March, 2005
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



ASHI Program Could Help Those Caught in Scam

EDITED BY ASHI STAFF

Business Risk Partners, as a service to ASHI Members and Candidates, is offering help to qualifying inspectors involved in the Nation’s Hazard insurance-fraud scam. To qualify, home inspectors must meet certain underwriting criteria. To obtain an application, have your coverage questions answered, or obtain additional information, contact Christy Hawthorne, the exclusive agent for Business Risk Partners’ home inspector program at 866-268-1327. Or complete an online application at www.businessriskpartners.com/homeinspectors/h_hom.aspx, noting that you were taken advantage of by this scam.

U.S. Surgeon General issues new national health advisory on radon

Philip Jalbert, executive secretary of the Federal Interagency Commission and ASHI’s contact at the EPA, sent the following alert to HQ.

“The Surgeon General of the United States issued a health advisory warning Americans about the health risk from exposure to radon in indoor air. The nation’s chief physician urged Americans to test their homes to find out how much radon they might be breathing. Dr. Carmona also stressed the need to remedy the problem as soon as possible when the radon level is 4 pCi/L or more.  Dr. Carmona noted that more than 20,000 Americans die of radon-related lung cancer each year. Visit http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/pressreleases/sg01132005.html to view the press release and full text of the Surgeon General’s health advisory on radon.”
The EPA is one of several organizations with which ASHI has a formal relationship. Having Memorandums of Understanding with allied groups, such as the EPA, allows ASHI to be on the ground floor when matters of shared interest are announced or discussed.

Energy-efficient homes help households weather fuel costs
Builders make huge improvements over 40-year period

The sharp rise in energy prices in 2004 put less strain on household finances than might have been expected, according to a recent Freddie Mac analysis.
Freddie Mac reported that American homes built in the last few years are nearly twice as energy efficient as the typical house built in the 1960s.

“Crude oil prices have pulled back from a peak of $55.23 per barrel this past October, but as the nation enters its coldest season, oil prices are still considerably higher than the $30 a barrel of West Texas crude cost a year ago,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “And while we are certainly feeling the increase in oil prices at the gas pump and maybe even in our heating bills, the cost to families would be much greater if not for improvements in home energy efficiency.”

According to data analyzed by Freddie Mac from the American Housing Survey, fuel cost as a part of home value was about 0.8 percent between 2000 and 2003. Before 1960, it was about 1.8 percent, and an average 1.3 percent in the oil shock decade of the 1970s.

Freddie Mac estimates that home energy efficiency continued to improve in 2004.
—Inman News

CPSC Offers Safety Tips to Prevent Ladder Injuries

Washington, D.C. - Each year there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries in the U.S. relating to ladders. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) offers the following safety precautions to help prevent these injuries:
  • Make sure the weight your ladder is supporting does not exceed its maximum load rating (user plus materials). There should only be one person on the ladder at one time.

  • Use a ladder that is the proper length for the job. Proper length is a minimum of three feet extending over the roofline or working surface. The three top rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder should not be stood on.

  • Straight, single or extension ladders should be set up at about a 75-degree angle.

  • All metal ladders should have slip-resistant feet.

  • Metal ladders will conduct electricity. Use a wooden or fiberglass ladder in the vicinity of power lines or electrical equipment. Do not let a ladder made from any material contact live electrical wires.

  • Be sure all locks on extension ladders are properly engaged.

  • The ground under the ladder should be level and firm. Large flat wooden boards braced under the ladder can level a ladder on uneven ground or soft ground. A good practice is to have a helper hold the bottom of the ladder.

  • Do not place a ladder in front of a door that is not locked, blocked or guarded.

  • Keep your body centered between the rails of the ladder at all times. Do not lean too far to the side while working.

  • Do not use a ladder for any purpose other than that for which it was intended.

  • Do not step on the top step, bucket shelf or attempt to climb or stand on the rear section of a stepladder.

  • Never leave a raised ladder unattended.

  • Follow use instruction labels on ladders.