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When to Inspect an Attic


hausdok
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By David Brauner - Editor, Working RE Magazine

Fritz Kelly, inspecting for 12 years in Arizona, has a problem common to inspectors: “I declined to go into an attic the other day. The access was in the master bedroom closet, full of clothes, etc. When I attempted to open the scuttle cover, it was obvious there were about 15 inches of blown in insulation covering it. I was able to access another portion of the attic so I knew approximately how much insulation was up there,â€

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I'm in the giving-the-agent-something-to-do category. Attic access closets and also those under-stairs crawl hatches. I find the problem ones during the first quickie walk around and, if it's more than a simple box or two, ask the buyer's agent to clear it out while I'm doing the exterior. If it's something weird or fragile I suggest they call the listing agent for permission. In my experience, the agents are happy to oblige. The last thing they want is a delay caused by lack of access and an "evaluate further". I also have them put the stuff back after. I can't break it if I don't touch it.

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. . . Useful Language

To address this issue, one inspector said he uses language similar to the following: "Inaccessible. Sometimes loose insulation has been blown over the access hatch, in which case it will not be opened. This situation should be rectified after taking possession of the house." Or "Inspector can only review this area if access is made available to the inspector." And "If concerned, client should verify acceptable heating/cooling bills from homeowner. Client has the right to interview the homeowner to assume proper insulation and attic ventilation by confirming if homeowner has ever observed ice damming, icicles on eaves or abnormal melting of snow from the roof compared to other homes in the area- all of which are signs of improper insulation and attic ventilation. If available, client may wish to obtain design specifications, blue prints, permits, etc. to determine insulation, ventilation, and structure." . . .

Holy Crap! Useful language? Those are some of the most piss-poor examples of report writing language we've ever seen on this site.

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. . . Useful Language

To address this issue, one inspector said he uses language similar to the following: "Inaccessible. Sometimes loose insulation has been blown over the access hatch, in which case it will not be opened. This situation should be rectified after taking possession of the house." Or "Inspector can only review this area if access is made available to the inspector." And "If concerned, client should verify acceptable heating/cooling bills from homeowner. Client has the right to interview the homeowner to assume proper insulation and attic ventilation by confirming if homeowner has ever observed ice damming, icicles on eaves or abnormal melting of snow from the roof compared to other homes in the area- all of which are signs of improper insulation and attic ventilation. If available, client may wish to obtain design specifications, blue prints, permits, etc. to determine insulation, ventilation, and structure." . . .

Holy Crap! Useful language? Those are some of the most piss-poor examples of report writing language we've ever seen on this site.

Ditto. And what about the jackass who uses the drycleaning as tarps? Can you imagine Susie Homeowner walking into the room and busting someone screwing around with her clothes?

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. . . Useful Language

To address this issue, one inspector said he uses language similar to the following: "Inaccessible. Sometimes loose insulation has been blown over the access hatch, in which case it will not be opened. This situation should be rectified after taking possession of the house." Or "Inspector can only review this area if access is made available to the inspector." And "If concerned, client should verify acceptable heating/cooling bills from homeowner. Client has the right to interview the homeowner to assume proper insulation and attic ventilation by confirming if homeowner has ever observed ice damming, icicles on eaves or abnormal melting of snow from the roof compared to other homes in the area- all of which are signs of improper insulation and attic ventilation. If available, client may wish to obtain design specifications, blue prints, permits, etc. to determine insulation, ventilation, and structure." . . .

Holy Crap! Useful language? Those are some of the most piss-poor examples of report writing language we've ever seen on this site.

Yeah that's quite a mess.

Either get up there and inspect it or don't. If you can't, make sure you document why and offer to return when the coast is clear, then end it.

It almost seems like boiler plate for someone who's looking for a reason to not go into the attic.

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. . . Useful Language

To address this issue, one inspector said he uses language similar to the following: "Inaccessible. Sometimes loose insulation has been blown over the access hatch, in which case it will not be opened. This situation should be rectified after taking possession of the house." Or "Inspector can only review this area if access is made available to the inspector." And "If concerned, client should verify acceptable heating/cooling bills from homeowner. Client has the right to interview the homeowner to assume proper insulation and attic ventilation by confirming if homeowner has ever observed ice damming, icicles on eaves or abnormal melting of snow from the roof compared to other homes in the area- all of which are signs of improper insulation and attic ventilation. If available, client may wish to obtain design specifications, blue prints, permits, etc. to determine insulation, ventilation, and structure." . . .

Holy Crap! Useful language? Those are some of the most piss-poor examples of report writing language we've ever seen on this site.

Not to mention some really worthless advice to a buyer.
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. . . Useful Language

To address this issue, one inspector said he uses language similar to the following: "@#$%^&*(! [:-bigmout) . . .

Holy Crap! Useful language? Those are some of the most piss-poor examples of report writing language we've ever seen on this site.

Ditto. And what about the jackass who uses the drycleaning as tarps? Can you imagine Susie Homeowner walking into the room and busting someone screwing around with her clothes?

Funny. The dry cleaner bags are the very stuff you don't touch. Fingerprints and DNA. [:)]

An old sheet goes over the top shelf and hangs out over the clothes. Queen size. A big garbage bag spreads out like a tarp on the floor below the edge of the sheet to catch the fluffys. Ladder. Takes a whole minute to set up. When done, I roll that all up and shove it under the carrying strap of the ladder. It's all there for next time, sometimes fluffys and all. [:)]

I never skip the attic. I will sometimes neglect to put all the crap back on the shelves, though. [:)]

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Hi,

In case you didn't figure it out; Dave gets those quotes from various places around the net, contacts the person that made the post and then requests permission to quote him or her in his article. He's not a home inspector and he doesn't purport to be one; he's simply cobbling together an article based on opinions of various inspectors. It's the same M.O. used by reporters everywhere and those in the profession the reporters write about are rarely fully on-board with what makes it into print.

It's a shame he hadn't quoted some of Jim's language; had he done that, we wouldn't be seeing that stuff now. It's a good topic though, it gets people talking about stuff that really needs to be talked about.

What bothers me about the article is that it's primarily about whether or not to cut a seal and deal with a little bit of insulation and doesn't really speak to the issue of actually entering and traversing attics. There are so many inspectors that won't even get off a stepladder because they've got some kind of goofy idea in their head that walking through an attic on the lower chord of trusses is somehow going to damage the building and make them liable for any number of unspecified issues. It's always bothered me that these inspectors don't reconcile their position with the fact that the cable guy, Cat V cable installer, telephone guy, plumber, electrician, satelite installer, alarm system guy, HVAC tech and any number of other tradesman, who are paid far less than they are and are not considered to be "experts," are easily able to move through those areas without causing damage or endangering themselves. It's quite the contradication.

When we were putting together the SOP here, a few of us on the board wanted inspectors who make it a policy not to climb any ladders, go into attics, go up onto any roof no matter what the plane or surface, and never to go into a crawlspace if they must actually "crawl" , to let prospective clients know about their policy upon first phone contact. We reasoned that a prospective client will want to know what not to expect before arriving at the inspection site when it will probably be too late for them to cancel and schedule another inspector. You would have thought by the reaction of some at the board members the day we discussed that proposed language that we'd suggested that all inspectors had to wear a pink Dumbo cap with a flower in it, 'cuz the majority of the board didn't want anything to do with full up-front disclosure. We had to remove that language from the SOP before it could gain approval.

Oh well, maybe someday one of these non-attic-roof-crawl inspecting guys will have a serious issue as a result of not inspecting these areas that will cause the board to re-think it's position.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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When I arrive at the property to be inspected, I introduce myself and ask 2 things

1. Open the garage so I can inspect it with the exterior/roof inspection and

2. Do you have an access hatch for the attic? Can you please provide access for me while I begin my exterior inspection?...

OK I guess that's 3 things.

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"It's always bothered me that these inspectors don't reconcile their position with the fact that the cable guy, Cat V cable installer, telephone guy, plumber, electrician, satelite installer, alarm system guy, HVAC tech and any number of other tradesman, who are paid far less than they are and are not considered to be "experts," are easily able to move through those areas without causing damage or endangering themselves. It's quite the contradication."

True story from the trenches:

I am up walking on a flat, concrete tile roof. (one story building) There is a huge dip or wave in the appearance of the roof. I am immediately thinking about what to look for in the attic. In the attic, I see one roof truss (36' span at the bottom cord) that is disconnected at a number of it's gang-nail plate locations. (web components) I had to pull away about 12" of loose-fill in some locations to see some of the plates. Naturally, I reported what I found and made the appropriate recommendation. The client asked me "how much will this cost"? No way to offer a guess. Since this was a bank-owned property, it was viewed by the lender as an "as is" condition. I mentioned to the client that in California, we have a 10 year liability window for many structural components on newer homes. (this one was 5 years old) They called the builder's representative at Beazer Homes and reported the defective truss. The representative at Beazer told my client that by walking on the roof and walking on the bottom cords of the trusses in the attic that the builders liability was voided from the inspector's actions. (me) It's crazy. This state (CA) has become a say anything, do anything legal jungle. Deflect, deflect. Deny, deny. Hasn't changed my behavior, but I can see why many inspectors do not walk on roofs and do not go in attics. They don't want to make waves.

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The guys that installed the trusses stood on the bottom webs cords, ask the builder if he knows just how dumb that makes him sound.

When I sell retrofit insulation or radiant barriers I traverse the attic, how else would I know if my guys can get in there to work? If I can do that in my salesman costume you better believe I'm gonna do it wearing my HI cape. That said, I've come across a couple I just couldn't get into.

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. . . The representative at Beazer told my client that by walking on the roof and walking on the bottom cords of the trusses in the attic that the builders liability was voided from the inspector's actions. (me) It's crazy. This state (CA) has become a say anything, do anything legal jungle. Deflect, deflect. Deny, deny. Hasn't changed my behavior, but I can see why many inspectors do not walk on roofs and do not go in attics. They don't want to make waves.

I agree that Cali is a legal jungle, but it's been that way for at least the last 3 decades.

That said, just because a Beazer rep handed your client a steaming heap on a platter doesn't mean that they'd actually use that lame defense if the action ever became anything more than a phone call. I suspect that their claim about the builder's liability being voided would evaporate into thin air as soon as the attorneys got involved.

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"It's always bothered me that these inspectors don't reconcile their position with the fact that the cable guy, Cat V cable installer, telephone guy, plumber, electrician, satelite installer, alarm system guy, HVAC tech and any number of other tradesman, who are paid far less than they are and are not considered to be "experts," are easily able to move through those areas without causing damage or endangering themselves. It's quite the contradication."

True story from the trenches:

I am up walking on a flat, concrete tile roof. (one story building) There is a huge dip or wave in the appearance of the roof. I am immediately thinking about what to look for in the attic. In the attic, I see one roof truss (36' span at the bottom cord) that is disconnected at a number of it's gang-nail plate locations. (web components) I had to pull away about 12" of loose-fill in some locations to see some of the plates. Naturally, I reported what I found and made the appropriate recommendation. The client asked me "how much will this cost"? No way to offer a guess. Since this was a bank-owned property, it was viewed by the lender as an "as is" condition. I mentioned to the client that in California, we have a 10 year liability window for many structural components on newer homes. (this one was 5 years old) They called the builder's representative at Beazer Homes and reported the defective truss. The representative at Beazer told my client that by walking on the roof and walking on the bottom cords of the trusses in the attic that the builders liability was voided from the inspector's actions. (me) It's crazy. This state (CA) has become a say anything, do anything legal jungle. Deflect, deflect. Deny, deny. Hasn't changed my behavior, but I can see why many inspectors do not walk on roofs and do not go in attics. They don't want to make waves.

Jim is right. He was selling wolf tickets. No engineer will back him up. Go here:

https://www.inspectorsjournal.com/forum ... ebunk,myth

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Fortunately, there was enough inventory in this area that they found another home almost exactly like it and I inspected it as well. I'm sure there are many homeowners that get intimidated by "steaming piles" and very few actually hire a lawyer. Since these folks were just in the escrow phase, it wasn't worth it to buy it knowing what was wrong and then wrestle with the builder.

BTW, in California, nearly every inspector is sued for "negligence and incompetence". That is as specific as it needs to be to generate a lawsuit and go to deposition. Once you get to deposition, it's a total shakedown of any entry in the report. The window of liability is 4 years. We also have third party liability. For four years, you are responsible for findings that a third party may discover, even though you never met with the people. Also, if your client sues the seller, the seller can turn around and sue you, even though the seller is not your client and has not signed an agreement with you.

Slight thread drift, but that's CA.

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Fortunately, there was enough inventory in this area that they found another home almost exactly like it and I inspected it as well. I'm sure there are many homeowners that get intimidated by "steaming piles" and very few actually hire a lawyer. Since these folks were just in the escrow phase, it wasn't worth it to buy it knowing what was wrong and then wrestle with the builder.

BTW, in California, nearly every inspector is sued for "negligence and incompetence". That is as specific as it needs to be to generate a lawsuit and go to deposition. Once you get to deposition, it's a total shakedown of any entry in the report. The window of liability is 4 years. We also have third party liability. For four years, you are responsible for findings that a third party may discover, even though you never met with the people. Also, if your client sues the seller, the seller can turn around and sue you, even though the seller is not your client and has not signed an agreement with you.

Slight thread drift, but that's CA.

I hate to say it; but perhaps, just perhaps, if you guys in Cali hadn't beat back licensing for so long you would have had a board made up of inspectors by now that had written laws to regulate your profession that provided you some degree of insulation from that kind of crap.

Just sayin'

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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. . . I hate to say it; but perhaps, just perhaps, if you guys in Cali hadn't beat back licensing for so long you would have had a board made up of inspectors by now that had written laws to regulate your profession that provided you some degree of insulation from that kind of crap. . .

It's unlikely. Cali is different. Lawsuits are just a normal part of commerce down there. If they'd done as you say, people would just be suing the board along with everyone else.

They do have a single man to thank for the third-party liability, though.

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