Thank you stopping by my blog, as an ASHI licensed home inspector together with a California & Florida Real Estate Agent I have a lot of experience in this area. Please feel free to comment on any of my postings and contact me directly with questions and also visit my landing page of


Aug 10, 2015

Concrete floor cracking explained

Posted by: John McLoughlin

Many builders and Realtors when asked by clients about floor cracks often state that cracking of the concrete floors is common. Unfortunately this is true but it is generally caused by poor construction management rather than a natural occurrence. Many properties now upon a solid concrete slab and foundation called a Monolithic slab and the speed and drying process is unfortunately not the most important consideration to many builders. Many people are actually unaware that the floor beneath them has cracks inviting a selection of problems over a period of time. If you have flexible floor coverings such as carpet, wood or vinyl you probably will never know until you get a structural defect, moisture or insect problems. If you have a non flexible floor covering such as tile and you have concrete cracking you will know very soon after the tile has been installed. Different types of soils can effect movement in the structure causing cracking.

The concrete slab and foundation of the property is the most important part of the structure and it is essential that the construction management process is carefully monitored to ensure defects are not built into the design. Generally a monolithic slab is used which is a solid mass of concrete composing of the supporting foundation and ground floor. The exterior perimeter of the slab will form the foundation and will be thicker in order to support the weight of the exterior load bearing wall. The foundation or commonly known as “the footer” will have additional steel reinforcement bars placed within the concrete.

Concrete is a carefully measured quantity of cement, sand, rock aggregate and water. The strength of concrete is determined by the mixture ratio and is often based on the primary requirement for the structure and the load bearing requirements.

As concrete sets, the water in the mixture forms a chemical reaction with the cement; although the concrete dries in a sense that no liquid water remains the water is still there and is a very important element of the structure. The drying or setting of concrete is normally known as the Curing. In fact it is more important to keep the concrete wet during the early stages of curing. This is because of  the chemical reaction produced called Hydration which is the generation of heat produced in the curing process, while bonding the raw materials of the concrete together. The heat that is self generated by this process together with the ambient temperature and direct exposure to the sun can cause the concrete to have what is known as accelerated drying causing expansion cracks to appear on the surface and often run deeper into the concrete slab.

Common damage caused by concrete floor cracking

  • Poor structural integrity of the structure
  • Increased moisture & Mold
  • Termites & other insects
  • Uneven surfaces
  • Floor tiles cracking
  • Uneven wear on carpets & vinyl

How to reduce or prevent concrete floor cracking

Prevention is the best cure, it is important to try and reduce the accelerated drying process as the excessive heat will prevent the natural bonding together of the raw materials and cause the concrete to crack becoming weaker. A heat reduction process can be as simple as covering the concrete reducing the sun’s exposure but the most effective method is spraying the concrete with a fine mist or water when the surface has become hard to touch. Ideally 7 days would be a satisfactory time to leave the concrete before building upon it. Unfortunately I often see contractors in Florida building on it after just 24 hours. The stress produced on the concrete at this stage will defiantly produce cracking and effect the structural integrity of the structure.

Expansion joints should be cut into the concrete as soon as it has been set to allow for the continuous movement from expansion and contraction generated by the heat. The joints should be spaced correctly to be effective and they should be no more than 2-3 times the slab thickness (in inches). Therefore a 4 inch slab should have joints 8 -12 feet apart. The joints should be cut 25% of the depth of the slab; therefore a 4 inch slab would have joints cut 1 inch deep. In hot weather the concrete will crack if the joints are not cut within 6 -12 hours after finishing the concrete pour. Once the joint is cut a material with less density than the concrete can be inserted as an expansion joint material. Specialist joints can also be used which is basically a plastic or aluminum type material which is in the shape of a V inserted into the cut joint. When the expansion occurs the V section will compress.

I hold a bachelors’ honors degree in construction and am a Realtor, Surveyor and Home Inspector, I have been inspecting properties for the last 30 years in various countries and climate conditions. My research has identified that the countries with a high relative humidity like Florida tend to be effected more with mold. If you are using an inspector who is not qualified and trained to the level and expertise required, you are putting yourself at risk at your own cost.

My full credentials and qualifications can also be verified online or by contacting The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and The Association of Building Engineers, (ABE)

Aug 6, 2015

Relay For LIfe

Posted by: John McLoughlin

Come Join us on October 3rd to 4th to make a difference in some ones life.

Aug 6, 2015


Posted by: John McLoughlin

Mold is a concern for everyone and is not just associated or a result of a leak within the property. Many people are not aware that mold can kill if left unattended to develop to a toxic form. Mold is present in many homes and unnoticed; we have all seen mold in the bathroom at some stage in minor forms and just washed it away with strong bleach.

Mold is the result of high levels of moisture in a poorly or unvented area, it can be caused by a number of contributing factors and not limited to anyone.

  • High relative humidity     
  • Roof  or gutter leak
  • Poor house keeping
  • Defective air conditioning.
  • Poor ventilation
  • Underground water leaks

While we are all widely informed of the dangers of mold not many people know that without mold many of us would not be alive today. The discovery of Penicillin is usually attributed to a Scottish scientist Sir Alexandra Fleming in 1928, though others had earlier noted the antibacterial effects of Penicillin. His research identified that when he grew a pure culture of the mold he discovered that is was a Penicillin Mold. Penicillin became the wonder drug with many disease cured by its use.

So not only can mold kill it can also cure. The important factor is the type of mold, amount and level of exposure. As we are all aware mold is unsightly and is generally removed when discovered in wet areas such as bathroom and kitchens. When mold is not discovered and remains hidden that is when it can become dangerous. Mold will feed on moisture and can soon take over and contaminate a property if left untreated. Mold can travel through the air in tiny spores, so an air conditioning system in a property can soon assist the mold to contaminate all areas easily.

Can Mold be a health problem?

Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing.  Molds have the potential to cause health problems.  Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins).  Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.  Allergic responses include seasonal allergies (hay fever-type) symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis).  Allergic reactions to mold are common.  They can be immediate or delayed.  Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold.  In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.  Symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold.  Research on mold and health effects is ongoing. 

How do I fix the Mold problem?

It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors; some mold spores will be found floating through the air and in house dust.  The mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present.  Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors.  If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem.  If you clean up the mold, but don't fix the water problem, then, most likely, the mold problem will come back.

So where do I start?

The best place to start is to identify if you actually have mold though my professional inspection. Specialist test equipment would be set up within the affected area taking live swab or air samples. Mold can only be determined through scientific analysis of the sample taken on site. These samples are sealed, recorded and sent immediately to our laboratory to grow the mold cultures in a temperature controlled environment. This laboratory process will normally take between 5 to 7 days, and then with the scientific results we can qualify what type of mold is present and what course of action is required to remove it safely.

I hold a bachelors’ honors degree and am a Realtor, surveyor and home inspector, I have been inspecting properties for the last 30 years in various countries and climate conditions. My research has identified that the countries with a high relative humidity like Florida tend to be effected more with mold. If you are using an inspector who is not qualified and trained to the level and expertise required, you are putting yourself at risk at your own cost.

My full credentials and qualifications can also be verified online or by contacting The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and The Association of Building Engineers, (ABE)

So how are you feeling today? Now the Video 


Aug 4, 2015

Home Inspections

Posted by: John McLoughlin


Generally the purpose of the Home Inspection is to allow a Qualified Building Professional to examine the property in detail and to identify any risk to be incurred financially or structurally by the purchaser or lenders. A home inspection report will be issued on completion. The basis of the findings and subsequent report will determine if the sale will be re-negotiated or succeed with conditions. If a Home Inspection is not carried out, the buyer in most cases assumes all risk. The common Latin phrase is “Caveat Emptor” meaning “Let the Buyer Beware”

Many people are unaware that the Home Inspection industry in California and many states is currently unlicensed and unregulated.

The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) regulates its own home inspection industry by requiring all home inspectors who wish to become members obtain a minimum inspection experience of 250 inspections. These inspections reports are examined and graded to ensure the Professional Practices and Code of Ethics are maintained. When ASHI is satisfied with the inspector’s competence, the inspector is then required to take and pass a home inspection exam. The home inspection exam is designed to test the knowledge and experience of the construction industry together with construction fault diagnosis and remedies. Becoming a member demonstrates to the Real Estate Industry the inspector’s level of professionalism.



  • Always get a home inspection.
  • Always get the home inspection ASAP after entering a contract on a property. A home inspection carried outside the time period allowed for home inspection within the contract may not allow a cancelation of a contract.
  • Check with your local state for the requirements for licensure for home inspectors and home inspections.
  • Always ensure your Realtor has a local knowledge and experience of the area you are purchasing your property. Always ask if there has been a previous home inspection carried out on the property and if so request a copy of the home inspection report from the seller.
  • Identify from your Realtor if your potential property has sustained any damage. This should be detailed in the seller’s disclosures.
  • Always check with a Professional Organization for recommended home inspectors.
  • Never use an unqualified, unlicensed (depending on state requirements) or uninsured inspector.
  • If a Home Inspection is not carried out the buyer generally assumes all risk.
  • To ensure you have a professional home inspection it is advisable to check that your home inspector is accredited to a professional home inspection association. A common Standard of Practice and Code of Ethics exist with professional home inspection associations to ensure the high level of competence is achieved within the industry protecting the buyers.
  • Always review the home inspection report for any defects noted.
  • Never rely on a previous home inspection report that you have not ordered.
  • Always be present during the home inspection.
  • Make sure the home inspector includes photographs in the home inspection report.
  • Make sure the home inspection report covers all areas of the property that can be accessed.
  • Review the home inspection agreement prior to the home inspection to identify any liability waiver clauses.
  • Check the home inspection agreement to see if it covers other inspection such as Mold , Lead Paint etc
  • Check the home inspection agreement to identify any home inspection warranties.
  • Ask the home inspection company for a copy of a previous home inspection report or a sample home inspection report to review prior to the home inspection.
  • If the home inspection identifies defects that are rectified by the seller arrange for the home inspection to carry out another home inspection to close out any issues raised on the original home inspection report.

I am a California & Florida licensed Realtor together with a Certified licensed ASHI home inspector, when working with my buyers they have the added advantage of all my experience and knowledge that can answer many concerns in the pre view of a home. For full details of my qualification see my web page I always advise my buyers to have an independent home inspection carried out by a industry recognized home inspector. I am also a fellow member of both The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and The Association of Building Engineers, (ABE)

Jul 31, 2015

Florida Real Estate

Posted by: John McLoughlin

The Florida real estate market is still growing fast with Orlando and Miami being a major tourist destination. Many homes in the greater Orlando area are designed and built for the short term rental industry. Florida home prices are still far below the California markets which make them an affordable second home option for many investors.

One of the growing markets is vacant land sales within the greater Orlando areas because of the expanding large attractions such as Disney, Universal and the business convention centers. Many locations in Florida have hotels closing where as Orlando and Miami have new hotels under construction and being planned for future tourist increases.

The type of property I am marketing to out of state clients are vacant land parcels in prominent locations for expansion. These properties would be located within easy access of Disney and attractions. An example of this is The Orlando Groves which is a 10.6 acre property which includes three single family homes and Orange Groves,

I am also a Florida Realtor and working with several vacant land owners who are interested in marketing their properies to the California market.If you are a land owner in either California or Florida and would like to know more about marketing in both states please contact me directly and view my web page Vacant Land Sales & Marketing

The property in the short YouTube below is a 10.6 acre property with three single family homes and a swimming pool  The Orlando Groves


Jul 30, 2015

New Construction Homes

Posted by: John McLoughlin

Many people are unaware that a new construction builder or developer has an allowance in their price to cover any buyer representation commissions. When a buyer goes direct to a builder or developer this commission is considered as a bonus to the builder not a credit to the buyer.

So why would someone not want to be represented in a real estate transaction? Well the most common reason is the misconception that if they go direct they are cutting out a middle man and will get a better deal which is very wrong.

Food for thought:

  • A new construction contract from a builder of developer is unique to them and not a standard contract or agreement normally found in the state for general real estate transactions used by real estate offices. The verbiage is tailored very much to protect the interest of them and to cover all eventualities of a buyer defaulting.
  • A new construction home can be delayed for numerous reasons and the contract can have clauses written in that the buyer may not get compensation for delays. However clause may exist that if the buyer delays penalties can be imposed.
  • It is very easy to fall into a pressure trap by the builder or developer over timescales to sign or complete on the property, these can includes phase close outs and premium lot payments increasing.
  • Generally inspections are limited by the buyer on new construction unless they hire an independent inspection to inspect varies stages of the construction.
  • Negotiations are always tight with new construction and everything seems to be an add on where you really get into it.
  • The base model of the property generally is very basic and nothing like the finish detail of the model home you fell in love with. Everything extra seems to be an added option.
  • Can you with an untrained eye spot construction defects? See more info on these at

Buyer representation:

A realtor can help you negotiate through the contract and also maybe help you with some of the options to be included. But most importantly a realtor can advise you of your rights under the contract that may not seem clear cut.

A realtor such as myself with extensive construction experience and who is also a licensed home inspector can help you understand the construction process calming you down when you visit site and it looks like a bomb shell with no progress. Check out all my construction and real estate qualifications here

So taking into account all that could concern you over buying new construction and the fact that in many cases having realtor representation will cost you nothing why would you not use the services offered to you?

Here is how it works

  • Realtor must introduce and accompany the buyer on the first visit to the construction office or model, and that is all basically what many realtors will just do.

My buyer’s representation includes

  • Introduction to reputable builders
  • Review with buyers construction plans
  • Review with buyers the sale contract
  • Negotiations with builder on contract
  • Accompany buyers on inspections
  • Accompany buyers on final walk through
  • Attend Closing

I will put my knowledge and experience to work to help you make your new construction purchase a pleasant one. I have been working in the Construction, Health & Safety and Real Estate industry internationally for over 40 years. Trained and internationally certified as;

  • UK Chartered Building Engineer
  • UK Chartered Building Surveyor
  • UK General Contractor
  • UK NEBOSH Health & Safety Inspector
  • OSHA 510 Occupational Safety & Health in Construction Advisor
  • Florida Licensed Home Inspector
  • California & Florida Licensed Realtor

Advantages of buying a new construction home

  1. Price: Many new construction homes are built and sold at a lower cost than surrounding existing homes. This is largely due to newer construction techniques, cheaper materials and labor supply.
  2. Maintenance: Most new construction builders will be responsible for maintenance of the homes major items for up to 10 years. Standard construction techniques and local building codes ensure that the home is built to a high standard for minimum maintenance.
  3. Energy Efficiency: The local building codes require all builders to provide information to the buyer and the state proving that the home meets the current high standards for energy efficiency. With solar electric and spray foam insulated roofs this can reduce outgoing expenses considerably.
  4. Standard included items: These can range from different builders but generally fitted appliances such as dishwasher, refrigerators, range and microwaves are included
  5. Location: Most locations are close to main highways and travel facilities.
  6. Size: When a development is restricted in size the builder will build upwards adding floors to increase square footage.
  7. Safer: With the new building codes, new construction homes are built to a safer standard for fire, hurricane, tornado and earthquakes.
  8. Warranties: As part of the maintenance package warranties are included on the structure ad major structural components of the property.
  9. New feeling: We all know that something new can change our whole outlook on things. A new construction home in most cases changes the way we look at our home and instead of trying to fit old furniture we had in our last home we tend to buy many new items enhancing our environment and the feel good factor.
  10. Opportunity to buy a model home: If you are lucky to be an early purchaser on a new construction home site many builders will sell their model homes which has all the upgrades and sometimes lease it back from you. This will be for a period of time while they continue to market the other homes. This is a great opportunity to get discounted upgrades and also revenue in return.


  1. If you are not a construction expert you are relying on a salesperson to guide you into buying the home what they want to sell
  2. Limited supply: Many builders will only release small phases of the development to keep the supply low and retain the ability to increase costs in further stages. If fact that is used a sales technique to get a buyer to sign a contract as soon as possible.
  3. Time scales: If it is not an inventory home the construction process can take many months depending on size.
  4. Delays: Delays can occur at anytime and can be considerable. If the contract is not a closed fixed price this can increase the price.
  5. Builders can default: Yes it can happen because of labor disputes, materials shortages and bad practice. Always check the contract to see how you are covered in this event.


For a full overview of my services see the short video below and check

Jul 23, 2015

Working with buyers of new construction homes

Posted by: John McLoughlin

I am currently working with buyers in Simi Valley on new construction homes, we are visiting several construction sites in the Orange & Ventura county areas. Today we visited a new construction site by Williams Homes in Simi Valley East and reviewed their model homes.

The standard of construction was extremely good together with the interior finishes of the home, they have three models to choose from with various locations still available on their site plan. To get a quick overview of the type of homes available and prices click on my short video blog below.

Buying a new construction home can be a challenge as you literally see the bare bones on the property under construction and this intimidates many people because it doesn't look pretty. As I am a new construction expert and can explain the construction process from start to finish assisting buyers throughout the USA not just in California.

Are you aware that using my expert construction services will cost you as a buyer absolutely nothing? Please also visit my web page and stay tuned for further updates on this blog with new sites and builders visited.

Jul 10, 2015

Settlement Cracks

Posted by: John McLoughlin

Throughout the USA many property owners experience cracking to their block construction properties. It is often thought that Settlement cracks are common and not to be over concerned about. Unfortunately this is the case but it is important to have an understanding as to how the Settlement cracks appear and how to prevent existing cases from worsening.

My experience and qualifications in worldwide construction techniques and fault diagnosis allows me the privilege to inform you. Together with  being an ASHI Certified Inspector I am a university honors degree qualified Building Survey and Building Engineer with fellow membership of the leading worldwide construction associations & institutes.

  • The Chartered Institute of Building                                
  • The Association of Building Engineers                          
  • The American Society of Home Inspectors                   

My qualifications and experience within the industry provide me with a unique competitive advantage to assist on all matters relating to the construction and building industry.

The construction process starts with the most important part “The Foundation” this is unfortunately where the biggest mistakes are made leading to cracking of the blocks after construction.

Settlement happens when parts of a house drops below the elevation or height where they were placed during the original construction. There are numerous reasons why this may happen. There are several factors that need to be taken into consideration when making an evaluation and several main causes for ground settlement. Basically all properties that have settlement issues have to be evaluated individually taking into account all the circumstance and site conditions. I have listed the most common causes of settlement when dealing with new construction:

  • Poor workmanship
  • Poor supervision
  • Low quality materials
  • Lack of ground compaction
  • Poor soil condition
  • Bio degradable materials left under the construction site (dead wood, trees etc)
  • Underground streams
  • Sink holes

There are normally two types of cracks found when inspecting a property and not all home inspectors are aware of the significant differences although it appears obvious. Some home inspectors even fail to identify them within a standard home inspection report thus allowing the buyer to inherit a structural defect with long standing implications and resale devaluation on the property. The importance of identifying the defect is to allow either the owner/seller or the buyer of the property to identify it to the house builder and ensure it is covered under the builders warranty for repairs or rectification.


Sheer Cracking

The weakest line of the structure is in most cases the mortar joint between the blocks. A Sheer crack is generally is a vertical or straight line crack not following the weakest line of the structure. A Sheer crack is an indication that the movement was rapid in nature compared with a slower movement or depression of the soil or the structure. A Sheer crack can be formed by either vertical or horizontal structural movement.  Rapid movement can cause the crack to be deeper than just a surface crack and in many cases will cut right through the concrete block. A major crack if left untreated will cause damage externally and internally.


Stepped Cracking

This is the most common form of cracking identified in Central Florida while carrying out my home inspections. It is the cracking of the mortar between the block joint and generally takes and alternate step on the blocks and looks like the name itself as steps in pattern. They are generally seen more common at the corners of the building and eventually will run from the below the ground level to the entire height of the block wall. The crack is an indication of a slower movement of the structure or depression of the soil taking the weakest line of direction within the mortar joints.

As mentioned earlier in this article the causes for settlement cracking are numerous. The soil beneath the foundation or beneath the column supports may shrink due to moisture loss. The soil may not have been compacted properly before the concrete foundation was poured. Large pieces of organic material may have been included in the soil under the house, when it decays, the soil above it collapses to fill the void. The list of possibilities is nearly endless. But one very common practice has been observed by me while inspecting new construction homes is that the lack of soil compaction is the main culprit to many settlement cracks. Many builders and home inspectors state that this is carefully monitored by “soil compaction tests” carried out by independent engineers and observed by a local building inspector. In many states there is a requirement for builders to perform soil compaction tests but unfortunately it is poorly monitored and there are few procedures in place to prevent an operative disturbing the soil or excavating it again for a forgotten pipe or service that should have been installed. When this happens it is seldom the builder will compact the soil again fully and have it re tested.


The most common mistake in construction causing settlement

The most common form of settlement is caused by incorrect compaction on the soil beneath the structure causing settlement resulting in Sheer of Stepped cracking generally to the ends and corners of the property. The reason for this is generally a result of poor workmanship or supervision by the construction team. When the construction footprint is marked out for pouring of the concrete slab the final stage should be to ensure the soil is compacted evenly. This is generally carried out by an operative either driving a heaving duty roller or hand pushed compactor over the entire area.  Unfortunately the corners of the footprint never seem to get as much compaction as the rest of the area because at this stage the operative is generally in the process of turning the machine to change direction thus failing to compact a critical area. The ground beneath these areas remains loose compacted soil and when the full load of the concrete slab is placed upon it, it will slowly start the sink downwards causing the blocks to crack above it.


How to reduce or prevent settlement cracking

In order to prevent or reduce the risk of settlement you need to be very pro active with your builder or the construction team. Strict monitoring should be adopted, the foundation and floor slab should be compacted just before the pouring of the concrete or as close to it as possible. Ensure the operative who is operating the compactor covers the complete area paying particular attention to the corners. When choosing the type of concrete is it always better to use the strongest and many home builders now use a fiber mix concrete which has additional strength over a conventional concrete mix.

When the concrete has been poured it is imperative that it is allowed sufficient time to cure and has adequate hydration. In the hot summer months concrete should be poured as early in the morning as possible and after the initial hardness cover is achieved a fine water spray should be directed over it to slow down the accelerated drying by the heat and sun.  The minimum time the concrete should be allowed to cure is 7 days. This means not allowing the builder to place any weight or start building on the slab. The concrete should have expansion slots or joints cut into it as soon as a hard crust is achieved allowing it to expand and contract without cracking the surface. The exterior grading around the slab should be slopped away allowing any surface rainwater to be driven away from the structure. No deep excavations should be allowed near to the structure such as digging for a pool until the concrete is fully cured and the surrounding ground has stabilized


Remedies to existing settlement cracking

All settlement cracking should be monitored for further movement. Settlement should be covered under the builders warranty and it will generally be their responsibility to rectify it if it persists. It is always advisable to get an independent evaluation carried out and present it to the builder. Once the problem has been identified monitoring tabs should be placed adjacent to the widest part of the cracking which will give an accurate indication of how fast and the extent of the movement.  All the cracks should be sealed with caulking to prevent water and insect ingress.


Tell Tale Crack Monitoring

This one of the best monitoring devises available is a “Tell Tale” crack monitoring device. This glass or plastic slide rule type devise that is fitted securely over the crack. The exact location of the cross hairs in the scale window is recorded and reviewed after a period of time to determine exact movement. If after an initial monitoring period of six months the crack has moved further, below ground investigation should be adopted by excavation to determine the cause. Replacement of the soil should be compacted in several layers and may also require back fill of additional reinforced concrete.


My full credentials and qualifications can also be verified online or by contacting The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and The Association of Building Engineers, (ABE)