Our VIP Home Inspection®: We are a multi-inspector firm. All our building consultants are licensed, certified, insured, and bonded. Our consultants perform a thorough inspection of the components and systems of the desired home. They will inspect to the highest standards outlined by either the State of Maryland (if applicable) or Virginia and in conjunction with the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI). Our VIP Inspection is based on a 500+ point checklist. Here is a partial list of things we verify for you:
- Foundation (slabs, walls, crawl spaces)
- Roof System (attic, insulation, trusses, ventilation, decking, shingles, and gutter systems)
- Exterior (sliding, trim, grading, landscaping, exterior features)
- Electrical System (main service and electrical panel, outlets, switches, fans, and other electrical fixtures)
- Cooling & Heating Systems (ventilation, ducts & registers, humidifiers, filters, and more)
- Plumbing (water heaters, fixtures, drains and supply lines)
- Interior Conditions (windows, doors, walls, ceilings, etc.)
- Attached Appliances (wall mounted microwaves, stoves, cooktops, and dishwashers)
Your next step is to hit our schedule now button and get yourself on our calendar before we are booked.
Individual Component or System Inspection
Many customers contact us to inspect a specific item or system they are questioning. For example, we do inspections of just your roof after a storm, the siding you had recently installed, or the water heater or furnace that has been making strange noises. These inspections are typically invoiced on a per hour formula. Contact our office for addition information or click here to schedule your appointment online.
Radon Gas Testing
Radon is a radioactive gas that has been found in homes all over the United States. In fact, the Surgeon General of the United States has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. We leave a small box with two E-Perm canisters at the home. The testing period is 48 hours. We will go back and retrieve the canisters and run the results in-house and email them directly to you and your agent is requested. The EPA recommends all homes be tested once a year for radon.
Pre Drywall/New Construction Inspection
This type of inspection is always fun for our inspectors. We like to describe it as getting an x-ray of your home. Before a home builder hangs the drywall and installs the finial fixtures and treatments all the plumbing lines, electrical wires, insulation, venting, studs, joists, rafters, and related infrastructure systems are exposed. We inspect them to make sure they have been done properly and to current residential code. The timing of this inspection is difficult because builders generally give you a small window and very little advance notice that they are prepared for this inspection. As you can imagine we are not well liked by most builders and as such need the flexibility of being a multi-inspector firm in order to jump when the window is open to us. Our report is provided to the buyer, agent, and builder for remediation. Once the builder has received the occupancy permit for the home we can return for the final inspection. Call our office for additional information or schedule your appointment today!
Well Water Analysis
This is a great water test for real estate transactions or for someone with a well that needs bi-annual testing to verify current drinking water quality. There is a big difference between well water testing and city water testing. When you have a well, you are responsible for maintaining the well and the quality of the water not the city. This well water test is taken from within the home and is analyzed over a seventy-two hour period and results are sent to you electronically for easy access and review. We recommend sharing the results with a local licensed plumber because in many cases you wouldn’t even know what you’re looking at or where to begin. Qualified plumbers can use this data to calibrate your system to meet EPA recommendations for quality.
The Complete Water Analysis covers:
Alkalinity measures the ability of the water to neutralize (or buffer) acids and keep the pH from changing. Sources: Rocks, soils, salts, plant activities, and certain wastewater discharges. Effects and Hazards: High water alkalinity causes higher algae and plant growth; while low alkalinity indicates that the water's ability to buffer acids is poor. If there are drastic changes in alkalinity, many chemical and biological processes will be affected.
Bacteria (Total Coliform, E Coli)
Coliform bacteria are present in soils and E. coli in human and animal feces. The presence of these bacteria may indicate surface water intrusion contamination or contamination from a septic system. EPA considers them to be the indicator organisms for “safe” drinking water.
Nitrate, Nitrite (MCL = 10 mg/L)
(MCL = 1.0 mg/L)
Major sources of nitrates or nitrites in drinking water include fertilizer, sewage and feedlots. Infants who drink water containing nitrates in excess of the MCL may develop shortness of breath and blue baby syndrome.
During the past 20 years there has been a general rise in chloride levels in wells resulting from salt being used for road de-icing. High levels contribute to the corrosiveness of water on pipes and heating equipment. It’s usually accompanied by high sodium levels, which can be a health concern to some individuals.
Copper (MCL = 1.0 mg/L)
Water can be a significant source of copper intake depending upon the geographical location, the character of the water, the temperature of the water and the presence of copper pipes. Copper has toxic effects at high dose levels and may cause kidney or liver damage; but it is an essential element at lower levels
Hardness is a measure of how much calcium and magnesium carbonate is dissolved in the water. Hard water is generally good tasting and good for you; however it can produce scaling on plumbing fixtures and give poor sudsing characteristics. FTL measures hardness in mg/L. Low = 0-75mg/L; moderate = 76-150mg/L; hard = 151-250mg/L; very hard 251 or more mg/L. 1mg/L is equal to 0.058 grains/gallon.
Iron (Guidance level = 0.3 mg/L)
When iron comes in contact with oxygen, it changes to a reddish compound that can discolor bathroom fixtures and laundry. It can also impart a metallic taste to the water
Lead (MCL = 0.015 mg/L)
Lead enters drinking water primarily as a result of the corrosion of materials containing lead that are in the water distribution system and household plumbing such as lead-based solder, brass, and chrome plated brass faucets. In some cases, it could come from pipes made of lead that connect your house water to service lines. High levels may cause delays in physical and mental development in children. In adults it may contribute to kidney problems and high blood pressure.
Turbidity refers to the degree of cloudiness in water due to suspended particles. If turbidity increases after a rain, it can indicate that surface water intrusion is occurring in the well. High turbidity levels are often associated with disease-causing microorganisms such as viruses, parasites and some bacteria.
(Recommended range 6.5-8.0)
pH is a measure of how acid or alkaline the water is. Low numbers (around 5) indicate acid water and are usually associated with corrosion problems, pin hole plumbing leaks and can contribute to high lead and copper levels.
City Water Analysis
This test is recommended for homes that get their drinking water from the city. The sample is taken from within the home and is analyzed over a seventy-two hour period and the results are sent to you electronically for easy access, storage, and review. The results will be based on the EPA recommended levels for: Bacteria (Total Coliform, E Coli), Lead, Nitrate, Nitrite, Total Nitrate/Nitrite, PH, Iron, and Turbidity.
Neighborhood Environmental Report
Home buyers today have more questions to ask than ever before about the house, the schools, and the neighborhood. We have two of the three covered completely - from our 500+ point home inspections report to our corporate relationship with Environmental Data Resources Inc (EDR). Our Neighborhood Environmental Report covers anything identified within 300 feet of your potential new home. We draw on the nation’s most complete source of environmental data and screen for potential liabilities like groundwater contamination, hazardous waste sites, vapor intrusion conditions and even illegal drug houses – or “meth labs.” Our certified EDR Inspector can provide a peace of mind for all parties involved in your real estate transaction. Follow the environmental blog at http://commonground.edrnet.com/groups/327b3a5904/summary
Mold...literally, a growing concern. National media attention has alerted the public to the destructive and possibly toxic dangers of hidden mold spores that could affect the family’s health and their homes. Now remember not all mold is dangerous and we can help you figure out what you’re looking at or smelling. Our inspectors provide the skills, equipment, and knowledge to properly sample air or take direct swab tests of suspicious growth in order to properly identify potentially high levels of pollutants. It is recommended that one indoor air sample be taken for every 1,000 square feet of livable space. You will receive an emailed PDF report, which details all the pollutants, identified and their levels and if remediation is recommended based on EPA benchmarks.
What test do you need? There are different tests for different situations. Let me explain what we are talking about here. If you see suspicious growth on a wall behind the furnace and want to know what that is, we will swab the area and can identify what spores are at that particular location. Swab tests are great if you can see the growth or discoloration and want to know what it is. Conversely, if you can’t see anything or even smell anything but you are instinctively thinking something is wrong we will do indoor air sampling. The thing about air samples is that you MUST take two samples at a minimum. The reason being is that one test will be taken inside the house and one outside. Why outside? The lab uses the outside sample to establish a bench mark. If for example, the outdoor test shows five types of mold at let’s say 500 spores each and the indoor sample has the same spores but at only 400 counts. Then you are at a higher risk walking to your mailbox then sitting in your home.
As mentioned above you should budget for one test per 1,000 square feet of livable space plus the outside test if doing air samples. So if your home is 1,300sqft we could do two tests but really you should have three. Schedule your test with us and when the inspector is there he may find it not necessary to take that second sample from inside.
Some examples of places where mold can be found inside the home include:
Kitchens (bottom of refrigerators)
Underside of carpets and pads
Surface of walls behind furniture (where condensation forms)
Ceilings and top side of ceiling tiles
Front and back side of drywall, wall paper or paneling
Inside HVAC systems and duct work
Clothing (yes it’s true)
Improperly vented attic or crawlspaces
Here are some resources you will find helpful:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
A brief guide to mold, moisture and your home
Once an area has been inspected for mold and possibly tested for mold pollutants you may wish to have the mold professionally remediated if necessary. Our building consultant are trained and certified to inspect and test for mold but not remediate. We specifically don’t remediate so that you know there is no actual or perceived conflict of interest. We don’t recommend having the same company that tests for mold be the company that remediates it. We want you to know that our testing is for you and not our financial gain through remediation.
There are several quality remediation firms in the area. Visit our resources page for some companies we recommend for remediation.
Septic Dye Testing
A dye test is a relatively low cost, non-invasive method for testing of private sewage treatment systems and is generally used for real estate transactions. It is a limited, performance based test. Essentially what our building consultant will do is figure out the flow rate of water in your house. It is figured in gallons of water per minute. Then dye is added to a toilet and flushed continuously until is gone. At the same time showers and sinks are run in the home. The idea is to send as much water as possible into the field. If the septic system is not working properly the dye will come to the surface and the beautiful green grass will be turned to an interesting red color!
This test does not provide a guarantee of the present, or future, performance of the system. It is not a full evaluation of a sewage treatment system, but nonetheless provides valuable information regarding the present performance of the system. A septic dye test is ideally suited for evaluation of septic systems for real estate sales purposes, since the test does not result in damage to the property, as would any excavation, and provides minimal disruption of the occupant's use of the home during the test. More comprehensive testing and evaluations are possible, and may be desirable, if greater assurance is needed. We only perform the dye testing.
Before the early 1970 is was not unusual to use interior and exterior paint products that had some level of lead. Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes. Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children 6 years old and under are most at risk, because their bodies are growing quickly. Our licensed inspectors use NON-TOXIC chemically impregnated pads, when moistened with water, provide the most accurate and reliable on-site results possible. Our test pads detect the presence of lead to as little as 5 parts per million (5pm).
If you need lead base paint testing for a rental property in Maryland we can’t help. Interestingly, Maryland requires specific certifications for testing lead paint in rental properties. The procedures and equipment used to test for lead in either a traditional real estate transaction or a rental property are the same. Nevertheless, Maryland requires a particular clearance document for rental properties. We have not perused this certification because of the lack of demand. If you are working a rental property call our office for a referral.
At onetime asbestos materials were used in everything from water pipe insulation to floor tiles. You can find homes today that still have asbestos siding, asbestos shingles, and asbestos attic insulation (although rare). Something you should know is that asbestos is still and always has been an excellent insulator. Asbestos products are not the actual problem. Issues arise when asbestos products are broken up and fibers become airborne. If you breathe these fibers then health issues can follow because the fibers irritate your lungs. If you know you have asbestos products in the home, don’t be foolish and attempt to remove them yourself or chip away at them. You can live safely with asbestos products. Many people simply tile or carpet over existing asbestos tiles and even install vinyl siding over asbestos siding. If you don’t know if you have asbestos products there are numerous website that give you visual examples of asbestos building materials. If you want to know for sure, we can test for you. Call our office or hit the schedule now button to schedule an appointment with one of our building consultants.
Trash Out Services
If you have a listing that you need to have trash removed, lawns cut, and punch items repairs completed at give us a call to schedule an appointment. If you can provide a combination or day-code we will send a Field Manager over to visit the site, take photos, and provide you with a detailed proposal. Your next step is to call our office and schedule us to visit the site and get the bid done.
Foreclosures Property Monitoring
Because of our department diversity and depth of talent, we are uniquely positioned to help property managers and real estate agents monitor and assess their real estate inventory. After working closely with a local leader in bank owned property management, we formulated a process of recording and delivering property condition worksheets. You can use these worksheets to govern your assets.
You hate routinely driving to all your properties to check and see if they have been broken into or vandalized or need simple lawn care. You know that there is little worse activity then having to drive out to these properties for initial assessments. Our customers hated doing them also and that’s why we created are exclusive solution. Contact our office to schedule meeting with us. We will work together to tweak our program to suit your specific bank’s reporting requirements.
You will feel the freedom of not having to run around looking at your inventory. Spend your time selling and buying properties, after all, that is why you became a realtor in the first place. Call today and get your piece of mind back
Some things we do
Initial assessment (Door Knock) $ call for information
Re--key service is available
Detailed assessment $ call for information
Service Utilities Follow-up/Inspection $ call for information
Applicable to homes previously lacking water, gas, electric
Service Repair Follow-up/Inspection $ call for information
Applicable to homes not repaired or serviced in anyway be TTBS
Periodical property inspection $ call for information
Per visit fee
What you should expect!
You should expect that our service efficiencies and professional experience will produce savings that will significantly offset your operating costs, including lost opportunity costs, presently hampering existing day-to-day operations.
Water Damage Safeguard/Winterization
Don’t think that because it’s warm outside that your vacant properties are protected from water damage. Just think back on your own experiences or about the horror stories from friends when they experienced water damage. The damage was not from frozen pipes. It was from a leaking water heater, leaking toilets, leaking ice maker supply line or a leaking supply line to a clothes washer.
You know it’s true. Talk with your home insurance agent. They will tell you that the two leading causes of water damage is leaking clothes washer supply lines and leaking toilets. Last time we checked, all your listings have toilets. We can safeguard your listing from this type of damage. Yes it’s the same process as winterization but it’s just as important to safeguard during the summer as in the winter. We will even go and turn everything back on before your home inspection. Call today and schedule your piece of mind for tomorrow.
MOLD - moisture stains and damage kill your deal again and delay everything… safeguard your properties today CALL NOW!
OK, you have a qualified contract on that listing you wish you never took. Now you need to get the house ready before the inspection. Call our office and we will turn on everything and have it ready – water heaters, gas fireplaces, furnaces, clothes washers, dishwashers, set thermostats, pressurize water lines, and even put air fresheners out! Don’t worry about driving out there. You’re covered from Top To Bottom! Go ahead call us and have us get it ready for you.
Vacation Home Watch
So you have a great vacation scheduled or you have to run out of town for a few days. You didn’t have time to stop the mail. You don’t remember if you turned off the lights. You don’t think you have any milk or bread in the refrigerator for the kids when you get back into town. You wish you had someone to just check and make sure all this stuff is done properly and that person could also give you a piece of mind by driving by and walking the property once in awhile. You know, check the doors, look in the windows, make sure the garage door is still down, stuff you would do for a neighbor. You found the answer… we are uniquely positioned to have one of our numerous field technicians to drive by and deliver that piece of mind. We even will send you status reports while on site. Want a photo sent to you – no problem.