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

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

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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.

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

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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!

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!