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2018 Home Repair Cost Guide

How much does it cost to fix common Home Inspection findings? Download our handy guide and feel free to share it with your clients.

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January is Radon Action Month. Here’s what Realtors need to know about radon

Radon Zones 1

RADON SUCCESS!  REALTOR IQ SERIES

Dear Agents,
At Call2Inspect we’ve been measuring radon in Denver homes for over 15 years. Here are some tips we’ve learned over that time. As always, if you ever have a question about radon, just shoot me an email and I’ll try my best to get you an answer right away.  Dave Roos – dave@call2inspect.net

Keep it Simple Sister  (K.I.S.S.) – Radon can be a little complicated. As a Realtor don’t burden yourself with providing detailed scientific advice to your clients. Learn the basics about radon for yourself and for your clients. Then let the experts handle the rest.

What to tell clients
1. Tell clients that radon is a soil gas that enters the home from beneath and can cause lung cancer.
It is common in Colorado.
2. Recommend that they get every house tested by an AARST/NRPP testing company like
Call2Inspect.
3. Point them to the Radon and Real Estate Transactions in Colorado brochure, which will answer most their questions and will take the monkey off your back! Link below.
4. Note – typically condos that are 3rd story or higher above the street do not need to be tested.
Why do Realtors need to be aware? HUD, EPA, and the State of Colorado recommend testing every
home during the home purchase process. Therefore a home purchase is a “trigger” for radon
testing.

What is radon?

Radon is a radioactive gas that enters homes through the soil beneath. Long term exposure to radon in homes can cause lung cancer. Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. Like oxygen, radon is colorless and odorless.

Radon is real in Colorado – Every Colorado county is in EPA zone level one, which means every home has a high likelihood of high radon. About 1/2 of the homes in the Denver area are thought to have elevated radon levels.

But don’t be afraid – Radon is common and any house can be fixed. Most houses can be fixed for about $1,000. It’s never a reason to not buy a house. Repeat, the presence of radon in a home is NOT a reason for forego a home purchase.

Learn the terminology – Radon is measured in “picocuries per liter of air.” Practice saying that a couple times so it quickly rolls off your tongue. The abbreviation is pCi/l. Sometimes we just say “picocuries,” which is fine.

Is there a safe level of radon? – The current recommendation is to fix houses that measure 4 picocuries per liter of air and above. 4 picocuries is known as the “Action Level.” Keep things simple for your clients: if the reading is at or above 4 picocuries per liter of air – advise to fix the house.

How long does it take to test a house? – The minimum test duration is 48 hours. The doors and windows in the house should be closed for the duration of the test period.

Measurement cost? A professional test should be less than $200.

Can my client use a DIY kit from Home Depot? – Technically yes, practically no. Hardware store test kits work great but their laboratory turnaround time is usually longer than the inspection contingency period. Also the test result won’t have professional credibility so it could be challenged by the home seller. Professional testing companies use electronic equipment that provides credible, immediate results.

What if the house has a mitigation system already? – Measure the house again unless it’s been measured in the last year or two. We’ve seen many radon systems that visually appeared to be OK but weren’t effectively mitigating the radon. We can’t rely on our eyes when it comes to the health of the radon system and consequently the health of the home.

Trusted sources of information – Your three top trusted advisors are:
● AARST/NRPP certified measurement providers like Call2Inspect
● The Colorado state radon office within the Colorado State Department of Health and
Environment (CDPHE)
● US EPA

Who not to trust – There is LOTS of stuff on the internet about radon, often inaccurate, and frequently contradictory. Well meaning friends and family tend to be very opinionated about radon, and quick offer their “expert” advice. I’ll never forget one time when I measured a neighbor’s house that returned a quite high reading. Obviously I recommended she get the house fixed. She told me she wasn’t going to follow my advice because another neighbor “whose husband is an engineer and knows about these things” told her that it wasn’t a concern. Seriously? Your home buying clients are depending on you, so point them to expert advisors.

esources:
● Your tiny bible for radon – 90% of your radon information can be obtained by reading the brochure Radon and Real Estate Transactions in Colorado . Call2Inspect provides a paper copy of this guide with every home inspection.

Get your digital version here:
https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/radon-and-real-estate
● Order a radon test with Call2Inspect – call 303-730-7233
● Call2Inspect radon page – call2inspect.net/radon
● Certified testing and mitigation contractors – aarst-nrpp.com
● Colorado radon office at the Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) –
colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/categories/services-and-information/environment/radon
● United States E.P.A. radon page – epa.gov/radon

Myths:
Only houses with basements need to be tested.
False. Crawlspace and slab foundations tend to have lower radon levels, but they often exceed the EPA action level and should be tested.

Houses with “structural” basement floors do not need to be tested.
False. These homes tend to have lower radon levels, but they often exceed the EPA action level and should be tested.

We’re not going to live in the basement, therefore radon is not a concern.
False. Radon is highest in the basement but it circulates throughout the home.

The test result was 3.9 picocuries, it’s lower than 4 so I don’t need to fix the house.
False. 3.9 picocuries is not zero. It’s still very close to the action level of 4. You should consider fixing the house or measuring it again with the long-term protocol.

The house was closed up for a long time before the test, the test result is going to be skewed high and not valid.
False. Radon levels in the home reach a steady level after only a couple days so a house that has only recently been closed up will test close to the same if it was shuttered for months.

My neighbor’s house has high radon, mine will too.
Not necessarily. Every house foundation is unique. Measure the house before paying for a mitigation system.

The radon action level in Canada or Europe is much higher than in the United States. We’re being overly cautious about radon here in the U.S.
False. We live in the U.S. so everyone here has to follow the same guidance and rules. The action level of 4 picocuries has been established for decades and is commonly known and accepted. In fact, the World Health Organization recently recommended that all countries adopt an even more conservative action level of 2.7 picocuries.

$50 toward your Christmas bills

We all love to lavish gifts on loved ones and friends over the holidays. If you’re like me, you may have gone a little overboard and need a little cash to help pay for it all. Xcel Energy to the rescue! If you have an old refrigerator or freezer that is in working order, Xcel will come haul it away AND pay you $50 for the privilege. Plus they estimate you’ll save an additional $50 per year on your electric bill by unplugging an old dinosaur appliance. So give it a thought. Do you have an extra refrigerator or freezer in the garage or basement? Are you really using it? On home inspections we see extra appliances plugged in all the time and wonder if they’re being put to effective use. It sounds like such a great idea to have an extra beer fridge but would it be possible to move the beer to your kitchen fridge or to buy a small dorm-size refrigerator instead?

Or maybe you’re considering just upgrading your kitchen refrigerator. Xcel will pay $50 for your old one as well.

I took advantage of Xcel’s offer last month and they really came through. Two nice young guys showed up at the appointed time and carefully hauled away my 1990’s refrigerator. About 2 weeks later I found my rebate check in the mail. Couldn’t have been easier.

This is a great household project to do while the weather is cold and you can’t get outside for other home maintenance.

Click here to get signed up:  https://www.xcelenergy.com/programs_and_rebates/residential_programs_and_rebates/equipment_and_appliances/refrigerator_recycling

How will the Tax Reform Act affect YOUR home value

Repeated with permission from Doug Hutchins – Kentwood Real Estate

I have received several calls the last few weeks asking about the impact the Tax Reform Act will have on residential home prices. Unfortunately I have seen numerous politicized articles forecasting “a 10% or more reduction in home prices” if the Tax Reform Act does pass. Don’t panic. The impact to the metro Denver real estate market should be minimal. High tax states with high home prices (i.e. California and New York), though, could see an impact in their home prices.

One common misrepresentation in the media is that the mortgage interest deduction is going away. NOT TRUE. Based on today’s version of the bill, you can deduct mortgage interest on the first $750,000 of your loan for your primary residence as well as your second home. The old cap was $1 ,000,000. HOWEVER, the $750,000 cap only applies to new loans originated in 2018 or after. You can continue to deduct interest on the first $ 1,000,000 of your current mortgage until you refinance or sell your home. The reduction in the cap from $ 1,000,000 to $750,000 could lessen demand for luxury homes in metro Denver. Fewer people will likely itemize their taxes and take the home mortgage deduction because the standard deduction is doubling. Homeowners with smaller mortgage amounts will actually see their taxes lowered by taking the standard deduction compared to taking the mortgage interest deduction.

The luxury market could also be impacted because property taxes on your home will only be deductible up to $I0,000. Previously there was no limit on the amount of property tax you could deduct. Generally, in metro Denver. your home value has to be $ 1,000,000 or higher to have a property tax bill in excess of $10,000, so the average homeowner in metro Denver will not be affected by this change.

The one change that I think will affect the Denver market is the new holding period needed to receive $250,000 o f tax free gain on the sale of your home ($500,000 for a married couple). Under the old law you had to own your home 2 of the last 5 years to receive the tax free gain. The new rule requires you co-live in the home 5 of the lase 8 years. This change could keep homeowners from selling as they will need co-stay in their home longer or pay capital gains tax on any gains. High appreciation in the metro Denver market over the past 5 years has homeowners sitting on substantial gains. Homeowners will likely choose co-stay in their homes longer to reach the five year threshold instead of selling and paying tax. This change could slow the number of homes corning on the market.

Click here for a calculator to determine if your taxes will go up or down.

Wishing you good times, good cheer, and a memorable New Year!

That’s It For Christmas, Colorado. Now Where Can You Recycle Those Decorations?

Recycling Christmas decorations can be a little more complicated than putting them into curbside bins. The Colorado Association for Recycling says most communities in the state offer free programs to take trees, lights and wrapping paper.

Places farther away from metropolitan areas usually have fewer options though, said association president Juri Freeman. So that leaves you with the traditional trash bin, or maybe a nice road trip to the city if you want to stay eco-friendly. For those in more populated parts of the state, here are a few proper post-holiday recycling tips.

What To Do With Your Christmas Tree

This is the most popular form of decoration recycling in the state. Recycled trees are usually broken down into mulch and re-sold. But first, residents should make sure the tree is completely bare of any ornaments or lights. It’s up to each community to decide what programs to offer.

Denver: The city offers a free “Treecycle” program where waste management drivers will pick up bare trees from homes. All residents have to do is strip their trees of all decoration and put them on the curb with the rest of their trash before Jan. 12.

Colorado Springs: Six drop off locations will be available Dec. 30, 31 and then Jan. 6, 7. Dropping off a tree is free but the city does recommend a five dollar donation to support the organizer, El Pomar Youth Sports.

Boulder, Longmont, Lafayette, Erie, Louisville and Superior: The nonprofit Ecocycletakes care of all the foothills communities. A drop off location is available in each city for free.

Fort Collins: Larimer County Landfill offers free tree recycling until Jan. 15. The city of Fort Collins has also set up five drop off locations.

What About Lights?

Lights need to be taken apart before they’re recycled. If the pieces of plastic and metal aren’t separated from the strand they can cause complications at recycling facilities.

Boulder, Nederland and Longmont: Ecocycle also handles drop off locations for hard-to-recycle items like Christmas lights. The nonprofit will send the lights to a processor who will strip the plastic off and recycle the copper wire.

Denver: From Nov. 15 to Jan. 20 Denver residents can bring burnt out, discarded lights to the Cherry Creek drop off location. But the city does not accept liquid-filled or neon lights.

Loveland: Every year the city partners with ACE Hardware and the Lights for Life program. The hardware stores sell the salvaged copper wire from recycled lights and then donate the proceeds to cancer nonprofits.

And Finally, The Tricky One: Wrapping Paper

Freeman said wrapping paper tends to be the most overlooked when it comes to proper recycling. That’s because a lot of wrapping paper can be recycled easily and placed in curbside bins. But paper with metal or foil components needs special handling.

Most drop off locations that accept lights will also accept metalized wrapping paper, he said. But Freeman said there might be an even better solution.

“Reuse is the best right?” Freeman said. “I have a basement closet full of my old wrapping paper, gift bags and stuff. If you can save it, that’s better than recycling.”

How To Identify A Marijuana Grow House, There Could Be One In Your Neighborhood

From time to time at Call2Inspect we’ll run across a marijuana grow house. Most grows are in garages and basements. They’re pretty easy to spot. Here are the telltale signs:

1. Excessive amounts of electrical wiring, extension cords, and overhead lighting

2. Large air ducts and ventilation systems

3. “Skunky” odor

4. Mold and mildew. Excessive humidity or mustiness

5. Condensation stains on the sides of the home

6. Blackout shades and window coverings

If the grow is an active operation:

1. Visitors going into and out of the home. Frequent loading and unloading of materials in the garage.

2. “Skunky” odor outdoors

3. Security bars over the windows and surveillance cameras

4. A humming sound outdoors caused by the ventilation system

5. Indoor lights on 24×7

Home buyer concerns / risks:

1. Mold caused by excessive humidity. In addition to the obvious black stuff on household surfaces, mold can be lurking in the attic, behind walls, and in concealed spaces. If the grow was in operation for any length of time, the mold can be very costly to remediate and may require deconstruction of parts of the home.

2. Odors may be persist and can be very difficult to remove. It is probable that all interior floor coverings, wall/ceiling treatments, cabinets, attic insulation, basement insulation, etc. will need to be replaced.

3. Electrical hazards. We’ve seen live 240-volt, 50-amp circuits hanging with bare wires, and no way to turn it off. If someone were to touch a high power circuit like this they would be electrocuted.

4. Overall wear and tear, deferred maintenance, and grime. Remember the house was being used as a commercial agricultural operation, not a dwelling for people.

5. If the grow is in a neighbor’s home there can be crime associated with it. Cash stored in the house is a target for criminals. Excessive car traffic into and out of the home can be a risk for kids. Unsavory grow employees may not make for good neighbors.

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