Covering yourself

I am a new inspector, well still in school, but I was wondering why an inspector wouldn’t just put in his report that a qualified or licensed…contractor, electrician, roofer, etc. is recommended, (just to cover your butt) and explain to the buyer verbally that the roof, plumbing or whatever, looks good and that recommendation is always in the report. You would think if there was ever a lawsuit that you could pull out the report and say hey I told him to get a roofer! (or plumber, or electrician etc)
Just a thought.
Hope I don’t sound like I don’t know what I’m doing :slight_smile:

If you are going to pass everything off to someone else, why hire you?

Learn the profession, do it well and be responsible for your actions.

Well said Larry


Just wondering. I have a lot to learn about the biz. I wasn’t planning on doing it, just thought of it when I heard someone say to always call for a level 2 chimney inspection, which should always be done when selling a house. Like I said in my post, I hope it doesn’t sound like I don’t know what I am doing. I know I don’t know what I am doing… yet, but I do want to learn! That’s why I came to InterNACHI.

Many inspectors think they can stop reporting issues with a system when the total issues exceeds a certain number and just refer it to a contractor. This is not only ethically wrong but not allowed in NC or SC. The SOP’s do not provide for taking these shortcuts at all. It is not uncommon to find 20 electrical issues in a house, you have to report each one and the location but its ok to recommend an electrician make all repairs that he deems necessary, just not to recommend he finish the inspection. Contractors can work off a list fairly well but perform poorly at inspection work.

Are there really people out there that will find an ungrounded 3 prong outlet at the beginning of an inspection and call out for an electrician to evaluate the rest of the system without going any further?

Let me know if I am wrong in doing this:

I call out for further evaluation and repair by qualified, licensed electrical contractor when I find ungrounded outlets, reverse polarity, non functioning GFCI outlet or breaker, double taps, over or undersized breakers and wires, etc…

So I am reporting all the problems I find and call out for further evaluation. Is that wrong? Not the same as above! Definitely a big difference in finding one thing and deferring the entire system to be further inspected by electrician and finding all you can find and derferring to electrician for further evaluation and repair.

I think it is important to call for further evaluation because there could be other things effected by the problem you found that you can’t see to evaluate.

Does any of this make sense? Just want to make sure I am not perceiving my job responsibilities the wrong way. :slight_smile:

CYA is the name of the game

But the best way to CYA is to

EDUCATE…what would usually be a disclaimer should be education…and let the client determine from there.

I frequently recommend a professional, licensed person, whatever…but with proper education the client can determine what’s best for his/her needs.

RR said so. Educate–Educate–Educate.

Best CYA there is.

I agree Jae. Explaining to the customer what something means and why something should be done and why something happens is huge!

They really appreciate the knowledge you have given them.

I think everyone should remove the word evaluate from their vocabularies go as far as inspection reports go. I simply recommend repair or replacement for obvious defects. Why would someone else need to evaluate something that I found not to be working as intended. Just fix it!

Good point Scott!

But wouldn’t it make sense to have it fixed and in certain cases “further evaluated” to make sure that there isn’t some other underlying problem?

The phrase has it’s place, but in my opinion it is is overused by a lot of inspectors once they get comfortable using it. I look at it like someone who constantly says “Ummmm” when they are speaking. People use it all the time and get in a pattern that they have a hard time breaking.

Good point again!

Could you give me an example of what you would say in a case where you find a good portion of ungrounded outlets, a couple reverse polarity maybe one dead outlet and GFCI outlet in a bathroom that won’t trip?

Just curious as I always strive to improve myself.

In the case of ungrounded outlets my report would state that there were multiple ungrounded 3 prong outlets. Recommend further evaluation and repair by qualified, licensed electrical contractor.
I would also, at the time of inspection, inform the client that there could be several different causes for an ungrounded reading. No ground wire attached to each particular outlet, one outlet upstream not grounded that could throw the rest off, etc…

Wouldn’t that be a case for further evaluation since there could be multiple reasons for that particular defect?

I love this message board, by the way! :smiley:

I typically write something along the lines:

“Multiple receptacles based on a representative sampling were noted as being ungrounded at the time of inspection at XYZ locations. It is recommended that these be repaired by a qualified electrical contractor and any similar occurrences be identified and repaired as well.”

It is not my job to go around testing every single receptacle and document what is wrong with each one. That would be considered technically exhaustive according to the SOP’s. We are only required to test a representative sampling.

I understand the representative number of outlets concept. But should we test any outlet that is within reach, not being used and visible?

I test any outlet available in every room. This ends up being a representative number due to most rooms having some covered by furniture or in use. I guess I feel I would not be doing my client any favors by skipping any outlet that it accessible.

If the home is vacant I test every outlet. Why not? Doesn’t take but 2 seconds. And I might find something that should have been caught. I don’t want to miss the reverse polarity in the one outlet I didn’t test, that I had access to. Or I check just a couple outlets per room and all seems ok, I report no problems and when they move in they have dead outlets or some other defect that I missed and all I had to do is bend over and test the other two outlets in that room. Something that could have been caught by me, wrote in the report as in need of repair, and fixed by the seller before closing or at the very least fixed by the buyer because it was no big deal to them, no surprise.

Make sense or am I way off base here?

Does that make any sense?

Mark -

Its perfectly correct to refer to a LICENSED & COMPETENT something, and recommend that he EVALUATE the ENTIRE xxxxxx system in the house. Such as a 50 year old $650,000 house we did 2 weeks ago.

Comments from the SUMMARY page regarding the electrical system.

We noted various electrical conditions in the branch circuits that should be serviced and repaired by a licensed and competent electrician. These conditions include among others:

  1. Multiple extension cord(s) were being used for permanent wiring. This is a common but improper wiring practice and should be properly corrected;  
  2. Open electrical junction boxes with exposed wire splices present at the basement, attic, garage, rear porch; 
  3. Wires exposed on walls or ceilings (wires should be in wall cavities or conduit); 
  4. The GFCI outlet in the kitchen would trip manually but would not trip with a test meter; ALL bath GFCI's are defective (not resetting);
  5. Most of the 1st floor of the house & screened porch had reversed polarity outlets (except the kitchen, family room and bathroom); 
  6. Most of the 2nd floor of the house had ungrounded 3-prong outlets (except the bathrooms); 
  7. The 240v wire ends at the electric furnace were exposed and not in conduit; 
  8. There will likely be other conditions that a competent and licensed electrician determines are in need of service and repair once he **EVALUATES** the **FULL **electrical system. 

We noted various electrical conditions in the main OR sub-panels that should be serviced and repaired by a licensed and competent electrician. These conditions include among others:

  1. Ground and neutral wires mixed on the same buss bar or connector at sub-panels; 
  2. No insulation on some of the neutral wiring at the equipment gutter; 
  3. Unterminated wires loose in the panel; 
  4. Multiple splices in the main ground wire; 
  5. The gutter is so full it can not be covered (overstuffed); 
  6. Improper or incomplete bonding at the main panel and gutter; 
  7. Multiple wires on circuits designed for only 1 wire (120v and 240v); 
  8. Breakers and fuses oversized for the wires at the basement and 2nd floor closet; 
  9. Melting, corrosion and scorching inside 3 of the basement panels; 
  10. Unprotected openings and missing wire clamps at basement panels;
  11. Missing or improper handle ties (a nail) at basement 240v breakers;
  12. MOST of the electrical circuits were not labeled as to their usage. Besides being inconvenient, this prevents us from determining if the circuit, wire, breaker, fuse, etc being used is correctly sized for its purpose;
  13. There was a fused 400 Amp main disconnect and at least 8 sub-panels (basement, 2nd floor bedroom closet and outbuilding). The sub-panels are a combination of fuse panels and breaker panels. EVERY panel had 1 or more defects and MOST were not labeled as to their purpose or function.
  14. The main disconnect has a 40 Amp wire under its lugs feeding the rear A/C;
  15. There will likely be other conditions that a competent and licensed electrician determines are in need of service and repair once he EVALUATES the FULL electrical system.

There were MANY electrical conditions present that indicate there has been an EXTREMELY liberal approach to proper installation practices. This type of installation has the potential to become problematic in the future. We recommend having a licensed and competent electrician read **ALL **of the inspection report; evaluate the buildings **FULL **electrical system and conditions; then service, repair or replace ALL unreliable conditions or deficiency’s in a safe and proper manner prior to closing.

YEP … There comes a point in time to say $crew it AND it becomes Perfectly Acceptable AND very intelligent to dump this puppy elsewhere.

ALWAYS remember 1 real important point. YOU the home inspector are the initial cursory screening process … NOT the final prescription most of the time.

Mark -

One other thing - 90% of the time you can NOT see the entire length of the fireplace flue OR totally verify its FULL condition. Thus this comment:

The flue was not fully visible. Therefore, it is impossible for a visual home inspection to determine with certainty whether a flue is free of defects. The NFPA (National Fire Prevention Association) recommends that all chimneys be inspected before buying or selling a home. In our opinion this is a prudent recommendation. We recommend having a Certified Chimney Specialist conduct a Level II inspection of the chimney and flue, etc. prior to closing escrow.

I just don’t like the further evaluation stuff. That’s why I’m there, to evaluate.

I typically list the electrical issues I find and put something like

“Have these issues repaired by a qualified electrician, along with any other issues the electrician finds while conducting repairs.”

Gee Dan, I must have stolen your flue comment from some other time as mine reads a lot (did I say “a lot”) like yours, except it is the National Fire Protection (not Prevention) Association that makes that level II recommendation in NFPA 211 section 14.5.

Mine now reads: (I delete either “fireplace” or “solid fuel stove” to make it specific to the inspection as necessary. It’s easier for me to delete one, than type one in.

[FONT=Calibri]The flue of the fireplace - solid fuel stove was not fully visible. Therefore, I cannot (within the limits of this visual home inspection) determine with certainty whether the flue is free of defects. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)]( recommends that all chimneys & flues have a "Level II* Chimney Inspection (which will include an examination of the chimney interior by video scanning or other comparable means of inspection) before the home is bought. I agree with that and I also recommend having a Certified Chimney Specialist (who can be found though either or ) conduct a Level II inspection of the chimney and flue, etc. prior to closing escrow.[/FONT]
[FONT=Calibri]Of course, I don’t use it when I can see all the way up the flue.[/FONT]
[FONT=Calibri]Thanks for letting me steal it, whenever it was.[/FONT]

I seldom if ever use the term “further evaluation”. As a beginner I did use it when HVAC systems were not functioning properly, as in further evaluation and repairs by a licensed HVAC…

Although I now write something more like “the air conditioner did not…diagnosis and repair of the issue(s) by a licensed HVAC…”

Man, my chimney statement is real close to Dans and Erbys, but I got it from Joe Farsetta. Who stole from who? :D:D:D