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Today’s Ask the Expert column features Dan Steward, president of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

Q: What tips can I offer my clients to help make their new home safer and less expensive in the long run?

A: As the real estate market continues to improve, housing is currently in great demand in many areas across the country. While this is wonderful news for sellers, buyers are often feeling so much pressure to make the deal or lose the home that they’re forgoing the traditional contingency of the home inspection.

If your client feels the need to go this route, it’s vital that you educate them on the importance of calling in a home inspector after closing. A home inspector will be able to spot issues within the home, nipping them in the bud before they turn into larger headaches.

Here are some tips:

  • Insulation is often lacking in a home’s attic. A professional can determine if more should be added.
  • Soot builds up in chimneys quickly, which can not only lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, but also pose a fire hazard. A certified chimney sweep should be hired to routinely clean the chimney to prevent buildup.
  • A loose toilet seat, while uncomfortable, may be a sign of a bigger issue. In fact, a seat that rocks could indicate that the seal at the base has failed. In addition to allowing water to leak, this could lead to significant damage.
  • The electrical outlets within our homes are sometimes incapable of handling the large amount of gadgets we now throw at them. Consult a certified electrician to install additional outlets to handle the increased load.
  • Plants too close to a home’s siding can cause moisture damage and premature wear.
  • Downspouts that discharge water from a home often release against walls, which can cause the foundation to deteriorate and cause water to enter the basement. Redirect these spouts away from the structure.
  • Chimneys, ovens or range filters can become clogged, posing a major fire hazard. Check filters for built-up grease and consult a professional to check the connections to determine if the model needs an exterior exhaust.
  • Seals around kitchen and bathroom sink fixtures can become loose, leading to water damage. Take the time to examine seals and test and replace any that are loose.
  • Roofs don’t last forever. When purchasing a home, consult a professional home inspector to determine both the age and condition of the roof. Even if you already bought the home, it’s good to know the current shape of the roof. A few minor repairs could be all you need to increase its lifespan.

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