Thursday, February 19, 2009

Class Tips and Information

In order for me to keep my real estate license every two years I must demonstrate that I've taken 23 hours of continuing education. This year I seem to be concentrating on learning things I didn't know before that go into the construction of a home.

Tuesday morning I spent a fact-filled class listening to Greg Booth from Pillar to Post home inspection. His first hour was about how to spot and what would be inside a "grow home." This is a home which is rented for the sole purpose of growing marijuana. I learned a lot, but I'm not sure it's applicable to anything I will come across in Skaneateles - but you never know.

The second hour Greg spoke about keeping water outside the home. Most of it I already knew - how to create drainage around the house by digging a trench, putting in piping, and stopping the water before it gets there. There were a few facts I will pass on:
  • Extensions for the gutters should be 60 inches away from the building
  • "Get the Fog Out" is a service that gets interior moisture out of old windows and seals them for about $75 per window (cheaper than buying new windows!)
  • Put insulation between joists at the edge of the basement and repayment will happen in a month
  • Try cheap methods - gutters, epoxy in cracks - before trying more expensive ones

The third hour was what I took the class for - mold and all that means. I have two houses, one my clients are purchasing and another that has been cited as having some mold residue, and I wanted to know definitively more about it.

If you want to read more, go to for discussions on mold testing and how to clean it. "Toxic mold" is discussed at (I hope that works!)

Greg broke the discussion into 5 parts, with the overarching title of Health Hazards in the Home.

  1. Mold - the same as mildew; mold is usually dormant unless moisture is added, so when you see black stuff and there's no moisture just get rid of it. He showed really bad staining on sheetrock that would scare me but didn't phase him. He said he wouldn't even replace the sheetrock, just clean it. Naturally there are people who are extremely sensitive and more care is needed for them. (One of my classmates said she wished another inspector had been as casual - the other one scared people into NOT buying a home.) Also "There is no such thing as a mold-free environment," according to Greg.
  2. Efflorescence is the white stuff you see on floors. This is not mold but it does indicate moisture.
  3. Formaldehyde insulation (UFFI) has no correlation with health hazards.
  4. Asbestos needs only to be encapsulated so it doesn't fly free in the air. The only time it's a health hazard is if you have long time exposure and it's airborne. Cover it up!
  5. Lead based paint is in houses built before 1978. Unless it is formally removed by a lead abatement team it will be there. Do not let children (or anyone) chew on paint chips (supposedly they taste sweet). If you have an older home and paint chips regularly clean it up with a vacuum regularly. The question came up about the lead piping in the city's water system - that's a source of lead. No one had an answer for that.

I enjoyed the class - the time went quickly and it is always good to meet other Realtors. Too often we talk to each other but never have a chance to get together informally, especially among companies. At the end of the morning I had even found a rental that wasn't on the market!