The Importance of Down Time

May 6, 2014

The Importance of Down Time

If you are driven to succeed in business and love what you do for a living, you may find it difficult to stop and take some down time. I know I do. It has been my mantra that if I am not performing a home inspection, I am working on the business. And, because I love what we do, I find it difficult to “turn it off” and have some down time. Time to do something other than work in my chosen profession.

Although somehow painful at first, I am finding that taking even a few hours off from work re-energizes me and clears my mind. I have learned that taking a few hours off or even a day off brings me focus, concentration and renewed energy to do what I do at my best. I am also betting that there are some health benefits as well.

For me, Sunday has become my day of rest. Years ago, I thought, “not working on Sunday, what a waste of time.” One day I realized, even God rested on the seventh day. Since we are made in His image, we should do the same. We stay busy with full home inspection schedules most of the time, even Saturdays. So Sunday is my down day to spend going to church, being with my family and doing things other than business. Even during the week now, I have learned to take short breaks and do something other than work in our business.

At first, I felt guilty, like I was being lazy. But after a while, I began to see that with small breaks from work, when I return to work I am much more focused and productive. After taking a break, the quantity and quality of work are also improved.

The saying that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” now rings true. So my advice to you is if you want to improve your business and work, take some down time. Your business, family and health will thank you.

 

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Selman Home Inspections – Our Mission

March 3, 2014

Selman Home Inspections – Our Mission.

We hope you will watch our 1 minute video about the mission of Selman Home Inspections. Serving all of North Texas with the highest quality home inspection services. http://www.selmanhomeinspections.com

 


Child Proofing Your Home

July 29, 2013
Child Proofing Your Home
About 2.5 million children are injured or killed by hazards in the home each year. The good news is that many of these incidents can be prevented by using simple child-safety devices on the market today. Any safety device you buy should be sturdy enough to prevent injury to your child, yet easy for you to use. It’s important to follow installation instructions carefully.
In addition, if you have older children in the house, be sure they re-secure safety devices. Remember, too, that no device is completely childproof; determined youngsters have been known to disable them. You can childproof your home for a fraction of what it would cost to have a professional do it. And safety devices are easy to find. You can buy them at hardware stores, baby equipment shops, supermarkets, drug stores, home and linen stores, and through online and mail-order catalogues.
InterNACHI inspectors like Selman Home Inspection know what to tell clients who are concerned about the safety of their children. Here are some child-safety devices that can help prevent many injuries to young children.
1.  Use safety latches and locks for cabinets and drawers in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas to help prevent poisonings and other injuries. Safety latches and locks on cabinets and drawers can help prevent children from gaining access to medicines and household cleaners, as well as knives and other sharp objects.
Look for safety latches and locks that adults can easily install and use, but that are sturdy enough to withstand pulls and tugs from children. Safety latches are not a guarantee of protection, but they can make it more difficult for children to reach dangerous substances. Even products with child-resistant packaging should be locked away out of reach; this packaging is not childproof.
But, according to Colleen Driscoll, executive director of the International Association for Child Safety (IAFCS), “Installing an ineffective latch on a cabinet is not an answer for helping parents with safety.  It is important to understand parental habits and behavior.  While a latch that loops around cabinet knob covers is not expensive and easy to install, most parents do not consistently re-latch it.”
Parents should be sure to purchase and install safety products that they will actually adapt to and use.
2.  Use safety gates to help prevent falls down stairs and to keep children away from dangerous areas. Look for safety gates that children cannot dislodge easily, but that adults can open and close without difficulty. For the top of stairs, gates that screw into the wall are more secure than “pressure gates.”
New safety gates that meet safety standards display a certification seal from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). If you have an older safety gate, be sure it doesn’t have “V” shapes that are large enough for a child’s head and neck to fit into.
3.  Use door locks to help prevent children from entering rooms and other areas with possible dangers, including swimming pools.
To prevent access to swimming pools, door locks on safety gates should be placed high, out of reach of young children. Locks should be used in addition to fences and alarms. Sliding glass doors with locks that must be re-secured after each use are often not an effective barrier to pool access.
Door knob covers, while inexpensive and recommended by some, are generally not effective for children who are tall enough to reach the doorknob; a child’s ingenuity and persistence can usually trump the cover’s effectiveness.
4.  Use anti-scald devices for faucets and shower heads, and set your water heater temperature to below 120° F to help prevent burns from hot water. A plumber may need to install these.
5.  Use smoke detectors on every level of your home and near bedrooms to alert you to fires. Smoke detectors are essential safety devices for protection against fire deaths and injuries. Check smoke detectors once a month to make sure they’re working. If detectors are battery-operated, change batteries at least once a year, or consider using 10-year batteries.
6.  Use window guards and safety netting to help prevent falls from windows, balconies, decks and landings. Window guards and safety netting for balconies and decks can help prevent serious falls.  Check these safety devices frequently to make sure they are secure and properly installed and maintained. There should be no more than 4 inches between the bars of the window guard. If you have window guards, be sure at least one window in each room can be easily used for escape in a fire. Window screens are not effective for preventing children from falling out of windows.
7.  Use corner and edge bumpers to help prevent injuries from falls against sharp edges of furniture and fireplaces. Corner and edge bumpers can be used with furniture and fireplace hearths to help prevent injuries from falls, and to soften falls against sharp and rough edges.
Be sure to look for bumpers that stay securely on furniture and hearth edges.
8.  Use receptacle or outlet covers and plates to help prevent children from electrical shock and possible electrocution.
Be sure the outlet protectors cannot be easily removed by children and are large enough so that children cannot choke on them.
9.  Use a carbon monoxide (CO) detector outside bedrooms to help prevent CO poisoning. Consumers should install CO detectors near sleeping areas in their homes. Households that should use CO detectors include those with gas or oil heat or with attached garages.
10.  Cut window blind cords to help prevent children from strangling in blind-cord loops. Window blind cord safety tassels on miniblinds and tension devices on vertical blinds and drapery cords can help prevent deaths and injuries from strangulation in the loops of cords. Inner cord stops can help prevent strangulation in the inner cords of window blinds.
However, the IAFCS’s Ms. Driscoll states, “Cordless is best.  Although not all families are able to replace all products, it is important that parents understand that any corded blind or window treatment can still be a hazard.  Unfortunately, children are still becoming entrapped in dangerous blind cords despite advances in safety in recent years.”
For older miniblinds, cut the cord loop, remove the buckle, and put safety tassels on each cord. Be sure that older vertical blinds and drapery cords have tension or tie-down devices to hold the cords tight. When buying new miniblinds, vertical blinds and draperies, ask for safety features to prevent child strangulation.

11.  Use door stops and door holders to help prevent injuries to fingers and hands. Door stops and door holders on doors and door hinges can help prevent small fingers and hands from being pinched or crushed in doors and door hinges.
Be sure any safety device for doors is easy to use and is not likely to break into small parts, which could be a choking hazard for young children.
12.  Use a cell or cordless phone to make it easier to continuously watch young children, especially when they’re in bathtubs, swimming pools, or other potentially dangerous areas. Cordless phones help you watch your child continuously without leaving the vicinity to answer a phone call. Cordless phones are especially helpful when children are in or near water, whether it’s the bathtub, the swimming pool, or the beach.
In summary, there are a number of different safety devices that can be purchased to ensure the safety of children in the home. Homeowners can ask an InterNACHI inspector about these and other safety measures during their next inspection.  Parents should be sure to do their own consumer research to find the most effective safety devices for their home that are age-appropriate for their children’s protection, as well as affordable and compatible with their household habits and lifestyles.  They can find more information for household safety tips and product recommendations at the IAFCS’s website at http://www.iafcs.org.

Home Inspector Similarities To Realtors

March 29, 2010

Home Inspector Similarities To Realtors

In many ways, home inspectors and real estate agents are similar. Like real estate agents, home inspectors are professionals and are deserving of respect for our expertise. And, in every profession, there are those who are professional and good at what they do just like there are those who are not so professional or good at what they do. Those who are good and demonstrate professionalism last in the business they choose while others do not.

Like real estate agents, Home Inspectors are businessmen and professionals. Professional Home Inspectors operate a real business day in and day out. They have overhead expenses like professional fees, association dues, continuing education costs, marketing costs, insurance costs and expenses for tools, equipment, office supplies and vehicles. Just like any business owner, home inspectors must make prudent spending choices to operate a successful business.

Home Inspection professionals market themselves in much the same ways as Realtors do. We work from lead generation, agents referrals, public referrals, websites, social media and every other conceivable form of human contact. Our company names are on our vehicles and like real estate agents, we are always quick to hand out a business card to anyone we meet. So, like real estate, the home inspection business is a “people” business. To be successful, we have to be salesmen and foster good relationships.

Texas is among the most difficult of all states to obtain a Professional Home Inspection license (Some states do not require licensing or any regulation). Like real estate agents, home inspectors are either formally trained and mentored for 18 months or longer, or, they obtain a formal education and experience. Then after months of study they may or may not pass the state exam. I have been told that only 1 out of every 18 who take the exam pass it the first time they take it and only 2 out of 12 pass it the second time. The test can only be taken 3 times in six months. After that, the odds are even worse. Each time a home inspection exam is failed, the testing system focuses on the weakness the prospective inspector had on the last exam. Like a real estate license, the Professional Home Inspector license is difficult to earn.

Real Estate agencies and Home Inspection companies both find that their websites, blogs and online social media (Facebook) are more important than ever to business success. Today, many Home Inspectors and Realtors get more leads and customers from online sources than anywhere else. The internet has truly become where we find everything and everyone.

Home Inspections are hard work. The average home inspection takes about 4 hours at the home site, sometimes more. Inspectors cover every square foot of a structure. From the foundations and crawl spaces to the attic and roof covering, we see it all. We test every mechanical component, evaluate plumbing and vent systems and can identify 1000’s of potential hazards and problems both seen and unseen. Like Realtors, Home Inspectors must know what to look for depending on the age of the structure, the builder, current building codes and the Texas Standards of Practice for Professional Home Inspectors. Then like a real estate agent writing a sales contract, we must write a legal, state certified, home inspection reports based on the findings. It is technical and, it is hard work.

David Selman
Advanced Professional Inspector
Lic.# 10299
FHA/HUD # F537
Septic License #113423
Phone: 469-371-3228

Email: david@SelmanHomeInspections.com

“Accurate Investment Protection You Can Trust”

Websites: Dallas Home Inspection | Fort Worth Home Inspection



Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters

March 16, 2010

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) are special types of electrical outlets and circuit breakers designed to detect and respond to potentially dangerous electrical arcs in home branch wiring. Professional Home Inspectors look for these in homes today.

How do Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters work?

AFCIs function by monitoring the electrical waveform and promptly opening (interrupting) the circuit they serve if they detect changes in the wave pattern that are characteristic of a dangerous arc. They also must be capable of distinguishing safe, normal arcs, such as those created when a switch is turned on or a plug is pulled from a receptacle, from arcs that can cause fires. An AFCI can detect, recognize, and respond to very small changes in wave pattern.

What is an arc?

When an electric current crosses an air gap from an energized component to a grounded component, it produces a glowing plasma discharge known as an arc. For example, a bolt of lightening is a very large, powerful arc that crosses an atmospheric gap from an electrically charged cloud to the ground or another cloud. Just as lightning can cause fires, arcs produced by domestic wiring are capable of producing high levels of heat that can ignite their surroundings and lead to structure fires. According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Agency for the year 2005, electrical fires damaged approximately 20,900 homes, killed 500 people, and cost $862 million in property damage. Although short-circuits and overloads account for many of these fires, arcs are responsible for the majority and are undetectable by traditional (non-AFCI) circuit breakers.

Where are arcs likely to form?

Arcs can form where wires are improperly installed or when insulation becomes damaged. In older homes, wire insulation tends to crystallize as it ages, becoming brittle and prone to cracking and chipping. Damaged insulation exposes the current-carrying wire to its surroundings, increasing the chances that an arc may occur. Situations in which arcs may be created:

  • electrical cords damaged by vacuum cleaners or trapped beneath furniture or doors.
  • damage to wire insulation from nails or screws driven through walls.
  • appliance cords damaged by heat, natural aging, kinking, impact or over-extension.
  • spillage of liquid.
  • loose connections in outlets, switches and light fixtures.

Where are AFCIs required?

Locations in which AFCIs are required depend on the building codes adopted by their jurisdiction. Home Inspectors are responsible for knowing what building codes are used in the areas in which they inspect. The 2006 International Residential Code (IRC) requires that AFCIs be installed within bedrooms in the following manner:

E3802.12 Arc-Fault Protection of Bedroom Outlets. All branch circuits that supply120-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-amp outlets installed in bedrooms shall be protected by a combination-type or branch/feeder-type arc-fault circuit interrupter installed to provide protection of the entire branch circuit.

Exception: The location of the arc-fault circuit interrupter shall be permitted to be at other than the origination of the branch circuit, provided that:

The arc-fault circuit interrupter is installed within 6 feet of the branch circuit overcurrent device as measured along the branch circuit conductors, and The circuit conductors between the branch circuit overcurrent device and the arc-fault circuit interrupter are installed in a metal raceway or a cable with metallic sheath.

The National Electrical Code (NEC) offers the following guidelines concerning AFCI placement within bedrooms:

Dwelling Units. All 120-volt, single phase, 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits supplying outlets installed in dwelling unit in family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, sun rooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms or areas shall be protected by a listed arc-fault circuit interrupter, combination-type installed to provide protection of the branch circuit.

Home inspectors should refrain from quoting exact code in their reports. A plaintiff’s attorney might suggest that code quotation means that the inspector was performing a code inspection and is therefore responsible for identifying all code violations in the home. Some jurisdictions do not yet require their implementation in locations where they can be helpful.

What types of AFCIs are available?

The four most common types of AFCIs are as follows:

  • Branch/feeder—installed at the main electrical panel or sub-panel.
  • circuit—installed in a branch-circuit outlet.
  • Combination—complies with the requirements of both the branch/feeder and the outlet circuit AFCIs.
  • Cord—a plug-in device connected to the receptacle outlet.

Nuisance Tripping

An AFCI might activate in situations that are not dangerous and create needless power shortages. This can be particularly annoying when an AFCI stalls power to a freezer or refrigerator, allowing its contents to spoil. There are a few procedures an electrical contractor can perform in order to reduce potential “nuisance tripping,” such as:

  • Check that the load power wire, panel neutral wire and load neutral wire are properly connected.
  • Check wiring to ensure that there are no shared neutral connections.
  • Check the junction box and fixture connections to ensure that the neutral conductor contacts a grounded conductor.

Arc Faults vs. Ground Faults

It is important to distinguish AFCI devices from Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) devices. GFCIs detect ground faults, which occur when current leaks from a hot (ungrounded) conductor to a grounded object as a result of a short-circuit. This situation can be hazardous when a person unintentionally becomes the current’s path to the ground. GFCIs function by constantly monitoring the current flow between hot and neutral (grounding) conductors, and activate when they sense a difference of 5 milliamps or more. Thus, GFCIs are intended to prevent personal injury due to electric shock, while AFCIs prevent personal injury and property damage due to structure fires.

In summary, AFCIs are designed to detect small arcs of electricity before they have a chance to lead to a structure fire.

 

David Selman
Advanced Professional Inspector
Lic.# 10299
FHA/HUD # F537
Septic License #113423
Phone: 469-371-3228

 

Email: david@SelmanHomeInspections.com

 

“Accurate Investment Protection You Can Trust”

 

Websites: Dallas Home Inspection | Fort Worth Home Inspection



Realtor Top Criticisms of Home Inspection Companies – Part 1

March 12, 2010

Realtor Top Criticisms of Home Inspection Companies – Part 1

As a North Texas Home Inspection Company, I am always working to improve how my company performs home inspections and building relationships with Realtors and clients through education about home inspections. And, I believe that eliminating (or at least minimizing) the top criticisms Realtors and clients have of home inspectors is good for my industry, the real estate industry, good marketing and valuable for educating Realtors about the nature of home inspections. In this multi-part blog post, I will be listing the top criticisms many home inspectors hear from Realtors and their clients and discussing how my home inspection company overcomes these criticisms.

#1.) Embellishment of Home Inspection Findings

While I have not had this problem reported as a criticism of my home inspection reports, I have heard it about other home inspectors from agents and clients who have had inspections from other companies. Based on my reading of a few other home inspectors reports, embellishment of deficiencies in home inspections come from two or three kinds of inspections. First, there are new home inspectors who lack experience in report writing and will dwell on simple deficiencies far to long, sometime just trying to show what they know. Second, there are home inspection reports on properties in very, very good condition where the inspector could find very little to report. In these cases, the inspector would sometimes make simple, minor deficiencies sound like the house was going to fall down if it is not corrected. Third, there are the home inspectors that Realtors refer to as “alarmists”. These inspectors tend to expound and exaggerate the reported problem (deficiency) to the point that the home inspection report scares or “alarms” the client and, sometimes, causes the client to back out of the deal.

The solution in my opinion is to simply and accurately state what the deficiency is according the the Standards of Practice and whether or not it is a safety hazard. Then tell ( in writing ) what field of home improvement specialist the inspector would recommend to evaluate and repair the problem. For the most important items, I will often also quote the SOP (Standards of Practice) to describe the problem. Rarely if every, do my inspections quote “building codes”.

In my view, it is important that home inspectors report problems effectively but in a non-alarmist manner. Almost every common problem a home inspector can report has a viable solution. Every minor crack in the drywall is not evidence of a serious structural or foundation problem and should not be embellished.  Good home inspectors know the difference between the severities of defects they find. Even when a serious defect is reported, it should be reported concisely, to the point and in simple to understand terms for both the Realtor and the client.

In Part 2 of “Realtor Top Criticisms of Home Inspection Companies, I will be writing about the dreaded subject of “Home Inspection Fees”. Until next time, God Bless.

David Selman
Advanced Professional Inspector
Lic.# 10299
FHA/HUD # F537
Septic License #113423
Phone: 469-371-3228

Email: david@SelmanHomeInspections.com

“Accurate Investment Protection You Can Trust”

Websites: Dallas Home Inspection | Fort Worth Home Inspection


Home Inspections With Value Added Services

January 27, 2010

There has been a lot of discussion about “value added” products and services in almost every line of business in recent years including real estate, home staging and home inspections. Value added service means that when someone buys a product or service from your company, that they get something more (or different) from your company that they won’t get from your competitor. It should not cost the customer more.

Home Inspection WarrantyAn Example Of A Home Inspection Value Added Product

Selman Home Inspection company offers a “Value Added” product to every buyer home inspection in the form of a 100 Day Limited Warranty. Each of our home inspections is backed by a warranty that covers up to $1000 of the repair or replacement of an item that fails within 100 days of home ownership. There is no additional cost to our home inspection clients for this product. It is a “value added” advantage for home buyers and sellers who choose us over our competitors. We purchase the warranty on behalf of our clients and, absorb the cost into our business overhead.

The Purpose Of Value Added Products & Services

Value added products and services have several purposes depending on which side of the sale you are standing. To the seller, value added services are seen as a marketing advantage that allows you to stand out and be different from your competition. As a buyer, value added services are things that come with the product or service you are buying at no additional cost that other retailers of like products and services are not offering.

For the seller of a product or service, the marketing advantage of your “Value Added” product should be of real value to your buyer. It should be an additional product, service or discount that the buyer of your initial service can truly use. The usefulness of the product is what makes it “Value Added”. For example, (in addition to our warranty) Selman Home Inspection gives each of our home inspection clients a discount coupon for a home security inspection, security system installation discounts and a $200 gift card.

A value added product or service does not come with an additional price tag for the customer. (It is however part of your overhead cost) If there is an additional cost to the value added product or service for the buyer, then it really isn’t “value added”, it is just another product which the seller intends to profit from. In business, if the company profits from the sale of a product or service, it is an ancillary service.

Examples of Ancillary Services

In the home inspection business, ancillary services are other forms of real estate inspections such as septic system inspections, “Move In Certified” home inspections, manufactured home foundation certificates, and wood destroying insect inspections. These are “ancillary” home inspection products that we sell to our clients and charge a fee for performing them.

Expectation Or Value Added?

While things like great customer service, experience, quick response times, honesty, websites, blogs, showing homes to real estate clients and doing a thorough job are important for business, these are expectations of any product or service and are not, value added products. They are part of doing business with integrity. Your clients expect certain things to be part of any product or service you deliver.

So, what value added product or service does your real estate, staging or home inspection company offer? By referring your real estate clients to Selman Home Inspection, you too can reap the rewards or the value added services offered with our home inspections. Then, you can also develop some of your own. Your customers will thank you.

David Selman
Advanced Professional Inspector
Lic.# 10299
FHA/HUD # F537
Septic License #113423
Phone: 469-371-3228

Email: david@SelmanHomeInspections.com

“Accurate Investment Protection You Can Trust”

Websites: Dallas Home Inspection | Fort Worth Home Inspection


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