September, 2010
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Auxiliary Standards of Practice: Frequently Asked Questions

BRUCE BARKER

Auxiliary Standards of Practice address services other than traditional home inspections. The first two of these auxiliary standards are The Standards of Professional Practice for Predrywall Inspections (PD Standards) and The Standards of Professional Practice for Swimming Pool and Spa Inspections (Pool Standards). The following are questions that have arisen during development of these standards. Your Standards Committee hopes that this FAQ will answer some of your questions. Please feel free to ask other questions about these standards.


Q: Why do we need auxiliary standards?

A:
The home inspection business now encompasses many more services than traditional home inspections. Until now, we have had no standards to guide us in performing auxiliary services. Performing these services without the guidance and protection of consensus standards is risky because there is no uniform definition about what is and is not included in these services. Lack of a uniform definition of service scope and limitations allows everyone (including attorneys) to create their own definitions.

Q: I don't remember having had the opportunity to review or comment about these standards. Shouldn't members have had the opportunity to comment about them before being asked to vote?

A:
The auxiliary standards have been in development for almost two years, so it's not surprising that you don't remember the public comment period. The public comment period occurred in the summer and fall of 2009. It included publication of the draft standards in the ASHI Reporter and on the ASHI website. The draft auxiliary standards were sent to groups such as the NAHB, NAR, ICC, NFPA, other inspector groups and trade publications.

The Standards Committee has worked with the ASHI Board, with the CoR, with many individual members and with others to develop these standards. As is common with such endeavors, the work of dedicated volunteers occurred in the background.

Q: Some of the components designated for inspection in the auxiliary standards are not installed or do not apply in the homes I inspect. How do I report about these components?

A:
The Predrywall and Pool Inspection Standards are intended for use by all inspectors, in all markets and for all types of homes. It is inevitable that some components will not apply to some homes. It is recommended, but not required, that you report if a component designated for inspection is not installed or not applicable at the inspected home.

Q: Some components designated for inspection are not visible or only partially visible in the homes I inspect. How can I inspect a component if I can't see it?

A:
You can't; however, this situation is the same as one you face every day during a home inspection. If a component designated for inspection is not visible or only partially visible, you report it as such. For example, if the footings are not visible (as they will not be in most homes), then you report that the footings were not visible and were not inspected. That ends your obligation under the PD Standards.

Q: No systems are operating during a predrywall inspection. How can I inspect a system if I can't test it?

A:
The definition of inspect in the PD Standards is different from the definition of inspect in the current home inspection Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics (HI Standards). The PD Standards do not mention normal operating controls (as does the HI Standards) because these controls are not active during a predrywall inspection. A predrywall inspection is a visual inspection. No testing is required.

Q: Does recommending action to correct a deficiency mean that I must specify or design the repair?

A:
No. You may design or specify the repair if you wish, but you are not required to do so. You are only required to recommend that some action be taken. The recommended action can be to correct the deficiency or that someone evaluate the deficient component to determine what, if any, action is required. This requirement is similar to HI Standards Section 2.2.C.2.

Q: These standards do not describe how I do predrywall and pool inspections. Why should I change what I'm doing now?

A:
Unlike the mandatory HI Standards, the PD and Pool Standards are voluntary. You may continue using your current predrywall and pool inspection procedures if you wish.

Q: I've been doing predrywall and pool inspections for years, but I'm not sure that I have the knowledge to perform inspections using these standards. Why would ASHI adopt standards that some members can't use?

A:
ASHI understands that education is a critical element in its adoption of auxiliary standards. ASHI is developing education that will help all members become qualified to use auxiliary standards. In fact, education for the PD Standards is available from The ASHI School. Education, certification and uniform standards of practice will differentiate ASHI members from other inspectors and will provide members with more inspection opportunities at higher fees.

Q: What's this Important Notice that I'm required to put in my pool inspection reports?

A:
Pool inspections present different risks compared to home inspections and some believe that ASHI could be at risk by publishing pool inspection standards. The Important Notice helps protect ASHI from frivolous legal proceedings that could result from pool inspections.

Q: Where can I get answers to other questions?

A: Feel free to e-mail Bruce Barker, Standards chair, at inspectorbruce@cox.net.