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Thread: Input please

  1. #1
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    Default Input please

    I had a thought of labeling receptacles that are wired incorrect. Small labels that say "Reversed Polarity", "Ungrounded", "no power" etc. My thought is placing labels on the outlets would make it easier for repairs as well as making it easier to report. I find it rather time consuming to report and take notes saying reversed polarity at South wall in East side basement bedroom, ungrounded at kitchen counters left side of sink etc. I'm sure you all have inspected the house that has everything wrong with every outlet. It would sure be easier to report several outlets tested reversed polarity and/or are ungrounded throughout the house. As a courtesy I have labeled the tested outlets that are not wired correctly.
    I would like to know if anyone else is doing something like this. I'm sure there is feedback from some about how I could get sued ten ways from Sunday and I'd like to hear that too.
    Maybe some comments on how others efficiently inspect and report this type of house that has many outlets wired incorrect. Thanks

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Input please

    Probably not a good idea. It looks to me like you are trying to be thorough and helpful. The old adage, "No good deed goes unpunished" is applicable here. If you miss one, then you could be on the hook for the repair. The home inspector is a generalist. Be general.

    I will note that a receptacle outlet in the master bedroom (for example) has an open ground, reversed polarity or whatever, but the problem may not be at that location, so identifying it might not give the intended information. In addition, too much information might encourage the homeowner to feel like he can do it himself. Leave the specific diagnosis and repairs up to the specialist (in this case, electrical contractor).

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Input please

    Some years ago I began applying red sticker dots to receptacles I found defective. I then identified 'red dots on receptacles' in my report as being defective in some way and may be hazardous, without specifically identifying the problem. That seemed to work for a time until I discovered later at one home, the homeowner's kids were peeling them off and sticking them all over their faces. So much for that brilliant idea...

    Since then I have just reported the discovered defect(s), recommending the service be further examined and repaired as necessary by a fully qualified and licensed electrician.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Input please

    Hi Bill,

    Most of us have probably experimented with labels, stickers, dots or some other form of identification. I agree with the others, it is really not useful, they can be removed / relcoated and not all are accessible.

    One other thing to consider, the home you are in does not belong to the buyer. Assuming they buy it, a lot can happen between the time of inspection and the buyer taking occupancy.

    Additionally, putting a sticky-dot or anything else on something may very well tick-off a seller. We are a guest in their home regardless of the reason we are there and have no authority to sticky-dot anything unless you have their permission. Just my 2 cents.

    Frankly, just not worth it.

    Sincerely,

    Corey


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Input please

    Food for thought-
    My prospective buyer has contracted you to "inspect" my home not deface it.
    You as a home inspector has no right to mark on anything with anything.
    You come into my home and start putting stickers on things guess who will be coming back to remove them.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Input please

    I appreciate the feedback. I can understand how a seller could get upset if they occupied the home but I would like to think that if there were so many deficient outlets that made it necessary to label them, it's likely the seller is not even aware of the condition. I would think they would appreciate the service regardless if the house sold or not.

    Your not defacing anything. It's a sticker that can be removed very easily without damage. I know some inspectors apply labels(or tags) identifying the water main shut off valve. How is that any different?

    One way I can see getting into trouble is if you weren't able to test all receptacles and they have the outlets that are labeled repaired. Then something happens with an outlet that was bad but not tested. What if you only did it to vacant homes where you can check every receptacle(none hidden behind furniture)? What about bank repos? There are plenty of those right now and I doubt the bank would care or even know.

    I'm just looking for a way to speed up report writing, better service the client and encourage repairs. I know that there are several homes that have bad outlets but the sale goes through without repairs being made. A sticker would be a friendly reminder every time the buyer plugged something in that they are in danger or whatever they are plugging in is in danger.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Input please

    I've seen stickers and/or markings on outlets many times over the years. It's a nice idea in theory but pisses sellers off. IMO an inspector should leave a house in the same or better condition than he/she finds it. Pasting stickers all over blows that and is very seldom going to really help anyone.

    I specify up to 3 or 4 incorrectly wired outlets... after that it gets a general comment because at that point it's more than a fluke - somebody's been messing with the outlets who shouldn't have been. I'm also quick to abandon specifiying if it's an occupied house and I can only get to half or so.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Anglin View Post

    Your not defacing anything. It's a sticker that can be removed very easily without damage. I know some inspectors apply labels(or tags) identifying the water main shut off valve. How is that any different?

    Unless the seller has agreed upfront to the HI putting stickers/tags on things there is no difference. The HI is there to inspect on and report the condition of - not label things
    Definition of Deface: "To mar or spoil the appearance of the surface"
    A sticker applied to anything is Defacing it
    123456


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Anglin View Post
    I find it rather time consuming to report and take notes saying reversed polarity at South wall in East side basement bedroom, ungrounded at kitchen counters left side of sink etc. I'm sure you all have inspected the house that has everything wrong with every outlet. It would sure be easier to report several outlets tested reversed polarity and/or are ungrounded throughout the house.
    Bill, If I find only 2-3 RP receptacles I'll identify where they are. If several are involved I say various locations in the home. If there are multiple indicators of a system train wreck I'll stop checking anything having to due with electric and write that a system wide evaluation is needed due to problems such as .............. Sometimes I'm asked why I don't specify locations and my answer is I don't want the electrician coming in with the blinders on - it gives the contractor more of an incentive to look around. People always seem to appreciate this and I can save me a ton of time.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Input please

    I used to use stickers all the time too. I also had the experience with kids. I will still use a sticker once in a while, but usually just take a photo showing where it is, and also identify the room in the narrative.

    By the way, I have never heard a complaint from a seller that they were offended by the stickers. Frankly, I bet many of them never noticed.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Input please

    Most of the time you are not going to have that many outlets that have problems. I would say that 1 to 3 would be an average in a typical home. I went the sticker route 10+ years ago, and I had the same experience as others.

    Now I just report the location and take a wide angle picture with an arrow pointing to the outlet or wall switch to show the location.

    If I have a bunch I just report that their are numerous problems with outlets around the home, and tell them to fix them all. Like Eric, I do not want to limit or give an electrician an excuse for what they might look for.

    Has been working great for years doing it this way.

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

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Input please

    I would not count on any dots or labeling you put there to remain there, for a variety of reasons.

    And, if the dots or labels do remain there, I would not count on the contractor or client really caring what the represent, remove them and say its bee corrected, go find them again and prove me wrong.

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

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Input please

    Often, if I am inspecting a foreclosure and find one or two defective/miswired switches or outlets; I just put a piece of blue tape on them, so that the buyer can easily identify them when they move in. I rarely do that in an occupied home unless asked to do so.

    However, if I find a gas leak, I always put a wrap of blue tape at the spot whether occupied or not. So far, no complaints and several thanks.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Input please

    I had a room last week that had all receptacles reversed. It would be wrong to fix them all. You need to fix the reverse at the source only.

    And what about the ceiling light fixtures? We don't know if they're reversed or not.
    I write the location if it's just couple, and say "Repair all reversed hot/neutral outlets and light fixtures" if it's more.

    As we know, 'polarity' is not really the correct term.

    I have sometimes written on the ivory covers with a pencil in the past, if it's only one and it is obvious that the others have not been messed with. It's easy enough to wipe the pencil mark off. I had one homeowner phone and say thanks, he'd fixed it. (In my country, at least, a layman is allowed to change a receptacle).

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

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    As we know, 'polarity' is not really the correct term.
    The NEC uses "polarity" and "polarized", so that would make it "technically" correct.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Input please

    I don’t know about your area or SOPs, but ours (CAHPI) is ‘…sample a representative number..’ then goes on to suggest one per room would meet the requirement.

    There is no need to test and identify the location of every single one and why. Once one is found wrong, all the receptacles in the home are now suspect. They are no longer “Satisfactory”. Our reports then says, “Recommend full evaluation of all receptacles in the home and correction as required by a licensed electrician to reduce the potential for a shock hazard and improved safety.”

    To us there is no such thing as ‘1 or 2’ incorrect is typical or acceptable. They ALL have to be correct to be correct.

    ISFA marking them – no way. It’s not my house in which to be leaving a trace that I was there in any way. (Except maybe a note left for the occupants in the case of a immediate life/safety issue e.g. high CO.)

    When I’ve had homeowners call the office because all the dining room chairs weren’t found in exactly the same place, I’m not about to start defacing people’s property. I can hear the call now, “What the __cks these dots I came home and found all over my house???” To say nothing of the Realtors going ballistic the next time they show the home.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Harbeck View Post
    I don’t know about your area or SOPs, but ours (CAHPI) is ‘…sample a representative number..’ then goes on to suggest one per room would meet the requirement.

    There is no need to test and identify the location of every single one and why. Once one is found wrong,
    Ken,

    Do you actually *only* inspect a representative sample?

    SoP are *minimum* standards, few home inspectors operate strictly at *minimum* level.

    What happens when you go into a room and test one receptacle outlet ... and it was the only receptacle outlet in that room which was not bad ... how would you know, and would you report that, based on a representative sample of one receptacle outlet that you did not find problems with any receptacle outlet?

    Adhering to Sop *minimum* standards is very risky.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Input please

    I agree with you there Jerry. SOP like code, is minimum. Nearly all inspectors in my area inspect strictly to the SOP and frankly I think clients are fed up with this kind of inspection. One inspector says he will not inspect for gas leaks because he cannot check all fittings if they are concealed in walls, attics or crawlspaces. That is just silly to me especially when I think of all of the leaks I have found. I'm sure the client would appreciate having the accessible fittings inspected. I attended a seminar with the same inspector on HVAC. When we talked about identifying the BTU rating of the furnace he said "I don't report it because it's not required". Well neither is a moisture meter but I couldn't possibly imagine being a useful inspector without one. It might please the Realtor to know that the inspector doesn't inspect much but we don't work for the Realtor.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Input please

    i used to sticker outlets and breakers in panels...until....I believe it was an article in the ASHI Reporter that recommended discontinuing the practice. It was one of the articles dealing with liability and getting sued. If we sticker something, like an outlet with ''reversed polarity'', the homeowner may see it and try to correct the condition....and ZAP! Guess who might be liable? Since reading that, I quit the practice and just list all the outlets that I test that are incorrect.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Input please

    In the real world, checking all receptacles is largely impossible in an occupied dwelling. I check as many as reasonable possible, without shoving the upright piano, king sized four poster bed or that five piece sectional couch away from the wall. So, unless you are prepared to do that, you may just as well check a 'representative sample'. And...what if your report indicates 'ALL' receptacles were checked and found to be satisfactory and you missed the one shorted out behind the bookcase? Or that funky homeowner's receptacle installation inside a garage cupboard behind all the paint cans. Checking a 'representative sample' is indicated in many SoPs but there is a reason for that and it isn't just because of a minumum requirement.

    If you don't/can't check all then you may as well check those that you can - which, in effect is a 'representative sample' and yes, CsYA for reporting purposes and (to some extent) possible future liability.

    Last edited by Ian Page; 03-19-2012 at 04:22 PM. Reason: sumptinmortusay

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    I check as many as reasonable possible, without shoving the upright piano, king sized four poster bed or that five piece sectional couch away from the wall. So, unless you are prepared to do that, you may just as well check a 'representative sample'.
    That is what most home inspectors do - "check as many as reasonable possible, without shoving the upright piano, king sized four poster bed or that five piece sectional couch" - and then call that a " 'representative sample' ".

    Now a question: which is truly a " 'representative sample' "?
    - a) 'one' in each room
    - b) "as many as reasonable possible"

    I suggest that a) *is not* a true "representative sample", and I further suggest that b) *is* a true "representative sample".

    I also suggest that b) increases your chances of finding receptacles with problems far greater than doing a).

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

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Input please

    I used to put stickers on blown insulated windows. I once got a call from an agent that the seller couldn't find any of the stickers. A couple of days later I was in the area so stopped by the house and talked to the seller and show them where the stickers were. Turns out that they didn't see them because they didn't open the window blinds when they looked. Soon after that I got a complaint about my stopping by the house. Certainly didn't earn any points for trying to be helpful.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  23. #23

    Default Re: Input please

    Bill I had these at first and they were non removable, when removed they did not come off easy, a seller called me back to remove all of them most were open ground outlets. I did remove them, However I made some with removable stickers and they worked well. P.S. I think NACHI has these for sale?? Hope this helps!! before using these it was a problem saying the left living room plug has an open ground (example) they would call me up and say what one is it!!!!! etc.


  24. #24
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    You fill the house full of stickers you can come back and remove them all on your dime. Just noting what room and what's wrong would be good enough for me.


  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rolland Pruner View Post
    before using these it was a problem saying the left living room plug has an open ground (example) they would call me up and say what one is it!!!!! etc.
    That is what is called "too much information in the report".

    The report should be "at least one receptacle outlet in the living room was ... "

    Why?

    Read the posts above - it is not practical in many houses to test *ALL* (as in *EVERY SINGLE ONE*) the receptacle outlets, so test as many as you can reasonably get to, then write "at least one receptacle outlet in the living room was ... "

    If they call to ask "which one?", you state that, at the date and time you were there, you found "at least one", but conditions change, so THE ELECTRICIAN should check each receptacle outlet in the living room and correct *ALL* he/she finds not right. If the electrician would like you to go out there and identify the "one or more" which were not good, you would be glad to do so ... at a cost of $250 per room ...

    ... you will likely either hear a 'click' as they hang up or some choice words, but the point it that *it is the contractors job* to check and correct the conditions. For all you know, there could be a loose connection and when you checked it, it was fine, when the electrician checks it, it is bad, or vice versa.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  26. #26
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Harbeck View Post
    I don’t know about your area or SOPs, but ours (CAHPI) is ‘…sample a representative number..’ then goes on to suggest one per room would meet the requirement.

    There is no need to test and identify the location of every single one and why. Once one is found wrong, all the receptacles in the home are now suspect.
    I'm CAHPI(BC), bro, and we have the same SOP. I test lots of outlets in a house that has been remodeled a few times. That is where there may be one reversed outlet and all the rest are fine. Now if I say "The whole house is suspect because I found one reversed", I could be sending a false message of big trouble that's not there. That's a reason to test lots.
    In a newer house with not much history, sure, I don't test as many.

    I pulled a bed out from the wall a bit today, newer house. The spare bedroom had no ceiling light and the table lamp was not on the light switch. I tested the receptacle that was hiding behind the headboard to make sure the room had the properly wired outlet. It wasn't that hard to do.

    I don't mark the occupied places, but it can be useful under the right conditions - vacant shack with a few screw ups.
    My report says "Have an electrician repair ..." Why would I get sued if Mr. Handy gets a shock?
    Believe it or not, homeowners install their own fixtures all the time. It is not prohibited.

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

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Input please

    I don't know how you can do a home inspection and not check the accessable outlets, switches, etc. I will never move a piece of furniture but I'll reach to get to them.

    (Years ago, a customer really wanted to check every outlet and I started helping him move furniture to access them. Sure enough, we grabbed a night stand and the damn thing came apart. We spent the next 10 minutes putting it back together and I was a little wiser.)

    Yesterday, in a fixed up fix-n-flip, I found one outlet that was ungrounded. The buyer told his agent that he wanted the seller to fix it. I slapped a piece of blue painter's tape on it for the owner/remodeler to easily identify and moved on. It saved me from having to field a phone call from the guy asking me where it is.

    JP makes a good point, but so far, I have never had a single complaint or problem doing this.


  28. #28
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    Default Re: Input please

    Thank you all for the feedback. Through this discussion I have decided not to do the labels. I did take from it though to have a roll of blue tape. Taping the gas leak is a great idea and I'm sure no one will raise a stink about that.


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Input please

    Hey, I like that idea... could save me allot of writing time and trying to explain which switch/receptacle/lumineer(s) I'm referring to.
    Especially with Home owners and DYI's, it takes the guess work out of their minds. As an AHJ.
    Can't find lumineer, luminear,.... in spel ck. I guess I'll go back to 'fixtures' as it has only two cylables, ciliblilys... well I can spell fixtures anyway.


  30. #30
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    Default Re: Input please

    [QUOTE=John Kogel;192972]I had a room last week that had all receptacles reversed. It would be wrong to fix them all. You need to fix the reverse at the source only.

    I would rethink this statement. Are you suggesting going to the breaker and making the white wire the ungrounded "hot" conductor and the black one the grounded conductor in a circuit where all the receptacles are wired with the white and black conductors on the wrong terminals.
    I recommend against that.

    Find out where the problem exists and fix that. Two wrongs does not make it right. It makes it wrong in two ways.

    Also, there is likely to be receptacles on the other side of the wall-in a different room- that are on the same circuit. If they tested correct then your fix at the box will un-correct them.


  31. #31
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    Default Re: Input please

    [quote=Leigh Goodman;193515]
    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    I had a room last week that had all receptacles reversed. It would be wrong to fix them all. You need to fix the reverse at the source only.

    I would rethink this statement. Are you suggesting going to the breaker and making the white wire the ungrounded "hot" conductor and the black one the grounded conductor in a circuit where all the receptacles are wired with the white and black conductors on the wrong terminals.
    I recommend against that.

    Find out where the problem exists and fix that. Two wrongs does not make it right. It makes it wrong in two ways.

    Also, there is likely to be receptacles on the other side of the wall-in a different room- that are on the same circuit. If they tested correct then your fix at the box will un-correct them.
    I think you over thunk the statement...
    Fix the problem at the source... i.e. the source of the problem, not the source of the power. Think about where the source of the power would be, circuit breaker, main, service drop, power company, etc.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh Goodman View Post
    I would rethink this statement. Are you suggesting going to the breaker and making the white wire the ungrounded "hot" conductor and the black one the grounded conductor in a circuit where all the receptacles are wired with the white and black conductors on the wrong terminals. I recommend against that. Find out where the problem exists and fix that. Two wrongs does not make it right. It makes it wrong in two ways. Also, there is likely to be receptacles on the other side of the wall-in a different room- that are on the same circuit. If they tested correct then your fix at the box will un-correct them.
    I think what John is saying is that RP at multiple outlets is commonly caused by the first in a series being incorrectly wired. The electrical contractor finds and corrects that one and the rest end up being corrected. Not always the case, but many times.

    Department of Redundancy Department
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  33. #33
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    I should have said the source of the trouble. Thanks, Jim and Gunnar.

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

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Input please

    Hi Bill,

    Our job is to inspect and report. Yes it is time consuming, but it isimportant to document what we find. I will even take a picture of the receptaclewith my tester in it showing the furniture around. As others have stated, labels can be removedand likely will.



  35. #35

    Default Re: Input please

    I also use colored stickers and find them helpful for everyone. I have never received any negative feedback. However when there are many things wrong with a system I do not use them and just report the entire system as needing repair and recommend further evaluation by the appropriate professional. As far as liability...

    Jeff Zehnder - Home Inspector, Raleigh, NC
    http://www.jjeffzehnder.com/
    http://carolinahomeinspections.com/

  36. #36
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    Default Re: Input please

    Just chiming in the outlet issue and some comments I have seen. Although it appears time consuming, it is the inspector's best interest to try and touch as many accessible receptacles as possible. I have found lots of loose receptacles just by trying to stick an outlet tester in there, and bam, a little more bang for your client's buck. Same with ceiling tiles. The longer I do these the longer the inspections take. However, the more thorough an inspector you become and the more knowledgeable you become, and valuable. For example, while testing outlets you look at the floor and wall surfaces a little closer.

    Just my two cents


  37. #37
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    Default Re: Input please

    My approach is simple. When I find one of the outlets you describe I put a small red tape dot on it then in my report indicate that outlets marked with the dot are wired incorrectly, I recommend a licensed electric contractor evaluate and make necessary corrections. This way I don't have to write locations in the report and perhaps mis-label something.


  38. #38
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    Default Re: Input please

    If you exceed the minimum standard then was every conceivable item inspected? "it should have been" per the expert and lawyer.

    If you do not inspect obstructed receptacles then what is the burden of documenting the obstruction?

    Trip hazards on sidewalk and curbs, oh my. This forum is interesting. It is kind of like 90 ways to screw an inspector from one perspective and 90 ways to cover your rear from another. Makes it look like inspectors are patsies used by all parties in a real estate transaction to defer property condition liability. Greedy consumers, lawyers and experts line up to feed.

    Makes home inspection look like a losers game.


  39. #39
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by John Cahill View Post
    If you exceed the minimum standard then was every conceivable item inspected? "it should have been" per the expert and lawyer.

    Makes home inspection look like a losers game.
    Well, so far, not for me. After years in this business and thousands of inspections, I have never been sued and only had a few complaints. It has been a good business for me. I go beyond the minimum standards. I have inspected homes for attorneys and no problems. I have inspected homes for customers who sued their agent later, but never complained to me or about me. Maybe you will be right and someday I will pay a big price. If I am just lucky, then I'll settle for that.

    I suppose this is where I should knock on some wood.

    In some ways, we roll the dice on every inspection. It is hard to be perfect. I recently discovered a huge mold problem in a fix-n-flip that had just weeks earlier been inspected by a very good inspector who missed it. I didn't throw the guy under the bus at all. (He who has never missed anything in an inspection, may toss the first rock, but not me) Fortunately, for the inspector, the seller was an experienced fixer and understood how hard it is to catch every thing.

    Yet, that it is what customers believe they are paying us to do. I always start my inspections with the same speech outlining what I am doing in an effort to set expectations. All we can do is do our best and make sure our best is great. So far, I haven't attained perfect. I like this forum, because some really knowledgeable people opine here and I learn a lot, even after years in this biz.

    I think being consistent is your best protection in this biz. Give everyone the same inspection, whether beyond the minimum standard or not. Several attorneys have told me that consistency can help you, if you ever find yourself in arbitration or court.
    If you put stickers on problem outlets, then do it the same way for the same reasons on all your inspections.

    We all grow or should, in our business as we learn things. So there will be some evolution in our inspection, but providing everyone a consistent quality inspection is your best protection, I think.


  40. #40
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Ken,

    Do you actually *only* inspect a representative sample?

    SoP are *minimum* standards, few home inspectors operate strictly at *minimum* level.

    What happens when you go into a room and test one receptacle outlet ... and it was the only receptacle outlet in that room which was not bad ... how would you know, and would you report that, based on a representative sample of one receptacle outlet that you did not find problems with any receptacle outlet?

    Adhering to Sop *minimum* standards is very risky.
    No, we inspect the readily accessible (our report actually used that term) electrical devices. What that means is we will test the receptacles we can test without moving furniture, storage or other items, or unplugging any of the occupant’s devices. Computers in offices are a prime example of receptacles that are typically full and the last thing I want to have is a complaint (or worse) that I crashed somebody’s something or another by pulling the plug to check the receptacle.

    And I’m under no obligation to move any of the occupant’s contents (e.g. a bed) to get to a receptacle (or switch for that matter) to test it, if doing so would risk damage to the home’s contents or present a danger (e.g. heavy item) to myself.

    Pull out every single refrigerator, range, microwave, in every single home to inspect the outlet behind it? Hardly.

    We will move clothes from closets to access an attic hatch (and we leave a note as to what and why), but we’ve even gotten complaints, ‘your inspector touched my wife’s clothes!’ from time to time on doing that.


  41. #41
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by John Cahill View Post
    If you exceed the minimum standard then was every conceivable item inspected? "it should have been" per the expert and lawyer.
    Home inspector lore.

    Possibly the greatest untruth there is about home inspections.

    NOT exceeding the minimum standard IS WHAT will get you in trouble.

    You need to be doing AT LEAST the level of the standard of care in your area.

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

  42. #42
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    You need to be doing AT LEAST the level of the standard of care in your area.
    I agree. Also, if my client is with me I always become good friends with them. People forgive friends faster. It also helps if you spontaneously sob and crawl back to your truck when you answer a complaint. :>


  43. #43
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    Default Re: Input please

    This thread has morphed from from identifying dysfunctional receptacles into a catch-all of SoP and minimum standards.

    Applying a 'minimum standard' or checking a 'representative sample' to validate the efficacy of receptacles is only one aspect of the many examinations involved in an inspection. Some of those 'minimum standards' are all that are necessary and going beyond them maybe outside the scope of an Inspector's SoP. Meeting a minimum standard does not render inspectors lacking nor the extent of their inspection incomplete. As long as the extent of the examination of each home component have been clearly stipulated, responsibilities to the client have been met.

    Minimum is not something to strive for but a threshold to cross over. IMO consistently crossing that threshold is worth striving for. However, there are occasions doing so, when unwarranted or un-necessary, may bite you in the ass.

    Last edited by Ian Page; 03-27-2012 at 12:10 AM.

  44. #44
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    However, there are occasions doing so, when unwarranted or un-necessary, may bite you in the ass.
    And many more occasions when not going above the minimum may rip a new one for you.

    More defects are missed by doing only the minimum than doing more than the minimum, given two inspectors with the same knowledge and experience base (i.e., comparing apples to apples).

    Minimum standards are simply that: the *minimum*.

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

  45. #45
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    Default Re: Input please

    I am not advocating a strict adherence to a minimum standard. Never-the-lesss, minimum is determined to be a level of accomplishment, that, when achieved a standard is met which should be without reprisal. Having at least reached that level, the accomplishment is supported by legal, personal, ethical and organizational requirements or standards. Taking additional steps, though admirable, may not without consequence. Actions taken in an effort to provide a more complete service - for whatever reason - may be outside SoP, training, experience and ability. A very real danger for new and inexperienced HIs.

    Bottom line...do what you are supposed do pursuant to requirements. Do more if you have training, experience and knowledge to avoid liability, support findings and improve service.


  46. #46
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    I am not advocating a strict adherence to a minimum standard. Never-the-lesss, minimum is determined to be a level of accomplishment, that, when achieved a standard is met which should be without reprisal.
    That's not what a minimum standard means at all. A minimum standard simply means that, to meet the minimum requirements of: a) an association; b) a code; c) a manufacturer's requirements; d) etc., that you "meet their minimum standards".

    Nothing addresses not being held accountable for not having done more if having done more would have resulted in: a) better work; b) finding more defects; c) saving more money; d) etc.

    Having at least reached that level, the accomplishment is supported by legal, personal, ethical and organizational requirements or standards.
    Wishful thinking ... or is it 'wistful' thinking.

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

  47. #47
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    Default Re: Input please

    ....sigh (back at ya ).

    Isn't that what I said? I just omitted your (a), (b), (c) etc... after "...when a certain standard is met..." inferring those were the entities which had to be satisfied.

    "Nothing addresses not being held accountable...etc" Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me - one too many double negatives.

    Last edited by Ian Page; 03-28-2012 at 11:58 PM.

  48. #48
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    ....sigh (back at ya ).

    Isn't that what I said?
    Nope.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    when achieved a standard is met which should be without reprisal.
    THAT is what you said, and THAT is what I said this about "That's not what a minimum standard means at all."

    Meeting a minimum standard in no way lets one skate by without reprisal.

    That's like saying that if a drunk can walk a straight line, put their finger to their nose, stand on one foot, etc., then they are suitable to drive ... being able to do those things drunk (meet the minimum standard and pass the 'sober' test before the breathalyzer reads 8.0) has nothing to do with being able to drive safely (with no reprisal).

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

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    Often, if I am inspecting a foreclosure and find one or two defective/miswired switches or outlets; I just put a piece of blue tape on them, so that the buyer can easily identify them when they move in. I rarely do that in an occupied home unless asked to do so.

    However, if I find a gas leak, I always put a wrap of blue tape at the spot whether occupied or not. So far, no complaints and several thanks.
    Lon,
    That is a great idea identifying the location of the Gas Leak with blue painters tape... easily removed with no residue. Thanks!

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
    Jubilee Home Inspections

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Nope.



    THAT is what you said, and THAT is what I said this about "That's not what a minimum standard means at all."

    Meeting a minimum standard in no way lets one skate by without reprisal.

    That's like saying that if a drunk can walk a straight line, put their finger to their nose, stand on one foot, etc., then they are suitable to drive ... being able to do those things drunk (meet the minimum standard and pass the 'sober' test before the breathalyzer reads 8.0) has nothing to do with being able to drive safely (with no reprisal).

    That's a really, really poor analogy. A person driving under the influence is typically charged with having excess alcohol/drugs in there system over a legally prescribed limit (varies by State). The sobriety tests, as you describe, are administered as a basis for further investigation, providing evidence to support previously observed driving violation(s) and to subsequently corroborate the Blood /Urine -alcohol/drug test result.

    Using your analogy...The Blood/Alcohol standard (.08% in most States), is the standard set by law - driving at .079 is no violation (pursuant to the applicable law which sets forth legal limits) but .08% and above, you are done for. However, other charges could result even if your BA level is .079% - i.e Driving under the influence of (drug of choice) but a blood test should expose the type of drug. In any event those are maximum limits and not minimum ones. And yes...there is NO legal reprisal for an individual driving drunk if they are not caught, have or cause an accident or violate the law in some other way for which they can be held accountable. Moral responsibilities excluded.

    Minimum standards - set by whatever organization/entity is a level determined both legally and professionally. Once it has been met then the real need to go beyond is to improve one's own business practices, satisfy a clients expectations and, to some extent, an ethical responsibility.

    If my SoP or Governing body determines that at a Minimum I should, wherever possible, view all aspects roof, from the ground - using enhancing optical aid - then I have no legal duty to the client to walk the roof. If, OTH, I view the roof seated in my truck and look at just the street side without visual aid, I have not fulfilled the minimum requirement. If issues were later discovered, resulting in legal proceedings against me, then I would have no/little defense because I had not met my contractual minimum standard.

    I accept that a Court could determine that a SoPs minimum standard may not be in the best interest of the plaintiff but if minimum conditions have been fulfilled - as stipulated in the contract, applicable State law and manufacturers guidelines then you have a solid, but not absolute, defense. As I said...'Should be' without reprisal...emphasis on 'should'. There are no guarantees.

    Pretty obvious you haven't been involved in too many DUI cases...

    Last edited by Ian Page; 03-30-2012 at 01:47 AM.

  51. #51
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    That's a really, really poor analogy. A person driving under the influence is typically charged with having excess alcohol/drugs in there system over a legally prescribed limit (varies by State).
    If you had read what I wrote, you would have noticed that I mentioned the physical tests separately from the breathalyzer tests, thus making the analogy spot on when comparing "minimum" standards to "more than "minimum" standard as the breathalyzer is a "more than minimum" standard.

    Minimum standards - set by whatever organization/entity is a level determined both legally and professionally. Once it has been met then the real need to go beyond is to improve one's own business practices, satisfy a clients expectations and, to some extent, an ethical responsibility.
    You are apparently not paying attention to what you wrote and to what I am commenting on:
    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page
    when achieved a standard is met which should be without reprisal.
    NOTHING you have posted supports your statement that "when achieved a standard is met which should be without reprisal."

    It is not about meeting the minimum standards you are praising, it is about "when achieved a standard is met which should be without reprisal.", and meeting your minimum standards will in no way remove you from that reprisal you referred to.

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

  52. #52
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    If you had read what I wrote, you would have noticed that I mentioned the physical tests separately from the breathalyzer tests, thus making the analogy spot on when comparing "minimum" standards to "more than "minimum" standard as the breathalyzer is a "more than minimum" standard.



    You are apparently not paying attention to what you wrote and to what I am commenting on:


    NOTHING you have posted supports your statement that "when achieved a standard is met which should be without reprisal."

    It is not about meeting the minimum standards you are praising, it is about "when achieved a standard is met which should be without reprisal.", and meeting your minimum standards will in no way remove you from that reprisal you referred to.
    Jerry
    You seeem to not understand, which is surprising, that most Inspections for monetary gain are contracts between the HI and the client. Contract law is filled with cases involving standards achieved within the terms of the contract. My position is simply ... Did the area of dispute within the totality of the Inspection meet the HI's contractual obligation, i.e. Were minimum standards applied? If so, then the HI is on significantly stronger legal ground (should be without reprisal) than if they were not. If the contract, and/or State law stipulates that the inspection will include examination of...XYZ and at a minimum do ABC in order to complete that examination, the HI has no legal obligation to do ABC plus D and E. Applying D and E to the Inspection is a choice each Inspector makes for his/her own purpose and may or may not be without risk. If the Contract/Inspection SoP/ State Law/Governing body or any other entity requires ABCD and E ad infinitum, to ensure obligations are met, it is still a legal minimum standard. 'C' is still a passing grade.

    Your Sobriety Test analogy is still way off base. They would not be used as a minimum standard to effect an arrest or determine ones ability to drive. If the person is 'drunk' and not behind the wheel, sobriety tests - typically used solely in DUI cases, would be an inappropriate use of evidence gathering for an unrelated crime. If OTH the 'drunk' is driving, other factors come into play which are used in addition to the tests - thereby making them, in and of themselves, NOT a minimum standard. Such tests must be used in conjunction with other evidentiary factors, including; observed or suspected driving, possible traffic violation, involvement in a traffic accident, driver's demeanor, symptoms of alcoholic consumption/drug use (slurred speech, dishevelled appearance, odor of alcohol etc.) Without some/most of all that stuff sobriety tests become a fishing expedition and lacking probable cause. Applying a breathalyer in furtherence to your idea of a minimum standard would not be going above and beyond if your premise of what minimum is, is inherently wrong. Furthermore, application of a breath test does not necessarily outweigh performance during sobriety tests. I can not imagine any scenario whereby a 'drunk' successfully performed the tests you described, showed no other signs or symptoms of intoxication, yet was subsequently found to have a .08% Blood/alcohol content. No matter how you spin it, your sobriety test(s) analogy is ill-conceived...No, wait - just plain wrong!
    Admit it Jerry...I got you beat!

    Last edited by Ian Page; 03-31-2012 at 01:47 AM.

  53. #53
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    Jerry
    You seeem to not understand, which is surprising, that most Inspections for monetary gain are contracts between the HI and the client. Contract law is filled with cases involving standards achieved within the terms of the contract. My position is simply ... Did the area of dispute within the totality of the Inspection meet the HI's contractual obligation, i.e. Were minimum standards applied? If so, then the HI is on significantly stronger legal ground (should be without reprisal) than if they were not.
    Ian,

    You seem to not understand, which is also surprising, that doing MORE THAN the minimum is a good thing and protects the home inspector MORE THAN DOING THE MINIMUM, and that doing the minimum IN NO WAY PROTECTS the home inspector.

    Your last post tried to being in 'doing less than' the minimum, and that has not been an issue nor a part of this discussion, 'doing the minimum' and 'with no reprisals' is the issue and the discussion, and - doing the minimum - in no way protects the home inspector from reprisals - it was *your* position that doing the minimum protects the home inspector from reprisals, and it does not.

    DOING LESS THAN the minimum opens the home inspector up to everything thing - but that is outside of the discussion because it is so obvious.

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

  54. #54
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    Default Re: Input please

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Ian,

    You seem to not understand, which is also surprising, that doing MORE THAN the minimum is a good thing and protects the home inspector MORE THAN DOING THE MINIMUM, and that doing the minimum IN NO WAY PROTECTS the home inspector.

    Your last post tried to being in 'doing less than' the minimum, and that has not been an issue nor a part of this discussion, 'doing the minimum' and 'with no reprisals' is the issue and the discussion, and - doing the minimum - in no way protects the home inspector from reprisals - it was *your* position that doing the minimum protects the home inspector from reprisals, and it does not.

    DOING LESS THAN the minimum opens the home inspector up to everything thing - but that is outside of the discussion because it is so obvious.
    Sorry, don't understand your "Your last post tried to being in..."

    I am not nor have I ever advocated applying only minimum standards to inspections. I still insist that they are standards which must be met and in doing so will largely protect the inspector from legal proceedings - nothing is absolute. Taking additional steps - because those steps are not mandated, are subjective in nature, open to interpretation and therefore open the doors to legal ramification, significantly more so than the 'protections' afforded by only meeting the minimum standard level. A classic example of which is your advocating filling the shower pan issue, which may be admirable and necessary in your opinion, is above and beyond 'minimum standards'. Taking those 'extra steps', for whatever reason, when not mandated, required or even customary is the basis of my opinion and where additional care should be taken to avoid legal reprisal.

    Last edited by Ian Page; 03-31-2012 at 11:15 PM.

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