Sunday, December 8, 2013

Who should turn water, power and gas on in a home for sale?


It appears to be assumed that a home inspector will turn the water and the power on at the mains in a home when these are turned off. Having been in this game for a long time. I have had a two year old electrocuted during an inspection, had an electrical panel explode in my face, heard the sound of arc’s and watched sparks fly and smoke rise from electrical systems. I have called the power company and had power turned off and meters removed. I have discovered gas leaks. I have witnessed tens of thousands of dollars in water damage, which happened before, during and after home inspections. Who is the first liable party when the water, power and gas was off on arrival? It is the fool who turned it on. It was safe before you made the choice to touch it. Do you want to shoulder the liability for serious injury to a person or major damage to the home? Not a problem, touch it. As for me, I choose to keep my hands in my pockets and let the sellers camp shoulder that responsibility, hopefully as part of an insurance policy. What about turning these off when you are done? Similar issues, suppose you forgot or failed to do it correctly and the pipes freeze and rupture flooding the home for days after, or an electrical fire starts from a hidden short. I have had these happen. Luckily, I was not the one who touched it and don’t choose to be in the future. It’s similar to Russian Roulette. Why not remove all but one bullet from the chamber of a gun, point it at your head and pull the trigger a couple of times. Leave the liability where it belongs in the seller’s camp. When you are on the buyer’s side of a transaction don’t touch water, gas or power mains before, during or after the home inspection! Why do I say NO? It is very simple - LIABILITY.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for this blog post Chris! I am with you 100%. If the seller or the seller's agent do not turn utilities on and off, it will not happen. That is the problem with may foreclosure and short sale properties. The owner will instruct in the contract that the buyer must put utilities in their name and have them functional for inspections. I make sure all buyers understand this liability before making an offer on such a property.

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  2. As a buyer OR seller agent I will NOT turn on utilities!!! It is not my house and not my responsibility. If HUD or any other seller doesn't want to shoulder the responsibility of maintaining utilities in their property during the listing period as stipulated in the listing agreement, it is not the house for my buyer to buy!

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