Another TREC Inspector Conundrum

I recently completed the online TREC Legal and Ethics Couse. The course includes a lot of text from TREC including a “Hot Topics” section, the contents which, IIRC, were derived from the responses TREC gave to questions submitted by inspectors.

One of the Hot Topics was CSST bonding requirements and inspector reporting obligations when one encounters CSST in the course of inspecting a home

In consecutive paragraphs, within the same topic, TREC offered the following two statements (emphasis added)

Of course, if one were to interpret these two statements literally, our intrepid inspector must determine if the CSST is bonded, but doesn’t have to determine if it’s properly bonded…

So which statement is the truth? Inquiring minds who are subject to TREC enforcement actions want to know.

IMO… you nailed it!

That’s screwed up Chuck. If something were to go wrong because it was not properly bonded, what would happen then.?

This topic is the quintessential example of TREC regulatory insanity. It’s an old subject. Let’s start with basic SoP and GFCI.

  • SoP say do not have to inspect to code.
  • You have to report SoP “specific” items that might be code based but the TREC report explains that some specific SOP items are "grandfathered " and FYI only. Example: You have to report only SOME missing GFCI as deficient. The SoP was written using 1996 code as a reference. The 1996 code did not include the kitchen refrigerator which new code does. Do you have to report missing GFCI in a 1960 original bathroom as deficient? Yes. Do you have to report missing GFCI at 2008 original kitchen refrigerator location as deficient? No.

Apply this logic to CSST.

Take a home built in 2002 in Ft Worth. It has CSST. It is not direct bonded. It has a code permit. Direct bonding was not required. Was it legal then? Yes. Is it legal now? Yes. Does it meet new manufacturer instructions? No.

Question to TREC. Do I have to inspect to code? No
Question to TREC. Do I have to determine the year built? No
Question to TREC. Do I have to determine remodeling history and code cycles? No
Question to TREC. Is the home built in 2002 without direct bonding but approved by the city a TREC deficiency? It is not specified in the SoP, therefore no.
Question to TREC. Does the word “proper” mean “to the most current code publication (not adoption)”? TREC does not define “proper” therefore no.
Question to TREC. Does the word “proper” mean “to manufacturer instructions”? TREC does not define “proper” therefore no.
Question to TREC. Does the inspector have to trace or verify the bond integrity? No.
Question to TREC. Is proper bonding based on appearance only? Yes
Question to TREC. Is the home built in 2002 without direct bonding a TREC deficiency? No
Question to TREC. Is the home built in 2016 without direct bonding a TREC deficiency? No, it is not specified in the SoP. The inspector must determine proper bonding but does not have to verify it or determine if it meets code.

All of this blah blah blah. When the CSST issue came about the manufacturers were trying to diffuse their liability by lobbying for states to require inspectors to report lack of direct bonding. The CSST manufacturers were making the home inspector the patsy for their product liability. TREC realized if they required reporting the absence of direct bonding as deficient they would set a precedent for all homes to be inspected to the latest code publication in every respect, with disregard to grandfathering. This would cause TREC to appear to supersede the code and AHJ. It would cause real estate sales problems. TREC was screwed if they said “no” or “yes” so they said “PROPER”.

I wrote several other RFI questions to TREC to clarify the topics of code and manufacturer instructions. Stack them up and you can defend any related complaint. This entire topic is political.

Conclusion: Answer the CEU course so you can pass and get the credits. Inspect your way and move on. A good inspector can write a concise report statement to comply with all the arguments.

I recommend all CSST be inspected by a person approved by the manufacturer to the manufacturer standards, all AHJ requirements, and the requirements of their homeowner insurance company. If I report a deficiency it is partial in context.

USAA sued a home inspector for a CSST fire (I can say this because it is public record). The home met code. The inspector’s insurance paid to settle the case. The CSST manufacturers and homeowner insurance companies pose extreme danger to inspectors. Learn to deal with it.

If you see a rattlesnake it is very easy to walk around it. Image attached



The whole concept behind the TREC rules are “You’re not suppose to know what your suppose to know until called on by TREC to explain what you’re suppose to know!”. :wink:

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I figure we can get some documentation of inconsistencies on the record in order to assist the next inspector who gets caught up in a disciplinary action over it. I expected John Cahill to comment also (he did not disappoint) with his excellent advice on wording reports to avoid the potential traps.

Will this information get submitted to the sunset commission

No words needed …:neutral: