Customer Comments: Regal Home Inspections

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The reviews here are typical of the results of a home inspection conducted by Frank and Brian of Regal Home Inspections, LLC. These quotes are taken from a popular online service review website.

“We strive to ensure that every client is as happy with our work.” Frank

Thank you for considering Regal Home Inspections, LLC. Sincerely, Frank & Brian

Michael B.

December, 2021
Frank and his employees were prompt, professional, and extremely thorough. He personally walked me through pretty much every phase of the inspection and was extremely helpful and informative when I had questions / concerns. Would definitely recommend.

Lynn M.

December, 2021
Frank and his son were a pleasure to work with. They always responded quickly to emails, were on time for the inspection and were very detailed in the inspection. This is the 2nd time I’ve had Frank to do an inspection for us and he was wonderful both times! I give them 10 stars!
Frank and his son Brain were very thorough and explained everything to us as they went through the home. They also supplied us was a very detailed report the next day. I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a home inspector.

 

We are very pleased with our experience with Regal Home Inspection (Frank). Not only was the inspection scheduled promptly, it was extremely thorough and we had the detailed report, with photos, in our in -box the same day. Frank came to us as a recommendation and we will be sure to pass his info along to others. Very positive experience all around!!!

Kyle T

2020
Had a home inspected by them. Frank and Brian did a great job, very detailed, thorough, and responsive.

Sam B.

Feb 2020
Frank and his team were amazing! They did an extremely thorough inspection and were very professional throughout. As a first time home buyer they provided me a great deal of comfort in the decision I was making. I highly recommend Regal Home Inspection, as I would not use anyone else!!

Older – To emphasize the long term commitment of Regal Home Inspections, LLC to the client.

4/2014 “Better than I could have ever imagined. Great communication and feedback. Frank made me feel complete at ease the entire time. Pleasure to work with.” C.J., Elizabeth, NJ

3/17/2014 “I was not able to be present at the time of inspection but he was very trust worthy and I am glad with my decision of going with him. He was very helpful in the process of buying my condo.” D.T.

Certified to Test for Radon in Schools and Large Buildings

Radon Measurement Services

NJ DEP Certification MET13186

 

Effective December 3, 2022, the NJ DEP’s Radon Division is adopting new laws for Radon Measurement Technicians that conduct tests to determine the level of radon in the air. The protocols for conducting the measurement of radon in the air follow the standards for measurement set forth by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) in their manual, Protocol for Conducting Measurements of Radon and Radon Decay Products in Schools and Large Buildings.

Frank J. Delle Donne of Regal Home Inspections, LLC is certified by the NJ DEP to conduct radon measurements in Single Family Homes (A separate AARST protocol than the one noted above) and for Large Buildings and Schools; Preschools, childcare centers, early learning centers.  He’s ready to conduct your, important radon measurements.

Why is this important? First, it’s the law. Additionally, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers and there are some links between radon and pediatric leukemia.  Radon is predicted to cause over 21000 lung cancer deaths per year.

New Jersey law, Title 30 Section 30:5B-5.2 addresses Radon testing in childcare centers. It requires that the, “…owner of any building in which a child care center…is located shall test or cause to be tested the space in the building in which the childcare center is located for the presence of radon gas and radon progeny. The test shall be conducted at least once every five years”

For a free evaluation of your facility and a free quote to conduct the measurements (Following the AARST protocols) please call. The evaluation of your facility will require a walk-through of the building including any levels below such as basements.

In Monmouth County, for example, there are a number of townships and/or boroughs classified by the NJ DEP as being, “High Radon Potential” areas. These include Little Silver, Shrewsbury Borough, Holmdel, Marlboro, Freehold and Colts Neck for instance.  It’s the law that all daycare centers be tested and should not be delayed, particularly in high radon areas.

Frank can be reached at 908 902 2590 or via email at frank07722@gmail.com

It’s a good idea to have your home tested for radon as well.

 

Radon Testing Monmouth County NJ

 

Rarely Considered Health Effects of Radon

 

 

 

Rarely Considered Health Effects of Radon

Radon – It may be more of a health issue than previously thought.

As we’ve known since about 1986, radon is a residential health issue. In 1986, a worker at a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania was setting off the radiation detectors on his way into work.  It was determined that the source of his radiation was coming from the radon in his house, not from the nuclear power plant. The federal government bought his house and it has been used as a residential radon lab and study center since. Subsequent to that it was determined that radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer for non smokers. At some training in March 2021, the instructor pointed out that being in an environment with a radon level of 1pCi/L for 24 hours is equivalent to smoking 2 packs a day.

First, let’s review what is radon and why is it a cause of cancer?  First, radon is a naturally occurring gas, in fact an element. If you remember from High School Chemistry, the Periodic Table of the Elements, radon is an element.  Oxygen, gold, silver, iron are elements as well. However, radon is a radioactive gas. Its origins begin with Uranium 238 in the bedrock in the soil.  A radioactive element spontaneously releases protons, neutrons or electrons. As they do they change their state. Eventually, due to many spontaneous changes and over many, many years, the Uranium 238 eventually becomes radium, another natural element and from Uranium to radium they’ve all been solids stuck in the bedrock.  When radium decays (aka spontaneously changes) it becomes radon which is a gas. For the next 3.8 days, the radon gas rises from the soil and can enter homes or any other building (Schools, businesses, etc.) that have contact with the soil. When radon decays, it A) Releases alpha radiation and B) Turns back into a solid so it basically stops moving. It’s the radiation that is harmful. Radiation in large doses can cause cancer. Any radiation (From the Sun for example causing skin cancer) is dangerous. When you get an X-Ray, for example, there’s some exposure to radiation but since most of us don’t get X-Rays on a regular basis, it’s not harmful. It’s the exposure to radiation that results in the Dental Technician to place the lead lined apron over you so the exposure to the radiation is focused on the area it’s needed.

Second, when radon enters a home it can enter homes with basement, concrete slabs and crawl spaces. While I have not personally done a test resulting in a high radon reading in a house with a crawl space, I have had high radon readings in homes with basements, of course, and with slabs (No basements).

Third, when we inhale radon gas (Red sphere in the diagram below), if it’s not expelled in the next breath, it’s possible that it will go through its radioactive decay while the radon is in our lungs.  Now, just like the sun exposure to our skin, inside our lungs the radon elements are releasing atomic levels of energy in the form of alpha radiation. When it does, it spontaneously changes to lead (Pb), a solid (All following elements are also solids) with a radioactive half life of 26.8 minutes then bam! Another punch of energy but this time it’s beta radiation. Beta radiation is more powerful than alpha radiation and the Pb atom changes to an element called Bismuth (Bi).  In 20 minutes, the Bi spontaneously changes and becomes a nasty element called Polonium (Po). From the site, Polonium-210: Effects, symptoms, and diagnosis (medicalnewstoday.com) there are 25 variations of Po.  Also noted at this site, “Polonium-210 is the deadly poison that was used to kill the former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, in London in 2006. He died of radiation sickness.”

In the radon radio-active-decay process, we see three varieties of Po (Green spheres in the illustration below). Po-218 initially, then Po-214 and eventually Po-210.

All of these characteristics are why the potential to get cancer from radon exists!

That information alone should motivate you to conduct annual radon tests!  But more information was learned at some 2022 training the I attended for my current NJ DEP Radon Measurement Technician licensing. That new information is that there are studies that point to not only lung cancer from radon by childhood leukemia.  Here are a couple of links below that shed some light on that issue.

Environmental radon exposure and childhood leukemia – PubMed (nih.gov)

From the above link, “Among 12 ecological studies, 11 reported a positive association between radon levels and elevated frequency of childhood leukemia, with 8 being significant. In conjunction with ecological studies, several case-control studies on indoor radon exposure and childhood leukemia were examined, and most investigations indicated a weak association with only a few showing significance.”

Childhood leukaemia in areas with different radon levels: a spatial and temporal analysis using GIS | Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health (bmj.com)

For the health and safety of your family, what should you do?

  • Test for radon annually. Conducting short term tests are what’s used for real estate transactions. By radon testing protocols, a real estate, short term test is at a minimum of 48 hours long and up to 6 days. Even if you’ve been in your home for years, test annually.
  • Know your “Radon potential”. The NJ DEP classifies every Borough, Township and City in the state as either, “High Radon Potential”, “Moderate Radon Potential” or “Low Radon Potential”. The classification has to do with the percentage of homes tested vs the probability of having a radon test above 4.0pCI/L. 4.0 is the recognized, “Action Level”. In a real estate transaction, a radon level of 4.0 or higher requires mitigation. 3.9 or below and no further action is required for the sale of the home.

Anecdotally, I live in a NJ DEP classified, “High radon potential” area.  When we moved in radon tests were not common. When I became a home inspector and licensed for radon, I became aware and tested my home. I’ve conducted about 6 tests in my home over the past 9 years and they’ve always come back at around 2.5pCi/l in the basement. We don’t live in the basement but we do exercise there.  I recently purchased a radon detector from a company called Air Things – https://www.airthings.com/

After activating it this past summer, after a week or 10 days of calibration, it provided an reading of that same, 2.3 – 2.7pCI/L range.  About 6 weeks prior to writing this piece, the weather was cool enough to turn off the AC and open windows. After about 10 days of open windows on the floor above the basement, the radon levels in the basement exceeded 4.0pCi/L ! I was shocked but remembered from training over the years that opening windows on the floors above the basement can increase radon levels. Air passing through the house on the 1st level above the basement can cause negative pressure inside the basement. As the pressure inside the basement naturally wants to equalize, it has the potential to draw radon in from the soil and I believe that’s what happened in my home. In addition to not, “airing out” the house, I cracked a few basement windows open (Which I had not previously done).  Our basement is also a walk out so I leave the basement door to the outside open more now than I did before and the radon levels are in the 1.2 – 1.6pCi/L range pretty reliably.

Conclusions:

  • Take radon seriously. For all people, young and old. Help prevent lung cancer and potentially leukemia.
  • Either test for radon regularly or purchase an active radon monitor like the products sold by Air Things.

Final notes: The NJ DEP is implementing new radon measurement protocols effective December 3, 2022. Unfortunately, the new protocols will drive the price of radon testing up.  Currently, a 1200 square foot split level house would require 1 test device in the, “Lowest livable level” (aka basement). The new protocols will require at least four (4) tests in the same house.  If you’d like to have us conduct a radon test for you, prior to December 1, 2022, prices start at $100 (There are other factors that determine the number of tests now but 1 can is often allowable).  After December 1, the prices will definitely be increasing.

Frank J. Delle Donne is a NJ DEP Licensed Radon Measurement Technician. First licensed for radon testing in December 2013. He is co-owner of Regal Home Inspections, LLC along with his son, Brian.

Frank is licensed to do NJ home inspections, NJ DEP Core and 7B termite (Wood destroying insect) inspections and radon testing. Brian is licensed to do NJ home inspections, radon testing and lead paint testing.

 

Flippin’ Flippers

Flippin’ Flippers

by Frank J. Delle Donne  

October, 2022

Flipping houses has become an occupation for some. There are many homes that have been restored and updated by investors and DIYers. Many of them are very nice. However, as home inspectors, we’ve come across a number of flipped houses that fall under the category of what I call “Buyer Beware”. One such example was inspected October, 2022.

Due to some findings at this house, I was motivated to write this article as a word of caution to prospective buyers of flipped houses and a strong word of encouragement to hire a professional, licensed home inspector.  Your due diligence includes the inspection of the house including a termite inspection, sewer scope and tank sweep at least.  Most flipped houses are not occupied when you are thinking of buying it and have been empty for a while. Many flipped homes are old.

The standard, New Jersey home inspection covers structure, roof, electric, plumbing, etc. All very important things. I am also licensed to conduct a termite inspection and both inspectors here at Regal Home Inspections are also licensed to conduct radon tests.  Commencing in the very near future, one inspector at Regal Home Inspections, LLC will also be NJ licensed/certified to perform LEAD PAINT testing as well.

From what I’ve learned, anecdotally, many mortgage companies require a termite inspection. Even if yours does not, it’s very important that you hire a thorough inspector for Wood Destroying Insects (WDI).  WDI usually include termites, carpenter ants and carpenter bees. There are others but these are the three, most common.

While most houses should have a radon test, Monmouth County, for example, has a number of towns that are classified by the NJ DEP as, “High radon potential” areas. A few towns in Middlesex County and Somerset County. No towns in Ocean County are classified as high radon potential areas but we have seen homes with levels of radon that require mitigation. A radon test is important for a home you’re buying and periodic radon tests are important for occupied homes.

Back to the, “Flippin’ Flippers.”

The flip-house we recently did in Monmouth County had a nice looking kitchen and nicely renovated bathrooms and floors, etc. But what exists outside of the obvious is what matters. For this home, the major issues included:

Extensive, structural damage in the basement from termites.

Structural damage due to bad trade-practices in the crawl space and

Very poor implementation of aspects of the roof/plumbing vents and fan venting to the outside.

Termite Damage – Sometimes, termite damage is hard to find. It’s often limited and in a small area. Sometimes the indications are seen outside and sometimes inside. In this case, there was termite damage in a number of floor joists and in the subfloor. The termites rendered a number of joists as worthless for their intended purpose. Consequently, floors were no longer level and the structure of the house was compromised. Of course, following the NJ HI standards of practice, this is a material defect.  I’m going out on a limb and speculate that the flipper didn’t do their own inspection because this would have/should have been found.  In our report to the client we identified the problem, told them why it was important – damages the structure/reduces structural integrity – and advised them on what to do next. In this case it’s getting in an expert to provide a quote to repair and replace all the damaged wood so they can negotiate the purchase price with the flipper and receive some concession.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Structural Damage – While crawl spaces are not places I enjoy going, as I sometimes tell people, “Going into the crawl space was, “worth the price of admission”. In this same, flip-house there were two joists, under a bathroom no less, that had notches and split. These joists are holding up the weight of the tub and toilet and they are now capable of supporting a load that’s only a fraction of the joists’ intended strength.

Joist is poorly notched and now a split is forming from the weak point.
This notch significantly weakens the joist. Furthermore, both of these joists are below a bathroom. There appear to be some sagging in the joist at the notch. That’s understandable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roof issue. This is one for the Hall of Shame in my opinion. A sincere, “Thank you” to the flipper for making it so easy to identify.  From the outside of the house there were two elements of the roof that caught my attention. Now please note, the NJ home inspection laws require inspectors have an 11 foot ladder. Following the ladder’s safety instructions, that means I can’t get on a roof that more than, approximately 8 feet off the ground.  I also carry a 22 foot ladder but for this home, that too was not long enough. So, I use the telephoto lens of my camera and zoom into the roof as close as possible.

The first 2 photos below caused some concern when seen from the outside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I went into the attic, I could see what was actually done. To give you an idea, my first reaction was to use a descriptive word for the actions of the flipper such as, “egregious”. A quick Google search for the definition of egregious results in, “outstandingly bad; shocking.”  Yes, that’s how I felt. My inspection partner, Brian, told me to edit that out of the report so I did. I substituted it with, “poor craftsmanship” or something similar.  The conditions still are material defects. The conditions were these…

For the pipe boot seen from the outside (Right photo above), the craftsman, inappropriately left the plumbing vent short and inside the attic and stuffed a bathroom fan’s vent together at the bottom of the pipe boot. The boot is absolutely not intended for that configuration. Someone knew they were doing that work incorrectly and in a substandard manner but did it anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

For the first photo from the roof, someone just stuck the open end of a 4 inch diameter, flexible foil vent duct through the roof! That’s basically a 4 inch diameter hole in the roof.  For both of these things, what were they thinking?

Water will enter the vent and collect at the bottom of the duct inside the attic. The potential exists for either the duct to leak onto the ceiling above or the water accumulate so much that it starts draining out of the ceiling fan in the bathroom!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bottom line, these matters were found and properly reported back to the client. There were also other findings that require attention; Electrical, safety and maintenance items (Like clogged and loose gutters).

Bottom line, hire a capable inspection company. Although you have to pay for these things, get the inspection, oil tank sweep, sewer scope, termite inspection, radon test and even a lead paint inspection.  There are also other things that may or may not apply such as pool inspections, Level 2 chimney inspections, etc.  If you have any questions please call Brian Delle Donne at 732 740 8365 or Frank at 908 902 2590.

 

P Traps and S Traps. What Letter is Your Sink Trap?

Plumbing – What Letter is Your Sink Trap?

By Frank J. Delle Donne, Licensed Home Inspector

October 24, 2014

For most people, purchasing a house is the largest purchase they have thus far made. Help ensure that you, “Buy with confidence. Sell with pride” ® by using Regal Home Inspections, LLC.

Introduction: P Traps And S Traps In Plumbing

Inspectors are required to look high and low at the obvious and the subtle. In NJ, we are required to follow the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) Standard of Practice. Within the plumbing section, we are required to describe the systems and components that are part of the house’s plumbing. This includes the supply pipe material, drain and waste pipe material, location of the main shut-off, and more. This article will look specifically at the drainage pipes and, more to the point, the trap, under the sink.

Drain Pipe System and the Sink Trap

When water exists in any sink, kitchen, bathroom, laundry, bar, etc., it makes its way toward the sewer or septic system. The obvious purpose of the drain pipe system is to route the water, without leaking, out of the house. Within the drain, pipe system is the TRAP. This is the little loop directly below the sink, usually seen from inside the cabinet below. In comparison, a secondary benefit of the trap may be to trap your wedding ring when it falls off when you are doing the dishes, but in fact, the primary purpose of the trap is a safety device.

The Sink Trap as a Safety Device

Sewage gasses are created as the waste matter decomposes. Just like a garbage dump generates methane gas that has to be vented, the sewer or septic system creates methane gas, and unless it is kept from rising through the drain and waste plumbing, it will enter the house. Methane gas is flammable, so, therefore, it is dangerous.

The trap facilitates the creation and maintains a water plug that prevents these unwanted gasses from entering the house. That is the absolute primary purpose of the trap, to hold the water plug. If it also saves your marriage, that’s a side benefit.

The trap works because there is usually a vent pipe next to it. The vent pipes are part of the piping systems that you can often see penetrating the roof of a house. The open vent above the roof helps water drain properly and helps create the water trap.

What Type of SINK Trap Do I Have?

Most sinks have a “P” trap below it and then, in most applications, behind the wall is a vertical vent pipe that goes up through the roof as well as the pipe that goes down that carries the water.   The typical P trap looks like a P if you envision the flat section of the letter P horizontally. Take the letter P and turn it 90 degrees clockwise. The P trap in conjunction with the vent ensures that enough water will remain behind to ensure the water plug does its job.

Occasionally the plumbing under a sink is an “S” trap.   This is when the drain from the sink comes down a few inches, loops back up, then loops back down. See the accompanying photos. P traps are good. S traps are bad.

P Sink Trap
Example of a P trap.
S Sink Trap
Example of an S trap

 

Why are S Traps Bad, and how can it be fixed?

S traps are bad because they present the potential for water from the sink to create a siphon, and as the water empties, once the water starts flowing, without a vent, the last few inches of water don’t know that they have to be the water plug and gravity and the force of the emptying water carries all of the water out of the S trap. There is no water plug, and gasses can enter the house. If you’re merely running the faucet, a water plug will probably be maintained. However, if you ever fill the sink and pull the stopper, there’s a lot of force, and a siphon can be created so that the last bit of water follows the water molecules in front, and nature’s course is for every drop of water to follow the one before it, and the last ones never get the message to stop and become the water plug.

Plumbers can now use Air Admittance Valves (AAV) where an S trap exists. This can be an inexpensive fix to a potentially harmful condition. The AAV is a mechanical, one-way valve that can let air in behind the water to ensure that the water plug remains and when there isn’t water draining, it closes to prevent gasses from entering the house.

Plumbing AAV
Diagram of a drain and trap with an Air Admittance Valve (AAV).

 

Conclusion

Regular P traps are the most common and provide a valuable function. S traps are an issue on a home inspection but rest assured that there is a fix that shouldn’t deter you from buying the home you are considering.

I would appreciate your comments about this article. Please email your comments to frank07722@gmail.com

About the author. I am a Licensed and Certified NJ Home Inspector. I am the owner and Inspector at Regal Home Inspections, LLC. In addition to being a New Jersey Licensed Home Inspector, I am also a NJ-DEP certified Radon Measurement Technician, and Regal Home Inspections, LLC has also collected samples for lead paint, allergens, and mold. We are affiliated with the state’s best labs that perform sample evaluation and testing. We can also help facilitate the testing of septic systems and numerous aspects of oil tank evaluations. This includes oil tank integrity testing, tank locate services, and soil samples. We work to ensure that the house you’re buying is sound or that you know of any issues.

 

Working Hard For Our Clients | Home Inspector Monmouth County NJ

Selecting the right inspector for your needs.

There are probably near 1000 licensed and active home inspectors in New Jersey. I started Regal Home Inspections, LLC in late 2013 after 33+ years in the telecommunications industry. While in the telecom industry I learned the vital importance of the customer. In that industry a client was usually a repeat customer so it’s not like a car salesman that sees someone once or perhaps once every 3 or 4 years.

While the home inspection business requires a sales effort, it’s usually not a repeat sale.  The vast majority of times we do an inspection once for a buyer, they move in then usually that’s the last we hear of them.  I’ve never counted but there are some repeat customers. Maybe the first house didn’t work out and they keep looking. Sometimes it’s the inspection report that scares someone away but sometimes it’s financial such as the house not appraising as high as it was priced for. We’ve done inspections for people and then a few years later when they move again, into a bigger home or nicer neighborhood and call us again. And frequently, while not a repeat customer, we get referrals from past customers for children, family members or friends. One of the things that I’m proud of is that I’ve received calls from attorneys and their statement is usually along these lines; “You did an inspection for my client, and I liked the report and the thorough job you did. My child (Or friend or they) are buying a house and can you do that inspection?”

Closing attorneys see lots of inspection reports and having them ask me to do an inspection for them or an acquaintance is special.

I received an email on March 28, 2022. This is a quote from that email. “You did the home inspection for the buyer of my home located at ### Hayes Court and although I wanted to choke you at the time, I thought it was a very good inspection and was wondering what the cost is as I need one done for a home I’m purchasing in…”

I’m proud of that statement. We mean no harm or inconvenience to the seller but we’re there for the buyer, following of course, the Standards of Practice set forth in the NJ Home Inspection Administrative Code. I’d like to apologize for the grief we caused when he was playing the role of the seller (Back in February).  He did hire us and I think he was happy with the thorough inspection we did for him, this time, as the buyer and client.

Big or small we’d appreciate an opportunity to conduct your inspection. When considering inspectors please ask for a copy or sample report. We are proud of the work product of the inspection, our report.  Since my 1st inspection on October 4, 2013, my son and business partner and/or I have conducted over 3000 inspections. We’d appreciate an opportunity to provide you with a quote for an inspection and, conduct your home inspection.

Other Services | Certified Home Inspector Monmouth County NJ

home inspector monmouth county njRegal Home Inspections, LLC is thermal imaging certified and offers Monmouth County NJ certified home inspections, condo inspections, estate inspections, and townhouse inspections.

It’s likely your mortgage company will require a wood-destroying insect inspection. Regal Home Inspections has the NJ DEP Core & 7B Pesticide Applicator license, so we can offer professional termite and wood-destroying insect inspections as well!

Call 908-902-2590 for your free quote or if you have any questions!

Seller’s Inspection – 2022 – Radon Test Included at no additional cost!

Sellers Home Inspection Inspection Opportunity

 

home inspector monmouth county njHave your house ready to sell in 2022! Boy-oh-boy!  What a difference a couple of years make in the Real Estate industry.  In 2020 and 2021, a homeowner could put a for sale sign in the yard and have multiple offers after the 1st weekend and probably sell for higher than asking price. In 2022, with a slowing economy (LGB), interest rates going up slightly (But still historically low) and a pandemic that doesn’t want to go away, this year it may be more difficult to sell and therefore, sellers may have to work a little harder to sell their home.  Have you considered a “Seller’s Home Inspection”?

 

In my experience as a home inspector (With 3000 inspections completed) there’s nothing that can spoil a seller’s plan than an inspection that the buyers pay for (After Attorney review) that identifies issues that often times can be deal breakers.  So you’ve spent a few weeks or a couple of months with your house on the market. You’ve had open houses. Endured 6 or more families re-visiting once or twice and you’ve considered an offer or two or three, accepted one offer and completed Attorney review. Now it’s time for the buyer’s inspector to come in and do an inspection. An issue, two or three arise from the inspection and all of a sudden that, “Done deal” is now in jeopardy!  Why?  Maybe there are issues that you’ve never noticed or ignored. Termite damage, a structural crack in the foundation, electrical issues, a worn, damaged or old roof, asbestos siding or Heaven forbid a microbial growth that may be mold or, which is all too common in NJ, radon.

Be aware:

  • Homes built prior to approximately 1975 may have asbestos siding, floor tiles or insulation on pipes or heating ducts. The older the home the higher the potential that one or more of these exist.
  • Homes built between approximately 1967 and 1974 may have aluminum, solid strand, branch circuit wiring. The home that my wife and I bought in 1991 was built in 1972.  It had aluminum wiring. I spent the better part of 8 months to a year re-wiring the entire house. Every foot of working, aluminum, solid strand, branch circuit wiring was removed and replaced with copper wire.
  • If you live in Monmouth or Middlesex Counties or north of I-287/I-78 you may have a potential for radon. In fact, every township, borough or city in NJ has the, “Potential” for radon and the NJ DEP classifies every township, borough or city as either, “Low Radon Potential”, “Moderate  Radon Potential” or “HIGH Radon Potential”.  In Monmouth and Middlesex Counties there are some, “HIGH Radon Potential” areas. To name a few – Holmdel, Colts Neck, Little Silver, Freehold Twp and Boro, Marlboro (Including Morganville) and North Brunswick and Piscataway in Middlesex.  Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers and 2nd behind cigarette smoking overall.
  • Microbial growths, which may include mold, can be found in basements, interior room ceilings, in attics and we often see growths in vanities just to name a few. It’s important to note that looking for mold is outside the scope of the NJ Home Inspection Standards of Practice as detailed in the NJ Administrative Code that directs and guides the New Jersey home inspection industry.

But any of these items, for example (There are other items too), can end a home sale transaction faster than you can say “House for sale”.

Not only is it inconvenient for the seller, it may require the seller to lower the price and who knows how the market is when you’re back to square one!

In preparation for putting your home on the market you’ll probably clean it.  De-clutter as they say to make it less your style and more neutral. Remove stuff, clear the basement and garage, etc.  You may even paint inside, replace some old, worn carpeting, fix some dents and dings in the walls and finally, fix the dishwasher.

We urge you to consider hiring Regal Home Inspections, LLC, to conduct a Seller’s Home Inspection. We follow the same Standards of Practice as we do for the Buyer’s inspection but it’s giving you some insight as to what you may want to address before you put the house on the market or disclose to potential buyers so you’re not back to the negotiating table a week before you were hoping to close.  By the way, once you pay for the Inspection Report, you own it! Put it out during open houses. Be up front with the few issues or items that might come up a month or two later when the seller’s inspector comes in.  Identify those items that can terminate a deal or delay a closing like finding out that there’s a high radon reading.

In 2021 we at Regal Home Inspections, LLC performed about 10 seller’s inspections.  One, just done in November 2021 is sanitized to remove the client’s name and the exact address but it shows some of the things that we can identify for the seller. Identified in a timeframe that allows them to address them (Fix) or disclose them in a Seller’s Disclosure document. For this home there were a number of items as you can see in the attached Property Inspection Report but, in my opinion, the most significant finding was a high radon reading.  For radon testing, the, “Action Level” is 4.0 pico Curries per liter of air.  “Pico Curries” are the measurement of radioactivity.  For a home sale, a measurement at 4.0 or higher (The Action Level or above) requires mitigation. This particular home was high. Now a high radon level might scare a potential buyer away, particularly because most people don’t know or haven’t learned that it can be mitigated (Reduced) to a very low level (Often well below 4.0). But it could be a kiss-of-death for the sale of a home if identified at the last moment.

By hiring Regal Home Inspections, LLC and learning about all of these items, we can help prevent those items from being deal-breaking issues and help the sale go through.

In preparation for the 2022 Spring, home sale season, Regal Home Inspections, LLC is offering free radon tests when it’s part of a Seller’s home inspection.  This offer is valid through June 20, 2022. Please be sure to say that you want the Spring Seller’s Inspection Special to get the radon test included for free.

 

Radon Report

SampleSellerInspection20211115fd\

 

Other Services | Certified Home Inspector Monmouth County NJ

Regal Home Inspections, LLC is thermal imaging certified and offers Monmouth County NJ certified home inspections, condo inspections, estate inspections, and townhouse inspections.

It’s likely your mortgage company will require a wood-destroying insect inspection. Regal Home Inspections has the NJ DEP Core & 7B Pesticide Applicator license, so we can offer professional termite and wood-destroying insect inspections as well!

Call 908-902-2590 for your free quote or if you have any questions!

Home Purchase Due Diligence

Due Diligence: Is it only for big corporate acquisitions? | Home Inspections Colts Neck NJ

 

Due diligence is the investigation or exercise of care that a reasonable business or person is normally expected to take before entering into an agreement or contract with another party or an act with a certain standard of care.

It can be a legal obligation, but the term will more commonly apply to voluntary investigations. A common example of due diligence in various industries is the process through which a potential acquirer evaluates a target company or its assets for an acquisition.[1] The theory behind due diligence holds that performing this type of investigation contributes significantly to informed decision making by enhancing the amount and quality of information available to decision makers and by ensuring that this information is systematically used to deliberate on the decision at hand and all its costs, benefits, and risks.”   Due diligence – Wikipedia

 

Like any purchase of significance due diligence is important and you probably don’t realize it but you already do it to a much, much simpler degree. Do you compare performance information and mileage for a new vehicle you may be considering buying?  That’s due diligence.  Do you compare school districts or the time to commute to and from work for the new home you’re thinking of buying?  That’ due diligence. And of course, the purpose of this piece is to make sure that you recognize that a home inspection is a critical aspect of your home purchase due diligence.

By law, the home inspection is a non-destructive inspection of various systems and components of the home. Exterior, roof, electrical elements, baths, etc. We at Regal Home Inspections, LLC, of course, follow the law to the letter of the law and we strive to surpass the bare minimum as required. For example, the law requires we check 1 outlet per room and one window per room.  If accessible, we usually check as many as we can, not the minimum. The purpose of this piece however it not to review the home inspection due diligence that Regal Home Inspections, LLC does but what you may want to consider (Or we may recommend) beyond the scope of the NJ home inspection standards of practice.  To that point, I am also licensed by the NJ DEP (License # 59628B) to inspect for wood destroying insects and prepare the industry recognized, “Termite Report”.  Both my son & business associate and I are also licensed to conduct radon measurements (NJ DEP Radon Measurement Technicians) MET14070 and MET13186 respectively.

You may not realize it but you’re already paying for elements that fall under due diligence. The title search that you’re doing.  The appraisal that the mortgage company may require.  The appraisal is more due diligence for the lender than it is for you, the buyer.  While I’m talking about the lender, when they verify your income and credit rating, that’s part of the business due diligence of them making the loan to you.

There are things beyond those that we do as home inspectors (Inspection, termite and radon) that we sometimes recommend and sometimes urge you get as part of your home purchase due diligence. As of now we don’t do them but we can refer you to good companies that do.

  • An oil tank sweep. Oil tanks were common for many years. Going back decades, natural gas was not as prevalent as it is today.  In the past, houses may have been heated with electric or oil if natural gas wasn’t available. There are many houses still heated with electricity and there are still some with oil.  However, it’s the ones that no longer have oil but did that we’re concerned with. What do the sellers know and is it accurate?  Years ago it was OK to have an old oil tank cleaned and abandoned in place. However, as I’ve heard, insurance companies will charge a higher premium if the property has an abandoned oil tank. If the property you’re considering buying as an old tank decommissioned and left in the ground, INSIST, that it be removed by the seller. You absolutely do not want to purchase the risk and liability of an underground oil tank. An oil tank sweep is relatively inexpensive and worth every penny. Usually the cost is between $275 and $450 depending on the size of the property.
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The same oil lines near the water meter and water pipes.
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Old oil lines in the basement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Sewer scope analysis. Information suggests that up to 80% of the waste pipes from the house to the sewer connection have some type of issue. It could be roots that have grown into the waste pipe. Bellies where there’s a dip in the pipe that can collect waste and hinder good drainage. Breaks in the pipe, cracks or holes. Often, a family of 4 or 5 is buying a house from an original owner where one person has been living in the home for years. Years earlier there was a family but as the children grew up and moved out, eventually, like me and my wife, there are two people living in the home.  The water use for an older couple or a single, older occupant is very, very different than for a family of 3, 4 5 or more. The waste pipe from the house may be able to handle the one or two loads of laundry a week and a few showers a week for the older occupants but when the young family moves in and there are multiple showers and baths a day and multiple loads of laundry a day, etc. The corroded waste pipe is no longer able to handle the waste water volume of the young family as it could for the older couple. A video, sewer scope analysis of the sewer pipe is worth it’s weight in gold.

Financially, for both the oil tank and sewer scope, you’re talking about $300 for each to be sure vs. many thousands of dollars to repair.  Is it 10 to 1?  $300 vs. $3000?  No, it could be more like 30 to 1 or 50 to 1.  That’s $9000 to repair or $15,000 to repair and quite possibly more.

 

In conclusion, think of your home purchase as a business acquisition and your duty is to perform all of the reasonable due diligence needed. The home inspection is #1. DO NOT WAIVE YOUR HOME INSPECTION!  #2 Think about some other, important services: Radon test, termite inspection, oil tank sweep, sewer scope analysis, lead paint, mold and pools.  Anything that’s important to you should be part of your home purchase due diligence.

 

Other Services | Certified Home Inspector Monmouth County NJ

Regal Home Inspections, LLC is thermal imaging certified and offers Monmouth County NJ certified home inspections, condo inspections, estate inspections, and townhouse inspections.

It’s likely your mortgage company will require a wood-destroying insect inspection. Regal Home Inspections has the NJ DEP Core & 7B Pesticide Applicator license, so we can offer professional termite and wood-destroying insect inspections as well!

Call 908-902-2590 for your free quote or if you have any questions!

 

Wind Loss Mitigation Insurance Inspections

Wind Loss Mitigation Insurance Inspections | Home Inspections Colts Neck NJ

certified home inspector monmouth county njFrank J. Delle Donne, Inspector and co-owner of Regal Home Inspections, LLC, has passed the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) class to perform Wind Loss Mitigation inspections. Wind loss mitigation inspections are done in an attempt to save money on your home insurance in hurricane zones.  The class taken and passed is based on various Florida construction codes including Miami Dade’s codes but is an insurance industry process so the insurance company can determine if the home is less likely to sustain damage (Financial losses) in a high wind event like a hurricane.

The training requires inspection and documentation of a number of wind and projectile protection mechanisms in a home. That includes the types of windows and glazing as well as the roof structure and strapping that can help prevent a roof from being pulled from a home in a High Velocity Hurricane Zone.

Call for a quote. 908 902 2590 or email at frank07722@gmail.com

Other Services | Certified Home Inspector Monmouth County NJ

Regal Home Inspections, LLC is thermal imaging certified and offers Monmouth County NJ certified home inspections, condo inspections, estate inspections, and townhouse inspections.

It’s likely your mortgage company will require a wood-destroying insect inspection. Regal Home Inspections has the NJ DEP Core & 7B Pesticide Applicator license, so we can offer professional termite and wood-destroying insect inspections as well!

Call 908-902-2590 for your free quote or if you have any questions!

Be Aware! Part 1. Termites and Structural Issues (Horizontal cracks in the foundation wall)

Termites and Structural Issues | Home Inspections Colts Neck NJ

Be Aware!  As a homeowner look for things that don’t look right. Often people comment that my son and inspection partner Brian and I are, “very thorough” or words to that effect.  Well, it’s our job to be thorough.  We’re not only looking for things that appear to be wrong but we’re also, “Looking” for things that aren’t there. This is the first in what hopefully will be a series of posts that point things out to homeowners and prospective buyers that will help you either see things (For the owner) that may require some immediate attention and for a buyer, may help you notice things when you look at a prospective home to buy that will require attention.  On a side note, I am appreciative when someone calls for an inspection and says, “I noticed… (Fill in the blank)… when we visited the house. Can you take a look when you do the inspection?”

 

Termites

We did an inspection this week. From the outside it looked like a nice house, well kept and it appeared to be well maintained. However, when inside the basement there were text book termite mud tubes. It’s easy for me to say now but a homeowner must be aware of their surroundings.  If these tubes were there from the start then shame on the termite inspector for not seeing them. However, if they occurred over the years that the current occupant lived in the house then shame on them.  I don’t understand how someone doesn’t see this and then not investigate what it is followed by asking, what do I do next?  Often termite tubes or termite damage are hard to find. As a termite inspector, there may not be any outward signs but when the wood is probed, the wood shreds because the termites have destroyed the wood internally with very few outward signs.  If you see things like I’ve shown below, call a pesticide company.  If you’re not sure, call a home inspector and ask for just a termite inspection.

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Not until the wood was hit with a probe did the termite damage become apparent.

 

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Termite tubes are hanging down from the joists like stalactites seen in caves.

 

 

 

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Termite mud tube seen growing from the floor joist along the plywood sub floor.

 

 

 

 

home inspections colts neck nj
Termite mud tubes seen at the corner of the floor joist and the plywood sub-floor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horizontal Foundation Cracks

Home inspectors, at least we at Regal Home Inspections, don’t like to be the bearers of bad news. It’s our job to find these issues and matters and we’re are thankful when we find them because it’s usually very important information for the clients. Horizontal cracks in foundation walls are one such example.  The follow up for some findings in an inspection report are easy; For example, call and electrician to replace an outlet. Others are much more difficult and the next steps to fully evaluate a horizontal foundation wall crack are not easy and costly but are required. In accordance with the NJ Home Inspection laws and standards of practice, an inspector is required to: A) Identify material defects. B) Explain why the material defect finding is important and then C) What the client must do next.  For a horizontal crack (It’s been identified) it’s B) important because the foundation wall is structural and a horizontal crack indicated that the foundation wall has moved inward. From an inspection perspective, the next steps C) Should include further evaluation by a structural engineer and then repair as that professional deems necessary.

 

The engineer may recommend that the crack be, “Patched and monitored” if it’s hairline. An engineer may specify repair. Often, the repair is intended to strengthen the wall to prevent additional movement. This may be done by having a qualified contractor install “I beams” vertically against the wall.

If your house has exposed, foundation walls, look at them. Notice their condition. Notice any changes that you may see over time.  Ask yourself, “Why is that different now than how it was before?”  This applies to all areas, not just foundation walls and termite tubes.  I’ll try to cover other items at a later date.

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The gray colored, vertical I-beam can be seen here. It was installed to provide additional support to the foundation wall that has cracked.
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Horizontal crack. Here and the next 2 photos are from another house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A horizontal crack through the buttress.
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The buttress is moving away from the top of the wall because the inward movement of the foundation wall, evidenced by the horizontal crack, is creating a gap at the top between the buttress and the foundation wall. A clear indication of foundation wall movement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Services | Home Inspections Monmouth County NJ

Regal Home Inspections, LLC is thermal imaging certified and offers Monmouth County NJ certified home inspections, condo inspections, estate inspections, and townhouse inspections.

It’s likely your mortgage company will require a wood-destroying insect inspection. Regal Home Inspections has the NJ DEP Core & 7B Pesticide Applicator license, so we can offer professional termite and wood-destroying insect inspections as well!

Call 908-902-2590 for your free quote or if you have any questions!

Structural Issues – Don’t waive your NJ home inspection part 2

Structural Issues – Don’t waive your NJ home inspection part 2

Let’s start with the overarching purpose of the home inspection in the great, Garden State.  Identifying “Material Defects”.  By law here in NJ a material defect is defined (Paraphrasing for brevity) as a condition of a structural system or component that’s, “Readily ascertainable” (aka visible) and, “Substantially effects” the value, habitability or safety.

In my experience, most of the material defects are for safety reasons and most (I haven’t actually counted) are electrical in nature.  And the majority of the electrical issues are relatively easy for a licensed electrician to fix. They may include a GFCI outlet in a bathroom that doesn’t work, an incorrectly wired outlet, loose wires, etc. Some are very serious but most are not.

This piece however is intended to look at some structural issues that are often, material defects as well.  That could be due to the fact that the structural matter jeopardizes the structural integrity of the home or because it also effects the value requiring significant cost to repair to restore the intended structural integrity.  As with all material defects, the inspector’s job is to A) Identify the problem. B) Tell you why it’s important and C) Give you a recommendation of what needs to be done next to address the matter.

Here are a few structural matters seen recently in different home inspections.

Horizontal cracks and foundation wall issues. Vertical cracks may or may not be a structural issue. Horizontal cracks are usually of significance. Horizontal cracks seen from inside a basement are almost always caused by an exterior force pushing against the foundation wall. It could be a tree root, water pressure, frozen soil and is occasionally due to the force of landscaping installed outside.

A buttress is an integral part of a foundation wall and is often there to provide additional, structural support against lateral (aka side-ways) movement. When the buttress is cracked or the foundation wall’s movement shifts the buttress, those are some significant forces at play.

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Crack through the buttress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

home inspections colts neck nj
Gap at the top of the buttress.

 

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Horizontal crack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This next problem is all too frequent. Other trades people, in this case a plumber, needs to place a pipe exactly where there’s a joist.  Joists are important because the joists hold the floor up (And the ceiling but we’re talking about floor joists here). Joists usually rest on the perimeter foundation wall at one end and often a beam in the middle of the floor.

Occasionally, the joists are run from foundation wall to foundation wall

without a beam in the middle.  The structural issue seen here is that a plumber cut a joist in half to place their pipe. Now, not only is this joist NOT supporting the floor above, it’s actually the floor above that’s holding the joist up! Another joist issue is termite damage that has eaten the joist rendering this, structural element, irrelevant.

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Severed joist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

home inspections colts neck nj
The end of the joist was eaten by termites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the interest of brevity, the next issue, all too often found in older homes and in crawl spaces are poorly constructed columns. The columns support beams and the beams support the joists, etc. If one domino fails, the others that are relying on the 1st one also, may fail.

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The post/column is one issue. Another is that the beam sections are not the same height. And the beam ends should be supported.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Substandard support column.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the difficult parts of this job is going through crawl spaces. They are usually very dirty, filled with cob webs and other insects, often wet and occasionally they’re filled with mold.  But it’s part of the inspection job.  NJ home inspection law does not require inspectors go into spaces that in the opinion of the inspector may jeopardize their safety. Also, NJ home inspection laws don’t require inspectors to climb through hatches that are too small.  It’s important to make the effort but safety, my safety is paramount. On that note, as important as it is that the inspector do what the law requires, it’s equally important the inspector tell you what they’re supposed to do but couldn’t do and why.  Safety is a justifiable reason not to climb on a roof, open an electrical panel (If there’s a puddle of water on the floor in front of the pane for example) or go into a crawl space that, in the inspector’s opinion jeopardizes their safety.

 

Other Services | Home Inspections Monmouth County NJ

Regal Home Inspections, LLC is thermal imaging certified and offers Monmouth County NJ certified home inspections, condo inspections, estate inspections, and townhouse inspections.

It’s likely your mortgage company will require a wood-destroying insect inspection. Regal Home Inspections has the NJ DEP Core & 7B Pesticide Applicator license, so we can offer professional termite and wood-destroying insect inspections as well!

Call 908-902-2590 for your free quote or if you have any questions!