Info on Inspectors
The home inspection profession has been changing. As more home buyers and sellers are seeking inspections, states have looked at how this industry should be handled. There is no national standard for how an inspection should be performed. Most inspections are conducted with the idea of discovering violations of the building code. The main code which municipalities and states base their code is the International Residential Code (IRC). Sometimes a governing organization may not adopt all of the codes listed in the IRC, or they may change the code to fit a local tradition or condition. An inspection is meant to find problems with the major components and systems of your home, and to give inspectors leeway to go beyond code, they are told to find deficiencies instead of exact code violations. This is the difference between a building inspector and a home inspector. (For a better idea of what an inspection report is like, go to my website. The page called “Owning Your Home” has a topic about an inspection report in Texas, and the “For RE Investors” page deals with a simplified inspection where not many tools are needed. This can be found on the “My Site” button to the right). A residence should be built according to a state’s or a municipality’s code when a building permit was involved. In rural areas, homeowners forget that state codes apply, when there is no county or town code.
Nationally two organizations have attempted to put forward standards for everyone in the country. The National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) have standards of practice defining what should be included in an inspection. Both organizations hold their members to their standards, and both have requirements to be met before a person can join. Requirements include educational background and testing. There are other trade associations. Since performing an inspection to the standards of NAHI or ASHI causes an inspector to violate the standards set by the state government, inspectors in Texas formed the Texas Association of Real Estate Inspectors (TAREI). Other organizations are for specific cities and even real estate schools. Most of these standards are similar, but each group demands strict adherence to their standard.
I will update the list below as I find more information about each state, but currently many states have not addressed how inspections should be conducted and by whom an inspection should be done. If I do not mention your state, you should use an inspector who belongs to either NAHI or ASHI, but check out your states agency dealing with real estate. In Texas, this is the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC), with members consisting of a mixture of Relators and representatives of the public.
States have been using one of four means to regulate inspectors: licensure; registration; certification; and by trade practice act. Licensure is generally the strictest form of regulation covering who can perform inspections. The states which use this method require some type of training program be completed and that a standard of practice be met. In these states, you can have inspectors who are apprentices or associates as well as full inspectors. In states requiring registration, an individual needs to register with the state that they will be conducting inspections. The state then defines under what guidelines that inspector has to operate. Generally the rules deal with financial matters, giving aid to people using an inspector’s service when it has gone wrong. These states use one of the excepted standards for performing an inspection, like the ASHI model, but may not insist on specific educational requirements themselves. States using the certification process can be as detailed as those using licensure or as loose as the registration model. Trade practice acts are laws meant to prevent or eliminate activities that are unethical or might present a conflict of interest. For example, there are many inspectors who are also general contractors. Are they marking something down as being significant to persuade you to hire them for the repair work? For an inspection to be honest, an inspector should not be offering his services (or his friend’s services) as a repairman. An inspection should not be a means of creating more work for the inspector. Some of these acts will specify some details of the inspection.
As I am writing this post, I know that Ohio and Washington are considering licensure for inspectors, and I am aware that the District of Columbia mentions a using a licensed inspector on a page for their Housing Assistance program, but I am only going to add a state (or District) to the list when I know for certain the status for inspectors and inspections in that state. There are some cases where I do not know a specific agency that oversees the inspectors, but I do know this is the rule in that state. If you are aware of the practice in a state, let me know. For the time being, I am sifting through state websites, every so often, to see if changes have occurred to this list.
Alaska under the Department of Commerce, Community, & Economic Development
Connecticut under their Home Inspection Licensing Board
Hawaii (I have not found the agency it is under yet)
Illinois under the Department of Professional Regulation
Indiana under the Professional Licensing Agency/ Home Inspection Licensing Board
Kentucky under the Office of Housing, Buildings, and Construction
Louisiana under their Louisiana State Board of Home Inspectors
Massachusetts under the Board of Registration of Home Inspectors
Mississippi under the Mississippi Home Inspector Board
New Jersey under the Home Inspection Advisory Committee
New York under the Division of Licensing
North Carolina under the Home Inspector Licensure Board
Oklahoma under an unknown agency
Rhode Island under (I do not know the agency)
South Carolina under the South Carolina Residential Builders Commission
South Dakota under the South Dakota Real Estate Commission
Texas under the Texas Real Estate Commission
Virginia under the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
Washington under the Department of Licensing
Alabama under the Alabama Home Inspectors Registration Act, but I do not know the agency
Arizona under the State Board of Technical Registration
Arkansas under the Secretary of State
Missouri under an unknown agency
North Dakota under the Secretary of State
Nevada certified by the Real Estate Division of the Department of Business and Industry
Oregon certified by Construction Contractors Board
Pennsylvania certified by (I do not know the agency)
Tennessee certified by Home Inspectors of Tennessee Association with some other rules (the law applies to newly constructed homes)
Wisconsin certified by passing an exam approved by the Department of Regulation and Licensing
Trade Practice Acts exist in the following states:
California; Georgia; Maryland; and Montana
Many states have dealt with the idea of having some method of approving inspectors. I was surprised to find that inspectors from ASHI have been against this idea. I would think that they would want states to ensure a standard, maybe even their own. Most states do push the idea of looking for a qualified inspector, even when they do not create a regulation ensuring qualification.
How to find an Inspector
I noticed that some people are looking for ways to find a good inspector in their area. I have been asked about ranking systems for inspectors. The only current place that I am aware of for ranking an inspector are local yellow pages sites, but I found these to be lacking. Usually one or two reviews, which always seem to be glorious, are listed for a few inspectors. In one case, I know of an inspector’s brother-in-law posted the compliment. I wish that clients would rank us more often, and that there was a site for this.
Here are some tips for finding an inspector:
1) Ask a Realtor. If you are using a Realtor, they have probably worked with a few good ones, so they could suggest one.
2) Find out who has bought a house recently. Ask them who they used, and if they were pleased with the service.
3) Try a real estate inspector association. Type in this phrase in your search engine ” (name of your state) association of real estate inspectors”, or you could substitute home inspectors in the phrase. You may even try using your city name in the phrase. I should say that there are many inspectors like myself, who do not wish to belong to an association, but I will recommend using them to find an inspector.
4) Try a local real estate school. They may have their own association or group.
5) Check out inspector websites for your area. Informative ones should indicate better inspectors.
6) I would be happy to inspect anywhere in the country for airline tickets and my fee. Alright, I should not joke when you need someone.
If the inspector is aggressively advertising his service to repair the problems that he may find, I would avoid him. For example in Texas, there are strict guidelines on this topic, and basically we inspectors are encouraged not to do repairs. Talk to them about what they inspect. If you feel comfortable with them, they should be good. You can compare what they say to what I have on my site to judge them. Good Luck!