New Washington Legislation Submitted

(Gerald J. Domagala) #1

Here is the official announcement. Senator Harriet Spanel has submitted a law to require home inspectors to be licensed in the state of Washington.

Senate Bill 5788 (Requiring the licensing of home inspectors.): Introduced by Sen. Harriet Spanel on January 31, 2007, to establish a Home Inspection Licensing Board and require home inspectors to obtain a license to perform home inspections. The bill also details the definitions, requirements, conditions and related items necessary to create and administer home inspection licenses .
Details and Comments: http://www.washingtonvotes.org/Legislation.aspx?ID=50645

If you go to the web site it allows you to read the entire bill and enter your comments about it.

Senator Spanel told me and a group from the coalition that she submitted the bill because of complaints received regarding home inspectors received by her and senator Kohl-Wells the co-sponsor of the bill. When asked who made the complaints she said she didn't know the details. THIS BILL WAS NOT SUBMITTED DUE TO ANY ACTIONS THAT I KNOW OF BY THE COALITION OF HOME INSPECTORS THAT HAS BEEN MEETING IN SEATTLE. The main reason seems to be a news story that was shown on television regarding a "bad" inspection that supposedly caused a couple to loose their home. As with most news stories, it didn't give all the facts but that really doesn't matter now.

If you want to change something in the bill I would suggest you contact your local state legislators. Legislators seem to respond to their constituents better than outsiders because if you're not a constituent you can't vote against them.

If you are against the idea of licensing, good luck. Spanel & Kohl-Wells are both powerfull in the Senate and Kohl-Wells told her constituents on television that she would get a law put in place to license home inspectors. I feel that all our energies should be put into making sure the law that is passed is somethin we can all live with.

(william forsyth) #2

It looks like Section 25 is going to be interesting.

(Steven L. Smith) #3

I see things that I think should be modified, or better defined. However, if a law is coming down the pike, this one looks better, and the contents easier to live with, than a number of the other suggestions I have seen proposed previously. It appears to me that many parts of this are workable.

(Stephen W. Stanczyk, WA License #221) #4

How will they verify the inspections performed? And the time in the business?

I guess the easiest way would be to compare the date of your WSDA license number and maybe the number of ICN's you have been issued. Let the debate begin.......:roll:

(Steven L. Smith) #5

Section 17, specifies that claiming you did, but not really meeting the requirements of 100 inspections and two years in business, is defined as "unprofessional conduct". Then in Section 18, you may be called before a hearing for "unprofessional conduct" and subject to many dire consequences including a 5K fine. I know enough about state agency hearings to know that they will want, and have by the law you are working under, the right to demand proof. They will want checkbooks, business licenses, State or City B and O forms, IRS returns, early contracts with clients. That will establish dates. As far as inspections performed, they will probably settle for 100 contracts, 100 deposits into your account that look legit, copies of reports or a reasonable combo of all the above. When you get into any kind of hearing with the feds or the state, basically they can do an audit of all your records and you better not be fabricating facts. So, likely, in the beginning it is simply signing a form and swearing it is true. But, in this business with so much competition and so many realtors and other watchdogs who might let the cat out of the bag in a formal complaint, fibbing on that form could cost lots of money and get you in the position of delivering newspapers. One had better think about it pretty seriously, prior to putting false information on any government agency form. These guys play tough and have the teeth to hurt.

Steve

(william forsyth) #6

It's easy to prove how long you've been in the business. All you have to do is show a copy of your business license, similar to when you open your business checking account. Which would be another way of proving inspections. I don't think for one minute, from what it says in Sec.25, that WDO's are going to come into play in determining this. All you have to do is show financial records and receipts for payments received and deposited to account for inspections performed.
No way in hell they are going to care if they included pest inspections or not since this new bill is already indicating that they are wresting away control of the WDO issue from the Ag dept. and finding a way of incorporating it into the new laws.
Considering that it is going to take two years to go into effect, and already we know that the Pest boy lobbies are about to take back control of the WDO's, that anyone is going to have to worry about proving whether or not the inspections performed up till this point are WDO inspections or not.

If you go to the AG website and read through the language, you will see that they have already gone back to the old language that only talks about Complete pest inspections instead of Complete home inspections etc...

Times are changing and soon the powers that be will realize, as stated in the bill, that home inspectors do pest inspections, and home inspectors encounter conducive conditions every time they do a report, and as stated in the bill, it is absurd to have to obtain two licenses to perform such an obvious service.

Considering that this won't take effect for almost a year and a half, most people involved already have been in the business long enough that they will not have to license under the upcoming requirements but rather be grandfathered in.
With so much time involved (if this does pass) why on earth would anyone have to falsify information in the first place. There is more than enough time to read the playbook and play by the rules.

(william forsyth) #7

Sec.1(6)"Home inspection" also means an
inspection for wood destroying organisms.

Sec.1(7)(d)
(d) Whether or not there is damage from wood destroying organisms;

Looks like they are doing away with the division between home inspections and Pest Inspections in this Bill anyway. It doesn't look to me like there is any requirement for a seperate WDO report or number, and so there would be no need to determine whether the past 100 inspections included a seperate WDO report and number.

(william forsyth) #8

NEW SECTION. Sec. 25. Currently, for a home inspector to conduct
2 a pest inspection, he or she must have a structural pest inspector
3 license issued by the state department of agriculture. It is the
4 legislature's intent that home inspectors do conduct pest inspections
5 as part of their overall responsibilities but that they not have to
6 obtain dual licenses in order to do so. To accomplish this goal, the
7 legislature intends that the structural pest inspection license program
8 housed within the state department of agriculture be transferred to the
9 department of licensing. Both departments are instructed to determine
10 the best way to accomplish this transfer and report back to the
11 legislature, with recommended legislation, no later than December 15,2007

(william forsyth) #9

I actually think this is a fairly balanced bill, and I tend to support it almost entirely as written.

She's also sponsoring a bill to license contractors. I wonder if that will gain support? http://www.leg.wa.gov/pub/billinfo/2007-08/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/5045.pdf

(Steven L. Smith) #10

I was in a position to see Senator Spanel and get some insight into the bill. These comments are my interpretations, but I think supported by reading the initial bill. The intent in the new regulations is to assure that every home inspector is qualified to, and does at each job, a WDO inspection. As a result, they are sugesting shifting the WSDA pest people into the DOL. In that role, these folks would probably continue managing the structural pest pest division basically as they have, but in a different department. Legislators realize that these people need to be entomologists and biologists. It is my impression that the new home inspector test might include in it, along with structure, HVAC, etc, the WDO questions with specimens. Or the director of DOL might choose to keep two different tests as they are so different. A standard home inspector test, building components and systems, could easily be a computer test run at satellite locations around the state, while the WDO test will require onsite testing with specimens as has been done historically.

Either way, the intent seems to be to guarantee that every home inspection is done by a person who has passed the same basic WDO test that is given today. But the test and program will be run by DOL. In fact, Dept of Agriculture has just developed a new exam and a test run is being done, with some seasoned WDO inspectors, the middle of this month. That test will likely be part of the rules down the road. The lawmakers seem to be closing the exisiting loophole, or language, that is often interpreted as saying that a home inspection can be done by a person with no WDO license if that person does not report on any WDO's or conducive conditions. I believe, if this bill passes, the final result will be that it is mandatory to report conducive conditions and WDO's in each inspection and an inspector will need to have passed a home inspection test and a WDO test in order to do any inspections legally.

As for their looking at past work, no clue what they will consider other than what it currently says in the bill. The language in this looked to be fairly lenient in allowing people who have been successfully operating to continue doing so, at least until the test comes up for these folks about July 2010. It is, of course, possible that by the time it is all said and done they will specify that those people brought in initially must have been WDO licensed as well. Hard to predict really, as many changes get made in all these bills. This is much different than last years bill and has almost no similarity, other than a reference to no-cost mentoring, to the suggestions by the industry group.

(James H. Bushart) #11

So...a bill written strictly by politicians in response to exagerrated news reports regarding a nonexistant issue...and you support it. Interesting.

(Harold E. Miller) #12

Gerald, Thanks for posting the bill information. I have e-mailed Spanels office a couple of times with no responses. I appreciate that someone is getting this information out.

(Steven L. Smith) #13

I do not believe I said, anywhere in there, that I support it as written. Certainly the comments you posted do not say that.

(James H. Bushart) #14

Sorry, Steve, but this does not sound like opposition to me.;-)

It sounds like a submission to the will of the state...fear of a powerful senator...and willingness to accept less than what you feel to be fair or beneficial to the profession....instead of putting up a fight.

(lcapaul) #15

Sounds good to me Stephen, but the Bill doesn't specify that the 100 inspections be Washington State Inspections.

(2) On July 1, 2008, any person who has been actively engaged in
2 the business of conducting home inspections for at least two years and
3 who has conducted at least one hundred home inspections may apply to
4 the board for initial licensure without meeting the examination or
5 instruction requirements of this chapter.

I don't see how anyone could claim 100 Washington Inspections though, without also preoving that they used 100 ICN's, why would 100 inspectctins performed illegally be accepted? Then again how would 100 out of State Inspections without the Required WDO inspection demonstrate past knowledge or experience in the Pest Inspection portion of the requirement?

The Bill also does not specify the term or length of time we are liable for our inspections, 1 year? 2 years---4 years?

The 20 "Unpaid" mentored Inspections may also be a problem, how is the State going to Force any Inspector into spending his time evaluating another inspector without the evaluator being compensated?

Why aren't they establishing a well defined SOP that would tell both the Inspector and the client just what is required instead of the B.S. in the Bill that is wide open for interpretation by Lawyers and the Courts?

There is no need for Realtors to be on the Board, what do they have to do with Home Inspections, their only concern is the Commissions they earn from selling the property. As Home Inspectors WE sork for the buyer, in their own contracts the Realtors show that they represent both the Buyer and the Seller, a built in "legal" conflict of interest, we don't need that same Conflict of Interest built into the Home Inspectors Board, replace them with members of the Trades or WSDA, Realtors already have their own Board.

(James H. Bushart) #16

In states where mentoring is required, it is abused. Particularly in the cases where people of neighboring states wanting to come across the lines to inspect (and compete) are concerned.

It seems that in areas like Massachusetts, it just takes a lot to get that inspector to "okay" those last four or five inspections. He seems to find fault with each one and, for your own good, is just not ready to cut you loose to inspect on your own....and stop paying him a fee.

It is unusual to find this in a bill drafted entirely by the politician. PHIC has been pushing for this, hard, in Pennsylvania.

(Harold E. Miller) #17

Referred to the Senate Labor, Commerce, Research and Development Committee on January 31, 2007.

  1. It is referred to a committee for a hearing. The committee studies the bill and may hold public hearings on it. It can then pass, reject or take no action on the bill.

Has anyone heard if there will be a public hearing on this bill? I have reviewed the comittees agenda, and can not find any hearings scheduled.

(Harold E. Miller) #18
  1. A bill may be introduced in either the Senate or House of Representatives by a member.
  2. It is referred to a committee for a hearing. The committee studies the bill and may hold public hearings on it. It can then pass, reject or take no action on the bill.
  3. The committee report on the passed bill is read in open session of the House or Senate, and the bill is then referred to the Rules Committee.
  4. The Rules Committee can either place the bill on the second reading of the calendar for debate before the entire body, or take no action.
  5. At the second reading, a bill is subject to debate and amendment before being placed on the third reading calendar for final passage.
  6. After passing one house, the bill goes through the same procedure in the other house.
  7. If amendments are made, the other house must approve the changes.
  8. When the bill is accepted in both houses, it is signed by the respective leaders and sent to the governor.
  9. The governor signs the bill into law or may veto all or part of it. If the governor fails to act on the bill, it may become law without a signature

It has few hurdles before it can become a law....
Last years bill 6229 died at step #2...
Will SB 5788 make it trhough the gauntlet....stay tuned

(Steven L. Smith) #19

"Realtors already have their own Board"

True...as do appraisers. That composition of the board and the 20 mentored inspections, that are not workable in my view, are two reasons I do not support the bill as it is written, which I stated previously. That said, I still think it much improved compared to the previous attempts. I also agree that there are many points that require clarification and definitions. Whether this bill will pass or not, I have no idea, but I think this will come up every year until they get something. So, as Gerry Domagala said, who has insight into all this as a result of his being on the industry committee, let's try to get something hammered out that we can live with.

(lcapaul) #20

[QUOTE]
Gerry Domagala said, who has insight into all this as a result of his being on the industry committee, let's try to get something hammered out that we can live with.
[/QUOTE]

The "Industry Committee" contacted Spanel and Kolle-Wells immediately after the KIRO report, some of them may not have been pushing for State Regulation but several of the "Committee" have a history of doing so. Funny how the "Committee" Members and the 3 Senators who are sponsoring the Bill are all from the same region of Washington, just as they were for last years SB6229.

This Bill is more "acceptable", maybe, than the "Committee's proposal, of which we still have seen very little, but I have no doubt that some Committee members have had their fingers in the Senators Bill. maybe Spanel and Kohel-Wells actually listened to many of us who complained that the "Committee's" Proposal appeared to be very "self beneficial", especially when it came to mentoring and number of required inspections.