Many of you have heard there are new and very welcomed requirements coming for home inspectors in the State of Washington. Nationally, I believe fewer than 30 states have a formal testing to become an inspector. So congrats to Washington and the team who put a formal testing process in place.
From what I have read, most of the inspectors who volunteered/worked to create these new requirements did it for the good of the commons and to raise the level of expertise among inspectors. So if you see or hire one of these fine individuals who participated in the process, give them a hi-five for me. I wasn’t one of them, but do appreciate their efforts!
So here’s a quick run down of the history, the present, and what’s to come and how it affects consumers and Realtors.
In the past, home inspectors were overseen by WSDA, the Washington State Department of Agriculture as licensed Structural Pest Inspectors (SPI). Basically, if we called out conducive conditions (e.g. plumbing leaks, clogged gutters, debris in the crawlspace, displaced vapor barrier, etc.) home inspectors were supposed to be licensed SPIs. And, many homes in Washington have at least one of the above mentioned items.
Here’s the rub. While many inspectors that identified wood destroying organism, conducive conditions, and so forth, played by the rules and were licensed SPIs carrying additional insurance, others who were not SPIs would simply stamp the front of their reports saying it wasn’t a Pest Inspection. Then, go on doing home inspections. To what standards you ask…..I have no idea. Oh, yeah, we were a bit angry at those working around the good faith requirement.
Many people, including myself, did not feel the existing SPI license addressed anything besides adding a great deal of liability on our heads; basically a giant target saying please “sue me”. Our area of expertise is on homes and the inner workings of the major components of a home and not on conducting pest inspections, which are really a separate inspection.
Again, this article is my opinion, I don’t speak on behalf of Washington State home inspectors, simply myself and my 11 years of experience inspecting homes in Washington state and Septic Systems in California.
The new requirements were passed last year, though at present, the industry is in a period of transition. Prior to September of 2009, an inspector with experience could be “grandfathered” into the industry as a licensed home inspector. This entailed taking and passing an actual test on home inspections but not pests. I know, sounds crazy.
Those who were not grandfathered in or did not meet the September 2009 requirements will need to complete 120 hours of classroom training, 40 hours of field training and pass state and national tests by July 1, 2010. Therefore, they are individuals who are working as home inspectors today who haven’t completed the mandatory training and tests.
I know sounds a bit confusing but going forward from July 1st 2010 inspectors must be licensed and have their Washington State License Home Inspector Number on all of their reports and marketing materials.
Although home inspectors must adhere to the new guidelines as of July 1st, buyers are not required to utilize a licensed home inspector. If a buyer wishes to work with an unlicensed home inspector I’d recommend that they be knowledgeable on the home and provide quality service and accurate home inspection reports.
If you’d like to verify if an inspector is licensed you can you search the Washington Department of Licensing database (https://fortress.wa.gov/dol/dolprod/bpdLicenseQuery/). A tip when searching, make sure you have their correct name before you write them off. For example, an inspector who goes by “Bob” may be licensed under “Robert”.
Whether you choose to work with a licensed home inspector or not, the industry is working to improve the quality of inspectors doing business in Washington State. I am happy that consumers can be assured when working with licensed inspectors that they will receive a quality home inspection based on the Standards of Practice established for Washington State.
Link to the Washington State Standards of Practice: