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fence on the retaining wall.


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I'd say that I only inspect walkways, patios and driveways leading to entrances and the vegetation, grading, surface drainage and retaining walls when they are likely to adversely affect the residence and that I don't inspect or report on the presence or condition of fences or erosion control and that earth stabilization measures, and geological, geo-technical and hydrological conditions are likewise not inspected or reported.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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While it's not on the structure itself, I do write up things like this due to the fall potential. Of lesser importance, while it may be kind of a slim chance, there are the people who may not be familiar with the driveway and back right over the edge without the visual clue of a fence in their rearview mirror.

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I ran across a few of these. I just wrote into the report, something like: "There's a steep dropoff at the end of the driveway, and there's no barrier to keep cars, children or objects from falling off the end of the driveway. If this bothers you, you could have a barrier installed."

I figure 30 seconds of writing, and maybe a minute of explaining, makes me look like a swell guy, and might just keep something bad from happening. That, as opposed to me looking like an ass when somebody or something falls off the driveway. (I don't care if my SOP says I don't have to talk about driveway dropoffs. I'll do the 90 seconds of extra work.)

Of course, if I were using the usual HI software with just the usual canned boilerplate, I'd have nothing to say. Those swell software peddlers can't think of everything, y'know.

WJ

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Originally posted by Al Austin

Originally posted by Steven Hockstein

If there is something on the site that I notice is dangerous, I feel an obligation to let my client know.

A simple and very sensible answer.

Absolutely. I completely agree with Steven and Al.

As for Scott's take on it:

All good and valid points, but at what point does it stop. We can offer all of the opinions we want but we can't protect anyone from their own stupidity

Of course we can't protect people from their own stupidity, but we can try to give a clue to the clueless. I point out any and all safety issues anywhere on the property, because I don't know whether or not the buyer is going to recognize them. I don't see a downside to doing it.

A good example is a house that I inspected last summer that had a homemade play house in the back yard. Between the standard glass on the walls, the rotted upper deck, and numerous other issues, it was a serious injury time bomb waiting to go off. If I didn't point it out to the buyer (who had young kids) it's possible that the family could have moved in, and with all the commotion of moving, not have given the playhouse a thought.

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Originally posted by hausdok

I'd say that I only inspect walkways, patios and driveways leading to entrances and the vegetation, grading, surface drainage and retaining walls when they are likely to adversely affect the residence and that I don't inspect or report on the presence or condition of fences or erosion control and that earth stabilization measures, and geological, geo-technical and hydrological conditions are likewise not inspected or reported.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

I totally disagree.

Just this past friday afternoon I inspected a house on a fairly steep slope. The backyard had an inground pool and a 3-tiered railroad tie retaining wall system.

There was sever rotting, and bowing of the wall in many areas. Due to it's location and pool, it would be almost impossible to have any type of hoe do demolition and digging of the new wall (which will be needed now). All the demo & re-building will be hand work.

I'm guessing about $35,000; I asked the buyer to let me know the estimate she gets.

Even thougth it's beyond the 'SOP'; $35,000 is a LARGE nut for something that doesn't even affect the house.

Here's her e-mail

Hi Darren:

Thanks so much for such a terrific job yesterday. I have already put your card in the office referral book along with some high praise!

We are going to try and get an estimate on the back yard, while the owers are away and with their agent's permission. It may prevent us from buying the house so for now no need to forward the report to anyone. I will let you know if it becomes necessary.

Darren

www.aboutthehouseinspections.com

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Originally posted by SonOfSwamp

Originally posted by Scottpat

All good and valid points, but at what point does it stop. We can offer all of the opinions we want but we can't protect anyone from their own stupidity.

Maybe not, but we can protect ourselves and our livelihood with about 90 seconds' effort.

WJid="blue">

I'm only concerned with the safety of the folks that hired me to protect them. Protecting myself and my livelihood is the byproduct.

For those that feel the inspection is limited to the residence only, would you report

  • an open, dug well
  • the pile of asbestos pipe insulation behind the barn
  • an in-ground pool without a fence
  • limited sight distance where a driveway meets a busy street?
These are all very common things found at properties that I inspect.
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This is sort of interesting, but jeez, it's depressing.

Am I the only one that thinks there's fundamental differences between a blown out retaining wall that obviously needs rebuilding, a pile of asbestos behind the barn, lack of safety glass in a shower, an open dug well (shades of Jessica McClure?), and walking off a cliff?

And when did we have to start worrying about limited sight lines in a driveway?

Am I really part of the species that has to tell folks to not walk off a cliff? (shudder......)

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Just to stir the pot a little bit. It is my OPINION that Scott make a very good point. Walter said something like it takes only a few seconds to write it. Problem is most of the inspectors on this board do not write much of anything. They point and click without ever even suspecting what they are doing.

I mean no offense or insult to those inspectors, but must stand by my own company philsophy that we don't know everything and clearly establish that at the front, middle and end of inspection. This thread reminds me of those inspectors that get all excited about lead based paint, adequate lighting, etc - and miss the cracked flue pipe on the furnace.

The inspector that gets all worked up about "something" and is trying to protect their client is an inspector that is gonna screw up. I/we inspect houses. We don't get involved in our client's life.

I would have done much like Walter, a quicky blip.

For the record: I know full well that Kurt M, Scott P and me could scare the crap out of any buyer! I am, was and will continue to be a macro type inspector. Can't argue with sucess.

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I fully agree that it's a sad state of affairs when we feel compelled to warn people of what should be obvious dangers. However, I don't necessarily do it thinking I'm going to protect them; I do it to protect ME. Look at the idiotic product warning labels you find on all too many consumer products. Would those really be necessary in a rational world? The unfortunate fact is that all too many people absolutely do not take responsibility for their actions. In their way of thinking, if they are hurt someone owes them some money. Guess who will come after you with a hungry attorney (paid on a contingency fee basis) after they do something stupid?

Writing a brief recommendation to add a rail seems like a prudent step to me.

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Kevin,

I agree. I write a lot of stuff that I wish I didn't have to bother with. But then I think "How can this come back & bite me if I ignore it". I know that such reports can be overwhelming for some clients and I tell them that that I'm basically telling them everything under the sun but that I really don't expect most clients to get too excited about most of it. It throws in a little perspective.

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Originally posted by johnmcda

In Georgia, guard rails on retainer walls have been required by the GA Code since January of 2006.

Anything built before 2006 is grandfathered. Even though, I still put the lack of a guard rail on a retainer wall in the report if it poses a safety hazard.

To clarify GA code, guards are required on retaining walls attached to the house.

The exact wordage is:

The finish grade surface to a retaining wall attached to a house that has a vertical drop on its opposite side of more than 30 inches (762 mm) below the grade shall have a guard (guardrail) not less than 36 inches (914 mm) in height.

I still point out, mention, and write a short statement about similar hazards that are NOT attached to the house.... I would do as much with the example Philip provided in the first post. if the builder thought it necessary to erect the guard at all, why did he not extend it to the end of the retaining wall?

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This was a house I did last month. A father was buying the house for his daughter who is a single mom w/ 2 kids. Very nice family. I could just see an excited kid running out the front door, down the steps, and off the wall. Really pretty scary. I started the conversation with " To point out the obvious..." I was amazed that it had not been obvious to them and they had not recognized the potential of an excited kid or unfamiliar visitor leaving at night falling. If I see a potential safety concern, regardless of where it is, I point it out.

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Brother Les wrote, in part: This thread reminds me of those inspectors that get all excited about lead based paint, adequate lighting, etc - and miss the cracked flue pipe on the furnace.

I say: Funny you should bring that up. Here's one reason I spend the minute-and-a-half pointing out the obvious: Some years back, I had one of those softy daddies who worried about every little thing at his house-to-be. He kept asking me about lead paint. I gave my spring-loaded comment: "Lead paint is like dog crap. If you don't eat it, it won't hurt you. Just don't let your kids eat the paint."

To which he responded: "And how am I going to do that? (I am not making this up.)

Now consider, at this point I had a decade-long history of being a local- and nationally-published know-it-all regarding housey stuff. It would be very hard for me to sit in a courtroom, with some lead-poisoned wobbly-headed child at the plaintiff's table, and have some lawyer ask me, "Mr. Jowers, haven't you written about the danger or lead paint since the 1980s? Didn't you specifically warn your readers about brain damage caused by lead paint?"

Of course, the lawyer would already know that the answer was, "yes."

Now, consider that any old HI -- not necessarly a published one -- could find himself in a similar situation. "Mr. HI, do you now, or did you ever, have any knowledge of the dangers of (fill in the blank)?"

And that's where the HI would ignore the direct question and start talking about his SOP, and how he's not required to report this or that, and how all the HIs at his chapter meetings agree with him, yadda yadda.

Meanwhile, the judge and jury are focused on the wobbly-headed child who could have been saved by a 20-word sentence.

Like I've said before, best I can tell, judges and juries don't give a damn about SOPs and what HIs' peers think. They just want to know if somebody got screwed. If somebody did, and somebody got permanently damaged, the screwor is going to pay, big-time.

WJ

PS: An anecdote: Just yesterday, a nice fellow who looked to be in his 60s joined my table over at the football stadium. He asked me what I did, and I told him. Then he told me how he went to college to be an engineer, and a prof told him something like, "You'll never succeed until you master the English language. Every successful person has to master the English language." I'd never really considered that point of view, but I couldn't think of one good argument against it. Anyhow, 40 years or so later, the nice woulda-been engineer says he's thinking about going back to college and taking some English classes. If he does, I don't think they'll let him get away with pointing-and-clicking through his "comment library."

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Unless there's a lot of land involved, I walk the whole lot. Anything I see that strikes me as relevent gets reported; dead-but-standing trees, moles, open holes, problems with fences, storage buildings or playhouses, piles of asbestos pipe insulation...anything. Some things go in the full report, some in the summary. I find clients are generally grateful for a heads-up on something like that fence, whether they actually do anything about it or not. I can't imagine ignoring that if I saw it and made the connection.

Brian G.

Disclose All [:-thumbu]

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We write most everything in the report. We don't get real excited about trying to CYA. I would write a blip about the fence, moles, rotted trees, and the hippie living behind the garden shed. I could care less about the code for those items. If the front steps are settled, then write "Front concrete steps are settled." Or I guess you could write "Pre-cast concrete front steps are settled. This could be a result of Acme Concrete using fly ash during the early 1960's that contained traces of mercury. The wrought iron hand rail for the steps likely is lead based paint. If anyone ever falls on these steps, please have the body tested for mercury and lead and remember "I told you".

Blip it and forget it. Don't ignore it.

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