Home Inspection Tips – Getting Reliable Radon Test Results

You can’t see or smell radon, but it could be in the home you’re buying, selling or building, and it poses a threat to your health. Therefore, it’s important to have a home inspector or other qualified professional test the home for radon levels to determine if repairs are needed that will reduce those levels.

How can you be sure to get reliable test results? First, the testing should be done on the lowest level of the home which is regularly occupied, such as a basement, play area, or area that may be used as a workshop. It’s also important to decide how long the test should take and when it will be done. A short term test requires a minimum of 48 hours. Interference to the testing should be kept to a minimum as well.

Special equipment is needed for radon testing. Your home inspector or other qualified professional radon tester will have equipment suitable for your particular situation. The office that deals with radon issues in the state where you live should have the latest information about the best equipment and methods for testing.

There are passive and active devices for radon testing. Passive devices do not need electricity. Such devices include charcoal canisters, alpha-track detectors, charcoal liquid scintillation devices, and electret ion chamber detectors. Each device must be exposed to the air in the home for a specified period of time, depending on the device’s requirements. They’re then sent to a lab for analysis.

Passive devices can be used for short term or long term testing. They’re generally inexpensive. They may also have features to help deter interference that could adversely affect test results.

Active testing devices require electricity to function. They include continuous radon monitors and continuous working level monitors, which measure and record the amount of radon or its decay products in the air over a period of time. Many of these devices provide a report that will reveal any unusual or abnormal swings in the radon level during the test period. A qualified tester can explain this report to you.

Some of these active devices are specifically designed to deter and detect test interference. There are some technically advanced active devices that offer anti-interference features. Although these tests may cost more, they may give you a more reliable result.

How can test interference be prevented? First, use a test device that frequently records radon or decay product levels to detect unusual swings. Use a motion detector to determine whether the test device has been moved or testing conditions have changed. Use a proximity detector to reveal whether people are in the room, since that could affect the results.

It’s also a good idea to Record the barometric pressure to identify weather conditions which may have affected the test. Also, record the temperature to help determine if doors or windows were opened. Your tester may apply tamper-proof seals to windows to ensure closed house conditions.

It would be a good idea to have the home seller or occupant to sign a non-interference agreement.

Your inspector or qualified radon tester should be knowledgeable about these and any other necessary precautions to make sure your radon test results are reliable.

Home Inspections – 9 Tips to Minimize Your Risk as a Buyer by Finding the Right Inspector

This article is written for buyers of real estate in California, but most of the tips are applicable to every state. The State of California and the California Department of Real Estate now strongly recommend that every buyer of property in the State have a professional home inspection.

1. What is a home inspection?

A home inspection examines the physical and operational condition of a property through visual means and through testing of plumbing fixtures, electrical systems, appliances and heating and air conditioning systems. Inspections include the roof, foundation, water drainage, walls, floors, windows, doors, and more. Home inspections do NOT include inspection for living organisms including mold and termites. However, most home inspectors will comment if they see evidence of water, mold, infestation and/or damage from any of those.

2. Are there inspection standards?

To quote the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) Standards of Practice, “A Real Estate inspection is a non-invasive physical examination designed to identify material defects in the systems, structures, and components of a buildings…” and, “A material defect is a condition that significantly affects the value, desirability, habitability, or safety of the building.” For the entire document see the CREIA Standards.

3. What is reported?

The inspection report itemizes each “material defect” that needs attention. Reports vary considerably. Some are complicated checklists and narratives without pictures. Others include full color pictures with captions explaining what is in the picture. Most buyers find reports with pictures are much more useful because they make defects clearer to the seller when you ask the seller to fix a defect. As you know, “a picture is worth a thousand words”.

4. Look for the latest InfraRed (IR) thermal imaging.

Every inspection should include measurements of electrical outlets with electricity monitors. Water pressure should be taken with a pressure meter. Temperature probes are used to be sure heaters and air conditioners are working properly. The latest technology is InfraRed (IR) thermal imaging. This is an invaluable tool that some inspectors are starting to use. It can show defects the human eye cannot, such as the presence of moisture in floors, walls and ceilings. It shows defects in insulation and leaks in air and heating systems. If you can find an inspection company offering IR thermal imaging, consider them first.

5. What about licensing and credentials?

Few people know that the State of California does neither control nor license home inspectors! So it is very important to investigate the qualifications of any inspector. Get references from the inspector or talk to agents who have worked with the inspector. Look for the inspector’s membership in industry organizations. Your inspector should adhere to the CREIA Standards of Practice mentioned earlier. Other organizations include the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors, NACHI (www.nachi.org), and the American Society of Home Inspectors, ASHI (www.ashi.org).

6. Be sure you know the background of the person actually doing the inspection.
Many good home inspectors are one man companies. Others are franchises with the inspector/owner running his local office. Others are companies that have many inspectors on payroll with varying amounts of experience. Any time you consider any company, be sure to get the qualifications of the one person assigned to your job.

7. Look for a guarantee in writing.

Unlike most other businesses, very few home inspectors fully guarantee their work. A good guarantee does not just offer your money back for the cost of an inspection, but actually pays to correct any defect that was missed by the inspector during an inspection. Don’t accept any verbal comments about guarantees. An inspection company with a real guarantee will have it in writing on their web site.

8. What should it cost?

The cost of a home inspection will vary greatly. A 1000 square foot condo will be lower in cost than a 3000 square foot home. Never make a decision on price alone. Saving $100 by going with the cheapest inspection can cost $1000s of dollars if something is missed.

9. How do I find the inspector’s credentials?

Look for an inspector with an informative web site. You should be able to see the inspector’s background, experience, qualifications, Certifications, sample report and customer references. Look for a guarantee, the details of which should be spelled out. Call the inspector and ask any questions you have.

Note: This article is copyrighted by the author but buyers and home inspectors are encouraged to copy and use this article as long as the author’s name and web site are kept with it.

Home Inspection Tips

In this day and age, most people realize the importance of getting a home inspection done prior to buying a property. By doing this, the prospective buyer has the peace of mind knowing exactly what kind of situation they are walking in to. This also allows them to make educated, not emotional, decisions when the choice of whether to buy or not buy needs to be made. You have already made up your mind to have the home inspection done but what now? Here are some helpful tips that will aid you along through the home inspection process.

First, you need to choose the right inspector for the job. This could, by far, be the most important thing you do. In order to get accurate and truthful information on your home inspection, it needs to come from a reliable source. When looking for an inspector to evaluate your property, you will want to choose one who is a trained professional and one that has a lot experience. It is important for them to be familiar to the regulations and guidelines that are native to your area. Beware of hiring an inspector that is not from your state or geographical area. Along with making sure they are licensed and insured, you will want to ask for references and then actually take the next step to check those references. It is vital to make sure you do your homework before you decide which home inspector to hire.

It is also suggested that you are present at the time of the home inspection. This will allow you to tag along with the inspector and really get to see your property through their eyes. Being a trained professional, they are taught to see past all the cosmetic features of your home and really see what lies beneath the surface and give you an unbiased point of view. Also, by being on site during the inspection, you are offered the opportunity to ask any questions that you might have about the process and even discuss the findings as they occur. By shadowing the inspector, you get to see your home in a whole new light.

After each inspection, the client will receive a comprehensive report that details, both good and bad, and outlines all the findings of the home inspection. These report should be in written form-do not accept a verbal report. Most reports include diagrams or even photographs of the areas of concern to thoroughly explain the situation. Be sure to have the inspector review the report with you so that they can address any questions you may have about their findings.

While the thought of a home inspection can be a little daunting, knowing what to expect can help ease you through the process. Remember, if you come across something that you aren’t sure about or it simply doesn’t make sense, just ask! The right home inspector will not have any problems answering your questions and putting your mind at ease.