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Chris Bernhardt

Functioning as intended

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I have used, "functional," on occasion but never, "functioning as intended." Where does that phrase come from?

I go with "satisfactory," or ... not so much.

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I got it from Les years ago. I very rarely use writing narrative, but I use it in disclaimers.

But even considering terms like "Satisfactory", "Operational", etc. the same thing applies.

Can something be functional, satisfactory, operational and at the same time be installed in an unworkmanlike manner and or not to code?

Chris, Oregon

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It's possible that some systems or designs could be found to be 'functioning as intended' at a particular point in time despite shortcomings in the installation or code deficiencies. The criteria for codes and installation instructions is not limited to just allowing things to function.

A car is a vehicle but a vehicle is not necessarily a car.

Just my wacky opinion.

Marc

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Is there a distinction in anyone's mind between functioning as intended and satisfactory?

I guess the real question is what to heck does functioning as intended mean and how does it have any utility for anyone other than a home inspector?

Chris, Oregon

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I see roofs all that time that were installed with completely wrong details that are nearing end of service life and have been functioning as intended - namely keeping the water out of the house for the expected service life of the product. It doesn't mean that the roof was installed properly, only that it managed to last for as long as it was designed for without going bad, despite the sh***y details.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Functioning as intended doesn't mean anything to a little old lady reading a home inspection report and it doesn't mean anything to a jury.

The term functioning as intended as far as I can tell is a compendium that home inspectors have a sense of but if you ask them to define it they ordinarily can't.

Many inspectors use terms like functioning as intended, satisfactory, operational in their reports which I admit to myself. I originally took the terms from requirements in various SOP's which require the inspector to indicate whether or not an item is ... functioning, satisfactory, etc.

I know I have never seen Jim Katen use those terms in any of his reports that I have ever read and I can't remember him even using those terms ever in speech when I've talked to him.

Hausdok, Les, Kurt, Bill Kibbel do you ever use those terms in your reports describing in the affirmative the condition of items you inspect?

Has anyone come across a useful definition of the terms in the context of a home inspection that a little old lady could understand?

Chris, Oregon

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Chris,

I still use it for HUD stuff and lender opinions. I originally started using it while doing Reserve Study work. Mike O gave a good explaination of the term and I do know Texas guys used it a bunch.

It has held up in court, for me.

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I see electrical stuff all the time that is installed wrong but it is functioning. I prefer to use "Appears Serviceable" or better yet "It is working" or "It turned on and appeared to be working".... Depending on my mood is what I write down.. Today I'm in a Appears Serviceable mood!

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Appears Serviceable, means what?

It looks like you can service it? It looks like it might work?

How does the old lady interpret that? We all know what that's supposed to mean, but what about the people paying us?

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Gary's right. For 10 years now, I've wondered what the heck is supposed to be understood by the phase 'Serviceable'.

Marc

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When you throw those terms around i.e. functional, operational, satisfactory, serviceable, most clients nod their head as if they understand what the terms mean, but the words are not worth the ink on the paper when a problem arises.

I think this is because the terms represent a compendium of unexpressed possible affirmations that might be relevant for a particular item, i.e. appears to be: undamaged, installed in a workmanlike manner, installed to code, working, etc.

I think the terms only mean something to an expert witness. If the expert witness supports or denounces an inspectors use of the term, the jury will go along with it in spite of the fact they have no clue what the terms mean.

Les, you're an expert. I consider you a founding father. I would think that whatever you want to say, will be accepted.

By Mikes definition if I understand it correctly, functioning as intended means: in spite of everything else that's wrong with it, it's working doing what it was intended to do.

Chris, Oregon

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When we describe something with those words, we means we inspected it and found no reason to find major fault with it.

Some reports explain what those terms mean on the first page. Maybe a good idea.

I would try not to say "functioning as intended' if I found a fault with it, because that would lead to the confusion we are discussing here. Why cloud the issue? Put a black X on it, then explain why you don't like it.

Idea - Gives the good items a 'thumbs up' 'me Like'.

I use 'functional' a lot. Nobody ever questions the meaning, maybe because nobody ever bothers to read the report (sniff). [:)]

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I only describe groups of like items that way, "I opened and closed a representative sample of the interior doors. Most of them operated as expected."

This way I can skip all the good ones and focus on the fooked stuff.

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Ya gotta tell them something! I use:

=====================

COMMENT KEY & DEFINITIONS:

The following definitions of comment descriptions apply to this inspection report. All comments by the inspector should be considered before purchasing this home. Any recommendations I make to "repair" or "replace" or "fix" means you should consult with a professional in the appropriate field to determine all needed repairs and best repair method, to estimate costs and to perform any repairs deemed necessary. All costs associated with further inspection fees and repair or replacement of items, components or units should be considered before you purchase the property. All directions are given as if the house is being viewed from the front looking at the front.

NOTE: All definitions listed below refer to the property or item listed in this report as inspected at the time of inspection.

Acceptable (A) = I visually observed the item, component or unit and if no other comments were made then it appeared to be functioning and installed as the manufacturer intended, allowing for normal wear and tear.

Not Inspected (NI) = I did not inspect this item, component or unit and make no representations of whether or not it was functioning as the manufacturer intended and will state a reason for not inspecting the item.

Maintenance (Mnt) = Item noted is usually considered a routine maintenance item that must be accomplished occasionally to ensure proper performance of the equipment or item.

Marginal (M) = Item is not fully functional and requires repair or servicing by a qualified contractor in the appropriate field.

Defective (D) = Item needs immediate repair or replacement by a qualified contractor in the appropriate field. It is unable to perform its intended function or is an immediate safety hazard.

Please be sure to read and understand the complete report along with all of the other attachments listed. They contain valuable information that pertains to this inspection and the maintenance of your new home. You paid for the report and its attachments. Please read them!

================

Does anybody read it. Hell, I don't know.

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Hausdok, Les, Kurt, Bill Kibbel do you ever use those terms in your reports describing in the affirmative the condition of items you inspect?

Not really,

Can't say I've never used it, 'cuz I probably have at one time or another, but I generally don't even remark about stuff that works. The whole point of the inspection is to find the stuff that isn't working isn't it?

I tell my clients - and their realtors when they're listening - that I'm not there to tell them what they'll like about the home, because they already know what they like or they wouldn't have made an offer - I'm there to tell them about the stuff that they're not going to like. So, my report isn't full of satisfactory, operational, functioning as intended, etc., it's full of stuff like:

The roof cover is on it's last legs: The composition shingles are......

That sort of thing.

Sometimes I'll have a house where I won't have anything to report about on the Roof, Plumbing, Etc.. I don't list every little plumbing component as working, or satisfactory, because I use a strictly narrative report - I just say something like:

No roofing anomalies noted: This comment doesn't require any elaboration.

That's as simple as it gets.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Mike, does Washington's SOP require an affirmation indicating satisfactory on items you inspect that don't have problems?

Oregon's SOP does. In other words, you can't just say no problems found with the roof. You could say no problems found with the roof coverings, gutters, flashings, skylights, chimneys, and roof penetrations.

Also I've heard of complaints about getting knocked by the ASHI report reviewers for not doing just that.

Chris, Oregon

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Mike, does Washington's SOP require an affirmation indicating satisfactory on items you inspect that don't have problems?

Oregon's SOP does. In other words, you can't just say no problems found with the roof. You could say no problems found with the roof coverings, gutters, flashings, skylights, chimneys, and roof penetrations.

Also I've heard of complaints about getting knocked by the ASHI report reviewers for not doing just that.

Chris, Oregon

Absolutely not. You're required to inspect certain key items and describe them or mention in the report someplace that those things were looked at, but you are not required to say anything affirmative. By inspecting and reporting on what you've inspected, the implication is that it was fine unless you report otherwise.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Re. the ASHI reviewers: We don't give two fairy farts what an ASHI reviewer squawks about - ours is a state SOP and as far as we're concerned it exceeds ASHI's standards by a longshot.

I'd say that if the lint pickers at ASHI worry about that any ASHI guys that submit their Washington State compliant reports to ASHI for review should edit their reports to reflect the kind of mamby-pamby stuff the old checklist users are used to seeing so they don't gig you for it.

Remember, in your advertising here if you claim to inspect to an SOP you had better state that you inspect to the Washington State Standards of Practice 'cuz ASHI's doesn't count here - neither does NAHI's, NACHI's or AII's. Also, if you have a Washington State license, make sure that your license number is is on your business card, on any advertising you use and on any website where you advertise your services.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Re. the ASHI reviewers: We don't give two fairy farts what an ASHI reviewer squawks about - ours is a state SOP and as far as we're concerned it exceeds ASHI's standards by a longshot.

I'd say that if the lint pickers at ASHI worry about that any ASHI guys that submit their Washington State compliant reports to ASHI for review should edit their reports to reflect the kind of mamby-pamby stuff the old checklist users are used to seeing so they don't gig you for it.

Remember, in your advertising here if you claim to inspect to an SOP you had better state that you inspect to the Washington State Standards of Practice 'cuz ASHI's doesn't count here - neither does NAHI's, NACHI's or AII's. Also, if you have a Washington State license, make sure that your license number is is on your business card, on any advertising you use and on any website where you advertise your services.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

What Mike posted is true in all licensed states that have their own SOP. Always use your state SOP. Honestly they are all pretty much the same when you get down to the basics.

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North Carolina uses the term in the SOP...

C) State any systems or components so inspected that do not function as intended, allowing for normal wear and tear, or adversely affect the habitability of the dwelling;

An 8 year old water heater may be "functioning as intended allowing for normal wear and tear" but is nearing the end of its expected useful service life. It is not broken but neither is it new, bright and shiny. We probably need to be helping the client understand that they will likely have to buy a new one.

By checking the box " Functioning as Intended" it shows that the item was still basically working but might be old, worn, otherwise not new.

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My memory on this topic is frail, but I recall first hearing the phrase a couple decades ago ("functioning as intended") from a realtor, and a number of other realtor related incursions into what we do and what we say. I said something about a roof being shot, and the 'zoid said it's functioning as intended. I asked her where she heard it, and she indicated it came from the home office. It is one of the most idiotic phrases to have ever pushed it's way into our world.

As far as the comment holding up in court, I think judges are as clueless about this stuff as realtors. There is precious little case law setting hard precedents about this thing that we do. It's all new. So, some uninformed but otherwise intelligent juris doctor heard it and it seemed to make sense.

I propose they are wrong. It means absolutely nothing as far as I'm concerned.

As time goes on, I believe more and more the report writing systems and their "catch phrases" are one of the largest problems in this gig. I have to stop now or I will burst into flames....

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