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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    Is there a hard and fast rule about space required before inspecting an attic. I have a very disgruntled client. I didn't get all the way to the back of her attic space, I had about 30 inches of floor to ceiling space and lots of insulation to deal with. Because I wear a leg brace I'm very careful when walking on the bottom cord of a joist and wasn't comfortable trying to go all the way back. I didn't catch a water damaged joist at the very back of her attic, the damage could only be seen on the backside so I did not see it when scanning the joists with the flashlight. This inspection was done the end of December and she's just calling me now. Supposedly the association worker found the defect, she send me a photo so I'd have to believe she's telling the truth.

    If there's a rule or guideline what is it, any info is appreciated.

    Thanks

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    Basically it depends on your SOP.
    However you may have a leg to stand on if the attic is less than 30".
    I commend you for working with a leg brace, however do you think your customers expect any less of you than from another inspector?

    That said
    Will the damage to the joist affect it's ability to perform it's intended function, or useful life?
    If not, this is a cosmetic issue.
    If it is damaged badly, then.....

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    Hello Bill. Are you a member of a professional association? The standards of practice as a rule say that you will not put yourself in a position of physical harm, and that you will not do anything that may damage the property, which presumably at the time, did not belong to your client.

    The client is disgruntled because she has discovered her new home is not perfect. People can be very unreasonable in these situations, so you are going to have to persuade her that you are sorry she is having a problem, but you performed your duties in a normal fashion.

    There must have been past roof leaks in that location. Any stains in your pictures?

    Last edited by John Kogel; 04-11-2013 at 02:40 PM.
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    It is an individual call from my view. With less than a 3' clearance and no walkboards I would consider that to be an attic that was unsafe to traverse. Scooting along on the rafters and guessing where everything is due to the insulation is just not safe.

    I had a home this week that had about a 15' to 20' attic space and I did not traverse it. Why? Well I had no way to support myself once I got out away from the attic decking. No rafters to hold onto or framing just open space. I have a 3-Point of contact rule. I will not go across an attic unless I can have three points of contact. Two feet and one hand, etc...

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Wieczorek View Post
    Is there a hard and fast rule about space required before inspecting an attic. I have a very disgruntled client. I didn't get all the way to the back of her attic space, I had about 30 inches of floor to ceiling space and lots of insulation to deal with. Because I wear a leg brace I'm very careful when walking on the bottom cord of a joist and wasn't comfortable trying to go all the way back. I didn't catch a water damaged joist at the very back of her attic, the damage could only be seen on the backside so I did not see it when scanning the joists with the flashlight. This inspection was done the end of December and she's just calling me now. Supposedly the association worker found the defect, she send me a photo so I'd have to believe she's telling the truth.

    If there's a rule or guideline what is it, any info is appreciated.

    Thanks
    They shouldn't expect any less I agree, and none of my clients knows about the brace I must wear.

    The ceiling was low, less then 4/12 pitch and with the insulation that was added I wasn't comfortable going beyond the walkway. In fact in my report I stated the attic was not fully traversed. I took informational photos for them but the bad joist does not show up.
    I'm assuming she's mad about the new bath fan she installed. She said it wasn't wasn't working and I should have found it. Well it was working in December and they just moved in the first of April. She's made because she shelled out $1457. for a fan and labor she expects me to pay. I don't think so !!!


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    In Texas we are not required to enter an attic with less then 30 inches of headroom and if we are not comfortable with entering it. As long as you said you didn't view the whole attic for one or both of those reasons then at least you told her and you did your job and can't really be held liable I wouldn't think. We as inspectors are NOT going to find every problem with a house its just not possible, you should tell your clients this before stating the inspection. If the joist or what ever is damaged because it was installed that way and there is enough good wood they can just sister it. Its not that big of a deal but I haven't seen the situation so I'm just making an uneducated guess but its framing, its not rocket science. If there is a leak then that's another situation. On the fan you need to tell here it was working the day of the inspection or you would have wrote it up, your not a warranty company things break and stand firm on that one.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Wieczorek View Post
    I'm assuming she's mad about the new bath fan she installed. She said it wasn't wasn't working and I should have found it. Well it was working in December and they just moved in the first of April. She's made because she shelled out $1457. for a fan and labor she expects me to pay. I don't think so !!!
    $1500 for a bath fan, WOW
    Yeah, If I paid that much for a bath fan, guess I would be mad also.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    Read through the IL SOP, it has some verbiage in there about an HI not having to inspect anything that isn't safe, etc. From what you describe your inspection conditions should come under that definition.
    I walk/crawl attics as much as possible myself. Not sure though that I would have crawled that one sufficiently to find a rotted joist only visible on the back side of the joist.
    Which brings up a couple important issues. 1 rotted joist, only visible on the back side? Sounds very suspicious. I would be wondering if someone is trying to scam me. I would want to reinspect or see pictures of the rotted joist. Granted it can happen that only 1 joist in an area will rot. Realistically though I would expect to see other damage around that 1 rotted joist. rotted, moldy plywood, funky insulation, minor rot at adjacent joists, etc. Then the question of course would be how/why did the joist rot. Roof leak, exhaust fan flex tube attached directly to that joist?
    As far as $1500 for an x fan install somebody got scammed. A typical exhaust fan runs $60-$150. The nicer Panasonic fans run +/- $400. So a grand + for install would be pretty high.
    The idea that the association worker crawled all the way to the back of the attic space during normal work also doesn't jive with my experience of general workers.
    On the hand maybe he did crawl all the way back there because he saw something that gave him cause to do so. Maybe he noticed the shingles were bad in that area. If so, and the damage is from a shingle/roof leak, the association would typically be responsible for repair costs, i.e. not you. This could be a case of a scumbag client trying to double dip.

    www.aic-chicago.com
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    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  9. #9
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    Smile Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    Read through the IL SOP, it has some verbiage in there about an HI not having to inspect anything that isn't safe, etc. From what you describe your inspection conditions should come under that definition.
    I walk/crawl attics as much as possible myself. Not sure though that I would have crawled that one sufficiently to find a rotted joist only visible on the back side of the joist.
    Which brings up a couple important issues. 1 rotted joist, only visible on the back side? Sounds very suspicious. I would be wondering if someone is trying to scam me. I would want to reinspect or see pictures of the rotted joist. Granted it can happen that only 1 joist in an area will rot. Realistically though I would expect to see other damage around that 1 rotted joist. rotted, moldy plywood, funky insulation, minor rot at adjacent joists, etc. Then the question of course would be how/why did the joist rot. Roof leak, exhaust fan flex tube attached directly to that joist?
    As far as $1500 for an x fan install somebody got scammed. A typical exhaust fan runs $60-$150. The nicer Panasonic fans run +/- $400. So a grand + for install would be pretty high.
    The idea that the association worker crawled all the way to the back of the attic space during normal work also doesn't jive with my experience of general workers.
    On the hand maybe he did crawl all the way back there because he saw something that gave him cause to do so. Maybe he noticed the shingles were bad in that area. If so, and the damage is from a shingle/roof leak, the association would typically be responsible for repair costs, i.e. not you. This could be a case of a scumbag client trying to double dip.
    I've also learned something from this. Since the couple didn't seem to be financially stable and were over 70 (I think) I gave them a break on the inspection cost. Less then $225 which hardly pays for my time and the time to write the report. Won't be doing that again. They clearly got the shaft on the new fan cost and your right that she may have wanted to vent on someone. The fan was old, it had big holes around the edge of the circular cover, it sounded like a concrete mixer, I noted that it should be repaired or replaced so I don't get the buyers gripe. I indicated the bad joist can be sistered if someone in the association maintenance staff can used a saw and hammer. It won't take a person more then an hour to measure, cut and nail a board on each side of the joist. The fact that the roof has a leak is the responsibility of the association. Its wasn't raining the day I was there and there were no water stainis anywhere in the attic I viewed nor inside the home.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    I only walk the flooring at the heaters. I don't walk on rafters unless I see something with my flashlight that requires further investigation or I see water stains on ceilings or roof sheeting. It'a not safe. Walking a roof gives info on finding leaks. It's in my inspection agreement that I don't walk on rafters.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Wieczorek View Post
    I've also learned something from this. Since the couple didn't seem to be financially stable and were over 70 (I think) I gave them a break on the inspection cost.
    First mistake - gave them a break on the fee. In my business experience, most often the first people to complain will be those you tried to be nice to.

    I have a attic space standard note/disclaimer that I include in all reports. It states that there are areas in the attic I could not inspect including under insulation, flooring or work platforms, areas near the eaves covered by soffit baffles or insulation, closed off decorative gables, areas with low clearance or blocked by partition walls. and that there may be deficiencies present not observed. Those areas are not included in the inspection.

    If in a case such as yours, a very low clearance, I state that due to the low clearance and unsafe conditions, I was not able to fully inspect the attic space. There may be unseen deficiencies....

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    First mistake - gave them a break on the fee. In my business experience, most often the first people to complain will be those you tried to be nice to.

    I have a attic space standard note/disclaimer that I include in all reports. It states that there are areas in the attic I could not inspect including under insulation, flooring or work platforms, areas near the eaves covered by soffit baffles or insulation, closed off decorative gables, areas with low clearance or blocked by partition walls. and that there may be deficiencies present not observed. Those areas are not included in the inspection.

    If in a case such as yours, a very low clearance, I state that due to the low clearance and unsafe conditions, I was not able to fully inspect the attic space. There may be unseen deficiencies....
    Thanks Stuart that's a good suggestion. My statement ( not as suscint as yours) states simply that the area was not fully traversed because the area wasn't conductive to walking on or in.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    You need to get Brian Hannigan's cost of doing business program. Based on all the input variables you will find your minimum price for an inspection should never be less than $325-$350, otherwise you are selling yourself short. At $225 you are in the hole and will never survive in this industry.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    BILL

    less then $225 for an inspection-are you kidding me--and now it cost you headaches and money--i don't leave the house for less then starting $310 for condo.

    cvf


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Duchene View Post
    You need to get Brian Hannigan's cost of doing business program. Based on all the input variables you will find your minimum price for an inspection should never be less than $325-$350, otherwise you are selling yourself short. At $225 you are in the hole and will never survive in this industry.
    I spent 37 years in business, I get your point. I do however try to give people a break every now and then when they seem to need it. Usually twice a year I'll do an inspections for free always for needy people of the community. This time it backfired. Shame on me for trying to do the right thing.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Wieczorek View Post
    I spent 37 years in business, I get your point. I do however try to give people a break every now and then when they seem to need it. Usually twice a year I'll do an inspections for free always for needy people of the community. This time it backfired. Shame on me for trying to do the right thing.
    No shame in trying to do something nice for people. Quite the opposite.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry DiGiovanni View Post
    I only walk the flooring at the heaters. I don't walk on rafters unless I see something with my flashlight that requires further investigation or I see water stains on ceilings or roof sheeting. It'a not safe. Walking a roof gives info on finding leaks. It's in my inspection agreement that I don't walk on rafters.
    You walk on rafters when you walk the roof. You don't walk on 'ceiling joists', right?

    Bill, the 'water damage' as Markus said sounds fishy. Good chance there is no rot.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh Goodman View Post
    No shame in trying to do something nice for people. Quite the opposite.
    True - I had an inspection for the Military Housing Assistance Program over a year ago. The house was vacant and the REA handling the house was there to let me in. She was telling me about a conversation with a newer agent that was handling a Short Sale for a recently widowed military spouse. She told him to go to the HAP program, she would qualify to go to the top of the list. He said, "HAP? What's that?". After a brief explanation he said didn't want to change the process now and would stay with the SS.

    I practically begged the agent for either the name of the widow or agent or at least some contact info to no avail. I guess she was afraid of getting into trouble. I wasn't. It was for a worthy cause.

    I do a dang thorough inspections and reports to help out all my clients. I do try to discount inspections for most military clients. Bless them all and their families.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Space Consideration when inspecting an attic

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    You walk on rafters when you walk the roof. You don't walk on 'ceiling joists', right?

    Bill, the 'water damage' as Markus said sounds fishy. Good chance there is no rot.




    I should have truss's not joists


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