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After many years in the trades, I just have to ask


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is there any kind of standardized procedure home inspectors go through?im a licensed electrical and plumbing contractor based out of louisville ne,but i do lots of work in omaha,bellevue and lincoln.......in the 30 years ive been in the trades ive definately seen some things that i couldnt imagine anybody with half a brain trying to do,much of which was done by licensed imcompetant hack contractors.but what gets me is these guys running around with a pickup truck and a ladder with a notepad who call themselves inspectors who can find an ungrounded plug by plugging a testor into it,but they walk right past obvious code violations without saying a word! things like abs/pvc pipe mixed and matched throughout basement,drip legs(for pop off valve) either missing or that go 6" and stop or are reduced to 1/2" or have 3-4 90 degree fittings in them.cast iron soil stacks that somebody chopped a 4' section out of and stuffed a piece of pvc back in there with a san tee for washing machine,plumbing without vents......... but theyll tag the hell out of an ungrounded plug since thats the only chapter they made it through in the book! in order to be a city code inspector around here anyway you need to atleast hold a journeymans license in the area you want to do . [:-paperba

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Hi,

Yes, there are standards of practice that inspectors that belong to various professional associations must meet and some states, like mine, have their own standards codified in law. Some associations require certain educational requirements be met, some don't. Some states, like mine, require inspectors to meet certain minimum standards of competency and get a license before they can practice and some don't.

Some inspector are good, some are damned good and some aren't. My father was a builder; I grew up in construction and watched various trades work my whole life. Shall I go off on a litany of stuff that I've seen so-called licensed plumbers and electricians screw up over the years; or should we just stop right here and agree that there are good and bad in every single profession on the planet, and just because each of us finds stuff that someone in another trade misses is no reason to go around trashing the other trade?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I've written it before and I'll write it again: when an agent tells me that the home owner is a licensed electrician, plumber or HVAC contractor, I immediately think to myself, "Uh oh..." That's where I'll find the most violations and deficiencies. It's comical...

Maybe it's akin to the old saying, "The cobbler's children have no shoes."? But, one would think that a job worth doing is worth doing well.

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Hello Jim (plummen),

Your observations might be partially explained by the fact that home inspectors are not required by licensing boards to be certified code inspectors. Many home inspectors from this forum also work as code inspectors but that's only because they represent the top echelon of the home inspection profession. Most, like myself, have only some familiarity with codes and some know practically nothing about codes. This is not to say that code inspectors are superior home inspectors. It mean that home inspection and code inspection are two different things. Knowing code improves the home inspectors ability and can be a good springboard for a career in home inspection, but if code is all he knows, he's going to have a hard time in the home inspection business until he picks up on other trades.

Standardized procedure? No. We're all different. But we can all still be good inspectors despite being different on how we go about inspecting and reporting.

Just my opinion, is all.

Marc

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Here,

Plummen, look at these. About 9 years ago the Canadians did a role deliniation study of the home inspection profession and then broke out the profession into competencies. Since there is essentially no difference in the way we inspect homes here to how they inspect them in Canada, this can show you how the business works.

The first link below is the home inspector's competencies, the second is the code official's competencies and the third is the common core competencies that both must have.

http://www.cahpi.ca/images/stories/pdfs ... 202008.pdf

http://www.cahpi.ca/images/stories/pdfs/pbo.pdf

http://www.cahpi.ca/images/stories/pdfs/common.pdf

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Do you think it would be a benefit if it was mandatory for a guy to have experiance in the building trades when it comes to doing inspections? I would think if a person had first hand experiance in how differant systems actually operate it would be easier to catch problems on an inspection.

I've had the same issue with plumbers and electricians and hvac guys that only do new construction or installs, most of them have no idea how the parts work together they just know what they've installed in all the prior houses and just keep doing the same thing.

Ask them why a washing machine needs to run on a 2" line independently to a 3" with a full size vent, they say because its code; they dont say because of the amount of water and soap the newer machines dump out. and how fast they do it, and that a 1 1/2" line that used to be standard has a hard time keeping up with it, or that it can back up into another fixture if there's less than 5' of pipe between the 2.

I've also had home inspectors go through older existing houses and try current codes to things that are applicable in existing construction unless its a remodel then the items need to be updated. Like existing 2 prong plugs in living rooms and bedrooms; they can be replaced with the same style of nongrounded plug or a GFI, but you can't make someone pull new wires with a ground in to the room to conform with current code, unless you are gutting the room or the building is condemmed .

These are some of the things you pick up from 30 years in the trades is all I'm saying. I'll go hide in my bunker now! [:-monkeyd

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do you think it would be a benefit if it was mandatory for a guy to have experiance in the building trades when it comes to doing inspections?

Good question.

I agree that the 'bar' needs to be raised and that an additional level of certification (NHIE) needs to be established but I don't see much activity or even discussion going on in that area.

ive also had home inspectors go through older existing houses and try current codes to things that are applicable in existing construction unless its a remodel then the items need to be updated.like existing 2 prong plugs in living rooms and bedrooms they can be replaced with the same style of nongrounded plug or a gfi,but you cant make someone pull new wires with a ground in to the room to conform with current code unless you are gutting the room or the building is condemmed

Home Inspectors shouldn't be tying code passages to their findings, at least not in my state. My Standards of Practice mentions that home inspections are not code inspections. We remain free to read and study them. When I see ungrounded branch or feeder circuits in a house, a salvo of recommendations follows. It doesn't matter to me how old the house is. The hazards of ungrounded circuits is not mitigated by the age of the house.

Code inspectors can require, home inspectors generally only recommend.

Just my opinion is all.

Marc

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Here,

Plummen, look at these. About 9 years ago the Canadians did a role deliniation study of the home inspection profession and then broke out the profession into competencies. Since there is essentially no difference in the way we inspect homes here to how they inspect them in Canada, this can show you how the business works.

The first link below is the home inspector's competencies, the second is the code official's competencies and the third is the common core competencies that both must have.

http://www.cahpi.ca/images/stories/pdfs ... 202008.pdf

http://www.cahpi.ca/images/stories/pdfs/pbo.pdf

http://www.cahpi.ca/images/stories/pdfs/common.pdf

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

This is some boring reading, but I think everyone should read it.

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Hi Plummen,

I edited your last post above a little bit so that others will not look at it and refuse to read it because of the difficulty in doing so. Read it now and you'll notice how much more easier it is on the eyes and how it's easier to follow your train of thought when you use a little bit of capitalization and punctuation and break your posts up into paragraphs.

There's no need to hide in a bunker. TIJ is about everything you are talking about - it's here as an educational resource. It's here because we recognized that more needed to be done to educate home inspectors and encourage the good ones and those that want to improve and discourage the bad ones and those that don't think they have any room for improvement.

You do need to understand though, that the reason most people are spending time on this site is to improve themselves - to try and be a step above the kind of inspector that you are criticizing; so, when you come on here and start spattering paint around some of us, even though we've bemoaned those same things in the past, are going to resent it when you splash some of it on us.

We have professionals from the trades who come on here all the time who contribute greatly to the dialog without insulting the other guests. The members here welcome their contributions and often reach out to those pros for advice, because those folks are helping to be part of the solution instead of contributing to the kind of rhetoric that causes inspectors to resent some in the trades and those in the trades to resent inspectors.

Your example of not calling for complete rewiring of a house because someone had installed 3-slot receptacles where there isn't any cable installed with equipment-grounding conductors, and then replacing those 3-slot receptacles with 2-slot receptacles or installing a GFCI receptacle - that advice has been given to inspectors here dozens of times over the years. If you go into the electrical forum archives and read around, you'll find that the folks that hang out here aren't really the kinds of rubes that you've referred to.

So, I guess I'm saying, we welcome constructive helpful dialog, but, if your only reason for hanging out here is to look down your nose at the other guests and belittle them, then please find another hangout.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Do you think it would be a benefit if it was mandatory for a guy to have experiance in the building trades when it comes to doing inspections? I would think if a person had first hand experiance in how differant systems actually operate it would be easier to catch problems on an inspection.

If you take a bone-headed contractor and turn them into an inspector, why would you think they would become anything other than a bone-headed inspector? I fail to see how that requirement would raise the bar in this profession.

BTW, please take Mike's suggestion and learn to use proper capitalization, punctuation and paragraph separation. Poorly formatted writing is terribly difficult to read.

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In my experience (24 years), the lousy inspector pool is filled with folks that came from 2 decades or more of contracting. Many have very little understanding of the vast amount of components in buildings, new or old, and how all those components interact. They also fail at communicating findings both verbally and in reporting. They're welcomed by the real estate salespeople that don't want any obstacles in the way of their commission.

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In my experience (24 years), the lousy inspector pool is filled with folks that came from 2 decades or more of contracting. Many have very little understanding of the vast amount of components in buildings, new or old, and how all those components interact. They also fail at communicating findings both verbally and in reporting. They're welcomed by the real estate salespeople that don't want any obstacles in the way of their commission.

You surprise me Bill. I contracted in every major trade but plumbing from 85' to about 05'.

Just what were you trying to say? I would have never guessed that you would have such a poor opinion of experienced contractors given what I've learned of you in the past 3 months.

Marc

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Marc,

Reread what I wrote. Nowhere did I state ALL contractors that became inspectors are lousy.

On about 3 out of every 5 of inspections, I'm handed a previous inspection report which was given to my clients as part of the disclosure. I've always known the author. I also do regular expert witness/litigation support work and meet inspectors at several seminars each year. I have a poor opinion of lousy inspectors and in my experience in this area, a majority of the worst were contractors for at least 20 years. Not surprising - they're also usually the ones who come into the inspection biz quite sure that they already know everything.

On the other hand, folks that regularly visit and participate here at TIJ seem to understand that there's always more to learn and improve - whether it's technical knowledge or communication skills.

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I was convinced at first, based upon my background, that I'd have an easy go at home inspecting, but one week in an Home Inspection Academy cured me of that notion. The handwriting was on the wall - much to learn and still learning to this day here. There are forums where I KNOW I am pure student and not teacher.

A know it all and those ashamed of their ignorance are both learning impaired. Nothing can go in the mind unless one is willing to make room for it...

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Hi Plummen,

I edited your last post above a little bit so that others will not look at it and refuse to read it because of the difficulty in doing so. Read it now and you'll notice how much more easier it is on the eyes and how it's easier to follow your train of thought when you use a little bit of capitalization and punctuation and break your posts up into paragraphs.

There's no need to hide in a bunker. TIJ is about everything you are talking about - it's here as an educational resource. It's here because we recognized that more needed to be done to educate home inspectors and encourage the good ones and those that want to improve and discourage the bad ones and those that don't think they have any room for improvement.

You do need to understand though, that the reason most people are spending time on this site is to improve themselves - to try and be a step above the kind of inspector that you are criticizing; so, when you come on here and start spattering paint around some of us, even though we've bemoaned those same things in the past, are going to resent it when you splash some of it on us.

We have professionals from the trades who come on here all the time who contribute greatly to the dialog without insulting the other guests. The members here welcome their contributions and often reach out to those pros for advice, because those folks are helping to be part of the solution instead of contributing to the kind of rhetoric that causes inspectors to resent some in the trades and those in the trades to resent inspectors.

Your example of not calling for complete rewiring of a house because someone had installed 3-slot receptacles where there isn't any cable installed with equipment-grounding conductors, and then replacing those 3-slot receptacles with 2-slot receptacles or installing a GFCI receptacle - that advice has been given to inspectors here dozens of times over the years. If you go into the electrical forum archives and read around, you'll find that the folks that hang out here aren't really the kinds of rubes that you've referred to.

So, I guess I'm saying, we welcome constructive helpful dialog, but, if your only reason for hanging out here is to look down your nose at the other guests and belittle them, then please find another hangout.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

i appreciate that,spelling and punctuation has never been a strong point of mine! [:-slaphap
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Do you think it would be a benefit if it was mandatory for a guy to have experiance in the building trades when it comes to doing inspections? I would think if a person had first hand experiance in how differant systems actually operate it would be easier to catch problems on an inspection.

If you take a bone-headed contractor and turn them into an inspector, why would you think they would become anything other than a bone-headed inspector? I fail to see how that requirement would raise the bar in this profession.

BTW, please take Mike's suggestion and learn to use proper capitalization, punctuation and paragraph separation. Poorly formatted writing is terribly difficult to read.

as i said spelling isnt one of my strong points,thats why im a contractor! [:-slaphap and being a contractor does not automatically make you a bone head,i just figure it would make it easier to explain to a customer why something is a problem if you know how and why something works.notice i said new construction guys dont understand the mechanical part of systems other than the code requires it? what if a customer asks you a question,do you just point at the code book?
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It is rather humurous that "Home builders" in patricular tend to have an "I have arrived" attitude in the inspection profession - thinking they pretty much know it ALL and tend to exude that attitude.

And, I found myself thinking, based upon my background, that I would have an easy go at home inspecting. One week in a home inspection academy, cured me of that notion. The handwriting was on the wall - much to learn.. Still learning here to this day... there are areas here that I know I am purely a student and not a teacher.

The bottom line, the one who thinks he knows it all and the one that is ashamed of his ignorance are both learning impaired. Nothing can go into a mind unless you make room for it...

I know the ins and out of electrical,plumbing and heating and cooling systems.I know very little about framing,roofing and concrete or block work which I openly admit.I dont believe ive ever met anyone who knows everything there is to know on a jobsite,and if somebody ever told me they did i would laugh my ass off at them!
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Having experience in a single trade may give you an edge as a home inspector for that system of the house. Home inspectors are generalists, they know a little somethin' somethin' about everything. And in the case of many who post here, often know more than just a little somethin'.

There is an inspector in my area who went through an HVAC school. Pretty knowledgeable about HVAC. But he will not perform pre-drywall inspections because he does not feel strong enough in the structural side of things. Has his potential clients contact me.

Home inspecting is not just about knowing how houses are put together. More than 1/2 of the job is communication. Communicating what is found during the inspection in terms lay people can understand in a written format. Many tradespeople are in the trades because they have poor written and verbal communication skills. Many of the tradespeople started by working as a gofer or helper. No formal training other than OTJ. Never read a code book, or any other books about how that trade should be performed. They only know what the other guys taught them. Of course the teachers only know what they heard around the jobsite. Rumor compounded by ignorance.

Better tradespeople make better inspectors. Lousy tradespeople make lousy inspectors.

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Having experience in a single trade may give you an edge as a home inspector for that system of the house.

It might make you concentrate too much in that one area when you need to cover everything equally well. Then you need to be able to inspire confidence that you know what you're talking about.

To answer the question, I follow the same procedure each time, but in random order. [:)]

The order depends on the layout, the tenants in the basement, the weather and a bunch of other factors. Be organized or you will realize too late you haven't checked something.

br]

Home inspecting is not just about knowing how houses are put together. More than 1/2 of the job is communication.

[:-thumbu]
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as i said spelling isnt one of my strong points, thats why im a contractor! [:-slaphap ...

As Bruce said, communication is half of the job of inspecting homes. That includes a written report. If spelling, grammar, punctuation and written composition are your weak points then you should be working on those skills as well as any technical areas. Like it or not, your clients will be judging you partly based on your written performance. BTW, so do your existing customers of your contracting business.

... and being a contractor does not automatically make you a bone head...

I didn't say that. You yourself made reference to "licensed imcompetant [sic] hack contractors". What I am saying is that being a contractor does not automatically make you a good inspector. I believe that every occupation has a wide range of practitioners from incompetent to excellent.

... i just figure it would make it easier to explain to a customer why something is a problem if you know how and why something works.

I've never been a contractor, but I have no problem explaining to my customers why something is a problem. In fact most of them rave about how well I do it (...we're back to that communication thing).

notice i said new construction guys dont understand the mechanical part of systems other than the code requires it? what if a customer asks you a question,do you just point at the code book?

Well the code book is certainly a good place to start. There are reasons why things get written into the codes. I wish more contractors in my area were familiar with it. I also wish more municipal inspectors would actually enforce it. However, you are correct that in order to be a good home inspector a person needs to have knowledge that goes far beyond the surface of the codes. Hang around places like this long enough and some of that knowledge will rub off on you.

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I dont believe ive ever met anyone who knows everything there is to know on a jobsite,and if somebody ever told me they did i would laugh my ass off at them!

Actually, there's probably a number of those folks that hang out right here at TIJ.

Gasp! [:-bigeyes ... Ya think?... [:-snooty][:-snooty][:-snorkel[:-snooty][:-snooty]

One of my mantras: "Kill 'em with kindness."

Pass me another cold one, will ya?.. [:-propell

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  • 3 weeks later...

In my experience (24 years), the lousy inspector pool is filled with folks that came from 2 decades or more of contracting. Many have very little understanding of the vast amount of components in buildings, new or old, and how all those components interact. They also fail at communicating findings both verbally and in reporting. They're welcomed by the real estate salespeople that don't want any obstacles in the way of their commission.

You surprise me Bill. I contracted in every major trade but plumbing from 85' to about 05'.

Just what were you trying to say? I would have never guessed that you would have such a poor opinion of experienced contractors given what I've learned of you in the past 3 months.

Marc

I have to agree. A general contractor is a manager who may have practiced a trade or two somewhere down the line for some period of time but it doesn't necessarily guarantee they are experts in any given field much less a master of all the fields involved in residential construction. When the housing and building market went bust there were suddenly a lot of new home inspectors on the market. Most have gone to something else by now. Didn't take them long to realize they weren't going to jump into a dead real estate market and make a bunch of money.

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