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All of these photo’s are of Brand New homes, prior to move in.

This is a brand new single story in Battleground, 1800 SF, fairly well built as a whole, has some unexpected deficiencies, but otherwise pretty upgraded, all photo’s are not shown as this is the example of what can be neglected, and actually be possibly dangerous.

This brand new home’s electrical panel, has no MAIN ELECTRICAL SHUTOFF BREAKER. All homes require a method of turning off the power, in 6 movements or less in emergencies.

REMEDY: Either use a panel that can accommodate a main breaker, or install one. Remember, cost is always an issue as these breakers are the most expensive in the panel at $100-$200 retail, but for 10 homes that savings to a developer can add up.

Here we have the exhaust from the furnace that is in the attic, but is an uncompleted line, and has been operating with the furnace exhaust just blowing out into the attic at the unit. There are many reasons this is inappropriate, and can be hazardous. Carbon Monoxide is slightly less than neutrally buoyant so the lower level might be OK, but anyone in the attic while the furnace is running and they could pass out without knowing why.

This one is easy, the manufacturers label plainly states there must be 24″ of clearance between the furnace in the attic, and any combustible material, and although the tape is difficult to read in the photo, it is less than 18″.

The next 10 photo’s are from a different builder, and are from a half a million dollar new home. The buyers warranty was expiring, and we were called because the bathroom breakers kept tripping using typical appliances, but we found…quite a bit more.

Here is the problem we were brought out to look at, or at least this is where we’d look for bathroom breakers tripping too much. Its got to do with the amperage. Standards are bathroom have 20 amp breakers, while typical plugs can have 15, the use of hair dryers, and other high load appliances dictates the use of 20 amp in bathrooms. Otherwise your breakers will trip all the time, but at least the developer saved the cost difference between a 15 amp breaker, and a 20 amp breaker. Smart consumers know that this increases profits for a builder significantly when this tactic is used to produce substandard real property.​

REMEDY: Replace the 15 amp breakers in the bathroom slots in the main panel, with 20 amp.

Note the air duct in the middle foreground. Ducts need to be supported, but quickly tying it up in a constricted manner, reduces air flow to that room, and makes the unit work harder than its designed to do, thereby lessening its effective lifespan. If you look further, almost all of them in this home are like that.

REMEDY: Use a longer strapping piece, wrap it around the duct more than once to distribute the load, and it wont infringe on the actual inside dimensions of the duct, given there is a layer of insulation under the plastic.

Here is the attic of that house, and if you look around, you will see no light peeking through anywhere. This is an inadequatly ventilated attic, and without air flow to exchange air, moisture will build up, and then when its cold, it will condensate on materials, and create a fungus/rot problem. 

REMEDY: Unblocking the eave vents, can prevent this, and simple cardboard dams that hold the insulation back are the typical application.

This semi custom home in Camas, is plumbed with PCV piping, for the water supply. Polyvinyl chloride, depending on heat, etc, can molecularly leach into the water flowing through it, and is very fragile where breakage, and freeze failure are concerned. It is much cheaper to use for a developer, as opposed to the typical PEX, or copper.

REMEDY: Use adequate quality materials in the first place, but this application should be replaced with the latest version of PEX, that is flexible, and can expand and contract that also does not leach into the water.

The board against the buildings wall that supports the house side of the covered patio, is called the “Ledger”, and it should not be less than 4′, or span a minimum of the 3 studs it is screwed into under the siding. In order to save material, the builder used a 1 foot piece on the end, and added unsightly scrap boards for backing that the upper level railings are screwed into.

REMEDY: Do it right in the first place. There is no fix for this aside from replacing the balcony ledger.

Here we have the pump for the Jacuzzi tub in the master bathroom. Note the leak dripping on the concrete. Understand that this is hidden from sight by a removable panel, and who knows when a home owner would find out about that. Much damage could occur from rot before anyone notices.

REMEDY: Very simple; use teflon tape on all of their plumbing joints, if you look closely, there is none being used on any of the plumbing threads.

Here is the tub above the pump below, and it has no caulking around the perimeter of the tub sealing it from allowing water if splashed over the tubs rim from seeping through the crack, and flowing underneath.

REMEDY: Unfortunately the tub has to come out, and a bead of waterproof flexible caulking laid down, and the tub evenly set in.

Here is the deck support structure for the deck. Any foundational support needs to have a concrete footing, with a galvanized metal connector that separates the ground (and its moisture within) from the wooden member. Using treated lumber will delay the rotting process, but it will never last as long as had it been done right. Again this is a hurry, and cost thing. Its much easier to dig a hole, put the post in, and pour concrete around it (that is assuming they have done that, any concrete is so deep, we could not verify its existence), and the cost of the connector is saved.

REMEDY: Dig it out, support it temporarily, pour a footing with the connector embedded in the surface, and then put the post in with treated lumber, that is designed to resist weather, not the elements of soil that act like a sponge held around it permanently, as well as the acidity involved that soils can contain.

Here is the homes grounding electrode conductor. It travels from the main electrical panel and can have one of many configurations, but this is not one of them. Standards dictate, either 2 8′ long copper rods are pounded into the ground, all the way, spaced 8′ apart. Or one rod, and a 20′ 5/8″ rebar rod embedded with the perimeter foundation, connected in tandem. Or a rod, with a connection to the metal water supply that has a minimum of 20′ of pipe at least 18″ underground….but remember this home has PVC water supply, so it cant be used as a ground. So given there is no rod on the exterior in the ground, this application is inadequate.​

The grounding system is important as it protects the home and its appliances from power surges from lightning strikes to the utilities power system (your breakers wont work if the ground isn’t right), but it also is vital for the bonding to work, which grounds any metal piping in the home (in this case its the gas lines) and prevents people from being shocked  by a short in….i.e a faulty gas stove.

REMEDY: Install one 8′ copper rod outside, all the way into the ground, and connect it to this configuration. Again, cost, and hurry….copper is expensive, and pounding a rod 8′ down into rocky soil in Camas, can be time consuming. Another, cant see it from my house ethos from the builder.

We move on to a 2500SF tract home in Vancouver, different builder.

Here is a testing device, that has a special function that will detect a bad ground in the system (note red light, and legend on device). Initially I though the unit was faulty since the whole house was showing that, and the unit was new……until I checked the exterior grounding system….see below

The only grounding for this brand new home is the electrode wrapped around the painted gas line. The requirements have been explained above, and this is not one of the included methods. Even if there is a rod in the slab, there is no additional rod in the ground….and the paint breaks the contact.

REMEDY: Again, connect this line, to a rod in the ground, not the gas line, or a 20′ steel rod within the foundation perimeter slab. (such as can be seen in the photo 2 photos above that show the connection to the foundation rod connection.

Next is a 3500 SF, New home in Vancouver, and another builder. 

We were called because their warranty is expiring, and they had concerns about the grout cracking already wherever it was laid. We wont include those pictures since its something evident to a buyer, but we all should understand that grout, is more technical than it sounds. The best way to  mix and lay grout… to follow the manufacturers directions, and there are additives that are made to be used instead of water, and should be mixed in proper ratios….

But, additive costs money, and measuring takes time, and some tile guys just figure their so good, they don’t need to measure, and some are…then again, some aren’t, and they can save allot of money by not using additive, and using water instead. But the additive is of a petroleum base usually, and helps the bonding of the grout, by also being an adhesive. This is the best course of action during an install so that it dosn’t prematurely erode. 

REMEDY for that, cut the grout out with a dremel, and replace using proper materials and technique.

Here is the exhaust for the gas fireplace, but regulations state that any gas appliance that vents carbon monoxide, be a minimum of 10′ horizontally from an openable window, and these are under 6′.

Remedy: Kinda late to pay attention to regulations now, be cognizant of using the fireplace with the window open, and make sure your carbon monoxide detector works….Otherwise, its a huge cost to correct, given there is nowhere in that room that a fireplace could exist conforming to that standard.

Note the sunlight shining through under the front door. See below

If you look at the wooden trim, it reveals that the threshold was installed…bent.

REMEDY: Replace the threshold

Just under the living room, there is a section that the flooring insulation was not installed. Sometimes they figure, who’s going to know?

REMEDY: Install all of the insulation.

Fire code dictates that all garage doors have self closing hinges installed, but these are regular hinges. Deciding weather its bothersome for the garage door to always be closing, should be up to the buyer.

REMEDY: Replace current hinges with self closing ones.

It goes on and on. Protect your investment that is intended to protect you, and your family for decades to come. Ensure it was built the way, and with the materials you were informed used. Proper wood joining hardware, and a myriad of factors make the difference of problems in the future, and even seismic survivability for the structure.

Now located in Portland Metro Area, First Choice Inspections is always just a click away. 

My Promise

Choosing the right home inspector can be difficult.  Unlike most professionals, you probably will not get to meet me until after you hire me. Furthermore, different inspectors have varying qualifications, equipment, experience, reporting methods, and, yes, different pricing. One thing for sure is that a home inspection requires work -- a lot of work.  Ultimately, a thorough inspection depends heavily on the individual inspector�s own effort.  If you honor me by permitting me to inspect your new home, I guarantee that I will give you my very best effort.  This I promise you.

First Choice Home Inspections LLC