Inspecting homes throughout Rhode Island, I get a repeated question…

Mike, How bad is this defect?

When i get this question is usually means one of the two things;

How expensive is it to fix / can i do it myself?

How urgent is it?

OK here goes…

First with the urgency, I’ll just let you know, but typically safety items and water intrusion items are the most urgent. Safety, obviously because the longer you let it go, the more opportunity for someone to get hurt. With water intrusion, you always want water where it should be outside or in plumbing, not anywhere else. nothing short of fire will destroy your dwelling quicker than water. Not to mention the potential for mold issues as well. So bad stairs, railings, no fire safety items, loose railings, failing roof/gutter systems, breeches in siding and leaks are among the biggies to hurry up and get to on the double.

The  tricky part, how expensive is it or can i “DIY” it. In Rhode Island a home owner can perform many repairs deemed licensed trades. You may do some electrical and plumbing work, on your home, but a paid contractor must be licensed to do these items. That doesn’t mean that you should do them. Its tough for me to try to judge your aptitude or skill level on various repairs. A good rule of thumb is if you are not 100 % confident better leave it to a pro. There are dangers to trying and failing at  DIY project.

I have a network of tradesman I know and can refer you to, but if you want to try the DIY route, keep the following in mind…

Plumbing is more than simply, if it isn’t leaking its fine. There are items that effect proper drainage and venting of the system to prevent back ups, sewer gas entry and the like. Know your stuff before you try these things. Also a nearly fixed leak can be worse than a noticeable leak. If you get a leak nearly stopped and think its all set, the water will slowly and silently destroy the areas around it, and likely cause a mold issue. By the time you notice the slow leak, it can cause thousands to repair, when an initial visit from a plumber may have only cost hundreds to get it right the first time.

Electrical is another one. Not always so simple as white to white, black to black. There are dangers associated with adding too many junctions on one circuit. Accidentally overloading a GFI or AFCI protected circuit. Leaving wires not completely properly connected creating arcing.  Improper fastening or stress protecting wires. getting these items wrong can cause electrocution, or fire. They can even damage your electrical items in the circuits. Know what you’re doing before you dabble here too.

The Roof the dangers with the roof are similar to plumbing, if you nearly fix a leak it will slowly deteriorate your home, and you will not notice until your ceiling stains. Also there’s the danger of falling off.

Other mechanical items are usually a safer bet, like replacing doors, planing doors to close better, installing locks, trim molding, minor siding fixes, painting and the like. Your biggest worry here is cosmetic, and not likely a structural thing. Sure these items do take experience to get right as well, but not such a big deal if you get it wrong.

Safety items, are important to get correct, not because you can get hurt doing it, but they are for safety, be certain these items are handled properly. For example a stair rail may look nice but you may never know it isn’t secure until its too late, one slip and it rips out of the wall. Also if it is a DIY fix, don’t put it off too long, get it remedied right away.

And as always, you’re a client for life, so feel free to call me!

Mike Auger
Rhode Island Home Inspector
Auger Enterprises, Inc.
(401) 578 – 4878
RICB # 32856
NACHI # 110606065