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Texas Building Officials Object to Texas SOP


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April 2, 2010

In a March 22nd letter to the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC), the Building Officials Association of Texas (BOAT) has asked TREC to repeal certain portions of the Texas standard of practice used by home inspectors.

The letter written by Jim Olk, past president of BOAT, states,

"The main emphasis of our concern stems from the TREC’s SOPs requiring a real estate inspector report that certain items in an existing building are “deficientâ€

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It appears the "stir" has only just begun in Texas with TREC and the inspector's community.

Here is the link to a website that a long-time, well-respected Texas inspector (formerly on the TREC Inspector's Committee) has put together in an effort to formally address the many variances in our massive SOP.

SOP - RFI "Standards of Practice - Request for Interpretation"

John Cahill is the author of the site and is doing yoeman's work in keeping all in order.

There has recently been an "Inspector's Summit" meeting called by TREC at a neutral location. Invited were representatives from all the organizations that represent Texas TREC HIs as well as some independents. You can read some of the documentation at the SOP-RFI and see all the organizations represented.

To say the least representation overall is fractured. Well over 50% of all Texas TREC inspectors are not part of any organization. That is not an issue from my perspective.

Then there are the many organizations and trying to get each/all of them on a "similar" song-sheet is the challenge. That is what is being attempted via the "Inspector Summit".

Currently the Texas TREC HIs have virtually no visible voice in Texas with the legislature and even in most cases with our licensing agency: TREC.

TREC is a "real estate" focused organization and the HI community is just under their control.

I encourage all licensed Texas TREC inspectors for visit the SOP-RFI site and review the documents and strive to understand and educate yourself with respect to the data provided and the potential ramifications.

No one needs to join any organization ... just be aware of what is going on and fully grasp the potential.

I know that many Texas TREC inspectors are not inspecting to the current SOP and in some cases not even using the current required report template. That alone speaks volumes to me about how serious one is with respect to his/her profession.

Following every jot/tittle of the Texas TREC SOP can easily drive you to a 4-8 hour inspection of a 2000-3000 s.f. property (slab foundation). Douglas Hansen has reviewed our electrical portion of the SOP and commented that it could easily take up to two+ days just for the electrical inspection ... IF you follow the SOP to the 'nth' degree. Food for thought!!

Some of you may also be aware that there has been and is currently under development an additional document to the huge Texas TREC SOP (from what I understand ... exceeds in scope any HI SOP with any organization or state) ... a "Commentary" on the SOP.

In of itself a "commentary" is an OK thing to help put into "plain English" items from the SOP. Obviously similar to the IRC or NEC and related "commentaries".

However, TREC Legal wants to make the "Commentary" a part of the "TREC Rules" where it can be enforced just like the SOP.

This is the scary part as some of the draft commentary is in conflict with the already approved SOP. Ergo ... the concern about the end result and future.

I've gone on too long, but wanted to share some of the headaches and adventures we have facing the inspector's community in Texas.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with Olk too; although I wish he'd had his 5th grade teacher review the letter and make some corrections before he'd sent it. She probably would have slapped his hand with a ruler over his use of Council when he meant Counsel.

We struggled with this kind of stuff too when we put together the SOP here. In the end, we addressed it in the sections where it gets encountered instead of trying to do a catch-all. For instance, in our electrical section we state that:

The inspector will:

(d) Report, if present, solid conductor aluminum branch circuits. Include a statement in the report that solid conductor aluminum wiring may be hazardous and a licensed electrician should inspect the system to ensure it's safe.

(e) Verify

(iii) Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection and arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) protection where required.

(f) Report the location of any inoperative or missing GFCI and/or AFCI devices when they are recommended by industry standards.

(g) Advise clients that homes without ground fault protection should have GFCI devices installed where recommended by industry standards.

Bottom line - verify that they are there if they were required when the house was built and if they are missing report it; and, if they are not there and the home predates the requirement to advise the client that it would be a good idea to get them installed.

An example might be a 1988 home which has GFCIs present at the exterior, garage, bathroom circuits, but only within six feet of the kitchen sink. The inspector would verify that the existing devices are functioning and would report it as a deficiency if he discovered, for instance, that the GFCI protection for the exterior circuit was missing or wasn't functional; but would only advise the client that he or she should have additional GFCI protection added in the kitchen, so that every receptacle that serves the kitchen counter is protected, as required since 1996 by the industry.

Sort of like:

Ground fault protection needs correction: The ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) that protects the exterior receptacles is not functioning properly. Have a licensed electrician make repairs as necessary.

Ground fault protection recommended: Not all of the kitchen countertop receptacles are protected by GFCI devices. When this home was built, only those receptacles that served the kitchen countertop within six feet of the kitchen sink had to have GFCI protection; however, since 1996 GFCI protection has been required at every receptacle serving the kitchen countertop. Though it's not required, as a safety upgrade it would be prudent to add GFCI protection now to all kitchen countertop receptacles.



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