Florida Fires Home Insection Company

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State Fires Home Inspection Company

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By JOHN W. ALLMAN The Tampa Tribune
Published: Oct 19, 2007TBO.com Site Search | Tribune archive from 1990

TAMPA - The state has fired one of its 11 My Safe Florida Home inspection firms and may cut ties with more companies Monday.
The Tampa Tribune reported Sunday that widespread discrepancies exist in Fires Home Inspection Companythe free hurricane wind inspection reports that more than 98,000 people have received since August 2006.
The program is supposed to tell residents statewide whether their homes can withstand a hurricane, and it offers a financial incentive for them to install safety features. The information contained in the reports, in particular, has been touted for helping lower insurance premiums.
The state Department of Financial Services, which oversees My Safe Florida Home, said it will announce Monday which of the 10 remaining firms will continue inspecting homes for now.
In November, the department plans to seek new proposals from inspection companies before signing new contracts. The request will include increased requirements for inspector training, specifically more field training and post-inspection training. The state did not provide specifics on the new criteria.
The state’s previous request for proposals had no provision mandating the type or amount of prior experience for inspectors hired. It also made field training the responsibility of the individual firms.
“We have gained insight and information in the last six months that will result in improvements to the MSFH program, including but not limited to raising the required experience levels of inspectors involved in this program,” program officials said. “It has always been our goal to increase our standards throughout the program, based on performance and compliance audits, customer service, Q/A analyses, evolution of our technology and best practices.”
The state also plans to hire an outside company to monitor the inspection firms and to review inspections for the remainder of the program.
Contract Terminated

The changes follow the decision Oct. 12 to terminate the contract of Home Inspections LLC, a Madeira Beach-based inspection firm.
In an e-mail Thursday to the Tribune, program officials cited “performance issues” as the reason for cutting ties with Home Inspections but did not elaborate.
Home Inspections, at one time, had 30 to 35 inspectors working in the program, according to operations manager Dave Schreiber, who spoke to the Tribune in September.
Schreiber said then that his inspectors included professionals with prior experience and “people who have heard about it who were in a completely different industry.”
He said the firm randomly selected inspectors for an in-house review "just to let us know we’re doing an accurate inspection.
“For the most part, it’s good,” he said. “There’s always a couple of cases where a homeowner is chatting with an inspector and they might miss a window.”
Schreiber did not return a call for comment Thursday.
The state since July has been reinspecting about 3,000 homes to check the accuracy of the inspections. An analysis is expected later this month.
The newspaper looked at many of those reinspection documents on houses statewide and found that inspectors often differed on pertinent facts, such as the number of window and door openings, whether those openings had hurricane-rated protective coverings, even how the roof was attached to the house.
In 72 cases, the Tribune identified no fewer than 20 errors in each set of inspections, including window and door measurements. Six cases had more than 100 errors each. The paper also looked at the training that inspectors receive, which is a single daylong class and an open-book exam.
Lawmakers Speak Out

The Tribune’s report drew concern from state lawmakers contacted prior to the changes being announced.
“We rely on the fact that professionals out there know how to do the job,” said Rep. Kevin Ambler, R-Tampa. “There just should not be that great a disparity between two inspection reports.”
Ambler said the program needs to revisit training and must incorporate some type of continuing education.
“I think those are going to be imperative to have credibility and integrity in the program,” he said.
Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, said the state needs to take a long look at who is handling the inspections.
“I’m sure there’s good ones,” he said, “and I’m sure there’s probably some inspectors they need to either retrain or replace.”
Ambler and Glorioso were among the legislators who voted in May to dramatically alter the My Safe Florida Home program.
The vote reduced the maximum insured value of eligible homes from $500,000 to $300,000. It also limited who could apply for a matching grant of up to $5,000 to make safety improvements, making the grants available only to residents living in the wind-borne debris region - an area that stretches about a mile inland.
That decision eliminated much of the state, including nearly all of Hillsborough County, which sits outside the region.
Ambler said without limiting eligibility, the $250 million earmarked for grants would have dissipated quickly.
“That’s not to say that down the road the program can’t be expanded,” he said.
Legislators also called on the Department of Financial Services to complete 400,000 free inspections by June 2009.
Public response has slowed considerably, however, in recent months. The state initially anticipated that inspectors would visit a minimum of 11,000 homes each week.
In September, the program received 12,480 requests for a free inspection.
Reporter John W. Allman can be reached at (813) 259-7915 or jallman@tampatrib.com.

Thanks for posting this story Roy.

It would be nice if they just went with what the committee suggested.

Yes, you’re right, but then they wouldn’t be the government, would they? :roll: :wink: :smiley:


TBO.com](http://www.tbo.com/) > News > Metro

A Perfect Storm Of Inspection Violations

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By JOHN W. ALLMAN The Tampa Tribune
Published: Oct 20, 2007

TAMPA - Home Inspections LLC could not produce documentation that it employed experienced hurricane inspectors - one of several reasons state officials gave for firing the company last week.
Home Inspections was one of 11 inspection companies the state hired to provide free hurricane inspections through its My Safe Florida Home program. Each of the companies was recently audited.
Its contract was terminated Oct. 12, based on the audit results, said Tami Torres, special programs administrator for the Department of Financial Services, which oversees My Safe Florida Home.
The Tampa Tribune on Sunday reported that widespread discrepancies exist in the inspection reports, which help determine whether houses can withstand a hurricane and what, if any, safety improvements can be made. More than 98,000 residents statewide have gotten inspections since August 2006.
The state received 105 complaints about Home Inspections during its six months in the program.
Of those, 97 were from homeowners who said they found an error in an inspection report prepared by the company.
The company, based in Madeira Beach, has been paid $893,250 for 5,955 inspections completed to date. The state, per its contract, pays $150 for each inspection.
Home Inspections’ audit contains a litany of violations, including:
•Failure to maintain adequate records.
Personnel files for 34 of 39 inspectors did not include a resume or other documentation of prior inspection experience. In addition, 95 percent of the files lacked a required criminal background check and 11 of 39 files did not have required drug test results. Twelve of the 39 lacked proof that inspectors had completed the necessary training and testing required by the state.
The state required anyone hired to have prior residential construction and/or residential inspection experience. It did not specify the length of experience.
“The majority of the files contain virtually no information regarding the background, experience and education of the inspectors,” the audit found. “Several of those that did contain any form of resume revealed these individuals had little or no relevant experience prior to this program.”
•Failure to monitor its own inspections for accuracy.
Home Inspections agreed in its contract to reinspect 100 percent of its inspections to make sure few to no errors were being made. However, Torres said, an auditor found that only 1.5 percent, or 60 reinspections, had been done. And, she said, those reinspections happened days before the auditor arrived to review the firm’s performance.
•Failure to immediately notify the state that an inspector has been suspended or fired.
Home Inspections, according to Torres, told the auditor it had suspended seven inspectors and fired 12 more. The company later said, however, that it had fired only four inspectors. But it notified the state of only two of those dismissals, which meant two other fired inspectors remained active in the state’s database.
The notification is important, Torres said, because it helps prevent bad inspectors from applying for work with another of the My Safe Florida Home firms.
Company Had Potential Conflict

Torres said there is no indication that all the inspections completed by Home Inspections should be questioned.
The state, in addition to the audits, is reviewing inspections for all 11 firms through a random reinspection of 3,000 homes statewide. A report on overall accuracy is expected this month.
“From a standpoint of building credibility, the firms we work with have to be of the highest caliber,” Torres said. “The public’s confidence level is very important to us.”
Another problem, according to the audit, involved a possible conflict of interest regarding the owner of Home Inspections.
Tom Whalley, chief executive officer, also owns Tom Whalley’s Installations 'R Us, which sells and installs hurricane shutters and protective panels. The company, according to the audit, requires all inspectors to sign an agreement not to market products or solicit sales while conducting My Safe Florida Home inspections.
The audit found that 13 of the 39 inspectors never signed the agreement.
“While no specific cases of conflict of interest were identified,” the audit stated, “inspectors expressed concern that there is a potential for conflict, especially regarding the procedure for calling back homeowners to determine customer satisfaction.”
Whalley said Friday that he is not sure yet whether he will fight the decision to end his contract. He has until Nov. 2 to file an appeal.
In a response to the audit, dated Oct. 15, his company disputed the state’s findings. It said that inspector files have been brought into compliance since the audit. It said that 85 reinspections - not 60 - were completed. And it said that each inspector must perform 10 mock inspections, which are reviewed for mistakes, prior to that inspector being sent into the field.
Need For More Training Seen

The My Safe Florida Home program has received criticism from homeowners since its inception. Many complained about changes to the program this year that eliminated much of the state from applying for a $5,000 matching grant to make improvements.
The Legislature voted in May to narrow grant eligibility to those who live within the wind-borne debris region, an area that extends inland about one mile. Most of Hillsborough County sits outside that region.
The Tribune, in examining the reinspection reports that the state will use to gauge accuracy, found that inspectors often differed on key portions. In a random sampling of 72 homes, looking at inspection and reinspection reports, the newspaper found a minimum of 20 discrepancies between the two inspectors in each set of reports. Six examples had more than 100 discrepancies.
In addition, the newspaper looked at the training that inspectors receive, which amounts to a single class and an open-book test.
The state this week said it is revamping its requirements for inspectors and inspection firms. On Monday, it will announce which of the remaining 10 companies will continue doing inspections - for now.
Some of the firms may be let go, Torres said, because they are not meeting the state’s standard, per the audit. But, she added, none of the other companies were found to have violated the contract, or else they would have been terminated immediately as well.
In November, the state plans to seek new proposals from inspection firms before signing new contracts in January. The state said it likely will stipulate more training of inspectors.
“We want to make sure if someone is coming out to your home, they know what they’re doing, and you can have confidence in the report you get back,” said Tara Klimek, communications director for Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.
Reporter John W. Allman can be reached at jallman@tampatrib.com or (813) 259-7915.](“http://search.tbo.com/”)

Wow. Interesting

If we are lucky they will cancel the entire program.

It is time to end it.

As the article states the owner is Tom Whalley. Here is his information:

Inspection WEB site:

This was verified using the contractor license number at the bottom of his WEB pages and the State Of Florida license search with results of:



If you view his WEB site he is flying the NACHI logo. Thomas Whalley does not appear in the member rosters. In addition a search of “Find An Inspector” for a wide area around his location does not list any NACHI members using his firms name.

Is NACHI doing anything about those who use the NACHI logo and have no apparent ties to NACHI? This is also a black eye to NACHI and warrants at least some investigation by NACHI!**

This is what happens when you pay an inspector $45 for a $150 inspection.

Maybe this letter & exhibits (attachments) from a South Florida Attorney to multiple government officials may shed some light on the issues with My Safe Florida Homes, the WCE’s and the battle that is being fought to preserve our constitutional right to work while protecting the public interests and our tax dollars.

This was in response to a letter written by Florida’s CFO Alex Sink asking our State reps to revive the MSFH program.

Thanks to all, remember if you agree with the attached contact your State rep in writting and protest the WCE monopoly.

Jose’ F. Uz, CRC, CPO, CHI, CHC, M-NFPA, FHA-I, FABI & NACHI Certified Inspector
Caribbean**[size=3]Realty Support Services, Inc.[/size]**