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RE: House Inspection

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What I do is not what you are asking about, but, to some it may seem close.  My niche in structural engineering is structural engineering for repair and strengthening of old buildings.  I get calls for residential inspections but I won’t take a pre-sale inspection project – I can never move quickly enough to commit to an escrow-closing schedule.


I don’t call it inspection; I’m not an inspector.  I observe from accessible locations in order to evaluate and report on structural conditions and make recommendations.  My services are related to specific conditions that seem to indicate a need for structural repair or strengthening.  I may have been called because a home inspector found a structural condition that he didn’t understand or that appeared to indicate a structural problem.  The understanding is that, if my observation, evaluation and recommendations lead to recommendations for structural strengthening or repair, I will design and prepare drawings for the work I have recommended.  I make it clear that repair or strengthening must be based on making assumptions about hidden conditions; that investigation of hidden a condition may result in the destruction of otherwise serviceable parts of the building; that I will not recommend that a hidden condition be investigated unless I have reason to believe it needs to be investigated and unless the client agrees to pay for the destructive work and for needed repairs.  I make sure that the client knows that I may use my assumptions about hidden conditions as the basis for my design, but that I don’t warrant a condition that I have not observed.  Clear communication to the client of my thinking as I develop my evaluation and recommendations is essential in this process.  During construction, frequent visits to the site and modification of the design to accommodate discovered conditions are also essential.


I love this kind of project and like working with individual homeowners.  However, I am currently not taking this kind of project because of commitments on a couple of large long-term projects.  Nevertheless, when called, I will usually talk with the potential client about the project in order to understand the nature of the problem that led to the call.  There are a small number other engineers that I will recommend for certain kinds of problems, but for some kinds of buildings or conditions, I have no one to recommend for the kind of structural engineering that I do.  In So.CA, few structural engineers offer their services for residences; fewer for old residences; even fewer for residences constructed of archaic materials.  Also, there are few contractors qualified to do this kind of construction.


So far, I’ve not had to face litigation.


Nels Roselund, SE

South San Gabriel, CA


-----Original Message-----
From: gskwy(--nospam--at) [mailto:gskwy(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Wednesday, February 08, 2006 3:08 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