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  1. #1
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    Feb 2008
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    Tennessee
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    Default Guardrails required?

    Inspected home today with a driveway/parking area that ends with a very high drop off on either side and at the rear. While curbs are raised several inches and parking blocks are used, is there some type of requirement for a guard rail or fencing of some type for this? If not, I will be recommending such for safety purposes but wanted to know if there was actually a requirement since it is not something like a deck or patio.

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  2. #2
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    Mar 2007
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    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
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    Default Re: Guardrails required?

    Well, I don't think you could call it a walking area but I would most likely do it anyway. I think I would say that the area is a possible walking area like a deck or porch and that I would recommend the addition of guard railing for increased safety. What's it going to hurt to recommend it!

    I think an inspector would be amiss if they didn't note it.

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

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Guardrails required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Well, I don't think you could call it a walking area but I would most likely do it anyway. I think I would say that the area is a possible walking area like a deck or porch and that I would recommend the addition of guard railing for increased safety. What's it going to hurt to recommend it!

    I think an inspector would be amiss if they didn't note it.
    That's what I stated in my last sentence and what I will do!

    Thanks Scott!



  4. #4
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    Default Re: Guardrails required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Subick View Post
    wanted to know if there was actually a requirement since it is not something like a deck or patio.
    I think that it's irrelevant as to whether there's a requirement. I'd take the view that it is like a deck - you can fall off and get hurt.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  5. #5
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    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: Guardrails required?

    That is a "walking surface" and, if the walking surface is greater than 30" above the grade below a guard is required.

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

  6. #6
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    Tennessee
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    Default Re: Guardrails required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    I think that it's irrelevant as to whether there's a requirement. I'd take the view that it is like a deck - you can fall off and get hurt.
    I agree, and as I stated, that is what I have put in my report, however, I respectfully disagree with your statement of "It's irrelevant" because if there is an actual requirement that would then make the sellers responsible for the installation, I'm thinking my client would be more comfortable with that assessment.


  7. #7
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    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: Guardrails required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Subick View Post
    ... because if there is an actual requirement that would then make the sellers responsible for the installation, ...
    The sellers are typically (from my experience) not required fix or correct things, they could offer to give the buyer money instead, and many contracts do not require the sellers to fix or correct anything - only spend up to a certain amount of money; another option (all depends on the contract wording in your area, of course) is for the seller and buyer to part ways and the house goes back on the market ... where the seller may find that they wish they had completed the first sale (depends on the market in their area).

    What is the inspection paragraph wording and the seller's obligations in the contracts in your area? It is always good if the inspector knows how and what the contracts address for their client - not that it will affect the outcome of the inspection, it should not, but to allow the inspector to converse intelligently with their clients when going over the inspection report. At least I always found it beneficial to know what was written in the contracts and how it was worded.

    If most, if not all, real estate sales contracts in Florida when I was inspecting the sellers warranted that everything was working (except as disclosed on the seller disclosure) and were limited in liability to the $ amount or % of sales price stated in the contract - the seller did not 'have to fix or correct' anything ... only spend money or give a credit for up to the $$$$ stated in the contract.

    With that wording, beyond that $$$$ amount either party (seller or buyer) could walk away from the deal, or either could assume any additional $$$$ shown in the inspection report or by contractors and force the deal to close. If the contract limit was $5,000 and there were $20,000 of repairs/corrections, the seller could cover the difference and force the sale to close, the buyer could absorb the difference and force the deal to close, or, the seller and buyer could share the difference at some agreed upon amount and the deal would still close.

    The deals only fell apart when neither seller nor buyer was willing to cover or share any $$ amount above the $$$$ stated in the contract - and that did happen from time to time. Thus came the term "deal killer" ... no, the inspector did "kill the deal", the house was DOA (dead on arrival) - the inspector only performed the autopsy explaining why the house was DOA and neither party wanted to claim the body and be responsible for burial costs.

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

  8. #8
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    Tennessee
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    Default Re: Guardrails required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    The sellers are typically (from my experience) not required fix or correct things, they could offer to give the buyer money instead, and many contracts do not require the sellers to fix or correct anything - only spend up to a certain amount of money; another option (all depends on the contract wording in your area, of course) is for the seller and buyer to part ways and the house goes back on the market ... where the seller may find that they wish they had completed the first sale (depends on the market in their area).

    What is the inspection paragraph wording and the seller's obligations in the contracts in your area? It is always good if the inspector knows how and what the contracts address for their client - not that it will affect the outcome of the inspection, it should not, but to allow the inspector to converse intelligently with their clients when going over the inspection report. At least I always found it beneficial to know what was written in the contracts and how it was worded.

    If most, if not all, real estate sales contracts in Florida when I was inspecting the sellers warranted that everything was working (except as disclosed on the seller disclosure) and were limited in liability to the $ amount or % of sales price stated in the contract - the seller did not 'have to fix or correct' anything ... only spend money or give a credit for up to the $$$$ stated in the contract.

    With that wording, beyond that $$$$ amount either party (seller or buyer) could walk away from the deal, or either could assume any additional $$$$ shown in the inspection report or by contractors and force the deal to close. If the contract limit was $5,000 and there were $20,000 of repairs/corrections, the seller could cover the difference and force the sale to close, the buyer could absorb the difference and force the deal to close, or, the seller and buyer could share the difference at some agreed upon amount and the deal would still close.

    The deals only fell apart when neither seller nor buyer was willing to cover or share any $$ amount above the $$$$ stated in the contract - and that did happen from time to time. Thus came the term "deal killer" ... no, the inspector did "kill the deal", the house was DOA (dead on arrival) - the inspector only performed the autopsy explaining why the house was DOA and neither party wanted to claim the body and be responsible for burial costs.
    Jerry, in my area, contracts can all read differently and in the case of a seller agreeing to repairs, it is generally within a price range. In this case, a buyer will give a wish list back to the seller, and as you stated, the seller may or may not agree on the repairs. In some cases, price negotiations are made based on repair estimates as in some cases (Estate sales) the sellers are not local and don't have the time to get estimates, meet contractors, etc. IF the sellers do not agree on something that may be costly, the buyer can negotiate or can walk....this state allows for an inspection contingency and can result in a buyer walking for the simplest of things. They may or may not lose their earnest money-depends on the situation.

    As for property disclosures, they aren't worth the paper they are printed on as the simple question of "Are you aware" is nothing short of a way out....unless of course, it is something quite obvious.

    While most contracts are written the same across the different real estate agencies, I have seen many addendum's made to satisfy both parties.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Guardrails required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Subick View Post
    ... this state allows for an inspection contingency and can result in a buyer walking for the simplest of things.
    Sounds similar to what we have and what is known as "As Is" - the buyer is only obligated to purchase the house pending a "satisfactory inspection" (that wording is in the contract), that means that, if the buyer decides they do not want the house, they can use any item on the inspection report and say that the inspection result was 'not satisfactory'. I've had buyers who asked me what this was (pointing to a speck on the wall), when I looked at the spec on the wall I said 'looks like a spec of dirt to me', the buyer then said that the inspection was 'not satisfactory' and walked. That is all they need with an "As Is" contract.

    They may or may not lose their earnest money-depends on the situation.
    With an "As Is' inspection down here the buyer gets their earnest money back (it is stated as such in the contract).

    As for property disclosures, they aren't worth the paper they are printed on as the simple question of "Are you aware" is nothing short of a way out....unless of course, it is something quite obvious.
    That makes those Seller Disclosure worth more than the paper they are written on - because the seller stated, in writing, that 'everything works'. When they put 'do not know' or 'unknown' at those questions they are saying that there is nothing wrong that they know of, i.e., it all works, otherwise the seller would know of the issues for it not working.

    With that seller disclosure you go about the inspection and thing that does not work or leaks or falls apart is not the inspector's responsibility as the seller did not disclose that anything was wrong. The spa tub leaks down into the first floor when filled by the inspector? NOT the inspector's problem to clean up the leaking water because, had the seller disclosed that problem the inspector would not have filled the tub - the leaking water is now the responsibility of the seller and their representative (their agent).

    Sellers do not understand that the seller disclosure is a legal document and is part of the contract, and their agents don't make the sellers aware of the responsibilities for misrepresentations in/on the seller disclosure. Use the lack of information on the seller disclosure to your advantage - the seller filed out that legal document, use it to cover yourself for things during the inspection.

    Down in South Florida when I was inspecting, the better agents were learning about the consequences of an improperly or poorly filled out seller disclosure and were beginning to encourage their sellers to be forthright on the information they put down. Not sure what it is like since I retired from there.

    A smart buyer could probably even use a poorly or incorrectly filled out seller disclosure as 'intent to defraud' if they needed to or wanted to go after the seller.

    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 01-10-2014 at 08:49 AM. Reason: added last 3 paragraphs for additional information
    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    mt, clemens Mi.
    Posts
    8

    Smile Re: Guardrails required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    That is a "walking surface" and, if the walking surface is greater than 30" above the grade below a guard is required.
    I would call it out as a walking surface since you have to walk around to get in your car. residential code states guards required , guards shall be located along open-sided walking surfaces located 30" or more above grade. call it standard practice .


  11. #11

    Default Re: Guardrails required?

    Quote Originally Posted by matt berman View Post
    I would call it out as a walking surface since you have to walk around to get in your car. residential code states guards required , guards shall be located along open-sided walking surfaces located 30" or more above grade. call it standard practice .

    This is still a safety hazard, it does not matter what the code states or local interpretation it is a hazard. As an aside most insurance companies will see this and either not write a policy or charge a significant premium!

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

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Lake Barrington, IL
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    Default Re: Guardrails required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Zehnder View Post
    This is still a safety hazard
    I'd be more inclined to say that it's a safety consideration that I'd put under my "FYI" classification. It's not too difficult to get people overly worked up especially when they're slogging through a lengthy report and as a result perspectives can become muddled.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

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