B.C. Housing Minister Moves to Shore Up Standards for Home Inspections, Globe and Mail

B.C. Housing Minister Moves to Shore Up Standards for Home Inspections, Globe and Mail. This article appeared on the Globe and Mail online on September 19th, 2014 and was written by Dene Moore.

By the end of next year, home inspectors will have to meet a standard set of professional criteria to be licenced in British Columbia.

Housing Minister Rich Coleman said Friday the improved requirements will help safeguard home buyers who rely on the inspections for making what is likely the largest investment of their lives.

Consumer Protection BC will set the education and training requirements and be responsible for testing and licensing home inspectors.

“At the end of the day, buying a home is one of the biggest purchases somebody ever makes, and we’ve always been very supportive of any move toward consumer protection in this area,” said Tayt Winnitoy, vice-president of operations for Consumer Protection BC.

In 2009, B.C. became the first jurisdiction in Canada to require licences and insurance for home inspectors, and there are now about 440 licensed in the province.

A few months later, a North Vancouver couple won an unprecedented award in the civil lawsuit they brought against their home inspector.

Three years earlier, Manuel Salgado and Nora Calcaneo bought a home for $1.095 million.

They paid $450 for an inspection, which found a number of structural deficiencies. The inspector, Imre Toth, estimated the repairs would cost them $15,000 to $20,000. They closed the deal.

When the bill came in, it totalled $213,000.

They filed suit against Toth, the sellers and the real estate agents, but settled with the previous owners and dropped their claim against the agents. Justice Grant Burnyeat said Toth’s estimate was “woefully inadequate.”

The purpose of the inspection is to provide a homebuyer with expert advice about any significant deficiencies, the judge wrote. “I have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that the plaintiffs relied upon the report received by Mr. Toth to decide whether they would purchase the property,” he wrote.

“Plainly, if prospective home purchasers did not believe that they could secure meaningful and reliable advice about the home they were considering purchasing, there would be no reason for them to retain an inspector to inspect that home.”

Currently, inspectors must pass regular examinations to obtain and keep their license but there are four different associations that can licence, each with its own evaluation process.

In a survey by the provincial Office of Housing and Construction Standards, 78 per cent of home inspectors felt the requirements for a licence are too lax. “It is clear … that action is needed to increase consumer protection and to address the challenges in the current model,” the report said.

The Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors — one of the four groups that licence inspectors — said non-existent standards improved with the 2009 regulations, but loopholes remain.

Winnitoy said home buyers can rest assured that the inspectors they’re dealing with now have met minimum training and education requirements.

“What we see now and what we’re looking forward to is a deepening and an improving of the framework to help ensure that there’s a level playing field for all home inspectors and a clear set of expectations for consumers to have.”

Kamloops Home Inspections: How to Know if Your Septic System Is Failing

Parker Bennett Home Inspector KamloopsMany homes in Kamloops are serviced by septic systems. It is sometimes hard to know if your septic system is functioning properly. These are some of the basic symptoms, which will give you the heads up that you have a serious septic issue:

• Sewage backup in your drains or toilets (usually in the lower levels of your home ). This is often a black liquid with a disagreeable odor.

• Slow flushing of your toilets. Many of the drains in your house will drain much slower than usual, despite the use of plungers

• Surface flow of wastewater. Sometimes you will notice liquid seeping along the surface of the ground near your septic system. It may have a smelly odor.

• The presence of coliform bacteria in your drinking water well. This indicates that liquid from the system may be flowing into the well through the ground or over the surface. Water testing can help to identify this issue, however depending on your well type this can be a giveaway.

• A consistent unpleasant odor around your home. Often, a failing septic system causes a buildup of disagreeable odors around the house and you may notice the smell periodically when your outside, doing yard work.

Parker Bennett, Rest Assured Home Inspections
P. 250-372-7375 E. moc.oohaynull@snoitcepsniemohderussatser

Kamloops Home Inspections: Test Your Interior Electrical Outlets For Safety

Parker Bennett Home InspectorElectrical outlets can be very dangerous resulting in fire or electrical shock. To test your electrical outlets, you’ll need a three-prong electrical outlet tester. These look like three-prong plugs with three little lights. These can be found at most any hardware store for only $10 or $15. Go room by room through the entire house, checking as many electrical outlets as possible. Ideally, you want to check every outlet.

Before touching any outlet, look to make sure that it is not physically damaged. Replace any outlet that is cracked or broken. With the rest of the outlets, take your electrical tester and plug it in.

The most common fault is a condition called reversed polarity. Reversed polarity means that the black wire and the white wire are reversed where they are connected to the outlet. Appliances plugged into an outlet with reversed polarity will still work, but there is a much greater risk of electrocution and damage to the appliance.

Parker Bennett, Rest Assured Home Inspections
P. 250-372-7375 E. ac.oohaynull@snoitcepsniemohderussatser

Kamloops Home Inspections: Tips To Keep The Critters Out

Parker Bennett Home InspectorBugs and pests are everywhere in Kamloops, however, nobody wants to have little critters crawling around their home. So the question is how do we keep these little pests from inhabiting the inside of our home?

Are you familiar with the term – don’t feed the bears? Well, the same applies for all types of critters. The most common problem that we encounter in most cases is having too much access for a free meal.

The following is a list of some good prevention tips that should help stop these little critters before they become a big problem.

  • Do not install bird feeders right next to the home. Keep vegetation away from the home. Periodically check roof vents, siding, eaves, gutters for damage that can allow bugs access into our living spaces.
  • Prevent any wood from direct contact with the earth. Keep garbage in covered containers. Keep food sealed or refrigerated. Clean up food off the floor and ensure all food in the cabinets is placed in sealed containers.
  • Homes with metal siding and metal roofs can be still be damaged by termites, carpenter ants and other insects. Periodically inspect your home and spray seams, corners and exterior wood with proper stains and sealant.
  • Be alert for their telltale signs: piles of wings (which termites lose in the spring), tunnels in wood, tunnels of dirt in foundation walls, piles of sawdust under wood furniture or siding, and the bugs themselves. Check for termites in areas around the furnace and hot water tanks, the high humidity in these areas make for hot spots. Wood soil contact in the yard will be sure to invite all types of pests, so be sure to eliminate all wood soil contact.

If you are in a termite or carpenter ant prone area, have a trained professional evaluate your home for indication of any activity, so that proper treatment can be performed before serious damage and financial cost is incurred. If you want to find out more information about pests and how to control them contact Rest Assured Home Inspections and take a pro-active approach in keeping your home free of any unwanted guests.

Parker Bennett, Rest Assured Home Inspections
P. 250-372-7375 E. ac.oohaynull@snoitcepsniemohderussatser

Kamloops Home Inspections: Reduce Your Home Energy Bills

Todd Hrycenko Kamloops Home InspectionsSpend a little bit of money on your Kamloops home and save a lot on your home energy bills. Here are some tips on cutting your energy costs year round.

A lit fireplace sucks furnace-heated air up the chimney, which is replaced by cold air that comes in the opposite direction through the same opening. Turn the thermostat down and close your damper when it’s not in use.

Soot buildup, dusty fans and loose fan belts can add hundreds of dollars to your heating costs each year. Have your furnace tuned up regularly by a heating contractor, this can save up to 10 percent on heating bills.

Heating water makes up about 11 percent of our utility bills. Switching your unit for a more efficient storage model could save you 10 to 20 percent on heating bills.

Small changes can make a big difference.

Maintenance Matters

Air filters, included on all forced air furnaces, remove dirt and lint from heated air. This keeps the fan, heat exchanger and air conditioning coil clean. It also helps clean the air of your home as air circulates through the system.   The air in houses in Kamloops and area can be very dusty due to the low humidity, and filter maintenance is essential to keeping your home healthy.

Maintenance is based on the type of filter, how often the unit is running and how you use your home. The three basic types of filters are media, electronic and electrostatic.

The standard filter on most furnaces is a 1-inch thick media filter, usually made of fiberglass. This filter should be changed when visibly dirty – usually every month or two, depending on the quality of the filter and the amount of dirt in your home’s air. Children, pets, plants and activity tend to produce more dirt that finds its way into the heating system.

Filters are designed to be installed with one particular side facing the air stream. Most filters have directions or an arrow telling you which side should be installed toward the furnace.

Todd Hrycenko, Global Property Inspections
Phone: 250-371-2787 ac.cbipgnull@ddot

Kamloops Home Inspections: Ladder Safety & Getting Your Garden Ready For The Fall

Todd Hrycenko Home InspectorLadder Safety

As a home inspector in Kamloops I spend a lot of time using a variety of ladders to do my job.  Ladders are dangerous pieces of equipment, if not handled correctly or you are unfamiliar with them. Homeowners in Kamloops should think about a few things before you climb the ladder to perform fall maintenance tasks, and take these safety precautions.

• There should only be one person on the ladder at one time.

• Never leave a raised ladder unattended.

• Be sure all locks on extension ladders are properly engaged.

• All metal ladders should have slip-resistant feet.

• The ground under the ladder should be level and firm.

• Don’t carry objects in yours hands while on a ladder.

• Keep your body centered between the rails of the ladder at all times.

* Inspect your ladder every time before you use it for broken or excessively warn out parts.  As someone who has taken the fast ride to the ground from roof height, believe me you don’t want to realize your ladder has a defect too late.

Maintenance Matters

Fall is the time of year to prepare your garden for the fall months ahead. I know with the temperatures still hovering around 30 degrees in Kamloops nobody wants to think about winter or even fall, but your plants and garden already are.  Here are some tips to help you with your fall garden prep.

• Bring tropical and other plants inside for the fall.

• Dig and store summer and fall-flowering bulbs.

• Avoid heavy pruning of trees and shrubs going into the fall months.

• Apply a layer of mulch about 2 to 4 inches deep to the floor of the garden.

• Apply mulch or a wrap around the base of bushes and trees to protect them from the cold temperatures.

• Rake up any leaves that may have already fallen.

• Turn off the water supply to your hose tap and irrigation systems.

• Fallize garden furniture if necessary.

• Fertilize to give your garden one last nutrition boost before fall.

• Empty out and bring in any pots that could break in cold temperatures.

• Plant spring-flowering bulbs with their roots down.

Todd Hrycenko, Global Property Inspections
Phone: 250-371-2787 ac.cbipgnull@ddot

Kamloops Home Inspections: Pool Safety and Air Conditioner Maintenance

Todd Hrycenko Home InspectorPool Safety

Pools are a very popular feature for homes in Kamloops due to our warm weather.  Mid summer is the most popular season for swimming pools in Kamloops. Routine maintenance is important for any swimming pool equipment. Here are some must know/must do items regarding swimming pools.
•  Hire a service contractor to routinely check equipment.
•  Establish a maintenance routine based on your pool equipment.
•  Maintain chemical balance, treatment and water chemistry.
•  Keep records on maintenance and water chemistry.
•  Routinely check for leaks at piping and other systems.
•  Regularly change or clean filters and screens.
•  Never allow children to use the pool without adult supervision.
•  Install an electronic or automated safety monitoring system to detect water movement when the pool is not in use.
•  Secure the pool with a proper enclosure such as a 5′ or higher locking fence when not in use.

Keeping Cool with Air Conditioning

Homes in Kamloops often have air conditioners because of our sometimes blisteringly hot summers but very few people know what what to look for if the air conditioner doesn’t seem to be keeping your home cool.  If your home’s inside temperature is feeling more like the warm outside temperature, it could be a problem with the air conditioning system. What should you do to inspect it if the air conditioning is not working in your home?
•  Check the thermostat. Is it set to “cooling” or “AC?” Is it set lower than the room temperature? If it’s a digital thermostat, is the battery dead?
•  Check the on/off switch on the side of the furnace or near the furnace. The furnace fan distributes air for the air conditioner and must be on.
•  Check if the disconnect switch outside at the AC unit is switched off, disconnect pulled or the fuse blown.
•  Check if the main breaker fuse for the air conditioner is off. Reset the breaker or replace the fuse.
•  Check for a broken belt or clogged air filter on the furnace.  This is a VERY common cause of AC not cooling the entire house properly.
•  Check if the coil above the furnace iced up.
•  Check if the exterior coil is dirty or blocked by plants.  Fallen leaves and cut grass in the air conditioner can greatly reduce your A/Cs effectiveness, efficiency, and life span.
•  It is always important to call a qualified service technician when you have questions or concerns and don’t feel comfortable performing the above checks yourself.
Remember to NEVER put your hands or any other part of your body anywhere where you could be injured.  Guards and covers are there for a reason, don’t remove them to look unless you have disconnected all the power to the system in question.  When in doubt, call a professional.

Todd Hrycenko, Global Property Inspections
Phone: 250-371-2787 ac.cbipgnull@ddot

Kamloops Home Inspections: Fire Escape Emergency Plan And Your Family’s Safety

Introducing a new contributor to the blog, Parker Bennett of Rest Assured Home Inspections. Feel free to post any questions here for Parker.

Parker Bennett Home Inspector Many Kamloops parents probably wouldn’t think of pulling out of the driveway with the kids unbuckled or letting their four year old take a bike ride without a helmet. As a parent you want to prepare your kids to be as safe as possible, but have you planned to get them out alive in the event of an emergency?

The truth is last year Firefighters in Canada were called to over 50,000 residential fires and a recent study revealed that 70% of Canadians have not yet put together a fire escape plan. Are we really giving our kids a chance in the event of a fire without some basic information about what to do in the case of an emergency?

In addition to properly working smoke alarms, the best defense against a fire is a well-rehearsed, escape plan. Having your family ready for a fire can save precious seconds in the event of a real emergency.

Practice Makes Perfect
A fire escape plan should be designed and practiced twice a year. Make the drill fun for the family by practicing with time trials, there’s nothing like a little competitive spirit to drive the efficiency of your escape plan.
The Canada Safety Council recommends these steps to prepare for a family fire drill:
Kamloops Home Fire Plan Escape •    Draw a floor plan of your house.
•    Mark two ways out of each room.
•    Establish a meeting place outside the house.
•    Be sure each family member has the plan and knows the escape route.
•    Post your fire escape plan on the fridge or family bulletin board.
•    Hold a fire drill for your family once or twice a year. Vary the drills, to      practice escaping from different fire sources.
•    Make sure your baby-sitter understands your fire escape plan.
•    Everyone should know NOT to re-enter the home.

All Kamloops homeowners should take the time to check all smoke detectors and design an escape plan to get out alive. Test your kids from time to time with an emergency fire drill and keep everyone up to date with the plan to get out alive.

Parker Bennett, Rest Assured Home Inspections
P. 250-372-7375 E. ac.oohaynull@snoitcepsniemohderussatser
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