Open to Interpretation?

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

arguingRules are always it seems open to interpretation. So much so that we have disinterested third parties, for example referees and judges, just to render decisions in an objective manner on subjective topics. There is no question when two parties disagree there will be some bias to each parties logic as to why they are right.

The business of inspecting homes and buildings is very much an interpretive occupation. Not just for home inspectors, but municipal inspectors and even engineers and architects. Codes, installation instructions and general building techniques must be constantly referred to and often interpreted. This can sometimes cloud the waters and be the beginning of a disagreement.

garage wallInspecting a newly constructed home is always a great challenge as a home inspector. Home inspectors are not municipal code officials. Yet when inspecting a new home the home inspector must be cognizant of building codes. In this instance they do have relevance to the home inspection.

Safety is always a first priority of any inspection. As such when interpreting safety guidelines it is always wise to err on the side of caution. Being loose in this area can result in someone being hurt or worse killed.

So when inspecting a new home recently I found wood framing members exposed in the garage I cited this as in need of repair. The three boards penetrate through the wall and ceiling. All walls must be covered in sheet rock as a fire break when the garage is built into the house, especially when there is a bedroom above as there was here.board

The builder did not interpret things as I did. He said the home was inspected, met code and has been issued a CO.

Could the garage door have been raised during the local building officials visit blocking his view? Could he have been distracted and missed those three boards? Why would every wall and the ceiling be covered except around the boards?

When you stop and ponder these questions and look at the issue logically, it would seem clear what the solution should be. As I said erring on the side of caution is always wise in matters of safety. Letting distractions cloud your judgment over a simple repair as in this instance is dangerous.

Hopefully good sense will prevail and this issue will be resolved.

 

James Quarello
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
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Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker
http://www.CapeGroup.com & http://www.REindex.com - Falmouth, MA
Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA

Sometimes they just miss seeing things. That is why there is e and o insurance.

Nov 13, 2009 12:57 AM #1
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

James given that there should be a humongous header across the top of that door---what the heck are those boards for anyway?  And yes, I agree, they do not meet current standards.

Nov 13, 2009 01:03 AM #2
Rainmaker
1,244,530
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

James,

We have an interesting situation here. WSDA rules in issues involving inspectors and wood destroying insects, wood destroying organisms and conducive conditions (with some concessions recently to home inspectors alone who are not structural inspectors). Anyway, there are a number of items that do meet code in the state, like treated wood form ties left in foundation footings. The municipal code inspectors smile and nod. We who work under WSDA are required to call that out as a problem. We do not have to go ballistic but we are mandated to state that even pressure treated lumber decays and it would be best if it was not there.

That really guest builders hot under the collar. They will argue it meets code and we are full of it. Fact is, I have checked this twice with WSDA and they said that I had to at least mention it as a problem so we have codes enforced by a wing of government and WDO rules enforced by a wing of government and WSDA does not feel that code meets their required standards sometimes.

Now that really gets an inspector some criticism. By law, in some cases, we MUST call for a design that exceeds code.

Nov 13, 2009 09:38 AM #3
Rainmaker
683,909
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Heath, If you are referring to town inspectors they do not have insurance. They can't be sued.

Charlie, Don't know, but they should be covered.

Nov 13, 2009 09:38 AM #4
Rainmaker
1,244,530
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Mr James,

I do not understand one word that you said, it is way over my head, but I sure do respect you for standing your ground.

Nutsy

Nov 13, 2009 09:41 AM #5
Rainmaker
683,909
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Steven, That sounds challenging to say the least.

The code is a fall back for the builder. He can dig in his heels and basically do nothing. The home buyer is left with problem that on the one hand the inspectors says is an issue while on theother the town inspector has passed over. Bottom line the buyer is left to battle this out.

Nutsy, Being that you are a squirrel of little brain I am not at all surprised this has sailed WHOOSH right over your head, but I do appreciate your respect.

Nov 13, 2009 09:49 AM #6
Rainmaker
1,244,530
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Mr James,

Thanks for the compliment. Should you ever require, in such matters, what I believe they call an "excellent witness" then you can fly me out. I can testify and then maybe live with you folks for three to six weeks. That would be so rewarding for all.

Nutsy

Nov 13, 2009 10:07 AM #7
Rainmaker
174,893
Kate Kate
San Diego, CA

James, beware. Nutsy is getting long in the tooth and is on the prowl for a board or three to gnaw.

Nov 14, 2009 03:13 AM #8
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Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Jim, I looked at this from a buyers realtor point of view. I would be concerned about a few things... such as... insurance company getting the report, how I would feel if anything every happened and a fire broke out... so.. going out on a limb here, I would go back to the town and ask the all important "piss everyone off" question.

IS THIS RIGHT?????

Then a smack upside the head of the builder, JUST FIX IT.

Ghesh, come on, everyone knows better, and just because the building inspector didn't see it...

And, I have stories about that BUT will not discuss them here, LOL.

Nov 14, 2009 11:20 PM #9
Rainmaker
683,909
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Nutsy, I doubt I will ever have the need for you excellent witness services, but I do have a shed in the back where you could stay.

Kate, Nutsy is an a-gnawing rodent.

Andrea, You and I could get into some serious trouble together. I was thinking the same things. What really got under my skin was the builder was being a real jerk about this issue. This is a SAFETY concern goodness sake.

Nov 15, 2009 12:28 AM #10
Rainmaker
1,843,015
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

My 11 year old garage has two walls without drywall.  I have exposed wood over my garage door too, with a bedroom above.  That was all approved by the county.  They didn't blink when I mentioned it. 

Nov 15, 2009 09:22 PM #11
Rainmaker
683,909
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Jay, I hope that you have covered what ever is necessary to be safe.

Nov 16, 2009 04:43 AM #12
Rainmaker
1,843,015
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I did!  Then I had insulation blown in.  Yep, there was no insulation under my daughter's bedroom - right over the garage!

Nov 16, 2009 08:45 PM #13
Rainmaker
683,909
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

No insulation! That floor must have been extra cold as well as the room.

Nov 16, 2009 09:58 PM #14
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