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How to Become a Home Inspector

Home inspectors must have a good knowledge of homes, and drive to learn more.

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Owning a home is a popular investment. As with any investment the buyer wants to be certain there are no problems with the home. It is also beneficial to be aware in advance of any flaws that may need to be corrected. Thus enters the profession of home inspection. Home inspectors are usually hired by the home buyer, realtor or mortgage brokers to review the home to be purchased. They are asked to do a thorough check of the indoor and outdoor condition of the home. This invaluable home check is a type ofinsurance for the home buyer and money lender. They gain detailed information about the quality and condition of their investment. So how does one become a home inspector? Home inspection is an involved career that requires self motivation, great people skills and small business acumen. If you ever wondered how to become a home inspector then read on and review the links provided for a quick guide to this growing career. Part I: What It Takes There are many skills one must have to be a home inspector. Some may assume that one need only a knowledge of homes and home repair andmaintenance to work in this field. Home inspection requires a great deal more. It is true, home inspectors must have a good knowledge of homes but they must also have the drive to learn more if they want to have the most up-to-date information for their clients. Home inspectors must also be very good with people. Home inspection requires a great deal of customer service. They should expect daily interaction with clients, realtors, lenders, and even other inspectors. Finally, home inspection is most often a small business. Home inspectors are either starting their own small business or joining another small business in the area. Each of these skills deserve a closer look and further explanation. But first, it will help to map out a typical day in the life of a home inspector. A typical day for a home inspector does not follow the an 8 to 5 schedule. Instead home inspections may take place after normal work hours and even on the weekends. It usually depends on what works best for the client. When scheduling an inspection, most home inspectors encourage the client to be present at the time of the inspection so that they may follow the inspector through the process. This is especially the case when the client is the home buyer. On the scheduled day, after a short introduction with the clients, the inspector begins to assess the home. As the inspector reviews and takes notes, they also point out good and questionable details to the client. Because the client is with them during the inspection they may ask questions and get clarification about what may be done to fix problems or how to adopt better preventive maintenance. Home inspectors always prepare a report for the client and will often remind them that whatever they point out during the review will be in more detail in the report later. A good inspector will do all the easily accessible indoor and outdoor inspection with the clients. After this they usually inspect the roof, attic, under the house and other hard to reach places on their own. Once the inspection is over the inspector will wrap up with the clients and arrange to send them or their realtor the final report. Nowadays, most inspectors take their notes and enter them into computer programs to give good, detailed reports to their clients within in 24-48 hours. This quick turn around time is important as an offer for a home may be waiting for the results of the inspection to close. After this inspection the inspector may not have time to run back to the office or run the notes through on the laptop; thus it is imperative they took good notes. Instead they may leave one inspection directly for another. At the end of the day they may finally get the chance to sit down, review notes and polish final reports. So what does the inspector review and place in the report? Home inspection is a thorough review of a home. It requires knowledge of homes and home maintenance and repair. Usually those entering the home inspection field either have a background as a home professional, i.e. contractor, plumber, electrician, or they are already a good all around handyman, i.e. their relatives actually trust their help on home repairs! But to become a home inspector they must continue their education and round out their knowledge of the home. The areas they will investigate (and therefore must have knowledge of) include: Foundation: i.e. spotting structural defects and damage Plumbing: i.e. pipes, fixtures and corrosion Electrical: i.e. grounding, fuses and breakers Roofing: i.e. roofing materials, draining systems and detecting leaks Equipment: i.e. stoves, furnaces, and air conditioners Interior: i.e. cabinets, fire places, and doors & windows Exterior: i.e. patio, decks, driveway and walkways The above list is only a brief review but illustrates the broad range of knowledge the home inspector must have. To inspect all of these items they must be a sort of jack-of-all-trades. The home inspector must be able to review the construction and wear on a home with a critical eye. They must understand enough to be a little bit of everyone: plumber, electrician, carpenter, maintenance mechanic, roofer, contractor and mason; to name a few. Having the knowledge is the first step, being able communicate that knowledge to clients is another necessity for home inspectors. One must be a "people person" and a great communicator to enter the home inspection business. Home inspectors work with a diverse clientele. Most of the clients are home buyers, and as homes vary in price and personality, so do the people buying them. Many times the clients accompany the home inspector through the review of the home. During the inspection, the home inspector gives initial impressions of the state of the home. The clients often have questions and want further explanations. Inspectors should expect this and be patient when clarifying their information. A rapport with the client also makes the long process, usually over an hour, go by more quickly. And although the inspector knows their stuff, they will also want their relaxed personality to convey this to the client who may be anxious about their potential home. Besides the home buyer, home inspectors will also work with realtors and home sellers. Here they face the pressures of pleasing their client with their professionalism but not holding back when their critical eye may see something the seller did not expect. This may be harder customer service as it is never an easy task to tell the client bad news. Finally, home inspectors may work with other professionals such as lawyers. A knowledgeable home inspector may include expert witness testimony as a service to the professional community. But opportunities as an expert witness only come to those who can communicate their knowledge clearly. Being a good communicator and a "people person" will help the home inspector in this predominantly small business field. Most home inspection businesses are small companies run by an individual or a small group of individuals. The flexible hours and little overhead make this an ideal small business to start. If one individual wants to set up their small business, most states make this easy to accomplish. However, many states do have regulations for home inspectors to follow (see links listed below for detailed information for your state). The benefits of the small business, setting your own schedule, determining your pay, etc. also come with a cost. The small business owner must be self motivated. There are times when the work day will easily stretch past the 8 hour norm. Small business owners must be willing to promote themselves and get their name out there. The small business owner is their own boss, marketing manager, project planner, secretary, and sometimes accountant. If a home inspector joins a firm, these are generally small businesses as well. Here staff may not do everything, however, as in all small businesses, it works best when everyone is willing to do a little more than their usual workload for the well being of the company. The perks of these smaller business groups is that they often have their employees best interests at heart and will work hard to make a good working environment for everyone. Small business has a different culture than most jobs and the home inspecting profession fits well into this group; anyone interested in the home inspection trade should be aware of everything a small business has to offer. Home inspection is an involved career. It has variable workdays with new people and places every day. Home inspectors are interested in learning about homes and all their components. They take time to learn the details and are patient when sharing and explaining that information with clients. Home inspectors can work with a diverse audience and may even have the communication skills to be an expert witness. They are self motivated small business owners and/or members. To them, the benefits and rewards are greater than any of the challenges a small business may offer. All these traits together are the basic skills one needs to be a home inspector. Now, how does one get the well-rounded education and connections they need to start? Check out Part II of our article to find out Where to Start. Part II: Where to Start A career as a home inspector is sounding like the perfect fit for your lifestyle and business preference. You are handy around the house or already have some education in one of the home professional fields. To you, homes are a playground with all kinds of potential. But now where do you go? To become a home inspector you will want to start with classes. After taking a class there are many home inspection associations out there to join. Finally, you will want to decide if you want to start your own business or if you want to join a firm in your area. Then you will be ready to tackle your first client! But first, where do you go to learn the home inspection trade? There are many associations and companies that offer home inspector training. Most have correspondence courses by video/mail or Internet. These classes vary, but sites that do list cost show average prices over $1000 for a complete course. Many of these groups also offer smaller programs to learn or review specific areas of home inspection. These are useful to those with some starting background or home inspectors already in the field that want to increase their specific knowledge. Specialized courses for home inspectors already in the field may be used as continuing education credits which is required by most organizations. These continuing education courses also help inspectors expand their services. For example some inspectors may choose to include commercial inspections or learn more about becoming an expert witness (to learn more about continuing education see our links below). Some organizations do have in person classes available, depending on location. Many of these classes are geared towards the adult learner who may be working around another full time job. Most of these training programs come with a comprehensive test and more information about state specific rules. Another great benefit about a lot of these programs is that they include small business and general customer service overviews. Students learn how to start and promote their business. Often, information for creating professional relationships with realtors and others in the real estate business are included. This may prove to be extremely helpful to those starting home inspection as their own small business. Finally, these programs often demystify the process of writing clear reports for clients. They may also cover the various types of software and tools available to the home inspector writing reports. These classes are great in training future home inspectors about how to inspect, where to find clients, how to set up the business and what tools are available to make their trade easier. With the class taken and exams passed, the home inspector will want to look at joining a professional organization. Home Inspection associations offer membership benefits to those in the career. To join, home inspectors must usually show some competence in the field. They may either do this by providing their state license (if their state requires it) and/or taking an exam. Most associations do have a means of reviewing the inspectors that join (see our list of membership links below). Home inspectors must adhere to the 'Standards of Practice' for the organization. By providing clear guidelines to follow, these associations protect the home inspector, consumer and the profession. Many consumers are looking for home inspectors that belong to one or more organizations because the high standards these groups expect for their members. In this way, membership may be used as a positive advertising tool. Once a member, it is usually required that inspectors keep their knowledge updated through continuing education. Most associations offer continuing education classes and seminars for their members. Besides educational opportunities, these organizations also offer newsletters, discussion forums, example cases and other materials to aid the home inspector. Finally, many associations have local chapters. Through these local groups home inspectors may connect with others in the profession. Some associations offer mentorship programs through local chapters as well. Thus, home inspector associations offer training, professional guidelines, aids, and local connections. Home inspection is traditionally a small business and it is up to the inspector as to how much of the business they want to control alone. To start a one person small business is possible for the home inspection career. However, this takes self discipline and direction. There are also requirements and rules that must be followed in each state. Contacting the local Better Business Bureau is a good start. But also a small business class or contacting a lawyer will help clarify the paperwork and process of starting a small business. Another option is to buy into a home inspection franchise (see business aid links for examples).After they have a good foothold, some home inspectors may hire a small staff that can help with scheduling, reporting and bookkeeping. As the business grows the home inspector may start a small firm and hire on other inspectors. Some inspectors prefer to start with a firm already in place. These smaller groups offer guidance and mentorship for those new to home inspection. When set up as a company, they may also offer the individual legal protection under the business name rather then having their own personal name at risk. Traditionally a small business, it is up to the home inspector to find what kind of small business works best for them. Once an interest is established the road to becoming a home inspector is clear. One must first educate themselves about running home checks, writing reports, and working with clients. Joining a home inspection association will help further the home inspectors education, resources and connections. One of the toughest choices for the new home inspector would be if they want to start under the guidance of another in a small firm or if they want to start out on their own. Once these steps are taken the home inspector may take on the first clients and begin their career. Conclusion A home inspector is a well rounded individual who is both flexible and knowledgeable. They are jack-of-all-trades around the house and are dedicated to continuing their education to know the latest about their field. Home Inspectors are great communicators and enjoy working with various people in a job that changes daily. They have the dedication and interest in working in a small business. After testing their knowledge, they usually join an association with a good 'Standards of Practice' they agree to follow. The 'Standards of Practice' provides clear guidelines to follow, thus protecting the home inspector, consumer and the profession. The finally decision of the home inspector will be if they want to start their own small business or join another firm already started in their area. Whichever they choose they enter it understanding the great benefits and hardships of a small business. Home inspection is fast growing career with many benefits and challenges. If contemplating the career, take some time to look over the links provided for Training, Membership Information, State Regulations, Continuing Education, Small Business Aid. Home Inspection Training Allied Home Inspection www.homeinspectioncourse.com The course is available online or through traditional correspondence. The textbook used in Allied's course is one of the most comprehensive texts available. It covers the inspection process from start to finish (including quizzes at the end of each chapter, an inspection checklist for each topic and a glossary). This book can be used as an inspector's guide in the field. In addition, Allied's course provides supplemental reading which will reveal dozens of special techniques used by professional home inspectors, what they look for and the inspection methods they use. Allied's Home Inspection Course has 13 comprehensive lessons which provide "hands on" instruction. ASHI School of Home Inspection www.ashi.org/inspectors/training.asp ASHI [American Society of Home Inspectors] has created several educational opportunities for prospective home inspectors to learn about the profession and gain the skills and knowledge necessary to become a competent home inspector. Depending on your learning style and preference, you can take courses from the convenience of your home, your local community college or through one of ASHI's endorsed independent training schools throughout the United States. Certified Inspection Training, Inc. www.certifiedinspectiontraining.com Certified Inspection Training, Inc, successfully teaches people how to become home inspectors and just as importantly, how to set up and run their own home inspection business. Classes include: a stand alone Home Study Course, a 3-Day Course combined with the Home Study Course, a one day Structural Pests and Dry Rot Class and a Home Study Pests and Dry Rot Course. The class training is professional and intensive, with study both in the classroom and most importantly, in the field with hands-on practice. HE - A Better School of Building Inspection www.hometraining.com HE - A Better School of Building Inspection (a leader in home inspection training materials) has trained hundreds of home inspectors across North America with home study, live instruction, a combination of both, and advanced coursework on commercial inspections and new construction inspections. We are nationally recognized and affiliates of ASHI, NAHI, FABI, and CREIA. Our training is also accepted in many of the states which currently require licensing or continuing education of home inspectors. Our coursework is also approved by Allen Insurance Group and FREA (home inspector errors and omissions insurers) as an approved training affiliate. Come visit our site to learn more about our videos, live instruction, inspection report disks, tools, etc. Also, check out our Weekly Internet Specials. Home Inspection Institute of America www.inspecthomes.com The Home Inspection Institute of America provides expert home inspection training courses, home inspection certification, home inspection continuing education, top-notch inspection products, and a wealth of information for home inspectors and home buyers. Inspection Support Services Inc. www.inspectsupport.com/courses.htm Inspection Support Services offers the following courses along with other home inspection training courses and and a number seminars including Defect Recognition and Report Writing for both residential and light commercial properties. For further information contact us with your training needs - we will be glad to help you! InspectAmerica Engineering, P.C. www.inspectamerica.com/Home_Inspector_Training/ InspectAmerica Engineering, P.C. offers a home inspector training program for persons interested in entering the home inspection business, as well as for home inspectors who are interested in improving their home inspection service skills and receiving feedback on their home inspection techniques. Home inspector training is also available for persons with a casual or related interest, such as real estate agents, appraisers, mortgage lenders, real estate attorneys, etc., who are interested in learning more about the home inspection business. Our home inspector program can help make you more knowledgeable and proficient in your own business. Our program is also available to home owners who want to know more about the ins and outs of their home. ________________________________ Click here for more links on Continuing Education for Home Inspectors. ________________________________ Inspection Training Associates www.home-inspect.com ITA offers the most complete home inspection training available, with licensed home inspection schools nationwide. Our specialty inspection classes offer specific training on the largest variety of inspection topics. In 1987, ITA founded North America’s first licensed home inspection school, and today we continue to help thousands of people create successful home inspection businesses. ITA has more experience than any other home inspection training school and is backed by Kaplan Professional Schools, one of the world's largest providers of career education. Our instructors are the voices and experts of the profession – many have served as past or present officers of the leading professional associations in the industry. NACHI's Inspector University www.nachi.org/education.htm NACHI [National Association of Certified Home Inspectors] Education today launched the first part of its on-line home inspector education program. The initial published course concentrates on the NACHI Standards of Practice and how they should implemented. There are several non-scoring quizzes built into the system which allow the student to evaluate their understanding of the material presented. Many of the questions written for this course have been added to the SOP exam database, which is the final exam for this course (its completion is an existing membership requirement). National Institute of Building Inspectors® www.nibi.com The National Institute of Building Inspectors® (NIBI®) has provided educational and training programs for the home inspection industry and related professions since 1987. NIBI evolved from training programs developed for the HouseMaster® franchise system, and is recognized as one of the oldest and most experienced home inspection training institutes. While continuing its affiliation with HouseMaster, NIBI offers training for the entire home inspection profession and has developed an enviable reputation for raising inspection standards and increasing awareness of the need for formal home inspection training. Professional Home Inspection Institute www.homeinspectionschool.biz At PHII we have devoted our efforts into creating the best at-home course in the nation. Rather than give you thick books full of information you don't need, or endless hours of video tapes with no interaction, we provide an easy-to-master, interactive course you can complete in just a few weeks with the help of your home computer! We also offer a variety of additional hands-on training opportunities to give new inspectors the experience they need. Professional Inspection Training Institute www.homeinspectiontraining.net We understand that choosing the right Home Inspection school is an important decision. We want to assist you in making a decision that will meet your personal and financial goals. At the Professional Inspection Training Institute, we provide the training that you need to learn the "hottest" growth profession of the decade - home inspection. Our advanced Home Inspection Training is designed to give you in-depth knowledge on current Home Inspection practices, while our hands-on technical instruction will acquaint you with building systems and construction. Cash in on the growing demand for Professional Home Inspectors by training with the Industry Leaders! Thompson Education Direct www.educationdirect.com/inspector/ There are certain skills you need to begin a career in home inspection. The Education Direct Home Inspector training program helps you develop them quickly and conveniently. You’ll learn about: Construction methods; Inspection standards and building codes and regulations; Interior and exterior inspections; Inspecting electric, heating, air conditioning, and plumbing systems; Starting your own Home Inspection business. And you’ll learn it all at home – no classroom needed! This Education Direct distance learning program is like having your own personal Home Inspector school! More Links Home Inspection Membership American Association of Home Inspectors www.aahi.com The American Association of Home Inspectors Inc. is a professional membership organization of "Certified Home Inspectors"TM nationwide. AAHITM was organized in 1989 by the American Institute of Home Inspectors, who has been training home inspectors since 1981. AAHITM is the only National Association that certifies Home Inspectors using a Certification Mark granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (Reg. No. 1,662,100) in 1991. The Certification Mark is to be used to certify certain person or persons that have met the education and/or experience criteria as set forth by AAHITM . Current members of AAHITM are granted the right to use this Registered Certification Mark. AAHITM is the Nation’s leading Home Inspectors Association and is not controlled by a group of selected inspectors and does not require sponsorship or approval by your competition for membership. AAHITM has members in 48 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. American Society of Home Inspectors www.ashi.org The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) Web site is your most valuable source of information about home inspection. Home buyers, sellers, real estate professionals and home inspectors alike recognize our resources, educational programs, our Standards and Ethics and our newest program, the ASHI Experience as models of professionalism and superior customer service. We welcome you and invite you to join us in shaping the future of the home inspection profession. For 28 years, ASHI has provided home inspectors with the best in education, resources and professional networking opportunities. Increase your chances of success and join ASHI today. Foundation of Real Estate Appraisers www.frea.com The Foundation of Real Estate Appraisers (FREA) was founded in 1991 to fill a gap in the market for appraiser continuing education. At the time, obtaining education was expensive and difficult. It involved earning a designation that required thousands of dollars in classes from an association, and years of subservient service to someone who was already designated. FREA began offering continuing education classes in the San Diego area and within a few months had more than 150 instructors teaching classes all over the country. In 1996 FREA created a home inspection division, offering the same benefits to home inspectors as they had been offering to appraisers, including low cost E&O insurance. Due to the large numbers of members, FREA has substantial buying power with insurance companies, helping to keep the program strong while other insurance providers have fallen by the wayside. Housing Inspection Foundation http://iami.org/hif.htm The Housing Inspection Foundation (HIF) is an organization of professionals dedicated to the promotion and development of Home Inspection. The Housing Inspection Foundation was created to provide members with Information, Education, Standards, Ethics, and Professional Recognition. The Home Inspection industry is the fastest growing profession today. This creates new opportunities for those who are involved in the real estate, construction or environmental fields that are willing to learn how to perform this vital services, including Home Inspectors, Building Inspectors, Real Estate Professionals, Construction Inspectors, Remodeling Contractors, etc. National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers www.nabie.org National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers, a chartered affinity group of the National Society of Professional Engineers. Since 1989, the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers has worked to establish the highest standards for the building and home inspection industry and to verify the qualifications of individuals offering these services. As an organization, NABIE strives to protect the integrity of the home and building inspection industry, and thus, the general public. We review legislation, examine court cases, and monitor relevant government activities in all states. We interface with affiliated real estate associations and commissions, state engineering boards and other standard setting organizations. National Association of Certified Home Inspectors www.nachi.org The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) is the world's largest, most elite non-profit inspection association. Our home buying clients enjoy the HI Experience™ only NACHI Certified Inspectors can provide. Our inspectors have all successfully passed NACHI's Inspector Examination, taken a Standards of Practice Quiz, completed a Code of Ethics Course, adhere to Standards of Practice, abide by a Code of Ethics, attend required continuing education courses, and are NACHI Certified. NACHI...the very best home inspectors. National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. www.nahi.org The National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. (NAHI) was established in 1987 as a nonprofit association to promote and develop the home inspection industry. The mission of the National Association of Home Inspectors is to promote excellence and professionalism in the Home Inspection industry; to provide a standards of practice and a code of ethics; to educate its members; and to inform the public of the benefits and scope of a professional home inspection. NAHI now has over 1900 members in 49 U.S. states and Canada. By working together to develop and maintain standards of excellence, NAHI members benefit from professional development and the exchange of ideas through continuing education and seminars. Information and support are available for members regarding their business and inspection practices and service to their clients. NAHI's promotional activities educate the public and promote the importance of a reputable home inspection as an integral part of the residential real estate transaction. A national referral service helps consumers find facts about the industry and NAHI standards, and unites NAHI members with new clients. National Institute of Building Inspectors www.nibi.com The National Institute of Building Inspectors® (NIBI®) has provided educational and training programs for the home inspection industry and related professions since 1987. NIBI evolved from training programs developed for the HouseMaster® franchise system, and is recognized as one of the oldest and most experienced home inspection training institutes. While continuing its affiliation with HouseMaster, NIBI offers training for the entire home inspection profession and has developed an enviable reputation for raising inspection standards and increasing awareness of the need for formal home inspection training. NIBI offers conventional Classroom Courses at its dedicated Training Center and distance learning programs through its Online Campus. Both educational programs have been approved by the major home inspection associations and many states as meeting the requirements for membership, licensing, and/or continuing education. NIBI Certified Inspectors are required to not only complete educational courses and field training work, but must also participate in a yearly re-certification program. Being NIBI Certified is indeed the mark of home inspection professionalism! When home buyers are ready to make that home buying decision, they should insist on a Certified NIBI Inspector for their home inspection, and buy with confidence. Organization of Real Estate Professionals www.orep.org OREP specializes in placing errors and omissions insurance for real estate appraisers, home inspectors, real estate agents/brokers, mortgage field service professionals, mortgage brokers and others. OREP offers the lowest rates on appraiser's insurance with same day coverage & confirmation (most cases). Society of Professional Real Estate Inspectors www.sprei.org The Society of Professional Real Estate Inspectors is a national educational organization dedicated to providing the highest level of educational achievement for home/building inspectors. Anyone who is interested in improving his or her skills as an inspector is welcomed to join the Society of Professional Real Estate Inspectors. SPREI does not require past experience or background in the inspection profession. All that is required in becoming a member is a willingness to apply ones self to self-education. By simply filling out the application form and submitting the low annual fee, you will start yourself on the way to becoming an educated and informed real estate inspector. STATE SPECIFIC Arkansas Association of Real Estate Inspectors www.ark-homeinspectors.com The Arkansas Association of Real Estate Inspectors (AAREI) is an Arkansas-wide association of professional Home Inspectors. It was founded in 1992 to: Provide a forum for home inspectors to exchange experiences and to enhance the technical knowledge of its members. Promote excellence in the Home Inspection industry in Arkansas. Provide a source of information about home inspection services for the home buying public. To maintain awareness of the laws and regulations which affect the home inspection industry in Arkansas. California Real Estate Inspection Association www.creia.org The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) is a voluntary, nonprofit public-benefit organization of real estate inspectors. Founded in 1976, CREIA provides education, training and support services to its members and the real estate community. CREIA's Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice are recognized by the California Business and Professions Codes and are considered the standard of care by the real estate industry and legal profession in the state. CREIA Inspector Members have successfully passed a comprehensive written examination on the myriad of systems and components in the construction and maintenance of residential dwellings. CREIA's educational mission is to expand the technical knowledge of its members through continuing education. Inspector members must complete a minimum 30 hours of continuing education annually. Educational credits are obtained through monthly chapter educational meetings, chapter toolbox seminars, CAMP, state conferences in the spring and fall, and other CREIA approved sources. CREIA membership activities and programs encourage the sharing of experience and knowledge resulting in betterment of the real estate profession and the consumer public, which it serves. Connecticut Association of Home Inspectors www.ct-inspectors.com CAHI is the largest independent home inspector organization in the state. View our "members" directory above to find the most extensive list of licensed home inspectors in Connecticut. CAHI provides top quality monthly and special continuing educational seminars that meet the minimum requirements as set forth by the CT. Home Inspection Licensing Board. Our seminars provide inspectors with information about techniques and components from the past and present including new innovations and technologies that may be found in homes today. CAHI's mission is to educate the home inspector with valuable and pertinent information, the tools that will make them the best home inspectors in the marketplace. Florida Association of Building Inspectors, Inc. www.fabi.org Florida Association of Building Inspectors, Inc. has promoted professionalism in the industry through qualifying their members to assure the public’s confidence. Applicants to FABI must pass a written examination, have their inspection report reviewed and show proof of a required number of inspections in order to qualify for membership. They must also adhere to FABI’s Standards of Practice, Code of Ethics and earn continuing education credits by attending regular seminars/workshops to maintain their membership and keep their proficiencies current. Through its growing membership, FABI maintains an active Ethics Committee to ensure compliance of the Association’s ethical, moral and industry standards. Georgia Association of Home Inspectors www.gahi.com GAHI has promoted higher standards for professional home inspectors since its inception in 1989. Since the State of Georgia does not license home inspectors, GAHI’s membership requirements, the most stringent in the country, fill this void. The organization requires all members to be certified in the One & Two Family Code (IRC / CABO), carry the appropriate level of insurance and posses a business license. Not only does this better equip the home inspector to conduct new construction inspections, but it also sharpens skills for inspecting existing homes. Kentucky Real Estate Inspection Association, Inc. www.kreia.org The Kentucky Real Estate Inspection Association, Inc. (KREIA) was formed in 1992. Its purpose is to promote excellence within the real estate inspection industry by providing and promoting the following: Promote Customer Service through our Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. Promote and maintain high standards of conduct for its members. Provide its members with education and training opportunities to enhance their professionalism. Provide and promote the KREIA Certification Program to and for our members. Maryland Association of Home Inspectors www.mdahi.org Our goal is to provide you with useful information about our organization that we hope makes it easier for you to do business with our members. Maryland Association of Home Inspectors has been serving the Real Estate community since 1995. We specialize providing a source of the best qualified and reputable Maryland home inspectors. At this site, you will discover what area each member provide home inspection services, and to contact them. Minnesota Society of Housing Inspectors http://mshi.org Since 1979, the Minnesota Society of Housing Inspectors has set a high Standard of Excellence within the inspection industry. Membership in this not-for-profit society of private, licensed, fee-paid home inspectors encourages continuing education and improvement of performance. MSHI is the only Minnesota organization that offers its members continuing education on a monthly basis. Nevada Association of Certified Real Estate Inspectors www.nacrei.org The Nevada Association of Certified Real Estate Inspectors is an organization formed for and by the Certified Real Estate Inspectors of Nevada. Representing the Certified Inspectors of Structures in Nevada and boasting membership of over 50% of the active inspectors in Northern Nevada, NACREI has been recognized to be a viable source of information and training for inspectors as well as a voice to the Division of Real Estate in Nevada. Working with the various entities involved in the legislative process and other areas we have been successful in maintaining our mission statement of Promoting the Professionalism, Integrity, and Qualifications of Professional Home Inspectors in the State of Nevada, as well as becoming, as State of Nevada Certified Inspectors, an important party in the transaction of Real Estate. With membership being open to all State of Nevada Certified Inspectors of Structures, NACREI invites you to join the ranks of our organization and share the success of our labors, as have the others in our membership. Associate memberships are available as well. Southern Nevada Association of Professional Property Inspectors www.snappi.org SNAPPI is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities for its inspector/members and working to inform and educate the public about the benefits of home inspections. We also work with our state officials to reform state law and administrative codes to reflect changing market conditions, industry trends and the needs of our clients, the home buyer. New York State Association Of Home Inspectors www.nysahi.com The New York State Association Of Home Inspectors (NYSAHI) provides this site as a tool to help New York State Home Inspectors stay current with the changing face of home inspector regulation in our state. Our industry is changing. It is evolving from a unregulated service industry to a licensed profession. As recently as ten to fifteen years ago the concept of a home inspection being part of the home buying process was a new one in many parts of the country. Now, about half the states in the union have some form of home inspector regulation. The New York State legislature passed the "Home Inspector Professional Licensing Act" in the 2004 legislative session and Governor Pataki signed it into law on August 12, 2004. This law is set to take effect December 31, 2005. Home inspectors are encouraged to use the links on this page to educate themselves about home inspector licensing in our state to help in preparing for, and prospering in, this new regulated environment. North Carolina Licensed Home Inspector Association www.nclhia.com As of October, 1996, all home inspections in North Carolina must be performed by a North Carolina-licensed home inspector. Licensure is accomplished by meeting stringent requirements set by the State of North Carolina and passing a comprehensive examination. Continuing education is required each year in order to keep this license in force. Being licensed by the North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board, and adherence to the North Carolina Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics are the only legal requirements for performing a home inspection in North Carolina. The North Carolina Licensed Home Inspector Association (NCLHIA) was formed in 1997 to provide a professional organization for all home inspectors licensed in North Carolina. Pennsylvania Home Inspectors Coalition http://phic.info The Pennsylvania Home Inspectors Coalition (PHIC) represents the two nationally recognized inspection organizations that have offered verifiable proof of compliance with ACT 114, so that the Coalition can act as the eyes and ears of the Home Inspection profession within this State. Because of the new Home Inspection Law, which went into effect 12/20/01, ASHI® and NAHI™ Chapter Presidents and Vice Presidents came together to form a coalition to reflect each Chapter membership’s point of view. In turn, this can be communicated to the Coalition so that the Coalition will act as the one voice for the home inspection profession in Pennsylvania Texas Association of Real Estate Inspectors www.tarei.com The Texas Association of Real Estate Inspectors (TAREI) is a statewide professional organization formed in 1977 with a current membership of over 750 inspectors and related professionals. TAREI promotes a professional code of ethics for its members, reviews and upgrades minimum standards, provides recommendations to the Texas Real Estate Commission, and conducts statewide continuing education programs for all inspectors. Wisconsin Association of Home Inspectors www.wahigroup.com In 1994, home inspectors throughout Wisconsin began meeting monthly to improve skills and to discuss with other inspectors what they had learned during the conduct of home inspections. In early 1995, we established our name as the Wisconsin Association of Home Inspectors, Incorporated (WAHI). Our goal is to improve the competency of home inspectors through training and professional interaction. Our monthly education programs focus on home inspections as well as industry concerns. Currently, we have over 350 members and many of them are members of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI). Our members include engineers, builders, electricians, building tradesmen, journeymen, basement specialists, etc. Each of them is involved with the home inspection industry in one way or another. Back to Main Menu State License for Home Inspectors (N/A = state does not current require licensure) Alabama Building Commission www.bc.state.al.us/HI%20Menu.htm Alaska Department of Commerce www.dced.state.ak.us/occ/home.htm Arizona State Board of Technical Registration www.btr.state.az.us/AZ%20Ashi%20Standards.htm Arkansas Home Inspector Registration Board www.sosweb.state.ar.us/ar_rules/rule_final/198.00.03-003F.pdf California N/A - www.commerce.ca.gov/state/ttca/ttca_business_display.jsp?path=Permits+&+Licenses&childPath=License+Handbook Colorado N/A - www.colorado.gov/colorado/permits.html Connecticut Dept of Consumer Protection www.dcp.state.ct.us/licensing/professions.htm Delaware N/A - http://dpr.delaware.gov/default.shtml Florida N/A - www.stateofflorida.com/Portal/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=25 Georgia N/A - www.sos.state.ga.us/plb/ Hawaii N/A - www.hawaii.gov/dcca/areas/pvl/ Idaho N/A - www.state.id.us/business/licensing.html Illinois Division of Banks & Real Estate www.obre.state.il.us/realest/homeinspect.htm Indiana Professional Licensing Agency www.in.gov/pla/bandc/home/ Iowa N/A - www.state.ia.us/government/com/prof/home.html Kansas N/A - www.accesskansas.org/operating/operating-resources/index.html Kentucky N/A - http://hbc.ppr.ky.gov/generalinformation.htm Louisiana State Board of Home Inspectors www.lsbhi.info/LSBHIweb.nsf/Home?OpenForm Maine N/A - www.maine.gov/portal/business/professions.html Maryland Division of Occupational & Professional Licensing www.dllr.state.md.us/license/real_est_app/reareq.htm Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure www.mass.gov/dpl/boards/hi/index.htm Michigan N/A - www.michigan.gov/statelicensesearch/0,1607,7-180-24786_24814-81259--,00.html Minnesota N/A - www.state.mn.us/cgi-bin/portal/mn/jsp/ Mississippi Home Inspector Board www.mrec.state.ms.us/default.asp?siteid=3 Missouri N/A - www.state.mo.us/mo/business.htm Montana N/A - http://discoveringmontana.com/dli/bsd/bc/index.asp Nebraska N/A - www.nebraska.gov/business/html/342/index.phtml Nevada Real Estate Division www.red.state.nv.us/insp_licreq.htm New Hampshire N/A - www.nhes.state.nh.us/elmi/licertreg.htm New Jersey License & Certification Guide www.state.nj.us/commerce/CEG_LCI/html/licguid.html New Mexico N/A - www.rld.state.nm.us/Division%20&%20Proffessions.htm New York State Division of Licensing Services www.dos.state.ny.us/lcns/licensing.html North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board www.nchilb.com/OSFM/Engineering/HILB/NCHILB.asp North Dakota N/A - www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/agecon/market/ec752-4w.htm Ohio N/A - http://ohio.gov/ Oklahoma Department of Health www.health.state.ok.us/program/ol/info.html#home Oregon Construction Contractors Board http://egov.oregon.gov/CCB/home_inspectors.shtml Pennsylvania Home Inspection Coalition http://phic.info/ Rhode Island Contractors Registration Board www.crb.state.ri.us/docs/hilawsfinal.pdf South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation www.llr.state.sc.us/POL/ResidentialBuilders/ South Dakota Real Estate Commission www.state.sd.us/sdrec/home_inspect/homeinspections.htm Tennessee N/A - www.state.tn.us/commerce/boards/contractors/hinspcontractor.html Texas Real Estate Commission www.trec.state.tx.us/inspector/default.asp Utah N/A - www.dopl.utah.gov/directory.html Vermont N/A - www.vermont.gov/doing_business/profession.html Virginia Department of Business Assistance www.dba.state.va.us/frameset.asp?URL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Edpor%2Evirginia%2Egov Washington N/A - www.dol.wa.gov/main/biglist.htm West Virginia N/A - www.business4wv.com/Public/content/DynamicContent.asp?pagename=licensesearch&Type=Regulatory Wisconsin License, Permit & Registration Service www.wisconsin.gov/state/app/ Wyoming N/A - http://plboards.state.wy.us/ For a more detailed summary, check out these two great resources: American Society of Home Inspectors www.ashi.org/inspectors/state.asp HE-School of Home Inspection www.hometraining.com/certif.htm Home Inspection Institute of America www.inspecthomes.com/regulate.htm Back to Main Menu Continuing Education for Home Inspectors Certified Inspection Training, Inc. www.certifiedinspectiontraining.com/continuing_education.html Classes are held in many areas of the country twice each year. Please check the "Calendar" page for dates and locations. Classes are held on the West Coast in most instances. These classes are approved for Continuing Education credits by many states including the State of Oregon. The Certification Classes are approved for up to 10 education points to sit for the Oregon Certification Tests. Plus you also get 3 "Ride-Along" points. Please check with your state to determine existing requirements. HE - School of Building Inspection www.hometraining.com/continuingEducation.htm Quality Continuing Education Hours MRC's (ASHI), CEU's (NAHI), or State Continuing Education Hours A Better School of Building Inspection offers high-quality material to help you earn your continuing education requirements. With our material you get your hours and get something out of them too!!! By purchasing our 4-Point Residential Inspection Home Study Package, you help reduce the cost of obtaining continuing education hours and get them done when it fits your schedule better. Home Inspection Institute of America, Inc. www.inspecthomes.org/cont_education.htm Continuing education courses on topics of concern and interest to home inspectors are offered at the Institute at various points throughout the year. Schedules will be posted on this site. The courses are submitted to various membership organizations and state licensing boards for appropriate recognition. Attendees receive a Certificate of Attendance at the end of each course, detailing the credit earned. Infinity Schools Continuing Education www.infinityschools.com/HomeInspection.asp Our complete line of training products includes textbook based training modules, resource manuals, and cutting edge CD-ROM And Video Training products, all developed in cooperation with educators, instructional designers, and technical artists, along with extensive research and contributions from home inspectors across North America, specifically to be the premiere education and training program for home inspectors. InspectAmerica Engineering, P.C. www.inspectamerica.com/Home_Inspector_Training/ InspectAmerica Engineering, P.C. offers a home inspector training program for persons interested in entering the home inspection business, as well as for home inspectors who are interested in improving their home inspection service skills and receiving feedback on their home inspection techniques. Home inspector training is also available for persons with a casual or related interest, such as real estate agents, appraisers, mortgage lenders, real estate attorneys, etc., who are interested in learning more about the home inspection business. Our home inspector program can help make you more knowledgeable and proficient in your own business. Our program is also available to home owners who want to know more about the ins and outs of their home. Inspection Support Services www.inspectsupport.com/courses.htm Inspection Support Services offers the following courses along with other home inspection training courses and and a number seminars including Defect Recognition and Report Writing for both residential and light commercial properties. For further information contact us with your training needs - we will be glad to help you! Inspection Training Associates www.home-inspect.com/courses/cehomestudy.asp Need Continuing Education credits, or just need to study up on a specific area in home inspection? Now you can take individual 8 hour home study courses on the inspection topic(s) of your choice! Each correspondence course includes an on-line final exam*, which you are required to pass with a 70% or better grade to receive CE credit. [Also includes other specialty inspection courses on this site.] National Institute of Building Inspectors www.nibi.com The National Institute of Building Inspectors® (NIBI®) has provided educational and training programs for the home inspection industry and related professions since 1987. NIBI evolved from training programs developed for the HouseMaster® franchise system, and is recognized as one of the oldest and most experienced home inspection training institutes. While continuing its affiliation with HouseMaster, NIBI offers training for the entire home inspection profession and has developed an enviable reputation for raising inspection standards and increasing awareness of the need for formal home inspection training. Professional Inspection Training Institute www.homeinspectiontraining.net/docs/conted.asp The Professional Inspection Training Institute offers the following 2 day, 1-day and 1/2 day continuing education courses in the inspection field: EIFS & Stucco Inspections, Electrical Inspections, Foundation & Structural Defects, Mold, Mildew & Moisture Intrusion, Radon Testing & Protocols, Sales & Marketing Seminar, Heat Pump Inspections, Carbon Monoxide & Improper Venting Back to Main Menu Small Business Aids All Business - Champions of Small Business www.allbusiness.com American Home Inspectors Training Institute Start-Up Packages www.ahit.com/products/packages/startup_pkgs.htm Better Business Bureau www.bbb.org Business.gov www.business.gov Business Owners' Idea Cafe www.businessownersideacafe.com Entrepreneur.com Solutions for Growing Businesses www.entrepreneur.com IRS Small Business/Self-Employed www.creditreport.org/get-the-most-out-of-the-irs/ More Business.com www.morebusiness.com National Association of Certified Home Inspectors - Business Success Tips www.nachi.org/success_tips.htm SCORE Counselors to America's Small Business www.score.org Small Business Administration www.sba.gov FRANCHISES AmeriSpec www.amerispecfranchise.com If you're looking to start your own home inspection franchise, you've come to the right place! AmeriSpec offers the best home inspection franchise opportunities available in North America. With over 350 independently owned and operated businesses that conduct over 150,000 inspections annually, AmeriSpec's 17 years of experience provide us with the know-how to offer the best training, support, and tools to get your franchise off the ground fast. A Pro Home Inspection www.a-pro.net/business.html With an annual potential of over 6 million transactions (translated into an estimated $1.8 billion in home inspection fees) the home inspection business is booming. In fact, Money Magazine has rated our industry as one of the "Top Ten Highest Income Home Businesses, and Entrepreneur Magazine calls home inspection "one of the best opportunities…" And now, you can turn that boom into a successful career! Joining the A-Pro® Home Inspection team can literally change your life. You’ll enjoy greater independence, as well as the personal and financial rewards of owning and operating your own home inspection business. National Property Inspections, Inc. www.npiweb.com/subpages/buildYourFuture.html Looking for the blueprints to build a successful home inspection business? Then National Property Inspections is the right opportunity for you. Go ahead--compare us to the competition. In fact, we want you to. Because we're confident that when you measure our franchise business package, including start-up costs, tools, home inspection training, and support, you'll agree that NPI is the right home inspection franchise to help you build your future. Pillar to Post www.pillartopost.com/franchise/index.cfm if you are looking for a business opportunity with an industry leader in a growing field, Pillar To Post® is the answer. You do not have to be an engineer or building contractor to succeed. What you really need is an ability and willingness to work with people. The most successful home inspectors are those who are able to develop strong trust with the real estate professionals who will refer clients to them, as well as with home buyers and sellers. That's why we focus on technical skills and marketing in our initial two-week training program and in our ongoing training and upgrading efforts. World Inspection Network www.winfranchise.com Join World Inspection Network (WIN) as we build a World-Class Brand in the billion-dollar home inspection industry. When you become a home inspector as a WIN franchise owner, the freedom, flexibility and financial rewards of running your own business can be yours. The home inspection industry continues to demonstrate strong growth and has already proven to be an integral part of the real estate transaction process. Over the past decade there has been a steady increase in the overall volume of home sales and the percentage of homes inspected, confirming that the home inspection business is a high demand service in a solid industry. As a WIN home inspector, you will share information with home buyers and sellers by giving them the knowledge and confidence they need to make an informed decision on one of life's biggest investments.

Unmarried Couples Your Property Rights

Moving in Together or Splitting Up

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Unmarried Couples
Your Property Rights: Moving in Together or Splitting Up

Recent nationwide surveys show many couples are deciding to live together before marriage or live together with no intention of marrying at all. For these couples, buying a home is not necessarily more difficult but it does come with additional challenges and items to consider before signing the dotted line.

Unmarried couples will find they have the common options of Tenants in Common or Joint Tenancy contracts when they purchase property. In some states one of these options will be considered automatically for them so they should be aware of what type of contract they are signing in advance.

Tenants in Common:

  • Contract between two or more people to own property together. There is no limit to the number of owners. This type of ownership is common for unmarried couples, groups investing in larger property and those interested in buying property in expensive markets they could not otherwise afford on their own.
  • Tenants in Common can sell their share of the home at any time. If no additional contract is made, they may do this without forewarning other owners.
  • Shares of the Tenants in Common does not need to be equal. Percentages can be assign based off contribution amounts. Sally A. may own 50%, Tony B. 25% and Mary C. 25%.
  • To terminate a Tenants in Common contract one owner may buy out the other(s) or all parties can agree to sell the property and split the profits according to percentage(s) owned.
  • If one owner passes away, then it is whomever they specified in their last will and testament who inherits that share.

Joint Tenancy:

  • Most of the above conditions also apply to joint tenancy. However, a joint tenancy offers a right of survivorship. If one of the owners passes away, the other(s) automatically get ownership without the necessity of a last will and testament.

It is important to realize the above contracts cover the basic property rights for a mortgaged/purchased home or property. The above do not protect individual property (i.e. furniture), discrepancies in contributions to home improvements, or other expenses of owning a home. Therefore, it is imperative that unmarried couples write up a contract that address these issues. Almost like a pre-nuptial agreement (and often perceived as unromantic as one) a contract of terms will protect both parties in case paths do part.

Items to consider in a contractual agreement:

  • If you have a Tenants in Common agreement, make certain all parties do have a last will and testament to clear any possible confusion of ownership in case of death.
  • Include terms for terminating the joint ownership. -Specify if the other party should be given a required number of days notice of the sale and an option to buyout before one of the owners sells their half. -Set limits on the amount of the time allotted for the buyout. A fair time should be offered with a consideration of time constraints created by working through the banking process. -If the property will be sold, make sure to include the percentages of the property owned so each party gets their share.
  • Detail how expenses will be kept on equal terms. Will the mortgage be split? Will one pay the mortgage and the other all the household utilities and joint bills? Again, if the contribution is not equal the difference should be recorded.
  • It may be too cumbersome and unrealistic to include personal property items such as furniture in this contract. Instead you may want to make a separate record. List items that each individual brings into the household. If furniture is later purchased together, many unmarried couples will find it beneficial to keep track of contributions. Because their separation will not be treated as a divorce, disputes over items like these will be harder to resolve without some record.
  • Do not include chore items such as who does the dishes. This can make your contract frivolous and tossed out in a court of law. However, some counselors do suggest making chore lists for all couples (married or not) to help cope with the pressures and expectations of our fast passed lives and homes.

If the unthinkable does happen and you do separate, make sure to give yourself time to cope and process. Even without a marriage it is a major life change. With or without contracts it is important to work together until you can sell or buyout the house if at all possible.

Some coping strategies:

  • Accept and expect mood swings
  • Don't expect to be able to concentrate and work at 100% for a while
  • Don't expect to understand why you separated right away - this takes time and reflection
  • Don't become a hermit - instead use this as a launching pad to rediscover your interests and hobbies
  • Prioritize your needs

Kitchen Remodel

Hints and Tips

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Remodeling your kitchen is a major event. You may be without the room entirely for most of the remodel process. There will be many different contractors and specialists coming in and out of your home. And changes in timelines may happen due to product availability or other unforeseen circumstances. All said, it is a major project that takes careful planning and attention to detail for a satisfactory outcome. Take your time to plan carefully and enlist professional help if you hit a brick wall and don't know how to make certain items or features work. We have given you the short list of some things you will need to consider before and during a kitchen remodel.

The Kitchen Remodel List

Sink with money going down drain

The Dreaming Stage: Evaluate your needs. What do you want to change about the existing layout, appliances, utility, storage, lighting, flooring, ascetics, etc. Consider how you use your kitchen - where do you prepare meals, cook meals and clean up. How can these used spaces be improved. What will make your ideal kitchen in the space you have available? Do you want to go as far as to restructure walls? Review the three basic layouts for kitchens: U-Shaped, L-Shaped and Galley. Which of these works with your kitchen use? You may also consider the "work triangle" which places the refrigerator, sink and stove in an easily accessible triangle to help optimize your kitchen tasks. Of course with the inclusion of other useful appliances and innovative cabinetry/counter space, you may think outside the triangle. Picture your ideal kitchen and write down the elements it includes.

The Reality Stage: Figure out your budget. How much can you afford to spend/finance to make your dream kitchen happen. Do this before any purchases are made or contracts signed. Knowing your budget limitations is a must so you don't get in over your head!

Your Timeline: Consider how much time you can be without a kitchen. You may want to plan ahead and have the remodel done when the kids are at college or you are certain not to have house guests, etc. Because of the scope of the remodel, knowing a timeline is essential to preventing some of the headaches involved with not having access to part of your home for weeks or even a month or two!

The Design: Now that you have your ideas, budget and timeline, you can contact an interior designer (some are now specialized as kitchen designers) to begin hacking out the reality. Now is when you determine which of these formats will best fit your ideal use of the space. The designer can help you determine how to make all your ideas work with the products available to you at your budget.

The Material Breakdown - There are many different types of materials for you cabinets, countertops, floors, etc.

  • Types of Cabinets: Cabinets either come with a framed or frameless design. You can get 'Flat Pack' or the do-it-yourself assembly-required variety, 'Stock' which are limited in size but are fully assembled, 'Built-to-Order' which are made at the factory and shipped and finally 'Custom' that usually include some factory pre-build and more fine tuning on installation. The cabinets can be stained, painted, laminated, and sometimes even made of material other than wood like metal. There are plenty of options to get carried away with. Review the options for the drawers, slide outs and other extras for the interior of you cabinets as well. Determine your style and use of your cabinets and you will still be overwhelmed by the choices!
  • Types of Countertops: Countertops can be natural stone such as granite or marble, sealed surfaces such as laminate or ceramic tiling, or manufactured surface material such as Corian. Laminate and ceramic tiles may offer a project for the do-it-yourselfer, but any of the other products will have to made to order and usually need professional installation to keep the warranty valid.
  • Types of Flooring: Just like any other room in your home, flooring options are endless. However this would not be a room for carpeting! Installing hardwood floors, Pergo flooring, vinyl, or tiles can be a do-it-yourself project or another one you hire out.

The Appliance Breakdown - The choices for appliances are abundant. When designing your new kitchen you will want to consider the size and layout of these major items. The layout of everything else in the room will be effected by the appliances you choose. You may decide to include appliances built into the cabinetry or countertop or keep them freestanding. Overall, you are considering your refrigerator, freezer, dish washer, microwave, stove top and oven.

The Kitchen Sink - The kitchen sink stands alone as a major item to consider. You may have a double sink, typical for hand washing dishes. You may have more than one sink including one on a workspace island or countertop. You may get a deep sink, shallow sink or a combination of both.

Permits: It is very likely a major kitchen remodel will need permits from your city or county government. Research these to get a good idea of what permits you will need. Your interior designer may be able to help with this. More likely, the contractor(s) that you work with will either do the permits themselves or be able to help you determine what permits you may need. Steer clear of a contractor who tells you that you can "get by" without getting a permit; it may sound like they are saving you money but in the long run they could cost you much more!

Hiring your Contractor(s): With a major kitchen remodel you may be using several different professionals. You may start with a general contractor, however, they may hire or you may need to hire specialists such as plumbers, electricians or tilers. Talk to several contractors and get estimates and references from each. Call the references and make sure to ask questions about estimate variations - some may substitute materials to cut costs. Discuss the timeline in detail with the contractor you choose.

Determine how they will work with any sub-contractors. For example, when does the electrician and plumber need to come in or when will you be ready for the tiler? What time of day will they begin work and what days of the week? What will the contractor do if there is a delay due to materials or labor? For even more information about hiring and making a contract with a contractor, please see our previous article How to Hire a Contractor: Working as a Team on Your Next Home Project.

Demolition: Once you have removed all the dishes and other small items, the big demolition will begin. Even if you are just replacing a small section or part, there may be demolition involved. Usually appliances are removed first, then sinks, then fixtures, then countertops, then cabinets and finally flooring.

The Remodel: After everything is taken out the first couple items that will be done will be any reframing, plumbing changes and electrical wiring. Any plumbing and electrical work will need to be inspected before they can be sealed back up. You may only have portions of wall removed for this type of work. Once the inspection is done and the walls are in place, the cabinets will usually be the first item installed. After the cabinets are in place, your new countertops will be installed. After the countertop and any backsplash is done, the flooring will be installed. The final items to be done will be all the finishing work such as installing light switches and fixtures, installing the sink and faucet, and finally, installing the appliances from the garbage disposal to the refrigerator. Keep in mind, if any of the appliances are built-in, they may be installed earlier. Extra care should be taken to make sure they are not damaged while other work continues!

If Things Go Wrong: Stay calm! Delays may happen. The worst case scenario is if there are any miscommunications between you and any of the professionals working on your home. This can be anything from timing to cost. Make sure to get all details in writing before any work begins!

  • You should have a section in your contract that states what is expected if there is a delay due to material delays, staffing delays, etc.
  • Stay involved in the process and don't be shy - get progress reports daily!
  • If a problem does arise, contact the contractor immediately, a good contractor will respond quickly and appreciate you speaking with them directly. If there is any question about the quality of work, you may consider having an inspection done early to ensure everything is on track.
  • Never pay for the job fully in advance. Many contracts work out a payment plan that will include paying a certain portion as various stages of the project are completed.
  • If there are disputes, make sure to write your concerns down and keep records that you have communicated all of these concerns with the contractor.
  • You will save yourself from a headache if you make sure to: Get it in writing, get the work described in detail and leave no questions unanswered.
  • Again see our article How to Hire a Contractor: Working as a Team on Your Next Home Project for more details about hiring contractors and sample contracts.

Finally - It's Done!: With a major remodel there may be another building inspection of the site on completion. Once that is done you are ready to clean up and move back in! Enjoy your new kitchen. Take pictures and keep a record of all your new appliance, cabinet and other big item warranties.

Conclusion

One of the most major remodels of the home is the kitchen. Take time to plan it out carefully, store a lot of patience, and get ready for one of the most intense but rewarding remodels to your home! It can be done, there are many people out there to help you get it all organized. We hope you find the above short list of things to consider for a kitchen remodel helpful. To the right of the article are some additional sites that will help get your creative ideas going. Enjoy! 

Other Useful Sites

Do It Yourself.com
ww.doityourself.com/scat/kitchenc
tchen remodeling will increase the design, function and resale value of a home. This section provides information about building kitchen cabinets, re-facing kitchen cabinets, selecting a kitchen cabinet style, selecting a kitchen countertop style, and planning a kitchen design that will look great and maximize the amount of available storage space.

HGTV
http://design.hgtv.com/kitchen/
HGTV KitchenDesign is your ultimate online destination for all things related to kitchens: design and decor, renovation and remodeling, appliances and products. Utilizing original video content as well as the rich television libraries of HGTV, Food Network, DIY and Fine Living, we show you everything you'll ever want to know about your kitchen.

Improve.net
www.improvenet.com
Welcome to ImproveNet's Kitchen Remodeling Center. In these and supporting pages, you'll find information and ideas for kitchen remodeling, from kitchen cabinets to kitchen countertops and everything in-between. Our goal is to inform you, give you kitchen remodeling ideas and direction and show you some examples of kitchen designs to get you started. For their kitchen cost estimator click here.

Kitchen Remodel Ideas
ww.kitchenremodelideas.com
itchenRemodelideas.com is a guide to new products for your kitchen.

Kitchens.com
ww.kitchens.com
Kitchens.com is the Web’s most comprehensive consumer resource on kitchen design. We invite you to: Be inspired by our Featured Kitchens and Photo Gallery. Learn the basics of Design and Products & Materials. Check out the latest New Product News and Trends. Follow the Kitchen Diaries for the homeowner perspective of the remodeling experience. Get started on your own kitchen project at Budget & Planning or our Professional Locator

National Kitchen & Bath Association
www.nkba.org
National Kitchen & Bath Association has created the NKBA Kitchen & Bath Workbook. This workbook will take you through every stage of creating that perfect space, whether it's new construction or a remodeling project. From selecting a designer, to collecting ideas and establishing a budget, this workbook will help turn your dreams into a reality.

Renovation Experts
www.renovationexperts.com/green-kitchen.asp
Whatever the reasons and goals are, there are more options available today for Greening your kitchen. Green kitchen design can be eco-friendly with out losing luxury and style.

This Old House
ww.thisoldhouse.com/toh/knowhow/kitchens/pk
Kitchen Know How - Cabinetry, Countertops, Kitchen Sinks, Backsplash, Appliances, Wet Bars, Design and Outdoor Kitchens.

Winter Safety Tips

Whether celebrating a holiday or snuggling next to the fire.

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Winter brings many different holidays and celebrations. During these various festivities we host dinners or gatherings and may have many house guests. And so up go the decorations! Decorating your home can be fun. However, many times we are putting up items we may not be familiar with and have lost their various 'How to' booklets years ago. We are cramming our space with such fun, festive items that we may not think much about how to display these items safely. If you have children, pets, house guests, or crazy, exuberant relatives around the house this winter holiday season, you may want to consider some general safety tips. Even if you aren't hosting an event but will be using winter items, such as a fireplace, this article will have a few helpful tips for you. We know you are busy, and the last thing anyone wants to do when planning a party is to think about all the details! Thus, here is simple, quick safety checklist for your winter fun!

Below is our checklist of things to watch for during winter activities and holidays. The winter season is a time that safety should be considered. Just look at these facts and figures from the National Fire Protection Association: In 2002, there were 240 Christmas tree fires in U.S. homes, resulting in $11.4 million in direct property damage. During 2001, an estimated 18,000 home fires started by candles were reported to public fire departments. Fourteen percent of the candle fires occurred in December. This is almost twice the 8% monthly average. During 1999-2001, candles caused an estimated annual average of 16,300 home structure fires. These fires resulted in 140 civilian injuries and $289 million in direct property damage. In 11% of the December candle fires, the fires began when a decoration caught fire. This was true in only 3% of the fires during the rest of the year (Source: NFPA's One-Stop Data Shop). Please take a moment to review some safety tips. Then enjoy a safe holiday and winter!

SNOW!

  • If you must be outside, wear plenty of layers of clothing. Don't over-exert yourself. Make sure you wear a hat, because the largest amount of body heat is lost through the top of the head.
  • Sunscreen: the sun's rays can still cause sunburn in the winter, especially when they reflect off snow!
  • If weather warnings suggest a severe wind chill or extremely low temperatures, consider avoiding outdoor activities until the weather improves.
  • Ensure that each member of your household has a warm coat, gloves or mittens, hat, and water-resistant boots.
  • The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.
  • Be aware of symptoms and treatment for hypothermia, snow blindness and frostbite.
    Hypothermia: Complaints about being cold and irritability. Uncontrollable shivering. Impaired or slurred speech or vision. Clumsy movements. Blurred vision. Severe symptoms can include stiff muscles, dark and puffy skin, irregular heart and breathing rates and unconsciousness.
    Snow Blindness: Eyes become sensitive to light. Pain in eyes or forehead. Gritty feeling in the eyes. Frostbite: Superficial frostbite that looks like gray or yellowish patches on the skin, especially, fingers, toes, face, ears but can occur on any exposed skin. The first symptoms are usually numbness or itching and prickly pain. The skin remains soft but becomes red and flaky after it thaws. Deep or Severe Frostbite looks like waxy and pale skin and feels cold, hard and solid to the touch. The areas turn blue or purple when thawing and large blisters may appear when the area warms up.
  • Shoveling Snow: If you have a history of heart trouble, check with your doctor before grabbing that snow shovel and clearing the driveway or sidewalk. Don't shovel snow just after you eat. Don't smoke while shoveling. Pace yourself. Snow shoveling is a strenuous exercise that raises both your pulse and blood pressure. Treat shoveling like an athletic event: warm up before you start, and stretch during and after shoveling. Concentrate on using your legs instead of your back. Bend your legs and keep your back straight. Take breaks. And don't work until you are exhausted. If your chest feels tight, stop immediately.
  • Teach children never to touch metal during cold temperatures.
  • Children should never play on snow piles near parking lots or on the road side. Make sure children never go near snow plows or areas being plowed.
  • Sledding: Keep sledders away from motor vehicles. Children should be supervised. Keep young children separated from older children. Sledding feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first, may prevent head injuries. Use steerable sleds, not snow disks or inner tubes. Sleds should be structurally sound and free of sharp edges and splinters, and the steering mechanism should be well lubricated. Sled slopes should be free of obstructions like fire hydrants or fences, be covered in snow not ice, not be too steep (slope of less than 30º), and end with a flat runoff. Avoid sledding in overcrowded areas.
  • Skiing/Snowboarding: Never ski or snowboard alone. Young children should always be supervised by an adult. Older children's need for adult supervision depends on their maturity and skill. If they are not with an adult, than they should at least be accompanied with a friend. Consider wearing a helmet. Equipment should fit. Skiers should wear safety bindings that are adjusted at least every year. Snowboarders should wear gloves with built-in wrist guards. Slopes should fit the ability and experience of the skier or snowboarder. Avoid overcrowded slopes.
  • A winter storm WATCH means a winter storm is possible in your area. A winter storm WARNING means a winter storm is headed for your area. A blizzard WARNING means strong winds, blinding wind-driven snow, and dangerous wind chill are expected. Seek shelter immediately!

Travel

  • When leaving for a long time: Make certain to get your mail held by the post office. Also get your paper stopped. Have a neighbor or family stop by and check your house once a day. Set timers on lights, indoor and outdoors. Make sure your outdoor sensor lights are in working order.
  • If you have a security system make sure it is fully armed. Let anyone checking on your house know how to unarm and reset it if they will be entering your home. Check all windows to make certain they are locked. If traveling out of state, make certain to review weather reports and construction reports before starting your trip.
  • Keep windows up and doors locked at all times.
  • Keep a half a tank of fuel; this will prepare you in case you run into long holiday traffic or weather delays.
  • Put together a winter-driving kit, including a pair of gloves, a warm hat, and a blanket.
  • If a blizzard traps you in your car: Pull off the road, set hazard lights to flashing, and hang a distress flag from the radio aerial or window. Remain in your vehicle; rescuers are most likely to find you there. Conserve fuel, but run the engine and heater about ten minutes each hour to keep warm, cracking a downwind window slightly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Exercise to maintain body heat but don't overexert. Huddle with other passengers and use your coat for a blanket. In extreme cold use road maps, seat covers, floor mats, newspapers or extra clothing for covering--anything to provide additional insulation and warmth. Turn on the inside dome light so rescue teams can see you at night, but be careful not to run the battery down. In remote areas, spread a large cloth over the snow to attract the attention of rescue planes. Do not set out on foot unless you see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Once the blizzard is over, you may need to leave the car and proceed on foot. Follow the road if possible. If you need to walk across open country, use distant points as landmarks to help maintain your sense of direction. (Tips provided by FEMA)

Guests

  • If visiting another home, keep in mind they may not have children and therefore may not have everything out of reach that should be. Always keep a close eye on children when visiting someone else's home. Even if it is a familiar home, their holiday decorations may have changed the landscape enough that it will be a whole new environment with potential hazards for children.
  • If leaving children with a babysitter make sure they are prepared with all the needed numbers and contacts. Make sure sitters are aware of any holiday/special rules for the house; i.e. no running around the Christmas Tree.
  • If guests will be smoking, provide them with large, deep ashtrays and check them frequently. Keep out of reach for children and pets.
  • When attending a party, always designate a non-drinking driver.
  • If you are the host of a holiday gathering, be sure there are non-alcoholic beverages available for guests who are driving. Stop serving alcohol well before the party is over. Bring out coffee, more alcohol-free drinks and more food.

Gifts

  • Choose toys appropriate for age, ability and skill for children. Children under the age of 10 should only get electrical toys that use batteries rather than ones that plug into the wall.
  • Read instructions for children's toys carefully before letting them run off and play.
  • Government guidelines specify that toys for children under three years of age cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
  • Remove strings and ribbons from toys before given to young children.
  • fter gifts are opened make sure wrapping paper is cleaned up as some bags may prove to be suffocating/chocking hazards.
  • Make sure wrapping paper doesn't get too close to the fireplace.

Food Safety

  • Thoroughly cook all meat products.
  • Thaw meat in the refrigerator - not on the counter.
  • Thoroughly wash all raw vegetables and fruits.
  • Keep raw and cooked foods separate. Make sure to use different utensils when preparing them.
  • Wash your hands frequently. If working with "little chefs" making holiday treats, make sure they wash their hands often as well.
  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on kitchen projects.
    If you are faced with a grease fire, remember, put a lid on it, and turn the heat source off!
  • Foods that require refrigeration should never be left out more than two hours.
  • Do not add new food to a serving dish that h0as been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Dry foods such as nuts, crackers, baked goods, breads, hard cheeses and candy don't support bacterial growth. Fruits, pickles, jams and jellies are too acidic for most bacteria.
  • Clean up early after a party. Plates left out and around may have bad food that can make children sick or can become a chocking hazard.
  • If you choose to make eggnog with whole eggs, heat the egg-milk mixture to at least 160°F. Refrigerate at once, dividing large amounts into shallow containers so that it cools quickly.
  • Use ciders labeled as pasteurized, or bring unpasteurized cider to a boil before serving. This is especially important when serving cider to people with weakened immune systems.
  • Use leftover turkey meat, bones, stuffing, gravy and other cooked dishes within two to three days.

Fireplace Safety

  • Fireplaces should be cleaned annually, preferably by a professional chimney sweep.
  • Keep fireplace screens/doors closed when fire is lit.
  • Make sure to open the flue before lighting a fire :)
  • Make sure no decorations are near the fireplace before lilting.
  • Use only wood that is properly seasoned to reduce creosote build-up.
  • Wrapping paper burns fast and intense. Do NOT use wrapping paper in the fireplace.
  • Keep any fire starts out of the reach of children. These are often very dangerous if ingested.
  • When burning artificial logs, burn only one at a time. They produce too much concentrated heat for some types of fireplaces.
  • Don't use water to extinguish a fire. It can crack the bricks in your hearth. Let the fire burn itself out.
  • If using portable/space heaters, keep them at least three feet from anything that can burn.

Decorations

• Decorations 

  • Avoid sharp decorations where small children and pets may reach them.
  • Do not get decorations that look like food or candy when small children are present.
  • Get down on your hands and knees and examine your decorations before your pets do.
  • If there is just too much mischief for them to get into make certain you can make the room off-limits. If using spun glass (angel hair) make sure to follow directions fully. Make certain it is out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Keep holiday plants such as mistletoe, holly berries, and Christmas cactus away from children and pets. Poinsettias can make pets very sick.
  • These materials should never be used for holiday decorations because they are inherently combustible: bamboo, cedar trees/branches, corn stalks/shucks, cotton or confetti (loose, in large quantities), dry moss/leaves, flammable powders/liquids, hay/straw (loose or baled), paper streamers (serpentine), plastic sheeting/pellets, sawdust, tumbleweeds, and wood bark/shavings.

• Candles

  • Do not use candles on Christmas trees or evergreen trimmings.
  • Use non-flamable holders and make sure they are placed where they cannot be knocked over easily.
  • Do not keep candles lit in rooms that is not occupied/supervised.
  • Check your candles as they burn. Some will burn unevenly and may finish sooner than you expected or break open drip streams of hot wax.
  • Do not leave children unattended around candles and matches/lighters.

• Lights

  • Turn off all lights before going to bed or leaving the home. It is an even better idea to turn lights off when they are in a room that is unattended.
  • Whether new or old, always check your lights before hanging them anywhere. Check that bulbs are all working well and not cracked. Also looked for any damage to wires or socket connections.
  • urn off lights before replacing bulbs or fuses.
  • Do not put indoor lights under carpets or behind curtains. Make sure they are away from foot traffic and are not stepped on.
  • Keep cords and lights away from small children and pets.
  • Make sure to only use lights certified for outdoor use outside! If using lights from last year, make a habit of storing outdoor items together so if the labels are lost you still know which is which.
  • String lights through hooks or insulated staples. Do not use nails and tacks.
  • Outdoor lights should be plugged into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFI) to avoid shocks.
  • Where lights are connected together outdoors, keep the connections dry by wrapping them with friction tape or plastic.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets. Look for manufacturer's recommendation. General rule is no more than 3 strings of lights for each extension cord.
  • Do NOT use electric lights on a metallic tree.
  • When removing lights, never tug! Remove them as gently as they were strung up!

• Trees & Evergreen Trimmings

  • If purchasing a live Christmas Tree, check to see that the tree is fresh. The tree should be green, the needles should not break off easily, you should have to pull the needles to remove them. When you tap the tree against the ground it shouldn't be shedding needles. Also, there will be resin visible on a fresh tree bottom.
  • When you bring your tree home cut the bottom so that fresh wood is exposed. This will allow for better water absorption and keep the tree from drying too quickly. Also make certain to keep the tree stand basin filled with water; something that can be easy to forgot since it is not part of your normal routine!
  • Choose a sturdy tree stand designed not to tip over.
  • If purchasing an artificial tree look for one labeled "Fire Resistant." Note the resistant, artificial does not mean fire proof! Place your tree away from heat sources such as fireplace or space heaters.
  • Don't place your tree in high traffic space. You don't want someone to trip and topple over the tree!
  • Trim your tree with non-flamable decorations, such as tinsel or plastic ornaments. However, watch tinsel as cats like it, but it is not at all good for them! Be very careful if your pets have access to the tree that decorations are not tempting to them.
  • Keep green trimmings away from heat sources. They are great for railings or doorways, but not good for table center pieces if there are candles there as well!
  • Tree and trimmings should be removed as soon as able once the holiday season is over. You don't want a pile of dry evergreen sitting in a corner waiting to ignite!

Some Myths and Realities about Real Estate Appraisals and Appraisers

Assessed value should equate to market value.

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Myth: Assessed value should equate to market value.
Reality: While most states support the concept that assessed value approximate estimated market value, this often is not the case. Examples include when interior remodeling has occurred and the assessor is unaware of the improvements, or when properties in the vicinity have not been reassessed for an extended period.

Myth: The appraised value of a property will vary, depending upon whether the appraisal is conducted for the buyer or the seller.
Reality: The appraiser has no vested interest in the outcome of the appraisal and should render services with independence, objectivity and impartiality - no matter for whom the appraisal is conducted.

Myth: Market value should approximate replacement cost.
Reality: Market value is based on what a willing buyer likely would pay a willing seller for a particular property, with neither being under pressure to buy or sell. Replacement cost is the dollar amount required to reconstruct a property in-kind.

Myth: Appraisers use a formula, such as a specific price per square foot, to figure out the value of a home.
Reality: Appraisers make a detailed analysis of all factors pertaining to the value of a home including its location, condition, size, proximity to facilities and recent sale prices of comparable properties.

Myth: In a robust economy - when the sales prices of homes in a given area are reported to be rising by a particular percentage - the value of individual properties in the area can be expected to appreciate by that same percentage.
Reality: Value appreciation of a specific property must be determined on an individualized basis, factoring in data on comparable properties and other relevant considerations. This is true in good times as well as bad.

Myth: You generally can tell what a property is worth simply by looking at the outside.
Reality: Property value is determined by a number of factors, including location, condition, improvements, amenities, and market trends.

Myth: Because consumers pay for appraisals when applying for loans to purchase or refinance real estate, they own their appraisal.
Reality: The appraisal is, in fact, legally owned by the lender - unless the lender "releases its interest" in the document. However, consumers must be given a copy of the appraisal report, upon written request, under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

Myth: Consumers need not be concerned with what is in the appraisal document so long as it satisfies the needs of their lending institution.
Reality: Only if consumers read a copy of their appraisal can they double-check its accuracy and question the result. Also, it makes a valuable record for future reference, containing useful and often-revealing information - including the legal and physical description of the property, square footage measurements, list of comparable properties in the neighborhood, neighborhood description and a narrative of current real-estate activity and/or market trends in the vicinity.

Myth: Appraisers are hired only to estimate real estate property values in property sales involving mortgage-lending transactions.
Reality: Depending upon their qualifications and designations, appraisers can and do provide a variety of services, including advice for estate planning, dispute resolution, zoning and tax assessment review and cost/benefit analysis.

Myth: An Appraisal is the same as a home inspection.
Reality: An Appraisal does not serve the same purpose as an inspection. The Appraiser forms an opinion of value in the Appraisal process and resulting report. A home inspector determines the condition of the home and its major components and reports these findings.

J. Myers & Associates Inc. 5098 28th Avenue South West Naples, FL 34116 Phone: 239-793-3430 Fax: 239-793-3430 E-mail: JasonMyers@embarqmail.com E-mail: JasonMyers@embarqmail.com

New Home Warranty

Make sure you fully understand terms and conditions.

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Q. About six months ago we bought a new home and the builder provided a one year home warranty. Recently we discovered a defect, but when we contacted the builder, he said that because we did not discover the defect during the final walk-through that it would not be covered under the warranty. Is this common practice?

A. No, this is definitely not common practice. Most builders will repair defects that are found at any time during the warranty period, provided that they are covered by the terms of the warranty, and are obviously the fault of the builder. Read your warranty contract carefully to see if you are indeed bound by the condition your builder is citing. He may be counting on the fact that you have not thoroughly read the contract. In any event, you may want to seek the advice of an attorney. When inspecting a new home, I always advise my clients to discuss the terms of the home warranty with the builder before closing, and to make sure that they fully understand those terms and conditions.