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Showing content with the highest reputation since 10/25/2018 in all areas

  1. 6 points
    I was a mechanic for a long time. Many of you have heard me say, "I'm still a better mechanic than I am anything else." Even though I fixed every single thing that came into my shop, I couldn't have fixed any of it without tools. Many inspectors simply do not have the proper tools in their box to enable them to produce quality reports. If you can't write, you can't write a great report.
  2. 5 points
    Taking photos is like choosing words. Adding many more doesn't fix the few well chosen ones that you missed. You may have much experience in claims but you're at the tail end trying to fix something. We're at the beginning trying to create that something.
  3. 4 points
    Is this your first time looking at milled lumber? Everything in your pictures is perfectly normal. These are characteristics of lumber, which is a natural product that comes from large plants called "trees." The characteristics in your pictures are all taken into account when lumber is graded. The ugly things in the 1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 14th pictures are old injuries to the tree that have scabbed over, probably from wind damage where limbs broke off. Don't worry about them. The lumber grader looked at them and said that they were fine for that grade of lumber. The 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 15th, 16th, and 17th pictures are something called "wane." This is when the lumber includes a bit of the outer surface of the tree, where the "bark" is. (Bark is a rough outer covering on the trunk of a tree.) In fact, you can see some bark still attached in several places. It's a common characteristic of framing lumber. The 11th, 12th, and 13th pictures show some blue staining and some iron staining - utterly unimportant. The blue staining is caused by a very, very, very unimportant fungus and the iron staining is probably from where the lumber was in contact with - wait for it - iron. Many of the pictures also show "knots." These are where branches grew out laterally from the tree trunk. In the sizes and positions in the pictures, they're fine. You need to understand that framing lumber is graded for utility, not for looks. A completely separate grading process would be used for wood destined to become trim or furniture. It would be foolish to use defect-free wood for framing lumber. This is second nature to anyone who's ever worked with lumber in any way. If an inspector were to mention any of these things in an inspection report, he'd be a moron. Every piece of wood in every picture is fine. Forget about it and use your powers of obsession for something else.
  4. 4 points
    I heard of one inspector who saw the note on the front door not to let the cat out. When he was finishing up and went outside and then came back, the cat was on the front porch. He put the cat back in the house and left. Wasn't their cat; cat destroyed the drapes, furniture, etc.
  5. 4 points
    a pleasant reminder of my good sense in divorcing my first wife.
  6. 4 points
  7. 3 points
    This scary face rose out of the garlic patch.
  8. 3 points
    Trent's is WAY too big for me! I"m more of a small raised bed guy. Last year I donated over 1000 tomatoes and untold cucumbers to the homeless shelter from my little plot. Drip irrigation on a timer valve. Black plastic on the ground so I don't have to weed. Just plant, water and harvest. Did way to much weeding in my daddy's garden, which was even bigger than Trent's way back when I was a little one. God forbid he found weeds growing in your section of the garden.
  9. 3 points
    I doubt you could pay enough to override my scepticism.
  10. 3 points
    Yep, A growing problem with teenage squirrels - sewer gas huffing and huffing parties. A side effect is the urge to gnaw on the nearest object. The squirrel authorities are concerned and want to get the message out to all squirrel parents that sewer gases contain methane, hydrogen-sulfide and other toxic fumes and that huffing sewer gas can lead to death. The teens aren't listening. In fact, a week ago, three of them under the influence of sewer gas knocked over a walnut cache and overpowered and killed the elderly security squirrel guarding the nuts. ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!! Mike
  11. 3 points
    Lack of brevity. Some people just go on and on. They keep talking about the same issue in multiple ways. They can't just state things simply and concisely. They feel the need to hammer the issue in from many angles. They just ramble forever about that which could be easily stated in one sentence. They just go on and on and on. . .
  12. 3 points
    Of those inspectors who use this coverage as part of their marketing to real estate agents, I'll bet that most, if not all of them do not advertise the fact to their actual customers. In fact, I'll also bet that they intentionally keep quiet about it. Look at it this way: if you were a home buyer and you knew that the inspector that your agent recommended was paying to indemnify that agent, would that elevate the inspector in your eyes? Would it make you think twice about the agent's motivations and the inspector's loyalties? In my experience all but the most credulous home buyers would view this as a "scheme" or perhaps as an "arrangement" that benefits the home inspector and the agent, but not the consumer.
  13. 3 points
    My 4 1/2 minutes of fame.
  14. 3 points
    A 32' commercial grade extension ladder will probably get you to the roof of more than 90% of American homes. It is also considerably more durable and cheaper than a drone. They weigh about 65 pounds, making them about as heavy as a fourth-grader and much easier to handle. Also, on a residential home inspection, the use of ladders is not subject to federal oversight, another attribute weighing in their favor. So why mess around with drones?
  15. 3 points
    I've always found it odd that we dig a round hole in the ground, call it a well, and expect it to produce water. Then we dig a square hole in the ground, call it a basement, and expect it to stay dry.
  16. 2 points
    This was an interesting find.
  17. 2 points
    <strike>Those lugs are not listed for two conductors. The installation is wrong.</strike> Edit: I should probably say that the likelihood of those lugs being listed for two conductors is remote in the extreme. Check the panel schematic to be sure. The wiring mess on the neutral terminal bar makes me suspect that the installer was not entirely competent.
  18. 2 points
    Secure a hepa filter over the register nearest to your furnace. After a week or two, take the filter to your lab and have them test that.
  19. 2 points
    Kurt is alive under quarantine in China. He posted an interesting read about the situtation. https://medium.com/@kurtmitenbuler/love-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-c161e79ff8ac
  20. 2 points
    Don't put a footing drain where there's no footing. "Waterproofing" contractors have caused major failures to many stone and brick foundations. I get called in as the expert witness. The clay pipe is for the original gravity drain. It no longer functions as originally intended, but illustrates that the builder expected water in the basement and gave it a path out. https://historicbldgs.com/stonefoundations.html
  21. 2 points
    I write the report and give it to the client. I'll help a little, but I'm not their champion. I do my best to reference code, manufacturer's instructions major organizations and ASTM standards. Usually, the only time I see the builder is in court. I can't think of anything good coming from the situation you described.
  22. 2 points
    Yes, it was a Mackrel and I put it into the trash.
  23. 2 points
  24. 2 points
    I like it, but have a hard time hanging it straight. 😃
  25. 2 points
    There certainly is an intellectual side to this profession and it was not recognized for decades. At one point there were just a handful of individuals that were home inspectors and they got inundated with people joining the profession that had changed a light bulb or built a deck. It was not that long ago and many remain in the business. As I understand and recall your path, you choose complete immersion and are blessed with great ambition. You also brought an intellect and mindset that was not common at that time. Now you are an educator and mentor - but it has been a journey! We both (all) know inspectors that are off the scale with intelligence, knowledge and skill. They keep me humble and every beginning inspector should be so lucky to know one as a friend.
  26. 2 points
    I don't remember anything from the 80s. Don't want to. I saw a photo recently showing my hair and how I dressed. Did you mean 1880s?
  27. 2 points
    Any chance that roof becomes a hockey rink in the winter? 😬
  28. 2 points
    There is no such thing as toxic "Black Mold". This is a term designed to sell newspaper, TV, and internet advertising; along with mold testing. Yes, there is mold, black mold, green mold, yellow mold, etc. everywhere on the planet. If you are going to worry about cleaning the deck, what about the fence, and the soil, the plants, etc. If you have a moisture problem inside your home, you might have a problem with mold. Fix the moisture problem, clean up the mold and move on with life. DO NOT WORRY about outdoor mold. You can't do anything worthwhile about it even if you tried.
  29. 2 points
    I've never heard one. Come to think of it, I haven't heard much of anything in the last 50 years.
  30. 2 points
    The best piece of report writing advice I've come across in a long time comes from this article from The Atlantic magazine from April of this year. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/04/what-makes-candidate-authentic/587857/ The article is mostly about politicians trying to sound authentic, but the ideas translate well to many different professions. Basically the idea is that the more authentic you sound the more you're believed. Quote: In a paper published last month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the academics Rachel Gershon and Rosanna K. Smith described the results of a variety of tests showing that listeners perceived speakers to be less authentic when they were told that the speakers were repeating themselves. Self-repetition, they argue, “confronts observers with the performative nature of the interaction” and challenges our assumption that “social interactions, even those that are typically performed and repeated, are assumed to be unique.” In other words, we’re wired to assume that all speech is extemporaneous. When that assumption is revealed to be false, we penalize the speaker. This is true, the authors found, even in contexts where it makes no sense to expect speakers not to repeat themselves, such as listening to a tour guide or a stand-up comic. End Quote I don't really even know how oral speech and written reports might contrast in this respect. But to me, this helps make the case that referring someone to a "qualified roofing professional" is a bad idea. Referring them to a "good roofer" is a good idea.
  31. 2 points
    You don't want one of my reports. I write full-narrative and it's guaranteed to put you to sleep - especially if you're brain has been conditioned to social media where you are limited to posts less than 148 characters and you've developed too short of an attention span. What Jim calls "mushy mush mush" report writing I call inspectorspeak because it pervades this profession. There should be a dark room somewhere staffed with hundreds of retired fifth grade English teachers sitting in front of computer screens. Every home inspection report created anywhere on the planet should have to be emailed to them for proof-reading and correction before being sent out to clients. This profession's reputation and respectability quotient would see a huge uptick if that were the case. The geezer English teachers would probably appreciate it too. Like Jim, I like to write like I speak - even if the bluntness of it shocks the crap out of all agents present and sets their teeth on edge. More than one report I've sent out said something like, "The deck stairs look like they were constructed by a fourth grader who watched one episode of This Old House," or something similar. Tell it like it is and don't mince words. One of the advantages of never sucking up to agents for referrals is that you can get away with that kind of s**t and the phone will still continue to ring, 'cuz it will be past clients and their friends, relatives and co-workers calling you most of the time instead of agents. Oh yeah, and your hair, or at least what's left of it, will gray more slowly - hah! ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!! Mike
  32. 2 points
    Well, it's not sexy, but spelling is important. An occasional typo is no big deal, but nothing in your boilerplate should be misspelled and you should never misspell construction terms that might not be part of the customers' vocabulary; when they go to look them up, they'll be baffled. There's just no excuse for a report that talks about "rusting lentils" and "lathe & plaster." It makes you look like a dumb hick. (And if there's more than one furnace, don't call one of them the "principle furnace" unless it has high moral standards.) I'd also focus on getting rid of what I call "mushy mush mush" report writing, "It was observed that the roof is older than it's average condition and might or might not perform satisfactorily over the course of its remaining service life, which it might or might not have exceeded. Hire an expert licensed roofing specialist to advise." (Taken verbatim from an actual report.) Strive to tell the customer exactly what the problem is and exactly what to do about it. Avoid word salad. Use clear words. Don't say, "Debris between the deck treads can facilitate rot." Deck treads? Facilitate rot? Who the heck speaks like that? Here's another, "Confined spaces were inaccessible." What this mean? Why might it be important? What should the customer do about it? One of my favorites: Have any rot in the deck removed and replaced. (Where can I find some "replacement rot"? )
  33. 2 points
    Some folks never need to "manage" anyone's expectations. They're the ones that consistently and assiduously exceed all expectations. There seems to be some of those types of folks here at the Inspector's Journal. It's evident in replies to this topic and many others.
  34. 2 points
    Will you still be glad that you shopped around when you someday have a claim that they refuse to cover?
  35. 2 points
    "If it leaks slower than it evaporates from the rag, then it's an evaporative cooler." From the book, "Things Realtors Say".
  36. 2 points
    I think we can make the numbers work. Bill has contributed tons of ideas. Between us we contacted: Kenny Hart, Glen Mathewson, John Bouldin, Frank Woeste, Don Norman, Lstiburek and Joe Tedesco, I'd love to have Douglas Hansen if I can convince him to come. If you guys have any suggestions for presenters, please post them here and we'll consider them. The venue will provide 24 hours of ASHI, NY, MA, and by default, PA CEU's. Working on CT, NJ and OH. If there are vendors you'd like to come, share those thoughts. This is a chance to build the conference you want to attend. Room rates at the Henry are reduced to $130 with free parking. If we pull it off, the conference will provide breakfast, beverage service for the day(s), and a nice lunch. Tentatively planned for late February, early March 2020
  37. 2 points
    What happened the third and fourth times?
  38. 2 points
    Horrible state to live in, but Chicago is wonderful. . .
  39. 2 points
    Damn. Now I have to review my company's safety protocols for romaine lettuce.
  40. 2 points
    Ladder climbing does involve risk. So does showering, walking indoors, walking outdoors -especially in winter, removing electrical panel covers, standing near a water heater whose TPRV lacks a decent discharge pipe, operating furnaces, eating romaine lettuce, driving to and from inspections, and opening emails. In every case, a bit of knowledge and training greatly mitigates that risk. Come on.
  41. 2 points
    Well stated, Jim. You also need access to maintain stone foundation walls. http://historicbldgs.com/stonefoundations.htm
  42. 2 points
  43. 2 points
    I also give general ranges. I really do try to get it "right", but sometimes miss the total by hundreds or thousands of dollars. For example - the house has a negative grade. I report it. I tell them it can be a week end project for you or it could be 8-900 dollars. they get a landscape artist and it costs 4,000 dollars. But, they had more done than my minimalist estimate. I and other inspectors in my company have never had serious blowback from giving estimates. My least favorite is water heaters. Around here they can be from 800 to 4000 on any given day. If I really don't know the price range of a furnace, I should brush up on my inspector skill set.
  44. 2 points
  45. 2 points
  46. 2 points
  47. 2 points
  48. 2 points
    Yes, good article and good responses. When I was actively inspecting, I took 80 to 180 pics per house. They are filed by date, simple. A few times, I had to pull up pics to back up my report. Replaying the shots in sequence is like reliving the inspection, and it refreshes the memory. I had a guy try, and fail, to lay a claim 2 full years after the inspection. He saw 50 pics in the report, but I had saved 160, showing walls and ceilings in all the rooms, water flowing out of faucets, etc. One thing I recommend is a notepad or just a scrap of paper and a short pencil stub in a pocket. Write down the significant deficiencies as you find them. Sometimes when writing the report, the picture you took earlier can get lost in the shuffle. A glance at the note while writing takes a couple of seconds, a quick check of the report before sending.
  49. 2 points
    That's a standard Humbolt crack gauge. I used to get them in bulk when I first started. They also had a different kind that wrapped around a corner. Haven't used them in years. I used a crayon to mark the date next to them. That way you could chart movement over time. If that one was installed correctly, it's showing 2mm of rotation. Without a date, that information isn't particularly helpful, though. Try to find out when it was installed, and how often it's been checked since then. Sometimes they show cyclical movement with changes in the seasons.
  50. 2 points
    In California, toothpaste causes cancer. So does the box that it comes in. This concludes my rant.
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