Use of the word "Licensed" for home inspections

What is your opinion? What does “licensed” mean to you? Is it appropriate for a home inspector to use the term “licensed” in a state that does not license home inspectors? This poll is not about whether licensing is right or wrong. It is only about use of the term, “licensed”.

What if InterNACHI were to use the term, “InterNACHI licensed home inspector” instead of “InterNACHI certified home inspector” ? Good marketing or trying to pull one over on the public?

Without reading all the state laws, I can only comment on mine. Nobody can use the the term, licensed, in referring to home inspectors unless you have a state issued Home Inspectors License.

Please vote on the poll. Multiple choices. Public view.

I’m in Colorado. We do not have HI licensing.

I am not licensed as a home inspector. I am certified by INACHI as well as a few others.

I do not believe that anyone in a non-licensed state should claim to be licensed unless they have acquired a license from a state that issues HI license’s.

I have my own opinion and feel it is misleading to the public, as there is I believe a general perception of what licensing means.

However, looking up what licensing means I get this… which could mean other than we normally think. and based upon this we could almost technically be “licensing” the use of the logos from InterNACHI - although we do not think of it as such:

Not enough nuance in the choices to cast a vote.

First, the government doesn’t have exclusive use of the word “licensed.” The vast majority of licenses and licensing agreements (more than 99%) in North America don’t involve the government. Home Gauge and Home Inspector Pro “license” their software to home inspectors. I am licensed… licensed to use certain images from a private company. You’d be amazed to learn all the many licenses from private companies that have been granted to you in your lifetime.

And of course some government agencies don’t license, they certify. In our inspection industry, the state of Virginia (which certifies inspectors) comes to mind.

Anyway, IMHO it would only be an ethics violation if the member was using either word in a way to deceive the public and imply that he was governmentally licensed or certified when he was neither.

If he/she used the word “licensed” or “certified” in a sentence that clearly includes the non-governmental entity who has licensed or certified him/her… I don’t see an issue, certainly not an ethics issue.

In other words, to be on the safe side, only use the word “licensed” or “certified” alone if you have a governmentally-issued inspector’s license or certification. Otherwise, clearly state who has licensed or certified you.

This is particularly an issue for members who work near the borders of states and work across state lines (where one state issues licenses and the other doesn’t).

I’m a perfect example of this. I’m in Colorado and I’m a licensed home inspector, even though Colorado hasn’t adopted licensing for home inspectors. How could that be? It’s because I’m governmentally licensed in Florida both as a home inspector and a mold assessor. I’m governmentally licensed in Colorado as a septic system installer and a general contractor. I also hold dozens of other certifications and licenses. So what do I do? Even in my email signature, I state which state licensed me for what. That way no one can complain that I’m intentionally trying to deceive anyone into believing I have a Colorado government-issued home inspector’s license when non exists.

It’s best to always say exactly who licensed or certified you if you use either term.

I do not disagree with anything you have said Nick… and you summed it up in the last sentence… and I think we pretty much align.

However when it comes to Home Inspection (or any professional for that matter)… many consumers may very well assume a license to be something provided by the government… and you stated it should be noted otherwise if not.

And in a city nearby, a Home Inspector is one of the businesses that does require a “license” from the city. Again a bit deceiving. Because the license actually has NOTHING at all to demonstrate the knowledge of a home inspector, only that they have a legal business and have insurance… nothing more. But the city could be see as “government”… and it is really nothing more than a business license…

The issue being that somehow it seems to imply that somebody is somehow better or more legitimate when using the word… and that is not necessarily the case.

So while not legally wrong, it may be still somewhat misleading if it does not totally disclose what the license is… and by that I mean a proper HI license vs a simply city or municipal issued business license.

A home inspector being licensed to perform home inspections is one thing.

A home inspector being licensed to use software, diagrams, drawing, names, logos or other materials that are protected by a copyright or patent is something vastly different.

Dom can sell a license to use his software because he owns the software and I am sure it is protected by a GOVERNMENT issues patent or copyright. Pillar to Post licenses their franchises. And they are able to do this because they were issued their protected status by a GOVERNMENT entity. (i.e. their corporate status).

Unless you have copyright or patent protection, which is issued by a GOVERNMENT entity, anybody can use the materials, names or anything without issue.

Try not to confuse the “licensing” of materials etc., and the licensing of individuals as a home inspector. Apples and Oranges.

Good point.

Not true Nick. 100% of Home Inspector Licenses are Government issued. 100% of driver’s licenses are Government issued. 100% of doctor’s licenses are Government issued. 100% of legal pot or alcohol selling licenses are Government issued.

You are blowing smoke into the conversation when attempting to equate a person with properties. Apples and Oranges.

Licensing means that you can do something. Being certified means that you can do it well.

Do not some of the franchisees have licenses?

True… but again the public is not clear on this IMHO.

And on top of geography, and issuing entity… also remember that different inspections may or may not require a license. Her in Colorado, you have to be licensed to do certain types of inspections but not general home inspections. Remember… a general home inspection is merely one type of inspection. There are many others.

Like I said, if you use the word “licensed” or “certified” you should state who licensed or certified you and maybe also state for what.

Yes. Some franchise or franchise alternatives license home inspectors to be part of their franchise or network.

So in summary, government agencies and private companies both issue licenses and certifications. I can think of at least one state that certifies inspectors, but doesn’t license them. Different states and even cities issue different licenses. I can think of one city and one county that issues home inspection licenses (not just business licenses). And there are licenses and certifications for many types of inspections. A home inspection is just one type of inspection. There are many, many more types of inspections.

Therefore, if you use the words “licensed” or “certified” you should include the name of the government or private entity that licensed or certified you and you should probably even include what they licensed or certified you for.

So Nick,

Is it proper, in an unlicensed state, to use “InterNACHI Licensed” to perform home inspections, not to use materials or properties, but to perform home inspections?

Franchises license the inspector to use their name and properties, not to perform inspections. Once again, apples and oranges.

I would say it is technically an error because I don’t think InterNACHI licenses its members in any way. We used to license members to use some stuff, but we dropped it. I would say it is not an ethical violation as including InterNACHI in the phrase indicates there is no intent to deceive anyone into thinking there exists a governmental-issued license to be had.

Now that is just plain funny.

InterNACHI’s certifications are voluntary certifications which are above and beyond what your state requires to be merely and barely legal (licensed).

Except the word licensed, that the public perceives to mean government license. The CoE starts, and has the most items under, “Duty to the Public”. In order for InterNACHI and the members to be above reproach, the strict letter of the law should be followed. Anything that weakens it or subverts it should be removed from any advertising.

You want to say you are “the best inspector”? Nobody cares. You want to say you have the best reports? Nobody cares. You want to use some other hyperbole for your marketing? Nobody cares. But if you say you are LICENSED, you better have proper documentation.

I agree, it is technically incorrect.

On a side note: I get emails every day from veteran members asking me what their license number is. No, they don’t mean state license, they mean InterNACHI member number.