Realtors

Resources Just for you…

The home inspection process, from the scheduling phone call to referencing the report after closing, is a major aspect in your client’s satisfaction. At Hometown Inspections, our goal is to provide you and your client peace of mind throughout the selling and buying process.  Your client’s home is a complex network of plumbing, electrical, HVAC and structural systems.  Our mission is to extend to you our years of experience and extensive training on these systems in order to make an informed decision when aiding your client in buying or selling their home. We inspect, advise, and educate you and your client during the home inspection through our knowledge, highly rated customer service and our modern reporting software.

Have you heard of the next big safety concern that’s making waves in our industry? You guessed it – we’re talking about Radon.

… Yes, RADON. For anyone who missed eighth grade geology, radon is a colorless, odorless gas that emits from decaying uranium in the ground and seeps into homes through a number of paths. As “sexy” as we know this topic sounds, radon poses a serious health concern for your clients  – breathing radon particles can in fact cause lung damage and is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer.

Recently, Pillar to Post and the Council of Residential Specialists co-hosted an awesome webinar on how real estate agents can better educate their clients on radon testing. Here are our key takeaways from the webinar:

How does radon get into my clients’ homes, anyway?

Think of radon like a ninja that’s trying to break into your home – it can enter through multiple routes (and most often, the basement). Common entry routes include floor joints, cracks in concrete slabs, gaps around pipes and electrical outlets, and exposed soil in crawl spaces. As uranium decays, it emits radioactive radon particles that can float up into the air and enter the home.

I’ve never heard that there are high radon levels in my area. Should my buyers/sellers still be concerned?

In short, absolutely. Radon is everywhere, and it’s entirely possible for radon to build up in your home, even if there aren’t high levels of radon in your area.

So, what exactly is an unsafe radon level?

Let’s get technical for a moment. Radon is measured in pico Curies per Liter (pCi/L). While the average indoor radon level is 1.2 pCi/L, 4 pCi/L is the agreed upon risk level that necessitates radon remediation (the EPA recommends that homeowners even consider remediation if their levels are between 2-4 pCi/L).

What should I tell my buyers/sellers to do?

The EPA recommends that all houses be tested for radon levels during the point of sale. In most cases, the buyer will request the radon test results from the seller as part of the home inspection. Sellers, however, may conduct radon testing before listing their home for sale. In that case, the seller will reveal test levels on the house disclosure form.

So, what does radon testing look like?

During the real estate transaction, most buyers hire a certified radon measurement professional to perform the testing. There are two kinds of tests to measure radon levels in your home – short term tests, which take about 48 hours, and longer-term tests, which can take several months. Buyers/sellers should consult with their home inspector to determine what kind of test best suites their home and whether multiple tests will be required.

How often should a home be tested?

Pillar to Post recommends that homes are tested every two years.

Help! My client has high radon levels in their home – what should I tell them to do?

The good news is that radon reduction techniques work well. Your clients can choose from a number of ventilation techniques, which reduce the number of paths for radon to enter the home. Instruct your buyers/sellers to consult a radon measurement professional or their home inspector to figure out which technique will work best for their home.

Let’s talk pricing. Is it expensive?

The average cost of remediation is $1,200. All things considered, it’s not so bad, particularly when compared to how much it costs to repair other home systems. For example, new furnaces generally run between $2-5K.

Educate your clients with the message that you’ve learned above, and the old adage will ring true – better safe than sorry!

Have more questions about radon testing? Read more from the EPA here.

byJenna Weinerman

Annual Home Maintenance Breakdown

USEFUL RESOURCES

Yearly Home Upkeep

Just like you, your house and its many components get a year older every 12 months. Here are a few annual maintenance tasks that can help your home age gracefully:

  • Clean clothes dryer exhaust. Lint buildup can affect the dryer’s efficiency and may create a fire hazard. In fact, about 15,500 house fires are caused by clothes dryers each year. The National Park Service offers some interesting ideas on what to do with all the lint.
  • Lubricate garage door springs. Whether you have an opener or not, greasing your garage door springs can make it much easier to operate.
  • Drain hot water heater. Sediment that collects in the bottom of the heater can affect its longevity.
  • Look for signs of termites. A swarm of termites can lead to huge expenses. This termite primer from the EPA can help you spot them.
  • Clean septic tank. If your sewage collects in a tank, it should be inspected annually and emptied as needed. The average household needs a septic tank cleaning every two or three years.

Home Maintenance Every 2 – 5 Years

Several large maintenance issues pop up as your home approaches its fifth birthday. Fortunately, most of the issues are relatively inexpensive to handle and many are DIY-friendly.

  • Clean heat ducts. Accumulated dust and dirt may eventually restrict airflow and might even pose a health hazard. Call in a professional to clean the ducts, as well as repair or upgrade them if necessary. The Department of Energy offers a wealth of information on duct work.
  • Seal grout. Avoid stains and discoloration by adding a fresh coat of sealant to your bath and kitchen tile grout. This will also help ensure no water infiltration.
  • Get a termite inspection. You should look for evidence of termite damage to your home every year, but a professional inspection every few years can find hidden problems before they turn into major costs. Some companies offer free inspections.
  • Replace caulking around windows and doors. All caulking eventually gets too old to do its job effectively. Installing new material can help keep your home energy efficient.

Household Chores for Every 5 – 10 Years

As your home gets older, components often begin to wear out. Longevity is normally determined by frequency of use, but here are a few items that might need attention as your house reaches the end of its first decade:

  • Paint the exterior. If your home has wood siding, don’t wait until flaking starts to think about painting. If you’re not well-versed in painting, it’s probably best to hire a pro.
  • Install a new dishwasher. Consumer Reports says a dishwasher will last about 10 years. When looking for a new one, try out an Energy Star model to save both water and money.
  • Replace the kitchen sink. Steel sinks begin to show their age after five years of use and often must be replaced before reaching 10 years of service. This can be a DIY project if you have the right tools and the ability to work in tight places.
  • Replace the microwave. Microwaves often wear out after about nine years of use. Small counter-top models might have a shorter lifespan. The good news is that microwaves seem to get more affordable every year.

Long-Term Home Maintenance: Every 10 – 15 Years

Many of your home’s components need replacement every 15 years. Here are a few items that may need attention:

  • Replace the hot water heater. Gas and electric hot water heaters normally last 10 years or so. Replacing an electric unit can be a DIY project for handy homeowners, but gas models should always be installed by a professional. Use the Energy Star Product Finder to help you find your next unit.
  • Replace the garage door opener. Most garage door openers last 10 to 15 years depending on frequency of use. A new unit can often be installed by an experienced homeowner, but in many cases it might be best to hire a contractor.
  • Install a new refrigerator and range. Most refrigerators and ranges last in the neighborhood of 13 to 15 years. Installing electric models is normally just a matter of plugging them in, but gas ranges should always be installed by a qualified contractor.
  • Replace your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Even if your detectors seem to be working properly, err on the side of caution and replace them at the ten-year mark. It’s a small investment that could save your property or even your life.

Home Improvement Tasks Beyond 15 Years

At the 15 year mark there are several maintenance tasks that might be required that could put a hefty dent in your budget — but that’s why you’ve been saving money toward the cause each year! These components may need replacement to keep your house safe and energy efficient:

  • Check the roofing material. The life expectancy of a roof varies based on the type of materials. Many asphalt shingle roofs last from 20 to 30 years, but some higher quality materials can protect your home much longer. Check out this Consumer Reports buying guide for handy tips.
  • Replace exterior decks. Your local weather and how often sealant is applied can determine how long your home’s wooden deck remains safe and structurally sound. The average lifespan of a wooden deck is considered to be about 20 years. Some might look into home equity loans for this kind of home improvement.
  • Replace kitchen and bathroom faucets. It may be time to replace your kitchen and bath faucets when they’re about 15 years old. A handy homeowner should be able to handle the project if they have the right tools.
  • Install new HVAC units. The life expectancy of your home’s HVAC system components is largely determined by how they’re maintained. However, even units that have been properly serviced begin wearing out when they’re 15 to 20 years old — in some cases even sooner. New units should always be installed by a qualified professional. The Department of Energy can help you research the purchase of a new system.

KNOW THE FACTS

Termite damage sometimes appears similar to water damage. Outward signs of termite damage include buckling wood, swollen floors and ceilings, areas that appear to be suffering from slight water damage and visible mazes within walls or furniture. Termite infestations also can exude a scent similar to mildew or mold.
Average cost
Evidence

Years

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