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Here's the 30 most recent of over 1,700 home inspection blog entries. You can also use the Blog Index link above, or Google Custom Search box below, to find the article with the info you need. Also, our Blog Archive lists all the articles, including a reposting of earlier blogs from www.mcgarryandmadsen.com dating back to 2011.

5

How To Look at a House

recent blogs

New Blog Post 1769

Friday, December 6, 2019

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When is a house not required to have an attic access hatch?

Friday, December 6, 2019
When is a house not required to have an attic access hatch?

Essentially, a house is not required to have an attic access opening when the attic is too small for a person to enter and move around inside. Here’s the two minimum requirements:

1) Attic area exceeds 30 square feet, and

2) Minimum vertical height of 30 inches, measured from the top of the ceiling framing members to the bottom...

When were the water control valves for bathtubs first required to be temperature limiting (single handle)?

Thursday, December 5, 2019
When were the water control valves for bathtubs first required to be temperature limiting (single handle)?

The requirement for a temperature limiting valve for bathtubs (single handle, anti-scald) was begun in the 2006 editions of the International Residential Code (IRC) and the Universal Plumbing Code (UPC), and also applies to whirlpool bathtubs. The Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code followed in 2008 (FBC P2713.3).

The FBC states...

When were shower control valves first required by code to be pressure balanced and temperature limiting (single handle)?

Thursday, December 5, 2019
When were shower control valves first required by code to be pressure balanced and temperature limiting (single handle)?

The requirement for a pressure balanced and temperature limiting shower control valve (single handle, anti-scald) was instituted in the first edition (2000) of the International Residential Code, and earlier in the 1997 edition of the Universal Plumbing Code (UPC). It was also in the first edition (2002) of the Residential Editon of the Florida Building...

When are solid risers required on stairs?

Sunday, December 1, 2019
When are solid risers required on stairs?

Solid risers are required on all residential stairs by the International Residential Code (IRC 1011.5.5.3) and the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC), with two exceptions: 

1) Solid risers are not required between treads if "the opening between treads does not permit the passage of a sphere with a diameter of 4 inches."

What does termite damage look like?

Saturday, November 30, 2019
What does termite damage look like?

Termite damage is rarely as easy to spot as in the photo above, which has the clearly visible tunnels that termites bore through the wood, called “galleries.” Because they require a moist environment and will die from dehydration if exposed to air outside the wood for too long, termites tend to munch right up to the surface of painted wood and stop....

How can I determine the age of an American Standard air conditioner or heat pump from the serial number?

Friday, November 29, 2019
How can I determine the age of an American Standard air conditioner or heat pump from the serial number?

Most American Standard units state the date of manufacture clearly on the data plate, usually at the upper right, but it is also encoded in the serial number. Either the first number or the first two numbers are the year of manufacture and here’s two examples.



     The only exception to this simple system is that some models...

Is a fire-rated door required between an attached garage and the house?

Thursday, November 28, 2019
Is a fire-rated door required between an attached garage and the house?

There are three door choices in the International Residential Code (IRC) and the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC), and all of them have enhanced fire resistance compared to a regular interior door, but only one has the fire resistance rating spelled out:

Solid wood door not less than 1-3/8” thick.
Steel door,...

What is the most important sentence to know in the entire National Electrical Code (NEC)?

Thursday, November 28, 2019
What is the most important sentence to know in the entire National Electrical Code (NEC)?

It’s near the beginning of the code, at 110.3(B) Installation and Use, and says:

"Listed or labeled equipment shall be installed and used in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling."

    Anything electrical installed as part of the construction of a house must be listed or labeled, which are two levels...

Can termites eat their way through concrete blocks and mortar?

Thursday, November 28, 2019
Can termites eat their way through concrete blocks and mortar?

Termites only eat cellulose-containing materials like wood and paper; but they have been known to tunnel through softer materials, like thin plastic, to get at the cellulose. Lime mortar that was once used to lay brick for older homes is another material soft enough that they sometimes are able to bore through it.

    Solid concrete blocks...

Wishing everyone a happy and safe Holiday Season!

Thursday, November 28, 2019
Wishing everyone a happy and safe Holiday Season!

Christmas tree lights twinkling, candles glowing, fireplace crackling, alcohol flowing—it’s the happiest time of the year. But, between 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an annual average of 860 home structure fires that began with holiday decorations, and another 210 fires were started by Christmas trees, according the National Fire Protection...

When was an electrical receptacle outlet for laundry equipment (washing machine) on a separate, dedicated electrical circuit first required by code?

Thursday, November 28, 2019
When was an electrical receptacle outlet for laundry equipment (washing machine) on a separate, dedicated electrical circuit first required by code?

The National Electrical Code (NEC) requires at 210.52(F) a minimum of one receptacle outlet at an area designated for laundry equipment, and it was first included in the 1971 edition of the code. To learn more about the details of this requirement, go to our blog post Is  a laundry area for a washing machine required by code for a single family residence?...

Why is there diagonal bracing at the roof rafters in the attic?

Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Why is there diagonal bracing at the roof rafters in the attic?

We often see this detail in older homes built before manufactured roof trusses became the standard for residential construction. It was a way to provide additional rafter support, and also some resistance to lateral movement, for longer-span roof rafter framing. The beam running perpendicular to the rafters at approximately the midpoint between the...

What is the minimum number of receptacle outlets required in a house?

Tuesday, November 26, 2019
What is the minimum number of receptacle outlets required in a house?

The total number varies, of course, based on the size of the house. But here are the minimums for area, per National Electrical Code (NEC 210.50):

• One receptacle at front and back of house exterior, not more than 6.5-feet above grade [210.52(E)]

• Receptacles in "every kitchen, family room, dining room, living room, parlor,...

Does a garage door opener require GFCI protection by code?

Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Does a garage door opener require GFCI protection by code?

Yes, a garage door opener must have GFCI protection. But a GFCI-protected circuit for the ceiling receptacle was not necessary until the 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC), so you may find older articles on the web that indicate otherwise. For the full story, go to our blog post Is a ceiling receptacle outlet for a garage door opener...

How can I tell the age of a Square D electric panel from the serial number?

Sunday, November 24, 2019
How can I tell the age of a Square D electric panel from the serial number?

The alpha-numeric sequence is usually a stamp over the wiring diagram, as shown in the photo above. It would be more accurately described as a date-code system, since each panel box does not have a unique number. The diagram below is for panel manufactured from 1956 to approximately 2002.



So the date-code shown at the top of...

INSPECTOR LICENSING & STANDARDS

Sunday, November 24, 2019
INSPECTOR LICENSING & STANDARDS

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about INSPECTOR LICENSING & STANDARDS:

• Are there any minimum inspection standards that a Florida licensed home inspector must meet?

• Can a Florida licensed contractor do home inspections without having a home inspector license? 

• What is the difference between a building...

BUILDING CODES

Sunday, November 24, 2019
BUILDING CODES

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about BUILDING CODES:

• When did the first Florida Building Code (FBC) begin and become effective?

• The home inspector says I have construction defects. How did my home pass inspection by the building department? 

• What is the difference between prescriptive and performance...

Should roofing nails be visible sticking into the attic?

Monday, November 18, 2019
Should roofing nails be visible sticking into the attic?

Yes, and there are two types of nails that are normal to see in an attic:

1) The ring-shank nails used to secure asphalt shingles to the plywood or OSB roof sheathing typically penetrate into the attic 1/4” or more. The extra length that protrudes into the attic is necessary to provide adquate withdrawal resistance along the shank of the...

What is the minimum size allowed for a bedroom?

Sunday, November 17, 2019
What is the minimum size allowed for a bedroom?

A bedroom must be a minimum of 70 square feet and not less than 7 feet wide at smallest dimension, according to the International Residential Code (IRC) and the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC). This is a basic standard that applies to any room in a home for it to be considered “habitable.” Local jurisdictions may have a higher...

Does a home inspector check wall air conditioners?

Friday, November 15, 2019
Does a home inspector check wall air conditioners?

Most wall air conditioners are permanently installed and therefore required to be inspected by the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations and the State of Florida. The definition of installed by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), for example, is “attached such that removal requires tools.” Because window air...

Does a home inspector check window air conditioners?

Friday, November 15, 2019
Does a home inspector check window air conditioners?

Any appliances that are not permanently installed are not required to be inspected by the Standards of Practice of the two national home inspector associations and the State of Florida, and window air conditioners are specifically excluded in the standards for that reason. The definition of installed by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI),...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Wood Rot

Monday, November 11, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Wood Rot

Although commonly called wood rot, the formal name on a WDO (Wood Destroying Organism) report for a real estate transaction is “wood decay fungi,” the structural deterioration of moist wood caused by a fungal infestation. Here’s links with answers to the questions we get asked most frequently about wood rot.

• Where are the most common...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Termites

Monday, November 11, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Termites

Termites munch away at the wood in a home quietly and out of sight, but the total dollar value of damage each year in the U.S. exceeds even house fires. Here’s links with answers to the questions we get asked most frequently about termites.

• I think I have termites. What does a termite look like?

• Should I be worried about...

Why is a roofer's estimate of the square feet of roof area so much higher than the square feet of a house?

Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Why is a roofer's estimate of the square feet of roof area so much higher than the square feet of a house?

If you were stunned when your roofer quoted you for a 3200 square foot roof for your 1800 square foot house, here’s why: 

 1) Homes usually have two different square footages listed on a realtor’s listing sheet or the tax appraiser’s property records. One is the conditioned (heated and cooled) living area—which is what most homeowners think...

What is the difference between EIFS and stucco?

Friday, October 25, 2019
What is the difference between EIFS and stucco?

EIFS is an acronym for Exterior Insulation and Finish System. It has been a popular exterior finish material in the Gainesville area for about the last 20 years, and is also called synthetic stucco: essentially a foamboard and fiberglass mesh attached to a wall that is covered with a polymer-based material, and then textured to look like historic...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Buying a House with Problems

Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Buying a House with Problems

No home is perfect, not even a brand-new one. But some homes are way more imperfect than others, with one or several big problems. Money pit or soon-to-be-called your legendary good deal? Should you buy it? Here’s what we think...

• Should I buy a house that has hurricane flood damage? • Should I buy a house with hurricane flood damage...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Sinkholes in Florida

Monday, October 21, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Sinkholes in Florida

Sinkholes that swallow up homes and cars into a huge pit make amazing news stories, but most sinkholes in Florida are not as dramatic. They do, however, cause houses to become uninhabitable or require expensive foundation repairs. Here’s links with answers to the questions we get asked most frequently about sinkholes.

• What are the basic...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Hurricanes for Florida Homeowners

Sunday, October 20, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Hurricanes for Florida Homeowners

Hurricanes are not happening more frequently, but they have definitely become stronger over the past decade, with CAT 5 storms threatening Florida almost yearly. Here’s links to our answers to questions about Florida homes and hurricanes.

Evaluating Hurricane Resistance of a House• How can I tell how hurricane resistant a Florida house...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Park Model Homes

Friday, October 18, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Park Model Homes

Park Models are a unique category that straddles the line between recreational vehicle and mobile home. Click on any of the questions below to link to the answer.

• What is a Park Model mobile home?

• What is the difference between a park trailer and a park model recreational vehicle? 

• Are park trailers and park...