law deregulates home inspectors in Kansas

Last updated: 7:54 a.m.Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014
Search Search
Expiration of law deregulates home inspectors in Kansas
By Jerry Siebenmark
The Wichita Eagle
Published Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, at 7:53 a.m.

Parham stresses that homebuyers and sellers should check on the certifications of potential inspectors now that a law regulating the industry has ended.

Kerry Parham of Terra Inspections and the president of the Kansas Association of Real Estate Inspectors places a radon detector in the basement of a new home. Parham helped craft a bill that became a five-year law regulating the home inspection industry.
Finding a home inspector
Kansas Association of Real Estate Inspectors:

American Society of Home Inspectors:

International Association of Certified Home Inspectors:

Last July, Kerry Parham and Jeff Barnes said they saw about a decade’s worth of work just disappear.

The two, Wichita-area home inspectors helped craft a bill to regulate their industry, the Kansas Home Inspectors Professional Competence and Financial Responsibility Act.

The major provisions of the bill, which was signed into law by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and took effect in July 2009, required home inspectors in the state to abide by certain practices and standards, including having formal training (a minimum of 80 hours) as a home inspector. They also were required to carry certain types and amounts of liability insurance and annually complete a minimum of 16 hours of continuing education. A five-member board appointed by the governor would oversee registrations and compliance with the law.

Up until then, there was no regulation of home inspectors in Kansas, they said, and anyone with a ladder and flashlight could claim themselves a home inspector and go to work.

“There’s always somebody who is trying to make a quick buck and lacks a moral compass,” said Parham, president of the Kansas Association of Real Estate Inspectors and a home inspector for 36 years. “We kept the bad guys out of the business and had a set of standards for guys to follow.”

The home inspectors law, Parham and Barnes thought, would prevent that from happening.

And, they said, it worked.

But the law that they supported – along with the Kansas Association of Realtors — had a limited shelf life: a provision in the bill allowed it to expire five years after taking effect.

That fifth year was 2013. And despite efforts last spring to remove that sunset provision and keep the standards in place, the law expired.

“We’re back into the wild, wild West of home inspection,” said Barnes, a Mulvane-based home inspector for 25 years.

Parham said his interest in working on a law to regulate his industry stemmed from what he said was the practice of one person years ago; he called himself a home inspector but did not have the training or credentials that Parham and Barnes have.

“This guy was in and out of business every other year,” said Parham, who is a certified inspector through the American Society of Home Inspectors. And he quickly developed a reputation as being someone who could help get home sales deals closed “as fast as possible.”

“You can’t legislate work ethic,” Parham said. “But you can make them have to be qualified. That was our objective. And this guy immediately dropped out of business.”

‘Level of competence’
There was also a concern by Parham and some of his colleagues that attempts to regulate home inspectors by people outside the industry would be successful. That’s why the state real estate inspectors group was first created and why it later helped push for the state law.

Ed Robinson, an attorney at Joseph, Hollander & Craft who practices in real estate litigation, served on the Kansas Home Inspection Registration Board between 2009 and 2011. He thinks the organization served a dual purpose: It boosted home inspectors’ credibility, and it gave some assurance to home buyers and sellers that the person inspecting their home had “some level of competence.”

“The board was a volunteer board,” he said. “We were getting reimbursed for mileage. The board had contracted with an accounting firm in Topeka to help with the paperwork, process registrations and renewals. We didn’t have any full-time staff. All of the operating expenses of the board and the accounting firm came exclusively from the registration fees. There was no money appropriated. It was a self-sustaining entity.”

“I think there was only two complaints (against home inspectors) I was involved in,” Robinson added. “I think the process … kind of weeded out the professionals from the guy who just had a ladder and a flashlight. … Unfortunately, with the regulation and statutes going away, I think it reduces the legitimacy of home inspectors in general because anyone can call themselves a home inspector.”

Last spring, the inspectors group drafted a bill that would have struck the sunset provision from the law. That bill, Senate Bill 37, passed the Senate 36-3, and the House, 102-17. Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed the bill in April.

“Upon review of the materials provided by the proponents of this legislation, both in 2008 and 2013, I see little evidence of large numbers of Kansas citizens being economically harmed by home inspectors,” Brownback said in a news release announcing his veto. “In fact, even the proponents believe the vast majority of Kansans who provide this service are honest people. Therefore it appears the legislation passed in 2008 may simply add unnecessary fees and regulations to law abiding citizens.”

Brownback also noted in the release that he thought the home inspectors board lacked the resources and expertise to regulate home inspectors, and that the Kansas Attorney General’s office was “better equipped” to investigate complaints and help homeowners seek reimbursement from unscrupulous home inspectors.

Kansas Sen. Ty Masterson, R.-Andover, was one of three senators to vote against Senate Bill 37.

“Just on that area of licensure and regulation in general, I think I was on the same path with the governor,” Masterson said.

He added that he thought any financial remedy sought by a Kansas homeowner against and inspector could be “remedied in court.”

Masterson said the fact that home inspectors were lobbying for the bill — and had lobbied for the original law — didn’t make him think twice about supporting the bill. “Anybody from within an industry loves licensure because you are limiting competition,” he said.

Due diligence
Robinson, the lawyer, said he thinks the biggest takeaway from the short-lived regulation of Kansas home inspectors is that potential buyers and sellers need to be aware that there is no longer oversight of them.

“I think that for people looking to buy a home, who decide to get a home inspection, they need to be aware there are no minimum requirements,” Robinson said. “It becomes even more important for potential homebuyers to make sure they get references … find out if the home inspector has some level of competence.”

Dwyn Thudium, broker and owner of Crown III Realty and the president of the Wichita Area Association of Realtors, said her agents don’t refer sellers and buyers to a home inspector whose history or qualifications they don’t know.

“It would be really hard” for her agency to recommend an inspector who they didn’t personally know, Thudium said. “What my Realtors, and I think a lot of Realtors do, we go through our list and we talk about them: I had a good experience with this person. … We value each other’s opinions.”

Thudium also said that among the issues her business faces, deregulation of home inspectors is not at the top of the list.

But, she added, “I am concerned. That seller is my client. I don’t want them to get just anybody (for a home inspection).”

Barnes and Parham said one thing homebuyers and sellers can find out about the qualifications of their inspector is to find out if they are certified by national organizations, including the American Society of Home Inspectors or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.

Parham said the Kansas inspectors group also maintains a database of its members – who he said meet the standards and qualifications originally set by the state board – at

For now, Parham and Barnes said they’re not sure if they will renew a push to regulate their industry in Kansas. Both men said they are nearing retirement age, and they spent “hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars” trying to get the first law passed.

Barnes said the veto of Senate Bill 37 “took the wind out of my sails.”

“The whole thing was just nuts,” he said.

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or Follow him on Twitter: @jsiebenmark.

Hopefully this will be the trend for other states.

All people involved in this article, and for that matter implementing these Kansas laws, are all just a bunch of whiners.

The laws were stopped for one reason: they created bare, false, minimum home inspection standards, rules, and regulations. These people wanted them, so they did not have to inspect (work) so hard. REA’s wanted them, so as to not alarm home buyers fully, so homes would sell. This resulted in bare, minimal reports, and the shafting of home buyers.

These board members and inspectors listed now have lost credibility. Wah, wah.

The last time I looked, free enterprise built our country. If any REA does not like their home inspector, use another one. Get the REA’s or the office brokers to “interview” and recommend the finest inspectors possible, to fully serve their clients to the best of their ability. This is stated in the NAR guidelines. The laws were gone in July 2013. They are just now complaining?

No, the brokers and their offices want money. Cheap inspectors sell properties. It is all backwards. Wah, wah.

Spent thousands of dollars? Not of their own money. Now, they will have to work a little harder, write more detailed reports, all to keep up with competition, mainly InterNACHI inspectors, and especially us CMI’s. They feel threatened by us.

Cry babies.

Thanks Gary
I would love to see if any others have any thoughts and opinions .

Oh. Want another reason?

They force HI’s to have insurance, so when a problem arises, due to the cheap. basic home inspection, the REA’s are off the hook, and HI’s have to deal with the problems.

It was a win for all involved, who wanted the laws. It always works that way, with any law. So, why have them in the first place? If you cannot enforce or police the offenders, laws are worthless.

Remember, all RE’s and their special interest groups want HI laws for their own benefit; not the home buyers.

So Gary
You don’t think they can sue you without a Licensee or regulations? i would carry insurance no mater what

You have to; for your own protection. HI laws required a certain amount, which was $10K. Insurance companies did not offer that amount So, the minimum I believe was $100K for GL. The laws were a win for the insurance companies, RE’s, office brokers, etc. Never was it intended to protect the home buyers.

I do not enjoy government or special interest groups telling me how to run my business. That is why the economy is the way it is. Government is the problem.

Hopefully, those in Colorado will find this article as well. Thanks for posting.

Licensing solves nothing. Deregulation is a natural course.

As the article shows and one state senator attests … licensing efforts are supported by home inspectors with the hope of minimizing and controlling their competition which, ultimately, harms the consumer.

Even in a licensed state with all the regulation that man can impose upon man … the consumer will still have to file a lawsuit to be made whole from an errant inspector.

One of the funniest concepts of perceived consumer protection is mandatory E&O. When you decide to sue an inspector for damages … guess who is paying his legal bills to fight you! That’s right. His E&O carrier. They are not there to protect you, the consumer. They are there to protect the home inspector, for crying out loud. If they lose and they have to pay for the water heater … the consumer still has to pay his own legal expenses. Licensing solves nothing.

Prior to be shoved into licensure we wrote the BBB, AG’s office, consumer groups like HADD and discovered in the 3 yrs preceding that we had only 5-6 registered complaints against HI’s with these groups. 5 had been settled amicably with 3 being in the HI’s favor. SO when they brag about how GREAT the licensing worked due to only 3 formal complaints being filed againsat HI’s (and 2 were on the same guy down around the Witchita area)its SMOKE … The complaints were not there to start with, EXCEPT for the traditional ones from Realtors OR mostly home owners that have a problem of some kind AND are looking for others to pay for it.

The news media did NOT talk about the management OR mis-Management of the Board, which insiders in the Governors Office say had a huge amount to do with the decision to eliminate it and go back to where it started from. The Realtors and the KAREI leadership (100% ASHI) were so anxious to push licensure through that although we kept telling the legislature it would take over $100k to run / fund a proper Board … the Realtors lobbyist & KAREI leadership kept telling the legislators we could do it with under $20k. AND they did that … by having no Board Office, no employee’s, etc / Just mainly 1 guys garage office in Wichita.

Lot of complaints to AG’'s Office OR Governors Office about the Board Mngmt that were never made public that influenced this greatly, including the removal late in the game of 1 person from the Board or any Board contact.

Gary and a few others know what and why this happened that was not public info.

The only thing I can say publicly, and any HI that is up against impending state HI licensing, is that our then Governor Sebilius signed the legislation the day before resigning to be Human Health Secretary in DC. The legislation had many languages, rules, and regulations to put strings on every HI in Kansas. We had to abide by “their” rules. Now she is doing the same thing in DC with health care. RE’s wanted the “back-door” push to put liability onto HI’s, have basic say-nothing reports, and use their own “buddy” (licensed) inspectors.

These people, lawmakers, legislators, lobbyists, RE’s, all want one thing: control. Control of you, control of money, control of power.

They got it in Texas. A realtor board controlling home inspectors? One of the largest conflicts of interest ever conceived. Now you know why so many Presidential candidates come from Texas. Conflicts abound in DC. Laws no longer protect, or serve the public. It is all about “their” best interest. Kansas Governor Brownback saw what was happening, and got the Kansas HI laws out. It is all about politics: never about protecting consumers.

It is so dangerous in the U.S. today. You must prepare for the inevitable, or vote all Democrats out of office, IMHO. Roy, I hope these issues do not fester to your part of the world.

Kansas Home Inspectors No Longer Regulated

**8:00 PM
THU JANUARY 23, 2014

Credit Mike Hutmacher / The Wichita Eagle
Kerry Parhamwarns homebuyers and sellers to verify certifications of potential inspectorsnow that a law regulating the industry has ended.
The Kansas lawregulating home inspectors expired in 2013. Gov. Same Brownback vetoed a measure allowing the law to continue,
saying he didn’t see evidence that large number of Kansans were being ripped off by home inspectorsaccording to the Wichita Eagle.
Kerry Parham, president of the Kansas Association of Real Estate Inspectors, and Jeff Barnes, a Mulvane-based home inspector, helped write the law.
Parnham said the law kept incompetent or unethical inspectors out of the business, protecting the public.
Parnham went on to say before the law, anyone with a ladder and flashlight could claim to be a home inspectorand go to work.
“There’s always somebody who is trying to make a quick buckand lacks a moral compass,” said Parham,
president of the Kansas Association of Real Estate Inspectors and a home inspector for 36 years.
“We kept the bad guys out of the business and had a set of standards for guys to follow.”
Parham and Barnes say they’re not sure if they will renew a push to regulate their industry in Kansas.
Both men said they are nearing retirement age, and they spent “hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars” trying to get the first law passed.
Barnes said the veto of Senate Bill 37 “took the wind out of my sails.”
“The whole thing was just nuts,” he said.
**TAGS: **
Kerry Parham

Kansas Association of Real Estate Inspectors

Jeff Barnes
home inspection