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Decoding the Inspection Report: Part 4 – Life-Safety Upgrades

27 January, 2017
/ Comments Off on Decoding the Inspection Report: Part 4 – Life-Safety Upgrades
/ By The Home Inspectors

The topic of Life-Safety upgrades is introduced in the 5th paragraph of the Preamble of the Inspection Report but the content is addressed in a later paragraph. The introduction is as follows:

Some items reported may be considered life-safety upgrades to the property. For more information, refer to Texas Real Estate Consumer Notice Concerning Recognized Hazards or Deficiencies below. 

In addition to the following information being included in the Preamble, it is also available as TREC Form No. OP-I which has been approved for voluntary use by its license holders as a separate document.

TEXAS REAL ESTATE CONSUMER NOTICE CONCERNING HAZARDS OR DEFICIENCIES 

Each year, Texans sustain property damage and are injured by accidents in the home. While some accidents may not be avoidable, many other accidents, injuries, and deaths may be avoided through the identification and repair of certain hazardous conditions. Examples of such hazards include: 

  • malfunctioning, improperly installed, or missing ground fault circuit protection (GFCI) devices for electrical receptacles in garages, bathrooms, kitchens, and exterior areas; 
  •  malfunctioning arc fault protection (AFCI) devices;
  •  ordinary glass in locations where modern construction techniques call for safety glass;
  • malfunctioning or lack of fire safety features such as smoke alarms, fire-rated doors in certain locations, and functional emergency escape and rescue openings in bedrooms; 
  •  malfunctioning carbon monoxide alarms;
  •  excessive spacing between balusters on stairways and porches;
  •  improperly installed appliances;
  •  improperly installed or defective safety devices;
  •  lack of electrical bonding and grounding; and
  •  lack of bonding on gas piping, including corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST).

To ensure that consumers are informed of hazards such as these, the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) has adopted Standards of Practice requiring licensed inspectors to report these conditions as “Deficient” when performing an inspection for a buyer or seller, if they can be reasonably determined.

These conditions may not have violated building codes or common practices at the time of the construction of the home, or they may have been “grandfathered” because they were present prior to the adoption of codes prohibiting such conditions. While the TREC Standards of Practice do not require inspectors to perform a code compliance inspection, TREC considers the potential for injury or property loss from the hazards addressed in the Standards of Practice to be significant enough to warrant this notice. 

While many inspectors market their approach of conveying their findings as “non-alarming” it is hard to get past the language in this section….accidents, injuries, and deaths” – hardly non-alarming but justifiably notable.

“Non-alarming” shouldn’t mean withholding or downplaying genuine health & safety concerns. As you can see from the examples, there can be an increased risk of electrocution, fire, CO poisoning, traumatic injury, property damage, etc. relating to these items. It is important that these “deficiencies” are conveyed to the client.

While it is required that the items be marked as “Deficient,” it doesn’t mean there is a need to be alarming. As we mentioned last week, no single deficiency is better or worse than the next and there is no requirement to prioritize or emphasize one over the other. Rather an emphasis should put on the importance of taking any corrective action that may be required to remedy these issues. Each one of these “deficiencies” is correctable. And while neither party is required to make these corrections, they often become the subject of negotiation between the parties to either repair/replace the items or make price adjustments accordingly. Ideally, any corrective action should be addressed prior to the expiration of the Option Period.

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