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A Realtor’s Guide to Digital Marketing
Four Steps to Get You Virtually Up and Running
According to data gathered for the National Association of Realtors Generational Trends Report (March 2020), the first step most home buyers take in the home search process is to look online for properties. According to NAR, a whopping 84% of home buyers used the internet to search for homes, and that was before a global pandemic sent even more people online.
Thanks to that pandemic and some local restrictions, most of us are unable to interact with customers in our usual way. In person meetings and events are difficult to manage, and flat-out barred in some places. However, we know it’s important that you remain focused and continue to give your real estate business the attention it deserves!
One area of business you can increase your focus on is marketing. The beauty of online marketing is that it’s both effective and convenient. You can execute your plan with nothing other than your computer. Check out some online marketing strategies below!
Create a Blog
Reach a larger audience by starting a blog. A blog is a space for you to post and share high-quality content, which will increase your value to any current or potential customers.
When brainstorming content ideas, ask yourself these questions:
What areas of real estate are the most confusing?
What are the most common questions I get?
What do my customers always want to know?
Although you won’t see results overnight, starting a blog has many long-term benefits. A blog allows you to create authority, be viewed as an expert in your industry, and drive traffic to your business website.
Use Facebook Ads
Real Estate Facebook Ads are an effective way to target leads and capture prospects. Facebook Ads even has a category for “Buying a House,” meaning you can explicitly target people who are actively looking to buy or sell a home.
Your Facebook ads should highlight your home listings. Show off the properties with video tours and high-quality pictures. The ads should always include vital information, such as price, location, and square footage.
Maintain a steady presence by advertising year-round but be cognizant of trends in your specific market. Tap into potential leads on Zillow, Realtor.com, and Trulia.
Facebook ads take practice. Most of the time a business will run multiple variations of an ad to see which one works best. It can take some time to find the right one, but that’s okay, and there are many online resources that can help.
Connect with Others on LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn Groups are a great place for you to connect with others in your industry or niche market, both locally and across the country. These groups provide a huge networking opportunity by allowing you to build your online presence.
Search LinkedIn for real estate-related groups you’d like to join, such as niche markets and local trends. If you can’t find your ideal group, start your own! Starting your own group is beneficial because it automatically puts you in a position of leadership.
LinkedIn Groups also give you the opportunity to contact people you might not have mutual connections with. You can message other group members without being connected, which can be extremely beneficial for growing your network.
Instead of using these groups as a place to sell your services, however, add value by contributing to a conversation or discussion board. Stay in the spotlight by contributing regularly, but don’t overshare.
Optimize Your Website for SEO
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, determines where your website will fall on a search engine page, such as Google. The higher your ranking, the more traffic your site will receive. Including keywords on your webpage can improve your ranking and increase your chances of getting noticed.
Do you have a real estate niche? If so, you’ve already got the perfect keyword. Think of all the results that would come up if you were to google “houses for sale in Miami.” Now, imagine Googling “Miami waterfront homes.” The search results will decrease dramatically. This is SEO in action! You’ll score a higher ranking and drive more traffic to your site.
Always use keywords in your website and online profile. Be specific! Don’t just say you’re a Real Estate Agent if you have an area of specialty. Say that you’re a Real Estate Agent specializing in waterfront homes in Miami, or first-time home buyers in Florissant, or country homes and farms! People want to work with the realtor who specializes in the area they’re interested in.
SEO is a somewhat convoluted concept, and good SEO takes consistent effort overtime. Dedicate the time that would be spent on in-person visits, or other marketing methods that are currently unavailable, to learn the ins and outs of SEO. Your business will thank you!
Implementing these four strategies will serve you and your business long after restrictions on in-person marketing are lifted.
How Serious Is a Slow Drain?
Is it a simple clog or a collapsed sewer line?
Most of us have encountered a slow drain at some point. It usually starts as very minor occurrence. You might notice it after you wash your hands. You turn the tap off, and it takes a minute for the water at the bottom of the sink to drain out. Often, we ignore the initial signs of a slow drain because it’s not really causing any inconvenience.
But slow drain problems tend to get worse over time. It might have been hardly noticeable last month, but now you turn on the water and the sink begins to fill unexpectedly. Or you’re taking a shower when you notice you’re standing in an inch or two of water. Once you turn the taps off, the water does drain, but it takes its sweet time.
Slow drains can be a simple fix, or the sign of a more serious problem. There are a few things that homeowners can check to get an idea how serious the problem might be. First, determine if you are dealing with one slow drain—a single shower or sink—or is this happening in many or most of your drains?
A single slow drain may be a simple DIY repair. When only one drain is slow or backing up, the issue is often a clogged drain line. In the case of a bathroom sink or shower, this is often the result of hair that’s built up and caught in the line or trap. You may be able to clear the line yourself.
Try clearing the line using a plunger. An old-fashion sink plunger can be quite effective at pushing the clog past a bathroom sink p-trap and into the wider sewer line. A power plunger may be more effective for clogged toilets or kitchen sinks which may need the blast of pressurized water it creates to break up or dislodge the blockage and move it down the pipe.
Try cleaning the line using a small auger or drain snake. There are several products of different sizes and types available at most hardware stores. Some are simple barbed strips of plastic or metal that can catch on material lodged in the drain and allow you to pull it free. Others can be attached to a power drill and add a little force to the process.
Avoid harsh chemical drain cleaners which are toxic and can damage your plumbing. Most commercial chemical drain cleaners use hydrochloric acid as a principal ingredient. These cleaners can cause eye, nose, and skin irritation. It’s also corrosive and can eat away at plumbing pipes. There are products which can be effective on minor clogs but are still mild enough to do no harm. Both Coke and Pepsi have fairly high levels of phosphoric acid, which can break down a minor buildup clogging your drain but isn’t as harsh as commercial drain cleaner. Pour a can of warm soda into the drain and let it sit for 30 minutes, then flush with hot water.
If the problem persists or soon recurs, it’s time to call a plumber. A persistent or recurring slow drain can be the sign of a more serious problem and requires a professional with the expertise and equipment to troubleshoot the issue and make appropriate, lasting repairs.
Several fixtures draining slowly may the sign of a more serious problem. Your home has a series of pipes and vents that make up your plumbing drain system. Problems in the vent lines, drainpipes, main sewer line, or septic system can cause drain issues affecting your entire home. These parts of the plumbing system can be difficult to access, making them harder to use DIY fixes. Left unrepaired, these drain issues can cause serious damage to your plumbing system and create messy backups that damage your home and your belongings.
Vent lines allow free air flow that equalizes the pressure in your drainpipes and main sewer line. If a vent line becomes clogged, drainage slows, and more serious problems can arise. In autumn, falling leaves and debris can clog vent pipes. In winter, heavy snow and ice can build up on the roof, blocking the vent. In spring and summer, bird sometimes build nests atop the pipe opening, blocking the vent. One symptom of a blocked vent line is a “gurgling” sound during draining.
Drainpipes connect your individual fixtures to your main sewer line. Drainpipes can become clogged by the same materials that can build up in sink traps and other fixtures. Hard water can create problems in galvanized steel drainpipes (found in some homes built before 1980). The limescale deposits inside these drainpipes can seriously restrict water flow over time.
The Main Sewer Line carries all the wastewater from your home out to the city sewer system or your septic system. Everything that goes down your drains passes through your main sewer line. So, everything that can clog those drains, can also build up and clog the main sewer line. Your sewer line is also subject to outside issues that can cause slow draining. Crushed or broken pipes, root intrusion, earth movement affecting angle or creating offsets (separations in the line) can all lead to slow draining—and worse yet, they can cause the sewer line to back up into your home. The only way to determine the health of the main sewer line is by having a camera inspection or sewer scope performed by a certified professional sewer inspector. These inspections can often find hidden problems before they create a messy backup inside your home.
Septic Systems are underground wastewater treatment structures often found in rural and semi-rural areas. Wastewater from your home is piped to the septic system for basic treatment. Your septic tank is a simple onsite sewage facility for your personal use. Problems with the septic system can cause waste to build up too fast for the system to handle. That waste can then back up into your main sewer line, cause slow drains inside your home. Septic systems are generally the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain, so a regular septic inspections and maintenance is advised.
A single slow drain may be a simple clog, or it may be an early warning of something more serious. Try to clear the drain as soon as you notice an issue to keep the clog from becoming a bigger problem further down the line. If you can’t clear it, don’t ignore it. Call a professional.
Multiple slow drains should never be ignored because they generally indicate a larger, more serious problem. One fairly inexpensive step to take is to have your main sewer line scoped by a certified sewer inspector. Since problems with this line can be some of the most expensive drain system issues a home can have, having yours checked will give you a good idea what you need to do to maintain it and protect your entire sewer system and keep your drains flowing freel
Why have a home security system. The dogdays of summer are here.
Did you know this is also the time of year when most residential burglaries occur?
According to the FBI, there were more than 1.2 million burglaries in the U.S. in 2018 (the last year for which we have complete data). That a burglary every 25 seconds. July and August are the busiest months for burglars. Statistics show that more than 95 percent of burglaries involve break-in by force, such as by breaking a window or door lock and 59 percent of home burglaries occur during the day while residents are at work or at school. Homes with a lot of cover, like large bushes, trees, fences, and gardens, are more likely to be broken into.
Victims of burglaries suffered an estimated $3.4 billion in property losses in 2018—about $2,700 in property losses per burglary.
And those are just the thieves who get inside. Porch pirates steal about 1.7 million delivered packages every day according to a study by the New York Times. One in three Americans report having at least one package stolen from their front porch or stoop. And nicer neighborhoods see a higher number of these thefts than lower income neighborhoods do according to Nathan Richter, Senior Partner of Wakefield Research.
The U.S. Postal Service reports postal inspectors arrested almost 2,500 suspected package thieves in 2018. But those thefts add up to more than $25 million in stolen items every day—more than $9.1 billion a year, according to C+R Research. Nicer neighborhoods see a higher number of porch pirates than lower income neighborhoods do according to Nathan Richter, Senior Partner of Wakefield Research.
In many cases, a security system could prevent homes from becoming a part of these statistics. The National Council for Home Safety and Security says that homes without alarms are three times as likely to get burglarized. It’s also important to point out that residential burglaries have declined nearly 40% since 2014 according to the FBI, while the number of residential security systems rose.
Security company window stickers and yard signs can deter crime. A comprehensive five-year study by researchers at the Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice found that residential burglar alarm systems decrease crime. According to the study, the presence of a home security system deters burglars from breaking into that home and acted as a deterrent for neighbors’ homes too. And a neighborhood or community with several homes that have security systems installed deterred burglars from the entire area.
The jury is still out as to whether Doorbell cameras stop thieves, but police say they can play a role in solving crimes. St. Louis County Police officer Tracy Panus told KMOV-TV these videos do help. “I think they are a fantastic investigative tool”, she said. Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp told Government Technology Magazine that doorbell camera videos have helped police investigating crimes including residential burglaries, package thefts, auto break-ins and vandalism.
According to data insights firm Strategy Analytics, global spending on doorbell cameras is expected to triple from $500 million in 2019 to $1.4 billion by 2023. These tiny electronic watchdogs monitor who come and goes. They offer video streaming and let you use your smart phone to chat with visitors, keep an eye on kids coming home from school, and watch for package deliveries. They can be tied to door locks and motion detectors and can be part of a professionally monitored home security system.
Nathan Stroup of Secure 24 specializes in working with new home buyers. Stroup says security systems today are highly customizable and come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges. Consumers have access to multiple DIY options as well as fully monitored and automated systems that can integrate with all a home’s other systems like heat and lighting. Stroup says it’s important to do a little homework to get the features that fit your needs and your budget, especially if you’re doing it yourself. “There’s just so much available today,” he said.
Working with a full-service security company can be very helpful according to Stroup. “There are dozens of features and hundreds of ways to configure a system,” Stroup said. “ADT clients can get everything from a basic system with motion detectors, door sensors, and doorbell cameras, to complex set ups with indoor and outdoor cameras, and smart home integration, and control it all using virtual assistants like Alexa,” he said.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners can see substantial savings on their insurance by installing anti-theft security systems. Monitored home security systems can lower a homeowner’s insurance premium by as much as 10-20 percent a year. Even adding a camera doorbell can cut a home insurance policy rate by five percent or more.
Pat Howard at Policy Genius says even with the savings, “you probably shouldn’t get a home security system if the end goal is to make your homeowners insurance cheaper,.” You just don’t save enough to fully cover the costs. “However,” he said, “you should get a home security system if your goal is to make your home a safer place and prevent future theft claims down the road.”
Secure 24 ADT Rep Nathan Stroup talks about evaluating a home’s security needs:
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Buying a home is be the biggest purchase most people will make in their lifetimes. So, it’s important to invest the process. The home inspection is a critical part of the home buying process. It provides buyers with an impartial, professional, visual assessment of the home they are about to purchase. This gives buyers and their agents a valuable tool for negotiation, so it needs to give them as much information as possible. Enter infrared thermography.
As with most other industries, scientific advancements and new technologies have broadened the scope of a thorough home inspection and improved the inspector’s ability to assess the condition of the home. The development of modern tools like accurate, short term radon testing devices and air quality pumps and cassettes has allowed home inspectors to provide radon testing and airborne mold testing and given buyers valuable insights into the health or health risks of a home. Likewise, thermal imaging or infrared (IR) cameras have given home inspectors a whole new way to evaluate the home that gives buyers and their agents information that was previously unavailable to them.
Thermal imaging or thermography is an advanced, non-invasive technology that uses infrared imaging to take pictures of temperature variances of surfaces. These non-contact tools give the inspector the ability to see things that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Infrared thermography can’t actually see behind walls, but it can detect temperature differences on the surface of walls, often revealing what’s hidden. This technology can help the inspector identify and document issues that may not be apparent in a visual inspection. Using an infrared camera can reveal moisture intrusion, heat and energy loss, unexpected hot spots, and more.
IR cameras can detect moisture intrusion. They can find otherwise hidden plumbing leaks. They can help inspectors locate missing, damaged, or wet insulation. They can reveal unseen leaks before the damage gets serious. According to the US Department of Energy, “because wet insulation conducts heat faster than dry insulation, thermographic scans of roofs can often detect roof leaks.” Thermal imaging can also expose water and moisture intrusion at the foundation, subfloor, and around exterior doors and windows that could lead to structural damage and mold.
Thermography is excellent for determining issues of heat loss and air infiltration. These can be revealed in walls, ceilings, floors, windows, and doors. This technology can help an inspector find damage in radiant heating systems and determine if something is malfunctioning. Thermal imaging makes air conditioner compressor leaks visible. It can shine a light on structural defects that can lead to energy loss, like under-fastening or missing framing members. An infrared camera can detect broken seals in thermal windows.
Infrared imaging is excellent for finding hidden hot spots. These can be a sign of significant safety or fire hazards. Infrared cameras are effective at locating hotspots caused by circuit breaker defects, overloaded and undersized electric circuits, and overheated electrical equipment. Thermal imaging can find electrical faults before they cause a fire.
Thermal imaging can be used to help determine if appliances are working correctly. Properly operating appliances will exhibit surface temperature differences that can easily be picked up with an infrared camera.
Thermal camerascan’t see behind walls, but by using infrared technology, they can find a lot of problems that might not be obvious upon visual examination. Some of the other things IR cameras can reveal include serious hazards like exhaust flue leaks which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. They can spot heat signatures created by intruders like mice, rats, raccoons, and other pests hiding in the walls or ceilings of the home. They can even help the inspector see termite and ant infestations by revealing points of energy loss through shelter tubes leading outside.
Infrared inspections have their limits. Thermal imaging is not an X-ray or similar technology. An IR camera can’t see through walls. It can only detect conditions that produce a temperature difference at the surface of the evaluated area. The thermal imaging device can’t see behind any obstructions including furniture, pictures or anything that will obscure the surface of the area being evaluated. Specific condition must be present for infrared imaging to find wet building materials, but when those condition are met, the images are telling.
As with any type of inspection, thermography can’t predict future conditions. But it can give your inspector insight into conditions that could predictably worsen. Finding hidden moisture intrusion along the roof line using thermal imaging allows for repairs to be made before it causes serious structural problems.
Our inspectors are Certified Residential Thermographers. That means they are trained and tested professionals. Interpreting the data gathered using infrared thermography is perhaps the most critical aspect of a thermal imaging inspection. Infrared images must be interpreted by an expert who understands the limits of the technology and issues that can cause errors in measurements like dry areas and reflected heat. Professionals understand the limits of surface readings. A qualified interpretation lets buyers know what the findings mean. Is the issue found is of immediate concern, like an overloading circuit breaker, or a home improvement item, like adding insulation to an exterior wall? The distinction is critical. Our certified inspectors have the skills and know-how to accurately interpret infrared images and explain their findings in clear language that puts the issues found in proper perspective.
We expect thermal imaging to rapidly become one of the more indispensable implements in our home inspection toolkit. The IR camera equipment is expensive enough that not every inspector offers this type of inspection. Those who do often charge a hefty ancillary fee. Not us.
At Hawley Home Inspections, we feel the information gathered using infrared imaging is too important to leave out of a complete home inspection, so just like our free WDI/termite inspection, we are making it part of the standard home inspection process. And issues found with IR equipment during the home inspection are included in the free follow-up inspection. This is the only sure way to determine whether the repair work performed has effectively addressed the issues that our thermal imaging inspection uncovered.
Our mission is to set the standard for the home inspection industry in the St. Louis region by providing our clients the most thorough, highest quality professional inspections they can get and to do so at a fair price. Adding infrared thermography to our home inspections without charging extra is part of accomplishing that mission.
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(HawleyHomeInspectionsLLC.com) Radon Gas is an odorless, colorless gas that can build up in your home. It is a known carcinogen and the second leading cause of lung cancer (right behind smoking) according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC reports that Radon induced lung cancer kills about 21,000 people in the US each year—that’s about twice the number the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2018. It’s around six times the number of drowning deaths and eight times the number of people killed in home fires each year. Of those 21,000 lung cancer deaths, about 2,900 occur among people who have never smoked. It is the single leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
How do we know Radon is bad for us?
Scientists first discovered the harmful effects of Radon gas after occupational studies of miners showed those exposed to Radon gas over time had developed higher than normal rates of lung cancer. There was initially some debate about whether the data applied to Radon gas in the home. In 2005, that debate ended after two studies—one in North America and one in Europe—both confirmed the radon health risks predicted by the occupational studies. They found that breathing low levels of radon, like those found in some homes, leads to an increased risk for lung cancer.
Radon gas is radioactive. It is a natural byproduct of mineral breakdown that is all around us. The United States is a mineral rich nation. This is especially true in the Midwest. One of the minerals found in our soil is uranium. It is present in small amounts in many kinds of rock. Over time, uranium breaks down. When it does, it releases radioactive radon gas.
The radon gas moves up through the soil and water, eventually making its way into the atmosphere. That’s not a problem outdoors, where the gas can dissipate into the air, harming no one. The problems occur when radon gas builds up indoors.
There is generally some Radon present in all homes according to the EPA. Prolonged exposure to even moderate levels of radon is a health risk. The EPA strongly urges mitigation when a radon test indicates radon levels at or above 4.0 pCi/L (picocuries per liter). That’s because Radon is a known carcinogen or cancer-causing agent. The harmful effects of radon exposure happen over time. The stronger the concentration of Radon and the longer one is exposed to it, the higher the risk of developing lung cancer.
How can I find out if my home has a Radon problem?
Since Radon gas is odorless, you can’t smell it. It has no color or opacity, so you can’t see it. It has no flavor, so you can’t taste it. The only way to know if there is Radon building up in your home is to test for it. Testing is simple, inexpensive, and can be done as part of the home inspection when you buy your home, or at any time thereafter.
There are various types of radon tests. Some require leaving testing material in place for several months or more. Others can be completed in as little as a few days. Home testing kits are available at your local hardware store. These are inexpensive and fairly easy to use, but they lack tamper-resistance and protection from test interference, so can yield false results. Most real estate transactions rely on professional testing by certified technicians using sophisticated equipment.
What kind of test is used for real estate transactions?
The most popular Radon tests for real estate transactions are performed using machines called Continuous Radon Monitors (CRM). The CRMs are placed in the lowest livable level of the home (generally in the basement if there is one). One CRM must be place over each foundation type, because different foundation types allow differing amounts of Radon to seep inside. One machine can cover an area of up to 2,000 square feet. So, additional CRMs must be placed in larger homes. Readings are taken over a minimum of 48 hours.
Since Radon gas is radioactive, CRMs measure the amount of radioactivity in the atmosphere. The current standard of measure is picocuries per liter (pCi/L). A picocurie is a measure for the intensity of radioactivity contained in a sample of radioactive material. In a Radon test, it’s the air inside the home that is sampled and measured for radiation. The results indicate the average radiation level per liter of air over a 48-hour period. Once the testing time has elapsed, the data can be downloaded and read right away. This quick turn around makes this a very reliable way to get an accurate radon assessment of the home before the sale is complete.
Can any inspector test for Radon gas?
Radon testing using CRMs should be performed by trained radon technicians. Some states, like Illinois, require a licensed radon technician perform the test for real estate purposes. Licensed technicians must take a qualified radon measurement course and pass a state exam. In other states, like Missouri, state licensing isn’t required or offered. Both the primary professional organizations for home inspectors, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) offer certification classes and exams for Radon measurement technicians. So even in states that don’t license radon measurement technicians, a qualified radon inspector should have a certification that shows they are competent to conduct CRM radon tests.
Is it possible to cheat the Radon test?
People do occasionally try to cheat the test, but a professional Radon inspector knows the signs. CRMs have tamper warnings that alert the technician if someone tried to move or adjust the machine. Tampering will invalidate the test. Some will try to manipulate the room conditions to improve the test results. For instance, you can’t just open a window and let it out. That might clear some Radon from the room, but it’s a short-term fix at best and it can even elevate radon levels under the right circumstances. Since Radon seeps in through small gaps and cracks in the foundation, propping open windows and doors can create a stack effect, accelerating the process and sucking more radon gas into the home.
CRM tests require “closed house conditions,” meaning doors and windows can’t be left open during the test; window unit air conditioners that draw air in from outside must be turned off, along with attic and whole house fans. To circumvent would-be cheaters, the test throws out the first few hours of readings. And a trained Radon measurement technician can often spot attempts to circumvent the test by the way the readings change over the course of the test. If it looks suspicious, the inspector can declare the test invalid, and re-test the home.
How much Radon is too much?
According to the EPA a Radon level of 4.0 pCi/L in your home may be equivalent to smoking 10 cigarettes a day. That’s what the EPA calls the Radon Action Level. At or above this level, the EPA recommends you take corrective measures to reduce your exposure to Radon gas.
Can you fix a home with a Radon problem?
An elevated Radon test result shouldn’t derail most home sales. Radon can be mitigated from most homes. If the results show elevated levels of radon, a professional can install a system to safely remove the radon in the home through a process called Radon mitigation or abatement. A Radon mitigation system will move the gasses from the soil beneath the home and vent them up into the atmosphere where they will safely disperse. Having a Radon mitigation system installed in most homes in the St. Louis area can cost several hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. It’s a relatively small price to pay to keep your family safe in the home you love.
New homes can be built with Radon resistant features. Homes built in Illinois after 2014 are required to have a passive Radon mitigation system in place—that is, the vent pipes that allow the air to move up and away from the foundation must be built into the home. Missouri does not require passive mitigation system be built into new homes, but many builders do include them in their designs, and most will add them if you request it.
Sometimes a passive Radon mitigation system doesn’t remove enough Radon gas from the soil, and dangerous amounts still build up inside the home. A Radon mitigation professional can strategically place fans inside the system to effectively draw the gas up and away before it has time to seep into your home. These systems are referred to as active Radon mitigation systems. They are generally very effective at keeping Radon gas out of your living space.
Which homes should be tested?
The EPA recommends testing your home for Radon gas every two years. This is especially important if your home has a Radon mitigation system installed. But all homes should be tested periodically, since soil changes over time, and the gasses being released under your home two or three years from now may differ greatly from those released today.
Testing is also recommended after large construction and landscaping projects near your home, as these can disturb the soil enough to change the flow of Radon gas. Many realtors and lenders also advise their clients to have a radon test done with their home inspection. That way, there’s time to address the issue should Radon be a problem in the home. For more information, download the EPA’s guide to Radon for home buyers and sellers.
Remember, your home is where you and your family spend most of your time.
Just as it’s important to protect your investment with a professional home inspection, it’s important to protect your family with a Radon test performed by a licensed and certified Radon measurement technician.
If you are buying a home, Hawley Home Inspections can perform a Radon test alongside your home inspection. We also serve sellers who want to get ahead of any problems the properties they are selling may have, or to check if existing Radon mitigation systems are functioning properly. Even if you’re not planning a move, we can test your present home to make sure you don’t have a Radon problem. We also test small offices and businesses concerned about keeping their employees safe. Call for pricing.
(HawleyHomeInspectionsLLC.com) Fireworks on the Fourth of July are an American tradition. It started with the Independence Day celebration in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777. Revelers marked the first anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence with bonfires, bells, and fireworks.
Today, they still play a major part in the way we commemorate Independence Day across the nation. Although the coronavirus pandemic has canceled many community activities, including parades, festivals, and public presentations, most Americans will still celebrate in some way with family. For many that will include barbecues and home fireworks displays.
With all that celebrating, it’s important to keep yourself and your family safe. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 9,000 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries in 2018, with most of those injuries occurring around the fourth of July. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports they started more than 19,000 fires that year, including 1,900 structure fires and 500 vehicle fires. NFPA says these fires caused five deaths and $105 million in direct property damage. So, fireworks safety should be taken seriously.
If consumer fireworks are legal to buy where you live and you choose to use them, the National Safety Council (NSC) offers the following safety tips:
Never allow young children to handle them*
Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
Never use them while impaired by drugs or alcohol
Anyone using them or standing nearby should wear protective eye-wear
Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
Never light them indoors
Only use them away from people, houses, and flammable material
Never point or throw them at another person
Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
Never ignite devices in a container
Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
Never use illegal firework
* Note: Sparklers are popular and are not classified as fireworks in some states (including Illinois). Because they burn at 1,200-2,000 degrees, they aren’t a good choice for young children. According to the CPSC, sparklers alone account for more than 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries, and they account for nearly half of all fireworks injuries for children under the age of five.
Safer alternatives for young kids include glow sticks, confetti poppers, silly string, snap pops, glow-in-the-dark lawn toys, and glow-in-the-dark bubbles.
Learn to make your own glow-in-the-dark bubbles
Alternatives to Fireworks
For those who live in areas where fireworks are illegal or impractical, or who just don’t want to take the risks, NFPA offers a shareable pdf with some suggestions for Fourth of July celebrations that don’t include fireworks. You’ll find a few back yard family fun ideas on our website too.
Whatever way you and your family choose to celebrate Independence Day this year, we encourage you to take a minute or two to reflect on why we celebrate and on the impact of the words that declared the birth of our nation on July 4th, 1776:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”
Understanding the New Rules for Termite Inspection Standards for 2020
(HawleyHomeInspectionsLLC.com) Does it seem like Termite Inspections, also called wood destroying insect inspections (WDI), are yielding more recommendations for treatment these days? You are probably right. It’s not that there are more termite infestations. It’s more likely the result of the 2020 rules changes. What changes? Read on.
On January 1, 2020, a new standard for the termite inspection and wood destroying insect inspections took effect and the changes are significant. In July 2019, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) released an updated and revised NPMA-33 Wood Destroying Insect Inspection Form. That’s the standardized form that all pest inspectors use for real estate WDI inspections. According to NPMA, all previous editions are now obsolete. That means for real estate transactions, only the current form bearing a revision date of 7/1/2019 should be accepted.
There are a few revisions you need to know about. There are changes in language such as the replacement of the word “defects” with “wood destroying insect damage.” More significantly, the section on page one of the report noting evidence of previous treatment has been eliminated and the page two guidelines regarding when to recommend treatment for termites has changed.
Pest inspectors have always recommended treatment whenever live termites are observed. The new standard says “if no evidence of a previous treatment is documented and evidence of an infestation is found, even if no live termites are observed, treatment or corrective action by a licensed pest control company should be recommended.” The new guidelines call for documentation of treatment, not just evidence like drill holes.
In the past, if a termite inspector found shelter tubes or other evidence of infestation without observing live termites and also found evidence of prior treatment, they generally didn’t recommend treatment in their report. Under the new standards, unless there is documentation of prior treatment, termite inspectors are recommending the property be treated.
evidence of termite activity
Home sellers who have had their homes treated for termites in the past are advised to have the documentation of treatment at the ready. Be advised that the new guidelines also give the pest inspector latitude to recommend treatment if documentation is too old or in some other way inadequate.
Heavy rain and flooding can negatively impact a home’s termite protection system. The NPMA has published a technical update explaining what you need to know. Get it here
click here for a copy of the NMPA TECHNICAL UPDATE:
Roof Coverings: Balancing Aesthetics with Performance
(HawleyHomeInspectionsLLC.com) How is your roof? According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), during storms, your roof does a lot to protect your home. Besides keeping you and your family safe from rain, lightning, sleet, hail, and windblown debris, it keeps the inside of your home dry and can even act as a structural diaphragm in certain situations, keeping your home from falling down around you. In order to protect the home, your roof must resist both high and low temperature extremes, rain, high winds, exposure to ultraviolet radiation, snow, ice formation, and hail.
Of all the hazards your roof faces, wind is the most problematic according to FEMA. Living in the Midwest, you already know extreme weather with high winds or tornadoes can devastate a home. Even an average Midwestern thunderstorm can wreak havoc on a home’s roof. When wind force is greater than the roof system can handle, it can be disastrous. Wind can tear roof coverings from roof decks. It can separate roof decks from framing. And roof punctures from windblown debris can seriously impact the roof’s integrity.
Repeated exposure to wind events can wear down a roof’s first line of defense, the roof covering. Choosing the right roof covering for your home can make a big difference in how it weathers the storm. Homeowners have a lot to consider when balancing style and budget with performance.
Three Popular Options for Flat Roofs
Built Up Roofing (BUR): Hot-mopped built-up roofing (BUR) is one of the oldest types of roof coverings for flat roofs. They’re installed using several layers of roofing felt impregnated with asphalt and hot mopped with a low-grade crude oil called bitumen.
Hot-applied coal tar pitch blends with the bitumen-soaked felt creating a fused roof membrane generally two to four layers thick. Finely crushed stone granules may be applied to the top layer of tar to give the roof additional protection from the elements. A BUR roof is relatively in expensive. If well maintained, it can last 20 to 30 years.
Torch Down Roofing: Sometimes called “torch on” roofing, it requires an open-flame propane torch for installation. Torch down roofing is the most common type of roofing used on flat or very slightly pitched roofs. It’s a two- or three-layer roofing product consisting of a tough membrane of bitumen modified with rubber or plastic and embedded in a thick layer of asphalt. Torch down roofing can tolerate changing temperatures well and expands and contracts without melting or cracking. It’s usually a little more expensive than BUR roofing, but it also tends to be more resistant to punctures and UV rays.
Membrane Roofing (Rubber Roofing): Single layer membrane roofing is the most popular for commercial buildings, but it’s being used in residential roofing too. EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) rubber roofing is perhaps the most synthetic rubber is the most common single-ply membrane roof material in both residential and commercial use. It’s also one of the more durable option for homes with flat roofs. Installed as thin sheets and being made of rubber or polymer, they’re flexible, elastic, and can handle temperature changes better than built up roofs (BURs). It also costs a little more with a similar lifespan.
Several Popular Options for Pitched Roofs
Asphalt Shingles: Widely considered the best choice for most homes. They are relatively light, inexpensive, and easy to install. Sheets of roofing are layered to give the illusion of more expensive single shingles, like cedar or slate, that are installed one shingle at a time. This means the asphalt shingles take less time to install. An asphalt shingle roof typically has a lifespan of 12 to 30 years.
Metal Roofing: Metal roof covers are an Eco-friendly choice that’s highly recyclable and energy efficient. It’s also wind and fire resistant. The most common type of metal roof is the standing seam roof. It’s made up of aluminum or steel roofing panels with interlocking raised seams. Installation is generally faster than most other roof covering types. For those who want the longevity and fire resistance of metal, but don’t like the look of standing seam roofs, metal shingles fill the bill. These steel or aluminum shingles or shakes can mimic asphalt, wood, or slate shingles, or even clay tiles. Metal roofs can last 30-50 years or more, but typically cost four to five times as much as asphalt shingles.
Clay Tile: This is a traditional choice that offers an exceptional aesthetic appeal. They can be left as unglazed red clay tiles or glazed and fired to become ceramic roofing tiles. Clay tiles have been used to cover roofs for centuries. They’re particularly good at resisting salt and heat damage, making them a popular choice in desert and coastal areas. They are a rather expensive choice, costing as much as $30 per square foot. But since a properly maintained clay tile roof can last more than a century, they are a one-and-done solution.
Concrete Tile: If you love clay tile but just can’t bring yourself to pay the price, concrete tile presents a similar looking, but less expensive option. Unlike clay, concrete tiles can be dyed to taste. Because it is molded, concrete tiles can be shaped to mimic rolled clay tiles or low-profile roofing like wood shakes. Concrete tile is a very heavy roofing material, making it a good choice in high-wind regions. It’s also fire resistant, last up to 50 years and is little as half the price of clay tiles.
Wood Shake and shingles: Wood shingles are precision sawed, thin slabs used to cover the roof. Wood shakes are hand-cut, making them thicker and more durable than machine-made wood shingles. Wood is a good insulator, and hand-cut shake shingles can last up to 40 years in a relatively dry climate with proper maintenance. But wood is not very fire resistant and moisture can shorten the lifespan of a wood roof considerably. They are one of the more expensive options, but also considered one of the most attractive roof covers on the market today.
Slate: Very popular for historic buildings, slate roofing is very long-lasting and durable. Slate shingles are thin sheets of real stone. This traditional choice combines beauty with enhanced protection, making it one of the most desired roof coverings available. It’s pricier than most other options, costing double or triple the price of even clay tiles. A slate roof represents a compromise between cost and near-permanence since slate roofs have been known to last centuries.
Synthetic Slate: Love the look of slate shingles, but not the price? Enter synthetic slate shingles, also called rubber slate. These engineered shingles look surprisingly similar to natural slate from the ground. Made from engineered polymers and recycled plastic and rubber, synthetic slate is a lightweight alternative that makes it an option for houses that can’t support natural slate’s the heavy weight. The rubber slate shingles are not as durable as slate but can last 50 years or more. They’re also priced closer to the cost of wood shake or metal shingles, making them much more affordable than real stone.
With all the roof covering choices available to homeowners, there really is something just right for everyone. Just as each type brings a unique style and benefit to the task, it also brings its own shortcomings and wear issues.
A Certified Roof Inspector is well versed in the positives and negatives of each roof covering type. They have the specialized training to properly gage the condition of the roof covering, spot installation issues, weather damage, and wear issues that could compromise your roof’s integrity. Since the roof covering is your roof’s first line of defense against the elements, it’s important that your home inspector has the expertise needed to properly inspect the roof. Protect your investment. Insist on a certified roof inspector.
(HawleyHomeInspectionsLLC.com) At Hawley Home Inspections, we are always working to find ways to add value to the home inspection experience. And our FREE Home Wizard is one of our most popular bonus offerings. It’s a customized newsletter, and a whole lot more! It’s FREE to all our home inspection clients and offers something special for the realtors who represent them.
Our Home Wizard includes a FREE Appliance Recall Service that keeps homeowners up to date on recall notices issued for their appliances. They can add any appliances they want tracked and add more or swap them out when they buy new ones.
The monthly Interactive e Newsletter includes personalized home care recommendations, tips, and home improvement ideas based on the homeowner’s individual goals and priorities. They fill out a short questionnaire about their home and their goals. Then, the Home Wizards builds a personalized e Newsletter filled with helpful articles and videos geared to maintaining their specific home.
The Personal Home Manager makes it easier for individuals to take care of their homes with helpful tips and seasonal tasks customized just for them. Recommendations and articles are based on:
The type of home (single family, townhouse, high rise condo, duplex, or vacation cabin, etc.)
The type of heating and cooling systems
The homeowner’s personal goals like saving energy, lowering repair costs, maintaining home value—even allergy management and child proofing!
The homeowner’s personal knowledge level (to determine how basic or advanced the tips should be)
The homeowner’s priorities. Tasks and tips are prioritized on a scale of one to five stars. Those with the most stars have the highest benefits relative to their costs. Each reader chooses the priority of the tips they want to see.
Choose how to be notified about recommended tips and tasks. Home Wizard can send monthly alerts via email, or readers can use their own calendar app (Google calendar, Remember the Milk, Reminder Fox, etc.) to get their alerts.
There’s also a FREE Home Care Library at your fingertips! The constantly growing library includes scores of articles, how-to instructions, and frequently asked questions about everything from furnace systems and sump pumps to outdoor lighting and solar energy. Want to know when and where to look for signs of mice infiltration or how to keep leather furniture looking good? The Home Care Library has it covered.
All the personalized home care recommendations, appliance recall service, articles, and home care library can be accessed online using a computer browser or download our free Home Wizard app for access on mobile devices.
There’s a special value-added feature for realtors—when we send our interactive e Newsletters to clients you have referred to us, we send these e Newsletters co-branded with your name, email address, phone number, photo, company name, and company logo.
We’ll give you a Co-Branding Dashboard where you can customize your branding, preview the e Newsletters, add subscribers, and more! In addition to all the great home maintenance tips and ideas, you’ll also have access to specialized articles focused on helping you market and grow your real estate business.
We hope you and your clients find our Home Care Wizard useful, and that it makes it easier for you to take care of your home, your clients, and your business. This free service is our way of saying ‘thanks’ to our valued customers and to show you how much we value our relationship with you, their realtor. Thank you.
(HawleyHomeInspectionsLLC.com) As we begin to reopen our communities while still dealing with Covid-19 in our communities, we are again reviewing and revising our policies and procedures. We want to keep you up to date on changes in our practices aimed at protecting our clients, employees, realtors, sellers, and others involved in the home inspection process.
One significant change in our policy: we are again allowing buyers to attend inspections in vacant homes. (We are still asking buyers to refrain from attending home inspections in occupied homes.)
All buyers, whether in attendance or not, receive a full, written report, complete with pictures. When buyers and agents are not present during the inspection, our inspectors are arranging to go over their findings with them by phone and answer any questions they may have. (You can always call and get your home inspection questions answered. We’ve always been here for you and remain so.)
Other safety measures we’re still using include:
Protective gear: Our inspectors are wearing booties over their shoes and boots any time they are inside a home. They’re also donning protective gloves and masks when appropriate.
Frequent hand washing: Our inspectors are washing their hands when they enter a home and before leaving. If it’s not possible to do so, they are using hand sanitizer.
Keeping equipment sanitized: Our inspectors wipe down all their equipment with sanitizing wipes between inspections, so everything they bring into a home is clean.
Certified Covid-19 safety training: All our inspectors have completed the Covid-19 Safety Guidelines course through the InterNACHI School, a home inspector college accredited by the US Department of Education.
Maintaining social distancing: We are asking buyers who attend home inspections to maintain proper social distancing and to wear masks when indoors. We are asking buyers not to attend home inspections in occupied homes as a courtesy to the people living there. Anything we can do remotely and by phone helps to keep everyone safer.
We’re here for you: Our inspectors and staff are happy to answer any questions you may have about our safety protocols and any other aspects of our home inspection process. As always, we’re here for you.
All of us at Hawley Home Inspections value our relationship with our clients and with you, their agents, and we appreciate your referrals. Please know that if there is anything we can do for you, we encourage you to let us know. We are here for you.