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  1. #1
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    Default History of Home Inspection

    Hey all,

    First, a disclaimer. It's impossible to cover the rich and complex history of home inspection in a single article.

    But if you are curious about some of the details of how the home inspection industry got started, check out our latest story here: http://www.workingre.com/history-of-home-inspection-2/

    Please subscribe to our newsletter for the latest and most informative news in the inspection industry. Working RE Home Inspector is now reaching over 20,000 home inspectors in both print and online.

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    Isaac Peck | OREP Home Inspector E&O/GL Insurance | http://orep.org/home-inspectors-eo-insurance/
    OREP//David Brauner Insurance Services Calif. Ins. license #OC89873

  2. #2
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    OMG there are two of them hhahaha


  3. #3

    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    [QUOTE=Isaac Peck;276227]Hey all,

    First, a disclaimer. It's impossible to cover the rich and complex history of home inspection in a single article.

    It would not have been so difficult if a little more research was done. A number of ASHI charter members were operating home inspection companies full-time in the 1950's.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    It would be great if you could also share some printables that we can showcase at our office, website etc. to clients. for example: home inspection checklist for monsoon, winter, etc.
    gutter cleaning checklist, fence checklist, etc..

    Last edited by JamesWay; 03-17-2022 at 10:07 AM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    I am astounded that the requirement stemming from the California decision about nondisclosure of pre-existing defects ended up with realtors simply saying, "Here's what the seller filled out, and of course it's a good idea to hire a home inspector." Dubious diligence.

    Recently I looked at Ohio's requirements for realtor licenses, and then at the Table Of Contents for a textbook used for the 120 hr course required before sitting for their exam. I didn't see anything about building codes. A realtor even doesn't have to know how to look up a building's permit/inspection history, and what you don't know you can't disclose.

    This would all work out well enough if all HIs were highly competent, but you know as well as I that there are duds out there, with and without ASHI or InterNaCHI membership or (where required) jurisdictional licensure. It seems to me that realtors should be able to carry at least some of the weight. Do they, in some jurisdictions?


  6. #6
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    Quote Originally Posted by david shapiro View Post
    It seems to me that realtors should be able to carry at least some of the weight. Do they, in some jurisdictions?
    That jurisdiction is call "the legal system", and real estate agents have been sued with the seller, and have paid for their lack of care for proper and full disclosure.

    Jerry Peck
    Construction Litigation Consultant - Retired
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    Quote Originally Posted by david shapiro View Post
    I am astounded that the requirement stemming from the California decision about nondisclosure of pre-existing defects ended up with realtors simply saying, "Here's what the seller filled out, and of course it's a good idea to hire a home inspector." Dubious diligence.
    That's an interesting take on agent obligations in California, but not entirely accurate. California agents are required to provide an "Agent Vidual Inspection Inspection Disclosure" (AVID) by California Civil Code ? 2079. Their legal limitations are not much different than those of a home inspector (visual, readily accessible, not an expert, etc).

    Granted, not all agents see their responsibility the same. Some will only document minor conditions, such as a wall crack, ceiling stain, or a floor squeak, figuring they are not experts and should not document conditions outside of their expertice. While others will do more and peer into attics or operate appliances. For those agents working at large corporate or franchise offices, their AVIDs are typically guided by advice from the corporate attorneys. These attorneys typically recommend against doing things like pulling permit history because it is felt that it increases liability.

    In my area, home inspectors do not pull permit history either. Nor are we required to look at building plans. New construction inspections are a different animal.

    We can, of course, get into debates about whether or not real estate agents are worth the commissions and what kind of service they actually provide, particularly in this day of online marketing.


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  8. #8
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    We can, of course, get into debates about whether or not real estate agents are worth the commissions and what kind of service they actually provide, particularly in this day of online marketing.
    To reflect on your question regarding real estate agents and their value:

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/entertainm...5bfb2eb16c6659

    Jerry Peck
    Construction Litigation Consultant - Retired
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    It's a shame she didn't get to keep the extras.

    Department of Redundancy Department
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    It's a shame she didn't get to keep the extras.
    Well, that was ... from that link ... "another Toll Brothers" development. I've been told that one needs to read the fine print of every contract, including for extras.

    I'm not saying that we all read, in detail, every contract we ever sign, but that is what everyone says to do. How many times have you read, even in not much detail, every real estate purchase contract and mortgage contract you've sever signed? Sign here ... sign here ... sign here ... initial here ... initial here ... and sign here ... okay, only 49 more pages to go.

    Jerry Peck
    Construction Litigation Consultant - Retired
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  11. #11
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    Of course the deal couldn't go through. She may have promised to pay, as the story says, $5,94,481; but I don't know how she could have demonstrated doing so. STDs or no.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    Quote Originally Posted by david shapiro View Post
    Of course the deal couldn't go through. She may have promised to pay, as the story says, $5,94,481; but I don't know how she could have demonstrated doing so. STDs or no.
    Anything that happens and that title company is on the hook, even for covering what was done.

    Neither she nor Toll Brothers should be on the hook for anything related to what the title company did ... unless the title company if a Toll Brothers company.

    Jerry Peck
    Construction Litigation Consultant - Retired
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  13. #13
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    I was astounded to learn that many HIs don't flip CBs or try shutoffs.

    I get that there can be a concern about reporting a water main valve possibly being frozen when a little more effort would have operated it; or applying too much force to a frozen valve and it breaking. However, absent the seller or their rep, I can't see telling the buyer, if they're the customer, "I have no idea whether you can shut off the water/gas/power if there's need." Yet if the Standards Of Practice don't require a HI to test these, I'm not sure that omitting such to-my-mind-basic testing could be shown as lack of due diligence.

    Thoughts? Experience?


  14. #14
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    Quote Originally Posted by david shapiro View Post
    I was astounded to learn that many HIs don't flip CBs or try shutoffs.

    I'm not sure that omitting such to-my-mind-basic testing could be shown as lack of due diligence.

    Thoughts? Experience?
    So, what do I do when the valve leaks or dribbles below a vanity or cabinet after I fiddle with it? Run to the hardware store and buy a bunch or parts? (can't do plumbing in my State without the appropriate license however).

    Shut it off at the street and tell the homeowner or occupant (might not be the seller) to figure it out?

    Carry a shop vac for the inevitable flood when an angle stop snaps off?

    I have personally refused to turn "On" main water shut-off's only to have the agent (very mad at this point) do it themselves and cause some sort of water disaster. Glad it wasn't me...it may have been off for a reason.

    You get the concern, there are too many unknowns, and most have a bad or negative outcome.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    I get it, Dom. Now I envision a home buyer reading any exhaustive or at least exhausting report, often dozens and dozens of pages, . . . good, good, . . . hmm, there's something we need to negotiate with the seller . . . hmm . . ." and somewhere in there is a disclaimer saying something of what wasn't checked.

    There's lots and lots that isn't checked, that can't be checked, in the interest of time. i hope that the disclaimers say something about no, this and this weren't checked because if they are bad, I don't want the liability for the mess that could result from trying them.

    Because my specialty has been old wiring, I'm less fungible in some minds. Consequently, I have been able to include in my terms of engagement a statement that if I take down/out/apart something that's bad enough, it may stop working, it may be that i won't be willing to reconnect it, etc.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    I have been able to include in my terms of engagement a statement that if I take down/out/apart something that's bad enough, it may stop working, it may be that i won't be willing to reconnect it, etc.
    While I like that part of your process, it isn't practical for an inspector, as our client doesn't yet own the property. So, they can't give us permission to leave a system or component in a state of disrepair.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    David, here is a scenario more closely related to what you are asking in relation to what you are doing:

    My ex-brother-in-law (many decades ago, yep, that's how old we are) worked for Alachua County in Florida (i.e., Gainesville, FL) and was over most of the maintenance operations for the county.

    They had a regular maintenance monitoring and checking system so as to stay ahead of surprises popping up at critical and unexpected times. A well thought out testing system was included for testing valve operations and circuit breaker operations.

    One day, during their monthly test at the Courthouse, he tested operating (shutting off) one of the main breakers for the Courthouse ... it operated off as it should have, and as it always had before.

    Only problem was that it would not reset to on.

    Fortunately, they did those tests after almost everyone was gone for the day.

    Unfortunately, their backup breaker, which were kept nearby, also would not reset to on when installed. And the next day was a weekday. Besides not being able to re-establish power for the night workers who complied all of the day's work, they couldn't re-establish power for 3 days.

    No one had a replacement breaker nearby. After 3 days, they finally found a replacement breaker over in California in some contractor's warehouse, it was packed up and air freighted to them.

    They were able to re-establish power to the Courthouse on the 4th day, as I recall (which was now during the weekend).

    Flip a breaker off during a home inspection? The inspector would be out of their mind to intentionally do that.

    I have unintentionally done that with lots of FPE panels trying to remove their covers.

    I've also unintentionally tripped breakers when removing the cover screws due to the service entrance conductors or feeder conductors being where the screws were and the wrong screws used. Those times were a lot more tense for everyone there as the agents had to call their sellers to call for an electrical contractor ASAP.

    Trip a breaker ... intentionally?

    Not real smart for the home inspector.

    For you, an electrician, go for it.

    Jerry Peck
    Construction Litigation Consultant - Retired
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  18. #18
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    I get what you're saying, Jerry. At the same time, I believe exercising controls is sound safety doctrine. The obvious thought experiment is imagining what would happen if, contrariwise, the breaker wouldn't shut off, if there were an urgent need to kill power.

    There is an interesting corrollary to your main point: critical backup items probably should be tested at least once before being stuck on that shelf.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    Quote Originally Posted by david shapiro View Post
    I get what you're saying, Jerry. At the same time, I believe exercising controls is sound safety doctrine.
    Correct.

    And that is not what home inspectors do.

    There is an interesting corrollary to your main point: critical backup items probably should be tested at least once before being stuck on that shelf.
    More importantly, I think, would be for those safety doctrines to swap out critical backups when tested. Test the installed item, tests good; replace with backup item, test it. If also good, leave backup item installed.

    That leaves you with two known good items ... good at that time. Both items get 'same wear and use' by alternating them.

    At first failure of one of the items, order replacement for the failed item.

    Jerry Peck
    Construction Litigation Consultant - Retired
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  20. #20
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    Not a bad approach, Jerry.

    Now, getting back to what HIs do and don't do, and what might incur overmuch liability, it seems that to protect the customer, without adding risk, the report would best include not just "Here's what we checked"; not just "findings"; not even just the addition of "here's what we don't check" but a bucket list.

    The list might say "Here are a bunch of important things to make sure are right. You can get qualified pros to check/test them, or you might be able to do so yourself. We can't judge your ability to do them, and there's always risk involved, as well as time investment." I'd include confirming the proper function of all main shutoffs, and all local shutoffs, and checking all directories. Directories? Well, panelboards, certainly. Required signs giving locations of alternate sources of power, and their shutoffs, including, when applicable, their fuel shutoffs. I don't know what directories are required by nonelectrical codes.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    Regarding "include confirming the proper function of all main shutoffs", one needs to be careful of "confirming the proper function of" shutoffs as "proper function" includes the proper tripping/releasing function (tripping operation for breakers, blowing operation of fuses, releasing operation of pressure and temperature devices, etc) ... which is even beyond what specialist trade contractors do.

    Okay ... getting past "words" ...

    The easy way to all encompass in the bucket list what would need to be in the bucket list would be something to the effect of: be aware that there are hundreds, no, make that thousands, of things which you may want to have looked at and/or operated, things which may never fail, but given time (time is not a protective device, time is a failure testing device) ... WILL FAIL.

    Jerry Peck
    Construction Litigation Consultant - Retired
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  22. #22
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    I love "time is a failure-testing device." More accurately, I could argue, time is a failure-guaranteeing device.

    Of course I am talking about testing those devices that are designed for nondestructive testing, such as the pullout or the switch disconnect for a fuse. Fortunately, modern fuses (as opposed to fuseholders) pretty much fail safe. I wish the same were true of thermal cutouts (tcos), which I once had thought operated about the same, even though rated as to temperature primarily rather than current.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    Quote Originally Posted by david shapiro View Post
    I love "time is a failure-testing device." More accurately, I could argue, time is a failure-guaranteeing device.
    David, I have been using various versions of that since I first started doing home inspections.

    I remember reading things written by other inspectors, and talking with other inspectors, about something being unconventional, but it had "passed the test of time".

    I cringed the first time I heard/read that, and when talking with other inspectors about it, I kept repeating "Criminy! Nothing passes the test of time!" I would then add that "Time IS NOT a "safety device"!" Followed with things like "The test of time only indicates that it has not failed YET."

    I could go on and on about "the test of time", but most 'old inspectors' from long ago have used the 'it passed the test of time' phrase (whether they will admit it now is a different issue), and if I was around and within hearing range, I pointed out the fallacy of that thinking.

    I remember it being said about those old heat-melting fusible links in water heater temperature relief valves (those things were never "pressure relief" valves) and that, it sure is old, but it is still there, so it has passed the test of time ... now my head hurts just thinking about that phrase again ...

    Jerry Peck
    Construction Litigation Consultant - Retired
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  24. #24
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    Default Re: History of Home Inspection

    I appreciate the gif.

    I do believe designs may pass the test of time; their instantiations, . . . as you say.


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