Getting your property ready to sell

Are you getting ready to put your house on the market? Here are some things that you can do and check prior to listing your house to make sure when you get an offer accepted, things go smoothly during the home inspection process and that there are no huge red flags that could potentially cause a buyer to want to back out of a deal. Some of these items can be done or checked yourself and some you may want to make sure and have a professional contractor evaluate or verify. 

1- The condition of the roof is important. Most lenders will require the roofs to meet a minimum of 3-5 yrs serviceable life and all moss removed. Have roof flashings checked and repaired as needed and clean your gutters 

2-Check your exterior siding and trim for dry rot damage, caulking and painting deficiencies. Repair grading issues (make sure there is no earth to wood contact). Trim all vegetation off of the house and roof. Having a clean, well maintained exterior can really help show the potential buyers that the house has been well taken care of and ready for them to move in. 

3-If you have a deck, make sure the deck is in good condition, framed, flashed and attached to the structure properly. Decks can be expensive to repair and a structural concern if not framed properly. This you may want to have checked and repaired as needed by a professional.   A new buyer may not want to have the liability of deck repairs when purchasing. 

4-Service all your HVAC equipment. Have your furnace and AC units cleaned, serviced, filters replaced and in good working condition prior to purchase.  Make sure and have this done by a licensed HVAC contractor and keep the paperwork to give to the next buyer. Regularly maintaining your HVAC equipment can help extend the life expectancy of these appliances. If your appliances are older but in good working condition, consider providing a home warranty to give the new buyer peace of mind. 

5- Check your plumbing. Look under all your sinks for signs of leaking. Make any repairs as needed. Water and leaks can cause severe damage, so it is a good idea to frequently evaluate areas where any water is present. 

6-Make sure there are no glaring visible safety electrical concerns (wires hanging, open junction boxes, bare wiring exposed, etc). Add GFCI protection to all areas where needed (exterior, garage, kitchen, bathroom outlets). Add smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to meet state guidelines. Depending on the age of construction will determine on what is required and how they are to be installed. Remember if smoke detectors are hard wired, they are required to be replaced with hard wired units. Don't mount battery only units over house wiring. Carbon monoxide detectors required on any floor with sleeping quarters and no farther than 15' from bedrooms. Some houses may require multiple detectors. All wiring repairs should be done by a licensed and bonded electrician. 

7-Check your attic for signs of leaking and moisture damage. Make sure all bathroom fans are connected and route to the exterior of the structure. Areas where insulation is missing should have more added so there is a consistent insulation depth. 

8-Check out your crawlspace under your house. Walk around the exterior and make sure all your screens on your foundation vents are in place and are keeping all unwanted critters from doing damage under your house.  If there has been animal activity, make sure and remove animals and make any necessary repairs (any damaged heat ducts? Insulation torn down throughout? Fecal matter on plastic may need replaced). A home inspector is not required to enter an area that is unsafe, so make sure and have the crawlspace cleaned up if an animal has been frequenting this area. Otherwise you run the risk of an inspector showing up, seeing there is a problem, requiring repairs to be done prior to him re-entering crawlspace and then having to make time to come back to evaluate the conditions once the crawlspace is safe and in a condition where it can be properly observed. Time can be of the essence once you have a buyer, so you may run into issues in timelines when the crawlspace is in poor condition. Remove any wood or debris from crawlspace.  Make sure your vapor barrier (should be a min 6mil black plastic) is covering all the ground. You should check for plumbing leaks, check condition of heat ducts and check for any pest and dry rot damage. Look for standing water under the house. If there is standing water, you will want to have a drainage contractor rectify the issue. Stagnant, standing water can create an environment that is conducive to pests, dry rot, microbial growth, etc. 

9-Get a Home Energy Score if listing your house in Portland. This is now required for any house being listed in the city of Portland. We can provide this service to clients.  We also have information on our website about these scores that can be helpful in understanding the score and the process. 

Being proactive prior to listing a house can go a long way and can make the real estate transaction go smoothly. It can also help you get top dollar for your house. A clean, well maintained house with limited issues can demand more when pricing your house on the market and can attract buyers and give them a peace of mind that they are buying a solid house and not one that is going to require a lot of money to maintain.  

We do perform prelisting inspections as a service for people getting ready to sell their house.  We can go through the house and get a report put together detailing what concerns a potential buyer may have and what repairs would be beneficial prior to listing. You can book all of our services online at any time or you can always call, email or text 503-310-2612 with any questions or scheduling. 








Smoke Detector Safety

All smoke detectors are not created equal.  Please watch this short 6 min video that could save you and your loved one's lives! Knowing the difference is extremely important.


Most people would think  having a working smoke detector would be good enough. There are different types of detectors that are better at detecting different kinds of fires.  Here is a really good in depth article that goes into the differences and some of the fact finding on the different type of alarms. Please click here

 Key Points 

  • Most homes (approx 90%) have ionization smoke detectors. Ionization smoke detectors are primarily for detecting fast moving flame type fires and not smoldering type fires.
  • Cooking/Fast flame moving fires account for 43% of fires, 39% of injuries and only 16% of deaths. 
  • Smoldering type fires account for 23% of fires, 30% of injuries and 61% of deaths   
  • 2/3 of deadly fires occur between 8pm and 8am and are of the smoldering type.  
  • Photelectric alarms are more sensitive to smoldering fires and detected smoldering type fires on avg 30+ min faster than ionization detectors. Sometimes the ionization detector didn't go off at all. 
  • Replacing your detectors with photoelectric alarms doubles your chance of surviving a more deadly type of smoldering smoky fire.  
  • Do not replace existing alarms with dual combo type units, as sensitivity of alarms can be manually altered by manufacturer to pass the bare minimum testing regulations. 
  • If you do not know what type you have, replace your detectors with photoelectric units to be safe.  

Home inspectors do not typically note the type of detectors used in a house during an inspection. Determining types and operability of detectors does exceed any standards of practice currently in place by home inspectors.  





January is Radon Awareness Month.

A friendly public service announcement from a Seattle Seahawk.

Oregon Health has also updated their Radon Assessment Map. Check it out!!


Radon testing is very reasonable. $150 for a 48hr test. Contact us to schedule a test. Do not put it off another day. The only way to know if you have radon is to test.

New Radon Numbers Highlight Portland Area Health Risks By Scott Learn

New radon numbers highlight Portland-area health risks By Scott Learn, The Oregonian on January 23, 2013 Read Original Story Here.

New estimates of radon risks across Oregon underscore the need for homeowners to test for the presence of the odorless, invisible radioactive gas, researchers say. The update, released this week, suggests that one in every four houses in the Portland area accumulates radon above the level the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says should prompt fixes to keep the gas outdoors.

That's double the national average, said Scott Burns, a Portland State University geology professor who worked with five students to compile radon tests from homes and businesses statewide.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States after smoking, EPA estimates, and the leading cause among non-smokers.

It seeps from the ground through construction joints and cracks and gaps in foundations, accumulating in buildings. Risk in the Portland area is higher because granite-infused sediment, relatively high in uranium, washed into the region from the torrential Missoula Floods during the last ice age. Radon is a byproduct of uranium's breakdown.

Widely available short-term measurement devices cost roughly $35 with lab fees, and contractors say fixes generally range from $1,000 to $2,100.

"It's a geological hazard that can be dealt with cheaply," Burns said. "We need to reduce the amount of radiation in our lives, and this is one way of doing that."

Results and risks

The new results, the first update since 2003, drew on testing in 33,000 homes in the Portland area -- 10 times more than the last round. The data cover more ZIP codes, and indicate higher risks.

Long-term tests show ZIP codes with high or moderate average levels of radon at 79 percent, up from 65 percent at last count. PSU's data crunching includes a list of results by Zip code for the Portland area. Results confirm high levels in areas of Portland already known to be at most risk, including Alameda Ridge in Northeast Portland.

The expanded data also showed high levels in areas previously unreported, including sections of Banks, Boring, Clackamas, Gladstone, Lake Oswego, Newberg, Sandy, Sauvie Island, Sherwood and Wilsonville.

Statewide, high values include areas of Silverton, Astoria, Milton Freewater and Myrtle Creek.

Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year, EPA estimates, roughly 18,000 of them smokers whose risks are amplified by radon exposure. About 3,000 people who never smoked die annually from radon exposure.

EPA estimates 62 smokers out of 1,000 could get lung cancer from radon if exposed over a lifetime to 4 picocuries per liter of radon, EPA's recommended "action level."

Most would not die from radon exposure if they hadn't smoked, the agency says, and quitting smoking is by far the best way to reduce lung cancer risk.

Seven of a thousand non-smokers could get lung cancer at the same exposure level, the agency says, about the lifetime risk of dying in a car crash.

Mike Brennan, a radiation health physicist with the Washington State Department of Health, said national and international health groups agree that radon is a legitimate health risk.

"We don't want people to panic, but we want them to be informed," he said. "It's a health risk that is easy to reduce, by testing and mitigating if necessary."

Radon levels tend to be highest in winter, the best time for testing. Exposure is typically greatest in basements and other rooms below grade.

But two houses right next to each other can have sharply different results, Brennan said, even in "low risk" ZIP codes. That's why health officials recommend radon tests for all homes.

"The tests are not difficult," Brennan said, "and if you find out you don't have a problem, you've bought some very reasonably priced peace of mind."

If there is a problem? "My father had lung cancer," Brennan said. "Let me assure you that whatever you have to do to your house that decreases that chance is cheap."

"Really, really scary"

Kate Mytron decided to test for radon after her house-hunting friends reported seeing radon venting pipes outside many of the homes they were exploring.

Mytron, who lives in a 100-year-old house in Southeast Portland's Lents neighborhood, mailed in a short-term testing device. The results showed radon levels of 88 picocuries per liter in her basement, 22 times EPA's action level.

"I just looked at it and thought, 'I must be reading it wrong,'" said Mytron, an executive assistant at Freightliner. "It was really, really scary."

View full size Radon vent system on a home's exterior; suction fan is in the box. Box and pipes are paintable. EcoTech LLC Mytron's basement has a finished slab and an unfinished crawl space. EcoTech, her contractor, sealed the floor of the crawl space with a membrane and punched a small hole in the basement floor. Then workers ran plastic pipe from the hole and another sealed suction point beneath the crawl space to an inline exhaust fan mounted outside the house. From the fan, the pipe continues through the roof, where radon can dissipate into the air.

The venting system is designed to capture radon before it gets into the house. After Mytron's $1,500 of work, her radon reading dropped to 1 picocurie per liter.

EPA recommends doing a second short-term test if readings are 8 picocuries are higher. For readings below 8 picocuries, it recommends following up with a long-term test of 3 months or more.

If the tests average 4 picocuries or higher, you should fix your home, EPA says. Between 2 and 4 picocuries, you should consider repairs.

Don Francis, EcoTech's general manager, said his firm completes about 300 radon fixes a year, competing with nine other certified radon mitigation contractors serving the Portland area.

More home buyers are conducting tests as part of home inspections, Francis said, the largest source of the work. Sealing gaps helps some, but sealing plus venting is the surest fix.

Francis warned that Oregon doesn't regulate installation of radon vents. Most cities and counties require a mechanical permit, but some contractors skip it. Fans should be mounted outdoors, not indoors, he said.

The fan's suction will also draw heat from the home if the contractor doesn't seal the ground in the crawl space or holes in the basement floor, Francis said, lowering the installation bid but boosting utility bills.

-- Scott Learn; Twitter: @slearn1.