What I'm Seeing Now

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Gas Shut-Off Valves

When a house has gas appliances, the gas shut-off valves should be easy to get to.  And you should know where it is!  The idea is to have it nearby should it need to be turned off for repairs or emergency.  All codes reflect this!

Walking into a recent inspection on a flip, before I put my bag down, I noticed that the very nice granite counter top was cut to accommodate a much larger gas cook top!

That was funny in itself, which the Realtor and buyers had not noticed on their previous trips to the house.

The Realtor looked at me and said, "I'm going to like you!"

It might have been funny, but serious too.  My gas cook top is over a cabinet.  The shut-off valve is directly underneath and easily obtainable. I have never turned if off, but there it is.

Directly underneath this cook top is a built-in oven!  OK, it wasn't installed properly either, so at least the flipper is consistent in this regard!  Nothing fits!

And the oven is electric!  So, conceivably, it will never be pulled out.  Where is the shut-off valve for the cook top?  It is very, very important to know!

Well, silly me!

IT'S BEHIND AND UNDERNEATH THE COOK TOP!

You can kind of see it in the photo above, and here it is to the left!

Had that gap not been there I would have never thought to look.  Normally the home inspector does not pick up a cook top to see what is underneath.

Cook tops aren't installed to be picked up and looked under on a regular basis anyway!  But imagine, there is a reason, perhaps an emergency one, to get to the turn off the gas to the cook top.  Is the average homeowner going to know how to do that?  One might know where to look, but if the thing is on fire, or if the knob won't shut off the gas, who's going to try to pick it up to look behind??

This is serious and in my opinion a really big deal!  But where else could the shut-off valve be put?!

Was the cook top improperly sized intentionally so the shut-off valve is accessible?  I am going to say that to do so is so unusual it is beyond reason.

BUT I HAVE DONE THESE INSPECTIONS ON FLIPS BEFORE!  NOT MUCH IS BEYOND THE PALE!  INCLUDING REASON!!

My recommendation:  home inspections are critically important!  Sometimes unseen and perhaps unknown dangers can be lurking and without a home inspection would possibly be beyond the thought to look.  NEVER assume that even a final County inspection on a flip will uncover a thing such as the above.  A home inspection is usually much, much more specific and thorough than a jurisdictional authority check.

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 33 commentsJay Markanich • May 23 2011 06:41AM

Comments

Jay, you bring up a great point...and one i would insist on with a home inspector pointing out to the new buyer...we have a number of gas houses in RI.  Can a homeowner just know where the house gas shut off is?  in a panic people do not always think straight...thanks

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Hi Jay,

Codes say easy access, but when owners remodel and want to change something they throw "codes" out the window.

Nice job finding those little things that need attention.

Clint 

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) about 7 years ago

Ginny - that is good thinking and my point exactly!  On a home inspection I always point out shut-off valves to buyers.

Clint - thanks!  And some of these little things can go boom!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Homebuyers, especially first timers often don't even know what a shut-off valve is - let alone how and where to look for one. Your flipper posts reinforce my own thinking. This is scary stuff.

Posted by Anne M. Costello (Weidel Realtors) about 7 years ago

It is to me too Anne.  Gas is the one thing people should have a complete understanding of.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Good morning, Jay. Would you expect anything less from a flipper?

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) about 7 years ago

Jay,

I'm curious whether this work was done under permits? I know that a county building inspector is not a home inspector, but gas safety is so critically important, how could a building inspector miss something like this?

Rich

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) about 7 years ago

Well, no Michael!  And the three county inspectors at my class the other day were VERY interested in this house!

No Rich.  The flipper claimed to have pulled the initial permits, but the house is far enough along that the final has not been done.  Would the County catch this one?  Likely, but I am telling them anyway about the house.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Jay, regretfully the home inspectors here have the attitude that "If we can't see it, it's not our job to find it". That is the reason I admire you so much is that you care enough to look.

Posted by Bob "RealMan" Timm, Bob Timm, Broker Associate, Alliance Real Estate (Alliance Real Estate - Minot) about 7 years ago

Jay,

Do your local flip artists ever pay a price for not pulling permits?

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) about 7 years ago

Jay, Another thing most folks wouldn't think to look for until they needed it, and then you've got a problem.

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) about 7 years ago

Jay, bad deal. Flips are so often done by people who have no clue what they are doing. I am wondering if this would have passed the county/city/building inspector though. Guess not now since you have clearly brought this to their attention!

I know that we all get nervous about foreclosures, but flips are a huge concern also. The fluff job is like smoke and mirrors in many cases.

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) about 7 years ago

Good morning Jay. Scary thought that if you hadn't pointed that out and they needed to use it...might have went way wrong.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) about 7 years ago

Bob - well, it wasn't exactly hard to find, but still, in an emergency it might not be possible to life the cook top and turn off the valve - EVEN IF THE PEOPLE KNOW IT'S THERE!

Don't know Mike.  I turn them in when I can.  What happens then isn't my issue.

Bliz - precisely.  The problem is there, whether you know to look or not.

Andrea - my client ran from the house (and they're in Florida, so they are running far!), but the realtor emailed me the next day to say the house had sold again.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Randy - THAT'S why you get a home inspection!  And then there is time to run like the wind if you need!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Good thing you caught this, hate to think what would happen in an emergency situation. Thanks Jay!

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) about 7 years ago

And, Tom, that emergency might not happen for 10 years, and to another owner, long after Mr. Flipper is forgotten.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Jay ~  With all of the horrific weather, I want to know where the cutoff is located and I want to be able to get to it quickly -- as in, on the run.  Great information as always; thank you.

Posted by Tish Lloyd, Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches (BlueCoast Realty Corporation) about 7 years ago

Ay, ay Cap'n Tish!  You should know too that there is likely a gas main valve somewhere else in the house.  And another at the meter - should you need to know!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Another great post Jay... it is amazing how such important things can be overlooked.  I am going to re-blog this to let this information be available to a wider audience...

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) about 7 years ago

Thanks for the reblog Chris!  (Don't forget the k in my name!)  This is really important stuff - gas valves are there for a reason!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Jay, I have gone round and round with jurisdicitonal inspectors as to what is considered "accessible" for these shut-offs.  Most of the time if it is a pull out range they are allowed to be behind the thing.  In the case of a gas cook top and a built in oven below the shut-off will almost always be in the adjacent cabinet to the side.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 7 years ago

Not in the cabinet here Charlie!  And I don't know what the County guys will say.  Does this seem accessible to you?  Not to me.

Why do I say will?  Because I met them the other day at my class and they are interested in the house!  Don't know why, of course......

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

 

Good post- most people know where the water main shut off is  located but you are right we should know where the gas shut off is.   Ill keep it in mind and pass this most important information along to my associates and homeowners. 

Posted by Michele Cadogan-Cell 917-861-9166, Licensed Real Estate Associate Broker - (Fillmore Real Estate 2926 Ave J Brooklyn NY 11210) about 7 years ago

Thanks Michele - this is really important stuff!  Gas knowledge is crucial.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Nope not accessible to me.  I had a Wolf range the other day where the shut-off was under the pan below the burners---that I considered acessible.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 7 years ago

Charlie - yep!  Mine is in the cabinet right underneath and very easy to reach.  We have a crock pot in front of the gas tube though - black iron, so not too dangerous!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

You're getting a lot of blog fodder from this one lovely house. That valve might be accessible if you're rubber man.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 7 years ago

Can you imagine a grease fire Jim, or a serious gas smell, and the people running around trying to figure out how to turn it off?  When people are stressed they aren't thinking and when panicked it's even more fun!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

All types of shut off valves exist, gas water, oil, steam, etc. . They all need easy access. Good call Jay.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) about 7 years ago

I don't think the County will take too well to this one either Robert.  It would be interesting to know what happens with this house, as my client bugged out.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

After you do the inspection -- do you give the flipper the list of problems?  Wouldn't he have to disclose those to any future potential buyers?

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) about 7 years ago

Steven - the seller is supposed to receive a copy of the inspection report and can do with it what he will.  Yes, he is supposed to disclose all this.  Did he?  Do you think so?  I don't...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

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