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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    2,797

    Default Inspecting vacant lot

    Just got a call from someone asking if I inspect vacant lots.

    First time I've ever been asked this question, and now I'm wondering: what sort of due diligence ought a purchaser of a vacant lot (tear down of an 1880s house in Chicago) perform from an "inspection" perspective, and who performs such inspections?

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    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,252

    Default Re: Inspecting vacant lot

    Michael,

    That is an excellent example of working out the details on what the client wants before agreeing to do it or even price it.

    If they want to find the property corners (I've had those requests in the past) I refer them to a surveyor as I do not want the liability of what I find being wrong.

    If they just want me to walk around the property and look for visible junk on the surface, that I can do.

    If they want to know about sink holes (probably not a concern in your area), I would refer them to a geologist because I would not want that liability either.

    I guess the best answer is to find out what your client is wanting you to tell them that they cannot see (or maybe they are out of town and want someone to walk the property - I'd be leery about that because they agent can do that).

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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,847

    Default Re: Inspecting vacant lot

    What Jerry said and it also sounds like they might want a Phase I or II survey and that would most likely be with an environmental consulting firm.

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

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Marietta Ohio
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Inspecting vacant lot

    I agree the realtor could do it. Why or what was they wanting it for would better to call who they need to do a through inspection for something particular.

    Rob Bowman
    Bowman Inspections
    740-339-7325

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
    Posts
    5,005

    Default Re: Inspecting vacant lot

    Start by searching municipal records (i.e. building department, fire department, bylaw department, zoning, heritage committee). Also check neighbouring occupants for any historical or pertinent info.

    That will give you a clue as to what predated the vacant lot, then again it may not reveal anything, but a good start.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Oregon, USA
    Posts
    333

    Default Re: Inspecting vacant lot

    Don't forget to include a disclaimer in your contract with them that any buried oil tanks are their responsibility. They probably suspect one being present, but are looking for a Sugar Daddy to pay the remediation bill for them.


  7. #7
    Garry Blankenship's Avatar
    Garry Blankenship Guest

    Default Re: Inspecting vacant lot

    Hoo-da thunk so much could be involved in inspecting a vacant lot ? In my area it is the county assessor's office that keeps all records associated with it's parcels. All that is public information. They typically have web sites complete with parcel data, ( size, tax data, zoning,{ wet land classification is really important for example }, registered owner, etc. ). Those sites usually have parcel viewers with mapping views and you can switch to a satelite view. I was thinking with all that data you could do the report w/o leaving your office, until all this annoying info. about sink holes, maybe derelict vehicles, a rock the size of a 747, a spotted owl nest, etc. came up.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,549

    Default Re: Inspecting vacant lot

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    a vacant lot (tear down of an 1880s house in Chicago)
    Not just any lot. Michael is right to tread cautiously on this one. But if the terms of the inspection, buyer's expectations, are clearly laid out, I see no reason to refuse it. The buyer is unable to view the lot and needs a pair of eyes to check it out.

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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Snowbird (this means I'm retired and migrate between locations), FL/MI
    Posts
    4,086

    Default Re: Inspecting vacant lot

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    What Jerry said and it also sounds like they might want a Phase I or II survey and that would most likely be with an environmental consulting firm.

    Scott was "spot on". Tear down 1880s home now "vacant" lot in Cook County, Illinois, an environmental survey is most likely what is needed. Whether or not a "full blown" Phase I environmental or a limited environmental with a few other explorations, who knows.

    If the zoning has changed, anything other than res. re-use environmental survey is s.o.p. dilligence.

    CC and the state have some stringent standards regarding residential tear downs: Lead, Asbestos, and a host of regulated disciplines are involved. Geo Tech survey also likely necessary. Some extensive research with multiple agencies also, including checking with the county environmental control, if home-rule the city or village, the state and fed EPA, etc.

    There are a host of multi-disciplined firms in the area which specialize on this precisely.

    This was a "dead" discussion until it was rejuvinated by someone posting a realtor could do this. Obviously, not, as to due dilligence, or professional licensing.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    North Central Texas
    Posts
    472

    Default Re: Inspecting vacant lot

    In addition to the environmental, geotechnical and survey which have already been mentioned there are a host of other concerns one might investigate prior to purchasing a vacant lot. Here are just a few:

    Zoning
    City and County Long-Term Land Use
    HOA Covenants
    Subdivision Covenants
    City Ordinances
    Utility Access and Easements
    Flood Plain Information
    Permits Issued and Issuable
    Crime Statistics

    If the client is willing and you are up to doing some research, with the proper written agreement in place, this could be a profitable and educational experience for any inspector.

    Texas Inspector
    http://www.texasinspector.com
    What the plainspoken man lacks in subtlety, he makes up in clarity.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Inspecting vacant lot

    Well you can say I will drive by and tell you if it is Vacant or not, that is about all I can see....!!


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