• 5 Things to look for when choosing a swimming pool cover

    Swimming pool covers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and general types. There are solar swimming pool covers that work to keep the water warm as well as warm the water using the suns heat. Safety pool covers do just what it says it does, it keeps the swimming pool safe from unwanted entry of the humans or animals. In ground and above ground winter swimming pool covers, keep dirt, debris, and animals out of your pool during the winter season. It also prevents growth on the inside of your swimming pool that can be caused by the winter elements.

     

    Here are a few things you should look for when shopping for a pool cover for your above ground or in ground swimming pool.

     

    1. Find a swimming pool cover that is strong and sturdy. The cover should not only keep your swimming pool clean, it should add safety as well for humans and animals alike. It should prevent accidental drowning and dirt and debris from entering the pool.

     

    2. Make sure the swimming pool cover conforms to state and local law requirements. Some areas require that a certain size and depth of pool be covered when not in use. There are specific requirements that these covers must meet. Check with your local authorities to ensure that your swimming pool cover meets the requirements needed.

     

    3. Make sure your chosen swimming pool cover comes with a good manufacturer’s warranty. In general, the swimming pool cover should come with a warranty of longer than 2 years. It should definitely have a full 2-year warranty for all defects and longer for limited warranties. You only want a pool cover that can be trusted and is safe with a full warranty for a lengthy amount of time. you also need to be sure the company stands behind their products.

     

    4. Make sure the pool cover has a good overlap length. You should buy a size that is a little larger than your pool. This will enable you to securely anchor the swimming pool cover without having to worry about not being able to cover your pool completely.

     

    5. Make sure the swimming pool cover comes with enough parts to securely anchor the cover without worry of slippage. Most larger swimming pool covers come with a strap or anchor for every four feet of cover. You definitely want a good amount of anchoring so the cover will continue to be secure each time you use it.

     

    There you have it! The top 5 things you should look for when you are buying a swimming pool cover for any size pool and for any material type. You can purchase quality swimming pool covers at your local swimming pool supply store or at any department store that sells swimming pool gear and supplies. Carefully read all instructions provided by the manufacturer and ensure that the cover meets all requirements in your local area. Always think safety first when you own a swimming pool.

    Dave Park
    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh
    Davepark@advantageinspection.com

    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh. . . performs the Nation’s Best Home Inspection and provides the Nation’s Only “No Denied Claims Warranty” available in the industry. For the last 20 years, Advantage Home Inspection has been the deciding factor for the people we serve: Buyers, Sellers, Real Estate Agents and Home Inspectors

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  • Nine Dishonest Sales Practices

    Here are some of the practices avoided by reliable sales operations. Watch out for them and exercise sales resistance if you suspect they are occurring:

    1. concealing or misrepresenting facts about current and resale value. Sales agents may present general facts about the area’s population growth, industrial or residential development, and real estate price levels as if they apply to your specific lot. You may be encouraged to believe that your piece of land represents an investment which will increase in value as regional development occurs. A sales agent may tell you that the developer will re-sell the lot, if you request. This promise may not be kept. Future resale is difficult or impossible in many promotional developments because much of your purchase price — sometimes as much as 40% — has gone for an intensive advertising campaign and commissions for sales agents. You are already paying a top price and it is unlikely that anyone else would pay you more than you are paying the developer. You may even have to sell for less than the price you originally paid for the lot. Sales promotions often are conducted in a high-pressure atmosphere. Furthermore, when you attempt to sell your lot, you are in competition with the developer, who probably holds extensive, unsold acreage in the same subdivision. In most areas, real estate brokers find it impractical to undertake the sale of lots in subdivisions and will not accept such listings. It is unlikely that the lot you purchase through interstate land sales represents an investment, in the view of professional land investors. Remember, the elements of value of a piece of land are its usefulness, the supply, the demand, and the buyer’s ability to re-sell it. The Urban Land Institute estimates that land must double in value every five years to justify holding it as an investment. In some areas, the cost of holding the land, such as taxes and other assessments, can run as high as 11% a year.

    2. failure to honor refund promises or agreements. Some sales promotions conducted by mail, email or long-distance telephone include the offer of a refund if the property has been misrepresented, or if the customer inspects the land within a certain period of time and decides not to buy. When the customers request the refund, s/he may encounter arguments about the terms of the agreement. The company may even accuse its own agent of having made a money-back guarantee without the consent or knowledge of the developer. Sometimes, the promised refund is made, but only after a long delay.

    3. misrepresentation of facts about the subdivision. This is where the property report offers an added measure of protection. A sales agent may offer false or incomplete information relating to either a distant subdivision or one which you visit. Misrepresentations often relate to matters such as the legal title, claims against it, latent dangers (such as swamps or cliffs), unusual physical features (such as poor drainage), restrictions on use, or lack of necessary facilities and utilities. Read the property report carefully with an eye to omissions, generalizations, or unproved statements that may tend to mislead you. If you are concerned about overlooking something important, discuss the report and the contract with a lawyer who understands real estate matters. The developer also may use advertisements that imply that certain facilities and amenities are currently available when they are not. Read the property report to determine whether these facilities and amenities are actually completed, or proposed to be completed in the future. If the company advertises sales on credit terms, the Truth in Lending Act requires the sales contract to fully set forth all terms of financing. This information must include total cost, simple annual interest, and total finance charges.

    4. failure to develop the subdivision as planned. Many buyers rely upon the developer’s contractual agreement or a verbal promise to develop the subdivision in a certain way. The promised attractions that influenced your purchase (golf course, marina, swimming pool, etc.) may never materialize after you become an owner. If they are provided, it may be only after a long delay. If you are planning on immediate vacation use of the property, or are working toward a specific retirement date, you may find that the special features promised of the development are not available when you need them.

    5. failure to deliver deeds and/or title insurance policies. Documents relating to the sales transaction may not be delivered as promised. Some sales in the promotional land development industry are made by contract for a deed to be delivered when the purchaser makes the last payment under the terms of the contract. A dishonest developer may fail to deliver the deed, or deliver it only after a long delay. A sales agent may offer false or incomplete information.

    6. abusive treatment and high-pressure sales tactics. Some sales agents drive prospective customers around a subdivision in automobiles equipped with citizen band radios which provide a running commentary on lot sales in progress. The customer may be misled by this and other sales techniques to believe that desirable lots are selling rapidly and that a hurried choice must be made. Hurrying the buyers into a purchase they may later regret is only one ploy of high-pressure sales agents. More offensive is abusive language used to embarrass customers who delay an immediate decision to buy. In some instances, hesitant buyers have been isolated in remote or unfamiliar places where transportation is controlled by the sales agent or the agent’s organization.

    7. failure to make good on sales inducements. Free vacations, gifts, savings bonds, trading stamps, and other promised inducements are used to lure people to sales presentations or to development sites. These promised treats may never materialize. Sometimes, special conditions are attached to the lure, or a customer is advised that gifts go only to lot purchasers. A “free vacation” may be the means of delivering the prospective buyer to a battery of high-pressure sales agents in a distant place. The promised attractions may never materialize.

    8. “bait and switch” tactics. Lots are frequently advertised at extremely low prices. When prospective buyers appear, they are told that the low-priced lots are all sold and then are pressured to buy one that is much more expensive. If the cheaper lot is available, it may be located on the side of a cliff or in another inaccessible location. If accessible, it may be much too small for a building or have other undesirable features. The buyers may be lured to the property with a certificate entitling them to a “free” lot. Often, the certificate bears a face value of $500 to $1,000. If the buyers attempt to cash it in, the amount is simply included in the regular price (often inflated) of the lot they choose. Often, this so-called “bait and switch” technique has a delayed fuse. Buyers who purchase an unseen lot for later retirement may be unpleasantly surprised when they visit the development. The lot they have paid for may be remote from other homes, shopping and medical facilities. It may be insufficiently developed for use. When the buyers complain, sales personnel attempt to switch them to a more expensive lot, applying the money paid for the original lot to an inflated price for the new one, and tacking on additional financing charges. If the unhappy purchasers lack sufficient funds to accept this alternative, they are left with an unusable, unmarketable first choice.

    9. failure to grant rights under the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act. Purchasers may not be given copies of the property report before they sign a sales contract. Some sales agents withhold this detailed statement until customers choose a specific lot. Sometimes, the buyers receive the report in a mass of promotional materials and legal documents. Unaware that the report is in their possession, they fail to read and understand it before signing a sales contract.

    Dave Park
    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh
    Davepark@advantageinspection.com

    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh. . . performs the Nation’s Best Home Inspection and provides the Nation’s Only “No Denied Claims Warranty” available in the industry. For the last 20 years, Advantage Home Inspection has been the deciding factor for the people we serve: Buyers, Sellers, Real Estate Agents and Home Inspectors.

    This month I want to let you know about a great serive in Triangle area.  Leaf and Limb Tree Service.  A professional service that helps you get rid of dead trees and keeps your home safe and property values up.  They offer free estimates and scheduling is easy.  For all your Raleigh Tree Removal needs, call Leaf and Limb Tree Service.

    The above article was reprinted with the permission from the National Association of Cerfitied Home Inspectors.

     

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  • Building a Home

    If you want to build a new home, there are things you need to know before you begin. Learn about construction standards and about buying land, so you know your rights.

    MPS Supplementing Model Building Codes

    The Minimum Property Standards (MPS) establish certain minimum standards for buildings constructed under HUD housing programs. This includes new single-family homes, multi-family housing and healthcare-type facilities.

    HUD Minimum Property Standards and How They Supplement the Model Building Codes

    Until the mid-1980s, HUD maintained separate Minimum Property Standards for different types of structures. Since that time, HUD has accepted the model building codes, including over 250 referenced standards and local building codes, in lieu of separate and prescriptive HUD standards. However, there is one major area of difference between the MPS and other model building codes — durability requirements. Homes and projects financed by FHA-insured mortgages are the collateral for these loans, and their lack of durability can increase the FHA’s financial risk in the event of default. More specifically, the model codes do not contain any minimum requirements for the durability of items such as doors, windows, gutters and downspouts, painting and wall coverings, kitchen cabinets and carpeting. The MPS includes minimum standards for these, and other items, to ensure that the value of an FHA-insured home is not reduced by the deterioration of these components.

    HUD Field Office Acceptance for Areas Without Building Codes

    HUD requires that each property insured with an FHA mortgage meet one of the nationally recognized building codes or a state or local building code based on a nationally recognized building code. In areas where such state or local codes are used, HUD determines if the state or local code is comparable to the model building code. There are also areas of the United States that do not have building codes. If no state or local building code has been adopted, the appropriate HUD Field Office will specify a building code that is comparable to one of the nationally recognized model building codes.

    Interstate Land Sales

    The Interstate Land Sales program protects consumers from fraud and abuse in the sale or lease of land. In 1968, Congress enacted the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act, which is patterned after the Securities Law of 1933, and requires land developers to register subdivisions of 100 or more non-exempt lots with HUD, and to provide each purchaser with a disclosure document called a property report. The property report contains relevant information about the subdivision and must be delivered to each purchaser before the signing of the contract or agreement.

    Buying Lots from Developers

    Be well informed when shopping for land. Lots may be marketed as sites for future retirement homes, for second home locations, or for recreational or campsite use. However, be wary of any investment aspect that may be stressed by sales personnel. If you plan to purchase a lot which is offered by promotional land sales, take plenty of time before coming to a decision. Before signing a purchase agreement, a contract, or a check:

    •know your rights as a buyer;

    •know something about the developer;

    •know the facts about the development and the lot you plan to buy; and

    •know what you are doing when you encounter high-pressure sales campaigns.

    Generally, if the company from which you plan to buy is offering 100 or more unimproved lots for sale or lease through the mail or by means of interstate commerce, it may be required to register with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This means that the company must file with HUD and provide prospective buyers with a property report containing detailed information about the property. Failure to do this may be a violation of federal law, punishable by up to five years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both. The information filed by the developer and retained by HUD must contain such items as these:

    •a copy of the corporate charter and financial statement;

    •information about the land, including title policy or attorney’s title opinion, and copies of the deed and mortgages;

    •information on local ordinances, health regulations, etc.;

    •information about facilities available in the area, such as schools, hospitals and transportation systems;

    •information about availability of utilities and water, and plans for sewage disposal;

    •development plans for the property, including information on roads, streets and recreational facilities; and

    •supporting documents, such as maps, plans and letters from suppliers of water and sewer facilities.

    The company filing this information must swear and affirm that it is correct and complete, and an appropriate fee must accompany submission. The information is retained by HUD and is available for public inspection. The property report, which is also prepared by the developer, goes to the buyer. The law requires the seller to give the report to a prospective lot purchaser prior to the time a purchase agreement is signed. Ask for it. The seller is also required to have the buyer sign a receipt acknowledging receipt of the property report. Do not sign the receipt unless you have actually received the property report. Check the developer’s property report before buying. This is the kind of information you will find in a property report:

    •distances to nearby communities over paved and unpaved roads;

    •existence of mortgages or liens on the property;

    •whether contract payments are placed in escrow;

    •availability and location of recreational facilities;

    •availability of sewer and water service or septic tanks and wells;

    •present and proposed utility services and charges;

    •the number of homes currently occupied;

    •soil and foundation conditions which could cause problems in construction or in using septic tanks; and

    •the type of title the buyer may receive and when it should be received.

    Read the Property Report Before Signing Anything

    This report is prepared and issued by the developer of this subdivision. It is not prepared or issued by the federal government. Federal law requires that you receive this report prior to signing a contract or agreement to buy or lease a lot in this subdivision. However, no federal agency has judged the merits or value of the property. If you received the report prior to signing a contract or agreement, you may cancel your contract or agreement by giving notice to the seller any time before midnight of the seventh day following the signing of the contract or agreement. If you did not receive this report before you signed a contract or agreement, you may cancel the contract or agreement any time within two years from the date of signing.

    Your Contract Rights

    If the lot you are buying is subject to the jurisdiction of the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act, the contract or purchase agreement must inform you of certain rights given to buyers by that Act. The contract should state that the buyer has a “cooling-off” period of seven days (or longer, if provided by state law) following the day that the contract is signed to cancel the contract, for any reason, by notice to the seller, and get his or her money back. Furthermore, unless the contract states that the seller will give the buyer a warranty deed, within 180 days after the contract is signed, the buyer has a right to cancel the contract for up to two years from the day that the contract is signed, unless the contract contains the following provisions:

    •a clear description of the lot so that the buyer may record the contract with the proper county authority;

    •the right of the buyer to a notice of any default (by the buyer), and at least 20 days after receipt of that notice to cure or remedy the default;

    •a limitation on the amount of money the seller may keep as liquidated damages, of 15% of the principal paid by the buyer (exclusive of interest) or the seller’s actual damages, whichever is greater.

    Contract Rights Concerning Property Reports

    It has always been the law that if the developer has an obligation to register with the Interstate Land Sales Division, the developer or sales agent must give the buyer a copy of the current property report before the buyer signs a contract. Otherwise, the buyer has up to two years to cancel the contract and get their money back. That fact must also be clearly set forth in all contracts. You may have the right to void the contract if the subdivision has not been registered with HUD, or you were not given a property report. Furthermore, if the developer has represented that it will provide or complete roads, water, sewer, gas, electricity or recreational facilities in its property report, in its advertising, or in its sales promotions, the developer must obligate itself to do so in the contract, clearly and conditionally (except for acts of nature or impossibility of performance). In addition to the right to a full disclosure of information about the lot, the prospective buyer may have the right to void the contract and receive a refund of their money if the developer has failed to register the subdivision with HUD or has failed to supply the purchaser with a property report. While a purchaser may have the right to void the contract with the developer under these conditions, the purchaser may still be liable for contract payments to a third party if that contract has been assigned to a financing institution or some similar entity. The registration is retained by HUD and is available for public inspection. If the property report contains misstatements of fact, if there are omissions, if fraudulent sales practices are used, or if other provisions of the law have been violated, the purchaser may also sue to recover damages and actual costs and expenses in court against the developer. However, depending on when your sale occurred, you may be barred from taking further action due to the Act’s statute of limitations. Your attorney can advise you further on this matter.

    “Cooling-Off” Period

    Even if you received the property report prior to the time of your signing of the contract or agreement, you have the right to revoke the contract or agreement by notice to the seller until midnight of the seventh day following the signing of the contract. You should contact the developer, preferably in writing, if you wish to revoke your contract and receive a refund of any money paid to date. Even if the property report is delivered to you before you sign a sales agreement, the law gives you a “cooling-off ” period. This right cannot be waived.

    A Word About the Interstate Land Sales Division

    The HUD unit which administers the law, examines the developer’s registration statement, and registers the land sales operator is the Interstate Land Sales Division. Except for disclosure purposes, this office is not concerned with zoning or land-use planning, and has no control over the quality of the subdivision. It does not dictate what land can be sold, to whom, or at what price. It cannot act as a purchaser’s attorney. But it will help purchasers secure the rights given to them by the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act. HUD is authorized by law to conduct investigations and public hearings, to subpoena witnesses and secure evidence, and to seek court injunctions to prevent violations of the law. If necessary, HUD may seek criminal indictments. HUD is authorized by law to conduct investigations and, if necessary, seek criminal indictments.

    Exemptions from the Law

    The prospective buyer should be aware that not all promotional land sales operations are covered by the law. If the land sales program is exempt, no registration is required by HUD, and there will be no property report. Here are some of the specific situations for which the statute allows exemptions without review by HUD, including the sale of:

    •tracts of fewer than 100 lots which are not otherwise exempt;

    •lots in a subdivision where every lot is 20 acres or more in size;

    •lots upon which a residential, commercial or industrial building has been erected, or where a sales contract obligates the seller to build one within two years;

    •certain lots which are sold only to residents of the state or metropolitan area in which the subdivision is located;

    •certain low-volume sales operations (no more than 12 lots a year);

    •certain lots that meet certain local codes and standards and are zoned for single-family residences or are limited to single-family residences by enforceable codes and restrictions; and

    •certain lots, contained in multiple sites of fewer than 100 lots each, offered pursuant to a common promotional plan.

    Other exemptions are available which are not listed above. If you have reason to believe that your sale is not exempt and may still be covered by the law, contact the Interstate Land Sales Division.

    Know the Developer

    Knowing your rights under the law is the first step in making a sensible land purchase. To exercise those rights, you also must know something about the honesty and reliability of the developer who offers the subdivision that interests you. Don’t fail to ask questions. Whether you are contacted by a sales agent on the phone or by mail, at a promotional luncheon or dinner, in a sales booth at a shopping center, or in the course of your own inspection of the subdivision, make it your business to find out all you can about the company and the property. In addition, get any verbal promises or representations in writing. Don’t fail to ask questions. If you are seriously interested in buying a lot, ask if the company is registered with HUD or is entitled to an exemption. Request a copy of the property report and take the time to study it carefully and thoroughly. If you still have unanswered questions, delay any commitment until you have investigated. Discuss current prices in the area with local independent brokers. Talk to other people who have purchased lots. A local Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, or consumer protection group may have information about the seller’s reputation. Inquire through county or municipal authorities about local ordinances or regulations affecting properties similar to that which you plan to buy. Don’t be high-pressured by sales agents.

    Know the Facts About the Lot

    Once you have decided on an appealing subdivision, inspect the property. Don’t buy “sight unseen.” Better yet, hire an InterNACHI inspector to perform a thorough property inspection. Also, check the developer’s plans for the project and know what you are getting with your lot purchase. It’s a good idea to make a list of the facts you will need to know. Some of the questions you should be asking, and answering, are these:

    •How large will the development become?

    •What zoning controls are specified?

    •What amenities are promised?

    •What provision has the developer made to assure construction and maintenance?

    •What are the provisions for sewer and water service?

    •Are all of the promised facilities and utilities in the contract?

    •Will there be access roads or streets to your property, and how will they be surfaced? Who maintains them? How much will they cost?

    •Will you have clear title to the property? What liens, reservations or encumbrances exist?

    •Will you receive a deed upon purchase or a recordable sales contract?

    •What happens to your payments? Are they placed in a special escrow account to pay for the property, or are they spent at once by the developer?

    •If the developer defaults on the mortgage or goes bankrupt, could you lose your lot and investment to date to satisfy a claim against the development?

    •What happens when the developer moves out? Is there a homeowners’ association to take over community management?

    •Are there restrictions against using the lot for a campsite until you are ready to build?

    •Are there any annual maintenance fees or special assessments required of property owners?

    This is a partial list of points to consider before you commit your money or your signature.

    Know What You are Doing

    Interstate land sales promotions often are conducted in a high-pressure atmosphere that sweeps unsophisticated buyers along. Before they are aware that they have made a commitment, these buyers may have signed a sales contract and started to make payments on a lot. They may be delighted with the selection made, but, if not, it may be too late for a change of mind.

     

    Dave Park
    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh
    Davepark@advantageinspection.com

    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh. . . performs the Nation’s Best Home Inspection and provides the Nation’s Only “No Denied Claims Warranty” available in the industry. For the last 20 years, Advantage Home Inspection has been the deciding factor for the people we serve: Buyers, Sellers, Real Estate Agents and Home Inspectors.

    This article was reprinted with the permission from the National Association of Cerfitied Home Inspectors.

     

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  • Electrical Safety

     

    Electricity is an essential part of our lives. However, it has the potential to cause great harm. Electrical systems will function almost indefinitely, if properly installed and not overloaded or physically abused. Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of 485 Americans each year and injure 2,305 more. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, but many more are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords.  Some safety tips to remember:

    • Never use anything but the proper fuse to protect a circuit.
    • Find and correct overloaded circuits.
    • Never place extension cords under rugs.
    • Outlets near water should be GFCI-type outlets.
    • Don’t allow trees near power lines to be climbed.
    • Keep ladders, kites, equipment and anything else away from overhead power lines.

     

    Electrical Panels

    Electricity enters the home through a control panel and a main switch where one can shut off all the power in an emergency. These panels are usually located in the basement. Control panels use either fuses or circuit breakers. Install the correct fuses for the panel. Never use a higher-numbered fuse or a metallic item, such as a penny. If fuses are used and there is a stoppage in power, look for the broken metal strip in the top of a blown fuse. Replace the fuse with a new one marked with the correct amperage. Reset circuit breakers from “off” to “on.” Be sure to investigate why the fuse or circuit blew. Possible causes include frayed wires, overloaded outlets, or defective appliances. Never overload a circuit with high-wattage appliances. Check the wattage on appliance labels. If there is frayed insulation or a broken wire, a dangerous short circuit may result and cause a fire. If power stoppages continue or if a frayed or broken wire is found, contact an electrician.

    Outlets and Extension Cords
    Make sure all electrical receptacles or outlets are three-hole, grounded outlets. If there is water in the area, there should be a GFCI or ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet. All outdoor outlets should be GFCIs. There should be ample electrical capacity to run equipment without tripping circuit breakers or blowing fuses. Minimize extension cord use. Never place them under rugs. Use extension cords sparingly and check them periodically. Use the proper electrical cord for the job, and put safety plugs in unused outlets.

    Electrical Appliances
    Appliances need to be treated with respect and care. They need room to breathe. Avoid enclosing them in a cabinet without proper openings, and do not store papers around them. Level appliances so they do not tip. Washers and dryers should be checked often. Their movement can put undue stress on electrical connections. If any appliance or device gives off a tingling shock, turn it off, unplug it, and have a qualified person correct the problem. Shocks can be fatal. Never insert metal objects into appliances without unplugging them. Check appliances periodically to spot worn or cracked insulation, loose terminals, corroded wires, defective parts and any other components that might not work correctly. Replace these appliances or have them repaired by a person qualified to do so.

    Electrical Heating Equipment
    Portable electrical heating equipment may be used in the home as a supplement to the home heating system. Caution must be taken when using these heating supplements. Keep them away from combustibles, and make sure they cannot be tipped over. Keep electrical heating equipment in good working condition. Do not use them in bathrooms because of the risk of contact with water and electrocution. Many people use electric blankets in their homes. They will work well if they are kept in good condition. Look for cracks and breaks in the wiring, plugs and connectors. Look for charred spots on both sides. Many things can cause electric blankets to overheat. They include other bedding placed on top of them, pets sleeping on top of them, and putting things on top of the blanket when it is in use. Folding the blankets can also bend the coils and cause overheating.

    Children
    Electricity is important to the workings of the home, but can be dangerous, especially to children. Electrical safety needs to be taught to children early on. Safety plugs should be inserted in unused outlets when toddlers are in the home. Make sure all outlets in the home have face plates. Teach children not to put things into electrical outlets and not to chew on electrical cords. Keep electrical wiring boxes locked. Do not allow children to come in contact with power lines outside. Never allow them to climb trees near power lines, utility poles or high tension towers.

    Electricity and Water
    A body can act like a lightning rod and carry the current to the ground. People are good conductors of electricity, particularly when standing in water or on a damp floor. Never use any electrical appliance in the tub or shower. Never touch an electric cord or appliance with wet hands. Do not use electrical appliances in damp areas or while standing on damp floors. In areas where water is present, use outlets with GFCIs. Shocks can be fatal.

    Animal Hazards
    Mice and other rodents can chew on electrical wires and damage them. If rodents are suspected or known to be in the home, be aware of the damage they may cause, and take measures to get rid of them.

    Outside Hazards

    There are several electrical hazards outside the home. Be aware of overhead and underground power lines. People have been electrocuted when an object they are moving has come in contact with the overhead power lines. Keep ladders, antennae, kites and poles away from power lines leading to the house and other buildings. Do not plant trees, shrubs or bushes under power lines or near underground power lines. Never build a swimming pool or other structure under the power line leading to your house. Before digging, learn the location of underground power lines.

     

    Do not climb power poles or transmission towers. Never let anyone shoot or throw stones at insulators. If you have an animal trapped in a tree or on the roof near electric lines, phone your utility company. Do not take a chance of electrocuting yourself. Be aware of weather conditions when installing and working with electrical appliances. Never use electrical power tools or appliances with rain overhead or water underfoot. Use only outdoor lights, fixtures and extension cords. Plug into outlets with a GFCI. Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. If you see a downed power line, call the electric company, and warn others to stay away. If a power line hits your car while you are in it, stay inside unless the car catches fire. If the car catches fire, jump clear without touching metal and the ground at the same time.
    MORE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS :

    • Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
    • Hire an InterNACHI inspector. InterNACHI inspectors must pass rigorous safety training and are knowledgeable in the ways to reduce the likelihood of electrocution.
    • Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old and damaged appliance cords immediately.
    • Use electrical extension cords wisely and don’t overload them.
    • Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
    • Don’t allow children to play with or around electrical appliances, such as space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
    • Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible items at least 3 feet from all heaters.
    • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
    • Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch, as well as lights that flicker. Use safety closures to childproof electrical outlets.
    • Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them. Replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks.

     

    Dave Park
    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh
    Davepark@advantageinspection.com

    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh. . . performs the Nation’s Best Home Inspection and provides the Nation’s Only “No Denied Claims Warranty” available in the industry. For the last 20 years, Advantage Home Inspection has been the deciding factor for the people we serve: Buyers, Sellers, Real Estate Agents and Home Inspectors.

    This article was reprinted with the permission from the National Association of Cerfitied Home Inspectors.

     

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  • The Number One hazard for children under the age of 19 is falls, which are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries in the U.S. for this age group.  About 8,000 youngsters wind up in emergency rooms every day for injuries related to falling, adding up to almost 2.8 million per year.  With those statistics in mind, it is worth looking at what can be done to prevent such injuries in the home.

    In trying to fathom how so many children can be injured on a daily basis from something as simple as slipping and falling, we need to consider an important factor, which is height.  Oftentimes, when observing small children at play, we are amazed at their dexterity and ability to take what looks like a fairly serious tumble and hop right back up, unfazed.  Likewise, a slip or fall for most adults, more often than not, leads to little more than a poorly chosen expletive being uttered.  However, imagine a small child falling a distance equivalent to the average height of an adult, and we begin to see where the danger lies.  With this to consider, let’s closer look at two of the most important areas to childproof in a home: windows and staircases.
     

    STAIRCASES

    The first thing that probably comes to mind when examining child safety in relation to stairways and staircases is a safety gate, and with good reason: falling down stairs can be a serious hazard for an infant or toddler who is just learning to navigate his or her surroundings. When properly installed, high-quality safety gates can help eliminate this possibility. 
     
     

    Safety Gates  

    A safety gate is a gate that is temporarily installed in a door or stairway.  It allows adults to unlock and pass, but small children will be unable to open it.  There are two basic types of gates which differ in the way they are installed.  The first type is a pressure-mounted gate.  These safety gates are fixed in place by pressure against walls or a doorway.  They can be used in doorways between rooms, such as for keeping crawling babies out of a kitchen during cooking, but they are not suitable for keeping kids out of other areas, such as the top of a stairway, where falling could be a risk. 

    The other type of safety gate, which is recommended specifically for stairways, is hardware-mounted.  These gates will mount solidly in place with screws but are still easily removable for times when they are unnecessary.  A hardware-mounted safety gate will prevent small children from entering stairways where accidents could occur.

    When choosing a safety gate, you can refer to established ASTM standards for these products, and some manufacturers also participate in a certification program administered by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association.  Any gate you choose should meet the ASTM standards, which will ensure that the gate itself poses no hazard to the child.  Products that comply with these standards will have a sticker on the packaging or on the unit itself. 

    Railings 

    For parents of children who have outgrown the need for safety gates but are still small and curious, especially those prone to climbing on things, baluster spacing on the handrail becomes a concern.  An InterNACHI inspector knows that a stairway with four or more risers should have a continuous handrail not lower than 34 inches or taller than 38 inches on at least one side, with balustrades not more than 4 inches apart from each other.  If you have spaces between vertical rails or risers that will allow an object larger than 4 inches to pass between them, they should be reported during an inspection as in need of repair because they pose a risk to a child who tries to climb on the rail or gets stuck between them.

    Dave Park
    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh
    Davepark@advantageinspection.com

    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh. . . performs the Nation’s Best Home Inspection and provides the Nation’s Only “No Denied Claims Warranty” available in the industry. For the last 20 years, Advantage Home Inspection has been the deciding factor for the people we serve: Buyers, Sellers, Real Estate Agents and Home Inspectors.

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  • Are you Ready? 

    We all wonder.  And that wonder can lead to arguments.  Lead to disagreements.  Lead to questions.

    We all wonder about the value of our homes.  The American Dream.  The economic impact on one of our nest eggs, our safety net and our investment. . .  OK enough wondering!

    Let’s move forward.  You are selling or refinancing.  You have to have your home appraised.  Now it is time to get ready for the appraiser.  What do you do?

    Paige Tepping of RISMEDIA gives us a list.  And we all love lists!

    Advantage Home Inspection•  The appraiser will need approximately 30 minutes to one hour to complete the inspection phase of the appraisal process, which includes: exterior photos of the front and rear of the home and a photo of the street in front of the property; measurements of the exterior of the home, garage and any outbuildings; a walk-through inspection of all rooms and levels of the interior of the home including the basement.

    •  Get organized. Put together a checklist that will help you get ready for your appraisal and get the results you’re looking for.

    •  Be flexible when scheduling the appointment.

    •  Have a copy of your home’s blueprint to help verify measurements and lot size.

    •  Provide a list of improvements made to the property since the purchase. Improvements that should be noted include adding a pool, patio, updating your kitchen or bathroom and any room additions, etc.

    •  Allow your appraiser access to the entire property, including access to any crawl space or attic areas.

    •  Keep in mind that a clean home makes a good impression. Be sure to trim the lawn, clean the pool and garage, repair cracked windows or torn screens, check for leaky faucets and secure gutters and down spouts before your appraisal.

    •  Point out any amenities that may not be obvious to the appraiser: sprinkler systems, patios, pools, security systems, built in vacuum, etc.

    •  Provide a copy of last year’s tax assessment information.

    •  Know what year the house was built and when improvements were made.Advantage Inspection Raleigh

    •  The first thing appraisers look for is comparables, so be prepared and have a list of recent sales of similar properties in the immediate neighborhood.

    Remember the Scouts modo “Be Prepared”.  You are allowed to participate in your homes appraisal.  Information is king and that is what the appraiser is looking for.  Just make sure you have the back up!

    Now take your  list and click you heels together 3 times and repeat . . . There’s No Place Like Home, There’s No Place Like Home, There’s No Place Like Home!!

    Advantage Inspection Raleigh

    . . .  performs the Nation’s Best Home Inspection and provides the Nation’s Only “No Denied Claims Warranty” available in the industry. For the last 18 years, Advantage Inspection has been the deciding factor for the people we serve:  Buyers, Sellers, Real Estate Agents and Home Inspectors.  Advantage Inspection Raleigh serves Raleigh, Durham and the Triangle area.
     

    Dave Park 

    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh
    more than just an inspection company!”
    www.adrdu.com

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  • Today what can you get for $500?  A set of 4 tires, a 42″ flat screen TV, maid service for 2 months or a home inspection.  Yes a home inspection for those who are in the market may be the best money you will ever spend, writes Roger Taylor, Business Columnist for the Chronicle Herald.

    In an interview with Henry Blumenthal, a vice-president and chief underwriter for TD Insurance, Mr. Blumenthal said, “Everyone knows spring is prime time for the real estate sector. But before you buy, every potential purchaser should take a few basic steps to protect themselves from making a poor investment decision.”

    "DIYWhile most would-be homebuyers have enough sense to hire a home inspector to identify construction flaws before the deal is completed, Blumenthal says, there are still a surprising number of people who try to avoid spending an average of $500 on a professional inspection.

    Based on what comes back from the inspection, take a few minutes to call your insurance company and find out if there are any issues or potential issues (found in) that inspection because you never know.

    If the house has been damaged by water, for example, and if you’re not sure it has been fixed, you may want to opt for special insurance coverage, he says.

    Mr. Taylor writes that just because the inspector has identified areas of concern, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be enough to scuttle the deal. The inspection usually tips off the homebuyer to potential issues, and that could lead to a price adjustment. In rare cases, the inspection could identify issues that may result in the homeowner not being able to get insurance because the property has a dramatic flaw.

    Well you may be a High Def kind of guy, a weekend warrior or  a tire kicker, but for “Peace of Mind” on one of the biggest investments of your lifetime the $500 you spend on a home inspection might just be the best money you will ever spend!

    Advantage Home Inspection. . .  performs the Nation’s Best Home Inspection and provides the Nation’s Only “No Denied Claims Warranty” available in the industry. For the last 18 years, Advantage Inspection has been the deciding factor for the people we serve:  Buyers, Sellers, Real Estate Agents and Home Inspectors.  Advantage Inspection Raleigh serves Raleigh, Durham and the Triangle area.
     

    Dave Park 

    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh
    more than just an inspection company!”
    www.adrdu.com

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  • If you  missed taking advantage of the first-time buyer tax credit but are still planning the purchase of their first home, you continue to have a wealth of opportunities in today’s home marketplace. Here are a few smart steps that can save first-time buyers thousands of dollars:

    1. Double-Double  (Look twice at your credit)
    Your credit must be a clean as possible, since you probably will need to get a mortgage to buy a house.  Go ahead now acquire copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you discover on each report.

    2. Short Timers this is not your time!
    If you can’t commit to remaining in your new home for at least a 3 to 4 years, then owning is probably not for you, at least not yet. The transaction costs of buying and selling a home may be financed into the home, but  you may end up losing money (the bottom line) if you sell any sooner – even in a rising market.

    3. Survey Says “points and rate” – hire a professional mortgage company
    When picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points- a portion of the interest that you pay at closing- in exchange for a lower interest rate.  Your mortgage professional should help you out here.   If you stay in the house for a long time- say three to five years or more- it’s usually a better deal to take the points. The lower interest rate will save you more in the long run.  Make sure this is all spelled out on a spread sheet.

    4. There is not a home “Lemon Law” – Hire a home inspector
    A home inspector can let you know if you’re about to buy a “dud” of a house or warn you about potential problems.  At best, you can move into the house confident and with a peace of mind that the home is in great condition.  If the report indicates the worst,  the inspector’s report can let you terminate the deal.  Typically, the home inspection report is used to negotiate the home price to account for necessary repairs that the seller is usually unaware of.

    5. Get professional real estate help – Research your agent.
    Inside the world wide web, the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings.  Look all you want, but when it’s time to by hire an exclusive buyer agent.  They will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the buy to closing process.

    6.  Make it a Win-Win. 
    Take this one to heart your purchase should be a win-win for you and the seller.  You do not need the stress that comes from running with the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s.  You do not need to live with the sellers problems.  Yes it may look like a great deal, but it may come with some emotional baggage.  Going to the closing table with a win-win seller makes for a great closing.

    7. Double Jeopardy – A contract is a contract!
    Buying a home is one of the largest purchases most people will make in their lifetime.  Avoid buyer’s remorse by being completely comfortable before signing on the dotted line.  Take your time.  Be patient as the right home will be there for you.  And when you see it, make the move.

    8.  A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned – Buy a Home Warranty  
    A home warranty is designed to bring you “Peace of Mind.”  A home warranty is risk management providing coverage on the primary structure, major systems and appliances.  There are a number of firms that offer coverage.  Compare, research and buy.  Make sure you read the fine print and understand the process.  A home warranty can save your budget for pennies a day.

    Advantage Inspection Raleigh

    . . .  performs the Nation’s Best Home Inspection and provides the Nation’s Only “No Denied Claims Warranty” available in the industry. For the last 18 years, Advantage Inspection has been the deciding factor for the people we serve:  Buyers, Sellers, Real Estate Agents and Home Inspectors.  Advantage Inspection Raleigh serves Raleigh, Durham and the Triangle area.
     

    Dave Park 

    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh
    more than just an inspection company!”
    www.adrdu.com

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  • Many people read “do-it-yourself” books and think they now know everything about construction, home improvement, and even home inspections. But that’s not really the case. With his firm Advantage Inspection based in Raleigh, Dave Park serves the entire Triangle area of North Carolina, and talks here about why it’s important to hire a professional home inspector to carry out your next home inspection, instead of trying to do it yourself…

    Every year the number of home inspections rises. Every year the price of home inspections rises. Every year the “do it yourself” subculture rises. The “do it yourself” subculture is here and is here to stay.  Home improvement stores have commercials that tell you to save money and just do it yourself. And an assortment of television shows pride themselves on showing the average person how to fix it or renovate it or replace it. And at bookstores, shelves are devoted to the weekend warrior.

    At first blush, it might appear that these tools of education and instruction are bad for the home inspection business. business. But, do not worry as you need to consider what all this has all provided for the profession:

    1. They have raised consumer consciousness about the need to have a home inspection.
    2. Sure, people like to be educated, but the DIY culture has made people realize that deep down, they want to hire a professional.
    3. It takes a professional with years of experience to inspect a home in two to three  hours. How long would it take an amateur guided by a book?
    4. People are more aware now of liability: Who wants it and who has it?
    5. Tools. Home inspectors have them, and they know how to use them. Those DIYers do not.
    6. Objectivity. Home inspectors have it. Homeowners can’t have it: That’s why they leave it up to us.
    7. Nobody to blame but yourself. Saving $400 just cost the do-it-yourselfer $4,000 on something that was missed.

    The irony of the do it yourself media, both video and written, is that it carries a disclaimer that warns clients not to get in over their heads. So please just “do it yourself” –  and call in a professional home inspector.

    This interview was conducted by Wendy Sloane, writer with Yodle.

    Advantage Inspection Raleigh

    . . .  performs the Nation’s Best Home Inspection and provides the Nation’s Only “No Denied Claims Warranty” available in the industry. For the last 18 years, Advantage Inspection has been the deciding factor for the people we serve:  Buyers, Sellers, Real Estate Agents and Home Inspectors.  Advantage Inspection Raleigh serves Raleigh, Durham and the Triangle area.
     

    Dave Park 

    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh
    more than just an inspection company!”
    www.adrdu.com

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  • What is a Home Warranty?

    Often the words “home warranty” used with homeowners not having a clue about what they mean. Well, you can learn a thing or two from Dave Park. He owns the home inspection company Advantage Inspection in Raleigh, North Carolina, and here answers all your home warranty questions.

    What is a home warranty?

    A home warranty is a service contract that covers the repair or replacement of many of the most frequently-occurring breakdowns of home system components and appliances.

    Why do I need a home warranty?

    Your home is most likely one of your biggest investments. Unexpected repair or replacement costs can easily strain your budget. Plus, finding an approved and insured contractor to solve your problem can be stressful and inconvenient. A home warranty cannot prevent systems or appliances from breaking, but it can help make covered repairs or replacement easier and less costly.

    Is everything in my home covered by a home warranty?

    No. While not everything is covered, coverage is, as mentioned, predominantly for many of your home system components and appliances that break most frequently. You need to review a sample contract for specific covered items, terms and conditions, limitations and exclusions.

    How many times can you use a home warranty?

    Usually a home warranty is unlimited during your contract term.

    What if I have an appliance that just can’t be fixed?

    If the home warranty company determines your covered system component or appliance can’t be repaired by a service contractor, it will be replaced. See contract for details.

    What out-of-pocket expenses will I have?

    For each service request, you will pay a Trade Service Call Fee to each contractor of a different trade (such as plumber or electrician) who visits your home to diagnose a problem or perform a service. Additional costs may be associated with the repair or replacement of covered items. Details will be included in your contract. Advantage Home Warranty has the lowest Trade Service Call Fee in the business at $40. See contract for details.

    How do I know my service contractor is qualified?

    Advantage’s comprehensive network of approved and insured contractors are consistently monitored and graded on their performance through our customer satisfaction survey program.

    Is the Advantage Home Warranty (AHW) renewable?

    Yes, warranty holders may renew their AHW coverage (at the option of AHW). We will notify the homeowner prior to the expiration date and will offer a variety of convenient payment plans.

    Is there a limit to the number of repairs Advantage Home Warranty covers?

    No. AHW allows an unlimited number of covered repairs.

    I’m in the market for a home. What’s the benefit of buying a home protected by an Advantage Home Warranty?

    An AHW helps provide confidence during and after a home purchase. An unexpected breakdown can be devastating to your budget. Enjoy your home without the hassles of worrying about breakdowns. When a covered system component or appliance breaks down, call one number to request service. There’s no need to get back in touch with the real estate agent or track down the previous owner.

    I’m selling my home. Why would I want an Advantage Home Warranty?

    An AHW helps give buyers additional confidence in the real estate transaction. They’ll know that AHW stands behind the covered systems or appliances in the house. An added benefit is that we can also protect your home while it’s on the market, which can help you avoid surprises and additional unforeseen repair costs.

    Does Advantage Home Warranty need to inspect my home systems and appliances before I purchase them?

    Yes. How can any company insure your home’s systems without visually looking at the system? A warranty without an inspection is a blind warranty. Advantage’s warranty is a “No Denied Claims” warranty, meaning claims will not be turned down due to pre-existing conditions or inspector error.

    This interview was conducted by Wendy Sloane, writer with Yodle.

    Advantage Inspection Raleigh

    . . .  performs the Nation’s Best Home Inspection and provides the Nation’s Only “No Denied Claims Warranty” available in the industry. For the last 18 years, Advantage Inspection has been the deciding factor for the people we serve:  Buyers, Sellers, Real Estate Agents and Home Inspectors.  Advantage Inspection Raleigh serves Raleigh, Durham and the Triangle area.
     

    Dave Park 

    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh
    more than just an inspection company!”
    www.adrdu.com

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