Providing Quality, Professional, and Thorough Testing

203K Consulting

People who are interested in buying a damaged or older home and repairing and renovating it can finance through an FHA 203K loan for the cost of the house and necessary renovations. If, for example, you were to buy a home that desperately needed a new kitchen, you could borrow through an FHA 203K lender and qualify for money to buy the house and renovate the kitchen, plus “contingency reserve” funds for completion if costs exceed estimates.

The 203K consultant helps home buyers coordinate the many steps involved in this type of financing. A licensed 203K consultant starts by scheduling a site visit to the property the buyer is interested in. The site visit allows the consultant to thoroughly examine the property and make an assessment about the renovation project’s feasibility under 203K requirements. If the project looks like it will be within the scope of a 203K loan, the buyer pays the consultant a retainer fee for his or her services throughout the buying and renovating phases.

After visiting the site and speaking with the home buyer about renovation plans, a 203K consultant prepares a document about the project’s specifications and scope. This report contains various architectural exhibits and a detailed breakdown of costs for each repair task necessary to complete renovations. The consultant also prepare lender and contractor bid packages that include “draw” request forms that allow money to be withdrawn according to the work plan for the renovations. A copy of the complete write-up is given to the lender, contractors, and the borrower.

The borrower must invite bids from contractors for completion of the work. Many 203K lenders have pre-screened lists of contractors eligible for the work, and they may insist that you choose one of them. If the lender does not have such a list, they may provide a list of requirements contractors must meet for the work. It is very important that the buyer choose a contractor who is familiar with 203K guidelines and who is experienced in 203K projects.

Asbestos Testing and Inspection

By the 1940s, asbestos was used extensively in many applications in the United States, particularly building applications. For 30 years after World War II, many schools and public buildings were built using materials containing asbestos. Asbestos containing materials were primarily used for fireproofing, soundproofing, and insulation. Builders liked using asbestos for many reasons: it is resistant to heat and chemicals, insulates well, and doesn’t corrode.

Furthermore, asbestos can be woven and used in a variety of industrial applications. Few other materials used in construction and manufacturing have the range of desirable properties of asbestos.

Thousands of commercial products contain or have contained asbestos. In homes built before 1978, asbestos was used to insulate boilers and pipes. It is also found in many other household materials such as:

  • Blow-in insulation
  • Some vinyl floor tiles
  • Glue used on floor tiles
  • Window glazing and caulking
  • Roofing
  • Heating and AC duct insulation
  • Siding
  • Plaster

When asbestos fibers come loose from the material that contains them, they can be inhaled and lodge in the lungs. Over a period of years to decades, asbestos can cause lung diseases including mesothelioma, a deadly form of lung cancer.

The three major methods for asbestos testing are polarized light microscopy (PLM), phase contrast microscopy (PCM), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The type of testing used depends on the type of sample material being tested.

  • PLM is quick and reasonably priced, and can distinguish asbestos from fibers like cellulose and fiberglass. It is used on bulk samples, such as small pieces of siding or insulation.
  • PCM is also quick and inexpensive, but cannot directly identify asbestos. It is used for determining whether fibers are present in air samples. If so, further testing is required to identify asbestos.
  • TEM is more expensive, but accurately identifies asbestos fibers that the other testing methods cannot identify as well. It can be used on bulk samples of materials, air samples, or surface-wipe samples.

Neither state nor federal laws require you to remove asbestos in your home just to be rid of it. In fact, much asbestos in the home, such as that in floor tiles, siding, and roofing, is not hazardous because these materials don’t tend to crumble and release asbestos fibers. However, asbestos-containing thermal insulation, asbestos pipe insulation and boiler lagging can be hazardous, and asbestos testing should be done if you suspect these materials were used in your home.

Bacteria/Virus Testing

Our experienced team at MD Mold Testing provides proven and effective bacteria surface testing procedures to help test for bacteria in areas that have been properly disinfected. Did you know viruses feed on bacteria? Bacteria is a good indicator that there may be viruses living on the surface as well.

With over 20 years of environmental testing experience, MD Mold Testing is ready to test for bacteria on your residential or commercial property surfaces to help reduce the risk of viruses!

Want to know if your space is clean and safe?

Simply Contact Us at MD Mold Testing!

Let’s test your high-touch surfaces and decrease the risk of viral or bacterial spread TODAY!

At MD Mold Testing, our mission is to keep you safe!

Our process is easy for commercial premises and residential properties – with one purpose in mind – to maintain a safe and healthy home or work environment for everyone. We have partnered with leaders in bacteria and virus testing to offer safe, time-sensitive viral testing solutions. We and our partners follow local and federal guidelines, including Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

We directly test for the presence of any bacteria on your high-touch surfaces and environment. If there is proven evidence of no bacteria, then we can conclude there will also be a much lower risk of viruses being present.

Our process is simple! Call us and schedule an onsite inspection today!

Environmental Testing

When most people think of home inspections, they think of someone who climbs up on the roof to look for damage,checks heating and AC systems for function, and looks for physical hazards on a property. However, environmental testing is becoming more important to many prospective home buyers. A home is most people’s biggest investment, and buyers want to be confident that the home itself, and the soil and air around it are not dangerous. Some licensed home inspectors perform environmental testing, and some of the most common tests requested are for radon gas, asbestos, lead, and contaminants in the water.

Radon gas is naturally occurring and forms when uranium in rocks, soil, and water breaks down. Some radon gas is normal, but levels above what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deems safe should be addressed. If a radon gas test comes back positive, the EPA suggests re-testing. Some prospective homeowners have two side-by-side tests performed as part of a home inspection. Not all home inspectors are credentialed to perform radon gas testing, so ask up front when choosing a home inspector. Before testing for radon gas the home’s windows and doors should be closed for 12 or more hours before and during radon testing.

Believe it or not, not all asbestos is dangerous. When asbestos is used in materials that remain solid and aren’t prone to break down, it is not something to panic about. It’s when asbestos flakes, crumbles, or otherwise allows asbestos fibers to become airborne that it can be dangerous. Many houses built after World War II up through the 1970s were constructed using building materials containing asbestos. Some of these asbestos building materials are safer left in place while others need to be removed. Environmental testing for asbestos in the air and in degrading building materials can help homeowners or buyers understand the level of contamination and danger.

Lead was used in house paint up until 1978, but just because a home has been repainted since 1978 doesn’t mean that lead problems are gone. Lead in exterior house paint and used on fences and gates may have flaked off and fallen to the ground, contaminating soil with lead. Lead in chipping paint is a major health hazard, particularly since it has a sweet taste, which may cause toddlers and young children to put paint chips in their mouths and ingest lead. An experienced home inspector knows where common lead contamination sites in homes are and how to test for the presence of dangerous lead.

Hazardous Lead Testing

If you live in a home built before 1978, then you could have hazardous lead in paint, soil, and plumbing. Lead hazards should be addressed, because high lead levels can cause damage to the nervous system and kidneys and can cause stunted growth and developmental delays in children. In adults, lead can cause reproductive problems and is considered a possible or likely carcinogen. Prior to being banned in 1978, lead was added to paint to make it more durable and fresh looking, and to speed up drying. Home inspectors can perform a paint inspection and risk assessment to help you understand potential hazards before you buy a house, and some home inspectors are licensed to perform lead testing as well.

Before committing to buying a house built before 1978, home buyers must receive certain information from the seller, including an informational pamphlet about identifying and dealing with lead-based paint hazards, known information about the presence of lead-based paint, and language in the contract including a statement that the seller has complied with disclosure requirements. You also have 10 days to conduct an inspection or risk assessment for lead-based paint hazards and are encouraged to have lead testing by a certified tester before you buy.

The main lead hazard in homes is from lead-based paint. When this paint chips, it can be ingested by small children, who can suffer from health and developmental problems as a result. Unfortunately, lead paint chips have a sweet taste, which makes them more likely to be ingested by infants and toddlers who tend to put things in their mouths. Lead dust may also be found in soil surrounding the house, and it may be tracked inside where it can be ingested or inhaled. Just because a house has been repainted since 1978 doesn’t guarantee there are no lead-based paint hazards.

Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead plumbing pipes, fixtures, and solder. Lead can get into drinking water when plumbing materials are corroded, particularly in areas where water is more acidic or has a low mineral content, because these properties accelerate corrosion. Brass or chrome-plated fixtures with lead solder are also dangerous, allowing lead to enter the water. Unfortunately, even new homes with legally “lead-free” plumbing can contain up to 8% lead in the pipes. However, new laws will further reduce maximum lead content in pipes, fittings, and fixtures.

Home Inspections

Home inspections are a critical part of the home buying process, but not all inspections or inspectors are alike. You want to get the most for your money when you hire a home inspection service, so take the time to evaluate your options before you commit to one. Here are some dos and don’ts with regard to home inspections.

Home inspections are critical in real estate transactions, so don’t just choose the first home inspector you find. Is he or she credentialed by the state? Does the inspector have certification from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)? Some states don’t require credentials, and other states only require voluntary credentialing. Look for a home inspector who has gone to the trouble to become certified.

While a home inspector will advise you if a home is structurally unsound and safety is compromised, his or her job is to give you the information you need about a home to make your own decision on whether or not to make an offer. The information provided in your home inspection report helps you decide whether to buy, and if so, how to make a fair offer based on the home’s conditions.

If you suspect problems like mold or asbestos, you may need to hire a specialist to do further testing on a property. Some, but not all home inspection services are qualified to do certain types of environmental testing. If your home inspector is not qualified to test for asbestos fibers, for example, you will have to hire a specialist to carry out these tests.

Indoor Air Quality Testing

If you live in Montgomery County, Maryland, or surrounding areas including the District of Columbia, Delaware, or northern Virginia, and are concerned about health hazards inside your home such as mold or asbestos, MD Mold Testing serves this coverage area with household environmental testing and home inspections. With over 25 years of experience, our licensed and insured professionals offer services 7 days a week, providing testing for various pollutants throughout Montgomery County and surrounding areas:

If you are considering buying a house or condo in our coverage area, we perform thorough home inspections and offer the types of testing listed above if you have concerns about building materials, mold, or the possibility of radon gas infiltration into the home. We are licensed and credentialed in a broad scope of inspection and testing procedures and have the extensive experience necessary to know what to test for and which testing procedures are most applicable to your situation. Home inspections are generally required for real estate transactions, and it is important that you choose your home inspector carefully so you have the critical information necessary for your decision to make an offer.

Asbestos was commonly used in building materials from the 1940s through the 1970s. Some asbestos products such as floor tiles carry low risks because there is little chance of these products shattering with enough force to release asbestos fibers into the air. However, other building materials containing asbestos, such as pipe and boiler insulation, may carry health risks. We are licensed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for asbestos testing and are skilled at knowing how to collect samples and which tests are the proper ones for the material.

Indoor air quality in brand new homes may be compromised by volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are released from framing materials, flooring, carpeting, and paint. These compounds, which include formaldehyde, can irritate the respiratory tract and aggravate asthma in some cases. We can advise you on how to ventilate your home to lower levels of VOCs, and we perform indoor air quality testing to determine the level of indoor air pollution in homes throughout our coverage area.

Licensed Microscopist

When you are ready to buy a home, you are ready to make one of the biggest investments of your life. Naturally, you want to be certain that you make a fair offer and that there won’t be any surprises once you have closed on the sale and moved in. Independent home inspection is an important part of the home buying process. Lenders generally require a home inspection before they approve a mortgage, and it makes good sense anyway, because some problems aren’t readily apparent to an untrained person. The home inspector who is also a licensed microscopist can give a more thorough indication of property condition by testing for mold and asbestos, and examining soil and air samples.

Mold is everywhere, but not all mold is harmful. The mold testing done as part of a home inspection looks for strains of mold that cause health hazards. The typical mold you might see around a leaking faucet may not be cause for concern, but other mold strains that may be found in basements or after a natural disaster may be dangerous. A licensed microscopist knows how to tell different types of mold apart, so that you can be assured mold found in a home you’re interested in isn’t dangerous, or so that you can address a problem with hazardous mold as soon as possible.

Preliminary asbestos testing done by a licensed microscopist is generally designed to determine the density of fibers in the air in general. If fiber levels are high, then further testing can be done to determine if any of them are asbestos fibers. A licensed microscopist can use phase contrast microscopy to determine fiber density. Then, transmission electron microscopy can be used if necessary to differentiate asbestos fibers from other fibers. This type of microscopy can even be used to differentiate different types of asbestos fibers found in the air.

Soil testing may be done if a home is built atop former farmland or land formerly owned by the military. Around homes built before 1978, soil testing may be done to determine if lead has contaminated the soil around the home. Home inspectors who are licensed to perform soil testing know how to collect and preserve soil samples so that an accurate picture of the soil’s makeup can be determined and so buyers will know if there could be potential problems with gardening or with small children playing outside.

Mold Inspection & Air Testing

If you saw any of the horrifying news photos after 2012’s Superstorm Sandy or Hurricane Katrina in 2005, you probably noticed how quickly mold started growing in damaged homes. Fortunately, those types of mold problems are rare, but some houses have mold problems that are not readily apparent. Mold may be hidden under carpet, behind baseboards, or even underneath paint. But mold spores can be identified by trained professionals, even if the visible evidence of mold is absent. Extensive mold problems can make homes dangerous or even uninhabitable, so it is important that mold inspection is a part of the home inspection process.

Mold inspection by a licensed mold inspector is critical to finding hidden mold in a structure. Some dishonest sellers try to hide mold with spackling or paint, or they may put up new sheetrock over moldy framing. However, mold spores cannot hide from the detection devices mold inspectors use, since microscopic mold spores make it into the air even in the absence of visible mold.

Mold inspectors consider likely sources for mold and evidence that may not be apparent to the untrained eye. Inspectors can also look at things like construction permits indicating the type of construction activities that may be used to cover up mold problems.

The mold inspection process includes :

  • A visible inspection
  • Surface sampling/testing
  • Air sampling/testing

After both the surface and air sampling are completed, they are sent off to a state of the art lab facility for further tests. Once the results are returned from the lab, the report will be analyzed by a licensed inspector.

If the report determines there is mold found in your home, the inspector will develop a mold remediation protocol. This protocol will identify the cause(s) of the mold, steps to remediate it and future precautions to take.

Various mold abatement processes are used to remove dangerous mold from homes and make them habitable. There are a few circumstances when mold abatement isn’t enough. For example, if black mold is found in a home’s framing (often caused by flood damage), it can’t be removed. The only solution is to remove the moldy structural members and replace them. The cost for these repairs can be quite high if damage is extensive

The basis for mold infestation is moisture where it doesn’t belong. When water gets into a home through a pipe leak, a hole in the roof, or a cracked foundation, mold can quickly become established and spread. Mold from a drippy shower head can be easily remedied, but mold from a cracked foundation requires special procedures. As long as mold has a supply of moisture, it will continue to thrive, causing mold spores to be released into the air and settle on other surfaces. If there’s enough moisture there, mold will spread further.

Some types of mold are more unsightly than dangerous. However, certain types of mold are toxic and can cause respiratory problems. Mold toxicity causes a variety of symptoms, some of which people may never associate with mold, like muscle aches. Many types of mold aggravate allergies and asthma, so if you experience allergy or asthma symptoms when you visit a property you’re considering buying, make sure that mold inspection is done, either by a home inspector licensed to test for mold, or a separate specialist. Mold inspection is a smart investment, particularly considering the medical costs that can result from illnesses caused by mold.

Air Sampling/Clearance Testing

Through a process called “personal air sampling,” MD Mold Testing determines the asbestos exposure levels in a home by taking continuous air readings. In this process, employees wear micro-devices for 8-hour periods that pull air through a filter, bringing along with them any possible contaminants or harmful substances. The filters are sent to a lab, which then analyzes workers’ exposure rate.

This sampling can happen just before work on a site begins, or it can occur throughout the project’s duration. It is almost always performed before asbestos testing and is common to do before mold testing. There will be an outside control sample/baseline taken upon leaving to ensure testing accuracy.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has what it calls “permissible exposure limits,” or PELs, which are the acceptable levels of a substance exposure that employees can have in the workplace. This protection covers exposure to asbestos, which is a known carcinogen.

There are two main types of asbestos air sampling/testing: phase contrast microscopy (PCM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM).

Both of these processes involve pulling air samples and analyzing the fibers that are collected. At MD Mold Testing, we highly recommend conducting a PCM test first for multiple reasons:

  • Analysis of the test relies on personal observation rather than computer analysis
  • Less expensive option to initially check air and determine if more in-depth tests are even necessary
  • Faster turnaround of readings and results
  • TEM relies on blank samples, which can affect testing accuracy

TEM tests are more expensive because they look at the air fibers on a higher resolution level, being able to distinguish microscopic fibers distinctly from one another. A PCM test is the better starting point because if the results do not identify any potential issues with the air quality, it saves our clients time and money on this step in the process.

After a home has been thoroughly cleaned, the impacted area needs to be tested for mold or asbestos, ensuring that the process was successful. During a clearance test, an inspector collects data about the home’s air quality.

There are several different samples and readings needed in order to determine whether all the mold or asbestos has been treated correctly. The inspector collects air samples that are sent to a lab to reveal the number of mold spores per liter of air. These and more data points allow the inspector to determine whether the abatement process was successful.

Clearance testing eliminates the possibility of future issues by ensuring that all mold or asbestos problems have been completely eradicated. Without this “final check” on the mold/asbestos abatement process, you could potentially have small missed areas of the home that turn, once again, into larger problems down the line.

After the abatement process, you will want to know that there is nothing left to address. The clearance test will tell you if you have any residual mold or asbestos in the air after you’ve paid to have it cleaned up.

Having a team clean your home and then not do a clearance test would be like hiring a team of painters to redo your entire home and then sending them away before you’ve done a full walk through of all the rooms. Imagine, how frustrating it would be to notice after all the equipment and teams have packed up that you have unpainted patches in the closet? While the closet might not seem like an immediate issue, you want to make sure you got what you paid for and that the job was done completely.

PCM Air Quality Testing

Phase contrast microscopy, or PCM, is a testing technique used to determine the concentration of fibers in air samples. Some people in homes suspected of having asbestos hazards order PCM testing to help determine if asbestos fibers might be present in the air. To test the air, the air is drawn through a filter to capture airborne fibers, and then part of the filter is viewed under a microscope. When fibers that meet certain criteria for asbestos are found, they are counted to help determine whether asbestos contamination is a possibility.

PCM testing may indicate high counts of fibers in an air sample. By providing an index of the total airborne fibers of a particular size range, it can let a homeowner or home buyer know of the possibility of there being asbestos fibers in the air. If the PCM testing indicates asbestos fibers are a possibility, then further testing can be done to determine whether asbestos is indeed present.

PCM testing cannot say, “Asbestos fibers are present.” But when the testing picks up certain levels of particles of a certain size, it can let homeowners know that further tests are warranted. Likewise, PCM testing cannot definitively say that asbestos is not present, but depending on the size and concentration of fibers present in the sample, it can indicate that asbestos contamination is less likely.

If PCM testing indicates the possibility of asbestos contamination, then transmission electron microscopy, or TEM is used to make a more definitive determination. TEM is the standard for investigation of airborne asbestos and is used both before and after asbestos abatement and for monitoring in industrial settings. TEM can differentiate between asbestos fibers and other fibers, and can even classify different types of asbestos fibers. TEM testing takes longer and is more expensive than PCM testing, so it is used more as a second line of diagnosis when it is deemed necessary.

Radon Testing

Up to one of every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to have elevated levels of radon gas. There is no such thing as a useful “average” radon level for Maryland or any given region because levels vary widely. In fact, your neighbor’s house could test high for radon gas, while yours might test low. There’s simply no way to know without specifically testing your home. Furthermore, houses without basements are just as likely to have high levels of radon gas as those without basements. Each state has an informational radon office, which you can find by going to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) website at epa.gov/radon/states.

Radon gas is produced as natural uranium in the soil decays. It is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that generally moves through the ground to the air above and into homes via cracks or holes in the foundation. Once radon gas is in the house, the structure holds the gas inside, where it can build up. It doesn’t matter whether your home is new or old, energy-efficient or drafty; radon can get in and build up. While radon gas can enter a home through well water, it generally enters houses through the soil.

Which part of your home is on the lowest level that you could use for living space without having to do renovations? This is where the EPA recommends that you test for radon gas. Testing should be done in a regularly used room, but not a kitchen, bathroom, hallway, or laundry room. Some radon testing is done twice, either simultaneously, or back-to-back for better confidence in the result and to verify that the radon testing devices work properly. Windows and doors in the rooms to be tested should be shut, but can be used for normal exit and entry. Windows and outside doors should remain shut for at least 12 hours before testing.

The EPA recommends a two-step radon testing process. First, a short term radon test is done. If the result shows elevated radon levels, a follow-up short term test should be done, or a long term test can be done. This procedure helps guard against false positive results and helps ensure that low test results are real and not just a statistical fluke.

Soil Testing

Just because your home, or a home you’re considering buying isn’t near a toxic waste site doesn’t mean soil is free of contaminants. Contamination by heavy metals, particulates from automobile exhaust, pesticides, and petroleum products can occur in ordinary home settings. Homes built on former farmlands or former military sites can have hidden toxins in soil. Soil testing can be done to determine whether contamination is present, which is important if you have young children or if you plan to do gardening or major landscaping.

Soil chemistry isn’t static, but changes over time. Chemical and biological process combine some soil materials and break others down. Soil also changes when plants grow from it, or when it is disturbed by animals. When particulate airborne pollutants blow in and settle on the ground, some of those particulates may work their way into the soil. Since soil changes constantly, soil testing should be done quickly after a soil sample is extracted for testing. Some soil samples are frozen or air dried for preservation if testing cannot be done within a short time period.

Soil contaminants may be liquid or solid, and they may lodge into spaces between soil particles, or they may chemically or mechanically bond with soil particles. Contamination can affect the quality of plant growth significantly, since plants can absorb pollutants through their root systems. Contaminated soil may be harmful to children, who are prone to picking things up off the ground and digging in the dirt around their homes. Home vegetable gardens may be affected by soil contamination too. Many home gardeners request soil testing both to learn of possible contaminants and to learn about soil nutrients.

Some toxic chemicals occur naturally in soil. For example, some metals and elements like arsenic are often found in soil that has not been contaminated. Human activity is a major factor in soil contamination. For example, pesticide and herbicide residue can build up in farmlands over the years. Spills of products like motor oil and solvents can contaminate soil, and underground tanks can leak. Buried toxic waste can leach into soil and find its way into groundwater and then farther along to nearby areas of soil. Lead may be found in soil near heavy traffic area or around homes built before 1978.

Swimming Pool FHA Inspections

If you are trying to get a loan through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) so that you can have a lower down payment, the property you are considering purchasing must meet certain standards. FHA requirements have changed, and no longer emphasizes minor repairs. However, the FHA still requires repairs necessary for safety of the property. Failing to make repairs so that the property meets FHA requirements can delay financing and scheduling of closing on the property. Trusted home inspection services will make sure they are up to date on all the most recent requirements from agencies like the FHA and the Veteran’s Administration.

In homes with swimming pools, a swimming pools FHA inspector will need to ensure that the pool’s pump is able to circulate water to meet property standards. When you choose your property inspector, look for one with thorough understanding of FHA requirements. A swimming pools FHA inspector will have a list of standards with which the home’s pool must comply before closing on the sale can be scheduled. If the pool is empty, you will have to fill it sufficiently so that the pump can be used to circulate water and to ensure that the pool holds water adequately.

Problems like leaking or worn roofs or any evidence of structural problems must be fixed before FHA financing can be finalized. In homes built before lead-based paint was banned in 1978, defective paint surfaces have to be repaired on both the interior and exterior of the property. Any standing water against the house’s foundations, or basements that are excessively damp will have to be addressed and re-inspected before closing. Faulty heating, plumbing, or electrical systems will likewise have to be repaired in order for the FHA to sign off on the financing and schedule closing.

You may or may not be required to repair things like cracked window panes or cracked exit doors that are still operable. Defective paint surfaces in homes that were constructed after 1978 may not have to be repaired either. Minor plumbing leaks, such as leaky faucets that can be fixed with washer replacement may not have to be repaired, and defective floor finishes may not require repair for the FHA to sign off on the property. Your home inspector can advise about what is likely to require repair and what can wait until after purchase.

Termite Inspections

If you want to buy a home in Maryland, you will soon become familiar with termite inspections. Because homes are such major investments, and because termite infestations may not be obvious, mortgage lenders require termite inspections before approving financing. Whatever the age of the property you are considering buying, you will have to have a termite inspection. It may seem excessive in a new property, but even new houses can suffer termite infestation – sometimes within days after completion. A professional home inspector who is certified to perform termite inspections gives you the information you need when you’re determining whether to make an offer.

Termites can be found throughout the United States, including in cold climates like Alaska’s. Cold weather may slow termites down, but it doesn’t guarantee absence of termites. Loans administered through the FHA or VA must be accompanied by an official inspection report on wood destroying insects. Inspections may not be required on conventional loans unless there is wood to earth contact. Termites and other insects that destroy wood can cause thousands of dollars of damage to a property, and lenders want to be confident that the property is in good enough condition to finance.

A certified termite inspector will perform a visual inspection for termites and other structural pests. The inspector examines accessible areas of the property searching for evidence of any wood-destroying insects, including ants, carpenter bees, or other bugs. State and local laws govern exactly what the scope of the inspection encompasses. The interior of the home, basements, and crawl spaces are all inspected, and in some areas the attic will be inspected for drywood termites. Dark recesses on the property will be examined thoroughly because termites tend to prefer to be out of the spotlight, so to speak.

The person selling the home can make termite inspection a little easier by clearing spaces under bathroom and kitchen sinks, creating space between garage walls and stored items, and making sure attics and crawl spaces are accessible. Around the exterior of the home, the seller can make sure wood is stored away from the walls and foundation of the home and should remove soil that rises to a height greater than where siding begins. Dead plants and debris should also be removed.

VOC Testing in Maryland

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a large group of chemicals that easily evaporate at ordinary room temperature and can be up to 10 times higher indoors than they are outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide variety of products such as:

  • Paints and paint strippers
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Office equipment such as copiers and printers
  • Building materials and furnishing
  • Graphics Materials such as glues and adhesives
  • Pesticides
  • Vehicle exhaust
  • Tobacco smoke

While most people can smell high levels of some VOCs, other VOCs have no odor which allows persons to be exposed to high level of VOCs for extended periods of time without being conscious of the health risks associated. Odor does not indicate the level of risk from inhalation of this group of chemicals.

Exposure to VOCs can cause both short term (acute) and long term (chronic) health effects, this depends on how long and how often a person is exposed to these harmful chemicals.

Common symptoms of exposure to VOCs include:

Short Term (acute) exposure to high levels of VOC

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Headaches
  • Nausea / Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Triggering of asthma symptoms

Long Term (Chronic) exposure to high levels of VOC can increase risk of

  • Cancer
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Central Nervous System damage

VOCs can also end up in our drinking water. This can occur when these harmful chemicals are spilled or improperly disposed of, usually by large manufacturing companies. Even though some of it will evaporate into the air there will be a small portion that will soak into the ground and can reach water sources.

Walk and Talk Home Inspection

A Walk and Talk Home Inspection are conducted when both the buyer and the inspector go through the house together. During this visit, the inspector is conducting a visual inspection of the property to assess the integrity of the structure. The difference between a regular 4. home inspection or any other home inspection is that a Walk and Talk inspection will not yield any official documents that you can present to the lender or the insurance company. This inspection is a verbal one to help the buyer and the seller understand the state of the property.

If you are a buyer and would like to better understand what major expenses may come up, then this is a good option for you. It’s also a good option for those buyers who don’t want to make an offer prior to having a full picture of what may be wrong with the house. This allows buyers to not overpay should there be issues that the seller does not want to fix. Some major problems that would significantly reduce the price of the house are:

  • HVAC systems
  • Roof
  • Structural damages

Additionally, this is a good option for sellers when pricing their property to properly understand what needs to be fixed in order to get the most money out of their homes.

Water Testing

Public water supplies must be tested regularly for contamination from pathogens, toxic chemicals, and radioactive elements under applicable state and federal laws. But even with public water supplies, contamination to water in the home may be caused by your plumbing fixtures, or to inadequate water treatment facilities in your community. Here are several situations in which you may want water testing to be performed.

If you are considering purchasing a home with a private water supply from a well, it’s smart to have water testing done before you make an offer. Some home inspectors are licensed to perform water testing and some are not. Water tests should look for the presence of:

  • HVAC systems
  • Roof
  • Structural damages
  • HVAC systems
  • Roof
  • Structural damages

If the home is located near a potential contamination source, well water testing is even more important. You can have water tests performed in a home with public water supply if you have reason to believe water quality may have been compromised in some way.

Hard water may look perfectly normal, but it can leave soap scum and residue and it decreases the cleaning action of detergents and soaps. Water testing can be done to determine hardness and indicate whether a water softener is needed. The type of water softener needed will depend on which minerals are present in the water. If the water coming out of the tap is cloudy, has a color to it, or is frothy, you may want to have it tested, particularly if there are no municipal activities going on (like the flushing of nearby fire hydrants) that can cause water to appear “off” or cause a temporary increase in sediment.

Homes built before 1986 may have lead plumbing pipes, and depending on various qualities of the water, some of the lead can enter drinking water. However, plumbing fixtures in homes built after 1986 may still have some lead in them, although at much lower levels. If your plumbing has lead solder joints, water testing may be indicated, since lead from the solder can enter the water fairly easily. You may also want to have the water tested for pH, corrosivity, and other minerals, because these factors affect how much lead from plumbing make it into the drinking water.

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