Tucson Home Inspectors and Home Inspection companies vary greatly in the inspection and the report they will provide you. I’ve complied the following list to help home buyers identify some important factors they should consider when interviewing home inspectors in Tucson.
1. Is the inspector and the inspection company properly certified by the Arizona State Board of Technical Registration (AZ BTR). You can check their status by going to these links to the AZ BTR to search for Tucson Home Inspectors and Tucson Home Inspection Companies. There are some inspectors and inspection companies operating on revoked, delinquent, or inactive certifications. Other certifications like InterNACHI and ASHI are nice additional qualifications, but certification by the AZ BTR is a legal requirement.
2. Does the inspector go on the roof? While it is not required for a home inspector to go on the roof, a thorough inspector will always try if safe. There are some cases where it’s not possible or safe for an inspector to go on the roof. In that case, does the inspector use technology to inspect the roof (e.g. wi-fi pole camera, drone, etc.)?
3. How long does the inspector spend on site? One hour? Two hours? Three hours? Four hours? The time spent on-site is a good indication of how thorough the inspection and report are likely to be.
4. What’s in the report? Is it just a check list? Are there written descriptions? Will there be a lot of pictures? Will the pictures highlight the area in question and call out the location? The inspection report should be easy for a non-technical person to read and understand. Before hiring an inspector, ask to see a sample report.
5. Will the inspector do a walk-through with you after the inspection? Being able to go around the house with the inspector to discuss features and issues, and ask questions is extremely important.
Call Tanque Verde Home Inspections at 520-462-8844 to schedule your home inspection in Tucson, Marana, Oro Valley, Vail, and other surrounding areas.
How to Prepare for a Home Inspection?
The home inspection process is perhaps the most stressful part of a home sale for both buyers and sellers. The buyer has found a home they love and they want it to be as perfect as possible. The seller has already agreed to a sales price and doesn’t want to have to pay extra to fix things.
Here are some things the seller can do to help the home inspection process go more smoothly:
1. The emptier the better. Every inspector is hoping the house they’re inspecting is going to be vacant. It’s not always possible for the house to be vacant. However, you’re getting ready to move, so why not pack up some of that clutter. This makes it easier for an inspector to see and test more things.
2. Are the utilities on? Please double check that the utilities are on. Numerous times I’ve been to an inspection, where the seller has promised the buyer the utilities are on, only to arrive at the inspection to no water or gas. If the utilities aren’t on, the buyer may request that you pay for a reinspection. Now the money you thought you would save turning off the utilities just went to pay for the inspector to come back a second time. Instead of turning off the utilities, turn the water heater to vacation mode and turn off the heating or air conditioning. This will help save you money when the house isn’t occupied.
3. Attics and crawlspaces. You’re getting ready to move, so you might as well pull those boxes out of the attic. Additionally, make sure there is nothing blocking access panels to attics and crawlspaces.
4. Light bulbs. Be sure to replace any burned out or missing light bulbs. First of all, the extra light will help your house show better. Secondly, it’s something simple that would prevent it being called out as a possible deficiency by the home inspector.
5. If window screens are removed, but you still have them, please reinstall them.
6. Don’t try and conceal things. Just because there’s an issue, doesn’t mean you should try and hide it. Most likely the home inspector will catch it anyways. It’s better to either fix it professionally beforehand or just wait for the inspector to call it out and see how the buyer wants to respond. If there was an attempt to conceal something and the inspector finds it, the buyer will be more concerned about what else you’re concealing. This could cause the deal to fall through.
7. It can’t hurt to hire a handyman or other qualified professional to go through and fix some things for you. Things fixed professionally beforehand can help decrease deficiencies found by an inspector, which can help decrease the stress level for the buyer and the seller. If you are handy, it can be okay to fix some things yourself. Just make sure to do it safely and to a professional level, otherwise the inspector will call out an unprofessional repair suggesting a professional come out and fix it. Don’t pay for a repair twice.
8. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. This has the added bonus of helping your house show better, which can help it sell faster and for more money.
9. I’m sure you’re a great person, but it’s best if you aren’t at the inspection. Please give the home inspector, the buyer, and the buyer’s agent the freedom to inspect and talk freely. Additionally, I love pets, but it’s best if you take them with you while the inspection is happening. There will be people going in and out of the house and it can be hard to keep track of pets all the time.
For the buyer, I also have some advice.
1. Don’t expect the house to be perfect. Every house has problems, even new construction homes have issues.
2. Don’t panic when you see the number of deficiency items. The average range of deficiencies that I see are in the 40 to 60 range. The most “pristine” homes I find have around 30 deficiencies. I’ve inspected homes with more than 100 deficiencies. Just because there are deficiencies doesn’t mean you should walk away from the home. Some of these deficiencies can be super minor to fix or just need to be monitored. Rely on your realtor’s experience to help you respond to the seller.
3. It doesn’t hurt to ask. I had a buyer once walk from a house based on the HVAC company’s report on the condition of the air conditioner. When the buyer’s agent told this to the seller’s agent, the seller’s agent said the seller would have paid to replace the AC. If there’s something that is a deal breaker for you, don’t walk away. Include it as a request in the BINSR.
4. Attend the inspection. I always prefer to have you present at the home inspection. At the end of the inspection, I’ll take you on a tour of the home pointing out features and deficiencies of the home, and explain the “why’s” behind them. If you can’t be there, then perhaps we can do a video chat. And feel free to ask a lot of questions! The answer to everything is 42.
This week’s inspection highlight was a home built in the 1970’s, which had single strand or solid aluminum wiring.
In the mid-1960’s the price of copper increased, so the housing industry looked towards a more cost-effective replacement for electrical wiring in homes. Aluminum was chosen. Single Strand Aluminum was commonly used until the mid-1970’s when the deficiencies of aluminum versus copper were realized.
These deficiencies include:
- Aluminum expands and contracts with changes in temperature more so than copper. Over time this can cause connections to breakers, outlets, and switches to loosen. This could cause fire or shock hazards.
- Aluminum is more susceptible to weakening and breaking when bent or otherwise abused compared to copper.
- The surface of aluminum deteriorates (oxidizes) when exposed to oxygen. The resulting compound created by the oxidization is aluminum oxide, which is not very conductive. Over time the oxidization weakens connections and creates a fire hazard.
- Aluminum is more malleable than copper. When compressed, Aluminum can continue to change shape, which can lead to loose connections.
- There are more conditions, but I think you get the idea.
Is single strand aluminum wiring unsafe? Not necessarily. However, whenever a home inspector sees single strand aluminum wiring, a home inspector should call it out for further investigation by a licensed electrician. The electrician may ultimately say it is okay, but there are considerations or modifications the electrician may use to come to this decision. Some of these include:
- The electrical panel should be compatible with aluminum wiring.
- The breakers should be compatible with aluminum wiring.
- The outlets and switches should be compatible with aluminum wiring.
- The electrician may recommend:
- Adding anti-oxidant paste to the aluminum wiring.
- Rewiring the house with copper wiring (expensive, but the best solution).
- Adding COPALUM crimps, which is a special connector that adapts the aluminum wire to a copper wire that is then attached to the breaker, outlet, or switch. (still expensive, but less so than rewiring the house).
- There are more possible modifications, but these are considered the best.
A final point to remember regarding solid single strand aluminum wiring is that some insurance companies may not cover you in the event of a fire due to aluminum wiring. Be sure to check with your insurance company to may sure you are covered.
To schedule a home inspection in Tucson, Marana, Oro Valley, Vail, and other parts of the Tucson metro area, contact Tanque Verde Home Inspections at 520-462-8844.
Today on an inspection, I came across something that I find in about 10% of my inspections. That is the breaker is over sized for the wire/conductor gauge that is connected to it.
In this case, the breaker was a 20 amp breaker with 14 gauge wire. Typically, a 15 amp breaker would be used with 14 gauge wire and a 20 amp breaker would use 12 gauge wire.
Why is this an issue?
14 gauge wire is designed to carry a certain current. If that current gets too high, the 15 amp breaker detects too much current and it trips, thus protecting the wire from overheating. If a 20 amp breaker is used instead, the breaker is rated for a higher current, so it doesn’t trip until potentially that wire overheats and starts a fire in the house or causes damage to the home’s electrical system.
Here are the proper wire/conductor gauges (copper, not aluminum) for the more common breaker sizes:
- 14 AWG for 15 Amp Breakers
- 12 AWG for 20 Amp Breakers
- 10 AWG for 30 Amp Breakers
- 8 AWG for 40 Amp Breakers
- 6 AWG for 50 Amp Breakers
In this case, a licensed electrician should be called to investigate and make repairs if deemed necessary by the electrician.
This information is for informational purposes only. It is NEVER recommended for a home owner to remove the dead front cover from the electrical service panel. Removing the dead front cover can lead to serious injury or death (hence the name dead front cover, if you remove the front cover you’re dead). Always hire a licensed electrician for work or investigations inside the electrical panel.
Many potential home sellers don’t do a pre-listing home inspection. Why should a home seller do a pre-listing home inspection prior to listing their home for sale? If you don’t, here’s a possible scenario:
Say you are planning to list your home for $300K and you want to walk away with $275K or more before real estate agent fees.
You negotiate an offer on your home for $280K, so you are $5K ahead of where you wanted to be. Great!
Then the home buyer has their home inspection done. Maybe the home inspector finds the roof needs work and the HVAC system is at the end of its serviceable life. The buyer responds back they want you to do $10K worth of work or a provide a credit. Now you are potentially $5K under where you wanted to be.
If you had used a home inspector for a pre-listing home inspection, these items could have been found and you could have had the following choices before listing your home:
- Increase the listing price of the house by $10K or $15K, giving you more negotiating room.
- Keep the listing price at $300K, but do not accept a price that will take you below your desired walk price, if repairs/credit are asked for (e.g. $290K instead of $280K)
- Have the repairs done beforehand, list the price of the house $10K higher to compensate for the repairs, and use them as marketing benefits (e.g. new roof or new AC). A potential buyer seeing the house has a new roof or a new AC would likely see the value in these points.
If you opt to have the repairs done beforehand, when the home buyer has their home inspection done, the buyer’s home inspection may find some issues, but the major (and costly) issues should already be known. Now you, the seller, are happier because you walked away with your expected amount, but the buyer is also happier that they are buying a home with fewer issues since they were resolved before the listing.
Call Tanque Verde Home Inspections at 520-462-8844 or visit our website to schedule your home inspection.
Recently I did an inspection on a home built in the 1950’s. With pre-1980 and pre-1960 construction there are various items that a home inspector will be extra observant for. In this particular inspection I came across a Federal Pacific Stab Lok electrical panel and breaker system.
Federal Pacific was a very common panel and breaker manufacturer in the 1950’s until the 1980’s. Another panel and breaker manufacturer known as Zinsco was common in the 1970’s. There were class action lawsuits against Federal Pacific and Zinsco due to fire safety issues.
The concern for Federal Pacific was that even in the off position, the breakers were known to “trip”, but could still be sending power to the house wiring, switches, and receptacles. This presented a risk of electrocution or fire.
Zinsco breakers were known not to “trip” as designed and melt circuits and cause fires due to excessive heat. Zinsco panels might also be labeled as “Sylvania” or “GTE Sylvania”
As a home inspector, it is our responsibility to the home buyer to call this out as a potential defect that should be evaluated by a qualified licensed electrical contractor. The electrical contractor may or may not recommend replacement of the panel and breakers, but for the safety of the home buyer a responsible home inspector should call this out.
What is the difference between Arizona State certification, InterNACHI certification, and ASHI certification? I’ve had this question asked of me by some real estate agents, so I thought I would clarify the differences.
Only about half the states in the US regulate home inspectors. Fortunately, Arizona is one of the states that does regulate home inspectors. The Arizona State certification is based upon the ASHI Standards of Practice (SOP) and the ASHI Code of Ethics.
Because so many states don’t regulate home inspectors, professional organizations like NACHI (National Association of Certified Home Inspectors) aka InterNACHI and ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors), created their own certifications to help “regulate” and educate inspectors in the non-regulated states.
Being part of a professional organization such as NACHI or ASHI can still be beneficial for the inspector and the community as a whole, even when the inspector is in a regulated state. From my perspective, NACHI focuses on the development and support of the inspector (i.e. on-going education, community support groups), while ASHI focuses more on the regulatory side of the business. Both are great organizations focused on protecting home buyers and elevating the home inspection profession as a hole.
I personally chose to join NACHI. Is NACHI better than ASHI or vice versa? Some inspectors might say one is better, but I say they are both good organizations. For the home buyer or the real estate agent, in my opinion, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the home inspector is certified by the State of Arizona’s Board of Technical Registration, which TVHI is also certified by.
On a recent inspection in an attic, I came across a truss chord that had been sistered with another piece of lumber as a repair. This can be a legitimate repair, however, there was no evidence of an engineer’s label showing that the repair is legitimate.
A truss is an engineered type of roof system designed to handle loads (i.e. roofing, snow (not much of that in Tucson), AC units, etc.), which then distributes those loads to the load bearing walls of the home. Any modifications to a truss (notches, holes, etc.) can reduce the truss’ ability to carry the load it was engineered for.
Therefore, for the integrity of the home and the safety of its inhabitants, a truss should never be modified except with the approval of a qualified engineer and the work of a licensed contractor. That approval should include a label with the engineer’s signature that is then attached to the modified truss to indicate to others in the future (like a home inspector), that the modification has been properly done.
My answer would be a resounding YES. When buying an “As Is” property, you might go in expecting to do some repairs and renovations that might cost you $10K. What if that number ended up being $20K or $30K? Would you still buy that house or negotiate a better deal? A home inspection can help you uncover unexpected things that could cost you more money than you anticipated. Call Tanque Verde Home Inspections at 520-462-8844 to schedule your home inspection.
Years ago I moved cross-country. I immediately started to have some concerns about the mover I selected, so I started doing some online research. I found a US Government website https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/protect-your-move. Most of the red flags the government site lists were present with the mover I selected. I immediately called to cancel and my concerns were further validated by their attitude. Here are a few key points to look out for:
- The moving company does not give an on-site quote. Think about it, how can they give you a quote if they don’t know how much you are moving. They have to see it in person.
- The mover requires a deposit. They have all of your belongings. If you don’t pay at delivery, you don’t get your belongings. Why require a deposit?
- The mover doesn’t provide a written estimate. You: “but you said it would be $4000”, the mover “no I said $14000”.
- The mover says they’ll determine the charges after loading. They now have all of your belongings and you are at their mercy.
- When the mover shows up they say you have more belongings than is typical. This goes back to why the first point is so important.
Before you do anything with any moving company check the website above and reviews of the company. The website has a search for the mover’s DOT number in addition to other information. Unfortunately the moving industry is plagued by scammers. There are some good companies out there, just be sure to do your research first.