The Bare Minimum

By
Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

There seems to be a consciousness on building codes recently. I myself have been a little more focused on codes of late. This is probably because I have inspected a fair number of newer homes and homes with additions recently.

The one theme that recurs when speaking of building codes is that they are minimum standards, the absolute lowest allowable acceptable parameter. When you stop and think, does anyone really want something done to a minimum standard?

The only minimal thing I like is a bikini, but I digress.

A minimum must exist because a standard needs a benchmark. This is the place to start when designing something like a house. You can go along the mark or better yet above, but never below.

But what about standards for home inspections. Most people in the real estate business are aware that inspectors are governed or in most cases regulated by a set of standards of practice (SOP). The home inspection SOP is the minimum or benchmark to which a home inspection is to be performed.

Would anyone really want a minimally done home inspection?

skatingYet there seems to be inspectors and builders who see nothing wrong in providing the very least to their clients.

I have heard more times than I care; "It meets code" as an explanation for a defect in a home.

I also hear; "The SOP says I do not have to inspect that"

There would appear to be a lot of effort by some put into not doing more than is defined as necessary.

I am continually amazed at the amount of discussion by inspectors on what can be done in the course of a home inspection. Listening to these discussions it is apparent that great thought goes into deciding what one can and can not do based on the SOP. This of course all boils down to seeking to limit ones liability.

the topIt occurs to me that going above the SOP would better limit ones liability than seeking to skate along the benchmark. Wrapping ones self in the SOP like a shield is not in the long term going to prevent clients from being dissatisfied. Not inspecting areas or items by using the SOP as a "reason" (excuse) will, if done enough times, grate on a client.

Clients, and we are all clients, want nothing more than our best effort. Our "A" game.  They also want someone who is competent. To accomplish this end takes personal effort. Not minimum effort, but maximum effort.

Excuses are in many cases simply a lack of effort.

And who really appreciates minimum effort?

 

James Quarello
SNEC-ASHI President
NRSB #8SS0022
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

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Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

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Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.

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Rainmaker
191,799
Gregory Bain
Mezzina Real Estate & Insurance - Little Egg Harbor, NJ
For Homes on the Jersey Shore

expensive faucet

You could always buy a better car, cell phone, windows, doors, or, faucet. Minimum standards are what got most a high school diploma and all they can afford in a house.

Dec 07, 2009 01:00 PM #6
Rainmaker
231,445
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis Home Inspections

Amen to that.  I can't believe how many inspectors think they're increasing their liability by exceeding the SOP.  

Dec 07, 2009 01:10 PM #7
Rainer
332,782
Irene Kennedy RealtorĀ® in Northwestern NJ
Weichert - Lopatcong, NJ

James,

I live in a new home in which the front bedroom gets insufficient heat. It meets code! Fortunately, the rest of the house exceeds the minimum - both in heat and standards!

Dec 07, 2009 01:19 PM #8
Ambassador
1,012,759
Russ Ravary ~ Metro Detroit Realtor call (248) 310-6239
Keller Williams Commerce - Commerce, MI
Michigan homes for sale ~ yesmyrealtor@gmail.com

You home inspectors do walk a fine line of what they do or don't inspect.  Certain inspectors concentrate on different areas.

Dec 07, 2009 01:59 PM #9
Rainmaker
273,073
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

The list of things that some inspectors won't do gets longer every day. I had an inspector this summer who would not unscrew an access hatch to crawl under the house. She said she had to have the Sellers written permission. That's crap! My Buyers could see everything else. We wanted someone to crawl under the house. So this Realtor went out to his car and got a screwdriver and removed the hatch. When the Seller heard about this, she thanked me for taking the iniative.

Most inspectors I deal with are great and worth every penny. This particular one was not.

Dec 07, 2009 02:21 PM #10
Rainmaker
676,540
William James Walton Sr.
WEICHERT, REALTORSĀ® - Briotti Group - Waterbury, CT
Greater Waterbury Real Estate

Of course, we should expect nothing less than the best from anyone providing a service to us. Our clients shouldn't expect anything less from us, so why should we settle for less on their behalf? Point very well made, Jim, and congrats on the feature.

Dec 07, 2009 02:40 PM #11
Rainmaker
1,228,439
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

James,

Congratulations on the feature. Not sure why we are all talking codes right now. Riled up about something I guess.

Dec 07, 2009 03:49 PM #12
Rainer
17,179
Ralph Brady
Brady Home Inspection - Eureka, CA
Inspections Done Right

Great post.  The fact is that some inspectors don't even meet the minimum standards, by using any excuse they can to not do something, as Wayne pointed out.

Dec 07, 2009 03:54 PM #13
Ambassador
2,532,947
TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

James, Congratulations on the receiving the gold star. You are preaching to the choir especially on the "Well it meets codes!" Really? 

Helping you live your American dream...

Dec 07, 2009 09:18 PM #14
Rainmaker
677,943
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Theodora, I of course agree.

Kate, They do like to take and spend.

Charlie, As I have read from both of you lately.

Gary, Excellent point. Many codes have sprung from tragedies.

Don, Thanks!

Gregory, It's not about affording minimum, it's about getting value. Cost and valve are not the same things. An inspector who does a minimum job can not be "upgraded" like a phone, faucet or car. Again I'll say it, It's about effort.

Dec 07, 2009 09:53 PM #15
Rainmaker
677,943
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Reuben, I hear you loud and clear. It's a weak argument.

Irene, Homes are complex and invariably something will be wrong. Hope that your builder has made the effort to make it right.

Russ, Each inspector may tend to focus on certain things, but experience teaches what to focus on.

Wayne, Sounds like a newer inspector.

James, You have grasped my point exactly! Thanks!

Steve, Some kind of cosmic inspection Karma I guess.

Ralph, Yes there are some that do seem to look for "outs".

Michael, Thanks. I seem to have run across that theme once or twice over at your blog. I guess we all deal with the same garbage.

Dec 07, 2009 10:03 PM #16
Rainer
126,324
Tony Grego, 317-663-4173 #1 Trade Association for Alternative Inv
REISA - 317-663-4173 - Indianapolis, IN

This is going to cost us all down the road wihen these homes start "breaking"

Great post

Tony

Dec 08, 2009 12:44 AM #17
Rainmaker
340,831
Julia Maher
Nestings: Connecticut Home Staging and Model Homes - Fairfield, CT
Connecticut Home Stager

Hello, James!  Congrats on the Feature!  It's easy to do the minimum on anything.  Sure, the job gets done; there's nothing wrong.  But is it our best effort?  Can we do better?  If we do so, won't we set ourselves apart by setting the bar higher, going the extra mile?  Happy Holidays - Julie

Dec 08, 2009 02:08 AM #18
Rainer
96,403
Nicholas Goraczkowski
Aurora, CO
Your Mortgage Resource - (720) 83-RATES

Too many people see the minimum as the amount of work that they have to do to get paid. The minimum always leads to everyone being disappointed. Do more. Make it right. Earn your check and make sure that the property is where you would want to live.

Dec 08, 2009 04:22 AM #19
Rainmaker
1,682,295
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Well...

I'd say more, but that would require more effort.

Dec 08, 2009 11:20 AM #20
Rainmaker
1,682,295
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

It does enrage me sometimes when I see the things I see.  Among other things, I get mad der horns too.

We inspectors could not post enough pictures to really bring the problem to life!

Dec 08, 2009 11:22 AM #21
Rainmaker
1,327,714
Michelle Gibson
Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. - Wellington, FL
REALTOR

James - I always want the best effort, not the bare minimum.

Dec 08, 2009 02:01 PM #22
Rainmaker
677,943
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Tony, If people start getting inspections there will be less problems.

Julia, Thanks. It's true, the best always stands out from the crowd.

Nicholas, Well said!

Jay, I'm glad to see you made the extra effort to comment twice.

Michelle, As do we all.

Dec 08, 2009 09:52 PM #23
Rainmaker
349,868
Aaron Vaughn | Builder | Investor
Conifer Homes - Buda, TX
If the deal makes sense, the cash will follow.

I think you are way off base here -- the "bare minimum" as you say it is still a high standard that was created based on much evidence and discussion, and creates a "benchmark" more than a "minimum" standard.

Dec 09, 2009 09:19 AM #24
Rainmaker
677,943
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Aaron, Codes are minimums as are home inspector SOPs. If I were to inspect a home just to SOP I can gurantee it would not be a very good or thorough inspection. We need standards in order to maintain an "acceptable level" of quality. I would hardly consider codes or inspection SOPs high standards or a benchmark.

Dec 09, 2009 09:54 AM #25
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