Monday, September 14, 2009

VAREI Annual Conference October 3, 2009

VAREI acts as a voice for Virginia home inspectors in statewide issues, promotes excellence in the home inspection industry and represents a membership that spans the Commonwealth.

Since its inception in 2000, VAREI has been the professional association of, by and for Virginia home inspectors. During the fast paced legislative session of 2001, VAREI leadership sought the opinions of the membership on important issues and acted upon them. In the subsequent regulatory promulgation meetings VAREI leadership has actively advocated for Virginia inspectors. Membership in VAREI is clearly a way of protecting professional inspector interests and the interests of the public. In the future other parties may attempt to influence the home inspection industry through legislation and regulatory changes - and VAREI will be there.

The VAREI Annual Meeting will be held on Saturday, October 3, 2009 . VAREI is pleased to present 3 highly respected speakers, at the leading edges of their fields, providing insightful instruction on subjects which are timely and relevant to our profession.

Dr. Joe Loferski
is a professor in the Department of Wood Science and Forest Products at
VA Tech University. His research specialization is wood engineering, with emphasis on the structural design and long-term performance of wood and wood based composites; and the diagnosis and prevention of moisture and decay problems. He is best known for his research on performance of wood connections and wood deck construction. He has been featured in the Journal of Light Construction, and is a nationally recognized leader in research on catastrophic deck failure. He has published landmark work on deck safety, resulting in changes to the IRC and the AWC DCA6 document on deck construction. Dr. Loferski has also lead many historic preservation projects including The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and Mount Vernon in Colonial Williamsburg. He has taught more than 50 workshops and seminars in the U.S., and in Russia. His high energy and excitement for his work is contagious. He firmly holds his audience’s attention. As Chairman of John Bouldin’s Doctoral Committee, Dr. Loferski has keen insight into the importance of our work as home inspectors.

John Bouldin
is a well known veteran home inspector from northern Virginia and a second year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Wood Science and Forest Products at Virginia Tech. Wood science for home inspectors, engineered wood products, framing systems, and decks are some of his training specialty areas. John is a highly respected
teacher, having trained hundreds of inspectors nationwide. He has been a speaker at ASHI Inspection World, NAHI conferences, Kaplan ITA Inspection Expo conventions, and the 4th International Conference on Advanced Engineered Wood and Hybrid
Composites at the University of Maine. John was an original home inspector member of the Board for Asbestos, Lead, and Home Inspectors. John’s unique mission is to cross-pollinate home inspecting with leading edge academic research, and he is passionate about our collective calling as professional home inspectors.

Roger Robertson
is the Chief of Inspections for the Chesterfield County
Virginia Department of Building Inspection. Roger has been in the code enforcement field for over 20 years, performing duties as an inspector, engineering assistant, and an inspections chief. Prior to his code enforcement career, Roger was a developer and class A Virginia registered contractor, specializing in residential and light commercial construction.

Roger has served as the chairman or member of numerous committees of the Virginia Building and Code Officials Association, The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, and the International Code Council. Roger has developed and presented training seminars for code officials and professionals across Virginia, on topics including residential and commercial building inspection, and means of egress. Roger holds over 20 professional certifications including the International Code Council Master Code Professional designation, and a certified instructor for the International Code Council, and is certified as Lead Instructor for the Jack Proctor Virginia Building Code Academy.

Topic areas include: deck connections and failure potentials; pre-drywall framing; engineered wood product use in the field; wood science as it relates to component and connection failure in the field; inspecting to identify defects in the field and how Code relates to our profession.

We are also pleased to be hearing from Mark Singer of Advocates of VA, VAREI's Legislative Monitor and Lobbyist, reviewing this year’s legislative activity.

When: Saturday, Oct 3rd, 2009

Where: Cultural Arts Center, 2880 Mountain Rd, Glen Allen, Virginia 23060 (Richmond area)

Registration: 7:30am-8:15am

Cost: $140 (includes annual membership, a listing and personal profile on the well-positioned VAREI Website, lunch, and 6 continuing education credits.


The following will co-sponsor the VAREI 2009 Annual Conference:

Lunch will be provided by: Homemades by Suzanne

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

LinkedIn - What is it & what does it mean to me?

You've probably heard of MySpace and FaceBook. You might even have an account. If you set one up (and we recommend that you do), you'll find yourself inundated with former classmates and inlaws from all over the world. It's a great tool for getting and staying in touch with friends and family.

LinkedIn is similar, but is strictly for business. You can post your work history and elicit recommendations from peers and former clients to be shared with people in a manner that you control.

At we anticipate using this tool aggressively to reach out to prospects, both buyers and agents. So, if you're in the program, you'll want to get an account set up right away and get linked.

Just go to and open an account. It may take you a little doing to get started, but once you get a few connections it takes on a life of its own.

Stay tuned for the upcoming webinar explaining some important ways you can leverage you LinkedIn account to market to agents an buyers.


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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Virgina Association of Real Estate Inspectors Presents

A Regional Training Seminar

Where: Holiday Inn Salem (near Roanoke)
When: April 28, 2007

Call 540-389-2424 early to reserve a room at the conference rate

Cost: $100 VAREI Members
$125 at the door

$150 non- members (includes membership until October)
$175 at door

Registration: 8:00 – 8:45
Sessions end about 4:45

*Hot lunch and continental breakfast included.
(6 CEUs/ MRCs pending)

Speakers and Topics

Kenny Hart -
“Working With REALTORS® to Expand Your Home Inspection Business”

Kenny currently is president of VAREI and he chairs the Building Practices and Trades Division of the Alpha College of Real Estate in Virginia Beach. He is licensed in the plumbing, heating and the air conditioning trades and is a retired professional home inspector. He speaks regularly at home inspector meetings across the country, and he has contributed articles to The Journal of Light Construction, professional inspector publications, and others. He also writes a monthly article in a REALTOR® magazine.

John Bouldin -
"Managing Risk in the Home Inspection Business"

John has been in the home inspection business in northern Virginia for fourteen years. He is a frequent speaker at home inspector venues around the country and is a training principal for a nationwide inspection training company. John was involved in assisting state regulators in drafting the certified home inspector regulation. He is one of two inspectors on the Virginia Board for Asbestos, Lead and Home Inspectors.

Fred Simmermon -
"Grounding (and Bonding) Residential Electric Systems"

Fred is the VP/President Elect of VAREI. He was one of the founders of VAREI and has been in the home inspection business for 18 years. He served as VAREI’s education director from 2000-2006. The presentation will cover grounded conductors, equipment grounding systems, grounded electrode systems, ground faults, main bonding jumpers and more. Fred will explain how these systems work together to protect houses and their occupants as well as clarify some of the confusion and misunderstanding about grounding and bonding.

Seating is limited so please register by April 20th by sending E-mail to

Help Make VAREI’s first Regional Training Seminar a Success

Monday, January 22, 2007

Maryland Home Inspector Licensing

There are some intersting developments with the Maryland licensing commission. Click here for more info.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006 Comes into its Own

These are exciting times at VACHI. What started as a simple experiment in search engine optimization (SEO) has become a significant marketing effort for dozens of inspectors throughout the commonwealth. Within just the last few months (Nov. - Dec. '06) a number of things have happened:
1. We finally got the long-awaited point & click map up. It still needs some work, but it is an immense improvement over the original county listing format.
2. We're reorganizing the personal inspector's pages to make them more search engine friendly. This one single effort has done more for the site than any one thing we've ever done, because,
3. Google has begun to take notice. Not only has the landing page begun to show on the first page for those broader searches like, "virginia home inspector," but the county and even the individual pages are beginning to show for more specific searches like, "fauquier home inspection."

There is a pretty steep learning curve on this subject, but we're getting there. Remember, patience is virtue. Watch for upcoming improvements. We're not done yet.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Conference '06


I drove down to Richmond yesterday morning hoping to clarify my understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of licensing. What I did come away with however, was an appreciation for the unique advantages that certification grants us. It was right before our eyes and many of us didn't see it. Those of us who want a credential can have one. And if REALTORS want to use credentialed inspectors, they can.

I think we all came away with a greater appreciation of the advantages and disadvantages of:
  • Promoting licensing
  • Sitting on our hands
  • Making the best of what we have
Thanks and congratulations to those who put this together, specifically (but not only) Fred Simmermon and Kenny Hart. Well done!

I don't think I'd be out of line suggesting that we consider a course of action that includes:
  • Encouraging our peers to become licensed
  • Encouraging VAREI membership
  • Appointing a liaison to each local ASHI, NAHI or NACHI chapter
  • Creating a REALTOR education campaign
  • Encouraging REALTORS to ammend the standard contract to include a clause requiring that the inspection be performed by a certified inspector
  • Fostering greater unity, if not consensus, within our tiny community.
    • Hollis

      Sunday, October 01, 2006

      Annual VAREI Conference


      Attached are the agenda and registration form for the VAREI Annual meeting and Conference in Richmond on October 7th.

      The session is on licensing home inspectors in Virginia. It is sponsored by VAREI as an educational event only. The VAREI Board of Directors has no preconceived notions about whether to promote licensing or not. That is up to the members. One thing for sure is that licensure is almost certainly to be raised by some group seeking to promote their interests... not necessarily ours. When licensing is raised, we may have a say if we hang together. If we remain a disparate bunch of independents, we will hang separately!

      Come network with inspectors around the state and find out what they are hearing, doing, and saying. At the meeting you will hear from one of the most knowledgeable people around about state regulation of home inspectors, and you will meet some General Assembly members who will explain how bills arise and how the GA functions in general. As a bonus, six successful inspectors from around the state will debate licensing and lay out the arguments--pro and con. Attendees will have time to comment also.

      Fill out the attached registration form and send it in ASAP--you won't regret it.

      Fred Simmermon
      VARIED Education Chair

      Friday, September 15, 2006

      Licensing Debate: Certification Has Failed

      I've heard it suggested that the certification law has failed - that we succeeded in beating those who would control us from having their way, but that we failed to get meaningful regulation. During its inception, I'm told, other interests lobbied the legislature to pass a law that would provide a venue for complaints. The inspectors mobilized and quashed this, but attempts to write regulations with teeth were shot down by DPOR.

      Virginia is a right to work state. Proposals put forth by VAREI were considered by DPOR to be restrictions on this right. Mandates of continuing education and minimum experience requirements might not be available to inspectors in less populated parts of the state.

      So now we have a state issued credential that doesn't do much to raise the bar because, on the one hand, it's easy to attain; and on the other, it's easy to avoid.

      Once again, I'm talking about something about which I have limited knowledge. If anyone else has more information, please jump in.


      Thursday, September 14, 2006

      Licensing Debate: Quality Law

      What are the elements of a good licensing law? What kinds of provisions should be in a law that many home inspectors would embrace?

      Licensing Debate: Benefits vs. Risks

      A good licensing law could act to eliminate some of the most objectionable practices, but what guarantees we would get a good licensing law?

      Licensing Debate: Cookie Cutter Effect

      If inspectors are licensed it will be a step towards "sameness" throwing everyone into the same pot and partially eliminating the differences that distinguish us? It is this desirable? What if someone gets into the law a standard report format? Then we just become inspectors, all the same and price is the main difference. Is that a desirable outcome?

      Licensing Debate: State's Position

      Is the state willing to entertain licensing or do they not see a need for it? What criteria does the state use to determine if licensing of professions in necessary? Or is it purely political depending on the whims of the GA?

      Licensing Debate: Pandora's Box

      Once the licensing box is opened, will there be continuous threats from other groups to change or alter the law? If so somebody has to pay to monitor and lobby against such efforts. Is VAREI or anyone else ready to do this?

      Licensing Debate: Community Awareness

      Are there communities around the state where agents and buyers are asking for "certified inspectors"? Or does anyone care?

      Licensing Debate: Benefits to Inspectors

      How does licensing benefit inspectors? Are there strong reasons inspectors themselves should push for licensing? Prices? marketing? etc.

      Licensing Debate - Other Professions Converting to Licensing

      How many professions have gone from voluntary certification to licensing in Virginia? Does anyone know?

      Licensing Debate - Encourage Certification

      Should inspectors more broadly embrace voluntary certification in order to avert a push for licensing?

      Tuesday, September 12, 2006

      Bob Anderson's Thoughts - Pro

      I have been a home inspector since 1996, an ASHI Member since 1998; state certified in 2003 and have inspected homes in three states.

      Many people, especially home inspectors tend to forget why we require professionals to be licensed. It’s not about us; it’s about protecting the consumer.

      Due to many factors, including the lure of apparent easy money to be made as a home inspector, a booming housing market and increased number of home inspector training schools, there has been a huge influx of new home inspectors and others wanting to enter the profession. Our industry has become like a small town in which the population has exploded due to the gold rush, but currently lacks law and order. It is well known that masses of people left to police themselves, will most assuredly dissolve into chaos.

      The state of Virginia does have an inspection precedence that is nearly 100 years old. Everyone has participated in this model, and that is the motor vehicle inspection. My auto mechanic has to follow state standards of practice when he performs an inspection on my car, but what if there were no state automobile inspection standards? What if my mechanic’s company policy stated that brakes were not part of his inspections or what if he was simply busy and didn’t have time to check them? What if I was injured due to faulty brakes, then how would I have any recourse? In this hypothetical scenario, the state doesn’t require him to check the brakes. Sure, many mechanic trade organizations state that a member of their organization must check brakes, but he isn’t a member of any of those organizations either. He is the type of inspector who likes to make up his own rules, and besides, if he had to follow standards, it would slow him down from inspecting 50 cars a day to only 20 cars.

      Bear in mind that I have inspected homes in three states, all of which had no state regulations at the time, so I will not mention from what state this example occurred. I know of a home inspector who is self regulated. His inspections are marked by minutes, not hours. I have heard complaints from the real estate community and home buying public alike that he has completed home inspections in under an hour, and in one case, 45-minutes on a 2,000+ square foot home. Any good inspector could tell you that this cannot be done. He has skipped going in crawl spaces, skipped opening electrical panel covers or going into attics. He tells people that inspectors should not walk on any roof because it will damage the shingles. People will argue that the real estate community or law suites will weed out inspectors like this. The truth is that this inspector thrives. He thrives for two reasons. Due to time constraints, many of us are only able to inspect two homes per day, whereas this inspector is able to complete three and four inspections per day. With that kind of revenue, you can afford an occasional law suite. Also, the real estate community loves the fact that they are only tied up for an hour or less on his inspections, whereas, they will be sitting in a home two to three hours with any other inspector. Statistics prove that the less time spent in a home, fewer defects are uncovered. This is also a great plus for many in the real estate community who do not want their contracts muddied by so called “nit picky inspectors.” As a result, he is one of the most popular inspectors in his market area.

      If there are no mandatory standards or regulations, then how can I, as a homeowner, seek restitution in the event that a home inspector did not properly inspect my home, and caused me great financial loss, or worse. After all, what are we inspecting? My home is my investment, my life’s savings, and a place where I shelter my wife and children.

      In Virginia, home inspectors do not have to enter crawl spaces, they do not have to remove electrical panel covers, and they do not have to inspect or report on the flue of a furnace. I have personally inspected a crawl space that was so full of mold and dry rot, that actual repair estimates were $30,000.00. I have seen furnace flue pipes rusted through and belching carbon monoxide into the home. I have seen fire hazards in electrical panels where breakers were grossly oversized (12 gauge on a 100 amp breaker). Collectively, we have thousands of stories to tell of disasters waiting to happen, many of which could only have been discovered by thorough standardized inspections, by inspectors who have chosen to self regulate. But remember, there are many in society who will not self regulate, who will not follow any rules other than those that will benefit themselves and are in their best interest. It’s simply human nature. Even with standards and regulations, there are those who will choose not to abide. At least the public will have recourse. At least there will be a benchmark from where we can base our case.

      Bob Anderson
      Inspector Homes, Inc.

      Licensing Debate: Rules

      • Each team needs to pick a spokesman to open their side of the debate.
      • Each spokesman will be asked to present their arguments…uninterrupted.
      • Following both presentations a second team member will be asked to rebut for each side…uninterrupted.
      • Please choose #2 in advance.
      • Alternates will be asked to contribute anything left out.
      • Alternates pay close attention to your group so you might add anything you have discussed prior to the debate you feel was missed.
      • Finally, a third member will be asked to sum up each team’s position….uninterrupted.
        Please finish strong.
      • The time for arguments and counter arguments will be limited - likely to 10 minutes.

      Monday, September 11, 2006

      Licensing Debate: Consumer Complaints

      My understanding of one of the significant factors in the decision to enact legislation is the number and significance of consumer complaints registered with the regulatory agency (in this case, DPOR). It was my understanding (someone correct me if I'm wrong) that there were none prior to enacting and only one since.

      Apparently consumers do not complain about home inspectors very often. I think that it's in our interest that we keep it that way. The greater the level of consumer satisfaction - the greater the level of consumer confidence - the greater the value of our service. As the ranks of entry-level inspectors swell, the average competence level is likely to decrease, eventually putting downward pressure on that value.

      Licensing Debate: RE Community Interest

      What stake does the real estate community have in this? I've heard brokers state emphatically that they would like to see licensing of home inspectors. I wonder though, what would be the qualitative difference between mandatory licensing and a simple amendment to the standard contract to require that inspections be performed by certified inspectors.

      A recent pole of the Dulles Area Association of REALTORS (DAAR) was insightful. They got above average response, which I think suggests that there is interest in the topic. The responses however, were suggestive of a very low level of understanding of the issues. Most REALTORS didn't seem to understand that state certification existed.

      I remember the time that I got to the Q&A session of a real estate office sales meeting in '98 or '99. I made the mistake of calling on the agent with the agenda. Her assertive question was, "Is there some agency we can go to to complain when you guys...?

      Sunday, September 10, 2006

      Licensing Debate: Raising The Bar

      I hear the argument that licensing will, "raise the bar." I wonder what people mean when they say this. Are they talking about an ethical bar? Or is it the competence bar?

      With the status quo (voluntary certification), those who don't want to abide by the code of ethics, don't become certified. I wonder what would change if licensing became mandatory. Would we act more conscientiously somehow? Would consumer confidence increase? Or would buyers ever know, or even care?

      Would licensing raise the bar on competence? Would home inspectors somehow become better at what they do if a mandatory license law required more/better training, both entry level and continuing? What about an apprenticeship. Other regulants are required to hone their new skills under the guidance of an experienced peer before being granted full licensure. Why not home inspectors?

      VAREI Licensing Debate

      The 2006 VAREI Annual Membership Meeting and Conference
      will be held on October 7, 2006 from 8:00 -4:30.

      Cost is $100 which includes refreshments, lunch and
      VAREI Membership for one year.

      Holiday Inn Select
      Koger South Conference Center
      1021 Koger Center Blvd.
      Richmond, Virginia
      Phone: 804 897-1414

      Click here for a PDF version of the conference outline
      Click here for a PDF version of the Membership Form

      The topic is
      "Home Inspector Licensing in Virginia:
      Good Idea? Bad Idea?

      This conference topic is designed to improve home inspector's understanding of the regulatory process. Should licensing be in our future. This conference will greatly enhance your understanding of the problems, pitfalls, and benefits of licensing and clarify just who benefits. If you want licensing—you should attend to understand what happens to well-intentioned bills. If you are against, come learn about the benefits.

      Sunday, March 12, 2006

      FAQ: Should I use the inspector who was recommended by my agent?

      Thanks for your question. It's a tough one. Who do you trust - someone you found on the internet, or the person that you've hired to guide you through the process? I'm not going to be able to give you a definitive answer, but let me offer a few points to consider:

      • Who is best positioned to know who the good inspectors are? The obvious answer to that question is real estate agents. They are the professionals who are present at multiple inspections observing multiple inspectors. Not only do they observe inspections, but they also work with inspectors in follow up situations. They know who the professionals are. They know the market. They have established relationships with inspectors. The question is; what do they consider to be the qualifications of a good inspector?

      • Real estate agents have a number of potential conflicts of interest with respect to the recommendation of specific inspectors.

        • The most obvious conflict of interest is related to the agent’s concern that the inspector might find something wrong or deliver information in a way that might influence the buyer toward a decision not to go through with the purchase. Because the agent’s commission is directly related to the sale, an agent might be inclined to recommend an inspector who is less likely to point out the big problems or to be completely candid with the information or its relevance.

        • This particular concern is balanced though, by the agent’s competing concern – that something might go wrong after settlement. In most cases, real estate professionals are dependent on repeat business and referrals for their incomes. They nurture past clients for years in hopes that they will get the listing and the sale when a given client moves. They farm small communities - often communities in which they themselves live. Word does get around. The most successful agents I know, are over sixty years old, with over thirty years of experience, who do most of their work within a couple of miles of home and spend almost nothing on marketing. They can’t afford for the word to get out that they recommend fly-by-night inspectors who candy-coat their findings.

        • There’s the quid-pro-quo (this for that). Some of the larger firms and franchises have discovered that the best investment of their marketing dollar is advertising through brokerage channels – brochures, magazines, sales meetings and websites. In some cases, they pay money for these opportunities. In some cases they enter into preferred provider relationships – sometimes exclusive provider relationships. In these cases, a recommendation from a real estate agent is, in effect, a paid ad. The federal RESPA law addresses this. It is my understanding that, as long as the fee paid is directly related to advertising actually provided at market price; this practice is allowed under the statute. The state certification law and the ASHI Code of Ethics however, take different positions.

      • So what are your alternatives?

        • You could ask friends, coworkers, colleagues, neighbors, and family members who recently bought houses if they were happy with their inspectors. This sounds good, until you consider the knowledge base of your sources. In each case, you’re talking to a particular person who had a particular experience. Her frame of reference is one inspector at one inspection – not a very diverse sample.

        • You could ask the agent for the criteria used to evaluate the recommended inspector:

          • What do you like about this inspector?

          • How long have you known him?

          • How frequently do you use him?

          • Is he an ASHI member?

          • Is he state certified?

          • Do you have another inspector that you recommend sometimes?

          • Why do you recommend this one sometimes and the other one at other times?

          • Did you buy a house yourself recently? What inspector did you use?

          • Did you sell a house to an immediate family member (mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter) recently? What inspector did you use?

        • You could interview the inspector yourself?

          • Background – What did you do before you got into inspections? Critical responses might be:

            • Used car dealer

            • Retired builder

          • How long have you been in the inspection business?

          • How many inspections have you performed in your career?

            • Divide total number of inspections by number of years in business (inspections per year).

              • Fewer than 200 is part-time.

              • More than 600 is extraordinary. The important question here is, did he accomplish this feat by being extraordinarily organized or are his inspections less than thorough. I can think of examples of both.

        • Credentials - Home inspection, as a profession, has only existed for about forty years.

          • In 1976, a forward thinking group of inspectors joined together (in large measure to address this very question) to create the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Due to the practicality (focus on protecting the interest of both the inspector and the client) of its Standard of Practice and its Code of Ethics, ASHI membership has gradually become the accepted credential for home inspectors nationwide.

          • The National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) emerged in 1987 with a similar mission. NAHI membership is easier to attain than is ASHI membership. The NAHI CRI (Certified Residential Inspector) credential is almost similar to ASHI membership. They both require testing (proctored exam) and have minimum experience requirements.

          • There are a number of local inspector organizations serving different pockets of the country. Many of these are very good – FABI in Florida, CREIA in California (for example).

          • With the advent of the internet, some pseudo-organizations have emerged. These are, in large measure, well optimized websites that masquerade as professional organizations capitalizing on the goodwill established by ASHI and NAHI. When evaluating claims made on the internet, I suggest a careful reading of the actual language and independent corroboration of any claims made. There are some very good looking high profile logos available in exchange for an annual fee (dues). The appearance of testing is accomplished by the administration of an online quiz (not proctored).

          • When evaluating the organization to which an inspector belongs, I recommend asking a few direct questions:

            • Did you actually take the test yourself? Are you confident that every member of your organization actually did?

            • What is the corporate structure of your organization? Is it governed by its membership, or is it a for profit business owned by its executive director?

            • How long has it existed?

            • How many members does it actually have? How confident are you that this is an accurate number of individual professional inspectors?

          • In the state of Virginia, there are three levels of regulation.

            • Registration – Owning a car is an example. There are no legally required competency standards. Anyone can own one, but he must register it with the DMV.

            • Certification – A voluntary state issued credential. It does have minimum competency requirements, but is not mandatory. I can’t think of a motor vehicle analogy.

            • Licensing – Going back to our DMV analogy, this would be the driver’s license. In order to operate a car legally in the commonwealth, a person is required by law to meet certain minimum competency standards demonstrated by testing.

          • Effective July 1, 2003 the state has made available a voluntary credential in the form of Home Inspector Certification. Those inspectors, who have chosen to become certified, are legally bound to a standard of practice and a code of ethics. There is a regulatory body that has the authority to impose consequences on inspectors who fail to comply with these regulations. You will find very few (if any) inspectors who are both certified and participate in proffered provider programs. Both the state certification code of ethics and the ASHI Code of Ethics disallow this practice.

          • Training – There is reason to believe that the best background for a home inspector would be construction. A person with specific experience in a particular trade might be very good at evaluating a particular system, but his experience is likely to be limited to his specific specialization. Inspectors are generalists. They inspect all the systems and therefore, must be familiar with all the systems. One might expect then, that a general contractor might make a better inspector than might a plumber or an electrician. He deals with all the different components. Every builder I know subcontracts most of the work and is therefore, dependent on other’s specific knowledge. The argument proceeds – But he has to supervise all that work. Once again, my experience (and I’ve had this conversation with my students many times) is that builders depend on the county inspectors for quality control.

            In order to become competent home inspectors, all individuals require training. There are many training opportunities available. The good ones are not cheap. There is therefore, a market for inexpensive pseudo-training available marketed over the internet and on matchbook covers. There are some very good schools. More experienced inspectors may list all of their training experiences on their websites. These lists are often many pages long including every seminar an inspector ever attended.

          • Peer review – An inspector who has been elected by his peers to represent them in some capacity has been granted some kind of meaningful endorsement by those in the second best position to evaluate his ability (the agent is still in the best position to observe).

        In my assessment, the bottom line is; the inspector that your agent has chosen may well be the best inspector in town. There are indeed conscientious agents who do care for their clients. I know many of them. If you don't trust the agent you're working with, you may be well advised to find another agent.

                  Hollis Brown

                  Washington, DC Area Home Inspections - Inspectors

                  Wednesday, March 08, 2006

                  A Little Bit of History

                  We tend to think of home inspection as a relatively young profession, but in reality, people have been seeking advice on home purchase decisions since forever. Prior to the 1970s though, that consultant was usually a father, brother in law, or some other friend or relative who had some background or experience in real estate or construction. But those were simpler times. Following a strong post World War II nationwide demographic shift in the home buying population came a new paradigm. People traded farm life for the suburbs. Blue collar workers sent their children to college and raised the next generation of upwardly mobile professionals. Informed by the adage,"Knowledge is Power," this new generation was much more comfortable paying a consultant to empower them with knowledge.

                  In the early 1970s a few pioneers hung out their shingles and began to fill the information void. By the mid '70s, the home inspection profession was growing strong as more people began to realize the value of the wisdom of an experienced professional. In the late '70s a forward thinking group of home inspectors realized the need for a professional organization. In 1977, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) was born. Soon after, a sister organization, the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) came into existence. These two organizations existed in relative harmony for nearly two decades. Each defined itself and its mission with clearly written Standards of Practice and Codes of Ethics.

                  Through the 1990s, ASHI did a very good job of outreach to the real estate community and somewhat successfully established itself as the standard bearer for the profession in most metropolitan markets. NAHI however, continued to grow in numbers as it succeeded in differentiating itself from ASHI. A healthy competition for membership and recognition by the public ensued.

                  Absent a state issued license or certification, membership in a national organization became the accepted credential nationwide. In order to gain full membership in ASHI, a candidate was required to illustrate a minimal level of practical knowledge of residential construction methods and materials through an entrance exam. He had to have some minimal level of experience and was required to abide by a comprehensive set of standards and ethics. NAHI established a credential in excess of membership. The NAHI, Certified Residential Inspector (CRI) credential was on paper similar in scope to ASHI membership.

                  As home inspectors gained recognition and the inspection profession grew in stature, aggregation ensued. Some of the large local firms merged into larger regional firms and regional franchises began to appear. Large corporate interests began to ignore the ethics codes and money began to change hands under the table.

                  ASHI responded aggressively by moving first to stiffen and then to enforce its Code of Ethics. Under threat of suspension, many of the franchisees and employees of the larger multi-inspector firms migrated away from ASHI.

                  In 1999 the Virginia Association of Realtors (VAR) lobbied the Virginia legislature to impose a home inspector license law. The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulations (DPOR) responded by expressing little concern about the profession sighting the absence of complaints and law suits. The profession had apparently, up to that point, done a good job of policing itself. In 2000 home inspectors operating in Virginia mobilized, creating a statewide organization, the Virginia Association of Real Estate Inspectors (VAREI). Under continued pressure from VAR and with the guidance of VAREI, the Virginia legislature did enact a voluntary certification law. This law went into effect on July 1, 2003. Some inspectors chose to become certified, but many did not.

                  By the turn of the century a few franchises and at least one multi-inspector firm had gained national prominence. Over half of the states had imposed license laws. And the average consumer had discovered the internet...