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  1. #1
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    Default "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Many inspection agreements have the term: report only on major deficiencies or defects.

    My question is: What is the parameter of of "Major deficiencies or defects". Obviously some thing that makes the dwelling completely uninhabitable is a "Major deficiency or defect" What about such things as, wood siding with pockets rot along the bottom, double lugged wiring, nailed deck ledger boards, A/C condensation drain in crawl, 220v circuit with 110v outlet split off, Pipes or wire penetrating through a roof with a caulked seal. All items (and many others like them) I see regularly that function with no signs of damage. If theres no major damage do I just over look them because there just not major enough?
    You can't imagine the brow beating I get (we'll... maybe you can) from a seller that says "I built this house 20 years ago and it's never been a problem till now" Or a Realtor who says "I'm being an alarmist and scaring there buyer"

    I would like to hear examples of what is majorly deficient or not.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    In the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania we have a home inspection law that states that the purpose of the home inspection is to find and report on "material defects", which the state defines as problems that would have a significant impact on the value of the property, or that pose an unreasonable risk to persons on the property.

    So, home inspectors get to decide what's significant or unreasonable and what isn't.

    Personally, I include a summary list of what I consider to be the material defects, but in the body of the report I also document numerous problems that maybe don't rise to that level.

    How the seller and realtor(s) react to it isn't my problem. I don't work for them.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  3. #3
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob R View Post
    Many inspection agreements have the term: report only on major deficiencies or defects.

    My question is: What is the parameter of of "Major deficiencies or defects". Obviously some thing that makes the dwelling completely uninhabitable is a "Major deficiency or defect" What about such things as, wood siding with pockets rot along the bottom, double lugged wiring, nailed deck ledger boards, A/C condensation drain in crawl, 220v circuit with 110v outlet split off, Pipes or wire penetrating through a roof with a caulked seal. All items (and many others like them) I see regularly that function with no signs of damage. If theres no major damage do I just over look them because there just not major enough?
    You can't imagine the brow beating I get (we'll... maybe you can) from a seller that says "I built this house 20 years ago and it's never been a problem till now" Or a Realtor who says "I'm being an alarmist and scaring there buyer"

    I would like to hear examples of what is majorly deficient or not.
    Inspection Agreement?

    Why are you allowing what someone else writes up as an inspection agreement to determine what you are going to inspect and or write up or how.

    An inspection agreement is not Standards of practice and standards of practice is not an inspection.

    An inspection is looking out for the folks buying the home and alerting them to concerns with the home at the time of the inspection or items that will become concerns in time if not corrected to spare them as much expense as possible in the short amount of time you are in the home.

    As far as the inspection agreement, Realtors, sellers, standards of practice...well.... Damn them all to hell. You are there to look out for your clients and do the best job you can under the conditions that are present at the time of the inspection.

    You are going to have to market yourself so you are not at the whim and the brow beating of a Realtor. The ones that understand the better job you do, no matter how hard you make their job, will continue to refer you. The fools, rip off artists, scammers and thieves will always find a reason to refer some other home inspector before he tells them to pound sand.

    Everything you mentioned and much much more need to be written up and explained.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    A major issue to one buyer is not necessarily a major issue to others. I saw a boiler in a larger house that was cracked and leaking and was probably going to run about $10,000 to replace. When I pointed it out to the buyer, he said "OK, we'll get it replaced". That's it. Then there are some buyers who come into the sale so strapped and stretched thin that they don't have two nickles to rub together and literally cannot afford to pay for any repairs. Every defect down to a missing coverplate or a corroded sink drain trap is a major issue to them.

    Regardless of the financial means of the buyers, wrong is wrong and a defect is a defect.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  5. #5
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    In my expeience....one thing I have noticed is that a more experienced inspector finds fewer major deficiencies and defects.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    In my expeience....one thing I have noticed is that a more experienced inspector finds fewer major deficiencies and defects.
    Are you referring to the tendency of inexperienced home inspectors to make a huge deal out of everything little thing, as a way of covering their inexperienced butts?

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

  7. #7
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Some seem to think that finding deficiencies to bring to the attention of the client is being an alarmist.

    There are a handful of inspectors out there that scream fire before the match is lit but that is far from the norm.

    As far as more experienced inspectors finding more deficiencies, well, they should, they know more and therefore find more.

    Many Realtors find that the experienced inspectors are a pain in the butt and do not look at it as they actually saved the Realtor grief in the long run.

    Ok, ok, I won't bring up my normal spiel about Realtors not being allowed to have anything to do with refering any inspector.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    ...As far as more experienced inspectors finding more deficiencies, well, they should, they know more and therefore find more....
    Ted - Not sure if you read James' post correctly. He said that more experienced inspectors find fewer major deficiencies and defects.

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

  9. #9
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    A major issue to one buyer is not necessarily a major issue to others.
    Absolutely!!! The line is not so clear.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Ted - Not sure if you read James' post correctly. He said that more experienced inspectors find fewer major deficiencies and defects.
    I guess it all depends on what one finds as major and more important what your client considers major.

    As far as reporting just major items, every inspector should be reporting all items of concern and let the client do as they wish with them.

    I knew what he said I was just phrasing it another way. Some feel that the more experience they get they find they report fewer major concerns. Well, if it is a concern at all it should still be reported.

    I did add the bit about how some, and I am sure it is not many, inspectors go over board as to the explanation or scare factor they put into their reports.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Except in rare occasions, things are either repair or not. Whether it is major or not is not up to me to decide. I report what I see, what is wrong with it, how it can affect the client in some way, and offer some recommendation on what can be done about it. To me, polybutylene plumbing and chlorinated water would be a "major" issue. But I've had more clients buy the house anyway than not so I guess it wasn't so major to them.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  12. #12
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    Except in rare occasions, things are either repair or not.
    What would be some examples of your "rare occasion" Rare for you maybe not so rare for me. One of my example is attic vents on a roof that appear to have been added after roofing was installed. They were just nailed to the surface and sealed. Surprisingly, they didn't leak in the attic.
    Do they need repair?

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  13. #13
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob R View Post
    What would be some examples of your "rare occasion" Rare for you maybe not so rare for me. One of my example is attic vents on a roof that appear to have been added after roofing was installed. They were just nailed to the surface and sealed. Surprisingly, they didn't leak in the attic.
    Do they need repair?
    Yes, they need immediate repair. They may not be leaking now but wait a short time and they will. Installed properly they would outlast any shingle roof and never leak. Installed improperly they can leak at anytime causing untold damage to the home before found out to be leaking.

    Anything and everything like that needs to be written up as repair. If someone is rolling there eyes at you maybe they have an affliction and need a smack on the side of the head to fix it Then maybe those eye brows won't be going up and the eyes won't be rolling anymore.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob R View Post
    What would be some examples of your "rare occasion" Rare for you maybe not so rare for me. One of my example is attic vents on a roof that appear to have been added after roofing was installed. They were just nailed to the surface and sealed. Surprisingly, they didn't leak in the attic.
    Do they need repair?
    Yes they need repair. And yes it should absolutely be reported. Is it a "major defect"? Like Nick said, it would be for some, the single Mom with a couple of kids to feed, or similar. Old folks on a pension, new to this town, who do we call? For most people it is a half a day and a few new shingles. Hire a roofer or do it themselves.

    I will report everything I see as not being right, broken or missing.
    Missing doorstop? It's a defect. In a bedroom last week, the doorknob had gone right thru the wall.
    Safety issues and big ticket $$ items must go on the summary page. Some clients like to see a to-do list, well OK, I'll add on the smaller stuff. Not the doorstops, but the repair jobs. You judge by your clients what the problems will be.
    One house recently had loose carpets, they'd never been kicked tight and were creased and folded from foot traffic . Maybe my clients would be able to get them tight with a carpet kicker, but maybe not. Maybe those stretch marks are permanent. I suggested it would be a major expense to replace carpets in 4 rooms. Major.

    All those items you mention in the 1st post need to be in your report. If not, you will be hearing the "inspector should have seen that".
    I had a realtor thank me for talking a young couple out of a purchase recently. Well, I didn't say "don't buy it", I said it would be very difficult to repair without tearing the roof off. Still, no cause for alarm.

    I got the rolling eyes from a realtor one day. My client, an Asian lady with poor English skills was looking to buy into a 30 yr old condo. The roofing around the perimeter was 30 yr old cedar shakes. I said those shakes would need to be replaced soon and showed her a few pics of cracks and rot. I said she should check with the Strata Council to see if they had $ put away for repairs. That's when the realtor rolled his eyeballs. About a month later, she'd found a new apartment which I inspected. And she had a new realtor.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 02-01-2011 at 09:40 PM. Reason: I keep adding stuff
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob R View Post
    What would be some examples of your "rare occasion" Rare for you maybe not so rare for me. One of my example is attic vents on a roof that appear to have been added after roofing was installed. They were just nailed to the surface and sealed. Surprisingly, they didn't leak in the attic.
    Do they need repair?
    Yes! It is a repair

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  16. #16
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Why put a title on the defect/deficiency of the item you are reporting on?

    If it is broken, installed improperly, rotten, loose or just not working then it needs to be repaired or replaced. Don't get trapped or hung up on trying to place a level of deficiency on the problem. Simply report what you have found and then tell them that it needs to be corrected.

    What might be a major issue to you might be a minor issue to another person and the same in reverse.

    If your software is forcing you to put this in your reports I would highly recommend changing that verbaige in the software. If it can't be changed then you might consider changing software. Just my little humble opinion.

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

  17. #17
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Personally, I don't like the terms major and minor when referring to observed defects. If I call something minor and state it as such in the report, I can see the buyer just ignoring the issue and then calling me after the ignored issue snowballs because I made it seem less than important.

    Realtors who meet me for the first time will often ask if my report will be stating which issues are major and which ones are minor. My sense is that this is not so much a question but instead is a statement from them indicating what they want or expect the report to say. Nope. That's for the buyer to decide what is major and minor to them.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  18. #18
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    I think that using the "Major" label too loosely can cause problems. If a buyer sees the Major label on nearly every item he will then become some what numb to its importance.
    The wording I chose for the situation on my earlier post with the attic vent, that it was improperly installed, it had a high potential to result in a roof leak but it currently did not show signs of an active leak. Repair was necessary to prevent a roof leak.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Bob R,

    Your last post, #18, sounds like a fine way of reporting that particular condition. As said in at least one previous post, the use of "major" and "minor" should be avoided in the majority of cases. Now, if you found a forced air unit that had a cracked heat exchanger, or significant wiring and panel deficiencies that could cause loss of life or limb, you would probably be alright in using "major" within your descriptions.

    Certainly you have a SOP to follow when doing your inspections. I have not heard anywhere that using those two terms is suggested by long term Professional Inspectors or trainers. On the contrary, I have only heard of them as terms to be avoided, and never as criteria for what to report about and what not to report about.

    You might consider alternatives if you feel the compulsion to "grade" your deficiencies. Perhaps instead of minor you might use common. Or, instead of major you might use significant.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    I just did one for a homeowner, they have various issues and decided to get the whole house inspected before calling the contractor.

    They asked me to note which items needed to be done right away to prevent more damage. I put an astersik by those items but it did not eliminate the fact that the report recommended all repairs anyway.

    If anyone wants to know major vs minor I tell them to get a contractor to review the report and decide a plan of action.

    Bruce King, B.A. King Home Inspections, LLC
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    What Scott said.

    and......

    I don't grade defects because a seemingly small issue (eg... missing junction box cover) could potentially result in a loss of life.

    For that reason, I don't provide a summary page because, to me, that "grades" defects; I'd like the Client to read the entire report.

    I report my observation and include a pic (eg... roof vent is not installed in accordance with accepted practice), then explain the likely consequence if not corrected (a roof vent installed in this manner is prone to permit water entry at any time), then make a recommendation (eg.. recommend roof vent be repaired/replaced to conform to accepted practice).

    "the relentless pursuit of perfection"

  22. #22
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce King View Post
    If anyone wants to know major vs minor I tell them to get a contractor to review the report and decide a plan of action.
    So they should pay a contractor just to review the report?? And what kind of contractor would do this? A GC?


  23. #23
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Every national SOP and state licensing law I've seen says the purpose of an inspection is to report significant/major/material defects and some add the safety concern to that as well. I have yet to see a definition. It is up to us to determine if it meets the criteria.

    That is why we are hired, and paid, for our experience, education and knowledge of building practices in our area. We make that determination for our client's and that's what we report.

    We don't operate in a vacuum. Our reports, like it or not, are generally not fully understood by our clients, the agents or the home owners. They see a comment, especially on a summary, and it MUST be fixed. Just because it's in the report. We are just another part of the transaction that needs to be satisfied before closing.

    So, I wonder. Are we in the home inspection business as our licensing and SOPs define it? Are we in the education business of home care and condition? Or are we in some combination of both that varies from place to place and inspector to inspector?


  24. #24
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    My standard of practice is my TM... We inspect - You Decide(TM).


  25. #25
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    In NC you are required to have a summary page. If an item makes to the summary some sort of action is needed. The size of the deficiency is not important as to whether a problem makes it to the summary or not.


  26. #26
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelWirth View Post
    Every national SOP and state licensing law I've seen says the purpose of an inspection is to report significant/major/material defects and some add the safety concern to that as well. I have yet to see a definition. It is up to us to determine if it meets the criteria.

    That is why we are hired, and paid, for our experience, education and knowledge of building practices in our area. We make that determination for our client's and that's what we report.

    We don't operate in a vacuum. Our reports, like it or not, are generally not fully understood by our clients, the agents or the home owners. They see a comment, especially on a summary, and it MUST be fixed. Just because it's in the report. We are just another part of the transaction that needs to be satisfied before closing.

    So, I wonder. Are we in the home inspection business as our licensing and SOPs define it? Are we in the education business of home care and condition? Or are we in some combination of both that varies from place to place and inspector to inspector?
    I do not do a summary. That is telling the folks that the rest of the goodies in the report, or the rest of the report for that matter, has no meaning and they need not read it.

    Do you write up a door knob that is old and worn out that is difficult to operate but it still works or if it still works do you not write it up.

    SOPs are a wonderful thing but the only reason they were created were to set the guidelines for home inspectors on the items that must be written up. Everyone of them also to into account that Realtors and other parties have a big influence. In saying that you must write up certain items and of course significant repairs needed. This keeps an inspector, some what, on the up and up. It of course does not keep an inspector from doing a significantly softer report. The emphasis on wording is what I am talking about.

    You are correct. We do not work in a vacuum. Well, some may. In saying that the SOPs go out the window. We are hired as a consultant on the property our clients are thinking of buying. That's right, thinking of buying. They want to know as much about the property as you can squeeze in in the short amount of time allotted for the inspection. After they find out all the ins and outs of the property they sit down and discuss it with their significant other or Realtor to put an addendum together for repairs that are needed.

    Nothing, I repeat, nothing we write up has to be fixed by either party so who are we to tell them in a summary only the "significant" items can be addressed as the Realtors want us to tell them. It is up to the client as to what they want fixed. Not us and certainly not the Realtor. I have heard so many times that "sellers never fix items like that" Well, who is the Realtor to point to your report and say "see, even the home inspector just lists the "significant repair items" in the summary". He knows the sellers never fix all these minor items.

    One persons "significant repair " may not be what another person finds as significant.

    The client and no one else is the one to determine what to ask to be repaired, evaluated further, replaced etc, not us or the Realtor. All we do is write up concerns in the home. I never list one item over another in the way of more significant that the other. I let the client decide.

    If it is in need of repair/replacement or soon to be or even if you see stains throughout the home in the carpet that you know won't clean out or if it is a safety item.....write it up.

    I tell my clients in the report and verbally that no one "has to" replace, repair, maintain, anything I write up. It is up to them to decide what they want to ask for.


  27. #27
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    It is my understanding that the SOPs, licensing laws and to a fuller extent, our inspection agreement are meant to inform the public and our clients as to exactly what we will do, and will NOT be doing for the money they pay us.

    We all have the power to extend what we do and report in our agreements with our client. Then we are all expecting the same thing.

    Years ago I took out the "Major Deficiency" part of my agreement. It now says:

    The "National Association of Home Inspectors" (NAHI) standards will be used as a guideline in conducting the inspection. This inspection is not a past or present code compliance inspection. The inspection is essentially visual, is not technically exhaustive and does not imply that every defect will be discovered. The purpose of the inspection is to identify visible defects and/or conditions that are observable at the time of the inspection and in the judgment of the inspector, adversely affects the function of the components and/or systems inspected.


    This has greatly increased my ability to report what I believe is important and also to stay away from all the cosmetic stuff. More importantly, the client is informed what to expect.


  28. #28
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    To Mr. Duffin,

    I think that here in North Carolina, if something is on the summary, some action is "recommended". No action is required for anything at any level. The client always has the option to accept the property as is.
    I'm constantly asked, "What do you want done?"
    I reply consistently, "I don't want anything done." I define a problem, explain why it's a problem, and recommend a course of action.

    JLMathis


  29. #29
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    I have gotten away from ambiguous language a few years ago such as:
    Major, Moderate, Minor, Fair, Poor, Satisfactory, Marginal, Major Concern (to who), Smidgen, Dash, Pinch.... ad nauseum

    Deficient: there is no paint on the wood or Electrical outlet has an open ground condition or heating system ducts are full of dog hair.

    The buyer can prioritize what is most important to them (of course with assistance from a licensed contractor). or they can call Mike Holmes a year from now and have the house torn down with his "big hammer".

    Even though I am next door in New Mexico I felt the Texas report definitions were clear and too the point. "Don't mess with Texas!"


    directly from
    TREC http://www.trec.state.tx.us/pdf/form...ctonReport.pdf

    In this report, the inspector will note which systems and components were
    Inspected (I), Not Inspected (NI), Not Present (NP), and/or Deficient (D).

    General deficiencies include inoperability, material distress, water
    penetration, damage, deterioration, missing parts, and unsuitable installation. Comments may be provided by the inspector whether or not an item is deemed deficient.

    The inspector is not required to prioritize or emphasize the importance of one deficiency over another.

    Charles @ PreVue Property Inspections, Santa Fe, NM
    http://www.prevuepropertyinspections.com/
    "How can someone with glasses so thick be so stupid?"

  30. #30
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    I sometimes use, as appropriate, the term, "I STRONGLY RECOMMEND" when emphasizing a issue that can have significant consequences. For instance, a house with obvious bad DIY or otherwise nonprofessional electrical modifications gets a "I STRONGLY RECOMMEND, a licensed master electrician perform a complete inspection of the entire electrical system and make recommended repairs and corrections". Similar for plumbing, structure, HVAC.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  31. #31
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey L. Mathis View Post
    To Mr. Duffin,

    I think that here in North Carolina, if something is on the summary, some action is "recommended". No action is required for anything at any level. The client always has the option to accept the property as is.
    I'm constantly asked, "What do you want done?"
    I reply consistently, "I don't want anything done." I define a problem, explain why it's a problem, and recommend a course of action.

    JLMathis
    I did not say it had to be done. I said it needed to be done.


  32. #32
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    Quote Originally Posted by neal lewis View Post
    So they should pay a contractor just to review the report?? And what kind of contractor would do this? A GC?

    The way it works around here and most of the country is the client can get a free estimate from a good GC or contractor. I always recommend that the contractor see my report summary so that the quote matches what is needed. Of course, with houses, many items can't be quoted exactly since they have to get into the job to see what all is needed.

    Bruce King, B.A. King Home Inspections, LLC
    www.BAKingHomeInspections.com
    Certified Master Inspector, Independent Inspectorwww.IndependentInspectors.org

  33. #33
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    Default Re: "Major deficiency or defect"???

    The problem with part of the country having inspectors only reporting major issues for say an average of $350 per house and areas like NC and SC where we have to report loads of data and conditions is that we should be charging $700 per house but the market will not support it.

    Some idiots way back decided to only charge an extra $25 for crawlspaces around here and that has killed the profit margin on those houses even if you charge an extra $75 it is not enough. A crawlspace can easily add 1-2 hours total and some 3 hours including time to suit up, time under the house, time to unsuit and carry stuff, extra report time (lots usually) and time to wash the coveralls and shower not to mention the wear and tear on tools and your body. Of course, some just peek in there for $25 and others actually crawl the whole area regardless of conditions.

    Bruce King, B.A. King Home Inspections, LLC
    www.BAKingHomeInspections.com
    Certified Master Inspector, Independent Inspectorwww.IndependentInspectors.org

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