What to expect during a Relocation Property Assessment
What is a Property Assessment?
A property assessment is an unbiased visual inspection of the exterior and interior areas of a house for the purpose of relocation. It includes structural and mechanical components from the roof to the foundation.
- A relocation property assessment, though similar to a retail home inspection, does not have the same purpose and scope. The property assessment may or may not include the same items found on a retail home inspection. It is intended to follow the established guidelines designed by the relocation industry and the Worldwide ERC® for the specific purpose of relocation.
- A property assessment is not an appraisal, which is focused on the fair market value of a property.
What can you do before and during the property assessment?
- Being flexible and available for scheduling helps the process to get off to a good start -as the relocation company and/or your employer will need the results as soon as possible.
- Please allow for easy access to all areas of the home. The home inspector will not move personal belongings to gain access. Please have any personal belongings moved away from crawl space and attic entries as well as provide clear access to the electrical panels, furnace, air conditioner, water heater, etc.
- Have the house ready for the home inspector as much as possible, such as replacing light bulbs and other maintenance items. This can save time and help avoid possible re-inspections of these items.
- Please allow the home inspector the necessary time to complete the full assessment.
- Advise the inspector of any known problems or defects and answer any questions that the inspector may have regarding the property. Feel free to offer information on any significant remodeling, modifications or repairs to the property.
- Please do not try to conceal any defects of which you may be aware.
- Please have pets secured at the time of the assessment.
- The inspector understands that the assessment is a necessary intrusion into the privacy of your home and he will make every effort to be as professional and courteous as possible. The inspector will appreciate your cooperation to make the inspection process a pleasant experience.
When will the property assessment results be available?
- First, it is important to understand that the RAL assessment is not a pass or fail situation.
- Secondly, after the inspector has be on site, additional work will need to be completed after he returns to his office. The property inspector will provide his written field notes for RAL’s review and it is our goal to provide a final report to the relocation company or the corporate employer within 5 business days from date of inspection.
- Finally, each third party client has their own policy on how and when to disclose the assessment results to the homeowner and will do so at their discretion.
Who will provide you with the results?
The home inspector will be polite and courteous and will be happy to answer any general questions. However, at the request of the relocation company and/or the corporate employer, the inspector is not to disclose any findings unless they pose an immediate health threat. The relocation company or the corporate employer will review the findings and disclose to you at their discretion.
How much time will the property assessment take?
The property assessment timeframe varies from house to house depending upon many factors such as size, age and condition. The average property assessment takes approximately two hours to complete, but may require more or less time.
What can you expect during a relocation property assessment?
Qualified professionals in the home inspection industry perform general property assessments. In some states, licensing is required. The property assessment is of “visible and readily accessible” components and areas of the home.
Primary inspection points will include but are not limited to:
- Foundation -Exterior foundation of the home as well as visible walls and framing members in the crawl space and/or basement.
- Exterior Surfaces -Siding material, trim, fascia, soffits, doors and windows as well as the grading surrounding the house, etc.
- Roof -Roof surface (shingles, etc), flashing, vents, skylights, attic areas, etc.
- Electrical -Main electrical panel and any sub panels, a random sampling of electrical outlets, fixtures and smoke detectors.
- Heating & Air Conditioning -General testing of furnaces and air conditioners when safe to operate.
- Plumbing -Water heaters, kitchen and bathroom plumbing fixtures, supply and drain lines as well as any other visible plumbing lines.
- Interior Surfaces -Floors, walls and ceilings (for structural concerns).
- Various kitchen appliances.
Individual assessments may be ordered in conjunction with and/or subsequent to the RAL Property Assessment dependent upon client request and/or policy.
What is a Pest/Wood Destroying Insect Inspection?
- This type of inspection may be performed by a qualified home inspector or by a pest control company and may also include wood destroying organisms – it depends upon state regulation.
- The purpose is to determine if there is visible evidence of wood destroying insects (termites, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, or powder post beetles).
- The inspection will include crawl space, basements, exterior and interior of home and garage.
- Inspection time can vary but usually takes less than an hour.
- If treatment has been performed in the past or the property is currently under a termite contract (bond), providing the documentation in advance to your relocation consultant is helpful.
What is a Radon Test?
- A qualified home inspector or a radon specialist may perform this type of inspection.
- The purpose is to determine if there is radon gas entering the home. And if so, to see if it is below the EPA action level for mitigation.
- Radon gas is a natural element that can contribute to lung cancer.
- The testing devices can be passive, such as charcoal canisters, or may be a monitor that takes continuous, hourly readings.
- The test period is generally 48 hours but may be longer depending upon circumstances.
- Certain closed-house conditions need to be maintained at least 12 hours prior to and throughout the entire testing period. All windows should be closed prior to and during the process. Normal entry and exit through the doors is acceptable but should be limited. Test devices should not be moved or tampered with during the testing period. Other closed-house conditions may be required. Ask your inspector for any special directions at the time the appointment is scheduled.
- The results are determined off-site after the device has been removed.
What is a Structural Assessment?
- Will be performed by a licensed engineer.
- This inspection can be deemed necessary by the relocation company and/or corporate employer due to the age of a home (dependent upon program guidelines)
- Or, it may be recommended during the home inspection process if any structural components come into question.
- The evaluation may be limited in scope or could include inspection of the entire house – you should be prepared to allow access to the entire home as this will be at the discretion of the structural engineer based on the request and his visual observations.
- The final engineer’s report can take more than a week to process and become available to the relocation company.
What is a Plumbing Assessment?
- A qualified/licensed plumbing contractor will perform a plumbing assessment.
- It is usually recommended during the home inspection process due to plumbing concerns observed.
- This evaluation will, in most cases, specifically address the item(s) recommended during the home inspection process.
What is an HVAC Assessment?
- A qualified Heating and Air Conditioning contractor will perform an HVAC assessment.
- It is usually recommended during the home inspection process due to heating and/or air conditioning concerns.
- This evaluation will, in most cases, specifically address the item(s) recommended during the home inspection process.
What is a Mold Assessment?
- A mold specialist or a mold remediation contractor will perform the mold assessment.
- This is usually recommended during the home inspection process due to observation of unusual staining or suspected mold/fungi.
- The evaluation will include all areas observed and noted as suspect during the home inspection, but may include greater areas such as interior rooms, attics, crawl spaces and basements.
- This evaluation will typically include sampling of affected areas either by swab, tape lift or air sampling.
- The report can take more than a week to process and become available to the relocation company, because the laboratory analysis alone can take up to a week.
What is a Siding Moisture Intrusion Assessment?
What to expect during a typical hard coat stucco, synthetic stucco or adhered masonry veneer moisture intrusion inspection.
A siding moisture intrusion inspection can be performed for various reasons. Siding material, siding condition, visible installation concerns and client policy are the most common reasons why a siding moisture inspection is performed.
Since determining the full condition of many siding materials is beyond the scope of most visual inspections, additional invasive methods may be recommended to obtain a better understanding of the siding performance and internal condition. Moisture intrusion inspections are a specialty type of inspection that can help determine if a siding product is performing as intended. Depending on the siding material and conditions, specialized equipment and a detailed process, including possible drilling/probing combined with specific inspector knowledge is required to perform these inspections.
Siding moisture intrusion inspections are primarily performed from the exterior of the house. Depending on the circumstances, access to the interior of the home including attics and basements could be required.
Depending on the size of the home, access to needed areas and the scope of the project, most siding moisture intrusion field inspections will take from 1 to 3 hours of on-site assessment. Total time from field inspection to final report can take 3 – 7 business days. Final field reports are produced by the field inspector, reviewed by inspection management company for quality and then submitted to the relocation management company for processing. Weather conditions can add to on-site time or can delay the inspection until more conducive inspecting conditions become available.
Although a variety of tool can be utilized during this process, the most common are:
Wet Wall Meters – used to scan walls from the surface
Moisture meters with probes – used to identify moisture content and conditions behind surface
Drill – used to drill small holes in siding for moisture probes
Sealant – used to fill drill holes made during probing process
Ladders – used to access areas to better inspect
Cameras – digital and at times thermographic – used to document materials and conditions
The process for a siding moisture inspection can depend on location, siding material, visual indicators and personal techniques by the field inspector. A typical process could include:
- Performing an initial visual inspection
- Asking homeowner about siding performance and neighborhood history
- Removing exterior outlet cover plate to reveal cross section of siding system
- Assessing proper installation techniques; flashings, sealants, clearances, drainage
- Assessing high maintenance areas
- Identifying areas of potential concern based on knowledge and conditions
- Scan walls with wet wall meter
- Drill small holes and moisture probe to gather moisture readings in areas of potential concern based on knowledge and conditions
- Fill drill holes with sealant
- Make field notes and photograph details of inspection
- Return to office to finalize and submit report to inspection management company
Field inspectors are asked to be professional and polite at all times. Homeowners should not expect to receive any information from the field inspectors during the inspection process as they are also instructed to only share information with the inspection management company. This is typically a policy of the relocation management company as they prefer the opportunity to review the final report prior to making any decisions.
What is a Well Assessment & why do they test your water?
wellassessment is a general evaluation of the above ground components of the well, such as pressure tank, gauges andactual water pressure.
- A water sample is taken and laboratory testing is performed to determine the condition of the potable water.
- A qualified home inspector, well contractor or laboratory technician may perform this type of inspection and sampling.
- If you know the location of the well, it is very helpful to make it known to the inspector during his inspection.
- Testing is typically for coliforms and nitrates but may include other tests as required by state or local regulations.
- The water may be run for a 30-minute period to check well pressure and flow.
- Lab results may take up to two weeks to process and a few days thereafter for report preparation.
What is a Septic System Assessment?
- A septic system is a wastewater delivery / treatment system that is generally located on the same property as the house. Most systems consist of a septic tank and a drainage field, but some might also have additional components that may need to be assessed.
- The septic assessment can be performed in one of the following manners and is determined by client request in conjunction with state or local regulations:
- A Visual assessment by a home inspector will include running the water for approximately 30 minutes to watch for slow drainage. The inspector may also walk the surface of the area identified as the drainage field to look for any visible signs of effluent rising to the surface.
- A Visual & Dye assessment by a home inspector is the same as a visual assessment with the introduction of dye into the system.
- An Open Tank assessment is performed by a septic contractor and may be in conjunction with a home inspector or health department official. This will generally include digging to and opening of the septic tank lid to provide access to the internal components. This may or may not include running water through the system and walking about the drainage field.
- An Open Tank assessment with pumping is the same as above and it includes pumping out the contents of the septic tank.
- PLEASE NOTE: When tank lid excavation, and in some cases excavation of the distribution box, is performed, care is taken to disturb the landscaping as little as possible. However, the digging site will still show signs from the soil disruption and will take time to resettle. Over-seeding and re-sodding are not included as part of the septic inspection. Plants that need to be removed in this process are generally not replaced.
What is a Roof Assessment?
- A qualified roofing contractor or a general contractor will perform a roof assessment.
- It is usually recommended during the home inspection process due to roofing concerns observed.
- It will include the evaluation of the exterior roof surfaces and may include the interior attic space.
What is an Electrical Assessment?
- A qualified/licensed electrical contractor performs the electrical assessment.
- It is usually recommended during the home inspection process due to electrical concerns observed which may include Federal Pacific or Zinsco panels, single strand aluminum branch wiring and knob & tube wiring.
- In most cases it will include evaluation of the electrical panel and sub-panels and may include a whole house evaluation of electrical components.
What is a Basement / Crawl Space Assessment?
- A qualified moisture intrusion specialist or a general contractor will perform a basement and/or crawl space assessment.
- This type of assessment is usually recommended during the home inspection process due to moisture entry concerns found in the basement or crawl space.
- This evaluation may include both the basement and the crawl space if both exist and may include the exterior drains and grading as well.
What are Re-Inspections?
Re-inspections may be performed at our client’s request. These may include, but are not limited to, items disclosed on the original RAL Property Assessment or Individual Assessments. Re-inspections may also be performed as a result of limitations experienced during the original assessment. It is always helpful when documentation can be provided to substantiate that qualified repairs have been performed in needed areas as disclosed in the original assessment.
RAL Electrical Position Statement
Federal Pacific®, Zinsco™ & Sylvania™-Zinsco Electrical Panels
Federal Pacific Electric (FPE Stab-Lok®) was brand of electrical panels widely distributed throughout the United States. When a dangerous over-current occurs, the equipment is likely to not trip, failing to provide the safety protection that is expected of circuit breakers. This panel and associated breakers have a history of failure.
Zinsco™ and Sylvania™-Zinsco Electric Panels are obsolete today but were once very popular and installed widely throughout the United States. As time has passed it has been determined that certain Zinsco panels often can fail to operate properly and may leave homes and homeowners at risk to both fire and electrical shock. These panels can work fine for years, but as homes have increased energy demands, these panels may overheat and experience significant breaker damage.
- Not all home inspectors are familiar with each of the panels and their safety concerns and as such not all of these panels may be identified within our reports. RAL cannot make any guarantees or warranties that the presence of these panels will always be identified in our reports.
- When our field inspector identifies these panels it is RAL’s policy to report them as deficient and call for further evaluation of the panel by a qualified electrician to determine the current condition of the panel and determine if replacement of the panel is recommended.
- If a qualified electrician offers a written opinion that this type of panel is acceptable and no replacement is necessary, RAL will forward this professional’s opinion to our clients. Keep in mind that the electrician’s opinion may differ from RAL’s position statement.
RAL understands the need for some clients to have these panels further evaluated by a qualified electrician before making final decisions with regard to the transferee and property. However, it is RAL’s position statement that these panels, regardless of condition, pose significant safety and/or financial risk and should be replaced, regardless of further review results. In addition, there can be a stigma related to these types of electrical panels, which poses a potential marketing problem and negotiation point for a future buyer. RAL recommends each corporate client make their own policy as to whether or not they require replacement of these panels.
Single Strand Aluminum Branch Wiring
Single strand aluminum branch wiring was used during the 1960’s and 1970’s for the wiring of receptacles, switches and devices throughout many homes. This single strand branch aluminum wiring has been implicated in a number of house fires. The actual cause of these fires was not the aluminum wire itself, but was the result of improper connections. Aluminum does not conduct electricity as efficiently as copper and creates more resistance and heat. The wire also expands and contracts more than copper thus there is a tendency for the connections to become loose at the devices and junction boxes. Oxidation will build up between the loose connections, causing an increase in the amount of heat generated, posing a potential fire hazard.
- When our field inspector identifies single strand aluminum branch wiring it is RAL’s policy to report it as deficient and call for further evaluation by a qualified electrician to determine the current condition and provide recommendations for correction / replacement.
- If a qualified electrician offers a written opinion that the visible single strand aluminum branch wiring is in acceptable condition or that replacement is not necessary, RAL will forward this professional’s opinion to our clients. Keep in mind that the electrician’s opinion may differ from RAL’s position statement. RAL understands the need for some clients to have single strand aluminum branch wiring further evaluated by a qualified electrician before making final decisions with regard to the transferee and property.
However, it is RAL’s position statement that single strand aluminum branch wiring, regardless of condition, poses significant safety and/or financial risk and should be replaced, regardless of further review results. In addition, there can be a stigma related to this type of wiring, which poses a potential marketing problem and negotiation point for a future buyer. RAL recommends each corporate client make their own policy as to whether or not they require replacement of this wiring.
Knob & Tube Wiring
Knob & tube wiring is a type of wiring commonly installed until the 1950’s. The nickname is derived from the ceramic knobs that are used to insulate and secure the wiring runs and the ceramic tubes used to protect the wires where they pass thru materials (primarily wood joists, studs etc.). Unlike subsequent wiring systems where all the wires in a run are enclosed in a cable, the two wires (hot and neutral) run separately and come together at a terminal (switch, receptacle, fixture, junction box etc.). This is an older type wiring, which in and of itself can mean deteriorated materials, diminishing reliability and greater risk for electrical failure. In addition, when knob and tube wiring is improperly combined with more modern wiring components or covered by insulation it can create a potential fire hazard.
- The presence of knob & tube wiring cannot always be determined as it can be buried under insulation, concealed by storage or installed within walls and ceilings.
- Knob & tube wiring may be present but inactive, however it is outside the scope of the ERC inspection to determine its condition and conductivity.
- When our field inspector identifies knob & tube wiring it is RAL’s policy to report it as deficient and call for further evaluation by a qualified electrician to determine the current condition and provide recommendations for correction / replacement.
- If a qualified electrician offers a written opinion that the visible knob & tube wiring is in acceptable condition and no replacement is necessary, RAL will forward this professional’s opinion to our clients. Keep in mind that the electrician’s opinion may differ from RAL’s position statement.RAL understands the need for some clients to have knob and tube wiring further evaluated by a qualified electrician before making final decisions with regard to the transferee and property.
However, it is RAL’s position statement that knob and tube wiring, regardless of condition, poses significant safety and/or financial risk and should be replaced, regardless of further review results. In addition, there can be a stigma related to this type of wiring, which poses a potential marketing problem and negotiation point for a future buyer. RAL recommends each corporate client make their own policy as to whether or not they require replacement of this wiring.
RAL Plumbing Position Statement
What is Kitec?
Kitec is a plumbing system that was manufactured by a Canadian corporation named IPEX and sold in the United States until IPEX discontinued the product line in 2007. Kitec became a popular alternative to copper in the mid-1990’s due to its inexpensive cost and simple installation. IPEX marketed Kitec as a rugged, corrosion-resistant alternative to copper that would hold up under aggressive water conditions.
The Kitec plumbing system consists of both pipe and fittings. Kitec water pipe was manufactured as a composite cross-linked polyethylene (“PEX”) and aluminum (“AL”) pipe, whereby a thin, flexible aluminum layer was “sandwiched” between inner and outer layers of PEX plastic. Thus, Kitec water pipe was commonly referred to as “PEX-AL-PEX” pipe. Kitec pipe and fittings were connected together using either a crimped aluminum or copper ring or a compression fitting using a locking nut and split ring.
In 2005, Kitec fittings became the subject of a state class action lawsuit filed against IPEX in Clark County, Nevada. Kitec fittings were for the most part made of brass, which is mainly composed of copper and zinc. The Clark County lawsuit alleged that Kitec fittings failed because of a chemical reaction called dezincification. As alleged in the Clark County lawsuit, when hot and/or “aggressive” water flowed through the brass fittings, the zinc leached out of the fittings, thereby weakening the structural integrity of the brass and, ultimately, causing failure in the fittings. The Clark County lawsuit only concerned Kitec fitting failures occurring in that jurisdiction, and did not concern Kitec piping product, or Kitec fitting failures occurring outside of Clark County, Nevada.
RAL Position Statement on Kitec Plumbing Systems
Kitec Systems have been established as having a high risk for product failure. The system can fail without warning causing damage to the building structure and personal property.
- The presence of Kitec Systems cannot always be determined in the course of an ERC home assessment. It is outside the scope of the assessment to determine the manufacturer of plumbing products. Knowledge and awareness of these products can vary by region and experience.
- If our field inspector identifies Kitec components as being present, it is RAL’s policy to report its presence and indicate it as deficient. We will note the following on the summary page of the ERC Home Assessment:
The presence of Kitec plumbing components were noted at the time of the assessment. RAL does not inspect Kitec Systems as a general policy. These products are noted due to alleged defects as established in various class action lawsuits. RAL recommends that our client and the homeowner obtain additional information about the settlement by referring to the settlement website at www.kitecsettlement.com/; by calling 1-877-337-1293, or by writing to Kitec Claims Administrator, P.O. Box 6001, Larkspur, CA 94977-6001
RAL understands the need for some clients to have the Kitec Plumbing System further evaluated by a qualified plumber before making final decisions with regard to the transferee and property. Regardless of the current condition and/or plumber’s opinion, it is RAL’s position that Kitec Plumbing Systems pose a risk of failure that can lead to significant property damage and loss of personal property. In addition the history and stigma associated with this product may put the client at risk of complete replacement demands by potential buyers. RAL recommends each corporate client make their own policy as to whether or not they require replacement of this piping.
What are the concerns with Kitec?
Failures of Kitec pipe and fittings have been reported across the United States and Canada prompting the filing of multiple class action lawsuits and investigations concerning the manufacturing process and composition of Kitec pipe. During the Kitec hot water pipe manufacturing process, IPEX added an “antioxidant” to the PEX, which is a product intended to prevent the PEX from quickly corroding under the effects of light, oxygen, heat and water exposure. In the case of Kitec pipe, it appears that the antioxidant is rapidly depleting from the PEX, resulting in separation of the PEX-AL-PEX layers, corrosion of the PEX and the aluminum core and, ultimately, premature failure of the pipe.
On November 17, 2011, the United States District Court of Northern Texas, Dallas Division approved the class action settlement agreement, which provided for $125,000,000 in settlement funds. The agreement became effective on January 9, 2012. The claims filing deadline is January 9th, 2020. The agreement excludes the Clark County Class as there was already an established settlement in that case.
The settlement covers Kitec Systems, which may consist of components, individual parts, or as a system, PEX-AL-PEX, PE-AL-PE, PERT-AL-PERT, valves, fittings, and/or components, manufactured by or on behalf of IPEX whether sold under the names Kitec, PlumbBetter, IPEX AQUA, WarmRite, Kitec XPA, AmbioComfort, XPA, KERR Controls, Plomberie Améliorée or otherwise.
People who own or owned or lease or leased structures with the Kitec System and believe they may qualify for a payment under this settlement can obtain additional information about the settlement by checking the website at www.kitecsettlement.com; by calling 1-877-337-1293, or by writing to the following for the United States:
Kitec Claims Administrator
PO Box 6001
Larkspur, CA 94977-6001
Polybutylene is a form of plastic resin that was used in the manufacture of water supply piping from 1978 until 1995. Due to the low cost of the material and ease of installation, polybutylene piping systems were viewed as “the pipe of the future” and were used as a substitute for traditional copper piping. While scientific evidence is scarce, it is believed that oxidants in the water supplies, such as chlorine, react with the polybutylene piping and plastic fittings causing them to scale, flake and become brittle. Micro-fractures result and the basic structural integrity of the system is reduced. Thus, the system becomes weak and may fail without warning causing damage to the building structure and personal property. It is believed that other factors may also contribute to the failure of polybutylene systems, such as improper installation, but it is virtually impossible to detect installation problems and micro-cracking deterioration throughout an entire system.
- The presence of polybutylene piping cannot always be determined as it can be concealed by storage or within walls and ceilings. Knowledge and awareness of the product can vary by regions and experience.
- When our field inspector identifies polybutylene piping as being present and there are noted visible defects, then it is RAL’s policy to report its presence and call for further evaluation by a qualified plumbing contractor to determine the current condition and provide recommendations for correction / replacement.
- If our field inspector identifies polybutylene piping as being present, but there are no visible defects noted, then it is RAL’s policy to report its presence and note on the summary page the following statement:
Although no visible defects were noted in the polybutylene piping in this home, the presence of this product is noted due to the potential for defects associated with some types of polybutylene piping.
- A qualified plumber may offer a written opinion that the visible polybutylene piping is in acceptable condition and no replacement is necessary, but keep in mind that the plumber’s opinion may differ from RAL’s position statement.
RAL understands the need for some clients to have polybutylene piping further evaluated by a qualified plumber before making final decisions with regard to the transferee and property. Regardless of current condition, it is RAL’s position statement that polybutylene piping poses a risk of failure that can lead to significant property damage and loss of personal property. In addition the history and stigma associated with this product may put the client at significant risk of complete replacement demands by potential buyers. RAL recommends each corporate client make their own policy as to whether or not they require replacement of this piping.