Putting everything in a report.

Many of the homes I inspect are older, and are riddled with so many issues and discrepancies. Some I could spend all day picking apart. What is the best course for documenting many issues in one place. A good example is in a basement today. Several open junction boxes, unsecured wires, poor wiring in general. I personaly just say there are several electical issues in the basement and refer it to a licensed individual. Any thoughts?

We are generalists. We are the preferred doctor who refers people who have defects to other specialists. Too many issues in one area; you could miss some. Do the general thing. You said it yourself.

From my Agreement…

“The report shall reflect the general condition of the structural components, but not necessarily all explicit component conditions if they should be plentiful.”

If I find many instances of a patricular problem (open boxes, reversed polatity, bad walls, bad plumbing fixtures, exterior masonry, etc) I show (via pictures) a couple (like two) specific examples and defer the whole mess to a licensed and insured XXX contrator.

I do not want to write a report specifying each and every specific case of the problem.

Hope this helps;

I usually document a few of the issues individually and add "at various locations"in the basement or whatever area is effected as an adjective.
Once had clients last year that were U of C lawyers and complained I had not documented the exact location of every loose face plate on a building Inspection , so sometimes you just can"t win.
Actually went back a second time to do just that.

Only complaint I have ever had so far (crossing fingers).

Are you guy’s sure your state SOP’s do not require reporting all issues? Most SOP’s say to inspect the house and report on it, not to assign it to someone else.

What I do is make a line item writeup for loose outlets, open junction boxes etc and keep adding each location as it comes up on my voice recording to that same line with comma’s seperating each location.

With electrical I have found that the electricians hired by the sellers will only repair what is spoon fed to them in the report and nothing else. They are repairmen not inspectors and to assume otherwise is a mistake.

I state that many items found are through random sampling.

You are not going to always check every single cabinet or every single window.

Lets say you find gaps in caulking , as I am sure noting that the component has at least one gap is enough to recommend resealing and you will not photograph every pinhole.

That is exactly why I DON’T list every little location. I want the electrician to look at the entire system and find the defect(s) himself. That way, since there are so many, and since I likely missed a couple, he will find and fix them. Otherwise he will only fix the ones I list, and those that were missed are still missed.

I.E. There were multiple three prong receptacles throughout the home that are not grounded. Recommend repair by a qualified electrical expert per their recommendation.

“There were multiple electrical recepticles that displayed no ground, reversed polarity and/or were not properly secured. Recommend evaluation and repair of all electrical receptacles by a licensed and insured electrical contractor before closing”.

So, if there are any you missed by doing a “representive sampling” or that were in use (I don’t unplug alar clocks, VCRs or computers) or covered (why do they ALWAYS put a bed in front of an outlet?), I could on the electrician to find, and repair, them.

Hope this helps;

I make every effort to list every defect. Depending on my judgment, I may also include a disclaimer saying that the particular system of even the entire house is a POS and refer the entire system to a specialist. Also, all my reports have this statement:

"If any building component has two or more defects we strongly recommend that the entire system in question be further evaluated and repaired by the appropriate licensed contractor before the close of escrow or contingency period. Photos, where included, are to be considered examples of defects and do not necessarily identify every instanace of a defect to that component (illustrating two holes in siding, for example, does not mean that only two holes exist)."

Thanks for the advice guys! It seems as you do more reports your wording evolves. I do realize that my job is to generally find problems. I was just not sure how others did it. I can hadle a few in every room, but when the whole system is clapped out, it should be further investigated. I always try to list all i find in an electrical panel for example, but also say that the electrician should repair any other issues they find as well. We all know every one has a different oppinion on some things. I figure I found enough to warrant the need for that individual. Bruce, I have to personaly dissagree with you. No offense, but if the electrician has to be spoon fed, he needs a new job. Some things like a hvac system that does not work properly, will need to be further inspected by someone else. I think trying to know everything just opens you up for more problems. Just when we think we know it all we mess up right.

Sean, many realtors and sellers feel that their only responsibility is the actual problems listed in the report, that is all the seller has agreed to fix, legally. Further investigation may not be considered when the repair list is generated or looked at from a legal stance.

I see this all the time, I have never had a reinspection where everything is repaired, and that was always a spoon fed list so do you think they can handle a vague, incomplete inspection and report? No way. The electrician only has to do what he is paid to do and I can guarantee you that the seller is not going to pay him to cover the entire house as you were already paid to do.

Bruce, I can understand your point. I know every situation is different also. I guess my problem is where do you draw the line. I think it is sad that an electrician won’t do his job. I would think just documenting a couple of issues and saying there are also several other issues in the main panel, without naming all 10, would leave everyone just a little in the dark and force the electrician to look for all the issues. I would also hope that any smart electrician would be looking for more problems to fix. I try to call out one or two big things, and also include many others in the same location. I can understand how the seller would try and skimp on the fixing too. I personally don’t want my 3 hour inspection to turn into a 8 hour inspection. Some houses it easily could. Sometimes SQ FT does not matter when you are running back to the pc every 5 minutes. If I personally came back to reinspect a panel for example, and the electrician only fixed the two primary problems I noted, I would make sure that the seller who paid for the electrician, knew he was ripped off. I know we are splitting hairs, and in the right situation the inspector could really piss of a bunch of people. Sometimes I get the impression that I am the only one who cares that it’s fixed right. The thing that scares me the most is that we are the generalist who are supposed to need only basic knowledge of all systems, and the experts depend on us to tell them all that is wrong. WTF! Explain that one to me?

I usually list the specific locations of the things I find. If there are a lot I will just use a phrase like the following “multiple observed in attic” or “observed multiple instances throughout the house and garage”.I’ll include a couple of pictures without location labels so that the client can recognize the condition being described.

If there’s a lot of that kind of thing going on, I’ll put my POS clause right at the beginning of the report

I have seen repair lists that were given to the seller that things abbreviated and items left out, sometimes the buyer does not ask for everything. Maybe the buyer would have asked for everything if he knew there were 20 locations that needed work. The biggest problem is when the electrician is not told to inspect the whole house, then he has no reason to.

How much do you think it would cost for a proper electrical inspection by a licensed electrician that knew what had to be done, and actually did it, on an average house with a crawlspace? I am sure they would charge by the hour since they would have to crawl the entire crawlspace, enter attic, check every outlet, move furniture etc. They probably do not have a SOP that limits what they check and how they get to it. A proper inspection to satisfy a home inspector’s writeup “have electrician check and repair as necessary” would run at least another $500 plus the cost to fix the items from the report and any new items he found, you would be looking at around $900 to $1800 on the typical 30 year old house.

I agree that when you find more than 6-8 loose outlets, lots of bad siding or lots of bad caulking to write it up as a wholesale issue and move on. But abandoned wires, open splices, panel issues, and “reverse polarity” type issues need to be spoon fed into the report very detailed. If a utility room has 8 open splices, its ok to state “eight open splices in the utility room”, you gave the amount and location so that should be fine.

I see you are memorizing and going back to the PC to enter data…very risky technique in my opinion and tiresome to say the least. I like to use a voice recorder and camera and keep moving, I have actually recorded 60 items in less than one hour before when I was the only one at the house with no distractions. I would rather do the typing in a much more comfortable setting and know that everything on that recorder and camera ended up in the report.

Another tip is to make a line item in the report and just keep adding the other locations to the same writeup, I do this for loose outlets, open splices and abandoned wires. If you report by room I guess you can’t do it that way.

On most of the REO Inspection i find this a big help.

**[size=2]PLEASE NOTE:
There is an extensive and numerous amount of deficiencies that need to be addressed with this property. Our inspection is limited to only a few hours and this is not enough time to provide you with information on every condition of this property and its structures on the day of this inspection. Because of the extensive amount of the conditions and deficiencies, further inspections are required in order to cover each and every item. You should contact our office to set up an additional supplemental inspection of this property. Note: there will be an additional charge. Furthermore, it is recommended interested parties be present at this inspection to examine the entire property and every part of its structure to list every deficiencies. You should obtain estimates from a general contractor, because the cost of renovation, repairs on plumbing, electrical system, roofing and foundation could significantly effect your evaluation of the property.



I agree. Write up everything and then put in a POS disclaimer for the stuff you might have missed.

Keep in mind that you may be asked to do a re-inspection. How do you re-inspect the electrical system when all you said was “get an electrician…my fingers are tired of typing and I’m moving on the the next house.”

I will mention as many defects as possible in report, include photos, but wont elevate the small stuff, say if its one mis wired outlet- It will be pointed out with location.

However- when there is lots of stuff found, to me it indicates that there will be stuff wrong with the areas that aren’t accessible or visible to me as well , common sense.

I will recommend a deeper evaluation by a trade specific professional whenever I can. Home Inspectors are generalists- even if your excellent in some areas, its very hard to keep up with all the changes in that field.

Plus, - like we all know there just isn’t enough time, especially if your Inspecting a home from , lets say, the 1920’s with a few owners, some of which fancied them selves handymen.( but were obviously cheapskate )

If a house really needs to be fully inspected by an electrician the report should state that as a completely seperate line item so it does not get lost in the shuffle.