Things To Watch Out For In A Rehabbed Home – 2019 03 21

Podcast Transcription

Brian: Welcome to House Fluent Inspections Radio, where we help you enjoy stress-free home-buying, home-selling, and home-ownership. I’m your host, Brian Botch, owner of House Fluent Inspections. I’m joined today by Bill Beck. We’re both licensed professional inspectors here in the state of Texas. And we inspect homes of all shapes and sizes. So Bill, how you feeling today?

Bill: I’m with it. I’m here about the show.

Brian: Yeah?

Bill: I’ve been a little bit congested this week. So please don’t mind me getting a little snotty if it happens.

Brian: Yeah well that’s what the mute button’s for.

Bill: Well good.

Brian: We’ve been talking about it for a while, but it is official, the Vernal Equinox has arrived. Spring is here.

Bill: It is here, huh?

Brian: It is. Yeah.

Bill: Oh. I didn’t realize it started.

Brian: It’s here.

Kelly: Who is Vernal?

Brian: I have no idea.

Bill: I don’t he – he does those ones that – yeah. He’s very educated. He listens to a lot of podcasts.

Brian: Hey, listen. Before we start the show today I do have an official announcement. It seems we keep making progress week after week after week.

Bill: You’re pregnant again?

Brian: I’m pregnant again! No. House Fluent Inspections is now an official Rachio Certified Professional.

Bill: That’s amazing.

Brian: It is amazing.

Bill: For all the people out there who have no idea what you just said, could you please tell them?

Brian: Yeah. It means we’re officially certified to inspect smart sprinkler systems by Rachio. So that’s actually great news. We actually are, I think, the first home inspection company in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to have that certification. So that’s fantastic.

Bill: It is fantastic. It is hard to imagine we’re that smart.

Brian: Well I don’t know if we’re smarter than the sprinkler systems. But we know how to inspect them and we get the inside track on training and the new products coming out. So it’s pretty cool.

Bill: Who doesn’t love Wi-Fi-based sprinkler systems?

Brian: That’s right. So. Alright, Bill, like I mentioned, it’s spring. Best time of the year. It’s the time of year we actually get to open our windows here and get a little fresh air in the house. Which is kind of rare.

Bill: For all of you out there who have never opened your windows, please do it at least once a year.

Brian: At least once. Kind of clean that air out.

Bill: Just to make sure they actually open would be great.

Brian: Yeah. So have you started yet? Have you started the spring cleaning?

Bill: Spring cleaning?

Brian: Yeah. It’s the spring. You start the spring cleaning.

Bill: I did.

Brian: You open the windows.

Bill: No, we took down Christmas. I feel like that’s a start.

Brian: You finally took down Christmas in March?

Bill: Yeah. We’re good.

Brian: Alright.

Bill: Spring cleaning.

Brian: Well hey, I’ve got a story for you about spring cleaning.

Bill: Oh boy.

Brian: Yeah. It’s a story of Derek and Carol. And they were doing a little spring cleaning. As people are often wanting to do, they started in the garage. And they’re sweeping up, they’re cleaning out the cobwebs, going through the boxes, does that sound familiar?

Bill: Yeah. I feel a snake or something coming on here.

Brian: It’s not a snake. So as Derek was cleaning the floor, he noticed a wet spot over by the wall, kind of by the work bench.

Bill: Uh-oh.

Brian: And decided he was going to investigate it. And got down really close and just couldn’t figure out quite what it was. You ever have that happen to you? I mean, you’ve got the old car that you’re working on. You ever see, sort of, random spots? You don’t quite know what they are?

Bill: Oh, I know what they are. That’s oil.

Brian: That’s oil?

Bill: I know what that is. That’s a 51-year-old car. That’s oil.

Brian: Well, Derek went over to investigate it. He leaned down and looked at it. He sniffed it. He did, kind of, all the things. I didn’t read anywhere where he tasted it.

Bill: No, but there’s a few old-fashioned guys who might try that one.

Brian: That might try that?

Bill: Yeah.

Brian: Anyway, he decided to investigate CSI-style. So he went and he got a matchbook. Any idea where this is going?

Bill: Oh boy. That’s… this has got nothing good coming out of it.

Brian: Yeah, that’s right. He burned the house down.

Bill: Burned the house down?

Brian: Burned the house down.

Bill: Wow! That’s like us checking for gas leaks with a lighter.

Brian: It’s kind of the same thing. So, yeah, he lit the little spot of liquid on fire and, Poof!

Bill: I’m assuming it was fuel based?

Brian: I’m assuming so. Yeah. It was flammable so…

Bill: Did they ever say what it was?

Brian: Never did. Yeah, it just burned the house down.

Bill: Wow, that is an effective way to test. I mean, if it is dangerous.

Brian: Keep that when you’re cleaning out your garage and doing the spring cleaning.

Bill: What kind of sniff test did he do?

Kelly: At least you know there’s no risk of a false positive.

Brian: That’s true.

Bill: That’s true

Brian: You’re right about that.

Bill: I guess the sniff test didn’t quite go well either.

Kelly: Probably not.

Bill: Usually the things that are flammable, they’re pretty distinctive.

Brian: Yeah. They normally are. Yeah. You normally get that nice, pungent aroma.

Bill: It’s the waters and stuff that you’re thrown by. You’re like, “Hmm, this smells like nothing.”

Brian: Alright, well if you’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, try and catch up with us on March 23. We’re going to be at Axiom Coffee Shop in Keller doing a new homebuyers seminar. So try and catch up with us there if you can. We’re going to get a quick break in. Remember, you can always tweet at us @HouseFluent, use the hashtag #MyHomeQuestion. We’ll try and get to those on the show. You can also find us on Facebook or at Instagram or at

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Bill: Hi I’m Bill Beck with House Fluent Inspections and this is your Homeowner Tool of the Week. Today I’m not really necessarily talking about any specific tool, I’m more talking about how to kind of inspect your house to prepare for the spring storms. The heavy rains, the winds, etc., things that come with the spring. I mainly want to talk about roofing and siding. These are probably the most common areas that seem to take the abuse from the stuff that comes up in the spring. You know, the storms, the rain, the hail. I just want to discuss the ways you can look at it. Some ways are easier than others. Some are a little more dangerous but depending on what you can and can’t do. Obviously a ladder would be great. Binoculars. You can even use a drone if your kids have one or if you have one. There’s even camera poles where you can put your camera on an extension to look up with it and get photos. Even easier, sometimes you can just pull out a window screen and look out your window. It’s even a way to access the roof if it’s a safe area to go out on. Mostly, this is just to prepare your house and see what kind of condition your house is in when the spring is coming. Just a good time to look for damaged siding, the flashing has come loose, windows that need to be caulked, loose screens, gutters and downspouts that are damaged. When you are able to get up there and look at your chimney, chimneys take a lot of abuse. Especially the flashings right on the crickets that divert the water around the chimney. Rain caps. Damaged box or ridge vents on your roof. They take a lot of abuse. It’s also a great way to see if your house has been through some heavy storms, they’re usually dented up. It’s also a good time to see if you need to repair or replace any of the shingles on your roof. Even something as simple as caulking your nail heads, just sealing them to prevent them from rusting and causing further damage. Some of this stuff is DIY stuff you can do. Or in some cases, you can hire a roofing contractor to repair some of these areas. But mainly you’re just up there to kind of give an idea what repairs are needed or what condition your roof and your siding is in. As with most things, if you can fix it when it’s a small issue, it will really help it not turn into a large issue, which can get very expensive. This is Bill Beck with House Fluent Inspections and this has been your Homeowner Tool of the Week.

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Brian: Alright, we’re back. Bill, you ready to talk flipped houses?

Bill: Absolutely, let’s talk.

Brian: Let’s do it. So we are starting to see more and more of these out in the market, as I mentioned. And I wanted to start with a place called the open concept. Are you familiar with the open concept?

Bill: I am open to it, yes.

Brian: You’re open to the open concept? So a lot of houses that were build, you know, around the 60s and 70s were very boxy. They had a lot of closed-off rooms, small doors. And the result of that is they had a lot of what are called “load-bearing walls.” And those are walls that actually support the live and dead loads of the structure. It means they’re actually holding your building up, or your home up. And so to open those walls up actually requires a fair bit of engineering. And one of the things that coincides with that is a lot of these older homes used pre-engineered roofing structures called trusses. They don’t use a lot of the modern framing techniques that we have today. So when they open those up, we’re starting to see situations where those trusses have been modified.

Bill: Yeah, we’re seeing that a lot more on these houses. Any house that seems that they’ve removed walls or added a beam across the ceiling to support the roof structure of the house. We’re seeing this a lot more.

Brian: Yeah, so modified trusses are kind of interesting. Because a truss is a pre-engineered and predesigned, factory-built part of your home, any modification to it really needs to have a certified engineer or certified truss specialist certify those modifications. So anytime you see an open-concept, if your home inspector tells you, “Hey, you’ve got trusses in the attic and they’ve been modified,” You really should be asking for that certification.

Bill: Absolutely, you should be asking the seller what was done to make sure this was done correctly.

Brian: Yeah. And you want to really ensure that that certification is there because modifications to those trusses, like I said, they’re not supposed to be done. The reason for that is that a truss is designed to support the maximum amount of weight with the minimum amount of effort. What I mean by that is the framing members on those are typically smaller than what you would see on more modern framing techniques with rafters and things.

Bill: Yeah, it’s almost all 2x4s.

Brian: Exactly. Yeah, it’s almost all 2x4s. And they’re designed in ways that make them strong and can support a lot of weight. They’ve got a lot of triangles involved.

Bill: Scissors, yep.

Brian: So anyway, it’s really, really important. If those things are modified that you do have that certification or you at least, you know, seek that out after the fact.

Bill: Absolutely. I mean, any information you can find on this to determine if it was done correctly. It’s not just, we’re seeing a lot of issues with these just on how they were cut and if they reattached the original trusses to the beam they installed. We’re finding a lot of times they’re not even attaching correctly, they’re not using joist hangers, they’re leaving holes open that should have fasteners in them, if they put them in at all. So even if they were engineered properly, the other issues that we’re seeing is actually the work just being done correctly.

Brian: Yeah. That’s true. The flip side of that too, if you are selling a home that you’ve flipped and you’ve had these modifications done, one of the things we recommend is go ahead and take a copy of that certification, put it in a Ziplock bag, and just have your contractor staple it to a truss so that when a home inspector is up there taking a look at it, they can see that certification. It saves a lot of heartache for everybody down the road.

KELLY: So it sounds to me like, as an example, you wouldn’t want just any random guy cutting a chuck out of a bridge. Because that’s essentially what you’re talking about.

Brian: That’s exactly what we’re talking about. Yeah, you’re exactly right.

KELLY: You know, the roof trusses are kind of like a bridge on your home. You wouldn’t just want to cut a chunk out of it randomly.

Bill: Yeah, I mean, it would be like taking a chunk out of the frame of your car and expecting it to not fold in half. It is kind of the heart of your house. It’s keel beam of your boat. It’s got a lot to it. And it’s not saying that your house is going to collapse if this is done. But we would just like to see, or the buyer should want to see something saying this was done per something.

Brian: Yeah. And the other side of that is we’ve also seen flips that were done very, very, very well. We looked at one just yesterday that was immaculate. They removed walls, they did all sorts of things and boy did they do a heck of a job. It was done really, really well.

Bill: Yeah, that was probably the best one we’ve seen. They did a really nice job.

Brian: Alright, moving on to electrical work. I once had a contractor, Bill, tell me that nothing makes a flip look better to an investor than new switches and outlets. We do see that, and that’s pretty common in flips. The things to look out for with it, though, is when you do that, when you’ve got somebody replacing every outlet in a home, they don’t always hook them back up correctly. So we do see things with reversed polarity, open grounds. Especially in an older home. On the outside walls, a lot of times, if the electricity is old enough, there’s not a ground wire. And they don’t necessarily run new wires down those walls. So you’ll see those outside wall outlets a lot of times with an open ground.

Bill: Especially on the older houses, yeah.

Brian: Yeah. So just some things to kind of keep in mind. Make sure your home inspector is checking all those outlets.

Bill: So have you ever seen an upside-down outlet, and is there any reason for that?

Brian: I have. I’ve seen many upside-down outlets. And sometimes there’s not a reason for it. We were recently educated by a home builder that it’s kind of an interesting way to do it. So there are some outlets that are operated off of light switches on walls. And what this home builder started doing is the outlets that are operated off of those light switches, they flip them upside down. It’s kind of cool actually. It gives you a really good idea of which ones are the ones that run off of light switches. I actually, personally, kind of like it.

Bill: I went 12 years in my last house and I had a switch on my wall that I plugged my Christmas Tree into every year, and it always made me upset that only one of the outlets worked instead of both of them.

Brian: Uh-huh.

Bill: And I had a friend over with my sister one time. And she plugged her computer in over there. And I’m like, “Oh, no. Don’t use that outlet. It doesn’t work.” And she’s like “No, no, I just turned the switch on by the front door.” I was in that house 12 years. You’ve got to be kidding me!

Brian: That’s right. That happens.

Bill: It wasn’t upside down.

Brian: Yeah? Well if it was upside down you would have known.

Bill: I would hope so, but I would have probably thought it was just upside down.

Brian: So any other electrical items you want to talk about, Bill?

Bill: I guess the other one would be, we’re starting to see – it’s not starting but – you’re seeing people double tap to add other subpanels or other breakers in the boxes.

Brian: Yeah. So a lot of the older homes have got older electrical systems, as you can imagine. And rather than upgrading the panel, which can be rather expensive, they’re either adding another panel or they just add a circuit by doing what Bill just described as “Double tapping.” That’s where you essentially take one circuit breaker, but you run multiple circuits off it.

Bill: Or they go right off the main conduit coming into the house.

Brian: Yeah. That’s right. Yeah sometimes they do that too. They’ll tap it right onto the main. In which case, there’s no circuit breaker at all. And those situations can obviously be dangerous. You’ve got, now, a system that’s not designed to handle the loads you’re about to put on it. In some cases it just doesn’t work. As soon as you start plugging stuff in, the breaker just can’t handle it. It’s something that we do see unfortunately. A good electrician can take care of that for you.

Bill: We’ve seen people that have really gone all out to add GFCIs all over the house, which is great. It’s just, is it done correctly? How many are chained together? It can be a little interesting how that all works out. But it is nice to see people modernizing some of these older homes too.

Brian: Yeah. Absolutely. absolutely. So let’s talk for just a second, Bill, about plumbing. Your favorite subject in the world. So we have seen all sorts of interesting things with plumbing. Especially when it comes to remodeled homes. We’ve seen plumbing that, quite frankly, hasn’t been tested. Hasn’t been operated. So you do see things like tubs that are leaking from around the drain. Shower pans that leak. You’re seeing, you know, drains that back up because they corrected the foundation but may have broken a plumbing line underneath the slab. We do see interesting things with plumbing.

Bill: You see creative plumbing, which is fun. You see pieces and parts you could probably stack together to get something somewhere.

Brian: Plumbing Tetris?

Bill: Sometimes it surprisingly works well. But sometimes you’re just amazed by some of the stuff that’s going on. Plumbing, I would say, out of most of the issues we’ve seen with flips or remodels, plumbing seems to be the most challenging area. I don’t know why.

Brian: Yeah. It’s the toughest thing to get right.

Bill: It’s probably the one thing no one likes doing anyway. But it seems to be the root of most of the problems. Leak-wise, if there’s a valve turned off, there’s probably a reason.

Brian: Yeah. That’s true.

Bill: We seem to find that one a lot.

Brian: Yeah we do. Those normally will spew water when you turn them on.

Bill: Yeah.

Brian: But, interestingly, people are starting, with these remodels, to replace these old tank-style water heaters with the tankless ones. And, you know, if that’s not done by a licensed plumber who’s really been certified in that, you can end up with all kinds of interesting things. We recently looked at a home where it worked great as long as you were running one fixture. And as soon as you turned the second one on, it just couldn’t keep up. The temperature dropped from 100 degrees at the faucet down to 70. And so, those are the types of things that you really have to be wary of when you’re looking at these types of houses.

Bill: Yeah. Especially when it comes to the tankless, it seems like there’s a lot more guess work going on as far as how much water it needs to provide. The size of the house. Whereas with a conventional water heater with a tank, it’s not that complicated. Whereas, we’re seeing that the demand on some of these units is not up to size for the house or for how many people are going to be using the house. Even though it may be a great install, it just may not be what they need.

Brian: Yeah. Absolutely. Alright, well let’s get a quick break it. Remember, you can always tweet at us, @HouseFluent, you can use the hashtag #MyHomeQuestion. We try and get to those on the show. You can also find us on Facebook or Instagram or at

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Brian: Alright, we’re back. So remember, if you’re in the DFW-area and you want to catch up with us, we are going to be at Axiom Coffee Shop in Keller on March 23 from 10-12. And that’s this Saturday. We’re going to be doing a new homebuyers seminar. It’s a great to catch up with us and talk about anything you walk to talk about. Before we go on, there’s just a couple of things I want to wrap up with flipped houses. Really, if you’re on the seller’s side, one thing that I would encourage, keep documentation, keep records. All of your contractors, you know, should be giving you some sort of records on what work was done. Keep those things. Hang on to them. Provide them to the buyers. Conversely, if you’re on the buying side, you should be asking for those things from the sellers. There are just so many things that you can catch in a home inspect. We’re limited in terms of what we can and can’t do here in the state of Texas. So we can inspect your HVAC system, we can’t put gauges on it and check pressures. That’s a different kind of license. We can inspect your plumbing; we can’t put a scope in your drain. Only a licensed master plumber can do that. So we’re testing functional flow on your plumbing systems. We’re doing things like filling sinks and showers and tubs and pulling plugs and making sure they drain.

Bill: I think what I would add to that is, on the seller side, operate all the equipment several times before the house is going to be listed and people are looking at the house and it’s being inspected. So many times we go in and all the hardware that comes with a dishwasher is still sitting inside of it. It’s never even been run. Also, include any warranties on all the stuff that you’ve replaced. Those buyers get all that.

Brian: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Bill: And operators manuals. Anything they can have that will help. There’s just so much new equipment. But the biggest thing that we see is that most of this stuff has never even been tried out or operated to see if there is any problems with it.

Brian: And that’s the great thing about a remodeled home, right? You’re buying an older home that’s essentially brand new. You have new appliances, potentially new rooms. You’ve got new flooring. They can be amazing. They really can.

Bill: And we deal with the exact same situations on a brand-new home pre-close. But it’s just a little different with an older home that’s been remodeled. Because a lot of times, you’re putting something newer in an older home and it has to be adapted. There’s other issues that come up. Where, on a new home, they’re building them all that way in that develop or whatever. So they kind of get the hang of it. But we do run into the same thing where they haven’t even operated it yet.

Brian: Alright. Well, moving on Bill. I found an interesting article. This is one of the things, speaking of new homes and moving into new neighborhoods. One of the things that many people deal with are Home Owners Associations.

Bill: Yes.

Brian: And I found an interesting article that talks about the 7 Craziest Home Owners Association Rules. So I thought we’d just kind of talk about those a little bit today.

Bill: If you have anything to add, just please send it to our…

Brian: Yeah, please send it to us. We love talking about it. So I’m going to go backwards. These go from 1-7 but I’m going to go from 7 to 1. So, number 7, are you ready for this? No smoking, even in your own bathroom. There is a smoking ban in all public areas, including balconies, patios, courtyards, and swimming pools. And it’s recently been extended into the resident’s home citing the negative health effects of second-hand smoke.

Bill: Was this condos or is this an actual house?

Brian: No. This was an actual house. Home Owners Association.

Bill: How can… I don’t even understand how they could do that.

Brian: In the ruling, the HOA points out that the US Constitution does not guarantee Americans the right to smoke in their homes.

Bill: I don’t think they probably realized they need that.

Brian: I don’t think so either.

Bill: Wow.

Brian: Yeah, I don’t recall an amendment in the Bill of Rights saying…

Bill: It’s that freedom thing…

Brian: “Thou shall not infringe your right to smoking.”

Bill: …might have been trampled on just a tad. I mean, I don’t really care for the smell of it either. But I can’t imagine trying to tell somebody what they can’t do in their house.

Brian: I know, isn’t that crazy?

Bill: Alright.

Brian: Number 6, you shall maintain a consistently green lawn.

Bill: This one is one that seems to be a topic of many, uh, Facebook HOA pages.

Brian: Yeah, absolutely. There’s all kinds of things with lawns. Height, how often you’ve got to cut it, things like that. But this is your Bill’s Spray It Green lawn painting service that you were talking about a couple of weeks ago.

Bill: This is also why people will be going to fake lawns.

Brian: That’s right. Astroturf business is about to skyrocket. Failing to properly maintain a green lawn cost a homeowner $600 per month.

Bill: For what?

Brian: I have no idea.

Bill: Paint?

Brian: That was the fee.

Bill: New sod?

Brian: No. That was the fee for not maintaining a sufficiently green lawn.

Bill: I don’t know what actual neighborhood that was in. I’m assuming it was a pretty nice one.

Brian: I would think so too. This is a rather specific rule, Rule Number 5. Do not offer your homeless granddaughter shelter.

Bill: Say that again, please?

Brian: Do not offer your homeless granddaughter shelter.

Bill: That one seems very specific.

Brian: It’s very specific.

Bill: As if it was intended for one person.

Brian: Yes. This is at a retirement village in Clearwater, Florida.

Bill: Okay.

Brian: So apparently this woman assumed guardianship of her six-year-old granddaughter Kimberly after her drug-addict mother was ruled unfit. And it says that they brought the child to live with them in a retirement village in Clearwater, Florida. And because it’s a retirement village, aged 55 and over, they said, “Nope, can’t do it.”

Bill: That’s pretty harsh.

Brian: I thought so too. Yeah. Kind of crazy.

Bill: Well, just glad to see these people are on their way out.

Brian: Yeah.

Bill: Go down happy.

Brian: Yeah. That’s right. So here’s a good one for you. In Tennessee, number 4, do not put a For Sale sign in your yard.

Bill: Yeah. I mean, when it comes to signs and stuff, this is where it gets pretty crazy.

Brian: Oh no, this is specific to selling your house. Do not put a For Sale sign in your yard.

Bill: Oh, because it looks bad for the neighborhood if people are selling?

Brian: It looks bad for the neighborhood. So it’s a rule prohibiting signs, banners, and billboards. And the realtor went and put a For Sale sign in the yard. And the HOA fined the homeowner.

Bill: So it’s much easier to just guess.

Brian: Yeah. Guess which house is for sale in your neighborhood.

Bill: I mean, obviously you have an address and it’s listed. But the funny thing is, when we look for houses, typically, we’re just usually driving around the area we’d like to live in and see what’s for sale.

Brian: Yeah.

Bill: So that is kind of a challenge.

Brian: So here’s a good one for you Bill. Number 3, you’ll like this one. Ready? You must carry your dog at all times.

Bill: Okay. Not a good neighborhood to have a Great Dane or Saint Bernard.

Brian: That’s right. This woman who walks with a cane was fined $25 for every time she failed to carry her Cocker Spaniel through the public areas.

Bill: What are they afraid of?

Brian: I don’t know.

KELLY: Landmines.

Bill: I mean, obviously it’s more to do with what they do when they’re on the ground. But wow, I don’t know if PETA lives in that neighborhood but…

Brian: Yeah, I don’t know.

KELLY: I think it’s another example of the Gold Cart Mafia.

Brian: Yeah.

Bill: I find that times must be really good if these are the things we have a problem with.

Brian: Yeah, that’s right. These are first world problems.

Bill: Yes. Definitely.

Brian: Are you ready for rule number 2? This is a good one. This is from the Aviation Industry.

Bill: Oh Boy.

Brian: This says, “Do not use inconsistent shingles, even after a plane destroys your house.”

Bill: Also very specific.

Brian: Oddly specific.

Bill: So apparently someone had a plane at their house and they didn’t use the proper singles to fix it?

Brian: Correct.

Bill: Do they really need the aircraft part in that? Couldn’t it just say “Shingles need to match”?

Brian: I know.

Bill: Because what are the chances of that happening other than if you live in the flight path of an airport where they come in 10 feet over the road. But I mean…

Brian: Yeah.

Bill: Wow.

Brian: So Florida Man strikes again. So this was also in Florida.

Bill: There was, like, three people in that neighborhood, I’m assuming.

Brian: Yeah. So a plane crashed into this gentleman’s home. It really was a horrible tragedy. It crashed into his home. Not everyone in the home made it. And he was building a new home on the same lot. And the HOA halted the construction because his shingles didn’t perfectly match his neighbors’ homes.

Bill: It’s all about being original these days.

Brian: It is all about being original. But California, Bill, California gets the number one spot.

Bill: No. Way.

Brian: Yes. Number One spot.

Bill: Shut. Up.

Brian: Are you ready? Here we go. Rancho Santa Fe California is targeting people for planting too many roses.

Bill: Apparently there’s a problem caused by the roses; I’m assuming. But I can’t imagine what this may be.

Brian: They have a prescribed number of roses you can plant per acre. And you shall not exceed it.

Bill: Does this tend to come up during Valentine’s Day for people that aren’t dating anybody?

Brian: Maybe around the Rose Parade?

Bill: Feeling lonely?

KELLY: Are they counting individual flowers or plants?

Brian: I don’t know.

KELLY: How are they determining this?

Bill: Isn’t that where they have the Rose Bowl?

Brian: It is where the have the Rose Bowl.

Bill: Isn’t that amazing. That’s actually not too close to Rancho Santa Fe but wow. I’m assuming there’s probably more to that one than we realize. But my mom used to have amazing rose bushes in California. And she lived in the country. And the deer love fresh rose buds. They must be like candy to deer. And she would get so mad because they would just come down and pluck all the fresh rose buds right off her plants. So she would have to cover them with cages and fencing and all that stuff, which kind of defeated the purpose. But I doubt that’s the problem. But, alright, rose-free.

Brian: Rose-free. Alright, well we were supposed to have a guest calling in today and I was just told that he’s not going to make it. So we’re going to take just a quick break, Bill, and when we come back we’ll talk about some more stuff. Get to some Q&As and wrap this thing up. What do you say?

Bill: Alright, sounds good.

Brian: Alright. So remember you can always Tweet at @HouseFluent, you can use that hashtag #MyHomeQuestion. We always try to get to those on the show. And you can always find us at, Instagram, or Facebook.

(light music)

Brian: I’m Brian Botch from House Fluent Inspections, and this is your Smart Home Update. If you’re a smart home enthusiast, you probably already have a smart door lock. But if you have one of the older models, perhaps you should consider an upgrade. The newest models are coming with facial recognition. That’s right, with built-in cameras, they can unlock just by looking at you. Some even boast the ability to recognize faces within .2 of a second. Manufacturers claim that future models will even be able to differentiate the difference between your friends, your family, and strangers, and alert you when strangers are at your door. These devices, of course, integrate with your home and smart home assistant to allow you to control your lock with your voice, see the status of the lock, or lock or unlock it from anywhere on the planet. Still, others work with IFTTT, allowing you to cook up some pretty interesting recipes, like unlocking your doors when the smoke alarms go off or turning on your lights or cameras when someone enters or approaches the door. Almost all smart locks today have some sort of geofencing feature that allow you to automatically lock or unlock the door as your enter or leave a fenced-in area. I’m Brian Botch with House Fluent Inspections and this has been your Smart Home Update.

(light music)

Brian: Alright, and we’re back. So Bill, we started the show talking about spring cleaning, it’s about that time of year. And so, you get anything you need to clean out? You have time to think about that? You going to go clean the garage?

Bill: No. I don’t really like doing that. No. How I know it’s spring is weeds.

Brian: Weeds?

Bill: Weeds are the dead giveaway. It’s like, well, you know whether you have a lawns service or not when spring comes around.

Brian: Yeah?

Bill: Because whatever you did in fall is what you’re going to get that year.

Brian: Yeah. That’s right. What about you, Kelly?

Kelly: Man, I’ve got an entire list of things I need to do to my house.

Brian: Yeah?

Kelly: It’s going to be at least a three-day weekend for me.

Brian: Does it include testing random spots in your garage with matches?

Kelly: No. I use one of those propane torches to do that. It’s much more efficient.

Brian: Yeah. It works fast?

Bill: I mean, I guess it solves the cleaning problem quickly.

Brian: Technically, yeah. It does solve the cleaning problem.

Kelly: But I just figured out that I need to clean out my dryer vent. Because I was doing my laundry yesterday and threw the stuff in the dryer.

Bill: Woah, Kelly did laundry?

Kelly: I did, amazingly.

Bill: He’s very handy.

Kelly: Yeah. And it took me two cycles to get the stuff dry. So I figured it’s probably clogged. Probably got some lint down there.

Brian: It’s a pretty good… yeah.

Bill: To all of you out there with new homes, if you dryer vent is on the roof, make sure it doesn’t have a vermin screen on there that keeps animals from getting into it, which is a really good way to catch all the lint in your exhaust.

Brian: Yeah, it’s a double-edged sword.

Bill: I mean, if it has a flapper door, which most of them have, but they tend to put the wrong ones on the dryer vent. And they have the grill over them to keep animals from getting in.

Brian: Yeah.

Bill: But it tends to hold all the lint into the vent also.

Brian: It does, yeah. If you’re going to pull that grill off though, definitely make sure it’s got that door on it.

Bill: Something.

Kelly: So do you have any recommendations on the best way to clean out a dryer vent?

Bill: Leaf blower.

Kelly: Seriously?

Bill: No.

Kelly: Because I’ve got a battery-powered one. I’ll plug it up and do it.

Bill: Um, you just look outside, yep it’s working.

Brian: I actually recommend, they have companies that will come out and clean your vents. Find one. While they’re doing your dryer you can have them, for not a whole lot more, clean out all your air conditioning vents and the whole nine yards. You get that musty smell out.

Kelly: That’s not a bad idea actually.

Brian: Yeah.

Bill: Small amount of lighter fluid.

Brian: Yeah that would work.

Bill: Match.

Kelly: I do have the propane torch.

Bill: That’s the instant… be careful, those are mostly flex-hoses. They’re not too sturdy.

Brian: Definitely do not. Do not. We are not advocating lighting your dryer vent on fire.

Bill: Or using a leaf blower.

Kelly: I’m totally doing the leaf blower.

Bill: Most of it where it’s blocked is usually on the vent outside the house, we see mostly, is where it seems to get stuck the most. And these can be a fire hazard if they accumulate too much.

Brian: Yeah. They definitely can. Alright, we’re getting off the rails.

Bill: Way off the rails.

Brian: We’re way off track.

Bill: Sorry. Lint.

Brian: No. It’s alright. Lint, Lent, it goes together.

Bill: Oh!

Kelly: Giving up lint for Lent, that’s good.

Bill: There we go. Look at you.

Brian: Moving on, moving on. So Bill, the first question comes to us. It’s what do I do after I move in, after I’ve closed on my home, and I discover there’s a problem?

Bill: You should list the house.

Brian: Immediately. It depends on the scope of the problem. Most of the time when you’re buying a home, you have a home warranty. That’s always a good place to start. It it’s a big problem, obviously you’ve got your homeowner’s insurance that you can talk to. You know, it’s definitely something that happens. Especially, we talked a lot today about remodeled homes. You had mentioned Bill, early on, that those systems aren’t tested, necessarily, after they’ve remodeled them. So we’ll go in, we’ll do a home inspect, and we will run all those systems. We will test them. But it’s a one-time test, right? So you’re not getting the chronic usage. So unless there’s an acute problem, so a problem that just pops up, bang, it’s not going to get caught in a home inspect. So those problems that are more chronic, that happen over days and weeks of you using a new system, those can happen. And they’re things that you’re going to have to deal with as a homeowner.

Bill: This happens on new houses, old houses. It doesn’t matter. Tons of people have problems with new homes. Almost all problems are fixable, it just depends on what they are. How big of a problem is it?

Brian: One of the things we do for our customers that maybe is a little bit different. The vast majority of our home inspections, we provide them with a lifetime subscription to Home Binder. And in there, we have a list of home professionals that we’ve vetted out, that we’ve worked with in the past. We have no affiliation with them. We don’t make any money off of them. They’re just good folks in the industry that we know do a good job. And we put that list in there for you. And it gives you sort of a resource to go to as well.

Bill: Alright, what’s the next one?

Brian: Next question. I have an older HVAC unit in my hallway. I’d like to move it to my attic and reclaim some closet space. What should I look out for if I have this done.

Bill: That’s a big modification. You obviously need to talk to an HVAC expert first.

Brian: Yeah. Without a doubt.

Bill: See if it’s even possible. Depends on how your house was set up too. Anything’s possible, but especially cost-wise. How much are you looking to spend?

Brian: Sure. May be a great time to upgrade your system. Most of those ones that in the hallway, although not all, but most of the ones that are in a hallway closet tend to be older units anyway. May be a good time to regain some efficiency and upgrade your unit at the same time. But one of the big things for me is making sure you’ve got an access hatch large enough to get that unit into the attic.

Bill: Yes, Once again, go back to cutting trusses.

Brian: That’s right. Yeah. We’ve seen that more than once.

Bill: We’ve seen that. Just to get a unit in.

Brian: Yeah.

Bill: The attics almost have to be designed for a unit in the attic too. So I’m not saying it can’t be done. But that is a fairly decent-sized modification to do to a house.

Brian: Yeah. And one thing I would add to that, Bill, is often times if you’re going to move that unit to the attic, you’ve got to make a larger opening, especially on an older home. Many times that’s in the garage. So make sure that they seal that opening appropriately. Your garage is typically your fire barrier between your home and the garage. So if you’re going to put access stairs in, make sure they put fire rated stairs in. Make sure they put a walkway to the unit in the attic so you actually have the ability to access it. Especially if you’re going to be changing your filters up there. Things like that.

Bill: Make sure they a proper pan that drains to the outside also.

Brian: Yeah. On the secondary.

Bill: We’ve seen that before.

Brian: So another pitfall to look out for, since you brought that up. Most of those old closet units will have a drain in the closet. Make sure that they either decommission that drain or use it properly if they’re going to run the condensate down in there. Moving on, the last question, I saw in my home inspect report that my attic access hatch is not fire safety rated, hey, how about that. How big a deal is that really, and is it something I can replace myself or do I need a contractor to do it for me?

Bill: I guess that just depends on what you’re capable of doing or what you’re willing to take on, mostly.

Brian: Yeah, and I would say, as far as how big of a deal it is, it is a risk. There’s no question. Not having a fire safety barrier, a lot of people keep gasoline and things in their garage. So keep that in mind, obviously. Obviously it’s a personal decision, it’s a personal choice in how much risk you’re willing to take into your life.

Bill: Is it something that’s going to keep your house from burning down?

Brian: They’re not designed to prevent a fire, right?

Bill: No.

Brian: They’re designed to slow the spread. They’re designed to give you more time to escape, should a fire start in your garage.

Bill: What’s the difference between a non-fire rated access compared to one that is fire rated?

Brian: The fire rated ones are thicker. They’re made out of a different material. They’re designed to not burn through for a period of time. They’re all different, depending on the fire rating. For me, personally, it was a big deal. I’ve got four kids. The oldest is 6 1/2 . So for me, it gives me a little more piece of mind.

Bill: The good thing, for a lot of the people out there, is if you have an older home that does not have one that’s fire rated, there’s a pretty good chance, we see it on a lot of the older homes, that that ladder’s about the collapse anyway.

Brian: That’s right.

Bill: They’re already falling apart. So if you do need to replace it, just replace it with one that’s fire rated.

Brian: Hey Bill, let’s wrap this thing up. Thank you for listening to House Fluent Inspections Radio. We hope you enjoyed the podcast today. Remember, you can always Tweet at us @HouseFluent or go to to book a home inspection, read articles about stress-free homebuying, home selling, or homeownership. Or just generally get to know us. So Bill, what do we have coming up on the next show?

Bill: Easter Egg Safety.

Brian: Easter Egg Safety! I love it. I love it.

Bill: How to hunt for Easter Eggs safely. And how to get them all so there’s none left out for next year.

Brian: Alright, we’ll be sure to look out for that. And details for personal protection equipment.

Kelly: Plastic eggs.

Bill: Plastic eggs. Those are cheap. Yeah. We used to love those.

Brian: Alright. Thank you today to Bill Beck and our producer Kelly Lamont. Music today and everyday was provided by Purple Planet Music. And remember, it’s spring. Get out there and get that spring cleaning down.

Bill: Don’t use matches.

Brian: Don’t use matches

Brian Botch

Brian Botch

Brian is the owner of House Fluent Inspections and is licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission as a professional real estate inspector (TX License # 22824 ). In addition, he is certified by the National Swimming Pool Foundation as a Certified Pool Inspector.

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