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  1. #1
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    Default Electrical Fire lingering results...

    I had a call today to do a walk in pre-litigation inspection this coming Thursday. What it details is that after a home inspection by another inspector 9 months ago which said nothing about prior fire damage involving the Range Hood and it was not disclosed by the homeowner...the prior homeowner acknowledges the fact there was a fire at a later date but the HI is refusing to admit he missed it.
    Now the new homeowner wants me to walk in and tell him, his Attorney and Engineer if this should have been caught by the prior HI. There is also a real sweet smell in that area that will not go away no matter how much cleaning is involved and he's about to rip his cabinets out after the litigation.
    My questions are:
    1.) What would cause the lingering sweet smell? They are thinking its some cleaning solution that was used after the fire.
    2.) With me being only 6 months in the HI business, should I tell him to just call someone else or just do my thing and hope for the best?
    3.) If you guys advise me to go ahead and do the Inspection, how much should I expect to charge for such an inspection and what could possibly follow?

    Thanks and sorry for the lenghty post...

    Also, All of the info was told to me on the phone so I know nothing other than what I was told.

    Tracy Echols

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tracy Echols View Post
    I had a call today to do a walk in pre-litigation inspection this coming Thursday. What it details is that after a home inspection by another inspector 9 months ago which said nothing about prior fire damage involving the Range Hood and it was not disclosed by the homeowner...the prior homeowner acknowledges the fact there was a fire at a later date but the HI is refusing to admit he missed it.
    Now the new homeowner wants me to walk in and tell him, his Attorney and Engineer if this should have been caught by the prior HI. There is also a real sweet smell in that area that will not go away no matter how much cleaning is involved and he's about to rip his cabinets out after the litigation.
    My questions are:
    1.) What would cause the lingering sweet smell? They are thinking its some cleaning solution that was used after the fire.
    2.) With me being only 6 months in the HI business, should I tell him to just call someone else or just do my thing and hope for the best?
    3.) If you guys advise me to go ahead and do the Inspection, how much should I expect to charge for such an inspection and what could possibly follow?

    Thanks and sorry for the lenghty post...

    Also, All of the info was told to me on the phone so I know nothing other than what I was told.

    Tracy Echols
    It may be better to pass on this one.

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

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    It may be better to pass on this one.
    I'm thinking that exactly but a friend recommended me. I really don't need the hassle at this point!


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    This was the previous owner's fault (no disclosure). Not much related to the Last HI.

    Read the SOP & tell them your opinion & leave without charge. That is what I will do.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    It may be better to pass on this one.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tracy Echols View Post
    I'm thinking that exactly but a friend recommended me. I really don't need the hassle at this point!
    Someone sure got jumpy real fast.

    No one was jumping on you, simply pointing out what seems to be in your best interests ... take that information as it was provided ... or don't ... it is your choice, but you did come here with your inquiry.

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

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Personally speaking I would offer to go and take a look and make your decision whether or not to proceed to assist the owner or tell them they need someone more qualified.

    To me it would be a learning experience.

    You can't access something over the phone.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Tracy,
    Are they looking for a verbal or written opinion from you and is it limited to just one area?
    It sounds simple. Did the first HI follow the state SOP as you understand them.
    It may be that the original owner that failed to disclose the fire is judgement proof and they want to see if they can seek redress from the HI.
    Charge what you feel your opinion is worth with a thought as to the additional time you will possibly spend explaining it or defending it. If nothing else it will be a learning experience.

    I am sure others with litigation experience will chime in with advice.


  8. #8
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    Cool Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    I can only comment on what the courts have opined up here.

    Essentially if the vendor remains silent and the purchaser has a home inspection the liabilities transfer to the inspector, short of the vendor fraudulently concealing or misrepresenting the condition of the house.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    To make the vendor liable for a latent defect, the purchaser must satisfy the Court that the vendor had knowledge of the latent defect and has concealed it, or alternatively that the vendor is guilty of a reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the representations.


    16. Accepting that there are some circumstances when a seller might be liable for a defect, I return to the proposition put forward by the Defendants' counsel, namely, that any such liability is extinguished by a buyer's retaining a property inspector, and that the responsibility for finding and pointing out any defects rests with such inspector. Defendants' counsel refers to a frequently cited case, Hoy v. Lozanovski (1987), [1987] O.J. No. 1986, 43 R.P.R. 296 (Ont. Dist. Ct.) wherein Conant, D.C.J., states:

    "However, if the purchaser chooses to not rely on the vendor and requests inspections, including professional inspectors (e.g. Home Inspection Service), then reliance for completion of the deal (the waiver in this case, is shifted to the inspector whom the purchaser has chosen. The purchaser has relied on the inspector's report, not the vendor's silence, to formulate his decision whether or not to complete the deal. In that case, responsibility of the vendor is released and assumed by the purchaser or transferred to his agent, the Home Inspector, at the time of the raking of the deal (which, in this case, was the signing of the waiver at which time the deal became firm)."
    However

    In Swayze v. Robertson, supra, the Court imposed liability on the sellers, recognizing the limitations of the home inspection report provided to the plaintiffs.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Someone sure got jumpy real fast.

    No one was jumping on you, simply pointing out what seems to be in your best interests ... take that information as it was provided ... or don't ... it is your choice, but you did come here with your inquiry.
    Did someone delete a post or did someone misunderstand the intent of the conversation?
    I fail to see where the OP thought someone was jumping on him... no rolling eyes needed, IMO.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tracy Echols View Post
    I
    2.) With me being only 6 months in the HI business, should I tell him to just call someone else or just do my thing and hope for the best?
    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    To me it would be a learning experience.
    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    If nothing else it will be a learning experience.
    Yes, this would be a learning experience, but at what and whose expense?

    Essentially, he is being asked to provide an experts opinion, he is in fact being asked to be an expert witness.
    I think it very likely that a lawyer will easily discredit him as an expert.
    If he is not accepted as an expert, how will that benefit the home owners that hired him?

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

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Yes, this would be a learning experience, but at what and whose expense?

    The OP can't determine what is what without seeing the issues . I would not charge to go look. I would explain to the client that I don't know if I can help until I see it and then I will advise accordingly.

    He is not being asked to be an expert witness, at this point in time he is being asked to assess and write a report. A report can be submitted without being called to testify or act as an expert witness as a home inspector. That would be up to the lawyer and dependent on OP's curriculum vitae.

    Again any lawyer can depose a expert witness thats the respondents lawyers job.

    Again the OP won't know if he can provide any assistance unless he sees what he is dealing with.

    In my experience and the way I handle such issues I always tell the client I want to take a look first before I commit myself and I don't charge for a look see. At that point after I go look I would inform the client the options and what I could do to assist.

    The OP doesn't have all the facts yet.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Someone sure got jumpy real fast.

    No one was jumping on you, simply pointing out what seems to be in your best interests ... take that information as it was provided ... or don't ... it is your choice, but you did come here with your inquiry.
    No, I was talking about the hassle of going to court over something I was never involved in...sorry for the confusion!


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tracy Echols View Post
    I had a call today to do a walk in pre-litigation inspection this coming Thursday. What it details is that after a home inspection by another inspector 9 months ago which said nothing about prior fire damage involving the Range Hood and it was not disclosed by the homeowner...the prior homeowner acknowledges the fact there was a fire at a later date but the HI is refusing to admit he missed it.
    Now the new homeowner wants me to walk in and tell him, his Attorney and Engineer if this should have been caught by the prior HI. There is also a real sweet smell in that area that will not go away no matter how much cleaning is involved and he's about to rip his cabinets out after the litigation.
    My questions are:
    1.) What would cause the lingering sweet smell? They are thinking its some cleaning solution that was used after the fire.
    2.) With me being only 6 months in the HI business, should I tell him to just call someone else or just do my thing and hope for the best?
    3.) If you guys advise me to go ahead and do the Inspection, how much should I expect to charge for such an inspection and what could possibly follow?

    Thanks and sorry for the lenghty post...

    Also, All of the info was told to me on the phone so I know nothing other than what I was told.

    Tracy Echols
    Tracy, honestly you really should not get into this type of work with only six months under your belt. What you will be doing at this inspection is basically offering your opinion based on 6 months of being in the profession. If it gets to court, your testimony would be torn to pieces in short order.

    To save face you need to contact the attorney and let them know that you feel you do not have enough experience for what they are looking for.

    Last edited by Scott Patterson; 12-04-2012 at 07:42 AM. Reason: Changed due to a request
    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Yes, this would be a learning experience, but at what and whose expense?

    The OP can't determine what is what without seeing the issues . I would not charge to go look. I would explain to the client that I don't know if I can help until I see it and then I will advise accordingly.

    He is not being asked to be an expert witness, at this point in time he is being asked to assess and write a report. A report can be submitted without being called to testify or act as an expert witness as a home inspector. That would be up to the lawyer and dependent on OP's curriculum vitae.

    Again any lawyer can depose a expert witness thats the respondents lawyers job.

    Again the OP won't know if he can provide any assistance unless he sees what he is dealing with.

    In my experience and the way I handle such issues I always tell the client I want to take a look first before I commit myself and I don't charge for a look see. At that point after I go look I would inform the client the options and what I could do to assist.

    The OP doesn't have all the facts yet.
    Raymond, my thoughts exactly! I will take a look Thursday with no charge and go from there! I will post a follow up!
    Thanks everyone and I WAS not being jumpy...


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    If it gets to court, your testimony would be torn to pieces in short order.
    The lawyer representing the complainant will determine through their expertise whether inspector is qualified well before it gets to court let alone discovery.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Oh well, it happens if you do enough inspections!

    Last edited by Scott Patterson; 12-06-2012 at 01:22 PM.
    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    The lawyer representing the complainant will determine through their expertise whether inspector is qualified well before it gets to court let alone discovery.
    True, but if a person was qualified at the start it would be a moot point would you not agree..

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

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Not necessarily, it depends on factors such as the OP background and experience(s) even though he may have only been inspecting for 6 months.

    At this point the OP has nothing to lose and the lawyer for the respondent would be where the buck stops.

    I would be upfront with the respondents legal team thats for sure.

    Only from my experience, but then again I had quite a bit of experience in the court room prior to me becoming a home inspector via education and previous profession.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Scott

    I will defer to you with advice given you are state side and know the system which may differ from up here.


    Cheers,


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tracy Echols View Post
    Raymond, my thoughts exactly! I will take a look Thursday with no charge and go from there! I will post a follow up!
    Thanks everyone and I WAS not being jumpy...
    I have only been an expert witness twice. I treated both as educational experiences which is good since the stinkin' low life attorney on the second one never has paid me, but that's a whole 'nuther educational story.

    So, I say go take a look. If you are comfortable and confident with your analysis of the entire situation, then make your report. In your case, I would advise the plaintiff, that in a "your opinion vs. his opinion", the other HI's superior experience may overwhelm your lack of experience. Of course, that doesn't mean the other guy didn't miss a problem, but FWIW, the first time I was an expert witness, it came up about the defendant's far superior experience compared to mine. Still, the defendant settled when he heard my testimony. If you are knowledgeable and articulate, then you can overcome the experience difference.

    And finally, like Scott, said. Even good HI's miss something occasionally, It's tough to be perfect.


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Scott

    I will defer to you with advice given you are state side and know the system which may differ from up here.


    Cheers,
    Thanks!!

    Most EW's are vetted way before they even get a court date. With a case like this one, I would expect it to be 2-3 years if it goes to court.

    In the States we use the Daubert Standard/Rule as I think several Canadian courts have adopted as well, this is a brief breakdown of it:

    Rule 702. Testimony by Experts
    If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.
    (As amended Apr. 17, 2000, eff. Dec. 1, 2000.)

    In 2011, Rule 702 was again amended. The rule now reads:

    RULE 702. TESTIMONY BY EXPERT WITNESSES

    A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:

    (a) The expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;

    (b) The testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;

    (c) The testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and

    (d) The expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

    (As amended Apr. 17, 2000, eff. Dec. 1, 2000; Apr. 26, 2011, eff. Dec. 1, 2011)

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

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Expert Witnesses up here come under Rules of Civil Procedure up here.

    The New Rules ‚Äď Writing Reports and being Qualified as an Expert at Trial | Thomson Rogers.

    Accordingly, Rule 4.101(1) was added to the Rules of Civil Procedure in order to illustrate the principle that an expert owes a duty of impartiality and objectivity to the Court and not to the party that has retained him/her. This duty is described as follows:

    4.1.01 (1) It is the duty of every expert engaged by or on behalf of a party to provide evidence in relation to a proceeding under these rules,

    - to provide opinion evidence that is fair, objective and non-partisan;
    - to provide opinion evidence that is related only to matters that are within the - expertís area of expertise; and
    to provide such additional assistance as the court may reasonably require to determine a matter in issue.

    Duty Prevails
    (2) The duty in subrule (1) prevails over any obligation owed by the expert to the party by whom or on whose behalf he or she is engaged.

    In order to fulfill the criteria of Rule 4.01(1) experts must acknowledge their duty in writing by delivering an Acknowledgement of Expertís Duty form with each report5. This requirement reinforces the common law principle that expert evidence must be objective and whose sole purpose is to provide Judge and/or Jury with impartial and unbiased inferences or opinions that can be used to assist in deciding the ultimate issues in the case and limit expert bias.

    Giving evidence at trial

    There are four criteria that control the admissibility of expert opinion evidence at trial. This criteria is found in the common law and is not impacted by the changes to the Rules of Civil Procedure. The four criteria are:

    The evidence must be relevant to the matters in issue.
    The evidence must be necessary in assisting the trier of fact.
    The absence of any exclusionary rule; and
    The evidence must be presented by a properly qualified expert.

    It is up to the trial Judge to determine whether expert opinion evidence will be admissible. This "gatekeeper" responsibility lies at the heart of the present evidentiary regime governing the admissibility of expert opinion evidence9.

    Accordingly, before an expert will be allowed to give opinion evidence, the witness will be questioned under oath to ensure that he/she has sufficient specialized knowledge, skill or experience to give the opinion.

    How the expert has acquired "specialized" knowledge is not limited to education or practical experience alone. It can come from a combination of formal education, private study, scientific study, work experience or other personal observation or involvement with the subject matter10.

    This process is commonly referred to as "qualifying" the witness. It should be noted that once an expert is qualified, this does not mean he/she is qualified to testify at future trials.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Hi Tracy,

    Like some of the others have already stated, 6 months into this is probably not long enough "on-the-job" to get involved. In my opinion, 6 months is not long enough to be an expert in what goes on within a profession.

    Something else for consideration. Is there anything in the Mississippi SOP's that "require" the reporting on fire damage? Structural or other damage is another matter.

    In regards to odors (good or bad), we all know how easy it is to mask permanent odors.

    I know we all have used our noses as a tool and have found things because of odors but there are way too many variables for that to be considered a valid inspecting method (colds, stuffy noses, allergies, owner baking apple pie, recently extinguished bongs in the bedrooms, lots of air freshners, etc.)

    I wish you the best of luck in your decision. Please keep us posted on any updates.

    Sincerely,

    Corey


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Obviously lots of good advice so far. Whether you do this or not depends on your comfort level and experience. 6 months experience probably isn't a good start for a job like this. However, if you've been a contractor or something else trade related for many years, then your short life as an HI might be secondary.
    Looking at a job like this is rarely an absolute yes or no at first. If you feel confident you can tackle it go take a look and make a decision from there. If you really aren't comfortable with it, pass and don't waste your time.
    I've looked at fire jobs and other litigation work in the past. Some were reasonable situations and everything worked out fine; some I've looked at and told potential clients to settle as fast as possible for various reasons; others I've passed on because there was no way I wanted to work for those people.
    You should also figure there will be multiple pay structures for something like this. Initial inspection and report, research hours, travel and court time, phone time, etc. It isn't just a question of figuring out one fee.
    If it were my gig I would request a copy of the HI report and make a first decision from that. Then I'd go take a look and make another decision at that time based on conditions.
    I would want to assess if it was realistic for the HI to have caught the issue or not. If there's an accessible attic above the kitchen and you can see fire charred joists then the other guy may have screwed up. If a new hood is installed, there aren't any signs of fire damage visible, and nothing above is accessible then how is a guy supposed to see the fire damage?
    It's one thing to get paid to provide a client services. It's another thing to get involved in some idiot witch hunt for money and get paid for it.

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Did someone delete a post or did someone misunderstand the intent of the conversation?
    I fail to see where the OP thought someone was jumping on him... no rolling eyes needed, IMO.
    Jim,

    You must have missed his rant on it, here it is:

    Quote Originally Posted by Tracy Echols View Post
    I really don't need the hassle at this point!


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

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell
    It may be better to pass on this one.
    I'm thinking that exactly but a friend recommended me. I really don't need the hassle at this point!
    Quote Originally Posted by Tracy Echols View Post
    No, I was talking about the hassle of going to court over something I was never involved in...sorry for the confusion!
    Jerry,
    I think you missed the OP's take.

    His was not a rant against the responders, he was just stating the same thing as everyone else, not needing the legal hassle at this point in his career.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    A lot of some really experienced help here that is beyond my skill pack. I do know I would not want to be the second person to a hornets nest that had recently been stepped on.


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Did someone delete a post or did someone misunderstand the intent of the conversation?
    I fail to see where the OP thought someone was jumping on him... no rolling eyes needed, IMO.
    I concur with you Jim. No need for replys like his - IMO. I guess that's how guys get up to 20,000+ posts.

    OP,
    Question 1.The damage and smell depends on the extent of the fire, what it involved and how it was extinguished. The original owner will help determine if it involved grease laden vapors that ignited on the range or electrical fire and how far it went. Did it burn up into the filter and duct? Did it breach the duct and burn gyp. board or cabinet? Did they need to replace any gyp. board? How did they extinguish the fire - dry chemical extinguisher, baking soda, water, wet chemical (small NFPA 17A system)? Fires and extinguishing agents bring out some funky smells and even mold. If you can determine that the fire did not compromise anything that may be life safety (electrical, gas lines, fireblocking at top plate, etc), than you may want to suggest to the new owner to contact a company that does repair after fires/floods. They should be able determine if the smell is from the fire.
    Question 2. I don't know your expertise but use your gut instinct on this one. Kinda sounds like you already know the answer.
    Question 3. It may be a freebie to pass on some information and get your name out there.


  30. #30
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    Default Re: Electrical Fire lingering results...

    Update, I decided to go on this tomorrow for a learning experience only and I am not charging the guy for anything. He simply wants to know if the "average" HI should have found this problem. From what he is telling me, the fire was located in the cabinet above the built in microwave/range hood. I would assume if this is where the fire was that most HI's would have opened that cabinet to check the exhaust pipe from the range hood...I do!

    I will give him my 2 cents and hand him a copy of Mississippi's SOP which does not state anything about opening every cabinet...see below:


    10. INTERIOR
    10.1 The
    inspector shall:
    A.

    inspect:
    1. the walls, ceilings, and floors.
    2. the steps, stairways, and railings.
    3. the countertops and a

    representative number of installed cabinets
    4. a

    representative number of doors and windows.
    5. garage doors and garage door operators.
    10.2 The
    inspector is NOT required to:
    A.

    inspect:
    1. the paint, wallpaper, and other finish treatments.
    2. the carpeting.
    3. the window treatments.
    4. the central vacuum

    systems.
    5. the

    household applicances.

    6.

    recreational facilities.

    I will let y'all know how it turns out and thanks for all the advise...



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