August, 2007
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Deck Framing Connection Guide

EDITED BY ASHI STAFF

Color illustrations, combined with easy-to-understand explanations, make the Deck Framing Connection Guide from Simpson StrongTie a valuable resource. And the best part is that it’s free, either as a 16-page brochure or a PDF downloaded from Simpson’s Web site.

Recommendations for the construction of code-compliant decks cover Critical Deck Connections; Selecting Connectors and Fasteners: Corrosion Issues; Existing Decks: Retrofit or Replace; Ledger Attachment; Footings; Post Bases; Beam-to-Post Connections; Joists Terminating into Beam/ Ledger; Joists Bearing on a Beam; Railing Post-to-Deck Framing; Stair Stringers & Treads and Fastening Deck Boards.

For the PDF, go to www.strongtie.com and search for F-Deckcode07 or call 800-999-5099 to request the brochure.

Learn about home sprinkler systems and share information with clients
According to the Built for Live Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, “Sprinklered homes will help save lives and protect property for generations to come. That’s the good news. But too often residents of sprinklered homes don’t realize the value of sprinklers and may not understand how to properly care for them. That can lead to serious problems.”

Free tools for sprinklered communities
Living With Sprinklers is a new video from the nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC). It’s a smart teaching tool that’s easy to use. The video is hosted by Ron Hazelton, who explains the advantages of having fire sprinklers, separates fact from fiction and outlines the simple care that residential sprinklers need.

The video comes with a laminated hang-tag to put on the riser so your customers will have ready access to simple sprinkler maintenance and proper usage tips.

Request yours today. These valuable educational materials from HFSC are the ideal way to educate residents of sprinklered homes, and they’re yours for the asking!

To order your supply of the new Living With Sprinklers Video and Hang-Tag, visit www.homefiresprinkler.org, or call toll-free 888-635-7222.

Step by step: Buying a digital camera

Consumer Reports online can help you find the electronic equipment best suited to your business needs. For instance, the decision guide for buying a digital camera walks you through seven steps: (1) what are your priorities? (2) camera types, (3) zoom range and manual controls, (4) camera size, (5) batteries, (6) speed, and (7) multi-camera compatibility. While some information on the site is available only to subscribers, free interactive decision-making tools are available for digital cameras and many other products.

Explore the site www.consumerreports.org. For the camera guide, click on the Electronics & Computers tab and look for Digital Decision Guide in the left-hand
column.

Sound advice for first-time buyers

Chapter 12 of Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home, by IIona Bray, Alayna Schroeder and Marcia Stewart, is titled, “Send in the Big Guns: Professional Property Inspectors.” The book is described as an insightful, entertaining and easy-to-use book that combines lessons and stories from actual homeowners, with authoritative advice from a panel of 13 real estate professionals. Paul Rude, an ASHI member since 1996 and owner of Summer Street Inspections in Berkley, Calif., is the professional who serves as home inspection adviser for first-time buyers and is responsible for chapter 12. A “Homebuyer’s Toolkit” CD, with expert interviews on MP3 and dozens of forms, is included with the book.  

Home inspectors who recommend resource material to first-time buyers, can learn more about the book at www.nolo.com/guide/firsthome.cfm.

For your clients: Help them prepare for natural disasters

During June and July, counties in six states were designated disaster areas because of severe storms and flooding. Two of the states, Oklahoma and Texas, also experienced damage from tornados. During the same time period, Fire Management Assistance declarations were issued for wildfires in 12 states, with California and Nevada experiencing several during the two months.  

With the threat of a natural disaster present in every community, home inspectors may find any number of uses for the checklists for homeowners that can be downloaded free of charge from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Web site, www.fema.gov/hazard and www.FloodSmart.gov.

Everybody may love the Internet, but sometimes it’s a pleasure to have a printed page with relevant information placed in your hands. And that’s something you can do for your clients and for your prospects. You can tell them these Web sites offer everything they want to know about natural disasters — from maps to determine disaster risks to response and recovery information. And, you can you include homeowner checklists in your reports or offer checklists in your booth at a home show.

Avoiding flood damage
Since floods and flash floods occur in every state, “Avoiding Flood Damage: A checklist for Homeowners” can be used by most home inspectors. It’s available in the article library as a PDF, free for downloading, on www.FloodSmart.gov.

It advises homeowners:
 “Are you looking for ways to protect your home from flooding? There are many things you can do, depending on the flood hazard in your area, the characteristics of your property, and the zoning and building codes in your community. Some methods are fairly simple and inexpensive; others will require a professional contractor. This homeowner’s checklist will help you become familiar with what you can do.”  

Avoiding wildfire damage
Avoiding Wildfire Damage: A Checklist for Homeowners,“ free for downloading in PDF format, can be found under References in the Wildfire category of hazards covered on www.Fema.gov.

The introduction to the checklist states:
“If you live in a forest or woodland area, you face the real danger of wildfire. Wildfires destroy thousands of homes and devastate hundreds of thousands of acres of woodland every year. Protecting your home from wildfire is your responsibility. To reduce the risk, you’ll need to consider the fire resistance of your home, the topography of your property and the nature of the vegetation close by. This homeowner’s checklist will help you learn what you can do."

It cautions, “Always be ready for an emergency evacuation. Evacuation may be the only way to protect your family in a wildfire.  Know where to go and what to bring with you. You should plan several escape routes in case roads are blocked by a wildfire.“

Hurricanes
Although as of press time no hurricanes have made landfall in the United States, residents continue to prepare. Defined as a severe tropical cyclone with wind speeds in excess of 74 mph, they bring high winds, tornados, torrential rains and flooding as they move ashore.

Hurricane preparation information can be found on www.FloodSmart.gov. Consider sharing “Develop a Family Plan (PDF31K)” with your clients. Hurricane preparation PDFs can be found here.

An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness
If you’re interested in providing your clients with more comprehensive information than found in the checklists, consider “Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen
Preparedness (IS-22)
,” FEMA’s brochure on individual, family and community preparedness. The guide was updated in August 2004 to provide the public with the most current and up-to-date disaster preparedness information available.

Are You Ready? provides a step-by-step approach to disaster preparedness by walking the reader through how to get informed about local emergency plans, how to identify hazards that affect their local area, and how to develop and maintain an emergency communications plan and disaster supplies kit. Other topics covered include evacuation, emergency public shelters, animals in disaster and information specific to people with disabilities.

Are You Ready? also provides in-depth information on specific hazards, including what to do before, during and after each hazard type. The following hazards are covered: Floods, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Thunderstorms and Lightning, Winter Storms and Extreme Cold, Extreme Heat, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Landslide and Debris Flows (Mudslide), Tsunamis, Fires, Wildfires, Hazardous Materials Incidents, Household Chemical Emergencies, Nuclear Power Plant and Terrorism (including Explosion, Biological, Chemical, Nuclear and Radiological hazards).  

It can be downloaded in sections from the Web site or copies of Are You Ready? and the Facilitator Guide are available through the FEMA publications warehouse, 800-480-2520. For large quantities, your organization may reprint the publication.