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RE: House Inspection

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When I do house inspections, a report follows.  And in that report, it is stated that the inspection was done on that date and observations were taken and recommendations were made.  It also states that the observations reported herein could not change over time and there is no guarantee that the performance of the structure will last.


During my inspections, I spend quite a bit of time looking at the foundation, checking for cracks and any apparent settlement and damage.  These findings are normally well documented so it could be reference in the future for the home owner.  Afterward, I go looking around the house checking windows and doors for proper operation.  If they do not function properly, it is noted.  If the interior finish is drywall, we look for cracks there and report them as they are indicators of settlement.  Lastly, I look at landscaping and if there is an irrigation system.  At the end of the report is a conclusions and recommendations for the potential buyer that summarizes the overall condition of the structure and if there is anything they can do to help preserve or better the condition of the area.  And then there’s the “this is just a report of observations” statement within.


Lastly, we don’t really call it an inspection.  Rather, we refer to them as a “Condition Assessment” or “Condition Evaluation.”  There’s a little different.  When you say “inspection” it could be inferred that you are going to verify the type of construction and check all of that.  If there are obvious structural concerns, it should be reported with the standard recommendation to seek assistance from a qualified professional.  Home Buyers and sellers use the term “inspection” very loosely, while an attorney would use it with a lot more teeth.


I limit this type of work to personal friends and the such.  Reason being is that they take a while and there are other things that I could be doing with that time.  However, if I’m alone and looking for some work, I’ll certainly be going after anything that I would be comfortable in doing.  As for legally, as long as you are clear with what you are reporting and are not guaranteeing any sort of performance, you should be covered.


The last one I did, I did an initial walk around, looking for obvious problems.  If it doesn’t look good, I tell the buyer right away and save everyone some time.  If it looks in pretty good condition, I’ll press forward.


I hope this helps and answers your question.  If you would like to discuss this more, you can contact me personally.


David Maynard, PE


From: gskwy(--nospam--at) [mailto:gskwy(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Wednesday, February 08, 2006 1:08 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: House Inspection


My survey questions have never gone over real well, but I'll try another anyway.


How many people licensed as either PE's or SE's do house inspection?  I.e. for residential sales.


Do you actually represent yourself to the potential buyer as a house inspector or are you a consultant on one specific aspect to the house inspector?  If so, what aspect?


For those who do it,  is it common for engineers in your area to do house inspection (in DC house inspectors tend to be individuals who failed as contractors).


Is there a concern that being licensed as an engineer will make you more susceptible to litigation if problems subsequently surface?


Gail Kelley