MO HB 1714 and Why I Support It

I know this is going to come as a great surprise to many of my peers, so I wanted to explain my position first on this message board, before I continued with my ongoing interviews and discussions with various people of the media.

The bad parts of this bill are obvious and have been addressed in a hundred different ways. It is a conflict of interest and provides a means for real estate salesmen to punish a home inspector for revealing information in a report that causes the buyer to walk away from the sale.

This has been my focal point and has been my main reason to object to the bill, for it does nothing else but add costs to being a home inspector and…I will admit from a selfish angle…we can do with fewer part timers and contractors doing this on the side. Of course, there will be a surge of “graduates” from the new schools to contend with…but that will be another challenge at another time.

I support Mo HB 1714 for its greater good…and that greater good is that MO HB 1714 is a backdoor effort to sneak the enforcement of building codes on a state where 80% of its jurisdictions have avoided them.

Everyone knows and appreciates the need for minimum basic standards, aka building codes, when it comes to building and maintaining structures that house people.

MO HB 1714 creates a Missouri licensed inspector in jurisdictions that presently do not have inspectors or licensed builders and contractors. It empowers this licensed inspector to enter homes that are for sale…or any other type of inspection he conducts under his license…and provide an official report (that is to be made available to the State for a minimum of five years) on the building’s “defects”.

We all know that to have a “defect”, we must first have a standard. In certain metropolitan areas of Missouri where standards/codes are in effect already, those will be the standards applied. In rural areas and other unregulated areas where no standards/code exist, it will be strictly at the discretion of the Missouri licensed inspector to decide which to enforce.

While the law explicitly requires a Missouri Licensed Inspector to apply a standard to identify a “defect”, it does not specify which standard he will use where none have been legislated. Thus, the law leaves it to his discretion, unless a particular published building code is selected by the Licensing Board.

In unregulated areas, the official written report of the Mo Licensed Inspector will be final and while unlicensed contractors and builders in that area may disagree, they will have no official or legal means to circumvent the inspector’s interpretation or enforcement of the building code/standard that he applies.

Since MO licensed inspectors are subject to disciplinary action for their failure to record an observable “defect” and apply the standards/codes in that regard…and contractors and builders are not…they will no longer be a part of the process in negotiating what is or is not necessary for a repair. They will simply perform the work that the Mo Licensed Inspector detailed to be defective, in correcting it. As the only State Licensed Inspector reporting on the issue, his word becomes the final written report and remains available to the public (by subpoena) for five years.

Since the official record will be maintained and available for the State to review, insurance companies wishing to have access to the official state reports detailing pre-existing conditions and faulty contractor work can have access to them through the Missouri Department of Insurance.

Now, insurers will have an official state document prepared by a Licensed State Official with which to determine whether or not a seller’s failure to comply with minimum basic standards contributed to a loss by fire or other calamity. Since these reports will be on hand for third or fourth generation owners, the information can become more and more valuable throughout the years.

I plan to write articles in all of the counties where Rep Parson is presently campaigning for Senator…thanking him, publicly, for using this back door to slip building codes in various areas that have been wrongfully and foolishly rejecting them for years.

His cunning and slick way of having Mo Licensed Building Inspectors applying building codes in all of their inspections (by way of recording “defects” to an existing standard) is unprecedented in its genius and boldness.

He deserves to be complimented, along with every other legislator in Missouri, who supports the new “Code Bill” known as MO HB 1714.

I plan to thank all of them…publicly and loudly.

Nice James, nice.

Licensing solves nothing.:mrgreen:

…and only creates more confusion.

In states that have passed home inspection laws, have home inspectors charged more after these laws have been passed?

It has been discussed her many times and most seem to think that licensing makes the newbie and the veteran equal in the publics eyes and tends to drive down prices.:frowning:

The initial effects have been positive. That is why you see the Washington inspectors so ticked about newbies getting an additional amount of time to comply with the law, for the intent is to get rid of the part-timer and inspector who is only doing a couple inspections a month. These guys are usually not interested in investing the money for training and licensing required by the law.

When they get knocked out, it opens the market for a while.

Then, after a few months, the schools that are formed by the law (who have been recruiting students to take classes and make millions as a home inspector) start pumping new inspectors into the market every three months or so. As they enter the market, they feel a need to offer inspections for $125 or less…“just for a while”…until they go out of business and are replaced by another load of graduates.

There was a news report out of Arizona a few years ago and a proponent of licensing on the report was actually bragging to the reporter as to how licensing has kept inspection fees “in Arizona among the lowest in the nation”. I don’t know if he is right or not but there had to be something to what he said.

Agreed, but I’m not sure you got what Jim was saying…

Jim, this is genius. The spin you have put on this is going to put MAR into a panic. The beauty of this is that it isn’t just spin. This is exactly the tack that any licensed home inspector should be taking. Definitely credit where credit is due.

I’m confused? are you saying that home inspections will be code compliant as well?
What if a home is 50 years old and there is no GFCIs in the bath or kitchen, will the house then need to be upgraded before the sale?

Under this law, it will be at the discretion of the inspector - in areas where there are no building codes in effect - to select the code and date of code to apply.

Instead of a simple recommendation, it will now be a reported “defect” by a state licensed inspector recorded in an official state report that must be accessible for a minimum of five years.

If an insurance company wants to pay only part of or none of a claim for future damage due to pre-existing damages in the report, the report will be accessible to them to use against the client.

If a third party suing a builder wants to use the report to show other negligent acts by the same builder for a trend…or to show a continuing pattern of negligence in all of his work…that third party can access all of my inspections that relate to that particular builder, or contractor.

In that I am the only state licensed inspector to have ever observed and reported on the condition, my word is final. Unlicensed builders and unlicensed contractors might have contrasting opinions, but they are not relevant.

I support this law.

While it is a sneaky and devious way of enforcing building codes in the areas of the state where they do not presently exist, it gets the job done.

My only objection is how will this effect the existing housing industry?
Who is going to want to buy a house that has known defects in it and those defects have been recorded and are accessible to the insurance industry.

For example, I buy a house that you inspected and you have noted there are no GFCIs. A, the insurance company inflates my premium because the house has known defects or B, when the house catches on fire they deny my claim.

I’m actually for the privatization of building inspections. First it will take away the cost of having a code compliance officer for the individual communities and B it will bring a higher degree of education to the field. And in the end the consumer is protected much better than ever before.

Presently…the same house is being built by an unlicensed builder using unlicensed contractors. In some cases, the “electrician” is selected because (real case) he lives closest to the County Electrical Cooperative, so he sees a lot of what they do.

When they finish, because there are no building codes, there is no AHJ to inspect the house. It goes exactly as built to the home buyer…many of whom do not have an inspection thinking it is unnecessary since the house is “brand new”.

Now…the state report completed by the state licensed home inspector will serve the public just as a permit search or other record that would normally be on file with an AHJ.

It may not be written until after one or two times sold…but eventually, it will be inspected and that info will become an official state record.

Those folks fighting building codes have been duped under the cover of a Home Inspector licensing bill. It is a win-win for everybody and I absolutely love it.

Mark and others - Spread the word. Letters to editors in every rural Missouri newspaper…thanking Rep Parson for being brave enough to ignore the people who have been fighting building codes all these years. We need to give credit where it is due.

If this bill passes, it will be a refreshing return to “doing what is right” in spite of what those with backward beliefs have been getting away with all these many years.

What is unique in Missouri that is different in other states is that we do not have “standards” or “building codes” in every part of our state. In order for a Licensing Board to require that I report all observable “defects”, they (representing the State of Missouri) will have to define what “standard” or “code” I am to apply for without a “standard”, there is no “defect”.

As you know, there are certain plumbing issues that are allowed by the IPC that are forbidden by the UPC. Likewise, when I am in an area with no electrical code being enforced…do I use the current NEC? Why use the previous editions if they were never in force?

And the best thing of all is this…If the licensing board does not specify, it is completely and totally at my discretion. I become the AHJ…the only state licensed person with the authority to interpret and apply a building code. Accordingly, who can later claim that I “missed” a defect for which there was no “standard”…unless I chose to apply it?

This could totally eliminate 100% of my liability.

I have heard here in Kansas that appraisers, even ones from out of state, are reporting home defects to their “third party” companies, who forward the information to the lenders. Lenders are pricing/lending funds accordingly, often for less than the buyer wants. This is another way that RE’s are getting deals killed. They got what they wanted, and it is all coming around to bite them. Lawmakers are becoming aware of this, as home inspectors are getting pushed out of business due to this practice. Appraisers here in Kansas are exempt from home inspection laws, and are doing “home checks” for lenders. Despite codes that may be coming in Missouri, appraisers still can report defects and hurt our businesses. Homes will be selling in “AS IS” condition, and buyers will not be getting home inspections anyway. They should, however to save $300-$400, any agent will not even mention us.

I am always amazed how some industry has to be licensed to perform a service that is not required.

We have a local Technical College chruning out “Home Inspectors” for a cost of $200.00 and a 3 day class. This law would put a stop to that.

Jim,

I do not think HB 1714 will pass. Who will enforce the code? The State, County and Cities, does not have the money to hire inspectors. Hope I am wrong.

They won’t have to. The state, by this law, is licensing inspectors who will be required to inspect according to whatever standard that the Licensing Board determines.

You know the drill. You need to pass a test based on … what? How many inches allowed between balusters…How many steps before a railing is required?..etc…etc…

A test on building codes.

Then…newbies need to go to school. To learn what? How an electrical panel should be wired? How is a water heater safely installed.?

Classes on building codes.

Then the licensed inspector goes into the field and he inspects and reports “material defects”. What is this? A variance to what is required by the building code.

In areas with no AHJ…the state has licensed us to be the AHJ and we are required to maintain our records for parties to access for five years.

This is a very ingenious and sneaky way to enforce building codes in areas that do not have them…in a law where the words “building codes” doesn’t even appear.

We are paid by the people who are building the houses we do draw inspections for…through their bank. We are paid by buyers who want to ensure that the home they buy is safe to live in…after having been built and maintained with no prior code enforcement or inspection.

This is a law that is truly for the consumer. We must advocate it.

Not necessarily. A pal on the licensing board and the classes are “approved”.

Good thinking Jim. I hope it works out.

Never underestimate the resolve of James Bushart! I pity the fool that messes with this man. :smiley: