Originally Posted By: gromicko
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The following article appeared in The Journal News:
Noreen Seebacher For The Journal News
The quality of the home inspection you get depends on the skill of the inspector you hire. But in a state like New York, where home inspection is unregulated, finding the best inspector can be a challenge.
A confusing array of industry acronyms only adds to the problem. Just recently, the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) formed a Hudson Valley chapter for home inspectors in Westchester and Putnam counties. It is just one of multiple acronyms buyers encounter. There's ASHI, NYSAHI, NABBIE, FREA; SPREI, AAHI, NIBI and HIF.
For baffled buyers, one may seem to be the same as the other. There are, however, significant differences between them. Some organizations require potential members to complete one or more tests, as well as show evidence of their training and experience. Others give membership status to anyone willing to submit an annual fee.
Still others are virtually meaningless outside the home inspection industry .The acronyms represent organizations offering professional or political benefits to home inspectors.
But unless they're familiar with the groups and understand the distinctions between them, buyers are likely to confuse them.
Anyone -including someone with little or no construction expertise can offer his services as a home inspector. You don't have to hire an engineer, but you should at least be clear that the person understands residential construction.
Some buyers assess competency by the organizations in which the inspector belongs.
"There are many professional associations involved in the home inspection industry," said Dennis J. Sunday, owner of Home Inspection Systems in Brewster "like political parties, you tend to seek out the association which best suits your needs and vision of what the industry should be."
Sunday is one of the charter members of the New York Chapter of NACHI whose members cover the Bronx, Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, and Sullivan counties. The organization currently has about 14 members and many of them hold memberships in multiple professional groups.
"Some associations are better at helping their members maintain a higher degree of professionalism, and achieve financial success," Sunday said. Others offer professional discounts for continuing education courses, reduced laboratory test fees or referral services.
A total of 25 states, including Connecticut, license home inspectors. Connecticut law re-quires inspectors to have a minimum high school or equivalent education, a year of home inspection experience, a total of at least 200 home inspections, and to take a competency test
Other states are more lenient, requiring home inspectors to do little more than fill out a registration form and submit it with the required fee.
In New York, there have been several attempts to regulate home inspectors, but none has become law.
That makes it especially important for New York homebuyers to understand the differences between the acronyms professional inspectors may use in their advertising and marketing materials. The best time to learn is before you need to hire an inspector. , "Home inspections have become as much a part of the home buying process as the mortgage and appraisal. However, the selection of an inspector is too often left, to the last minute and done without a full understanding of what, constitutes a quality inspection," said ASHI President Rich Matzen, owner of a Seattle-based home inspection service.
Matzen said buyers should search for a qualified inspector while they?re still looking at homes.
"Many times consumers will spend weeks searching for the best loan, as well they should, only to take the first inspector to be recommended by their real estate agent or friend. We urge consumers to exercise great care," he said. ; " Both NACHI and ASHI -the - American Society of Home Inspectors -require members to - pass proficiency exams and meet other criteria, such as participating in ongoing education. The two organizations share similar goals, and follow almost identical standards of practice.
ASHI requires members to perform a minimum of 250 paid professional home inspections and successfully complete two written examinations that test knowledge of building systems and components, report writing, the ASHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, and the diagnosis of building defects. The organization, founded in 1976 is headquartered I Des Plaines, Ill.
NACHI offers base membership to anyone who passes a free online exam and promises to abide by its Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics while actively working toward full membership. Full members are required to complete at least 100 home inspections, and maintain ongoing professional education. NACHI is based in Valley Forge, Pa.
NYSAHI -New York State Association of Home Inspectors, represents home inspectors. Unlike NACHI or ASHI, it is not a certifying or qualifying organization. Rather, it was founded to en- sure that any regulatory initiatives represented the inspection industry's best interests.
NABIE -the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers -is a chartered affinity group of the National Society of Professional Engineers. It represents the interests of professional engineers who work as home inspectors. In lieu of licensing or other regulation, some buyers find hiring an engineer to do a home inspection as a guarantee of a certain level of knowledge.
FREA -the Foundation of Real Estate Appraisers -offers inspectors benefits like discounted errors and omissions insurance as well as continuing education.
SPREI -The Society of Professional Real Estate Inspectors - is a national organization dedicated to providing continuing education to inspectors. "Anyone who is interested in improving his or her skills as an inspector is welcome to join. SPREI does not require past experience or background in the home inspection profession," the organization states.
AAHI -The American Association of Home Inspectors -is a 30 professional organization that certifies Home Inspectors who meet educational and/ or experience criteria.
NIBI -The National Institute of Building Inspectors -certifies inspectors. It requires them to complete a training course and fieldwork, and participate in a yearly re-certification program.
HIF.- The Housing Inspection Foundation -requires applicants to complete 50 inspections and submit a $195 fee.
No matter what designations home inspectors use, ask questions before hiring anyone.
"It's the same as in the medical or legal profession. Everyone may share the same professional designation, but some are top notch, some are mediocre and some are poor," said Victor J. Faggella, owner of Centurion Home Inspections in Mahopac and a former ASHI Inspector of the Year .
Ask for credentials. Is the inspector an engineer, a former home builder or a retired plumbers who thinks he knows just as much about electricity and roofing as his own trade?
Find out if the inspector has liability insurance, particularly for errors and omissions. An inspector without such coverage is like1y to close up shop if the purchase leads to a lawsuit.
Ask what the inspection will include. An exceptionally thorough inspection will include a check for environmental hazards in the neighborhood.
Ask how long the inspection will take. A thorough inspection of even a small house should take at least 2 to 2.5 hours.
Ask if you can be present during the inspection. It helps familiarize you with the house and any o potential concerns or problems.
Shop around. Get recommendations from your real estate agent, but keep in mind she probably represents the seller. You may get more objective information from your mortgage lender, family and friends.
Reach Noreen Seebachera at email@example.com. The Journal News