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Thread: Report terms

  1. #1
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    Default Report terms

    Black or white, functional or not functional, these are pretty straight forward for items that come on or don't. It is the "Grey areas" I would like to get more opinion on, such as... Plywood on the walls and ceiling of a attached garage. Exposed individual conductor wiring, that is otherwise correctly wired. Bath fans exhausting into the attic. These are just few examples of what I frequently find and consider "Grey Area Items". The reason they are grey in my opinion is they are associated to building code or workmanship. Any one of these items above could arguably be considered "Functional" if it weren't for the codes we know are used elsewhere in the country. But... not all areas of the country use these clear guidelines. The majority of the territory I inspect happens to be one of them.

    My struggle is knowing how to characterize the grey area items in the report with the following descriptives so they are in the proper perspective for the client as well as the seller who hopefully will become a future client.

    Serviceable / Functional
    Require repair or Repair / replace (by who's standard)
    Not Functional (but it kinda does!)
    Deficient (by what standard?)
    Attention (Maybe)
    Evaluate (why, if it's currently working and nothing says it has to be different)
    Simply describe it (but then why was it brought up?)
    Comment

    Hopefully this post can provoke thought that will produce better reports

    Inspection Referral SOC

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Functioning as intended: then define that in your report (very little is actually functioning as intended when defined as being installed and used as and for it was intended to be installed and used to the extent visible and accessible, and that it is doing so properly as can be determined to the extent it is visible and accessible).

    Not functioning as intended: gets comments as to what you found that is not functioning as intended. Not installed or being used as it was intended to be installed and used, and / or not doing so properly.

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

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Report terms

    I handle these items in various ways. Where codes have changed since the house was constructed I try to point out why the item is deficient. In some cases I consider it a defect (like exposed light bulbs in closets). In others a lack of GFCI receptacles, I recommend them as an improvement. Bath fans venting to the attic? I have seen thousands of them where they have not caused any moisture issues (assuming they are ducted up above the insulation at least). If it appears that they have I recommend an exhaust duct to the exterior. I believe you can note things in the report, recommend improvements, etc. Not everything noted has to be a defect.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Report terms

    I tend to describe what I have found, it's condition and what it is or is not doing! Let's say you find a bathroom vent fan that is exhausting into the attic. Well they are suppose to vent to the exterior of the building envelope. No ifs ands or buts.....

    Keep in mind that pretty much everything we do as a home inspector is related to building codes or good building practices. So not calling something out because it also addressed in a building code is just plain sillily.

    If it's not working then just say so, no need to try and create a special phrase to cover it.

    Of something is working or I don't feel it has a problem, I use the phrase "Appears servicable", which means it is working or I don't see a problem with it.

    If something needs repairs, that is pretty much what I say... Repair it!

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

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Bob,

    You're clouding your own water by trying to categorize various problems. The job is simpler than that if you remember a few things. Of them, the most important are 1) you are hired to criticize the house and its systems. 2) in doing your job correctly, people will get pissed off.

    1) Describe the problem.

    2) Say why it's a problem.

    3) Tell them to get it fixed by a qualified contractor.

    CASE CLOSED!

    Forget all these descriptive terms that are designed to devalue otherwise good information.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Report terms

    So Scott and John
    I should tell a buyer that something needs repair when it is otherwise functional but just because it doesn't meet "code". A code that does not apply and doesn't exist where the inspection is taking place.
    Another point I feel I need to make about things consider as "good building practice". Isn't that just a catch all term, that includes quality of workmanship. Most SOPs say that an inspector should refrain from commenting on the quality of workmanship.
    I am pressing this issue because times have changed and whether we like it or not lenders are granting loans and insurers, coverage, based on what we say and how we say it in our reports. So I for one want to get off the report treadmill and try to put more thought into my reports to better serve my clients needs by keeping things in perspective.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Report terms

    I basically break down my reports to three sections:

    Action Items: Things which need immediate repair or replacement, health and safety issues, and expensive items. Such as roof replacement, non functioning appliances, rotten windows, structural issues, mechanicals past their intended service life, non functioning or lack of smoke detectors etc.

    Consideration Items: Things that are easily repaired or things the clients needs more information from the seller about. Such as lacking appropriate GFCIs, lack of water barrier under vinyl siding, lack of kick out flashing, dried water stains, checking permits history when remodeling has been done, etc.

    Routine Maintenance Items: Cleaning the dryer vent, changing furnace filter, torn screens, etc.

    Everything else that doesn't present a problem gets labelled Inspected (functioning as intended), Not Present, or Not Inspected (giving a reason)

    To me, "Plywood on the walls and ceiling of a attached garage. Exposed individual conductor wiring, that is otherwise correctly wired. Bath fans exhausting into the attic" are not grey areas. They would be action items. If you don't believe there is a fire wall in an attached garage, this would be an action item (health and safety). However, if you suspect there is a fire wall underneath the plywood, I would write it up as a consideration item and suggest the seller verify the presence of a fire wall. Single strand wiring (health and safety). Venting into the attic (expensive repair, not something most homeowners can do themselves).

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
    Minnesota Home Inspectors LLC
    ASHI #242887 mnradontesting.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob R View Post
    So Scott and John
    I should tell a buyer that something needs repair when it is otherwise functional but just because it doesn't meet "code". A code that does not apply and doesn't exist where the inspection is taking place.
    Another point I feel I need to make about things consider as "good building practice". Isn't that just a catch all term, that includes quality of workmanship. Most SOPs say that an inspector should refrain from commenting on the quality of workmanship.
    I am pressing this issue because times have changed and whether we like it or not lenders are granting loans and insurers, coverage, based on what we say and how we say it in our reports. So I for one want to get off the report treadmill and try to put more thought into my reports to better serve my clients needs by keeping things in perspective.
    According to manufacturers installation instructions.
    Bath exhaust fan manufacturers require that the fan exhaust to the exterior of the structure. No mention of code, or of building standards. It is extremely doubtful that any of the manufacturers would endorse, or that they ever endorsed, terminating an exhaust fan into the attic space.

    The same with the exposed individual conductors, not listed, labeled or approved for that application or that manner. Again, it is doubtful that a manufacturer of any wiring would endorse a method not specifically approved by UL, and that would include sheathing, the use of bushings, clamps and the like.

    Wood paneling used at ceilings and walls separating garages from living space is a fire safety issue, it doesn't get much plainer than that.

    These are not gray areas, they are significantly deficient. Your client will sell this home in three years and the inspector that the new buyer employs will call these issues out. Your client will now be on the hook for price concessions or repairs to items that are significantly deficient. The carrier of my homeowners policy will perform a site review and will often lower premiums when the home is considered to be in good order, any of the items that you mentioned bring with them higher premiums. Just another factor to consider...

    Alton Darty
    ATN Services, LLC
    www.arinspections.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Have never used any of the terms as listed by OP.

    My report states the issue, location, time for repair/replacement/service and so forth, followed by a time frame, implication and rough cost. Clear concise and no one has ever had a problem with interpretation or grey areas. KISS.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Like John said
    Detect
    Evaluate
    Direct

    We are not code inspectors.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Bob R, what you are wanting to do will eventually get you into trouble. You are increasing your liability by wanting to not rock the boat, so to speak. We are hired as a third party to report on defective, improperly installed and unsafe items in a home. Gee, this sounds just the same as what building codes cover!

    Question: if you find an electrical panel that is downstream from the service panel and the grounds and neutrals are mixed together and the neutrals are bonded to the panel; do you not report it as being wrong? The electrical system will still work wired like this.

    I understand the argument that we are not code inspectors, but do you realize that pretty mush everything we do during an inspection is based on current codes and manufacturers standards? If we did not have published references like codes or manufacturers standards we would all be basing our findings on folklore. Yes, some are prohibited by their home inspector license law from reporting that X is not too code,unless they jump through hoops, so this can be circumvented by changing the wording and removing the word code. I think NC is the only state that has this restriction.

    The terms Good Building Practices are used all of the time and infer that the item was built to a proper standard that is used by the majority of folks. The same goes for the term Standard of Care which is used by many to indicate that this is what majority in a profession are doing, like home inspectors.

    I say all of this in hopes that folks will realize that writing a soft report will make the real estate agents happy but in the long run you will be the one at risk.

    If you put lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig!

    Last edited by Scott Patterson; 07-31-2014 at 07:28 AM.
    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Another thought on all of this. Since some things can be installed incorrectly and not have been an issue for the current tenant that can all change with the new occupants.

    Everyone lives differently and will stress systems differently. Such as as the bath fan, maybe the previous occupants never used the fan or showered, the new people do and because it was not installed properly start to become an issue. You have to be careful with those items.

    Also I would like to echo Scott Patterson, pretty much everything we do deals with codes and specs. This is an area I am constantly trying to get stronger in. Having knowledge on when certain items come into play helps in how you write your report.

    Don Hester
    NCW Home Inspections, LLC
    Wa. St. Licensed H I #647, WSDA #80050, http://www.ncwhomeinspections.com

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Am I missing something where it is required to callout for a professional??? Seems to me you add in more liability by calling out for a professional, or offering a repair method.

    Goes back to the argument of what if there are other ways to make the repair, or a way that would have been cheaper to do... I remember being told, "Don't be the architect or engineer it's above your pay scale, note the concern, let them figure out a solution, give it a thumbs up or down."

    I would just report the problem(s) and that's the end of it. Up to the client on what they want to do with that information.

    Such as:

    Bathroom sink drain works, but drainage is very slow.

    Bath fan exhausts into attic, and not to the exterior of the building.

    Handrail on deck is loose and wobbles.

    Calling for a professional might imply to a homeowner they need a plumber for the sink, HVAC guy for the bath fan, carpenter for the handrail, when one handyman could make all those repairs, or the homeowner thinks they can't make the repair because it needs to be a professional.

    Sure, people have asked how I would fix it and I would answer, but I wouldn't put it in a report.

    In my experience, a "grey" area, or is it a "gray" area, is something that I find that is wrong, but is it worth the fight to be right about, most of the time it is...


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Mike, Some things I feel we should give guidance on. Heck many of the items we see wrong were installed by the so called "Professionals".

    For example here in our state it not just okay to have the bathroom exhaust ducted to the exterior, you also have to have it insulated, R-4. So I write that.

    This goes many items I see.

    Don Hester
    NCW Home Inspections, LLC
    Wa. St. Licensed H I #647, WSDA #80050, http://www.ncwhomeinspections.com

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Many State and association SoP's require you to tell the client what they need to do, like call a plumber, electrician, HVAC contractor etc... All we need to do is give them the direction they need to turn, we do not need to and should not design the repair even if it is as simple as replacing a washer in a faucet. Now things like putting in a clean air filter, I think we can go ahead and state that without much fallout.

    Yes, we need to tell the to use a qualified professional... We have no control over this or who they endup using but if we tell them to use a professional our liability is nullified verses if we tell them to use an unlicensed handyman who screws up and then our phone rings......

    It's all about risk management... Handymen are great for replacing rotted door frames and the like but I have seen more screwed up plumbing and electrical from the local Handyman. Sure some are very talented but we have no control over who will do the work; Yes the same can be said about the professional folks but they normally have insurance under their license to help protect the consumer if they burn the house down, etc...

    Last edited by Scott Patterson; 07-31-2014 at 10:04 AM.
    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Yes, we need to tell the to use a qualified professional... We have no control over this or who they endup using but if we tell them to use a professional our liability is nullified verses if we tell them to use an unlicensed handyman who screws up and then our phone rings......

    It's all about risk management... Handymen are great for replacing rotted door frames and the like but I have seen more screwed up plumbing and electrical from the local Handyman. Sure some are very talented but we have no control over who will do the work; Yes the same can be said about the professional folks but they normally have insurance under their license to help protect the consumer if they burn the house down, etc...
    Well said.

    If the home inspector just reports that xyz is not working and leaves it to anyone and everyone else to decide whether or not it needs to be repaired and who should repair it ... and the repair, lack of repair, etc., leads to complications - the home inspector could be called onto the carpet for not telling them it needed to be repaired and that a professional should make the repair, and, by the way, here is the bill for the funeral expenses, oh, you will also be receiving a demand letter from our attorney for your entire met worth, the net worth of your spouse, and the net worth of your children ...

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

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Fair enough, I was just wondering as our State's SOP does not require HI's to specify how repairs are to be addressed, but, at the same time, does not prevent it either.

    I was looking at it from the standpoint of just reporting the problem and it being up to the client on what they want to do. But, we have different rules in WI, for example, a homeowner can make repairs to their own plumbing in their own residence, but if they hire someone, by State law they have to be a licensed plumber, and the State will go after those that try to do plumbing without a license or even advertise it. It's pretty much getting to the same point with electricians.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Scott
    So... if I'm correct in understanding what you just said:
    If you were a judge in a court of law and a man was before you with evidence he was "J" walking. You would feel you had no choice but to convict him and sentence him to life in prison. After all "J" walking is illegal in most municipalities but not everywhere and he may have caused an accident where someone could have been hurt or killed.

    You may call it a "soft report". I would like to think it is a report in the proper perspective.

    I have lived in a house since 1999 that was constructed in 1980. It is still in the county jurisdiction. There are several issues such as, open closet light bulbs, elec panel in the closet, bath fans in attic, 14ga wire on 20amp breakers, non-code stairway and plywood in garage. I have lived here all that time without incident. Granted... there would be a larger safety margin if it had been built to a higher standard but I don't think condemning a home to 10s of thousands of dollars of so called "repairs",(like a stairway retrofit that would actually render my home in general, non-functional) as realistic when a home can be and is otherwise functional.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Report terms

    While I like to use codes as a guide, they are often misused. Regarding venting of bathroom exhaust fans. Unless I am mistaken, this requirement first appeared in the 2006 IRC. So, does this make every installation before that time a defect, especially if there are no signs of problems? Recommendation?- perhaps, defect-not in my mind (assuming not problem observed).

    I take a different stance on exposed light bulbs in a closet. They were permitted at one time, but they can cause a fire. We cannot predict whether someone will place items too close to the bulb. Therefore, I call it a defect.

    Everyone needs to use there own judgment, but if you use codes as a guide, every old house does not have to comply with every new code.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Bob,

    Just because it not been an issue for you does not make it correct or it will not be an issue in the future. 20 amp breaker on 14 ga wire is a safety issue. So is plywood in the garage if there is a fire. Now whether or not someone corrects them is up to them (or you). But the information is there.

    Also, if there is a minimum standard that must should be met, giving that information to me is very helpful to my clients.

    Example, if guard balusters are greater than 4 inches do you state that the are too far apart or do you state the need to be 4" or less?

    Or like in my case with the exhaust ducting the requirement is that it needs insulation in my area, I let my client know that is the minimum. Now how exactly they achieve that is up to the "Qualified Professional".

    I always recommend that repairs be performed by a licensed and qualified trades person.

    I feel sometimes we need to give some specifics, this helps my clients.

    It is in my opinion and observation that if you do a detailed inspection and working for your client best interest the likelihood of getting "The Call" goes way down. If you end up in court no matter how right you are you have lost.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Bob,

    Just because it not been an issue for you does not make it correct or it will not be an issue in the future. 20 amp breaker on 14 ga wire is a safety issue. So is plywood in the garage if there is a fire. Now whether or not someone corrects them is up to them (or you). But the information is there.

    Also, if there is a minimum standard that must should be met, giving that information to me is very helpful to my clients.

    Example, if guard balusters are greater than 4 inches do you state that the are too far apart or do you state the need to be 4" or less?

    Or like in my case with the exhaust ducting the requirement is that it needs insulation in my area, I let my client know that is the minimum. Now how exactly they achieve that is up to the "Qualified Professional".

    I always recommend that repairs be performed by a licensed and qualified trades person.

    I feel sometimes we need to give some specifics, this helps my clients.

    It is in my opinion and observation that if you do a detailed inspection and working for your client best interest the likelihood of getting "The Call" goes way down. If you end up in court no matter how right you are you have lost.

    Don Hester
    NCW Home Inspections, LLC
    Wa. St. Licensed H I #647, WSDA #80050, http://www.ncwhomeinspections.com

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob R View Post
    I have lived in a house since 1999 that was constructed in 1980. It is still in the county jurisdiction. There are several issues such as, open closet light bulbs, elec panel in the closet, bath fans in attic, 14ga wire on 20amp breakers, non-code stairway and plywood in garage. I have lived here all that time without incident. Granted... there would be a larger safety margin if it had been built to a higher standard but I don't think condemning a home to 10s of thousands of dollars of so called "repairs",(like a stairway retrofit that would actually render my home in general, non-functional) as realistic when a home can be and is otherwise functional.
    Not to sound inflammatory, but just because you've made the decision to live in a deficient home doesn't give you the right to to make that decision for your clients. During the inspection you are not "condemning" the home. Simply report the facts and let your client make the decisions. By not reporting issues, or burying them deep into the report, you're setting yourself up for a lawsuit. It's better that your clients know all of the problems before they purchase the home than three months after they move in.

    You'd be surprised how many clients don't overreact to significant problems. Many times my clients will say that they know how to fix the issue, or they have friends or family members who can fix the problems. Some just choose to ignore your warnings. For example, I inspected a house for a friend and the house was plumbed with PB pipes. Action item in my report, told them it should be re-piped. Didn't faze them. They still bought the house and are living with the PB. They've been warned, and I'm off the hook for future problems. PB pipes were approved and code compliant at the time they were installed, but we all know it's problematic.

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
    Minnesota Home Inspectors LLC
    ASHI #242887 mnradontesting.com

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob R View Post
    Scott
    So... if I'm correct in understanding what you just said:
    If you were a judge in a court of law and a man was before you with evidence he was "J" walking. You would feel you had no choice but to convict him and sentence him to life in prison. After all "J" walking is illegal in most municipalities but not everywhere and he may have caused an accident where someone could have been hurt or killed.

    You may call it a "soft report". I would like to think it is a report in the proper perspective.

    I have lived in a house since 1999 that was constructed in 1980. It is still in the county jurisdiction. There are several issues such as, open closet light bulbs, elec panel in the closet, bath fans in attic, 14ga wire on 20amp breakers, non-code stairway and plywood in garage. I have lived here all that time without incident. Granted... there would be a larger safety margin if it had been built to a higher standard but I don't think condemning a home to 10s of thousands of dollars of so called "repairs",(like a stairway retrofit that would actually render my home in general, non-functional) as realistic when a home can be and is otherwise functional.
    Well, first off "J"walking is a not punishable by life in prison....

    Honestly, I don't care what or how you report your inspection findings. I'm just trying to help others from going astray. The only prospective we should have as a professional home inspector is reporting our findings so our client is informed about the home they are intending to purchase. If the home has problems that the client has issues with or is uncomfortable with, then so be it. We have done what we were hired to do. The only loyalty we should have is to our client, not to the owner or anyone else involved in the transaction including the real estate agents.

    We all should be using the most current codes that are adopted in our areas as a reference to cite from or as a guide. This does not mean you are doing a code inspection.... Codes evolve and change as folks learn more about items, products, safety hazards and many other items related to homes and buildings. Just because something OK in 2006 does not mean that in 2014 it is still considered to be OK. Look at safety railings and guard rails, they have bounced around several times over the past two decades. This is a good example of why you should use the most current code for a guideline. If a home has a 5" space between guards then report that for increased safety they should not be more than 4" because a child could be come entrapped between them. See, I did not say anything about codes but I still covered the requirement..

    Codes are minimal requirements and they do not cover everything in a home, I also tend to inspect above the minimal standard as I hope most others are doing; this is called "The Standard of Care". In a court of law the standard of care holds a tremendous amount of weight, I would say more than most SoP's.

    Report as you wish maybe our paths will cross some day as I do EW work in many states including Missouri. I'll buy the coffee..

    Last edited by Scott Patterson; 07-31-2014 at 01:56 PM.
    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Scott, I respect you and your opinions, but I think we can go too far. As an example of using current codes as a guide, we could report as a defect any older house that does not have AFCI or hard wired smoke detectors or fire sprinkler systems. That is where judgment comes in. How often do you see problems with bathroom exhaust fans that have been vented into an attic? Is it going to kill someone? Is the roof sheathing going to rot away in a short time if this condition has existed for years with not signs of a problem?

    If we don't use codes or accepted standards, then we are telling clients things need to be repaired based on our opinion (some inspectors opinions are better than others). But judgment is important (and often lacking).


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Report terms

    I am a Code Enforcement Officer in the Town where I live and have recently been questioned about items appearing on home inspection reports. Some of these homes were built in the 1800's and the reports are stating things like, "stair rise and run doesn't comply with code, baluster spacing exceeds 4", there outlets are not grounding type, and so on."

    Any changes made to the home should have been in accordance with the code at the time the work was performed but as we all know there is a lot of work where no permits were pulled so no inspections were done.

    If a home was built before a jurisdiction adopted any codes is it compliant? Compliant at the time of construction is the key. One of the people asking the questions was getting prices to replace the stairway because it was a code violation, but not in 1865 when the home was built, based on the inspection report.

    I am frequently asked to do a records search for a C of O and for many homes they simply don't exist but lenders can't quite grasp this.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    Bob,

    You're clouding your own water by trying to categorize various problems. The job is simpler than that if you remember a few things. Of them, the most important are 1) you are hired to criticize the house and its systems. 2) in doing your job correctly, people will get pissed off.

    1) Describe the problem.

    2) Say why it's a problem.

    3) Tell them to get it fixed by a qualified contractor.

    CASE CLOSED!

    Forget all these descriptive terms that are designed to devalue otherwise good information.
    John,
    Pretty well stated. I have been in quality assurance and inspection as well as in construction for most of my life. If everyone was happy all the time that meant that everyone was doing 8 sigma work or I wasnt doing mine.

    I do want to state that regardless of where one lives, if exhaust is into the attic then there will eventually be MOLD. There can be many other problems such as increased ability for insect infestation (read termites and ants etc) as well as other wood destroying organisms because of this. I dont know of a time that venting could be to the attic, ever (there were times when laundry and bathrooms did not require venting at all but to outside of structure was included when required). If it never met code or can create damage or untenable conditions then it MUST be reported as a deficiency. It is up to the Buyer and seller how to deal with the issue.

    If I personally find any exposed wires I will right it as a deficiency. Exposed wires are UNSAFE, it matters not whether a hot, ground or neutral. I have been it by neutral wires many times and by ground wires on more than one occasion. The way I think of it is what if MY kid touched the wire?

    The ONLY gray areas are about things that WERE code and are now NOT to code and it affects egress or other safety issues (not quality of life issues like too few electrical recepticals). These would fall under notations with cautions about the REASONS it is not a good thing. If I knew the code was correct at build I might probably say so, but I would stil point out the difference.

    Safety, degradation of property and structure, things that could never have met code, are always deficiencies….remember we are giving professional opinion. Err to the safe side. If anyone has a different opinion then they can have it. We are paid to err on safety and security and good construction and practices, finding work that was un-workmanlike.

    I have inspected houses with high hyudraulic pressure through the slab foundations. THis was evidenced by vinyl tile releasing from the slabs, and upon moving furniture slighty finding moisture in carpets. The house was built to code for sure in 1955. That does not mean that the property is safe and tenable. In fact I wrote up that the property should be looked at by an engineering firm regarding hydraulic water presure infiltration, and should be inspected for mold. I delivered the report to the seller and the buyer as agreed. The buyer walked and the seller then had disclosable issues.

    BTW, I prefer to have the sellers delivered a copy of any report made by any professional as well as the buyer. This many times mandates repairs and disclosures and stops all buyers from harm later. It sur wont help the seller at sale but creates honesty in the transaction.


  26. #26
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    If we don't tell clients that things are deficent based on current standards, they cannot make an informed decision. There is no requirement that the buyer must fix anything in the inspection report. There is no requirement that the seller fix anything in the inspection report. That is totally up to negoiation between the two parties as to what, if anything is fixed and by whom.

    Clients don't have to fix any issue, but they can't decide to ignore of fix the issue if they don't know about it.

    Much of the code is safety related. Those items that can be identified by a primarily visual inspection as potential safety concerns based on current standards (codes) should be documented in the report. Then the client has the option to choose to ignore or fix. Lack of reporting does no one any good and can lead to harm for multiple parties.

    Should HIs being holding older homes to the current standards? Is it fair? Clients should be informed that standards have changed and they may want to modify the house to move towards meeting the current standards for safety.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

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    In reply to John Williams:

    Thank you for pointing out what should be obvious to any inspector. Most clients are not going to rip out an antique solid wood stair case because the pickets, rise/run do not meet current codes. Or any other non conforming current code issues.

    I think once again some inspectors are so frightened by reading stories such as we see on this site they cover their risks six ways to Sunday.


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    Quote Originally Posted by John Williams View Post
    I am a Code Enforcement Officer in the Town where I live and have recently been questioned about items appearing on home inspection reports. Some of these homes were built in the 1800's and the reports are stating things like, "stair rise and run doesn't comply with code, baluster spacing exceeds 4", there outlets are not grounding type, and so on."

    Any changes made to the home should have been in accordance with the code at the time the work was performed but as we all know there is a lot of work where no permits were pulled so no inspections were done.

    If a home was built before a jurisdiction adopted any codes is it compliant? Compliant at the time of construction is the key. One of the people asking the questions was getting prices to replace the stairway because it was a code violation, but not in 1865 when the home was built, based on the inspection report.

    I am frequently asked to do a records search for a C of O and for many homes they simply don't exist but lenders can't quite grasp this.
    Typical lazy CYA reporting, probably using canned software.

    Its ok to let someone know the the stairway does not meet typical rise/run requirements, but then the HI should explain that in many cases the possibility or cost of making it compliant is not practical. And, that this is not uncommon in dwellings of this age.


  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Ramsey View Post
    If we don't tell clients that things are deficent based on current standards, they cannot make an informed decision. There is no requirement that the buyer must fix anything in the inspection report. There is no requirement that the seller fix anything in the inspection report. That is totally up to negoiation between the two parties as to what, if anything is fixed and by whom.

    Clients don't have to fix any issue, but they can't decide to ignore of fix the issue if they don't know about it.

    Much of the code is safety related. Those items that can be identified by a primarily visual inspection as potential safety concerns based on current standards (codes) should be documented in the report. Then the client has the option to choose to ignore or fix. Lack of reporting does no one any good and can lead to harm for multiple parties.

    Should HIs being holding older homes to the current standards? Is it fair? Clients should be informed that standards have changed and they may want to modify the house to move towards meeting the current standards for safety.
    I agree with much of what you say, but clients should be made aware that you are judging existing conditions by today's standards. Many clients assume that if you use this as a standard then it is required. If you leave the client with the idea that everything that does not meet today's standards is a defect then you are giving them unrealistic expectations and may kill a deal on a house they wanted and did not need to back away from.


  30. #30
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Similar problems arise when a lender views items as deficiencies if they do not comply with current codes. Also true when a HO switches insurance carriers and their inspectors use current codes, it seems the some carrier are requiring upgrades for non compliant items.


  31. #31

    Default Re: Report terms

    In your report you should have reference to what is serviceable (what it means), what is is not etc.

    !. if you see a defect in your opinion state what your findings are!

    2. Advise in report and you recommend. (what you found should be evaluated by an applicable contractor and to repair as needed.

    3. DO NOT list code info or numbers.

    4. Do not advise on costs of repairs

    Hope this helps..

    - - - Updated - - -

    In your report you should have reference to what is serviceable (what it means), what is is not etc.

    !. if you see a defect in your opinion state what your findings are!

    2. Advise in report and you recommend. (what you found should be evaluated by an applicable contractor and to repair as needed.

    3. DO NOT list code info or numbers.

    4. Do not advise on costs of repairs

    Hope this helps..


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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    I agree with much of what you say, but clients should be made aware that you are judging existing conditions by today's standards. Many clients assume that if you use this as a standard then it is required. If you leave the client with the idea that everything that does not meet today's standards is a defect then you are giving them unrealistic expectations and may kill a deal on a house they wanted and did not need to back away from.
    I agree. I explain this to my clients who attend. My reports often contain comments like:

    Safety Issue: Sections of the guard railing are less than 36" above the walking surface. Lower railings were common in the past but are no longer considered safe.  Issue noted with front porch guard railings.


    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Ramsey View Post
    I agree. I explain this to my clients who attend. My reports often contain comments like:

    Safety Issue: Sections of the guard railing are less than 36" above the walking surface. Lower railings were common in the past but are no longer considered safe.  Issue noted with front porch guard railings.

    This is the proper way to go about it and eliminates any misunderstanding.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Ramsey View Post
    Safety Issue: Sections of the guard railing are less than 36" above the walking surface. Lower railings were common in the past but are no longer considered safe.  Issue noted with front porch guard railings.
    One major component is missing: Recommend correcting the too low railing by a licensed contractor.

    Will the seller correct it? Probably not.

    Will the client correct it? Probably not.

    When someone is injured from falling over it and the deceased's spouse's attorney asks you: "Please explain why you thought it was a significant enough issue to call that out as "Safety Issue" yet did not feel it was significant enough to recommend a repair?"

    The attorney continues: "Your Honor, please have the witness answer the question."

    That is when The Judge turns to you and says: "Please answer the question." (the "please" is the judge's way of *telling you* to answer the question ... the "please" is not asking you, it is telling you).

    SO ... "Please explain to the court why you did not recommend correction."

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    One major component is missing: Recommend correcting the too low railing by a licensed contractor................................

    When someone is injured from falling over it and the deceased's spouse's attorney asks you: "Please explain why you thought it was a significant enough issue to call that out as "Safety Issue" yet did not feel it was significant enough to recommend a repair?"
    .............................

    "Please explain to the court why you did not recommend correction."


    The issue of safety was pointed out in the report and the owner was put on notice of the potential safety issue of the existing railing. It was the owners decision not to take any remedial action. The owner accepted the responsibility and liability that the railing presented.

    If I were to tell you that it is not safe to cross the street other than at the approved crossing which are clearly marked. A a result of crossing the street other than the prescribed locations and following the crossing signs, you get hit as a result of not using the legal cross walks, the decision was yours and you knew of the possible safety consequences that you chose not to address.

    Last edited by Garry Sorrells; 08-02-2014 at 08:49 AM. Reason: double copy of reply

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    The issue of safety was pointed out in the report and the owner was put on notice of the potential safety issue of the existing railing. It was the owners decision not to take any remedial action. The owner accepted the responsibility and liability that the railing presented.

    If I were to tell you that it is not safe to cross the street other than at the approved crossing which are clearly marked. A a result of crossing the street other than the prescribed locations and following the crossing signs, you get hit as a result of not using the legal cross walks, the decision was yours and you knew of the possible safety consequences that you chose not to address.
    Garry,

    If there was a particularly unsafe reason not to cross that street, yes, you should point it out.

    No different than EVERY railing is a safety hazard, but what is being discussed in one particular railing which was pointed out to be particularly unsafe because for some reason - in this case because it was too low.

    You betcha you should recommend not crossing that particularly dangerous stree ... er ... that particularly unsafe railing - if it is unsafe enough to specifically point it out, and why it is that unsafe ... yeah, you need to recommend having it corrected.

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Ramsey View Post
    I agree. I explain this to my clients who attend. My reports often contain comments like:

    Safety Issue: Sections of the guard railing are less than 36" above the walking surface. Lower railings were common in the past but are no longer considered safe.  Issue noted with front porch guard railings.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Garry,

    If there was a particularly unsafe reason not to cross that street, yes, you should point it out.

    No different than EVERY railing is a safety hazard, but what is being discussed in one particular railing which was pointed out to be particularly unsafe because for some reason - in this case because it was too low.

    You betcha you should recommend not crossing that particularly dangerous stree ... er ... that particularly unsafe railing - if it is unsafe enough to specifically point it out, and why it is that unsafe ... yeah, you need to recommend having it corrected.
    vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv

    The grand Poooobas of code have set a specific height provides safety, or at least some measure of safety. There is a difference between "safety issue" as apposed to a "life threatening hazard" We do not know if the railing was 24" or 35 1/2" or Pre 2007 nor if the elevation is 30 1/2" or 30 feet. Safety or hazard and the line of distinction is not there. 42" is the safe height today . 48" may be the new safe height tomorrow.

    Jerry,
    Your court question ".....significant enough issue to call that out as "Safety Issue" yet did not feel it was significant enough to recommend a repair?" ..."

    Saying something is " deemed currently unsafe" in a report is the equivalent to recommending a correction, which is different from "deemed unsafe but you shouldn't do anything about it". Stating "unsafe" with "recommend correction" is like a belt with suspenders statement.

    Not saying that noting a safety concern is wrong, only that by stating that a correction be made is redundant. If I tell you that your brakes are unsafe, do I also need to tell you that they need to be replaced/"corrected"? Or do you get into how unsafe are they? Granted there is logic involved and people can be stupid or plain dense.

    Should there be a need to put a sign on a lawn mower to not put your hand under the deck when it is running? Where is Darwin when you need him???


  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Should there be a need to put a sign on a lawn mower to not put your hand under the deck when it is running? Where is Darwin when you need him???
    Now I understand why you don't get it and don't understand ...

    "Should there be a need to put a sign on a lawn mower to not put your hand under the deck when it is running?"

    There already is - too many people have lost fingers/hands/toes/feet for doing just that.

    BECAUSE HE (the inspector) SPECIFICALLY pointed out and called that railing out as a "Safety Issue" ... I don't know if you missed that part or are just ignoring that part, but that part is the key part - HE - recognized THAT RAILING as a SAFETY ISSUE ... - HE - did not say to do anything about it. Thus, either the "Safety Issue" really was not worth mentioning so specifically, or the "Safety Issue" needed to have a recommendation to correct it.

    Either it IS ... or it IS NOT ... a "Safety Issue". If it IS, then treat it as such. If it IS NOT, then why imply that it is.

    Kind of like the guy down here in Daytona Beach last week (no, he was not from Daytona Beach, he was from the midwest someplace as I recall, but we still have our share of "stupid people" here): This person of such outstanding intelligence that, when his loaded 9 mm handgun fell out of his bag in a hotel room, he looked at it and (according to what he told the police) 'he could not tell if the safety was on or not, so ... "stupid person" ... SQUEEZED THE TRIGGER to SEE IF THE SAFETY WAS ON ... that's right ... and he shot through the wall into the adjoining hotel room hitting a child sitting on the bed watching TV.

    Now, don't get me wrong, I am not bad mouthing "Stupid People", but those idiots should, in the case above, point the gun to their OWN HEAD and squeeze the trigger ... if the safety was on, oh, well, they survive another day ... and if the safety was off, oh well, one less stupid idiot person to worry about.

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

  39. #39
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    If something doesn't need fixing, why report on it?

    It should always be like such;

    Yada yada, blah blah blah. Have a qualified contractor fix it.

    ........or some variation of that.


  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    One major component is missing: Recommend correcting the too low railing by a licensed contractor.

    Will the seller correct it? Probably not.

    Will the client correct it? Probably not.

    When someone is injured from falling over it and the deceased's spouse's attorney asks you: "Please explain why you thought it was a significant enough issue to call that out as "Safety Issue" yet did not feel it was significant enough to recommend a repair?"

    The attorney continues: "Your Honor, please have the witness answer the question."

    That is when The Judge turns to you and says: "Please answer the question." (the "please" is the judge's way of *telling you* to answer the question ... the "please" is not asking you, it is telling you).

    SO ... "Please explain to the court why you did not recommend correction."

    Your Honor,

    There are sometimes items included in a report, not because they are a defect needing repair, but because these items provide information the purchaser may use to determine suitability for their own needs.

    2 wire convenience outlets
    3 wire stove / dryer outlets
    Old style Shower faucets (not anti scald)
    Old tub and faucet where the faucet is below the flood rim.
    Old hose bibs (not anti siphon)
    5 gallon per flush toilets
    Galvanized water pipe
    "The Egress" door that is less than 36"
    Framed roof without a ridge board.
    Undersized floor/ ceiling/.... framing.
    Stairs and railings
    !0 SEER AC units
    80% furnaces
    Lack of insulation in walls....
    Lead paint, lead plumbing,
    Asbestos.......

    All of these, and hundreds more, were acceptable when built.
    So you see your Honor, there is no defect to report, this is just the way houses were built at that time.

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

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Your Honor,

    There are sometimes items included in a report, not because they are a defect needing repair, but because these items provide information the purchaser may use to determine suitability for their own needs.

    2 wire convenience outlets
    3 wire stove / dryer outlets
    Old style Shower faucets (not anti scald)
    Old tub and faucet where the faucet is below the flood rim.
    Old hose bibs (not anti siphon)
    5 gallon per flush toilets
    Galvanized water pipe
    "The Egress" door that is less than 36"
    Framed roof without a ridge board.
    Undersized floor/ ceiling/.... framing.
    Stairs and railings
    !0 SEER AC units
    80% furnaces
    Lack of insulation in walls....
    Lead paint, lead plumbing,
    Asbestos.......

    All of these, and hundreds more, were acceptable when built.
    So you see your Honor, there is no defect to report, this is just the way houses were built at that time.
    Will both attorneys please approach the bench.

    (Turning to the Defense Attorney) How many of those items has your witness marked as "Safety Issues"?

    (Defense Attorney responds) None, Your Honor.

    (Turning to the Plaintiff Attorney) You may proceed with your line of questioning.

    (Plaintiff Attorney responds) Thank you, Your Honor.

    (Defense Attorney turning toward The Judge) Your Honor, could we have a 10 minute recess for negotiations?

    (Judge) In my chambers Now. Both of you.

    (Judge retires to his office where he meets both attorneys) Defense Attorney, this is your last chance to work something out with the Plaintiff Attorney ... time starts now.

    (Defense Attorney to Plaintiff Attorney) Will $50,000 be sufficient to settle this and close the case against of my clients, the insurance company and the home inspector?

    Defense Attorney Rick, you are forgetting that he specifically and intentionally made a special case of that railing by specifically labeling it a "Safety Issue", which is completely different than your ordinary items you referred to. I keep pointing that difference out, it is a BIG DIFFERENCE.

    If your client is going to go to the trouble to label that a "Safety Issue" then he needs to tell his client that it should be corrected in some manner.

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Rick, you are forgetting that he specifically and intentionally made a special case of that railing by specifically labeling it a "Safety Issue", which is completely different than your ordinary items you referred to. I keep pointing that difference out, it is a BIG DIFFERENCE.
    I intentionally included a wide range of items. Some are related to safety, others are not.

    But the fact remains, old houses were built using different standards. For an inspector to report on differences in construction compared to today's codes (much less recommend a repair) is unrealistic, at best. As I said "There are sometimes items included in a report, not because they are a defect needing repair, but because these items provide information the purchaser may use to determine suitability for their own needs. "

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

  43. #43
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    If I may, lets use a car as an example.

    When you got your new Jaquar (new to you), you took it to the dealer and put it on the rack to inspect it. " (I had the dealer put it up on their rack so I could inspect the undercarriage for rust - none!) "
    Did the dealer recommend you to install.... air bags? Anti lock brakes? Theft prevention? All of these are available (some are required) on a new car.
    How about any of your others?
    "I've had:

    1954 MK VII

    1954 XK 140

    1959 MK (later to be known as the MK I)

    1960 MK II (which is why the MK became the MK I)

    1967 E Type (commonly known as the XKE)

    1972 XK 6 "

    I think not.
    Much the same as buying any house built before the now current code.
    An inspector may not need to recommend a "correction" for items included in a report, when those items were not defective and were included so the buyer may determine the suitability or usefulness for his needs.



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

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Now I understand why you don't get it and don't understand ...

    ..........
    I realize that it is an esoteric argument that pointing out a safety issue and also recommending that it be corrected is implied should the person be so inclined. Sorry that you didn't get it but I think Rick has the gist of my point.


  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    If I may, lets use a car as an example.

    When you got your new Jaquar (new to you), you took it to the dealer and put it on the rack to inspect it. " (I had the dealer put it up on their rack so I could inspect the undercarriage for rust - none!) "
    Did the dealer recommend you to install.... air bags? Anti lock brakes? Theft prevention? All of these are available (some are required) on a new car.
    How about any of your others?
    "I've had:

    1954 MK VII

    1954 XK 140

    1959 MK (later to be known as the MK I)

    1960 MK II (which is why the MK became the MK I)

    1967 E Type (commonly known as the XKE)

    1972 XK 6 "

    I think not.
    Much the same as buying any house built before the now current code.
    An inspector may not need to recommend a "correction" for items included in a report, when those items were not defective and were included so the buyer may determine the suitability or usefulness for his needs.

    If my mechanic saw that the ball joints were ready to drop out and simply wrote "Safety Issue - ball joints are bad", then, yes, when the ball joints dropped out he (his insurance company) would be repairing or replacing that car.

    On the other hand, if he wrote "Safety Issue - ball joints are bad, replace now" and I drove off without having him replace the ball joints ... shame on me ... and it would all come out of my pocket.

    I wonder how few here don't see that difference, versus how many here do see that difference - there are two here who do not see that difference. Anyone care to show their hand which way ...

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    If my mechanic saw that the ball joints were ready to drop out and simply wrote "Safety Issue - ball joints are bad", then, yes, when the ball joints dropped out he (his insurance company) would be repairing or replacing that car.
    To borrow one of you favorite phrases, "what part of" was not defective "do you not understand"?


    An inspector may not need to recommend a "correction" for items included in a report, when those items were not defective and were included so the buyer may determine the suitability or usefulness for his needs.

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Now I understand why you don't get it and don't understand ...

    ..........
    Judge Jerry,

    I realize that it is an esoteric argument that pointing out a safety issue and also recommending that it be corrected is implied should the person be so inclined. Sorry that you didn't get it but I think Rick has the gist of my point.


  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    To borrow one of you favorite phrases, "what part of" was not defective "do you not understand"?


    An inspector may not need to recommend a "correction" for items included in a report, when those items were not defective and were included so the buyer may determine the suitability or usefulness for his needs.
    What part of "Safety Issue" do you not understand?

    He specifically addressed it in the report as a "Safety Issue", identifying it as a "Safety Issue" trumps all lesser calls.

    If there was no need to recommend anything be done, then there was no need to specifically point it out as a "Safety Issue" - that is the part you appear to be missing.

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

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    Jerry, I respect your knowledge, but I have issues with your approach. Because if we follow your logic, then we should recommend that every house not up to the latest code be upgraded to the latest code.

    I realize you may say what it wrong with that approach? What is wrong is that it is unrealistic and may cause buyers to walk away from houses until they finally realize that houses must meet code when they were built and not meet every new code. I see nothing wrong with pointing out issues that do not meet today's codes and letting the buyer decide if that is something they want to live with or not.

    In my reports I handle this different than many HIs. Some newer code requirements that I think are a significant improvement to safety I recommend as an improvement, but do not consider the condition a defect. It makes the point but does not prompt the buyer to ask for unreasonable repairs. Some items I do not discuss from a safety standpoint (e.g. 240 dryer circuits with three-prong plugs versus four-I do not which type is present so they are aware of what they need if they are buying a dryer).


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    Default Re: Report terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    I have issues with your approach. Because if we follow your logic, then we should recommend that every house not up to ...
    Mark,

    If " ... we follow your logic ... " you would have made a much shorter post and said to the effect of "The answer is to not specifically call it out as a 'Safety Issue - railing too short'."

    The entire "issue" is created by specifically singling out an item as a 'Safety Issue - Railing too short' then not recommending it be corrected.

    What would you write up if the railing was missing?

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

  51. #51
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    What part of "Safety Issue" do you not understand?

    He specifically addressed it in the report as a "Safety Issue", identifying it as a "Safety Issue" trumps all lesser calls.

    If there was no need to recommend anything be done, then there was no need to specifically point it out as a "Safety Issue" - that is the part you appear to be missing.

    Your logic is wrong in your argument.
    Stating a potential Safety Issue exists puts others on noticed of the condition.
    By not stating that it be corrected does not negate the Safety Issue.
    By not recommending correction does not suggest that the Safety Issue not be corrected.
    Recommending that it be corrected only reinforces the Safety Issue.


    Your inflexible position seems to be:
    Site a Safety Issue in a report, then you must recommend that it be corrected.

    Anything that does not meet present code is a Safety Issue.

    All safety Issues must have a recommendation for correction.

    There is no delineation to what level of concern for Safety Issue.

    People do not have the ability to equate a Safety Issue and the need for correction.



    Therefore lets extrapolate.
    Anything that does not meet the present code is considered a Safety Issue and must be a recommended correction in the report.

    Present Code is the determination of acceptable safety. Previous Code has no validity.

    All structures must be brought to present code requirements as to not present a Safety Issue.

    As Code requirement change all structures should be brought up to that new Code specifications anything else creates a Safety Issue that must be sited in the report and a recommendation for correction be stated.

    Now;
    I would have to agree that courts have seen fit to deem that the public in general are a very stupid lot. That there is no understanding of cause and effect. This is demonstrated by Hot Coffee being to hot and the need to change it to Warm Coffee. Spinning blades on lawn mowers are dangerous and you need a sign to inform you of that fact. The thinking seems to be that society functions at the level of a 2 or 3 year old that must be told that the flame is hot and will burn you. Then must be told not to touch the flame. Such is the condition of a society that relies on government intervention so that they do not have to think for themselves. And therefore have no responsibility for their actions.

    Sorry for editorializing.


    Back to the original point...
    Noting a Safety Issue without recommending that it be corrected does not negate the Safety Issue.

    Not all recommendations for correction are Safety Issues.

    Not all Safety Issues, as determined by present Code, must be corrected.

    If I were to state that "the steps to the deck are rotted out and will not support any weight." Do I also need to also state not to use them? Which would be the same thing as stating that "you should not use the steps to the deck because the are rotted out and will not support any weight." The latter is why not to use the steps and the former relies on the understanding of correct actions based on information, or common sense.

    If I tell you there is ice on the roof. Do I also need to tell you it is dangerous and that you may fall? This is where Darwin comes in to focus. Darn I did it again. Sorry.


    A thought.
    If you went to a house that had a railing which met code min and meeting the clients with their children who all were 6'8'' to 7'4" would you point out that the existing railing poses a safety risk for the family?


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    Default Re: Report terms

    Garry,

    I will ask you the same question I asked Mark:
    - What would you write if the railing was missing?

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

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    Default Re: Report terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Garry,

    I will ask you the same question I asked Mark:
    - What would you write if the railing was missing?
    A railing is missing, that is a defect.
    Because it is a defect.
    It should be reported and corrective action recommended.

    Bruce's example was not a defect, it was because of code changes.
    Since it was not a defect I think it appropriate to include it in the report with no need to recommend corrective action be taken.

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

  54. #54
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Ramsey View Post
    Safety Issue: Sections of the guard railing are less than 36" above the walking surface. Lower railings were common in the past but are no longer considered safe.  Issue noted with front porch guard railings.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    A railing is missing, that is a defect.
    Because it is a defect.
    It should be reported and corrective action recommended.

    Bruce's example was not a defect, it was because of code changes.
    Since it was not a defect I think it appropriate to include it in the report with no need to recommend corrective action be taken.
    Bruce's example may not have been from a code change - railings have been required to be 36" minimum for eons now. Just because "lower railings were common in the past" does not mean they were ever considered safe, but code for those who are old have always had a minimum height of 36". It is a defect.
    Rick, you are correct on this part:
    - Because it is a defect, it should be reported and corrective action recommended.

    Your implication is that, because so many cars and trucks drive 80 mph on the interstate and that is common, that it is also allowed and considered to be safe, thus, based on your thinking, 80 mph is no longer considered safe ... right, it is not considered safe, but it never was either.

    It all gets back to the fact that if the inspector feels it should be specifically pointed out - the inspector should recommend correction.

    Also, so it does not go uncorrected and is therefore thought to be correct - in a previous post it was stated that 36" used to be considered safe and now it is 42" ... and that is an incorrect statement with regards to this discussion:
    - From the 2012 IRC (and going back as far as you want) - (bold is mine)
    - - R312.1 Guards. - - - Guards shall be provided in accordance with Sections R312.1.1 through R312.1.4.
    - - - R312.1.2 Height. - - - - Required guards at open-sided walking surfaces, including stairs, porches, balconies or landings, shall be not less than 36 inches (914 mm) high measured vertically above the adjacent walking surface, adjacent fixed seating or the line connecting the leading edges of the treads.

    Decades ago, many decades ago, the height for other than dwelling units was changed from 36" minimum to 42" minimum, but this discussion is about dwelling units and that has been 36" for eons.

    Did not want to leave anyone thinking that 42" is the minimum height for railings in dwelling units ... it is still 36" minimum.

    Obviously, like with Kevin Wood on the other thread, I am here too.

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

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    Default Re: Report terms

    Jerry,

    Your point is that if a defect is listed in the report, it should have also have a call to action. Something as simple as: Repair by a qualified contractor. We hear you.

    Others believe that stating an item is defective to whatever degree using the various subjective terms including but not limited to the term Safety Issue implies the client should make repairs and does not require the use of specific call to action statement.

    I believe you have stated your case strongly and clearly. You are unwilling to waiver on your position and continue to make attempts to force others to cave in on their position and agree with you. As is your modis operandi.

    This is the point in time that people tend to stop listening and tune out. This is time in the discussion you may consider waiting a day or two before responding again. Accept that there are two positions and regardless of how strongly you believe in your position, not every one is going to agree with you.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  56. #56
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Ramsey View Post
    This is the point in time that people tend to stop listening and tune out. This is time in the discussion you may consider waiting a day or two before responding again.
    Bruce,

    I hear you and understand, that is why I had already signed off on commenting on this thread, see the last line in my previous post.

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

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    Default Re: Report terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Mark,

    If " ... we follow your logic ... " you would have made a much shorter post and said to the effect of "The answer is to not specifically call it out as a 'Safety Issue - railing too short'."

    The entire "issue" is created by specifically singling out an item as a 'Safety Issue - Railing too short' then not recommending it be corrected.

    What would you write up if the railing was missing?
    If a railing is missing I would consider it a defect, because railing have been required for a long time. If a railing was 32 or 34 inches high instead of 36 I would let them know the existing railing is lower than present requirements. Whether that is a defect is up to them to decide.


  58. #58
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Garry,

    I will ask you the same question I asked Mark:
    - What would you write if the railing was missing?

    Dang-------- somebody took your railing. Must have been that guy that Jerry told the railing was a safety issue and it had to be corrected to meet code. So he took your railing, because Jerry said so.......

    Last edited by Garry Sorrells; 08-03-2014 at 08:57 PM.

  59. #59
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Am I missing something? Why would a HI not inform his clients about deficiencies and safety issues with the house they're buying. Age of the home has nothing to do with it. What code was in effect at the time it was built has nothing to do with it.

    HI don't and cannot require repair. We are there to report and document the condition of the home. By the time we're done with the inspection there should be no surprises for the client. Two pronged outlets? Let the clients know and suggest an upgrade. That way they're not surprised when they move in and can't plug in their flat screen t.v. Spacing of the balusters is too wide? Let the clients know and recommend repairs. That way your covered when their child accidentally hangs them self. Knob and tube wiring? Let them know and recommend repair. That way there's no surprise when their insurance company drops their coverage.

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
    Minnesota Home Inspectors LLC
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  60. #60
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    Default Re: Report terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Dang-------- somebody took your railing. Must have been that guy that Jerry told the railing was a safety issue and it had to be corrected to meet code. So he took your railing, because Jerry said so.......
    That guy Jerry said " ... remove AND REPLACE with a proper railing ... ", not " ... remove the railing ... "

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

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    Default Re: Report terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Bruce,

    I hear you and understand, that is why I had already signed off on commenting on this thread, see the last line in my previous post.
    Jerry,
    Knew I could drag you back.............

    Easier than getting a Politician to take your money.


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    Default Re: Report terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    That guy Jerry said " ... remove AND REPLACE with a proper railing ... ", not " ... remove the railing ... "
    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, but with no railing people would be more careful than they might be relying on a low railing........

    If you know there is nothing or no one that will take responsibility for your actions then you will take responsibility and be responsible for your actions.. Or, Darwin makes a visit and you are removed from the gene pool.


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    Default Re: Report terms

    Back to the original questions asked by Bob R.

    Here is what a judge had to say with regards to use of three terms commonly found in inspectors reports. This judgement was from a suit against Housemaster.


    [14] Housemaster provided its opinion to the Plaintiffs by way of the Inspection Report. The condition of various elements in the house was rated as satisfactory, fair, poor, or not checked. The Report includes a section which describes the meaning ascribed to these ratings:–

    SATISFACTORY- Functional at the time of inspection. Element condition is sufficient for its minimum required function. Element is in working or operating order with no readily visible evidence of a substantial defect.

    FAIR- Functional at the time of inspection but with limitations and/or exceptions. Element exhibits an existing defect or has a high potential for a defect to develop, is near or beyond its normal design life, has a limited service life, and/or does not meet normal condition expectations.

    POOR- Not functional at the time of inspection or exhibiting conditions conducive to imminent failure. Element shows considerable wear or has a substantial defect, is missing when it should be present, and/or is not in working or operation order.

    [15] These ratings are extremely vague and broad, and the same element could conceivably be classified under different ratings. I agree with Steve Martyniuk of Inspections Unlimited when he states in his evidence that the ambiguity of the rating system makes it very misleading. The use of this system to evaluate the elements in the home undermined the ability of Housemaster to provide a reasonable opinion to the Plaintiffs regarding the condition of the home.


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    Default Re: Report terms

    To see this topic from a new angle, take the example of the instructions sent to my wife by a specialist at Duke University Hospital; "Take one tablet qid for three days....." If I had not been a linguist, fluent in the dead language of Latin, I would not have known "qid" is a Latin abbreviation for quater in die or as we all know "four time a day". Just tell it like it is and what it is, stop already with the acronyms, tech talk, well kinda maybe and quit runnen my day.

    The beatings will continue until morale has improved. mgt.

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    Default Re: Report terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Back to the original questions asked by Bob R.

    Here is what a judge had to say with regards to use of three terms commonly found in inspectors reports. This judgement was from a suit against Housemaster.


    [14] Housemaster provided its opinion to the Plaintiffs by way of the Inspection Report. The condition of various elements in the house was rated as satisfactory, fair, poor, or not checked. The Report includes a section which describes the meaning ascribed to these ratings:–

    FAIR- Functional at the time of inspection but with limitations and/or exceptions. Element exhibits an existing defect or has a high potential for a defect to develop, is near or beyond its normal design life, has a limited service life, and/or does not meet normal condition expectations.

    POOR- Not functional at the time of inspection or exhibiting conditions conducive to imminent failure. Element shows considerable wear or has a substantial defect, is missing when it should be present, and/or is not in working or operation order.
    Notice that FAIR and POOR share the fact that the item has potential to failure. This is a real problem for me, if an item has "potential to failure" it means that it is either past its design life expectancy or is no longer considered servicable. Either one of these is notice that something must be corrected. Poor would indicate that it must be corrected NOW, and fair as soon as can be scheduled.

    I have a 1950's coal oil (read diesel oil) furnace that has been in operation every year for as many years as I have. I service it myself annually, replace the sprue nozzles and adjust the igniter etc., change the filter sets and assure proper mixture at burn. I have even had the tank cleaned and reset it at proper level etc. This takes about 30 minutes a year. If it was not serviced, and lubed annually it probably would fail completely. If any inspector looked at this furnace they would place it in the fair to poor category, however this furnace, unless a motor fails or the furnace plates burn out will last for many, many more years IF maintiained. The issue is that to an HI, this might be a "personal" red flag, whereas the system is fully operational and well maintained but VERY old.

    Regardless, if I inspected my home, I would use "fair" for the furnace and many other items. Hell, the studs are at thier design life for stick construction in Florida where termites abound and regularly eat everything taey can. The question becomes where do we as HI say "stop, enough!"

    Notice that my 1950's home is stick construction in termite territory. IT has many areas that show termite work and damage. As the house was 1X12 sheathed in subfloor, walls and roof, there are many areas that when opened show extensive termite work, usually in channels through the 1X12's, they ate the easy stuff and left the hard wood and heavy sap areas alone. In the 1950's that was a LOT of wood left alone. My studs have some damage, my joists and rafters have not been attacked aat all.

    so, if you inspected my home and saw the termits droppings (that appear regularly from vibration and wind etc) you would know of damage. So do you write that there is evidence of active or inactive termite damage and state that the structure has been degraded? OR, do you just note that this is a stick home and subject to termite and wood destrying organisms? If you not that do you note that the trusses, sheathing, and interior walls and trim of a block built home are subject to wood destroying organisms in Florida? I can tell you that a stick home in Florida should not and many times does not have the value of a block home. Does that mean that HI doenst have to state more than "this is a stick home over 50 ears old and may have wood destrroying organism damage"?

    Really guys, there is is some point that one must look at the big picture. A railing built in 1980 that was between 34 and 38 inches met code then. It is considered safe, period. The new code is "safer" due to long term studies. BTW, the spacing between the balusters would not be to code today if built in say 1980. Do you wish to write this up as well? It met code at the time of build.it is safer to have the currrent code, that does not mean that it is unsafe unless exacting and certain conditions are met (a rug rat crawling along and placing its head between balusters). And is an HI responsible to assure that the client knows and understands the difference between older codes and the "safer" newer codes?? Are you going to inspect a circuit main and tell the client that every circuit in order to be "safer" should meet the newer electrical codes and have GFCI at each breaker?

    I would consider things that are directy UNSAFE under any circumstance. I would note things that were site built wihtout or with minimum code. As far as being "safer" and safer and safer…..lets be clear…it is NOT our responsibility. IF it is WRONG, if it is unsafe, if it is broken, it is in disrepair, if it violates codes directly, then write it up. Note the age of the house and that there are many differences between as built codes of that time and now. LET IT GO. It is NOT our responsibility as HI to stop survival of the fittest. That is a government job much above my pay scale.


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