Home Sweet Home, or Vacation Destination? Your House Could Be Both!

Photo by Jean van der Meulen on Pexels.com

Vacation rentals are a big trend right now with companies like AirBNB, HomeAway, and many others offering services for homeowners to list their properties as up for grabs for people who want to get away for a few days. For those who own homes here in Central Florida, this is an especially lucrative business as it is summer year around. And thanks to our close proximity to some of the best beaches in the country, large-scale attractions like Disney World, and the plentiful sunshine our northern neighbors are looking for at this time of year. For liability purposes though, and for safety, many homeowners who regularly list their home, especially those who rent it out for long periods, want to make sure their insurance coverage is adequate for this venture, and that could require an up-to-date inspection before they can get the protection they need. When it comes to insurance inspections, Residential Inspection Consultants is the top choice for residents in and around the Lakeland area. We’d love to help you achieve your goal of making profit from your home. In addition to the need for adequate coverage (and the inspection required to get it), consider these tips before listing your house as a rental…
Focus on your bathroom space. Few things will make a space feel luxurious like a renovated bathroom. By re-doing a bathroom to accommodate renters and/or vacationers, you can up the value of your rental space by a significant amount. Aim for plenty of natural light and clean, crisp colors to make the space feel contemporary and fresh. If you are going to need significant upgrades to make this happen, be sure to hire a quality contractor with proper licensing and insurance. It will make a huge difference in your own inspection and coverage process, and you’ll be less likely to get flagged for shortcuts often made by unqualified contractors.

Keep guests in mind when designing the bedroom(s). Have plenty of storage for them, and again use clean colors that will open up the space and make things feel bright. Use natural light when you can, but have plenty of additional light sources like overhead lights (and fans) and attractive lamps placed strategically. If possible have both a sleeping and sitting area in the bedroom, especially if you are only renting out that single, small zone. This will let your guest have some privacy for using their computer, reading, talking on the phone, etc. without sitting in bed the entire time.

Vacation Goes Beyond the Bedroom. If you are renovating a large area (like an over-garage apartment for example) to rent out for vacationers, you will also need to keep them in mind for kitchen and dining areas, and even for outdoor patios and porches. If you are on vacation, you want everything to feel like a luxury, not a chore, so kitchens should have as many convenience options as you can afford. At the very least, opt for good-quality appliances (including a dishwasher) and try to stock your cabinets with the basics in cooking equipment (like a good set of pots and pans, several place settings for dining, etc.). This will go a long way in getting good reviews from renters and will help you make more money! For your outdoor areas, think about the overall experience of being in and around your home. If you have a good view, maximize it with a sitting area and perhaps a fire pit. Have a pool? Add some tropical plants in corners or around the perimeter to offer some shade/privacy, have plenty of outdoor seating nearby, and have pool towels ready to go in an attractive storage solution. These touches are a huge hit with guests!

The best news is that once you feel your home is ready, our inspections cover everything from the plumbing to the pool, so you can be confident that your insurance company will be able to cover you and help make your dream of property management and profit from your home come true. Planning to purchase a new piece of rental property? We handle that too! We offer pre-purchase inspection as well as inspection for those preparing to sell a home, and our easy-to-read, detailed reports (with pictures included!) make it a smoother process for everyone involved. Give us a call and see what we can do for you!


Underground Issues: Is Your Dream Home a Dream…or A Nightmare?

Thanks to the composition of our soil, our close proximity to the water table, and frequent rain, Florida homeowners are wary of sinkholes and the risk they pose to our property. A sinkhole is just what it sounds like…a hole that develops under the ground and over time gets larger until the “crust” of soil and earth on top collapse in on themselves, taking anything sitting on top along with them. While not a huge ordeal when out in the woods or in a “natural” area, they are devastating when they develop under a major roadway, a large-scale building, and people’s homes. The worse part? While they are a sort of “natural disaster,” many homeowners are left holding the bill to replace their entire lives with no financial assistance, since many insurance policies don’t cover sinkhole damage and loss outright.
While you can’t 100% predict a sinkhole, there are warning signs that can hint at something unfortunately going on below the ground on your property around your home. What are they?
  • Trees, fence posts, or yard decor (lamp posts or flag poles) slanting or falling over with no outside force causing the problem. Obviously, severe and/or frequent wind can lead to these issues occasionally, as can very wet weather that softens the ground, but if all other conditions are staying steady and you still notice trees tilting significantly, you might have a sinkhole issue.
  • Cracks in your foundation. Almost all foundations develop small, hairline cracks over time as the ground settles and the landscape changes subtly. However, if you notice significant and sudden cracking of your walls, patios, etc. and if you notice that doors are having trouble closing in your home, this can be a sign of a major shift in your foundation and that could be a telltale sign of a sinkhole under your home.
  • Dents, cracks, or holes developing in your yard. This seems obvious, but if you notice changes in the layout of your yard, like a pond draining suddenly, dips or holes showing up in your lawn, or major puddles developing in new places following storms, you could have a sinkhole problem looming on the horizon.
If you are looking to purchase a home in Florida, knowing what to look for regarding the risk of a sinkhole is paramount in making a good decision. Purchasing a home that has known sinkhole and/or foundational issues could turn into a HUGE money pit over time, and leave you with not only countless financial investments in repairs and replacements, but could leave you with no equity in a home if it is deemed no longer inhabitable because of the risk. Having a qualified, experienced inspector is a major part of purchasing a home in Florida. We are trained to look for small issues that indicate a much bugger problem. That crack in the back patio? It could indicate something big…or it could be a simple hairline crack from settling. The same goes for changes in yard landscape, discrepancies in the doors and/or windows, etc. Knowing whether these problems stem from construction mistakes or simple foundational settling, or from a sinkhole developing beneath the surface is part of our job, and we are proud to provide the greater Lakeland area with only the best in home inspection services. When you’re ready to buy a home, call on Residential Inspection Consultants so you can feel confident and secure in your purchase decision! We want to make sure your dream home doesn’t turn into a nightmare.

Pro-Tips for A Successful (And Efficient) Home Inspection

Leaving lights on makes your inspection easier and faster as we move through your home.

Are you preparing to sell your current home, or are you investing in a home inspection for insurance, appraisal, or other personal reasons? We know that the process can be intimidating, and feel somewhat invasive, especially for those who are in the process of selling a home and are likely not the ones who chose the inspector. Getting the inspection done quickly is preferred by many homeowners, yet it’s our job to make sure each point is checked thoroughly and that our report is comprehensive and detailed for the potential buyer and/or the appraiser. Who said that you can’t have an efficient and complete inspection that’s also fast? We have some tips from the pros that will make your inspection process go smoothly, move more quickly, and get the needed results for all parties involved. For your inspection, remember…

  • Be sure all utilities are turned on (power and water) and that all appliances are hooked up to said utilities to be easily tested. This shaves a lot of time off of the inspection process since we can quickly and easily move through your home testing the oven/stove, water heater, HVAC system, irrigation system, etc.
  • Check all light bulbs, and turn on key lights in the home. Having functional light bulbs in all light fixtures of the home lets us clearly see that they are in good shape and functional. Having lights on throughout the home also lets us see other parts of the room with a glance over without having to take extra steps (and time) to get our own task lighting.
  • Clear out clutter! The more clutter in your home, the more we have to move around to get to the areas we are required to inspect for our report. Make it a goal to remove as much clutter from your home as possible, and if you do have boxes, furniture, etc. stacked up excessively, at least try to move it away from the walls and key points of the home (like windows, vents, etc.) so we can access them more easily.
  • Have pets restrained appropriately (or have them off-site during the inspection). Most pets stay out of the way and are not a bother. However, if you have a dog (or cat) that is very aggressive, difficult to manage, etc. it will make the inspection process go much more slowly if we are continually having to work around the animal. If efficiency and speed is what you want, your pup might be better off staying with a friend for a couple of hours, or taking a walk with a neighbor.
We hope these pro-tips will make you feel more prepared for your next home inspection, and give you a better idea of what to expect. Our goal is to make the inspection process a positive experience all the way around, and because we are local to Polk County, we take our jobs seriously (and personally) since we are providing service for our friends and neighbors. Give us a call and put your home in good hands.

Diving into the Details: Your Pool Is Part of Your Home Inspection

swim-ring-84625_640.jpgNothing makes you long for a good swim more than a hot summer day here in Florida. For that reason, many homes have pools as part of their backyard landscape, and once installed, that pool is considered part of their home and property, and therefore must be included in the property value, real estate listings, and, when you’re preparing to buy or sell, in your home inspection. Because of this, you need to make sure your inspector of choice is capable of, and experienced with, inspecting pools and pool areas of homes for sale.

Residential Inspection Consultants is one of the most trusted inspection providers in the Polk County area, and we are skilled in inspecting pools along with the rest of a home to make sure buyers or sellers can have peace of mind moving forward. Points checked during your home pool inspection can include (but are not limited to)…

  • Checking mechanical parts (including pumps) to ensure all are functioning properly
  • Inspecting tile/pavers in and around the pool
  • Inspecting pool screens for holes, broken pieces, etc.
  • Inspecting doors leading to and from the pool for security and safety purposes
  • If the pool has a pool gate, we will inspect this as well to make sure all parts are functional and secure

A pool is an important part of your home, and in many cases, is a selling point for buyers when they are moving to the greater Lakeland area and surrounding communities. No one wants to move in only to discover that the pool they looked forward to is a source of angst and frustration thanks to replacements and repairs needed from the very beginning. With a detailed home inspection, including your pool, you can have the peace of mind, and be prepared for any issues up front and have a plan to remedy them in place ahead of time, instead of unpleasant surprises after move-in day. If you’re preparing to move, or are preparing to sell your home, give us a call. We offer many options above and beyond home inspections, including wind mitigation, radon testing, and insurance inspections. We are ready and waiting to help you!

Experience Matters: The Importance of Hiring a Home Inspector with References

Hiring a home inspector isn’t something you usually keep at the forefront of your mind…until, that is, it’s time to sell your current home, or purchase a new one thanks to a job change and resulting move, upsizing/downsizing, or simply wanting a change of pace. When that time comes, you could be tempted to simply place the decision regarding a home inspection up to your realtor, but that could be a costly mistake (even if you trust your realty specialist). Hiring your home inspector should be based on multiple factors, including licensing and insurance, price, references, and, of course, experience.
Experience for a home inspector is very important, and it tends to go hand-in-hand with references. Inspectors with experience have a leg up, and are usually the best choice in any given area when someone is buying or selling a home. Why?
  • Inspectors with experience understand the area. That means they know what to look for based on the region. Here in Florida, inspectors will pay special attention to areas of your home that could be damaged by environmental conditions (mold, sun damage, etc.), damage from storms that has been previously covered but not actually repaired, or pest issues, whether current or leftover evidence from previous infestations.
  • Experienced inspectors know “trends” for homes in their area. Perhaps you’re purchasing a home in a sub-division built by a popular spec home provider, or you’re purchasing from a well-known contractor that has built multiple homes in your region. Inspectors who have “been around the block” (literally AND figuratively!) know the strengths and weaknesses of these particular home builders, and can look for evidence of issues they’ve seen in the past. Perhaps one company is notorious for poor tile jobs, or for accidentally installing light fixtures incorrectly. If your inspector is familiar with the trends, he or she can take that background knowledge into your inspection and will know exactly what to look for.
  • Inspectors with experience offer peace of mind. As mentioned above, experience goes hand in hand with references, and references give you the peace of mind that your inspection company follows through with their claims, offers quality work, etc. Hearing from other happy customers gives you confidence in your decision, and all of those references can only come with years of experience.
Residential Inspection Consultants has been operating in and around the Polk County area for over 20 years. The business is family owned and operated, and we are passionate about our work. We have satisfied clients throughout the Lakeland region, and we’re ready to work with you as you begin the exciting process of buying or selling your house. Give us a call or make your appointment right from our site!

Time to Negotiate! Managing The Sale Following Your Home Inspection

31959492_1660836460630258_3288629241339445248_nIn the world of buying and selling a home, home inspections tend to be the “gloom and doom” of the process, since maybe homeowners assume they’ll end up with a long list of required repairs and replacements to be done in order for them to sell their home. In this same way, those purchasing a home fear that results from an inspection could be the stumbling block in the process of continuing the sale, and they’ll be back to square one searching for a home. Fortunately, neither of these scenarios are entirely true. Yes, a home inspection is a time when any needed repairs will be noted, but they only disrupt the buying and selling process in a very small percentage of extreme cases.
When preparing for your home inspection as a seller, take care of as many apparent issues as you can before the inspection even happens. By repairing any broken shutters, gates, or fencing, taking care of clogged drains or leaky sink faucets, making sure appliances are in working order, etc. you are alleviating some of the details that become a headache when an inspector comes around. By doing this, you know that only larger scale problems or issues that are hidden from amateur eyes will be on the inspection report, and a smaller list means easier negotiations later on. For those buying a home, prepare yourself ahead of time for what you will/won’t accept from a seller. Also, keep your eyes peeled during your home showings and walk-throughs. If a broken tile or a cracked patio bothers you, you need to address that up front in your initial questions for the seller and/or your offer paperwork. This prevents problems that arise from trying to change an offer or manage negotiations further along in the contract process.
Once you actually have an inspection complete, deciding what to do with the results can be tricky, and this is where your realtor and the realtor of your buyer/seller will come into play. They are trained professionals who know how to negotiate the deal so both parties are satisfied in the end. For example, if an inspection report comes back saying the house needs an outside faucet repaired, some shingles replaced, and the water heater replaced, the homeowner can choose several options. They can choose to do everything and therefore guarantee the sell of the house, or they can pick and choose things off the list which they feel they can manage, and leave other items up to the new owner. Details of this process are best discussed with your own realtor who will be in contact with the buyers/sellers and their own realtors, and communication and compromise can take place. This leads to a positive buying/selling relationship and will (hopefully) leave all parties happy as they walk away from closing day.
If you are ready to buy a new home, or are preparing to sell your current one, Residential Inspection Consultants is ready to help. We serve clients in the greater Polk County area and Central Florida residents know they can trust us to be thorough, ethical, and the very best in the business. We are fully licensed and insured so you can have peace of mind when you hire us to take care of your home. Give us a call for your appointment!

Digits Matter: The Importance of Hiring a Licensed Home Inspector

internachi-honor-guaranteeHiring a home inspector is important whether buying a home, preparing your own home to sell, or are a real estate agent attemtping to sell a house that has come into your care. However, hiring a quality home inspector is vital…and by quality, we are referring to one that is licensed and insured.
Why is it so important to verify that your inspector is properly licensed and covered?
First, a licensed inspector protects YOU. If something goes wrong during an inspector’s time in your home, or if there is any type of damage to your home or property during the inspection, you could be left liable and paying for it out of your own pocket if your home inspector is not properly licensed and insured. Additionally, if your inpsection is not completed by someone with the proper licesnure, it might not be considered valid by insurance companies. That means if your home ends up having a major (and often expensive) issue, you might be left holding the bill yourself since the insurance company won’t pay up on a home that wasn’t inspected to their specifications.
Secondly, a licensed professional protects your home. Licensed home inspectors are required to stay up-to-date on the latest statistics, equipment, requirements, etc. by participating in extensive continuing education classes and trainings. This means your inspection can not, and should not, be questioned by an insurance provider or anyone else requiring the home inspection. If something happens to your home, you can be confident that if it was cleared by a licensed home inspector before your purchase, and you have the proper documentation, the insurance company should have no problem providing compensation.
Residential Inspection Consultants are proud to serve Polk County with high-quality, personalized home inspection services that are backed by not only the proper license and insurance requirements, but InterNACHI certification as well. When you hire us, you know you are getting the very best, and you can be confident in your final inspection report. If you are preparing to buy or sell a home in the Central Florida area, give us a call!

Fact or Fiction? 5 Things Buyers Need to Know About Home Inspections

house-for-sale-2845213_640Home inspections have a variety of theories surrounding them. People often envision a guy going through their home checking off a host of things that are WRONG with the house, and the potential buyers nervously waiting on results, only to be disappointed as they read the report and (figuratively) see the house of their dreams come crashing down.
While this could be true in a (small) handful of circumstances, the typical home inspection experience is actually not that stressful, and can be very helpful to potential home buyers (or sellers!) when they want to feel good about their financial investment and living environment.
So, what are the myths you should watch out for, and what are the actual facts when it comes to having someone inspect your current or potential home?
Seller Responsibility
When an issue is found in a house, the most likely response an inspector will hear from the potential buyer is “Well the seller has to fix that, right?”. That is false. While some sellers are willing to work with potential buyers to repair issues in order to continue forward with the contract, people selling their home are not required to fix anything prior to selling their house under the average contract. While this is indeed frustrating to a potential buyer, it also shows the importance of hiring a home inspector before you sign on the dotted line. If you aren’t willing to spend the money to discover the issues and make the needed repairs, those issues could become larger and more costly (or dangerous!) and you need to re-negotiate the contract or walk away.
No Inspection Needed for New Homes 
This is a HUGE myth. New homes are no less subject to issues than any other house. If anything, in today’s world where homes are put together quickly and (unfortunately) cheaply, there can be a plethora of issues that aren’t visible to the naked and untrained eye. By hiring an inspector for your new home, you might be able to catch issues before an applicable warranty runs out, and that could save you a lot of money and trouble in the long run.
Old Stucco Is A Deal-Breaker
Not true. It’s actually the modern stuff you need to worry about. Old stucco (anything before the 1990s) is usually not a problem if it has been properly maintained. However, homes built during and after the 90s often have moisture issues with the stucco, and it’s recommended by many inspectors that you invest in an invasive moisture test before purchasing a post-90s stucco home.
Buyers Aren’t Welcome Until the End
This lies somewhere between fact and myth. It really depends on the inspector. Some ask that buyers only come at the end of the process, and then they can go over the report with the buyers in detail. Others actually prefer to have buyers go through the home with them, and they talk through issues as they come up. It’s best to communicate with your inspector and find out their preference. By following what they feel most comfortable with, you’ll end up with the best experience. On the flip side, home sellers, or their representing realtor, usually prefer to be on site during the inspection. This protects them, and the inspector, as there will be no debate as to whether an issue was pre-existing or happened during the course of the inspection.
We hope these tips will help you when you are in the market to purchase or sell a home. From the information above, you can clearly see that much lies upon the foundation of hiring a good quality home inspector who cares about your needs and wants the best possible outcome for you and your family. Here in Central Florida, new home construction and real estate selling is on the rise, and buyers are looking for someone they can trust. Polk County residents know that the answer is Residential Inspection Consultants. We are a family owned and operated business, and are equipped to handle all of your inspection needs, from 4-point insurance inspection to radon testing and everything in between. Give us a call to schedule your appointment!