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Proponents of modular homes claim that their indoor, environmentally controlled construction affords them greater strength and resilience than homes built on-site. They also tend to be constructed using more precise building techniques and with more building material than comparable site-built residences. One reason for this is that they must be able to withstand the stress of highway transport. A study by FEMA found that modular homes withstood the wind and water from Hurricane Andrew better than most other homes in the area. They take less time to construct than site-built homes, are more energy-efficient, and generally cost less.
Is it dangerous?
Several years after concern arose over high levels of formaldehyde found in some FEMA trailers, there is still a great deal of confusion regarding permissible levels of airborne formaldehyde in indoor environments. Additional attention was drawn to formaldehyde when elevated levels were found in laminate flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators.
In 1992, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) declared formaldehyde a “toxic air contaminant,” meaning that there is no safe level of exposure. In June 2004, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reclassified formaldehyde from “probably carcinogenic to humans” to “carcinogenic to humans,” specifically concerning nasopharyngeal (upper throat) cancer, while the National Toxicology Program (NTP) continues to classify formaldehyde as “reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen in humans” for nasopharyngeal cancer.
Steps to Reduce Exposure
Galvanic corrosion (also known as bimetallic corrosion or dissimilar-metal corrosion) is an electrochemical disintegration that occurs when dissimilar metals come in contact with each other while immersed in an electrolyte. Galvanic corrosion is of major concern anywhere moisture can reach metal building components. Corrosion as a broader category is defined as the disintegration of a material into its constituent parts, which may be caused by crevice corrosion, microbial corrosion, and high-temperature corrosion.
There are three conditions that must exist for galvanic corrosion to occur:
The Statue of Liberty is perhaps the most famous case of galvanic corrosion. Contact between the wrought-iron support and the outer copper skin amidst rainwater exposure has allowed the structure to gradually corrode. The famous icon’s builder anticipated this problem and installed asbestos cloth soaked in shellac insulation in the 1880s. This worked for some time until it dried up and became porous, acting as a sponge that held saltwater close to the contact points between the two metals. An inspection in 1981 revealed severe galvanic corrosion of the iron supports, causing them to swell and push saddle rivets through the copper skin. This rapidly worsening situation was the main drive to restore the statue in 1986, when the iron was replaced with a variety of corrosion-resistant steel. The solution has held up, and native New Yorkers and visitors alike have been able to enjoy a landmark free from corrosion that will last long into the 21st century.
Examples in Houses
Galvanic Corrosion Can be Prevented in the Following Ways
What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is a visual examination of the home’s major structure, systems and components that are visible and safely accessible. The inspector should substantially adhere to a standards of practice that outlines what should be covered during a general home inspection, as well as what is excluded. Some inspectors may strictly follow the standards of practice, while others, like Veteran Home Inspections, may exceed the standards and inspect other items, or perform a more detailed inspection. Whatever the inspector includes in his or her inspection should be discussed prior to the inspection – this is known as the scope of work. The inspector should be able to provide you with a copy or online link to the standards of practice they follow. The inspector should provide you with a written report, which may include photos and/or recommendations, of his or her findings of the inspection. Read InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice to find out what is typically included and excluded in a home inspection. For Texas Specific Standards of Practice, click here.
Why should I get a home inspection?
Buying a home is typically the biggest investment you will ever make, so it’s important to get a home inspection because the inspector should be able to discover and document defects that may or may not be obvious to you as a prospective buyer. Such defects can range from simple replacements or repairs, to severe damage or safety and health concerns. Additionally, most mortgage companies require a home inspection on a property before approving the home loan. Read InterNACHI’s Top 10 Reasons to Get a Home Inspection.
Where can I find a home inspector in my area?
There are several ways to find a home inspector. You may be able to find one online or in local ads. You may also find inspectors’ brochures by visiting a real estate office. There is no single method that is superior when it comes to finding an inspector who’s right for your inspection needs. If you are in the greater San Antonio, TX and Hill Country area, click here to schedule your home inspection, or call 210-202-1974.
If you are outside of our service area, here are some online resources for finding a home inspector near you:
How can I be sure that a home inspector is qualified?
It is important to choose a home inspector who is qualified and holds a license or certification in the field. Many jurisdictions do not regulate home inspections, meaning that anyone could call themselves a home inspector. However, just because someone performs home inspections doesn’t mean that they’re actually qualified to do so. If you are buying or selling a home in an unregulated jurisdiction, make sure to look for a home inspector with the proper certifications. If you are located in a state or province that does require licensing of home inspectors, you should hire only a licensed professional. Texas does license Home Inspectors.
Contact your state by phone or online to find out whether they license home inspectors, and what qualifications they’re required to have. License numbers in licensing states may vary in appearance, but you should be able to independently verify it. If your state doesn’t require licensing, find out what qualifications and certifications your home inspector has. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors – InterNACHI® – is the largest and most trusted home inspector association in the world. Its members undergo rigorous training to become Certified Professional Inspectors (CPIs)®. They also follow a Standards of Practice and adhere to a Code of Ethics. Also, the Master Inspector Certification Board grants qualified inspectors the title of Certified Master Inspector® (CMI®), which is the highest professional designation in the inspection industry. Find out if your inspector is licensed and/or a CPI or CMI® before you hire him or her. This will ensure that you are hiring only an individual who has received the best training to become a home inspector. Veteran Home Inspections is led by a Certified Master Inspector.
How much does a home inspection cost?
There is no set cost for a home inspection. The cost will vary based on the inspector, the local market, the geographic region, the scope of the inspection to be performed, and more. Before the inspection, you should find out what will be included in the inspection and what won’t, and these details should also be outlined in the inspection agreement that you will need to sign prior to the inspection.
How long does a home inspection take?
Depending on the home’s age, size, and location, as well as the home inspector’s own work protocols and ethic, your home inspection may take up to three hours. Adding square footage, outbuildings, and/or ancillary services (such as mold or lead paint testing) will increase that time. It may be necessary for your inspector to bring in a helper for a very large property. If your general home inspection takes significantly less than two to three hours, it may indicate that the inspector was not thorough enough.
At what point in the real estate transaction should I schedule a home inspection?
A home inspection is usually scheduled after an offer has been made and accepted, but before the closing date. That way, the inspector can rule out any major defects that could be dangerous or costly. In rare cases—due to timing or contractual issues—the inspection can be scheduled after the closing date. If this is the case, the home buyer should schedule the inspection for the earliest possible date after closing.
Should I be present for the inspection?
You should attend the inspection, and you should reconsider hiring an inspector who doesn’t allow this. You can learn a lot by following an inspector through the home. You will certainly gain a better understanding of the home’s condition, which will give you insight into its potential sale points and defects. Additionally, you will likely learn information about the home’s maintenance, systems and components that may provide useful for the transaction and ongoing maintenance of your home.
Can the home inspector also repair any defects he or she finds?
What if your home inspector is also a licensed contractor? Sounds great, right? Not always. Although it may seem convenient to have an inspector who is also a contractor, it poses a conflict of interest. According to InterNACHI’s Code of Ethics:
The InterNACHI member shall not perform or offer to perform, for an additional fee, any repairs or associated services to the structure for which the member or member’s company has prepared a home inspection report for a period of 12 months. This provision shall not include services to components and/or systems that are not included in the InterNACHI Standards of Practice.
If an inspector financially benefits from finding any defects, this can impact the accuracy of the report (whether intentional or not). Make sure the inspector you hire abides by a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
What happens if the inspection reveals problems?
If your home inspection reveals any problems, it is important to understand the severity of the defect. For example, a missing shingle or dirty air filter can be easily fixed at a low cost. However, if the defect is more extreme, such as a major foundation crack, wood-destroying organism infestation, or evidence of mold, you should find out how these problems can be addressed, and whether you can negotiate their cost with the seller. If it is determined after you move in that your home has a severe defect that wasn’t reported by your InterNACHI® Certified Master Inspector®, you should check to see if he or she participates in InterNACHI’s “We’ll Buy Your Home Back” Guarantee. Veteran Home Inspections offers this on all home inspections.
What is the Buy-Back Guarantee and how does it work?
If your InterNACHI® Certified Professional Inspector® participates in the Buy-Back Guarantee, InterNACHI® will buy your home back if the inspector misses something on your inspection.
Here’s how this program works:
What about warranties?
A normal home inspection is just a snapshot in time, and there is no warranty of future conditions or issues that will arise. Some home inspection companies, like Veteran Home Inspections, offer a full package of warranties that provide some protection to you for stuff that pops up within 90 days of the inspection. The best home inspection companies will also offer an extended home warranty at an additional cost that can cover you for 18 months after purchase. For information on our 90 day warranties, click here. To check out the best 18-month home warranty in the industry, click here. If you are shopping around, make sure the inspector will actually stand behind their inspection.
Colorado State University divides defensible space into three categories in the following manner:
Zone 1: The first 15 feet from a home should be devoid of all flammable vegetation. Firewood and other flammable materials should not be stored in this region.
Zone 2: This area of fuel reduction should extend from Zone 1 outward to between 75 to 125 feet from the structure. Trees and large shrubs should be no less than 10 feet apart, especially in steep terrain. Trees must also be pruned to a height of 10 feet from the ground, and any “ladder fuels” (vegetation with vertical continuity) removed from the base of the trees. Grass, trees and shrubs in this region should be green and adequately spaced. Pine needles, dead leaves, branches, dead or dying vegetation and other flammable debris on the ground should be removed whenever they appear.
Zone 3: This region of traditional forest management is of no particular size, although it normally extends to the property limits. More trees are permitted here than in Zone 2, although their health and vigor should be maintained.
If your septic tank failed, or you know someone whose did, you are not alone. As a homeowner, you are responsible for maintaining your septic system. Proper septic system maintenance will help keep your system from failing and will help maintain your investment in your home. Failing septic systems can contaminate the ground water that you and your neighbors drink and can pollute nearby rivers, lakes and coastal waters.
In short, YES!
With the amount of new construction going on in this area, an inspection on new construction is critical. First and foremost, outside of the major cities, there isn’t any code enforcement. In other words, the city or county doesn’t inspect the builders work. Some builders will hire their own inspectors to check up on their work, but this is really not sufficient. I have seen these inspectors on site, and to be honest, I was not impressed. They work for the builder, and therefore, are beholden to them. Some have even outright lied and tried to tell buyers that the city inspected it, when they are outside city limits.
Most new construction contracts allow for 2-3 inspections throughout the building process. The most common are pre-drywall and pre-closing (or final) inspection. Some will also allow for slab inspections. Make sure you get an inspector in at every opportunity, as we always find issues. If you are presented with a contract that limits inspections to less than these, don’t sign it. Also, beware of clauses that may restrict the inspector. One large builder recently tried to prevent inspectors from things like inspecting the roof, opening the electric panel, and running appliances. I think they were publicly shamed into changing their stance on that though (but if you get something like this, let me know). Also, make sure you can pick your inspector. Some will try to steer you to the blind inspector that never finds anything major. We’ve had a couple builders try to blacklist us because we found too much, but thankfully (for our customers) they didn’t succeed.
So, what do we find on new construction? Just over the last few months we’ve found issues with just about every major component. Missing rebar in the foundation, damaged and improperly installed roofs, framing deficiencies, improper gas lines, electrical issues galore, heat registers that weren’t hooked up, plumbing leaks too numerous to count, missing insulation, and dangerous decks.
Another inspection that people are starting to get more frequently, is the 11-month warranty inspection. Almost every new home comes with a 1-year warranty. Make sure you get an inspection at the 11 month mark, so that we can not only find hidden issues that may have popped up, but we can also document that they were there before the warranty expired.
We know that you are spending a lot of money for your new home, and an inspection is just one more expense. I can honestly say though, that we have never found less in needed repairs than our fee. We do offer discounted packages for more than one inspection on a new construction house.
To schedule your new construction home inspection, call 210-202-1974 or click the link to request an inspection at the top of this page.
Fresh air and adequate air circulation will significantly improve your home air quality. When weather permits, open your windows and patio doors to allow the fresh air to circulate throughout your home. Turn on the ceiling fans to circulate airflow when opening windows isn’t an option. Purchase an air purifier for your home during winter months and for basements without windows. Make sure your exhaust fans are cleaned regularly and that exhaust systems from your appliances are checked regularly for sufficient performance.
Plants emit oxygen and they also absorb carbon dioxide. NASA’s Clean Air Study researched how effective plants can be in purifying indoor air. Their studies generated a list of which plants were most effective in filtering benzene, formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, toluene and trichloroethylene from the air inside of your home. The plants capable of filtering the most toxic chemicals from indoor air are: English ivy, peace lily, chrysanthemums, red-edged dracaena, and the variegated snake plant. Purchase several houseplants and place them throughout your home. It is suggested to have at least one plant per 100 square feet for maximum effect. These are common house plants and can be purchased from a local nursery. You can also order these plants from online retailers. Make sure to watch how much you water them since over watering can lead to mold growth.
Dust, pollen, pet dander, and particles settle on the surfaces of objects and flooring in your home. If you want to breathe healthier air you will need to thoroughly clean your home in order to get rid of these irritants. Vacuum carpeting with a HEPA filtered unit. Dust surfaces and clean hard wood and tile flooring with a microfiber cloth that will trap these irritants and particles rather than just moving them around. Pay attention to areas where dust and other particles may accumulate such as the tops of ceiling fan blades, the tops of doors and windows, and taller appliances.
Chemical cleaners contain dozens of toxic materials contaminating your home air. Many cleaning products contain over 100 chemicals including: formaldehyde, benzene, chloroform and toluene. Use natural cleaning products such as vinegar and baking soda as a healthier alternative. Air fresheners and fragrance sprays contain toxic chemicals. Many popular brands of air fresheners contain phthalates, which have been proven to cause birth defects, reproductive problems, and hormonal abnormalities. They also may contain cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde. Get rid of these and any other household products you use containing hazardous chemicals or limit their use and store them in an airtight container.
To schedule your Indoor Air Quality testing, including Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Formaldehyde, and Mold, contact Veteran Home Inspections at 210-202-1974, or click the link above!
A fresh & clean smelling home is desired by all. This desire drives consumers to purchase air fresheners, sprays, and plug-ins regularly. What we must consider however, is how the air fresheners affect your health, your pets, and the home environment.
The type of air freshener you choose will determine the level of chemical impact it has on the indoor air. Scented items and fresheners that use flame, such as candles and incense, can add micro-particulates and formaldehyde to the air in addition to the unregulated fragrance chemicals. Spritzing or spray fresheners can introduce additional chemicals such as alcohols, propylene glycol, glycerin and many others to your air. A number of chemicals such as propane or butane, ethers, carbon dioxide, or Freons™ may also be present, acting as the propellant in aerosol cans or carrier liquid in standard pump spray bottles. Gel and potpourri style fresheners are the least intrusive and may also be perceived as less effective. Used in moderation, scented air fresheners can be pleasant. Which should you choose to ensure the comfort of your family and guests?
1. What ingredients are in the air freshener? Check labels but also know that certain toxins may not be listed such as the specific chemicals used to produce the fragrance itself.
2. Are there pregnant people in the house? Pregnant women, elderly, and children are more susceptible to adverse health effects that are a result of the added chemicals from the air fresheners.
3. Do people have allergies in the house? Those with allergies may experience adverse reactions or heightened symptoms with the use of aerosol/spray fresheners in addition to fresheners that add particulates to the air.
4. Is there a smell you are trying to mask? If there is a specific smell you can’t seem to get rid of, you may want to have your home’s indoor air quality tested. You may have an active mold growth problem.
5. How often will you use the freshener and can it be sealed while not in use? Moderate use of air fresheners should not have a lasting effect on the indoor air quality as long as they can be properly sealed and stored when not in use. Long term use of air fresheners can add significantly to the Total Volatile Organic Compounds in the air. In many cases, additional units may be purchased as you become accustomed to the smell, compounding the ill effects.
There are ways to freshen stale air in the home without harsh chemicals. Never underestimate the use of open windows when the weather permits. Keep up on cleaning duties such as the garbage, dishes, and vacuuming. Remember to use vent fans and allow for fresh air exchange during deep cleaning with harsh cleaners. Opt for the use of natural fresheners such as flowers and baking soda, and use indoor air quality purifiers with VOC trapping filters when needed. If you suspect a more serious odor problem such as mold growth, an indoor air quality test can help to determine the source.