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This is a propane fueled log fireplace in a bedroom. The homeowner states that the liner and surround of the firebox area is original(built about 1957). He also states that they have used this appliance many times especially when the electricity goes out in the winter. It feels like a cheap or thin paneling. It has a smooth texture except in the grooves that were cut to make it appear like tile. I am looking for advice as to how to describe the material. Thanks for all of your help in advance. It is appreciated that this site allows us all to lean on some of the more knowledgable fellow professionals. Always learning as long as I am breathing!

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That's sure looks like tile-board, a water-resistant. hardboard paneling used for (cheap) tub walls. It certainly isn't original to the house.

That gas/propane log set should really only be installed in listed enclosures. That home-made goofiness isn't a listed enclosure. It was probably built for the 'flickering light" electric fireplace.

You can also verify that the log set is manufactured for unvented installations. I just noticed you mentioned it's in a bedroom. Many do not allow them to be installed in bedrooms.

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I am not sure if he is covering something up since there is no vent or chimney. I said this was a bedroom but it could have originally been a study or office. I was guessing that the appliance and mantel were an add on. Who ever installed it did a pretty good job of making it look original to the structure. Are we sure that asbestos board/material was not produced in this form as some time?

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Bill is probably right. That looks like bath board. A masonite type product with a very thin water resistant finish. (It will fall apart in a shower or tub under wet conditions by the way). In a fire? Not a chance. Take a knife and dig at it just a little and you will know, or check the edges.

While I would write it up as a fire hazard, I always recommend that a level II NFPA inspection be performed. My standard disclaimer:

"O Your home inspector does NOT light fires of any kind.

The seller or their agents should demonstrate the operability of fireplaces. It is also recommended that a licensed chimney sweep perform an NFPA Level II inspection which may require fishing a camera up the chimney to see what the condition of the liner is. This is beyond what your inspector does."

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It certainly could be "original" to the house, as in, some hack in 1950-something found some transite and decided to get handy and creative to please the little lady.

Sure looks like a "grooved" transite to me. Take away the grooves, and it absolutely would look like transite. It's even got the little white fuzzies where the saw blade cut the grooves.

Either way, I'd tell folks to tear it out because it's so stinkin' ugly, and it's probably asbestos. As a fall back, I'd tell folks it could burn down their house, or poison them with CO. As a retort the realtors and sellers, I'd tell them to shut up, I don't care what they think.

I'd like to propose phrasing other than "it was observed", or "it is recommended".

What is "it", and why is "it" saying these things?

Do "we" exist? Is there an "I"? Or, am I trapped in a passive existentialist dilemma?

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I'd like to propose phrasing other than "it was observed", or "it is recommended".

What is "it", and why is "it" saying these things?

Do "we" exist? Is there an "I"? Or, am I trapped in a passive existentialist dilemma?

Or, consider my favorite approach, which saves a ton of keystrokes and is crystal clear -first person, active tense, implied commands:

Remove and replace *.* due to *.*

Correct the *.* which is *.*

Align and secure the loose *.*

Identify and eliminate the source of the *.*

Install a *.*

Besides saving keystrokes, nothing gets lost in translation because agents usually find it easiest to either copy the summary, as is, or attach it and basically write "what he said", so there are no questions or debates over the action items. Everything simply ends up being a yes, I'll do it or No, I won't issue.

Returning to the subject matter, is it my imagination, or does that material look like it's never even seen its first fire? It's awefully thin, like maybe 1/4", yes?

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I'd like to propose phrasing other than "it was observed", or "it is recommended".

What is "it", and why is "it" saying these things?

Do "we" exist? Is there an "I"? Or, am I trapped in a passive existentialist dilemma?

Or, consider my favorite approach, which saves a ton of keystrokes and is crystal clear -first person, active tense, implied commands:

Remove and replace *.* due to *.*

Correct the *.* which is *.*

Align and secure the loose *.*

Identify and eliminate the source of the *.*

Install a *.*

Besides saving keystrokes, nothing gets lost in translation because agents usually find it easiest to either copy the summary, as is, or attach it and basically write "what he said", so there are no questions or debates over the action items. Everything simply ends up being a yes, I'll do it or No, I won't issue.

So you're saying to use 'The inspector recommends' or 'The inspector observed' instead of 'It is recommended' or 'It was observed', right?

Marc

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When it comes to clear issues, that need attention, I am crystal clear on what action needs to be taken or what specialist needs to be contacted for further evaluation. Otherwise, you'll get a call for direction that, in my opinion, was omitted.

If there's a question in our client's mind regarding what the next step is, we failed.

Even implied commands are merely recommendattions. We have no authority regarding the transfer of a property. The buyer can choose tto disregard the action item and the seller can refuse to perform it, but there's no question regarding what was recommended.

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I think he's saying "insert the problem and the solution where I've got periods between quotation marks".

It took me a while, and I'm still not sure I understand exactly.

The idea here is to simply get active, and say what you think. There's no such thing as "it".

There's only "us" trying to sound like we know what we're talking about, but it's hard to get that across when there's a few hundred morons running around as HI "education" providers telling folks to write from an "it" position.

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I think he's saying "insert the problem and the solution where I've got periods between quotation marks".

It took me a while, and I'm still not sure I understand exactly.

The idea here is to simply get active, and say what you think. There's no such thing as "it".

There's only "us" trying to sound like we know what we're talking about, but it's hard to get that across when there's a few hundred morons running around as HI "education" providers telling folks to write from an "it" position.

Yes, *.* is old computer file lingo for "whatever"

Exactly, don't beat around the bush on what to do next. Be precise. Leave no doubt.

In a recent thread I took someone's sixty word beast of a paragraph and reduced it to a fifteen word crystal clear sentence, which included everything they had attempted to convey. That is the beauty of first person active voice implied command.

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That is one of my questions. There is no chimney or vent...

All gas logs and space heaters were "ventless" back then, at least around here. I still go in homes that have nothing but gas space heaters.

Of course the homes were drafty enough that they worked without killing people (for the most part)

My bet is that is an asbestos lining. Great stuff except for the long term exposure thing.

I spent a few years working in a hardware store in the 1970's and we still sold asbestos sheets as pads to go under wood stoves and the like. Just a thin layer was very effective at protecting things from extreme heat.

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. . . So you're saying to use 'The inspector recommends' or 'The inspector observed' instead of 'It is recommended' or 'It was observed', right?

No. It means the same thing either way. He's just advocating the active voice & the imperative mood.

For home inspection reports, active voice is really essential and 99% of the inspectors out there seem hell bent on avoiding it. Whenever this subject comes up, the misinformed whine about how the passive voice sounds more "professional." Nothing could be further from the truth. Writing in passive voice just makes us sound like a dolts who don't really know what we're talking about and who don't want to own what we write.

For those who don't know what the active voice is, you've got some studying to do. Hit the grammar sites. Stop writing in passive voice unless there's a clear need for it.

For his recommendations, the thing that Mike is calling implied commands are written in the imperative mood. This is a particular grammatical construction that's used for commands. It's nearly impossible to misunderstand. For instance, "Shut the light," "Stop whining," "Write in the active voice."

Here's Mike Lamb's original paragraph with my suggestions for improvement in parentheses:

Your home inspector does NOT light fires of any kind. (This isn't passive voice, but he's referring to himself in the third person, which is strange. Try, "I didn't light any fires in the fireplaces." Is there a good reason to hide the fact that you were present and that you did the inspection?)

The seller or their agents should demonstrate the operability of fireplaces. (Again, not passive, but strange. First the seller is singular, then the seller become plural. It's also unclear. These people "should" do something. What does that mean? Is that a recommendation or is it just a statement of fact? It feels like you want to recommend that they do this thing but, at the same time, you want to soften the recommendation so that it doesn't really sound like a recommendation. It can be interpreted many ways -- exactly what you don't want in a home inspection report. Also, the word operability doesn't seem to be quite right here. Try, "Ask the seller to demonstrate proper operation of the fireplaces." That sentence is clear and unequivocal. If you don't like the verb ask, substitute another such as have, demand, instruct, etc.)

It is also recommended that a licensed chimney sweep perform an NFPA Level II inspection which may require fishing a camera up the chimney to see what the condition of the liner is. (That's passive voice. Try, "Hire a licensed chimney sweep to perform an NFPA Level II inspection of the chimneys, the fireplaces, and their flues.)

This is beyond what your inspector does. (Is there really a need for this sentence at all? If so, why not, "A home inspection doesn't include an NFPA Level II inspection."

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Hi,

I agree with everything Jim has said. By paying attention to what he and Jowers tell us about report writing, I've made great strides in report writing since the early part of the decade.

Unfortunately, our profession has a very long and very rough row to hoe before we'll ever get report writing right. It's especially difficult when those who are perceived by large numbers of inspectors to be credible, simply by virtue of their position in certain organizations, are recommending past tense passive language as the model for the profession.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Hi,

I agree with everything Jim has said. By paying attention to what he and Jowers tell us about report writing, I've made great strides in report writing since the early part of the decade.

Unfortunately, our profession has a very long and very rough row to hoe before we'll ever get report writing right. It's especially difficult when those who are perceived by large numbers of inspectors to be credible, simply by virtue of their position in certain organizations, are recommending past tense passive language as the model for the profession.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

It's simply good business writing, which I was first turned onto in the mid-eighties by The Fred Pryor Career-Track Seminar - Effective Business Writing. Their message was: Successful business people tend to be busy, and don't appreciate others wasting their precious time with inefficient writing.

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Hi,

I agree with everything Jim has said. By paying attention to what he and Jowers tell us about report writing, I've made great strides in report writing since the early part of the decade.

Unfortunately, our profession has a very long and very rough row to hoe before we'll ever get report writing right. It's especially difficult when those who are perceived by large numbers of inspectors to be credible, simply by virtue of their position in certain organizations, are recommending past tense passive language as the model for the profession.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Yeah, that's the guy I want to take writing advice from. Perhaps I could take him more seriously if he could be bothered to proof read his own drivel. On second thought...

And to think he takes such pride in that to post his picture with it.[:-paperba

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. . . So you're saying to use 'The inspector recommends' or 'The inspector observed' instead of 'It is recommended' or 'It was observed', right?

No. It means the same thing either way. He's just advocating the active voice & the imperative mood.

For home inspection reports, active voice is really essential and 99% of the inspectors out there seem hell bent on avoiding it. Whenever this subject comes up, the misinformed whine about how the passive voice sounds more "professional." Nothing could be further from the truth. Writing in passive voice just makes us sound like a dolts who don't really know what we're talking about and who don't want to own what we write.

For those who don't know what the active voice is, you've got some studying to do. Hit the grammar sites. Stop writing in passive voice unless there's a clear need for it.

For his recommendations, the thing that Mike is calling implied commands are written in the imperative mood. This is a particular grammatical construction that's used for commands. It's nearly impossible to misunderstand. For instance, "Shut the light," "Stop whining," "Write in the active voice."

Here's Mike Lamb's original paragraph with my suggestions for improvement in parentheses:

Your home inspector does NOT light fires of any kind. (This isn't passive voice, but he's referring to himself in the third person, which is strange. Try, "I didn't light any fires in the fireplaces." Is there a good reason to hide the fact that you were present and that you did the inspection?)

The seller or their agents should demonstrate the operability of fireplaces. (Again, not passive, but strange. First the seller is singular, then the seller become plural. It's also unclear. These people "should" do something. What does that mean? Is that a recommendation or is it just a statement of fact? It feels like you want to recommend that they do this thing but, at the same time, you want to soften the recommendation so that it doesn't really sound like a recommendation. It can be interpreted many ways -- exactly what you don't want in a home inspection report. Also, the word operability doesn't seem to be quite right here. Try, "Ask the seller to demonstrate proper operation of the fireplaces." That sentence is clear and unequivocal. If you don't like the verb ask, substitute another such as have, demand, instruct, etc.)

It is also recommended that a licensed chimney sweep perform an NFPA Level II inspection which may require fishing a camera up the chimney to see what the condition of the liner is. (That's passive voice. Try, "Hire a licensed chimney sweep to perform an NFPA Level II inspection of the chimneys, the fireplaces, and their flues.)

This is beyond what your inspector does. (Is there really a need for this sentence at all? If so, why not, "A home inspection doesn't include an NFPA Level II inspection."

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Sounds good. Thanks.

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"Example:

PRESENT TENSE: The garage door is one of the largest moving objects in a home. Improperly installed "safety eyes" of the garage door is a main cause of property damage or bodily injury. Testing and monitoring the garage door operating is an important task related home maintenance."

How many grammatical errors can you find in the above example from Mike's link? I'm not so sure this dude should give instruction when it comes to writing.

"Safety eyes?" Am I pedantic 'cause I call them photo-electric safety sensors?

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