So you’ve listed your home, found a buyer, and accepted a purchase price. The sale of your house is almost a done deal, but it’s not quite time to pack the moving boxes yet – you still have to make it through the home inspection.
In a typical real estate transaction, the home inspection occurs after the buyer has signed a purchase agreement and before the final closing date. Most home buyers choose to make the closing contingent on the results of the home inspection, meaning that they can back out of the sale if the inspector finds something that is not to their liking and the seller is unwilling to repair it or lower the purchase price to account for it. As a seller, you’re going to want the home inspection to go as smoothly as possible, with little to no major issues detected.
But first: What does a home inspector do? During the inspection, properties are examined top to bottom, with emphasis placed on evaluating the roof, walls, foundation, plumbing system, electrical system, and HVAC system. Inspectors will also check for the operational ability of installed systems, such as garbage disposals and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as for leaks, mold, mildew, and other signs of water damage.
As a seller, it’s common to get nervous during the home inspection process. You don’t want the deal to fall through, nor do you want to be stuck with the cost and burden of repairs if your buyer requests them as a contingency. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prepare for the inspection.
The average home inspection costs around $315, with condos and small homes under 1,000 sq ft. costing as little asHow much does a home inspection cost? According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a typical home inspection costs $300 to $500. In most cases, it's well worth it for buyers to hire a home inspector.Home inspections, for you first-time home buyers out there, are a way to vet a home before you buy it. Let's face it: Buying a home is a huge investment—and you can't exactly read Amazon reviews to get a sense of any problems that might crop up after you've plunked down your money for the purchase price.
Home inspections are an important step in the home-buying process. As a buyer, your lender may not require you to get a third-party inspection in order to qualify for a loan. But most real estate agents recommend you get an inspection, for your own protection. You may be required to pay the home inspection fee at the time of service, or it may be included in your closing costs.
Here are nine ways to curb moisture indoors, and the mold that thrives on it.
1. Identify problem areas in your home and correct them. You can't mold-proof your home, but you can make it mold-resistant. Do an audit of your home: where are the problem areas? Does the basement flood? Do you notice frequent condensation on an upstairs window? Is there a water stain on the ceiling from a persistent leak? Preventing mold from growing or spreading might be as simple as ripping up carpet in a damp basement, installing mold-resistant products, or repairing damaged gutters. Or it may be a matter of major excavation and waterproofing. Whatever the case, address the problem now. It might cost some money up front, but it will surely be more costly down the road if mold continues to grow unchecked.
2. Dry wet areas immediately. Mold can't grow without moisture, so tackle wet areas right away. Seepage into the basement after a heavy rainfall, accumulation from a leaky pipe, even a spill on the carpet should be dried within 24 to 48 hours. If you've experienced a flood, remove water-damaged carpets, bedding, and furniture if they can't be completely dried. Even everyday occurrences need attention: don't leave wet items lying around the house, and make sure to dry the floor and walls after a shower. Don't leave wet clothes in the washing machine, where mold can spread quickly. Hang them to dry — preferably outside or in areas with good air circulation.
3. Prevent moisture with proper ventilation. It may be that your routine domestic activities are encouraging the growth of mold in your home. Make sure an activity as simple as cooking dinner, taking a shower, or doing a load of laundry doesn't invite mold by providing proper ventilation in your bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and any other high-moisture area. Vent appliances that produce moisture — clothes dryers, stoves — to the outside (not the attic). Use AC units and dehumidifiers (especially in humid climates), but make sure they don’t produce moisture themselves by checking them periodically and cleaning them as directed by the manufacturer. Your energy-efficient home may be holding moisture inside, so open a window when cooking or washing dishes or showering, or run an exhaust fan.
4. Equip your home with mold-resistant products. Building a new home or renovating an old one? Use mold-resistant products like mold-resistant drywall or mold-resistant Sheetrock, and mold inhibitors for paints. Traditional drywall is composed of a gypsum plaster core pressed between plies of paper. Mold-resistant drywall is paperless — the gypsum core is covered in fiberglass, making the surface highly water-resistant. Moisture-resistant drywall is especially valuable in areas prone to wetness, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, and kitchens. Not only is traditional drywall more susceptible to mold than the paperless kind, but it is also difficult to rid of mold, and removal and replacement can be expensive. Mold-resistant gypsum board is also available; the core of the drywall is developed in such a way to prevent moisture absorption, and thus prevent mold growth.
5. Monitor humidity indoors. The EPA recommends keeping indoor humidity between 30 and 60 percent. You can measure humidity with a moisture meter purchased from your local hardware store. You'll also be able to detect high humidity by simply paying attention to potential problem areas in your home. Telltale signs of excessive humidity include condensation on windows, pipes, and walls. If you notice condensation, dry the surface immediately and address the source of moisture (for example, turn off a humidifier if water appears on the inside of nearby windows).
6. Direct water away from your home. If the ground around your home isn't sufficiently sloped away from the foundation, water may collect there and seep into your crawlspace or basement.
7. Clean or repair roof gutters. A mold problem might be a simple matter of a roof that is leaking because of full or damaged gutters. Have your roof gutters cleaned regularly and inspected for damage. Repair them as necessary, and keep an eye out for water stains after storms that may indicate a leak.
8. Improve air flow in your home. According to the EPA, as temperatures drop, the air is able to hold less moisture. Without good air flow in your home, that excess moisture may appear on your walls, windows and floors. To increase circulation, open doors between rooms, move furniture away from walls, and open doors to closets that may be colder than the rooms they’re in. Let fresh air in to reduce moisture and keep mold at bay.
9. Keep mold off household plants. They're beautiful and help keep your indoor air clean — and mold loves them. The moist soil in indoor plants is a perfect breeding ground for mold, which may then spread to other areas of your house. Instead of getting rid of your plants, try adding a bit of Taheebo tea to the water you give to your houseplants. The oil of this tree, which withstands fungi even in rain forests, helps hinder mold growth in plant soil and can be found at natural food stores.
Finally, educate yourself on your region's climate — be it the cold and wet Northeast, the hot and wet South, the hot and dry Southwest, or the cold and dry West — and how it responds to moisture. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to mold prevention. Knowing what works for your climate and your home is an important first step.
For more info on mold prevention, check out this article from Mother Nature Network: Moisture-resistant building products
Installing smoke alarmsTesting smoke alarmsInterconnected smoke alarms increase safetyIn a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) survey of households with any fires, including fires in which the fire department was not called, interconnected smoke alarms were more likely to operate and alert occupants to a fire. People may know about a fire without hearing a smoke alarm.
1 Michael A. Greene and Craig Andres. 2004-2005 National Sample Survey of Unreported Residential Fires. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, July 2009.
It is important for anyone interested in buying and selling a home to know that almost all real estate transactions can be saved when mold is discovered. Buying and selling a home with mold is not only possible, it is often far easier and cheaper to resolve than most people realize.
There are really two primary concerns for both buyers and sellers of homes regarding mold:
1. Health effects of mold
2. Cost to fix the mold problem
Top 5 Electrical Repair Problems in Older Residences
1. Damaged WiringWiring eventually deteriorates from years of use. Unlike copper, aluminum wiring expands and shrinks in response to hot and cold temperatures. It also oxidizes and corrodes, causing it to overheat and potentially start a fire. Old or improperly installed wiring creates numerous problems in addition to fires, including sparking and hot outlets, so get yours inspected and replaced.
2. Dead OutletsDead outlets are sometimes due to tripped circuit breakers; however, resetting the breaker may not be enough. If your outlets are still dead, you are looking at loose or burned-out connections. Burned-out outlets typically feature black scorch marks. Call your local electrician to repair the outlets, especially since your older home may feature more than one electrical panel. Shutting down the wrong outlet’s panel may result in shocks.
3. Flickering LightsA loose or defective bulb will cause a light to flicker and dim, but the problem may be more serious. Old, weakened electrical connections cause this electrical repair issue and increase the risk of fire. If your home features aluminum and copper wiring held together with the wrong connectors, they will corrode and cause flickering problems. Unless a loose or defective bulb is the cause, contact your electrician immediately to identify the issue.
4. Tripped Circuit BreakersFrequent circuit breaker tripping means your home’s power boards are overloaded. Request electrical services to ensure your home’s wiring is capable of handling daily fixture and appliance use. Your electrician will also provide tips for preventing circuit overloads, such as unplugging devices not in use.
5. Frequent Bulb BurnoutsIf the bulbs in your home burn out quickly, it may be due to excessively high wattage. It could also be because of faulty wiring, such as bad circuit wiring.
An estimated two million homes and mobile homes have been constructed using aluminum wiring since 1965. This means that there are two million homes that need to have a watchful eye for potential disaster due to the dangers associated with aluminum wiring. This kind of wire, though cheaper than the copper alternative, is connected with a number of house fires due to its ability to overheat easily.