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In my experience if you include in your recommendation that the tradesman is to evaluate and repair as neededid="blue">, then you're asking for trouble.

I think it's safer to become an expert, and avoid making recommendations to evaluate (unless destructive discovery is absolutely neededid="blue">), and just tell the client to get it fixed.

What's your opinion on throwing it over the wall for someone else to make the call?

Chris, Oregon

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Pretty much the same as Kibbel's over in the other thread. Every contractor visit is a sales dept. looking to make a sale. Things can get very strange when the recommendation is tossed over to the tradesman to tell folks what to do.

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I don't call that out unless there is not enough information for me to determine if there is a problem or not or if I am not able to determine the extent of a problem or problems due to the limitation of being a home inspector.

Example: There is a 30 year old gas upflow furnace that I know has a history of cracks at the front of the heat exchanger. There is no way for me to check for the crack unless I take the burners/pilot out. At that time, I would recommend further evaluation by a heating company.

Same with an electrical system. I see a lot of problems but I (as a home inspector) cannot determine the extent of the problems, I would write that due to the amount of problems that were discovered during the home inspector, further evaluation and corrections by an electrician is needed since it is likely that other problems will be discovered.

Most of the time I do not put "Further Evaluation" but it is there when I feel it is needed.

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When has an inspector become and expert at fixing roofs, electrical systems etc. We are there to report issues or deficiencies not tell the client how to fix it. When you start telling them how to fix it you are buying into paying to fix the problem. I have been inspecting for may years full time inspector since 1994 and have wired entire homes, plumbed entire homes as well as seen to supervising the rest of building. Unless you feel real frisky and have plenty of insurance i would suggest that you tell people what is wrong and not how to fix it.

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Well, I get asked all the time how to fix things. I would look pretty foolish if I replied I Dunno or I Don't want to tell you, my insurance won't cover me for giving advice. I've been giving out home inspection repair advice since 1986 and it's never come back to bite me. Maybe I'm just lucky.

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We are there to report issues or deficiencies not tell the client how to fix it. When you start telling them how to fix it you are buying into paying to fix the problem

Agreed, but I am not advocating telling clients how to fix things; we've already been thru that on an earlier post a while back that I made.

The discussion here is concerned with whether inspectors should make an effort to educate themselves sufficiently to avoid making recommendations for further evaluation.

There are a lot of HI's out there that find one thing wrong and immediately write a recommendation for further evaluation & repair, and wash their hands of it. That makes us as an industry look less than worthless, and usually results in a disservice to the client.

Chris, Oregon

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I've always thought punting to someone else to "evaluate" was a cop out, even when I didn't know any better.

The more I learn about this profession and what it is we're supposed to be doing, the more I realize that we should be the experts.

I can't recall one situation where deferring the issue to someone else has resulted in a successful outcome for the client - at least that I can recall at this moment.

The conflict arises when I don't know as much about a particular issue to make a definitive assessment. I'm not less of an inspector, I'm just no the "expert."

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Originally posted by randynavarro

I've always thought punting to someone else to "evaluate" was a cop out...

Really? ... Always? ... Wow.

How about when water drips out of a drywalled ceiling after running water in the bath above? Ya can't see the leakage source or sources, ya don't know if it's a big & costly fix, or just a loose fitting.

So ya punt and recommend a plumber diagnose and eliminate the source of the leak (my way of calling for further evaluation and repair as needed). That's a cop out? Again, wow.

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Why would you want to avoid recommending a contractor's evaluation for a needed repair. Would you expect him to make a correction without looking over the conditions? Too many contractor's come in with the blinders on - they really don't take the time to see what is present. Recommending the evaluation takes the burden off my shoulders. I am sometimes purposely vague in a report (i.e. "Kickout flashings are missing".) - the idea is to make the contractor look a little harder. I tell clients why I do this and they always understand. When a contractor calls and says he can't find the condition I pretty much know that his qualifications are lacking.

When I cannot conclusively rule out that a repair is needed, I'll also recommend the evaluation. The idea is to have an "expert" take more time than I have to look over the condition(s) - after all, I only have so much time to go through the entire home and spending a half hour on one issue is not always practical.

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Hi Jerry,

Of course, you are free to run your business the way that you see fit, but I didn't read anyone saying that it's an absolute; of course there will be times when you can't see something and an invasive inspection by someone else is going to be needed to determine exactly to what extent repairs are needed and to fix the issue. However, if you have the training or experience that allows you to easily diagnose an issue and tell someone what's wrong and how to get it fixed, why not?

Let me give you an analogy:

There are now automobile inspection services that get paid by buyers to give used cars a once-over and tell buyers whether they're getting a decent car or a piece of crap. Like us, the folks that do that service use some instruments and they poke and prod the car here and there to determine its overall condition before providing a report to the buyer.

Who does these? Mostly mechanics, right? So, if you brought a car to a mechanic and asked the mechanic to give you an idea of whether it was in good shape or not, would you expect the mechanic to say to you, "It looks like the steering rack has some wear, I recommend you bring the car to another garage, have them confirm that there is wear there, and then tell you what needs to be done to fix it? No, you wouldn't expect that; you'd expect that the "expert" that you hired could tell you generally what was wrong and tell you how to fix those things he knows how to fix.

Like us, sometimes those guys can't fully diagnose something. For instance, the inspector might determine that the the automatic transmission is shifting a little sluggishly. He might proffer an opinion as to several possible causes, but reserve final judgment, telling you that there's no way to know without an invasive inspection. Since his is an inspection service and he doesn't do tear downs, he'd tell you to take the car to a transmission specialist, let that specialist drop the pan and check things out more closely and tell you what it's going to cost to fix it before you proceed with the sale. In the end, you might walk away with a list of issues that he's clearly diagnosed and given you specific repair recommendations for; and you might have a separate list of stuff that he was unable to diagnose without an invasive inspection.

Isn't that what we "inspection experts" should be doing? Shouldn't we have the training and experience to confidently offer our opinion about something we perceive to be a deficiency and be capable of making solid recommendations for the client about how to get something fixed, versus punting the house to someone else who is only going to tell them what we should have been capable of telling them in the first place?

I'm with Neil, since day one in 1996, whenever my knowledge and experience has helped me to feel confident that I was making the correct call on a home, I've told folks what needed to be done to fix the issue and I've saved the "further evaluation" calls for those issues that I physically cannot see without an invasive inspection or where I don't have enough experience with the issue to feel comfortable making a diagnosis - air conditioning systems jumps right to the frontal lobe there (I see one every couple of hundred houses if I'm having a very lucky year).

No arbitrations, no lawsuits in 12-1/2 years of doing that, so I'd have to take issue with any claim that offering a firm opinion about how to correct an issue is fodder for lawyers.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Hi Mike,

I'm with you 100%. If you know the call, make it. Just like I mentioned on the other thread...if you see a cracked heat exchanger, no need for *further evaluation*. New furnace.

Guess I misread Randy's comment as an absolute...took the word "always" out of context.

I also see merit in some of Eric's comments, same being on point when simply fixing or flat-out replacing something can make sense either way. We often see stuff that surely can be fixed, but valid arguments can be made for replacing, and vice versa. (And yup, a lot depends on who's doing the arguing.)

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There's a lot of grey area in this topic. My position is, if I know the answer to the question, I answer the question.

Chris' has the right idea, but couched the question in slightly incorrect terms. The right idea is getting good enough that one can answer these questions about repairs. I'm managing to stay working right now because I've educated myself to answer the question.

I'm not doing any pre-purchase gigs, but I'm figuring out stupid crapthat all the idiotic tradesman (lacking any analytical ability whatsoever) can't seem to figure out, and I'm getting paid for it.

Don't couch the topic in terms of "cop out". Think about it as getting skilled enough and knowledgeable enough that you can answer the question.

Like Neal, I've been answering questions about how to repair stuff for a couple decades. It's not hard. If you know, answer. If you don't, pass it to someone else.

Just understand, being able to answer the question pays a lot better than not answering the question.

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How about when water drips out of a drywalled ceiling after running water in the bath above? Ya can't see the leakage source or sources, ya don't know if it's a big & costly fix, or just a loose fitting.

"There's a leak in the ceiling from the bathroom above. A competent handyman, plumber, or maybe both will have to do some destructive investigation to find the leak and fix it. There might be some hidden water damage that I can't see today. Make sure sure whoever does the work gives extra attention to finding it."

No further evaluations needed. No prescribing or detailing fixes that can come back to bite me. It doesn't matter how big or how small it is. The client is happy (hopefully) because I found the problem and told them what to do about it.

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real problem with this whole thread is that most inspectors don't know crap about methods and materials, except from late night TV and Bob Villa.

I get paid for my opinion. I am not bashful about my opinion. I usually know what I am talking about and if I don't, I quickly and freely admit it.

"What do you think about the worn shingles Les?"

"Needs a new roof and maybe some decking replacement."

"How much will that cost?"

"I would guess about $6,000."

or

"Have a qualified licensed roofing contractor look at it and sell you a new roof system"

you choose.

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That, and the fact that so many "teachers" at the HI schools reinforce the idea that we are functional morons, and to never, ever step outside these tightly proscribed boundaries.

Which leads us to the idea of the Chalfen School. The idea of a respected individual, competent to analyze, define, and direct repair action, is attractive, isn't it?

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Originally posted by randynavarro

How about when water drips out of a drywalled ceiling after running water in the bath above? Ya can't see the leakage source or sources, ya don't know if it's a big & costly fix, or just a loose fitting.

A competent handyman, plumber, or maybe both will have to do some destructive investigation to find the leak...

No further evaluations needed.

Uh, ain't that pretty much a definition of "further evaluation".

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Originally posted by Jerry Simon

Originally posted by randynavarro

How about when water drips out of a drywalled ceiling after running water in the bath above? Ya can't see the leakage source or sources, ya don't know if it's a big & costly fix, or just a loose fitting.

A competent handyman, plumber, or maybe both will have to do some destructive investigation to find the leak...

No further evaluations needed.

Uh, ain't that pretty much a definition of "further evaluation".

yep, it is. I think most inspectors write "too much". Usually they get into problems when they write or talk beyond their area of expertise. Expertise is sometimes lacking or too shallow to allow them to write effectively.

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Simon, don't make me come over there........

The Chalfen School is Mr. O's dream of a real inspection institute, a 2 or 4 year program integrating all this stuff we do into a coherent curriculum that turns out trained, competent inspectors.

On the repair and investigation thought, I have this.......

I'm staying working this week on a couple jobs where all the doofus tradesman that were brought into to "further investigate and evaluate" a condition couldn't figure it out. I went in with my equipment, and dismantled stuff until I found the problems. (an interesting series of stories in itself; I got to look smart, and made a couple grand in the process.)

I guess I just don't understand why folks want to turn stuff over to folks that just don't seem to know very much(?). Why wouldn't folks want to know, and tell what they know(?).

Like Neal said, I don't really want to stand there going "duh, I don't know". It doesn't pay well, and it doesn't reinforce the idea that I'm an expert.

Why are folks afraid of being considered experts in their field?

Yeah, and the "writing too much thing". Way too much writing nowadays, way too little explanation. It's one of the things my "comic book" report format has taught me. I've been retraining my approach to include much more in the photographic attitude and process, and less verbosity.

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Dug this out of the "writing to not be misunderstood" thread:

To me, "further evaluation" is right alongside "monitor." The HI knows there's a problem, or at least there's something he doesn't understand, so it punts the evaluation and monitoring to somebody else. Simply put, he stops short.

I think the credibility gap can be filled by writing something like, "Get a carpenter to tell you what repairs or modifications, if any, are needed. Then, correct the problems."

W.J.

In Randy's example these days my recommendation would probably leave out the contractor and just direct the client to get the leak and damage corrected right awayid="blue">.

Les, from past posts you seem to advocate not trying to name which type of contractors should be used for a repair. Can you opine on that?

Also, maybe I can get Jim Katen to comment. I was surprised when I found that our electrical guru does not lace every recommendation with, have a licensed electrical contractor correct...id="blue">

Chris, Oregon

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I just hate the term "further evaluation" because I think it makes me look like a moron that doesn't know anything! I may tell em that, but I refuse to use that terminology.

I got tired of writing "have a qualified licensed ______ contractor..." in 30 different places.

I tell them (and put it early in the report) :

As I don't know the qualifications of the seller or the buyer to conduct repairs, I always recommend that you consult a qualified licensed professional in the appropriate trade to determine all needed repairs and best repair method, to estimate costs and to perform all repairs deemed necessary. That's what I mean when I write "Repair as necessary", "Fix it" or ANY other terms implying the need for repair / replacement. You need to decide for yourself if you or the seller's qualifications, experience and knowledge would allow the repair to be made without using a qualified licensed trade professional.

===

From there on, it's "Fix it", etc.

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Kurt,

How far can one go with investigation before it becomes an ethical issue of further work for compensation after the inspection? I know we are better suited for further evaluation and troubleshooting, I also don't like the idea of turning it over to another when we are perfectly capable. Do you take it just short of repair and then pull out for someone else to repair? Not saying wrong or right, I'm just thinking through ASHI code of ethics and would like to hear comments.

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I don't do repairs. Never. That's not my job.

What I did was take the initiative in figuring out what the actual problems were (are). It was in addition to my inspection fee, with a separate contract and release from the owner.

Basically, I spent a couple days sawzalling some folks bsmt. into pieces so I could find where the water was coming from. I found it, figured out the solution, and charged them for my time.

It was a decent job. Paid well.

Again, I don't know about anywhere else, but I seem to have a job because no one knows anything anymore. It seems there's work in figuring out complex problems. Why not capitalize on this fact?

I think one of the reasons is most folks doing this gig couldn't change out a lavatory P trap, let alone coordinate and execute a complex bit of demolition in an existing habitation and figuring out a solution.

It's a real easy way to differentiate yourself from the imagined competition. I can't understand why folks don't take advantage of it.

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Originally posted by Les

Originally posted by Jerry Simon

Originally posted by randynavarro

How about when water drips out of a drywalled ceiling after running water in the bath above? Ya can't see the leakage source or sources, ya don't know if it's a big & costly fix, or just a loose fitting.

A competent handyman, plumber, or maybe both will have to do some destructive investigation to find the leak...

No further evaluations needed.

Uh, ain't that pretty much a definition of "further evaluation".

yep, it is. I think most inspectors write "too much". Usually they get into problems when they write or talk beyond their area of expertise. Expertise is sometimes lacking or too shallow to allow them to write effectively.

OK Les. What would you write?

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