Comprehensive and professional services

from the roof to the foundation

The decision to sell or purchase a home is an important decision, and how better to proceed than with accurate and reliable information about the property in question.

All inspections from Georgia Premier Inspections evaluate all interior and exterior components and systems including the roof, basement, heating, cooling, ventilation, insulation, plumbing, structure, electrical, and the lot.

Four Point Home Inspections

The inspection and report describes the condition and age of these elements.

Insurance companies have become increasingly reluctant to issue Homeowner Insurance Policies on older homes (usually 25 years old or more).

Their common concern is that there may be conditions in an older home that could become a liability to them. For instance; a home with a roof nearing the end of its reliable service life may fail while under the policy and the homeowner may seek reimbursement from their insurance company for damages to the home or its contents. Similar concerns extend to the condition of the HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems in an older home. If these elements are in poor condition, in need of being updated or replaced or were improperly installed, they may fail and cause fire or water damage to a home.

Newer homes are assumed (by the insurance companies) to not have these problems as frequently as older homes.

Home Foundation Inspections

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Foundation Inspections recognize the flaws of imperfect construction, the pressure of the earth, settling and uneven soils, and the house’s weight bearing down on it, your home’s foundation takes it from all sides. And when foundations fatigue and fail, the problems that appear can be anywhere from cosmetic to devastating to the home. Once a problem occurs, it will only continue to worsen as the home ages and the problem that caused the foundation failure continues. Foundation Supportworks is dedicated to recognizing these foundation problems in houses and addressing them with long-lasting solutions.

Foundation Damage Created in Foundation Construction

Many homeowners assume that if a house is new, then the foundation must be strong. Unfortunately, this is a very common misconception. No matter how old or young a home is, cracks, foundation sagging, and other foundation problems are still possible. Every crack and sag in a home is a separate problem that could potentially worsen or be compromising the structural integrity of your home. If the pressure that created these cracks is not addressed, then the strain will continue on an already weakened structure.

Finding and Monitoring Cracks

Very often, foundation wall cracks are not detected until long after they’ve formed. However, these cracks are often still very distressing, causing homeowners to believe that this crack appeared suddenly. While this is usually not the case, it’s certainly important to treat all foundation wall cracks as a potentially serious problem that should be assessed by a professional foundation engineer or specialist.

Finding and Monitoring Cracks

Cracks in the foundation walls will most often appear at the weakest points, including corners, edges of basement window frames, holes for service, concrete cold joints, long spans of wall, pipe penetrations, and along the tie rods in the foundation. Any cracks detected should be checked on regularly – if you suspect that the crack has moved, spread, or widened, then your basement walls may be experiencing increased fatigue which will increase the damage and deepen the problem. Keep an eye on the crack by monitoring its length. Mark the ends of the crack with a pencil, and draw several "alignment" marks along the crack to check that the edges of the crack are not shifting unevenly. Date all marks to help record the rate of deterioration.

Structural Inspections

Structural Inspections report on the foundation and supporting elements of a home. When performing a structure inspection, the home inspector will examine for a variety of signs that may include cracks in the concrete or brick and bowing and warping of support beams or joists of the foundation. The cracks may indicate a foundational shift that could compromise the integrity of the structure and sagging rafters may indicate an unsafe condition, which may cause them to either detach from the whole or break and place undue stress on the rest of the structure. The structure is the foundation of the home and must be inspected to help protect your real estate investment.

the most important part of the home inspection

basements

I will use the term “basement” here to mean the part of the house below the first floor. The basement can be a full headroom space or a crawl space with less than full headroom. Sometimes, there are even finished rooms in the basement. Under parts of some homes, there are crawl spaces that are inaccessible because of very low clearance or a lack of an access opening. A home can be built on a slab with no basement, or can have a full basement, an accessible crawl space, or an inaccessible crawl space. Some homes have a combination of all of these.

Crawl Spaces

Your home inspector should enter all accessible crawl spaces during the home inspection. In my experience, problems are often found in crawl spaces so they are very important. Your home inspector will require more time on site in order to properly inspect a home with crawl spaces. Do not be surprised if your home inspector takes longer than expected if the home turns out to have a crawl space. Most inspection firms will inform you ahead of time of additional fees should the home inspection take longer than anticipated. Your home inspector should be compensated for additional work.

A crawlspace is a shallow and uninhabitable area, usually between the soil and the first floor of the home. Crawlspace Inspections provide access to the electrical, plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems located below the first floor. The following general guidelines are required in new homes:
Water control and management in the crawlspace is essential for maintaining a house. The most common problem associated with wet crawlspaces is that moist conditions can lead to wood destroying fungus that deteriorates exposed framing. In addition, excessive moisture is a conducive condition that can lead to infestation of wood destroying insects, such as termites. In exceptional cases, water penetration into a crawlspace can lead to the undermining of the foundation.

central heating, furnace or electrical panels

If the central heating system boiler or furnace was not on the first floor, you are likely to find it in the basement since that is where most of them are. Special low profile furnaces are often found in low clearance crawl spaces.

The main electrical panel is often found in the basement. Occasionally, I do not find the main electrical panel anywhere in the house and then discover later on that it is behind personal belongings in a closet or behind a wall hanging. It is important for your home inspector to locate and inspect the main electrical panel.

Unfinished Basements

In an unfinished basement or accessible crawl space, your home inspector has an opportunity to inspect the floor structure for moisture condensation, mildew, mold, fungus, rot, and breakage. Several conditions can interfere with a proper floor structure inspection, however. For example, if there is insulation installed between floor joists, it is not possible for the home inspector to see all of the subfloor and both sides of every floor joist and beam. If I find floor insulation such as this during an inspection, I carefully pull insulation away from selected areas under bathrooms, kitchens, and laundries. I also like to selectively remove insulation under floors with above average bounce. If your home inspector pulls insulation down in order to inspect floor structure components, he should put it back in place afterward. Occasionally, I find such a thorough insulation installation that it is not possible to remove any insulation without destroying its integrity. Insulation supported on fiberglass mesh screen or polyethylene plastic and friction-fit rigid foam insulation are good examples of insulation systems that cannot be disturbed without destroying them. Unless there is reason to believe that the floor structure concealed under it is rotten, such insulation systems should not be disturbed during a typical home inspection.

While always on the lookout for moisture condensation, mildew, mold, fungus, and rot, your home inspector should also be on the lookout for broken floor structure members. Rot weakens wood. Sometimes wood structural members split or break even in the absense of rot. For example, deeply notched floor joist ends often split at the notch. In order to find split joist ends, it is necessary to inspect every joist end in the basement and crawl spaces. This can be problematic in crawl spaces with restricted access and in basements full of stored personal property items.

In older houses, it is important to inspect the condition of the subfloor where visible. I use a flat blade screwdriver to probe subfloor boards, floor joists, beams, and sills. The screwdriver leaves a small rectangular impression that will not be mistaken later on for a wood boring beetle hole. I can sink the screwdriver blade in to get a rough idea of the depth of rot. Probing of beams, joists, and subfloor boards can take a long time in some older houses, particularly if rot is found.

Another thing to check for in floor structures is wood boring insect damage. Some home inspectors include this as part of the home inspection. I have found wood boring insect infestations in attics, basements, crawl spaces, garages, barns, and under cottages. Carpenter ant infestations are quite common in this geographical area. Carpenter ants are attracted to wood that has been softened by rot. During house renovation work, I have removed structural wood that had been completely hollowed out by carpenter ants. I have even found carpenter ant infestations in rigid foam plastic. Apparently, the foam has the same consistency as rotted wood. Sometimes the only evidence of a carpenter ant infestation I can find is an accumulation of wood shavings. The shavings are not always located near the infestation, however. In one attic, I found a very large number of carpenter ants on the side of a roof rafter that was not visible from the attic access opening. I discovered the infestation only after climbing several feet into the attic. It is very important for homeowners to keep an eye out for live carpenter ants during warm weather particularly. Carpenter ants appear to be very crafty. On one seasonal cottage, I discovered that carpenter ants were coming and going in single file over a clothesline suspended between the cottage and a tree!

The other wood boring insect common in this area is the so-called powder post beetle.

Sill rot can be concealed behind box sill insulation. If I can remove the insulation without destroying it, I like to inspect box sills under exterior doors and adjacent to exterior decks. Rot often develops in sills and joist ends adjacent to exterior decks and under exterior door sills.

Residential and Commercial

Electrical

Electrical items are found throughout the house. I do not recommend that you do an electrical inspection yourseslf. Electrical Inspections are best done by your home inspector or by a licensed electrician.

I use a small outlet receptacle tester on receptacles I can get to without moving heavy furniture. This device tests polarity, voltage drop at 15 Ampere load, and GFCI functionality. The test device is very helpful. For example, I often find grounded receptacles with reversed polarity. The tester can check whether or not the ground pin receptacle is connected inside the receptacle box. The tester is very handy checking out unmarked receptacles that are protected by a GFCI breaker in the main panel. Sometimes I find a GFCI receptacle that appears to trip off correctly. However, the test unit indicates that wiring to the line and load side are reversed inside the box so electricity is never actually removed from the receptacle!

Using the tester also helps me to find receptacles with mechanical problems such as loose or broken receptacle units and loose or worn out receptacle contacts.

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Your home inspector should be looking for a number of items inside electric panels including loose connections, incompatible wiring sizes, improper grounding, corrosion, water leakage, and even small animal intrusion. Labeling of circuits is also important. If labeling is missing, unclear, or inaccurate, I recommend that my clients hire a licensed electrician to trace out the circuits and label the breakers in the panel.

Sometimes older houses have so many small fused load centers connected into a small 60 Ampere main fuse panel that I recommend upgrading to a single main breaker panel. Older wiring was installed before many of the home appliances we take for granted today had even been invented.

Old houses are likely to have older wiring such as knob-and-tube and armored BX. In basements and crawl spaces and attics, your home inspector should pay particular attention to the condition of old wiring. He should check for unsafe conditions such as bare terminals on old light fixtures and switches and taped junctions not protected in junction boxes. It is a good idea to have a licensed electrician disconnect and replace old wiring and wiring devices such as this.

Outside, check the condition of the electrical system ground earth connection. In the basement, check for proper bonding across the water meter if the house has public water. Check for bonding to other plumbing pipes.

Look out for missing or broken faceplates on receptacles and switch boxes.

In older houses with few receptacles, I often find multiple extension cords stapled to baseboards and around door and window trim. Temporary wiring such as this should be avoided. You should have a licensed electrician upgrade the wiring and install additional receptacles.

Computers, copiers, and fax machines should be plugged into a grounded receptacle. Older houses often still have old ungrounded receptacles that will accept only two-prong plugs. I live in an old house myself. Before I had the circuit for my copier grounded, the copier would occasionally try to run off 99 copies! After the receptacle was grounded, the copier worked fine.

Check ceiling and wall mounted light fixtures for mounting integrity.

Keep an eye out for unusual wiring that might have been done by a homeowner. For example, I have found ordinary Romex wiring suspended between buildings outside. Receptacles with reversed polarity and incorrectly wired GFCI receptacles are often found in homeowner installed wiring.

Outside, pay particular attention to corrosion on light fixtures and receptacle covers. Particularly near salt water, small hinged outside receptacle covers can become corroded shut. Sometimes outside receptacle boxes are not firmly attached. Of course, outside receptacles should be GFCI protected.

Check the anchorage on the electrical service wire. I occasionally find that tension in the wire has withdrawn the screw eye completely from the exterior trim or damaged the exterior in some way such as splitting.

The capacity of the electrical service depends upon the size and rating of the service cable, the rating of the meter box, the rating of the meter, the rating of the main panel, and the size of the main disconnect breaker. For example, if the main panel has been upgraded to 200 Amperes, but the other electrical service components are still at 100 Amperes, the service capacity is still only 100 Amperes.

Smoke detectors can now be wired into the electrical system and also have batteries. The ac-wired variety can be connected together so that all of the detectors sound an alarm if any one of them detects smoke. Keep an eye out all during the inspection for smoke detectors. Typically, several different battery-powered detectors are found in most houses. In some houses, however, I have found no smoke detectors.

In houses with fuel burning appliances or central heating systems, it is a good idea to install carbon monoxide detectors.

Additional Services

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pre-list Inspections

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pre-purchase Inspections

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foreclosure Inspections

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builder Inspections

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license home Inspections

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insurance Inspections

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Basement Inspections

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Foundation Inspections

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Electrical Inspections

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new construction Inspections

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investor property Inspections