At the invitation of the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO), Executive Director Rob Paterkiewicz and I attended their annual conference, where I presented ASHI’s new Position Statement on Licensing Home Inspectors at a panel about home inspector licensing. As expected at a conference of mostly licensing law regulators and real estate brokers, the 50-plus attendees for the panel discussion were all in favor of licensing home inspectors. Pointing out ASHI is neither pro nor con on the issue, I explained that the Society evaluates regulation on a state-by-state issue and is ready to pursue regulation that is meaningful for consumers and home inspectors when such regulation is needed. Questions from the group and our responses included the following:
• Should home inspectors be governed by a real estate commission or some other regulatory body?
Interestingly enough, they disagreed on who should regulate home inspectors. Many felt they were already overextended and didn’t relish the thought of more work. At the same time, they were reasonably sure that home inspectors would want to be regulated by them. We pointed out that this presented a conflict, and that home inspectors would rather be placed somewhere else, preferably in a professional licensing body.
• How should the industry be represented in the regulatory process?
Again, we made the point that the governing body should have no inherent interest in the regulation of home inspectors. ASHI favors the creation of a home inspector governing body made up solely of experienced home inspectors that has the power to administer and enforce the statue. This includes deciding key issues such as experience, education, standards of practice and code of ethic, exam, prohibited acts, penalties, fee, etc.
• Should apprenticeship levels of membership be required?
This was a high profile topic and may be an important issue in future regulation. Everyone agreed that consumers have a right to expect a minimal level of experience, but we deliberately omitted any “apprentice” or intern” level requirement in the ASHI Model Law. ASHI’s position is that a regulatory body made up of experienced home inspectors should determine a combination of education and experience requirements that, along with passage of the NHIE, provides a minimal entry level of competency.
We have seen how, in several states, the burden of training apprentices is placed on licensed inspectors, many of whom are ASHI members. While some may choose to train, it is unfair and unrealistic to expect all or even most to fit training in their busy schedules, especially if they are not reimbursed. And it’s unfair to the apprentice, who may not find an experienced inspector willing to train. In these cases, an alternative to the mentoring requirements should be included.
All in all, the conference was a big success. We distributed 100 copies of the Position Statement, and did some valuable networking that should pay future dividends.
North Carolina legislative rules committee approves changes to state standards
As reported in the last Statewise, the North Carolina Home Inspection Licensing Board approved changes in the State Standards of Practice that will require home inspectors to “disturb insulation” under certain conditions. On September 19, the Legislative Rules Committee approved the proposed Rules changes by a 6-3 vote. The wording changed slightly for the proposed change. It now reads as follows:
(d) The home inspector shall:
(1) Move insulation where readily visible evidence indicates the possibility of a problem; and
(2) Move insulation where chimneys penetrate roofs, where plumbing drain/waste pipes penetrate floors, adjacent to earth filled stoops or porches, and at exterior doors.
ASHI National joined in opposition to these changes along with North Carolina ASHI Members and home inspectors. A letter of opposition was sent by ASHI President Mike Casey, President-Elect Rich Matzen and Legislative Co-Chair Brion Grant. In addition, a talking points email message addressed to the Rules Commission was placed on the new ASHI Legislative Action Center, and 139 ASHI
Members and Candidates sent personalized e-mails from the Center.
What happens now? According to ASHI Triangle Chapter President Bill Delamar, this Commission is more of a rubber stamp, and to have any negative votes is unusual. Home inspectors still have the option of introducing a bill to kill the changes, and the negative votes in the Rules Commission may make that easier. NC ASHI Members will have to wait until after the elections to determine who they will approach to introduce such a bill. So it’s not over yet.
Alabama adopts ASHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
As reported in the August Statewise, the Alabama Building Commission had contacted ASHI seeking permission to adopt ASHI’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics as part of the new licensing law, Act No. 2002-517. We are pleased to report that on September 19 the ABC officially signed an agreement with ASHI adopting the SoP and CoE and crediting ASHI. Alabama thus becomes the sixth state to officially adopt ASHI’s Standards and Code. In addition, nine other states’ Standards and Code clearly match ASHI’s, with minimal changes.