Caveat Emptor “Buyer Beware” -- Not All Home Inspection Laws Are Created Equal

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Pennsylvania and California Plummet to the Bottom of ASHI’s 2006 Rankings of State Regulations Governing the Home Inspection Industry.

Government regulation of home inspectors, and the profession of home inspection, has been an area of increasing concern and activity in recent years among state legislators. In the last nine years, 27 states have enacted laws regulating the industry, but according to the American Society of Home Inspectors’ (ASHI) 2006 Position Statement on the Regulation of Home Inspectors, consumers and legislators should be advised – all laws are not created equal.

“This year, we added a rating to our study that evaluated how enforceable the current home inspection laws were in the 31 states with active legislation,” said 2006 ASHI President Joe Corsetto. “What we found is that while some state laws look great on paper they fail constituents because they cannot be enforced.”

Pennsylvania, which ranked fifth on ASHI’s 2005 list, dropped dramatically to 26 on this year’s list because ASHI found that the state’s “inspector experience” requirement was not enforceable. California also dropped from 28 to 31 (last in the rankings) because several of its provisions, including its “prohibited acts” provision, which outlines an inspector’s code of ethics, cannot be enforced.

“This is dangerous,” added Corsetto. “The laws in these states give consumers a false sense of comfort. The truth is, a law that can’t be enforced is worse than having no provision at all.”

Other states that fell in this year’s ranking include last year’s leader, New Jersey, which dropped from first to second because the state lowered its home inspector experience requirement, while several states made positive strides in 2006:

West Virginia became the thirty-first state to regulate home inspectors (ASHI’s report ranks it among the top ten of regulated states).

Tennessee jumped from 23 to 12 by adopting strong standards of practice and a valid exam.

Kentucky improved its rank from 24 to 18 by adding experience, education and exam requirements to its state law.

Maryland moved from 25 to 23 by adding inspector standards of practice.

Below are ASHI’s 2006 rankings of state regulations governing the home inspection industry:

1.    Louisiana                

2.    New Jersey/Texas            

3.    Arizona                    

4.    Massachusetts                

5.    Connecticut/North Carolina        

8.    Arkansas                    

9.    Indiana                    

10.    Rhode Island/West Virginia        

11.    South Dakota/Tennessee            

14.    Mississippi                

15.    Virginia                    

16.    Wisconsin                

17.    Oklahoma                    

18.    Kentucky

19.    Alaska/Illinois (tie)

20.    Alabama/Oregon (tie)

23.    Maryland

24.    New York

25.    Nevada

26.    Pennsylvania

27.    South Carolina

28.    Montana

29.    North Dakota

30.    Georgia

31.    California

Note: Rankings are based upon the overall grading of states with existing laws regulating home inspectors where “1” indicates the best ranking “31” indicates the poorest ranking.

ASHI’s state ratings are based on a multi-criteria system. Because laws vary significantly from state to state, a detailed set of criteria is used to review each state’s regulation to determine the positive elements of legislation as well as areas that may need improvement. States receive points according to the most weight or importance ASHI places on different regulation standards and are evaluated against 13 criteria, including experience, education, testing requirements, standards of practice and codes of ethics.

In addition to providing rankings for each state, the ASHI Position Statement includes a model licensing bill that states can use as a guideline to develop strong home inspector legislation. The model also provides information about appointing a governing body to administer the laws, and it proposes that members of the governing body be free of conflicts of interest in the regulation of home inspectors.

“Legislators in each state must determine whether or not regulation is necessary to protect their constituents,” said Corsetto. “Should they decide to take that route, ASHI is dedicated to providing guidelines for laws that are meaningful and foster excellence within the home inspection profession.”

ASHI encourages legislators who are interested in adopting home inspection laws to look to Louisiana, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona, or Massachusetts as models for legislation. States without Home Inspection Regulation are: Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming. Legislation is pending in Michigan.

Complete details of the findings, state scores and grading criteria can be found in ASHI’s official Position Statement on Regulation of Home Inspectors at http://www.ASHI.org.

About the American Society of Home Inspectors

Celebrating 30 years, and more than 6,000 members strong, ASHI is the oldest and most widely recognized non-profit, professional organization of home inspectors in North America. Its Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics have become the industry standard. ASHI’s mission is to meet the needs of its membership and promote excellence and exemplary practice within the profession. For more information, visit http://www.ASHI.org or call 800-743-2744.

ASHI Members are independent professional home inspectors who have met rigorous technical and experience requirements. ASHI Members are required to successfully complete two written examinations that test their knowledge of building systems and components and of the ASHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. To become a Member, inspectors’ reports are verified as meeting the ASHI Standards of Practice, and they must have performed a minimum of 250 fee-paid inspections. Candidates with logo use privileges must have completed all the requirements of a Member, and must have performed a minimum of 50 verified fee-paid inspections, becoming a full Member only after completing an additional 200 fee-paid inspections. ASHI Members must also obtain ongoing education to stay current on the latest information pertaining to buildings and their systems.

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Lisa Gunggoll or Alissa Lew
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