September, 2001
Legislative News
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



We're Here to Help

BOB KOCIOLEK

The Membership in Colorado and Florida worked hard on behalf of what they believed to be favorable home inspector regulation in their respective states. Bob Pyne from the Rocky Mountain Chapter recapped the campaign in Colorado with the hope others might find the information useful when faced with similar choices. See below.

Colorado Chapter influences licensing process
It began with a couple of curious and concerned ASHI Rocky Mountain Chapter members attending meetings of the Real Estate Commission to find out about possible regulation of home inspectors in Colorado.

Three years later an entire chapter of hardened, successful campaigners are waiting to see how legislators will respond to a soon-to-be released report from the Colorado Office of Policy and Research, based almost entirely on home inspectors' input. 

According to the chapter’s professional lobbyist, Corky Kyle, there is every reason to believe the licensing recommendations in the report will be accepted. But even if there are questions, the relationships now in place will allow home inspectors to continue to influence the outcome.

Rocky Mountain Chapter President Robert Pyne, PE explained how these all-important relationships were established.

“When real estate agents decided to license home inspectors, we attended two years of real estate commission meetings to find out what criteria they were considering,” he said.

When the Commission seemed to be learning toward Texas-type regulations, the home inspectors took advantage of a public hearing to turn the tide in a more favorable direction. After a three-hour public meeting attended by one real estate agent and more than 60 home inspectors, the Commission bowed out and the home inspectors stepped in.

The chapter set up a committee chaired by Steve Blair to prepare draft legislation for licensure of home inspectors in Colorado. Robert Pyne, Robert Knepshield, Mark Hemmann, George Phillips, Ed Jones, Dennis Williams, Berry Willis, Steve Zavilla and Stirling West served on it.

In addition, chapter members voted for a $300-per-person, special annual assessment to retain Kyle.             

“We’re home inspectors,” Pyne said. “We can't follow it as closely as we'd like to, and we weren't about to get blindsided.” 
Pyne and Kyle recapped what has occurred over the past year.

• Home inspectors gained the trust and cooperation of the regulatory agencies early on, which allowed them to complete the initial application for licensing and to suggest the actual wording for the proposed regulations. Pyne explained that the state requires that an application be submitted the first time a group is licensed.

“After we took over from the Commission, we filled out the application; the state said it looked good, and told us to carry the ball,” he said.

• Legislators learned about the value of a professional home inspector at a reception held for them by the Chapter, and in written material distributed with plug testers with the ASHI logo. In addition, legislators were offered free home inspections to personally experience the value of the service delivered by a qualified professional. According to Kyle, the demonstration was also recently offered to the one of the Governor's aides.

• The Chapter worked closely with the Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors to ensure the licensing proposal included use of the National Home Inspector Examination (NHIE). Developing a new exam for the fee-based department would have been cost prohibitive.

Payne explained, “If the program won’t pay for itself, it’s not a go. And a new test would have been too expensive for the number of inspectors in the state.”
• According to the recommendations, once licensing is in place a Board of five home inspectors and two others will provide oversight.

If vigilance and dedication are key to positive outcomes, members of the Rocky Mountain Chapter can expect to continue to guide the regulatory process in Colorado.


HQ and Legislative Committee provided support
Both HQ and the Legislative Committee reviewed drafts and offered assistance to Colorado and Florida, and now stand ready to assist the Membership in developing legislation favorable to the industry and consumers, as well as to assist in defeating legislation that is unfavorable.

Let us know what you need and we’ll do everything we can to help. If you need an updated edition of the Legislative Guidebook, call or e-mail me at 847-759-2820, extension 103, or bobk@ashi.com.

Use links and discussion boards to stay up-to-date
The State Regulations link on the ASHI® Web site has thumbnail summations of current regulations. For feedback from ASHI Members who have first-hand experience with regulatory issues, visit the Legislative Discussion Board in the Members Only area of www.ashi.com. You’re invited to post questions, respond or comment. The Discussion Board can be a valuable asset for the Membership, allowing for quick exchange of information.

We like to be in contact with all of you who are involved in local legislative activities. If you’re involved, but haven’t contacted us yet, please do. I’m compiling a table of grassroots activists and lobbyists to enhance ASHI’s ability to determine what works and doesn’t work in the regulatory arena.

Mississippi licensing update
Mississippi’s Governor signed HB 848, a licensing bill, in April. Like most legislative proposals, it establishes several definitions – “home inspector”, “home inspection report”, “Board”, etc. The new law will be enforced and administered by the Mississippi Real Estate Commission (Commission), which is given the following powers:

• Receiving and approving applications for licensure

• Implementing recommendations made by the Home Inspector Advisory Board

• Adoption of a code of ethics and standards of practice

• Collecting license fees

• Developing a licensing exam –   which meets nationally
   recognized standards

• Developing applications and licensing forms

• Adopting rules and regulations for administering the law

The new law also created a five-person Home Inspector Regulatory Board (Board), members of which are licensed inspectors appointed by the Governor. The Board serves in an advisory capacity to the Commission, and was given the following duties and powers:

• Responsibility for matters relating to the code of ethics,
   standards and qualifications

• Holding hearings and preparing examination specifications
   for licensure

• Conducting investigations

• Further defining regulation, educational and equivalent
   experience

• Recommending suspension or revocation of licenses

To qualify for a license under this act, a person must:

• Have successfully completed high school or attained an
   equivalency degree

• Be at least 21 years old

• Have successfully completed an approved course of study of at least 60 hours, which may include fieldwork as required by
the Commission

• Pass an examination prescribed by the Commission

• Provide a certificate of insurance for errors and omissions and
   general liability

Certain individuals acting under their profession or license are exempted from additional licensure by the Commission for “visual inspections”– specialty and general contractors, architects, engineers, financial institution employee, licensed real estate brokers, appraisers or home builders. There is also a three-year limitation included for clients seeking to recover damages from an inspection.

Under the new law, licenses expire two years from the date issue and will cost $325. Application and examination fees are $175. Persons applying for renewal will be required to complete 20 hours of home inspector continuing education courses every two years, and the Commission is charged with establishing criteria for certifying continuing education providers.

There is a reciprocity provision included in the act as well. Inspectors from other states could become licensed in Mississippi by holding a certificate or license in good standing from another state, or, by passing the examinations offered by ASHI or NAHI. A grandfather clause is also included in the act. Individuals could become licensed without examination by documenting the completion of at least 20 fee-paid inspections in the last 12 months, 100 fee-paid inspections over his career, or by showing certification from a nationally recognized education center.

The act does contain an effective date of July 1, 2001.

However, it appears many details will need to be worked out and may provide ASHI an opportunity to make the regulation and administration more palatable.

New Jersey legislative update-A 3154 signed into law
Both houses of the New Jersey Legislature passed AB 3154 on June 28. After receiving a unanimous vote for passage in the Assembly, the Senate agreed to adopt A 3154 by substituting it for the Senate companion bill (S 2269) and voted for passage on the same day. New Jersey’s Governor signed A 3154 into law as Chapter 158, on July 13. Chapter 158 is a licensing exemption law and allows licensed engineers and architects to become licensed home inspectors in New Jersey by submitting a written application and paying a fee.

Rhode Island licensing law, Chapter 65.1, remains unfunded
ASHI has learned that this law, which was supposed to be enacted on January 1, 2001, remains unfunded and therefore is a law in name only. It appears funding for the law is not considered a priority and officials can only speculate that the law may remain unfunded for an indeterminate time. In other words, no one knows for sure when or if this law will receive funding.

In a letter from Robert L. Carl, Jr. Ph.D., the Director of the Department of Administration, to Felix Carlone, Chairman, Contractors’ Registration Board, Carl states that, while the law is a worthy program, the legislature may need to amend it next session to make it more fiscally sound.

In addition, Carl notes, “The fact that only 150 persons or businesses would be licensed by this law is part of the financial problem.”

ASHI President John Ghent responded in a letter to Governor Almond, Senator Badeau, Representative Pires, and Dr. Carl stating in part: “I am writing to ask you to consider the importance of putting this program into effect. Home inspections are a significant protection to the home buying community. We are trained and objective middlemen in the highly charged and emotional process of buying a home.
I would urge that you do all in your power to see that this program receives the full funding it requires. I would also offer you the services of our Society should you require any assistance or information regarding the profession in other parts of the country.”