Burnt house

Hi guys,

i have this customer who have bought a house 3 years ago, he didn’t hire a inspector at that time, (he eared is lesson) 2 weeks ago, he start demolishing the interior of his house for renovation and “SURPRISE” he found that a year or 2 before he bought the house the owner had a fire, he collect insurance, go it fix himself after 2 years sell it to my client without a word on that fire.

i went inspect the house this afternoon, the bottom parts of the truss in the attic has burnt more then a half, to screw the drywall up they double the truss with strapping, more than 3/4 of the stud around the window is burnt, if you push in the front door entry, the door goes out with the casing and everything,

my client want to bring the last owner in court and i need a little help with this one,

so how would you start this report?
i will have to go in court with my client and he is a good man and he is working hard for his money

Thanks for your time guy’s, very appreciated :cool:

All you can/should do is write up the defects you found during the inspection in an unbiased, complete and accurate manner. Nothing more, nothing less.

I have that boilerplate that I use for the occasion.

· **Major Concern:**The roof structure and other areas of the house shows evidence of severe fire damage. The extent of char on the visible fire damaged members appears to have weakened these members to the point where they need to be replaced. The extent of visible damage suggests that further damage exists. Here’s what we recommend:

  1. Find out the history of this fire and the extent to which it involved the building, since there could be additional hidden damage or improper repair work. The local fire department may have a record of what occurred.
  2. Ask to see any plans and permits, including the inspection report for the remedial work performed.
  3. Obtain an indoor air quality report from an IAQ specialist to confirm there are no air quality issues resulting from fire or the chemicals used in the remedial work.
  4. Obtain prior approval for homeowners insurance and financing on the building.
  5. Consult a structural engineer who is familiar with fire damage to further evaluate this condition and provide repair recommendations.

Hope this helps,

I had almost the same situation about five years ago. I was called to do an inspection on a house that had a fire in the basement. The damage was professionally repaired but there was still a faint smoke odour. I wrote the report and documented with photos the visible damage (very little was visible). My client proceeded to court.
The judge dismissed the case “caveat emptor” (buyer beware) and advised my client that she should have had the inspection before she bought the property.

When I inspect a property, I routinely check with:

  1. Local authority.
  2. Fire prevention service
  3. Insurer’s database I have (privileged) access to

A case a few years ago indicated an attic fire and the owner, an elderly lady, although she was the owner at the time, unfortunately didn’t remember anything about it when we pointed it out to her.

This complements the “caveat emptor” that judge suggested.


First thing to look for is bypass burn marks at the attic hatch. If you are fortunate you might find the sheathing has traces of ashes in the crevices.
In your case it is obvious and all you can do is spend extra time adding as much detail to the report as you can.

If the House had a Fire that was repaired thru the prior Homeowner’s Insurance,
then the current Owner’s Insurance Carrier was also aware…
CLUE Reports…
something does not sound right…

Joseph, first owner collect insurance after a fire in is house and he fix the house himself, 2 years after he sold it to my client without a word.

then my client start to demolish for renovation and found it, town authority told my client to leave the house for safety reason, to much damaged to the truss and walls

thanks for your help guys, i just wanted to see how you would do a report on that

NAILED don’t you just love your job GUY!

The report is finally done!
136 pages, i insert study’s on prefab truss exposed to fire, study’s on the way that engineers calculate strength degradation of wood stud after a fire, there is a lot of info at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

a other Customer happy !

if one of the InterNACHI’s guys need some info on burnt house, let me know i will be happy to help

That is what separates us from the pack Guy. Good for you and I hope that the referral was worth the hard work.

Kevin, do you think $85.00 a hour is fair?

i charge him $85.00 a hour to do the report for a total $1300.00 and i think he found it a little expensive, he wanted me in court and i told him that i used to charge $125.00 a hour, again he told me that he had to think about it.

am i to expensive ?
i don’t think i am, what do you charge for something like this Kevin?

But his current Insurer should have made him aware of a prior Fire when he obtained his own policy.
There may be more Liability against his Insurer and Seller’s Insurer than seeking compensation from the prior Home Owner.

As the current owner waived his right to exercise due diligence at the time of purchase
, he will have a very difficult time proving his case against the prior owner…

No I would have said $100.00/hr but I would also have offered to appear in court.
Cases that my clients have one are by report only along with the pictures.
No contest at all and settled without dispute.

yea, you got it in a different way, maybe better, should i offer him a lower rate for the court?
he was really happy about the report but the price cool thing down a little

Before i forget, he (my client) hired a contractor to fix his house, but before starting the repair on the house his contractor built a brand new garage,

so i met my client in the garage when i gave him the report, his contractor has screw the safety device for the garage door on to the ceiling face to face beside the motor, so i told him they usually get installed each side of the door, but his contractor has told him to not install them to each side of the door because child always playing with them and they will be damage.

ding ding

he will probably bring his contractor in court later on Hi hi hi !:mrgreen:

Funny I have seen this too Guy! It must be one of those things going around to all smart Contractors.:smiley:

This story just goes further downhill…
The Homeowner is alleging Incompetence in Repair by prior Contractors…
and then engages in contracts with more Incompetent Contractors…
When he loses in Court,
He needs to sell this story to TruTV…
maybe recover some of his losses

Report only your findings.
Be unbiased in your thinking Guy.
Report on what your see only and not what your heard!
I would address my PIA “personal inspection agreement” to be a limited inspection on possible structural defects due to a "SUSPECT " PAST FIRE
That’s all.
Structural, Plumbing, Electrical, etc.

Good luck buddy.