Real Estate market has turned upside down……

With rising prices in every aspect of our lives, it is wise to spend your money efficiently. The old saying “buying a home will be the biggest investment in your life” is true. Home prices have risen drastically in the past 2 years. With this the amount of buyers as also increased, also to add an influx of people infiltrating other states putting a huge strain on local markets. With an increase of people looking for homes and a limited amount of home for sale, this is causing quit a problem to get into a home. So, what are people doing to gain the edge to purchase a home, some are finding ways to pay cash and removing the appraisal contingency. We are finding most are removing the home inspection contingency. This is fine if you HAVE the cash, for future repairs, but this getting into starter homes, with limited cash or are stretching due to the high cost of the house, this can be a big problem. You are stuck with any and all issues. We are also finding that Realtors are adding fuel to the fire by requesting removal of home inspections on offers. This is just going bad to worst real fast. We feel this is unethical in the Real Estate profession. Our jobs as home inspectors were created from the Real Estate profession years ago due to the fact they were getting sued by home owners. Looks like we are going down the same patch as before. Less home inspections and properties in poor condition that are setting up legal issues. Do we not learn from the past?

Things you can do to help yourself:

  1. We highly recommend you have an inspection contingency in your offer to purchase.  We know you may “loose out” on the house of your dreams, but we feel very strongly that if a listing agent is stating “your offer looks good, you just need to remove the inspection contingency”, don’t you feel they are hiding something?
  2. Some buying agents are putting higher dollar amounts on the inspection contingency.  What this means is you are not going to nickle and dime the seller for minor issues.   You are mainly concerned about Roof, Structure/Foundation and Mechanical.  Things like GFCI issues you will fix yourself.  We feel this is what an inspection is mainly about anyway.  Get good info  about the house, some suggest for improvement and repairs and make sure the “big ticket” items are good.
  3. If you end up purchasing the home without an inspection, we recommend a “post-inspection”.  Have an inspector come through the house and submit a report.  This we you can have peace of mind on any issues at hand, repair any immediate issues and prepare for future repairs/improvements.

We hope this helps.  These are unprecedented times, keep your heads up, think smart and give us a call if you have any questions, even if your looking at a house with a Realtor and you feel suspicious about something.  Get an answer before you make the biggest mistake of your life!



Buying a home without an inspection!

This is a very tough market these days to find a home that meets your needs much less purchase it. I’m hearing about bidding wars, paying over asking and even excluding a home inspection. I know it gets frustrating loosing out on so many homes, frustration must set in, and the fact that you NEED a home.

I do get it. But, the fact that you are investing a large amount of money into something you will have for years to come should concern you. Sellers currently have the upper hand and can obviously pick the “best” offer. I have even heard of selling agents discouraging home inspections on buyers offers. This is a dangerous and slippery slope. On that note I’ve also heard that some Realtors are being sued. With that said, not having a home inspection on your new purchase is highly ill advised. I recommend you read a previous blog: “What is a home inspection?

On the surface the home may look wonderful, but to an untrained eye there could be thousands of dollars worth of issues.

I’ll give you an example:
A couple purchased a 35 year old home (actually one side of a “twindo”-a 2 unit condo) and in order to purchase the property, they waived the home inspection.  After the purchase they contacted MK to have us look at the property for “piece of mind”. (which I highly recommend if you are in the category of waiving your home inspection in the first place).

Some of my findings:

  1. The roof was completely worn, missing shingles and leaking in various spots.
  2. An upper window was leaking around the frame into an attic space.
  3. Most of the windows where moldy and half the wood frames where rotted.
  4. There were faulty outlets and unsafe wiring in the electrical panel.
  5. Where the deck met the home, flashing was missing, causing water to leak into the box sill area (area on top of your foundation wall where the floor joist sit)
  6. Leakage where the outside wall sat on top of the foundation wall due to grading and improper flashing.
  7. Sump pump did not work.
  8. Leaking toilets.
  9. Rodent feces in attic space, kitchen and even in the dishwasher.
  10. Loose siding and the fireplace did not function.

There was much more that was less concerning, but you get the picture.  Just a few of these items could be upwards of thousands of dollars on a home that you had to already pay over asking.   No one can tell you what to do, and some circumstances dictate your choices.  But, waiving a home inspection is something I would highly NOT recommend.

I hear some Realtors are putting in a clause that the buyer will be responsible for up to a certain amount that the inspector deems defective.  At least this way you can still have the inspection, know the issues at hand and worst case, if something “major” is revealed, you have a way out.

Yes we may be bias about having a home inspected, but I assure you, it is in your best interest.

Best wishes.


MK & Associates has always been grateful to buyers and sellers. We have always entered homes with respect, courtesy, and thoughtfulness. Especially during this time, we want to assure you that we are following recommendations to minimize risk to our inspectors, buyers, homeowners and Realtors. This time of increased awareness is a opportunity to make healthy changes moving forward; therefore inspectors will no longer shake hands. They will maintain distance of personal space whenever possible. They will wear gloves and masks during inspections. we hope these reassurances decrease concern regarding real estate transactions and assist with maintaining a healthy global economy.

Thank you,
MK and Staff

Preparing for a home inspection

Ready to sell your home?   Here are some helpful tips that you may want to remedy before a home inspection.  This can help reduce items being noted or “tagged” in your buyers inspection report.  The less items noted, makes the home look well maintained and should be less of an issue for buyers to try and ask for any repairs.

First off, have readily accessible areas cleared, like access to attic, electrical, furnace, crawl space, etc.   Below are commonly found items on home inspections that I perform that could easily be fixed and reduce any writes ups on the report:

  • Simply install light switch and outlet covers and cover open junction boxes in the basement!  They are cheap and easy to do.
  • You may wish to upgrade certain outlets to GFCI outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, garage, exterior locations.  (you may need to contact an electrician)
  • Handrails and Guardrails:
    • Install a handrail at any set of stairs over 2 risers.  (Most FHA loans require handrails)
    • mk associates inc
    • Spacing between spindles now days need to be less then 4″ for safety.  Suggest filling in open stairways with spindles or rails.
    • MK Associates IncMK Associates Inc


  • When changing your water heater, be sure to include a drip leg at gas connection.  The drip tube from the TPR safety valve and it should be within 6″ of the floor.  A water shut off valve on the supply line is also a good idea.
  •    MK Associates Inc


  • This isn’t a necessity, but is a great idea to reduce pest getting into your furnace or blocking the vents.  Screens or these PVC covers for your furnace vents.   With that said check your dryer vent also, making sure the pest cover is free and clear to close properly.
  •  MK Associates Inc


  • Vent your bath fan to the exterior of the home.  Bath vents should not be blowing into the attic or soffit.  Vent them through the soffit, gable end, or roof and provide the proper vent cap for the type of application you choose.
  • Touch up any peeling paint.  Again, FHA type loans can be picky about this and may cause more delays in the sale of your home.


I will add more inspection tips soon.

What exactly is a home inspection?

I have been inspecting properties for over 20 years now.  I am somewhat surprised about how many of my clients are unsure what a home inspection really is or what it is for.  Some questions I receive are:

  1. What do I do with the inspection?
  2. What happens after the inspection?
  3. Do the sellers fix all the issues you find?
  4. Does the bank require a copy of the report?

Let me go through the process of what a home inspection is about, not so much the technical aspect of a home inspection, but more the purpose.  We all know you should get a home inspection, but why?

Let me start off by saying it is definitely the best idea to get an inspection on a home you are purchasing.  It can help reduce risk when purchasing a home.  Don’t let anyone talk you out of it.  The following will summarize from start to finish the purpose of a home inspection.

  • The best advice I can give is do your research when looking for an inspector.  DO NOT BASE YOUR SOLE DECISION ON PRICE!  Take price into consideration, but many sub-par or struggling inspectors under cut pricing to get business.   Saving $25 dollars is nothing if the inspector is under qualified and does not report on a major structural issue that cost thousands to repair.   What are their qualifications?  How long have they inspected?  In Wisconsin, inspectors need to be licensed.  Check reviews.   Some Realtors will give out names, check them against your own web search.  Also, this day and age, reports should be digital with pictures.
  • The purpose of an inspection is for you, the client.  You are purchasing a home and you want (or should want) to know what type of condition the home is in.  Has it been maintained?  Does it need extensive work?   Everyone has a budget and you need to take into account the cost of the home along with any upgrades or repairs that may be needed.  Some of you may not know much about homes, so this can be a learning lesson on what to look out for, where shut off valves/switches are located, and general maintenance.   We at MK include a lot of info in our reports, some comments just being helpful reminders to clean gutters or apply window well covers, some marginal items may included sticky doors, caulking that is needed, minor reports or conditions.  Then there may be some items labeled defective which may include, safety issues, major damage to the home.   If your inspector isn’t notifying you of these items you may not be getting your moneys worth.
  • Upon completion of the inspection, make sure all your questions are answered.  There are no dumb questions, so don’t feel ashamed asking anything.  Your paying for a service.   Make sure your satisfied.  We at MK write down most of the information that we mention or point out so you will have something to reference to as needed  (pictures included).   It’s a lot of information to process.   So, once complete, you will receive a copy of the report (as will your Realtor).  You then can discuss on how to proceed about any major issues that have been brought to your attention.  You made an offer on a home that you like, if the inspection revealed some major issue, you and your Realtor will need to negotiate with the sellers.   To answer one of the questions, the sellers do not necessarily have to fix anything.  But, in most cases, larger or safety issues are generally negotiated on and repaired.   You want to feel comfortable with what you are purchasing.
  • At the time of this writing, in the Green Bay area, lenders and insurers rarely ask for a copy of the inspection.   Again, the inspection is for you, evaluation of the property and to report on any issues that should be corrected.  If needed, bring in the right professionals recommend to evaluate any significant issues noted in the report.

Well, I hope this helps on understanding more about the process and purpose of an inspection.  In summary, get a qualified, experienced, digital reporting inspector.  It’s all for your protection and to help reduce risk in the purchase of your new home.


Should I get a home inspection on a newly constructed home?

The short answer is, yes.

All homes, weather 100 years old to a new construction will have issues.  Some small, some obvious and then some not so obvious or even major.  With new construction you typically get a 1 year builder warranty.  This should cover issues like mechanical failures and workmanship type flaws.  For example sticky doors or cracked plaster.

Most people think because it’s new, it’s perfect.  Which is not true.  New building products can have issues, a builder or project manager that does not do a good job overseeing the project, trying to cut corners and/or a lack of quality control can raise some issues.  Yes the home is supposed to be inspected by a UDC Inspector (Code enforcement inspector usually works for the municipality the home is being built in).  His or her job is to ensure the home is “build to code”.  Codes are the bare minimum standards in which a home can be built.   Let’s state that again, codes are the bare minimum standards.  Most people think codes are a high standard that builders need to abide by.   So, when a home is inspected by a UDC municipality inspector he is checking for code compliance and not necessarily for quality.  For example, a framed 2×6 wall requires a certain amount of fasteners and plywood positioned and secured a certain way, but he is not checking to see if the wall is level, bowed or even out of square.

On new construction homes, we generally will help come up with a “punch list”.  Which is a list for the builder to finish or repair before you move in.   Most of the time it’s aesthetic items, like chipped paint, scuffs on doors and floors, adjusting cabinet doors, etc.   However, we have found leakage from plumbing pipes and vent piping.  Insulation blown out from wind at the edges of attics, Improper bonding wires for electrical and foundations walls severely cracked or deflected.

A new construction home we recently inspected had a foundation wall leaning inward 1.5 inches that a UDC inspector did not flag.  Code just states the wall must have reinforcement top and bottom and must be 8″ thick on a 16″ footing, but does not have a “measurement” for plumb.   This is unacceptable in the terms of a foundation standard (not code) and must be evaluated and most likely repaired.  Foundations leaning in 1.5-2 inches are usually excavated, straightened and braced.  You can see how the cost can rise dramatically.   And just when you thought your new construction was in perfect condition.

You should have faith in your builder, a good relationship and some trust, if not, even more reason to have a newly built home inspected.  Here is an example of another home we inspected which was poorly managed by the builder.  The builder was not aware (he may not have known, but we did find out he was not onsite very often –so, what else went on?) that the workers where flushing paper toweling down the toilets.  Four days after the clients moved in, they had sewage back up into the basement from the floor drain and shower drain.  The paper toweling clogged up on the palmer valve (This protects sewage from the street side backing up into the basement) and created blockage.  With the new water saving toilets, there was not enough water to push them through.  To make matters worse, the concrete guys did not leave an access in the concrete floor to access for the valve cover to clean it out.  The builder was not overseeing his workers properly.  This is a builder that builds a few homes yearly in the area.  Buyer beware!

In summary, you never know.  By having your home inspected by an outside third party company, it will give you an independent proper evaluation of your newly constructed home.

Modifying Your Kitchen to help a visually impaired person

4 Kitchen Modifications for Someone with a Visual Impairment

With so much time spent in the kitchen and so many important tasks accomplished there, this is one room in your house that should take priority when you are making home accommodations for a loved one with a visual impairment. From contrasting colors to speaking timers, there are so many ways you can make the kitchen a more accessible place for your visually impaired loved one.


1. Create a High-Contrast Kitchen
People with vision impairment navigate the kitchen much more easily when there is a high color contrast. If your countertops and cabinets are similar colors, it is difficult for a person with a vision impairment to know when one ends and the other begins. It’s also difficult to distinguish cabinet doors and handles if they are similar in color and blend together. Consider installing new kitchen countertops to create a high-contrast kitchen; choose dark colors if you have light cabinets or light colors if you have dark cabinets. Also, consider the color of your kitchen sink and faucet and make sure they contrast with your countertops. If you already have dark countertops and a contrasting sink and faucet, consider painting your cabinets a light color to create a high-contrast kitchen.

It’s also important that your appliances, such as your dishwasher and range, contrast with your cabinets so your loved one with a visual impairment can easily locate them. Some manufacturers sell front panels for dishwashers in contrasting colors so you can swap your existing one for a new color. Another option is to get a dishwasher cover magnet that features a pattern or illustration to make it stand out from your cabinets.

Also, consider the colors of your cabinet door knobs and drawer handles. If they currently create a monochromatic color scheme, paint them or install new hardware that contrasts your cabinet and draw color. While you are modifying your cabinets and drawers, add strips of colored tape to door edges to make it easier for someone with a visual impairment to locate them. And, if the shelves inside your cabinets are similar in color to your dinnerware, paint them a contrasting color or install slip-proof shelf liners to make your dinnerware more visible.


2. Label Food
Because so many canned goods and dry goods come in containers of similar sizes and shapes, it is difficult for people with visual impairment to distinguish between various products. There are several ways you can help your loved one identify food in the kitchen, and the solution for you may come down to personal preference. Some families opt for simple solutions like placing rubber bands, file cards, or tactile dots on food items. Other families opt for talking label systems.


3. Modified Appliances
Of course, people with visual impairment want to be as independent as possible in the kitchen. Purchasing modified appliances helps to make that independence attainable. Some appliance manufacturers offer alternative labels, such as those in Braille, upon request. Other manufacturers offer talking appliances specifically designed for people with low or no vision. Talking microwave ovens and cooking thermometers are some of the more popular kitchen items for people with visual impairment. Other manufacturers offer products with tactile controls and features.

It’s also a good idea to know how various appliance controls are rated. The American Foundation for the Blind’s testing lab has created three categories for controls based on accessibility: accessible controls, inaccessible controls, and ambiguous controls. Accessible controls are the best for people with visual impairment because they allow them to feel and confirm settings while the appliance operates.


4. Food Preparation Safety
It’s always good to keep safety in mind when considering kitchen modifications for someone with a visual impairment. For example, purchase a cutting board that is light on one side and dark on the other to create a color contrast for whatever food needs to be cut. Finger guards are available to prevent cuts, or you can purchase knives that have cutting guards on them to make a certain size cut to food with each slice. Other options are using kitchen shears or a pizza cutter when preparing some foods.


With a few key modifications to your kitchen, you can ensure the independence and safety of someone with a visual impairment. High contrast colors, food labels, modified appliances, and safe cutting tools can make your kitchen much more accessible for your visually impaired loved one.

This blog provided to us by: Jackie Waters (
Image via Pixabay by shadowfirearts

Home tips 101: Washing machines, Dryers and Dishwashers

Some quick tips about common appliances in your home, that can have many issues.  Lets take a look at each:

Washing Machine:

  • We highly suggest you connect your washing machine with braided hoses.  Connect these hoses from the faucet to the washer.  Regular rubber hoses can develop a bubble or aneurysm that can burst and leak water.
  • If you have washer that drains into a floor drain, we suggest buying an inexpensive PVC laundry tub.  Have your hose drain into the tub, then have your tub drain into the floor drain.  This prevents a large pool of water all over the floor.  If you sewer drain is higher then the washing machine you could then have the tub drain into an aftermarket ejector pit to pump the water up into the higher sewer drain.
  • If you have front end loaders, be sure to leave the door open after loads or when empty.  Be sure to run the “clean” cycle with bleach or vinegar once a month.  Drain your clean out on the bottom of the machine.  All this will help reduce mold growth.


  • Gas or Electric:  Be sure to check gas line, smell connections and shut off valves to make sure nothing is leaking.  If there is a gas line there but not in use, be sure the end is capped.  If you have an electric dryer, the outlet should be secured, the wire feeding the outlet should be concealed (in wall) or in conduit.
  • CLEAN YOUR DRYER VENT!   60-75% of the lint goes past the filter and travels through your vent.  This can build up and even cause fires.  Clean vent and exterior vent covers regularly.
  • Dryer vents should not exceed 20-25 feet in length and it is best to use rigid piping not plastic flex.
  • Check exterior vent cover.  Make sure it is working freely and that rodents or other critters can’t access into the vent.

Dish Washers:

  • Most people may not know but here is a screen on the drain in the bottom of the dishwasher.  Remove your lower rack and be sure to clean drain area regularly.
  • The drain hose from the dishwasher should at minimum be higher then where it connects into the sewer drain (most commonly under your kitchen sink.   The proper connection is to have what is called an “air-gap” connection.  If you dishwasher hose is directly connected to the garbage disposal or the sink drain, consult a plumber to rectify this connection.   An air-gap with prevent contamination.


Any questions you can always reach out to us.


Home Maintenance Checklist

Home ownership involve maintaining your home.  Small repairs and yearly maintenance can save your home from serious damage or deterioration.  Hence, saving you money in the long run.  We have put together some helpful tips and things for you to check yearly to keep your home in good condition.

Home Maintenance Checklist