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  1. #1
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    Default How do you inspect a window?

    I know that may seem like an easy to answer question, but I had an issue arise that makes me wonder how others test window functionality.

    I've been an inspector for 7 years, and have performed over 3500 inspections, my company prides ourselves in being thorough and going the extra steps to be diligent.

    I recently received a call from a client whose home I inspected 4 months prior. To make a long story short, she discovered that many of the windows do not tilt inward for cleaning, because the component that allows the window to hinge inward, is broken. I returned to the property to check her complaint, and after having the windows demonstrated, I understand what she is talking about. The hinge part that allows the window to tilt is concealed so there was no visible defect, and our window test protocol is to verify that they open, close, and lock - additionally we check the integrity of the seal and look for damage around the window frame. But, we don't tilt windows inward - just as we don't test all the cooking features of a kitchen range, we test for basic functionality.

    So my question to the rest of the industry, is am I checking windows incorrectly? Do others tilt every window inward to verify full functionality? The ASHI SOP says that we should inspect a representative number of windows, but doesn't say how.

    Also any suggestions of how to handle the claim is appreciated, as the client stated the repairs would be nearly $1000.

    Thanks -

    Similar Threads:
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    JD Johnson
    Beach To Bayou Property Inspections

  2. #2
    John Achin's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Tilting windows in can be costly. I tilted a brand new Pella window in to clean it in my own home and cracked the glass. I would not want that to happen at a home inspection. I interpret the SOPs to mean functionality as opening, closing, and locking.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    If a house has tilt-in windows, I test a representative sample to make sure that they tilt. It doesn't add much time, and it should be tested on at least some of the windows. After all, it's an intrinsic feature for that window. Besides, the client likes to see the feature actually work (assuming they are present, of course).

    Many times a window won't re-engage properly after tilting, due to lack of use, or cheap hardware. Most of the windows in Florida are cheap metal frame "builder's grade" units.

    Now some windows can't be tilted without disturbing the plantation shutters, or getting hung-up on the window coverings, etc. But at least some of the windows in these houses have sashes that can be easily tilted.

    Dom.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    If it is obvious that the window is the tilt out type, we will tip out the window. Our policy is to test every window that is accessible. We don't move furniture to gain access to the window area. In the comment section of our report I will mention that a representative number of windows, electric outlets, smoke alarms etc, were checked. I will also advises the client prior to starting the inspection that we use the representative number of____,
    as our guide line.

    I give all of our clients a copy of the "Standards of Practice" at every inspection, and I encourage them to review them. Our agreement also states that our inspection follows the "Standards".

    This has saved me from being liable for an unchecked window, etc.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    ALL

    i check every window --tilt in ,open and close and the locks. did a 23,000 sq ft house once,it had 79 doors and as many windows. guess which door was totally screwed? right the last door the 79th. so i caught it in front of client.
    i always have the client {buyer} with me 95% of the time and they witness my operation of the windows. any tilting flaw is pointed out to them, if they are not there i put a picture of how the tilt windows operate in report--helpfull tips

    i would give this claim to my E & O insurance company and repeat the SOP you shared with the client. hopefully you have the signed aggrement, with the statement you follow the SOP. maybe next time client will read what he or she is getting, and not throw the wrench

    good luck with this claim
    charlie


  6. #6
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    It could be as others have said that you should have tested the tilting part of the window with a sampling throughout the home. Depending on the brand and age of the windows they still might be covered under the manufacturer's warranty. Many windows have 5-10 year warranties on them.

    For $1,000 I would not turn it over to my E&O provider, a small claim like this is not worth a ding on your insurance rating. Truth be known, the E&O provider will not act until you have a demand letter from an attorney. They might give you some advice on how to handle it, but that will be about it until an attorney gets involved.

    Bottom line is if you think you missed it, then you need to do what is right. Trying to find a way out when you know in your heart that you missed something via an SOP or wording in your contract is not the right thing to do.

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

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Bottom line is if you think you missed it, then you need to do what is right. Trying to find a way out when you know in your heart that you missed something via an SOP or wording in your contract is not the right thing to do.

    Scott,

    Can you clarify the above statement? Are you saying that even though the wording in our contracts or our SOP states the limit of our responsibility. we should still take responsibility anyway?

    Thanks

    Derek Lewis


  8. #8
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Lewis View Post
    Bottom line is if you think you missed it, then you need to do what is right. Trying to find a way out when you know in your heart that you missed something via an SOP or wording in your contract is not the right thing to do.

    Scott,

    Can you clarify the above statement? Are you saying that even though the wording in our contracts or our SOP states the limit of our responsibility. we should still take responsibility anyway?

    Thanks

    Derek Lewis
    No, I'm saying if you screw up and miss something you should not try and get out of doing what is right by hiding behind your contract or an SOP. Treat your client like you would want be treated.

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

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Thanks for the clarification Scott.

    I agree, when we screw up we should take responsibility for it.

    Derek Lewis


  10. #10
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    If a window is tilting, tilt it. If one side of a french door locks in place try locking and uinlocking and operating it.

    Tilting windows is part of its functionality no matter what your SOP"s say. As far as opens and closes, if it tilts, it is part of its opening and closing. As far as only a representitive number. Why?. I never understoood that. Unless there is a big desk or bureau in front of it. If you can get to it operate it. If you can get to an outlet, test it.

    At 7 years and 3500 inspections, you need a spanking for not seeing they were tilt windows.

    Oh, on that 3500 in 7 years. Congrats. That is a lot of inspections at 500 a year. I could only wish.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Are you SURE they don't tilt.

    I'm not understanding what you mean by "The hinge part that allows the window to tilt".

    Most of the windows I look at (and yes I tilt them) have pins at the bottom of the window that fit into a hole or slot in the spring balance.

    I ran into some windows a while (quite awhile) that wouldn't tilt even though I'd pulled the slides in. Found out that not only did you have to pull the slides in but also push the side piece away from the window to get them to tilt out.

    Kind of like a mix of the simple slide piece that lets the window tilt along with the kind of spring loaded side piece that lets windows tilt.

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Thanks to everyone for their response.

    I was not trying to hid behind a SOP or find some loophole by which I could sidestep her claim. Our Inspection Agreement, which she signed, gives clients 30 days after the inspection to make a claim, and this inspection is 4 months old, so I could simply respond that she is beyond the claim period. Filing an E&O, was not an option, as the claim was below my deductible, and I'm not one to run to insurance. Living in Florida, I've seen my rates increase because of others claims, so I wouldn't play the insurance card unless it is catastrophic. The simple truth is, that I've never tilt tested a window - ever. I never even considered it. I don't have tilt windows in my home, so I am not that familiar with them. As the owner of the company, I insist that my guys go to extreme efforts to check every accessible window, door, etc. We even use a ladder to test the windows above a stair landing, so our reputation is not about performing minimal inspections.

    I guess I was trying to find out how many inspectors define testing a window by including a tilt test. When we tested my client's window, there was no visible indication of a damaged component that would prevent the window from tilting in, and the window raised and stayed in the up position - which, to me, indicated that the side springs were ok, thus verifying the window as "functional".

    As Scott stated, I want to treat the client, as I would be treated. So when I think about that, I guess the simple answer is, we have not ever had an issue of this type, and we have never tilt tested a window. It isn't that I didn't tilt test her windows, or only tilt tested a few of her windows - we have NEVER performed that type of examination.

    I am still unsure how I will handle her claim. I guess if the client, isn't satisfied with our service, I will refund her inspection fee ($390), even though we are long past her implied warranty period; but the honest answer is, we checked her windows the same as we checked every one before her, so in doing that - to us they were functional.

    I guess I have a new protocol for testing windows, and hope that sharing my lesson will help other avoid this potentially costly expense in the future.

    Thanks again for your feedback. Inspect safely.

    JD Johnson
    Beach To Bayou Property Inspections

  13. #13
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Hey JD

    My further opinion is that the absolutely useless contracts that inspectors have there clients sign is just that, useless.

    As far as one month after the inspection. Most folks are barely moved in at that time. Or moved in and setting the home up. A one month contract, I will almost guarantee you is about as useless as blank on a bull.

    Not trying to sound negative but seriously, it may be the time your contract is tested. I know it is a thousand, and no it does not make deductible, may have to be eaten.

    Just my thoughts and opinion.

    Good luck. I would like to hear how it turns out.

    Oh yeah, the inspection fee of 390 returned and all, that will more than likely get tested as well.

    A lawyer can click off a thousand dollars just getting her to go away, if he can.

    Just my opinion


  14. #14
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    I had to think about what I do. In a vacant house, I will check every window. In occupied houses, usually a sample. If I pull one cheap-a$$ blind down in one room, I will usually skip some of the others.

    My rant about cheap blinds are the ones that will go up, but refuse to go back down. UUUGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

    After thinking about it, I guess I do check the tilt out feature. I know I check out the catches on the sides to make sure they engage.

    I know I am very careful where I put my fingers when I release the window latch, in case the top window zips down and tries to take my finger tips off.


  15. #15
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    I had to think about what I do. In a vacant house, I will check every window. In occupied houses, usually a sample. If I pull one cheap-a$$ blind down in one room, I will usually skip some of the others.

    My rant about cheap blinds are the ones that will go up, but refuse to go back down. UUUGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

    After thinking about it, I guess I do check the tilt out feature. I know I check out the catches on the sides to make sure they engage.

    I know I am very careful where I put my fingers when I release the window latch, in case the top window zips down and tries to take my finger tips off.
    You still have finger tips?????????????????


  16. #16
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Try not to let this one instance change the way you do inspections. This is the first time in 3500 inspection it has come up. It will likely be 25,000 more before it does again. Don's focus on this oddity and miss something more important. There's no way to forsee all of the weird stuff that can/will come up doing this work. Chalk it up to experience and give her the $390 back. I can't imagine she'd want to pursue it after that.

    I agree that the 30 days is ridiculously short period. In my state it's a year and that seems pretty good. Remember, people can always sue you after the contract has expired.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    From Stockholm -
    Here's some windows that require special inspection techniques.

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  18. #18
    Timothy M. Barr's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    I don't test for till in windows I check to see if the open and close ,lock and have screens,rot nomal stuff. I have seen to many junk window that look like titable that are not.


  19. #19
    Ken Bates's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    I inspect every window in a vacant unit. When people do not afford me as much time as I need I fall back on SOP. I operate the window that is the most perpendicular to the door I enter. Same with receptacles. ( If I ever have to defend myself I can return and find the ones I inspected.)

    I do inspect the release latches on the meeting rail as they are often broken on the plastic windows and less frequently on the others.

    I do not routinely check the tilt in feature. I've encountered some booby traps. An inspection is not about financing deferred maintenance.
    However, when the counterbalance mechanism is defective or deficient I do tilt them to see what's going on. ( logic something was amiss and I made an earnest effort to discover what the problem is but didn't necessarily cause it ___ Primun non nocere )

    The windows still can be washed without tilting in. It is a convenience and not a necessity. My analogy is this: SHOULD WE ALSO BE CHECKING THE OVEN CLEANING FEATURE ON STOVES AND RANGES?

    I would not pay a cent nor would I return the fee. Plaintiffs don't win as often as inspectors fear during E&O litigation.


  20. #20
    Ken Bates's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    When I'm not inspecting an urban condo (piece of cake) I present my clients with a page titled "Suggestions from your inspector."

    One of the inspection activities I invite them to participate in is window inspection. I tell them I will take care of those windows directly opposite the room's entrance and that they will benefit by inspecting the others.

    I show them how to support the upper sash before releasing the latch. I also show them how to open a tilt in. I think a possible reason for so many defective sash pin supports at JD Johnson's inspection could be tilting the bottom sash in without raising it a few inches. The bottom rail can use the stool as a lever and damage the bottom insert of the counterbalance.

    If this were the case he can claim that the seller caused and knew of the defects.

    I always look for the manufacture date that is sometimes embossed on the metal seals. I have found that problems are already occuring on windows that are only 2 years old. The plastic ones are junk before they are 20 years old. I see wooden windows on quality built properties that are better at keeping out noise and drafts when used with good aluminum combination (aka storm) windows. The parting beads, stops and brass seals keep working long after the weather stripping on new plastic junk is deteriorated or missing.
    I recently inspected a 165 year old house whose original windows (very large and very heavy) opened and closed with just one finger. The original 4 inch sills were still like new.

    The laws in my state allow our clients to use us as a cheap insurance policy.
    We have 3 years of liability exposure! Automatically self renewing with no charge for the 2nd and 3rd years. Also, no deductible for all claims. What a deal. So, how much do we owe to our clients for cheap money. An inspection is about major things not every thing they can find wrong or that goes wrong after we have spent just a few hours to look for problems. We have to draw a line somewhere. The tilt in issue is a tough one to draw a line on. I could easily take the position for responsibility. In any event JD Johnson should not be liable for more than one window per room (SOP)


  21. #21
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Vacant homes and new construction I will check all windows and tilts. Occupied homes only the ones I can get to. I don't climb over peoples beds, couches, desk, etc. Jack hit it on the nose about blinds....hate them.

    Mike Schulz License 393
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  22. #22
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    For those of you that have an interest in this topic...

    I contacted the Buyer, and explained that in my years of inspecting, I have not had a problem similar to this. I told her (it is a vacation property) that I returned to the property and showed her RE Agent how we check windows and that each of them worked in a vertical operation and the locks worked on all of them and the dual glazed windows all had good seals. I also agreed that I understood where the defect was and the the windows did not perform as designed (with the tilt feature).

    BUT, I also told her that I contacted ASHI, and they were in agreement (verbally) that our SoP doesn't require us to test the tilt feature, and that as an ASHI Certified Inspector, our inspection is performed in accordance to those standards, and by those standards the windows were tested and were "functional".

    She understood, and said that was what she expected and agreed that the defects were concealed. So, I think that case closed with her.

    JUST FYI - I have submitted this issue as a Request for Interpretation (RFI) to get a written confirmation about the window test protocol, which I will post once I receive it.

    AND, I had changed the way my company inspects this type of window. Now, not only do we check the vertical and operation, but when the window is open, we also pull on the bottom corner of the window to attempt to verify the integrity of the hinge pin. I don't know if that will prevent recurrence of this issue in the future, but at least I can say that I have learned something, and become more thorough inspectors for it.

    Good luck to all you and inspect safely -

    JD Johnson
    Beach To Bayou Property Inspections

  23. #23
    Robert Runchey's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    I generally operate the "tilt in" window feature when perfoming inspections for the simple task of showing my clients how the windows work. I too will check each window unit if the property is vacant and random checks on windows that are occupied, providing they're in good condition.

    Good luck with this customer.

    Bob


  24. #24
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Ah windows; you get in trouble because they don't operate correctly or have cracked/broken panes or limit code required EE&R or leak??? In my end itís the leakage the attorneys love because a leaking window can create the 4 letter word that gets them aroused.

    My experience has shown that the building trades don't know how to flash a window opening (and door) properly or just don't care, but it has become an epidemic especially in new construction. I recommend having a well written disclaimer about window leakage, because unless you water test them or see visual evidence of moisture intrusion you will never know until you get the registered letter from Wee, Sueum, & How Esquires.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  25. #25
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    How about a sample of yours Jerry


  26. #26
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    My experience has shown that the building trades don't know how to flash a window opening (and door) properly or just don't care,
    On one 16 story high-rise I inspected, the peel-and-stick window flashing manufacturer did not even know how to install their flashing.

    Their installation instructions from their web site said one way (the most correct way), their installation instruction in each box said a slightly different way (and a little less correct too), their printed-on-the-box instructions and drawings on how-to install it were different then the other two, and were the worst way, more prone to leakage.

    Not that it mattered ... ... the installers did not do it any of those ways, and their way (if hap-hazard and each-done-differently can be considered 'one way') was the worst way of all.

    When it came time to test the windows, they were surprised that all failed miserably, from many different points.

    I mean, who woulda thunk those would leak?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  27. #27
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Wayne
    Off the top here's what I suggest. Please feel free to modify to suit your needs:
    Regarding the weather protection at windows, doors and sliding glass door units it is not uncommon for moisture infiltration to occur into the building's interior environment during rainy weather regardless of the age of the property. Our inspection is conducted by visual means only and the current condition and/or appropriate installation of concealed moisture barriers/flashings at exterior siding, doors, windows, balcony decks, walks, stairs, raised driveways, or any penetrations of the exterior coverings cannot be confirmed. It is recommended that should the client have any concerns about potential moisture intrusion it is suggested that a qualified water proofing specialist be retained to conduct approved water proofing industry testing protocol to confirm water tightness before the close of escrow and transfer of title.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  28. #28
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Maybe we have different tilt-out windows here but any of the windows I've seen that have the tilt-out cleaning feature also use the pivot pin to connect to the lift (balance) spring. If the window is reasonably easy to open and will stay in position when raised, then the tilt pin SHOULD be intact at that time.

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

  29. #29
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Following this tread, I'm amazed at how many of you actually test every window and the tilt out operation of every window!

    I couldn't be bothered with that detail. I don't believe it is necessary, it is not within my standard of practice, (or any other one that I know of) and it is not a safety issue.

    I also don't believe it is the "right thing to do". I think we have more important things to concentrate on. We are not a "know all - do all" profession.

    I look at all windows for visual defects, test a representative number of windows (includes at least one in every sleeping area) for operation, security, and move on with it.

    If a person comes back to me and complains it is an ommision, I show them our contract and reject the claim. I do this because I think it is THE RIGHT THING TO DO. If the person is persistant & gets a lawyer to follow up, I try to negoatiate a settlement rather than report this sort of flagrant issue to my insurance co.

    JD - My advice is to continue with the thorough job you have been doing for years. I wouldn't get gun-shy or protective because of a flagrant claim. Sounds like you have been doing "the right thing" all along. If you change your standard of practice after every petty claim, you'll end up testing slider window removal and oven cleaning on every job.


  30. #30
    Peter Drougas's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    With all due respect to those that use the SOP of checking only a few windows...thank you for the work.

    When talking to potential clients about how I perform my inspections, I boost about the fact that I check every window I can get to. I explain to them that they can discover a seriously deteriorated window after moving in and be told by an Inspector who belongs to a national association using their SOP, that they "didn't have to inspect every window, have a nice day".
    The results has been that I get more work and no complaint calls.

    On the original tilt issue. That is a random check. Although I like that idea of slightly pulling in the bottom to make sure it is attached.


  31. #31
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Drougas View Post
    With all due respect to those that use the SOP of checking only a few windows...thank you for the work.

    When talking to potential clients about how I perform my inspections, I boost about the fact that I check every window I can get to.

    On the original tilt issue. That is a random check.

    Peter,

    First, you boast that you "check every window", then you state "that is a random check" ... huh?

    Either you "check every window" or you do not.

    *IF* checking the tilt is part of your inspection, you "check every window", and, if you do not, them you are committing fraud by telling your clients you do.

    I, and other experts would like to thank YOU for the work. (Fair is fair, so that makes you fair game, right?)

    Cheers.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  32. #32
    J. Gonzalez's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Hi JD, As you mentioned, you are allowed to do the basics. I would think those are extra-curricular steps, going beyond the HI(Home Inspection) call of duty, plus putting yourself in a liable situation, should the counter balance malfunction. And $1,000 is overkill but that seems to be the norm out there for sales on a window. I assume it's less then 130 UI (united inches) and it being a single or double hung. I only look for the basics too. Hey are they UVI Argon/Krpton filled windows? A plus to accentuate on the report besides the negative. That window should be 1/2 of the $1,000 the homeowner mentioned. It probably has all the bells/whistles, like steel reinforcement in the header or all around the window frame, or in the sashes, which would be more critical for saftey. I did work for a while in the window sales area at one time. Although those inward tilt windows are great for cleaning in hard to reach places.
    Regards


  33. #33
    Peter Drougas's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you inspect a window?

    Jerry,

    I have all the respect in the world for you. But you must be pretty bored to tear apart what I said. If it came across as arogant, it was not meant to.

    The first point was that I do check every window I can get to, using what has been my standard for doing so. Check open and close operation, for cracks, blown seals, bad locks, disconnected supports, bad sill, to name a few.
    The later comment about random checking applied to the original question of checking tilt in abilities of a window only. Which a few others here admit they have not been doing, and the point of this thread. Mostly it seems because it didn't seem too critical to do so (right or wrong). I do check tilt in's, but it is random based on how the window feels when I lift it.
    And now thanks to this site I have learned a quick and easy way to make that check without having to tilt in a window; grab the bottom and pull in slightly.

    I hope you're not becoming a grouchy old man. Labeling someone as commiting fraud seems a little over the edge for a simple talk about tilting windows. I'm afraid I don't know what "fair game" you want to play. I just know it's a fact that when someone calls me along with 2 or 3 other inspectors, I am getting the job. And they agree with my detailed inspections because they are sending friends and family to me as well. So that was my point about "thanks for the work". Sorry you took it as so snobby.

    Last edited by Peter Drougas; 11-17-2008 at 06:14 PM. Reason: Mis-spelling

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