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Our Oregon SOP requires the home inspector to state how, if at all, the habitability of the dwelling is affected where a component or system has been found to be not functioning as intended.

But whats a good working definition of habitability in the context of a home inspection?

Some definitions say something stupid like fit for human habitation - whatever that means. Others point to any contravention of the JHA building or housing code.

What do you use for a reference to parse issues having a significant affect on habitability and those that don't?

Chris, Oregon

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Chris,

I recently participated in a national HUD focus group that had the same basic question. After weeks of discussion, we had to settle for "in the opinion of the observer". The math involved with factually establishing habitability was very complex; possible lead based paint, peeling paint, no paint, filthy paint, pourous paint, reflective paint vs paint ok, contains too many varibles.

Whoever wrote the standard is the only source, in my opinion.

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Our Oregon SOP requires the home inspector to state how, if at all, the habitability of the dwelling is affected where a component or system has been found to be not functioning as intended.

But whats a good working definition of habitability in the context of a home inspection?

Some definitions say something stupid like fit for human habitation - whatever that means. Others point to any contravention of the JHA building or housing code.

What do you use for a reference to parse issues having a significant affect on habitability and those that don't?

Chris, Oregon

This is what happens when the State Home Inspector Advisory Committee drones think to themselves, "Gee, we really like the ASHI standards but we don't want to actually use them because then it might look as if we're endorsing ASHI. So we'll write something kind of like what the ASHI standards say but we'll use different words that we think will mean the same thing."

The committee probably meant for the word "habitable" to have its common definition: suitable to live in.

If I were put on the stand, I could make a convincing case that nearly any defect in a house, no matter how small, could affect "habitability."

FWIW, I don't sweat the habitability thing. I say stuff like:

Someone could trip on the sidewalk's raised ledge.

The ungrounded receptacles could shock you.

Kids could tumble down the open laundry chute.

The deck could collapse.

Etc.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Les

Chris,

I recently participated in a national HUD focus group that had the same basic question. After weeks of discussion, we had to settle for "in the opinion of the observer". The math involved with factually establishing habitability was very complex; possible lead based paint, peeling paint, no paint, filthy paint, pourous paint, reflective paint vs paint ok, contains too many varibles.

Whoever wrote the standard is the only source, in my opinion.

Les, the standard doesn't require us to report on all things that affect habitability. It requires us to find things that don't function as intended. Then we have to qualify that finding by stating how it affects habitability. That's a much more simple task.

Anything affects habitability.

"The yellow paint in the living room could cause you to puke."

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Jim, you are right on both counts, except my living room is school bus yellow!

I think you make a good point regarding adopting standards of orgs. If you adopt those standards, then you should have some idea what they mean. It is quite difficult, or impossible, to come up with a nice new set of standards, as nearly everything we do has been "re-worded" by various home inspector organizations. But, with minor exception, they are the same. Think about ASTM's ongoing efforts - - - - - - - - why? It likely will be just a jumble of ASHI, NAHI, IIN, Nachi, etc.... Kinda depends on who will travel to Pa and argue.

I have read dozens of SOP's and nearly every state statute and they are mostly BS. It all starts out with people writing regulation that have no idea where this business came from and what it supposed to deliver to the consumer.

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From the Oregon SOP

812-008-0202 Purpose and Scope

(2)©© State whether any inspected systems or components do not function as intended, allowing for normal wear and tear; and how, if at all, the habitability of the dwelling is affected.

(2)©(D) State the inspector's recommendation to monitor, evaluate, repair, replace or other appropriate action.

In addition back up in section (2)©(B) it states:

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 that any lawyer could walk thru any one of our reports and stab us endlessly by this standard.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Les

\ It all starts out with people writing regulation that have no idea where this business came from and what it supposed to deliver to the consumer.

Exactly.

Any suggestion to the State board(s) members usually then triggers mass defensive posturing, w/comments along the lines of "well, I'm on the board and you're not, so don't tell me what to do", sort of thing.

Illinois' board is probably like everyone else's in varying degrees, and it boils down to politics. The sorts of folks that are tolerant of bureaucratic idiocies, and love to play politics, are the sorts of folks that end up on HI regulatory boards.

IOW, no one intelligent is ever going to go for the job, because it's brain numbing, so we end up w/doofus's, retirees, or wannabe's.

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Do you EW's ever have to set a lawyer straight when they attempt to mis-apply an SOP?

How many times have you seen cases where a claim is based on a faulty understanding of an SOP?

I imagine that most of the time the HI got themself in legitimate trouble but that the prosecuting atty tied on a bunch of other things stretching the SOP a bit.

Chris, Oregon

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Chris,

sops are not typically the immediate cause of an action, especially if the defendant is an inspector. My experience as an e/w would indicate the sop saves more inspectors than it hangs.

An experienced atty will usually put a local seasoned inspector on the stand and direct the questions in what ever direction he wants the witness to go. In your original question the issue of habitability could go to local custom within the scope of the sop. Torn vinyl flooring is not acceptable for a rental dwelling and the dwelling can be "red tagged" and vacated. Torn vinyl flooring in a house for sale may be a result of normal wear and tear and an owner can occupy that house legally. So the atty gets the expert to so say.

I do a good bit of legal work and never had any inclination to set any atty straight. They usually do a good job on their own, without my help. An expert never acts as an enforcer, rather an educator. We have great latitude. The "know it all" e/w has a very short career.

I believe sops are my friend and believe me and my company exceed them on a daily basis.

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Jim can correct me if I am wrong but I think the intention was to try and get the inspector to indicate one way or another that he looked at the thing.

I think there were a number of inspectors running around doing defect only lists with the client coming back later and wondering what the hell the inspector checked.

From the get go the (2)©(B) required the inspector to list the items that he inspected but a while back they added the "indicate whether or not it was satisfactory language" which like I said I believe was intended just to indicate with more gusto to the client that the inspector looked at it and found it to be OK.

I use to have some drawn out sentence saying basically I looked at it and it appeared to be functioning as intended. I shortened that to just saying "satisfactory" with a definition tied to it then changed it to "inspected" with a definition tied to it.

Using the satisfactory word in the report makes me nervous. Saying "inspected" is more ambiguous.

Chris, Oregon

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