Well, no registration or licensing laws will ever prevent unscrupulous behavior; so the Kansas governor’s idea that some form of regulation isn’t needed if no unscrupulous behavior is observed is wrong headed. The rules shouldn’t be about trying to regulate someone’s behavior they should be aimed at ensuring practicing inspectors are competent to do what each claims to be able to do - competently and thoroughly inspect homes.
Kansas was registering inspectors if they met appropriate criteria and nothing more. Maybe it gave one or two persons pause when considering home inspections as a profession; but I doubt that it turned dishonest inspectors into paragons of righteousness overnight. In fact, I’d venture to say it has zero impact on “unscrupulous” persons. If laws actually did that, we’d have no need for a police force.
No law requiring someone be registered or obtain a home inspector license can stop unscrupulous behavior any more than a realtor’s license stops some realtors from being 'zoids, or a vehicle registration stops folks from driving drunk or breaking any other law in their cars.
Laws aimed at regulating inspectors that are aimed at ensuring an inspector is competent protect consumers and inspector alike. Any law that doesn’t ensure competency is pablum.
According to the article, registration in Kansas ensures that home inspectors are certified by national home inspection organizations - big whoop. That means they’ve joined a club; it doesn’t mean the inspector is competent. Sure, the clubs will all say that their members are competent and wave around a bunch of statistics, but we have all known inspectors who have been long time members of every one of those clubs that, in our hearts, we believe to be the worst inspectors on the planet. The clubs are powerless to enforce competency. They try to do it with continuing education requirements but in many instances those are a sham. I recently attended one conference where I had to leave the lecture hall to use the bathroom. As I walked through the hallways of the hotel hunting for the men’s room I counted no less than 11 inspectors wearing name tags with their association logo on them sound asleep on various divans and chairs outside of the conference room. When I returned to the conference I checked the state-mandated sign-in sheet. Yep, there were the names of those I recognized among them. Wonder how much they were learning sleeping in the hallways?
According to the article, registration ensures inspectors have financial responsibility like surety bonds and liability insurance. That still doesn’t do much to protect consumers; it’s just another “requirement” that is nothing more than a minor speed bump. It was probably dreamed up by someone that thought it would prevent some folks from entering the profession and becoming his or her competition. It doesn’t do any more to protect the consumer than errors and omissions insurance protects the consumer. If E & O actually protected consumers we wouldn’t be reading articles bemoaning how some poor schmuck got a lousy inspection and the lack of competent inspectors. I read stories all the times like that in states that have regulation and mandatory E & O - the E & O costs apparently don’t discourage incompetents. Maybe they even make those inspectors more careless because they think that if they screw up they’ll be covered regardless.
According to the article Kansaw inspectors are being required to maintain continuing education. OK, now at least there is finally something meant to help the consumer, but unless you’ve tested every one of those practicing inspectors and identified those among them who are incompetents, it’s like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. Yeah, eventually the guy/gal should become more competent after attending enough continuing ed, but that can take a lot of years - what about all of those homes he or she is “experimenting” on in the meantime?
According to the article, registration makes sure that they are not felons. Hmmm, current felons, as in suck up artists conspiring with realtors to whitewash a house for a nice kickback in the form of guaranteed future referrals, or felons such as a convicted rapist? By the way, what’s this about anyway? Who says a past felon can’t be a perfectly capable home inspector? There have been thousands of persons who have been felons who cleaned up their act and went on to become law abiding citizens; why is home inspections so sacrosanct that a felon can’t do this gig? I guess I can understand a former crook not being allowed to be a cop or a banker or a stock broker, because there’s the potential for huge temptation in those types of jobs but there isn’t a whole lot of temptation in crawling around in attics and crawlspaces and risking one’s *** climbing on ladders and going into homes laced with parasites and ringworm. There’s nothing there that a former felon who is intelligent enough can’t do and do well.
If someone is going to be a crook he or she will be a crook regardless of whether or not there is a licensing or registration law.
From my own experience; I know that here, where we have licensing, not registration, the law requires: 1. mandatory minimum education specific to home inspections 2. mandatory testing of every inspector to ensure that the inspector at least has minimal competency; and 3. mandatory minimum mentoring by a licensed inspector to ensure the inspector knows how to at least write a report to the standard.
These requirements were all designed to ensure that consumers could be reasonably confident that the inspector hired is minimally competent.
Even inspectors here who were grandfathered were forced to take the NHIE or they were denied a license. Those practicing inspectors who couldn’t pass it, regardless of how long they’d been in the business, found themselves forced to either leave the business or go back to school to get minimally trained so they could pass it. That rule doesn’t guaranty that an inspector will be the best inspector on the planet, or the most honest and ethical inspector on the planet, but it does weed out those who aren’t minimally competent - none of those Kansas requirements do that.
The mentoring and report writing requirement exposes an inspector to the profession and what he or she is going to be required to do as an inspector. Some folks find the mentoring easy; some find it tough. If the person doing the mentoring is doing so conscientiously the new inspector will learn quite a bit and has to prove to the mentor that he or she knows how to write a report that meets the state standard. I’ve mentored about half a dozen inspectors over the past seventeen years. Only one of them went on to become an inspector - the others decided just in time that they weren’t cut out for it. The guy who went on to become an inspector went on to spend thousands to go to school in Utah. Then he returned here, opened up his doors and a month later called me to turn over his client “list”, saying he was getting out of the gig because he couldn’t put up with the realtors’ bull**** anymore - granted, that was before licensing, but I’m not sure that if he’d gotten his license today he’d still be in it. I think he’d thought it was going to be an easier gig than it is.
There is a little wrinkle in this rule; if the mentor writes a lousy report, he or she is probably going to certify a lousy report. That can come back to bite the mentor. If an inspector’s report ever comes into question because it’s not complete, the inspector’s mentor is probably going to end up getting his or her reports audited to determine if they meet state requirements. If that investigation determines the mentor’s reports don’t meet the minimum standard either, both inspectors are probably going to receive some kind of notice of correction from the Department of Licensing and may even be required to undergo additional training or have their license suspended.
That rule is aimed at consumer protection; but it too cannot guaranty honesty or ethical behavior. In fact, it can’t guaranty a good report either. There are hundreds of inspectors who were grandfathered and only required to take the NHIE. Nobody audited their reports to ensure they met requirements. Still, if those inspectors write a lousy report today DOL has the teeth they need to take corrective measures, whether that be to fine the inspector, suspend the inspector’s license or force the inspector to undergo additional training.
Our law also has a code of ethics that is codified. It prohibits an inspector from specific types of unethical behavior that unethical inspectors are known to perpetrate; but like any law it can’t stop anyone that is bound and determined to break the law. The COE is important because without it DOL’s disciplinary options are limited, with it, they can take action against those behaviors and in extreme cases close an inspectors company down completely. Membership in a club and adherence to a club’s COE doesn’t provide the consumer that kind of protection.
That’s consumer protection. It’s not perfect but it’s a heck of a lot better than the Kansas registration rules.
I think the Kansas folks should get serious and go back to the drawing board. If they want regulation they need to develop something that will protect consumers and they have to prove to their gov that it can - to a point.
ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!
By the way, it’s faux pas not foo pah.