October, 2002
Legislative News
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Legislative Action Center Debuts

BOB KOCIOLEK

Your ability to know about, discuss and voice opinions on matters important to the home inspection profession just took a leap forward. The ASHI Legislative Action Center is now up and running on ashi.org, accessible through the Members Only page, “State/Federal Legislators” button in the menu on the left side of the page. Contact your elected representatives, find election and candidate information, and take part in grassroots campaigns from your desktop. Never was there more need for being aware of legislative activity at the state level.

Kentucky Realtors® vow to regulate home inspectors

In August, the Executive Vice President of the Kentucky Association of Realtors® (KAR), Dan Lindblade, was invited to a meeting of the Kentucky Real Estate Inspection Association (KREIA). At the meeting he confirmed KAR was intent on drafting legislation to regulate home inspectors in Kentucky, and that he had been mandated by his Board of Directors to write a bill and get it passed. It’s apparent ASHI Members and all home inspectors need to decide what stand they should take on this in order to represent the best interests of theirprofession and consumers. ASHI HQ e-mailed ASHI Members in Kentucky the new Position Statement on Regulation of Home Inspectors to compare what KAR has proposed to the ASHI position.

In the past, home inspectors in Kentucky defeated attempts by Realtors® to regulate. At the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver in August, we met Representatives from Kentucky who told us they were certain it was only a matter of time before home inspectors were regulated in their state. Similarly, in Mississippi, a state home inspector association managed to kill a licensing bill three years running. But the next year inspectors were told by several state legislators the bill would pass the next time, and if the home inspectors didn’t want to get run over by the train, they could get on board and have their needs addressed. Kentucky home inspectors need to be involved in the process of determining whether or not there is a need to regulate the profession. If it looks as if it’s going to happen, they need to make sure the legislation truly benefits homebuyers and home inspectors.

ASHI opposes change in the North Carolina State Standards of Practice

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. NC ASHI Members, ASHI National and ASHI Members from around the country vehemently oppose these changes. The letter from ASHI leadership to the North Carolina Rules Review Commission follows.

September 6, 2002
North Carolina Rules Review Commission
1307 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 159
Raleigh, North Carolina 27605

To Whom It May Concern:

On behalf of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), we would like to express our strong disagreement with, and opposition to, the proposed addition to the North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board Administrative Code (NCAC) of Section .1114(d) regarding the moving of insulation. The proposed Rules Changes are:

11 NCAC 08 .1114 INSULATION AND VENTILATION

Home inspectors shall:

Move insulation where readily visible evidence indicates a need to do so; and
Move insulation where chimneys penetrate roofs and floors, where plumbing drain/waste pipes penetrate floors, adjacent to earth filled stoops, porches, decks, and at exterior doors.

Following are our reasons for opposing the rules changes:

We understand that there have been no studies done by the North Carolina Home Inspection Licensure Board or any other body that indicates a need for the proposed changes. No data is available that indicates there are complaints against inspectors who have missed deterioration at the areas mentioned.

An important survey conducted jointly in 2001 by ASHI and the National Association of Realtors® revealed that more than 90 percent of homebuyers were very pleased with their home inspection. We understand that a North Carolina state survey indicated the same approval.

The proposed changes exceed the ASHI Standards of Practice and we believe those of every regulated state.

The wording is ambiguous (“move,” “adjacent”) and even if refined will unnecessarily expose the home inspector to excessive liability.

There are conflicting opinions on the health issues relating to fiberglass exposure. Why unnecessarily require inspectors to expose themselves to a potential health risk when the benefit to the public would be little or none?

If state law and an inspector’s Errors and Omissions insurance policy conflict, it may be possible that an insurance claim could be denied if the damage found is concealed. While we have not researched this issue, we are concerned that this problem would not be revealed until a case is tried.

Rule Change (d) (2) does not allow the inspector to use judgment in the field to determine where to investigate further.

Requiring the inspector to crawl across the ceiling joist to the convergence of the roofline and the ceiling joists to move insulation at a chimney penetration is mostly unnecessary and potentially dangerous. Yes, an inspector could write this off in the report as hazardous and therefore not done, but then he/she would have to put more in the report and may create the impression to his/her clients and their representative that he/she has done a substandard job. The same is true for basements and crawl spaces where piping and ductwork may interfere with the required “moving of insulation” and the inspector will need to specify where and why the insulation was not “moved.”

Some construction details make the simple “moving” of insulation impossible, and removal will be the only option to comply with the Law. A wrap around porch with floor joists that are parallel and within a few inches of the band is an example where removal and proper reinstallation will be necessary. Depending on the house, this operation will be time consuming and it will be necessary to consider the potential time variable when scheduling. This will also add substantially to the cost of the inspection for the consumer.

Compressed insulation is often used as a fire block material, particularly around chimney-to-attic penetrations and around pipes. Who is going to make sure the inspector replaces the material in the manner it was prior to removal? Disturbing insulation may create a fire hazard.

The statement “move insulation where readily visible evidence indicates the need to do so” makes no sense. If the defect is covered by insulation how will there be readily visible evidence? If there is readily visible evidence of a problem condition, the home inspector is already required to report visible problem conditions and recommend further evaluation.

We understand that the Home Inspector Licensure Board is charged to protect the public. However, we believe that these rules changes will jeopardize the home inspectors that serve the public, and thus the public itself. In addition, we are concerned that North Carolina may set a precedent that will affect other states.

For all these reasons, ASHI is opposed to the proposed changes. As the oldest and largest professional society of home inspectors in the nation, and as the private sector source of expert information regarding any aspect of the regulation of home inspectors, we hope you will consider our interest in this matter and the points we have made. If you have any questions or need any more information please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Thank you for your kind consideration.

Respectfully,

Michael Casey, President

Rich Matzen, President-Elect and Co-Chair, Legislative Committee

Brion Grant, Co-Chair, Legislative Committee