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Minimum Requirements for Structural Inspections


To follow up on my talk about structural inspections, let's talk about something that many people, including some agents, don't know....NY State's minimum requirements for structural inspections. Title 19 NYCRR, SUBPART 197-5, Standards of Practice for Home Inspectors.

SUBPART 197-5 is broken down in to many subsections, from 197-5.1 Definitions to 197-5.16 Limitations and Exclusions. Don't worry, I read them all so you don't have to. I'm nice like that.

I'll just hit a couple of highlights (because I have great learning stories to go with them)...roofs, appliances, and jetted tubs.

Structural Inspectors are NOT required to, "walk on or access a roof..", "operate freestanding or built-in appliances", or "observe and report on any spas, saunas, hot-tubs or jetted tubs".

Story #1, I was representing buyers who were anticipating purchasing a large, fairly expensive home. We had a structural inspection by an inspector who does more than the minimum requirements. The report said that even though the house was only about 17 years old it appeared that the roof had been poorly installed and it was suggested we have a roofer come and further evaluate it. We had 3 roofers come and check it (long story) ....two got on the roof and one looked at it from the ground. The estimates we received ranged from $36,000 to $42,000 to replace the roof. The roofer who did not get on the roof said the roof looked fine. The moral of this story is that if the structural inspector had just done NY State's minimum requirement the roof would have been evaluated from the ground and he might have come to the same conclusion as the 3rd roofer that the roof was fine. That would have been very costly to my buyers.

Story #2, I was representing sellers who had put in fairly pricey commercial appliances in the kitchen in a remodel several years ago. We received and negotiated a purchase offer, the buyers hired a structural inspector who conducted a structural inspection. Everything was fine and the sale proceeded. The evening before the closing, the buyer's agent and buyers conducted a final walk-through where it was discovered that the pricey commercial range/oven was not working. The structural inspector did not check the appliances (he didn't have to per NYS's minimum standards) so it was a scramble to come up with a solution before closing.

Story #3, I was representing buyers who had a contract on a vacant house. We had a structural inspection and the inspector filled the jetted tub in the master bath to make sure it worked. Remember, inspectors are not required to do this. The tub ran fine but when the water was let out one of the plumbing couplings in the basement failed and water went all over the basement floor. If the inspector had only done the minimum my buyers would have been in for a rude surprise the first time they used the tub.

Why is all of this important to you? You need to know what you are getting when you hire a structural inspector. Don't make assumptions....ask!

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