Picture3.png

ASK THE EXPERT

Expert Answers to Common Homeowner Questions About Professional Services 

Clay Hicks 2.png

RESIDENTIAL HOME INSPECTIONS

Clay Hicks Clay Hicks is a certified NC home inspector, the owner of AccuTrust Home Inspections, and a Raleigh Fire Department Battalion Chief. Today Clay talks to us about the responsibilities of home inspectors during a residential home inspection.

Click here

CPI.jpg

HOME SECURITY SYSTEMS

Rhonda Goodman.a CPI neighborhood security consultant, is responsible for the installation of more than 2,500 home security systems in our area.  Today she talks to us  about how we can protect our property and loved ones with a home security system.

Click here

Wildlife removal resize.jpg

RESIDENTIAL WILDLIFE CONTROL

Tad Bassett of Triangle Wildlife Removal & Pest Control, Inc., tells us what we should know about wildlife & pest control and how problems can be detected and sometimes prevented.

Click here

termites.png

TERMITE & PEST CONTROL

Tracy Coats, the President and Founder of The Neuse Termite & Pest Control, entered the pest control industry in 1985. Today he tells us how to protect our homes and businesses from insects, termites, and moisture issues as well.

Click here

legal.png

PERSONAL INJURY ACCIDENTS

Attorney Don Marcari,  who as a young defense attorney with the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps became the basis for the motion picture “A Few Good Men”, explains what we need to know if we have been seriously injured as a result of an accident.

Click here

Dave Morris resize.jpg

RADON TESTING IN YOUR HOME

David Morris, owner of A-1 House Inspectors, and a certified radon expert, tells us what we can do to protect our families from the dangerous effects of this cancer-causing gas. 

Click here

ASK THE EXPERT – RESIDENTIAL HOME INSPECTIONS

Clay Hicks is a certified NC home inspector, the owner of AccuTrust Home Inspections, a licensed general contractor, and also a Battalion Chief with the Raleigh Fire Department. Today Clay talks to us about the responsibilities of home inspectors during a residential home inspection.

What should I look for in the way of training, certifications, experience should I look for when selecting a home inspector? And is on-the-job training or apprenticeship required?

The first thing to look for is that the inspector is licensed by the state of North Carolina. This insures that they have taken the necessary classes and passed the state exam, and also insures that they carry the proper liability insurance, which is also required by the state. Next, experience is a fantastic teacher in any profession, and home inspecting is no different. And this may not only be “years on the job”, but also may mean experience in other professions like being a general contractor, and electrical, plumbing, or HVAC contractor, or other related field. NC licensed home inspectors are required to attend continuing education every year, but if other training is evident, this can be a plus.

 

Should I try to schedule a home inspection as soon as I have a contract to buy a home, and how long should I expect to wait until my home inspector can do my inspection?

The wait time will vary among inspectors, but I always believe that scheduling an inspection as soon as possible will allow more time to decide on how to proceed before the due diligence period is up.

What are some examples of major things that a homeowner might assume are covered during a home inspection that are typically not part of this process?

What some would consider obvious that we don’t do, is sometimes assumed to be part of what we do. For instance, doing invasive inspections -opening up walls, going deep into HVAC systems, examining far up inside a chimney, or moving every piece of insulation in a crawl space – are not part of the NC SOP. We are generally most concerned with the $200-$2000 problem, and not so much the $20 problem. We also are not as concerned with minor cosmetic issues unless they affect the proper operation or function of a system in the home. I’ve had clients ask me to put that a color was not liked on the report in an effort to get a “free” paint job, but we don’t do that type of thing.

Will a home inspector include out buildings and barns in his regular fee or are these additions to his standard fee?

Usually, buildings outside of the main house are not part of the inspection, unless agreed upon ahead of time, whether an extra fee is charged or not.

I know that most real estate brokers basically charge around the same amount to list and sell a house, is this also true of most home inspectors?

 

Prices may be similar, but they do vary, based on experience.

 

What happens if there is an area that my home inspector cannot access during his home inspection?

I am thinking of a locked door to a room, basement, or crawl space, even a locked out-building or garage. The simple answer is if an inspector can’t get in, there’s nothing he can do about it. This is usually mentioned and disclaimed in the report. I honor any reasonable requests to return if/when that area can be opened. It’s not uncommon to have some part of the attic or maybe other area that just can’t be access due to small openings, or ductwork or plumbing that is in the way, or will be damaged if access is attempted. A good inspector will try to look for other evidence around the area, if possible, if he or she can’t get to that spot. We just do the best we can, and most of us make every attempt to look at every area.

Are there other instances where I might consider using a home inspector other than when purchasing a home?

Absolutely! Many home SELLERS choose to have a home inspection of their home completed before going on the market so that they can go ahead and take care of any items that are found that might hinder a sale or cause them to have to reduce the price to compensate. This goes a long way to help the sale go smoothly.

Do fees vary depending on things like the size of the house and the number of rooms or floors?

Yes, typically, home inspectors base fees off of the square footage of the home, the age (usually an older house requires much more time inspecting and writing up the report), whether the home is on a crawl space or not (crawl spaces require more time and effort to crawl around under the house), and, especially with today’s gas prices, distance traveled.

What might I typically expect to see on a home inspector’s report?

The NC Home Inspector’s Licensing Board SOP’s determine what we are to be looking for, and what our scope of practice is.  Those SOP’s can be found at https://www.ncosfm.gov/licensing-cert/home-inspector-licensure-board-hilb/hilb-statutes-and-rules.  The report itself should list the property address, the inspector and his license number, the inspector’s signature, the contents, a summary page of all defects and concerns, and the body, which is a greater detail of each individual section or component inspected.

Is the report typically broken up into sections and is there a standardized report format?

 

Yes, the report is usually broken up into sections.  The format is not necessarily standardized as far as order, but it should have a summary page and body, as far as reporting sections, according to state SOP’s.

In North Carolina, is a home seller required to fix any of the things reported in the home inspector’s report?

 

No, there is no requirement for the seller to repair anything found in a home inspection.

 

Are there situations where a home inspector might recommend the services of a different professional as a result of his home inspection?

Absolutely.  This might be the case if we find defects in HVAC systems, or plumbing issues, electrical issues, etc.  Some of these other professions require state licenses, and they would be the final authority when determining if the system is sufficient or not, depending on what the inspector finds.  Inspectors might find the problem, but can’t, and shouldn’t say conclusively what needs to be done about it, or how much it might cost.

Do home inspectors typically measure the square footage of a home?

No, not typically.  We usually just go off of what is listed in the MLS.

Is it true that a home inspector might include items in his report that are not significant, and that the seller might not be expected to address? Why might the home inspector include these?

Yes, a home inspector may find it helpful or necessary to make suggestions, if they think it can be helpful.  For instance, crawl space vapor barriers were not a requirement in older homes, or home built a certain way.  However, if the inspector believes it might make a difference in lowering the moisture level in a crawl space, they may state that considering this may help the moisture issues there, if they have them.  This is not required, however.

I have heard that home inspectors are not responsible for issues that they cannot observe. To what extent do home inspectors go out of their way to uncover potential hidden issues?

It is true that we can only evaluate what we can see, which is why home inspections are not “invasive”.  We do what we can to see all that we can, and also use “deductive reasoning” to make determinations.  I may not be able to actually see a leak inside a wall, but I can see the evidence of it, as an example.

How long might an inspection typically take, and can I go around with the inspector?

The typical inspection can take from 1 hr. for a small condo, to 5 hours or more for a very large house.  Though it is not against the law to tag along with the inspector, most inspectors prefer to meet you at the end of the inspection, if you are going to the property, to go over any findings.  Keep in mind that most inspectors have a specific process they go through when they inspect.  When the buyer says, “hey, come over here and look at this”, it can throw them off their rhythm, distract them, and actually end up causing them to miss some things.  Buyers are spending a lot to purchase the property, and they should be able to come if they want, but they should also realize that to get the best inspection possible, the inspector needs to be able to give his time and uninterrupted attention to the task.

Do all home inspectors typically check for mold or moisture behind walls and under flooring?

How do they do this, and should I ask if a home inspector performs these types of inspections? Again, home inspections are not invasive, so tearing out walls is not part of the scope of practice for us. If, however, there is a way to get a scope into an opening in a wall, and the inspector has one of these, this might be an option.  Same goes for flooring, although checking for these issues in the crawl space can go a long way towards determining if there are moisture issues under the floor.  That is, if the home has a crawl space.

 

What about crawl spaces and attics – will a home inspector include these areas in his inspection?

 

Yes, these areas are always part of the inspection, UNLESS it is not safe to enter, or entering these areas will cause damage to structures or installations.  For instance, once in a while, it is not practical to enter every area of an attic because doing so might damage HVAC ductwork that is in the way.

 

Does a home inspector check for the operation of kitchen appliances? How does he do this?

Yes, appliance inspection is part of the state SOP’s.  It usually involves operating the appliance to make sure it heats up (stove) or runs (dishwasher and disposal). Those are just a few examples – you get the idea.  We DO NOT check for calibrations and proper operating temperatures, as this is beyond the scope of practice.

What about things like heat pumps, air conditioning, and gas furnaces?

When feasible, these systems are also run, and most inspectors will measure temperature differences when practical.  Depending on o the outdoor temperature and what system is being tested, this is not always possible, for various reasons.

What about major repairs, renovations, upgrades, and additions?  Does a home inspector check to see if these were permitted?

This also varies among inspectors, but checking for construction permits usually falls to the realtor or prospective buyer, if they are not using a realtor.

Where there is a septic system, what does a home inspector check for?

The home inspector will usually proceed as normal in this situation, with a few small differences.  In North Carolina, inspecting a septic system requires a separate certification, which some home inspectors may have.

If I have my own questions and concerns about a specific property, should I point these out to my inspector?

In my opinion, it never hurts to point mention concerns to an inspector.  We are human, and can make mistakes, and pointing out something that you want them to take a specific look at can’t hurt.  Other inspectors may disagree with me on this.

While the home inspector is not a professional surveyor, will he typically check the property lines using on-line mapping tools to detect any irregularities?

Not usually, unless there is an obvious issue, such as possible drainage problems from a neighbor’s yard, or something similar.

What about homes that use wells for domestic purposes?

Again, the home inspection will be similar, and specific well pump inspections should be done by a company that specializes in them.

In addition to things like mold and moisture, will a home inspector be able to check for the presence of health issues like asbestos and lead-based paint?

Those concerns usually require testing to be sure that lead or asbestos are present, and some inspectors will gather samples and send to labs for an extra fee.  Experienced inspectors can see the type of material (certain sidings, etc.) and know with a high degree of certainty that it does contain the substance, but other materials must be tested to know for sure.

 

Should I try to have my home inspection performed prior to an appraisal and other inspections in case the inspection reveals important issues?

 

This would be a question better answered by a realtor, as circumstances can dictate different approaches, house to house.

What about homes that have stucco? What does the home inspector typically check for and are there any limitations?

Stucco can be very tricky, and many home inspectors will not take the liability of inspecting stucco, choosing rather to recommend a general contractor for evaluation, which may require a more invasive inspection.

I am planning to purchase a new home in a new residential community. The builder is large, has been in business a long time, and has an excellent warranty package. Should I still consider a home inspector?

The hope with a new home is that all contractors did a good job, and all city/county building inspectors were meticulous in their inspections.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  I have found a few serious defects in brand new homes, including missing roof shingles, missing drain plumbing under a sink, and a leaking dishwasher, to name a few. 

Along the same line, it’s a good idea to schedule a home inspection about 11 months after buying a new home, as most new home warranties run out after a year.  This way, if there is a high-dollar issue, it can be repaired on the builder’s dime instead of the buyers.  Again, the hope is there’s nothing to find at this point, but if there is, it will be worth it.

Could a home inspector get hurt during the inspection process? There are often ladders involved and tight crawl spaces as well. Do home inspectors typically carry their own insurance that would cover an injury on my property?

Yes, there are multiple hazards that are present during home inspections. From falls and injuries from jagged edges, to dealing with electricity and wildlife. Home inspectors typically carry insurance to cover themselves in case any accidents happen.

What recourses might I have if I feel that my home inspector missed a serious flaw or issue he should have found?

I would say the first thing to do is check the contract, which they are required by the state to have you sign, to make sure it wasn’t stated in there that he would not be checking something you thought they would. The next thing to do would be to contact the inspector and ask them about it. Almost all of us are easy to get along with, but before we agree to anything, we’re going to want to see the exact complaint, and make sure it is legitimate. Don’t forget, we take a lot of pictures, even if they aren’t going to go in the report. These pictures have saved many inspectors countless times when they can show that “it wasn’t like that during the inspection”.

 

Most home inspectors want to make it right if it is their responsibility to do so. Don’t forget, it these times of flipping houses, there are so many cosmetic improvements done by flippers, that it is much easier to hide a defect than it is to find it when it has been hidden. The last thing to do with a legitimate complaint that is at an impasse, is to go to the NC Home Inspector Licensing Board web page to file a complaint.

 

If you have any questions, call Clay at 919-816-2363, or email him at info@AccuTrustHomeInspections.com

The Regency Park Partnership is not affiliated with this company and does not make any endorsement in regard to the products and services that it may provide. The sole purpose of this Q&A is to provide answers to typical questions about the goods and services that companies like this may typically offer. You should always contact two or more providers of these goods or services before choosing one.

GO TO TOP OF PAGE

 

ASK THE EXPERT - PEST CONTROL

 

Tracy Coats, of Neuse Termite and Pest Control, tells us how to protect our homes and businesses from insects,  termites, and moisture issues.

What is the definition of pest control?​

Pest control is defined as the regulation or management of a species defined as a pest, a member of the animal kingdom that impacts adversely on human activities. On the surface, that definition is correct! However, homeowner definition of pest control next to an industry professional’s can be quite different. To a customer, for example, pests can be spiders, ants, silverfish, squirrels, opossums, and racoons! But for most pest control businesses, services do not extend outside of the insect family. 

How is pest control performed?​

Most businesses will begin with an “initial visit.” They will get to know your home, view the conditions that surround your property and locate potential entry points for various species of insects. Searching for the root of a homeowner problem is more important than applying a band-aid to any pest situation. After the initial visit it is common to set a schedule to visit multiple times each year. Why is this important? Pest management is extremely seasonal, and species that invade in the Spring will not be the same pest that finds its way inside as the temperature begins to drop. In a state like North Carolina where we truly have four seasons, consistent visits are key to prevention. 

 

What can I do to ward off pests myself?​

Although many insects can be persistent, the best thing a homeowner can do is to eliminate “good conditions” where pests thrive. This will vary by insect, but a few constants are to have shrubs trimmed back from the home, keep an eye on any leaning trees or branches (ants love this), and divert moisture or standing water away from your house. Also, keep tiny holes plugged in the kitchen and bathroom areas, such as where caulk and grout will dissipate over time. 

How are termites different from other pests?​

While termites can certainly fall under the “pest” category, they are much more than irritating critters. Due to the treatment required and risk that they pose to both residential and commercial structures, termite control has its own separate category of services and field of study throughout North Carolina. If an infestation becomes too severe over time, it can threaten the structural integrity of a building. Local institutions such as North Carolina State University devote considerable research monitoring termite activity in our state, and termite treatments involve vastly different training, products, and execution than a pest control service. 

When should I be concerned about termites? 

The old quote “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” could not ring more true here. Termites have been alive since the age of dinosaurs and require the cellulose in wood to eat. The survival of the colony is of paramount importance to them - meaning their food search does not halt once they find a source of wood in the ground or from fallen trees. Persistence is a strong quality in them which is why North Carolina homes often fall prey to their hunger.​

What does termite protection typically include?​

Termite control will function very similar to an insurance policy, and getting started will differ depending on the age and construction of your home. Overall, a company will first schedule a visit and inspect the home for any signs of termite activity. If no current activity is found, then a termite treatment will likely be scheduled before your home can be put under coverage.​

Coverage itself can vary, so be sure to ask plenty of questions! Some policies cover damage incurred while under coverage as well as a re-treatment guarantee - while others do not cover damages to the structure. The annual renewal fee for the inspection will also differ from company to company. Like any policy, it is important to stay informed what protection level you may have.​

Why do many pest companies also offer moisture control services?  

Moisture control is both a general extension of home protection and an excellent tool for termite prevention. In fact, since subterranean termites live in the soil and require a moist environment, excess moisture levels underneath a home make it easier for subterranean termites to invade. Many termite inspectors will also perform a wood moisture test underneath a structure during an inspection. 

Other risk factors for elevated moisture levels include moisture damage to the home’s flooring system, poor air quality from increased mildew, fungus and allergens in the home, and risk of floors buckling or warping

 

 

If you have any questions, you may call Neuse Termite and Pest Control them at 919-553-9888, or email them at info@neusetermiteandpest.com

 

 

The Regency Park Partnership is not affiliated with this company and does not make any endorsement in regard to the products and services that it may provide.  The sole purpose of this Q&A is to provide answers to typical questions about the goods and services that companies like this may typically offer.  You should always contact two or more providers of these  goods or services before choosing one.

GO TO TOP OF PAGE

 
 

ASK THE EXPERT – HOME SECURITY SYSTEMS

 

Rhonda Goodman is a CPI neighborhood security consultant and has been responsible for the installation of more than 2,500 home security systems in our area.  Today she talks to us  about how we can protect our property and loved ones and all about the basics of a home security system.

 ​

What is the difference between a wired and a wireless system?

Most home security companies offer both wireless and wired systems. Wireless devices communicate with the home control panel without the need for wires and of course the remote devices in a wired system are each wired to the same control panel. Normally would need a home with a crawl space in order to have a wired system.​

Which do you see more of?​

We are doing more of the wireless systems. They are easier to install and of course the various security devices can be later easily relocated by an authorized technician if the need ever arises. But a wire-less system does require the homeowner to change the batteries when they get low and also as part of a preventative maintenance program.​

So are we saying that wired system do not have batteries?​

Yes, remote devices for a wired system also have back up batteries. The difference is that while the batteries for wireless devices are the only power source, the batteries in a wired system provide backup power in a power failure.    These batteries will re-charge themselves once the power comes back on.  
 

How do the basic system devices work?​

All of the devices send an alarm issue signal to both you and to a remote monitoring center. The major difference is that you would hear the alarm first if you were home which gives you an opportunity to cancel the alarm before the monitoring stations receive it.

What are the more basic or common components and how do you use them?​

These would be the door, windows, glass break, and motion detectors.​

You mentioned motion detectors, but won’t these set off an alarm if we are at home and moving around the house?​

There is a way to make your alarm system active when you are in the house so that all devices except the motion detector are active and another way to set the all the devices when everyone will be way. This is easily controlled by using a different code at your control panel.

 

What about monitoring and how does this work?

 

Remote monitoring stations are manned by trained technicians and usually operate 24/7. There are usually several monitoring stations that cover a specific area in case of a power outage or any other major problem at one monitoring station. If the monitoring station receives an alarm from your location, it will automatically notify you, the authorities, and anyone else that you specify.

What will a system actually cost me? 

The cost for labor and materials will vary depending on the type and number of devises that are necessary to protect your home. Many companies may offer special promotions and discounts as incentives for the installation of basic system components. Many companies also offer a free no-obligation security survey conducted by a trained professional to determine what your need actually is and what the cost would be. And the time required to install a home system is approximately 3 to 4 hours.​

What about the remote monitoring, what will this cost?​

This varies by the company and may also depend on if you add other types of devices that require monitoring such as smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide detectors. But the monthly cost for a basic system might run from about $30 to $40 per month.​

Is a home security system all I need to protect my home and family? 

There are certainly other things a homeowner should do even if they have a security system, such as fire escape ladders. Clearly marked and visible house numbers, fire escape routes and plans, and a way for authorities to get into your home in case of a fire or medical emergency. ​

 

What further enhancements are generally offer by home security companies?​

Remote door locks, exterior & interior cameras, programmable thermostats, garage controllers are among the many additional equipment options that can be added to a home security system. 

Is there anything else you want to tell us?    

Yes - many insurance companies offer an annual homeowner’s policy discount for having a monitored alarm system. This will vary by the insurance company and the type of policy. ​

 

This home security Q&A is courtesy of CPI Security

If you have any questions, call Rhonda Goodman at 919-669-3928, or email her at rgoodman@cpisecurity.com

 

The Regency Park Partnership is not affiliated with this company and does not make any endorsement in regard to the products and services that it may provide.  The sole purpose of this Q&A is to provide answers to typical questions about the goods and services that companies like this may typically offer.  You should always contact two or more providers of these  goods or services before choosing one.

GO TO TOP OF PAGE

 

ASK THE EXPERT – PERSONAL INJURY ACCIDENTS

 

Attorney Don Marcari,  who as a young defense attorney with the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps became the basis for the motion picture “A Few Good Men”, explains what we need to know if we have been seriously injured as a result of an accident.

Can you please start with a few basics like the pros and cons of releasing any information to an insurance company?​

The answer is simple:  It is usually never a good idea to discuss an accident or your injuries with an insurance company adjuster or give them information. Adjusters work for the insurance company and have the company’s best interest in mind. They may say they want to help you, but their goal, and their company’s goal, is to simply pay out the least amount of money possible.  I cannot begin to stress enough how important this is no matter how friendly they may seem to be.​

It appears that you should seek legal representation versus negotiating with an insurance company yourself. Why is that?​

You are at a disadvantage from the very beginning if you try to settle on your own. While I wish this were not the case, you need to keep in mind that the insurance company always has an experienced team of lawyers looking out for their best interest. You need to have your own experienced legal team as well. Look at it this way - You may only be in 1 or 2 accidents in your lifetime. On the other hand, a lawyer that has experience in these matters may have successfully negotiated thousands of personal injury claims. And studies consistently show that accident victims that hire a lawyer get 3 to 4 times more money than those who do not.​

You said that the goal of insurance companies is to pay out the least amount of money possible. Why is that? Why can’t they just be fair to all those with valid claims?​

The answer here is relatively obviously if we stop and think about it. They need to make a profit year in and year out.​

What if you have medical insurance that pays for treating your injuries?

We understand that the medical insurer has the right to get reimbursed for the amount that they paid to treat your injuries out of any settlement you may receive. But these expenses can be substantial. If you have an attorney to handle your claim, do they also help negotiate what your medical insurer actually gets paid back? 

This is an excellent question as many people do not realize that in many cases your medical insurer will get reimbursed out of any settlement you may receive. And yes, your attorney will discuss the facts of your case with the carrier and things like the likelihood of recovery, the costs and uncertainty of a trial and the law that can limit their recovery.   In many cases your attorney can reduce what you actually pay back and in some cases this can be substantial.

This is good to know because someone who negotiates on their own will most likely end up paying back the full cost of treatment. Another question we often hear about is “what is my case worth” which we believe has a lot to do with how much an insurer might offer to settle your claim based on its severity. Can you explain to us how this is calculated?​

Unfortunately, there is no book or formula to go by. You’re entitled to be compensated for your medical bills that are reasonably and necessarily incurred, for your lost wages, lost earning capacity, physical pain, emotional suffering, and diminished quality of life. Some of these factors such a medical bills and lost wages might be easier to calculate, but the others will almost always necessitate the services of an attorney that has done these things many times before.​

Do health service providers have an automatic lien on any award for the value of the services they provided and therefore have a right to get reimbursed from any award?​

This is a very complicated area of the law. Some have a lien that must be paid (An example would be to Medicare), some have a limited lien if they follow the law, some only have limited subrogation rights. An experienced attorney can explain the differences and assist you.

​ 

If you have any questions, you may call Marcari, Russotto, Spencer and Balaban  at 855) 435-7247.  

 

The Regency Park Partnership is not affiliated with this company and does not make any endorsement in regard to the products and services that it may provide.  The sole purpose of this Q&A is to provide answers to typical questions about the goods and services that companies like this may typically offer.  You should always contact two or more providers of these  goods or services before choosing one.

GO TO TOP OF PAGE

ASK THE EXPERT –  RESIDENTIAL WILDLIFE CONTROL

 

Tad Bassett of Triangle Wildlife Removal & Pest Control, Inc., tells us what we should know about wildlife & pest control and how problems can be detected and sometimes prevented.

 ​​

What types of pests are common in our area?​

The most common ones are squirrels, bats, birds, opossums, raccoons, flying squirrels, mice, rats, and snakes. Some insects can also be a problem as well including bald face hornets, European hornets, yellow jackets, and wasps. 

Can you break these down a bit by season?​

Most of these animals are dealt with on a seasonal basis, not all year long.  For example it is too hot in houses for flying squirrels in summer; they are wintertime invaders instead.  Snake issues are more common in the spring and summer and the same with wasps and hornets.  Gray squirrels are both spring and fall issues because they have two litters a year and raccoons and opossums are also spring and summer issues because of their birthing seasons with steady intrusions all year long. ​

When do these pests present the most property damage potential for homeowners?​

Most of the potential for these issues is in the spring due to birthing seasons.  Gray squirrels generally start in late January and February then in again in July and August.  This is when they typically enter attics.  Raccoons and possums are entering attics and crawlspaces for the same reason but normally only have one litter per year.  European starlings (invasive birds) typically get in attics, dryer vents, and bathroom vents during the spring while stinging insects are more prevalent in summer after their nests have enlarged.  Snakes are more prevalent in the summer months but have some activity in spring and fall.​

We know that bats are a big issue here and that there are some restrictions on their removal. What can you tell us about this? 

Bats are a frequent complaint in spring, summer and fall.  However there is a state blackout period during the months of May, June, and July where they cannot be removed due to birthing season.  As you can imagine, August and September are very busy with the exclusions where people have been waiting for 3 months for the removal.​

Why is there a blackout period for bat removal? 

The blackout period for bats is for several reasons. The main one is that premature removal will result in the death of the juvenile bats since they can’t fly. The other reason is that if the juveniles can’t fly out of their roosts, they may wind up in the house’s living quarters. This could mean post exposure rabies shots which may cost as much as $10,000.00 per person. Also, juveniles may end up dying in the attic or walls and create foul odors and require reconstruction to remedy the situation.​

What steps might homeowners take to reduce the risk of having property damage?

For starters it is difficult to anticipate where animals may try to enter structures during their active months.  One way to reduce this risk is to make sure trees and shrubs are not touching exterior walls or roofs.  Also make sure visible rot or openings in structures is attended to promptly.  Foundation vents, a/c lines and crawlspace entrances are also entry points for some pests.  For roofs this would include gable vents, soffit vents and returns. Also be aware of the condition of frieze boards, ridge vents and gutter lines along the fascia boards.​

 

Any other advice for reducing these risks?

Homeowners should tend to their landscaping needs and keep things well-manicured and remember that things like brush piles and firewood will attract certain animals which in turn can become a food source for other animals.  Do not store things like bird seed in basements or crawlspaces, as this is an open invitation for pests to invade your home.​

Are there any early signs that there may already be a problem?​

Homeowners should routinely look for droppings and food caches in attics, crawlspaces, and other storage areas.   Also be aware of any dead animal odors, and abnormal noises such as the sounds of running, scratching, shuffling which you need to listen for carefully.  ​

What are some things we might look for outside of the house?​

Routinely check for signs of animal activity on roofs, droppings on outside walls, and even small piles of acorns.   Look for bat droppings under gable vents, bird droppings on exterior walls around bathroom and stove vents, and any gnawed or torn areas along shingles and rooflines.  

What types of damage what do you commonly see in our area?​

Most of the damage we see is along roofs and gutters.  Animals may enter where there is already a compromised area.   Torn foundation vents, openings around HVAC units (favorite for opossums), builder gaps (under shingles at roofline), soffit return gaps and ridge vents are common entry points.  Pests are opportunistic and will exploit weak or rotten areas.  There is also damage from nesting and droppings in attics.  Insulation sometimes will need to be replaced.  ​

Why should a homeowner not attempt to deal with a pest that has gotten into their home or other structures by themselves? ​

 

While some animals can be handled simply by "scare tactics" such as loud noise, holographic devices, and bird bangers. Habitat modification can take care of many problems (fixing rotten areas, general maintenance, and upkeep). However most of the time these pests have to be removed by trapping or exclusion.​

And there are several reasons why a homeowner may need to call a professional.  The diseases associated with wildlife can be deadly.  Rabies, histoplasmosis, and roundworm are most serious with bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and feral cats.  Histoplasmosis is associated with bird and bat droppings and can actually affect the lungs when these are present. Roundworm is a deadly virus generally found in raccoon feces. ​

Clean up should be done with extreme caution and is best performed by a trained professional to reduce rather than spread contamination.​

 

In addition to disease and contamination, what else should homeowners be made aware of?

Injuries can be a big factor when dealing with pests yourself, especially for pests in your attic and ladder related injuries are very common. Animal bites are also common, along with injuries from stinging insects. ​

What about legal restrictions that a homeowner should be aware of?​

Most homeowners may not know that while you do not need a permit to trap an animal on your property, you do need a permit from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission to remove a trapped animal from your property and a valid permit is necessary for any type of transfer.  ​

 

What training and certifications are professional wildlife removal experts require to have?​

Animal damage control agents in North Carolina are required to be licensed by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. And renewal is every three years.  Any type of structural pest control and traditional pest control also requires a structural pest control license with a minimum of $100,000.00 liability insurance.  However liability insurance is not required for ADC agents.​

What proofs of insurance should a homeowner ask for?​

You do need to inquire about the agent’s insurance and if they do not have insurance, you do not want them doing work on your property.  A general liability policy, worker's comp policy and auto liability policy should be in effect and a good rule of thumb would be $3,000,000.00 General Liability, $1,000,000.00 worker's comp, and $1,000,000.00 auto policy coverages. This will insure that you will not be liable for any accidents or damage that occurs on your property if the hired professional has a mishap.​

Can you describe some of the more common wildlife removals that you might be involved with?

​There are a lot of issues with gray squirrels as they have litters in the spring and fall.  The only time squirrels are not removed is during the month of June and part of July. The other animals are seasonal with bats in the spring, summer and fall, birds in spring and summer and flying squirrels during the colder months.  Opossums from crawlspaces are removed year round, raccoons are removed in the spring and summer, and mice and rats are removed all year long. ​

Can you tell us what the removal of some of these pests involves?​

This depends on the type of animal. Most mammals except for bats are trapped.  Typically a trap is placed over the entrance and when an animal enters or exits the structure it is caught in this manner.

Bats are what we call “excluded” from a home.  A one-way door is set over the main entrance and after a bat exits to feed in the evening hours, it is later unable to re-enter the structure.  This is prohibited during the months of May, June, and July because of the maternal colonies because a one-way door then will ensure the death of the juveniles, and this will create other serious problems for the homeowner as we previously discussed.

Birds are typically removed by hand, and this commonly includes European Starlings in bathroom and dryer vents.  Simple removal by hand or flushing them from the area and sealing the entrance is the normal practice.​

What happens to the wildlife that you remove?​

Well most wildlife that needs to be physically removed is typically relocated many miles from where it was trapped except for the “rabies vectors” we also earlier talked about and these need to be euthanized under current regulation.  The typical animals that are trapped and removed are squirrels, flying squirrels, opossums, groundhogs, and raccoons, with snakes and other reptiles and amphibians generally removed by hand. ​

Do you ever leave live traps?  ​

Live traps are actually the "go to" method for removal, and this may involve setting a live trap over the entrance or exit hole. Setting live traps gives some latitude on removal but these traps still need to be checked every 24 hours. If a nursing female is caught, then there are a couple of options that are available.  One is to just remove it from the trap, let it raise the young and then remove all of them later.

But if a lethal trap is set for an animal, you have no choice but to try to locate and remove juveniles if there are any.  Sometimes this process may involve can require extensive work and repairs.​

What kind of repairs are we talking about?​

The type of work that may be required for exclusion may include but not be limited to repair or replacement of ridge vents, drip edge, soffits, fascia boards, gutter line sealing, gable vents, insulation and sheetrock, rot, foundation vents, vapor barriers, trim, dormers and any other areas where an animal may enter, exit, or live in a structure.​

Will homeowner’s insurance cover the cost of repairs?  ​

We have noticed that homeowner's insurance is getting more stringent on claims.  Most insurance companies will not pay for any type of rodent (vermin) removal or repairs.  They will sometimes pay for raccoon and bat removal and/or mitigation since these are rabies vectors and certain hazards can be attributed to the removal and cleanup of these species. It might not be a bad idea to check with your insurance company to see what they might cover before you actually experience a problem.​

Are there some things that are done after wildlife removal to help minimize the risk that the same problems to not occur again?  ​

 

Typically there would be an inspection of the entire structure to identify any other active entrances and potential entry points.  There might be a plan to fix other possible entry points.  It is up to the homeowner if they want other areas sealed for minimal exposure.  

​ 

If you have any questions, you may call Triangle Wildlife Removal & Pest Control at 919 661-0722, or email them through their website at  her at https://trianglewildliferemoval.com/contact-us/  

 

 

The Regency Park Partnership is not affiliated with this company and does not make any endorsement in regard to the products and services that it may provide.  The sole purpose of this Q&A is to provide answers to typical questions about the goods and services that companies like this may typically offer.  You should always contact two or more providers of these  goods or services before choosing one.

GO TO TOP OF PAGE

 

ASK THE EXPERT – RADON TESTING IN YOUR HOME

 

David Morris, owner of A-1 House Inspectors, tells us what we can do to protect our families
from the dangerous effects of this cancer-causing gas. 

 ​

​What is radon gas?​

Radon is a naturally-occurring, radioactive soil gas that comes from decaying uranium deposits in rocks. It travels through fractures and pores underground and enters houses through even the tiniest openings. Houses are pressurized and typically exert a vacuum on the soil around and under them, pulling soil gases like radon up through the foundation. Houses with basements are most susceptible to elevated levels of radon because more of the below-grade living space is surrounded by soil. While less common, there can also be high levels in homes with slab or crawlspace foundations in some parts of the Triangle area.​

Why haven't I heard very much about it?​

This is a topic that typically arises when buying or selling a home, but does not garner much media attention. Buyers often choose to conduct a radon test at the home they're purchasing to verify whether the home has acceptable levels. If the levels are found to be too high, the recommendation is to install a radon mitigation system to permanently reduce the radon levels in the home. But as people become increasingly concerned with indoor air quality, awareness and testing for radon and its level have become more widespread in recent years.​

 

Why should I be concerned about radon?​

The primary health risk from radon exposure is lung cancer; and the EPA says that exposure to high-levels of radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year.  While exposure is not completely avoidable because radon is always present outdoors in low concentrations, the goal is to minimize exposure as much as possible. Smokers or former smokers are at a much higher risk of developing lung cancer from radon exposure than people who have never smoked.​

What can I do to find out if I have radon in my home and if the level may be harmful to my family?​

There are several different testing methods to choose from. One is a digital test that uses a continuous radon monitor that a testing company can place in a house and runs for a minimum of 48 hours. During this testing period, "closed-house conditions" must be maintained. Entry and exit is allowed and expected, but doors/windows should otherwise be kept closed and no painting or other construction work should take place in the home. During this short-term test, the house is kept as closed as reasonably possible to try to create a worst-case scenario. The monitors have sensors that can determine if atmospheric changes occur such as keeping windows open during the testing. After the 48-hour testing period, results are available immediately.​ If any tampering is suspected, the test will be performed again.

You said that this type of test is a worst-case scenario. Is there a different type of test that might give me a better idea of the average radon level in my home?​

Another option is to purchase a long-term radon test kit with a canister online, and place the canister in the home for 3-12 months. Because of the extended duration of this test, it takes into account seasonal and weather fluctuations and may give the most accurate measurement of your home’s actual level of exposure based on your particular living conditions.

 

However long-term radon tests aren't usually an option during real estate transactions due to the minimum exposure time of 3 months, but they are the most accurate representation of your health risks. Radon levels can also fluctuate short and long term based on a wide variety of variables such as weather/rain, how often the HVAC system operates, sub-surface geological changes, etc.​

 

What do I do if I have a test performed and the results indicate that the radon gas level or reading in my home is too high?

There are several companies in the area certified to install radon mitigation systems, which can often be installed in one day. These systems typically utilize PVC pipe with collection holes that are attached to a fan. This will pull air out from underneath the foundation and vent it outdoors using a the continuously-running fan, rather than allow the radon to flow up through the foundation and into the home. Thus, the fan's vacuum creates a new path of least resistance to encourage radon and other soil gases to flow outdoors instead of indoors. These systems are a permanent installation and should keep the radon levels consistently low as long as the fan continues to operate.​

Where can I find out more before I make a decision?​

There are many excellent resources available on the Internet, including descriptions of the different types of mitigation systems. The EPA is a main hub for national radon information at www.epa.gov/radon . And health risk estimates are on the EPA's website at https://www.epa.gov/radon/health-risk-radon and are based on a lifetime of exposure. You also may want to know that there are no federal or state mandates for testing in any state, but the EPA recommends that every home, school, and building be tested.

​ 

If you have any questions, you may call A-1 House Inspectors at (919)886-7071, or email A1houseinspectorscontact@gmail.com

 

 

 

​The Regency Park Partnership is not affiliated with this company and does not make any endorsement in regard to the products and services that it may provide.  The sole purpose of this Q&A is to provide answers to typical questions about the goods and services that companies like this may typically offer.  You should always contact two or more providers of these  goods or services before choosing one.

GO TO TOP OF PAGE