Sorry about that. I somehow sent a fist draft and not the final draft with the referenced information. I’ve appended it to this email. As for the ProSpex Uniform Standards, I’ve attached the Preface, table of contents, introduction, two standards sections, and the “additional Limitations and Exclusions” to this email. I don’t want to release the entire document until I get feedback from some “old timers” who are reviewing it for me and until I receive my copyright registration confirmation from the Library of Congress. I trust you to keep this material to yourself for the present time until I’ve posted the entire document on the ProSpex website.
As for participating in the NACHI Forum, I’ll decline. When I say that every attempt to open a discussion regarding home inspection standards has fallen on deaf ears, that’s being kind. My own experiences with inspection forums as well as the experiences of other inspectors for whom I have immense respect have been unproductive and less than collegial; in fact, the forum members been arrogant, dismissive, and outright rude. It’s been somewhat disheartening to witness the tenor of the profession and attitude of many inspectors toward one and other change for the worse over the span of my career. However, you and others like you give me hope that the profession can be brought back from the brink. The statement of an inspector in Boise, Idaho to a newspaper reporter is a bellwether for the dangerous turn the profession has taken. He told the reporter, “It’s the responsibility of home inspectors to insure the livability and safety of a home." This says it all. Of course, he’s wrong, but he represents the attitude of more and more inspectors. They seem oblivious to the potential liability that this creates.
A home inspector’s job is to examine a home and its systems and components for adverse conditions. A home inspector describes components, and reports any adverse conditions affecting them, and recommends the appropriate actions and parties to address those adverse conditions.Home inspectors should be highly trained observers and reporters with no dog in the fight. They are disinterested third parties - not critics. They don’t have any interest in the outcome of a real estate transaction or on how it may affect buyers, sellers, or agents. Making decisions for clients is not part of a home inspector’s scope of work.
Unfortunately, too many inspectors arrive at the inspection in a full Superman outfit, ready to be the “hero” who “saves” the poor, ignorant buyer from the perils of an “unsafe” home, nefarious agents, and unscrupulous, lying sellers. It’s a recipe for disaster. I don’t have time to cover all of the issues facing the profession today – lack of uniformity in training, education, skill sets, writing ability, etc. The result is exactly what’s happened in North Carolina where the real estate brokers and agents, fed up with all of this “safety” and code crap, are pushing a bill to restrict what home inspectors can say in their report summaries. While I vehemently disagree with any attempt to stifle the free speech of home inspectors, I also understand the real estate community’s frustration and anger with the profession.
Improved standards are only a start. However, the best standards in the world won’t make a poorly trained inspector better. If the profession doesn’t take a hard look at where it’s going and what’s happening to it, it’s going to find itself at the bottom of a deep hole that it dug for itself. You had the foresight and humility to understand that your formal training wasn’t nearly sufficient to prepare you to be a highly skilled and qualified inspector. So, you’ve gone out and found more training, information, and education. I’ve been at this for twenty-five years and was a general contractor prior to becoming an inspector and I’m still learning. It’s easier now because I’ve amassed an immense body of knowledge and experience but I’ll never know everything there is to know about this wide-ranging and interesting profession.
But enough. Below is the letter and information I intended to send yesterday along with the critique of some parts of the NACHI Standards.
After you “re-up” with ProSpex, I’ll send you a CD with the entire program I presented to the Great Lakes Chapter of ASHI in November. I think you might find it both interesting and helpful.
You’re correct in assuming that I would ask for the name of the inspector and the inspection company if anyone approached me to consult with them regarding home inspection standards in a dispute with a home inspector. I absolutely would not consider accepting such work if I knew, directly or indirectly, of the individual or company – period. I’ve done this on multiple occasions in the course of my 25-year career and in every instance I’ve declined the work because I’ve always been acquainted with the inspector and/or the company.
Other ***ProSpex ***subscribers understand and agree with the purpose of the website information. They, like I, believe that the only way to get the attention of the major professional associations for home inspectors with regard to the problems with their standards is be made aware of the potential for an inspector who adheres to their standards lose in court because of the standards and then to turn around and file a suit against the home inspection association.
This could be avoided if even one of the major associations were to adopt the ProSpex Uniform Standards of Practice for the Performance of Professional Home Inspections. The ProSpex Uniform Standards apply only to site-built and factory-built homes designed and intended to remain at a single building site and attached to a permanent foundation.They follow the format of both industry standards and building codes by addressing and referring to actions, inclusions, limitations, and exclusions rather by referring to what is required or not required of an individual performing a home inspection. By focusing on the inspection process and not the individual home inspector, the ProSpex Uniform Standards provide true guidance rather than didactic direction for individuals who choose to apply them to home inspections.In addition, the ProSpex Uniform Standards intentionally exclude any reference to specific examination of any systems or componentsfor “safety.” The inclusion of evaluations for “safety” or for “unsafe” conditions in other home inspection standards places inspectors in an untenable position. It makes them responsible for any and all actual or potential “unsafe” or “safety” related conditions. It also leads inspectors to try to perform building code compliance evaluations instead of home inspections by requiring inspectors to report as adverse conditions, “grandfathered” or intact and fully functional installations which were approved by the AHJ at the time of original construction.Home inspections performed in accordance with the*** ProSpex*** Uniform Standards apply only to systems and components present and able to be inspected at the time of the inspection.Inspections performed in accordance with the*** ProSpex*** Uniform Standards may be applied to one or more of the systemsincluded in the*** ProSpex*** Uniform Standards. They don’t contain the ambiguities and outright contradictions which all current standards contain. In addition, they’re written as individual standards for each major system. This permits an inspector to have and apply the applicable individual standard or standards when a client requests inspection of some but not all of the major systems.
I’m prepared to give the ProSpex Uniform Standards, free of charge, to any home inspector association who wants them and only ask that, in return, ProSpex be given attribution in the document. While I’m a retired member of ASHI, I’m not wedded to any professional association. I’d like nothing better than to see NACHI leap out in front of ASHI and NAHI because NACHI has the foresight to recognize the need for a better and a different kind of standards. Were NACHI to adopt the*** ProSpex*** Uniform Standards, they would be light years ahead of the other organizations and I could not be retained to consult with regard to the standards by anyone involved in a dispute with a NACHI inspector.
I am motivated exclusively by a desire to bring these associations to their senses; and to initiate a groundswell among home inspectors for change. I don’t ever want to make money from consulting with a plaintiff’s attorney in a case against a home inspector. I’d like nothing better than to remove my website because these associations have both recognized the need for better standards and have produced standards that really protect home inspectors instead of doing what, in my opinion they’re currently doing - exposing them to potential litigation. But I’m a realist. I’ve tried for twenty years to get their attention and for twenty years my imprecations have fallen on deaf ears. I want to improve the profession which has done so much for me and the only way I know how to get their attention regarding their standards is to hold out the potential to hit them where it hurts.
You’re a member of NACHI and I’m sure that you know other members. Look over the material which follows this letter and then email me so we can further discuss it. It’s a critique of some, but certainly not all, of the problems with the current NACHI Standards. I’m not singling out NACHI. ASHI, NAHI, and CREIA as well as Arizona and other regulated states have just as many problems with their standards, many of them the same ones as NACHI. I’ve sent you the material on the NACHI Standards because you’re a NACHI member and you apply their Standards to your work. I’d like for you to become better informed regarding some of the problems with the document that you hang your hat on.
Keep thinking; you do it well,
The following is taken verbatim, from the NACHI website including improper capitalization and misspelling:
1. Definitions and Scope
1.1. A Home inspection is a non-invasive visual examination of a residential dwelling, performed for a fee, which is designed to identify observed material defects within specific components of said dwelling. Components may include any combination of mechanical, structural, electrical, plumbing, or other essential systems or portions of the home, as identified and agreed to by the Client and Inspector, prior to the inspection process.
1.2. A Material defect is a condition with a residential real property or any portion of it that would have a significant adverse impact on the value of the real property or that involves an unreasonable risk to people on the property. The fact that a structural element, system or subsystem is near, at or beyond the end of the normal useful life of such a structural element, system or subsystem is not, by itself, a material defect.
Here, as elsewhere in the NACHI Standards, the adjective “significant” is used with no definition of the term. Also the term “unreasonable risk” is used with no definition of “unreasonable.” This leaves it open to an attorney to interpret what “significant” and “unreasonable” mean. A standard of practice should reduce the potential for such interpretations to as close to zero as possible.
Further, the definition of “material defect” as stated above requires an inspector to ascertain the “value” of the property and to then determine whether or not a given adverse condition will affect that value. Value is the purview of appraisers, not home inspectors.
Section **3. Limitations, Exceptions & Exclusions, subsection 3.1. Limitations: **part V. states: “An inspection does not determine the market value of the property or its marketability.” The Standards state in Subsection **3.2 Exclusions: subsection I.**part V."**The inspectors are not required to determine: “replacement or repair cost estimates.” Section 3.2. Exclusions: subsection I.**part F. states: "The inspectors are not required to determine: The cause for the need of repair or replacement of any system or component." How can an inspector determine if a condition will have “a significant adverse impact on the value of the real property” unless he or she knows the replacement or repair costs? This requires an inspector to be both “fish and fowl” at the same time.
Section 2.2. Exterior, subsection I. part C. of the NACHI Standards states: “**The inspector shall inspect: **And report as in need of repair any spaces between intermediate balusters, spindles, or rails for steps, stairways, balconies, and railings that permit the passage of an object greater than four inches in diameter.”
The International Residential Code – 2003states in section R312 GUARDS: R312.2Guard opening limitations. Required guards on open sides of stairways, raised floor areas, balconies and porches shall have intermediate rails or ornamental closures which do not allow passage of a sphere 4 inches (102mm) or more in diameter. “4 inches or more” is not the same as “greater than four inches.”
This NACHI Standards requirement is in error with regard to the term “accepted residential construction standards” in section 4. Glossary of Terms, part4.40. where “unsafe” is defined as: "A condition in a readily accessible, installed system or component which is judged to be a significant risk of personal injury during normal, day-to-day use. The risk may be due to damage, deterioration, improper installation or a change in accepted residential construction standards.” “Accepted residential construction standards” are building codes. Yet, section 3.2.Exclusions: subsection I. part H. states: "The inspectors are not required to determine: The compliance with codes or regulations."
Again, it’s “fish and fowl” at the same time. An inspector cannot evaluate any condition in accordance with the portion of the definition of “unsafe” which refers to "a change in accepted residential construction standards” without knowing every building code currently in force in every jurisdiction in which an inspection is being conducted and comparing and contrasting those conditions against those currently applicable building codes. This is requires performing an inspection for compliance with current codes.
This not only requires an inspector to determine “compliance with codes or regulations,” it also requires an inspector to ignore conditions which are “grandfathered” by a jurisdiction and to report them as “unsafe.” This would include “safety glazing” and “safety type glass” even though both are specifically excluded in the Standards. A competent and smart attorney would ask why, based on the Standards definition of “unsafe,” the Standards specifically exclude “safety glazing” and “safety type glass,” but not other potential “unsafe” installations.
I have no idea why the NACHI Standards use the term “safety type glass” in section 2.2 Exterior, subsection II. part G. and then use the term “safety glazing” in section 2.10 Doors, Windows & Interior (for some reason this heading is not in bold), subsection II. part C. The NACHI Standards Glossary defines “safety glazing” but not “safety type glass.” This is consistent with the preparation of the Standards by individuals who, though probably well-intentioned, don’t understand how to write such documents. As I’ve said time and time again, “in for a dime, in for a dollar.”
The NACHI Standards state in Section 2.6. Plumbing, subsection I. part K."The inspector shall: Inspect and report as in need of repair deficiencies in the water supply by viewing the functional flow in two fixtures operated simultaneously."
However, they state in subsection II. partD.“The inspector is not required to: Determine the exact flow rate, volume, pressure, temperature, or adequacy of the water supply.”
Flow is a function of volume, pressure, pipe size, and water restriction devices. It directly relates to the “adequacy of the water supply.” The term “functional flow” should be defined or the requirement regarding “functional flow” eliminated. ASHI has, to its credit, at least removed any reference to either “functional flow” or “functional drainage” from its Standards. Someone in ASHI realized that there is no plumbing industry or building code standard for anything termed “functional flow” or “functional drainage” which could be evaluated in the course of a home inspection.
With regard to flow, a client could claim that it didn’t matter if the inspector simultaneously operated the shower and flushed the toilet in a fixture group located in the highest level of the home and didn’t observe a “significant” reduction in volume or pressure. When the client moved in and the dishwasher and the washing machine were simultaneously operated with the shower, the volume and pressure (the functional flow) diminished to the point of making the shower useless. The fact that the report indicated that there were no issues regarding “functional flow” led the client to reasonably believe that the potable water supply system was sufficient to deliver adequate volume and pressure under any combination of fixture and appliance uses.
The NACHI Standards state in section 2.7. Electrical, subsection I."The inspector shall inspect:
A. The service line.
D. And determine the rating of the service amperage.
E. Panels, breakers and fuses.
F. The service grounding and bonding.
I. And report the presence of solid conductor aluminum branch circuit wiring if readily visible.
K. The service entrance conductors and the condition of their sheathing.
M. And describe the amperage rating of the service.
The Standards also state in subsection II. part C. “**The inspector is nor required to: **Remove panel covers or dead front covers if not readily accessible.”
However, the Standards state in section 3.2 Exclusions subsection III. part B. "The inspectors are not required to: Dismantle, open, or uncover any system or component." The contradiction here is obvious.
The Standards state in section 2.10 Doors, Windows & Interior,subsection **II. **parts K. and M. “The inspector is not required to: Operate or evaluate security bar release and opening mechanisms, whether interior or exterior, including compliance with local, state, or federal standards.”
The presence of non-operable security bars on sleeping room windows presents a “significant risk of personal injury during normal, day-to-day use.” and is clearly due “improper installation.” After a fire in which a child has died in a bedroom with inoperable security bars on the windows, an inspector would have a difficult time explaining to a jury why, in his judgment, it was important to report conditions such as the lack of anti-siphon protection at the hose bibs or the lack of GFCI protection at bathroom receptacle outlets in a 1970 home but not the inoperable bedroom window security bars – regardless of the Standards requirements.
The same can be said of the Standards’ exclusion of free-standing range/oven unit tilt guards.
Based on my familiarity with other home inspection standards of practice, the NACHI Standards appear to be a poorly cobbled together amalgam of several different existing standards of practice.