Why choosing a home inspector is critical!

For most people, buying a home is the single biggest investment they’ll make in their lifetime. With that being said, you should probably take a lot into consideration when you hire the person inspecting your new home.

Be picky about who's inspecting your new home!

It’s perfect. After months of searching, your ideal home (or so you thought) has landed in your lap. You have your pre-approval, you’ve got your offer, and the house is yours! It’s as if your future is coming into focus, and the new home is all but yours. And then the home inspector comes through.  The house has foundation problems. The wiring isn’t exactly up to snuff. The roof need replacing. My real estate agent RECOMMENDED this guy? The home inspection is probably one of the most critical portions of the home-buying process, yet very few people give it the due-diligence it deserves. Home inspectors are trained professionals that should have an un-biased and realistic take on the status of the property you’re considering. They’re there for your protection, and ultimately are there to let you know what you can and should expect with your new purchase. Not all home inspectors are created equal. Here are some tips you should consider when hiring a home inspector:

  1. Licensing isn’t enough:
Just because someone is licensed does not mean they are experienced. All home inspectors in New York State must be licensed. Look for an ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) certified inspector, the highest designation available for home inspectors. The qualifications include:
Passed the National Home Inspectors Examination. This multi-hour test is the only industry exam that is proctored by a 3rd party testing agency, the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
Submitted valid proof of performance for at least 250 fee paid home inspections.Had inspection reports successfully verified for compliance with ASHI standards.
Completed the ASHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics education module.

They are allowed to use the ASHI gold logo.ASHI

2.Get multiple recommendations: You obviously trust your realtor – that’s why you hired them in the first place. Therefore, you should trust their recommendations.  But in this case, why NOT get the names of two or three different inspectors. Question them. See what their approach is. Find someone you like!

3.Ask for a resume:  When you interview for a job, you can’t even be considered unless you have a resume. Why not expect the same from your inspector? Granted, everyone needs to get a start somewhere, so new inspectors may have less of a resume, but experience is key. You want someone that’s been around the block a few times. Or better yet, check out their website, which usually has much more information than a resume would.

4.Where’s my report? You’re paying for a professional inspection, so you obviously want a written record of the findings. Ask your inspector if you’ll receive a detailed report and by what method (hand-written, digital, with or without photos, etc.)  You want to have something your can reference quickly should an issue occur.

5.Can I attend the inspection? This is potentially YOUR property, therefore you should absolutely be able to be there during the inspection. Any experienced inspector should have no problem with this request, and should be more than willing to answer any questions you have regarding the inspection process, findings, and recommendations.

So there you have it – a bunch of food-for-thought when you decide to put an offer in on your next dream home.  As you can tell, home inspections are something I’m very passionate about, and I want to make sure that even if you don’t choose me as your inspector, that you’re getting the quality of service, professionalism, and experience that you deserve.

For any of your home inspection needs, you can trust Jim Brennan! Click here to visit our website and learn more about us!

4 Ways to keep your basement dry (#2 you can do this weekend!)

Over the past few weeks, the Rochester area has experienced a staggering amount of continuous rainfall over a few day stretch.  We have all seen the destruction that 6+ inches of rain, in hours, did in the Penn Yan area, but those situations are few and far between.

Don't let this happen to you!

Don’t let this happen to you!

The average homeowner in a climate like ours (semi-frequent bouts of steady, continuous, multi-day rainfall) in Western New York, does get the occasional occurrence of clear water in the basement. It’s a fact of life, especially if you live in a flood prone area or have an older home built before the days of poured concrete and waterproofing of foundations. But there are things you as a homeowner can do that can limit or potentially eliminate water or moisture from taking over your basement. There are various levels of costs and effectiveness, but these can give you an idea of just some of the steps you can take:

  1. Keep water away in the first place! Make sure the grade outside is pitching away from the foundation and the gutter downspouts are extended away from the foundation as well. If you have hose bibs install a “splash block” under the hose connection to help prevent leaking water from digging a hole and letting the water find its way into the basement.
  2. Drylok the exterior walls.  Drylock has been around since the 50’s, and it’s still one of the most effective ways to help prevent moisture from creeping in through the pores of your foundation. Prep your walls by scraping any decayed portions with a metal scraper, and removing any chipped or old paint. Spray a mixture of muriatic acid (wear gloves, a mask, and eye protection!) to kill any mold and mildew. Apply your first coat generously with a sturdy nylon-bristled brush (this part is painful and slow) and then apply a second coat with a thick knap (3/4″) roller. This stuff will last you years and it’ll really help keep the moisture out.  Just make sure to ventilate your work area well while applying, it can get quite pungent. This can be done in a weekend, or even a day if you find a friend!flood drylok
  3. Run a dehumidifier!  While a dehumidifier will not prevent a “flooded” basement, it will help in lowering the consistent moisture that builds up along your cold foundation walls during the summer.  Ever had a cold drink condensate on a hot summer day? That’s essentially the exact same thing that happens on your basement walls in the summer.  This should be considered a MUST for most readers that have an older home (pre 1950 or so), don’t have air conditioning, or frequently experience that musty, stale smell.  Set it for 50% humidity in the summer.  We also recommend connecting a hose directly from the dehumidifier to the sump crock so that you don’t have to worry about emptying the reservoir.   **Added benefit** – Most dehumidifiers have an exhaust fan. Tape a few dryer sheets or a car air freshener that clips onto the vents here, and you’ll instantly make it smell better!flood dehumidifier
  4. Add a sump pump.  This is suggested for those that frequently experience moderate or significant basement flooding.  Many old homes were built with “slab” basements.  They have the edges or gutters along the outside edges and walls that slope down to a drain at the lowest point of the basement. This was the pre-sump pump way to combat flooding.  Sump pump costs can add up (to over $1000), but they are very effective at siphoning water out of your basement and outdoors.  Contact your trusted plumber for information to see if you could benefit from a sump pump.flood sump

A moist, wet environment can lead to the growth of mold, fungus, attract insects and rodents, and lead to premature decay of your foundation, wood structure, and more.  Anything you do to eliminate moisture will be helpful in the long run. Jim Brennan is a licensed New York State home inspector, a member of the Better Business Bureau, and has over 36 years of experience in the construction industry.  Whether you need professional advice around your home, or are looking for a qualified inspector to check out your dream home, Jim can do it!  Visit our website here.

Great Tips to Help Your Home Inspection Go Smoothly!

Spring has finally come to Rochester and we are seeing a 19% increase in sales!  Excellent!   Wise consumers include home inspections as a contingency in their purchase contract.   At Independent Inspection Services, we want to partner with you to create a successful experience.

HomeInspection1Here are some tips we found to help sellers prepare for home inspections:

  1. Make sure the water is on
  2. Make sure the electricity is on
  3. Make sure the gas is turned on
  4. Make sure there is clear access to all electrical panels
  5. Make sure there is clear access to all crawl spaces
  6. Make sure there is clear access to all attics
  7. Make sure keys are left available to any locked spaces
  8. Seller should leave a phone number so that they can be reached if additional information is needed
  9. Turn off all computers,
  10. Take the pets to another location or if that is not possible, make sure they are safe and won’t limit the inspection.
  11. Allow access to the full access to the garage by leaving cars in driveway which will also allow for inspection of the overhead door. 
  12. Be prepared to stay away from home for at least  2 hours

Lets make it a “Bakers Dozen.”

13. Clear access to furnace and all appliances.

(To read the whole article, click here.)

openbookhomeAlso, in the height of a busy spring market, it’s also a great idea to consider a pre-inspection of a home before you list it.   Having a pre- inspection can show that you have nothing to hide, can highlight your home’s assets and can save you money in the long run!

Contact us today for your FREE customizable download to help your sellers and buyers prepare for an inspection!

Get Serious About Fire Safety

Fire safety. Take it seriously.


flames background

Because if you don’t, you run the risk of becoming a statistic. According to the NFPA, seven Americans lose their life due to fire every day in the United States.  It’s a startling statistic when you sit back and think about the way that technology has developed over the past several decades to help prevent these deaths from happening.

These stats aren’t to scare you, rather they’re to educate you. One of the main causes for the initiation of fires in homes goes back to carelessness, misuse, kids playing with lighters/matches, and accidents.  Many of these fires, whether fatal or not, could have been completely avoided in the first place.

Smoke detectors have come a long way in recent years.

When you look at the statistics about the number of deaths in homes that occur each year because of fire, there’s one VERY startling conclusion that is found year after year: most of the homes that had deadly fires had no working smoke detectors or inoperable ones (dead batteries, not connected, etc.) By simply being alerted, more than half of the reported deaths are estimated to have been avoided.  Read that sentence again.

In 2013, I watched an episode of “Dateline” that really resonated with me. Since then, I’ve included the following verbiage on all of my inspection reports.  Here’s how it currently stands:

Safety Issue: (Electrical/Smoke) We recommend dual sensor smoke detectors (photo-electric plus ionization type) and carbon monoxide detectors be installed on each level including the basement and mechanical room (if separate room) and in each bedroom and the hallways outside the bedrooms. We also recommend voice activated alarms in lieu of beeping alarms. We also recommend hard wiring with battery back-up by a licensed electrician. These should be checked every 6 months and the batteries changed every 6 months (minimum) as well, and the alarm should be replaced every 7 years (minimum). Please watch the 2 part YouTube video from March 25, 2013 from the TV program “Dateline” as well.
The videos I’m referencing can be watched here:
Dateline – Fire alarms Part 1
Dateline – Fire alarms Part 2
A good rule of thumb to remember how frequently to change your alarm batteries is to change them each time you change your clocks ahead and back for daylight saving time. You’ll never forget!
smoke ionsmoke
Last but certainly not least is the reminder to add a working carbon monoxide detector in your home.  It is suggested that you have one in each bedroom, one per floor where people sleep, and one on any floor with a natural gas operated appliance (stove, cooktop, furnace, dryer, etc.)
A modern CO detector

A modern CO detector

The most common problems that can lead to CO emergencies are old and inefficient furnaces, stoves, and dryers. Most deaths are reported as the result of a CO leak when the victim was asleep – they never even knew they had a problem.
The bottom line is that for less than $100 dollars you can outfit your home with the most up-to-date smoke and CO detectors today and greatly increase your safety.
Do you have a question about fire safety or detectors?  Feel free to ASK JIM:

Your Rochester home + extreme cold = potential problems

Let’s face it: this is one of the coldest winters on record in Rochester, NY, period. We’ve recorded more sub-zero temperatures this year so far that we did in the previous few winters.

Suffice it to say that in Rochester, we’re no strangers to cold, but it’s not common to be steadily below zero (and this far below zero) for this long. With that in mind, there are some concerns that every homeowner should be thinking about when (if!) the freeze ever decides to ease up.

Water is one of the only molecules on earth that actually EXPANDS when it freezes (ever had a pop bottle explode in your freezer?) Although most of us don’t have too much water outside, we do have some portions of our water systems exposed outside.

First thing you should check is all of your exterior water faucets.  If they look like this:

Evidence of a blown faucet

Evidence of a blown faucet

chances are you will be needing to replace that faucet. Fortunately, they are a fairly easy fix, but PLEASE remember to turn off your water service or shut off valve (if your plumbing is partitioned) before disconnecting.  You’ll want to do this as soon as the temperature gets back above freezing. A steady drip can lead to soil erosion, foundation problems, and of course a higher water bill!

Lights: If you have many exterior lights or motion detectors, it is certainly possible that some of them fell victim to the extreme cold.  Have you ever taken a hot glass out of the dishwasher and poured a cold liquid into it and had it shatter?  The same is possible from cold to hot (bulbs heat up VERY rapidly) and can lead to bulbs shattering.

Rapid cold -> hot could end up like this

Rapid cold -> hot could end up like this

Cracked driveways:  One of the biggest fallouts due to the cold in this area is the roads. Most Rochesterians have experienced the dreaded run-in with a monster-sized pothole.  Potholes started out as nothing more than small cracks in the asphalt. When water creeps into the cracks and freezes, it expands. This widens the cracks to an even larger size. Add in a few tons on the end of a plow blade a few times, and Voila! – you’ve got a new pothole.

How pavement cracks evolve

How pavement cracks evolve

You may not necessarily be plowing your driveway, but if you don’t seal your driveway often, you can can experience cracks of your own. Ignoring them won’t do you any good.  Many varieties of sealants are available at hardware stores, and you can also pay someone (or DIY!) to seal your driveway as well.  Here, and ounce of prevention goes a long way.

Hopefully these tips have helped you start to think about what some of your first spring-thaw projects should be. This cold isn’t normal, but there are things we can do to combat it and prepare for it next time around!


Have a Question about Your Home?  Ask Jim!  Need a home inspection?  Click Here!