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  1. #1
    Wendell Swedberg's Avatar
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    Default Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Do not use the words "safety", "combustible", or the phrases "Safety Hazard" or "ignition source" or " could be". Rather, cite the condition.

    Do not say: Furnace vent pipe is in contact with the combustible material and is a safety hazard.

    Instead, say: Furnace vent pipe does not have proper clearances from the wood ceiling.


    Do not say: The gas meter does not have the proper clearances from the electrical service equipment panel creating a safety hazard condition. The electrica panel could be an ignition source if there is a gas leak from the gas meter.

    Instead, say: The gas meter does not have the proper clearances from the electrical service equipment panel.


    Do not say: The stairway lacks a graspable handrail which could cause a trip and fall safety hazard condition.

    Instead, say: The stairway lacks a graspable handrail.


    Do not use the phrase "Emergency Escape and Rescue". Rather, cite the condition.

    Do not say: Window in the front left sleeping quarter is too small which can impede emergency escape and rescue.

    Instead, say: Window in the front left sleeping quarter is too small.

    The punch line is this:

    - I, as the generalist of a home inspector, is not certified to do a safety inspection on the home. And, if you cite one safety condition, you must cite all conditions.

    - I, as the generalist home inspector, can not see or predict the future. Using phrases, "could cause", "would cause", "may cause", or "potentially" predict the future.

    Just my $0.00000000000000001 cent opinion after inspecting a $4.2 million dollar home and licking my wounds from a lawsuit. Because it's over, I can talk about it....maybe I should see a therapist! I'm sure glad it's all over, though....more importantly, I'm glad I had E&O!!!

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  2. #2
    JORY LANNES's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    All it takes is one law suit to learn the proper phrasing. Being a member of ASHI I take at least two report writing classes a year to avoid developing bad writing habits. The time and money for the classes are far cheaper than my E&O detectable.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Wendell, did you get sued for what you said or what you didn't say?

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Sorry to hear this Wendell. I use many of the phrases on your not recommended list of phrases and words. This might be the first time I heard that saying less is better in an inspection repoprt. I can just see somebody trying to twist around the preferred phrasing and say "Why didn't you emphasize in your report that the flue pipe being in contact with the combustible surface posed a safety hazard?"

    Can you divulge anything about what the lawsuit involved?


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    I use phrases like "fire hazard", "shock hazard", "safety hazard" , all the time. This is how we explain to our clients why the problems need to be fixed!
    I can't believe there are more home inspectors out there who have been successfully sued because they DID use those terms than because they DIDN'T.
    Not that you have to have done anything wrong to be successfully sued, mind you.

    Last edited by John Arnold; 12-23-2008 at 06:56 PM. Reason: added last sentence, not that it's any of your business
    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    MY initial thought is that no matter what phrases are used, you are screwed when you get served.
    A good lawyer can twist pretty much anything you say into something you shouldn't have said or something you didn't say into something you should have said.
    That said, I am highly interested in hearing as much about the subject as you would care to share since I am really intent on staying away from the court room.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  7. #7
    Richard Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    ...
    A good lawyer can twist pretty much anything you say into something you shouldn't have said or something you didn't say into something you should have said.
    And someone buying a 4.2 million dollar home probably has a good one on speed dial. I really can't see removing "Safety Concern" from my reports based on Wendell's unfortunate experience.

    Like others, I'm also very curious as to what brought on the lawsuit in the first place. Wendell?


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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    - I, as the generalist of a home inspector, is not certified to do a safety inspection on the home. And, if you cite one safety condition, you must cite all conditions.
    EXACTLY. Since when are home inspectors safety analysts, consultants, experts? There are so many safety concerns in a home anyone calling out safety concerns is asking for trouble in my opinion.

    Ditto calling out recall products. In my opinion you had better be up on ALL recalls. If you call out one you are most likely going to be on the hook for others.

    Its gotten to the point I am also now expected to be an insurance appraiser calling out non insurable items, such as woodstoves, 60 amp service, K&T, et ceteras.

    And I would never ever advertise my E&O coverage in any way shape or form in any advertising.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    ...Since when are home inspectors safety analysts, consultants, experts? There are so many safety concerns in a home anyone calling out safety concerns is asking for trouble in my opinion....
    Suppose the sidewalk is heaved and uneven. You mean to tell me I shouldn't say that there's a tripping hazard?
    I'm not supposed to say the "C" word, so I shouldn't quote code, right?
    How do I let my client know the reason I'm writing up the sidewalk?

    Or, let's see, the flue pipe on a boiler has fallen onto the floor and the boiler is now venting 100% of its combustion products into the home. I shouldn't say that's dangerous? A health and safety hazard? Please. I know the world is crazy, but it's not really that crazy, is it?

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Well if the sidewalk is uneven and a trip hazard, I think you should point it out and state that the sidewalk needs improvement or repair.

    Same with flue that is disconnected. I would state that it needs immediate repair due to carbon monoxide spillage. But I don't think I would use the terms, dangerous, life threatening. If its that bad, I would most certainly be in contact with the homeowner or agent and have them notify the vendor for immediate repair. At that point to me its pointless to be telling the purchaser of the concern as it should be fixed by the vendor for obvious reasons prior to close of title?

    I have never ever stated to anyone verbally or advertising that my inspections are any type of safety or recall, or insurance inspections, for the reasons Wendell found out.

    Merry Christmas.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    The day I get sued (and lose) for using verbiage in my reports which is intended to impress the severity of a defect upon my clients and help ensure their safety, I will quit the HI profession.


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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    So if I call an Ambulance and use the terms,

    I need the Paramedics this guys safety is in danger.

    All this Blood loss looks Hazardous to his health.

    He could be in Danger of Severe Bodily Harm or Death.

    An Attorney can Sue me because I am not an MD. ( Specialized in All the Areas of Medicine that may afflict this Guy from a Hang Nail to Genetic Disorders.)

    *his overall well being needs improvement or repaired ?


    Last edited by Billy Stephens; 12-23-2008 at 08:46 PM. Reason: changed to improvement from improved
    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    My state SoP require that I tell someone how a given problem affects the habitability of the house. I can't just state the condition.

    They don't clarify it further than that but I've always taken that to mean that we have to tell someone why a condition we comment on is a problem. Fire hazard, shock hazard, tripping hazard, or just general safety hazards are in my reports all the time.

    I love lawyers


  14. #14
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Wendell we need the specifics... NOW!!!


    PLEASE...

    Best

    Ron


  15. #15
    JORY LANNES's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    There are two issues here.
    1. contact your E&O carrier as soon as you have a problem. If you don't there is a the possibility you do not have coverage.

    2. Phraseology.

    Call out defects. " Electric drip loop is less than 3 feet from staircase. Have Licensed Experienced Electrician repair to current standards. There is no need to say it is a safety,shock or hazard.

    Keep the description short and concise.This is the advise I have received from several report writing classes,my Insurance carrier and my lawyer .


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wendell Swedberg View Post
    Do not use the words "safety", "combustible", or the phrases "Safety Hazard" or "ignition source" or " could be". Rather, cite the condition.

    Do not say: Furnace vent pipe is in contact with the combustible material and is a safety hazard.

    Instead, say: Furnace vent pipe does not have proper clearances from the wood ceiling.


    Do not say: The gas meter does not have the proper clearances from the electrical service equipment panel creating a safety hazard condition. The electrica panel could be an ignition source if there is a gas leak from the gas meter.

    Instead, say: The gas meter does not have the proper clearances from the electrical service equipment panel.


    Do not say: The stairway lacks a graspable handrail which could cause a trip and fall safety hazard condition.

    Instead, say: The stairway lacks a graspable handrail.


    Do not use the phrase "Emergency Escape and Rescue". Rather, cite the condition.

    Do not say: Window in the front left sleeping quarter is too small which can impede emergency escape and rescue.

    Instead, say: Window in the front left sleeping quarter is too small.

    The punch line is this:

    - I, as the generalist of a home inspector, is not certified to do a safety inspection on the home. And, if you cite one safety condition, you must cite all conditions.

    - I, as the generalist home inspector, can not see or predict the future. Using phrases, "could cause", "would cause", "may cause", or "potentially" predict the future.

    Just my $0.00000000000000001 cent opinion after inspecting a $4.2 million dollar home and licking my wounds from a lawsuit. Because it's over, I can talk about it....maybe I should see a therapist! I'm sure glad it's all over, though....more importantly, I'm glad I had E&O!!!
    .

    "Do not use the words "safety", "combustible", or the phrases "Safety Hazard" or "ignition source" or " could be". Rather, cite the condition."

    I completely disagree with that.

    Yes, you should cite the condition ... one should always state what is present, but then calling it out for what it is (safety, combustible, etc.) *IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO*.

    As Ron said, details, it will be in the details, and I'm guessing that in those details you will see where you went wrong, and that it was not in those words.

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

  17. #17
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    We have to state concerns that are safety conditions but it also states in our state contract that we do state safety concerns but cannot be expected to list all safety concerns. Every item in the home has some form of possible safety concern.

    That would be like any inspector stating a particular code but does not mention the particular code for every item. We are not code inspectors but if it can come off the top of our head correctly then there would be no concern mentioning it.

    A quick edit here. I do agree to a point about getting to technical but then not being as technical with all items.

    I am sure that everyone here has heard the term "Keep it simple stupid" There is a lot to be said to that. Almost all the time I do not say that a particular item is up to todays codes. I try not to mention the code word at all. As you stated tell them the condition. If you go slightly deeper or more technical then you will be held to higher standards throughout. Again "keep it simple stupid"

    Last edited by Ted Menelly; 12-23-2008 at 10:04 PM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    I am sure that everyone here has heard the term "Keep it simple stupid" There is a lot to be said to that. Almost all the time I do not say that a particular item is up to todays codes. I try not to mention the code word at all. As you stated tell them the condition. If you go slightly deeper or more technical then you will be held to higher standards throughout. Again "keep it simple stupid"
    In the ten years I've been at this I've seen the profession go off the deep end in terms of codes, requirements, manufacturer's specs, etc, etc. As HIs we have no SoP that require us to go this far and, taking it further, our contracts typically exclude even more stuff.

    These are likely the same documents the OP tried to defend himself with (as any HI does - I'm not trying to blame the OP for anything).

    My point is we can't have it both ways.... we can't hand out copies of SoP and contracts and then go far, far beyond them in some areas and then try to hide behind them when the stuff hits the fan.

    Codes and SoP are good tools when used right.... The problem is we as a whole are elevating the expectations of homebuyers to a ridiculous level. We promise the moon by posting in big letters on our websites that we go beyond any SoP and can see through the walls with a magic super-duper wizbang gizmo. Then, when something goes wrong, the super rich dirtclod in his 4.2 million dollar house calls his equally rich and dirty lawyer and they eat us for lunch.


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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Matt,

    You hit the nail on the head. One has to look no further than the advice, contrary advice, opinion, facts, anecdotes posted here to come to any other conclusion.

    Remember lawsuits do not have to have merit to be filed. It only takes someone that perceives a grievance to take action.

    Merry Christmas.


  20. #20
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    .

    "Do not use the words "safety", "combustible", or the phrases "Safety Hazard" or "ignition source" or " could be". Rather, cite the condition."

    I completely disagree with that.

    Yes, you should cite the condition ... one should always state what is present, but then calling it out for what it is (safety, combustible, etc.) *IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO*.

    As Ron said, details, it will be in the details, and I'm guessing that in those details you will see where you went wrong, and that it was not in those words.
    Agreed. Lawsuits just happen whenever some well-heeled person's panties are in a wad and you happen to be within earshot when their attorney squeals. What you say and how you say it in a report, though of great importance and in need of close scrutiny, should always take a back seat to your intent to protect your client.

    So, for your own safety remember this: Your ass is combustible. Your client or anyone else involved in the home sales process could be an ignition source. Plan your emergency escape route by focusing on your intent. Otherwise, you will not need to see the future to glean that you may be in need of a therapist (and a maybe even a loan).

    Aaron


  21. #21
    Jim Zborowski's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    The problem I see with this aproach is that by downplaying, which is what you are actually doing, the client percieves the listed item as a minor issue. I would rather err on the side of benfitting the safety of the client than be responsible for calling out as a suggested repair, something which would be a shock / electrocution, fire, fall or other major hazard.


  22. #22
    Richard Stanley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Anyone CAN sue anyone for anything.
    You didn't say whether you won or lost - not that it matters - my guess would be that you won -based on the info you provided. Can we view the transcript? White out the names and addresses.

    IMO - 999+ out of 100 would appreciate the info you described. Only some moron or maybe a seller would not. Was it the seller that filed?

    I agree with Jerry. Tell 'em. I back up some of that stuff with code quotes - at my discretion. The clients have a right to know any short comings from current code / safety requirements. What they do with the info is up to them. I have been doing it that way for over 10 years and plan to continue.
    If, for some reason, I am ever not allowed to do that, I'll just play more golf.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Wendell,

    How long did it take for resolution to the lawsuit? Two years, three years?

    Thanks,

    Merry Christmas.


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    Cool Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    I would venture to say he lost, and his E&O insurance paid off without going to court.


  25. #25
    Wendell Swedberg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Interesting comments...I think the discussion is well worth having.

    I was sued by the homeowner and then by the builder. Took two 1/2 years when all was said and done.

    Here is another way to think of it: Would you render an opinion on foundation performance ? No. Why? Because it's beyond your experise. You cite the conditions of the foundation then punt to a SE or foundation expert.

    So....are you certified as a safety expert? No. none of us are. So...when the hot shot certified safety experts sit on the stand , you'll recalibrate your thinking...

    Once you step beyond the scope of inspection your are saying you are a safety expert.....Did you cite every item that is a safety item as a safety item? Probably not...bang. the safety expert just put a bullet in your head. Did you cite something as a safety hazard that is not? Betcha did. A riser height that is 9 inches is a code violation but is not a safety hazard. A missing guardrail is a code violation but is not a safety hazard. Bang. The safety expert just another bullet in your head.

    What I've learned is to cite the condition and I would say that something needs immediate attention and that's it!

    "The electrical panel in the garage is located 1 foot from the mud sink. Immediate repairs are needed to provide the proper clearances, according to the local building codes, from an electrical panel to a sink."

    not,

    "The electrical panel in the garage is located 1 foot from the mud sink which creates a potential electrical shock safety hazard."


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Wendell

    This was obviously settled out of court, but did the E&O provider put up a fight, or did they just write a cheque to the plaintiffs and call it a day?

    Those dang experts!

    Merry Christmas.


  27. #27
    Kevin Luce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    What ever happened to: "It's our professional opinion as a generalist."?


  28. #28
    Kevin Luce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wendell Swedberg View Post
    I was sued by the homeowner and then by the builder. Took two 1/2 years when all was said and done.
    This was a discussion someplace else but when you got served, I assume it was to you and your company. When your insurance company settled (I'm assuming), did they offer two settlements to your client or did they combine you and your company together, or did they just settle with your company?

    Also, did your insurance company settle with the builder? I would be surprised if he would have won. I cannot think how he suffered/was damaged directly from the home inspection.


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    How did the builder come to sue you?

    I would also think that by using the word "potential" there might be some wiggle room about not being an "expert" in safety.

    Common sense has to come into play with a lot of the stuff we put in our reports. One does not have to be an "expert" to recognize that not having a guard rail on a third floor deck is "unsafe", let alone "potentially unsafe".


  30. #30
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wendell Swedberg View Post
    ...A riser height that is 9 inches is a code violation but is not a safety hazard. A missing guardrail is a code violation but is not a safety hazard. ..
    I'm not a code expert either, so I guess I should just say that the riser shouldn't be 9 inches and leave my client to wonder WHY?

    Speaking of "why" - WHY is it a code violation? Because it's a safety hazard!!

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  31. #31
    Kevin Luce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    I'm not a code expert either, so I guess I should just say that the riser shouldn't be 9 inches and leave my client to wonder WHY?
    quote]
    I think we should say that the riser is 9 inches. If anyone ask why we wrote that, we can just tell them that this is what is taught in HI school. We can then bring in somebody from the HI school and let the lawyers go after him/her.


  32. #32
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    I'm not a code expert either, so I guess I should just say that the riser shouldn't be 9 inches and leave my client to wonder WHY?

    Speaking of "why" - WHY is it a code violation? Because it's a safety hazard!!
    John:

    No need to. The code addresses that for you:

    R101.3 Purpose.
    The purpose of this code is to provide minimum
    requirements to safeguard the public safety, health and
    general welfare through affordability, structural strength,
    means of egress facilities, stability, sanitation, light and ventilation,
    energy conservation and safety to life and property from
    fire and other hazards attributed to the built environment.

    With the adoption and establishment of a set of minimum
    construction standards, a community can impose
    reasonable standards for construction that will
    maintain the livability of the community while reducing
    factors that contribute to substandard and hazardous
    conditions that risk the public health, safety or welfare.
    Adoption of a modern construction code such as this
    one raises the level of safety and quality in the built environment,
    and it is a necessary instrument used to reduce
    substandard conditions or construction by establishing
    minimum levels of acceptable construction
    practice. A reduction in blighted and slum conditions
    benefits the general public welfare and contributes toward
    maintenance of a consistent base for the property
    tax assessments that local governments typically
    use to fund their general budgets. By applying minimum
    structural, health, sanitation, fire-safety and
    life-safety criteria that must be met through the prescriptive
    or performance provisions of the code, a
    standard is set that assures the public and individual
    building occupants they will not be exposed to construction
    that has gone unchecked or unregulated.
    The regulation and inspection of plumbing, electrical
    and mechanical installations also enhances safety for
    the public health and welfare. The imposition of construction
    requirements that are in excess of the minimum
    standards would, in most cases, be considered
    unreasonable and would most likely suffer from a lack
    of support, which in turn could undermine the purpose
    of construction regulations.


    Aaron


  33. #33
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Obviously, it's hard to comment on a lawsuit about which we don't know the details, but here's one thing I'm unclear about:

    Generally home inspectors are not getting sued because somebody's been injured or killed, they're getting sued because somebody believes that they have suffered economic damage.

    So it seems to me in the vast majority of cases whether or not inspector cited a specific safety concern when reporting a defect, assuming that they had also accurately reported the nature and location of the defect, the statement of a safety concern itself would not have been a cause of economic damage.

    I can see an extreme case this might be relevant (for example, someone makes draconian claims about the likely health effects of a small area of mold found it under a bathroom vanity) but in the case of the kind of things home inspectors are usually sued over, I'm unclear why mentioning a safety concern makes a difference.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 12-24-2008 at 09:50 PM.
    Michael Thomas
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  34. #34
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Michael,

    I believe you hit the nail on the head. It usually about the $$$ and nothing else. Most of the lawsuits that I have know other HI's to be involved in comes down to the homeowner not having the funds to repair or replace something, so they come after the HI's you have the deep pockets.

    Then when the HI's ignores them, here's come the suits.

    Rick


  35. #35
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Rick,
    Your last comment was a "Home Run". "Then when the HI's ignores them, here's come the suits."

    Most litigation can be avoided if the HI is timely and responsive to the client.

    BY THE WAY,,,,

    HOW MANY FOLKS ON THIS SITE DO NOT HAVE E&O INSURANCE???


  36. #36
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by JORY LANNES View Post
    ...HOW MANY FOLKS ON THIS SITE DO NOT HAVE E&O INSURANCE???
    In Pennsylvania we're required to have E&O.

    But usually when this subject comes up, there are those that argue that E&O makes you more attractive to lawyers, not less. That as soon as you tell them you have no insurance, they go away.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  37. #37
    Kevin Luce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    Then when the HI's ignores them, here's come the suits.
    I think everyone can agree with the "...when the HI's ignoring them...." part even though around here that doesn't automatically lead to a lawsuit.

    It is surprising how things can be different from one location to another in the United States.

    I bet there has been a real lawsuit against Santa somewhere, sometime, here in the United States.

    Good night all!


  38. #38
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    I would think in order for a lawsuit to be worth it for the person doing the suing, the money they are looking for would have to be at least $3,000 or more. Otherwise, legal fees would likely eat up any money they were to recover.


  39. #39
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    [QUOTE=Wendell Swedberg;66188]

    "The electrical panel in the garage is located 1 foot from the mud sink. Immediate repairs are needed to provide the proper clearances, according to the local building codes, from an electrical panel to a sink."

    QUOTE]


  40. #40
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wendell Swedberg View Post
    Interesting comments...I think the discussion is well worth having.

    I was sued by the homeowner and then by the builder. Took two 1/2 years when all was said and done.

    Here is another way to think of it: Would you render an opinion on foundation performance ? No. Why? Because it's beyond your experise. You cite the conditions of the foundation then punt to a SE or foundation expert.

    So....are you certified as a safety expert? No. none of us are. So...when the hot shot certified safety experts sit on the stand , you'll recalibrate your thinking...

    Once you step beyond the scope of inspection your are saying you are a safety expert.....Did you cite every item that is a safety item as a safety item? Probably not...bang. the safety expert just put a bullet in your head. Did you cite something as a safety hazard that is not? Betcha did. A riser height that is 9 inches is a code violation but is not a safety hazard. A missing guardrail is a code violation but is not a safety hazard. Bang. The safety expert just another bullet in your head.

    What I've learned is to cite the condition and I would say that something needs immediate attention and that's it!

    "The electrical panel in the garage is located 1 foot from the mud sink. Immediate repairs are needed to provide the proper clearances, according to the local building codes, from an electrical panel to a sink."

    not,

    "The electrical panel in the garage is located 1 foot from the mud sink which creates a potential electrical shock safety hazard."
    Was the case settled? Did it go to a jury?

    I would love to look at this case. Can you provide the case number and court location (City, county). It might help many of us down the road to review what went wrong.

    It really sounds like either you had a real bad attorney, the plaintiffs had a better attorney or your E&O provider just cut their losses. After 2 1/2 years, I would expect that it went to trial.

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

  41. #41
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
    A.D. Miller Guest

    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wendell Swedberg View Post
    Interesting comments...I think the discussion is well worth having.

    I was sued by the homeowner and then by the builder. Took two 1/2 years when all was said and done.

    Here is another way to think of it: Would you render an opinion on foundation performance ? No. Why? Because it's beyond your experise. You cite the conditions of the foundation then punt to a SE or foundation expert.

    So....are you certified as a safety expert? No. none of us are. So...when the hot shot certified safety experts sit on the stand , you'll recalibrate your thinking...

    Once you step beyond the scope of inspection your are saying you are a safety expert.....Did you cite every item that is a safety item as a safety item? Probably not...bang. the safety expert just put a bullet in your head. Did you cite something as a safety hazard that is not? Betcha did. A riser height that is 9 inches is a code violation but is not a safety hazard. A missing guardrail is a code violation but is not a safety hazard. Bang. The safety expert just another bullet in your head.

    What I've learned is to cite the condition and I would say that something needs immediate attention and that's it!

    "The electrical panel in the garage is located 1 foot from the mud sink. Immediate repairs are needed to provide the proper clearances, according to the local building codes, from an electrical panel to a sink."

    not,

    "The electrical panel in the garage is located 1 foot from the mud sink which creates a potential electrical shock safety hazard."
    Wendell:

    Actually, there are at least about 4,300 of us out here who not only would render an opinion on foundation performance, but are required to do so.

    Welcome to Texas,

    Aaron


  42. #42
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    You know, I write in my reports on new construction of how certain things should be based souly on common sense building practices. It is hardly ever disputed by builders and corrections are made. I may on occasion say the code word but not usually. The builders usually (almost always) make the corrections. I honestly believe it is all in how you phrase the concern or correction needed. If you take a safety or code concern, roll it up and stuff up some ones backside all they want to do is expell it because that will just rub them the wrong way.

    On the note of making foundation opinions, of course I do it all the time. Not just because TREC tells me to but because I could and can.

    Some folks have a bad feeling about opinions for foundations. If you have past experience in the construction field or have been a home inspector for a few years at least there should be no concern with a foundation opinion. As to being the final opinion (unless minor) it never is and is expressed so.

    I do believe some note where it is not necessary to give the opinion for further evaluation. My answer to that is, come on, you have to say needs further evaluation. Why would you not. You did not take measurements. Take engineering courses. Repaired foundations. The next man in line has to evaluate it himself, he is the expert, or should be and if he is not and claims to be then it is on him. To say no further evaluation is needed, this is what is wrong and you must have it fixed is not just ignorant but arrogant. Same thing with electric, plumbing, HVAC, roofing or anything else for that matter.

    No matter how well you THINK you know a particular field of construction YOU are not the expert. You do not do the building, plumbing, roofing, HVAC or anything else on a daily basis. With out calling for further evaluation and repair IF necessary is about the most foolish thing any home inspector can do. You infact are setting yourself up for a fall. Again, no matter how well you THINK you know a subject YOU are not the expert.

    If you find a concern and just say "this is it , have it fixed" and they find something else, well, you may pay for it. If someone is going to repair a concern they will evaluate/diagnose the reason for the concern themselves before a repair is made. If you leave it open for that expert to evaluate the subject at hand it just got taken out of your hands and put in theirs. To try to be so precise like you are the expert, you may fall. It is not the fall that gets you, it is the landing. Such as 2 1/2 year lawsuit where you lose.

    And on a good note

    I now take a break from my Christmas to add my 1/2 cents worth.

    I wish all a very Merry Christmas and a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

    May the big man above bless us all and grant us all a short recovery
    .


  43. #43
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    I'm sorry to hear about your suit Wendell. I think it is something we all worry about from time to time.
    I understand the 'do not use' and 'do use' scenarios but I can't readily go along with it. I would have very little confidence in my reports. The 'do use' phrases are far too weak. Neither seller nor buyers are going to fix squat with that phrasing. Which in turn may leave real hazards in place for far too long. As is evident on this board many of us struggle to find a balance in terminology in some reports due to conditions we find.
    I've seen other reports that dramatically overstate fairly simple problems also. I think those are particular types of HI's but that's another topic.
    I'm good and I know it, so that makes me a bit full of myself, nonetheless I wouldn't go do a 4+ mil. house alone. Which it sounds like maybe you did. The time and fatigue factor alone would make me take others with. I know I would most likely miss things on a property that size doing it alone.
    Since we don't know a lot of details here, I'm going to make a guess. I don't think Wendell got nailed for using 'those' phrases. More likely IMO using those phrases in some areas opened the door for counsel to come after him for NOT using them in other areas/components that ended up being a problem. Another possibility I'm pondering, since the homeowner and builder both sued, did you write up 'construction folklore' items that later couldn't quite be backed up? Mind you, I am not innocent of that mistake, done it plenty of times myself.
    As Michael stated, $$$. If we knew more about the finances of the Seller, builder, local housing economy it would probably shed some light on the situation. The 'economic damage' theory seems to be very relevant here. We are all essentially causing some economic damage whenever we write anything up during an HI. So what did Wendell write that pissed them off that much? Hell, I just wrote a $200K condo as 'not habitable' not too long ago. Imagine how pissed that Seller (REO) was.
    Wendell, I'm really not trying to bust your chops, I feel for you. Just trying to figure this thing. I wonder if you actually didn't do so bad and got taken by scumbags who were looking for a payday on a property that was not feasible for them.
    Good luck down the road.

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

  44. #44
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Wendell Q? what if any part did the state play in this case?

    Best

    Ron


  45. #45
    Kevin Luce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wendell Swedberg View Post
    Interesting comments...I think the discussion is well worth having.
    It looks like Wendell is too busy doing home inspections to converse with us.


  46. #46
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Wendell. come out and play... Hes sleeping...

    Best

    Ron


  47. #47
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Interesting - There is no Home Inspector named Wendell Swedberg licensed in the State of Arizona. I wonder who he is?

    Jeff Euriech
    Peoria, Arizona

    Search Registrant Roster

    .


  48. #48
    Kevin Luce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Euriech View Post
    Interesting - There is no Home Inspector named Wendell Swedberg licensed in the State of Arizona. I wonder who he is?

    Jeff Euriech
    Peoria, Arizona

    Search Registrant Roster

    .

    Wendell Swedberg
    "Well, folks....I've passed 3 of the 4 ICC exams to get my Residential combination inspector certification....just have electrical left....I'm ready to just cry...."

    His past posts would not have indicated to me that he is not a home inspector.



  49. #49
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    interesting, comments don't seem to add up

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

  50. #50
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Why is this going in an odd direction?

    Is Wendell Swedberg the real Wendell Swedberg ? why is he not listed with the state ?

    just odd...

    Best

    Ron


  51. #51
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    The ICC has no Wendell Swedberg listed as a certificate holder. There is a John Sweberg in Illinois, but no Wendell.

    Arizona's only state licensee with that name is a Julie Swedberg, the holder of an expired real estates sales license. But no Wendell.

    The search engines bring up no mention of a Wendell Swedberg other than postings on this forum.

    It appears that Wendell is a sham.


  52. #52
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    When I was seven my mother and my two brothers and I almost died as a result of an improperly vented space heater at a resort home, and in my opinion at least one brother likely incurred life-long neurological damage as a result.

    I just can't imagine finding a disconnected furnace vent in an attic during the heating season and writing only that it required reconnection without reference to it's 1) being a safety hazard, and 2) why, and 3) how soon it needed to be corrected, and 4) what needed to be done in the meantime.

    And if this is an occupied property and I have reason to believe the problem will not be immediately addressed, I have absolutely no problem with taking out the cell phone and calling the gas company - before I'm through with the inspection they will have someone out to explain it to everyone concerned in no uncertain terms, and to disconnect the gas and red tag the furnace if necessary.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 12-28-2008 at 04:48 PM.
    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  53. #53
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
    A.D. Miller Guest

    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    And if this is an occupied property and I have reason to believe the problem will not be immediately addressed, I have absolutely no problem with taking out the cell phone and calling the gas company - before I'm through with the inspection they will have someone out to explain it to everyone concerned in no uncertain terms, and to disconnect the gas and red tag the furnace if necessary.
    Agreed.


  54. #54
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Markus

    You said

    "I'm good and I know it, so that makes me a bit full of myself,"

    And then you said in the same sentence

    "nonetheless I wouldn't go do a 4+ mil. house alone."

    Just curious where the two thoughts of yourself came out and how they snuck into the same sentence.

    If you believe you are good and full of yourself why do you believe that you could not and should not inspect a 4 million dollar home by yourself. What does a dollar figure have to do with you inspecting this hoe by yourself. I am sure you meant size but even at size why would you hesitate to inspect it alone.

    Just curious. Not a knock.


  55. #55
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    No problem Ted.
    I have very high confidence that I can sniff out problems in a building. Not delusion (who knows maybe ) just my track record.
    My comments are based on our housing stock, so there may be some differences with what you guys have at what price point. To answer your question ... let's assume house here not $$$ Condo (which I have done alone)
    At $4.2 mil +/- price point in our area that house will most likely be a McMansion, +/- 10,000 sq.ft., at least 4 or more HVAC, multiple HWT, probably main and 'subpanels' (don't start Jerry) attached multi garage, insane amounts of hips and valleys, enough johns for a school, on and on. Get the picture?
    If I got really lucky (the place being clean), neither the client or realtors present and it was vacant I might get it done in a long, long day, including a lunch break. However, I would probably end up with anxiety that I might have missed something (picky like that). If I had 2 days to do the insp, I would consider doing it alone. I doubt the client/seller/realtors would want to go along with that. This isn't to say that there isn't a 4 mil house I wouldn't do alone. Generally though at that price point the place will be huge. Let's face it, just because a place is high end doesn't mean everything was built properly.
    Now I could do it alone but why would I want to?
    - The fee will be high enough to bring in other guys and still make money.
    - It's easier to finish the insp in one day and do the report the next
    - each inspector can really concentrate on his assigned area
    - Client's at that price point expect more and like the 'team' approach
    - As someone else mentioned, that client probably has an attorney on speeddial
    - etc.
    I don't view it as a lack of confidence or ability, more as a smarter way to work. Thereby also providing a better service to the client.
    In terms of what Michael mentioned, I've also called ComEd and People's Gas to have D&H utilities reviewed and cut-off. Of course everyone screamed at me and threatened to sue. I didn't care. I wasn't leaving without making the calls. Besides, 'sue' go ahead, I made a phone call. The utility made the final determination that they were D&H and cut service off.
    Imagine if people die because you didn't make a phone call, you'll be like Blago dodging camera crews.

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

  56. #56
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    I'm good and I know it, so that makes me a bit full of myself, nonetheless I wouldn't go do a 4+ mil. house alone.
    .

    Me, I was "Okay" and "I knew it", I knew I would eventually become good, maybe even better, but never best (I knew inspectors better than me), yet I had no problem doing $15-$25 mil houses by myself.

    Not sure what your hang up is on not doing $4 mil houses?

    (See, I *did not say anything* about 'where is the submarine', did I? )

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

  57. #57
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Seems Wendell is just another smuck coming in here posing as someone they're not saying stupid things and asking stupid questions, then going back and starting to delete all the content on their posts.

    Ain't the first. Won't be the last.

    Happy New Year, Smuck!

    Erby Crofutt, Georgetown, KY - Read my Blog here: Erby the Central Kentucky Home Inspector B4 U Close Home Inspections www.b4uclose.com www.kentuckyradon.com
    Find on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/B4UCloseInspections

  58. #58
    Kevin Luce's Avatar
    Kevin Luce Guest

    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Erby Crofutt View Post
    Seems Wendell is just another smuck coming in here posing as someone they're not saying stupid things and asking stupid questions, then going back and starting to delete all the content on their posts.

    Ain't the first. Won't be the last.

    Happy New Year, Smuck!
    Wendell, what's going on?


  59. #59
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Erby Crofutt View Post
    Seems Wendell is just another smuck coming in here posing as someone they're not saying stupid things and asking stupid questions, then going back and starting to delete all the content on their posts.

    Ain't the first. Won't be the last.

    Happy New Year, Smuck!
    I wouldn't go that far yet Erby. I haven't seen any of Wendells posts deleted from this thread or any indication something has been edited. He only has 50 posts on the board so he doesn't appear to be a frequent flyer. However, he has started a thread that is of great interest to all of us and has not provided any real clarity as to how this lawsuit came about and what it actually entails.

    Without any further detail being provided on Wendells part, this thread will provide no real answers and may serve nothing more than to get our minds racing.

    Wendell, can you provide any specifics as to why you were sued and what verbiage it was in your report that put you in the crosshairs?


  60. #60
    daniel nantell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Wendall may be a hungry Attorney , trying to cause confusion and doubt on the Home Inspector report writing , less than accurate reports generate additional business . they are a lot of hungry attorneys out there , I was inspecting for Fema this fall with a attorney that did not have any business, hard time are here I guess.


  61. #61
    Russel Ray's Avatar
    Russel Ray Guest

    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Luce View Post
    I think everyone can agree with the "...when the HI's ignoring them...." part even though around here that doesn't automatically lead to a lawsuit.

    It is surprising how things can be different from one location to another in the United States.

    I bet there has been a real lawsuit against Santa somewhere, sometime, here in the United States.

    Good night all!
    I don't know about Santa, but there was a lawsuit against God a few months ago. I believe it was in Omaha.


  62. #62
    Russel Ray's Avatar
    Russel Ray Guest

    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    I would think in order for a lawsuit to be worth it for the person doing the suing, the money they are looking for would have to be at least $3,000 or more. Otherwise, legal fees would likely eat up any money they were to recover.
    When it comes to these types of lawsuits, the grievance usually includes "negligence," "gross negligence," and "professional negligence," any one of which is eligible for punitive damages to teach everyone a lesson.

    Punitive damages are often in the millions of dollars. People might remember the McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit and the Ed McMahan mold lawsuit. Those large sums were punitive damages.

    It's the uncertainty of those punitive damages that should cause anyone and everyone pause while they take 7 seconds to realize that they don't want to get into a lawsuit, but if they do, they want to settle out of court as quickly as possible.


  63. #63
    Russel Ray's Avatar
    Russel Ray Guest

    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    What I say in my report has been written by me but approved by one of my attorneys and/or insurance providers. If I get sued, they get sued shortly afterwards -- LOL.


  64. #64
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Russell wrote:

    It's the uncertainty of those punitive damages that should cause anyone and everyone pause while they take 7 seconds to realize that they don't want to get into a lawsuit, but if they do, they want to settle out of court as quickly as possible.
    You mean if the insurer wishes to settle out of court, as is most always the case? After all its economics.


  65. #65
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    Default Re: Words and phrases not to use in your report.

    Nick,

    Click on Wendell's name then in the drop down click on "find all posts by".

    When they pop up, look at the first 10 he made. All content gone, just a line of periods left.

    Probably more gone by now.

    Speaks volumes all by itself.

    Erby Crofutt, Georgetown, KY - Read my Blog here: Erby the Central Kentucky Home Inspector B4 U Close Home Inspections www.b4uclose.com www.kentuckyradon.com
    Find on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/B4UCloseInspections

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