A home inspection performed by a licensed inspector is often necessary on a real estate transaction involving a home purchase. A trained home inspector will perform a visual review of the structure, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, the electrical panels and wiring, the plumbing fixtures and connections, and the roof. The inspector then produces a report that covers defects and observations of the inspected areas, and then makes necessary recommendations. 

When performing a Lakeland home inspection, or in other nearby areas of our region, homebuyers are often curious if the inspection will uncover additional issues like sinkholes. At Whitt Inspections, our licensed inspectors actually frequently hear this exact question: “Can you tell me if I have a sinkhole?” Because of this, we want to make sure you are fully informed on what to expect from your professional home inspection.

Will a Home Inspection Report Show a Sinkhole?

No, home inspectors can’t tell you if you have a sinkhole. We also can’t tell if you may have one in the future, since we can’t predict future events. Sinkhole determination requires a licensed professional geologist – Often working in conjunction with a geotechnical engineering firm. As a side note, these professionals often use the term subsidence incident, instead of the more familiar term sinkhole. All sinkholes are subsidence incidents, but not all subsidence incidents are sinkholes.

Is There a Database That Shows All Sinkhole Locations in Florida?

No, there is not a central database that shows every sinkhole (i.e. subsidence incident) in Florida. There have been attempts to build a database, but they are grossly incomplete as they rely on self-reporting. Plus, many sinkholes open in areas that are uninhabited and will not be found for years, if at all. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has more useful information on this topic that you can read about here: https://floridadep.gov/fgs/sinkholes/content/sinkhole-faq

Can a Home Inspection Identify Issues that May Affect the Stability of a Home?

Yes, home inspectors can help identify if a potential issue exists, such as building movement, that may affect the stability of a home. It’s important to note that this works only if signs are visually showing. We do this by studying patterns of cracks, erosion, and other conditions that can be an indication of potential movement with the site and/or foundation. 

Since a home inspection is visual-only, we are unable to look under the ground or slab to determine what can’t be seen by the eye. However, if we see signs that something bigger may be occurring, we will always let you know and recommend further evaluation by a relevant, qualified professional.

Contact Us to Schedule Your Professional Home Inspection

At Whitt Inspections, our customers receive prompt, detailed inspection reports (with photos), and we utilize the latest technology such as FLIR® thermal imaging. Saturday appointments are available. Give us a call today to schedule your home inspection in the Lakeland, FL, area.

If your home was built in the 1960s or 1970s, a certified home inspection of its electrical wiring is extremely important to ensure it is safe for you and your family. During this period, due to copper shortages because of the Vietnam War, many homes’ branch-circuit wirings were made with single-strand aluminum. This substituted material has been identified as a fire-danger to homes due to aluminum’s poor conductivity, compared to that of typical copper. Occasionally, we’ve even found this wiring in homes outside of this era.

As a material, aluminum expands and contracts much more than typical copper wiring, which can cause loose connections as electricity passes through, potentially resulting in a fire. In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), homes that have aluminum branch-circuit wiring are 55-times more likely to have connections that are deemed fire-hazards than homes with typical copper wiring.

With a home inspection from Whitt Inspections, our inspectors are trained to identify homes with this dangerous aluminum-based wiring. A certified inspection is the best and safest way to ensure your home is safe from this fire-hazard, as without a direct, visual inspection, detection is nearly impossible. Aluminum-based wiring is prone to overheating and fire with no previous signs of issues, meaning a failure could happen at any moment with no previous indication.

Not only is aluminum much more prone to expanding and contracting, it is also more resistant to electrical flow than its copper counterpart, which means it requires larger wires to pass electricity. With homes today using more electricity, these dangerous and dated aluminum-wired circuits are more susceptible to being overloaded with greater electricity usage, potentially resulting in a fire. Aluminum wiring is also more likely to fall victim to corrosion as a result of usage and age, also posing a fire-hazard.

It’s important to note that not all aluminum wiring is considered bad, and some is still even installed on new construction today. These are mainly multi-strand aluminum wires, which are still regularly used on service and entrance conductors, as well as larger circuits in the home like the stove, water heater and HVAC systems. This is typically fine. It’s the single-strand wire variety that can be of concern. Although alloys were revised to this wiring over the years that may have somewhat improved its performance, single-strand aluminum is still a concern. Also, you may run into obstacles obtaining homeowners’ insurance. Fortunately, there are CPSC approved repairs available that can be performed by a qualified electrician, which many insurance carriers will accept. 

If your home was built in the 1960s and 1970s, a home inspection to analyze the condition and material of your electrical systems is highly-recommended to ensure the home is safe. Call today to have your home inspected and have the confidence that it is in as great condition as possible. If we do find single-strand aluminum wiring, we will let you know and recommend options a qualified electrician can perform to repair or even replace them.

For all your home inspection needs, choose Whitt Inspections

A home inspection covers many vital parts of the home. The exterior, interior, roof, foundation, electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems, and permanent built-in appliances are a few general examples of what gets investigated during a standard home inspection. If you want to know more about what IS included in the home inspection, check out our article here: https://www.whittinspections.com/home-inspections/whats-included-in-a-home-inspection/

However, you’re here because you want to know what is NOT included in a standard home inspection. Put simply, since the inspection is a non-invasive, visual-only inspection, anything that can’t be realistically reached by the inspector isn’t included. Home inspectors will check hard to reach places, like crawl spaces or attics where possible, but anything that requires extreme climbing or any digging will remain unreported.

Another thing to note is if an area is blocked or inaccessible (for example if the attic has no entrance or the crawl space is covered in water or, gasp, snakes!) it will most likely not be inspected. Some specific items that aren’t investigated during a home inspection include the septic system, the chimney interior, underground pipes and the  inside of pipes.

If you want your septic system examined, then you’ll have to order a separate inspection from a qualified septic contractor. People often assume that this service is included in a standard home inspection, but the next time you’re scheduling for an inspection, don’t anticipate a report on your septic system. It wouldn’t be realistic to expect an inspector to investigate this system. The reason being, it requires a separate license in Florida, and to properly inspect a home’s septic system, digging and pumping the tank would be required. . If you’re worried about when you should have your septic system examined, we recommend to always have it done before purchase, and InterNACHI recommends that you also have it repeated annually .

Chimneys aren’t completely avoided during a home inspection, but the inside won’t be looked into thoroughly. A basic chimney inspection doesn’t require special tools as it mostly consists of an inspector doing a visual check from the fireplace and chimney.  During a standard home inspection, the home inspector will check to make sure there aren’t any obvious problems with the chimney, but they won’t perform an interior scope of the chimney and some areas cannot be seen visually from the entrance However, if you’re getting ready to sell your home then a thorough chimney inspection is recommended, for safety reasons.

Pools and hot tubs are not included in a standard home inspection. If you’re considering a home with a pool, then you’ll need to order a separate inspection. Pools have intricate systems and it takes time and experience to properly, and thoroughly, inspect them. During a pool inspection the filters, heaters, pumps, and other electrical appliances each need to be individually investigated, adding these components to a home inspection would take too much time. A standard inspection will cover plumbing and even your house’s water system, but pools and hot tubs are another matter entirely. However, we offer this service as an add-on inspection, if desired.

Other items not included in a standard general home inspection are anything that requires a specialized license, tools or laboratory testing. Some examples of this would be Wood Destroying Organism (WDO) inspections, air quality, radon, lead, asbestos and other environmental identification or testing. Home inspectors do not check refrigerant levels on the HVAC systems, and it is also beyond the scope to perform load calculations determining if your AC or electrical service is properly sized.

There are some popular TV shows that give the wrong idea about what a home inspection entails. It’s important to distinguish that these shows are for entertainment purposes only, and don’t represent reality. Home inspections are non-invasive and visual-only, meaning, we don’t remove drywall or carpet, and don’t move personal items such as furniture. These are not technically exhaustive inspections.

Having proper understanding and expectations of a home inspection is key. The home inspection is only one piece of the puzzle when doing your due diligence before buying a home. It should only be considered as supplemental to other information you may obtain in the process such as the seller’s disclosure, title company research, crime statistics, and simply viewing the property yourself. Absolutely no home is perfect, and the purchase of real estate is not without some risk.

The best way we’ve found to view a home inspection is to see us as similar to a general practitioner doctor, but for houses. If you feel bad, you may go see your general practice doctor. If they find a potential issue with your heart, then they would refer you to a cardiologist – a specialist. Maybe if your foot is swollen, they would then refer you to a podiatrist. Think of a home inspector in the same manner. We are generalists, not specialists. If we (the generalist) detect an issue with your electric panel, we would recommend further evaluation by a qualified electrician (the specialist or expert). Damaged roofing shingles? We will recommend a qualified roofer, and so forth.

Home inspections are valuable services and cover a large part of the home’s primary components, but that doesn’t mean it covers everything. A lot of time is spent going over each room in a home and by the end of the inspection you’ll have a good idea of what needs fixing or further evaluation, and what doesn’t. If your home has special components that go beyond the scope of a standard general home inspection,  then you’ll need to schedule an appointment with a qualified  specialist who’s trained in those fields.


The housing industry continues to gain traction as more people invest in new homes. While you may feel moved by the photos you see online from sellers, it can be risky if you decide to buy a home without doing a thorough home inspection. If you skip the inspection, you risk letting minor and major issues go undetected. Which means any repair costs will end up coming out of your pocket. Without a report from a home inspector, your insurance company may not cover pre-existing issues discovered after purchase. There are lenders out there who won’t even offer financing opportunities without an inspection. Here are the risks of skipping a home inspection.

Safety Issues May not Be Identified
Some homes may have safety issues, and buying such a home without a home inspection can lead to various challenges once you move in. Safety issues such as electrical hazards, potential fire outbreaks, carbon monoxide, mold, pests, and radon could lead to severe injuries or even death in your household.

Budgeting for Future Repairs becomes Challenging
Without a home inspection, you may not identify various problems that need repairs and replacement. In this case, you won’t be able to budget for future expenses. This can distract your budgeting, leading to financial hardships in the long run.

A home with repair needs can be draining, and you will have to spend most of your time and money fixing the issues. The good thing with a home inspection is that you get armed with knowledge about the current state of the home. You will know how to budget for repairs and replacements.

Buyers Fail to Get the Big Picture
Everyone wants to invest money in a home that is worth every dollar spent. However, without an inspection, you may overlook minor issues that can become a bigger nightmare in the long run. This can lead to frustrations, and you may not enjoy your home until you fix the issues. Doing a home inspection helps you identify the nitty-gritty details and make informed decisions when purchasing a home.

The Bottom Line
It is imperative to schedule a home inspection to avoid future problems with your new home. Consider working with a professional home inspector who understands every detail and can help you conduct a thorough inspection worth a bang for your buck.

Back in 1992, Hurricane Andrew changed the game for building houses in Florida. The damages it accrued cost about $26.5 billion and, according to the NPS, “more than 250,000 people were left homeless, 82,000 businesses were destroyed or damaged, and about 100,000 residents of south Dade County permanently left the area in Andrew’s wake.”

This unprecedented disaster especially took a toll on the Miami-Dade County area. The massive devastation after Andrew is actually the reason that, since 2002, we’ve had a statewide Florida Building Code (FBC) in effect.

Can you believe that we didn’t have one before this? Prior to the FBC, there were still codes, but it was a hodge-podge of various different rules that the hundreds of jurisdictions statewide implemented and enforced, often inconsistently.

Today, Miami-Dade (and now Broward) Counties are considered the HVHZ (High-Velocity Hurricane Zone). They have the absolute highest requirements in the state for home hurricane protections– and actually, the nation. 

But areas outside of the HVHZ can still have a high risk of wind damage, so The Florida Building Code requires features such as “hurricane windows” (i.e., opening protection) in some other areas of Florida, but not all. 

So you see, determining which and even if you need hurricane windows in Florida can get pretty technical. Let us simplify it for you by breaking down what you actually need to know!


What is Opening Protection?


You may hear your home inspector mention “opening protection” for your home. This refers to any entry into your home that we consider an opening– typically doors, windows, garage doors, skylights, glass blocks, etc.

Opening protection means your doors and windows have a barrier that has been tested against debris impact and pressure in case of a hurricane. So, hurricane windows and hurricane shutters both fall under the umbrella of opening protection. 

Other aspects of opening protection include:

  1. Hurricane shutters
  2. Hurricane windows
  3. Impact windows
  4. Window/door boards, panels, and fabrics

It’s also worth noting that regulations and code requirements for each of these materials differ from county to county, and sometimes in different areas of the same county.

For instance, in Polk county, they don’t require opening protection whatsoever. But in Pinellas County, you definitely do! Plus, nearly all areas within 1-mile of the coast require it statewide. We call this the WBDR (Wind-Borne Debris Region), which the smaller HVHZ (i.e., Miami-Dade/Broward) sits within. 

Here’s a great map from SoFlo Impact Windows that demonstrates which counties in Florida are in WBDR and HVHZ areas that require higher-grade impact hurricane windows:



Code Compliance

Home inspectors like us who also perform Wind Mitigation Inspections can investigate these aspects of your home. While we don’t perform code inspections, we can prepare a report for your insurance company that may help you qualify for discounts. 

The Florida Building Code is updated every 3-years. This includes the boundaries of the WBDR, which has expanded over time. We are currently on the 7th Edition as of January 2021. 

However, the wind mitigation report is valid for up to five years. Because of this, you should also have a new wind mitigation inspection performed and submitted to your homeowners’ insurance company every five years. 

During this inspection, we determine the weakest form of wind-borne debris protection of each opening. 

The levels of protection from strongest to weakest are:

  • Verified Materials: There should be proof on your home’s openings via a sticker, label, or imprint on the product itself. These can qualify you for higher insurance discounts.
  • Non-Verified Opening Protection products: We can usually tell when you have hurricane-resistant windows or openings, but if there isn’t verified proof, your Wind Mitigation Inspection must select this lower level of opening protection. 
  • No Windborne Debris Protection: This means that your home’s windows, for example, do not have any opening protection whatsoever. 

While the Florida Building Code can specify the required opening protection in your area, you typically do not have to install these features unless building new or performing a replacement. Understanding what’s required and where can be a real challenge. Therefore, we always recommend first contacting your local jurisdiction’s building department for the most accurate requirements at your specific address, before having any work performed.


Hurricane Window Ratings


We always get people asking about ratings when they inquire about their hurricane windows in Florida. But what they’re really asking — in a technical sense — is if the windows have approval ratings for both:

1.) Impact (i.e., large or small missile), and

 2.) Cyclic (i.e., pressure ratings).

Items that are verified as both Impact and Cyclic rated will have gone through independent testing proving their performance. They’ll have either a “Product Approval Number (i.e. FL#),” or a “Notice of Acceptance (NOA)” assigned to them. As mentioned above, this can be verified on the product with a sticker or imprint. The State of Florida provides the Florida Product Approval Number, while Miami-Dade County issues their similar NOA (Notice of Acceptance) to prove these products are “verified.”

It’s important to know that while some items are impact/cyclic verified for the WBDR, they are still not necessarily HVHZ approved. 

Before shopping for hurricane windows for your Florida home, you can search these online databases where you can find product approvals/acceptance yourself. But we still also recommend contacting your local building department, too. In construction speak, we call them the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction).

Also, while the windows and doors themselves can be rated, some specific boards, panels, shutters, or fabrics can also be verified as rated opening protections, and are usually a more affordable option.

If your home is in an HVHZ area, you may even choose to install shutters over your already resilient hurricane windows for double-layer protection during hurricane season.


How Much Do Hurricane Windows Cost?


You’ll never be able to get a straightforward answer when determining how much hurricane windows cost. Location, materials, window size, and experience of your hurricane window installer all play a role in the pricing structure.

To give you an estimate, you can expect to pay about $62 per square foot for your hurricane windows.


Hurricane Windows vs. Impact Windows Cost

There is no difference between hurricane and impact windows. As we hinted earlier, calling them hurricane windows is really a simple, generalized term. Because these windows are both impact and cyclic tested, you should know that they’ll cost more. According to Home Advisor, the average impact hurricane window will cost between $2,679-14,151.


That’s a huge difference, right?

Our advice if you’re already a homeowner is to call your local building official. They’ll be able to tell you what opening protection you specifically need in your area (either on new builds or for replacing windows/doors). Compare these requirements to the windows/doors you already have installed. Look up the labels online for a FL# or NOA if you can. 

Maybe you already have what you need. Or maybe it’s time to shop around. Luckily, there are plenty of “hurricane window” contractors here in Florida. 

Lastly, after all is said and done, then it’s time to get a new wind mitigation inspection performed, which may improve the discounts on your homeowners’ insurance. 

Is it time for your wind mitigation inspection? Contact us for a quote!

A window screen replacement can be a pain in the butt. And in all honestly, it’s usually one of those things we ignore. After all, we still have our window to protect us from the Florida weather, right?

Well, not exactly. 

If you’re buying a home in Florida, your home inspection report will bring up damaged or missing window screens.

Why the heck would we do that? We’re glad you asked!


3 Reasons Your Home Inspector Mentions Window Screen Replacement

While Florida doesn’t technically require homeowners to replace their ripped window screens, most home inspectors still make a note of it. Unless you are a property manager, then they are required for rentals.

This process is a lot more refined than first-time homebuyers realize. Aspects of a home that you may not have thought to look at (like window screens) might be a cause for concern later down the road. 

Overlooked home discrepancies like clogged drains can cause plumbing issues, while something as simple as a dirty filter can be catastrophic to your entire AC unit. And that’s a pretty costly deal— especially here in Florida. 

Your windows serve as a primary barrier between the safety of your home and the outside world. Broken screens are a structural and health-related concern that home inspectors find relevant to the home buying process. 

Here are some other reasons why we might suggest window screen replacement. 


#1: To Keep Away The Mosquitos


If you’ve lived in Florida long enough, you know that mosquitos are an ever-present pest. 

But did you know that, by far, mosquitos are the deadliest creature in the world?

Sure, you’re more likely to simply get an itchy bump on your arm if a mosquito bites you. However, mosquitoes carry diseases that are routinely transmitted to humans. 

According to the CDC, “West Nile virus is one of the most common mosquito-borne diseases in the continental United States.” Some other known illnesses caused by these creatures include Malaria, Yellow Fever, and Zika Virus.

Floridians are especially at risk because mosquitos are prevalent after heavy rains and hurricanes. Believe it or not, one million people die from mosquito-borne diseases every year

These window screens help keep you and your family safe. 

#2: Multiple Levels of Protection


Window screens may not look like much, but they do more work than they’re given credit for. 

Besides critter protection, window screens can also expand the life of your windows. It helps prevent water from pooling along your window edges which can cause your window frame to rust.

When your window frame is damaged, it can lead to foggy windows (which will need replacing) or even excess water in your home. This water infiltration can cause mold, interior paint peeling, and other structural issues from Florida’s inclement weather. 

Window screens are also just an additive layer of protection in case something comes flying at your window!

#3: Cost For Window Screen Replacement

The total cost to DIY your window screen replacement is about $25-55. That’s assuming you only need to replace the screen and not the frame. Here’s a breakdown of everything you’ll need:

1. Aluminum or fiberglass screening $10-15

2. Spline replacement $15-20

3. Spline tool $10

4. Utility knife $10

5. Screen repair kit for small patches $3

Here’s a great video on how to repair your window screen:

To hire someone for window screen replacement, you’re looking at an average cost of about $135 per window. 

These costs aren’t something you would typically bother the seller with at negotiations. 

But when your home inspector tells you that it’s five window screens that need replacing, then it might be worth bringing up.



How To Replace Window Screen Frame

When just one window screen needs replacing, all you need are the tools above for a quick DIY fix. The biggest issue for window screen replacement comes when the frame is bent. Now, you have the restore the entire screen unit.

So let’s get into how to replace a window screen frame.

Step 1: How to measure for window screens

cost for window screen replacement

Measure the width of your window first. Using your tape measure, go from corner to corner. Try to get to the nearest 1/8 inch. 

To measure the window height, find the lip. This is the rubber piece at the top and bottom of your window (where your previous screen frame sat).

For double windows, you’ll want to measure from directly behind the lip, up to the window channel (the section separating the top pane from the bottom pane). Add 1/8 inch here. 

Here’s a video on how to measure for window screens of various sizes. 

Now that you know your window’s measurements, you can choose the right size pre-framed window screen.

Step 2: How to remove window screens 


Removing window screens and their frame is pretty simple. 

Open the window and press gently on the corner of the frame. This tension helps release the rounded springs that are at the top of the frame. You may need the help of a tool for this, but the bottom half should pop out from behind the lip. Get a grip on the bottom of the screen and pull down to release the frame from the window. Side note: On some windows this should be done from the inside, so if you’re having trouble, go to the other side of the window.

You may also have tabs on the bottom of your screen. If that’s the case, lift them simultaneously, and then push the screen out. Pull down to release the top of half of the window screen frame from the window.

For tricky window screen removals, watch this video

Step 3: Window screen replacement


Now that your screen is out, you can choose to replace it with a pre-framed screen that you can get at Home Depot. Or you can re-screen it yourself using the tutorial above. 

To replace your window with a pre-framed screen, align it with the top half of your window opening. Try to get those springs into place.

From there, your screen should have tabs that you can use to lower the bottom of your screen behind the lip. It should snap right into place!

Here’s a video for visual instruction. 


We hope this quick tutorial can help you DIY your window screen replacement (or get you a better deal for closing on your new home)! And remember to always ask your home inspector about the condition of your home’s windows and screens.

Speaking of, is it time for your home inspection? Contact us for a quote!

While inspecting homes across the Central Florida area, we run into various versions of this question all of the time: What’s the difference between plaster walls/ceilings and drywall? 

If you have an older home, or are considering purchasing one, you might need to learn how to handle plaster walls.

Drywall, on the other hand, is easier to deal with and probably more familiar to you. Most new homes these days are made with drywall, and you can easily find supplies at your local hardware supply store. Plus, there are plenty of drywall contractors you can call to help you out. 

You won’t be so lucky if you have plaster walls. 


Plaster vs Drywall


Learning how to spot plaster versus drywall is pretty straightforward. The short answer is that plaster is literally harder than drywall. You may also notice that plaster walls are more susceptible to cracking from building settlement or thermal expansion/contraction.

Plaster is also harder and more time-consuming to install and repair. It’s literally a rock, making for quieter and “cooler” feeling spaces. It’s a material that is generally durable and resilient to moisture, which is why it used to be popular in Florida homes. 

Plaster 101

Plaster is applied “wet” by hand troweling, often in multiple layers over a wood or metal lath, or gypsum lath boards. Thus, the thickness of plaster can be somewhat inconsistent since it is applied by hand.

It’s held on by suction, mechanical bonds such as “keys,” or a chemical bonding agent. For the uninitiated, plaster walls present challenges to securely hanging pictures or TVs on the wall (although it’s definitely possible if you learn how).

Check out our related article on HOW TO FIND A STUD IN PLASTER WALLS.

Drywall 101

On the other hand, drywall is much easier, faster, and cheaper to install and repair. Unlike the “wet” application of plaster, it is put on in dried sheets, hence the name DRYwall. It attaches to the wall studs and ceiling trusses by the use of screws or nails.

Then, the seams and fasteners are finished smooth with tape and a joint compound “mud.” It provides a “warmer” feel to a room. Like plaster, drywall offers a level of fire resistance.

Many repairs can be DIY if you have drywall vs plaster walls. And if that’s not possible, good drywall tradespersons are much easier to find than those with plastering skills.

However, drywall isn’t as sound-deadening as plaster, and it’s actually much less resilient to moisture. Just ask those in New Orleans affected by flooding from Hurricane Katrina.


There’s nothing “wrong” with either product. But while they serve the same intent, they are very different.

Each material has advantages and disadvantages that are important for homeowners to understand. Here’s a great video by Leah from the YouTube channel “See Jane Drill” that will help with this. She’s got the true heart of a teacher and is one of our favorites!

The History of Plaster vs Drywall

Plaster has millennia of history behind it. Literally 1000’s of years. The Babylonians, Greeks, Romans (including the Italians), and Egyptians all used plaster. So did the ancient peoples of China and India.

Suffice to say, it’s an ancient building product. Plaster has multiple varieties, textures and chemistries using diverse materials such as clay, lime, or gypsum. 

You’re probably familiar with exterior plastering, which is usually referred to as stucco. In England and some areas of the US, they call plastering “rendering” or “parge coating.”

Venetian plaster has marble dust added, while rammed earth or waddle-and-daub are more primitive plastering techniques usually created from locally sourced materials.

But at the end of the day, it’s all a form of plastering.

We won’t go into all of the details now. Although, Wikipedia has a rather comprehensive article that you can read here if you want to explore deeper.

Our focus today is on plaster in interior ceilings and walls that you may find in your home, known as “lath and plaster.”

Before we can talk about plaster finishes on walls and ceilings in homes, we want to contrast it with what you may be more familiar with in today’s modern homes- drywall.

Sheetrock® vs Drywall

what is the difference between sheetrock and drywall

Drywall is known by many names, such as gypsum board (or gyp board), plasterboard, wallboard, or the brand name Sheetrock®. So if you’re wondering what the difference between Sheetrock® and drywall is, the answer is— nothing.

It’s essentially the same thing.

In the scheme of the built environment (including houses), drywall is a relatively newer invention. The earliest form of drywall was available in the USA around the late 1800s. It was patented as “Sackett Board,” named after its inventor, Augustine Sackett.

USG Corporation purchased Sackett Board soon afterward. They made various improvements to it over the years. In 1917, they released their upgraded version under the brand name Sheetrock®.

Many people still call it Sheetrock® today, but this is specifically USG’s brand name for drywall.

(Psst…As a side note, many brand names become common household names for products. We thought this was a fun read if you want to really geek out).



Why Drywall is Used More in Modern Homes


Drywall was not very popular at first, as it was considered a substandard, cheap, and gimmicky product. Many builders would not adopt its use. Instead, they preferred the familiar, time-tested use of lath and plaster. In the meantime, USG tried to market Sheetrock® as a fire-resistant product that required less time and labor to install but with limited success.

But then WW2 happened.

Massive labor shortages, followed by the baby boom and resulting housing boom, changed the game. The advantages of drywall became more evident, and it eventually became the dominant product by the late 1960s.

New interior plaster installs are rare today, except for the occasional installation on some custom-built, high-end residences and commercial buildings. So you’ll mainly see drywall installed inside in most modern homes.


So my house has plaster walls— what does that mean?


Although it’s rare to find newer homes with plaster walls and ceilings, many older homes in Central Florida have lath and plaster instead of drywall.

Our personal home was built in 1967 and has plaster and metal lath walls and ceilings. It’s actually what’s known as a hybrid veneer-plaster system that uses a gypsum-based “rock lath” base layer, instead of the even older method using a scratch/base plaster coat over wood lath strips (as illustrated in the graphic above). Then, the rock lath is covered with an expanded (i.e. “diamond”) metal lath, and finally two coats of plaster.

The first plaster coat is a thick and rather rough “brown coat,” and the second one is a thinner white “finish/veneer coat” with a sanded texture (such as USG Diamond – Sanded). This final white coat is what you actually see on the walls and ceilings when standing in the room.

We love it for many reasons. Plaster is beautiful and full of character, with superior sound-deadening properties and moisture resistance versus drywall. The feel of authentic craftsmanship permeates the home.

The downside is that it’s tough to find tradespersons with the knowledge to repair it. While there may be more, we only know of one serious plaster repair company in the Tampa Bay region.

And they are always booked solid for months.

A word of caution: Plaster requires skill and patience. Many drywall contractors also claim to be able to fix plaster. But more often than not, they’ll use materials more familiar to them (i.e., drywall and joint compounds) in their work. This can lead to mixed (and sometimes pitiful) results. Don’t believe us? See what the folks over at Walls & Ceilings say about it.

Just be sure to do your research before hiring someone to repair your plaster. Make sure it is up to your standards.

If you want to attempt a DIY repair on plaster, it is possible. Here’s our favorite teacher Leah again, with some tips on how to repair plaster walls. There are also great tutorials and tips we’ve found on Old House Online, as well as from the Master of Plaster folks, and at Old Town Home.


We hope this helps some of you homeowners and home buyers out there understand the differences between plaster and drywall. Please don’t be afraid of plaster or deterred by it.

In our opinion, real plaster is excellent, charming, and worth preserving!

Read more about Home Improvement 

Since we were kids, we’ve been warned about the dangers of messing around with electrical outlets. So if you’re having some reservations about how to replace a light fixture, rest assured, it’s not just you!

There are plenty of reasons why you may need to install a new light in your house. Maybe you’re taking up an interior design project. Or maybe you don’t get enough light in a certain room in your house. 

Whatever the case may be, the first thing you need to do is make sure you have the right tools and the right instructions on how to install a light fixture. 

A word of caution: Some areas require permits to even replace a light fixture. So make sure you are aware of the rules in your area, prior to attempting any light fixture replacement project.


How To Replace a Light Fixture In 4 Easy Steps

The good news is that the steps for replacing almost any light fixture are universal. Even though your new light will come with its own instructions, the same process can be copied no matter where you’re replacing a light in your home.

Expect ceiling fans— those are a different story.

So use this as your official guide for how to install a ceiling light!

What You’ll Need:

  • Screwdriver
  • New light fixture
  • Screws and Wire Connectors (these typically come with your new light)
  • Ladder
  • Wire Stripper (maybe)



Step 1: Turn Off The Lights


No— not just the light switch. For optimal safety, we recommend going to your circuit breaker and turning off the electricity right from the source.

This can turn into a duo project, too. If your circuit breaker isn’t labeled, this is the perfect time to get that done. Just turn on the lights in your house and turn off one breaker at a time. This helps you to see which breaker turns off which lights.

As you go through, make sure to properly label them for each room. Packing tape and a magic marker work perfectly for now.

Once you find the breaker for the room you want to replace a light fixture, flip it off. Make sure to turn off the light switch in the room, too!

Step 2: Unscrew The Old Light


A word of advice: if you’re replacing a ceiling light, your ladder needs to be tall enough. Working from underneath the light won’t work. You’ll need to be able to see inside the ceiling where it’s attached. 

Once you’re up there, grasp the ceiling light with your palm to keep it steady. As you begin to unscrew the light, you’ll notice it will still be attached by only the wires. 

Pro-Tip: To make your life easier, you may want to wear some type of utility belt so you can easily throw the screws somewhere so that your hands are free.

Your light may also be attached to the ceiling with caulk. If that’s the case, use your screwdriver or a utility knife to pry the material away from the ceiling. 

Now that you can see inside the electrical box, remove the connectors and untwist the wires. You can do this by hand. There may also be a screw attaching the light to the metal bracket. You’ll need to remove that with your screwdriver.

Sometimes when you replace a light fixture, the one you purchased will come with a new bracket. We recommend using that to make sure your new light fits properly. Your fixture’s instructions will have more details on the bracket.

It should be as simple as switching the old bracket, popping the new one in its place, and securing it with the provided screws. 

Hanging a Chandelier 

If you’re hanging something like a chandelier, make sure you measure how low you want it to hang first!

Here’s a great tip from the Wolberg Blog:

“A handy rule of thumb is that a chandelier should be 12 inches narrower than a table and have at least 48 inches of space from each of the room walls or edges. Hang a chandelier approximately 30 to 34 inches over a table with an 8-foot ceiling height.”

Some chandeliers can be heavy, so if it feels cumbersome consider making it a 2-person job.



Step 3: Connect the Wires— Properly


This is the part that freaks some people out. 

As we mentioned, no matter what type of light you buy or where you buy it (Home Depot, Amazon, or Wal-Mart), the instructions are going to be the same. 

Still, you should read the light manufacturer’s instructions first. On the off chance that you didn’t get them (or you lost them), here’s what they probably said:

  1. Twist the black (hot) wire to the black wire in the electric box.
  2. Connect the white (neutral) wire to the white wire in the electric box.
  3. Twist the green/copper (ground) wire to the green/copper wire in the electric box.

You can learn more about the difference between hot, ground, and neutral wires here. 

Your new wires may look frayed on the ends. This is okay, but just make sure they aren’t broken or you may have to make a new cut. From there, you just need to twist the wire to the ceiling wires and use the wire “nut” or connector to secure them in place.

Nowadays, you can depend on light manufactures to have the appropriate amount of the wire insulation (the black, white, and green/copper casings) stripped. However, if there’s not half an inch of exposed wire coming from your wires, then you’ll need to shave off some of the insulation with wire strippers. Check out the video below to see how to properly strip a wire.

NOTE: If you don’t see a green or bare copper wire coming from the ceiling, then you will usually have a metal box and see a green “grounding” screw. Be sure to wrap the green/copper wire on your new light under that green screw and tighten it. Bend the end of the grounding wire slightly into a “Shepard’s hook,” then place it under the screw, and use your screwdriver to seal it tight. The correct way to do this is make sure the direction of the wire under the screw will be in the same direction as how the screw turns, so it will tighten the wire in place as you turn the screw tighter.


Step 4: Close Up and Test It Out!


Now you’re going to gently fold the wires back into the ceiling canopy and screw the new light fixture into the bracket. You may also have a decorative nut for the outside of the light that needs to be screwed on for the finishing touch.

Then, just add in your light bulb of choice and any other potential light décor (such as a light chain), and voila— you have successfully replaced a light fixture!

Go back to your breaker box and turn the circuit breaker back on. Then you can flip on the light switch and watch your handy work come to light (everybody loves a good pun, right?). 



We hope this helps all new (and old) homeowners easily replace a light fixture! Always be careful when you’re dealing with electrical units. If you never got a home inspection (or it’s been a few years) there’s no telling what 

Speaking of home inspections… is it time for yours? Contact us for a quote!



You’re finally thinking about moving to your dream home in Florida. As much as it really IS paradise down here, there are a few things about moving to Florida that homeowners don’t expect.

Moving from one state to another is never easy. The good news is, you’ll probably get to purge a lot of your Northern belongings because there are things you simply don’t need here in the Sunshine State (like scarves).

But aside from lightening your wardrobe, is there anything else you should be aware of? We’ve met many Northerns who book it down to Florida just to escape the cold. They don’t realize that while you may not have to shovel your driveways anymore, you still have home care responsibilities that are pretty unique to Florida homeowners.

So, let this be your official Moving To Florida Guide, where we go over the pros and cons, the real estate market, and home essentials.


Moving To Florida: Pros and Cons


If you’re debating whether or not Florida should be the place you call home, then it’s natural to want to make a Pros and Cons list.

But we decided to do the brunt of the work for you!

Here’s what you need to know about moving to Florida— the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Weather… Kind of

Florida is notorious for its year-round tropical weather. And even though right now you may laugh at the Floridians who bundle up when it’s 65 degrees, we can guarantee that this will be you in the future.

Just give it a year.

Besides this chilly weather that you’ll have to deal with 4-weeks out of the year, there’s also summertime. Summer months in Florida can get up to 90 degrees with a heat index of 103-110 degrees. It may not sound that different from what you’re used to, but there really is nothing quite like the Florida heat.

Be prepared to stay mostly indoors from June-September. When you get your home inspected, make sure the AC unit is in good condition because your electric bill will take a hit if it’s not.

The Entertainment

No matter where you are in Florida, you’ll always have something to do. Between the beaches and springs, you can experiment with just about any water activity (highly recommend tubing and kayaking, by the way).

This is also why you want to make sure you have a big enough garage or storage space in your new home. There are actually rules to follow when it comes to storing boats, jet skis, and even paddleboards in your front yard.

There’s also plenty to do for food and craft brew junkies with small mom and pop businesses on the rise. Of course, you also have theme parks and nightlife cities like Miami to really fill your entertainment needs.

A con to living in the Florida entertainment-centric cities: locals still have to pay tourist prices.

The Cost of Living

One of the biggest perks to being a Florida resident is not having state income taxes. However, there are other costs of living that are particular to Floridians. For example, your insurance rates will likely be higher than what you’re paying now. There’s also flood insurance to consider if you’re living on the coast.

Here’s more data about the cost of living in Florida.



Moving To Florida Checklist


Alright, so it looks like there are more pros than cons when it comes to moving to Florida. So what’s the real first step in finding where you’ll settle down?

We usually get to work with new Florida homeowners after they’ve gone through this checklist, but here’s what we recommend based on the conversations we’ve had with our customers!

1. Check the Market

The price of a home in Orlando can be mind-blowingly different from a house in Lakeland (despite the fact they’re neighboring cities).

We know most people will only check the real estate market once they decide on a city with the best schools and entertainment. We suggest looking into those neighboring cities if you want to pay a fair price. You may want to be right next door to Disney World, but you can easily get a nicer and more family-friendly price in Altamont Springs, which is only a 45-minute drive to the parks!

Here are a few market guides about a few of our favorite Florida cities:

2. Get Pre-Approved and Find an Agent

Homes are being snatched up in literal hours. Time is of the essence in the 2021 Florida real estate market, so make it count. Once you know where you want to live, find a local agent and work on getting pre-approved. This might mean taking steps to improve your credit score, determining a down payment (20% is the norm in Florida), and saving for moving expenses.

Once you know your budget, look online to find a few choice homes and their price range. Then, it’s time to get pre-approved! Don’t even think about making a special trip down to Florida to look at houses without this letter.

When you finally have your pre-approval letter, you’ll be equipped to find your dream home and get your offer accepted.

3. Make Multiple Offers

Speaking of, if you think you’ll be moving to Florida in just a few short months, you might want to rethink your timeline.

Because the market is so competitive, your agent may suggest making offers on multiple homes. That way, if one offer gets denied, you still have a few options on the table.

4. Get an Inspection

A Florida home inspection is vital, especially if you’re new to the Sunshine State. Your home inspector will let you know:

  1. If your AC unit is in good condition (a must for those Flordia summers)
  2. The age of your roof
  3. Whether or not the home needs a new paint job (especially if its stucco)
  4. Pool/spa and irrigation conditions

Florida’s weather can really affect the condition of your home, so knowing the ins and outs of its overall condition can really save you money in the long run. Here are some questions your should ask your Florida home inspector.

5. Pack Accordingly 

If your offer is accepted and you’ve passed the home inspection stage, then congratulations you’re officially moving to Florida!

It’s time to ditch the snow boots for flip flops and get rid of your spare snow tires. Here’s a short list of things you’ll need now that you’re moving:

  1. Flip flops
  2. Ceiling/standing fans
  3. Blackout curtains
  4. Sunpass
  5. Garage storage containers
  6. One of these things for your car
  7. Hurricane shutters

Side note: If you’re moving to Florida from New York or somewhere else where public transit is popular, you’ll definitely need a car. Our public transportation system is basically nonexistent.

More Moving To Florida Guides: