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Knowledge Is Power


An owner of property can purchase a building permit for their own residence. They may construct a single residence once every two years, for their own use, and not for resale, lease or rent. Anyone hired by the homeowner would be considered a prime contractor or a construction manager, and they are not exempt from the license requirements. A State Homeowner Affidavit (PDF Format) must be signed by the homeowner requesting a permit for their residence.

In Hamilton County, TN., when are you required to obtain a permit? 

To access building permit forms, visit Hamilton County Building Permits

Is your roof wearing, but not worn out?

Reconditioning the shingles can add years to their useful life for much less than a replacement. Roof Maxx has a local franchise and may be a good option for you to extend the time until you are forced to replace your asphalt roofing. This could save you up to 80% of the cost of a full replacement. Tell Brandi with Roof Maxx that Melanie with Full Disclosure Property Inspection referred you to them for a free roof assessment to see if your roof is a candidate and 10% off!

Septic Tank/Field Inspection

(What you can Expect from FDPI)

Septic tank systems make allot of people nervous. Understanding how the systems are designed, sized and installed usually helps calm some of the fear of the unknown, so here is the process:

You want to build a home. The FIRST permit you have to obtain is the Sanitary permit from the Health Department governing your area. To get this, the soils have to be identified by classification or “perking” which physically tests for absorption. Once this data is obtained, the builder presents their plan to the Health Department who tells the Builder whether they may place the home on the property. This depends on the bedroom/bathroom count, soil results and location you are wanting to place home. The Health Department designs the system for the maximum full-time-occupancy of the home + normally a 20% transient buffer. There may be some more criteria based on office. They tell you exactly where to place the tank, the field, how big of a tank, how much of what kind of field line, etc. There are at least 2 inspections of the system during install.

So, if the home you are looking to purchase has 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, the system was designed in most cases for 6 full-time + 20% transient occupancies. Using common sense like not pouring anything that congeals such as bacon grease down the sink will help keep the system flowing. I’ve been told that powdered laundry detergent is not good for a system as it can form a hard crust on top of the outflow if it does not dissolve right causing issues. Anything that can be composted can go down a garbage disposal into a system. Flush only things that are designed to be flushed.

So, are you planning on moving 2 or 10 people into the home? That makes a difference.

How Do We Inspect the Septic Tank/System?

  • When we enter the property to inspect, all plumbing is ran on the initial trip through the home, toilets flushed, dishwasher started. Then the exposed plumbing is inspected. After this, all plumbing is ran again for longer. We pay attention to how the water flows and how the drains react. I’ll be honest, if there is a blockage in the line somewhere, it most probably will not show up during inspection. Sometimes, but not often.
  • While inspecting exposed plumbing we noted the area that the field is most probably located. We do a visual examination of the area to look for signs of system failure. Dead grasses, odd vegetation, extremely full growth compared to surrounding growth, etc. These are signs that the system might be failing in some way and will be noted and reported.
  • We DO NOT dig up anything,
  • We DO NOT run a camera through lines.
  • WE CAN NOT see the conditions of hidden/buried mechanicals/piping.
  • We CAN Educate you to what you have as far as materials. If it is older materials, we’ll explain what could result in an issue someday. If conditions have possibly exposed the waste plumbing to damage, we might recommend you having the lines camera ‘ed.

We as inspector’s know more than most on many aspects of things that are signs things could cause issues. We will do our best to educate you about what exists in this home you have chosen. That is what we are charged to do with not only the Septic but your entire home.

I took the time to write this out and make it available as this is a concern many have expressed to me over the years. I have a philosophy, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. If it does, deal with it.” There really is no way to guarantee a Septic tank/field is going to perform. I can tell you I have lived on one most of my 50+ years and have never had to work on one except once where a tree root broke a line. I have 2 garbage disposals that are used daily in my current home, no issues.  Rarely does a system that fails have to be completely replaced, most can be repaired, pumped, etc.

I hope this eases some of your concerns. If you have any further questions, call me at 423-664-3860 and I’ll try to answer them for you.

I do hope I get to serve you,

Melanie Crabtree


What is Crawlspace Encapsulation?

To encapsulate, or not to encapsulate?

I must admit, I am not a big fan of encapsulation. Not because it is not a good process, but because I find very few installed encapsulation systems installed correctly, and if it is NOT installed right, it can cause more harm than good. The only time a home needs encapsulated is if properly ventilation cannot be achieved naturally or even with mechanical assistance. What is Encapsulation? (Rarely do I find where one of these methods or a combination of both are not superior. IF you are bound and determined to encapsulate, please plan to install radon remediation at the same time. Radon is a long-term cause of lung cancer, second only to first-hand smoking. Installing simultaneously will cost very little more and could save your families health and lives.


  1. Completely sealed. No outside air can have access to the crawlspace other than from the living area of the home. The door needs to be sealed and tightly closed, normally bolted closed with finger bolts.
  2. Air exchange with home – This is what I find missing from most encapsulations. They will put a dehumidifier in the sealed crawlspace, but the crawlspace is air-locked.
  3. Sump Pit – There has got to be a way to keep any ground water from accumulating under the sealed membrane.
  4. Radon remediation is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED at the install stage.

I do hope this information leaves you with more answers than questions. If you want to call me, I would be glad to explain any confusion. Just remember, this “Encapsulation” industry is not licensed, and the installers make a huge profit. There is no training available from any governing body. Don’t let someone talk you into spending thousands you probably do not need to spend!

Homeowner’s Guide to Asbestos

Before 1986, asbestos was widely used in the construction of residential homes. Common products made with asbestos included asphalt or cement roofing shingles, vinyl floor tiles, wall and ceiling insulation, and drywall. If a product is disturbed commercially (drilling or sanding) or naturally (earthquake or severe storm), it can release dangerous asbestos fibers. (Follow link to read more)

Homeowner’s Guide to Asbestos and Asbestos Removal (lanierlawfirm.com)

Mesothelioma Cancer, caused by Asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma is a rare and serious cancer that affects the mesothelium, or lining, of various organs. You are at risk of developing this cancer if you have been exposed to asbestos. There is a 20-40 year latency between exposure and cancer development. Every year, there are approximately 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma in the United States. (Follow link to read more)

Mesothelioma Cancer – The Lanier Law Firm