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Dear Mr. Washington State Home Inspector,

 

Dear Mr. Washington State Home Inspector,Lena's house

     We are moving to the Seattle area this fall and will be buying a house in the Green Lake area.  It would be helpful if you could give us an idea of what you charge and any other information that might be pertinent to our choice of a home inspector.

Sincerely,

Sally & Sam Homeowner

 

Dear Sally & Sam,

     Thanks for contacting me about the process of inspecting your future home.

     The cost of the home inspection can vary depending on the size, age, number of bathrooms and other factors like crawl spaces, attics, detached structures, and Mother-in-law Units.  I will need to have this information prior to quoting a price and urge you to call me at your convenience to discuss the actual cost and to set up a time to do the inspection.

Connecticut House     You should also be aware that currently in Washington State; we are transitioning to Home Inspectors being required to be licensed as Home inspectors.

     Currently anyone performing home inspections and reporting on Wood Destroying Organisms or conditions conducive to wood destroying organisms (and what house in the NW doesn’t have at least one condition that is conducive to rot or bugs? Termite Frass) is required to be licensed by the WA Department of Agriculture as a Structural Pest Inspector.   This license requires insurance. 

    When the new law goes into effect (and it will be in effect when you are buying), Licensed Home Inspectors will no longer be required to be Structural Pest Inspectors and will not be required to carry any insurance.  So anyone you are considering for the job of inspecting your home, I strongly urge you to make sure that they are Licensed Structural Pest Inspectors and that they carry insurance.  For example, if you look at the beetle damaged support in the Anobiid Beetle Damagepicture to the right (a very common wood destroying insect in the NW), Home Inspectors licensed under the new WA State Law would be required to call for “further evaluation” of any such damage by a Licensed Structural Pest Inspector.  It is not likely that two separate inspectors will be able to provide the best information, in a timely manner, as one inspector licensed to do both. 

     As a side note, there can always be additional costs involved with inspecting homes if conditions are discovered that might require further analysis by other professionals (like for example if the house is in a “critical slopes” area and needed further analysis by a Licensed Geo-Technical Engineer).  Hiring an inspector that is not a Licensed Structural Pest Inspector would increase the odds that additional costs would be incurred----not to mention affecting purchasing time-lines----and not to mention that the inspection may end up being more superficial.  Home Inspectors will no longer be required to have the same due-diligence when inspecting crawl spaces as is currently required by the Structural Pest License.

     Thanks for contacting me through ActiveRain and if I can be of further assistance please give me a call.

Sincerely yours,

Charles Buell

 

 

 

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WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board

Comment balloon 65 commentsCharles Buell • February 07 2009 03:34PM

Comments

Nice blog, Charles.  It creatively gets your point across.  Your rules seem different probably from ours in Arkansas.

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) almost 10 years ago

Barbara, in what way different?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Regarding the termite stuff, I think.  Seems that we depend on the termite man to do the inspection on bugs and things.  You may be able to do that yourselves? 

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) almost 10 years ago

That is right Barbara, currently we have to be Licensed as Structural Pest Inspectors to do home inspections.  I personally think it is a huge conflict of interest for the guys that "treat" the bugs to also do the "discovery."  Is that the way it works in Arkansas?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Charles excellent letter.  It takes the decision away from the money issue and puts it in the quality and efficiency arena.  

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) almost 10 years ago

Yep.  That's pretty much the way it is.  Dual agency?  I'd never thought about it that way.

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) almost 10 years ago

Jack, thanks

Barbara, it is funny how what we are "used to" sometimes never gets questioned.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Charles, very creative and professional reply and post! Here in Texas the same company that comes out to check for signs of bugs or damage is the same company that treats for them! It's one big sales job. I have always felt as if it were a conflict of interest. And, I often questioned the validity of the claim!

Great post and great letter. Later in the rain~Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) almost 10 years ago

Thanks Deb, I am afraid what you are talking about happens all too often.  Even here where it is more separated than in most states----it still does happen---especially with homes not involved in a real estate sales transaction.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Good blog Charlie. It is well written and gets your point across nicely. I heard stories of, years ago, the bug applicators having a few live carpenter ants on hand....just happened to find them under the house. Hmmmmm.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Steve, I have heard those stories myself.  I had an incident myself where I did an inspection and the agent involved (my buyer) called me all upset that the Pest Control Operator found "extensive" beetle damage in the crawl space where I found no evidence of beetle damage.  They were recommending that all supporting structures be replaced.  A third party inspector found NO evidence of any beetle activity corroborating my findings.  As I stated above, Pest Control Operators should not be allowed to do discovery----period.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Hello?  Bugs?  Hello?  Hellooo?

 

Very kindly,

 

Croakster

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 10 years ago

Here is a nice one for you Croakster old buddy:

bug for Croakster

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Charlie,

I would have to say generally I disagree with you. Here CT we are licensed (since 2000) as home inspectors. Home inspectors can and some do have pest control licenses. The way inspections are most often done are either the home inspectors does the pest himself or an exterminator is there on site during the home inspection. I have always and continue to do the latter.

It has never been a problem to schedule a WDO inspection with the home inspection. I also do not see a conflict of interest with this service. Yes the pest guys do the inspections in the hopes of obtaining work. I am sure there are those type of guys every where that bring some bugs along to salt the house, but they do not work with me.

Now I do see your point with regard to the changes in WA. But that could result in more work for guys like you and Steve. Who will be called to do these structural pest inspections, some one who is qualified (you).

Change is always difficult and challenging. There will be an adjustment period and tweaking will undoubtedly occur to the regulations.

With our 9th year of licensing here in Ct we are still adjusting the regs as new issues arise. You will feel growing pains but with the right people at the helm sensible adjusments should be possible.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 10 years ago

James, I am sure that in your case you are right----but for me----for the general public wouldn't there have to be at least the "appearance" of a conflict of interest?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

I have not ever been aware of an appearance of conflict. I can speak from my own personal experience only. When one of the guys I use does his inspection and finds something they provide a quote for service. They also make it clear the customer is under no obligation to use them for the job. Being that this inspection is for the home buyer and it is the seller who is going to have to have the job done, this further reduces if not eliminates an appearance of conflict.

What I feel is a conflict (I am in minority) is home inspectors who are also licensed exterminators and do pest treatments. I personally know of two such companies. This has been debated and the majority seem to feel that it is not much different than offering ancillary services such as radon testing. I do not see the connection, but again I am in the minority.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 10 years ago

James----good points, I see what you are saying, and I totally agree with the exterminator/home inspector being a conflict of interest.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Charlie, You and I are in a very small minority.

What is further perplexing is, taking radon testing again, is that someone who tests for radon can not mitigate a home they tested or retest a home they mitigated. Yet it is perfrectly acceptable to have an exterminator inspect a home for pests, find them and then treat.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 10 years ago

James we may be in the minority----but it don't change the fact that we are right:)

Fortunately, I think the consumer is getting smarter and smarter

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

"Home Inspectors will no longer be required to have the same due-diligence when inspecting crawl spaces as is currently required by the Structural Pest License."

Charlie,

You're good people, Bro, but I'm disappointed. This is simply disinformation.

There is absolutely no difference between inspecting a crawlspace under the WSDA rule and the new rule under the home inspector licensing law. The procedure and the due-diligence involved to inspect is exactly the same; the change has nothing to do with the inspection protocol or what the inspector looks at - only what the inspector may report.

The rule is that if an inspector is not licensed as an SPI and sees what he or she believes to be signs of insect damage, the inspector must inform the client about the suspected damage and recommend a follow-up by a pest inspector. You talk about a "superficial inspection," well, which home inspection is more superficial - an inspection done by an inspector who is solely focused on the many different systems and components not even remotely related to pest inspection to ensure those are thoroughly and properly inspected; or one done by an inspector who must, in addition to everything else in the home, also try to focus attention on the pest issues?

Under the new rules, the client gets to hire someone who's sole focus as a home inspector is on the home inspection issues, and gets to hire someone else, a pest inspector who's sole focus is on the pest issue. This way, each does a better job than the cursory inspections that so many home inspectors who do both in Washington State are now infamous for.

Another piece of disinformation in your post is the way that you present the insurance issue. You don't say it directly, but you imply that inspectors are all required to carry E & O insurance under the current law and that when the law goes into effect they won't. Well, first, consumers need to understand that inspectors have never been required to carry errors and omissions insurance for a home inspection in Washington; the only requirement was for an inspector to either carry E & O or post a bond to cover them for pest inspections only.

In fact, if an inspector who does both home inspections and pest inspections is only carrying the E & O for pest inspections - and that's all that most here do carry - a homeowner is not protected if the inspector screws up the inspection of the heating system or the electrical system because he was too focused on the pest aspect of the inspection. In that circumstance, unless the inspector has an E & O policy that provides coverage for things other than pests, the only way the homeowner can seek redress is through the inspector or small claims court.

Consumers should not expect that every inspector in Washington State must carry E & O for a home inspection because that simply isn't true and never has been.

OK. Well, if home inspectors aren't required to carry E & O than those who do carry E & O must be more responsible than those who don't, No? Not necessarily, consumers need to understand that most E & O policies have a high deductible - one that's typically about equal to the maximum amount that one can take someone to small claims court for - and that most home inspection claims are settled for less than the deductible. So, in most cases, the fact that the inspector has insurance really means little because the inspector isn't going to report it to his or her insurance company anyway.

The bottom line is that, unless an inspector has a policy that covers the entire home, and screws up to the degree that the mistake will cost more than the inspector's deductible to remedy (most of the time deductibles are $5000), consumers are on their own. At that point, if the inspector refuses to make good on a screw-up, the consumer's only recourse is small claims court. Will they get resolution there? Maybe, but once in small claims court most inspectors produce the signed pre-inspection agreement that limits their liability only to the cost of the inspection. Smoke and mirrors, Charlie!

Here's something else, read the law, the law says the WDO requirement was dropped on the effective date of the law, which was last June. The only portions of the law that are in abeyance are those portions dealing with the rules that the board is charged with developing. Those don't become effective until DOL posts them but the rule on insects is very clear and the board's deliberations can't change it. So, basically, there hasn't been any requirement for a home inspector to carry an SPI license for the past 8 months.

Sorry Charlie, but in my opinion, the idea that an inspector doing both a home inspection and a pest inspection concurrently can do justice to both disciplines is just plain, well, silly. Think about it for a second; if doing both concurrently were such a great system, why aren't the pest inspector associations all over the country clamoring for that arrangement in the 49 other states that never had that concurrent requirement? Answer - Because they know that it was a flawed system. 

Back in 1991, when that law was first passed, the pest inspectors in this state far, far outnumbered the number of "home" inspectors in the state. The pest guys dreamed up that law in order to limit their competition under the guise of consumer protection. They claimed that home inspectors were making wrong calls on pests, or were missing pest issues, and that it was costing consumers money. Well, that's probably true in every state; however, here the pest inspectors were expanding their businesses into the home inspection arena and figured, rightly so in many cases, that by requiring home inspectors to also carry a pest license, that, rather than get an SPI license, many home inspectors would simply get out of the business.

They were right, it worked for a while - many did quit over that 17 years - but it eventually backfired when the number of home inspectors in the state grew until they far outnumbered the pest inspectors and then many of those got their SPI licenses. That was all it took to almost sound the death knell of the pest control industry in the state.

When the recent push for licensing was made in Washington State, many inspectors whose businesses began as pest inspectors objected vociferously to the law and proclaimed that the consumer would be harmed. It wasn't the consumer they were trying to protect, it was them; you see, under the rules they'd put in place, it costs less than $50, plus a bond, to become licensed as a pest inspector in this state. Once licensed as pest inspectors, they were free to expand into home inspections as soon as they felt comfortable - and able to do so without attending any home inspectors' training and without proving any proof to anyone that they had the requisite knowledge of things other than pests and without proving that they had any experience inspecting homes

Under the new rules, these folks will need to meet some pretty stringent requirements to continue to offer home inspections, including passing a home inspection exam. From my point of view, that's a far better deal for consumers than hiring an inspector based on the fact that he or she claims to be more of a professional due to having insurance that provides coverage for missed bug issues and does both inspections concurrently.

Why would you try and convince consumers that the cost of a dedicated pest inspection is not worth the extra money? There's just so much time that a home inspector can reasonably expect to be in someone's home; if the inspector has to waste some of that precious time dealing with an insect issue, the inspector is liable to cut corners someplace else. Where should that be, Charlie? It's a clever marketing tactic but it's still disinformation.

Under the new rules, if an inspector informs the client that there is a possible insect issue, the client gets to bring in someone who's only focus is on that issue; plus, because under most contracts the seller must provide the extra time necessary to complete the pest inspection and get the results, the buyer gains more time after the inspection to digest what was reported and to obtain estimates instead of being pushed into deciding immediately after the inspection about whether to go ahead with the transaction. That little bit of extra time to consider all of the variables and costs, is well worth the small additional cost that most will have to pay for the separate pest inspection. I think that mot would consider it cheaper than finding out later on that the inspector missed a major mechanical item because he or she was too focused on having enough time to get all of the home inspection stuff done while still having enough time left over to poke around in every nook and cranny to determine how far a suspected bug infestation has gone.

As you know, I know many inspectors from around the country and many of these are the most experienced and competent inspectors in the profession. From them I've learned that the average time that a really good inspection should take on any sized house, sans pest inspection, is about 3-1/2 hours. Throw a pest inspection into that mix and it should be taking about 4-1/2 hours. How many inspectors do you know in Washington State who are onsite doing the inspection for 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours, Charlie? Not many, I'll wager.

Most buyers here in Washington State have been conditioned by their agents to expect an inspection to include a pest inspection and for it to take no more than about 2-1/2 hours. Inspectors know this and they realize that, if they want to garner referrals from real estate agents they had better be in and out in 2-1/2 hours or less. Haste makes waste, Charlie; it results in too many mistakes and perpetuates the idea that inspectors are incompetent when all they really need to do is to slow it down and do the job right.

Price isn't everything; especially when you are making the largest purchase of your lifetime; in the case of a home purchase, spending the extra money to hire an inspector who is going to do the job slowly and carefully, regardless of whether he carries two licenses or not, is well worth the price. Trying to say that a dual licensee is going to save the consumer money is a distortion and often simply isn't true.

There are Lexus-level inspectors and there are Yugo-level inspectors. One doesn't necessarily have to hire a Lexus-level inspector to get a competent inspection - for most a Chevy or Ford-level inspection will do fine - but concerning oneself too much with saving a little bit on inspection costs by hiring a Yugo-level inspector can, and often does, eventually cost consumers the equivalent of the price of a Lexus.

Disinformation, it's an ugly thing.

Mike O'Handley, Your Inspector Inc., Kenmore, WA - Editor, The Inspector's Journal

Posted by Mike O'Handley almost 10 years ago

"Home Inspectors will no longer be required to have the same due-diligence when inspecting crawl spaces as is currently required by the Structural Pest License."

Charlie,

You're good people, Bro, but I'm disappointed. This is simply disinformation. (this is my opinion and time will tell-----for it to be disinformation I would have to have some agenda for misleading people----I do not)

There is absolutely no difference between inspecting a crawlspace under the WSDA rule and the new rule under the home inspector licensing law. The procedure and the due-diligence involved to inspect is exactly the same; the change has nothing to do with the inspection protocol or what the inspector looks at - only what the inspector may report.

The rule is that if an inspector is not licensed as an SPI and sees what he or she believes to be signs of insect damage (so lets just entertain the possibility that these inspectors will no longer know an Anobiid hole from a nail hole), the inspector must inform the client about the suspected damage and recommend a follow-up by a pest inspector. You talk about a "superficial inspection," well, which home inspection is more superficial - an inspection done by an inspector who is solely focused on the many different systems and components not even remotely related to pest inspection to ensure those are thoroughly and properly inspected; or one done by an inspector who must, in addition to everything else in the home, also try to focus attention on the pest issues (without a doubt the highest quality home inspection is one that does both) ?

Under the new rules, the client gets to hire someone who's sole focus as a home inspector is on the home inspection issues, and gets to hire someone else, a pest inspector who's sole focus is on the pest issue. This way, each does a better job than the cursory (people will always do cursory inspections----sounds like an individual business decision to be---albeit a poor one:) inspections that so many home inspectors who do both in Washington State are now infamous for.

Another piece of disinformation in your post is the way that you present the insurance issue. You don't say it directly, but you imply that inspectors are all required to carry E & O insurance under the current law and that when the law goes into effect they won't. Well, first, consumers need to understand that inspectors have never been required to carry errors and omissions insurance for a home inspection in Washington; the only requirement was for an inspector to either carry E & O or post a bond to cover them for pest inspections only.

In fact, if an inspector who does both home inspections and pest inspections is only carrying the E & O for pest inspections - and that's all that most here do carry - a homeowner is not protected if the inspector screws up the inspection of the heating system or the electrical system because he was too focused on the pest aspect of the inspection. In that circumstance, unless the inspector has an E & O policy that provides coverage for things other than pests, the only way the homeowner can seek redress is through the inspector or small claims court.

Consumers should not expect that every inspector in Washington State must carry E & O for a home inspection because that simply isn't true and never has been (most of what you say about insurance is true----but at least there is some requirement to show financial responsibility---in the interest of the consumer it should be more).

OK. Well, if home inspectors aren't required to carry E & O than those who do carry E & O must be more responsible than those who don't, No? Not necessarily, consumers need to understand that most E & O policies have a high deductible - one that's typically about equal to the maximum amount that one can take someone to small claims court for - and that most home inspection claims are settled for less than the deductible. So, in most cases, the fact that the inspector has insurance really means little because the inspector isn't going to report it to his or her insurance company anyway(DANG----how did all those loop holes get in there!).

The bottom line is that, unless an inspector has a policy that covers the entire home, and screws up to the degree that the mistake will cost more than the inspector's deductible to remedy (most of the time deductibles are $5000), consumers are on their own. At that point, if the inspector refuses to make good on a screw-up, the consumer's only recourse is small claims court. Will they get resolution there? Maybe, but once in small claims court most inspectors produce the signed pre-inspection agreement that limits their liability only to the cost of the inspection. Smoke and mirrors, Charlie (Mike, you act surprised when things get watered down---I would be the last to say that the way financial responsibility works now is perfect)!

Here's something else, read the law, the law says the WDO requirement was dropped on the effective date of the law, which was last June. The only portions of the law that are in abeyance are those portions dealing with the rules that the board is charged with developing. Those don't become effective until DOL posts them but the rule on insects is very clear and the board's deliberations can't change it. So, basically, there hasn't been any requirement for a home inspector to carry an SPI license for the past 8 months (I think Dan Soumi and the Department of Agriculture would find this interpretation very interesting:).

Sorry Charlie, but in my opinion, the idea that an inspector doing both a home inspection and a pest inspection concurrently can do justice to both disciplines is just plain, well, silly (I think it is closer to preposterous to think otherwise----I am used to being silly). Think about it for a second; if doing both concurrently were such a great system, why aren't the pest inspector associations all over the country clamoring for that arrangement in the 49 other states that never had that concurrent requirement? Answer - Because they know that it was a flawed system (if they were trying to tell you the earth was flat would you still go along----I really don't give a damn about the other states----they are not Washington State----I ain't no lemming)

Back in 1991, when that law was first passed, the pest inspectors in this state far, far outnumbered the number of "home" inspectors in the state. The pest guys dreamed up that law in order to limit their competition under the guise of consumer protection. They claimed that home inspectors were making wrong calls on pests, or were missing pest issues, and that it was costing consumers money. Well, that's probably true in every state; however, here the pest inspectors were expanding their businesses into the home inspection arena and figured, rightly so in many cases, that by requiring home inspectors to also carry a pest license, that, rather than get an SPI license, many home inspectors would simply get out of the business.

They were right, it worked for a while - many did quit over that 17 years - but it eventually backfired when the number of home inspectors in the state grew until they far outnumbered the pest inspectors and then many of those got their SPI licenses. That was all it took to almost sound the death knell of the pest control industry in the state (I stand by my opinion that those that treat should not be allowed to do discovery----ask any consumer if that isn't so).

When the recent push for licensing was made in Washington State, many inspectors whose businesses began as pest inspectors objected vociferously to the law and proclaimed that the consumer would be harmed. It wasn't the consumer they were trying to protect, it was them; you see, under the rules they'd put in place, it costs less than $50, plus a bond, to become licensed as a pest inspector in this state (you seem to be conviently forgetting training, pasing the SPI test, and continuing education). Once licensed as pest inspectors, they were free to expand into home inspections as soon as they felt comfortable - and able to do so without attending any home inspectors' training and without proving any proof to anyone that they had the requisite knowledge of things other than pests and without proving that they had any experience inspecting homes

Under the new rules, these folks will need to meet some pretty stringent requirements to continue to offer home inspections, including passing a home inspection exam. From my point of view, that's a far better deal for consumers than hiring an inspector based on the fact that he or she claims to be more of a professional due to having insurance that provides coverage for missed bug issues and does both inspections concurrently.

Why would you try and convince consumers that the cost of a dedicated pest inspection is not worth the extra money (I am just saying it is better for the consumer when it is the same person.  Is that "dedicated" SPI inspector going to go in the attic?  Look under every sink?  Walk the roof? The home inspector is already doing these things)? There's just so much time that a home inspector can reasonably expect to be in someone's home; if the inspector has to waste some of that precious time dealing with an insect issue, the inspector is liable to cut corners someplace else. Where should that be, Charlie? It's a clever marketing tactic but it's still disinformation(Mike, I don't care if the inspection takes all day----they take whatever they take----it is only the inspector that has two more lined up that they have to get to that cares).

Under the new rules, if an inspector informs the client that there is a possible insect issue (I reiterate----what if the inspector is not trained to know what they are missing?), the client gets to bring in someone who's only focus is on that issue; plus, because under most contracts the seller must provide the extra time necessary to complete the pest inspection and get the results, the buyer gains more time after the inspection to digest what was reported and to obtain estimates instead of being pushed into deciding immediately after the inspection about whether to go ahead with the transaction. That little bit of extra time to consider all of the variables and costs, is well worth the small additional cost that most will have to pay for the separate pest inspection. I think that mot would consider it cheaper than finding out later on that the inspector missed a major mechanical item because he or she was too focused on having enough time to get all of the home inspection stuff done while still having enough time left over to poke around in every nook and cranny to determine how far a suspected bug infestation has gone.

As you know, I know many inspectors from around the country and many of these are the most experienced and competent inspectors in the profession. From them I've learned that the average time that a really good inspection should take on any sized house, sans pest inspection, is about 3-1/2 hours. Throw a pest inspection into that mix and it should be taking about 4-1/2 hours. How many inspectors do you know in Washington State who are onsite doing the inspection for 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours, Charlie? Not many, I'll wager (they take whatever they take----anything else is a disservice to the buyer).

Most buyers here in Washington State have been conditioned by their agents to expect an inspection to include a pest inspection and for it to take no more than about 2-1/2 hours (certainly not true on my planet). Inspectors know this and they realize that, if they want to garner referrals from real estate agents (personally I only want to work with agents that care the same way about their buyers as I do----I really don't care if there are those that won't refer me) they had better be in and out in 2-1/2 hours or less. Haste makes waste, Charlie; it results in too many mistakes and perpetuates the idea that inspectors are incompetent when all they really need to do is to slow it down and do the job right.

Price isn't everything; especially when you are making the largest purchase of your lifetime; in the case of a home purchase, spending the extra money to hire an inspector who is going to do the job slowly and carefully, regardless of whether he carries two licenses or not, is well worth the price. Trying to say that a dual licensee is going to save the consumer money is a distortion and often simply isn't true.

There are Lexus-level inspectors and there are Yugo-level inspectors. One doesn't necessarily have to hire a Lexus-level inspector to get a competent inspection - for most a Chevy or Ford-level inspection will do fine - but concerning oneself too much with saving a little bit on inspection costs by hiring a Yugo-level inspector can, and often does, eventually cost consumers the equivalent of the price of a Lexus.

Disinformation, it's an ugly thing (No disinformation here----just my honest take of the issues).

Mike O'Handley, Your Inspector Inc., Kenmore, WA - Editor, The Inspector's Journal

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Was that a blog or a comment?

Mike brings up some good points and being that I do not do my own pest I have to say I agree with his logic on the issue. That being said Charlie you make a good point also in that since the inspector is looking through the entire house, poking in every nook and cranny, doing both would seem to make sense.  

This I can tell you in the real world the home inspectors I know, not everyone but most, do pest inspection for one reason...$. Most also end up at some point paying for a treatment because they missed something. This however does not deter them because they play the odds and still come out ahead. Not very consumer friendly I'm sure you would agree.

This quote touches on a big problem with our our profession;

Most buyers here in Washington State  have been conditioned by their agents to expect an inspection to include a pest inspection and for it to take no more than about 2-1/2 hours Inspectors know this and they realize that, if they want to garner referrals from real estate agents they had better be in and out in 2-1/2 hours or less. Haste makes waste, Charlie; it results in too many mistakes and perpetuates the idea that inspectors are incompetent when all they really need to do is to slow it down and do the job right.

I think he is correct that agents have conditioned home inspectors to be in out in a certain amount of time. You take too long you won't get any referals. I know because I do take a long time. I see the looks, hear the sighs and the comments. I say to bad, your not paying me and it takes what it takes. So why do you think there are problems with inspectors missing things?

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 10 years ago

James, I say to inspectors that care about agent referrals to that extent:  GET SOME CAJONES!  If inspectors just do their job----sooner or later agents will get on board---most in my experience already are---the good ones only care about seeing their buyer (our buyer) taken care of.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Yes Charlie I would agree the smart agents do want good inspectors and understand their value. Unfortunately their is a little something that tends to cloud some peoples judgement...$

BTW it's cajones.  A Kahuna is a Hawaiian priest or something. And yes they need to grow some!

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 10 years ago

Dang---spell check strikes again:)  Certainly wouldn't want to offend the big Kahuna

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Charlie,

I like and respect many realtors. I also think that, to a large degree, this 2.5 hour time line is something inspectors saddle themselves with. I get many realtor referrals (knock on wood) and I seldom do an inspection in such a short period of time. If it is a big house, I might be there four or five hours. I think that trying to work too fast is a sure-fire way to end up in trouble. A big house, with many problems -- wdo or otherwise -- cannot be gone over to the degree that covers your rump in a couple hours. I was once driving down the winding road at Mt Rushmore at midnight. One car behind me, probably a regular on the road, was honking because I was going about 45 and the speed limit was probably 50. Problem was, I was a tourist I did not know, nor was I able to see, the road very well in the dark. The wife told me I should speed up a bit. My response was, do you think this guy is going to be the one with the damaged car and injuries if I drive into the ditch. No, he would be the one talking about how the guy in front of him ran off the road. That is an analogy. If you rush an inspection, when you should not, the realtor is not going to be the one paying out money -- for you -- because you screwed up the inspection trying to do it too fast. You know what, I bet in the future that realtor will NEVER use you again. Why, because he or she will have you down, and tell friends, that you were the guy who had his rear sued-off for being sloppy. I find that realtors who want their clients to have a good report and quality information are willing to bring a laptop or a library book and wait a little bit longer. I really appreciate it when those realtors and their clients make my phone ring.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Agreed Steve---non issue here.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Ditto here Steve.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 10 years ago

Whoops,

Sorry, I don't know how to insert links into this format or to edit it yet. Here's that link:

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2007-08/Pdf/Bills/Session%20Law%202008/6606-S.SL.pdf

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike O'Handley, Editor - The Inspector's Journal

Posted by Mike O'Handley almost 10 years ago

Mike, my take on it is that it applies to licensed home inspectors.  Currently there are none---so who does it apply to.  I suspect that anyone reporting on bugs, rot or conducive conditions would still have to meet SPI requirements---no?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

No, that's not what it says; it says that the law applies to home inspectors operating in the state and it requires inspectors to meet certain qualifications for licensing, and get their licenses by, such-and-such date. It specifically states that the rules take effect on June 12, 2008.

The whole issue of licensing has already kicked in; the difficulty that folks are going to have with it is that there aren't any approved courses yet because nobody has submitted their curriculum yet to DOL for approval under the new curriculum guidelines. That's going to make it tough on inexperienced inspectors that need to get that training.

That's all a completely different issue. The new law is already in effect and the new SOP will take effect as soon as hearings are completed, revisions are made and it's finalized and posted. At this point, the only things that can't happen yet is the education for inexperienced inspectors and the testing.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike O'Handley, Editor - The Inspector's Journal

Posted by Mike O'Handley almost 10 years ago

Mike, under the law there are NO home inspectors in the State of Washington----but there are people going around reporting on bugs, rot and conducive conditions.  You can do what you want but I for one am not going to gamble that there is nothing requiring me to be an SPI.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

I am not sure as to what Mike says about the law's effective date, and how this is all being interpreted by DOL, however the person running the home inspector division at DOL is not responding to enquiries in a manner that supports the idea the law has gone into effect. I was in the loop on a recent communication with an inspector who had questions about how things are under present law, and how it will change in the future. The state's official response to the inspector, from the home inspector licensing division, homogenized with names and details changed or eliminated for privacy, went like this.

Dear Inspector, 

•·         Relating to your question regarding home inspections and your owning a second business, as of this date, there are no licensed home inspectors in the state of Washington, and your concerns would not be applicable until the licensing law goes into effect on 9/1/09.

•·         After that date, 9/1/09, the applicable statutes and rules will apply to services performed by your business.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Mike, the relevent section states "Any person licensed under this chapter who is not also licensed as a pest inspector under chapter 15.58 RCW shall only refer in his or her report to rot or conducive connditions for wood destroying organisms and shall refer the identification of or damage by wood destroying insects to a structural pest inspector licensed under chapter 15.58 RCW."

Since there are no licensed home inspectors and since the WSDA requires individuals, regardless of profession, from identifying WDO issues without a license- "By law, the act of inspecting for pests, their signs, or conducive conditions requires one to be licensed by the WSDA" - it seems that, until Sept. 1, SPI Licenses are required.

Probably would be pretty simple to get the WSDA to rule on it.

Posted by Paul Duffau, Caring for People, Educating about Homes (Safe@Home Inspections, LLC in SE Washington) almost 10 years ago

Paul,

When I get a break I am going to ask Dan Suomi. What you say there makes sense to me. I do admit that, by the law taking effect the effective date June a year ago, does make it hard to decipher all this. I think, basically, the law had to take effect so they could setup the board, etc but that, as the state said, the effective date is 9/1. But I do not want quoted on that, heck I might be wrong.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Camano Island Inspector Harold Miller wrote a good comment over at my re-blog of this post. I took what I saw as an important piece of that comment and posted it below. Following that were some of my thoughts on what Harold said.

 Harold Miller said:

Non SPI licensed inspectors put their clients at a distinct disadvantage. How can they refer their client to a pest inspector, if they have not recognized that a pest infestation or damage exists? I have seen too many families adversely impacted by unskilled inspectors overlooking critical evidence.

Harold,

Your point is well-taken by me. I, also, see another potential snag. In our state, with so many different wood boring beetles, what is the untrained inspector who sees cerambycid or buprestid damage going to do? Obviously these borers leave holes in wood. That person is then likely to call for an inspection by a licensed WDO inspector. Those of us with the license know that such a call will probably cost the buyer $200.00 or more on a false alarm. That is about as meaningful as an alert for sow bugs or lady bugs. I was told by a WSDA person that, once, an inspector went goofy over teredo tunnels in interior wood. I think it is hard to make a case, at least in our climate with two types of termites, carpenter ants, moisture ants, velvety tree ants, anobiid beetles, lyctid beetles, cerambycid beetles and buprestid beetles that it is easy for a person not educated in pests to know what kind of insects, when present, are alarming and which ones are not. Obviously, if you get an old SPI doing the inspedction, he or she would know but could not say much if the license was expired. But new people, who will have zero insect education, may not be the best first-line defense against undiscovered major crawl space damage. Personally, in my experience and that of many of my inspector friends, the single most expensive repairs we have ever found involved wood destroying organisms. That has, in cost, trumped any electrical or HVAC problem I have ever found. In a number of cases, I have inspected houses where the sill plate, rim joist, beams, posts, joists, sub-floor and even wall studs had all been damaged or destroyed. They were like Styrofoam. Culprit was generally the anobiid but carpenter ants have made their presence known too.

Steve

 

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Wow!  If an inspector takes only 21/2 hours to do an inspection, he/she would certainly not be referred by any of the realtors I work with.  I personally never take less than 3 1/2 hours for a single family dwelling (that is usually for newer houses) and often take 4 or 5.  I believe that, as Harold says, in order to refer the client to a PCO you really do have to be able to recognize the bugs.  When I got into this business, it was never about making massive amounts of money.  It was, and still is, to make a living by doing the best possible job for those paying me.  Integrity is in way too short supply in our world. 

Posted by David Helm, Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp (Helm Home Inspections) almost 10 years ago

Great comments David. If all inspectors used that theory of operation, we would not need inspector laws.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Charlie, I have one other question for Mike.  Where does he find E&O insurance that will cover only pests?  My experience with E&O providers is that they will cover pests as an extra cost rider to home inspection E&O.  My deductibles are also not $5000, but $1500.  Where does he get his information?

Posted by David Helm, Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp (Helm Home Inspections) almost 10 years ago

Steve, thanks for the addition.


Paul, that is my take on it as well.


Steve, I really think the law only took effect to make the board "legal."  It all has to start somewhere.  And, yes I saw Harold's comment on your re-blog and commented that he makes some really good points

.
David---excellent points.  That was my take on E&O as well.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

I decided to get some firm answers about questions brought up here by Mike and others. These answers are from the DOL, home inspector division.

Being involved with Bellingham Technical College, I was wondering if I had screwed up. Mike said that the thing keeping schools from being approved was failure to turn in curriculum for approval. Well, if that was the case, those of us at BTC wanted to know about it and get it going. I asked home inspector licensing if that was the case. The reply, paraphrased, was:

"No, You guys are fine. We have a curriculum approved by the board. That was submitted and approved by the board in December.What is missing are the department approved forms that we (DOL) needs to begin the course approval process. We submitted them but we are waiting on the forms."

The next question was asking for a clarification. Are inspectors, at this point, no longer required to comply with state WDO and SPI requirements? Is licensing really in effect now, as of June 2008, or is it not yet in effect. The short and official answer is that the law has NOT taken effect, but the main details are below:

 "Steve, You are correct on the date...it is 9/1/09.

Per RCW 18.280.020 - Licensure required

"(1) Beginning September 1, 2009, a person shall not engage in or conduct, or advertise or hold himself or herself out as engaging in or conducting, the business of or acting in the capacity of a home inspector within this state without first obtaining a license as provided in this chapter."

"(2)  Any person performing the duties of a home inspector on June 12,2008, has until July 1, 2010 to meet the licensing requirements of this chapter. However, if a person performing the duties of a home inspector on June 12, 2008, has proof that he or she has worked as a home inspector for at least two years and has conducted at least one hundred home inspections, he or she may apply to the board before September 1, 2009, for licensure without meeting the instruction and training requirements in this chapter."

"(3)  The director may begin issuing licenses under this section beginning on July 1, 2009"

I have provided you with the exact language from the statute. Note that item number two is what we have been referring to as the grandfather clause in the course of work with the board. September 1, 2009 is THE date by which everyone must become licensed. The only exception to this would be those that fall under the grandfather clause, and the dates for them are noted in (2).

The Home Inspector Program is NOT responsible for the rules and regulations relating to pest inspections. Pest inspectors are licensed by the WSDA under RCW 15.58, and individuals having a pest license are responsible for complying with their existing laws and rules as they are written.


You are correct on the date...it is 9/1/09.  Let me know if you need anything else.

That is the word from DOL, home inspector licensing division. I think that AR member Paul Duffau had it right.

Steve

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Steve, thanks for the update---you are a STUD:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Charlie,  

This blog of yours, that ended up generating some controversy, piqued my interest. I had not even considered that the home inspection law might have already led to the extinction of the WDO rules as they apply to home inspection.

It was an interesting idea, one I had not heard, and the various dates listed in the law do lead to some confusion. Anyway, I wanted to get direction from state regulators to learn the real story. Facts, just facts!

As you know, a few hours ago, I posted that the home inspector licensing division at DOL got back to me. They said that the new law is not effective till September, so the rules regarding WDO inspections remain in effect, as they have been for years, until that time. 

Well, yesterday I had contacted WSDA. They got back to me today and they corroborate what the home inspector division at DOL said. Synopsis here:

Steve -  The day an individual gets licensed as a home inspector is when he or she must comply with DOL laws and rules (regarding inspection protocols).  Until then, they must comply with the WDO Rules (WSDA).

Looks to me like any inspector trying to inspect without the SPI license is taking the risk of being one of the last guys or gals fined for doing so in the State of Washington. That is a distinction I will pass on.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Steve, thanks again for the update---it is kind of nice to get reinforcement for what in your "gut" you know is accurate.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

 

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I must admit that I have not read all of the comments, and I do not have the time to do so, but I did want to make known in written form my feelings about two issues which I feel that the new law governing home inspectors and those who have been "representing us" have failed with regard to:

1) Structural Pest Inspector Licensing

We had the opportunity to pass what would have been the best and strictest regulation of home inspectors in the Country and, I feel, one that would have been in the best interest of consumers here in Washington State.  We failed in this regard: not requiring that all licensed home inspectors have a license as a Structural Pest Inspector with the WSDA.  I think that this should have been required, and, in this vision, the WSDA would have continued to govern the SPI license while the Department of Licensing (I was actually I support of having it go through the Department of Labor and Industries) licensed home inspectors.  Two requirements, two governing bodies that worked together, two continuing education requirements, two seperate tests, etc.  Quite the opposite has occurred.  Instead of requiring both, the new law actually relaxes the requirements for who has to be a SPI.  This is a failure.

2) Errors and Omissions Insurance

Perhaps I am naive.  Perhaps I am missing something.  Perhaps I am a complete idiot.  But I fail to see how a law which is to govern home inspectors for the SAKE OF PROTECTING CONSUMERS could fail to require Errors and Omissions Insurance.  In fact, I am so baffled by this that I would like to use stronger language: a law which is established to govern home inspectors for the sake or protecting consumers, yet doesn't require EandO Insurance is pointless, pointless, pointless.  In fact, it is utterly ridiculous.  Those home inspectors who were responsible for "representing me" in this process and pushed out the EandO requirements that the older bill had have FAILED me, and they have FAILED the consumers of this State.  Utter stupidity…

---------

It is my sincere hope that this "law" is just a stepping stone and that someday people will wake up.  It is my sincere hope that *someday* down the road there will be good and reasonably extensive requirements for home inspectors in the State of Washington when they are helping people make educated decisions regarding the purchase of their $300,000 home.  In the mean time, very little has changed and very little will change in 6 months when this “law” goes into affect.

While I have always STRONGLY been in support of strict regulation, and I even drove 125 miles (250 total) to Olympia in 2007 to testify in support of regulation, I consider this law a facade--it is weak; it is impotent.

Justin Nickelsen, Nickelsen Home Inspections, LLC

Vancouver, WA / Portland, OR

360.907.9648 / 503.502.1495

Posted by Justin Nickelsen - Nickelsen Home Inspections almost 10 years ago

Justin,

More good comments at Charlie's blog. I think it interesting that a number of inspectors on here are feeling that the coalition of inspectors, who in theory represented the industry, fought for issues that most inspectors checking in here were not in favor of.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Hi All,

Charlie, re. your post of the 10th, there are NO home inspectors in the state of Washington...really? Well, if they don't exist, why did the legislature pass a law to regulate them? If they don't exist, why did the SPI's (PCO's back then) push through coupling WSDA to home inspections back in 1991?

Don't bother answering that, Buddy, I'm just messin' with ya. You're still a mensch.

Today, Mack (Bruce MacIntosh) and I went down to Olympia to deal with SB5644. We thought it might be necessary for both of us to testify before the committee as to why 5644 should be killed but, as it turned out, the bill's co-sponsor opened the hearing by basically withdrawing the distance learning provision. Since the mold question had already been pulled last Friday and was no longer on the table, the bill was DOA. Mack read the board a statement anyway on behalf of the HI Board in order to get their objections to 5644 into the record.

After Mack, came two ladies who arrived all prepared to address the committee about mold - one with a big posterboard full of photos of her home. She's well known to some members of the HI board because she's been demanding that home inspectors be required to "look for mold." Since the bill was essentially DOA and the committee had to address three other issues that afternoon, she didn't get very far before the chairwoman shut her down, telling her, "There's a lot more work to be done with that, " or something similar - referring to the mold issue. I think it's clear from the way that she said it that the mold issue going to rear its head again in the future. I say that because the chairwoman was primary sponsor of the bill in the first place, becasue she told the ladies that she understood their concerns, because the mold issue is what attracted her to the bill in the first place, and becasue she'd co-sponsored other legislation in 2005 to deal with mold in residential dwelling. I doubt that we've heard the last of this issue; I suspect that, after they've done a little more homework and have constructed a more strongly worded bill, we'll see the issue again. In the meantime, it's gone away and hopefully won't reappear until next January.

You guys should know that just before the committee convened today they received a letter from Mike Krause and Dr. Payam Fallah, both Certified Industrial Hygenists who've been in the thick of the effort by the scientific community to dial the mod thing back to some semblence of sanity again. It was a well worded document and clearly spelled out all of the reasons why trying to create legislation that makes home inspectors responsible for the discovery of all mold in a home creates unreasonable expectations in the minds of buyers and could seriously hurt the profession. We in the profession owe those gentlemen our sincerest thanks.

So, now that the mold thing has gone away, I think that the profession should pat itself on the back; folks came together, got the word out, and it's obvious that those in the profession clearly made themselves heard and showed some folks in Olympia that home inspectors aren't pushovers despite our tiny numbers. Thank you, all of you that made your voices heard.

Some interesting commentary on the SPI thing above. Today at the hearing I spoke directly with Jerry MacDonald and Rhonda Myers (The HI Supervisor for DOL). They told me exactly what they told Steve. So, Charlie and Steve, I'm not too proud to admit when I'm wrong and I owe you both an apology for arguing with you about this.

It was interesting conversation though and I wish you'd been there, because the way the answer came across was that technically I might be right, but..... There wasn't any question that they are solid in their willingness to leave this thing with WSDA, for now, but if you had been there you would have sensed a certain tentiveness with the response. I came away from the conversation concluding that they aren't 100% certain what the correct answer is but that they intend to err on the side of caution rather than get into any dispute with WSDA about the issue. That's fine, there's no hurry, a few more months isn't going to make that much difference. Besides, one has to appreciate the fact that they're still trying to figure out this whole brand new home inspection nut that's been tossed in their laps. It's ultimately going to be their responsibility to implement and enforce the thing, not the Board's, so more power to them. 

Tomorrow afternoon a committee is meeting at 1:30 pm in the House Full Hearing Rm D of the John L. O'Brien building in Olympia to consider the elimination of 60 state boards - one of the boards being considered for elimination on June 1, 2010 is the Home Inspectors Advisory Licensing Board. I know some folks will rejoice at seeing the board eliminated, because they're going to want things to return to the way they were with no consistent standards for inspections or reports and no education requirements for inspectors, other than the need to read a couple of books about insects and pass a bug test. To those folks I'd like to point out that somewhere between 20% ad 30% of the inspectors in this profession have already left and we're going to lose more before this thing finally turns around. Across the country, the profession had problems before the recession with an image tarnished by poorly trained inspectors who were flipping burgers on Monday and began inspecting homes on Tuesday. As bad as that was, it's liable to be worse when the economy begins to recover because there is going to be a shortage of inspectors across the country and that's going to result in a flood of new shake-n-bake home inspector "schools" opening up. As much as the profession's image suffered during the good times, can you imagine what it's going to be like when the economy begins to recover, if there aren't any rules in place or anyone out there who's famliar with the profession to provide the state guidance so they can enforce those rules? I can and it ain't pretty.

I'll be going down to Olympia to urge this committee to at least keep the board in place a couple of more years, until the dust from the licensing process has settled and the only folks left in the state to be licensed will be those who are brand new to the profession. By then, perhaps the folks at DOL will have worked out all of the kinks and it will no longer be needed.

If any of you have got the time tomorrow, and you believe that a board run by home inspectors advising DOL is a better alternative to having bureaucrats who're unfamiliar with what we do responding to people's complaints against home inspectors without the assistance of a board consisting of inspectors, your support would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, it's late; gotta crash.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike O'Handley, Editor, The Inspector's Journal

Posted by Mike O'Handley almost 10 years ago

Mike, don't sweat it----we are all just trying to sort this whole thing out:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Mike,

You and Mack are to be commended. You were on top of that mold/learning bill. Glad they pulled the plug. As to the SPI law, your thoughts on that had me wondering. There are enough time-lines in there that I got to thinking maybe you were right. I sure would not have known without talking to the state, so no apology required...for sure.

You are absolutely right about the board. Anyone who thinks that demise of the board would mean back to the way it was is wrong. Instead you would have nobody from the field advising the state employees on issues they do not understand. And our field is high tech enough that includes a number of things that seem basic to us. For example, inspectors know that we do not want mold in the SOP. Everyone of us on the board made that clear to DOL and legislators. Like us, or hate us, at least we work in the field.

Good luck today. I just cannot make it but will see you Tuesday.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Hi,

Well, I just got back from Olympia and I'm not feeling real good about the whole thing.

I had prepared a statement that carefully laid out all of the arguments for why eliminating the board was a colossally bad idea now that the board is halfway done with their work and the first licenses are on the horizon. I'd rehearsed it this morning and it took me about 5:45 to read. I figured that I'd have to do it in 3 minutes and had a good idea of where I'd pare it down by about two minutes, but I drove down to Olympia without editing it on the off chance that I'd be given my 5:45. I was the first person to arrive and sat there in that hearing alone for about 15-20 minutes going over the statement in my head like I used to do when preparing for a staff briefing in the military - I've done a couple hundred of those.

Then they started the meeting and I learned that they were only allowing 2 minutes per speaker. S**t! So, I sat there for three hours waiting for them to get around to the bill and I pared that statement down to just the chassis, tires and engine with an upside down milk crate to sit on. I rehearsed it in my head a couple of dozen times and it timed out at about 2:50 to 3:10 every time. I figured I'd have it licked. At about 4:15 or so, Terry Kohl, the lobbyist for ASHIWW, came up to me and asked me to step outside. Earlier, he'd handed me copies of WWASHI's position statement about the bill and asked me if I'd deliver it to staff. I said, "Sure, why not."
 
Kohl gets me out in the hallway and wants to talk about the fiscal note and how it shows costs but they're upfront costs and will be paid back over the next four years from fees and the program is cost neutral, etc. He wanted me to talk about how the amount of up-front costs are amortized over the next four years, blah, blah, blah and my eyes just glazed over. I don't do money; in fact, I'm as dumb as a rock when it comes to finances, I had no friggin' idea what he was saying to me. He wanted me to estimate how much time in manhours the staff was putting into this thing already, or some other mumbo-jumbo but it went right over my head.  I looked at him and said, "Terry, I can't even balance a friggin checkbook, I don't do money; period - that's my wife's job,  in fact, I'm a retard when it comes to money." He didn't listen, just started trying to re-explain it to me over and over. I didn't get it. Finally, I got frustrated and just said, "Yeah, I get it," and went back inside. I was kind of pissed and frazzled and everything in my prepared statement that I'd memorized was all fragmented in my head interspersed with thoughts of how the hell I was going to explain the money thing.

Then I got back in there and discovered that they'd already called my name once while I was out in the hall jawing with Kohl. Now, I'm embarrassed and pissed. Not a good combination at all. I went up to the table and just kind of flailed like a salmon left high and dry by a flood. Not my best hour; back in the Army a performance like that would have earned me a counseling statement and a threat of an impact EER in my jacket.

To make it worse, as far as I could tell, not one single other home inspector showed up to testify for or against the bill or even signed up to state that they were for or against it but didn't want to speak to the committee. Hell, even some biker dudes showed up in their greasy black leathers with chains hanging from their ass and such and testified; one guy called Texas Bob Walker had a long stringy beard like a ZZ Top dude. 

I can't imagine that we inspectors looked very good with me stammering like someone with turets and nobody else in attendance - especially when anywhere from a half dozen to about two dozen people showed up and signed the log for various other bills. It must have looked to that committee like home inspectors didn't give a rat's ass whether a bunch of non-inspectors are going to be the one's who end up investigating complaints against them and managing the program ala Texas.

Seriously bummed - not my finest hour.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Posted by Mike O'Handley almost 10 years ago

Mike,

I really am sorry it worked out that way. I would have liked to have been there but is was not possible. Regarding one of your last comments, I know what you mean. It seems like inspectors have a million comments and complaints about the process but the number who have gone to the board meetings, where the future is being planned for the industry, is minuscule. Obviously we are not a group that gets a whole lot of participation. We do, however, hear a fair bit of btching and moaning when things do not go to suit.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Ditto what Steve said.  For a "participatory democracy"----most people tend to forget the participatory part:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

I have to say the process deserves some negative feedback (bitching and complaining). To take a day off to drive down to Olympia costs me between several hundred and a thousand dollars in lost business. Not to mention the 6 to 7 hours driving (roundtrip)...and to only be allowed to talk for 2 minutes..... I am not surprised by the low turnout by inspectors, if I am to be totally honest.

During the home inspection legislation hearing process, I was able to pull up the video of home inspectors testifying, getting prodded along by Jean Kohl_Welles, as if she did not even care what anyone had to say. The more vocal opponents seemed to be interupted the most, and they had hardly any time to make a point.

For me I find writing the legislators gives me the same chances of getting my point accross as does handing them a copy of it in person. And at least I might get a response back that way.

Just my opinion.  :)

Posted by Harold Miller, Everett Home Inspector (Miller Home Inspection) almost 10 years ago

Harold,

I understand. Speaking before the legislature is inconvenient and now, for the most part, the finer points of the law are being developed by the licensing board. The HI licensing board meetings take time too but, for your info, our board meetings have all been in Seattle area, not Olympia, so that helps with the drive. At the board meetings, unlike at the legislature, we give longer than two minutes for audience members to speak. There was one meeting, where the agenda was tight, where talk was limited but for the most part the public gets time to speak. Keeping in touch, and writing board members, or Email works too. It just gets frustrating, being on the board, to get zero input other than, once something has been approved, people coming out of the woodwork complaining about not having any input or say in the process. In that regard, I know where Mike is coming from.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Attending the home inspector board meeting is something I would really like to do. It was helpful that you posted the schedule on your blog, otherwise I would have no clue when these were going on. 

The good news is that inspection business has really picked up in the last couple weeks, but the bad news is there is not a chance that I can get away to attend the Feb 17th meeting.  I am coming up on working 10 days straight, with no days off, and have quite a few inspections booked out still.

Maybe I will get a chance in March, but will have to wait and see.  

Posted by Harold Miller, Everett Home Inspector (Miller Home Inspection) almost 10 years ago

Harold,

Glad it has picked up. Is that mainly Camano? I have a number of friends and relatives there and I have heard horror stories about housing sales, at least a few months back. I know a few of them have sold houses more recently, last couple months.

I understand what you mean about time. If you hear/see something you want info on or have a comment on, send me an Email. I get quite a few and try to present them to the board if that is applicable.

Steve

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Harold,

By the way, I appreciate some of your comments over at NACHI. You provide a voice of reason compared to some of the posters. The SOP we passed is just not that different than what most of us, who try to do a detailed job, are doing right now. You pointed that out and it is appreciated. The sky is NOT falling.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Steven;

No, business has picked up for me, but not on Camano Island, so much.

It is a rare occasion that I get to stay on the island for business. But that is nothing new. Business for me on the island has always been slow, but the sales volume does not compare to more populated areas.

In fact there are homes here that have been on the market as long as I have lived here. (9 years) Granted they are waterfront, and over a million dollars.

Most of my business is in Snohomish County, and primarily the Greater Everett area, and that is where I am seeing the market snap back to life. But I have been extremely fortunate that my year over year numbers have not been affected by what is happening in the real estate markets. It almost makes me wonder if all the bad news is blown out of proportion.

But I have heard of inspectors leaving the business, and I personally know of real estate agents that have had to leave the business. So it must be real to an extent.

 

Posted by Harold Miller, Everett Home Inspector (Miller Home Inspection) almost 10 years ago

Steve

In repsonse to your second post regarding the SOP and NACHI.

I felt like I had to interject a voice of reason over there. That seems to be in short supply there, and really I think that there is very little objectionable in the proposed SOP. I would think our clients expect as much as what is found in it.

But you will never convince the anti licensing group over there that any SOP is right.

Posted by Harold Miller, Everett Home Inspector (Miller Home Inspection) almost 10 years ago

Thanks Harold. I agree with you, my business has been such that I was questioning the glum market but, like you, I know that some people have been hit hard, realtors and inspectors.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Steve, Charlie,

An update on the SPI issue - I emailed Dan Soumi for his opinion.  It is, "you are correct, until the new home inspector license takes effect, inspectors reporting on WDOs, damage, or conducive conditions during real estate transactions are still required to be licensed as structural pest inspectors."

That would seem to difinitively settle the issue. 

As far as getting to meetings, it is nearly impossible for me from a scheduling standpoint - I lose a day and a half due to travel.  It would be nice to create a webinar type system to access us in the hinterlands.  Don't see it happening but it would be nice.

Posted by Paul Duffau, Caring for People, Educating about Homes (Safe@Home Inspections, LLC in SE Washington) almost 10 years ago

Great post, I love the letter format.  Your pictures are awesome, even the creepy bug one!  I've never seen such long comments in a post before.  The comments are longer than the post itself!  Congrats on the Carnival of Consumer Content Honorable Mention!

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) over 9 years ago

Thanks Sharon---yes this post sort of "grew some legs" as they say:)  It is a pretty bug isn't it?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Great creative post. Congratulations on the honorable mention.

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate (Vision Quest Realty, Martha Hilton, Broker) over 9 years ago

Rebecca, thank you

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Participate