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Repair Immediacy


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With safety items the recommendation is easy: get it repaired right away if not sooner. But what about for things that would be considered damaged but don't present an immediant threat to the home or its habitability?

For example deteriorated siding that is well painted.

How do you make a recommendation on this?

Is it always replace it now? Can one say budget for replacement?

Chris, Oregon

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The siding is damaged but has a heavy coat of paint that is camouflaging or concealing the damage. All of the damaged materials need to be properly replaced.

Report what you see.

It is not up to the home inspector to decide when a damaged item needs replacing. If it is broken or not functioning as designed, it needs to be repaired or replaced. When we (the home inspector) say to "budget for repairs", this sounds like the inspector is trying to be soft in reporting on the item.

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If an item is not working properly or is damaged I will tell them this; "It is going to need to be repaired or replaced, as to when and who does it that is something that you will need to decide. If it was me, I would want the seller to make the repairs so I would not have to worry about it".

This is pretty much my canned speech when I'm asked this type of question. It is also what I would do and what I did when I bought a new home.

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I sometimes explain that, in order to be compliant w/the SOP's and reqirements of my licensing, I can't write reports like that.

I have to tell folks what's up, and what to do about it, and my written word has to hold up in court, in the unlikely event it ever winds up there.

I'll tell folks verbally what I think about time frames, but write it all down? No way. Too many opportunities for getting royally screwed.

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Hey Chris,

HI Rule #1: Listen to Scott P. and Kurt M.

HI Rule #2: When clients ask you if they can delay a repair, incorporate some or all of the following into your reply.

"Well, that depends on how comfortable you are with risk. If you are comfortable assuming the risk that this problem is worse than we can see today, or that it might progress while you wait, then wait. If you are not comfortable with those risks, then make sure it gets repaired straight away."

Never forget it's their house and their risk. Tell them everything you know, but let them make their own decisions.

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Thanks Scott, Kurt and Jim.

What about reporting on items beyond their expected service life that are still working. Is the recommendation still the same? Is it really get it replaced right away before it fails? I see a lot of water heaters around here that are 40 years old and furnace and a/c systems 30 years old. Now in other parts of the country that are either colder or hotter or their water is worse, a furnace, a/c or water heater might even not make it to their published expected service life.

How do you recommend reporting on items beyond their expected service life?

Chris, Oregon

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I'll usually say something along the lines of.....

"The (thing) is very old, and well beyond it's normal lifespan. While the (thing) may continue to provide service, the greater likelihood is it is going to fail in the near future. If it fails, it will (leak/flood the house/etc.). You should replace the (thing) @ your earliest opportunity, the sooner the better."

Or, something to that effect.

I describe the consequences of failure; it's much more effective than the usual HI boilerplate crapola.

*The sooner the better* comment is directly out of the WJ playbook; I heard him promote this idea several years ago, loved it, and use it all the time.

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I see nothing wrong with recommending replacement of a component past its expected service life.

I drive a van with 4 bald tires and know that if I do not replace them before they blow out that it will be at an inconvenient time causing other problems such as an accident.

Same with a roof with deteriorated tile and ripped flashing.

Do you wait till water enters the home to replace?

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Chris,

I say things like: "The gas-fired water heater is 10 years old, you should be prepared to replace it at any time." Same thing with the furnace and A/C.

There may be reasons to replace them before they fail. There may not be. I explain the risks, report the facts, and deposit the checks.

Repeat as necessary,

Jim Morrison

Princeton, MA

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