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Marc

Meeting SOP requirements

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A report swap has revealed an enormous omission in my report writing or perhaps nothing at all so I'm asking for guidance on it.

For example, this is from our SOP:

§ 319. Electrical System

A. The home inspector shall inspect:

1. service drop and entrance conductors cables and raceways;

2. service equipment, main disconnect device, main and sub-panels, interior panel components, and service grounding;

3. branch circuit conductors, their overcurrent devices, and their compatibility;

4. the operation of a representative number of installed ceiling fans, lighting fixtures, switches and receptacles;

5. the polarity and grounding of all receptacles; and

6. and test ground fault circuit interrupters and arc fault circuit interrupters, unless, in the opinion of the inspector, such testing is likely to cause damage to any installed items or components of the home or interrupt service to an electrical device or equipment located in or around the home.

Does this mean that I have to mention these 6 items in every report even if in fact, I did and found no issues regarding them?

What about 'I didn't inspect the AFCI devices because this 75 year old house doesn't have any.'

What about these:

§ 317. Plumbing System

A. The home inspector shall inspect:

1. water supply and distribution systems, including piping materials, supports, insulation; fixtures and faucets; functional flow; leaks; and cross connections;

2. interior drain, waste and vent system, including: traps, drain, waste, and vent piping; piping supports and pipe insulation; leaks, and functional drainage;

3. hot water systems including: water heating equipment; normal operating controls; automatic safety controls; and chimneys, flues and vents;

4. fuel storage and distribution systems including fuel storage equipment, supply piping, venting, and supports; leaks; and

5. sump pumps, drainage sumps, and related piping.

I've seen only 2 sump pumps in all my life and less than 1 house in 500 has 'fuel storage equipment'. Should I mention each of these 5 items in every report even though some nearly never even exist in my area?

Marc

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The SOPs don't say you have to DESCRIBE all that stuff, only that you have to check it out.

No AFCIs? You don't have to look and don't have to say anything about the lack thereof.

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Yes, you should describe the basics. But parts of my SOP say "inspect" and for some things "describe".

Service drop is either overhead or lateral.

Breakers or fuses, main breaker size of course. (My house had "upgraded wiring" today, but it was only 60 amps)

conductor types NMD, loomex, woven sheath, BX

This shows you've looked for K&T and found these other types.

I check a representative # of outlets, try to get one in every bedroom, and especially if there's old ungrounded circuits, then I try to get them all, because it will be a mix. But I only report defects in the receptacles.

GFCI's all get checked and reported as present. AFCI breakers I report them if they are there, but will not test them if there are clock alarms.

Report them to show you looked for them. But no, you don't need to report what is NOT there. [:)]

If your report is setup to describe something, it forces you to check for that item. Like the presence of a vacuum relief valve on a water heater. It's either there or it's not there. We can't test them.

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I don't mention every item in my reports. That would make the report a long, unholy mess. And it wouldn't serve my client's interest. I also don't use a canned report system.

My report and my agreement reference the SOP's under which I work. I think that should do it.

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What I guess I'm asking here is whether there's any truth in the axiom that 'if you didn't report it, you didn't inspect it'.

Marc

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What I guess I'm asking here is whether there's any truth in the axiom that 'if you didn't report it, you didn't inspect it'.

Not in my experience.

The SOPs usually have "required to inspect" and "must describe" lists. There's lots of items I inspect that aren't listed in the report, if there's no issue with that item. It would only detract from folks focusing on the important stuff.

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What I guess I'm asking here is whether there's any truth in the axiom that 'if you didn't report it, you didn't inspect it'.

Marc

Me neither. I report defects, I describe the stuff they say I have to describe.

There's no conflict.

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I'm the one that quoted that axiom. This is what I was told when I submitted my first fifty reports to ASHI for verification so I could use their logo. My reports got longer.

I was told this again when I submitted my next 250 reports for full member status, as there were still several items that I didn't include in my reports. My reports got longer still, and they've stayed that way.

The other inspectors in my company had similar experiences when they submitted reports to ASHI for verification.

After reading this thread, I'm starting to think that many of the ASHI report verifiers don't know what they're talking about and that I've wasted hundreds of hours reporting on crap that nobody cares about.

Good times.

- Reuben

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Reuben,

My state and ASHI standards say the same thing. "The inspector shall observe" and not that "The inspector shall inspect" as shown above. The definition of observe is, "The act of making a visual examination of a system or component and reporting on its condition." I would be required to report on the above items.

In Marc's SOP, what does inspect mean? He would need to go to his definitions to find out for sure.

Jeff Euriech

Peoria Arizona

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Reuben,

My state and ASHI standards say the same thing. "The inspector shall observe" and not that "The inspector shall inspect" as shown above. The definition of observe is, "The act of making a visual examination of a system or component and reporting on its condition." I would be required to report on the above items.

In Marc's SOP, what does inspect mean? He would need to go to his definitions to find out for sure.

Jeff Euriech

Peoria Arizona

From the Louisiana SOP:

Inspect - to examine readily accessible systems and components of a building in accordance with the Standards of Practice, using normal operating controls and opening readily openable access panels.

The key word here seems to be 'examine' which unfortunately, is not among the defined terms in this SOP.

Marc

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About the only way that you will get into trouble with what you do or do not put into your reports is if you have a client that gets pissed and sues you! Then you will have another inspector who does EW type work going though your report. Their goal will be to find errors in the report and that is not all that difficult to do on most reports.

Many of the items that are listed in the various SoP's can be covered with standard boilerplate as it really does not change that much. You can then note any problem that you find.

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Oregon's SOP requires us to list/record in the inspection report all of the items of the inspection in the SOP that we inspected and indicate whether or not the item is satisfactory or not.

It doesn't add any more time really and it's saved my butt a few times.

Chris, Oregon

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After reading this thread, I'm starting to think that many of the ASHI report verifiers don't know what they're talking about and that I've wasted hundreds of hours reporting on crap that nobody cares about.

- Reuben

Very likely.

Go over any of the 3 ring binder operations.....none of them comply if judged by the standard we're talking about here.

ASHI's report verification process is a complete and total mess. I doubt the state mandated individuals doing the job perform it any better.

One could, at least in my theory, comply with Oregon SOP in various ways.

What if there is a statement in the front of the report that says.........

"The following summary is a list of all the defects I found. If an item that I inspected isn't in the defect list, that means I inspected it and considered it in satisfactory condition".

I have an inventory of all the stuff that we're supposed to describe and/or inspect, and I have a few hundred pictures on file of all that stuff. If push comes to shove, a picture is worth several words. Part of the problem with the people writing the standards and enforcing them is they're all old men with little or no ability to expand their definitions of what any of the language means.

I have a list of all the crap I looked at. If an item in the list of crap isn't in the defect list, it's fair to say it was in satisfactory condition. Inclusion by omission.

I have a list of defects. If everything that matters is in the defect list, there will never be a problem.

In theory.

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I had an odd case once where I indicated in the report that there was no A/C system. The buyer caught it and had been told that there was an A/C system, which was reaffirmed by the seller. When the buyer told me that there was indeed an A/C system, I reviewed the photos I had taken of the furnace in the garage and there were no signs of an A/C installation and no signs of plumbing exposed to view in the crawlspace and nothing I could see from my photos of the exterior.

I arranged to go back out to the site and it turned out they had run the plumbing thru the plenum, which they sometimes do, and they had covered the outdoor unit with a box that I failed to recognize and parked behind a storage shed, which obliterated its view in the exterior shots, and I blew off the thermostat thinking the A/C portion was removed/abandoned.

It turned out to be an old A/C system beyond its expected service life.

If the report isn't the place to record what of the SOP was actually relevent to the home and what of it was actually inspected, then how does the client know what you really inspected?

From Oregons admin rules:

(B) Record in the report each item listed in OAR

812-008-0205 through 812-008-0214 and indicate

whether or not the property inspected was satisfactory

with regard to each item of inspection; it will not be

sufficient to satisfy subsection (2)© of this rule that the certified home inspector prepare a report listing only

deficiencies;

What I do is list everything in the Oregon SOP that we are supposed to inspect, then line out items that don't exist for the home (as far as I can tell) or items I couldn't inspect.

Reading SOP's are so boring, that any normal persons brain goes numb & their eyes start bleeding. Of course inspection reports aren't any better.

Chris, Oregon

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If the report isn't the place to record what of the SOP was actually relevent to the home and what of it was actually inspected, then how does the client know what you really inspected?

If you have an inventory of the components, then I think that's reasonable to assume you inspected it. If it's not reasonable, then of what use is another sentence saying "there was an AC system, and I inspected it"?

(B) Record in the report each item listed in OAR

812-008-0205 through 812-008-0214 and indicate

whether or not the property inspected was satisfactory

with regard to each item of inspection; it will not be

sufficient to satisfy subsection (2)© of this rule that the certified home inspector prepare a report listing only

deficiencies;

I think the way I do it satisfies that requirement. I have an inventory of all the parts of the home. If one of those parts is defective, it's in the defect list. If it's not defective, I have a statement at the bottom of each section that essentially states "I inspected all the stuff above; the stuff was OK except for items listed in the defect list".

The reason I do it that way is to avoid the thing that comes from your next statement.

Reading SOP's are so boring, that any normal persons brain goes numb & their eyes start bleeding. Of course inspection reports aren't any better.

Chris, Oregon

Absolutely.

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In a former life I was in the medical field. If you didn't write it down, it didn't happen. You could have taken the blood pressure every 5 minutes for an hour but if you only documented the values once, you only checked the BP once. Legal issue.

I brought that prejudice with me to home inspecting. If it is not documented in the report, then I would presume you did not do that task.

In my report I list that I inspected these items. I then list every item in the same exact squence and wording as the SOP. Standard boilerplate that is at the top of each section. Wrote it once and never change it since I inspect every one of those items at every inspection. Then I have a list of all the must Describe items. Following that is the list of defects. Clients likley read the first "These were inspected" paragraph and skip the rest. The Describe items are very simple descriptions that can be easily scanned.

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In a former life I was in the medical field. If you didn't write it down, it didn't happen. You could have taken the blood pressure every 5 minutes for an hour but if you only documented the values once, you only checked the BP once. Legal issue.

That's not a good analogy to the home inspection industry. By no stretch of the imagination can any SOP possibly list every defect, issue and conducive condition that could happen on a house and expect the inspector to make an individual note on each and every one. By that reasoning, they shouldn't attempt to. An SOP should insure a minimum from the inspector but should not progress to the point where it becomes an unjustified encumbrance. The Texas SOP is the best example I know of a regulatory Board that has lost their grasp of just what the role of an SOP should be.

I'm not saying it's easy to draw that line between justified requirement and unjustified encumbrance. I'm just suggesting that when a report doubles in content because of an SOP's 'required mention' list, the public's interests and the inspector's interests are no longer being served.

This, I think, should be one of several fundamental parameters when designing an SOP.

Marc

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True enough.

Also, comparing blood pressure counts to looking at roofing is not the same thing.

What if you take a picture of the stuff you're inspecting? Is a picture of an open electrical panel an adequate determination of whether one looked at the electrical panel interior? If one has pictures taken while on the roof, isn't that reasonable indication that one was looking at the roof?

I think so.

I don't understand why having a sentence saying "I looked at the roof", or a check box beside a comment, indicates that anything happened other than someone wrote a sentence or checked a box.

Like most stuff, the SOP's don't keep up with technological advancements.

In many ways, the SOP's prevent the inspired and competent practitioner from best serving their customers.

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I've adopted Kurt's philosophy. I include a shot taken from the roof, furnace cover removed and open panels and disconnects in the report. People get the "feel" of what we've done.

If the client is on site we perform a photo review. I also take this opportunity to compare the house to others. The photo count tells a lot.

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True enough.

Also, comparing blood pressure counts to looking at roofing is not the same thing.

What if you take a picture of the stuff you're inspecting? Is a picture of an open electrical panel an adequate determination of whether one looked at the electrical panel interior? If one has pictures taken while on the roof, isn't that reasonable indication that one was looking at the roof?

I think so.

I don't understand why having a sentence saying "I looked at the roof", or a check box beside a comment, indicates that anything happened other than someone wrote a sentence or checked a box.

Like most stuff, the SOP's don't keep up with technological advancements.

In many ways, the SOP's prevent the inspired and competent practitioner from best serving their customers.

I really like this thinking, and since I'm in the process of trying to reduce the overall length of my report, it's given me reason to pause. Hm...

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True enough.

Also, comparing blood pressure counts to looking at roofing is not the same thing.

What if you take a picture of the stuff you're inspecting? Is a picture of an open electrical panel an adequate determination of whether one looked at the electrical panel interior? If one has pictures taken while on the roof, isn't that reasonable indication that one was looking at the roof?

I think so.

I don't understand why having a sentence saying "I looked at the roof", or a check box beside a comment, indicates that anything happened other than someone wrote a sentence or checked a box.

Like most stuff, the SOP's don't keep up with technological advancements.

In many ways, the SOP's prevent the inspired and competent practitioner from best serving their customers.

I really like this thinking, and since I'm in the process of trying to reduce the overall length of my report, it's given me reason to pause. Hm...

A picture take up more space in a report than a sentence that says, "I inspected the widget."

I'm all for pictures, but they don't necessarily reduce the number of pages in a report.

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True but they do reduce the time it takes to understand the report. AS has been said they "can" reduce the time to generate a report. That leaves more time to hang out here.

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True enough.

Also, comparing blood pressure counts to looking at roofing is not the same thing.

What if you take a picture of the stuff you're inspecting? Is a picture of an open electrical panel an adequate determination of whether one looked at the electrical panel interior? If one has pictures taken while on the roof, isn't that reasonable indication that one was looking at the roof?

I think so.

I don't understand why having a sentence saying "I looked at the roof", or a check box beside a comment, indicates that anything happened other than someone wrote a sentence or checked a box.

Like most stuff, the SOP's don't keep up with technological advancements.

In many ways, the SOP's prevent the inspired and competent practitioner from best serving their customers.

I really like this thinking, and since I'm in the process of trying to reduce the overall length of my report, it's given me reason to pause. Hm...

A picture take up more space in a report than a sentence that says, "I inspected the widget."

I'm all for pictures, but they don't necessarily reduce the number of pages in a report.

Yeah, that truth was whizzing through my head, as I hit the Post New Reply button, but I'm going to keep the concept in the back of my thinking as an option.

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A picture take up more space in a report than a sentence that says, "I inspected the widget."

I'm all for pictures, but they don't necessarily reduce the number of pages in a report.

This is an example of trying to understand new things while thinking in old paradigms and processes. The other factor is the intransigence of HI's in accepting anything new or different than what already exists.

No one was a larger critic of picture reports than me some time ago. It takes a while to understand things differently and change one's patterns and habits.

Reducing pages in a report isn't the goal. Reducing time, increasing understanding, simplifying format, while complying with SOP, is.

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A customer who is much more expert in these things than myself has repeatedly expressed the idea that "there's too much information in the world for any one individual to absorb all of it satisfactorily".

Invariably, folks in a given profession think everyone is interested in understanding things within the perspective of a practitioner of that particular profession.

That is rarely the case. Sometimes, but rarely.

Most folks want (either conscious or unconscious) to understand things within examples they are already familiar with.

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