The language used on this library is designed to:
- Provide protection from liability;
- Be clear in meaning by leaving as little as possible open to interpretation;
- Provide information is a manner that clients are likely to understand
- Be accurate and true.
Narratives are written in the past tense. Because an inspection report is basically a description of the condition of the property during the inspection, by the time anyone reads the report, the inspection will be in the past and use of the present tense may or may not be accurate. As more time passes, the chances of the condition of the home changing increase. An exaggerated (hopefully!) example is that the house might have burned to the ground 10 minutes after the inspector leaves! This is another reason that we don't allow our reports to be used by unauthorized parties during subsequent transactions.
Written to a Formula
Narratives that describe deficiencies are written to the following formula:
- Identify the deficiency;
- Tell how serious it is. Although there are grey areas that I address in a manner commonly appropriate, this is typically minor, moderate, severe, end of life, or to monitor;
- Make a recommendation. This is typically a recommendation for further evaluation, correction, repair, or replacement, by a qualified contractor (-QC), a structural engineer (- SE), or a specialist of some sort.
Building Code is Not Cited
The reason that building code is not cited is that if an inspector should wind up in court, if code were cited, an opposing attorney might claim that since code was cited, the inspector was performing a building code inspection and therefore was responsible for identifying all code violations. For educational purposes only, in some versions of the Library the Standard (IRC, IBC, IPC, etc.) and section will be listed in case the inspector wants to refer to a particular code provision for clarification. This information is not included in any narratives.
Use of Technical Terms
Keeping it Simple: The main purpose of the report is to communicate clearly to the client the condition of the property. The use of complicated technical terms is avoided as long as the term used offers adequate protection from liability. Example: we use "windows" not "fenestratrion".
Using Proper Terms: If an inspector winds up defending their report in court, their task will be easier if the report contains professional level language. Example: "footer" is a misnomer. The part of the foundation that rests directly on soil is called a "footing". Look on any set of building plans or specifications by an architect or engineer and you will find that this is true.
Regional Variations: Terms vary regionally and inspectors should either use the term commonly used in the area in which the inspection took place, or list an additional, secondary term in parentheses. Example: For the framing member upon which a door or window header bears directly: The eastern version is "jack stud" and the western version is "trimmer".
Use of Third Person ("the Inspector")
Narratives in this Library make use of the third person. Example: "the Inspector recommends...". There can be no doubt in the mind of the reader the identity of the report author. Inspectors who are one-man shops have been known to use "I" or "we". The former is not bad, but for a one man shop to use "we"... an attorney is liable to ask in court if the Inspector had a mouse in his pocket. Which term to use is a matter of personal preference.