Anyone Done a Phase Inspection Under the New SOP?

I have a frame inspection scheduled tomorrow. The new SOP requires that inspectors use the REI 7A-1 report for ALL inspections performed on behalf of a prospective buyer.

There’s going to be an awful lot of “Not Present” and “Not inspected - Work In Progress” in this report.

It’s going to be underly ridiculous to document a pre-pour inspection with this form.

Chuck, the use of 7A-1 is not required for homes that are not substantially complete. TREC Rule 535.223 specifically exempts 7A-1 for “QC and phased inspections for builders” but it is silent on phase inspections for buyers. I’m sure you do not have to use the form for this purpose but I can’t put my finger on the rule right now. I’ve admitted to a senior moment and have the question out to several veteran inspectors. One, the past chairman of the Inspectors Advisory Committee already reported back that he says No, 7A-1 is not required for phase inspections but that it was only his opinion. If I get anything else tonite I’ll post it. You might also want to check back here before heading out tomorrow.

I contacted Larry Foster about this (via email) about the same time that I made the initial post.

In his reply, he stated “Apparently you have misunderstood the Rules of the Commission. Phases inspections have been exempted from the use of the form since we first adopted it and we strengthened that exemption recently. You can use any form for phase inspections unless you are doing a completed home for a buyer.”

This would be good news and consistent with the way I interpreted the rules for the prior version REI 7A. However when I read the rules for REI 7A-1, I don’t interpret it that way. I have sent Larry the following excerpts from section 535.223 of the rules http://www.trec.state.tx.us/pdf/rules/535.223.pdf and asked him to confirm, lest we get in trouble with TREC (emphasis added).

The first paragraph seems to set a default standard that all buyer/seller inspections are required to use the form. My interpretation of the exemption for phased construction inspections applies only if it is being performed for the builder or an entity other than a buyer/seller.

I hope that he’s right and I have missed an exemption that will allow us to use a more concise reporting method for these inspections.

I’ll post up what I hear back from him.

I seem to remember that “or buyer” was added to the wording of the phase inspection exemption during discussions last year on 535.223. If that is what Larry is referring to then I think it got left out of the final version of that chapter. I too had e-mailed him so let’s see what he replies with.

Get the forms for phased inspections, in Texas counties, here.
County Inspection Program
You may have to register with TRCC. And you may even be looking for something different.

George…you would use those forms when doing a phase inspection for a Builder under the County Inspection Program only. Chuck is looking to do a framing phase inspection for a Buyer and those forms are not applicable then. Lots of fun trying to keep track of all this isn’t it?

Yes, The TRCC forms are for Fee Inspections (i.e., private code compliance certification inspections) for builders in unincorporated areas. I’m certified to do them, but I’m not about to (builder’s wan’t want to pay may rates and there’s no immunity from liability for private inspectors as there is for municipal inspectors).

I haven’t heard back on the confirmation from Larry yet and I have a report to produce tonight. I’m just going to go ahead and use an abbreviated version like I did before the new SOP came out. If I get grief (not very likely), I’ll present Larry’s email in my defense.

I’ll post up whatever I do ultimately get back as a response.

I talked to another well seasoned, well qualified inspector that even teachs this very topic in one of his courses. He assures me that TREC has gone on record as stating 7A-1 is not required for phase inspections and they even cite the “not subtantially complete” clause that definitely is in the rules as their justification. I’m anxious to see if Larry can pinpoint something more precise.

I never did get a second reply from Larry Foster on this question. After rereading the TREC rules, I still feel that there is an inconsistency between what the rules state and what common sense and what we are being told regarding whether the form is required for Phase inspections.

Because of this, I am posting my dialog with Larry here for the record. I have elected NOT to use the TREC form for phase inspections. If I get grief from TREC, I’ll refer to this dialog as justification (older messages are at the bottom).

Dear Larry,

That may well be possible (I hope it’s the case). My perception that the rule applied to phase inspections for potential buyers was based on my first hand reading of the rules themselves. Specifically, it was these paragraphs of Section 535.223 that caused be to interpret it the way that I did (emphasis added).

(1) Except as provided by this section, inspections **performed for a prospective buyer or prospective seller **of one-to-four family residential property shall be reported on Form REI 7A-1 adopted by the Commission (“the standard form”).

(6) This section does not apply to the following:
(D) quality control construction inspections of new homes performed for builders, including phased construction inspections, inspections performed solely to determine compliance with building codes, warranty or underwriting requirements, or inspections required by a municipality and the builder or other entity requires use of a different report, and the first page of the report contains a notice either in bold or underlined reading substantially similar to the following: “This report was prepared for a builder or other entity in accordance with the builder’s requirements. The report is not intended as a substitute for an inspection of the property by an inspector of the buyer’s choice. Standard inspections performed by a Texas Real Estate Commission licensee and reported on Texas Real Estate Commission promulgated report forms may contain additional information a buyer should consider in making a decision to purchase.” If a report form required for use by the builder or builder’s employee does not contain the notice, the inspector may attach the notice to the first page of the report at the time the report is prepared by the inspector.
The first paragraph seems to set a default standard that all buyer/seller inspections are required to use the form. My interpretation of the exemption for phased construction inspections applies only if it is being performed for the builder or an entity other than a buyer/seller.

As I said, I hope your initial guidance is correct, but it’s not the way I’m interpreting the rule and I don’t want to run afoul of the commission.

I will be performing/documenting a frame inspection tomorrow and would very much like to use a more concise report form. If you would please confirm for me, I would greatly appreciate it.

Best regards,

Chuck Evans
Ph: (936) 522-8633
-----Original Message-----
From: Larry Foster [mailto:Larry@fosterinspections.com]
Sent: Monday, February 23, 2009 10:47 PM
To: Chuck@homecert.com
Subject: RE: TREC REI 7A-1 Form Policy Request
Dear Sir:

Apparently you have misunderstood the Rules of the Commission. Phases inspections have been exempted from the use of the form since we first adopted it and we strengthened that exemption recently. You can use any form for phase inspections unless you are doing a completed home for a buyer. The commission actually exempts buyer orientation performed for a builder and buyer from using the form as long as the orientation form contains a statement that the orientation is not an inspection for the purposes of the Texas Rules.

Please visit the TREC web site for the rules. www.trec.state.tx.us

If you received this information from an educator or school, I would interested in knowing that so that we can communicate accurate information to them for dissemination.

I personally have been performed phase inspections for 30 years and fully understand the differences and the need to use a form or format that pertains specifically to the type of inspection performed.

I hope this helps you.

Sincerely,

Larry J. Foster, Professional Inspector #3
Foster Inspections & Construction Consulting, Inc.
3800 Ben Garza Lane
Austin, TX 78749-1512
512-440-7141
512-440-7144 Fax

[INDENT]From: Chuck@homecert.com [mailto:Chuck@homecert.com]
Sent: 2009-02-23 10:05 PM
To: Larry Foster
Subject: TREC REI 7A-1 Form Policy Request

Larry,

I’m submitting this request to you as the Chairperson of the TREC Inspector Advisory Committee.

My request pertains to the required use of TREC Form REI 7A-1 for all prospective buyer inspections. In particular, its use for construction phase inspections (e.g., foundation pre-pour and frame/pre-cover inspections). While I do understand the desire to utilize a standardized format and to retain all of the standard property, client and inspector information as well as the preamble; it does not seem to be well advised to require that all of the additional sections (e.g., appliances) be required to be maintained in reports for types of inspections where they are irrelevant. In the case of a pre-pour inspection, the vast majority of standard content sections and subsections are simply inapplicable. All of this extraneous content actually makes it more difficult for the client to sift through to find the actual relevant items in the report, the rest simply becomes clutter.

My suggestion is: retain the requirement to use the base form for construction phase inspections performed on behalf of prospective buyers including: standard demographic data, headers, footers, preamble, checkboxes, typeface, etc. But allow the inspector to delete sections and subsections which are not applicable to the type of phase inspection being performed and renumber remaining sections as appropriate, maintaining the same relative order. This change would help clean up these specialty reports by removing useless clutter, which in turn, will help the consumer to more readily locate the report findings which are really relevant to them.

I would appreciate it if the committee would consider revising this requirement.

Best regards,[/INDENT]

This is an old thread. But the issue still remains in the canyon of my mind. We decided what forms to use - and I gather that decision is to make up our own - we can can go out and do the PRE-POUR, PRE-SHEETROCK, AND THE FINAL PRIOR TO CLOSING. I assume the last one is to be done on TREC 7A-1 form.

My questions for rhetorical consideration: What are we inspecting? Is it a QC inspection for the buyer that involves inspecting for good workman-like construction and for all practical purposes, APPEARS to comply with CODE? Or, is it a CODE COMPLIANCE inspection, where we certify to our client that every last detail of construction meets code requirements under the code for that location, thereby assuming all liability for non-code complying litigation then and “down the road”? What is the stated intent or purpose of a phased inspection - just go out there and “look around”? Do we see this standardized with a form promulgated by TREC for this purpose and it should be a QC inspection oriented to good workmanlike manner? TPREA may want to start a committee to put something together? What the consumer is getting with a phased inspection report - just leaving it up to any inspector to decide its purpose and content? Is this confusing to the consumer? I would bet the average consumer who wants one expects it to be a CODE COMPLIANCE inspection for which we are fully liable and expects to pay some token for it.

We as a home inspection industry could define the intent of the 3 phase inspection for the client (and for me:)), what we are NOT liable for, etc. similar to the front page of TREC 7A-1.

Inspectors may not provide this service because it is difficult to define what the purpose of the 3 phase inspection actually is. How to market a QC inspection, if that is what it is. And, if the inspector is qualified and well-insured, and lives for increased liability, how to market and inspect for Code Compliance inspection. How do we meet the clients expectations when we may not know what they are - this is a little bit foggy for me. Is a SOP for PRE-POUR and PRE-SHEETROCK inspection appropriate for our industry? Just some thoughts.

Stephen,

There are many examples of phase inspection forms on the internet. Code departments often have them. The INACHI site probably has some.

Your liability is usually defined by your contract with the client. You need a lawyers advice on this. Their is an implied warranty aspect.

Getting IRC Certified is important.

If I did phase inspections I would create a very specific check list based on code and proceed room by room documenting carefully. I suspect the average client is looking for a combination of code and manufacturer installation. There are aspects you might depart from in the contract. For example: utility distribution sizing calculations. load calculations etc.

Phase inspection can be a big apple to bite. There are other aspects to new construction inspection. For example draw or completion inspections.

Your clients expectations need to be explored and a well written contract used.

I Googled “phase inspection forms” and a lot of hits came up. The first one I clicked is a good start. http://www.marana.com/DocumentCenter/Home/View/3766

Good luck.

Thanks, John.

John, I did want to add:
I have been a Certified ICC Code Combination Inspector for some time. Ex homebuilder in younger days.

My thought was that there needs to be a written definition of “Phase Inspections” for our inspection industry. Maybe terms need to be developed to distinguish the different “Phased Inspections” that consumers want. IT occurs to me that it can mean something different. When an inspector tells a CONSUMER they do “Phase Inspections” it can mean a different thing. Basically, when an inspector tells consumers he can mean:

  1. A inspector could provide “Phase inspections” as a contractor in lieu of city inspections for new construction. In this, he does the same inspection as a city inspector and is liable for all the inspection-unlike a city inspector. He holds himself out to not only inspect structural, but also inspects work for which a contractor must be licensed, such as Plumbing, Electrical, and Mechanical work during the Pre-Drywall stage. This indeed is a “big bite” for a property inspector to take. i.e. What qualifies the inspector to perform “Code Compliant Inspections” and take the liability, inspect the work of licensed contractors, and render an opinion? I don’t consider myself qualified just because I am ICC certified or have experience as a home builder. Even city inspectors have inspectors for just Structural and some else for Plumbing and then again someone else for Electrical and then even someone else for Mechanical. (Then again, maybe just one individual can do it all. But this seems appropriate for an Inspection Firm that has specialized inspectors available to perform each of these.)

OR
2. He can provide a “Phase Inspection” that includes of a Pre-Pour (work follows plan and done in a proper manner), Pre-DryWall (just structural), and Final (similar to a typical property inspection now done on the TREC form. This I can see an individual inspector typically being qualified for.

But my point is, and maybe you addressed it, It must be spelled out what you are going to do in your work contract. And it seems that for #2 above, a standard contract could be developed.

I took your Phased Inspections seminar so time back but it did not address the business aspects of doing Phased Inspections. That’s the course I would like to take if available. Maybe there are some books out there. Oh well, thanks for your comments.