Results 1 to 29 of 29
  1. #1
    will mitchell's Avatar
    will mitchell Guest

    Exclamation Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Hello everyone. I was recently asked if during my normal inspections how do I inspect outdoor water features such as water fountains. I simply replied that my scope of inspection agreement excludes water features. My question is this....Is there any standards on the installation of a water fountain? Do other inspectors inspect them? If so how? If not why? I researched this on N.A.C.H.I. and there is no mention of water fountains. Any help is appreciated.

    Similar Threads:
    Inspection Referral

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
    Posts
    5,005

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Too many variables with fountains, submersible pumps, concrete below water could be cracked.

    You're on the right track to avoid inspection of them in my opinion.


  3. #3
    will mitchell's Avatar
    will mitchell Guest

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Thanks for the response, I am thinking about putting a "CANNED" response in my report writer with a disclamer for further evaluation.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Chicago IL
    Posts
    1,984

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    As Raymond mentioned, too many variables, etc. If the thing is filled with water and stuff you can't see down there or inside to really know what condition its in.
    However I do look at the following for safety:
    - Electrical connection; some BS or legit hook-up to a GFI
    - Water connection; hose or some BS that could cause cross contamination
    - If relevant based on size I assess the proximity to the house in relation to any flooding concerns.
    So really I don't look at the 'thing' so much as I look at any potential hazards it may pose.

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

  5. #5
    will mitchell's Avatar
    will mitchell Guest

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Thanks Marcus, I will be paying more attention to them. I negleted to put in more details in my first post. The person who contacted me was a lawyer. Wants me retain me as an expert. Apparently a person purchased a home without an inspection and leased it to a couple that had kids. The fountain was empty and one of the little girls was climbing it and it fell over and crushed her head killing her. Even if it were inspected how does a inspector note something like that? As far as I can tell in my research there are no codes / standards addressing fountains. Maybe there needs to be. I tell you this, I am going to inspect them a little more closely, and do what I can to inform the buyers of the hazards involved with them.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
    Posts
    5,005

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Will

    I think the lawyer would have been better off hiring an engineer or fountain contractor for expert opinion in such a case, as a fountain is outside the scope of a typical home inspection and SOP's.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Santa Rosa, CA
    Posts
    2,479

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Quote Originally Posted by will mitchell View Post
    The person who contacted me was a lawyer.
    Refer to Shakespeare: Henry The Sixth, Part 2 Act 4, scene 2

    Department of Redundancy Department
    http://www.FullCircleInspect.com/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Southwest US
    Posts
    585

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    That's a sad story. Personally I would stay away as far as possible unless you are willing to help pin the blame on somebody. Sometimes S*** just happens.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    2,777

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Lawyer may be heading to the water feature being considered as a pool and did not have a fence to prevent access by child.

    Will,
    Does your local require fencing around pools?


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    2,777

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Benjamin,
    And people can not except their responsibility for things. It has to be someone else that had the responsibility for the outcome.


  11. #11
    will mitchell's Avatar
    will mitchell Guest

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Gary, yes we do require fences around pools


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
    Posts
    5,005

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Never seen a fence around a fountain neither on private property nor in public spaces.


  13. #13
    will mitchell's Avatar
    will mitchell Guest

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Raymond I agree with you, never seen a fence. Apparently on the multiple tiered concrete fountains, the mfg depend on the weight of the tiers on top for stability, seems odd there are not some sort of fastners. Maybe some do and some don't?


  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    No. San Diego Co., CA
    Posts
    562

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    I've installed quite a few fountains/water features over the years, from 2' to 6' high. Never come across one whereby the various bowls, tiers or pedestals were anything other than placed in place on top of each other. Many have a 'key' which connects one part to another so that the appearance and functionality is consistent but it would not stop it from tumbling over if pushed or climbed on. Certainly the lower bowl, which is typically the largest and heaviest, resting on a center pier could easily dislodged by a child climbing on it.

    Also, I don't recall coming across any warning labels, advising the dangers of climbing/mis-use. Often fountains are purchased from a garden center in 'working' condition, dismantled upon sale and loaded onto the customer's truck with very little literature re. use, maintenance or installation etc.

    Maybe a hazard warning and disclaimer is warranted in the inspection report.


  15. #15
    will mitchell's Avatar
    will mitchell Guest

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Ian, that was what I was after. I have never installed one so I found it hard to beleive what I was told. I have added a disclaimer to my agreement and when noted, will add photo/disclaimer to report. Excellent post. Thanks


  16. #16
    Stephen G's Avatar
    Stephen G Guest

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Sad chain of events.

    We set up a 500 lb (easily) three tiered fountain with spout head at my bro-in-laws. As previousy mentioned they were keyed together, quarter turn and done. It became fairly stable when the bottom basin was filled with water. At that point it might not be as inviting to climb when full of water. Will make it a point to remind my brother in law about his fountain.


  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    2,777

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    I have to say that this topic has me curious as to owner liability. Have looked at fountains in the past but was more concerned about operation, leakage and electric. Will be some thing to check out in near future with local code and lawyers.

    Have seen some fountains that were like small pools. But looked like a fountain not a pool.

    Where does the liability ever end.


  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    No. San Diego Co., CA
    Posts
    562

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Garry
    Owning a home (and all it accessories) and liability go hand in glove - that's why we have homeowner's insurance with sufficient coverage to include unforseen incidents such as the child's death. A greater burden falls on the homeowner if they are already aware of a hazard and do nothing to prevent a mishap. Unfortunately, sometimes also recognizing a hazard and making attempts to remedy it can, legally, make matters worse if an accident still occurs.

    I think properly advising clients the potential hazard of a free-standing fountain - or other garden water features for that matter - has merit. Fountains come in all shapes, sizes and material - even the faux stone/fiberglass models can be quite heavy - with some designs more unstable than others. It makes sense to use caulk/adhesive between the various parts but in my experience fountains often need 'tweaking' with shims at various points to make the flow uniform during set up.

    Last edited by Ian Page; 01-16-2012 at 06:21 PM. Reason: punktuashun and spellin

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Long Beach, CA
    Posts
    105

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    I've used this disclaimer for years:

    Structural stability of decorative/functional free standing fountains is beyond the scope of this inspection. Typically, fountains are assembled from multiple interlocking iron/concrete elements that can and will topple if sat, leaned or climbed upon and present an attractive nuisance to children. As well, electrical pump motors are usually not GFCI protected and/or lack cable armor. Serious personal injury can result from improper unintended use.


  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    2,777

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Will,
    In which State did this happen ?


  21. #21
    will mitchell's Avatar
    will mitchell Guest

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Nevada


  22. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    2,777

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Will,
    I do not see anything specific to Water Features in the IBC. Testing the physical stability of the feature is at question. Hard to test/inspect after an incident. It becomes more of forensics of what actually failed and why. What value there is in having you inspect the fountain is suspect. I would pass and suggest involving and engineer or someone who installs that type of fountain.

    The other side of the question revolves what/how a HI would inspect. Without actually trying to physically move the parts or the entire structure, structural stability would would be impossible to determine. I have never tried to topple over a fountain, haven't tried to clime and rock it either. Never thought about fencing it off either. If it looked unstable I would say so. If it was not plumb and level, I would report that. Looking at the electric and plumbings connections. Inspecting for cracks and material defects would also be prudent. Reporting on operation makes sense. Adding to report that structural stability is not part of the inspection and a fountain specialist should be consulted. Throwing in Marc's soment "... Serious personal injury can result from improper unintended use. " may be prudent, though should be obvious, based on general stupidity of our society.

    A pool requires a fence but a pond in a field does not at least in my jurisdiction. I have not found anything that is code related to water fountains as to structural integrity or construction. Design is a manufacture issue. Installation specifications are a manufacture dependent item. Who has liability of bad design or improper use will be a torts issue. Common sense no longer a viable argument.


  23. #23
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
    Posts
    5,005

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Foreseeability, causation - would the installer be responsible for foreseeing that a child would climb the fountain, even if it were installed properly. Did environmental factors create/cause failure?

    Still questioning the ability of a home inspector being qualified in the courts eye as an expert in this particular case, unless the home inspector has knowledge of installation methods/standards?

    However the lawyer may be only using a home inspector as an expert to relay to the court that a fountain is outside the SOP and/or standard of care of a home inspection.

    This leads me to wonder if another inspector has been named in the suit, which is not known at this point in time.


  24. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    2,777

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Raymond,
    "...Foreseeability, causation - would the installer be responsible for foreseeing that a child would climb the fountain, even if it were installed properly. Did environmental factors create/cause failure? ..."

    Why not? If a range door is considered to be a used for climbing requiring a anti-tip device, why not a fountain considered a jungle jim ?


  25. #25
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
    Posts
    5,005

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Hi Garry,

    The installer would likely be named. The plaintiff will name anyone that they can show had a hand in the issue. Whether or not the plaintiff succeeds has yet to play out.

    This leads to the oft asked question; where does the liability stop?


  26. #26
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    No. San Diego Co., CA
    Posts
    562

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    In a matter as serious a childs death, I don't see how any attorney could expect a Home Inspector to provide expert testimony in matters in which he has no experience (no disrespect intended). The HI's experience and background would be subjected to voir dire - to establish his/her ability to testify as an expert regarding fountain installation, materials used and standards used to test their stability and efficacy. I seriously doubt Will would qualify.

    The attorney would be better served by soliciting the aid of a landscape contractor or similar - someone who has installed dozens of fountains of a similar design, who at least could speak about typical installation. If I were Will I would graciously bow out of the retainer.

    Given that the fountain toppled over basically becomes a potential issue of product liability, including design and/or materials flaw, installation error and and/or a failure to warn (of potential hazard) by use or mis-use. All issues, in these circumstances beyond the scope of Will and a typical home inspection, save for any warning or disclaimer in the inspection report.


  27. #27
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    2,777

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Will,
    Here is a link to an attorney that discusses the Fountain subject.

    Las Vegas Attorneys - Water Fountain Injuries
    Las Vegas Water and Water Fountain Accident and Injury Lawyer|Nevada Premise Liability, Water Injury Attorneys

    The Assembly is a liability:
    The Design is a liability:
    The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine:


  28. #28
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
    Posts
    5,005

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    Garry,

    Good find! Thanks.


  29. #29
    Stephen G's Avatar
    Stephen G Guest

    Default Re: Inspecting outdoor / courtyard water fountains

    nice post Garry, great reading. I fwd it to my brother in-law...


Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •