Recommending Safety Upgrades

The common situation that sometimes abruptly surfaces: after doing a Central Jacksonville home inspection and returning to the house to pick up a radon canister only to be confronted by a disgruntled homeowner telling you that you had made life very difficult for them.  All too often I hear, ”that it wasn’t required when the house was first built so why even mention it during the home inspection.” Or the realtor may say that there is no need to recommend future changes, that no more is needed.

When I go out to do a home inspection I need to do the job as I see fit. I will report things as I see them but will also mention and include in the report findings “safety upgrades” as they come up, especially in older homes. When talking with other home inspectors I find they are faced with the same sense of ingratitude coming from the selling realtor and/or the homeowner. Even though something wasn’t required when the older home was first built, I feel the home inspection “ is the perfect time to educate people” in regard to how to improve the condition of their Central Jacksonville home.

My area of expertise is home construction and design in Jacksonville. I have spent many years educating myself in this field of endeavor. I consider myself a generalist. but also a house expert who understands how the structural, mechanical and electrical systems should work together in a house. Many homes, old and new, were built with minimum standards. The average person may not understand how& when a house is supposed to be maintained. They are not house experts. That’s where I come in.

I don’t see why anyone would have a problem with a home inspector “recommending” safety upgrades? If an older home doesn’t have GFCI protection, I always recommend them. I also ask my clients if they actually know what GFCI’s are used for. If they don’t, it’s “time for me to educate” them about the importance of these modern safety devices.

I always check to see if handrails are up to today’s current safety standards here in Jacksonville because- this is always a big safety issue. Or egress windows that meet minimum requirements- providing an escape-way in case of a fire. Of course garage doors need to be installed correctly and openers need to have proper auto-reversing function fully operational.  And the garage floor and living space floor should not be at the same height- that could allow gasoline fumes to enter into the house during an accidental spill and cause a fire or explosion. And any access hatches into the attic that would affect the integrity of the firewall.

Many times I see that in older homes that there is no division/or fire safety wall that separates the attic area between the living space of the house and the garage. The installation of an attic fire wall between the garage and the home’s living space is an important concern.  I know of a whole block of older townhouses that recently burned down in New Brunswick, Jax because there were no fire walls.  Installing a firewall could save the rest of the house or buildings from going up in flames. It could help provide needed time for the fire department to respond to the emergency and save the home or buildings and it’s inhabitants from disaster.

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