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  1. #1
    flyguy26's Avatar
    flyguy26 Guest

    Default Turning on systems in vacant home?

    What is the best way to handle a situation where the house is vacant and some of the systems have been turned off (ie. water main is shut off, the hot water heater pilot is out, the main breaker is off, etc)?

    I just had an inspection of a home that that a branch after the water main - one to the hose plumbing, the other to a fire/sprinkler system. After some hesitation, I opened both valves and was relieved that nothing happened - until the realtor said he heard some water running upstairs!

    Sure enough, one of the sprinkler heads in the kitchen ceiling was broken and water was pouring down the attic and down the sliding glass doors.

    Luckily, I was able to shut off the water before any real damage occurred. I'm just glad that I carry several towels in my van!

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  2. #2
    chris mcintyre's Avatar
    chris mcintyre Guest

    Default Re: Turning on systems in vacant home?

    This must be double thread night, and I always thought it was two for Tuesday.

    There are some threads that cover this topic, here is one......
    http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_i...ities-off.html


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Turning on systems in vacant home?

    Which thread should I answer? I guess I'll go with the one that already had a response.

    Turn on utilities at your own risk. Personally, I do not turn utilities on. I leave that to the utility guys. If the agent or buyer want to turn them on they can have at it (but at their own risk).

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  4. #4
    flyguy26's Avatar
    flyguy26 Guest

    Default Re: Turning on systems in vacant home?

    Sorry - must've touched the Macbook touchpad once too often.
    It was an accident.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Turning on systems in vacant home?

    Turning on utilities as you said should only be done if you have deep pockets.

    rick


  6. #6
    Michael Schirmer's Avatar
    Michael Schirmer Guest

    Default Re: Turning on systems in vacant home?

    Sprinkler systems are considered specialty equipment and are not within the scope of the inspection. Generally they are periodically tested by local authorities or the installer.

    or

    ...was shut off at the time of inspection. Inspector does not re-supply water if the reason for shutdown is unknown. Functional testing can only be performed if water is made available the the inspector. Suggest confirming proper operation with the seller prior to closing.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Turning on systems in vacant home?

    Fly
    If you are going to continue to turn on utilities, I suggest that instead of just carrying towels that you also increase your GL and E&O. You will need it.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  8. #8
    John Pignatore's Avatar
    John Pignatore Guest

    Default Re: Turning on systems in vacant home?

    My first questions when asked to inspect a vacant home" how long vacant and are utilities turned on" if utilities are off...I instruct buyer and agent to have all utilities on before we schedule inspection...foreclosure homes are often found with damages made by displaced owners..


  9. #9
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    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
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    Default Re: Turning on systems in vacant home?

    Your scenario is the precise reason why systems that are OFF at time of inspection should be left off. You just don't know for sure why something is off and whether or not you will incure damage by turning something on. You're best advising your client while setting up the inspection that all utilities should be ON for the inspection.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Turning on systems in vacant home?

    Do yall usually charge a fee for coming out to a home (and not being able to inspect) and the utilities are off and you told the client/realtor that they need to be on at the time of inspection?


  11. #11

    Default Re: Turning on systems in vacant home?

    Yes, & if everyone would it would benefit the industry as a whole.
    There are a lot of guys in my area that do re-inspections for free & in my opinion if we don't put a value on our time no one else will either!

    Clarksville Home Inspection
    JW Goad
    TN License #307 | KY License #2402

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Turning on systems in vacant home?

    Quote Originally Posted by TcDuhon View Post
    Do yall usually charge a fee for coming out to a home (and not being able to inspect) and the utilities are off and you told the client/realtor that they need to be on at the time of inspection?
    Full fee and charge 1/2 fee to come back and inspect after utilities are on. I schedule for a full inspection and if I don't inspect and charge for it, I just lost that income.

    I do perform the inspection to the fullest extent possible when I am there. On a fair number I begin making calls once I get to the property and they get the utilities on before I leave.

    Don't sell yourself short, if you don't value your time and expertise, no one else will.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  13. #13
    Randy Yates's Avatar
    Randy Yates Guest

    Default Re: Turning on systems in vacant home?

    Stay within your standards of practice. If breakers, valves, etc. are turned off you don't have to take the responsibility to turn them on. Document the findings and recomend further evaluation by the appropriate trades person. They've probably been turned off for a reason. We had an inspector turn on a breaker in a panel for a condensing unit outside. He just happened to look out the window and see the condensing unit engulfed in flames because of an electrial short circuit. Better carry a fire extinguisher instead of towels!
    Randy


  14. #14
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    Post Re: Turning on systems in vacant home?

    Recommend that the client arrange all utilities to be on at the time of the inspection. With foreclosures, where the bank has refused to have the utilities turned on, I document what I see, recommend further inspection etc. by a licensed tradesman, and in most instances will document the condition of any system that is not turned on and working as other than serviceable. In other words, if the water is not on, and there is evidence that the plumbing might have a leak, I presume that it does have a leak, since leaks can not be ruled out.

    Randall Aldering GHI BAOM MSM
    Housesmithe Inspection
    www.housesmithe.com

  15. #15
    William Brady's Avatar
    William Brady Guest

    Default Re: Turning on systems in vacant home?

    This is one reason to have mentioned in your pre inspection agreement that re inspections can be done but it will cost you for me to come out again. To many brokers usually on the selling side don't care about your time to come to a home twice to inspect. When someone calls you to do an inspection (broker) tell them to make sure the utilities are on. Put it back on them, and then watch and see how many times they are on on. Now you can say hey I can come back but it will cost whatever for that service. Nothing personel it's just business.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Turning on systems in vacant home?

    I will turn on the water IF I have an e-mail from the listing agent saying its OK, or there is a note on the counter saying its OK. Of course, I go thru the house first and make sure everything is OFF before I turn on the water.
    I would NOT turn on a fire system though, since I don't inspect them

    I WILL NOT light a pilot light. I used to, but a few years ago, I was burned when I tried to light a pilot on a 4 year old water heater. There was a faulty regulator/valve/whatchamacallit that opened the gas valve when I pushed the button to light it. BIG boom, and BIG flash of flame and got my hands and face. Trip to emergency room. New company policy on lighting pilots was formulated while waiting for treatment.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Turning on systems in vacant home?

    " I was burned when I tried to light a pilot on a 4 year old water heater. There was a faulty regulator/valve/whatchamacallit that opened the gas valve when I pushed the button to light it. BIG boom, and BIG flash of flame and got my hands and face."

    I will turn on the water IF I have an e-mail from the listing agent saying its OK, or there is a note on the counter saying its OK"
    What are you thinking?
    Even after something literally blew up in your face, you continue to turn something on. What will it take.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

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