Groups are smaller communities within the larger ActiveRain. Join groups created by others. or start your own and
get others to join
This is the place to view the past and present contests put on by ActiveRain and its members. Everyone can join the
group and help encourage each other. Current contest will be highlighted posts so it's easy for you all to see. Let it
Curious as to what others in your profession think about a certain product or tool?
AR's community takes the time to leave honest and transparent reviews of their experiences
so you can be a bit wiser about your purchase.
Broken down by categories and subcategories for easy finds
Get an unfiltered look at what real users are saying
Leave a review yourself for others to benefit from
Add new products as you use them and gain points for doing so
ActiveRain University (ARU) provides free on-line training. We coach, consult and support real estate professionals about real estate trends, technology and social media.
ARU Calendar provides class types and registration links
Watch short tutorials on updating your photo, inserting a hyperlink and much more
Sign up for the Daily Drop so you don't miss out on AR's daily happenings
Find answers to most FAQ's
Whatever it is you're into and wherever you are, AR surely has a group for you to join.
Brand, off the wall, specific subject matters…whatever it is you're looking for.
Each time you write a post you can syndicate your post to 5 groups.
And if by chance you don't find what you're looking for, start a new group today!
Get your content in front of more eyes
Search by location or type
Feel free to start your own group
Find some that are close to home and close to heart
Each month AR runs numerous contests as a way for our members to engage in activities
that will boost their business and increase their visibility in the community and beyond.
Earn points by partaking in these contest and climb the leaderboard
Do what's good for you and your business by participating
If you have an idea for a contest, just let us know
Stay motivated and on track with new contests popping up each month
Ask a Real Estate Question
Here's another avenue for you to build relationships with others. Share your expertise with someone searching for answers.
Play the teacher role and help someone out today
Your Homepage will alert you of new questions in your state
A wonderful way to open a door to a possible new client
Ask a question yourself to get help
These state pages or hyper-local pages provide content directly related to a specific geographical location.
State, County, City and Neighborhood pages make it easy for consumers to find what they're looking for.
Post your listings, school information, local events, market reports and more
Consumers peruse these pages for information
Farm your niche market and cover all the happenings in your neighborhood
Sometimes Easy is Nice - 03/31/11 12:24 AM
Sometimes, as a home inspector, the job can be quite involved and a problem might even be hard to figure out -- where is the leak coming from, why is this room humid, what in heck kind of furnace installation it that? But, the good news is that sometimes the home inspector gets to cite something that is pretty easy to figure out. The hose bibb or faucet, east end of the house, has a missing handle and, therefore, was not operated. I recommend that a qualified party, such as a plumber, install a handle and/or make any repairs that might (10 comments)
Lynden Home Inspection (King of the House) Foundation Cracks - 03/27/11 09:50 AM
Foundation cracks are something that the professional home inspector has to think about, but not too much usually. There are foundation cracks that can indicate serious problems, certainly the case with horizontal cracks. But many, to most, of the diagonal or vertical cracks that the inspector sees are probably not a big issue. With a wide crack, well that can be a concern all right and any crack that could allow water through into the crawl space or basement is a worry in this wet climate. The thing about foundation cracks, even though they usually are not much of a problem, is (9 comments)
Washington State Approved Home Inspection Training -- Bellingham Technical College - 03/26/11 06:37 PM
The Bellingham Technical College course in the fundamentals of home inspection was the first course in the state to receive approval from the Department of Licensing, real estate division, when home inspector licensing took effect a couple years ago. This course attracts many students, from around the state, who wish to be trained as home inspectors. The next course will begin on May 2, 2011 and that class will run through May 27. The full four week session will include not only the 120-hours of fundamentals training but, also, 40 hours of on-site field training. Below you will see a photo (2 comments)
Ferndale Home Inspector (King of the House) Gutter Corners - 03/26/11 10:52 AM
As a home inspector, at least here in the wet northwest, one learns to pay particular attention to the wood, rafters and fascia at ends and corners of gutters. Gutters are more prone to leaking at those locations and, when they do, the leaking water will often lead to rot of the wood below. This photo is a good example of the weather-related stress that has been inflicted on this wood.
A homeowner really needs to keep gutters clean because, when they are clogged with debris, then corners and ends leak -- the water has to go somewhere. And, even (3 comments)
Niche Market: Homeland Security Buyers - 03/25/11 11:28 AM
Over the past year or two, in this northwest corner of Washington state, I have noticed that I am doing a large number of home inspections for employees of Homeland Security.
Here in Whatcom County, WA, we are home to the famous symbol of U.S. and Canada relations -- the Peace Arch. And this is the second largest border crossing between the US and Canada (Vancouver BC and Blaine). The largest or busiest northern crossing is between Windsor and Detroit.
Those agents that I talk to, many of them from Border Patrol, say that the Homeland Security population boom (5 comments)
Frost-Free No More - 03/25/11 10:24 AM
As is the case with so many building components, the component or system is only as good as the way in which it has been installed. Frost-free hose bibbs are a great idea. The valve actually shuts-off back in the wall. So when the faucet is turned off, the water near the outside drains out the front spout of the hose bibb, assuming it has been installed/sloped correctly. Therefore, any water left in the hose bibb is retained back in the warmer crawl space or basement area. People have ways of messing up hose bibbs so, despite the clever design, they do not (10 comments)
Bellingham Home Inspector (King of the House) Short Stack - 03/24/11 08:38 PM
When the inspector is up on the roof, and many people do not know this, he or she is often checking for much more than roofing components. Often chimneys, vents from furnaces and water heaters, electric masts and plumbing stacks are best viewed from up above. The photo below is a plumbing stack that is too short. A plumbing stack is required to terminate a minimum of six inches above the roof. The good news is that this problem is not so hard to repair with an ABS coupling and a bit more pipe.
Top to Bottom (Bellingham Technical College) -- Field Training - 03/24/11 10:06 AM
We are in the final week of the latest home inspection training course at Bellingham Technical College. We have completed all of the 120 hours of state approved classroom lessons. Now we are working hard to complete the 40 hours of field training. The field training includes a small group of students going out with an instructor. Each student, to pass the course, must turn in a report that meets the state standards of practice for home inspection. The students are responsible for the exterior, roof, attic areas, interior and basements or crawl spaces. We take a hard look at the (2 comments)
Ferndale Home Inspection -- Gutter Cleaning - 03/23/11 09:19 PM
Manufacturers are, constantly, trying to come up with gutter guards that will make it possible for a homeowner to ignore the state of the gutters. My experience, as a home inspector, is that when there are gutter guards in place they tend to create more problems than they solve. I will agree that they slow down the amount of organic debris that will collect in the gutter. But they do not stop that buildup of crud. The problem is that the contented homeowner, figuring that the gutters are swell, forgets about them. Yet, you give a few months of years of (4 comments)
Bellingham WA Home Inspection: Fawns in the Woods - 03/23/11 08:53 PM
I was doing a student inspection today with a class from Bellingham Technical College. It was not part of the home inspection but somebody said: "Hey look over there." There were two fawns just hanging out in the brush beside the house. They must have been there at least the first hour that we were on-site. Then they got bored with us weirdos and left. There is an abundance of wildlife around this area anymore.
Ferndale WA Home Inspector: This Isn't Horseshoes - 03/20/11 11:54 PM
I am sure that you know the old saying -- "Close only counts in horseshoes." Very often, at a home inspection, that saying pops into my mind. "Popped" is probably not the right word -- it is forced into my mind by a visual enigma. For example, I find it amazing when people seem to have the right idea. They know that the runoff water from the gutters should be diverted away from the house. So they go out and buy a number of splash blocks at a home store.
But then it gets into the weirdness. If you know (9 comments)
Spring Renewal = Spring Cleanup -- Really! - 03/20/11 05:11 PM
I have noticed Sally's Spring Renewal Contest and had planned to enter. But I have been really busy between inspections and coordinating the home inspection training course at Bellingham Technical College. Plus, I was having trouble trying to think of a theme. When you are really busy, morning till bedtime, it is hard to find the time or energy to be creative. Then I realized, this morning, that I do not need to be creative. I can simply rely on being truthful. Fact is, my spring renewal, and it will make me feel so much better, is going to be removing (12 comments)
Lake Whatcom Water Supply -- Bellingham, WA - 03/20/11 11:03 AM
In Bellingham, and many of the outlying communities such as Sudden Valley, the water source for the city is our old friend Lake Whatcom. Lake Whatcom is a large lake that is not only the water source but it is also a favorite recreation spot. You got it, the community loves it, but over the years it has been a home to not only ducks and geese but also swimmers, water skiers and boaters with those gasoline powered engines. Although the recreation part sounds like fun, and it is a valuable part of the community, the thought of the gasoline spills (6 comments)
Trip, Stumble and Fall - 03/19/11 10:50 AM
When it comes to walkways, patios and steps, people really love their "landscaping style" flat surfaces. Even at high end houses, I often find stone or rock walkways and steps -- put in by a landscaper I assume but, sometimes, by the homeowner. These features are often rustic and attractive as intended. But, what people do not think about, is that the surfaces are uneven and a pedestrian is much more likely to trip and fall than on a regular sidewalk that really is flat.
Or a person is certainly more likely to trip on steps that are uneven and (6 comments)
Happy St Paddy's Day - 03/17/11 11:47 PM
I would be remiss if I did not wish all of you a good St Patrick's Day. I have been working all day and did not even think about the day, until I came on here and everyone was talking about it. This is a day that, I must say, is not a big one on my events list. The most interesting St Paddy's Day that I ever had was 1983. My wife and I, that year, were in the heart of New York City and Broadway. There was a huge parade or march. Whatever you would call it, there was (9 comments)
Home Inspector Field Training, May 2011 -- Bellingham Technical College - 03/17/11 11:40 PM
At Bellingham Technical College, as I posted earlier this week, we are getting ready to wrap-up our latest class that consists of 120 hours of classroom training in home inspection. This type of training is required for a potential inspector to become licensed in the state. Next week, after a final, the students will be knee deep in the field training. To be allowed to sit for the state test, the student must also complete the 40 hours of approved field training. The next full session at BTC, class after this, begins on Monday, May 2, 2011. The field training dates for that class will be May 20, (0 comments)
Frozen Water - 03/17/11 12:06 AM
Now, maybe in Hawaii and some parts of the country, you could get by with this one. But you sure could not get by with it in Western Washington. When things are cold, there is not much less fun than having frozen pipes.
This faucet, and the piping, is going to be either frozen or burst, or both, over much of our winter season. Now, even though that valve below is intended for the purpose of turning off the faucet, this is one really silly arrangement. Whoever figured this one out did not have a degree in engineering, either that (10 comments)
At Bellingham Technical College we are, how time flies, in the final phase of the 120 hours of classroom training that potential new home inspectors must take if they wish to be licensed by the state. In this state anyone, regardless of background, must take a 120 hour fundamentals of home inspection training course and complete 40 hours of approved field training prior to being allowed to sit for the state exams. The field training, first day, is Friday of this week and then the rest of it runs Tuesday to Friday of the following week. The next full (3 comments)
Washington State Sales Tax and Canada - 03/15/11 07:57 PM
I was attending a Washington State Home Inspector Licensing Board meeting in Seattle today. Some of the discussions, and cost saving measures the state has implemented, are reminders that the state is having some pretty serious financial problems. Then, on the way home, on the radio I heard the director of the State Department of Revenue offer a "forgiveness" program to businesses that owe penalties and back taxes. Boy, that is a change of pace for that agency compared to years gone by. My accountant has always told me that, of all the government bodies, do not get seriously sideways with the IRS or the State Department (5 comments)
Old House: GFCI Protected Receptacles - 03/13/11 08:50 PM
For the most part, except for some areas if a remodel is taking place, an old home does not have to be "brought-up" to the latest codes. Trying to do that, with the ongoing code cycles, would cost lots of money and create a nightmare. We home inspectors ARE NOT code inspectors but, at least most of us, have code considerations in mind when we cite certain problems. After all, you have to have some benchmark as a starting place for what is right or wrong. Keeping code in mind, since it is relatively standardized as a minimum standard, at least (15 comments)
Citizens Work To Save the Lummi Island Ferry - 03/13/11 12:25 PM
At first, I believe that everyone thought that Whatcom County and the Lummi Nation would resolve the dispute over the mainland port for the Lummi Island ferry. But the negotiations are at an impasse and there is now less than one month left before the deadline that has been imposed by the tribe. The Lummi's have notified Whatcom County that the ferry must vacate their land by April 10, 2011. Below is a photo of the ferry arriving at the mainland port, Lummi Island in the background.
About 1000 people, or fewer, live on Lummi Island and there are very few businesses. (5 comments)
Wine and Pasta Anyone? - 03/13/11 12:04 AM
I was out in the cold today doing an inspection. When I got home, I decided to look through some of my photos I selected, some time ago, to send up to Active Rain. I found this one and I am in the mood for it. This is a shop in Milan, Italy. And shops like this abound over there. It is totally amazing how many different types of pasta the Italians make fresh, and how much pride some people take in their pasta and their tantalizing morsels. This is what we would call a deli. In fact, it is a (10 comments)
Wood Destroying Organism Infestations -- The Common Denominator - 03/11/11 06:48 PM
There is one factor that is involved in almost all issues involving wood destroying organisms. When we talk about wood destroying organisms we are referencing a fungal issue -- wood decay fungi or rot. And we are also talking about any of the wood destroying insects. In my state, that includes two types of termites, three kinds of ants and a couple types of wood-boring beetles. That is quite a smorgasbord of bugs. What I refer to as the common denominator, in the vast majority of these infestations, is shown below.
The culprit is moisture. It need not be standing (9 comments)
Ferndale WA Home Inspector (King of the House) Dryer Flexduct - 03/11/11 12:01 AM
People, incorrectly so, use that accordion flexduct for so many different purposes. It is often run in attics from bath fans to the outside, or maybe it simply looks like a dead snake in the attic. But what is really nuts is when someone runs a really long length of it through a wall or a floor. Flexducting is not suitable to run through walls. In fact, the only thing it is suitable for, other than to play with perhaps, is a very, very short length of it right behind a dryer. From there, it should connect up to the proper (8 comments)
Bellingham Home Inspector (King of the House) Water Pressure - 03/09/11 11:29 PM
When doing a home inspection, I always check the water pressure when it is possible to do so. Sometimes I use the outside faucet. Other times I have used a laundry faucet and I even have a little gizmo that allows me to attach my pressure gauge to a bath or kitchen sink. It is amazing how often one finds that the water pressure is too high -- over 80 psi and how often it is too low -- below 40 psi.
Around here, most plumbers set the pressure at about 50 psi, a bit higher in a multi-story house. (10 comments)
The Hills Are Alive - 03/09/11 08:30 PM
A while back I was doing an inspection and I needed my electric tester to determine if an exposed wire, beside a building, was energized or not. I had recently replaced my "tick" tester as we inspectors call them. I was not happy when I took it out, turned it on, and it immediately started beeping and lights were flashing when I was standing in the parking lot of the building I was inspecting. I figured I had wasted my money on that one. Then I took out another one just like it. Imagine my surprise when it, too, started (14 comments)
Bellingham's Outdoor Kitchen Man -- Mark Palmer Licensed General Contractor - 03/07/11 10:36 AM
About a month ago, I wrote an article here about a Bellingham and Whatcom County licensed general contractor who has, along with his ongoing remodeling and building work, found an interesting niche market. Many people, especially those who live near the lakes around here, have decided that they want to have outdoor kitchens. And, as soon as our weather gets a bit nicer, I bet they will emerge again this year.
When Mark built the first of these, he and the client wanted to set up the facility with top-of-the-line barbecue equipment. As a result of that, he became the distributor in this (6 comments)
Ferndale WA Home Inspection (King of the House) Electric Panels - 03/06/11 11:22 PM
If a homeowner has a few boxes in front of an electric panel, or maybe an easy to shove out of the way portable shelf or case, I do not think much about moving that item. But, very often, people will mount shelves right over, or in front of, the electric panel. In this case, photo below, to get the cover off, you have to remove the bottom four screws, pull it out at the bottom, and then ease it over the breakers. That is problematic, potentially unsafe, and is always a pain for the inspector who does not want to (10 comments)
Would You Check Your Wood - 03/06/11 07:26 PM
A home inspector in this state, probably anywhere, is supposed to cite wood to earth contact as a problem. When wood is in contact with soil, the moisture that wicks up into the wood will cause rot of the material over time. Sometimes newer inspectors, in an effort to be careful, will end up with egg on the face. For example, below is a photo that might appear to be wood to soil contact -- lattice to the earth.
The catch here is that this lattice is NOT wood. This is a plastic lattice and, although UV might eventually make (4 comments)
Just last week I updated the status of the Lummi Island Ferry. Lummi Island is a small and picturesque island that is located near Bellingham. For nearly two years now, and frantically so at this point, the county has been working in an effort to save the current, and convenient, run that goes from Gooseberry Point which is Lummi land. The crossing takes less than ten minutes. As it stands, the Lummi Nation has decided that they want the ferry gone. And the county, to get people and cars back and forth from the island, says there is only (6 comments)
Builder's Who Don't Mind the Gap - 03/06/11 11:37 AM
Any of you who have been to London and ridden on the underground, or the tube, have heard the famous term "Mind the Gap." The term references the risk that you might fall in the gap between the train and the side of the track. We home inspectors look for gaps in other locations. For example, we want to see a gap where the wood trim ends above a flat surface such as concrete or a deck. And, up on the roof, we want to see a gap where wood trim is located close to roofing materials. In most cases, an (3 comments)
Bellingham Technical College -- Structural Pest Inspector Training - 03/05/11 05:58 PM
A Department of Licensing licensed home inspector in Washington state may report on rot, but if he or she is not also licensed as a structural pest inspector, that inspector is not allowed to identify or cite damage from wood destroying insects. And, in this damp state, we have lots of those -- carpenter ants, velvety tree ants, moisture ants, two types of termites and various wood-boring beetles. The home inspector, who is not dual licensed, who suspects wood destroying insects on premises must make a general statement suggesting that a pest control operator and/or contractor be hired to further evaluate the conditions. (5 comments)
Beautiful Frass - 03/04/11 09:36 PM
Frass: "By-product of insect tunneling and feeding activities." In this state I not just a home inspector, also I am a licensed structural pest inspector. Without that license, an inspector is not allowed to identify or make specific recommendations regarding wood destroying insect species or damage. Sometimes we inspectors appreciate it when we get some real big clues as to problems early on. Recently, I was entering a crawl space at an older house. Based on the moisture present and the condition of the crawl space I expected to find the wood boring beetle known as the anobiid beetle. It leaves (3 comments)
Odd Ball Call - 03/03/11 09:50 PM
Sometimes communications with clients and potential clients can drive me crazy. For example, the client who has his or her Email spam settings set so high that my report is sent to the trash. Then the client calls and wants to know why I did not send out the report in a timely manner, and it has been sitting in the trash for a day or two. I had one incident recently that was very odd. I was teaching at Bellingham Technical College and could not answer my phone so I received a voice mail. A man said something on this (8 comments)
Wood Destroying Organisms, Washington State - 03/01/11 09:34 PM
One of my favorite days, during the Bellingham Technical College classes, is the day that Dr. Dan Suomi from the Washington State Department of Agriculture takes a trip to Bellingham and speaks to the students. In this photo he is holding a plastic rat, while discussing a proliferation of the furry creatures in the state. Rats are not wood destroying organisms, but they sure can be pests. Dan has great dignity and I must confide that the plastic rat is mine but he, Dan and not the plastic rat, has a sense of humor. Dan's speaking to the class is a real bonus, (9 comments)
Steven L. Smith, King of the House Home Inspection, provides information for real estate buyers, sellers and real estate industry professionals.
Blog posts emphasize issues commonly found in Bellingham, WA and Whatcom County. Smith is Washington State Licensed Home inspector #207, a state licensed structural pest inspector and one of the most experienced inspectors in the northwest corner of the Pacific Northwest.
Steven L. Smith is lead instructor of home inspection at Bellingham Technical College and teaches classes for Washington State University and the Washington State Department of Agriculture. Steve was a two-term member of the state licensing board.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.