibly reaching costly and unnecessary conclusions for remediation and replacement of structural areas in the home. The last few weeks of April and May  have drawn our attention to  the importance of doing things correctly so all parties have Peace of Mind and deals are made in ethical fashion with out compromise.

We have worked with very understanding realtors, sellers and buyers wanting to be educated about the need for proper testing and identification and possible abatement and remediation that may be required. We have also encountered some clients and realtors willing  to compromise proper testing to save a few  dollars and still others who jump to demands for remediation and abatement without having all the necessary information to make informed decisions.  In the scheme of things spending early on  in the buying/selling process for proper identification  by testing methods is worth the minimal expense to do things correctly.

Iron View  Mold and Asbestos Inspections include a full home inspection that involves testing via; A. air sampling (taking 2-3 air tests) and B. lift or bulk sampling. Once the samples make it to an independent lab the real testing begins.

Mold or Spore Trap Analysis  testing results indicate airborne spores that are present per m3 and identify what types of mold are airborne in the living environment. Be aware that mold is every where and is present in all environments. The levels of spores present  in air are indicators of problems or not. But the air samples do not indicate whether the mold is active or not. The lift sample results come from a Direct Microscopic Exam and determine the types of mold present that are active or not and  cause for concern for future mold growth and whether the mold contains types of spores that are considered a risk for health issues.

Asbestos  air sample  testing results indicate particles or fibers that are presently airborne in the living environment and are measured by their Level of Quantification (LOQ) via visually estimating asbestos/non-asbestos fibers under a microscope as well as identifying non-fibrous materials and other building material particles that may be present. Lift or bulk samples of building materials like insulation, pipe wrap or tiles etc. are also tested under a microscope to determine the Level of Dispersion (LOD)  using a staining method.

Any client or realtor who is asking for only one of the above tests, to save costs, is compromising testing and conclusive results. Anyone recommending abatement  or remediation without proper testing and results may also be compromising and possibly costing the buyer or seller more than  necessary.

Be Aware that mold and asbestos cannot be properly identified by visual inspection. An inspector who is making a definitive claim visually, without proper testing or recommending proper testing, is doing an injustice to all involved. Iron View has encountered blackened attic sheathing, once tested proved not to be mold at all but did prove to be  a discolouration due to aging.  Had the buyer followed the claims made by the first inspector with out testing, huge expenses to replace roofing would have been incurred.  Iron View has encountered situations where a white film of insulation dust on sheathing has been misidentified as mold or asbestos. Iron View has also encountered situations where the mold is not easily identified visually because it is so deep in the material the material is rotting from the inside out, usually called dry rot or the area is so wet mold cannot be determined without a test and the entire attic needs remediation and  the roof replaced. In the case of Asbestos. A home owner had grave concern learning that the insulation put into his home before he purchased it  a year prior, was possibly Asbestos. He learned that the previous owner was in a court battle due to an inspector that definitively claimed it was asbestos insulation without proper testing. Iron View tested the material and air with results showing the material had no asbestos fibers present. If an inspector is noting in reports that there is possible mold or asbestos and recommends further investigation, he/she has done due diligence … You’ve got a good one.

Iron View Inspections can offer one better… we can also send in some samples for  independent lab testing at the same time as  performing a regular Pre-Delivery, Pre-Listing, Pre-Purchase or Maintenance Inspection.

~Be As Informed As You Can Be~

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 012012

October 2012 has been one of the coldest and rainiest since our move to the GTA three years ago.  We learned all about Hurricane Hazel this past weekend as the media recounted that 1950’s storm, while reporting that Hurricane Sandy blew torrential winds and rain through the GTA.  Power for thousands was cut as fallen trees, hydro lines and minimal flooding wreaked destruction on many homes and properties. The storm also took 2 lives in the GTA due to flying debris. Our hearts go out to all who have suffered.

As an Inspection company Iron View seeks positive ways to get around the limitations imposed by weather conditions or lack of access in order to offer the most thorough observations for our clients. Such conditions can occur at any time hindering safe access for observation reporting, even when there is no destructive storm.

We recently inspected a tiny 40+ aged bungalow in the centre of Toronto on a Monday in mid- October of this year. It was well before Hurricane Sandy whirled through. There had been a steady light rain with fog and drizzle causing high humidity ranging from 88% to 98% a few days prior to as well as on the day of Inspection. The saturation of the structure and surrounding landscape presented safety issues for setting ladders and walking roofs. However the wet conditions afforded positive benefits for the inspector when checking for leaks and humidity issues, of which he found none in the home on that day. The home was dry and cozy.

Our Inspector did note to the seller who was present during the Pre-Listing service being performed, that the roof was very old and probably in need of replacement soon. The seller agreed. The Inspector noted this information on the report and specified there was a missing shingle that should be attended soon to deter rotting of the sheathing. The inspector asked where the attic hatch might be since he had not observed one during the inspection. He wanted to see if there was any leaking present or signs of rot on the roof sheathing beneath the shingles. There was no access to the attic available.

Although the slope and pitch of the roof did not pose a problem for the Inspector to walk it; the age, slippery condition, loose shingles and potential to cause damage to the roof and injury to him cautioned him to safe practice. He opted to climb his ladder in the drizzle only to the roof edge, used his high powered binoculars and photographed the missing shingle which was easily visible from the ground without visual aids. He also did a moisture check on the interior ceiling area near where the shingle was missing. He found no signs of deterioration on the ceiling and no moisture registered in that area of the ceiling.

After the observations were made and the inspector consulted with the seller concerning his findings, the seller admitted knowing about the missing shingle for quite a while adding plans to have it repaired before listing the home. The seller also mentioned during the review of findings, that the neighbours were going to have their roof replaced in a few weeks. The seller was going to ask those roofers to look at the loose and missing shingles. The seller also informed the inspector that the siding was new because the insurance company would not insure the home when it was bought since it was originally covered by asbestos shingles. The inspector informed the seller that this information could not be documented in his report since he did not observe the asbestos shingles  under the siding nor could he report what the seller was intending to do with roof repairs. Rather our inspector suggested the seller have their Realtor disclose that information to prospective buyers.

The home was listed with an open house viewing just 5 days following the inspection. Rain and wind continued throughout that week and weekend. The seller made copies and sent e-mails for prospective buyers during the open house. The seller told the inspector during a follow up call  that the Open House was a success with 5 offers being made. The house was sold within ten days. Then…the seller’s satisfied tone changed admonishing our inspector;

”The roofers replacing the neighbours roof told us that you missed the hole in my roof where the missing shingle was and insulation was sticking out of that hole. This could have been a deal breaker.”

Our Inspector reminder the seller about the consultation they had on the day of inspection when the seller informed him about knowing about the missing shingle for quite some time before the inspection took place. He reminded the seller that the roof was inaccessible for safe observation on the day of inspection and that he noted those findings in the report along with up close and very clear photos showing no signs of a hole or insulation protruding where the shingle was missing on the day of inspection. He had done his due diligence within the parameters of safety with regard to weather conditions and lack of access. Then he asked;

“Did you disclose this information and your intentions for repair to the buyer?”

 The seller thanked the inspector for his report and hung up. We encourage all parties, sellers, buyers, realtors and inspectors to due diligence. Ask as many questions of the realtors and inspectors that you can, keep a record of the answers and educate yourselves to the limitations that conditions affecting safety dictates.  Although limitations present challenges they also present opportunity to find positive solutions. Iron View Inspections is dedicated to taking a Solid Look for clients and backing it with Honesty, Openness and Willing to report findings as thoroughly as possible.

~Be As Informed As You Can Be~

Mar 292011

Warmer temperatures, a little rain, balmy breezes during the day and a few evening winds to dry it all up. Crocus and Hyacinth graced us some bloom. First signs of spring are all but buried now a few weeks later, colder temperatures, blizzard conditions that left the GTA wondering if we should have called another snow day shut down. Let’s hope it is the last and not a prequel to Ice storms.

While we have that light blanket of snow, take advantage. The upside of this weather phenomenon is that we will have one last chance to observe what is happening on the exterior of our homes and buildings. Get your maintenance list ready. CMHC provides a great check list of things to do for seasonal maintenance of your home. Check out the CMHC Home Maintenance Schedule now.

Here’s a quick summary of some of the things that you can do for the exterior of your home:

  • Look for those places where melting snow is dripping through eves trough seams that need sealing or replacing
  • Check those shingles for wet spots where snow has melted, indicating heat loss
  • Look for areas around the foundation where melting snow or rain is pooling and make a note to fill and grade soil slopping away from the foundation
  • Watch for those plantings that are sprouting and spreading too close to the foundations and make accommodation to trim them or transplant them at least two feet away from the foundation to allow for proper air flow and reduce humidity and moisture build up which can lead to mildew growth  compromising concrete
  • Watch for pavement that has lifted due to frost and make a note to reset and level walking paths.

Inside make it a point to check:

  • The attic for ventilation leaks or ice dams
  • Dryer vents should be cleaned from lint build up
  • If it is taking longer to dry your laundry that is evidence of lint build up in your venting tubes, lint build up can cause combustion fires
  • Your furnace filters and hot water tank valves should be checked too

Regular maintenance will improve the Air quality in your home. Consider the non-chemical way to freshen your space from odours trapped in fabrics and venting systems before summer arrives, the windows are closed tight for optimum A/C. You will be too busy enjoying the outdoors come mid-April if this year is anything like last. Once you are spending your days outside, consider Ozone Shock treatments to purify the air and dissipate odour build up in your living environment. It only takes a leisurely day away to perform this service for improved Air Quality.

HAPPY SPRING TIME

From the team at Iron View Inspections

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

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