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  1. #1
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    Default TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    Mentioned in the latest TREC Advisor Enforcement Matters, a local inspector was fined $500 because "Respondent, during a home inspection, failed to report as deficient the lack of functional emergency escape and rescue openings in all sleeping rooms."

    I spoke to this 11-year veteran who was willing to share his story with me. He said an architect friend of the buyer noticed that her beautiful bedroom bay windows on her 1921 house were not openable in case of an emergency. The buyer called the inspector and demanded $10,000 for his oversight. He tried to work with her to no avail, so she filed a lawsuit which she lost, but still filed a claim with TREC. This problem happened over 2 years ago.

    The inspector said that her master bathroom had a functional egress window. This bathroom could only be reached from the bedroom. So he decided that would satisfy the egress rule. TREC decided otherwise.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Adame View Post
    This problem happened over 2 years ago.

    The inspector said that her master bathroom had a functional egress window. This bathroom could only be reached from the bedroom. So he decided that would satisfy the egress rule. TREC decided otherwise.
    How many times has that same (or very similar) question been raised here over 2 years ago and each time that or a very similar question has been raised the answers given by most here are always the same - that the egress needs to be 'from the bedroom', not through a closest, bathroom, etc., and that the egress needs to open directly to the outdoors and the path from that window needs to lead to a public way (street, road, ally, sidewalk, etc.).

    The fine is just confirming what the code says and what most here have been saying - it is not an emergency egress window unless it meets all the requirements for emergency escape and rescue openings, and that any and all deviations should be reported.

    Hopefully, that will serve to remind all inspectors of the importance to report EEROs which do not meet all the requirements for EEROs. A costly error in reporting, but ... no where near as costly as it could have been had there been an emergency and someone was seriously injured or killed because there was no proper EERO.

    TREC got at least that one right - and from what I have read here from other posts, that may well be the first and only time TREC got one right.

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

  3. #3
    Nolan Kienitz's Avatar
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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    How many times has that same (or very similar) question been raised here over 2 years ago and each time that or a very similar question has been raised the answers given by most here are always the same - that the egress needs to be 'from the bedroom', not through a closest, bathroom, etc., and that the egress needs to open directly to the outdoors and the path from that window needs to lead to a public way (street, road, ally, sidewalk, etc.).

    The fine is just confirming what the code says and what most here have been saying - it is not an emergency egress window unless it meets all the requirements for emergency escape and rescue openings, and that any and all deviations should be reported.

    Hopefully, that will serve to remind all inspectors of the importance to report EEROs which do not meet all the requirements for EEROs. A costly error in reporting, but ... no where near as costly as it could have been had there been an emergency and someone was seriously injured or killed because there was no proper EERO.

    TREC got at least that one right - and from what I have read here from other posts, that may well be the first and only time TREC got one right.

    FA - Good information that you got from talking with the inspector. The information in the TREC Advisor is minimal at best even though we all have the right to go to Austin and request to view all the documents in each of the proceedings. We just don't take the time nor (in most cases) have the inclination to do so.

    JP - Agreed TREC is correct on this in from within their definition of the rules. Although one always is somewhat torn on conditions of homes built "back in the day" under a different set of rules. Which ones to apply on any given inspection? There are a list of things that can be itemized on a daily basis. Albeit "safety" is a prime concern.


    What is frustrating about TREC (could be considered in this case as well) is that there are comments and stipulations all over the TREC Rules, SOP, Report Template that emphasize that the TREC inspection is NOT (REPEAT - NOT) a "code" inspection. Yet many of their recent fines against inspectors have been solely based upon code-based items.

    Talking with the TREC administrator and the legal staff always gets a reply that these are not "code" inspections.

    It is a two-edged sword when dealing with TREC.

    I'm currently in an exchange with TREC concerning some pending legislation for this year's current legislative session. Some verbiage in a pending bill could have some ongoing/sweeping ramifications. TREC Administrator and Legal are saying they would 'never' enforce what is about to be proposed with the language presented ... but what about their replacements in the future?

    Trying to keep up with TREC is not an easy or even winnable chore. Just have to look to be sure to protect one's backside with them.


  4. #4
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by Nolan Kienitz View Post
    FA - Good information that you got from talking with the inspector. The information in the TREC Advisor is minimal at best even though we all have the right to go to Austin and request to view all the documents in each of the proceedings. We just don't take the time nor (in most cases) have the inclination to do so.

    JP - Agreed TREC is correct on this in from within their definition of the rules. Although one always is somewhat torn on conditions of homes built "back in the day" under a different set of rules. Which ones to apply on any given inspection? There are a list of things that can be itemized on a daily basis. Albeit "safety" is a prime concern.


    What is frustrating about TREC (could be considered in this case as well) is that there are comments and stipulations all over the TREC Rules, SOP, Report Template that emphasize that the TREC inspection is NOT (REPEAT - NOT) a "code" inspection. Yet many of their recent fines against inspectors have been solely based upon code-based items.

    Talking with the TREC administrator and the legal staff always gets a reply that these are not "code" inspections.

    It is a two-edged sword when dealing with TREC.

    I'm currently in an exchange with TREC concerning some pending legislation for this year's current legislative session. Some verbiage in a pending bill could have some ongoing/sweeping ramifications. TREC Administrator and Legal are saying they would 'never' enforce what is about to be proposed with the language presented ... but what about their replacements in the future?

    Trying to keep up with TREC is not an easy or even winnable chore. Just have to look to be sure to protect one's backside with them.
    If there is no means of egress you must report it. If the windows do not open, they are 5 feet off the floor etc etc etc you must report it. It does not matter that TREC states this is not a code inspection. You have to write up what the concern is with a particular portion of the inspection and especially, but way not limited to, the TREC standards of practice.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by Nolan Kienitz View Post
    Trying to keep up with TREC is not an easy or even winnable chore. Just have to look to be sure to protect one's backside with them.
    Which is why I said:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    ... from what I have read here from other posts, that may well be the first and only time TREC got one right.


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

  6. #6
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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    I got my certificate of occupancy on my house that we bought a year ago even though 2 bedrooms didn't have functional egress or smoke alarms. If I had not reported these items on a report for a client, and they complained to TREC, I would have been fined $500. Go figure.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Adame View Post
    I got my certificate of occupancy on my house that we bought a year ago even though 2 bedrooms didn't have functional egress or smoke alarms. If I had not reported these items on a report for a client, and they complained to TREC, I would have been fined $500. Go figure.
    Maybe you should sue your inspector

    Seriously, was this a new construction or newly remodeled? I'm just wondering why the CO and how that was missed by the AHJ.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  8. #8
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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    Can anyone provide a link to the courts decision?

    Thank you.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    Jim,

    We bought our house in Farmers Branch from the original 1967 owners. The inspector came and went in less than 5 minutes. What he was smokin', we will never know. But code enforcement nagged us 5 times in our first 3 months for having too many cardboard boxes in our rear driveway. They just couldn't understand we were still unpacking and saving the boxes to recycle. Empty boxes were a greater threat to our safety than no smoke alarms or functional egress.


  10. #10
    brianmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    How many times has that same (or very similar) question been raised here over 2 years ago and each time that or a very similar question has been raised the answers given by most here are always the same - that the egress needs to be 'from the bedroom', not through a closest, bathroom, etc., and that the egress needs to open directly to the outdoors and the path from that window needs to lead to a public way (street, road, ally, sidewalk, etc.).
    What about a room addition above a garage which has an exterior door to a balcony? The interior stairway starts in the living room, passes through the garage, and then goes to the upstairs room.
    The only means of egress would be the exterior door to the balcony or the interior stairway. Would this satisfy the EEROs? Do the exterior doors lead to a "public way"?


  11. #11
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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by brianmiller View Post
    What about a room addition above a garage which has an exterior door to a balcony? The interior stairway starts in the living room, passes through the garage, and then goes to the upstairs room.
    The only means of egress would be the exterior door to the balcony or the interior stairway. Would this satisfy the EEROs? Do the exterior doors lead to a "public way"?
    Depends on where the balcony goes.

    That is no different than an second floor window opening to ... (whatever that balcony opens to).

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

  12. #12
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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Depends on where the balcony goes.

    That is no different than an second floor window opening to ... (whatever that balcony opens to).
    Here is a photo of the balcony, you'll get the idea....it's a POS construction , I know...but...the question is egress....For this bedroom, there is only this means of getting out , other then the interior stairway. THoughts?

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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by brianmiller View Post
    For this bedroom, there is only this means of getting out , other then the interior stairway. THoughts?
    If that were a window, would it open to a proper enough area for you to be okay with it?

    If so, the balcony door can serve as the EERO as it is no different than the window (except that it is bigger).

    If not, the window would not be acceptable so neither would the door.

    Meaning: it's not the "door" which is the concern, it is what/where the door - or window - opens too.

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

  14. #14
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by brianmiller View Post
    Here is a photo of the balcony, you'll get the idea....it's a POS construction , I know...but...the question is egress....For this bedroom, there is only this means of getting out , other then the interior stairway. THoughts?
    Other than an interior stairway or a window or balcony what way is there out from any second floor???????????????


  15. #15
    brianmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    If that were a window, would it open to a proper enough area for you to be okay with it?

    If so, the balcony door can serve as the EERO as it is no different than the window (except that it is bigger).

    If not, the window would not be acceptable so neither would the door.

    Meaning: it's not the "door" which is the concern, it is what/where the door - or window - opens too.
    So what would be considered "proper enough area" for EERO...this balcony is about 3 feet.


  16. #16
    brianmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    If that were a window, would it open to a proper enough area for you to be okay with it?<br>
    <br>
    If so, the balcony door can serve as the EERO as it is no different than the window (except that it is bigger).<br>
    <br>
    If not, the window would not be acceptable so neither would the door.<br>
    <br>
    Meaning: it's not the "door" which is the concern, it is what/where the door - or window - opens too.
    <br>
    <br>
    So what would be considered "proper enough area" for EERO...this balcony is about 3 feet.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by brianmiller View Post
    So what would be considered "proper enough area" for EERO...this balcony is about 3 feet.
    A proper area for an EERO to open to could be a fenced yard with a gate - which is NOT locked - and the gate opens to unrestricted access to a "public way", i.e., the gate opens to a front yard which is open to the street.

    An area which would not be a proper area would be a fenced yard with no gate or a gate which opens to another fenced/restricted area. That said, the fire department probably would not care about the second area being fenced as at least the occupants were able to escape the house which was on fire.

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

  18. #18
    brianmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    A proper area for an EERO to open to could be a fenced yard with a gate - which is NOT locked - and the gate opens to unrestricted access to a "public way", i.e., the gate opens to a front yard which is open to the street.

    An area which would not be a proper area would be a fenced yard with no gate or a gate which opens to another fenced/restricted area. That said, the fire department probably would not care about the second area being fenced as at least the occupants were able to escape the house which was on fire.
    For a balcony, there isn't a requriement for the depth (3ft) to meet EERO?.....however, having had ALL this discusion, my report will say that the balcony is poorly constructed, not safe, and should not be used until properly constructed/permitted....and because it is not safe, does not meet EERO

    Last edited by brianmiller; 05-27-2013 at 06:59 PM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: TREC fines inspector $500 for not reporting Functional Emergency Escape

    I will sometimes recommend a roll-up ladder, a 'rope' ladder but with chains, but Brian, I agree, that balcony is unsafe to use, period.

    Btw, the ladder is not going to be safe if the railing isn't secure. But for $70, you can have a safe and fast way down the the ground.

    Fire Escape Rope Ladders

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

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