There have been a few questions from readers that I thought I would share, because these come up every so often or they were unique: advice on refinancing; caulking as a bad thing; and home inspections.
I am glad when readers send in their questions. I have not really posted them here, because some are answered in other posts, or the response may not be enough for an entire post. The following three questions were posed to me recently and I thought they can help others.
What is your advice on refinancing?
As a home inspector, I am not much involved in this process, so I can only really comment on what my own experience is. I have been hired by lenders to create a report on the exterior of the home, mainly the roof. Lenders are more interested in the appraisal. You had an appraisal when you bought the home, so they may accept that one as being still valid. If not, they can require you to have a new appraisal. Why are the lenders asking for an appraisal or even an inspection? They want to know that there is no major problems. What you should know is that you can hire your own appraiser. The lender will charge you around $500 to have an appraisal, but you could find your own appraiser for less. My biggest piece of advice is know what you are agreeing to in the contract. For example, if the lender is willing to roll the cost of closing into the mortgage, they may also be charging you a fee for that service, which you will then be paying interest on with your monthly payments. Basically, the lender is looking for ways to make money for themselves. This is not a bad thing, but this situation does mean that you need to examine what is in your best interest.
Who can perform a home inspection, and when should they be preforming that inspection?
I have mentioned this answer in other posts, but this question does keep coming up.
A home inspection performed for the buying or selling of a property has to be performed by an individual who has been licensed to perform real estate inspections by the Texas Real Estate Commission; however, a buyer could hire a qualified electrician to examine the electrical system, or a plumber for the plumbing system. This professional cannot produce a home inspection report, but they can report on what they are qualified to examine. Some buyers may walk through with a general contractor, or even a knowledgeable friend, but again these people cannot produce an official report. The problem with looking at a home with a friend instead of a home inspection is that a seller may not be too willing to accept the finding.
Sometimes sellers are frustrated by the timing of a home inspection. When the home inspection takes place is actually an agreed upon event. The standard is that there is a ten day period when the buyer has to make any and all inspections that he desires. This ten day period is based upon when the buyer and seller come to an agreement for the purchase. The Realtors arrange for when the inspections will occur. This could mean an inspection on the weekend, which I have found sellers do not like, but buyers prefer. The weekend days do count towards that ten day period though. Can this ten day period be extended? Yes. Again, this can be part of the contract. What if the buyer has a home inspector for a cousin in a different city? If the buyer told the Realtor that this inspector can show up in fifteen days, the contract may reflect that period. The seller and the buyer have to realize what the agreement is. Hopefully, their Realtors would explain these facts. The period also may be extended if the separate parties agree to the extension after the original agreement.
Can you caulk the z-flashing above the window?
Caulk, caulk, and caulk. I do seem to mention caulking quite a bit on my reports, and I bet other home inspectors do too. This may lead homeowners to caulk in places where they should not. Above you window, you will want some type of flashing to divert the water that may be behind the siding. This means that the flashing is behind the siding, and then comes out over the top of the window. If the flashing is caulked where it comes out from the siding, the diverted moisture will stay behind the wall. This caulk should be removed. To properly caulk the window, you want to caulk where the window frame meets the wall or trim.
To check for possible damage without any special tools, you have two options. First, is looking at the interior and exterior walls around the top and sides of the window. Do you see stains? These can be from the moisture build-up behind the caulked flashing. Then press on the interior and exterior walls to see if you feel weakness. Press on other parts of the walls for comparison. If you feel weakness, there could be damage behind the wall. If you have a small awl, I would use it on the exterior trim. Pressing on the trim may reveal moisture, but the awl can tell you more. An awl will go into any wood with enough force, but if you can press into the trim with little force, then there may be moisture.
If you have a home inspector, ask them to check the are with a moisture meter. This is the simplest test that a home inspector should perform. A more expensive test is having an inspector with an infrared camera. This examination is quite useful, but I am not sure that the expense is always needed for the buyer.
You can use the the form on the question about your home page. I reply by the next morning.