Prepping Your Home For Winter!

Photo by Sam Beasley

Photo by Sam Beasley

Winter is on its way! Leaves are falling, pumpkins decorate most homes and the mornings are getting colder. Here are some easy projects you can do to button your home up as you prepare for the cold Michigan winter. Most homeowners dont have thousands of dollars sitting around to invest in energy efficiency so these projects are mostly the low hanging fruit, usually pretty easy as wells as inexpensive but very effective.

  • One of the biggest areas of energy loss is the rim joists. These are the cavaties where the floor joists sit on the exterior walls. The best way to seal these up is buying a couple sheets of 2” EXP foam, cutting them into rectangles the size of the rim joist opening and foaming/ or caulking around the edges to seal it in place.

  • While you are down here look around all penetrations to the outside an make sure they are sealed up well!

  • Change your furnace filter. Changing the filter regularly will help your furnace run more efficiently.

  • Buy a few tubes of clear paintable/stainable caulk and go crazy. You are going to want to caulk around all the window trim, especially the bottoms and tops. Another spot to caulk is along the gap between the hardwood floor and trim on exterior walls.

  • Get a smart thermostat, being aware of your energy usage is one of the best ways to change habits and save money.

  • Buy some new weather stripping for your exterior doors and make sure they seal good when closed.

  • Remove cover plates from outlets/switces on exterior walls and seal gaps between the box and the drywall/plaster.

  • Seal around all penetrations into the attic (ceiling fans, lights, bath fans.) Seal all gaps between box and drywall/plaster.

  • If you have an attic fan you can easily create an airtight cover with foam board to seal it up for the winter from the inside of the house (just throwing fiberglass batts over it does not help much.)

These are some great places to start! If you need some additional guidance or want to come up with a full plan to make your home more efficient feel free to contact me at to set up an energy audit.

What you should know when buying a flip...


In a market like the one we currently have here in Grand Rapids flips are fairly common. An individual or a company purchases a beat up, dated or neglected home, the house gets cleaned up and updated and placed back on the market as fast as possible. There are a few things to look at when buying a home that has been flipped.

1- Check to see if permits where pulled and closed out. Here in Grand Rapids all permits can be checked online. You can see who pulled the permit, when it was pulled and if it was passed its inspections. The absence of permits arent a deal breaker but is a not a great sign.

2- Look past the kitchens and bathrooms. Flippers spend most of their time and money on these areas and often neglect to fix or update the more important and costly items of the home (foundation, furnace, electrical, plumbing, etc.) I have seen a brand new kitchen with high end appliances but right below it in the basement were damaged joists and beams. Make sure you are not being blinded by the cosmetics.

3- Although quality flips exist, they are few and far between. Do some research on who flipped the home. Is this their first flip? What type of reputation do they have? Look up their companies google reviews.

4- Get it inspected! Although these tips can help you weed through the really bad ones expirienced flippers are good at hiding problems. Make sure you hire an inspector that is going to go through the home with an expirienced set of eyes.

Hopefully these tips help! If you have any question or want me to inspect your next home let me know! Id love to help!

Tips from a Home Inspector to a Seller

grand rapids home inspector

The home selling process can be a very stressful time. In most cases your are trying to keep your home immaculate, constantly rearranging schedules to accommodate showings, and probably also out looking for your new home. The last thing any seller wants to happen is to run into issues after their home has been inspected. Here are a few tips to hopefully help the process go smoothly!

1- Pre-Inspect your home! Hire a local home inspector to go through and check out your home before you list! This is a great idea because then you can preemptively address any large issues and hopefully catch any possible deal breakers on the front end! You can also knock out some of the smaller items yourself if you have time!

2- Disclose any issues. If there are any issues make sure you disclose them in the disclosure form, in most cases if the buyer hires a competent home inspector he will find these issues anyway and honesty is always the best policy! Remember, there are no perfect homes out there… however if it appears you are attempting to hide issues it can and most likely will affect buyers view of the home.

3- Give the buyers and Inspectors space and time. If at all possible find something to do for a few hours while the inspection is being done. It is in your favor that the buyers are present during the inspection. For a buyer reading a 40 page report is normally a lot scarier than doing a walk through on site with the inspector and going over the issues and any questions in person. If you are home during inspections the buyer may not feel comfortable staying, they may leave early and/or they probably wont ask questions freely. This can leave them confused, worried or anxious.

4- Make sure that your attics, electrical panels and mechanicals can be easily accessed. This means moving clothes from the closet, not storing items around the furnace or water heater, making sure the electrical panel isn’t hidden behind a picture frame or a shelf, and moving any thing in the garage that may be below an attic hatch. The last thing anybody wants is for the inspector not to be able to inspect one of these items. Usually when an inspector cant inspect an item it will end up delaying the process and having to schedule another inspection for that item.

5- Clean homes go faster. If your home is clean it will make the inspection go a lot faster! Also remember the buyers are usually present and if the house is a mess it can affect how they feel about the home after inspections.

6- If possible take your pets with you or have them in a crate during the inspection. There are usually a lot of people going in and out, opening and closing doors and windows, so if a pet is left out there is a good chance they can sneak out if they want to. The last thing we want is for this to happen!

7- Don’t take it personally! This is probably the hardest one. As inspectors our job is to look for all the negatives in your home. This doesn’t mean we think your home is horrible, even brand new homes have issues! So if you do read through the report just remember that the inspector is only documenting the issues and if the inspector went through his own home the list would probably look very similar!

Hopefully you find these tips helpful during your home sale! If you need help with a pre-inspection on your existing home or a full inspection on your new home give me a call and I can help!

Termites, not just a Florida problem...

Termite mud tubes and damaged joist

Termite mud tubes and damaged joist

We don't normally think of Michigan as "termite country" so when I began inspecting homes I was surprised at the amount of homes we have with visible termite damage. Over the last few years I would estimate that about 5-10% of the homes I inspect have evidence a termite infestation. So although the problem isn't as bad as our friends down south it is definitely something to be on the lookout for.  

When we find signs of termites its usually because of their mud tubes. They use build these mud tubes as tunnels to travel from food source to food source. Here are a few tips on what to look for when walking through homes: 

1- Garages are usually a pretty easy area to spot them since there is normally no insulation for termites to hide behind.

2- Rim joists in the basement near doorways. These areas usually end up getting some water and termites absolutely love wet lumber. 

3- The underside of the fireplace in the basement. The termites can usually sneak in behind the fireplace without being noticed. 

Although we are pretty good at spotting termites we have partnered with a professional pest company Rockwood Services and we can schedule them for a small additional fee to come out during the inspection time and inspect the home for any sign of termites and other wood eating organisms. 

Gutters and Grading - Two Indicators of a Wet Basement


Living in the Midwest has its benefits; cheese curds, breweries, the great lakes, sand dunes, bike trails, hiking trails, among many other things. Yes we have to deal with the possibility of snow for 5 months of the year but we just wont talk about that. One benefit of the Midwest that usually isn't mentioned is the basement. Basements are great for storing junk, letting kids run around, additional bedrooms, extra living space, or if maybe even a man cave, den, or theater room.

As a home inspector I have noticed a pretty significant pattern. If you don't have gutters (or they are just draining at your homes foundation) and if your grading is wrong there will be most likely be moisture in your basement. Gutters are relatively inexpensive ($700-$1500) for seamless aluminum gutters. Grading is even cheaper all you need is a few yards of topsoil, yard tools and some elbow grease. 

Here is what I recommend when I see these issues while inspecting a home:

-Your home should have gutters around the entire perimeter and your gutter downspouts should extend out at least 5 feet from your foundation. 

-Your homes grading should be slopped away from your house at about 1/4 inch per foot. (Note: Wood chips/mulch do not count as grading!) 

Having these two things done correctly can help save you a lot of headaches and money in the long run! In some cases depending on the water table you may need a more drastic approach, however I always recommend starting with gutters and grading as they are in a lot of cases the culprit for allowing moisture in your basement! 

Sick of getting outbid on your Dream Home?

Last year the Grand Rapids area housing market was very competitive. It was not uncommon to have 10 to 15 offers on a house. Buyers were offering cash, going above asking price, writing letters to the seller and doing almost anything to get their dream house. It appears that 2018 will be more of the same! Most people don't think of a home inspector until after they have a signed contract, however we might be able to help get you that signed contract and your new dream home! No I cant give you $20,000 dollars cash to beat the other offers but I can help make your offer a lot more attractive to sellers!

We Offer The Best Home Inspection Guarantee!

As a member of InterNACHI®, Ink Home Services proudly offers the "We'll Buy Your Home Back" guarantee. Where if we miss anything listed on our Standards of Practice during the inspection, InterNACHI® will buy your home back. If you think it sounds too good to be true, well you better look twice! Here is the "fine print":