Sunday, July 3, 2011

The holiday idiots.

As I'm sure you all have seen, a holiday can bring out the real stupid in some people. This holiday appears to be no different. July 4th is always a good one.

Every holiday there is the typical excitement, the anticipation of getting together with friends and family...well some family... and the fun times ahead. There is always one person who bounds through the screen door thinking its open, when its not. The spilled drink on someones lap, usually someone Else's. The plate drop, where food goes everywhere. The funny things kids do, or say. A secret revealed. The back yard games that start out as friendly and fun, and sometimes end in someone having to take a trip to the emergency room. Fun stuff.

Whats not fun are the situations that end in tragedy. The times when someone goes a bit to far, drives too fast, or drives after having one too many drinks.

We have all had to make the last minute trip for things like ice, Hamburger rolls, Soda, chips, ect, or when you are late to a cook out and feel the need to rush. To drive a bit faster than you really need to. What is the point?

Today I was out on the motorcycle. I decided to take a nice early morning ride, and enjoy the peace and quiet early in the day before all the action starts. I planned on a nice ride in the country. I got up, had my coffee, planned the day with the wife, and got dressed to go ride. I stopped off for gas, and as I was getting ready to hit the road, I noticed people on the road were a bit hurried. Its 10 am, Whats the rush?. I took my time, got comfortable and hit the highway.

I was just getting on the highway, and looked over my left shoulder to merge in traffic, and along comes a Nissan Maxima swerving in and out of lanes trying to pass every car on the road. I stayed to the right and let this fool get in front of me, and I glanced over at the car. The driver was a 20 something kid, cell phone to the ear, one hand on the wheel and just blasting down the highway like we are all using his highway, and are just in the way. The road was filled with families on the way to or from somewhere, and doing a pretty good speed, But that didn't matter to this jerk. This jerk was determined to get where he wanted to go in as fast a time as possible, and he did not seem to care about anyone else. Happy Holiday to you Mr. Jerk, Whoever you are.

Now here is what really got me upset. Whats the frigging hurry? Really? Was his wife having a baby? Is he on his was to a fire? If so, He forgot the firetruck. Is the world coming to an end? If So, where are you going? Was this guy trying to get to the cookout before someone ate the last hot dog? I just cant imagine what was so important that he needed to drive 90 miles an hour dangerously swerving in and out of lanes risking the lives of everyone on the road. I'M pretty sure they would like to get to where they are going too, Buddy. And I'M pretty sure that they don't need you screwing it up for them.

Now, every single one of us has seen the news right after a holiday weekend. We watch and see what destruction has occurred this time. A car crash here, a motorcycle accident there. An injury due to fireworks. A domestic dispute. A drunken brawl. A fire started by a grill with way too much lighter fluid. ( there isalways one or two of those). So what have we learned? What do we do different? Who hasn't heard that phrase " Be careful on the road, watch out for the crazies"?

How do we know the crazies? Do they wear bright orange shirts that say "Hey, watch out for me, In an inconsiderate moron who cant use common sense"? Nope. I'm pretty sure I would have seen that. How do we know when one of these crazies will come our way? We don't, so we always have to be on the look out. We have to wear our seat belts, we have to drive 8,000 lb SUV with 23 air bags in them to wrap us up in bubble wrap in case of an accident. We have to leave the party early, and try to beat the drunks home. This is just nuts. Someone out there has to know who the crazies are, and so I ask you, Will you please pass a message along to them from me? The message is:

Hey, you, do you mind? Do you mind if I have a safe holiday? Do you mind If I ask you to drive safely, and not have you cause an accident? One that wipes out an entire family who just wants to go to the beach, or a cook out. Do you mind if I get to live for another holiday and enjoy my family? Do you mind if I get to see my kids and grand kids grow up? Thanks, Now, Here's a tip, put down the God Damn phone, drive the speed limit, or at least close to it, and change lanes safely. Leave the house a few minutes earlier. Yes, that will mean being a bit more prepared, but I'm sure you can handle it. Be prepared to encounter others on the road. Yes, this may come as a surprise to you but, there are others in this world besides YOU. If you try this, Not only will we all be better off, but you may just save a life, and your own.

If anyone out there knows one of the deserving, please forward this to them. Thanks.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

How can I make it more clear for you?

About a month ago I had inspected a large home for a client who is a first time home buyer. For a first time buyer, the inspection process can be a very big deal. I Imagine that the inspection of your first home seems like getting married. A lot of the same thoughts , fears, and hesitations go into this decision.
When the inspection revealed defects that were not known, or expected, the buyer started to get cold feet. I saw him getting very nervous and he asked how a person can neglect their home. I had to explain to him that the home owner may not even know this exists, and so its not really a question of how it went un addressed, but more importantly how it will now be addressed. When the home revealed an issue that the buyers were very upset with, and started to talk like they were going to back out, I decided it was time for a break. I informed the buyers agent that he may want to take a walk outside with the clients and calm them down.

After about 10 minutes, the clients decided to just move forward, and see what other defects this home may have. All told, there were about 5 significant issues that needed to be addressed, which are all common issues found in any home , but to a new home owner this seemed like the worst case scenario. The agent will have to work out the details with the sellers and see what can be done.

After about a month or so, the deal was progressing forward, and the sellers had begrudgingly agreed to correct a list of defects requested by the buyer, and the buyer was not about to move forward without having me back to inspect the home to assure him that all issues were corrected to his satisfaction. Well.... this is where it got ugly..... really ugly.

Having received a list of agreed repairs, and a call from the buyer assuring that I would go back and re inspect the listed items, I made the appointment, or at least tried to. I was more or less told by the listing agent when I was going to come, and do what needed to be done. I had to explain that NORMALLY both parties discuss a mutually agreeable time, and date. Normally, the parties deal in a respectful manner. Not that she cares, but I happened to have scheduled appointments on the times that Her highness demanded my presence. I informed the agent that We need to schedule another time where we both may be present, and that went over like a fart in church. too bad!!!

On the day of the inspection that we finally agreed to, I arrived right on time, knocked politely, and entered. Right away I get the dirty looks from the sellers agent, Boy is this going to be fun!!. I smile anyway, and get to work.
Now its one thing to work next to someone who you know is hostile, but its another when they stand over your shoulder asking questions every second. "Well is it ok" ? "Well was it done right"? but not just asking.....asking with a snotty tone, and a sarcastic attitude, and scorn. Yes, that makes things soooo much better.

As I am inspecting the list of agreed repairs, and on the date of the scheduled inspection agreed to, I find that some of the items are not done, but clearly listed as done. The Agent sees me double checking the report.

she asked " Whats wrong?" Whats not done?".

"Well, I'm just checking the list" I say

"Whats wrong" She asked again, 10 seconds later.

" I'm checking" I say.

"Can you just tell me what wrong" she says, int he rudest manner.

" Well can I read the report, please? " I say.

"OK, it says The deck was lag bolted to house, but I don't see any lag bolts" I say

" No, you said the rear deck needs to be lag bolted"

"I'm sorry but your wrong" I say ( you would have thought I spat on her)

"What do you mean I'm wrong"? I'm not wrong" ( Nope, that could never happen right? )

" well" I say, "Its right here on the paperwork, you agreed to lag bolt rear and side deck to the house for safety, its not done. "

"Well we called the building inspector and he said when the house was built, it was not required then"

I say-" Well, first, I never said it was code then, it is recommended for safety due to height, and the size of the deck, you agreed to fix it, and said it was done, I simply noted that it is not done. Further , The ASHI certification board that I represent, indicates that I must recommend all decks be lag bolted to the house for safety regardless of code, because of the number of decks that have fallen and injured and killed people."

( rolling of the eyes) " Fine lets move on" she says.

now on the inside of the house there were similar issues that were not corrected that were clearly written, and agreed to, and reported as repaired. When I went to inspect them, It was a repeat performance of the last time. I'm having so much fun now....a prostate exam would be pleasant compared to this.

At the furnace, the furnace was previously damaged by water, we advised that it be repaired, and evaluated. It was, and reported as such. Now today I'm looking at it, and water is leaking out. Great, this is gonna really start trouble!!! Some one shoot me now.

I begin by looking at the water leak and she sees me, and asked "What"?

"Well we have water leaking out here" I say.

" look, she says." this is not the time for finding more new issues, we are here to address the repairs. " ( did she really just say that?)

"Well yeah," I say, and apparently the repair you claimed to have done did not address the water issue and here is a leaking puddle on the heating unit."

Again she says, " like I just said, this is not the time."

Now I'm pissed. - " Not the time for what?, I am here to inspect that the heating unit was properly repaired as requested, Here we are and water is leaking from the heating unit, and you want me to do what? close my eyes and walk away? So I can get sued, for you? That's not going to happen, and I cant believe that you just said that. " The client is paying for an inspection, and you agreed to fix the leak, its obviously not fixed and now I'M the bad guy? ( I'm shaking at this point, cause I want to kick her)

The sellers are upstairs and come down when they hear some loud talking, Probably me, and the guy is nice as hell, looks at the agent, and says," look, we paid to have the items repaired, we have receipts, lets just call the people back, and make them fix it. " I like this guy !! See it wasn't them at all, the agent wanted to sweep things under the carpet, make the sale, and leave me to get sued later, all the while making the sellers out to be jerks, which by the way could not be farther form the truth. The guy was great, and it goes to show you. make it clear, fair and honest, and Hopefully everything works out in the end. I left there needing a drink, but my client got what was needed for him. mission accomplished.

Later that day when i got back to the office, there was a large envelope waiting for me. It was an award from the American Society of Home inspectors for dedication, integrity, and positive client reviews. couldn't have come at a better time.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

clean up your act

I was contacted by an executive relocation company for an inspection on a home before the owners get transferred to another state. This is common with relocation companies. I made the appointment and went out to the home. The inspection of the home went well, then we do the septic system inspection.

For those of you who have not seen a septic inspection, the tank covers have to be opened and the test run to see if the tank and leach field can handle the loading of a set amount of water based on the number of bedrooms. Obviously the sight is not pretty, and the smells are less appealing, but the test is an important one. Part of the inspection process is to make visual observations of the contents of the tank, and water level to determine how the system is operating. For those of you who don't have a septic, it is not advised to flush anything that can be disposed of in another manner. It is not advised to flush feminine products, birth control materials, paper towels, baby wipes, etc. you get the point.

Part of the checklist for the inspection is to determine if the tank needs to be pumped, and the sellers get the bill for this charge in addition to the cost of the inspection. While I was conducting the inspection I placed my clip board on the railing of the adjacent deck, and the homeowner came out to see how it was going. She was leaning right next to the clip board and saw the notes on the clip board where I indicated that the tank will need to be pumped to remove foreign materials from the tank, and that I recommend a further evaluation into the "Distribution box" to see if the foreign materials got washed into there and potentially cause a blockage.

The woman was pissed and asked what the hell I meant by foreign materials, and I showed her the condoms and condom wrappers in the tank, and explained that they can go out int he leach field and block the ability of water to drain in the ground, thus resulting in a failure. You could have seen the steam coming out of her ears. She got red faced, and I thought she was going to slap me for embarrassing her.....she ran inside and came marching back out with the cordless phone in her hand, screaming at someone....named "Mother F&%$#@" . She was asking him how the hell all those condoms got in the septic tank, and screaming that she was going to kill him. It appears that she is on a pill form of Birth control and they don't use condoms.

At that point I figured I had all I needed for my report and wanted to get the hell out of there. I covered the tank lids, and grabbed my Report to leave. She disappeared into the house.

The next sound I heard was the garage door opening and then smashing glass. I thought something fell so I ran over to see if she was ok.......The sound was a golf club smashing the windshield and head lights out of a cool gray Porche parked in the garage. She did not stop there, but I got the heck out of there and left.

I don't know what ever happened to the guy, but I bet when he came home, dinner was not ready.

Lesson? - there are things that don't belong in a septic.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

illegal repairs to your home.

How do you know if the work in your home was done legally and with permits and inspections? Hopefully you had a home inspection, and hopefully the home inspector recognized the signs. But you as the home buyer have the right to go to the local town building inspectors office and ask what work has been done according to their records. Now it is not always possible for the inspector for the town, and your home inspector to know what was done and when. Some things are concealed, But if the city inspector tells you that the last registered and permitted item was a roof in 1978 and the roof is new, or the furnace is new, then you have uncovered a problem. The reason for the town inspector to come and inspect the work, is to endure that repairs have been done according to code, and standards. I recently inspected a home for first time buyers, and I discovered a new furnace, that was not inspected, not permitted, and not done well at all. How do I know? Well my first indication was the fresh patch of cement on the foundation where the oil fill pipes used to be, and then the PVC pipe at the foundation, which indicated a high efficiency furnace with direct exhaust. The problem here is that there was only one pipe, and it was the wrong size, and not sealed, thats just for starters. Once inside, there was no Emergency shut off switch at the top of the stairs as required, and then when I got to the basement, there was no "firematic" thermal switch, no switch cover plate, exposed wires, and no external air supply pipe. There was no filter assembly, and whats more, no sticker from the town inspector. After further inspection, the gas line was installed with no drip leg, and there was sloppy duct work and seeping seams. It seems that the only part o f this job that was correct, was that the heating was in the right house. The home buyer had no idea, and the Real estate agent had no idea, and it was up to the home inspector to catch this. After getting the details, it turned out that the installer was the sellers girlfriends father, and this was before they broke up...He decided to stop and not complete the job since his daughter was no longer there. Its going to be a project to repair this heating to "Proper condition" and its going to cost money. the inspection saved them $1500.00 just there alone. all told this inspection will have resulted in $20,000.00 worth of defects found for the Buyers. Not too shabby for a $350.00 inspection.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A negative buyer.

Spring time is here. The snow is gone. Flowers are blooming. Birds are chirping. This is the best time of the year for real estate activity. Everyone is excited about the nice weather, and feelings are positive. Prospective buyers are driving around looking at homes with anticipation and pleasant moods.....Well most people anyway. I Conducted a home inspection for a client a few days ago, It was on a Condo really, and in a nice well manicured development. The lawns were clean, the flowers were emerging, the birds were chirping, the squirrels were playing, and then The buyer arrived. The buyer is an older woman around 60 or so. She got out of her car and walked over with a scorn on her face, and a pile of files in her arms. She looked like a social worker coming to conduct a home visit. The Squirrels stopped playing, and I swear the birds were silent. " I'm the prospective buyer" She said, and without a smile or a hello. I introduced myself and My Colleague who was there to test for Mold. The client looked over the top of her glasses and eyed me from top to bottom, and said, "Well Lets get to work". "The Realtors had not arrived yet, and we cannot get in until they come and open the doors", I tell her, and the scorn came even stronger now. My Cell phone rang just then, and I prayed for an excuse to cancel. It was in fact the agent calling to tell me he would be a bit late, and may not come at all. He gave me the access code to the lock box, and told me to get started, and see if he can make it. I tell the client, and she is now raving mad, "Hes not coming"? "What kind of thing is that"? I tell her he is going to try and make it, but we can get started without him. She is standing in the yard confused and repeating her statements. "Hes not coming"? "Hes not coming"? Yeah lady, and I wish I was him, I think to myself. As we get started, I begin my approach, and start going through my check list. There are some woodpecker holes on the exterior siding, and I note it and explain whats happening. The client looks like I told her there were weapons of mass destruction in the house. She has a horrified look and says " SO birds are destroying the house and making horrible racket at all hours of the day and night?" Now, not one of those words came out of me.... so I have no idea where that came from, I tell her that I suspect that it may be old damage, but the condo association will be notified at some point and address it. Next comes the furnace. The furnace is in a closet. There are rust stains on the furnace and past water damage. Repairs have been made, and the leak above has been repaired. There is some Mold, and open holes in the ceiling. The ceiling holes have to be closed for fire rating, and mold needs to be cleaned up. She asked me if Fire can get up into the space, and I explain that....POTENTIALLY, If the right circumstances occur, Maybe... And her next words are..."So this thing can catch on fire and burn me to death as I sleep?" Oh MY GOD.... I want to cry. Where the hell is the agent? I Know why he is late. My associate is glad to be left alone. Now comes the water heater. An electric 40 gallon in the closet. The electric line is covered in BX cable, the metal spiral stuff. Someone has damaged the cable on the water heater, and the wires are exposed. I mention that the cable needs repairs to better protect the wires. She asked if it was dangerous...and I pause...can she possibly make this into a big deal?.... I say " If the cable was to be abused, and a sharp edge was to cut into the wires, then it is possible for a shock, but it would be really hard for that to happen, and we just want it repaired for safety. She looks at me and then to her note pad, She is writing notes on things. Just then the realtor shows up...THANK GOD! She walks right over to him and says " Well, so nice of you to join us" Why didn't you tell me you had no plans on being here?" "Woah", he says, I had something that came up at last minute, I tried my best, and I'M here now". "How are things so far?" "Just terrible, is all," and she begins to tell her agent all that I said, and in the worst possible way. The agent looks at me with horror in his eyes and says " Dave, that not like you at all". I look at him with a look like i want to strangle him, and say.."just you watch" SO I show him the water heater, and ask him to ask the client what I said....SO he does, and she does. "The water heater electric is dangerous and will kill me if I touch it a certain way, and who knows how long its been that way, and its a fire hazard". The realtor choked on his coffee. GOOD. he deserved it. We manage to get through the rest of the inspection and are finishing in the kitchen. The garbage disposal was off, and the little breaker was popped out. I reset it and it popped again. This means that the little wrench is needed to free it up. I use the wrench, and turn the thing on again, and it works. No problem, I'M almost done, and home free to get the heck out of here. .....just then I smell smoke. I open the cabinet, and the garbage disposal is smoking. The realtor looks at me as If I planned this, and the lady is running for the door cell phone in hand ready to call 911. I shut the unit off and turn off the breaker. All is fine. a new garbage disposal will be needed. No problem. It was told to me later that day, that the client called the condo manager, the fire department, the fire marshal, and about half of the residents to warn them how unsafe this condo is. She also called the realtor a half dozen times with questions. It does not pay to be negative, and pays less to work for them.