Representative Sampling is BS

When I was training to be an inspector I had several inspectors and trainers tell me that it was OK to do a representative sampling of outlets, windows, etc. It didn’t sit well with me and I have, over the years, tried an experiment to test whether representative sampling is even worth considering. I have learned that representative sampling is BS. Here is a good example:

Recently, I was inspecting a house and it had a garage ceiling hatch. The hatch was 15 feet up. I said to myself, “Damn, I really don’t want to go out and struggle with the big ladder. There’s probably nothing up there.” Then I went out and got the ladder. What we found was a section of the wall of the attic which adjoins the house that had minimal R-11 batt insulation hanging loosely over the copper piping to the Master Bath Shower. Not good. I told my client that this has to be fixed immediately. The pipes need to be individually insulated, the wall insulation needs to be improved, and sheathing needs to be installed covering the insulation. Since the insulation was absolutely dry, I didn’t think much more about it.  It would be in my report.  Well, about ½ an hour later I found the hot water shut off, OFF, at the water heater. The water heater pilot lite was on. Finding no reason why this water would be off I turned it on. A couple of minutes later we found Niagara Falls in the garage. Water dripping from about 40 places in the garage ceiling. The house was vacant, and it is obvious that the owner knew about this defect. A note would have saved a lot of money and probably a sale. Was he thinking I would miss this?

Whenever my tendency is to think, something will be OK and I don’t need to check it, I stop and say to my self…”Random Skip”. Then I check it. More often than not, I am glad I did.

You never know what you are going to find!