As a home inspector sometimes I’m getting questions that are difficult to answer without first studying the subject.

One day I had a call from a lady, who owns numerous properties in the twin cities area. She asked if I can inspect a house and determine if somebody was smoking cigarettes inside. If there is an air quality analyzer that can prove it.

First of all, I know from my own experience how difficult and expensive can it be to get rid of the smell of tobacco smoke in the house.

Somebody can ask why it should be expensive.

Well, besides being a home inspector I have substantial experience in house remodeling, so I’m talking based on my own experience, there was a couple of properties I remodeled with my partner, where heavy smokers use to leave for more than 20 years.

The goal was to completely eliminate tobacco cigarette smoke in the house. The first property we did, we were able to eliminate the odor approximately on 90%, 2nd property we did not cut corners, we did everything, based on what we learned from previous mistakes. In general, it that can be done only by completely encapsulating with paint everything that can be saved. Here is a list of what can be saved:

Kitchen Cabinets, windows, doors, walls, and ceilings. Everything else must be replaced, yes I’m talking all fabrics, like carpets, draperies, electrical switches, receptacles, and all lightings, must be thrown away.

The ventilation system must be cleaned by companies who specialized in ventilation cleaning and odor removal.

The kitchen cabinets, drawers, doors with frames, and trim needs to be sanded and cleaned. Some wood surfaces like oak, have such an open grain that it is very hard to hide, even when painting over it. Professional refinishers have resorted to wood-grain fillers to level out open grains in preparation for a clear finish.

All walls must be washed using smoke odor remover cleaners, some people use a mix of water with vinegar. Sometimes washing needs to be repeated to completely remove smoke tar.

After sanding and cleaning are complete, all these surfaces need to be painted with good quality blocking smoke odor primer and then finished with paint.

Now let’s talk about the floors and ceilings. Unfortunately, half measures will not work here. Floors need to be either refinished or replaced with a new one.

If you decided to go with something like engineered floors, before laying floors some preparations need to be done, subfloors must be painted with a good quality primer that is blocking smoke odor.

The ceiling is a different story. I’m talking here about the popcorn ceiling – on the first property we did we tried to spray it with primer and then spray with paint, and it still had some smell. For the best result, I highly recommend removing the popcorn, then making a skim coat, painting with primer, and finishing with ceiling paint.

When everything is done, I’m recommending running an ozone or Hydroxyl generator for 3 to 4 days with open kitchen doors and drawers. Sometimes even longer.

You can say that it is possible to achieve similar results by skipping some steps, yes it is possible, I just shared my experience. You are welcome to try it using different methods, this video is not about the only way of getting rid of the smell of tobacco products.

Now let’s talk about detecting smoking in the house.

I want to make something clear; there are different types of tobacco smoking:

First-hand and second-hand smoke refers to the smoke inhaled by a smoker and can get inhaled by others, third-hand is smoke that gets left on the surfaces of objects that ages over time and becomes progressively more toxic.

Yes, it is possible to detect all types of smoking.

I found that there are quite a few devices that can detect firsthand smoking is manufactured by different countries.

USA-made devices.

Fresh Air, these devices available for hotels and apartments, immediately detect and prove tobacco and marijuana smoking. Plugs into a standard North American Type B outlet or is hardwired into a ceiling or wall. Connects via Wi-Fi to FreshAir’s cloud-based platform to monitor up to 500 square feet of open space per device.

Notifies you immediately via email, computer desktop, and/or mobile phone push notification.

PSA Live Saver; their devices Detect cigarette, cigar & pipe smoke. NOT A FIRE SMOKE ALARM. Emits an alarm and flashing red light when triggered Perfect for deterring unwanted cigarette smoke. This device did not send a notification.

Verkada system, the all-in-one sensor that detects wipe smoking. This device Connects all Verkada devices to Command, a web-based platform, it is mostly for commercial use.

UK devices

sold by Discount Fire Supply. There are different types of devices-Stand alone cigarette smoke alarms, Wireless cigarette smoke detectors, Cigarette detection systems. These devices are quick and easy to install. They are battery-operated too which means they can be installed in virtually any location. Cigarette smoke alarms are finely calibrated to detect the fine particles of tobacco smoke. They work with incredible accuracy and can detect someone smoking in a matter of seconds. Many also have voice alarm functionality which means they will sound a pre-recorded message instead of a traditional alarm when they detect a cigarette.

Singapore Devices:

These devices require wi-fi and SMS alert modems.

It is beyond scope of this video to review these devices here. I’m just sharing with you the information I found.

All these devices have a lot of pros, but some have cons, certain types of devices that alarm during smoking can be very annoying and can be easily covered or destroyed by tenants, the others once, requires WiFi, SMS alert modems which are not always possible to have on rental properties.

Finally, Nicotine smock testing for 3rd hand smoking.

E M S L Analytical Laboratory provides test kits to identify nicotine residues left on surfaces in homes, rental units, and other indoor environments.

Link to all these equipment providers will be provided below.

Please call us if you have any questions.



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The Pros & Cons Of Waving A Residential Home Inspection

The real estate market is on fire right now! If you’re a seller, the good news is houses are coming on the market and receiving multiple cash offers within days of listing. If you’re a buyer, chances are you’re going to be vying with several other buyers for any home you are interested in.

After months of house hunting, you might not want to let this one getaway. You need an edge. One way to sweeten your offer is to waive the home inspection to expedite the buying process and stand out from the competition. While this tactic could end up with you winning the home, it could also end up costing you big time down the road!

A home is probably the biggest and most important investment you’ll make in your lifetime. So it’s absolutely crucial to your sanity and your bank account that you do your due diligence and have all of the facts and figures in place before you commit and sign a purchase agreement. Otherwise, instead of your dream home, you could be investing in a money pit!

Of course, some homeowners are ok with taking the risk to get the house they want. In this post, we will take a closer look at what a home inspection is and offer the pros and cons of waiving a home inspection.

What is a Home Inspection?

If you’ve ever gone through the home buying process, you’re probably familiar with a home inspection. Typically, once you’ve signed a purchase agreement and the home is under contract, you bring in professional, certified home inspectors to perform a visual, in-person inspection.

This process is done to protect the buyer from any hidden problems. The inspector will walk through the home, inside and outside, and check its condition, the issue a report outlining what they have found. Inspection reports typically include any roof and termite damage, as well as structural issues and systems checks, including electrical, plumbing, and HVAC. In addition, the inspector will also document the home’s general interior and exterior features and condition, appliances, sprinkler system, pool, windows, doors, etc.

When the inspection is complete, the inspector sends his findings to the buyer. The buyer uses this information to first decide how to proceed. Depending on the information in the report, the buyer may use it as a negotiating tool to request that the seller pays for certain repairs before closing or reduce the sale price. If the damage is extensive, it provides a legal way to back out of the deal.

For this reason, sellers want the inspection to go as smoothly as possible. If they want to sell quickly, they are often willing to negotiate to make it happen.

Why Buyers Are Willing to Waive the Home Inspection

Right now in New England, we’re in the hottest real estate market in DECADES! According to NerdWallet’s 2021 Home Buyer Report, nationally, an estimated 28 million Americans are planning on buying a home in the coming year. At the end of 2020, the supply of homes available in the US was just 1.04 million units. According to the National Association of Realtors, this is the lowest number of available units since data collection began in 1982!

With multiple buyers vying for properties and bidding wars becoming the norm, waiving the home inspection can become a compelling offer for a seller. The National Association of Home Builders Housing Trend Report found that being outbid was the most common reason buyers cited for not yet purchasing a home. So it makes sense that an eager buyer would be willing to waive the home inspection contingency.

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The Risks of Waiving a Home Inspection

A home inspection is an important element of the home buying process for protecting a buyer’s financial interests. For example, learning that a home you’re interested in may need a new septic system costing $10,000 can change your mind about buying it or the amount you’re willing to spend. Without a home inspection, you might not find out about the problem until after you take possession, and you will lose any negotiating leverage you might have.

Another consideration is the health and safety of your family. Home inspections can uncover potential hazards in a home, like bad wiring, unsafe heating, or asbestos that the average person would not find during a pre-closing walkthrough.

So Should You Waive The Inspection?

As a general rule, the answer is no unless you’re willing and financially able to assume all potential risks. Waiving the inspection is especially problematic in an older house. That being said, there are a couple of instances when waiving the inspection is more of a calculated risk.

If, for instance, you are buying new construction and the home is under the builder warranty, or if the seller of a home or condo has had existing conditional reports compiled within the past year, it is “potentially” ok to waive the right to an inspection, IF it’s the only way to ensure your offer is accepted.

Again, it all comes down to the amount of risk you’re willing to take. Remember, even new construction can have problems that an inspection could uncover. The bottom line, spending a few hundred dollars on an inspection is almost always a good investment. However, in a market that is hot, taking a calculated risk may be necessary to ensure your bid is accepted.

Making A Strong Offer Without Waiving the Inspection

While any seller will prefer receiving an offer that waives the home inspection, there are ways and tactics allowing you to present a strong offer that will appeal to a seller and keep the inspection on the table.

  • Be fully preapproved!

Having a preapproval letter from a lender in hand when presenting your offer carries weight. It not only shows the seller you’re serious but that you have financing available to close the deal.

  • Ask for an “informational inspection” contingency.

This language tells the seller that you will be getting a full, professional inspection but only for informational purposes. Any information it uncovers will be for you. You won’t be asking them to pay for any issues it uncovers.

  • Make a larger downpayment.

It might mean saving for a little longer, but seeing more upfront cash might tempt a seller. It feels like more money in their pockets right away. This can signal that your financing is solid and the deal will close.

  • Add an Escalation Clause.

This is another tactic that is attractive to sellers. An escalation clause eliminates the need for a back-and-forth negotiation between two buyers. For example, say you’re interested in a home that is listed for $175,000. You can offer to automatically bid $1000 over any other offer with a cap of $200,000.

While these tactics can help you look more attractive to a seller and leave the home inspection clause intact, you might still lose out to a buyer willing to take the risk and waive the inspection, especially in a tough market like today. Regardless, if you lose out, brush yourself off, and keep looking! Eventually, you’ll find your home and do it in a way that is comfortable for you!

Can a Home Warranty Help?

Ultimately, if you opt to waive the home inspection, consider purchasing a home warranty. Whichever path you choose, a home warranty provides you with a safety net should unexpected expenses present themselves. Click here to learn more about Home Warranty programs, benefits, and pricing.

Court Strikes Down Eviction Ban

U.S. District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of the District of Columbia struck down a nationwide eviction moratorium Wednesday, calling it unlawful. Friedrich’s ruling applies nationwide.

The eviction ban was put in place last year by the Trump administration using public health powers granted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during health emergencies.

The ban was most recently extended by President Biden through the end of June.

In her 20-page ruling, Friedrich said, “It is the role of the political branches, and not the courts, to assess the merits of policy measures designed to combat the spread of disease, even during a global pandemic. The question for the Court is a narrow one: Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium? It does not.”

The Georgia and Alabama Association of REALTORS®, two housing providers, and their property management companies, filed the suit in defense of mom-and-pop property owners around the country struggling to pay bills without rental income for more than a year.

NAR—which helped secure nearly $50 billion in rental assistance provided by Congress since December to help tenants pay their bills and provide relief to housing providers who have lost income—supported the lawsuit, saying the ban was no longer needed.

“NAR has always maintained that the best solution for all parties was rental assistance to cover the rent, taxes and utility bills for tenants struggling during the pandemic,” says NAR President Charlie Oppler. “This decision prevents two crises—one for tenants, and one for mom-and-pop housing providers who do not have a reprieve from their bills. With rental assistance secured, the economy growing, and unemployment rates falling, there is no need to continue a blanket, nationwide eviction ban. With this safety net firmly in place, the market needs a return to normalcy and stability.”

Oppler adds that “our attention now should turn to the swift and efficient implementation of rental assistance.”