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With respect to unsafeness the ASHI SOP and many others based on it, talk in terms of day to day use.

Under the "unsafe" definition am I required to report old garage passageway doors that don't conform to current fire safety standards as unsafe?

Now, I currently report them and alert the client that the current practice has changed and recommend their upgrade as an improvement to safety which is different from declaring them unsafe.

It makes sense to me that things like safety glazing, stairs, garage vehicle doors are covered because people interact with them normally on a day to day basis.

But what about items which are normally never interacted with by a home owner or which the frequency of a hazard is low for where building regulations have changed? Are those also intended to be covered under the "unsafe" definition?

Chris, Oregon

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Old pedestrian doors in garages are not dangerous (a better word than unsafe, I think) in my book. Too many things have to go wrong for that to cause harm. I'd tell them I think it's a good HI's job to advise them to upgrade, but I couldn't call it dangerous. I think "dangerous" is kind of like "beauty", you know it when you see it.

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Crap! I agree with Jim M again.

This subject is very contentious and fraught with lots of "personal" opinions. I have participated and listened to much debate and conversations about this and have come away with this: The inspection must be orderly, consistent, and clearly understood by your client. The best way to assure that is to have a very good inspection agreement and protocols. Keep the process as "the same hamburger" regardless of what you are inspecting. Do not have a fit about garage passage doors and overlook common wall fire protection, and/or scissors type door with opener and no safety devices.

Tough call as every inspection is really quite different and done for different people.

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The entire safety issue is fraught w/confusion.

Our (IL) state SOP requires us to "report on safety concerns", but doesn't delineate what that means.

Personally, I'm in the garage door opener, stair construction, handrail/guardrail, safety glazing, CO & smoke detection, GFCI, and secondary safety egress school of safety reporting.

I could think of a hundred more, but those are the big ones, and that's what I report on.

After that, I'm w/Jim; I'll recognize dangerous when I see it. I may or may not report on an old garage passage door (probably not).

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Originally posted by kurt

The entire safety issue is fraught w/confusion.

Our (IL) state SOP requires us to "report on safety concerns", but doesn't delineate what that means.

Well, if it's left up to common sense, it's the classic Cramer, "HIs judgment" scenario. If it doesn't concern the HI, then it's not a safety concern, is it? (Not that my thoughts would necessarily hold up in court if somebody got cut into a hundred pieces by a sliding door..."id="blue">

Personally, I'm in the garage door opener, stair construction, handrail/guardrail, safety glazing, CO & smoke detection, GFCI, and secondary safety egress school of safety reporting.

Good list. It occurs to me, though, that the manufacturers should be the ones who take the heat for "safety concerns" caused by, say, a garage door that crushes somebody's knuckles, or an attic folding stair that drops somebody 8 feet to the floor. If there's nothing visible to "concern" the HI on inspection day, why should he have to pay for damages when the guilty deathtrap claims a victim?id="blue">

I could think of a hundred more, but those are the big ones, and that's what I report on.

After that, I'm w/Jim; I'll recognize dangerous when I see it. I may or may not report on an old garage passage door (probably not).

I freely admit, I don't even know what the concern is. I looked thousands of garage "pedestrian doors," as they call 'em around here. (Doors from the garage to the yard.) What bad things happen when there's a "passage door?"

WJid="blue">

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If we're talking about the pedestrian door into the home and it isn't a 20-minute door and it doesn't have self-closing hinges, I write that up.

As Kurt says: I'm just making a list.

I don't wish to prognosticate; I can't predict if someone has a higher chance of getting cut up on an un-tempered window than being hurt by a fire that spread faster because of an un-rated door.

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Originally posted by randynavarro

If we're talking about the pedestrian door into the home and it isn't a 20-minute door and it doesn't have self-closing hinges, I write that up.

As Kurt says: I'm just making a list.

I don't wish to prognosticate; I can't predict if someone has a higher chance of getting cut up on an un-tempered window than being hurt by a fire that spread faster because of an un-rated door.

Well, I did about 5,000 HI jobs and never wrote up a door from the garage to the house. Maybe that makes me a dumbass, but my thought was, "Well, first, you have to have a fire in the garage."

If a person is in the garage when the fire breaks out, the door doesn't help him or hurt him. Either he's got a way out, or not.

If he's in the house when the garage fire breaks out, he just needs to go out of any door that doesn't lead to the garage. Not to be callous, but when a garage fire erupts, who stays in the house?

I did write up openings in garage walls/ceilings/etc.

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Truth be told, I hate reporting safety stuff. I think part of the problem is folks have forgotten to figure out how to protect themselves.

Heck, I live in a city that's one giant safety concern. If everything was 1/10 as dangerous as our safety overseers would have us believe, it would be carnage in Chicago just going out to get a decent combo beef sandwich.

I was thinking about the porch collapse of '03 a couple days ago; it wouldn't have ever happened in the ghetto because those folks know that anything can get them @ anytime, so they're careful about where they plant their feet.

Go over to the other side of town, where kids have been protected in their homes, schools, & excursions since infancy, and folks pile 150 of themselves onto a wood frame deck, get drunk, party wildly, and don't think a minute that it might fall down.

Making everything "safe" has made a generation of folks kinda unsafe, IMHO.

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Philosophically, I agree with the main sentiment of y'all--safety items are kind of a pain in the arse and people just need to use their common sense.

Professionally, I'm still a bit fragile; one of my biggest fears is some yahoo coming in after me and saying, "Hey lady, you don't have a rated fire door! I hope you didn't have a home inspection 'cuz you just got ripped off. It's the code man-you gotta have a fire door!"

I really don't like looking bad.

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Hi,

Why put yourself in a position to have to defend it? Just tell it like it is. Something like:

"You don't have a framajam on your thingamajig. If this home were being built today, there'd be a framajam on the thingamajig because the framajam makes the thingamajig safer, and that's why the framajam is required by current code (cite code). Now, there's no law requiring you to bring your thingamajig up to current code by installing the framajam, but from a safety standpoint it would be the prudent thing to do. Contact a couple of framajam contractors to discuss options and cost."

It gets it said.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Well, let's kick this around a little. Of all the complaints you've had in your HI career, how many came because you didn't warn the customers about a safety issue?

In my case, it's none. It never came up. After 20 years and about 5,000 jobs, I can only remember complaints about things in crawl spaces -- a few rotten spots, a few leaky pipes, a broken HVAC duct or two, maybe a pile of raccoon crap.

Invariably, those complaints arose when a tradesman who was called in to fix a leak or something else in the crawl found a problem that might've been there on inspection day, or might not have. In any case, I think I wrote fewer than a half-dozen refund checks in my whole career.

Simply put, people complain when they think the HI missed something, not when the HI didn't tell them how to save their own skins.

Of course, I could be wrong...

WJ

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Hi Walter,

I agree, I don't think that folks actually expect us to tell them about everything that is different today than 20 years ago, and I'm not losing any sleep wondering whether I'll even get a complaint because I didn't tell someone to upgrade something. However, I do think that customers appreciate it when they're made aware of things that can harm them and are informed about ways they can make their homes a little bit safer. We're there in the house anyway, we're the experts, and it takes practically no time and effort to pass the information along. I don't see any harm in doing so - it might even be good for business.

Let's look at it another way. Say you're at the local filling station and the proprietor is walking by your car, stops, looks at your tires, and then informs you that you've got a soft tire. He didn't have to tell you about it; maybe you've been driving around on that soft tire for months and months and haven't had a problem - maybe you can drive around for months more and it still won't be a problem, but you appreciate the fact that he took the time to inform you about it just the same. Maybe, dipweed JHPussfart, the proprietor of the other filling station down the street where you fill up about half of the time, has never taken the time to warn you about little things like that. Later, when someone asks you where to take their car for service, you probably won't tell them to take it to JHPussfart, will you? Nope, you're going to remember the other guy.

What we do is give folks information about their homes. Sure, all of the SOP's only require inspectors to report certain items and none requires the inspector to make folks aware of things in the home that are perfectly functional and wouldn't be allowed today for safety reasons, but people remember good customer service. It only takes a minute to inform a client that adding a weatherstrip gasket and a self-closing hinge to that pedestrian door between the garage and the house will help to keep smoke and fumes out of the interior of the house and buy them a few more seconds, maybe even minutes, in the event there's ever a fire in the garage, about as long as it takes to read the italicized portion above, so where's the downside to offering a client a safety tip if it's not really placing a burden on the inspector? It certainly doesn't add any time to the report - hell, all that sort of thing is generic and pre-formatted anyway. Click - it's there.

About the only place where I've ever seen stuff like that become a hassle is when the realtorzoid, whose been tagging along and listening to every word spoken to the buyer, decides to try and do some damage control by piping up with something like, "Well, that's grandfathered anyway, so it's not an issue," which is their way of saying, "Hey a**hole, shut the hell up. Your anal retentiveness is liable to freak out my buyer and cause him to run away." Ironically, their attempts at damage control for just one item like that can waste more time than all the time it takes to inform a client of every issue like that in a house. However, that's a discussion for another time - I don't see the downside to being a little customer friendly and offering a helpful tip here and there.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Mike,

Couple of things jumped off the page when reading your post.

The notion of "click, it is there". That is ok if the "click" is correct and really meaningful. Lots of times the inspector really does not have a clue about what is being written in the "click". I offer my opinion that 90% of the boiler used every day is not even ever modified, much less for that particular house. Plus the "clicker" is usually more interested in CYA.

Second: I don't think reporting every safety issue makes for the best customer service. Good customer service is a mixture of Knowledge of houses, clear concise reporting and conversation. (before and after actual inspection) I absolutely know I have made thousands of errors. I also know my clients have a realistic expectation of what I did for them. I told them right up front what I was going to do and did just that - nothing less and nothing more. Yet, I take calls from 20-30 past clients of my company every week. I have never been dragged into court.

I have never inspected a house where I reported everything I knew. Sad, but true. You have to do the best you can with the time you have.

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I totally agree that it's good to tell the customers about safety stuff. Makes the HI look good, and might just keep somebody out of trouble. I don't know any decent HIs who, when they see something that could hurt somebody, don't write or say something about it. You should've seen the reeltors' faces when I told the customers about the west-facing metal doors that could get up to 180+ degrees and literally take the hide off a little kid.

I'm just saying that in my humble experience, nobody every called up and said anything like, "You didn't tell us that the cords on the blinds could choke baby Susie."

Heck, these days, there's a picture of a burning man on the water heater; a picture of a severed hand on the lawn mower; and, a picture of a soon-to-be-squashed child on the garage door. The manufacturers take a lot of the explaining load off our backs.

WJ

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I guess it is my neck of the woods, I have never seen a self closing door going into the house from the garage.

Before my area change to the 2003 IRC the door had windows in them. Now they don't.

I tell my clients about the change and why it was changed. This is one of the suggest upgrades in my report. I also tell them that upgrades are not part of the repairs that listed in most contracts.

Most of my clients like the window in the door to the garage and I have had one ask if they could change to a door with a window in the door from the one that was there.

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Originally posted by Phillip

I also tell them that upgrades are not part of the repairs that listed in most contracts.

A little something from my humble experience: A while back, a lawyer hired me to read a local HI's report, and tell him (the lawyer) whether or not the HI had met a reasonable standard of care.

Well, this particular HI had a habit of telling his customer (in writing) that the sellers weren't responsible for repairing/replacing this or that. I told the lawyer that I knew of no source that would back up that practice, and that it worked to the detriment of the customer. My opinion was that it's not up to the HI to decide who pays for what, and it's not up to the HI to suggest that his customer not negotiate on a particular issue.

Anyhow, the lawyer decided to settle the case on the spot. I don't think he wanted to defend this particular client.

Of course, others' results may vary.

WJ

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