Inspecting the Inspector
Home inspections are a good idea and no one should buy a house without one. But who regulates or inspects the inspectors? The short answer before this year's legislative session was: Nobody. And it's still nobody until July, 2010.
A measure that the Florida Association of REALTORS® has advocated for years was finally signed into law after legislators passed SB2234. The new law will regulate home inspection businesses and individuals as well as the mold inspection industry. The delay in implementing the law is to allow time for the State to come up with an implementation plan under the direction of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). When it does go into effect, inspectors will be required to complete 120 hours of training, and pay a licensing fee.
Neither Florida nor Georgia presently regulate or license home inspectors. Any one can get a business license, print business cards, and call himself a home inspector. They rarely guarantee their work, and most present a disclaimer to customers.*
When the new law goes into effect the DBPR will give consumers a new avenue to pursue information about and complaints against home inspectors.
Finding Quality Inspectors
Meanwhile, there are quality inspectors with solid experience. They will check the major systems of a house and give you a detailed report on the findings, thus assuring there will be no unpleasant or expensive surprises after the closing. Personal knowledge of the inspector's reputation is the safest way to select a home inspector.
The sales associate should provide the seller or buyer with a list of recommended home inspectors. The buyer or seller may then choose an inspector from the list. This method will avoid any hint of collusion between the inspector and the sales associate.
The home inspector will check all the major systems and write a detailed report of the findings. The inspection report is given to the inspector's
client, either the buyer or the seller. Usually, a copy of the report is also given to the listing agent. The inspection report may recommend a number of repairs or replacements to make the house more attractive to buyers or to satisfy lenders.
Consumers can visit the official website of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), www.ashi.org. Members of that organization are required to abide by a code of ethics and are committed to conducting inspections in accordance with ASHI standards of practice.
The most common associations for Florida home inspectors are:
- NACHI (National Association of Certified Home Inspectors)
- NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors)
- FABI (Florida Association of Building Inspectors).
Savvy consumers should know the facts about the importance of having a pre-purchase, pre-listing or general maintenance home inspection. Below are ASHI's top five tips for identifying a qualified home inspector:
- Locate an ASHI Certified Inspector by using ASHI's "Find an Inspector" tool at www.ASHI.org. Consumers can locate an ASHI Certified Inspector by specialty, language spoken or ancillary services provided.
- Confirm that the inspector is an experienced residential inspector and check his references. Whether you're purchasing a house or condo, there is no substitute for experience.
- Identify how long she has been a home inspector and how many inspections she has completed. ASHI Certified Inspectors are required to have completed at least 250 paid professional home inspections and pass two written exams that test the inspector's knowledge of a home's major systems.
- Determine what the inspection and inspection report will cover. Make sure the inspection complies with the ASHI Standards of Practice (the industry standard) available online at www.ASHI.org.
- Attend the inspection. Home inspectors should encourage homeowners/potential homeowners or interested parties to attend the inspection. It's a valuable opportunity for the seller and/or buyer to learn more about the property at hand.
A clear report will put the buyers at ease, add confidence to the seller and smooth the way to a pleasant closing.
*Post-Licensing Education, author Edward J. O'Donnell, Gaines & Coleman, Dearborn, publishers.