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Kent Keith's Blog

By Kent Keith | Agent in Fort Worth, TX
  • Choosing the Right Home Inspector

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Fort Worth  |  March 4, 2009 7:16 PM  |  1,626 views  |  No comments
    Choosing the right home inspector can be a daunting task, especially if you have never hired one before. When you are finished with this article you should know what questions to ask when interviewing prospective inspectors.

      Since all licensed inspectors are required to adhere to the same standards, many people believe all home inspectors are equal. Nothing could be further from the truth. If two inspectors were to inspect the same house, the inspection reports and findings could be quite different. Simply stated, some inspectors try harder, are more experienced, and are more thorough than others. For example, some inspectors examine the roof by walking on it, climb up into the attic and into crawl spaces under the house while others don't. Which is why you should attend your inspection, to make sure the inspector is doing their job. Here are some other factors you should consider when choosing the right home inspector:

    Home Inspectors Licensing- Verify the inspector is properly licensed. Most states require home inspectors to be licensed, check with your state's real estate board to find out.

    Home Inspector Experience- It may surprise you to learn that anyone can become a licensed home inspector, and in very little time. While experience in the construction industry is very helpful, it is not required. This may change in the future, but as of now, a person just has to attend the required hours at an approved home inspection school and pass the state home inspection test and they are considered a professional home inspector, although they have never inspected a single home in their life. The inspector you hire may be performing their first inspection ever.

    Professional Affiliations- Most home inspectors join a professional organization to take advantage of the benefits and sharpen their skills since these organizations also require continuing education hours for membership. Inspectors can also learn from each other at meetings and conventions. Texas Law requires home inspectors to complete 16 hours of approved continued education per year. The most prominent of these associations are ASHI, NAHI, NACHI and TAREI.

    Insurance- Texas recently adopted a new law requiring home inspectors to carry a minimum of $100,000 of professional liability insurance. This is required at license renewal, so at this time, some Texas home inspectors may not carry it yet.

    Ask to see a sample of the inspector's report - This should give you an idea of how thorough the inspections are and if the inspector includes pictures of defects. Most inspectors use computer generated reports and some post them on their website for you to review, or he or she can email you a copy.

    Should I Choose an Inspector Referred by a Realtor? - That really depends on how much trust you place in your agent. Some agents want you to use an inspector who does a quick inspection and writes basically nothing in the reports so the transaction goes through fast and easy. More professional agents want you to have the best inspection possible, after all it's their reputation on the line when they make referrals. If you are unsure if you should let the agent choose the home inspector for you or not, then seek out your own.

    Don't Choose the Cheapest Inspector - Please believe me when I make that statement. I get calls from potential clients daily. Many times price is the first question they ask about. I don't think it's because people are cheap, I think it's because they don't know what else to ask. While I understand that no one wants to pay more than they have to, you do get what you pay for. The cheapest inspectors are usually new, inexperienced, or ones performing inspections as a sideline. I know of one customer who was determined to hire the cheapest inspector she could find. After the sale she discovered her insurance company would not insure her roof because the shingles were installed over old wooden shingles, which were clearly visible from the attic. She wound up paying for a whole new roof (about $6,000), all because she tried to save a mere $25.00 in inspection fees. The average cost of a home inspection in the USA is $380.00 (USA Today... Friday, January 13,2006) 

    Here is a list of questions I've put together for you which you can use when interviewing potential home inspectors:

    1. How long have you had your license and been inspecting homes?

    2. Do you carry Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance?

    3. On average, how long does it take you to perform a typical home inspection? Through inspectors will take about three hours on a typical home.

    4. How long does it take for me to get my inspection report back from you in electronic format?

    5. Are you a member of a professional association?

    6. Do you perform re-inspections on repaired items? If so, for how much?

    7. Do you mind if I follow along while you inspect? Your inspector works for you and should allow you to learn as much about the house as possible.

    8. What is your inspection fee? If the inspection fee seems too low, you may not get a through inspection.

    10. Do you have any references I can speak to?

    Kent Keith is a professional real estate inspector in Fort Worth Texas and serves the entire Dallas / Fort Worth areas. He is also a certified whole house diagnostic energy inspector performing home energy audits as well. You can get great information on houses and home inspections by going to his website at: http://www.fortworthinspector.com

  • Nailing Tips to Stop Banging Those Fingers

    Posted Under: How To... in Fort Worth  |  November 12, 2008 6:49 PM  |  1,776 views  |  1 comment

    This post is in honor of my sister's sore fingers after hanging pictures. Very simple tips that people just don't think of but wished that had. Here are a couple of nailing tips that I hope you find useful.

    Tip #1.

    Most finger smacks from a hammer occurs when the hammer head skims off the nail head because the hammer head is too smooth. To help avoid this I keep the head of my hammer "roughen up". My Dad taught me this many years ago. Look at the hammer head to see if the surface is smooth like glass. If you can scrape your fingernail across the head surface and it feels smooth, then it needs to roughened. What I do is I vigorously rub the hammer head back and forth on rough concrete a for about 5 seconds. This will make small surface scratches on the hammer head and will reduce the chance of the head slipping off the nail.....this really make a difference.

    Tip #2

    When driving very small nails (or any nail if you are not a good nailer) just keep a pair of needlenose pliers around.

    Needlenose pliers have many uses, one being you can hold the nail in the tip of the pliers to drive the nail and not smack your fingers.

    Kent Keith

    Fort Worth / Dallas Home Inspector


  • Oaks Trees and Metal Roofs May Drive You Nuts!

    Posted Under: General Area in Fort Worth  |  November 2, 2008 4:28 PM  |  1,648 views  |  No comments

    Something to think about.

    I was inspecting a house today and noticed something humorous....I'msure the neighbors of the home didn't think so. This was a nice, quiteneighborhood with lots of large trees.When I was inspecting the outsideof the house, I kept hearing noise from the house across the street,sounded like construction and hammering going on at the house anddidn't pay much attention. When I got on the roof of the house I wasinspecting, I looked over at the house across the street and realizedthat no one was over there working on it, but the large oak treeoverhanging the house was dropping acorns onto the roof. Acorns can benoisy hitting an asphalt roof, but this house had a decorative metalroof and it was LOUD with each acorn that fell....like someone throwingrocks at it. In this type of neighborhood, all noises echo through theentire block. I could only image how this sounded on a windy night at3:00am! I don't know how long it takes for all the acorns to fall fromthe tree, but probably not long enough for everyone around there. Iwouldn't imagine this would be the deciding factor to buy or not to buya metal roof, but something to consider if you don't want sleeplessnights and mad neighbors!

    Kent Keith


    Fort Worth Home Inspector

    Dallas Home Inspector


  • Cool Paint Can Tip

    Posted Under: How To... in Fort Worth  |  October 30, 2008 8:24 PM  |  1,680 views  |  1 comment

    I was doing a little painting today and thought I would pass along alittle trick that I do to all new paint cans that I open. It only takesa minute and saves a lot of aggravation. Who hasn't tried to open apaint can that was previously opened after sitting a long time and thecan's lid is glued shut with old paint? All you do is take a large nailand punch holes around the bottom lip of the can about one inch apart.This way, the paint that gets in the can's lip will simply drip backinto the can...viola! No more stuck lids!

    Kent Keith

    Fort Worth Home Inspector


  • Home Inspection can be a Dangerous Business!

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Fort Worth  |  October 18, 2008 7:15 PM  |  1,690 views  |  No comments

    I was I inspecting a crawlspace of a home in an older neighborhood and while I was crawling around under the bathroom area, I kept feeling something strange under my body......not exactly dirt or a liquid but slippery. To my surprise as I shined my flashlight around me, I realized that I was lying on a thick bed of literally hundreds of double edge razor blades! I carefully rolled off them and took this picture. The ones you can see are the ones that slid down the small hill, there were many more above on the flat area. I have always heard about the slot in the rear of old medicine cabinets that people used to deposit used razor blades, but never ran into this before. There is no telling how many of these blades were in the wall cavity that didn't make their way to the crawlspace floor. I am always careful to suit up with the proper protective clothing with gloves included, but this will prompt me to make sure I get my tetanus shot updated. They say every 10 years, I'm sure it's been longer. When customers ask why I charge extra for pier & beam homes, I mention spiders, snakes, possums and pesticides. Now I can add another danger....razor blades!

    Home Inspection....it's a dangerous job, but somebody's gotta do it!

    Kent Keith


  • Compact Flourescent Bulbs and Dimmer Switches

    Posted Under: Design & Decor in Fort Worth  |  October 14, 2008 9:52 PM  |  2,499 views  |  No comments

    As time goes by, I'm seeing more and more of the energy saving compact fluorescent bulbs installed in the homes I inspect. The prices have been steadily dropping on these bulbs to around $3.00 -$4.00 each at the large supercenters and big box hardware stores. But I see many cases where these are installed in fixtures with dimmer switches and do not operate correctly. Most people don't realize that you can't use the cheaper typical bulbs in light fixtures that have wall dimmer switches and three way switches and lamps. Most of the packaging on these bulbs state to not use these bulbs with dimmer switches, but who takes the time to read the instructions on a light bulb package! These bulbs are not designed to dim and the manufacture indicates that using these with dimmers can void the warranty....if you're honest enough to admit that you did it. However, they do make these fluorescent bulbs specifically designed for these applications. You just need to look at the packaging and they will be labeled "dimmable" or "three way". Expect to pay more, anywhere from $10.00 - $13.00 each.....ouch. Fortunately most homes don't have more that a few dimmers. When I was in Walmart last night, I did not see any of these. Lowes was next door and so I went in to see what they had. I could only find one dimmable bulb made to go in a hanging fixture at $12.47 and no 3 way bulbs at all. I can't believe they are not carrying more of these in stock, guess more people haven't asked. You can find these online, but personally I would worry about breakage during shipping.

    I'm also enclosing a chart that compares the incandescent bulb sizes to the fluorescent bulbs.

    20 watts incandescent = 5 watts compact fluorescent

    28 watts incandescent = 7 watts compact fluorescent

    36 watts incandescent = 9 watts compact fluorescent

    40 watts incandescent = 10 watts compact fluorescent

    52 watts incandescent = 13 watts compact fluorescent

    60 watts incandescent = 15 watts compact fluorescent

    75 watts incandescent = 20 watts compact fluorescent

    100 watts incandescent = 26-29 watts compact fluorescent

    150 watts incandescent = 38-42 watts compact fluorescent

    250-300 watts incandescent = 55 watts compact fluorescent

    Fort Worth / Dallas Home Inspector


  • How to Combat Fall Season Webworms

    Posted Under: How To... in Fort Worth  |  October 11, 2008 4:41 AM  |  1,917 views  |  1 comment

    Web Worms

     Been noticing all the trees with the webs lately? In the Dallas / Worth area, they thrive mostly in the pecan trees. They are called webworms, latin name Hyphantria cunea.

    These inch-long green or yellow caterpillars, bristling with silky hairs, are actually moth larvae. In summer and early autumn they weave expansive webs that bind together the ends of branches. They eat every leaf within reach, continually building larger webs until late autumn, when they pupate. Resembling dirty rags and filled with black droppings and wriggling worms, the webs ruin the aesthetics of any garden.

    One way to combat these is to get a long pole and rip the web pocket open in the morning. With the web open, birds throughout the day will feed on the worms.

    To plan an effective schedule of prevention and control, it helps to understand the life cycle of Hyphantria cunea. In early spring, moths come fluttering up from cocoons carefully hidden in the bark of tree trunks and in ground debris. The adult moths are about 2 inches from wingtip to wingtip and are white spotted with brown. They lay eggs in clusters on the leaves of suitable host plants.

    The eggs hatch within a week. Out come tiny caterpillars, the first generation of the growing season, spinning webs and eating leaves. This first infestation is so mild that sometimes the webs go unnoticed.

    The first-generation caterpillars have eaten their fill by early summer. They form cocoons and pupate, usually in the bark, of a tree or underneath leaves or other debris on the ground. By midsummer they re-emerge as moths. A second generation follows -- this time larger and more destructive.

    Because the webworms -- in one form or another -- are present year-around, it's possible to devise a year-round strategy for dealing with this pest. Here are some tactics that have worked for me:

    * In winter or early spring, remove fallen leaves, ground debris and mulch, which may harbor overwintering webworm pupae. Replace the debris with fresh, pest-free mulch.

    * Inspect susceptible plants for the greenish egg masses, which are typically laid on the undersides of leaves and are protected by a woolly or scaly covering. Eggs are deposited from late spring through fall. Remove any affected leaves and destroy them. This strategy requires time and sharp eyes and is obviously impractical for tall trees.

    * Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a microbial pesticide that can be applied as a dust or spray. It kills many types of caterpillars but has no effect on warm-blooded animals or bees.

    With fall webworms, Bt is effective only if its application is properly timed. Once the caterpillars have enshrouded themselves in webs, they are more difficult to kill. Check on susceptible plants frequently, beginning in late spring, and apply Bt at the first sign of hatching webworms. Bt loses effectiveness after about two days, so it must be reapplied as long as more larvae are hatching.

    Always use Bt with care, because it also can kill the larvae of non-pest moths and butterflies.

    * When you see webs, clip the infested branches and burn them, or drown the larvae in a bucket of soapy water. A pole pruner with a lopper blade will help you reach webs within 16 feet or so of the ground.

    Kent Keith

    Fort Worth / Dallas Home Inspector


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