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Grandfathered items


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This one's easy: If something needs fixing, you just say so. Doesn't matter if it's 100 years old or a day old.

When I've reported such, I've made it plain that I know people aren't likely to rip out a hundred-year-old staircase because it's too narrow, but I have to tell them that things built or modified to conform to modern standards generally enhance safety and performance.

Example: By modern standards, the stair to the attic is too narrow/steep/has dangerous handrail/guardrail, etc. (Insert reference to modern code requirement here, along with a simple explanation that steep, narrow stairs with old handrails increase the likelihood of somebody falling.) The only practical fix would be to demolish the existing stair and make big modifications to the house.

Example two: The wiring in the house comprises an old two-wire, ungrounded system. The system is outdated by modern standards; and, old electrical systems don't get better with age. You could improve safety and performance by having the electrical system upgraded to modern specifications. The work will require some demolition (opening walls and ceilings); and, repairs will be costly.

Writing up "grandfathered" things this way is sooo much easier than trying to invent convoluted text that will please the reeltor but expose the HI to all kinds of liability.

So, just tell the customers what's wrong, and what it will take to fix it. After that, it's up to them. FWIW, I've never known a customer to actually tear out a stair or rewire a 50+year-old house. And, I've never gotten any pushback from reeltors on old and/or obsolete stuff. I found that if I explained the situation honestly and plainly, people start nodding their heads in agreement.

Use analogies. For instance, mention how a person who might've ended up in a wheelchair 50 years ago can now get a knee replacement. Technology never sleeps.

Make people nod,

WJ

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

So, Kevin are you saying that you do give such items equal weight in your summary?

Chris, Oregon

I thought that's what "absolutely" meant![;)]

What Walter was kind enough to lay out in detail is exactly my approach. You can't expect everyone to rip out every obsolete/dangerous item in the home, but you'd better TELL them what items are in that category and recommend that they repair/replace/rebuild them. They can do what they choose; our job is to inform them of those items. It's simply not economically feasible to fix some items. But if you don't write them up, you'll eventually find yourself writing something far more painful...a check to someone with an attorney!

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Thanks. I have been writing up grandfathered items like the way Walter suggests. I would like to give credit to Mike O. as he gives an excellent model on how to do this in my "Unsafe" post.

I started thinking more about this when I read about NC's proposed HI SOP that would prohibit and inspector from making recommendations concerning grandfathered items and I started wondering if HI's were parsing grandfathered items already and trying to make a distiniction between them and other defects.

I haven't been. I just put them on the same list along with everything else.

Chris, Oregon

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No such thing as "grandfathered". In fact the municipality will require things to be updated should the owner take on a remodeling project. I hate this term and believe it sould be striken from a Home Inspectors vocabulary along with "illegal." I don't believe in weighted observations (satisfatory, marginal, poor). Write the 3 "W's" what your observation is, what the consequense is, and what to do about it. I think one is on poor footing trying to catagories how important a defect is or is not.

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Hi Carl,

While I agree in principle with what you've said, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that some municipalities actually address "Grandfathering" in their municipal codes, and they actually use that word - granfathering. They spell out when something will be "grandfathered" and when it will not. This can vary a great deal from town to town. When it comes to codes, there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all, no matter how much we'd like it to be that way.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Home inspectors should NOT use the word "grandfathered," for its use may land you in hot water. Remember this phrase, "Grandfather is DEAD!" Only the local municipal inspector has authority to make such a determination.

Simply report what you see, compare and contrast what you see with newer construction practices with emphasis on safety. educate the client and let him or her decide if upgrading is of concern.

Bob Mulloy

www.allsafehomeinspection.com

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Well, but not so fast. One has to be reasonable. I find electrical panels in closets in older houses fairly often. It isn't prudent to tell a buyer that the panel is unsafe and should be moved. I explain about access issues and add that local code enforcement would not mandate moving the panel if it were observed; that they would "grandfather" it in.

I found a panel in a bathroom recently that had a +/- 20-year-old inspection sticker on it. I didn't think panels were ever allowed in bathrooms, so I called the electrical inspection peeps. They said the installation was okay at the time of the inspection and that it--you guessed it--grandfathered in.

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