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Renovation Tips for a Finished Attic

My attic is partially finished, with another section that is not finished at all. I'm planning to finish both attic sections. What steps do I need to put in place to ensure proper ventilation, insulation, etc. in this situation? I will be doing this myself other than windows, electric, and plumbing.

Our Answer

Finishing your attic is a great project because it is an area of the home most people don't take advantage of! So, it makes a lot of sense to utilize it as a living space. Insulating an attic space like that, however, is difficult. Basically, you want as much insulation as you can get.

However, in a finished attic, you don't have a lot of room to work. At the uppermost level of the home, you most likely want to have 15-20 inches of insulation. This is almost impossible to achieve in a finished attic situation. Typically, you're going to be insulating the underside of the roof rafters - and if it's fiberglass insulation, you have to leave an extra couple of inches for fiberglass insulation.

For this reason, I think your best move is to avoid fiberglass insulation and use spray foam insulation instead. Spray foam insulation is much denser and does not need to be ventilated like fiberglass insulation. It's going to be more expensive for the initial installation, but you will find that it provides many benefits. In addition to insulating, it will also seal the entire attic from drafts. Plus, it has the added benefit of being sound proof. This is why I believe it is the best way to go!

Good luck with your project and be sure to send us pictures when you're done!

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inspection report, home seller, home buyer

Home Inspection Report: Who owns it? Who gets to see it?

Our house is on the market. Last week a home inspection took place. Later the buyer backed out, but before we received a copy of the inspection report. Our realtor says that if we request a copy of that inspection report now, we are then obligated to share it with other buyers. Is that correct, or if we get the report, can we then retain it for our own information and use only? Thank you.

Our Answer

This is a legal question and I'm not a lawyer — but now that that's out of the way, in my 20+ years of experience as a home inspector, it's always been my understanding that the home inspection report is the property of the client that paid for it, which in your case is the home buyer.  Most real estate contracts do require however that if the buyer wants anything fixed, or chooses to back out as the result of that report, then the seller must be given the inspection report.

Now, as for your knowledge of it – the bigger issue is your knowledge of any defects.  If you know something is broken or damaged and don't disclose it, that would be fraud, in which case not selling your house will be the least of your worries.  I'd recommend you get the report, review it and then take action to fix anything that needs repair.  THEN, hire your own home inspector to be sure everything has been addressed (different inspectors can find different issues, based on a wide range of reasons).  Make sure whoever you hire is a member of The American Society of Home Inspectors, your best source to find a qualified pro.

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Dishonest Waterproofing Company

I'm selling my house. The buyer had a mold remediation specialist in to check for mold. They are also a waterproofing company. We subsequently got slapped with a report that stated we had an ongoing water problem in basement, and that a full french drain system is needed (we already have a french drain leading to a sump pump - no mold found btw, and the original inspection said the basement was dry). I will be speaking with the waterproofing company soon. What questions can I ask to make sure the company clearly articulates the issue and reason for suggested remediation?

Our Answer

This scenario has conflict of interest written all over it!  First off, you are dealing with one of the most disreputable groups of contractors in the remodeling industry. Waterproofing company contractors ALWAYS recommend expensive solutions to wet basement problems that are almost always easily fixed with simple improvements to grading and gutter drainage.   And they do so by panic peddling an expensive solution, that is almost never needed.  They'll tell you your home will essentially collapse underfoot unless your get out your checkbook -- and fast.   

More recently, this slippery sub-section of the home improvement industry have also declared themselves "mold experts" which is rarely the case.  If pressed, I'd be shocked if they could produce any credible example of a certification, license, or degree that would truly qualify them as mold remediation experts.

In your case, it's even worse since it sounds very much like they are declaring a problem where none may exist. Plus, the solution they suggest is already installed!

My recommendation is to push back - hard - with the buyer. Let them know sending a contractor with a clear conflict-of-interest to proclaim a problem that will enrich their pockets isn't going to fly, especially when the very solution they recommend is already installed and where their own home inspector reported the basement as dry.  Tell them if they want to send in a State licensed structural engineer to do a proper inspection and submit a report signed and sealed by that engineer, you'll consider your options.  But otherwise, I'd refuse to do anything and find another buyer. 

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