Saturday, 11 April 2015



With the arrival of Spring, it is once again a time for renewal and a time to repair and maintain your property.   In order to keep your home up to date and functioning properly, you need to inspect it and do some upkeeping.  If you neglect to inspect and repair your home on a regular basis, inevitably, you will end up facing expensive repairs in the future. The following checklist is a good place for you to begin:


A visual inspection should be done of the roof either with binoculars or simply with the naked eye. Check for cracked or missing shingles due to the wear and tear of old man winter.  Roof turbines should be spinning freely without obstruction and roof vents should all appear uniform and intact.  Animals such as raccoons are notorious for lifting roof vents and entering from the rooftops into the attic.  Through weathering or critter invasion, roof shingles may be uplifted from the edges causing water to enter and lift the shingles even more.  A handyman or a roofer can easily repair these minor occurrences from getting worse. 


A visual inspection of the chimney should also be done.  If you have a masonry chimney, observe the very top for missing brick pieces or cracked pieces.  If water has been entering the chimney from behind the brickwork, you will observe white-calcium deposit called efflorescence. This is another red flag for you to consider immediate repair before another winter ends up making the situation worse. 


    By taking a quick walk around the house, you should be able to observe any discoloured spots on the brickwork, stucco or siding material.  Tell-tale signs are readily observed under the eavestrough, near gutter downspouts and under the window sills.  Spots around these areas usually suggest that the eavestrough and gutter system is failing. Failure is also caused by debris accumulation in the gutters or by the weathering effects of ice and snow causing the eaves and gutters to become unbalanced and in need of repair. Water tends to accumulate and seep under the window sill. This is easily observed by the water stain left behind.  The good news is that this can be easily fixed by using caulking. Bricks placed sideways to create a sill, expose much of the mortar.  This exposure is the cause of deterioration which will have to be repaired. In some cases, you may consider replacing the brick sill with a natural stone, which also looks quite exquisite.  


    A visual inspection of the foundation wall can be done by simply walking around the perimeter of your house.  Be sure to check for surface cracks and observe the source of origin and where they extend to.  Minor cracks and surface cracks usually don’t pose any concern, especially if the house has a plastic membrane around your foundation wall.  In the event you notice a crack, it is advisable to go to that part of basement and check the wall and the floor for moisture or stains.  Check around the foundation wall for areas that have sunk. The best way to keep water away from your foundation wall and basement is with the grading having a proper slope away from the house. The concrete cement splash blocks at the base of the downspout are placed there to channel the water away from the foundation wall.  The ground tends to settle around the house but be sure to watch for the ground settling.  If this occurs, water may end up seeping down towards the foundation wall. An easy fix would be to add some crushed stone underneath in the back side, so that discharged water from the downspout flows correctly.  Check the window wells and ensure they are clean and free of debris.  Most window wells have drains that can carry water from the well to the drainage tile system and to the storm sewers.  Debris will clog the flow of water, which inevitably may end up in your basement through the window.


A tight seal around the windows is required to avoid water and air penetration. Check caulking and weather stripping to ensure it is intact.


Ensure the surface of your deck/patio is slightly sloped away from the house and is intact.  Check for loose deck boards or weak deck boards that should be replaced.Finally, remember to turn your exterior water on as it has been off due to the long winter months.  You can now clean the windows, rake and fertilize the grass, clean the outdoor furniture, take the cover off the A/C unit and perform the Spring BBQ cleaning ritual.  Spray wash the garage floor to get rid of salt and winter debris.   

How much fun it is to be a home owner!! Enjoy summer as it is around the corner.   

Sunday, 1 March 2015


Regardless of the way a basement is built, water can penetrate even the most well built, solid structure. This can particularly be a potential problem for new homebuyers and homeowners.  A good home inspector can pick up the tell tale signs of a basement leak.

Basement leakage can be a real nightmare for homeowners to deal with.  Basement foundations come in many forms—from concrete
foundations to stone, block or tile basement walls.  Even the most well built structure with a basement, may be prone to leakage.


Given the travelling nature of water, it is very difficult to predict exactly where the water will end up entering the building.  It can enter from the walls, joists or floors.  For homeowners, dealing with water leakage can certainly prove to be an expensive endeavour.  A leakage problem can be very damaging to your property, possessions and have adverse affects on your health should mould develop as a result of the moisture in the basement.  Water damage resulting from flooding can also negatively affect the value of your home.


A source of water leakage in the basement can come from old, worn out windows in need of replacement.  A probable source of water entry into your home can be through gaps, fissures and cracks around an old basement window.  Depending on the age of the house, old single-pane windows may need to be replaced with vinyl framed insulated glass windows that have double pane.


Typically, standard window wells used for years around the basement windows have been made of steel.  In some cases, these window wells end up rusting or require paint.  Another problem associated with window wells is that during heavy storms, water may collect and pool in the well, which may end up seeping in around the window frames and into the basement.
New window wells come in
durable vinyl material.  Unlike steel, vinyl window wells will not rust or require painting.  As well, vinyl windows can also come with a clear acrylic cover that prevents water from filling the window well.


A wall crack is usually an indication of a larger problem related to the foundation of the house.  Before a repair job can begin, it is important to source out the primary location of the structural problem.  Once the source has been identified, then you can begin repairing both interior and exterior wall cracks. 


The leakage problem may be tackled from the outside of the house.  The exterior waterproofing system is an expensive option, which involves excavation around the foundation of the house using heavy equipment.  During the process of excavation, the area around the house will be a construction zone making access to the house very difficult and hazardous.  This is primarily why exterior waterproofing systems are installed during the new construction phase of building.  
During the excavation stage, all existing bushes, shrubs and landscaping must be removed.  Dirt is dug up to expose the base of the foundation wall right down to the footings.  A visual inspection may reveal cracks or minor structural deficiencies that may be repaired right away. A waterproof membrane or waterproof coating is applied to the foundation wall to form a water barrier.  In some cases, a waterproof dimple membrane is wrapped around the foundation.
The weeping tile is replaced which lies along the base of the foundation wall. Once this process is complete, the foundation is backfilled to grade and soil is repositioned.   


Back and front yards may be leveled off flat or may actually slope towards the house.  This may pose as a hazard since with the passage of time, the slope of the grading can allow water from rain/snow/ice to flow towards the house and drain against the basement walls.  This can be the cause of wet spots, efflorescence or evidence of standing water on the floor.  A quick and easy fix to this is to intercept the surface drainage and redirect the water away from the house.  Digging a drainage ditch, which would be designed to reroute the water around the house, would be dug.  The drainage ditch, once sodded will act like a catch basin and hopefully solve the leaking problem.  Alternatively, the ground may be sloped away from the foundation, extending the slope for at least ten feet. 


Another common problem is when gutters or downspouts become clogged with debris or are defective and don’t work, as they should.  This may cause water to form puddles near the basement wall and thus keep the soil very wet.  Again, this may cause water to eventually enter through cracks into the basement.  A simple solution is to replace the gutters/downspouts, or maintain them by keeping them free of debris. Where leaves and twigs from nearby trees may collect in a gutter, a basket-shaped wire strainer or leaf-guard, may be installed  across the length of the gutter. To keep water from pooling at the point of discharge, a concrete gutter or splash block may be used to carry the water away at a slope of one inch per foot.  Downspouts can also be extended to channel rain away from the outside foundation.  Roof water can also be piped underground to a storm drain, dry well, or surface outlet fifteen feet or more from the house. 

A good home inspector is able to see the tell tale signs of basement leakage and point it out to you.  S/he may make suggestions as to best course of action to take.  But, this is one situation which requires attention right away as a small leak may become a big headache if not taken care of right away.

Dino Biondo
Certified Home Inspector

Friday, 20 June 2014


A home is your castle and a place to hang your hat.  You spend a great deal of time in your home among your loved ones.  Home is where your heart is, and, more importantly, home is where your health is.

 A healthy environment is key to raising a healthy family

 What exactly is mold?  Mold is actually a fungus that loves to grow in damp and moist places.  It is often found in basements where there has been a water leak.  Mold generally comes in many colours—commonly seen is black or white and appears in a stain or smudge like pattern.  The smell of mold is quite distinct and is often a familiar musty odor.

In order for mold to flourish, it requires moisture and some material to live on.  Once found, it releases ‘spores’ which are easily breathed in from the air.  It is large amounts of these spores coupled with other by-products, which may become a health hazard.  Mold can develop into a serious problem if it is not caught early on and the source eliminated.  Common places for mold to grow indoors are on windowsills, fabrics, carpets, and walls in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry, and basements.

A person may respond to mold in different ways, depending upon the amount of exposure and the person's overall health. Some people are more vulnerable to the effects of mold than others. This includes children, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system or other medical condition(s), such as asthma, severe allergies or other respiratory conditions.

The presence of mold in the home may result in increased symptoms including:·      

  •      -irritation of eyes, nose and throat
  •      -coughing or wheezing
  •      -shortness of breath
  •      -asthma and other allergic reactions

If these symptoms arise, there is a good possibility that your home has mold and your health needs to be monitored by a health care provider.


When it comes to doing a house inspection, what is the inspector responsible for?The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI) is a non-profit organization created by the provincial government in 1994.  It is a professional organization established to provide a ‘voice to home inspectors in Ontario.’  One of the goals of the OAHI is to establish a Standards of Practice, which provides inspection guidelines and lays out a Code of Conduct, which governs this profession.  According to the Standard of Practice outlined by the OAHI, a certified home inspector is NOT required to:“Determine the presence of any environmental hazards including, but not limited to toxins, carcinogens, noise, and contaminants in soil, water, and air.”  As well a home inspector is “not required to determine indoor air quality.” 

In conducting a routine home inspection, a home inspector is not able to detect mold growth from behind walls, in the ceiling or in insulation.  A home inspector may not be able to detect former flooding in the basement area as well as hidden leaks or suspected leaks, which may all serve as breeding ground for mold growth.Mold testing can be done through an independent lab.  Samples may be collected and tested for an additional fee.  The lab can determine, through testing if there is mold present and once detected, arrangements can be made for removal.  Mold remediation may be required in extreme cases of mold growth resulting from ‘marijuana grow operations’ or drug houses.

Thursday, 1 May 2014



The industry norm has been to have a home inspection conducted if you are the buyer putting in an offer.  This scenario benefits the buyer. 
But, if the seller conducts a Pre-inspection, it stands to benefit all parties involved in the real estate transaction--the seller, buyer and the agent.


Often, an offer on a home is conditional upon a satisfactory home inspection.  Often times, this may end up jeopardising the deal.  The reasons for this can be either that the purchaser gets cold feet or that a major deficiency is uncovered during the inspection.  It my also be that the house was misrepresented.  Or still, maybe that the way in which the home inspector conveyed the minor repairs scared the purchasers as they weren’t explained as repairs that were typical small problems and that they could easily be fixed.
The benefit of performing a home inspection prior to listing the house is that all parties will become aware of the condition of the house before any negotiation starts.   The element of surprise of a home inspection can be eliminated thus deals will not fall through.


During certain economic conditions, when it is a buyers market, it may end up being that a house ends up selling twice.  It definitely takes a lot of work to get a signed agreement of purchase and sale.  No real estate agent would want to waste effort if after the home inspection is conducted, the purchaser uses that as a tool to renegotiate.
A pre-listing inspection allows all parties to know the condition of the house prior to the offer thus eliminating the need for renegotiation. As most real estate agents know, renegotiation is very difficult. Vendors have already mentally sold the house; purchasers are suffering buyers' remorse.  There are many mixed emotions going around and dealing with bruised egos and pride often blurs judgement.
It is therefore an excellent idea for a home owner to pay for an inspection prior to listing their property as they will be further ahead than a homeowner who ends up having to renegotiate.  This step can often help to sell the house faster.


A pre-inspection done before the listing can also help the real estate agent handle a vendor who may have unrealistic expectations about the value of their home.  The inspection report makes for excellent ammunition for explaining why top dollar cannot be asked for a home requiring repair.


A home inspection may reveal items, which should be repaired or replaced immediately. A pre-inspected listing allows the vendor the opportunity to repair the problem prior to putting the house on the market.
If the inspection occurs after the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, the purchaser could walk, renegotiate, or, depending on the inspection clause, the vendor may have the option to repair. A repair done by an unmotivated vendor may not be the best repair and may not meet the purchasers' expectations. This has caused more than one deal not to close.


There is no doubt that part of the value of a home inspection is a guided tour of the house for the prospective purchaser. The inspection company can return to do a walk-through with the purchaser, if requested.


Pre-inspected listings will only have value if the home inspection company is perceived to be reputable, qualified and properly insured.  Road to Home Inspection is reputable and waiting for your call.