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Old 04-28-2010, 12:25 PM
 
301 posts, read 1,368,998 times
Reputation: 164

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Hi all,

As some of you might remember, my husband and I bought a house in Seattle in February. We had an inspector who was also an engineer come out to the house before buying, of course, and he wrote up a pretty comprehensive report that we were satisfied with at the time.

However, we have had the darndest time trying to keep the front room of the house warm (it‘s the entry/living room, with two baseboard heaters located under the two largest windows in the house)—all the original windows of the house were replaced with double-pane storm windows in 2006, but it seemed like this room was still losing a ton of heat. I decided to get personal with the big windows, opening and closing and feeling around the edges of each pane. It turns out that not only do the windows not open properly (they are double-hung, and top pane of each window is either stuck or will not stay up when open), but one of the windows was installed so poorly that there is a noticeable gap on one side of the pane when the window is closed (as in, I can see daylight through the gap—probably ¼” wide?). THERE was our draft!

I plugged it up with paper towels for the time being and noticed a significant warming in that area of the room, and wondered if there was anything we could do about this. These appear to be very nice, expensive windows, custom-made to match the Craftsman style of the house, and only 4 years old—I contacted the previous owner to ask if they remembered the name of the window company, and whether or not a warranty was included, but have not heard back from them yet (rather strange, since they always responded quickly to our emails before). But shouldn’t our inspector have opened each window in the house and checked to make sure they were all sealed properly, as part of the inspection of the envelope? Or is that just not done, usually? It looks like we may have to get both of these large windows re-installed, so I am just wondering if we will have to pay for that, or would the inspector be on the hook for that?

Thanks for any tips.
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Old 04-28-2010, 01:03 PM
 
Location: U.S.
1,785 posts, read 5,192,392 times
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Good luck getting any money from your inspector. And no, I am not aware of too many who will open up each and every window. Most will give them a glance if you are lucky.
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Old 04-28-2010, 01:20 PM
 
301 posts, read 1,368,998 times
Reputation: 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uconn97 View Post
Good luck getting any money from your inspector. And no, I am not aware of too many who will open up each and every window. Most will give them a glance if you are lucky.
Right. what I want to know is whether or not it's worth trying to get my inspector to pay for the new windows or not. If it isn't (which is what it sounds like you're saying), then I won't bother... and just chalk it up to the costs of homeownership. But if there is some recourse available, and folks have done this before, I'd like to know.

Aren't inspectors SUPPOSED to check the envelope?... he commented on the condition of our doors in great detail, so I don't know why he wouldn't have checked out the windows as well.
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Old 04-28-2010, 01:25 PM
 
28,461 posts, read 76,254,813 times
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Few points here, some minor, others not-so-much.

First I do think that MOST inspectors will check the function of the windows, meaning do the latches work, do the counterweights or other devices keep the windows open, are there are any cracked panes. This is a safety / security issue -- you don't want some kid or adult having their hand smashed or a burglar gaining entry through an unsecurable opening.

Secondarily I know SEVERAL inspector companies will offer / team up with an "Energy Audit" firm to DOCUMENT that the windows, doors, insulation, etc are all "doing their job". Costs can be minor for just the use of thermal camera or more extensive with "blower door" and/or smoke tests. I believe that would be needed to verify the improper installation of a window NOT JUST a 'standard' home buying inspection.

The other issue is that the SELLER may or may not have known that the window(s) were not properly installed BUT IN EITHER CASE it is SMART FOR THEM NOT TO GET INVOLVED as it does sound like you may be expecting them to either pay for the repair or produce a warranty that you can use against the installer. As the seller apparently lived with the windows for several heating season maybe they feel stupid for not recognizing that the windows were why the room was sucking up heat. If the windows were installed by the home seller themselves or a friend / relative you can understand how this could create problems...

Yet another issue is that you sound like you are sorta looking to go after the inspector, and I really don't see how this is appropriate. Yes you do acknowledge that the poor installation left a gap that made the room noticeably cooler, but these things were probably NOT apparent to the inspector who almost certainly did not spend the kind of time in the house that would make a heat imbalance obvious...

If these windows were made by a reputable firm (like Andersen, Pella, Loewen, Marvin, etc) it may be worth calling them up and asking if a field representative could come out and check them. Some manufacturers can even track down the serial number and see if the installation was done by a factory authorized provider. If that turns out to be the case the manufacturer may help get the proper installation done for a reduced cost or better...

Good Luck!
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Old 04-28-2010, 01:33 PM
 
Location: Closer than you think !
445 posts, read 1,472,198 times
Reputation: 341
The people who bought my dad's house had an inspector that looked at every window and found what turned out to be a loose cord on two of them.. The cord was easily reattached and all was ok - well at least until you opened those two windows a couple of times and the cord came loose again... No draft or possibility of the window falling on someone. Just an example of some high pressure salesman selling crap windows to elderly folks at a ridiculous price...
1/4" sounds like par for the course on a lot of stuff I see these days. Inspector not responsible for errors or omissions - not all are created equal
Previous owners may not have ever seen it..
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Old 04-28-2010, 01:38 PM
 
301 posts, read 1,368,998 times
Reputation: 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
The other issue is that the SELLER may or may not have known that the window(s) were not properly installed BUT IN EITHER CASE it is SMART FOR THEM NOT TO GET INVOLVED as it does sound like you may be expecting them to either pay for the repair or produce a warranty that you can use against the installer. As the seller apparently lived with the windows for several heating season maybe they feel stupid for not recognizing that the windows were why the room was sucking up heat. If the windows were installed by the home seller themselves or a friend / relative you can understand how this could create problems...
No, by no means am I expecting the seller to pay for this. Honestly, I just sent them a casual e-mail asking if they happened to remember who installed their windows, and if so, whether or not a warranty was included with the installation... and I said it was no problem if they couldn't remember, but just wanted to ask anyway. I really do not intend to get any money out of them--but no one else would know who the window manufacturers are, who installed them, and whether or not there is a warranty. (And I am 99% sure that they did not install them by themselves--all the work they've had done to the house, including the repairs they made for us at the end, was done by professionals that they called out of a phone book and hired to do the job.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheteverett
Yet another issue is that you sound like you are sorta looking to go after the inspector, and I really don't see how this is appropriate. Yes you do acknowledge that the poor installation left a gap that made the room noticeably cooler, but these things were probably NOT apparent to the inspector who almost certainly did not spend the kind of time in the house that would make a heat imbalance obvious...
Once again, not seekingly directly to "go after" the inspector, but clearly this window thing was an issue before we moved into the house... and I did not expect him to check out the heat imbalance, drafts, etc., but I would have expected him to at least open the two largest windows in the house that face the street and find out if they were operational or not. (The fact is that both of them had issues just plain opening and closing, because they are not installed correctly, hence the gap--so if he had bothered to open them, he would have noticed that. That's all I was expecting, not the heat-imbalance business.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheteverett
If these windows were made by a reputable firm (like Andersen, Pella, Loewen, Marvin, etc) it may be worth calling them up and asking if a field representative could come out and check them. Some manufacturers can even track down the serial number and see if the installation was done by a factory authorized provider. If that turns out to be the case the manufacturer may help get the proper installation done for a reduced cost or better...

Good Luck!
Thanks. Really, this is the main thing I want to do--to find out what in the world happened when these windows were installed, and what is the most efficient, least expensive way to go about fixing them? Obviously, the most important thing is to get the windows re-installed, something that my contractor dad could probably do for no cost, but we need to know who made them, and whether or not they are covered by warranty first before my dad goes tearing out the window and redoing everything.

Am I truly being unreasonable? What would be the smart thing to do in this situation?... I honestly don't know, that's why I'm here.
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Old 04-28-2010, 01:42 PM
 
301 posts, read 1,368,998 times
Reputation: 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Treenoid View Post
Previous owners may not have ever seen it..
Which is fine... I don't intend to hold them responsible for this whatsoever (they were fairly in the dark about a lot of other small details in the house as well, so I am quite sure they never noticed this one). I just want to know who made the windows and what should be done to set them right... the inspector was the first person of responsibility to pop into my mind, since a previous house that we offered on (and walked away from) had a different inspector who thoroughly inspected each window for us. I feel like the inspector we had for this house we now own did not do a thorough job on this particular aspect, but if there's nothing to be done about that, then I just want to know how to fix the window now.
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Old 04-28-2010, 01:45 PM
 
Location: U.S.
1,785 posts, read 5,192,392 times
Reputation: 1408
Granted, I have only been through a few inspection, but I have never seen any inspector open every window, Apparently I must keep picking the crappy inspectors.

I would probably try to get some more information from the seller at this point, But I don't see an inspector giving you money to fix some windows. Just my opinion though...
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Old 04-28-2010, 01:52 PM
 
Location: Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX
2,307 posts, read 6,781,637 times
Reputation: 3907
Quote:
Originally Posted by caravan View Post
Hi all,

As some of you might remember, my husband and I bought a house in Seattle in February. We had an inspector who was also an engineer come out to the house before buying, of course, and he wrote up a pretty comprehensive report that we were satisfied with at the time.

However, we have had the darndest time trying to keep the front room of the house warm (it‘s the entry/living room, with two baseboard heaters located under the two largest windows in the house)—all the original windows of the house were replaced with double-pane storm windows in 2006, but it seemed like this room was still losing a ton of heat. I decided to get personal with the big windows, opening and closing and feeling around the edges of each pane. It turns out that not only do the windows not open properly (they are double-hung, and top pane of each window is either stuck or will not stay up when open), but one of the windows was installed so poorly that there is a noticeable gap on one side of the pane when the window is closed (as in, I can see daylight through the gap—probably ¼” wide?). THERE was our draft!

I plugged it up with paper towels for the time being and noticed a significant warming in that area of the room, and wondered if there was anything we could do about this. These appear to be very nice, expensive windows, custom-made to match the Craftsman style of the house, and only 4 years old—I contacted the previous owner to ask if they remembered the name of the window company, and whether or not a warranty was included, but have not heard back from them yet (rather strange, since they always responded quickly to our emails before). But shouldn’t our inspector have opened each window in the house and checked to make sure they were all sealed properly, as part of the inspection of the envelope? Or is that just not done, usually? It looks like we may have to get both of these large windows re-installed, so I am just wondering if we will have to pay for that, or would the inspector be on the hook for that?

Thanks for any tips.
Hello caravan,

First off you can find the WA State laws/Rules and Standards of Practice for Home Inspectors at the following link http://www.dol.wa.gov/business/homeinspectors/hilawbook.pdf (broken link). You stated that the Inspector was also an Engineer. Was the Inspector licensed also as a Home Inspector? With reference to this item please take note of the following:
  1. If you read section "18.280.020 Licensure required" you will see that any person who is claiming to be a Home Inspector, and performing inspections for a buyer, must be licensed as a home Inspector. There are license exemptions we will talk about. Nobody can advertise themselves as a licensed Home Inspector unless they do carry this license.
  2. As you can read in section "18.280.170 Exemption from licensing.", Engineers are exempt from HI licensing (as are plumbers, electricians, or other properly licensed persons) but only when acting in the scope of their other professional license. In your case what this means is that a licensed Professional Petrochemical Engineer would require to obtain the HI license as they have no specific training for inspecting Structures, heating/cooling equipment, plumbing, electrical, etc. Since you have not mentioned what the "Engineer" was licensed in I would check that out if they were not licensed as an HI. You can also find a license search for HI's on that WEB site above.
As for your question about inspecting windows, as I read the WA Inspectors SOP, Section "308-408C-050 WAC 308-408C-050 Contracts.", you should have been provided a preinspection agreement contract that specifically states what the Inspector will or will not inspect. I could find nothing in the Laws/Rules that stated an Inspector could deviate from the minimum required inspection items of the SOP. If you read Section "308-408C-080 WAC 308-408C-080 Exterior." it states:

Quote:
(1) The inspector will:
• Inspect visible wall coverings, trim, protective coatings
and sealants, windows and doors, attached porches,
decks, steps, balconies, handrails, guardrails, carports, eaves,
soffits, fascias and visible exterior portions of chimneys.

• Probe exterior components where deterioration is suspected
or where clear indications of possible deterioration
exist. Probing is not required when probing will damage any
finished surface or where no deterioration is suspected.

Describe any deficiencies of these systems or components.
As you can see there are no provisions for what some Inspectors might call "Representative Sampling of Components". That is a fancy term for not inspecting all windows, doors, outlets, etc. So to answer your question, in my opinion from what I am reading the Inspector missed the defect if they were inspecting the home as per the WA State required SOP as the SOP expects every window to be inspected.

Notice my last sentence there and specifically "if they were inspecting the home as per the WA State required SOP". That leads to the following questions:
  1. Did your Inspector/Engineer represent themselves as a WA State Licensed Home Inspector? Do they have a license number, etc?
  2. If yes to #1 then were you provided the required contract that clearly describes what they will and will not inspect? Keep in mind I could find no allowance in the Laws/Rules where an Inspector could contract with you to inspect less than the WA State minimums in the SOP.
  3. If the answer to #1 is no, then what type of Engineering degree does this person hold? Are they properly licensed by WA State as an Engineer? Keep in mind here too that a Licensed Structural Engineer working in the capacity of their license is not necessarily a licensed Electrical Engineer as well. If they hold no special Electrical, or Electrical Engineering license then potentially they have worked outside of the scope of their license. You would need to ask this of the States Engineering Licensure Board.
  4. If the answer to #1 is no then did the Engineer provide you with a Engineering stamp/seal/or other state required indication on the report indicating the home was inspected by a licensed Engineer?
If the Inspector was acting under a WA State Home Inspectors license then they, IMO, did not follow their SOP. If they acted as an Engineer you might have little to work with as the Engineering Boards generally have little to say about inspections and responsibilities on any building, even commercial. Usually it is a generic statement of ethics, or very general performance requirements. If acting as an Engineer though you should check what their training, experience and licensing says they are capable of. Again, an Electrical Engineer might be familiar with your homes electrical system. But are they trained and experienced in structural matters?

I would read through the HI licensing laws link above and also check the Engineering laws as well.

Good luck!
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Old 04-28-2010, 01:53 PM
 
301 posts, read 1,368,998 times
Reputation: 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uconn97 View Post
I would probably try to get some more information from the seller at this point, But I don't see an inspector giving you money to fix some windows. Just my opinion though...
Right, that's the best I'm hoping for right now... except that the seller is not replying to my e-mail, which I find to be slightly odd. They were seriously over-communicators when it came to telling us everything about this house, and we have had good rapport up until now. So I am not sure what is going on... maybe I am jumping the gun and they are just away on vacation, I don't know.
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