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Home Inspectors: The Most Common Issues with Jason Clark of Clark Home Inspects

By Jason Clark

The most common exterior issues I come across are caused by lack of normal annual maintenance. Peeling/chipped paint on exterior wood, decks with weather damaged boards or rails, fascia board with water damage caused by the gutters backing up because they haven't been cleaned out. Most people do not realize the importance of keeping exterior wood covered. Moisture may very well be a home's worst enemy and leaving wood exposed, even in small areas, over a period of time can really lead to some major damage.

As far as the interior it would be electrical issues. Loose outlets, outlets or switches missing cover plates, reverse polarity, or exposed wiring that needs to be inside an electrical junction box. Electricity scares a lot of people, as it should, and they are quick to have major electrical issues repaired but it's the small ones that we don't see, like wiring in attics or outlets wired wrong, that can really get someone hurt or cause property loss. I am also a firefighter and most of the house fires we run on can be traced back to a faulty electric source.

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

My company is based out of Muskogee but I'll travel. I spend a lot of time south and east of Muskogee. Tahlequah, Tenkiller and even as far as Muldrow. I am a licensed home inspector and certified mold inspector. At this time I am taking a course to become licensed to test for radon.

My brother was the first person to suggest I look into this profession. He works for a mortgage company out of California and sees a lot of inspection reports. I have been in construction since I was young. My Papa owned a general contracting company and I would work summers for him. My Dad has a concrete construction company and after I became a fireman I went to work pouring concrete with dad. In between working for Papa and Dad I worked a few years as an electrician's apprentice.

I guess my brother thought with my background in construction that this would be a fairly easy transition. And it was for the most part. The most difficult thing is keeping up with all the changes in systems and components. Manufacturers are always coming up with new and better and it's my job to keep up to date.

What are a few of your biggest concerns when it comes to safety within a house?

My biggest concerns with home safety stem from my background. First and foremost would be what I call fire dangers. Like I said earlier, electrical issues are very common and potentially harmful but there are a lot of other things that fall under this category. Rusted gas piping in a furnace or water heater closet, older homes with wood-burning fireplaces and faulty gas units to name a few.

Fireplaces are another component that people generally do not give much thought to. It's recommended to have a wood-burning fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned yearly and a lot of the ones I have inspected do not appear to have ever been cleaned.

My second biggest concern would have to be hidden issues such as mold. I inspect a home as if my wife and 4 year old daughter are going to live there. I find a lot of homes where conditions are perfect for mold but you just don't see it growing. And it's not usually older homes. Newer homes are probably more susceptible to mold because they are being built almost airtight.

What safety and inspection violations do you see most often in home inspections? (List is fine)

In no particular order: electrical wiring, lack of personal protection (GFCI outlets, smoke detectors, TRV extensions on water heaters) and faulty or improperly installed do-it-yourself jobs.

What steps can homeowners take to resolve this issues?

I know it sounds like I'm trying to drum up work but the best way to resolve these issues is to find out about them through an inspection. Home inspectors can't do repair work on a home they have inspected and they are required to provide at least three names of contractors in the same field. Basically, when you have your home inspected the inspector will be upfront and honest about what they find because they have no stake in the outcome. There is no more money to be made if they do find something.

Most people only think of an inspection when they are looking to buy a home or (yikes) they are trying to sell their home but an inspection on a home you plan to live in the rest of your life is a good, unbiased way to find out what condition it is in. And once the inspection is complete then a good home inspector can point you to reputable, honest contractors that can do the repair work.

It seems we live in a world where trust is very low and if a roofer comes out and says, yes, you need a new roof and here's a bid for $8000 then we get skeptical about their honesty. A home inspection can take the skepticism out of the equation. For instance, I am a certified mold inspector but I do not do remediation even though I am certified to do that also. Why? Because I want people to trust me and if I find mold and then immediately hand them a bid to have it removed, it may scare some people away.

Any more Advice for Homeowners?

One thing I would like to add is that, for the most part, protecting yourself inside your own home is relatively cheap. Smoke detectors & carbon monoxide detectors do not cost much and can save your life. As a matter of fact, residents inside the city of Muskogee can call the fire department and we will install free detectors.

Same with GFCI outlets. They sense a ground fault and will trip preventing shock around water. It's not considered a defect in older homes that do not have them because they weren't required by code then but as a safety measure they are a must.

Make sure your bedroom windows are functional. Windows are a way out in case of a fire. If they are painted or nailed shut then they are just a wall you can see through and do not provide an alternate means of escape like they were designed to do.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

The best way to contact me by calling (918) 616-2269 or by email at jlclark44@yahoo.com.

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