From the outside, the Fairfax County home looked brand-new. Even after entering the home, Hollis Brown was impressed with the visible condition of the first floor. His impression changed dramatically, though, when he discovered mold growing on a load-bearing floor joist in the basement of the $1,000,000 home.
Mr. Brown says it was a “black-looking growth.” It looked as if the first-floor had been salvaged after a fire and firefighters had washed the soot down into the basement.
“In the end,” says Mr. Brown, a long-time home inspector, “there were 10 pages of items listed, including an improperly installed water heater and $100,000 worth of work to be done even without dealing with the mold in the basement.”
Buying or maintaining a healthy home can be daunting for someone who doesn’t know what to look for, says Kensington-based home inspector Kevin Richardson.
“Typically, in an average 2,000-square-foot home, there are 500 to 700 individual items that are checked in a home inspection,” Mr. Richardson says.
The sample home inspection report on the Richardson Home Inspections LLC Web site (www.richnspect.com) runs 33 pages and includes a comprehensive review of a home’s exterior and interior components, including heating, plumbing and electrical systems.
Home buyers can look for several potential problems to ensure they are buying a healthy home.
Home inspector Steve Atkinson says the age of the home has a great deal to do with the potential problems that should be considered.
“It largely depends on how old the home is,” says Mr. Atkinson, owner and operator of Ashburn, Va.-based Heartland Home Inspections (www.heartlandhomeinspections-usa.com).
He says, for example that electrical systems in many older homes have aluminum wiring that should be replaced.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that home wiring done between 1965 and 1973, including in new homes and additions, may contain aluminum wiring. The commission reports that corrosion of such wiring impedes the flow of electricity, resulting in dangerous overheating.
Homes built between the 1930s and 1950 may have asbestos insulation, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Moreover, the agency reports that until the 1970s, many types of building products and insulation materials used in homes contained asbestos, including roofing and shingles, hot water and steam pipe insulation, vinyl flooring, and oil and coal furnaces.
On its asbestos Web site (www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/help.html), the EPA says the best thing to do is to leave the asbestos material alone if it is in good condition, as “material in good condition” will not release asbestos fibers associated with increased risks of lung cancer.
Before 1978, lead-based paints were used in many homes. The EPA encourages careful maintenance and removal of lead-based paints, as “lead from paint, chips, and dust can pose serious health hazards if not taken care of properly.”
The agency has a great deal of information regarding lead-based paints on its Web site (www.epa.gov/lead/index.html), including federal requirements that sales contracts include a lead-based paint disclosure.View Entire Story
'Your papers, please' must never be heard in America
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Reviews, insights and commentary from an eclectic observer.
Join the Communities. We want to hear from you.
How does our 50th state view D.C. politics?
Life lessons, adventures, people places and observations as I undertake my personal quest to travel to 100 or more countries before I die.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall