Category Archives: Miami Building Inspections

CPSC Identifies Manufacturers of Problem Drywall Made in China

Chinese DrywallWASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is releasing today the names of the problem drywall manufacturers whose drywall emitted high levels of hydrogen sulfide in testing conducted for the agency by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). There is a strong association between hydrogen sulfide and metal corrosion.

 

Of the samples tested, the top ten reactive sulfur-emitting drywall samples were all produced in China. Some of the Chinese drywall had emission rates of hydrogen sulfide 100 times greater than non-Chinese drywall samples.
“Homeowners who have problem drywall in their homes are suffering greatly”, said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “I appeal to these Chinese drywall companies to carefully examine their responsibilities to U.S. families who have been harmed and do what is fair and just”.
At the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue meetings in Beijing May 24-25, U.S. officials pressed the Chinese government to facilitate a meeting between CPSC and the Chinese drywall companies whose products were used in U.S. homes, and which exhibit the emissions identified during the testing procedures. The Strategic and Economic Dialogue represents the highest-level bilateral forum to discuss a broad range of issues between the two nations.
The following list identifies the top 10 drywall samples tested that had the highest emissions of hydrogen sulfide, along with the identity of the manufacturer of the drywall and the year of manufacture, from highest to lowest.
– Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co. Ltd.: (year of manufacture 2005) China
– Taian Taishan Plasterboard Co. Ltd.: (2006) China
– Shandong Taihe Dongxin Co.: (2005) China
– Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co. Ltd.: (2006) China
– Taian Taishan Plasterboard Co. Ltd.: (2006) China
– Taian Taishan Plasterboard Co. Ltd.: (2006) China
– Shandong Chenxiang GBM Co. Ltd. (C&K Gypsum Board): (2006) China
– Beijing New Building Materials (BNBM): (2009) China
– Taian Taishan Plasterboard Co. Ltd.: (2009) China
– Shandong Taihe Dongxin Co.: (2009) China

Other Chinese drywall samples had low or no detectable emissions of hydrogen sulfide as did the drywall samples tested that were manufactured domestically. They include: Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin: (2009) China; Tiger ***ShiGao JianCai***liangpianzhuang: (2006) China; USG Corporation: (2009) U.S.; Guangdong Knauf New Building Material Products Co. Ltd.: (2009) China; 3/8″ drywall manufacturer uncertain (date uncertain): China; Knauf Plasterboard (Wuhu) Co. Ltd.: (2009) China; CertainTeed Corp.: (2009) U.S.; Georgia Pacific Corp.: (2009) U.S.; Dragon Brand, Beijing New Building Materials Co. Ltd.: (2006) China; CertainTeed Corp.: (2009) U.S.; Pingyi Baier Building Materials Co. Ltd.: (2009) China; Sample purchased in China, manufacturer unknown: (2009) China; Panel Rey S.A.: (2009) Mexico; Lafarge North America: (2009) U.S.; National Gypsum Company: (2009) U.S.; National Gypsum Company: (2009) U.S.; Georgia Pacific Corp.: (2009) U.S.; Pabco Gypsum: (2009) U.S.; Temple-Inland Inc.: (2009) U.S.; and USG Corporation: (2009) U.S.
Last month, CPSC released the results of drywall emissions tests by LBNL. The studies showed a connection between certain Chinese drywall and corrosion in homes. In addition, the patterns of reactive sulfur compounds emitted from drywall samples show a clear distinction between certain Chinese drywall samples manufactured in 2005/2006 and other Chinese and non-Chinese drywall samples.
To date, CPSC has spent over $5 million to investigate the chemical nature and the chain of commerce of problem drywall. Earlier this year, CPSC and HUD issued an identification protocol to help consumers identify problem drywall in their homes. Last month, CPSC and HUD issued remediation guidance to assist impacted homeowners.

Go here for the CPSC article: https://www.cpsc.gov/content/cpsc-identifies-manufacturers-of-problem-drywall-made-in-china

Posted by Bill Siegel Florida Home Inspection Team Inc

New Construction

new constructionShould new construction be inspected? This question comes up a lot. Many clients call for an inspection after the property is finished and we do what his called a walk thought inspection. In my most current case it would have been wise to have phase inspections completed. In this case there has been a change of contractor. I was called in to inspect only the electrical to look for code violations. The new electrical contractor did not want to take over the work from the old contractor – he wanted to rip it out and start over. And I can’t really say that I blame him. Most of the work was done in an un-workman- like manner – it was very sloppy, and there definitely a few code     violations.

new constrution

The first and biggest violation was the placement of the interior panel box. The picture at the right shows where he ran the wires. They were at the back-end of the slab. That slab was installed for the washer and dryer, which will not longer fit on the slab due to the placement of the box. Even if the box would fit there, it is a violation of work space and access per the National Electric Code. The code calls for 36 inches of unobstructed work space in front of all panel boxes. In order to work blueprintson the box in the future, the electrician would have to climb on the dryer to have direct access. As you can see from the blueprints, the box was supposed to be placed about 30 inches in front of the slab, which was actually opposite the meter on the exterior wall.

 

 

new constructionThe next code issue was the service lateral. The original electrical contractor had installed Schedule 40 PVC pipe. This pipe is not allowed in this location. Both the NEC and  FPL call for either galvanized pipe or Schedule 80 PVC pipe to be installed. Schedule 40 pipe should never be used in a location that could be subject to physical damage. Schedule 80 and galvanized pipe are much stronger and can withstand more punishment without damaging the pipe.

Posted by Bill Siegel Florida Home Inspection Team Inc

Lets talk about flippers

Flipping houses has been big business, especially in the South Florida over the past few years. As a home inspector they usually present the most challenges in the inspection industry. Most flippers are in business for one reason and one reason only – to make money. I laugh every time I see the show Flip or Flop. I have yet to see them lose money on a house, and of course they always get more than the appraised value. That is usually not the way it works. I have run into multiple people who have taken those courses and have gotten burned.

Most flippers that I run into only do cosmetic upgrades. They install new flooring, paint the interior and exterior, update the kitchens and bathrooms, and maybe do some landscaping. What they overlook is the roof, electrical system, plumbing system, and air conditioning system. The usual cost of these updates is between $20,000 and $30,000. I think they hope no one will find the other deficiencies. A new roof us usually a minimum of $5000.00, an AC system $4000.00, and electrical system can cost anywhere from $2000 to $15,000 depending no the work that needs to be done.

The other thing they forget to do is pull permits for the work that requires them to be pulled. I cannot tell you how many tankless water heaters get installed without a permits. These installations require both an electrical and a plumbing permit. Imaging the look on their face when I tell them that the electrical system needed to be upgraded from that 100 amp system to accommodate the now double electrical amps of a conventional tank water heater.

The last house I was at had all new windows installed. No permits. In Florida, all windows have t be either impact rated or have shutters installed. With no permits we have no way to verify if the correct windows were installed. They left out half of the framing screws. Pulling a permit will guarantee that something is installed correctly, but at least is is a check on the work. And why do a lot of these flippers no pull permits. A lot of them are not licensed contractors, which another whole thread topic. On this particular home the seller admitted that he did not pull permits because it would have been too costly to do the work correctly. Now he is facing fines front the city and currently has a house he cannot sell.

As realtors, I would like to get your feedback about listing one of these houses. Do you check for permits, or look to see what they might have overlooked. I know no one wants to do this, but it might be a good idea to have the house inspected prior to listing it to know the issues that might arise when a buyer comes through with their inspector. It could save a lot of time and heartache for all parties involved.

Posted by Bill Siegel Florida Home Inspection Team Inc.

How do you Choose a Home Inspector?

To choose a Home Inspector can be a difficult decision. You have made the decision to by a house. Now you have the task of wading through realtors, title companies, mortgage companies, appraisal, and inspections (and I am sure other things). The realtor, the title company, and the mortgage company all get paid at closing. The appraiser may also get paid at closing. Inspections are paid by the borrower at the time of the inspection. So, your home inspector must be chosen carefully, as they are the ones that will give you the real details on your new home.

Referrals:

Most buyers will let the realtor choose the inspector for them, either knowingly for unknowing. A list of three home inspectors is usually given to the borrower by the real estate agent. Now, if you like your agent, you are going to believe them. But do they really have your best interest at heart, or are they giving you three inspectors that write ‘soft’ reports to help the sale go though. I do know that there are plenty of good realtors out there that do have their buyers best interest at heart, but there are also many that do not.

Asking a friend that has bought a home is a good source for a referral. They have already used an inspector and they will tell you how they did. Ask them how long the inspection took to complete, when did the report arrive, did they explain the major issues, while also listing all of the minor issues, and did they have an understanding of when the roof, AC, and water heater may need to be replaced. Also ask if any problems occurred after the inspection.

Web searches:

The last place you can look in on the internet. Most inspectors have beautiful looking web sites. However, most of these sites all say pretty much the same thing. Here is what to look at when doing an online search:

1} How long does is say the person has been inspecting homes. Most will list 20-30 years in the industry, but not be very specific as to their area of expertise or how long they have been actually been conducting home inspections. If Florida you can get an idea by their license number. Anyone with a high number over 6000 has only been in business a short time. Licensing came about in 2011 and at that time there were about 4000 that obtained their license.

2) How many inspection does it say they have completed. I look at a lot of web sites and normally is see anywhere from 5000 to 15,000 inspections completed. Does that make sense for the years in business? And are those inspections full home inspections, or just insurance inspections. There is a big difference.

3) Look to see what certifications they have. All that is needed in Florida is a license to operate. Be wary of association certifications. Many of them are very easy to get – most only require an online course (one or two hours) and a test at the end. Also see how many hours of continuing education the inspector does every cycle. Florida only requires 14 hours per cycle, or 7 hours per year, which is not very much, especially with the codes changing every few years. Do they go above an beyond or do they only do the minimum?

You should always interview your inspector before hiring them. You want to get the best value for your money, and that does not always equate into the cheapest price. Remember that the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.

Ask if they know or cite building code references in their reports. Most will say they do not, that they are not code inspectors. Citing code has nothing to do with being a code inspector. It has to do with knowledge of how things are built. They can be used as clarification as to why something was installed improperly. The most important thing an inspector can do is back up what he is calling out with a reference. This will save all parties involved time and energy trying to figure out why something was written.

Sample reports:

You should always ask for a sample report. Most reports are computer generated using industry software. They should be easy to read and understand. It is not only our job to tell you something is deficient, but why it is deficient. We should be calling for repair or replacement and in South Florida, most inspectors will give a cost estimate. If the report calls for ‘further evaluation’ by a licensed professional on every item, why bother hiring a home inspector in the first place. Why not just hire the roof, AC company, plumber, and structural engineer the first time around.

Be wary of inspectors that offer warranties for everything they inspect. Most of these warranties are sort term only and don’t cover what you would hope they would cover, and many come with deductibles. Ask yourself this – if the inspector is good, why should I need all of these short-term warranties. In my opinion all they do is give the inspector a reason not to do a good job. They can rush from one job to the other. Also, do you want to have to deal with a warranty company. If the inspection was done right the first time you may have been able to get the seller to fix or replace those items.

The last thing I can tell you, and it has been mentioned above, is do not choose your home inspector by price. The experienced inspector will cost more, and that is because he has more knowledge. In the end, a good report will list multiple items, Some will need repair, some will need replacement, and some are maintenance items. If you read and understand the report you will most likely be able to re-negotiate for a better price. Many clients have been able to negotiate hundreds or thousands of dollars based on good inspections and well written report. One of my recent clients was able to save $39,000 off the purchase price, and that was after the seller brought in their own contractors to verify what was in the report.

Posted by Bill Siege Florida Home Inspection Team Inc.

Is It Okay to Install Different Brands for your AC system?

AC s;ystemChoosing the right AC system replacement is a complex decision. You will have to take into account installation factors, capacity, efficiency ratings and many other criteria in order to choose the system that will work best for your heating or cooling needs.

When making this decision, limiting yourself to a single brand can feel restrictive. You may think you have found the perfect furnace, but have heard reasons to only buy a brand that matches your current AC system. Likewise, your furnace could be fine but you want a new AC system without being limited to using the same brand as your furnace.

Using different brands of units — often called a “mismatched system” — usually has no major short-term consequences as long as the coils, blower and wiring used are compatible and properly sized. However, you could see marginal losses in performance from a mismatched system that decrease efficiency and could potentially reduce the service life of your HVAC system overall.

Also, in 2007, energy rules changed in the USA that now require higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) and they were raised once again in 2015. In Florida both units must be matched to meet this rating. While this is often ignored, a confirmation of the rating is supposed to be supplied with the system.

Why a Matching System Matters

Your HVAC system is like a conjoined twin. The outdoor unit of your AC only houses the compressor and the condenser coils. The rest of the system lives inside the air handler unit somewhere in the interior of your house. Contained in the air handler is the evaporator, and attached to the air handler is a blower that circulates air. A refrigerant line runs between the outdoor unit and the air handler.

If the interior component of the AC is not connected properly with the exterior, this is the equivalent of having a major internal organ removed when separating conjoined twins with surgery. One component cannot function without the other. This fact means that replacing the outdoor unit will require you to either hook up to the aging indoor unit or purchase a new air handler and evaporator coil system.

Even more importantly, the AC unit and the furnace share the same air handler, usually joined as part of the furnace. If there are problems with the connection, both systems will have trouble functioning.

Why Properly-Installed Mismatched Systems Can Still Have Issues

Even with an expert HVAC contractor linking the two systems, you could still see problems in the long run. For one, the older unit or the one with lower efficiency will decrease the efficiency of the system overall.

To see why this would happen, imagine two dogs pulling a sled. Both get tired, but only one is replaced. The slower one will keep the quicker one from making a difference, bogging the whole system down.

Along with decreased efficiency can come decreased lifespan. The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute cautions that “when improperly matched, the efficiency and longevity of these systems are significantly compromised.” More breakdowns and an overall shorter service life could be the result.

On top of all this, some manufacturers will not honor a warranty if you replace only one element of the system — i.e., you try to replace the outdoor unit but not the evaporator coil.

So Do I Absolutely Have to Replace Both Systems at the Same Time with the Same Brand?

It is recommended. First, your air handler and evaporator will likely age at the same rate as your outdoor unit, meaning both should be replaced around the same time. If your new evaporator fits inside the old air handler and your blower and furnace are otherwise working fine, you could be fine without replacing the whole system with matching brands as long as it can be connected properly.

You may see problems that can gradually get worse over time, though, as indicated above. In the end, your decision usually comes down to saving some money up front with less installation or saving money in the long run with a perfectly matched system.

Second, if you suspect your furnace will need to be replaced in 3-5 years anyway, it is generally cheaper to have the whole system installed at once and to use matching brands that make install easier and more effective.

Posted by Bill Siegel Florida Home Inspection Team Inc

Home Inspections and plumbing

Water Meter

Water Meter

It is important on a home Inspection to thoroughly inspect the plumbing. This starts with the water meter. It is one of the first things that should be checked before starting the home inspection.

The other day I found this meter full of water. The sprinkler system did not function and there had been no rain in a few days. There was a leak somewhere in this system, either on the city side of the meter or on the homeowner side of the meter.  I recommended calling the city first, as they will come out free of charge to see if the problem is theirs to repair. If it is, then the problem in solved at no cost to my client. If the leak is on the homeowner side, they will then need to hire a plumbing contractor to locate the leak and make the appropriate repairs. This could turn out to be a simple repair or the entire line to the house may need to be replaced, which can run over a $1000.00.

The important thing is my client knows about the issue and can either request that the seller fix the problem or negotiate  for the repair to be fixed after they close on the house.

Posted by Bill Siegel Florida Home Inspection Team Inc. 305-490-2513 Miami Home Inspector

Pre-Sale Inspection

Pre-listing inspection

A pre-sale inspection can be an asset when selling, or listing a home. It can show you any deficiencies that might come up on a buyers inspection. Many of these items are small, such as a leaky faucet, improper pipes installed under sinks, or minor electrical repairs. Others can be larger issues, such as a leaky roof or an air conditioner that might need to be replaced. Some issues may be known to the seller, but many times they may not be.

Knowing what needs attention can alert both the seller and the agent of these pending issues that could stall the sale. They could be repaired, or could be disclosed to the potential buyer. This will make the sale go smoother and faster. Also, on homes that are 20 years or older, a 4-point inspection may be required by the insurance company. Any items found on that report will most likely be required to be repaired. If all of this is taken care of prior to the sale, there would be no delay in the closing.

Please keep in mind that no two inspectors are alike. Each may find something different with the same house. This is not different that getting estimates to fix a leaky roof. Estimates will vary and how the repairs are done may not be the same. You want the best inspector possible for a pre-listing inspection to try an eliminate surprises later.

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to give me a call at 305-490-2513.

Posted by Bill Siegel Florida Home Inspection Team Inc.