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Log Home Inspections

  When inspecting a log house, there are some special key characteristics that are unique to log houses that require close scrutiny. I have outlined some of them below to help on an initial visit when considering purchasing a log home: 1. What is the general condition of the logs? Deferred maintenance can lead to trouble for any home, but especially log homes.   Generally, log homes require staining frequently to prevent deterioration. The frequency is dependent on the quality of the stain and the exposure of the log walls.   Then there is the question of whether the stain on the logs is latex or oil based.   Oil based stains tend to last longer, but latex stains are being engineered better as time goes on.   The worst thing that anyone can do to a log wall is apply paint to the outside.   Solid color stains are difficult sometimes to tell from paint on the initial inspection.   The reason you want to avoid paint is that logs, being cellulose like cotton, have a natural “moisture r
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Warning Signs That Your New House Might Be A Money Pit

  1. Moldy smells..Mold is everywhere, but when water leaks occur, mold can become a serious problem.  Mold can be present in crawl spaces and can cycle to dormant during dry periods and come back during high humidity and warmer months.  Sometimes sellers will surface clean an area thinking they have removed the mold, but often mold is hidden and will come back when moisture is re-introduced. 2. Burning smells…Some burning smells are harmless, but others can be electrical problems.  3. Water stains, rust and damaged finishes. You may have plumbing, roof or basement issues that need to be addressed soon before more damage occurs. 4. Gutters missing or spilling…We live in a “temperate rainforest”. Needless to say, water control is vital to the longevity of any house in our area. Failure to keep a home high and dry can result in a host of water related problems. 5. Strange sewer smells in the yard…Septic failure can happen anytime.  You should always ask the owner when the sep
  Is Venting A Crawl Space Needed?   Traditional crawl spaces have typically been built over a dirt floor with ventilation air from foundation perimeter vents.   Recent building science studies conducted by various institutions including the University of Tennessee challenge this old way of thinking and indicate that we need to rethink traditional methods of building related to venting a crawl space.   As a Home Inspector, Home Energy Rater and Building Scientist I have witnessed many problems that moisture in crawl spaces can cause including condensation, wood rot, mold, buckling hardwood floors, smelly moldy carpets, mold in the attic, sticking doors and windows, dust mites and wood destroying organism/insect activity. I have often thought that crawl spaces are the most neglected areas of homes, and for good reason. After all, who wants to crawl into a moist, insect and rodent filled area?   In fact, most homeowners don't go there, shut it out of their minds and never thi

What does (or should) a Tennessee Home Inspection Include?

  There are several standards that home inspector’s follow, but the absolute minimum that they must follow is the TN State Home Inspection Standard found at : If the Inspector is a Member of ASHI, they voluntarily also follow a stricter standard found at: If the Inspector is a member of InterNACHI, in addition to the State Standard, they follow the following:   The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) also publishes a Code of Ethics in addition to the Standards of Practice that outlines what home inspectors should do, and should not do in regard to professionalism, conflicts of interest, good faith and public perception. That Standard is available at: In general, the home ins

The Real Reasons Home Inspections Kill Deals

Often I hear real estate agents complain that they have worked weeks, months, even years with a client only to have “their” deal killed by the home inspection or the home inspector. Statistics show that 15-25% of sales do not go through after a home inspection. So are home inspectors at fault, or, are there are other issues that led to the terminated contract? I want to look into all these issues more closely and offer possible solutions. As a licensed home inspector who has worked with countless real estate agents in the past 27 years, I know there are several things that can lead to a canceled sale. Some home inspectors can be overzealous, especially new inspectors who may have expertise in one aspect of home construction, but lacks experience in others. For example, a former HVAC technician who became a home inspector, would be more critical of HVAC installations, or a former roofing contractor more critical of roof details, etc. Sometimes, an overzealous inspection can be rel

Why Real Estate Agents Should Refer “ACI” ASHI Inspectors vs. A “Board Certified Master Inspector” From NACHI

Sunday, February 9th, 2014  I hope to clear up some confusion about what a true certification as a home inspector is versus one that is more “marketing hype”.  As real estate agents, you want to present the most professional image to your clients and the public.  As part of that image, you want to surround yourself with reputable and reliable referral sources who are bonafide experts in their respective fields.  ASHI Home Inspectors are the “Gold Standard” in home inspectors and the  “ACI”  is the highest level of certification available to home inspectors.  The “Board Certified Master Inspector” certification may sound impressive, but it is little more than a paid for certification.  There are no stringent requirements, only you pay a fee and claim you meet minimal requirements.  The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is the only home inspector organization that has a certification that is approved by The National Commission For Certifying Agencies.  This is a recognized

How To Stop Squirrels from Chewing a Log Home

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014  My wife and I live in a log home we built in Eastern Tennessee 20 years ago.  About 8 years ago, I noticed chew marks on the outside corners of my log ends and wandered what animal was doing it and why?  My dog was much too old and not aggressive enough to chase squirrels.  Then, one day I heard something chewing on the back deck, looked out, and to my surprise it was a squirrel!  Being a Builder, Home Inspector and Building Inspector in the log home mecca of Sevier County, TN; and just having a nerdy interested in such things, I did some research, asked around, and compiled a strategy to deal with the problem. I like natural solutions that deal with these type problems because I do not want to harm the environment.  I live here too!  One pest control operator I spoke with said the squirrels are chewing to get at the salt in the wood.  (This makes sense because I used a borate solution on my logs prior to staining to deter wood boring insects.)  So,