FCS3279 Energy Ecient Homes: Home Inspections Related to Energy Eciency 1 Kathleen C. Ruppert, Randall A. Cantrell, Christine Swanson, and Building a Safer Florida 2 1. This document is FCS3279, one of the Energy Ecient Homes series of the Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date June 2008. Revised July 2015. This material was initially prepared with the support of the Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Energy Oce, which is now the Oce of Energy, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The revised versions were completed with the support of the Florida Energy Systems Consortium ( http://oridaconserves.org ). Any opinions, ndings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reect the views of the sponsoring organizations. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.u.edu 2. Kathleen C. Ruppert, UF/IFAS Extension scientist, Program for Resource Ecient Communities; Randall A. Cantrell, assistant professor, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences; Christine Swanson, program assistant, Program for Resource Ecient Communities; and Building a Safer Florida, Inc., 1400 Village Square Boulevard, Number 3-243, Tallahassee, FL; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or aliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your countys UF/IFAS Extension oce. U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension. is fact sheet discusses four categories of state regulated inspectors: (1) home inspectors, (2) energy raters, (3) mold assessors, and (4) wood-destroying organisms (WDO) inspectors, along with a nonstate regulated category for water eciency. Each category has dierent ways to help you save energy depending on the type of inspection performed. Quick Facts A professional home inspection can verify the condition of a house for purchase as well as identify the need for recommended repairs and/or upgrades for homeowners. By Florida law, only state-certied energy raters may provide energy-rating services. Certied energy auditors and utility auditors are not home inspectors, nor are they home energy raters. Home energy ratings can be used for either existing homes or new homes. Existing homeowners can use them to consider options for upgrading a homes energy eciency. New home buyers can use them to compare the energy eciency of homes they are considering for purchase. Wood-Destroying Organism (WDO) inspectors are not the same as home inspectors. WDO inspectors only inspect homes for termites and other wood destroying organisms. See http://edis.ifas.u.edu/in629 for more information on this topic. Enforcement of licensing requirements for home inspec tors, mold assessors, and mold remediators in Florida, through the Florida Department of Business and Profes sional Regulation, began July 1, 2011. How do you choose a home inspector? Like anything else, a home inspection is only as good as the inspector doing the work. It is in your best interest to carefully verify the qualications of any inspector you consider hiring. Step 1: Basic Qualication Check First, make sure any home inspector has expertise on the specic subject for inspectionexpertise on plumbing is not the same as expertise on carpentry. Second, verify any business background or license(s) held by the home inspec tor (see below for how to do this). ese two preliminary measures apply to all types of inspectors.
2 Energy Ecient Homes: Home Inspections Related to Energy Eciency Step 2: Further Specics Once you know your home inspector is generally qualied, you will want to check two additional specic items. First, you should request a copy of the home inspectors contract, agreement, or proposal and read the ne print to determine exactly what you will get for your money. e Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.) 61-30.801 through 61-30.811, under Rule Chapter 61-30, Chapter Title: Home Inspectors contains specic Standards of Practice on what to expect in a home inspection ( https://www.rules.org/ gateway/ChapterHome.asp?Chapter=61-30 ). Second, you should request that the home inspector provide you with a list of current and past customers as well as a list of references. is enables you to learn more about the experience and track record of the home inspector. You should take the time to check with several references on the list. In addition, you should study the list of customers. Count the number of customers and see how many are builders and how many are residential property owners the more residential customers, the better. Generally, the higher the price, the more comprehensive or complete the service will be. However, a higher price may also be associated with a greater level of expertise or experience. When comparing prices for home inspections, it is very important to compare the actual service and qualications at the same time. An easy way to do this is to create a simple chart listing (Table 1). Your chart will quickly show you that a lower price is not always the best way to choose a home inspector. If seeking more information regarding the Florida Statutes related to home inspectors, see http://www.leg.state..us/statutes/ index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=Ch0468/ part15.htm&StatuteYear=2007&Title=%2D%3E2007%2D% 3EChapter%20468%2D%3EPart%20XV A good home inspection helps the home buyer understand the condition of the home systems and appliances plus replacement and maintenance expenses. Regular maintenance helps everything in your home operate better, more eciently, and more safely. It can also help you avoid an unexpected (and expensive!) system failure in the future ( http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/ lessons-home-inspection ). Conversely, if you are preparing your home for sale and would like to know what an inspector is going to most likely report to potential buyers about your home, it behooves you to obtain an inspectors report prior to listing your home for sale. is is the surest method for avoiding any surprises when you do list your home on the market and begin showing it to potential buyers because you have already taken care of issues that the buyers inspectors will most likely nd, thus minimizing the time required between when potential buyers decide to make an oer on your home and when you can deliver on the deciencies requiring attention in the inspection report. In some cases (e.g., septic system issues), the sale can potentially be terminated because of the time and money required to remediate the ndings in the inspection report; whereas, if this information is known in advance and addressed, it can save surprises and disappointment. What is a Home Energy Rating? HERS (Home Energy Rating System) is a standardized evaluation of a homes energy eciency and expected energy costs. e home energy rating can qualify a home owner or homebuyer for an energy-ecient mortgage (EEM), an energy-improvement mortgage (EIM), or other programs. See http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/consumer/ buildings/homes/ratings/index.htm for more information on the benets of home energy ratings. When purchasing an existing home needing energy-ecient improvements, be sure to ask the lenders you contact if they oer such mortgages. Replacing items such as an old or barely work ing heating and air conditioning system is much easier on the wallet if you include that cost into the mortgage rather than moving in and a month later needing to replace the unit with money out of pocket. Table 1. Comparing home inspectors Individual or company name Price Inspector qualication(s) Level of service (what they will do)
3 Energy Ecient Homes: Home Inspections Related to Energy Eciency By Florida law (section 553.990, Florida Statutes), only those individuals certied by the state are allowed to provide an energy rating in Florida. ese raters have undergone specialized training and passed the required exams. ey are also required to take continuing education classes and pass further exams to keep their certication. In addition, all of their ratings are submitted to a central registry that checks for accuracy. A HERS rating will help the home buyer consider the total cost of ownership, which includes the house price plus the expected operating costs. Home buyers can literally get more home for less money by taking advantage of the operating cost savings of improved energy eciency. ey also will get a higher-quality, more comfortable home ( http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/consumer/buildings/homes/ ratings/why.htm ). What about inspections for mold or fungus? During the past few years, inspections for mold and fungus have become more specialized. If you need this type of inspection, you may want to seek an inspector who has completed specialized training. Inspectors who specialize in mold may also be mold assessors, while mold remediators are those who specialize in removing mold. Florida requires licensure specic to mold assessment or remediation. You should take the same care in selecting a person with this expertise as you would when hiring any other inspector or remediator. Note that as of July 1, 2010, home inspectors, mold asses sors, and mold remediators in Florida had to be licensed through the Florida Department of Business and Profes sional Regulation. Enforcement of this requirement began July 1, 2011. See http://www.leg.state..us/statutes/index. cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=Ch0468/part16.ht m&StatuteYear=2007&Title=%2D%3E2007%2D%3EChapt er%20468%2D%3EPart%20XVI for Florida Statues related to mold-related services. ough a mold inspection may not directly aect energy eciency, it can help point out a system failure in a home. A few examples are oversizing of the HVAC system; a too-tight home without proper ventilation in moisture producing areas like the kitchen or bathroom; insucient or irregular insulation creating condensation in the walls; roof and/or plumbing leaks; and a clogged AC condensate line dripping into the home. What about inspections for WDOs (wood-destroying organisms)? A licensed WDO (wood-destroying organism) inspector will report visible and accessible wood-destroying organ isms and/or damage. By Florida Statute denition, wooddestroying organism means arthropod or plant life which damages and can reinfest seasoned wood in a structure, namely termites, powder-post beetles, oldhouse borers, and wood-decaying fungi. Certied WDO inspectors are licensed by the state and are required to carry an ID card containing the endorsement WDO inspector. A WDO inspection can be requested by the home buyer and in some cases is a requirement of the lending bank. In order to understand the importance and legalities of a WDO inspection, a home buyer can read the information on WDO inspectors at http://www.freshfromorida.com/ Consumer-Resources/Consumer-Protection/Pest-Control/ Florida-Termite-Help A WDO inspection, like a mold inspection, will not directly increase the energy eciency of the home but can point out a potential system failure in the structure to the homeowner. Termites are attracted to moisture and food. A leaky pipe not only wastes water, it provides an attraction for termites. A humid, underventilated crawl space, laundry room, or bathroom are other examples of home system failure that can provide good habitat for termites. What about inspections for water eciency? Water use within your home and landscape is not energy in and of itself, but the production of energy at most power plants uses water to cool the steam that spins electricity-generating turbines. Water also needs energy to be pumped, piped and, unless you are on a well, puried before it reaches your home. Aer use, unless you have a septic system, energy is also needed to treat the water at the sewage plant before release and/or reuse as irrigation water. erefore, when conserving water, you are conserving both energy and water. Many local governments and utilities in Florida oer home water audits to assist the homeowner in determining where water savings might be found. In some cases, there may be nancial assistance available to make upgrades.
4 Energy Ecient Homes: Home Inspections Related to Energy Eciency e EPA WaterSense website ( http://www.epa.gov/ watersense/ ) can provide a homeowner with both general information and product specic content to make a home more water ecient. Florida Water Star is a voluntary certication program for new and existing homes. Its intent is to encourage water eciency in household appliances, plumbing xtures, ir rigation systems, and landscapes. e St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) and its partners created the Florida Water Star program in 2006 in response to the increasing strain on Floridas water resources, and in 2012 it became a statewide program. is certication program, for new or existing homes, has three distinct categories: Interior appliances, xtures, and leak prevention to minimize water use and waste. Irrigation increased eciency through proper design and installation and improved scheduling practices and technologies. Landscaping encouraging right plant, right place, drought-tolerant plants, and preserved vegetation to reduce outdoor water use. is is one inspection you can do yourself ( http://oridawa terstar.com/technicalmanual/ ) or, if you dont feel comfort able in doing so, hire a certier. For more information, refer to http://oridawaterstar.com/ Cautions You should not hire an inspector/rater who also oers to perform any needed repairs or other workthis may be a conict of interest (and, in some cases, illegal on the part of the inspector). Avoid hiring an inspector/rater who oers to recommend any contractor to perform repairsthis, too, is a red ag. It is also not a good idea to hire an inspector/rater who has worked for a builder or seller associated with the home prior to the inspectionthe risk of a conict of interest is greater in this situation. ink twice about hiring an inspector who worked as a contractor before becoming an inspector. Find out why this person is no longer working as a contractor. If the contractors license was revoked or suspended, this is not a good sign. However, if the inspector/contractor has chosen to shi to a lighter or less stressful schedule of work, this person may bring some of the best practical experience to the job. Resources for More Information You can search for information about the business entity (corporation or other form of business, length of time in existence, etc.) and for other or previous aliations by searching under the inspectors name at the document searches portion of the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations free online search service at http://www.sunbiz.org or by calling 850-245-6939. Find information about any professional licenses held by the inspector (such as architect, engineer, contractor, building code administrator, etc.) by clicking on verify a license at http://www.myoridalicense.com or by calling 850-487-1395. You will rst need to learn what licenses are held by the inspector, and then check for license validity and any record of violations. In addition to verifying licenses, be sure to check for any charges of unlicensed activity. Search for Certied Building Home Energy Raters in Florida at the website https://securedb.fsec.ucf.edu/ engauge/engauge_search_rater e Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) maintains a database to verify a WDO inspectors license at http://ceupublicsearch.freshfrom orida.com/PersonSearch.asp Check for any violations relating to workers compensa tion insurance (a common area for problems in construc tion) at https://apps8.dfs.com/proofofcoverage/Search. aspx or by calling 800-742-2214. Your local county or municipal building department may provide verication of local or state license or any known problems. See the government section of your telephone booklook under building, plans, inspections, or zoning. Your local court records oce may allow you to search under your inspectors individual and business name to see if any litigation has been led or is pending against the inspector. See the government section of your tele phone booklook under courts or clerk of court. For any professional or trade association membership listed by the inspector/rater, you can usually verify the existence or validity of the entity with a simple online search.