How do you answer this.

Had an inspection on Monday. Pretty clean rowhouse style condo. Two real problems, though.

  1. The stairway had no handrails, but had a “half wall” on the exterior of the stairway with a 1 1/2 x 3 1/2" wide wooden plank on the top. This is not a “graspable” handrail as required.
  2. The electrical panel was buried in a 3’ deep kitchen cabinet. The seller had the kitchen remodeled and they buried the panel. Also, they put the cabinet back between the panel (flush with the wall) and the dead front so that there was 1 1/2" of space around the breakers.

I called these both out, but the seller’s lawyer want’s chapter and verse from the local code (Chicago) before they will change or provide a give-back for repairs.

With regards to the handrail, they stated “the stairways currently have handrails built into the half-wall along each flight. The architectural design will be diminished by adding extra railing…”. I want to respond "Sure, it’s all well and good and “architecturally designed” until someone breaks a hip.

I responded with diagrams from The Illustrated Home and told the buyer to have the seller prove that these things ARE compliant. Put the burden back on the seller.


I don’t understand or identify with your need to “respond”.

When I provide a report … a report that is acknowledged by all parties to the pre-inspection agreement and repeated in the printed report as NOT being a code inspection … my role in the transaction is concluded.

It is a lot of info but should be in here .
I did a ctrl F and started narrowing it down.$fn=default.htm$3.0$vid=amlegal:chicagobuilding_il

Thanks for the hot line to my sub panel question earlier today however after listening to everyone it was inconclusive so it seems Chicago is just strange and open to interpretation to suit the AHJ for some reason…lol
attachment not hyper linking but you can copy paste to the url bar.

OK I found this one which is open to interpretation.Small image but click on it and you can see it.

Site does not like copy so I screen shot it.

Because that is how he rolls…:slight_smile:

To each his own. I would respond with a click and a dial tone.

The only time I get involved explaining such things to a seller (or their agent, attorney, etc.) is if the deal falls through and they come back to me with a case of sour grapes or genuinely want to understand why the item is listed as defective and only then if my client gives the OK.

I never insinuate myself into the negotiating process with the seller. If my client comes back to me asking for this type of information to aid them in their negotiations I will gladly provide it and explain the implications of fixing or not fixing it. If the client doesn’t care that the handrail is not graspable, then it is not a concern for me. My job is to inform them about the house so that they can make their own informed decisions, not manage the negotiation or decide who must fix what or even if anything gets fixed.

Of course Texas rules are undoubtedly different than Il.

Point them to page 9. I don’t see why Chicago would be any different from the IRC.

Yet as home inspectors most of our information comes from the codes

I guess you gotta understand the local mentality. No agent of RE lawyer takes our word for it. This is kinda like a lawyer coming up to you, standing over a person that you just murdered, and telling you that murder is a crime and you responding “Prove it. Quote me chapter and verse of the state criminal code before I will even consider you to be correct.”

I was answering an e-mail from the client. If I don’t respond, the clients tend to think that I don’t know what I am talking about. In reality, it us usually the contractors and the architects that don’t have a clue.


In that case, I would respond … as I often have … to my client when a seller, contractor or builder objects to having a defect reported about their house or their work.

Usually my advice to them is, as it would be in this case, to understand that there is no obligation on the seller’s part to correct the defects that I pointed out and that sellers often attempt to convince buyers of their own interpretation of very minimum basic standards to justify to them (buyers, such as my client) why they do not want to spend the money to fix the problem. I stand by my report and my client must simply decide whether or not they wish to purchase the home in its present deficient condition.

When the seller has engaged a lawyer to respond to their demands I suggest to my client the likelihood of needing legal representation as well, if they intend to proceed with their demands, since the lawyer strictly represents the financial interests of the seller, much as does his real estate salesman.

Only a foolish home inspector would extend himself beyond this by actually providing code references to the seller’s lawyer through his client and falling into the trap that the lawyer is setting for him, IMO. Skilled attorneys never ask questions for the record that they do not already know the answers to or have a designed purpose for asking.

Smart home inspectors know that … when codes have been adopted by ordinance … they become “law” and, accordingly, will stand by their “opinions” and encourage their clients to seek legal advice from those qualified to provide it.

Around here, people are sane and have not (yet) drunk the NAR Kool-Aid. That is why everyone (buyers and sellers) use a Real Estate lawyer as well as an agent, although the agent is sometimes optional (do it yourself).

That’s why we often wind up dealing with lawyers.

Hope this helps;

If you end up “dealing with lawyers” it is by choice. It is wise to deal with clients … and let clients deal with lawyers.

That’s why I answered the client e-mail. I, regularly, get lawyers calling me, mainly the client’s lawyer asking for prices to be attached to the defects, so they can ask for give backs. I used to answer them, but found out that when I would say “Oh, that should cost about $200”, they would respond, “OK, so we will ask for $400”. So I quit doing that. Around here, the cost to fix something can vary as much as 300%, based upon whether the work is done by licensed and insured tradesmen or just a random handyman.

Now, I respond a) I can’t talk to you without specific, written permission from your client (that gets them good and mad ;^#]) or b) “I am sorry, but I have no clue as to how much that would cost to fix. Sorry.”

Hope this helps;

I usually respond with something along the lines of, “Well…, we can contact the local code official and see what he has to say about it and while we are at it, are permits required for the work performed? I am sure there are a record of those, right?”

I already pasted the applicable code on post #4 which should do it.
That is Chicago municipal.

Will -

I don’t let myself get pulled into meaningless arguments OR peeing contests / ESPECIALLY with anyone not my customer. Depending on MY mood and FREE time, I might say:

I’m sorry, I was pointing out a safety concern to my customer. I believe you’re talking code … Have you not read the real estate contract BECAUSE if you had, I DO NOT remember it saying this was a code inspection. ARE you new at this OR have they changed the contracts??

OR I might simply say … This is NOT a code inspection , you seem confused about the purpose of the inspection. MANY things (like lead paint, asbestos, no smoke detectors, etc) WERE acceptable 35 years ago that are NOW considered a concern. IF I understand you correctly as GOING down on RECORD as saying this ******* is NOT a safety concern; will NEVER be a SAFETY concern to MY customer; AND you agree to take FULL financial responsibility for MY customer if it harms THEM … Is that what you’re saying.

WE have been way to polite over the years … SLAM the door on their nuts / YOU are the expert in this NOT them.

OR for your customer you might say …

FYI - During the course of an inspection, we may comment on conditions that have the potential to be safety concerns or that are not installed correctly. Often the owner or a real estate agent is confused by our comments, because this [FONT=Arial][size=2]condition may have been present for years and has never been harmful to anyone. [/size][/FONT]We sometimes hear owners,  agents, or even a buyer say they called the utility company, a contractor or a local code inspector and were told that the installation of what we had talked about is OK because it was like that when it was built - so its “grandfathered”.

[FONT=Arial][size=2][size=3]If it is the original 15, 20, 30 or 40 year old system or component, they may [/size][/size][/FONT]be technically correct. An older system or component may be “grandfathered” by building code authorities. However, that does not prevent it from being a safety concern OR make it a correct installation by current standards. If you asked the same person the question - is this a safety issue and installed correctly - you would often get a whole different answer than “its grandfathered because it met the building code when it was built”.

If however the component or system in question has been changed out, added or installed in recent years it is often required by most code departments to: (a) have been installed with a permit, (b) to have been inspected by the code department, and © the new installation would need to meet current safety standards and proper installation practices. Now that you have the information we’ve provided, you can make your own decision as to the direction you intend to take - BUY / NO BUY

Will -

Stacey Van Houtan made up this form about 12 years ago for his own use AND then shared it with many local NAHI, ASHI, NACHI inspectors. You met him out in Boulder at an IR class you and John McKena taught about 5 years ago.

I found it very useful in dealing with plumbers, electricians, realtors attorney’s, etc WHO wanted to DISPUTE your report. Its very simple - ALL they have to do is state WHAT they dispute; why they dispute it; their competence/license/etc to dispute it; then agree to take full financial responsibility to make the CUSTOMER whole if it turns out they’re wrong or the buyer or their property gets damaged.

EMAIL me back and ask how many times I’ve had a BLUBBER mouth sign it.

That then obviously tells your customer where BLUBBER mouth is coming from real quick.

As a Consultant,
I am contracted to point out perceived deficiencies.

the Contracted Party
will then respond per the AOS Contract.

Where the discussions go from there between Buyer / Seller / Attorney/ Realtor
I have no involvement in…

Since I started in 2000,
I have always requested that Contractor’s disputing my findings,
Present their position on Business letterhead with a copy forwarded along to me…

In over 7500 + Inspections,
I have yet to receive a letter…