August, 2002
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Free Safety Training


Learn the “Basics of Safety Performance for Small Business” in a free one-day training being offered in 20 locations across the U.S. in August and September. Small business owners, employers, managers, and employees are encouraged to attend.

The training was developed by the National Safety Council in cooperation with OSHA. The training goals include the following:

• To gain practical knowledge, skills, and access to valuable safety resources.

• To improve safety performance by controlling or eliminating workplace hazards, which can reduce the number and severity of work-related injuries and illnesses, reduce worker compensation costs, and improve employee morale.

The training promises to improve your ability to do the following:

• Recognize, evaluate, and control or eliminate hazards.

• Determine when personal protective equipment is an acceptable method of hazard control.

• Identify elements necessary for compliance with OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard.

• Identify key elements and steps for a customized emergency preparedness and response plan.

• Create an action plan on safety performance issues to implement at your facility.

For a list of dates, locations and contacts, go to

Madison House: a constructionlaboratory

APA-The Engineered Wood Association, the Southern Pine Council and the USDA Forest Products Laboratory Advanced Housing Research Center have partnered together on the building of a 2,200 square foot demonstration home on the grounds of the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin.

From the permanent wood foundation to the flashing around the chimney, Madison House, a 4 bedroom, 3-bath two-story house showcases moisture-resistant building practices, the latest in energy efficient appliances and HVAC systems and ‘green building’ technologies advocated by the leading building science experts.

The Build a Better Home demonstration house serves as an ongoing classroom of better building practices:

• A team of researchers instrumented the walls in an effort to monitor the moisture content and temperature behavior therein.

• To test the house’s tolerance for elevated indoor humidity, the house’s interior is maintained at 40% relative humidity during the winter months.

• Each phase of the construction process was photographed and videotaped for future educational use.

The construction was completed in October, 2001 and the house is now open to the public for touring. APA representatives and other Build A Better Home partners will conduct ongoing better building practices meetings and seminars at the house. Go to for more info.

FEMA issues report on the collapseof the World Trade Center

The full report on the collapse of the World Trade Center can found at and is also available in paper from FEMA publications at 800-480-2520.

Home Builders Care Victims’Relief Fund closes books afterdistributing almost $10 millionto September 11 victims

The Home Builders Care Victims’ Relief Fund has closed its books after distributing almost $10 million donated by the nation’s home building industry to victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America. The fund collected almost twice its original goal, and all of the donations went to people in need of assistance. None of the money was used for administrative expenses.

To provide seed money for the fund, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) pledged $250,000, its employees donated $60,000 that had been set aside for staff incentives, and the National Housing Endowment contributed $125,000.

Within five months, the fund had received close to $10 million from more than 5,000 members of the home building industry including state and local builders associations throughout the country. A number of the nation’s high production home builders each pledged to contribute $1 million to the fund, and several others contributed $100,000 or more.

Eighty-nine percent of the monies not restricted by donors went directly to victims residing in and near the New York metropolitan area. Ten percent of the unrestricted funds went to the Survivors’ Fund of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. This fund was established to help support long-term educational, health and rehabilitation, grief counseling and other needs of those individuals and families affected by the attack on the Pentagon.

One percent ($80,000) was allocated to eight volunteer fire and rescue departments that responded to the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa.
A detailed report on the Home Builders Care Victims’ Relief Fund is available online at

Rebuild the right way after wildfires

While much of the United States is enduring heightened drought conditions, and more homes are being constructed closer to rural woodlands, the threat of wildfires to homes increases. The Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has information to help residents in every state better protect their homes from wildfires.

Following are list of actions any homeowner can take to reduce the risk of wildfires to homes already built, and advice on how to rebuild in ways to minimize the threat of wildfires destroying your property.

Give your home a survival space

Create a zone around your house that will slow the wildfire downand possibly direct it around your home. To do this, you must view your yard as a fuel source. Fire will burn only if fuel, such as landscaping, woodpiles and decks, are present. To create your survivable space, take the following steps within 30 feet of your home, 50 feet if you live in a heavily wooded area:

• Prune trees and shrubs.

• Branches on taller trees should be a minimum of 6 feet from the ground.

• Remove dead leaves and branches, especially around roof and chimney.

• Mow your lawn regularly and dispose promptly of cuttings and debris.

• Clear your roof, gutters and eaves of debris.

• Maintain your irrigation system.

• Move firewood and storage tanks 50 feet away from home.

• Store flammable liquids properly

Minimize risk through smart landscaping

When landscaping, take additional steps to help protect your home:

• Introduce more native vegetation

• Space trees at least 10 feet apart

• Do not connect wooden fencing directly to your home

Build or retrofit your home with non-flammable materials

Another line of defense is the type of materials used on your home’s exterior.

• Use only non-combustibleroofing products.

• Enclose and screen eaves, fascias, soffits and sub floor vents using 1⁄4" non-combustible screening.

• Install spark arresters in chimneys.

• Enclose decks with fire-resistant materials.

• Cover exterior walls with fire resistant materials like stucco, stone, or brick. (Vinyl siding can melt and is not recommended).

• Use double paned or tempered glass for all exterior windows.

The 25-page IBHS homeowner’s guide for wildfire retrofit, titled, “Is Your Home Protected From Wildfire Disaster?” can be downloaded at Find it in the “Wildfire” section.