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06-23-2008, 09:09 PM #1
I wanted your feedback on a couple of issues. I do not turn on water at properties, for instance a property I inspected today the realtor said he would have water turned on, but was turned on only at meter but not at main shut off in basement. I do not turn on shut offs at sinks or toilets. I do not light water heater pilots, furnace pilots or fireplace pilots. I do not turn breakers on that are off. I inspect property as is. What do the rest of you do and what do you turn on or not and most importantly how do you handle this with realtors. Appreciate your feedback.
Similar Threads:Tom Rees / A Closer Look Home Inspection / Salt Lake City, Utah
06-23-2008, 09:20 PM #2
06-23-2008, 09:56 PM #3
If I did not turn water on at the meter there would be an awful lot of homes that did not get an awful lot of items inspected. If the utilities are not on other than water at the meter I will not inspect a home. Do I light water heaters, yes. Do I turn a toilet shut off valve on, yes. Many times the electric will just be off by the main breaker, I turn it on. Do I light gas log fireplaces, yes, and not just turn the valve on a gas log and light the pipe strip. I will open the bottom up, light the pilot if it has one or use the spark light. After i adjust the controls for the flame height. I hit the switch for the auto light.
I here this from so many inspectors. Come on. Everyone has there own preference and does what they wish but really.
The standards say!!!!!!!!!!! I inspect 70% plus foreclosed/vacant/new homes and I could not work half the time if I did not turn everything on. Have I come in the home and water be coming out under a sink, yes. I am given permission by the owner of the home to perform and inspection. Most homes in the winter are winterised. I have permission to dewinterize and perform an inspection. I do not re winterise as they have companies that do just that.
I am sure I am going to hear all the liability issues. Let me ask you this. Do you hit the button on a garage door. I know the answer is yes. I do as well. I have had a garage door fold up and collapse over me when testing the down pressure on a door and the damn thing just touched my hand. Did I pay for it. Hell know. I was given permission to perform a home inspection which includes turning numerous items throughout the inside and outside of the home. I do not limit myself. If it breaks it needed fixing anyway. Do I pay for it? No I never have and never will. These owners (private or bank) have insurance on these properties. This is what the insurance is for.
Has my insurance ever paid for anything? I am 54 years old, building, remodeling and inspecting all my life. The answer is no, never once, period.
You inspect a home, the buyers move in a month later. A week after that there HVAC unit dies, the plumbing backs up etc. etc. Are you responsible? Should you pay for it? Should your insurance pay for it? No, period, absolutely not.
I turned a kettle filler on mounted behind a brand new 6800 square foot homes gas cook top. The damn thing popped off the wall and before I could get to the outside and turn the shut off valve off (oops did I say shut the outside shut off valve off, oh dear, shouldn't have touched that valve) it half flooded the kitchen, dining and part of a halls carpet, sprayed some walls and oh yeah the realtor standing there with the builder and buyer. Was that my fault, nope period, absolutely not.
You tell your buyers you do not turn the main shut off valve on or off. The poor shits move into there home and a gusher happens. The valve does not work, it floods their home before some one gets there to shut things off. Dumb shits, what were they thinking. DO you expect that every one of your buyers is going to immediately hire a plumber to come and turn the valve for them to see if it works or do you just leave it up to them. Oh yeah the inspector says he does not turn the valve off or on, lets try it?!?!>>>>!???!!!>>>
Just me, touchy subject for all, just my opinion.
06-23-2008, 10:08 PM #4
I will turn on water, light pilots, etc. I did have a problem once where an angle valve leaked and water came through the recessed light fixtures in the kitchen. Like Ted, I know the risks and choose to take them. Primarily, when I leave the house I don't want to go back again. I hate reinspections and addendums.
I will note that I turned the water on and then off at the end of the inspection and I will put in a disclaimer saying that slow leaks might not show up during the short period of time that the water was on. Gas appliances should be lit and tested by the gas utility company as well.
Department of Redundancy Department
06-24-2008, 04:09 AM #5
Rule of thumb is... If I turn it on to inspect, I turn it back off before I leave, hasn't been a problem yet. If you regularly refuse to be reasonable and go with the flow you can expect these decisions to work against your bottom line. In my opinion, safety should be the only criteria used to determine whether or not to turn something on.
06-24-2008, 04:40 AM #6
I send my client an email with the confirmation of inspection that all utilities should be turned on for the inspection and to pass it on to their Realtor. Have only ran into problems a couple of times. Different parts of the country may be way different.
06-24-2008, 06:02 AM #7
"instance a property I inspected today the realtor said he would have water turned on"
On the few occasions that happened to me, at first I would turn the water on, then sense came to me and I thought about what *could* happen, so I started replying to the effect of "*YOU* stated *YOU* would have the water *TURNED ON*, so *YOU* can *TURN THE WATER ON* --- *I* am not.
As many other inspectors here can tell you, you really don't want to see what can happen when the water is turned on when it was off for a reason, or even if the water was not off for a reason but someone left a faucet open or the water heater drain open ...
06-24-2008, 09:31 AM #8
I also tell the client and realtor that all utilities should be on. If they aren't they can reschedule until such time as they are on or I will conduct the insp as best possible.
I will NEVER turn on a main or home-run feeder. If it is off, it may be off for a good reason besides it's winter.
I will turn on water valves at usage point and watch for problems so I can check a sink etc. (After I take a look at it to see if there is an obvious defect to avoid turning the water on) I believe that you can't reasonably not turn on a sink or toilet location and still expect to be doing a good job for the client. If I turn it on, I also turn it off.
The problem with turning on a main is if there is a broken/open fitting somewhere, by the time you get from the main to other areas of the house, a lot of water could be everywhere. Is it your fault? NO but do you want to spend hours/days dealing with some BS selling who claims it is?
I posted awhile back about a condo insp where the water to the toilet was turned off, it also looked funny. Hot water to the toilet. Imagine if I had not turned that feed on and the client moved in. There wouldn't be any referrals coming from that client, just a call from their attorney.
I do light and operate gas fireplaces. I won't light a hot water tank or turn it's breaker on.
I will turn on breakers after removing the panel cover and assessing what's up.
I think part of what you do and don't do is discretion based upon onsite conditions. Ever walk into an insp and see the place is spic&span clean and tidy and just feel like your every move is being watched? It's a little creepy and makes me very cautious.
On the other hand, what I do is also based on the type of insp. A residential move-in HI requires (not only by law but due diligence) certain tasks and expectations. A vacant REO, rehab, etc insp has a different focus and expectations.
If you turn something on and something happens, can you beat a claim? Sure. If you operated the device according to normal, daily practices and they didn't warn you there was a problem, then that is their fault.
I always run the dishwashers through a cycle while inspecting the kitchen. One started to flood the floor while I was taking the cover off. I took a picture of the drain hose not attached (new install) and never heard a word about it. Now I take the cover off first, then turn it on.
Everyone should do what they are comfortable with.
"The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"
06-24-2008, 06:16 PM #9
"Ever walk into an insp and see the place is spic&span clean and tidy and just feel like your every move is being watched? It's a little creepy and makes me very cautious."
I had an owner call me asking what I was doing looking in his cabinets, under his sinks, in his closets. He said "before you answer I have hidden cameras all around the home and he saw everything you did"
All I said was great, was there any footage that I could sell and make money on. He got pissed and hung up. He had a list of every thing I looked at, turned on, opened and gave it to the listing agent. Hmmmm, I think I took a leak that day as well. That was a little spooky.
06-24-2008, 06:24 PM #10
If I had been that buyer, THAT would have been reason enough for me to walk away from that house.
No telling what that kooky owner *intentionally* "accidentally" left behind to "look in on" the buyer.
06-24-2008, 06:36 PM #11
Believe me Jerry, I did absolurely nothing I should not have but, I retraced every step in my mind from the time I arrived to the time I left. He did tell the realtor that he wanted me to professionaly clean a comforter that the cat crapped on. The note on the counter said "do not let the cats out" The only room with a closed door was where the cats were. I did not let them out. He had the cat box in a bathroom. The door was closed, I left it closed when leaving the room.
What a smuck
The scheduling company CSS also told me explicitly "do not let the cats out" I left them in the room. When I got the CBS code from the realtor she said "don't let the cats out" I left them in the closed door room.
Agian, what a smuck. I honestly worried about what the smuck might come up with next. There was a termite inspector and the client at the property the same time I was. He did not bring either of them up. I was the only one with a code to get in. He was sure looking for something.
06-24-2008, 08:44 PM #12
06-25-2008, 06:11 AM #13
Cat herding is not in the SOP. I've run into that a couple of times.. I simply inform whoever tells me not to let the cats out that I have other things to do than to worry about their cats. The Realtor can watch them or the occupants can stay home and watch them.
06-25-2008, 08:20 AM #14
I don't turn it on, or turn it off. Not my property, I don't know the history, I don't know why it's off. The agent is the legal representative of the clients involved and as such should take proper steps to accommodate the inspection as best as possible. Proper explanations and questions prior to the inspection usually alleviates this issue with my clients. I also provide a copy of the standards of practice and code of ethics to my clients (PRIOR TO THE INSPECTION SO THEY CAN READ THEM) which helps them understand there are certain things we DO NOT do.
Case in point, the breaker marked "kitchen" was off to a home. I noted it on the report. My client was leaning against the kitchen sink, a metal one. The agent decided to conduct a private investigation, and turned the breaker to the on position. My client was shocked immediately but not seriously injured.
Sometimes there is a valid reason the item is "OFF". Do you know the history of the home? If you operate outside the established SOP of your organization be prepared to stand alone when the consequences arrive.
06-25-2008, 08:41 AM #15
Ditto on the pet herding, Richard. I'm not there to pet sit.
Re: turning on utilities, I have a form for the objecting Realtor and Broker to sign. If they'll sign it, I'll turn it on. That is, of course, assuming there are no locks involved. To date, I have no signatures.
These situations arise because Inspectors perpetuate negligent Realtor habits. I believe that any of you who turn on utilities despite knowing the risks do so because you fear losing a job more than you fear doing potential damage to the home, or worse to person. You erroniously believe that your Insurance will cover whatever error you make.
There is no issue of "poor S%^#s" moving in and finding something catastrophic if you are servicing your Clients because you have instructed them to have whatever it is inspected, once the untility is turned on and before they go to closing.
Since I am going to be minimum several hours on site, I always contact the Realtor and offer that their personel can come turn the utility on. To date, also no takers. Why do you think that is?
Anyway, it's your business and your decision.
The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory.
- Paul Fix
06-25-2008, 09:32 AM #16
My clients all know this ahead of time - multiple times. Every communication with the client I advise to make sure utilities are all turned on at the street and in the house.
One client said (after the 3rd time I told him), "Ok, I get it - everything will be on". Guess who didn't have the water on?
06-25-2008, 10:52 AM #17
"No good deed goes unpunished!"
Building Code/ Construction Consultant
06-25-2008, 04:18 PM #18
Heck with it, turn it all on.
Noooo, I'll get sued. OK then don't turn it on.
Screw it, turn it on.
Noooo, I can't. It's against the SOP"s. OK, don't turn iot on.
Turn the damn thing on.
Noooo, I'll flood the house. OK, I won't turn it on.
I said turn it all on, you hear me son.
Nooo, the power is off in the whole house. Maybe its this main breaker. What if something happens. No, I can't turn it on.
You Lilly livered cum quot. I said turn it all on.
Nooo, I is ascared. I can't turn it on.
Just kidding folks. Like I said I feel like I am taking care of my clients, Safety first, yes. I check things out pretty well before I start throwing switches and turning valves but I will turn things on to give my clients there moneys worth.
Standards, kinda like codes, you will do it this way, butttttttttttttt.
As Joe said "If I turn it on I make sure I turn it off"
I don't hold it against anyone for turning it on or not.
Just me having fun
06-25-2008, 06:10 PM #19
As with most things in this life... our comfort level with these types of decisions comes largely from our background. Those of us who have been involved with construction and have experienced many types of defects and failures probably have a better feel for when to fiddle with something that has been turned off than someone with little field experience. There are very few hard/fast rules in my book (that haven't been broken)... You pay your money and you take your chances and no one here gets out alive.