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John Dirks Jr
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At a NAHI meeting last night we had a guest speaker from Environmental Data Resources Inc. They are inviting us to use their services. It doesn't seem too expensive or complicated to get involved.

What do you think about the idea of adopting this service into an HI business?

heres the link to the company site>>http://www.edrnet.com/index.php

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Hi,

If memory serves, somewhere on this site is a link posted where you can go to a free database that lists that kind of data. If I were you, I'd do a little bit of poking around and reading at the EPA site. Chances are, the "training" that you'd be paying them to give you is straight off their site and they've just repackaged it in a slick new package.

I don't know what to think about their "certification." If they provided really good training on the subject with real tough testing and on-site testing at the end, to prove that you actually absorbed the subject matter and have actually become an expert on the subject, I guess it would be a worthwhile endeavor. However, if they're just certifying you in something that you can get for free of the EPA site and aren't themselves recognized by any national agency, than why would you want to pay them?

I used to be a member of the Environmental Assessment Association. I went through about a half a day's training and then took a written test to become certified as a C.E.I. - certified environmental inspector. After I got into the business and realized that everything that I'd been "certified" for had been available for free on the EPA site, and that the "certification" had no national standing, I dropped the CEI from my business card. At that point, it all sort of felt kind of made up.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I'm quite familiar w/ EDR. If you've ever done any commercial work, the report is similar to a "Phase-1". A law was passed in'06 (in AZ) that made the reports more desirable in the typical transaction. I had 15 inspectors trained on how to "deliver" the report. We were providing them at our cost- $55. We sold less than 5. It's a real tough sell to agents because when they hear that you're going to provide even more disclosure (translation-potential deal-killing ammunition), they pucker up like biker in a bath house.

If you plan on providing this type of service, I'd recommend going through EDR (or similar provider) and NOT providing this information on your own. EDR carries $10M E&O and indemnifies the person who delivers the report. The training they provide teaches you how to navigate the report and how to keep from saying anything stupid.

http://www.edrnet.com/index.php

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To be honest, that report was very vague. It created more questions for me than it answered. OK, so no leaks on my property. But several within .5 miles. What does that mean? What kind of leaks? The reports are closed, does that mean it's cleaned up? I'm not saying it's a bad thing, I just don't like the way it's reported. And don't forget, it doesn't matter what company stands behind it, your the one giving the customer the report thus they grade you on it. To me it's just to wishy washy.

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Seems like another need is being created that hasn't existed before. Someone please correct me, but as John has stated, the info seems kind of useless.

Kind of like testing for mold.

If someone's that concerned about our environment, I tell them they probably ingest more carcinogens eating a Big Mac, most Costco bulk food, or driving down the freeway. To me, those things really do affect our health!

I'm not sure I could sleep at night after selling that service.

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Is it useless to have prior knowledge that you live near an undisclosed superfund site? Or an airport flight pattern? Or expansive soil? Or fissures? As a home buyer, I'd like to know, and I ain't holding my breath waiting for the listing agent or seller to tell me.

Like Mike O. said, most of this stuff (if not all) is readily available on the web, if you know where to find it. The question is then (and remember, you're a home buyer, not a home inspector) is it better for me to

(a) pay $100 for a report that provides "vague" environmental disclosure, as well as some level of accountability?

(b) spend the time to look this stuff up myself, when I don't research environmental hazards for a living?

© do nothing?

I've got no horse in this race, it just seems like a pretty inexpensive option in the due diligence department.

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The EDR rep came thru a while back and did his dog and pony show for our ASHI chapter. I signed up and went thru the online training and offer the service but to date haven't promoted it actively.

Yes, all the info is availible for free should one want to dig. I think that EDR is hedging that it will eventually be as normal of a practice as getting a home inspection when purchasing a home.

Just look at sewer scoping. A few years ago it was hardly done and usually only if a problem was discovered. Now it's not only being promoted on pre-70's homes but on every home including new homes.

EDR's training/sign up fee is negligible and you get credits so you really can't go wrong.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by chrisprickett

Is it useless to have prior knowledge that you live near an undisclosed superfund site? Or an airport flight pattern? Or expansive soil? Or fissures? As a home buyer, I'd like to know, and I ain't holding my breath waiting for the listing agent or seller to tell me.

Good points. Is this what an EDR report tells?

But wouldn't it be more appropriate for a good real estate agent to help their client with this stuff?

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Originally posted by chrisprickett

Is it useless to have prior knowledge that you live near an undisclosed superfund site? Or an airport flight pattern? Or expansive soil? Or fissures?

I didn't say that. If you look at their sample report, it shows a few spills sites with status closed. What does that mean? Closed; they can't clean it up or closed; it was all removed or what? Yes I would want to know if the house was next to a super fund site, but I would want more than that. Also, I didn't see anywhere in that sample report where it said anything about airport flight patterns, expansive soil or fissures? Speaking of Airports, I do know, that at least in Virginia if a home is anywhere near a flight pattern or other high DB noise area, EVERY buyer must sign a statement saying they are aware of it.

The report is 13 pages long yet only 4 are the actual report, the rest is definitions or where to get more information. Hidden in all that towards the bottom is this nice remark....

Any analyses, estimates, ratings or risk codes provided in this Report are provided for illustrative purposes only,

and are not intended to provide, nor should they be interpreted as providing any facts regarding, or prediction or

forecast of, any environmental risk for any property. Only a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment performed by

an environmental professional can provide information regarding the environmental risk for any property.

So they themselves say the report is NOT factual. It is their best guess by a limited search. Plus they can't spell, the above is a cut and paste, the spelling errors are theirs. A legal contract with spelling errors gives me the chills.

The idea of the report is a good idea. But again to me, this sample report from this company just does not impress me. I'd love to know a lot of things, but this report doesn't tell me anything. It is 100% based on the reports or finding of other companies or Government agencies who even they say may or may not be reliable. All this company appears to do is collect information off the internet and make a generic report that they won't even stand behind.

Improve the product, actually do some work besides marketing, be more willing to stand behind it and I might be more open to it. Right now, I won't touch it with a ten foot pole.

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Quote
Good points. Is this what an EDR report tells?

Yes, they cover (at least in Arizona) these potential issues:

1. FLOOD HAZARDS

2. MILITARY AIRPORTS AND ANCILLARY FACILITIES

3. MILITARY TRAINING ROUTES (AIRSPACE)

4. PUBLIC/PRIVATE AIRPORTS APPROVED BY THE FAA

5. SOILS SUBJECT TO FISSURES

6. EXPANSIVE SOILS

7. SPECIAL TAX ASSESSMENT AREAS

8. RADON GAS POTENTIAL ZONES

9. ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARD SUPERFUND SITES

Quote
But wouldn't it be more appropriate for a good real estate agent to help their client with this stuff?

I can only speak for my state, Arizona. One thing you need to understand is that, in AZ, attorneys are almost never part of the real estate transaction. Real estate agents have legislative authority to write contracts. As an agent I cannot (by law) offer any advice that is out of my area of expertise. It would be like an HI offering engineering advice. There is a "buyer advisory" document (see attachment) that the client is required to sign.

This nine page document lists the websites that offer access to the same info that the EDR does. It also lists sex offender sites, info on pool barriers, HOA rights, and a bunch of other things

I can (and do) strongly advise my clients to research each and every of the 50 plus websites found on the advisory. If they find anything that raises a red flag, I cannot (by law) advise them, other than to seek the advice of a professional in that field. In my experience, many agents just shove that document under the buyer's nose, along with all the other required paperwork, as a CYA.

The purpose of the EDR is to, for a fairly nominal fee, address those nine issues mentioned above. That's pretty much all there is to it. I was going to upload a sample copy of an EDR, but they have copyright rules that don't allow me.

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But wouldn't it be more appropriate for a good real estate agent to help their client with this stuff?

OK. Strike that - reverse it. . . (Willy Wonka)

More accurately, is the EDR report something a home inspector needs to provide?

As a matter of disclosure, ala neigborhood reviews and market analyses that an agent provides, it would seem better suited for a thorough agent to provide this report.

I just personally have a hard time selling something for profit that can be provided so easily via other means. I'm not a true capitalist at heart . . . sigh.

Now sewer camera work, on the other hand . . . .

Edit: Chris P. and I posted almost simultaneously.

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... and then there are or will be the questions about verifying if the property has "meth" residue or was a "meth factory" in the past.

There has been some conversation locally with inspectors at meetings here about that issue as well.

After the local EDR presentation some months back we asked the rep about "meth" and (if I recall correctly) that information is not currently available for these reports.

I shared a sample report with some clients and was just asking for feedback and they said they did not know what they would do with such a report or even why they would want it ... more importantly my sample survey clients said they would not pay for such additional information.

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There are those folks that do this work expertly. Me? I'm a home inspector. Can't say that I have not done this sort of thing, but generally I like to know my job and limit client expectations.

You people would laugh me off the forum, if you knew some of the things we have done to make a buck!

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I dont remember the presentation word for word. Having said that, I do remember the discussion of meth labs. The rep spoke about them as though they were being or already were incorporated in the reporting.

They claimed to be constantly absorbing feedback about concerns and adjusting where needed.

Status of "closed" means the site had been investigated and handled as needed. I agree, it is vague. However, one could conclude that some information can be better then no information at all.

The online traning is worth 5 credits and costs $149.

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What do you think about the idea of adopting this service into an HI business?

I spent some time reading the residential side of their site, including the sample report, disclaimers, and FAQs. Much of my specialized engineering experience is in the environmental field. Here are my thoughts.

They are selling publicly available information that they compile from numerous government databases. As Mike O. pointed out, anyone can probably get their hands on this same info for very little out-of-pocket cost, but as Chris P. pointed out, it would come at a considerable expense in terms of time -- even if you already know exactly what you are looking for and where to find it. There is no way I could do a due diligence public record search of the same scope on my own at the prices mentioned (<$100). So for people who want the info this company provides, it is a great value.

I don't know what to think about their "certification."

My take on their certification is that it is part of the company's liability management strategy. They are merely a pass-through entity of information provided by others. Their liability is limited to accurately passing the info from the government on to their customer (info is assumed accurate but not guaranteed). Their customer is you, the HI, or the environmental professional, not the end-user. They do not interpret or analyze any of the info that they provide; that part is left for you. From their FAQ:

If I have any questions about findings in the report, who will answer them?

All EDR-Certified home inspectors are fully prepared to communicate the report's findings to a buyer or seller and will provide follow up direction where necessary. ... Whatever the situation, the EDR-Certified home inspector will help steer you in the right direction

There is very little liability in taking publicly available info provided by the government and handing it to a member of the public (to you -- their client, or from you to your client). The real liability kicks in when you start interpreting and using that info. If folks think liability exposure in the home inspection industry is high, it's peanuts compared to the environmental field.

To be honest, that report was very vague. It created more questions for me than it answered. OK, so no leaks on my property. But several within .5 miles. What does that mean? What kind of leaks? The reports are closed, does that mean it's cleaned up? I'm not saying it's a bad thing, I just don't like the way it's reported. And don't forget, it doesn't matter what company stands behind it, your the one giving the customer the report thus they grade you on it. To me it's just to wishy washy.

After your client receives the report, you'll be the one answering those kinds of questions, which will come to you from your client. This isn't the same thing as handing the results of a lab report to your client and telling them to call the lab if they have any questions about it. In that situation, the lab generated the content so they are responsible for it.

The training they provide teaches you how to navigate the report and how to keep from saying anything stupid.

Bingo. Chris P. nailed it. Especially the last part. See comments about liability above. You'll need to be very careful about what you say (and what you do not say) about the info on the report. Not only from the E&O angle, but also so that you don't step into conducting activities that are controlled by other licenses that the HI may not have (real estate, engineering, and various environmental abatement occupations come first in my mind). Your client is going to have a lot of questions about what the info on the report means, and they will be coming to you for answers and guidance on what to do about it.

Is five hours enough training? To teach you how to read the report and what not to say ... probably. Step outside of what they are certifying you to do with that info and you could get your clock cleaned.

The report is 13 pages long yet only 4 are the actual report, the rest is definitions or where to get more information. Hidden in all that towards the bottom is this nice remark....

Any analyses, estimates, ratings or risk codes provided in this Report are provided for illustrative purposes only, and are not intended to provide, nor should they be interpreted as providing any facts regarding, or prediction or forecast of, any environmental risk for any property. Only a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment performed by an environmental professional can provide information regarding the environmental risk for any property.

So they themselves say the report is NOT factual. It is their best guess by a limited search. Plus they can't spell, the above is a cut and paste, the spelling errors are theirs. A legal contract with spelling errors gives me the chills.

Regarding the length of the report, even a clean or "Good News" report has value, if the report contains info about which databases where checked that turned up empty. I'd look closer at that list of databases before I jumped into this service, but from what I've seen by perusing their site, it looks pretty extensive.

"So they themselves say the report is NOT factual." Actually, what they are saying is that the report is completely factual in the sense that they are simply a conduit for information that is provided by others. They are not providing any interpretation or analysis of that information. That part is done by the people they get the info from (as part of the official report from the source), or by the people they sell the info to (you).

"The above is a cut and paste, the spelling errors are theirs." Did you correct the errors when you posted it? I didn't find any in the passage that you quoted.

But wouldn't it be more appropriate for a good real estate agent to help their client with this stuff?

...As a matter of disclosure, ala neigborhood reviews and market analyses that an agent provides, it would seem better suited for a thorough agent to provide this report.

Maybe for a true buyer's agent. But for a selling agent I think it's like playing Russian roulette. A "clean" report would be a great benefit but if something turned up, it's going to cost that agent money (in terms of time and lower commission). I think they'd rather choose other routes to fulfill their disclosure requirements.

More accurately, is the EDR report something a home inspector needs to provide?

I think a lot of it comes down to your individual market. As Nolan pointed out, the real question is "do your clients want this info and are they willing to pay the price you would charge for it?" Regarding the price you would charge, two key items are: what kind of value can you add to the info beyond simply handing them the report, and how well you think you can run through the liability minefield. You need to be adequately compensated for your time and the risk that you assume.

Side comment -- when reading their FAQ for the HI, there is way too much stuff on there related to "protecting the deal". A home inspector has a fiduciary duty to their client and should have no stake in the transaction.

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My state has an inspection addendum. Among other things, it advises the buyers of their right to obtain the type of info that EDR compiles. A prospective client may call and ask me if I can help provide this info. With EDR available to me it would be easy.

The 5 credits for $149 is not too bad in and of itself. In addition to that I would be listed on their site as a contact. Getting my name out on the web is a plus in that respect.

BTW, they gave me a sample report on my property. Although there were none listed in my area, meth labs are part of the report. However, there were 8 locations within 1/2 mile that were listed as having oil spills. All were closed.

I think I'll go for it. I havn't decided to what level I will push the product but sticking my toe in the water shouldn't hurt for now.

Thank you everyone for adding your thoughts on this matter. [;)]

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