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Re: Residential Fee Range (Was Porch Conc. Cracking)

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A nationally syndicated radio talk show host gave prospective homeowners
this advice, paraphrased of course:

If you want to buy a home, but are not an expert on structures, you should
hire an expert, a structural engineer, to examine it for you.  It will cost
$200 or $250; he'll inspect the entire house and provide a written report.
Then, if you purchase the home and something goes wrong, you can sue the
structural engineer.  (I was afraid to use quotes, but I think I'm very
close to the exact words)

That was about 10 years ago, I'm guessing.  Then about 5 years ago, a fellow
called in saying he had heeded the advice.  The structural engineer charged
$250, provided an 18 page report, gave the home a clean bill of health
except that the chimney needed to be cleaned.  He bought the home.  About 2
years later he hired a chimney sweep, who would not clean the chimney
because it was in such poor condition.  Repairs cost $5,000.  The talk show
host advised the fellow to sue the structural engineer and the realtor who
recommended him.

When homeowners call me for assistance, I tell them I do not do residential
work.  If they whine a bit, I tell them the above story.

"Well, I'm not looking to sue anyone, I just need a report for closing."
they say.

"But if a crack shows up in the drywall next year, your attorney may advise
you to sue me.  No thanks."  says I.

Some are understanding, some just get huffy because they are between a rock
and a hard place . . . that society created, not me.  I would love to be a
facilitator, to offer my opinion based on what I can see.  But when society
views my opinion as an insurance policy, I must raise the premium . . . to
$5,000 for a home inspection.  With about 10 of those under your belt, you
could reduce premiums a bit for everyone.

John P. Riley, PE, SE
Riley Engineering
20 Oakwood Drive, Blue Grass, Iowa 52726
Tel & Fax:  319-381-3949

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