Perhaps they just liked blue!

Baby blue at that.

Home inspectors notice the darndest things. There is no stopping us.  In fact, we can’t even stop ourselves. Now most of the time, noticing things is a good thing–in terms of reducing the risk of missing things that do matter.

Other times it seems to result in a lot of mind clutter not unlike those people that always win Trivial Pursuit or who fill in the question long before Alex Trebek even finishes reading the answer.

So take a look at this matched set of baby blue appliances.

babybluewasherdryer1 babybluewasherdryer2

One would think that over the course of the 11 year life of these appliances that someone would have noticed the blue peels off.

But then again–perhaps they just like blue.

By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Bonsai and the Home Inspector Standards of Practice.

There is an ongoing argument among home inspectors as to whether their Standards of Practice is a “bar not to be exceeded” or the “minimum that an inspector is required to do.”

bonsaitreesop1Finding myself in the latter camp I have wrestled with different arguments to support my position. I have come up with a visual analogy.

A tree.

With a Tree, we have the above ground trunk, limbs and leaves. Underground we have the root system that supports the tree. Of course these components are interdependent. We all know a tree can’t live long without roots, and while a cut rose will do wonders for your sweetie–eventually it ends up in the compost. Of course without a trunk, branches and leaves, the root system will also wither and die–serve no useful purpose–other than to also become compost.

I have noticed however, the tenacity of root systems to continue growing–even when the top of the tree has been completely lopped off.  Sometimes the roots themselves will sprout creating new growth all around the cut down tree.  Bamboo can be especially nasty in this respect.

Sometimes, with some kinds of trees, the portion above ground will create a whole new root system as well–if nurtured effectively.

Tree trunk healing itself

Tree trunk healing itself

As an analogy we can visualize the Standard’s of Practice as the roots of the tree.

After the home inspector’s training has been completed, and the inspector is “qualified” to go out into the world to kick tires, foundations and tree trunks, the tree is already an established size being fed by the roots (the Standards of Practice agreed upon by one’s particular State Licensing board, or one’s chosen Association–such as ASHI).

Now of course, the foliage of the tree is beautiful and symmetrical–however, perhaps a little “bonsaied” by the minimal nature of the Standards of Practice as well as the minimal amount of education/information the new inspector brings to the forest.

Time goes by and the sun shines on the tree and, despite the best efforts of the arborist/Home Inspector, the tree grows–producing more roots, more branches and more leaves.

This “growth” is equivalent to “new information” being added–new knowledge being gained–continuing education.

To support this growth, the roots–the Standards of Practice–should also perhaps grow. Unfortunately the minimum standards don’t grow fast enough (some arborists even believe they should never be allowed to grow) to keep up with the growth of the tree.  A kind of “natural bureaucracy” takes over. Others argue that new roots must be added by the inspectors themselves to compensate if they choose to do so. This is called “growing going beyond the Standard’s of Practice.”

I think many home inspectors have a green thumb in this respect whether they would admit it or not.

As with any tree, messing with the Primary Roots will land you in trouble, so it is important to make sure they are maintained and well cared for. Pretending that some of the primary roots are necessary and some are not is not going to be good for the tree or the home inspector.

Every tree has a great many roots that are not necessary for the tree’s support but nonetheless equally important in nourishing the tree.

Sometimes, regardless of attentive pruning and feeding, an ill wind will blow and expose hidden decay/rot. Sometimes a George-Washington-type may come along and even chop the whole thing down–for no reason whatsoever.

Such is the life of a tree–

–and a home inspector.

By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Does your deck “look” safe—or is it “actually” safe?

This building is a multiple unit Condominium.

Condo Deck

Condo Deck

The Unit that I inspected is on the top floor–its deck is visible at the top center of the picture.

Certainly at this height the deck guard/barriers had better be adequate. Of course when this deck was built the spacing between the vertical metal bars would have been considered adequate and upgrading the spacing for safety is a good idea. Upgrading is something to perhaps discuss with the Condo Association. If you look close you can see where someone has added some bamboo lattice-work to the inside of the guard to provide a little more protection.

The point of this blog post is the connection of the top rail of the guard–inside the red circle in the picture above.

As you can see in the picture below, it appears that the lag-bolts that have been screwed through the rail on the left, into the end grain of the rail on the right, are pulling loose.

Unsafe deck guard

Unsafe deck guard

I used this short 5 second video to remind myself that it is actually worse than it looks.

The reality is that this barrier would not likely support someone falling against it–possibly resulting in a very serious fall to the ground below. It would certainly not resist the required 200 lbs of lateral force required of these guards by current standards.

Decks can be very dangerous. It seems we hear almost weekly of decks collapsing and people being injured or killed.

Please make sure your decks are safe–have them professionally inspected today.

 

By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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