April, 2002

Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors


Legislation

MICHAEL CASEY

“What separates those who achieve from those who do not is in direct proportion to one’s ability to ask for help.”

– Donald Keough, former president of Coca-Cola



I  believe he said this before “new Coke,” and I also believe the quote is applicable to any profession. Before assuming you know what the client wants, it’s a good idea to ask him or her. The ASHI Board of Directors is constantly called on to make decisions, and we realize it is important to listen to the Membership. This means listening to the vocal ones, as well as seeking out the opinions of those who may not be as vocal. Sometimes there is a quiet majority and a vocal minority. Before we make decisions that affect the profession, I will also recommend we attempt to find out what the client wants, and what effect our decisions may have on other allied professions.

Since taking office as your President, I’ve been traveling to chapters and attending other functions. Thank you to those of you who have been my hosts. I enjoyed the trips, and have more planned.

Also, I’ve been listening and reading comments about home inspector regulation. Obviously, there are pros and cons to regulation. Sure there is cost, government bureaucracy and a certain minimum level of competency required. Might even be some rules the licensees have to follow. At the least, it sets a level playing field. I know regulation is not a panacea. Typically, however, it provides some level of consumer protection and protection of the profession because the practice is usually defined in the law. This makes it harder for some “expert” to opine on his or her interpretation of our practice. I’ve heard rather grandiose definitions of what our profession should in-clude during depositions and trials.

Unfortunately, when it comes to regulation, I’ve observed a lot of personal and unnecessary attacks within the Membership on each other. Having gone through this process myself, I can’t stress enough just how damaging and counter-productive this is. I urge inspectors in states considering legislation to get together and discuss the facts, not to question each other’s morals, ASHI loyalty, and personal intents. There are many inspectors who just want to make the profession more professional, with no other agenda.

When the voice of the inspection profession from within the state is unorganized and inconsistent, the door is left open for other, more powerful and better organized interests to step in and move regulation forward that is not likely to be beneficial. Do you know what

ASHI’s position is on home inspector regulation? Do you know who in your local chapter is monitoring legislative activity?  How quickly could the inspectors in your state meet and respond to a legislative initiative? Do you know ASHI has a wealth of resource material that can help you in your efforts to establish proper legislation?

Licensing and regulation is a rather mainstream American concept. Per our groundbreaking joint study with the NAR®, 98 percent of homebuyers already believe  home inspectors are licensed in their state. Many other professions are licensed, yet I doubt engineers, architects, attorneys, dog groomers, etc. think they’ve given up their rights, or are immoral because they are licensed. In fact, several licensed professionals I spoke with favor the regulation as it legitimizes their profession, and provides for statutory practice limits, and discipline.

My advice? Keep it together, discuss the facts, and provide a united voice that articulates an honest conviction about what is right for the inspectors, and the consumers. You hold membership in the largest and most respected home inspector organization in the country. Whether you are for or against regulation, seek each others input, refrain from personal attacks, and demonstrate your professionalism. In the end we will all win.