DEAR BARRY: I inspect homes in Ontario, Canada. Our area has had two 100-year floods in the past two years. Many insurance companies will no longer issue flood insurance because of this, and many people here have had their flood insurance canceled.

After the last flood, many residents had to pay for their own repairs. The homebuyers who hire me want to know which homes were flooded and the quality of the repairs that were done. To make matters worse, the city will not provide addresses or maps to show which properties were affected by the floods.

As a home inspector, I often find all new wall materials installed from the 3-foot mark down to the floor. This has become a new focus of my inspections. Do you have any suggestions? –Kathyleen

DEAR KATHYLEEN: You’ve got your work cut out for you. Buyers want to know, bureaucrats don’t want to cooperate, and there you are, standing in the gap. Basically, you have two issues: how to determine if a house was affected by the floods, and how to disclose what you cannot see, such as mold inside the walls.

Apparently, you can identify evidence of wall repairs from 3 feet down, such as visible drywall seams, new baseboards and new floor coverings. In homes with raised foundations, it is often easy to tell if the crawl space was flooded.

Whether or not you find these symptoms, a well-worded paragraph should be included in each report, informing buyers that the area has a history of flooding, is subject to possible future flooding, and that you don’t know if mold or other defects are still present in the framing.

And by the way, municipal administrators have no business withholding flood information from the public. They need to be pressed on this point and somehow embarrassed into doing the right thing.

Good luck, and watch out for muddy crawl spaces.

DEAR BARRY: We have a problem heating our master bedroom. The thermostat is in the hallway, outside the bedroom door. We like to sleep with the door closed, and this causes the problem. When the hall becomes warm, the thermostat turns the furnace off before the bedroom is adequately heated. How can we solve this? –William

DEAR WILLIAM: There are two practical remedies. You can install a second thermostat in the bedroom. When you want the bedroom to be warmer, the new thermostat can override the one in the hallway, allowing the furnace to remain on until the bedroom is warm. The downside to this approach is that the rest of the house will become too hot, raising your heating bill and wasting energy.

Another approach is to have automatic dampers installed in the heating ducts. In that case, the new thermostat in the bedroom would close the warm airflow to other rooms in the home, allowing only the bedroom and other selected areas to be heated.

You should discuss these options with a local heating company and ask what other solutions they might suggest.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at


What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

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