Wednesday, May 28, 2014


A crawlspace in a home is a portion that resides under the living area of a property.   There can be many hidden issues inside a crawlspace that can create nightmare situations if not attended properly.
There are two major items that typically occur.  Those two are water ingress, and mold.
The crawlspace typically sits below the grade of the house.  This means that during rain, it can potentially be a spot where water enters.  An easy way to identify if water is moving through concrete is looking for something called efflorescence.

Efflorescence is essentially minerals in the water that have evaporated on the surface.  The efflorescence itself is harmless, but it can indicate moisture moving in.

A little bit of efflorescence around a hairline crack

It is quite common to see some degree of efflorescence, and I typically look for the severity and the location where the water is coming in.  If its near wood structure pieces, you can stand a chance to get rot. 

 More severe efflorescence

To reduce any chance of moisture ingress, the best way is to control the moisture from the outside.  What this means is making sure your drain tile is clean and clear. 
Planter beds right next to the foundation can be another source of moisture penetration.

  Rot has occurred on wood structure
 from moisture ingress inside a crawlspace

Moisture barriers can also be installed on the outside, which typically looks like a corrugated plastic material against the foundation.
The black plastic at the bottom is a moisture barrier installed on the exterior

       This planter is right next to the foundation

In other words there are fixes, and preventative items that can be done.
The second common issue is mold.  This can be due to the fact that a crawlspace, like an attic, requires ventilation to keep air moving.  When the air becomes stale, you stand a chance to create the right environment for mold growth.
What this means is crawlspaces require vents to the outside, and may also include heat registers that heat the space as well.  I get asked if they are done on purpose that way, and the answer is yes, they are.  Never block the vents to the outside.
As long as proper maintenance and effort is taking, crawlspaces can be nightmare free.

The black plastic at the bottom is a moisture barrier installed on the exterior

Aaron Borsch
Certified Master Home Inspector (CMHI)
A Buyer's Choice Home Inspections - Tricities, BC
Inspected Once.  Inspected Right!
License #: 53540
Phone: 604-880-0818


Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Living in the lower mainland, there are a lot of trees and shrubs in most places.  They can make a house look very pleasing, almost natural.  However from the home inspection standpoint, plants and trees take maintenance to make sure they don't damage your property.
The most common issue I find is shrubs or tree limbs either covering parts of a house, or resting against the siding itself.   It can be nice to have the shrub garden, but from the house stand point, it can hold moisture against the siding.  A good rule of thumb is to have about 60cm of room between the siding and shrubs, just to make sure that moisture doesn't one day penetrate into the wood frame.
Shrubs against property
Further, large tree limbs can cast a shadow over parts of your property.  While again it may be nice to have the shade, it also doesn't let your house or roof properly dry, which again can hold more moisture against the house.
Overhanging Tree Limbs

Large trees also can have complex root systems.  These root systems can make their way into your house drainage tile.  This can be more common with older properties.   As long as your drainage tile is intact, it can be cleaned out with specialized tools.   Best way to discover this is to get someone specialized in scoping your drain tile.
Roots clog drain tile

And the last most common issue is garden beds.  Some properties build their garden beds that rest against the house.  This can allow moisture to be driven against the property and it will eventually penetration.  An easy way to circumvent this is to have a proper liner separating the garden bed and the property structure. 
Garden Bed

But if it is not a raised bed, and rests against the foundation, its best to make sure there is at least 15cm of the foundation exposed from the grade level of the soil.  This will significantly reduce chances of any rot that may set into your sub floor or sill plate.
Foundation exposure

While the above are suggestions, some people really enjoy the look of having so many trees or plants.  There is nothing wrong with that, but as long as there is awareness on the maintenance that may be required.  It will help your property in the long run. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


It is time to put away the scarves, mitts and boots, and bring out the pastels and sunglasses!!
BLOSSOM and SPRING into the season with some small changes that make a big impact to a home’s look and feel.
Laura’s Spring-inspired tips start by refreshing the entrance to your home; nothing says welcome like a Spring wreath and fresh flowers to add a touch of colour. To add brightness and warmth, bring in some new cushions and throws. Freshen up your bathroom with light and airy colours, giving a bright new feel. Update spaces throughout your home by swapping pictures and replacing with one statement piece. Most importantly, bring Spring inside your home; create a tiny terrarium or an assortment of plant on a tray.
Make your home bloom bright this Spring!

Monday, May 5, 2014


The cost to break your mortgage
Most homeowners should expect to pay a penalty if they want to break their mortgage to get a better rate or for a complete refinance.  Homeowners in 5 year fixed mortgages often look to break their mortgage during their 3rd year for debt consolidation or to accommodate changing life circumstances.
The penalty to break a mortgage is typically the greater of:
  • three months’ interest, or
  • the interest-rate differential (IRD).
With the IRD, your mortgage lender will want you to pay the equivalent of what they will lose by releasing you from your mortgage and lending the money at current rates.  Unfortunately, not all lenders calculate IRD the same way so you should always get the actual penalty from your lender.    If you are in a variable product, the penalty is typically 3 months interest.
If you want to look at breaking your mortgage, we can review the terms and conditions of your mortgage and do an assessment of your situation to determine if your benefit outweighs the cost.There is no cost or obligation.  Often penalties are rolled into the new mortgage so you don’t have to be out of pocket. 
If you are starting to shop, before you work with your current Lender, be sure to speak with me so I can go through the differences in calculations – which can sometimes be a HUGE difference, as in thousands of dollars. 
An expert at  providing the advice, education and resources that homeowners like yourself need. It pays to be informed, I’m here to help!  Call Daniela Serena,  Your Mortgage Expert at 604.889.6750.