Pool Safety: Through The Eagle Eyes of a Protective Parent

If you live in the desert, owning a pool is not only a luxury, but almost a necessity.  After all, what else are your kids going to do throughout the blazing hot summer months?  They can either stay inside and play video games or go out and get some exercise!

When I do a  pool inspections, of course I will operate the pumps, check the condition of the pool and equipment and make recommendations for repairs….all that stuff….. But a substantial part of the pool inspection will address safety issues.  Those of you who know my inspection style know I don’t get too worked up over home defects.  There are not many defects in a home that cannot be fixed.  But there are some things cannot be fixed…like losing a child.  That’s a sobering statement, but it is true.

Many of my clients purchasing a home with a pool are parents with young children.  As a father of two wonderful young, busy, climbing, exploring, exhausting boys, I see the pool through the eyes of a safety minded parent.  And if you know me, you know I’m the eagle eye parent who never takes his eyes off his kids.  The problem is, a drowning can happen in a flash.  Literally.  Most pool drowning victims are between the ages of 1-3 and under 5 years of age, had been missing for only five or less minutes and were in the presence of their parents.

There is no substitute for active parental supervision.  But those of us who have kids know the late night feedings, busy work and family schedules, long hours and exhaustion can all add up to nodding off even while you are watching your children.  It happens.  Do you want to be asleep while your 3 year old inquisitive, active explorer is up wandering around with access to a large, deep body of water?  I wouldn’t leave the bathroom with my child in the bath tub until just recently…he is almost 5 now!

What if you are hosting a pool bar-b-que or gathering?  You’re cooking, running around, socializing with your friends and family…..it is very easy to lose track of your child or assume that your spouse is watching.

Fortunately there are many things you can do to improve the safety of your pool.  Again, there is absolutely no substitute for actively watching your children, but you should also have a plan B, plan C  or more in place.

-First, understand that when we are talking about pool safety, we are also including spa safety and hot tub safety.  Any large, deep body of water can be dangerous and should be safe guarded.

-Have your children complete swimming lessons.  There are programs even for infants and toddlers to help them learn to swim and survive a fall into a pool long enough for help to arrive.

-Any access points to the pool area should be armed with pool alarms.  By access points, I’m referring to doors AND windows that open with a height of 48 inches or less.  Small children can open these windows and find their way into the pool area.  And by pool alarms, I’m referring to the special pool alarms you can purchase at your local pool supply store.  The chime on your home security system is not adequate.  Will it wake you up when you are on the other side of the house and the door or window to the pool area is opened?  These alarms are meant to be loud and obnoxious and will operate for at least 30 seconds when activated-hopefully long enough to get your attention if you fall asleep or are in the laundry room with the loud machines operating, etc.

-If you have a pet door, have it covered over and sealed.  Period.  I can’t stress this enough.  On inspections, many of my clients have relayed to me horror stories of close friends or family members who lost a toddler that wandered through the pet door into the pool area.  You can get up off the couch and go let Fido out.  And while you are up, go out and play with your dog.  He needs the exercise and you probably do too.

-In addition to arming the doors and windows with pool alarms, you can install latches on them up high where a child cannot reach them.  And make sure to account for chairs, couches and any flat climbing surfaces.  Children will find and use these in a second.

-Consider investing in a secondary pool barrier (a fence around the pool area).  By proper, these fences should follow the proper code that is designed to keep children from entering the pool area-above, between or below the fence.

-Make sure you pool area is compliant to the local pool codes particularly in regards to pool barriers, gates, etc. and go above and beyond whenever possible.  Remember, these codes are in place in an attempt to prevent drownings but they are a bare minimum of what you can do to safe guard your pool.  Our Southern Nevada pool code can be found here:  Click Here

-Have some basic pool safety equipment available at your pool.  Some possible items to have on hand are Life Hooks, Rescue Cans, Tubes and Bouys-devices that can be used to help maneuver accident victims from the pool.    And always have an appropriate first aid kit on hand.  There are many, many options that can be found at your local pool supply store or online.

-Lastly, if you are a grandparent, you need to be EVEN MORE VIGILANT!  The children will come to visit only once in a while.  They are not as familiar with your property, it is probably not as “child proofed” as their own home is and you, YES YOU, are not as skilled at watching the children as the parents.  I know, I know…you raised your children and they turned out great, but just admit that you’re a little rusty and let’s leave it at that.  You may also find that now that you own a pool, lots of your friends have children and grandchildren and would love to come by and socialize with you while their kids are cooling off.

It is important to note that these tips are not meant to be all inclusive but rather I hope it will encourage you to improve the safeguards in your pool area.  There are some many wonderful reasons to own and enjoy a pool and spa, but please respect the dangers that do exist particularly when children are present.

Feel free to leave comments and suggestions for additional child safety items.  They would be very welcome by all.

 Kevin Zamarripa is a Home Inspector in the Las Vegas area and owner of the local Pillar To Post Franchise.

 You can contact Kevin Zamarripa at:

702-285-5332

kevin.zamarripa@pillar topost.com

www.PillarToPost/KevinZam.com

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By Pillar To Post: Kevin Zamarripa

Preparing for a Home Inspection

We’ve noticed an increase in traditional sales and short sales throughout the valley, so we put together this helpful resource on preparing for a home inspection. It should help the transaction move quickly and comfortably for all parties.

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Everyone knows that a professional home inspection can uncover previously unknown problems, both major and minor, allowing issues to be addressed before the sale is complete. But by taking some important steps to prepare the property for inspection, homeowners can avoid some basic problems that might otherwise affect a clean inspection report.

Disclosures are a key component of any real estate transaction. Past problems including fire or water damage should be noted in the disclosure documents. Homeowners need to have access to building permits and plans issued for any major renovations; proof that such changes were done legally is extremely important. If there was work done that lacked proper permits, this will need to be disclosed as well. Have invoices and warranties available for major improvements, roofing, furnaces, and major appliances.

Routine exterior maintenance is an easy way to keep up with minor problems before they escalate. Prior to inspection, repair any damaged masonry on steps and walkways, and seal cracks in the driveway. Not only will the home look better, but future problems can be prevented. Recaulk around exterior doors, windows, and flashing, and replace any missing or damaged shingles.

Inside the home, relatively minor fixes can improve the home inspection results. Repair leaky faucets and fixtures, and recaulk around tubs and sinks. An electrician should inspect receptacles and switches and make any needed repairs. Replace any cracked or broken window glass, and loosen any windows that are painted shut. If there is a fireplace, have it and the chimney cleaned and checked by a professional. If the home inspector can’t see into the chimney because of soot buildup, they won’t be able to inspect it and may need to return after it’s cleaned.

Arrange service for the furnace and central air conditioning so that any issues can be addressed before the home inspection. If the home has battery-operated smoke detectors, install fresh batteries and install additional units if any are missing. Install carbon monoxide alarms if the home does not have them.

On the day of the home inspection, a few easy steps will facilitate the inspection process. First, allow sufficient time for the inspection. A professional home inspection will take two and a half to three hours on average, longer if the home is larger. Most homeowners choose not to be present for the inspection, though the potential buyer will usually want to be there. The homeowner will need to provide keys to any locked areas, and access to the attic, crawl space, storage sheds, the garage, and yard. Be sure that the inspector has access to components such as electrical panels, the water meter, and gas meter. Move objects from around the water heater, furnace, and central air conditioning unit so that the inspector can access them. In winter, clear walkways of snow and ice for safe access to the home.

Make arrangements for pets to be out of the home or in a crate for their own safety and that of the home inspector. Dogs in particular can be disruptive, and some may even be distressed by having an unfamiliar person in their “territory”.

It is always a good idea to store small valuables and medications out of sight and in a secure location for your own peace of mind. One option is to simply take them with you when you leave the home during the inspection.

Taking these steps can go a long way in preventing or addressing problems that could negatively affect the inspection report. An inspection-ready home presents itself best for evaluation and makes the entire process go more smoothly.

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For more information about home inspection or to schedule a home inspection:

Kevin Zamarripa
Owner, Licensed Home Inspector

702-285-5332

http://www.pillartopost.com/KevinZam

By Pillar To Post: Kevin Zamarripa

SETTLEMENT ADVISORY: KITEC UPDATES

Last month we reminded you about the fast approaching Kitec Deadline, and this month we have some valuable new info to pass on.

But first, remember the first deadline is very near: Homeowners must act no later than March 31, 2012. Click here to read the full press release on the deadline extension. After March 31, 2012, a homeowner (or prospective buyer) with Kitec will be 100% responsible for repairs and replacements of their Kitec plumbing system. Estimates for an average re-plumb range anywhere from $4000-$8000 and up depending upon the square footage, replacement materials used and company chosen for the remediation among other factors.

The March 31st deadline will close many of the homes listed in the Clark County lawsuit, but not all of them. There are still many homes that may be able to receive settlement monies to re-plumb after the deadline. So, if Kitec is found in a home you are involved with, we urge you…Don’t give up!!!!

UPDATE: The little known “Troubled Settlements” Monies

Aside from the main Clark County lawsuit, there is an additional class known as the “Troubled Settlements” that will provide LIMITED relief for Kitec home owners. Click Here For More Info

Here is the list of the TROUBLED SUB CLASS BUILDERS:

Avante / Nigro Released Homes

Champion Homes (Subclasses A, B, and C)

D. R. Bowles Custom Homes

Kimball Hill Subclass A

LaMontana Homes

Santa Fe Homes

Sharp-Chartis 50

Vipor Homes (Subclasses A and B)

Woodside Homes (Subclasses A and B)

Info on this is difficult to obtain. We know about it because we found Kitec in a home that was not in the original Clark County lawsuit, pursued it with Total Class Solutions and found out that we are eligible for a limited amount to re-plumb. In this particular case, nearly all of the re-plumb is covered.

The only way to know if your Kitec home is eligible is to contact Total Class Solutions at: Telephone: (800) 622-0130 or E-mail: Info@TotalClassSolutions.com

The word is that all Kitec re-plumbs are expected to close by the end of the year, but there is no official announcement that we’ve been able to find.

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Make sure your home inspector is diligently looking for Kitec. If there is any reason to believe that Kitec is installed or the plumbing system cannot be confirmed, have a plumber evaluate it and give a WRITTEN clearance (or confirmation) of Kitec. There is normally a fee for this service.

Indications a property may have Kitec:

-Look for a Kitec sticker in the electrical panel.

-Review the list of builders/ developments with Kitec that have had the deadline extended,Click here

-Check for areas of exposed pipes-attics, laundry rooms, water heater connections, etc.

-Check the main water line to see if the electrical lines are grounded to it.

-Look for decreased water flow, heavy corrosion on visible pipes, or indication of leaks in the plumbing system.

Kitec can be difficult to spot. Even after observing the indicators, the only way to confirm the existence of Kitec is to view the pipes. We’ve found the best location to spot it is in the laundry room or attic. We’ve had great success non-destructively snaking a small inspection camera behind the bracket in the laundry room and viewing pipes. When located the prospective buyers agents were able to secure a guaranteed re-plumb and help their buyers move ahead with their purchase.

Remember:  Nevada Law specifically prohibits home inspectors from conducting destructive testing.   In many cases, the only way to confirm Kitec is through a wall penetration. We’ve heard of some home inspectors that are making these wall penetrations. Consider any legal and ethical ramifications before conducting any destructive testing on a property that has not yet transferred ownership.

Resources:

-For a list of builders/ developments with Kitec that have had the deadline extended, click here. This is an excellent resource, but it is not all inclusive. Kitec can be found in homes not on this list.

-For more information on how to make a claim, please visit the court-appointed claims administrator’s website: http://www.TotalClassSolutions.com/Settlements

Total Class Solutions contact info:

Total Class Solutions is in charge of the administration of claims. They have the most up to date information on specific properties and can help you file a claim.

Telephone: (800) 622-0130

E-mail: Info@TotalClassSolutions.com

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If you have any questions about Kitec or any other home related issue, contact your Las Vegas area Pillar To Post Home Inspector:

Kevin Zamarripa
Owner, Licensed Home Inspector

702-285-5332

http://www.pillartopost.com/KevinZam

Discover the Pillar To Post Difference for yourself!

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Desert properties are vulnerable to freezing pipe, too!

Original Post:  November 2011

I know, I know this is the desert…it never gets cold enough to freeze pipes here, right? Wrong! Although it is less common here in the Las Vegas Valley, we do have the occasional freezing temperatures that can cause pipes to freeze. Many Nevadans have moved from other parts of the country, possibly someplace colder, and tend to forget that our pipes need protection when the cold weather is upon us. Couple that with the abundance of homes that are not actively occupied like Bank Owned, REO’s, Vacation Properties, rental investments, etc., and you have a greater likelihood of frozen pipes and the damages associated with leaks.

Here is a friendly reminder take some precautions to prevent frozen pipes. If you have clients in the process of buying a home (especially if it is a vacant home) work with the listing agent to ensure the home is properly protected and watched throughout the cold spell and beyond. On your listing properties, take some precautionary steps to prevent freezing pipes and be on the lookout for leaks. If the property is vacant, make sure it is properly winterized. There are several companies that will provide this service for you.

Helpful Tips:

-Properly insulate exposed pipes. In many cases, the main water line has a significant area that is exposed when it exits the ground and enters the house. Make sure it is thoroughly insulated. In a pinch, wrap some old bath towels around it until you can get to the hardware store the next day. Any exposed pipes on the exterior are particularly vulnerable like hose bibs and irrigation lines. Be sure to insulate these as well.

-A trickle of hot and cold water is helpful to keep the water moving and reduce pressure in the lines. Do this at the fixtures closest to where the water enters the house and at the furthest fixtures.

-Turn on the heat! Keep it no lower than 58 degrees.

-Open cabinet doors near faucets and drains so the heat can reach those pipes.

-If you have a pool, run the motor to keep the water moving.

-Check the property regularly. If you suspect a frozen pipe or leak, shut off the main water line and have a plumber repair it immediately.

-Vacant properties should have the heat on and the plumbing lines drained, among other things. Have a professional winterize the property as soon as possible.

There are many resources available online with valuable information about preventing freezing pipes and winterization.

By Pillar To Post: Kevin Zamarripa