Making the Grade

When inspecting new construction, there are times I can’t report on items because they have yet to be installed. One might think that the last items installed could include flooring or carpeting or possibly an appliance.  But the one that concerns me is usually that the earth around the property which usually has not yet been properly graded and seeded or finished with sod.  Furthermore, the freshly dug earth is expected to continue to settle and may create a negative grade towards the foundation or low-lying areas where water can gather long after the purchase.  A 6” drop in elevation over a 6’ distance from the house creates a positive grade away from the foundation and helps ensure water will drain away from the structure. Spring and summer downpours can remind many of us how important a proper grade is to preventing basement leaks and water damage.  If there’s a final walk-around prior to closing on a new construction, I suggest that the new owners check that a positive grade has been established around the structure.

Flowering Trees

pexels-photo-842395.jpegMissouri’s flowering trees are at their showiest in mid-spring. Mature trees can offer a great deal to a home owner including lower summer energy bills, aesthetics, and, potentially improved mental health.  Concern for the state and potential maintenance of mature trees that can affect a structure is part of the home inspection.

Despite the beauty of flowering trees, the pollen they generate along with shedding pets may aggravate seasonal allergies, so this may be a good reminder to change out your furnace/air handler’s filters.

Baby, it’s cold outside

pexels-photo-839463.jpegThis winter, Columbia has dipped well below its normal low  on more than a few occasions.  Where I grew up, cold weather was the norm but heat pumps were not.  The way these highly efficient machines heat and cool a house is fascinating and takes me back to my earliest classes in chemistry and physics.  But on colder days, the blower runs constantly and causes my wife to complain about cold air drafts.  Heat pumps take a little getting used to but they are, without a doubt, the most efficient and energy conscious choice in the Missouri climate.  Operation tips and special financial incentives for heat pumps are available from the City of Columbia. So if an air conditioner or furnace necessitates replacement, and you’re willing to tolerate a little marital discord regarding just how cold it has to get to justify engaging the emergency heat feature, heat pumps are certainly worth considering.