September, 2006
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



New Appliance Makes an Appearance

EDITED BY ASHI STAFF

New appliance makes an appearance
ASHI Member John Cranor of Cranor Home Inspections, Glen Allen, Va., reports finding an interesting new appliance during a recent inspection. He described it as follows:

It was a combination washer and dryer all in one, not the stackable type, made by a company called LG.
“The interesting thing is that the dryer is ventless, and only requires a 20-amp,120-volt outlet. Supposedly, it is an energy saver, but I am skeptical that it really works and whether all the moisture can be contained,” he said. Indicating he was taking a wait-and-see approach, Cranor shared the following information from the manufacturer on how it supposedly functions:

“Condensing, ventless dryers require no ductwork or outside venting. Condensing dryers in combination machines use cool-water condensers to remove the moisture from the air in the drum. The warm, moist air leaving the drum is circulated through a plastic chamber, where it contacts a mist of cool water. This causes the moisture in the air to condense into water droplets and fall to the bottom of the condensing chamber, where it is pumped to the same drain as the wash water. The warm, dry air continues through the closed system back to the drum to remove more water from your clothes.

“This system saves energy in two ways. Since little heat is lost when the air passes through the condensing chamber, it takes little energy to raise the temperature back to optimal drying levels. Just as important, no air from the residence is exhausted outdoors. Conventional clothes dryers evacuate 200 cubic feet of heated or conditioned air from the residence every minute, approximately 10,000 cubic feet per cycle.

Given an 8-foot ceiling, that’s the size of a room over 35 feet square! All of this air has to be replaced from the outside, which means energy must be expended to either heat or condition it to room temperature. In high-rise buildings with tight envelopes, this places an additional burden on intake manifolds and fans that may already be working close to capacity. Condensing, ventless dryers save you all of these headaches.”

Editor’s note: The membership is invited to share information about new systems, components and products found during inspections. E-mail the information to sandyb@ashi.org.


The DeckLok Bracket System

When DeckLok brackets are used, decks hold together to the limit of the timber strength, not just until the nails or screws pull out. Adding DeckLok to current construction methods helps make decks IRC 2006-compliant, with up to 1500% stronger deck connections. DeckLok is engineered for strength and flexibility.

The DeckLok Bracket System was engineered to address the three most critical connections on a deck: stair stringers, ledger boards and railing systems.

• For ledger boards, DeckLok anchors the deck’s ledger board to the floor joists of the house. Each set of brackets used provides up to 4,000 pounds of resistance to deck pullout and subsequent collapse.

• For stair stringers, DeckLok reinforces the connection between the stair stringer and the deck frame to help reduce the possibility of the stairs shifting away from the deck and collapsing.

• For rail posts, DeckLok creates a bolted connection, oriented in shear, between the rail post and the deck floor joist. A single DeckLok bracket provides a 500 percent strength increase over current construction methods.

As decks get older, the wood degrades (dries out, cracks, checks) and the nailed or screwed connections become unreliable; the possibility for collapse increases.

DeckLok brackets can be easily retrofitted to existing decks, as well as new construction, to strengthen the substructure of your deck.

For information about the DeckLok Bracket System, including product videos, testing results and more, visit www.deck-lok.com or call toll-free 866-617-DECK (3325).


Technical Position Statementregarding Exterior Side-Hinged Door Systems

When ANSI/AAMA 101/I.S.2-97 and AAMA/WDMA 101/I.S.2/-NAFS-02 were put into the International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC),an exemption was created for exterior side-hinged doors and other products outside the scope of the standards, allowing them to be tested using ASTM E330. This exemption has created some confusion for code officials, manufacturers and contractors, especially regarding exterior side-hinged doors containing glazing. Some jurisdictions are insisting that any swing door containing glazing must meet the 101/I.S.2-97 or 101/I/S.2/NAFS-02 standard, while others are exempting some types of swing patio doors from this requirement. The recently completed AAMA/CSA/WDMA 101-I.S.2/A440 standard includes a specification section specifically for side-hinged exterior doors, and its inclusion in the 2006 edition of the IBC and IRC will rectify the problem. However, until this new code is published and adopted by local jurisdictions, the problem still remains as to how to interpret the present code. Several code jurisdictions have asked us for an ‘official’ position statement to justify their local interpretation.
In response to this request, WDMA and AAMA have jointly approved a Technical Position Statement, which is being distributed to building code officials and manufacturers. The joint statement describes the initial intent of the AAMA/WDMA standards, and outlines how AAMA and WDMA believe the code should be interpreted.

To download a PDF file of the interpretation, go to www.wdma.com and see the appropriate link in the left-hand column.


Consumer group slams real estate ‘cartel’
NAR defends industry competitiveness

Discrimination against non-traditional real estate brokers, status quo commission structures, unregulated multiple listing services, lack of consumer knowledge, and the large share of real estate professionals who serve on state real estate regulatory commissions stifle competition in the real estate industry, according to a report released by the Consumer Federation of America.

In the eight-page report, “How the Real Estate Cartel Harms Consumers and How Consumers Can Protect Themselves,” the consumer group encourages “fuller and more timely consumer information; ending of discrimination against nontraditional brokers; and effective, independent regulation” to improve the real estate industry. The non-profit advocacy group’s membership includes about 300 organizations that together represent about 50 million people. Stephen Brobeck, executive director for the consumer group, and Patrick Woodall, a senior researcher, prepared the report.

The National Association of Realtors® took issue with the findings of the real estate report. “America’s real estate industry is one of the most competitive business environments in the world, characterized by low barriers to entry, intense personal client service and results-based compensation structure. Real estate consumers can choose from nearly 80,000 real estate brokerages and more than 2 million real estate licensees, more than 1.3 million of whom are Realtors. Competition is fierce,” the trade group said in a statement today.

Hanley Wood reports 2nd Quarter Permit Statistics Reveal Market Slowdown Has Hit the Supply Chain in 254 Metro Areas Across the Nation
For the first time since the 4th quarter of the year 2000, quarterly permit issuance registered a year-over-year decline in the three months ending in June. Nationwide permit issuance in the 2nd quarter fell to 529,532, off 10 percent from a year ago, and with issuance of single-family permits dropping 12 percent to 411,480. On a year-to-date basis, permit issuance so far in 2006 is off 4 percent from last year, despite a year-over-year gain in the first quarter. April-June permit issuances still rank #3 of all time in terms of historical 2nd quarter permit issuance. In terms of individual markets, 189 out of 365 metro areas registered year-over-year gains or were unchanged in the first quarter. That has since dropped to only 110 markets in the 2nd quarter, which means a significant majority of 254 markets nationwide are experiencing permit-issuance decline.

“While a moderation in demand for housing due to higher mortgage rates and low affordability is not a new story, up until now permits have remained at historically high levels. For the suppliers and distributors involved in the construction of new homes, there has been a constant stream of new construction tied to that permit issuance. That finally has changed, and with a lower number of permits being issued, a moderation in the pace of construction will follow in coming months,” said Jonathan Dienhart, director of published research for Hanley Wood Market Intelligence.

For detailed permit information on every MSA in the nation, please reference the U.S. Housing Markets Flash Report, published by Hanley Wood Market Intelligence, released August 7. For questions or inquiries on the content of this release, or for more information on the products and services provided by Hanley Wood Market Intelligence, contact Jonathan Dienhart at 714-540-8500 x260 or by e-mail at jdienhart@hanleywood.com.

NAR: No rate hike is a ‘very positive signal’
The August 10 decision by the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee to not raise the federal funds rate for the 18th straight time indicates that the Federal Reserve recognizes the value of the housing economy to the national economy as a whole, the president of the National Association of Realtors® says.
“This move sends a very positive signal to the housing sector, which has been so robust over the past five years that it has sustained the economy while other sectors have lagged,” says NAR President Thomas M. Stevens, senior vice president of NRT Inc. “Largely as a direct result of more than two years of interest-rate hikes, the housing market today is fragile in some parts of the country. The Fed’s decision indicates that it realizes the vital role housing plays in the economy.”

The decision by the Federal Open Market Committee leaves the banks’ prime lending rate, the benchmark for various consumer and business loans, at 8.25 percent. Before the Fed started raising rates in June 2004, the prime had been at 4 percent.
Stevens says the Fed’s decision indicates it realizes the economy has slowed, especially the housing economy. “We can’t continue to raise rates without expecting the housing economy to suffer. That translates into higher costs for homebuyers, slower sales and a lower level of economic activity in housing, which accounts for one-fourth to one-fifth of the gross domestic product,” he says.

—Glenn Roberts Jr., Inman News