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  1. #1
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Would you call the country inspector in?

    Saturdays inspection noted unsafe walkways, ramps decking system. Fungus damage, wood boring beetle damage, termite damage, earth movement from the hill side. UNSAFE FOR USE. What would you do? Would just call the stuff out in your report and hope no one gets hurt? Or would call out the county inspector and have these condition red tagged.
    could you get sued if some one used these systems and was hurt/or killed?

    I know what im going to do. just wanted to see how many of would do or not do?

    Best

    Ron

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    Call the stuff out in your report.

    There is no need for the municipal inspector, and, in all likelihood and legalities, the municipal inspector would need to go to a judge to obtain an inspection warrant before stepping foot off the the public right-of-way to address the conditions, and going to the trouble to obtain an inspection warrant is not likely going to happen.

    I read many comments here about 'call the inspector/inspection department', but they have no business or right to 'just walk on to the property' to check on something. There is something called 'due process' and 'unreasonable search' - which is what they would be doing. Think 'castle doctrine' and Fourth Amendment.

    This is just one of many links to this case: Code enforcer wakes woman up in bed with citation | 11alive.com

    The code enforcement officer, er, ... former code enforcement officer ... illegally entered the structure and created mucho problems for his boss and department, not even considering what he created for himself.

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

  3. #3
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    You are correct on all points Jerry but one. contacting the county by letter can get you off the hook if some one was to get hurt.

    One inspector out my way was sued because he could have done more to stop a problem. he noted condition many times in his report but lost just the same. something like one $Million$

    Its a cover you butt game these days. Sending a letter to the owner, the agents and the county inspector can do no harm.

    Best

    Ron


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Bibler View Post
    You are correct on all points Jerry but one. contacting the county by letter can get you off the hook if some one was to get hurt.

    One inspector out my way was sued because he could have done more to stop a problem. he noted condition many times in his report but lost just the same. something like one $Million$

    Its a cover you butt game these days. Sending a letter to the owner, the agents and the county inspector can do no harm.

    Best

    Ron
    Does no good if someone is hurt before the letter to the county inspector is read ... think Colorado and the letter to the university where that shooter had been going to school - perfect example of a letter which did no good because it was not read until after the fact.

    The letter to the county inspector may give you the warm and fuzzies, but I really don't see what good it can do, and as far as the county goes and your interaction with them, all I can see is harm if you send them a letter for each and every thing to cover your butt. And, if you only send letters for selected items and not every item, that will make the rest of your letters moot as you are "picking on" those items and not sending letters on the things which 'will really be likely to happen'.

    I would not recommend sending a letter to the county inspector - sending them the letter knowing that they cannot act of it? Foolish in my book. Makes you look even more foolish in court when the attorney asks why you sent the letter, then addresses the same points I did, and asks you why you sent the letter, knowing that the county inspector cannot act on the letter - the obvious and unsaid question is 'so, you sent the letter just to cover your butt, huh?' and that will not get you a free pass, more like a 'Go directly to Jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.'

    Just carrying the thinking out a little further ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  5. #5
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    and that will not get you a free pass, more like a 'Go directly to Jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.'

    Just carrying the thinking out a little further ...
    Looks like we are damed if we do and damed if we don't?

    Best

    Ron


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Bibler View Post
    One inspector out my way was sued because he could have done more to stop a problem. he noted condition many times in his report but lost just the same. something like one $Million$
    Golly, did that really happen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Makes you look even more foolish in court when the attorney asks why you sent the letter, then addresses the same points I did, and asks you why you sent the letter, knowing that the county inspector cannot act on the letter - the obvious and unsaid question is 'so, you sent the letter just to cover your butt, huh?' and that will not get you a free pass, more like a 'Go directly to Jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.'Just carrying the thinking out a little further ...
    Except that the same attorney will ask why you did not notify the local building department, remarking that you were negligent in not doing everything that you could. An attorney will work both sides of the issue if they smell blood.

    I do agree that it is impractical to notify the city/county of every unsafe violation that we find. And, where do we draw the line?

    In a case like that, I report what I see, talk about the likelihood of collapse and injury/death. If the house is vacant, I carry yellow caution tape and will put up caution tape barriers at all entrances to areas that I feel are unsafe and take pictures so I can verify that I did indeed put up the tape. I will notify the agent and my client of my findings and actions. That is all I can really do. I am not the police and do not have any authority to do anything.

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Bibler View Post
    Looks like we are damed if we do and damed if we don't?
    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    Except that the same attorney will ask why you did not notify the local building department, remarking that you were negligent in not doing everything that you could. An attorney will work both sides of the issue if they smell blood.
    I believe that any decent first year practicing attorney could get the home inspector removed as a defendant from such a lawsuit as the home inspector is not the protector of the property nor the representative of the owner or occupant of the property - the real estate agent is the one who is given that responsibility as they are the person representing the owner of the property and are responsible for reporting problems, which includes unsafe conditions, back to the owner of the property.

    Their failure to do so would put them in the hot seat, however, if they had a paper trail showing that they repeatedly pointed out those unsafe conditions and recommended to the owner that the owner correct those unsafe conditions, then even the real estate agent should get a 'Get out of jail free' pass - and in such a case the owner would be the party ultimately responsible.

    I have to think that there is more to that case Ron mentioned than what was mentioned, maybe something like the home inspector having those items written up in the report but verbally telling the agent that those items were 'no big deal' - you know, just like a typical real estate agent friendly inspector does - includes it in his report for CYA, then verbally makes it 'no big deal'.

    I can definitely see that happening and I have known several inspectors who operated that way. My way was to write it all up, and then provide the worst case scenario during my verbal comments. I've written up pool items, and while discussing those items with my clients, I've had up to seven people laying dead in the bottom of the pool .

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  8. #8
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I have to think that there is more to that case Ron mentioned than what was mentioned, maybe something like the home inspector having those items written up in the report but verbally telling the agent that those items were 'no big deal' - you know, just like a typical real estate agent friendly inspector does - includes it in his report for CYA, then verbally makes it 'no big deal'.

    I can definitely see that happening and I have known several inspectors who operated that way. My way was to write it all up, and then provide the worst case scenario during my verbal comments. I've written up pool items, and while discussing those items with my clients, I've had up to seven people laying dead in the bottom of the pool .
    No Jerry... Sorry...If i say more it would be Inappropriate regarding that case. much was stated in his report and it was not a real estate agent friendly inspector. This is just 2 dang funny... L.O.L. I will see of i can P.M. You Jerry... L.O.L.

    Best

    Ron



    Best

    Ron


  9. #9
    Garry Blankenship's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    This is law smith purview, but is there not something similar to attorney / client privilege in play ? Your hired to do an inspection and somehow obligated to report to authorities anything suspect ? Seems crazy to me ! What if your assumptions or suspicions are incorrect ?


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    Wink Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Bibler View Post
    Saturdays inspection noted unsafe walkways, ramps decking system. Fungus damage, wood boring beetle damage, termite damage, earth movement from the hill side. UNSAFE FOR USE. What would you do? Would just call the stuff out in your report and hope no one gets hurt? Or would call out the county inspector and have these condition red tagged.
    could you get sued if some one used these systems and was hurt/or killed?

    I know what im going to do. just wanted to see how many of would do or not do?

    Best

    Ron

    Probably call the CODE ENFORCMENT FOLKS, if there is one in CA. If not call me, we will demo with C-4 and start over (joking aside)


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    Ron,
    Being in CA the seller gets a copy of the report? If so they are put on notice and its their problem, at least for the items you mention. Historical documentation on property?

    If you were in a property and found a gas leak, significant, I would and have immediately called the gas company. Experience is that they, Baltimore Gas - Elect, have someone there in 15min or less.

    Short of immediate peril, inform the owner and let the owner deal with it. The owner is responsible for their property.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    In Texas the report belongs to the person paying for it (even though Real Estate sales people act like it is public property). When I find a safety issue, I want the seller to know, especially when someone is still living there. So, I say "The seller needs to be notified about this circumstance. It risks PERSONAL INJURY as well as potential property damage. The seller should be given a copy of this part of the report." Nothing protects us from being sued. But, I am not aware of any case where the seller has not been notified when I put this statement.

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  13. #13
    John Williams's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    You can contact the local AHJ and if any of the unsafe conditions are visible from a public right of way he can write them up and if serious enough the AHJ can request permission to inspect the property under the Property Maintenance Code. If permission is refused then a search warrant could be requested.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Williams View Post
    If permission is refused then a search warrant could be requested.
    Yep, and that is the key ... it is not easy to get an inspection warrant for someone's personal home.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Yep, and that is the key ... it is not easy to get an inspection warrant for someone's personal home.
    And that's a very good thing!

    The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory.
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    But to many want or are allowing a "Nanny State" to develop. The Constitution is being rewritten/reinterpreted by the courts to remove your rights. So, how long will it be before the government will create the right to enter and inspect with little cause.


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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Call the stuff out in your report.

    There is no need for the municipal inspector, and, in all likelihood and legalities, the municipal inspector would need to go to a judge to obtain an inspection warrant before stepping foot off the the public right-of-way to address the conditions, and going to the trouble to obtain an inspection warrant is not likely going to happen.

    I read many comments here about 'call the inspector/inspection department', but they have no business or right to 'just walk on to the property' to check on something. There is something called 'due process' and 'unreasonable search' - which is what they would be doing. Think 'castle doctrine' and Fourth Amendment.
    Actually, he can walk onto the property and knock on the door. Anything he sees while on a reasonably assumed-to-be main path to a reasonably assumed-to-be main entrance does not need a warrant to be used. Curtilage and all that. In practice as a code official, I would approach at least as far as a mail box with no concern of needing a warrant.

    Having said that, if, as a home inspector, I see a condition of 'imminent danger to life or limb', I feel I have an obligation to act on it by informing those responsible for the property and/or those in danger. The only time I went as far as to include the legal authority having jurisdiction was a dangerous condition in a commercial establishment.

    I've also called both Child and Adult Protective Services, but not from a home inspection.

    Mark Fisher
    Allegany Inspection Service - Cumberland MD 21502 - 301-722-2224
    Home Inspections, Mold Testing, Thermal Imaging

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Fisher View Post
    Actually, he can walk onto the property and knock on the door. Anything he sees while on a reasonably assumed-to-be main path to a reasonably assumed-to-be main entrance does not need a warrant to be used.
    Depends on how your city/county attorney reads it, especially if there are 'No Trespassing' signs.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    Jerry,

    I laughed at the 7 dead

    I was at inspection that had an in ground pool. We do not have that many here due to cold winters. But when I mentioned that the door having direct access to the pool need to be alarmed the owner look at me and says is that code.

    I reply yes and more importantly it only takes a couple of minutes for a child to go out and drown.

    One dead is too many I think.

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

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Hester View Post
    Jerry,

    I laughed at the 7 dead

    I was at inspection that had an in ground pool. We do not have that many here due to cold winters. But when I mentioned that the door having direct access to the pool need to be alarmed the owner look at me and says is that code.

    I reply yes and more importantly it only takes a couple of minutes for a child to go out and drown.

    One dead is too many I think.
    Don,

    The child goes into the pool, someone see the child and screams, the parents come running out and the father slips and he hits his head as he dives in to rescue his child, so he is motionless as he slowly sinks to the bottom of the pool, they are having a house party that night and the father's brother, who cannot swim, jumps in without thinking because his nephew/niece and brother are motionless in the pool, then he starts yelling that he is drowning, so the mother jumps into the pool to rescue her child, but before she can get to her child her brother-in-law manages to grab her arm and, in an attempt to save himself, he drown both himself and the mother, the uncle's wife then dives in to rescue the child but becomes entangled in the bodies as she tries to pull the child out from between the bodies and she too cannot make it back to the surface ... I think that's only five bodies down there, but you get the idea ...

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

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    Jerry,

    Your scenario is way more fun. But you forgot the donkey.

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

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Would you call the country inspector in?

    I know this is an older post, but interesting, isn’t your obligation, as inspectors, kind of limited to the buyer (who’s paying for it) and just reporting your findings? But, if I remember right isn’t there something called the “Good Samaritan Law” that would require you to do your best? If you smell gas I think it would be reasonable to call the utility company to notify them of the issue and not just let the buyer know about it. In this case, you did notify the seller, buyer, and others involved of the “In your opinion” unsafe deck in your report, which would let you off the hook, I would think, under the Good Samaritan Law...

    If this were to go to court I would think your own attorney would set you free by saying, “Mr. Inspector you noted the deck was unsafe, what is your experience? Uh-huh. Do you have a degree in structural engineering? Uh-huh. Did you perform load calcs and evaluations on the condition of the materials? Uh-huh. How many structural evaluations have you performed? OH, it was just your opinion that the deck was unsafe. Next witness please.” (I’m joking for the most part, but you get the idea)

    On the subject of contacting the AHJ, I agree with Jerry, not much good. Around here there is no minimum maintenance housing code, so nothing could be done. The only recourse would be if there was no permit for the deck, then we would notify them for building a deck without a permit and then a potential long process would begin. If the deck was approved and over the years it has become dilapidated there’s not much that can be done.


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