Safety Issues Affecting Conveyance
It is every contractors responsibility to do their part in moving a property from its present condition, whatever it may be, to the next step in the process. If the property is owned by the bank, you are the guy or gal that has to know what conditions must exist at a property before HUD will take control of the property. If the property is already a HUD property, again you are responsible for knowing what has to be done to put the home on the market.
When a property is moved from bank or lender control to HUD inventory, this is called conveyance. If HUD finds that the property does not meet their standards, which we all call “conveyance condition” then HUD may send the bank a non-compliance letter which means “you really messed this one up. It’s not in conveyance condition so we are dumping it back on you.” Shortly after this nastygram is received, a notice of re-conveyance shows up at the bank. This means the bank is again the proud owner of a property that went through the whole drawn-out and expensive process of conveyance. To put it simply, letters of non-compliance and notices of re-conveyance are bad, bad, bad. It has been said you would be better off not having been born than be the contractor responsible for re-conveyance of a property.
By now you know the rules. You know by heart what being in “conveyance condition” means. You can repeat it backwards quickly three times. So, if every professional contractor knows the rules, why does a property wind up being re-conveyed? A great number of times a property is re-conveyed because of a simple, easy-to-overlook condition. The type of condition that when pointed out to you makes you slap your forehead and say “how in the world could I have overlooked that?” One of those conditions is safety issues.
You’ve probably seen the contractor qualification quizzes that ask for you to give twelve examples of safety issues. Most of us can rattle off a few like loose or broken steps, falling ceiling tiles, unstable decks or steps, exposed wires, uncapped gas lines, loose or missing guard rails, broken glass, unsecured pools, live gorillas in the garage and so forth. But, think about it, with the exception of the gorillas in the garage, a lot of these things just don’t get our attention until we trip over them. So, let’s focus on trip hazards – just one of many possible safety issues.
You really need to go out of your way to find, document, photograph and report safety hazards. There are many reasons for doing so but one of the reasons that get most people’s attention is money. Yep, that’s right. If you find it, document it, photograph it, report it and bid it; chances are really good you will get that job approved. After all, no one wants to say they ignored a safety hazard, right your honor?
Safety issues are sneaky little devils. They often disguise themselves as cosmetic issues in hopes of going unreported. Is that frayed carpet at the flooring transition just an awful looking cosmetic issue or could it be carpet that is working loose and could trip someone? How about that soft spot in the mobile home’s kitchen floor? Out of sight out of mind? My favorite, the aluminum strip used instead of a bonafide flooring transition. You know, like the transition between the living room carpet and the linoleum flooring in the kitchen. These things are usually nailed down with copper tacks and eventually the square corners get raised a bit, the tacks work loose and the whole thing just lays their like a bear trap waiting for a barefoot kid to run to the dinner table.
Elton John’s song, Honky Cat, has a phrase “it’s like trying to find gold in a silver mine, it’s like trying to drink whisky from a bottle of wine.” I think he was writing about trying to make lots of money curing safety issues. You might not make a hundred bucks a pop correcting safety issues but silver spends nicely too. Look for loose wiring, dangling cords, torn carpet, rotten porches, shaky ramps or stairs, uneven flooring transitions, soft spots in wooden flooring or sub-flooring (mobile homes). Suddenly everything looks like a trip hazard.