Home Buying Checklist

 

Home buying checklist for your next home.A home buying checklist can make a huge difference in your search for a new home. How do you know which house is the right house for you? Once you are preapproved for a home loan, the next step is to create a checklist. A well-thought-out checklist can help you make rational decisions based on your wants, and more importantly, your needs. Here are a few items we recommend you keep in mind when creating your home buying checklist.

  • Location: One of the most important points on any home buying checklist is where your future home will be located. The main factor to keep in mind is where the members of the household will need to commute to, for example, work or school. Other things to note are the city property taxes, crime rates, and school district ratings. Sit down and determine that the area fits your situation best.
  • Layout: Now that you’ve determined the area in which you’d like your next home to be, determine what type of layout is important to you. Do you need all bedrooms on one level, or would you prefer to have a master retreat away from the kids? Would you like an open floor plan, or do you prefer clearly separated rooms? These are important details to note on your home buying checklist.
  • Number and size of rooms: How many people will be living in the home, and do they all need their own bedroom? Is a guest room important for the in-laws, or would you rather they stay at a hotel when they come to town? Make sure you have enough room, without buying more than you need.
  • Bathrooms: There’s very little appeal to a ten bedroom home if there’s only one bathroom. Adding bathrooms later can be expensive, so decide how many you need to live comfortably.
  • Windows: When walking through your potential new home, pay attention to the window size and placement throughout the house. Windows let in natural light and help the space feel more open and inviting.
  • Lot size and grade: Walk around the property and take note of the lot. Keep in mind, a large lot will take more maintenance, but a small lot will often result in close neighbors. Also, to help keep water out of the home, you’ll want the terrain to slope away from the home.
  • Parking: An easy-to-overlook detail is the parking situation. Does the home have a garage? Will you need to park on the street? Depending on the area, this could be a major issue.
  • Heating and cooling systems: Depending on the climate of your location, heating or air conditioning could be essential. Take note on your home buyer checklist of the heating and cooling situation in the home.
  • Laundry room location: Seems like a silly thing to put on the home buyer checklist, right? Well, you’d be surprised how important it is. Would you prefer the laundry room to be in the basement, far away from the bedrooms, or would you prefer it to be on the main living level or even on an upper level?
  • Organize and prioritize: You could spend months, or even years, searching for the dream home in your budget. Taking notes on your home buying checklist regarding what’s most important will help you compromise where needed and make a calculated decision.

Finally, once you’ve found the house that you hope to purchase, set up a home inspection to make sure everything is in good condition. When you’re ready, contact the home inspection experts at Inspect-It 1st. Even if everything looks good to the eye, it’s crucial to let a professional look at every aspect of the home to assure that you are making a good purchase. We’ll set you up with an honest top-to-bottom inspection!



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Tips to Prevent Water Leaks in Your Home

Water leaks from faucet.There’s nothing worse than coming home to a flooded house. Water leaks from inside or outside the home can lead to mold, structural issues, and major repairs if not properly treated in a timely manner. The good news is that there are check-ups you can do on a regular basis to locate water leaks before they become a larger problem. Spring is upon us, and when seasons change you are at higher risk for outside water coming into the home. Here are a few places that we recommend checking for water leaks.

Inside Your Home:

  • Annually check the hoses and connections to all of your appliances that use water. Often you can catch leaks and make affordable repairs when they’re small. If you find small puddles or damp spots on the floor, it’s likely that you have a small leak. We recommend that you isolate the source and make the repair as soon as possible.
  • Regularly check under sinks and around the toilet. One of the most common places for water leaks to begin is in the bathroom. Remember that even if you don’t see a water leak in the bathroom, it may still be dripping to the level below. If you notice a water leak coming from your bathroom at any point, we recommend finding the source and shutting off the water via the shut-off valve as soon as possible. Make the repair while the leak is small.
  • Locate the master water shut-off valve to your home. In the event of a major water leak or pipe burst, knowing how to shut off the water can spare you a major headache caused by an unexpected lake in your basement.

Outside Your Home:

  • Let’s take it from the top. A faulty roof is often a major culprit of unwanted water leaks in the home. Inspect the roof annually by searching for any missing or damaged shingles. If it looks like water could seep through, it can.
  • Get your mind in the gutters. As seasons change, gutters and downspouts tend to get clogged with anything you can imagine. Clean out the gutters a few times per year to assure that they do their job in directing water away from your home.
  • Walk around the perimeter of the home and take note of any cracks that could allow water to seep in. Filling the cracks with a foam sealant can be a huge help in preventing water leaks.

A water leak can be just the beginning of a major problem. Check these items around your home often. If you find water where it shouldn’t be, don’t ignore these first signs of a problem. Find the source of the problem and take care of it right away. Catching leaks early can save you loads of time and money. For a professional and honest assessment, contact the home inspection experts at Inspect-It 1st. One of our qualified inspectors can come to your home and check for water leaks and damage. Take care of your home, and it will take care of you.



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7 Spring Clean-up Tips for Your Home

Spring cleaning a countertop with sponge.Whether or not you are looking to sell your home, an annual cleaning is a great way to get rid of clutter and make your home a more inviting environment. Here are our 7 spring clean-up tips that will help make your home a more pleasant, organized, and welcoming place to live.

  • Clean out your closet. We all have clothes in our closets that have been long forgotten or no longer fit. Take the time to go through your closets and evaluate the contents. If you haven’t worn a jacket in the last six months, it’s time to get rid of it. Set aside all the gently used items and donate them to a local charity or homeless shelter. Not only will this spring clean-up tip help you clean out your unused items, but it will also help somebody in need.
  • Organize your home by the seasons. There’s no need to clutter your home with items you won’t need again for months. Head down to your local home improvement store and pick up a few large storage bins. Go through your seasonal items that are only used a few months out of the year, then organize these items into the storage bins. Clearly label the bins by season and move these goods to a crawl space or storage room. This spring clean-up tip is effective during each seasonal change and will help keep your home clutter-free.
  • Get rid of stains and odors. Your home should be pleasing to all five senses, so don’t overlook your sense of smell. Locate the source of foul smells in your home and clear them out. Odors can stem from stains, garbage cans, fabrics, carpets – you name it. Clear out the odors and fill your home with a pleasant aroma that immediately feels more welcoming. Especially when you are trying to sell your home, stains and odors can be a distraction that may completely turn away potential buyers.
  • Clean your walls. Many people are unaware that you can and should clean your walls. Over time, walls get marked up with handprints, dirt, and grime. Keep your walls looking as good as new by gently washing with soap and water during your spring clean-up routine.
  • Don’t forget ceiling fans and light fixtures. Dust is found everywhere in the home. Much of it can easily be taken care of by dusting on a regular basis. However, there are overlooked places that can harbor loads of dust and dirt. The most commonly forgotten places are ceiling fans and light fixtures. By cleaning these regularly, you may also help keep spring allergies in check.
  • Use your spring clean-up to change the mood of the home. Changing the mood of the home can be as easy as rearranging your furniture or swapping seasonal home accessories. A few simple changes can bring life back to your home. If you are planning to sell your home this spring, create a neutral mood that will increase the home’s appeal to a wide variety of potential buyers.
  • Organize your shelves. Shelves are great for displaying books, mementos, and family photos. If your bookshelf or mantle is overrun with junk mail and too many knick-knacks, it’s time to clear the excess. Extra clutter can make a space feel uninviting and overwhelming. Spring cleaning is a good excuse to refresh and simplify your home.

A thorough spring clean-up can make your home feel more spacious and inviting. Whether you plan to sell your home this spring or live there for years to come, a major clean-up and reorganization of household belongings can improve your home and the quality of your life. When you do plan on selling your home, get in touch with the home inspection experts at Inspect-It 1st for all of your quality home inspection needs.



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A Flooded Basement: Prevent to Protect

Basement flooding coming through the back door.A flooded basement can happen for a number of reasons, most of them having nothing to do with leaving a window or cellar door open. In other words, it’s not your fault! Houses age, and just like people, their joints begin to wear down and functioning efficiently becomes more difficult.

If a basement develops pooling or settling water, it can have devastating effects on the health of residents as well as weakening the foundation and creating a safety hazard. The first step to eliminating the problem or preventing it altogether is addressing the possible causes. Let’s take a look at a few of these aging structural concerns that may lead to a flooded basement:

  • Old Plumbing – Older homes use older building materials that may have been the best quality at the time but are now outdated and inefficient. One example is clay piping for a home’s plumbing system. Clay becomes softer and more brittle over time, causing it to be susceptible to being infested with roots. This can break pipes and cause major leaks which end up as a flooded basement and a headache.
  • Cracked Foundation – A foundation is not only a strong base for the structure of your home, but also a barrier to the outside. When it becomes cracked from age, stress, or even natural disaster, the outside elements can get through. This includes things like water or even weeds, insects, and rodents depending on the size of the crack or hole.
  • Sloped Yard – There can also be water seepage through a solid foundation or pooling and draining through walls. This seems to happen most often with houses whose yards slope toward the home. Water from rainfall or even sprinklers will drain down the slope and pool against the wall or down the wall into the foundation.

If you think your flooded basement is due to one of these causes or you suspect that your basement will flood, don’t despair. Each one of them can be addressed – even before any water pools. Here are some correction methods for flooded basement prevention:

  • Install a New Plumbing System – Just like joints can be rebuilt and reinforced, so too can a house’s pipes. Clay is only supposed to last 50-60 years, so just replace the piping when it starts to break down. This can cost anywhere from $2,000-20,000 and is usually estimated by foot of pipe. The bigger your home, the more money it will cost.
  • Patching Cracks – It is possible to patch foundation cracks on your own. Most hydraulic cements do an adequate job and can last a few years. However, a more permanent fix isn’t too much more expensive. An epoxy-ejection system can fill in the crack completely and permanently for around $60 per tube. That’s considerably more cost effective than covering flood damage.
  • A New Yard Gradient – Leveling out the gradient of your yard can be a positive thing, not only by reducing basement leaks, but also for the aesthetic and usability of the yard. A level yard will incur less pooling and fewer weeds. A firmer ground also means fewer rodents. Additionally, it uncovers or brings in new soil that will offer more enrichment for grass or a garden. Moving dirt around to level your yard can cost anywhere from $15-30 per yard. So once again, the full cost depends on the size of the yard and the problem.

Don’t let a flooded basement affect the integrity, stability, or comfortability of your home – especially when there are affordable solutions and people to help. If you suspect any one of these issues listed above, don’t hesitate to contact Inspect It 1st for quality inspection services. Being informed and getting the repairs taken care of quickly can ease your mind, protect your home investment, and – most importantly – protect your family.



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Safety During Small Bathroom Renovations

Small bathroom renovations can be fun and financially beneficial for a DIYer, but every home renovation should be tempered with a little caution. Renovation usually means taking out your handy tool box and loosening some screws here and there or dismantling something. And any time you dismantle something, there’s a chance to uncover a problem in the bare bones beneath. But for small bathroom renovations, it could potentially mean altering or damaging the plumbing as well.

Here are some cautions to take with small bathroom renovations:

  • Man working on a small bathroom renovation. Paint – Believe it or not, lead paint is a possibility inside the home just as much as outside. In a bathroom especially, baseboards with lead paint might peel and flake from the moisture in the air and over time create a serious health hazard. Remove old paint rather than painting over it to ensure this toxin doesn’t stick around. CAUTION: Lead paint is hazardous to breathe, and many states require a specific contractor for proper removal. However, if you elect to do it yourself, remember to:
    • Wear a mask.
    • Move all other objects out of the bathroom so they are not contaminated.
    • Cover any objects that can’t be moved with polyethylene plastic.
    • Cover the door with poly to contain the air contamination.
    • Shut off heat, air conditioning, and other ventilation systems.
  • Walls/Tile – Before you start breaking down walls to renovate or popping up vinyl tiles, be aware that asbestos could be lurking. Just like with lead paint, particles may be released into the air and cause a serious health hazard, putting you and your loved ones at risk for lung cancer and disease. If you find asbestos, you may be required to notify certain agencies, depending on your state. Either way, you’ll definitely want a professional to guide you through the removal process.
  • Plumbing – If part of your renovation requires something even as small as putting in a new toilet, there is the opportunity to crack pipes or uncover old or leaky plumbing. Older houses may even have clay pipes that become infested with roots or other debris and have cracked over time. To avoid flooding, sewer backups, and other costly issues, simply have an inspector check the system while the renovations are taking place.

If carried out correctly and with the right precautions, small bathroom renovations can pay for themselves. How? By increasing the value of your home. Not to mention, they can provide clean and fresh updates to old and inefficient layouts or conditions. In short, they can make your family more comfortable. So don’t be discouraged by the cautions; they are only meant to make sure your work turns out spotless and safe!

During small bathroom renovations, you might come across plumbing that you believe is old or inefficient. Or maybe you find mold and a leak behind some bathroom tiles. Carrying out the renovations on your own doesn’t mean you should deal with potential problems on your own. Before you cover up that mold stain or ignore the voice in the back of your head, Inspect It 1st! A skilled home inspector from Inspect It 1st can give you the peace of mind that your plumbing is solid or give you the knowledge you need to have it repaired. Small bathroom renovations may not be easy, but they can be done safely and help you keep your loved ones safe, too!



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Water Quality Testing in Your Home

In the process of buying or selling a home, you will probably get a home inspection that includes water quality testing. Sometimes water quality testing will determine that there are no issues, but other times tests can reveal potentially devastating problems that are a danger to the health of the home and its occupants. Plumbing could need to be replaced, the water source further investigated, or other repairs might be required. Repairs resulting from water quality testing can amount to as much as tens of thousands of dollars. The worse case scenario is the property being condemned. Ultimately, it’s better to be safe than sorry – both to protect your investment and to protect your family.

 

What does water quality testing include?Water quality texting kit.

 

Water quality testing measures the following:

  • Acidity – Acidic water will register below 7 on a pH scale while basic water will be indicated by anything above 7. Results typically vary between 7 and 7.5. Water that is more acidic can be corrosive to plumbing, leave stains, and even carry and release lead into water that is consumed, posing a health concern.
  • Chlorine – While chlorine may be used to disinfect public and private water sources, large leftover traces react with decaying organic matter to form cancer-causing carcinogens. Water quality testing also detects chlorine to help maintain the taste and odor of the water, because too much chlorine can alter both. It can even irritate skin and eyes.
  • Water Hardness – Calcium and magnesium build up in water and these metals, if not detected by water quality testing, can present health risks. They also build up scale residue in pipes over time and can severely clog the plumbing system. Or, if water hardness is low, it can be as corrosive as acidic water.
  • Iron – This mineral exists in the ground naturally and leaches into drinking water. While a small amount is healthy, too much can taste bitter or discolor skin, clothes, and hair.
  • Copper – A small amount of copper is expected from water quality testing. However, anything more than 1ppm can lead to health problems including anemia, pancreatitis and jaundice.
  • Nitrates and Nitrites – Sewage, fertilizer, and other man-made chemicals can seep into a water system and cause health risks, especially to pregnant women and unborn children. It reduces the oxygen available to adults as well as fetuses.

When buying or selling, water quality testing is just another essential part of health and safety inspections. Having potable water and ensuring that your pipes last is as important as a solid foundation, roof, or functioning heat. Consider these inspection services from Inspect-It 1st before investing in or handing over your property to another family. Inspect-It 1st will ensure that your home is safe for your family and will last a long time.



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Assessing the Structural Integrity of Your Home

Inspectors checking out the structural integrity of a building.Structural integrity is a key component of safety for any commercial building or home. Consider for a moment that the architect, contractor, or engineer who designed the property did not account for some crucial condition or need. A classic story of failed structural integrity tells of an architect who designed and built a library. The building was beautiful, but each year it sank a few inches due to the weight of the books. The architect had accounted for everything except the books, a crucial aspect and need of the property. Eventually, it was knocked down and had to be rebuilt, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

 

While your home may not have thousands of books weighing it down, its structural integrity may not be as strong as a seller claims. The current owner may not realize that the requirements or loads of the structure have changed, especially if the home has been in the family for many years. Perhaps additions have been built without proper guidance.

 

Structural integrity is the ability of a home to maintain its structure over time, not bending, breaking, or collapsing. A lot more is known about materials and their respective strengths today than was known 20, 50, or 100 years ago. Experts can assess the current state of a foundation, load-bearing beams, and other home framework components. It’s possible that the wood or metal used to support your home has been flexing and becoming more stressed and vulnerable.

 

A test of structural integrity assures that catastrophic failure does not occur, leading to injury, damage, monetary loss, or even death. Ultimately, your family is your number one priority. Safeguarding them by inspecting the structural integrity and other home conditions is the best way to gain peace of mind and preserve your investment.

 

Since 1991, Inspect It 1st has been the go-to inspection franchise for buyers, sellers, and real estate agents. Every inspector is trained extensively and offers exceptional customer support, because they care to see homes and other properties that are safe for the occupants for many years to come. Inspect It 1st offers inspection services which range from investigating structural integrity to testing water quality. So before you buy or sell, Inspect It 1st!



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Commercial Property Inspections: What to Expect When They’re Inspecting

Commercial property inspections in process.Commercial property inspections typically occur during the closing of a sale, just as home inspections do, when a buyer may require an assessment prior to completing the deal. After all, whether you are investing in a movie theater, office building, or strip mall, you want to be sure that your investment is sound from floor to ceiling and that the materials and air is free from harmful pollutants. Sellers should want to ensure commercial property inspections are done, too because the prior occupants or patrons of the building may have been affected. Not to mention that until the real estate changes hands, it is the seller’s investment to protect.

 

You might be more familiar with a home inspection which includes aspects like foundation, electrical, roofing and plumbing – all of which are still part of commercial property inspections. What factors differ in commercial property inspections? Two additional inspection areas include parking and fire safety (exits, stairwells, sprinklers, etc.). But, there may be more areas to have inspected: elevators, furnaces, pools, carpets (for bedbugs), etc.

 

Inspectors may hire additional experts for commercial property inspections that have unique needs or needs that cannot be covered without expertise, such as contractors or electrical engineers.

 

Commercial property inspections also involve a review of documents concerning building history, permits, environmental studies, floor and construction plans, maintenance, citations, appraisals, and certificates of occupancy (when applicable).

 

In the end, a property’s overall condition is determined. It may be necessary to make costly repairs or do nothing at all. Commercial property inspections produce a report with all of the findings, so all parties are aware of the condition prior to selling your home. In some cases, the seller is required to pay for the necessary changes first. In others, a discount on the purchase price of the estate is given to the buyer in the amount of the cost of repair so the buyer can handle the repairs at no further cost.

 

If you are in the process of a buying or selling a property, Inspect-It 1st! An agent can meet with you face to face to address any specific concerns you have as a buyer, seller, or even current owner seeking commercial property inspections. Inspectors are skilled at dealing with large structures in which multiple party communication is essential. That way, everything goes smoothly, concerns are laid to rest, and the property can continue to thrive, no matter what the next chapter may be!



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Hazard Insurance FAQs

Hazard insurance needed for a burning home.When unforeseen natural disasters and events wreak havoc on your home, hazard insurance may help repair the house and recuperate other losses. That way, you can help your family find peace and safety once again.

  • What is Hazard Insurance?

Specific natural hazards, which can potentially damage or destroy your home, are covered by varying forms of hazard insurance. A few of these include fire, earthquakes, flooding, wind, and vandalism. Depending on the location of your home, some of these will be more relevant than others. For instance, a homeowner in Kansas may need tornado insurance while a homeowner in Florida might opt for hurricane coverage. Of course, you could choose to pay for a hazard insurance plan that includes every natural hazard known to man, but it probably will not be financially practical.

  • How is Hazard Insurance Different From Homeowner’s Insurance?

Hazard insurance and homeowner’s insurance are often used synonymously in conversation. However, depending on your insurance broker, they may be quite different. If your broker uses the term “comprehensive” to describe your homeowner’s insurance, you should check to make sure that it covers the specific hazards common to your location or that you are concerned about prior to signing a contract. In addition, truly comprehensive insurance should cover both liability and physical damages while hazard insurance generally covers only physical property damage.

  • When Should I Get Hazard Insurance?

During a property’s closing sale, the buyer is typically required to obtain hazard insurance of some kind, the terminology of which may change later to property or comprehensive homeowner’s insurance. The name may not matter, but the details do! Be sure to read thoroughly and understand what you are signing off on prior to agreeing.

 

  • How Much Should my Hazard Insurance Cover and What Will it Cost?

It’s strongly encouraged to buy enough hazard insurance to cover (at least) the cost of the mortgage. That way, if something happens immediately after the sale, the buyer is protected enough to cover the full restoration of the home. Costs are calculated from the estimated value of the property, age, construction, and known hazards in the area.

 

Securing hazard insurance is just one more step in the buying process. Much like getting your home inspected, hazard insurance can give you peace of mind that your family and investment will be safe. If you are moving somewhere new and need any inspection services (foundation, termites, plumbing, radon testing. etc.) simply Inspect-It 1st!

 

If you aren’t currently buying or selling but think you might want an inspection done, Inspect-It 1st provides great resources to get you started.

 



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Holiday Safety Tips for Your Household

Don’t let the hustle and bustle of holiday madness result in a dangerous environment for your family; instead, keep these holiday safety tips in mind!

Mother and two sons enjoying  the season and following holiday safety tips.

 

Holiday Safety Tips for Kids:

Vigilance is key when it comes to practicing proper holiday safety tips for any younger members of the family.

  • Decorate with kids in mind. Place breakable ornaments and sharp hooks higher on your tree. Also keep other decorations with smaller parts out of their reach. Kids are curious!
  • Electronic toys are great, but they often come with batteries that can be harmful to small children. Stay vigilant and consider removing the batteries when the toy is not being played with. Other toys or decorations may include magnets, which are equally harmful and should be removed.
  • Decorating is a great holiday tradition, but certain holiday plants are poisonous to humans (and pets). Keep the following out of reach: mistletoe, holly berries, and Jerusalem cherries.
  • Engage older children in cooking. Use the opportunity to teach all children kitchen rules and precautions.
  • Remove wrapping paper and bow remnants promptly after gifts have been opened, as these can be a choking hazard to small children. Also avoid allowing balloons to deflate for this same reason.

 

Holiday Safety Tips for Pets:

Like kids, pets are curious and holiday safety tips are just as important for these four-legged family members.

  • When pets are allowed to wander into the hectic comings and goings of family, it’s easy to lose track of them. Keep them safe by picking up anything close to the ground that might be harmful, like Poinsettias and the other poisonous plants mentioned above.
  • Sweet treats are one of the greatest parts of Christmas, but they should never be given to pets and should be kept out of their reach. Chocolate is especially dangerous to dogs.

 

Holiday Safety Tips for the Whole Family:

Whether you are traveling or preparing your own home to be a gathering place for friends and family, remember these general holiday safety tips.

  • Water your tree regularly to prevent dry needles from piling up on the floor and being consumed by young kids or pets. They are also a fire hazard.
  • Keep open flames (candles, fireplace) under close watch and away from flammable objects (tree, garland, blankets, etc.). Always extinguish when leaving the house or going to bed. In addition, keep foreign objects such as wrapping paper or disposable dinnerware out of the fireplace.
  • Check light strands for fraying, broken sockets, etc.
  • If you are traveling, check the car prior to your journey. Do the tires have good tread depth? Are the car seats secure? Is the oil and windshield wiper fluid full?
  • When traveling, passengers may get restless (especially younger ones). It’s beneficial to everyone to take occasional breaks to stretch their legs, get food and use the bathroom.
  • Never hang electric lights on a metallic tree or fasten them to walls with metal tacks or nails.
  • Create a list of emergency numbers for any emergency that might arise, no matter who is home. This is especially handy and a stress-reliever for parents leaving children in the hands of family from out of town or a baby sitter.

It’s never clearer than during the holidays that family comes first, and that’s why following these holiday safety tips are important! Keep these safety tips in mind and create a safer environment for everyone.

Don’t stop with these holiday safety tips. Follow through and have your house inspected for any less apparent safety issues prior to visits from your family. Inspect It 1st can check your house for serious health threats like Radon or aging house problems such as plumbing leaks or heating malfunctions.



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Our home inspection company's history began in 1991 with the establishment of American Home Inspection. Over the course of the following seven years, a home inspection business prototype was developed that could be implemented anywhere in the United States. Our founders believed they had a unique methodology of providing homebuyers and sellers with consistent, professional and unbiased home inspections.

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