A Newsletter for Real Estate Agents from A-Pro Home Inspection

My Dear Agents

Summertime News!

Summer means something different to everyone: a day at the beach, a lazy bike ride in the woods, a family vacation, or maybe a chance to catch up on home repairs. For those in the real estate community, rising temperatures mean a rise in activity—more clients ready to buy and preparing to sell.

In this issue of From the Rafters, we celebrate the summer with news you can use to keep your clients well-informed. We’ve included articles on common issues for homes with brick and wood exteriors. You’ll also learn what your inspector is looking for inside a home’s kitchen cabinets. Here’s a hint: it isn’t cream of wheat. Plus, we’ve sprinkled in a few fun summer facts to try out at your next open house.

As always, your friends at A-Pro Home Inspection hope your summer days are filled with sunshine and spectacular sales.

Tim Workman, MBA, CHI, PHI

Tim Workman

A-Pro Home Inspection

Spalling Can Be Appalling
Common Problems Inspectors Find with Brick Exteriors

At A-Pro Home Inspection, we love to share tips with our friends in the real estate community about how to explain problems to their clients. When it comes to brick homes, there are plenty of issues that demand attention. Yes, a solidly built brick home has its charms, but it’s hardly impervious to the elements.

Here are just a few examples:

Spalling: This is another word for flaking, a sign of water damage to brick. When water gets trapped inside brick (sometimes due to use of non-breathable sealants), the freeze-thaw cycle puts tremendous pressure on the structure, resulting in cracks and then unsightly—and potentially expensive to replace—spalled brick. Further, the impact of water on brick, often the result of poor drainage, consistently wet soil, or bricks placed at or below grade level, can erode surfaces over time. In cases where bricks show significantly deep crumbling, the stability of the entire structure may be at risk.

Bulging: A bowed or bulging wall is another indication that the forces of water are at work. Dry clay-fired brick, for example, will expand as it absorbs moisture. In severe cases, bricks will become dislodged. A lack of sufficiently sized expansion joints may leave no wiggle room for the wall, resulting in outward or inward movement. Further, water can rust and weaken the ties that secure brick to a wood structure.

Efflorescence: This is a fancy word for the white, powdery substance often found on a brick. While the substance itself (salt left over from evaporated water) poses only cosmetic concerns, the home inspector will note that its presence indicates a far more serious issue. Efflorescence indicates that there is a great amount of destructive water pressure at work, pushing the efflorescence to the surface and potentially causing the porous brick to spall or break apart over time. Additionally, when the brick wall fails to dry properly, it is highly likely that the structure is plagued with drainage issues, which the home inspector will call out in the report.

Cracked and Missing/Decaying Mortar Joint Sections: Cracks, particularly diagonal ones, can compromise the integrity of a brick wall and provide tell-tale signs that even bigger problems may lie ahead. Due to typical brick wall aging, many homes will show mortar joints that will need to be tuck-pointed. Your home inspector will highlight these issues in the report.

 Hard Facts about Wood Exteriors

For many homebuyers, wood is a major selling point. As a real estate agent, you’ve undoubtedly seen a client’s eyes light up when explaining that the century-old home you’re showing has its original wood exterior or that a newer home is clad in shingles, shakes, hardboard, solid lumber or modern composition board.

While many folks in the market for a home find wood exterior an aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly choice, others are less thrilled at some of the problems associated with wood and the increased maintenance it demands compared to its all-synthetic cousins.

At A-Pro Home Inspection, here are some of the issues we commonly find with wood exteriors caused by impact, moisture, poor installation (nails not long enough, inadequate housewrap to prevent water intrusion, use of low-grade or wet wood, etc.), and other factors:

Buckling and Cracking: Improperly installed wood planks that don’t leave room for expansion can lead to buckled and cracked panels. If left unchecked, cracked boards become an open invitation for damaging moisture infiltration.

Wood Rot: High moisture content and hot temperatures are a lethal combination of wood surfaces, causing excessive rotting. The home inspector will pay particular attention to areas prone to rot, such as wood close to or touching the ground, around light fixtures, flat or backward- sloping surfaces that collect water, spots where deteriorating paint will allow water to penetrate and cause damage, caulking above windows and doors instead of more effective flashing, and other locations. Vegetation up against the wood exterior, roof and gutter leaks, and gaps in joints can also lead to damage. If neglected, minor rot concerns can balloon into major structural defects.

Cupping: This effect can occur when wood clapboards absorb moisture that has penetrated the home’s exterior. Water is absorbed from the back, making the boards appear concave or wavy, with the long edges of the board higher than the center.

Impact Damage: No amount of sealant or paint can prevent impact damage to wood exteriors. Everything from wood destroying insects to woodpeckers, lawn mower-thrown rocks to hail can scar the surface of a wood-clad home. The home inspector will note these imperfections in the report.

What’s Cooking in the Kitchen Cabinet?
Leave It to a Home Inspector to Find Out

Experienced real estate agents know that the condition of a home’s kitchen can make or break a sale. Professional home inspectors understand this as well.

When performing a 500-point Certified Pre-Owned Home Inspection for a seller who is preparing a property to place on the market, it’s critical for clients to get a complete picture of the home—the good, the bad, and the ugly—so they can make upgrades and repairs if they choose. That means leaving no stone unturned, including reporting on the condition of installed wall or base kitchen cabinetry (as well as bathroom cabinets) that may suffer from excess wear, shoddy workmanship, and other issues.

The quality of the cabinets is beyond the scope of a home inspection; however, commenting that the cabinets are in need of repair or replacement is not. The home inspector will not comment on the style of the cabinets or whether they match the décor of the rest of the kitchen. “Tacky” is not a word you will find in a home inspection report. However, there are several other areas that demand close scrutiny:

Dampness and Mold: Leaks that find their way into cabinetry can produce mold in the form of minor patches and significant growth. Such growth can cause everything from allergic reactions to severe health hazards. It’s why your inspector should check every cabinet, particularly those under sinks and adjacent to dishwashers. Most important, the site of mold provides a clue that more extensive contamination may be hidden behind cabinetry, such as growth on drywall and under flooring. Severe problems may warrant the services of mold remediation specialists and replacement of cabinetry components or entire units. Finally, the source of the problem—leaky sinks and dishwashers, for example—will need to be addressed.

Improperly Sealed Openings: Where plumbing, ducts, or wiring are present in a cabinet, voids in the walls should be properly sealed.

Insufficient Clearance: Cabinets that have been installed too low above a range present a fire hazard. Building code standards call for these cabinets to be placed at least 30 inches above the range.

Other issues include:

  • Doors that don’t open and close easily
  • Cabinets that are not firmly attached to the wall and have gaps between the ceiling and walls
  • Doors that do not stay closed
  • Visible warping
  • Cabinets not aligned with each other
  • Loose or missing hardware and glass panels
  • Duct-taped repairs

In addition to checking kitchen and bathroom cabinets, clients should expect the home inspector to also examine drawers in these much-used rooms.

Real Estate Agent Question Corner

My buying clients are sometimes impatient. They know an inspection is important, but they don’t want it to delay the process. How long will they have to wait to receive the home inspection report?

The time is taking a home inspection company to deliver a comprehensive report will vary depending on the provider. For example, A-Pro Home Inspection believes clients, many of whom are eager to learn the details of a property they’re excited about, deserve the fastest possible service, so reports are delivered within 24 hours of the inspection. When recommending an inspector to a client, it’s always a good idea to check on the company’s policy regarding how expeditiously reports are provided. That way everyone knows what to expect.

Sensational Summer Facts

While most people associate summer with baseball, don’t forget that the NBA finals in June traditionally ushers in the sunniest season.


Here’s a couple of tall tales to share:

Who had the largest shoe size in NBA history? If you guessed Shaquille O’Neal (size 22), give yourself two big toes up. Shaq shares the title of largest shoe size with Detroit Pistons great Bob Lanier. Brothers Brook and Robin Lopez both rock size 20 sneakers, and former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming and a lineup of other greats laced up size 18 boats. But none of these can touch Kenny George, a former seven foot seven, 360-pound University of North Carolina-Asheville player who wore a pair of size 25s. Unfortunately, George never made it to basketball’s top tier.

As for the tallest NBA player, that would be Romanian Gheorghe Muresan, who, at seven foot seven, was slightly taller than Manute Bol.

Ever feel that you’re fighting a losing battle against the ubiquitous dandelion? Here’s why. According to the University of Wisconsin, a single dandelion (taraxacum officianle) head can produce up to 172 seeds; one plant can send 2,000 potential dandelions scattering in the wind; a dense collection of the weed can spawn 240,000,000 seeds per acre.

A Final Thought: When your clients need home inspections this summer– or any season – give your local team at A-Pro a call. We’ve performed thousands of inspections from coast to coast since 1994.



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