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shut-off for hose bib not pointed out


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I inspected a house a few months back and the home owner was a 'handyman'..... this house had a lot of issues in the basement where the homeowner had finished the basement.

I ended up calling for an electrician and a plumber (there were 220v wires running on the floor (under the laundry sink!).

Anyway, during the inspection, I failed to notice that the homeowner had blocked (drywalled over the ceiling) the hose bib shut off valve.

Now the buyer is pissed that I missed it and did not point it out in the inspection.

1. Do the inspectors here point out the location of each shut off valve?

2. He wants me to come in this Saturday. I told him I am in the area and will swing by. But he already knows the location of the valve now. What do you think he wants to discuss?

3. Should I just cut a panel and install a cover for him? I really don't want to go this route...

4. I always point out the MAIN shut off for water, electrical and gas. So, should I just tell him to take a hike?

First complaint I have ever received (mind you I have only been inspecting for 13 months).

Opinions/advise appreciated.

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What standard do you inspect to?

If you inspect to a standard, is there a requirement in your standard to point out every hose bib shutoff for the client? There certainly isn't such a requirement in any standard that I've ever seen.

You can only inspect and report on what is visible and you should not be responsible for guessing what is, or isn't, behind walls in a home. It sounds like this buyer has unreasonable expectations.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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. . . 1. Do the inspectors here point out the location of each shut off valve?

If someone asks, I'll tell him, but I don't volunteer that information. If a homeowner had blocked off a hose bib shut off valve, I'd probably have missed it too. From his point of view, I can see why he's miffed. In your climate, it's important to shut & drain those things and that's hard to do if you can't find the valve. It's a minor inconvenience.

2. He wants me to come in this Saturday. I told him I am in the area and will swing by. But he already knows the location of the valve now. What do you think he wants to discuss?

Simple. He wants to guilt you into giving him money.

3. Should I just cut a panel and install a cover for him? I really don't want to go this route...

Depends on you & him. If that's the sort of thing that will make him feel better and if it's the sort of thing that you're capable of, go for it. Otherwise, just advise him to hire a handyman to make a tidy access hatch.

4. I always point out the MAIN shut off for water, electrical and gas. So, should I just tell him to take a hike?

No. That would be rude. It wouldn't help anything and it might escalate this little, insignificant, problem into a grudge match. Be polite -- jovial even -- and strive to see the situation from his perspective.

First complaint I have ever received (mind you I have only been inspecting for 13 months).

Pray that the only complaints you ever have are like this one.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Depending on location, I'll point out freeze proof types as needing a shutoff too. There's a particular type of row townhome in Chicago where the plumbers place the bibb on a little stem wall, and they freeze all the time.

I always point out freezing types, but I don't necessarily find the shut off. I almost always say I couldn't find it, and they should ask the seller where it is and to turn it off every winter. If I stumble upon it, OK, but if not, I got bigger fish to fry. I told them what to do, they should do it.

This is a boilerplate item for me. Two clicks, and an establishing shot of the offending valve with an arrow pointing at it.

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If it's not a "frost-free" bib, I think we should be looking to be sure there's an accessible shut-off. I'm not sayin' I never missed one (never heard about any though), but it's something that could cause significant damage if it's not brought to the clients attention.

I still advise clients to shut these off inside and open them up outside in the winter. I had one freeze on my home.

I must say though that I don't make a point of showing the client where to shut these off and I should.

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Half the time the shut-off is no where near the faucet. I include this little tid-bit in all my reports.

"You should consult with the seller to determine the location of all exterior shut-off valves. These hose-bibs should be shut-off and drained during winter months to prevent freeze-ups."

Also, many years ago, I got the dreaded phone call that I opened the valves during a winter inspection and failed to turn it off and drain it (of course I didn't).

Anyway, the buyer moved in and the first week the faucet froze and flooded his basement. Now I include this during winter months:

[0005]Due to low outdoor temperature, the exterior faucets were not operated. If they are operated and then freezing occurs, I would be responsible. Exterior faucets should be winterized (turned off) to prevent freezing. You should consult with the seller to ensure proper winterization has occurred, the units are in good operating condition and to locate all interior shut-off valves. If the final walk-thru takes place in warmer weather, you should test these faucets.

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One thing that I do with frost free bibs is warn clients never to leave hoses attached to them once cold weather arrives.

Last winter we arrived at a house the morning after a snow storm (December 23rd or 24th, I think) to find the first floor and crawlspace flooded. They'd left the hoses attached to these with the spray heads attached to them and the water turned on.

We don't see much snow here and folks often still use their hoses in the winter during the day to wash the car or rinse off the garage apron, etc.. Every once in a while, some dunderhead will leave the hose connected with water in it and forget to disconnect it when the temp drops overnight.

I don't think I've ever seen one of my clients so pissed off. Months of looking for a home, lots of back and forth on the negotiations and finally getting a house only to find it trashed the morning of the inspection. The listing agent should have been bullwhipped for not going over a list with that seller to make sure dump crap like that didn't happen.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I inspected a house a few months back and the home owner was a 'handyman'..... this house had a lot of issues in the basement where the homeowner had finished the basement.

I ended up calling for an electrician and a plumber (there were 220v wires running on the floor (under the laundry sink!).

Anyway, during the inspection, I failed to notice that the homeowner had blocked (drywalled over the ceiling) the hose bib shut off valve.

Now the buyer is pissed that I missed it and did not point it out in the inspection.

1. Do the inspectors here point out the location of each shut off valve?

2. He wants me to come in this Saturday. I told him I am in the area and will swing by. But he already knows the location of the valve now. What do you think he wants to discuss?

3. Should I just cut a panel and install a cover for him? I really don't want to go this route...

4. I always point out the MAIN shut off for water, electrical and gas. So, should I just tell him to take a hike?

First complaint I have ever received (mind you I have only been inspecting for 13 months).

Opinions/advise appreciated.

My impression is there is more to this. What is he really mad about?

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The important thing about frost free hydrants is to make sure they are installed correctly. They should slope slightly to drain fully.

A beveled plastic shim is included in the package that should be placed behind the escutcheon. Without the shim and especially when installed on horizontal lap siding the hose bib won't drain properly and will freeze unless you drain the line at the isolation valve.

What makes the faucet frost free is the location of the valve. It should be on the warm side of the wall. It's not uncommon to find them covered with insulation that places the valve on the cold side of the wall that could make them susceptible to freezing.

It's surprising how many clients I get that don't understand how these things work, so I carry one in the van for demonstration purposes. Once they see it they get it right away.

Acorn,

We all miss stuff. Just the other day I missed a toilet paper holder. It's not reasonable to expect anyone to cover everything in a 3-4 hour visit especially if the item is covered over or not accessible.

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Thanks for the replies.

Here in Toronto area, we need to shut off the hose bibs in winter. I have a check list in my report on 'general maintenance' section that advises to do just that.

Problem is the home buyer is a young kid (first home) and had no idea about this until he saw a note from the previous owner left on the ceiling of the basement marking the location of the shut off when he moved in.

Now the new owner is pissed because:

1. I did not advise him that these should be closed in winter.

2. I did not discover that the shut off is not even accessible.

Looking at the situation from his point of view, I would be upset too if I went to shut off something and can't even find the valve.

This guy is not handy (he's in IT) and freaking out about the work. The reason I don't want to touch it because I don't know what else I may discover there. There could be electrical wiring behind the drywall. The previous owner was a 'handyman' and you should see some of the mess in that basement.

Anyway, I will try to see if he's ok with me not visiting (because he already knows the location of valve now) and go from there.

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The kids a freak. Don't sweat it. It's only a steenkin' shut off under drywall. Cut a hole, shut it off. If one wants it pretty, install a Milcor panel.

I've found phrases like this to be helpful when I find dumps like you're describing........

"There's a lot of defects in this house. I get the idea if I kept looking, I'd keep finding more. Since everything in the bsmt. is buried under drywall, there's probably more defects hidden where I can't find them without tearing out walls and ceilings. Expect more problems than are listed in this report."

When I get the inevitable shit from the seller/realtor/customer, I'm right up front with it. I tell them......

"What would you like me to say? The place is full of problems, and I'm not allowed to tear the place apart to find all of them. Give me the clearance and the fee to accommodate demolition and reconstruction, and I'll find every last teeny tiny thing. Want to go there?"

So far, my customer digs it, and everyone else hates it.

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All this angst over an unreported shut off valve seems a little too much for me. He could be a nut case. I mean a real one. In 3000+ inspections, I believe I've had two. One, I gave his inspection money back (with a hold harmless agreemnent) though i never should have. The other, "Oh, my God," I won't even go in to it. She had an imaginary husband, she could not have a baby because of ... but I said I wouldn't go in to it.

If he seems especially unreasonable, be cool, and consider carefully whether you should go back. It may not be worth the original inspection fee. Talk to a lawyer.

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Well, I went to the house yesterday. As soon as the guy came out, he apologized for his attitude on the phone. He said, he was freaked out when his neighbour mentioned that the pipe could freeze and flood his basement. He had just spent 7 grand on his new entertainment system and it was sitting right under the shut off.

I then explained to him that my job is not to look for 'everything' in the house but rather the big ticket items. And he totally agreed and thanked me for calling out the plumber and electrician in the original inspection. They had both come in and repaired a bunch of issues.

Then he asked me to stick around while he cut the drywall (with a kitchen knife) to see what the valve looks like!! I reluctantly agreed.

When he cut the ceiling, we discovered the previous owner had even marked the location wrong.... off by about 4 feet!

Anyway, long story short, he's going to call someone to come in and install a panel for shut-off and repair the wrong hole.

While I was there, he asked me if I could show him how to replace the furnace filter. He handed me the filter and I started to remove the plastic cover (packaging). He did not know that the plastic was supposed to be removed!! Anyway, I replaced the filter for him and advised him that he should consider getting furnace service plan / insurance.

Overall, he was very pleased that I showed up and listened to his complaint over the phone.

Another satisfied customer... all because I kept my cool and did not argue with him over the phone.

But going forward, I bet I will be looking for access to shut off valves for all hose bibs. [:-monkeyd

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