Home Inspector and His Gadget Telescopic Ladder

Every home inspector has its gadgets, most of them are usually the same for all inspectors because they are simply inseparable part of their profession. One of those gadgets I extremely enjoyed while working as an inspector is a telescopic ladder, an ingenious device that comes in many sizes, shapes, and has various applications.


The main idea behind designing this particular type of a ladder was to minimize its dimensions while still being able to reach the same height. Using regular extension ladder by many types of tradesman is often out of the questions because it requires larger form of transportation, therefore, the revolutionary telescopic design hit the jackpot.

I remember smiling, several years ago, when they first came out and I was watching some advertisement promoting it. It was basically my dream come true, I was finally able to put this aluminum ladder in a trunk without complicated strapping to the roof of my sedan.

Of course, the telescopic ladder is also great for homeowners or rather apartment owners with very limited storage space. I wouldn’t buy it only because it’s cool to have a ladder like that, by all means, if you have enough space to store regular extension ladder, go for it. As much as telescopic ladders are cool, they are definitely not cheap; you will have to pay a few times more for this hi-tech convenience than for a regular ladder.


I believe that I owned one of the first of those telescopic ladders that started showing up in US. Initially they were only available online and after a couple of years started popping up in local hardware stores. My ladders always experienced heavy usage since I was also providing equipment for working for me fellow home inspectors. I don’t know if this was the reason they failed a few times, or maybe their initial quality wasn’t that great at the beginning. Based on my experience their quality improved significantly after about 3 years since they first came out. I’m just glad that neither I nor my employees experienced any injuries associated with their failures.

Over the years new manufacturers appeared everywhere offering better designs and guaranteeing wider range of applications. I think it all started from a brand called “Telesteps” from Sweden (this is their website – http://www.telesteps.com/en/pro/home/) and “Xtend & Climb” (website here – http://xtendandclimb.com ) which appear to be still dominating and several others followed. Among a few, I’d say “unusual” the most popular are regular extension telescoping ladder and combination ladder, both made out of aluminum. There is also a new baby on the block, a fiberglass telescopic ladder. This one is even lighter than its aluminum counterpart and definitely more suitable for electricians. Although, it appears to be difficult to purchase using regular channels such as Amazon and EBay, it’s possible that it doesn’t conform to our regulations.

One type I wasn’t aware of previously is a Teletower telescopic ladder platform, it’s like a scaffolding system that fits in your trunk. I’m pretty sure that many people will find this particular one very useful. Unfortunately it is popular in Europe and I’m not sure if you could even get it here, it’s also around $1000.

Take a look how it works –

If you ever decide to get one of those convenient but expensive ladders make sure that you carefully read all instruction provided by the manufacturer. This is extremely serious safety concern! Standing on improperly opened or not knowing how to correctly close telescopic ladder may end up in a disaster, you can get hospitalized, lose your fingers, break your hand, leg, or die! All this can happen on a regular ladder, fancy one needs 10x of your attention when in use.

I know, I know, you can say that I’m exaggerating but as a home inspector I was telling people about safety for many years and I hope I saved a few lives by doing that.

Read the safety instructions and follow them!!!

How to Inspect your House Windows and Doors

You don’t have to be a construction expert in order to realize that doors and windows are some of the most complex elements of a building’s exterior and that is why they need to be properly inspected as following:

Exterior Doors Inspection

entrydoorsinspectionWhen it comes to examining exterior doors, they need to be checked for their hardware functionality, overall fit and operation, but also their condition. There are many types of doors including glazed and non-glazed doors, aluminum, doors, steel doors, double and single wooden doors, but also hinged doors.

When checking the plastic and wooden doors, make sure that they are properly protected from the elements. They should also be rated for external use.

In warmer climates, most people will choose to use jalousie doors which need to be checked carefully to ensure that the louvers not only close in unison, but also able to offer adequate weather protection.

There are many buildings that can also use glass framed doors of operable and fixed panels that feature aluminum, vinyl covered wood, but also wood frames. In this case, you need to carefully inspect the track of the siding doors and make sure they are straight and that they’re free from breaks and dents. Take note of the doors’ locksets and degree of physical security and carefully inspect pairs of sliding and hinged doors.

The doors need also have the condition of their sills and frames inspected in order to ensure that they are protected against the elements and that there is no risk of flashing. In a hurricane region, make sure to check the double doors and exterior doors and make sure they have dead bolt locks with a throw length of minimum 1′.


windowsinspectionWhen examining windows, you need to inspect the condition of the sashes, sills, frames and their overall fit and operation. The interior inspection is when the windows’ hardware and overall condition will be properly assessed.

In residential buildings, inspectors may come across up to six kinds of frame materials and 8 types of windows. To name the type of materials used for the frames, they are metal clad wood, plastic clad wood, wood, but also steel, aluminum and of course, plastic.

The variety of windows to be inspected can range a lot and it includes fixed windows, outer awning windows, horizontal sliding windows, casement windows, but also single hung and double hung windows. On top of these types, there are also jalousies which are basically louvers made of glass on either a steel or aluminum frame.

The most vulnerable part of a window is the glazing around the glass panels and that is why it needs to be inspected very carefully, since repairing it is very time consuming.

Glazing strips and tapes around glass panels in aluminum or steel sashes should be patiently examined since they may indicate deterioration such as poor fit or hardened sealant. The metal sashes should be checked for weep holes which have been blocked by dirt, sealant or paint. The good news is that if they’re clogged, cleaning them is very simple.

Windows that aren’t protected against the elements should be checked for the presence of essential flashing at the head. If the windows are accessible from flat roofs or close to the ground, the inspector should take note of how secure they are, including their locks.

If inspecting the windows in a hurricane area, the inspector should take note of the ones that aren’t protected by shutters.

Geographical location also plays important role, maybe not in a way the windows should be inspected, everything above still applies, but in overall expectations of the window condition. You should expect the condition of a 10 year old wood window in Florida where the temperatures are staying above freezing (well, almost always)  to be much better than the condition of an identical window in Northern parts of US. For a 10, maybe 15 years old unit without proper maintenance window replacement might be necessary.

Weather stripping

weatherstrippinginspectionDoor weather and window stripping fall into 3 types, including plastic, foam plastic or metal stripping and each of them should be checked for fit. Plastic stripping needs to be checked for cracks and brittleness, foam plastic should be checked for resiliency and metal needs to be inspected for straightness, bends and dents. Also, the weather stripping should be held in place securely.


shuttersinspectionThere are 2 types of shutters, including functional and decorative shutters. Make sure to check the shutters’ mounting to the wall and their condition.

Next, you need to assess how accurately the shutters meet their purpose, including protection against the elements, security, light control and privacy. Try to operate them and see if they work properly.

In a hurricane region, make sure the shutter are certified for hurricane use. If they also provide protection to glass doors and windows, make sure they were tested for windborne debris and impact resistance.


awningsinspectionSometimes, glazed exterior doors and windows feature awnings over them to control the amount of sun entering the property, but also for decoration purpose. In terms of materials, awnings are generally made of plastic, metal or fabric on a plastic or metal frame.

While some of them can be easily folded against the external wall, others are fixed in place. Carefully check their condition and try to operate them to see if they work properly.

Storm Doors & Windows

stormdoorsandwindowsinspectionWhen it comes to storm doors and windows, they need to be assessed for their overall fit, condition, weather tightness and operation. Carefully check the condition of the glass and screen inserts. Take a good look at the weep hole as well and see if they’ve been blocked by dirt, sealant, paint or other types of debris.

Garage Doors

garagedoorsinspectionCheck the overall condition of the garage doors, but don’t forget to check for weather tightness, fit and operation as well. Doors with motors should be operated using the provided remote control while motorless garage doors need to be operated manually. The operation in both cases needs to be safe, swift, quiet and smooth. Check the door safety reversing device and take note of damaged or bent pieces, rust or loose connections.

Hardboard or wooden garage doors should be checked for rotting, splitting and cracking, steel doors need to be checked for rust, aluminum doors for bents and glass fiber doors for UV light deterioration.

In a hurricane area, make sure the assembly was reinforced or tested for wind loads or hurricanes.

Safety Glazing

safetyglazinginspectionGlazed entrance doors, such as sliding glass patio doors, storm doors, excluding jalousie doors need to be adequately wired, completely tempered or laminated glass or any other type of approved material. On top of that, glazing adjacent to any other surface that is generally used for walking needs to be safety glazing.

House Exterior Wall Inspection Essentials

Masonry refers to using individual units bound together with mortar and laid in to create various structures. When inspecting a property, house inspectors will find both veneer and rugged masonry walls. Unfortunately, each of them has various flaws.

Solid Masonry Walls



A lot of properties these days are built using stone or full thickness brick masonry. There are also many new homes which are built using wood frame at the second floor and concrete blocks at the 1st floor. However, regardless of the way they are built, they are still prone to developing cracks. The cracks develop because of the natural settling of the property and a mortar line shrinkage.



The duty of a home inspector in regards to this is to find out whether the cracks can be considered defects or not. Cracks of any kind (including larger cracks) need to be inspected even more in order to see what consequences they can have on the property’s structure and that’s because they’re generally responsible for allowing water to seep in.



Most of the times, if the cracks in masonry walls are larger than one fourth of an inch, then they have to be inspected further. On top of that, if small cracks measure up to one fourth of an inch or even more than that, then this can be a sign of more than regular movement. If the cracks have lateral movement, they need to be inspected by a structural engineer as soon as possible in order to avoid massive damage to the property’s structure.

It’s also essential to check for other proofs and signs of movement which lead to the cracks in the walls. Its can include sloping floors, interior cracks, rubbing or trimmed interior doors, wracking of door frames and window frames and so forth. These signs, including the property’s age and the type of material that is inspected can signal more than regular movement and necessitate evaluation by professional and advice on what exactly needs to be done to fix these issues.

There are also licensed masonry contractors capable of  performing professional evaluation of a compromised  masonry structure. The main benefit of utilizing their help is a fact that evaluation and a masonry wall repair quote are in most cases performed without any charges to property owner.

Compared to cracks, bulges are a lot easier to assess and that is because they generally indicate movement in the wall. Because there is a chance that the wall may fail completely, it’s recommended that these issues are immediately investigated by a professional.

There are of course many other areas that have to be inspected carefully when it comes to rugged masonry walls and they include doors and windows. Rugged masonry walls aren’t barrier walls and that is why they can allow moisture to penetrate the property. Also, in order to allow for proper water drainage from behind the wall, a number of wythes is required.

Because of this, if there are any straight intrusions in the wall, then this can cause the moisture to be slowed down on its way towards the bottom. When this happens, the wood frames will absorb the moisture and become deteriorated.

Usually, when it comes to older stone masonry or solid brick masonry walls, they are reinforced using mortar. However, the mortar was usually soft and given the fact it’s also porous, it isn’t able to stop the moisture and prevent it from escaping between the stone or bricks. In time, old lime mortar will also deteriorate which means that it needs to be raked down and replaced.

It’s a process that many refer to as pointing.

re-pointing brick wall


The thing is that if the same type of mortar is not used, then this will cause the CMUs to spall. Therefore, if you’ve noticed your masonry walls have begun to deteriorate, then you should consider hiring a professional masonry expert who has experience and is knowledgeable in restoration procedures.




In general, veneers can be any type of material, yet they’re oftentimes synonymous with either faux stone or brick. Since they are large materials, anchored veneers need a substructure. Using metal straps positioned at 24” on center each way, the veneers are carefully anchored to the wood frame walls. The materials should be installed with one to two inches of air gap between one another and the timber frame walls since this will cause the humidity to weep towards the bottom.



Most of the times, weep holes are installed not more than 33” on center according to the Residential Building Code. On the other hand, according to the BIA, you should consider twenty four inches for weeps and sixteen inches for wicks, since this is going to help prevent pests from infesting the property and also make it easy for moisture to escape the wall.

The attached veneers are going to be glued to the property by using thin set plastic mortar. The way it goes is that a metal lath and building paper are going to be applied to the external part of the timber framing. After that, a three eights of an inch thick coat of plaster is applied and left to dry.

When the coating has dried properly, the joints are mortared and the attached veneer is glued. This is a simple way to go about installing them and the good news is that there’s no need to consider a second substructure ledge for the veneer.

Evaluation and repairs are generally considered necessary when inspectors detect issues in the anchored veneers such as lack of moisture exits, jammed weep holes and lack of weep holes.

From time to time, home inspectors can also come across attached veneer walls with portions that have become displaced because the humidity behind the wall couldn’t escape and the freezing led to movement.

When it comes to headers or metal lintels, they are generally installed to offer support to the masonry veneer, but sooner or later they are going to rust. If the inspector detects that the veneers have moved or that there’s excessive rusting, then he should investigate the matter further. In this case, there’s always going to be fissures of the mortar in the metal lintel. Contrary to what some people may believe, this is absolutely normal and they shouldn’t fill it with caulking since it represents the exit for humidity.

Why is a Home Inspection Important for a Home Buyer

If you never had to consider a home inspection before, then you should know that this is basically a complete examination of your property. Home inspections are performed by trained professionals and each of them has different equipment that can help pinpoint each and every problem your property has.

Therefore, if you plan on buying a new house, then it only make sense that you consider inspecting it first in order to see whether it’s in a good condition or needs heavy repairs.

What are home inspectors?

A home inspector is basically the professional who will conduct the home inspection for you. A reliable and experienced home inspector is going to assist you with understanding everything you need to know prior to buying a house.

While the house you want to get may initially look great, the home inspector can inspect its insulation, roofing, plumbing, electrical wiring and structural features to uncover issues that aren’t noticeable to the buyer’s untrained eye.

Since buying a home is a pretty large investment, you may want to make sure you’re getting a good bang for your money and won’t have to worry about making expensive repairs later on.


Depending on what the home inspectors finds, you as the buyer will be able to negotiate the price of the property or you can tell the seller to make the repairs on his own expense. On the other hand, you also have the option of walking away from the purchase or buying the house as is.

Termite inspection


This is yet another type of inspection you should consider, since it has the potential of saving you thousands of dollars in repairs later on. This inspection is going to be performed by a certified inspector who is going to check the property for signs of structural damage done by termites.

Radon inspection


You may not think too much about it, but performing a radon inspection before buying a house is very important. That’s because radon is a radioactive gaseous element that’s very dangerous for your health and can accumulate in areas such as basements or attics. Since they fluctuate naturally, it’s important to perform a radon test so you don’t endanger your health and that of everyone who will live in the house.

Other inspections to consider before buying a house

There are many kinds of inspection you should consider prior to purchasing a new home and amongst them is also a well water testing, septic tank testing and oil tank testing. These tests can be performed by general home inspectors if you wish, but keep in mind that not every home inspector is specialized and/or may have the necessary equipment to perform all of them for you.


When the home inspector arrives at your location, you should by all means attend the home inspection process. That’s because this is a great opportunity to learn a few things about the condition of your house, how to protect it from certain risk factors and eventually save some good money in the long run.

It’s never a good idea to just pass up this opportunity and not be there next to the home inspector to see your property through the eyes of a professional. When it comes to cost, home inspections are charged differently based on the size of your home, where you live and lastly, the age of the property.

Home inspections can take anywhere between two to five hours and sometimes even more if the property in question is very large. Keep in mind that the home inspector will only inspect the property and it’s not his responsibility to repair or correct any problems found in the property. He can also seek out experienced professionals and recommend the ones he thinks will do a great job at properly repairing your home.

Therefore, if you plan on buying a house or maybe selling yours, it’s absolutely necessary that you consider hiring a home inspector to inspect it first. This way, as a buyer, you’ll be fully aware of the potential problems the house is dealing with and renegotiate the price with the seller so that you’re going to pay a fair price for it. As a seller though, by having a home inspection report you can show to your potential buyers, you’ll definitely instill trust in them and make them feel more comfortable and at ease with buying your property.


What Should be Covered in your Home Inspection Report

When it comes to home inspections, they usually depend on the type of home you want to buy. For instance, if you plan on buying a large home, then you should expect to pay a lot more for having it inspected compared to a condominium for instance. Regardless of the type of home you buy though, below we’re going to take a closer look at some of the basic elements that a house inspector is going to check.

What Should be Covered in your Home Inspection Report


On top of that, if you want, you can also use this list in order to evaluate the properties you may be interested in acquiring.

1. Air Conditioning

B128_91The property inspector needs to inspect your home’s through-wall and central cooling equipment, its energy source and also let you know more about its energy rating and age.

2. Roofing

B128_91If a roof is properly maintained, then it can protect you from most of nature’s forces, including snow and rain. Because of that, it’s very important that you consider the roof’s chimneys, the skylight, check for loose downspouts and/or gutters, the roof’s draining system, the condition of flashing and the roof’s overall age before buying a property.

3. Structure

B128_91A property’s skeleton is one of the most important parts of it that will determine how the house can withstand geo-climatic changes, gravity and of course, the weather. Therefore, in order to ensure the house can withstand the various geo-climatic forces exercised on it, its framing, foundation and structural components need to be carefully inspected.

4. Fireplaces

B128_91No one denies they aren’t charming, but if they aren’t installed properly, they can become dangerous. That is why the inspector needs to properly examine the system (the flue and vent as well) and let you know more about the solid fuel burning appliances.

5. Electrical

B128_91Safe electrical wiring is vital and that is why the home inspector should look for the condition of the disconnects, fuses and breakers, service panels and that of service entrance wires. On top of that, you should also take note of how many outlets each room has.

6. Exterior

B128_91When hiring a home inspector, you should make sure that he checks the doors, the windows the steps, the driveways, but also the sidewalks. The exterior inspection should also include the surface drainage, the trim and the property’s siding amongst others.

7. Heating

B128_91The property’s chimneys, flues, ventilation system and heating system should be carefully inspected. Check the water heater’s age, its energy rating, speed of recovery and whether it’s large enough for your property or not.

8. Plumbing

B128_91Make sure that the drainage systems and the water supply are properly inspected, including the fuel storage systems and O2 heating equipment. In this category we also have the sump pumps and drainage pumps, so don’t forget about them. If the home inspector notices corrosion, rust spots or poor water pressure for instance, then this can signal trouble.

9. Insulation/Ventilation

B128_91To ensure there’s no loss of energy, you should check for proper ventilation and insulation in crawlspaces and in the attic. The walls should also have secured and proper insulation that is appropriate based on the climate, as well. That’s because if there’s too much moisture in the house, it can lead to water damage and mold.

10 Interiors

B128_91Inspecting the interior of a house can reveal issues such as construction defects, rot, insect damage and plumbing leaks. That is why a house inspector should take a closer look at :

  • Garage door systems and doors.
  • Cabinets and countertops.
  • Railings, stairways and steps.
  • Walls, ceilings and also floors.

South Florida Inspections

Welcome to your South Florida Home Inspection resources.

South Florida Home InspectionsAfter all of your looking – on line, open houses, touring with your Realtor – you have found your dream home. Getting a home inspector to investigate possibly your largest investment is an easy decision. But what should you expect from a home inspection? There is a big difference in what different home inspectors offer.

A home inspection should be…


No two properties are the same and not everyone needs nor wants the same home inspection. A rehabber in Ft Lauderdale needs a different inspection than a family in Pompano. Different types of home inspections should be always offered so you can get the inspection that fits YOUR individual needs.


No matter which of the home inspections you choose, yours should cover all of the details that are important to YOU. It is not advisable for a home inspector to schedule more than two Clients per day so he has the necessary time to complete each home inspection the way it should be. A condo inspection might be an exception since there are usually less grounds to cover, therefore, performing 3 condo inspections per day can be easily done without compromising quality of the inspection itself.


While your inspector should take the time to inspect your home thoroughly, he should also take the time to explain the findings so that you fully understand your property’s condition. The home inspection reports should be easy to read (preferably computer generated) and customized with digital pictures of your new home. When finished, you should have a better understanding of the systems of your home and how they operate. Your report can be your home reference manual to refer to as needed. If you have any questions before, during or after the inspection, ask your home inspector.


The inspector should do everything possible to help you through the inspection process. From the inspection agreement, the inspection itself, understanding your report and answering every question you may have.  You should always be able to contact the inspector who evaluated your property.


It’s simple, really. You should be completely satisfied with your inspection. Make sure you attend the inspection and if you are not satisfied with your inspector’s efforts – explain that to him before you receive the report.


You inspector should have no incentive to report anything other than the actual condition of your property. He should not offer repairs or referrals for any issues that may be found, also, he should not work for the Realtors – even if they referred him to you.

You can find your Licensed Florida Home Inspector by following this link – NACHI