Category Archives: About Radon

what is radon? how was it discovered? how it effects your health? … and more

Radon – The Invisible Killer

Radon is a colorless, tasteless, naturally occurring radioactive gas found in soil and rock that is a by-product of decaying uranium. You might be thinking, I’ve heard of uranium, don’t they make bombs from that? Well, yes they do, but uranium occurs naturally in rocks all around the globe. Some areas have a natural propensity to have higher concentrations of uranium than others.

Why radon is dangerous

We are all walking around with a bit of radiation in our bodies, and radon is by far the largest contributor to a person’s overall amount of radiation they are carrying around. Breathing high doses of radon has been scientifically proven to cause lung cancer. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, radon could be the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking causing 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States. Radon-induced lung cancer ranks as the 6th leading cause of cancer deaths overall. Other forms of cancer may be related to radon exposure. Studies are underway to see if there exists a relationship between radon exposure and leukemia.

Where radon is

Remember radon gas is formed as a by-product of soil containing granite or shale (the two of which carry larger than average amounts of uranium). But we’re talking very small amounts. On average, every square mile of surface soil, to a depth of 6 inches, contains only 1 gram of radium which is responsible for releasing radon into the atmosphere. Worldwide, the amount of radon varies greatly and is variable within a given region and even from room to room in a house.

Is radon in my home?

Radon exits the ground and can seep into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation. Radon gas can also contaminate well water. We know that radon concentrations are usually higher in areas near major fault lines so in Southern California we should be aware and take the proper precautions.

Knowing the characteristics of radon gas should help protect you and your family from exposure. First, radon gas being heavier than air tends to settle in low lying areas. With adequate ventilation, radon gas cannot become concentrated to a level to cause harm. On the other hand, in enclosed areas such as inside buildings, basements and crawl spaces, radon gas levels can become harmful. Second, if you smoke, stop! The effects of radon exposure in people that smoke is synergistic; i.e. the effect of smoking coupled with higher than average levels of radon exposure is greater than the sum of the two parts measured separately.

The EPA claims that 1 in 15 U.S. homes has radon levels above the recommended guideline. Their guideline of what is acceptable is roughly equivalent to receiving 200 chest x-rays over one’s lifetime. Their current recommendation (and that of the US Surgeon General) is that all homes be monitored for radon levels.

How to test for radon

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Home kits are available in most home centers but it is claimed that their results might not be reliable. A better option would be to hire a professional home inspector with experience in radon testing. Professional tests are reliable in determining if your home has areas in it where radon levels are above the threshold set forth by the EPA. The tests are non-invasive and begin by placing a measurement device near the floor on the lower level of the home. Additional tests may be recommended by the inspector if you have any granite surfaces in your home, like a kitchen countertop. Other than placing the collection devices where recommended, nothing is done. There are some specific instructions that you must follow regarding the testing site(s) like keeping the windows and doors shut as much as possible. Testing may have to be postponed if your area is experiencing high winds or a pending storm, or if humidity levels are high (all of which may adversely affect the test results).

The inspector will return in 2-7 days to collect the devices after which time they are sent to a lab for analysis. Results are usually available shortly thereafter.

How to remove radon

The EPA recommends you use mitigation (control) techniques to reduce indoor radon if levels in your home are above the recommended threshold. Mitigation methods include adding positive pressure ventilation in your home which effectively creates a pressure differential (higher pressure in your home, gas cannot flow in). Sealing all floor penetrations to help prevent the gas from seeping into your home from below is also a good idea. Be advised that ventilating your basement or crawl space IS NOT RECOMMENDED as some people suggest. This flawed mitigation technique practiced by many companies could have the adverse effect of bringing more radon gas in which naturally exists outside the footprint of your home’s foundation.

Homebuyers: be sure to read this

If you are in the process of purchasing a home ask your Realtor to include a radon contingency in your offer to purchase. This clause states the maximum level of radon that is acceptable to you and your family. Afterwards, hire a company to survey the home for radon gas levels. Radon testing is offered by most professional home inspection companies so be sure to ask this question when interviewing home inspectors in your area. If radon levels are found to be above the levels set by you in your contingency, this clause will afford you the right to back out of the contract without penalty.

Facts to remember about radon gas

  • Just because your next door neighbor’s house has tested high for radon gas does not mean your home is at risk.
  • Houses with basements are not at a higher risk for radon than houses without basements.
  • Radon levels vary region to region, and even from house to house on the same street.

This article is free to copy and use on your website or other publication providing the information below is included in your article.

Darin Redding is owner of Housecall Property Inspections, a professional San Diego Home Inspection company. Original Article Source: Radon San Diego

Author: Darin Redding
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Maine Mortgage – What to Expect When Buying a Home in Maine

Maybe you’re buying your first home in Maine, or perhaps you’re relocating to Maine from another state. Either way, it’s important that you educate yourself on Maine home loans before shopping for a home and mortgage. This article explains what you’ll need to know before buying a home in Maine:

The median price of a home in Maine is $98,700. Recently, homes in Maine have been appreciating at rates comparable to the national average. However, in some parts of Maine, appreciation rates are at an all time high. As a result, income levels in many parts of Maine are too low to purchase a median-priced home with a conventional loan. In fact, homeowners in many Maine cities pay more than the recommended 30% of their incomes toward housing.

The state of Maine does not regulate home radon levels. This means that home buyers must test for radon levels in the home they are purchasing and decide for themselves how much radon is acceptable in their home. Additionally, Maine has certain state environmental laws that are used to upkeep Maine’s shoreline.

Maine law prohibits prepayment penalties and reduced rate options on adjustable-rate mortgages and fixed-period adjustable-rate mortgages. Fixed-period adjustable rate mortgages are only allowed in the state of Maine if the start rate is below the indexed rate at loan closing.

Maine’s Truth-In-Lending law is an anti-predatory lending law that prohibits high-rate high-fee mortgages from charging defaults in excess of 5% of the default amount and limits the fees that may be charged during multiple refinancing, deferrals, and extensions of these mortgages. The Bureau of Financial Institutions and Office of Consumer Credit Regulation preside over lenders that issue high-rate high-fee mortgages.

Jessica Elliott recommends that you visit Mortgage Lenders for more information about Maine Mortgage Rates and Loans.

Author: Jessica Elliott
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Lung Disease: What Is It and how Can You Prevent It

Did you know about 35 million Americans are suffering from one kind of lung disease or the other? Did you know that lung infections are believed to be one of the most important causes for infant mortality in America? Probably you also did not know that diseases related to lung claim one in seven lives every year. Well, it is an alarming statistics, isn’t it? But what does a lung disease mean? Precisely, Lung disease refers to any kind of disorder in which the functions of respiratory system get affected and impaired and this impairment manifest in several ways, such as, troubled breathing, nagging cough, short of breath, pain or uneasiness in the chest, inability of taking up physical labor and likes.

The medical science divides all kinds of lung diseases into two broad categories: Obstructive lung diseases and Restrictive lung diseases.

In obstructive lung diseases, the airways get narrowed or blocked and the result is a decrease in exhaled air flow. The disorders like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), emphysema, asthma, and bronchiectasis are cause by such obstructions of lungs.

Restrictive Lung Diseases result into either loss of lung tissue or decrease in the lung’s ability to expand. It may also decrease lung’s ability to transfer oxygen or carbon dioxide into the bloodstream. The killer disease of lung cancer is a kind of restrictive lung disease. Pulmonary fibrosis and pneumonia are also caused by the same lung disorder.

Probably lung cancer is the most common form of ling diseases that the people are more familiar with. Another commonly found diseases among Americans–asthma– is also a kind of lung disorder. Tuberculosis is also the result of bad lungs. Then you might have heard of such diseases like Cystic Fibrosis, Emphysema or Mesothelioma…they all are the manifestation of some kind of lung disorders.

Are you a heavy smoker? Well, you run the maximum risk of developing lung disease. What did you tell, you don’t smoke? Well this is not adequate; you have to stay clear of the smokers, for it is the passive smokers who are at higher risk than the smokers themselves to develop some kind of lung disease, even cancer. Make it a point to request a smoker to enjoy his cigarette in a secluded place so that the others are not forced to inhale second hand smoke.

Then if you work in mines or somehow exposed to radon gas, you run the risk of developing a bad lungs. In the USA, radon is sometimes found in the households also and so it is important for everybody to invest in a kit for measuring the concentration of radon at your home and take the steps accordingly.

If you are working in the sectors which use asbestos, you are required by the Federal Law to use protective gears including a face mask. The same is necessary if you are constantly exposed to dust or harmful chemical fumes, for these also considerably damage your lungs in the long run.

Last of all, the medical authorities always recommend a healthy diet for preventing lung cancer. A diet consisting lots of anti- oxidant rich fresh fruits and vegetables, considerably reduces the risks of cancer. Also go for regular Spirometry testing to make sure that your precious lungs are in perfect shape.

Barney Garcia writes about various lung diseases. Visit: Help Lung Cancer [] and Help Lung Disease [] for more lung cancer and lung disease information.

Author: Barney Garcia
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Important Facts About Lung Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is still one of the most prevalent forms of cancer today. Even after all of the thousands of anti-smoking campaigns and a huge decrease in the number of smokers, it is expected that there will be more than 215,000 new cases diagnosed this year, and there will be nearly 162,000 deaths.

In 1991 (the latest year that I could find statistics for), 27% of Americans were smokers. That compares to 29% in 1987 and 44% in 1964. The decrease is because of more people quitting the smoking habit, and NOT because of fewer people starting the smoking habit. It’s obvious that all of the efforts to prevent people from becoming smokers have not been successful.

Cigarette smoking is considered the number one cause of the disease. There are substances in smoke that cause damage to lung cells. Because of this, smoking cigarettes, pipes, or cigars does cause the disease, and this is why it is also true that secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer in nonsmokers. The more often a person is exposed to tobacco smoke, the greater the risk of lung cancer.

However, cigarette smoking is not the only cause. Researchers have also determined that exposure to radon is a big risk factor for developing the disease. Radon is found in mines as well as in various parts of the country in the rock and soil. Radon is a radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless, and tasteless.

Exposure to asbestos is another cause of this disease. People who work at such jobs in the construction and chemical industries are most at risk for exposure to asbestos that can cause lung cancer.

A family history of lung cancer, even in people who have never smoked, also creates a higher risk for developing the disease.

Are you concerned about your health? Visit our diseases and treatments portal and learn how to cure almost every disease.

Author: Milos Pesic
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Pros & Cons of Various House Foundations

Slab, Crawlspace or Basement? When building a new home, which foundation is the best choice? I offer the pros & cons of the typical three choices.


– Least expensive to build
– No moisture/humidity to deal with under sub-floor
– Easy access for handicapped or senior persons, since very close to ground level

– Hard surface, takes a toll on your body/joints
– Difficult to run additional wires/pipes
– HVAC typically located in the attic (unconditioned space)
– A leak in a water supply line in the slab is very expensive to fix
– Entrance at ground level, not as eye appealing
– High likelihood of radon issue (can be easily mitigated)
– More prone to wood destroying insect issues, since close to ground


– Able to install additional wires/piping easily if needed
– Wood floor structure is softer than concrete
– Entrance higher off ground, more eye appealing
– Easy access for repairs
– Less likely to have a radon issue (on ventilated crawlspaces)

– Moisture issues (water & humidity) are a major issues, creates fungus growth & rot
– Easy access for unwanted pests
– HVAC in unconditioned space


– Able to install additional wires/piping easily if needed
– Wood floor structure is softer than concrete
– Easy access for repairs
– Entrance higher off ground, more eye appealing
– HVAC is located in conditioned space (more energy efficient)
– Additional storage/workshop
– Inexpensive additional square footage, can be finished at a later time
– Increased re-sale value of home & increased buyer appeal
– You can build on a sloping grade
– Provides shelter during extreme weather (tornado’s, hurricane’s, etc)

– Most expensive to build (compared to a slab or crawlspace)
– Need a sloping lot to build a walkout basement
– Higher likelihood of radon issue (can be easily mitigated)

Mac has remodeled many old homes, been employed in several different construction trades & is a major do-it-yourselfer. He currently owns a home inspection company and has been inspecting homes for many years which is where my experience is most relevant to the proper way to build a home. To learn more about building your dream home, visit my website,

Author: Mac Barlow
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Layman’s Guide to Cancer – Part 3 – Cancer Causes and Risk Factors

Cancer is a multifactorial disease, which means cancer develops due to a number of factors and not just a single factor. Vast research has been done and the understanding of the cancer has increased tremendously in the previous 3 to 4 decades regarding the various factors at play. But all of them have not been identified and still more research is needed for the same.

A term which is used quite often when talking about the cause of cancer is Risk factor. A risk factor is one which increases the probability of a person developing cancer. The person with a risk factor is at more risk of being affected by cancer when compared to a person without the risk factor. Avoidance or elimination of these risk factors can decrease the risk of a person developing cancer. risk factors can’t be avoided or eliminated totally in some cases. Even in cases where risk factors can’t be totally eliminated, minimization of exposure can decrease the risk of developing cancer.

Presence of a risk factors doesn’t mean the person will develop cancer. Many with risk factors don’t develop cancer at all.

Some of the common risk factors are

  • Old age – Old age is the most important risk factor for most of the cancers. Cancer occurs due to numerous changes in the DNA. These changes occur throughout one’s life. Changes to the DNA can occur during cell replication or due to damage to the DNA by environmental factors like sunlight, chemicals or infection by certain organisms. Cells of the body have built in mechanisms to repair these damages. But as a person grows old these repair mechanisms loose their efficiency and the changes accumulate in the cells. So the longer a person lives, more time for the changes to accumulate in the cells and turn cancerous. Hence cancers are common in older people. But people of all age groups can be affected by cancer including children.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals or substances called carcinogens – A carcinogen is a substance or chemical which facilitates the development of cancer in a person exposed to it. Carcinogens can be found at workplaces, in our surroundings and even in our diet also. Tobacco smoke is the most common carcinogen and has been implicated in a number of cancers. Not only people who directly use tobacco but also those who are indirectly exposed to tobacco smoke are also at an increased risk of developing cancer. Not all people exposed to carcinogens develop cancer. Not everybody who smokes develops cancer. This shows there are other factors at play and shows the multifactorial nature of cancer. A person can be exposed to carcionogens at work places, as mentioned above. For example exposure to asbestos, which has been implicated in more than 90% of Mesothelioma [] takes place primarily at work places. Carcinogens may be found in the diet also. When food products like meat are grilled or barbecued minute quantities of carcinogens are formed which are similar to those in tobacco smoke. Some of the additives added to commercially food products may have carcinogenic potential.
  • Genetic predisposition – Sometimes some individuals can inherit certain genetic mutations from their parents. These persons who inherit mutations are at an increased risk of developing cancer. Though the risk is more when compared to a person who hasn’t inherited the mutation, it doesn’t mean all the people who inherited a mutated gene will develop cancer. With a mutation from the start the chances of the person developing a cancer are slightly raised statistically. This is called genetic predisposition. The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are good examples of genetic predisposition. Women who inherit these genes have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who do not. Another finding of interest is the fact that most women with breast cancer do not have mutated BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Less than 5% of the women with breast cancer have these genes. This shows that there are other factors at work for the development of breast cancer.
  • Exposure to sunlight – Ultraviolet rays emitted from sun have been implicated in the development of skin cancer. Tanning booths which are becoming quite popular are also a source of ultraviolet rays and excessive usage of tanning booths can lead to skin cancer. Protection from sunlight using proper clothing, sunscreen and avoidance of tanning booths can greatly reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.
  • Exposure to radiation – Exposure to radiation like x-rays and gamma rays can damage the genes making the cells cancerous. Radiation injury is mainly implicated in leukemia’s. Radiation is commonly used in medical field for diagnosis and treatment. The dose of radiation used in diagnostic procedures like x-ray and CT scanning are minimal and the risk associated with these procedures is very minute. But persons handling these kinds of instruments on a regular basis like technicians are to be extra careful and wear the protective clothing.
    Radiation is also used for the treatment of cancers. This form of treatment, called radiotherapy uses an higher dose of radiation than used for diagnostic procedures. Radiotherapy is associated with a much higher risk than diagnostic procedures like x-ray. It is better to consult your doctor, if you are advised to take radiotherapy, regarding the possible side effects. Most of the times the benefits outweigh the side effects. People living in the vicinity of a nuclear plant or places where atomic bombs are manufactured, tested and used are also at risk of radiation injury. The classic example is people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. People living in these cities continue to experience the effects of radiation injury. Another source of radiation injury is radon gas, which is radioactive. People working in mines are especially at risk of exposure to radon gas. People exposed to radon gas are more prone for lung cancer. Check out cancer causes and risk factors to know more about the cancer risk factors.

Dr. Pradeep Balu is a Doctor. He has completed MBBS and he runs the website [] to provide information to patients suffering from cancer.

Author: Dr. Pradeep Balu
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Radon and Lung Cancer – What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You When Buying a Home

Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers in the United States. As a Certified Property Inspector and Radon tester, I am seeing that most new home buyers are unaware of the dangers of Radon. As a result of this lack of information, most home buyers as well as current homeowners are not having their homes tested for Radon. In many cases, my clients have also been misinformed by real estate representatives or the media regarding both the prevalence and lung cancer dangers of radon. Radon testing if done by the homeowner, is inexpensive, and takes only 48 hours.

Here are some important facts about Radon that homeowners and renters should know to protect the health of your family. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. Visit for more on a study by Dr. William Field on radon-related lung cancer in women.

Radon is a cancer-causing natural radioactive gas that you can’t see, smell or taste. The type of construction, foundation or location does not prevent a Radon problem. Its presence in a home can pose a danger to a familys health. The only way to determine if a home has a Radon problem is to have an EPA standardized test done. This test can be completed by the homeowner or a certified professional.

The U.S. Surgeon General and EPA recommend that all homes be tested for radon. All homes can be fixed if there is a radon problem found. The average cost of a radon fix for a home is about $1,200. Some home improvement stores sell inexpensive test kits for about $35 (which includes an EPA certified lab report). However, Consumer Reports recently found that those test kits were not very accurate. Therefore, if you want to do your own testing contact your state radon office for a better quality inexpensive test kit.

If the homeowner or buyer/seller does not or cannot to do the Radon testing (some states require a professional complete the test during a real estate transaction), visit the National Environmental Health Association Radon Certification website at: This site has properly certified radon testers as myself listed by the cities in your state.

The untimely deaths of Peter Jennings and Dana Reeve have raised public awareness about lung cancer, especially among people who have never smoked. Smoking, radon, and secondhand smoke are the leading causes of lung cancer. Although lung cancer can be treated, the survival rate is one of the lowest for those with cancer. In many cases lung cancer can be prevented; this is especially true for radon.

EPA has designated January as National Radon Action Month, a time when state radon programs and other partners conduct special radon outreach activities and events across the country. The aim of National Radon Action Month is to increase the public’s awareness of radon, promote radon testing and mitigation, and advance the use of radon-resistant new construction practices.

For more information on Radon and home inspections or to contact the author, please visit:

Steve Zivolich, is an ASHI Certified Inspector and owner of Guaranteed Property Inspection and Mold Investigation in Southern California. He is also certified in: Radon, Mold, Energy Efficiency and Asbestos testing and investigations.

Author: Steve Zivolich
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FSBOs -The Secret of ‘After Settlement Escrow’ to Solve Problems

Most FSBOs (people who are selling their own homes) are aware of the conventional use of escrow. In this article, we look at ways to use escrow to solve problems.


Escrow means different things in different parts of the country. In California it’s part and parcel of the settlement process. In Virginia, while there’s no formal escrow before settlement, the settlement agent gathers title information, draws or has a deed drawn, coordinates with the lender, receives various inspection reports and in general conducts an informal escrow in the days before settlement. The difference is that, in Virginia, usually documents aren’t signed by the parties until they meet at the settlement table. It’s the use of escrow after this period that we’re concerned with here.

A Problem Rears Its Head

What’s possible varies from state to state, but creating an escrow account (usually held by the settlement agent) after a home is sold can solve problems. What sorts of problems? Let’s look at a few.

First of all, let’s assume the buyer or seller needs, or wants, to settle by a certain date. Lots of things can cause this including the date school starts, the date a breadwinner starts a new job or the date of settlement on the seller’s new home.

Now, let’s suppose a problem crops up which would prevent that settlement deadline from being met. Such problems might be caused by the discovery of termites and termite damage, the discovery of encroachment on a utility right of way by a garden shed on the property being sold or the discovery of high levels of radon gas within the home.

Let’s further suppose that the buyer and seller have agreed on the basic solution of the problem. In the above examples, typical solutions might be that the seller will have the home treated for termites and have a licensed contractor repair the damage. Or the seller will have a contractor move the shed out of the right of way. Or the seller will install a radon mitigation system. Of course, everything is negotiable, and a buyer who wants a property badly enough could agree to fix the defects himself.

What if the pest control company, contractor or the radon mitigation company can’t finish their work until after the planned settlement date? What happens then? Most frequently, settlement is delayed until these sorts of things are taken care of, but sometimes that isn’t desirable. Sometimes delay of settlement can be a deal killer.

Problem Solving 101

Enter the “after settlement escrow.” The parties agree that an amount of money (usually a bit larger than the estimate) is set aside in escrow pending completion of the work. The escrow agent has clear (usually written) instructions about what must be done before the money is released to the person who put it up (or before the work is paid for and any excess returned to the person who put it up).

The funding of an after settlement escrow usually comes from the proceeds of the sale, so it can be used where there are no funds to take corrective action any other way. Even if the person responsible could get a loan for the purpose, the process could take too long to meet the settlement deadline. In that way, it can be a “cash flow” solution, too.

No matter what problem you encounter, it’s usually possible for a willing seller and a willing buyer to work things out. Remember that all sorts of needs can be accommodated without anyone’s being a loser. Situations in which both buyer and seller are winners happen frequently. With any luck, that’s what will happen in your case. It just takes creativity and persistence.

Raynor James is with – providing FSBO homes for sale by owner. Visit our “sell my home” page at to list and sell your home for free for one month. Visit to see homes for sale by owner.

Author: Raynor James
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How Much Does Your Home Inspector Charge?

We are in tough economic times and people are looking for ways to stretch their dollars and make every dollar count. Home buyers, like everybody else, are looking for a deal. And this entire real estate market is in a major slump right now, which only makes things worse. One third of the agents and one third of the home inspectors across this country have gone out of business and moved on to other lines of work in this last year. In an effort to save a few dollars, many people are forgoing their home inspection and buying a home outright… with no inspection at all.

For a few months now I have been debating with myself whether I should even write on this topic. All you have to do is Google your nearest large city and the words “home inspector” and you can quickly compare the home inspectors in your area. The vast majority of them do not advertise their prices. Why? They force you to call them, knowing you will ask what they charge… then they have a prepared sales pitch that is designed to convince the caller to hire them. They all have a “base price” that is real cheap, in order to spark the caller’s attention. Then, they ask a series of questions such as square footage, year built, and several other things which help them gather important information, but also gets the caller to respond over and over… and places the inspector in the proverbial driver’s seat. The caller is unconsciously committing to the sales pitch, one step at a time. Then, after they add in the extra cost for distance, square footage, age, and other things… they tell the caller their real fee. Problem is… the caller already decided to hire this guy based on his “base price”. The real price is often much higher.

My point here is that you need to shop around, and do not get tricked into hiring an inspector based upon a well designed and executed sales trick. There are some inspectors out there who advertise their rates right on their web sites. They have nothing to hide from you and I recommend you give these inspectors more serious consideration. It is clear they are not trying to hook customers with a sales pitch, and they are not trying to hide anything.

Next, I recommend comparing a few inspectors and see what you are really getting for your money. Most of them have a basic inspection… but then allow you choices based upon your individual needs or desires. Some will offer mold inspections, termite inspections, radon inspections, infrared thermography, and a host of other details, but usually at an additional price for each level of enhancement. Also, take a good look at how long will they really be inside your prospective new home. The vast majority of home inspectors across this country will complete your inspection in about 2 hours. 2-3 hours is the industry norm. Many inspectors will actually do the inspection in 3 hours. A few inspectors take as long as 4 hours. Ask yourself… why is this? Here is the single overriding reason why: MONEY. This allows them to “inspect” at least 2 houses per day. Many inspectors can make between $600 and $1,200 per day when times are good and the market is moving.

What do most Home Inspectors charge? This varies a great deal based on the market and also based on geography. In some areas, home inspectors charge $800 or more per inspection. However, in most areas of the country the average seems to be around $200-$300. Unfortunately, because of the housing market slump of this last year, and also the economic condition in general, there are lots and lots of “inspectors” out there who are charging as little as $99 per home inspection. These jokers are doing three homes per day when they can, so they can still make a tidy income. That will get you a one hour inspection, if you’re lucky. Unfortunately, a lot of home buyers will hire these guys in an effort to save a few hundred dollars. I challenge you this: Go into your crawlspace. Inspect every square foot of the soil, footings, piers, posts, stem walls, and the floor above. Go all the way from corner to every corner. Make notes, take photos, take moisture samples, and deal with the spiders and the dead mice. See how long it takes you to do this. And then ask yourself if you are still willing to hire an inspector that will look at your house in less than three hours. On average, I spend around two hours of every inspection just in the crawlspace. All my inspections take over 5 hours… and my average is around 7 hours. Day before yesterday I inspected a 2,100 square foot house (built in 1991) and it took me nearly nine hours. Why is this? I am thorough. I care about my clients. I inspect every home as though it were being purchased by my daughter. I am not trying to do two homes per day just to maximize income. Never have done two in a day, and I never will. Too easy to confuse the details, or forget some details when writing the reports.

Look real closely at what you are getting. Also, ask this of yourself… “This inspector charges $xyz”. “Am I getting a good value at this cost?”. Realize this: What your inspector charges is a reflection of what your inspector feels his services are worth.

In the counties I serve, most homes sell between $150,000 and $300,000. The average tends to run around $200,000. Most home inspectors charge around $250… of course, some are higher and some are much lower. This means that for an average $250 inspection, the buyer would be paying 0.125% of the price of their home for a professional home inspection. That is, just under one eighth of one percent! Now, let’s put that $250 inspection fee into perspective:

o Cost to replace one natural gas-fired water heater: $700
o Cost to replace one toilet: $450
o Cost to upgrade a substandard electric service entrance and panel: $1,500
o Cost to replace a garbage disposal: $350
o Cost to install a new asphalt shingle roof: $3,500
o Cost to replace an air conditioning unit: $1,200
o Cost to replace five floor joists in crawl space damaged by termites: $1,250
o Cost to replace 8 feet of damaged sill plate: $1,500
o Cost to repair a foundation that has been damaged by tree roots: $8,200

The part that gets me is that many people do not think twice about paying an auto repair shop $80 per hour to fix their car. Yet thousands of people will spend hours “shopping’ for a home inspector who gives them the lowest price. The auto mechanic simply fixes the car. While important, yes… consider that against what is likely the most expensive and longest term investment of your entire life: your house. A good home inspector can identify issues before you purchase… often allowing you to reduce the cost of your purchase by thousands of dollars. A good inspector can even help prevent you from making a colossal mistake by purchasing a house that will end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars. A good inspector allows you to go into this investment with your eyes wide open… giving you a real good idea of things that will need repaired or replaced in the near future. A good inspector will also provide (in their report) valuable home maintenance tips and will also include ideas for reducing your energy consumption. Additionally, it never ceases to amaze me why some people will hire my competitor because he charges $100 less than I do. He will also do the inspection in 2 or 3 hours (I take 6 or more). He will also not test for Radon, not inspect for wood destroying insects, not test for mold, and not use infrared thermography (I do all these things).

This is one of the reasons I advertise my fees on my web site for all to see. I cannot compete for those clients who are price shoppers, because I do a complete and thorough inspection. The price shopper will see my fees and call my competitor instead. I think I have only had 4 or 5 phone calls in the last two years where I was asked how much I charged. This allows me to focus on my inspection at hand, rather than becoming a slave to my phone… trying to lure in every caller with a sales pitch in the hopes of hooking my next inspection. The clients who choose me do so because they want someone who is up front and honest about everything, including my prices. They want someone who will spend 2 or more hours in their crawlspace… not 2 hours on the whole inspection. They want someone who will check every outlet… not just a “representative sample”. They want someone who will check for mold, termites, anobiid beetles, radon, carpenter bees and ants, and hidden things that can only be seen through infrared thermography… in addition to the things normally checked by home inspectors.

Don’t get me wrong… there is a use for and a need for the “bargain” version of home inspectors. Some home buyers actually should seek out these types. But, if you are simply looking to save a few dollars (that 1/10th of 1% of the cost) then I submit that you just might not be able to afford that particular home. In other words… if you can’t pay $350 for an inspection on a $300,000 house, but you are willing to pay $250 for the inspection… what are you gaining (or losing) by saving that $100? Saving $100 on an inspection for a $300,000 house is like saving $4 on a new Chevrolet. That’s just silly. My point is… why would one even try to save a few tenths of one percent on such an important and expensive investment? Ask your inspector if he offers discounts. Some do. I give 10% off to all Firemen, First Responders, Police, and Veterans. Ask your inspector if he offers payment options. Virtually all inspectors demand payment in full at the completion of the inspection. I do not. I allow a variety of payment options, to include payment at closing, so you can actually roll the cost of your inspection into the loan for the house, and then let your loan company send me the payment. This option adds less than $1 per month to your mortgage payments.

I am not averse to turning down business from prospective clients who are looking for the lowest cost inspector. As an experienced professional, I know the value of my work. I do not claim to be the “best”, nor do I claim to be the most thorough. In my humble opinion, people who believe they have no equal are most often very wrong. However, at the end of each day I go home and ask myself: “did you give 100 percent and did you give a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage?”. I was raised with a stern hand and was instilled with a deep sense of fairness. I believe that people deserve their money’s worth from the home they are buying, and from their inspection service.

Dappy Jones
OxBow Home Inspections and Radon Testing

Dappy is the owner/inspector of OxBow Home Inspections. OxBow is the premier hi-tech home inspection service in southwestern Idaho. Learn more about the author at Dappy is a retired engineer (United States Navy|A different kind of home inspector. He goes places where other inspectors won’t.

Author: Dappy Jones
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Basement Bar – Prepare Your Space First Pt 2 – Air Quality

Air quality changes as soon as you waterproof your basement. You might ask yourself: “how in the world does that change your air quality?”

Air travels through the pores in your concrete by natural earth air flow; through lose soil. It comes into your basement pulling radon, mold spores, and evaporated exterior water molecules. By installing a vapor barrier along your foundation wall that ties into the interior drain system, you redirect the moisture and other nasty business into the drain below the floor and it’s then dealt with by the sump pump. Radon might need further remediation, but that can be done with a closed interior drain system like the GrateDrain. Radon remediation kits can be ducted into the GrateDrain, thus increasing the reach of the remediation method and still taking care of the moisture control.

Now that you have your vapor barrier in place you’re now dealing with the air quality in your house. You’re no longer constantly pulling air through your foundation bringing with it excess moisture. Your AC will now run smoother and more effectively, even low efficiency dehumidifiers will work better because there’s a correctable amount of moisture that is now in the air.

Now you’ve taken care of any moisture issues, you’re able to heat and cool the area better, dehumidify the area quicker and more effectively, and you’ll be protecting the investment in your new shinny bar in your basement.

Just another note: if and when you do decide to finish your basement or do any major project in the basement it’s important to first deal with a basement finishing company. The products they use are produced and designed to be used below grade in areas that can be susceptible to higher humidity levels.

Jacob Lee- Pioneer Home Basement Finishing

Author: Jacob Ewing Lee
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