Wash State proposed Standards of Practice


this link will take you to the new proposed Washington State Standards of Practice, they are holding a public hearing

February 24, 2009 at 10:30 A. M.
Department of Licensing
2000 4th Avenue W
2nd Floor Conference Room
Olympia, WA 98502

Many problems. Avoid telling people how to inspect and focus on what to inspect. Private industry will manage the prescriptive requirements. Regulate education . . . not procedure. Do not write an SoP using an argument of protecting the public when the real objective is protecting market share.

Many problems with it. Every minute the SOP forces the consumer to pay the inspector to describe materials is a minute wasted and one that could be used for providing the consumer with the service he/she wants/needs… looking for defects.

Come on guys, is there that many problems in the SOP? I don’t see much difference with Nachi’s SOP. The word “describe” can be found in it as well.

Is it all that hard to “describe” the type of roof covering, or the type of siding? Describing such materials is already part of most commercially produced home inspection programs. Takes mere seconds to do, and I can still report on what is important to the consumer.

Maybe that is what seperates me from my competition? I am not a check box inspector producing inferior reports for $250.

[FONT=Arial]Here is a 30 minute review. The number one rule of writing rules is do not write a rule you cannot enforce.

[FONT=&quot]the following rules of conduct and ethics shall be binding upon the inspector. The home inspector must: (1) Provide home inspection services that conform to the Washington state home inspectors’ SOP. [/FONT]

  • [FONT=&quot] Any deviation from the rules and you are screwed. All I have to do is find one thing you did wrong to prove you are negligent and incompetent. The problem with micro regulation is it creates traps. Engineers are not regulated so strictly.[/FONT]

Provide full written disclosure of any business or familial relationships or other conflicts of interest between themselves and any other party to the transaction. The parties may include, but are not limited to, buyers, sellers, appraisers, real estate licensees, mortgage representatives, title companies, vendors and service contractors.


  • [FONT=Arial]That is a pretty long list of people you better make sure you have no relationship to. This could cause you to document the known parties to the transaction so you can deny knowledge of unknown parties later on. Micro-management again.[/FONT]

Act as an unbiased party and discharge his or her duties with integrity and fidelity to the client.


  • [FONT=Arial] I always have a slight bias in favor of my client. If a condition is subjective I lean to them. That is bias. [/FONT]

Perform services and express opinions based on genuine conviction and only within the inspector’s area of education, training, or expertise.


  • [FONT=&quot]Better be prepared to verify any info you pick up off this forum. “Genuine conviction” is strict. Almost like “bona fied” in “Oh Brother where art thou”.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Not conduct a home inspection or prepare a home inspection report that knowingly minimizes, compromises or attempts to balance information about defects for the purpose of garnering future referrals.[/FONT]

  • You can never use the words “minor”, “typical”, “common”, “simple”, “easy” etc. unless you are prepared to defend this part of rule. The good thing is it is almost impossible for the State to prove you did it for referrals so go ahead and help the client understand priorities. I have no problem telling my client the torn screen is minor and the smoldering breaker is major. If a Rule is impossible to enforce then it is useless and a waste of feel good words. This rule appears to be written by an inspector who dislikes marketing to Realtors or who cannot manage Realtor pressure.

[FONT=&quot]Not for one year after completion of the inspection repair, replace, or upgrade for compensation components or systems on any building inspected - this section applies to the inspector’s firm and other employees or principals of that firm or affiliated firms.[/FONT]

  • Another useless rule. I can accept a referral fee the way this is written. Referral fees are better; you are not responsible for the work if the referral is done properly. You cannot regulate Ethics.

[FONT=&quot]Not provide compensation, inducement, or reward directly or indirectly, to any person or entity other than the client, for the referral of business, inclusion on a list of recommended inspectors or preferred providers or participate in similar arrangements.[/FONT]

  • As long as the Realtor does not label the list preferred you can pay an advertising fee. Advertising is not: 1) a referral 2) a list of recommended or preferred providers. The Realtors will get around this with their eyes closed by calling it advertising. They did in Texas. It also makes it impossible for you to receive or pay a referral fee for a home inspection from another inspector. This is restraint of trade without conflict of interest. Again, you cannot regulate Ethics. This rule affects only honest inspectors.

[FONT=&quot]The purchase and/or use of low-value advertising or marketing services or products that does not exceed ten dollars per item, is not considered inducement or reward.[/FONT]

  • Oh yes, THE EXCEPTION. Ten dollars per what? Per job? If an agent refers me 10 jobs a year I just give them 10 gift cards. It all adds to $100 . . . .in $10 dollar increments. You cannot regulate Ethics. I’ll prove it with a Texas approved example. I can hire a consultant to review my product and tell me how to improve it. Consultants can be easily justified at $200 per hour. Remember that consulting is not advertising, marketing or a referral fee. I ask Sally Realtor to review my report and fill out a survey. I pay her $200 for consulting services. You cannot regulate Ethics.

[FONT=&quot]However, at their discretion inspectors may disclose when practical observed safety or health hazards to occupants or others that are exposed to such hazards.[/FONT]

  • Is it practical to expect an inspector to advise the occupant that the bathroom does not have GFCI? If someone gets killed you bet it will be a good argument. You are now responsible for the safety of all related parties. .

[FONT=&quot]Not advertise previous experience in an associated trade as experience in the home inspection profession.[/FONT]

  • Now this is protectionism at its worst. Some computer programmer that got laid off and then became an inspector is trying to level the marketing field by saying Joe the inspector cannot tell the client he is a licensed master electrician with 20 years of experience.

[FONT=&quot]Not accept a home inspection referral or perform a home inspection when assignment of the inspection is contingent upon the inspector reporting predetermined conditions.[/FONT]

  • Unenforceable. Feely touchy Ethics anyone can ignore. Law should be simple and enforceable.

Inspectors are not required to: (1) Determine the condition of any system or component that is not readily accessible; the remaining service life of any system or component; the strength, adequacy, effectiveness or efficiency of any system or component; causes of any condition or deficiency; methods, materials, or cost of corrections; future conditions including, but not limited to, failure of systems and components.

  • Standard limitation language that serves to protect the inspector under the argument of educating the consumer. Hell keep it. Ha. The one I like is “no remaining service life comment”. We write all these rules to protect the consumer and yet we deny the consumer the NUMBER 1 item they want to know about the home. I asked Texas to do it and they showed how much they want to protect the public by ignoring it. This one disregard of consumer expectations makes the entire SoP uneven. ASHI has it in their SoP.

[FONT=&quot]Report the presence of potentially hazardous plants[/FONT]

  • Don’t they grow a lot of cannabis in Washington? I think inspectors should remove hazardous plants from the home site in the name of consumer protection. He he.

[FONT=&quot]diseases harmful to humans;[/FONT]

  • If my cow dies of hoof and mouth I am suing you. You did not say I did not have to inspect for diseases that would hurt my beloved Bessie.

[FONT=&quot]Determine the acoustical properties of any systems or components.[/FONT]

  • Love it. I do not have to comment on a home 15 feet from the train track.

[FONT=&quot]Operate any system or component that is shut down, not connected or is otherwise inoperable.[/FONT]

  • I have been trying to figure out how to operate my inoperable air conditioner for some time now. Help me understand.

FONT=&quot Offer or perform engineering services or work in anytrade or professional service other than home inspection. [/FONT]

  • OK, you work at dog groomer… You inspect on the side. You inspect a home for John. The next day John comes into to get his dog groomed. You cannot wait on him or you will fleece him twice. You cannot regulate Ethics.

[FONT=&quot]Dismantle any system or component, except as explicitly required by the SOP. [/FONT]

  • [FONT=Arial]Congratulations. You were explicit about the panel box. © **Inspect **the main and branch circuit conductors for proper over-current protection and condition by visual observation after removal of the readily accessible main and subelectric panel cover(s). The question is: The panel manufacturer and OSHA recommend panels be turned off before removing the cover. Are you informing the inspectors to do this or leading them down a path of arc flash via unsafe implied requirements? I think the first inspector that gets arc flashed should sue the State for workman’s compensation. [/FONT]
  • [FONT=Arial]Try this. "[/FONT][FONT=&quot]by visual observation
    after 1) turning off the power then 2) removal of the readily accessible main and subelectric panel cover(s).[/FONT]

FONT=&quot **Report, **if present, solid conductor aluminum branch circuits. Include a statement in the report that solid conductor aluminum wiring may be hazardous and a licensed electrician should inspect the system to ensure it’s safe. [/FONT]

  • That is BOLD. The Realtors vomit on this. May as well have the electrician inspect the home when it is listed. By the way, a “safe” aluminum home is one with arc fault devices. Every panel needs to be changed out.

A preinspection agreement is mandatory and as a minimum must contain or state: (1) Address of property. (2) Home inspector compensation. (3) General description of what the home inspector will and will not inspect. That description will include all items that the Washington state SOP requires to be inspected.

  • [FONT=Arial]You better be sure ALL items and not just systems are in that agreement. [/FONT]

FONT=&quot Provide a copy of the preinspection agreement to the client prior to the inspection unless prevented by circumstances from doing so.[/FONT]

  • [FONT=Arial]What weasel baloney. This totally guts the intent of a pre-inspection agreement. Obvious the inspector who wrote it is worried about loosing a sale. Why write the rule.[/FONT]

FONT=&quot Return client’s money related to a home inspection report when ordered to do so by a court.[/FONT]

  • [FONT=Arial]Well duh. If you are going to court it is not going to be over the measly fee. Sound like some Polyanna won a small judgement and could not collect. If the judgement was worth collecting the lawyer would know how to do it. Dump silly language like this. It does not protect the consumer.

**Describe **[FONT=&quot]the type of building materials comprising the major structural components.[/FONT]

  • [FONT=Arial]Well “concrete and wood” does that in most cases. Useless information unless descriptions are used to prove the inspector was there.[/FONT]

**Report [FONT=&quot]all wood rot and pest-conducive conditions discovered. Refer **all issues that are suspected to be insect related to a licensed structural pest inspector (SPI) or pest control operator (PCO) for follow up.[/FONT]

  • [FONT=Arial]You are so screwed for anything the expert can convince a jury about. What are you doing reporting conducive conditions for pest? That is the pest control guys job.

FONT=&quot **The inspector is not required to: Enter **b) Any areas . . . . have conditions which, in the inspector’s opinion, are hazardous to the health and safety of the inspector.[/FONT]

  • [FONT=Arial]Almost all crawl space areas have: pesticides applied; mold; insect parts; spiders; confined areas; poor lighting. The inspector does not have to crawl any crawl space. [/FONT]

  • [FONT=&quot]OK that’s enough. You get the point. Home inspection needs to regulate WHAT to inspect and not HOW. [/FONT]

  • [FONT=&quot]Inspect the roof. End of story.[/FONT]

  • [FONT=&quot]Inspect Plumbing. End of story. [/FONT]

  • [FONT=Arial]Each inspector can then write a company policy (Standard) or they can use a trade association standard. The problem with home inspection regulation is it tries to make everyone do it the same way in order to protect the public when the real reason is to level the marketing playing field. [/FONT]

No offense intended. Just an exercise of how words can be ripped up.


1.3. An Inspection report shall describe and identify in written format the inspected systems, structures, and components of the dwelling and shall identify material defects observed. Inspection reports may contain recommendations regarding conditions reported or recommendations for correction, monitoring or further evaluation by professionals, but this is not required.

Basically the same as our Illinois SOP, which is a watered down version of the ASHI SOP.

Just more hogwash home inspection laws/rules developed by states that want to be different than others. Who writes this stuff? What do they have to gain? As in Kansas, only the consumer/home buyer will loose. Rules and laws will be so technical that any new first time home buyer will be over-welemed with legal verbage, and pass on any home inspection.

John Cahill… you are awesome!

Who writes this stuff??!!!

It is the members of the board, appointed by the governor,any of whom are hiome inspectors.

What is their motive??? limit competition!!

Nick, you’re changing. :wink: I have never once seen you post a compliment to a die hard ASHI member. :smiley: This is not a poke at John as like you, I agree he’s top shelf.

How does this WA SOP limit competition? I would like to hear how this SOP limits competition, while maintaining that the Nachi SOP does not.

Reading through the proposed WA SOP, I really do not see not much of a difference with the Nachi SOP.

If it really does limit competition, then maybe Billy will have to get some experience, and join Nachi http://www.nachi.org/bicycle_internachi.htm


Wow, thanks everyone.

I once belonged to many groups but have cut back to NACHI and ASHI. I like NACHI’s virtual association. The web site and resources are superb. I like ASHI’s national convention but admit I have not gone in past few years ($$ abd time). I used to love ITA Vegas when O’Malley ran it. It was a learning party. Bottom line is I like home inspection. I got about 20 ASHI referrals last year and about 15 NACHI. NACHI is catching up on the referrals. CREIA in California is also superb but they are out of my marketing territory. Their conventions were very good and its great going to San Franciso or San Diego.

Top shelf = Old, dusty and on its way to becoming vinegar :mad::smiley:

I believe the “limiting competition” comment is in reference to licensing, not the SOP itself.

I’ll skip how licensing, education and insurance reduces competition and address the Standards (SoP) aspect. How that eliminates competition is self evident.

A proper SoP addresses “what” to inspect in a concise manner. It defers product development and SoP interpretation to private business and associations such as NACHI.

A concise SoP promotes competition via interpretation and types of services offered; a prescriptive Standard controlled by a state employee promotes a tradesman mentality that results in the business going a different direction in order to be competitive.

Any Standard that over regulates private business and reduces consumer choice will reduce competition by standardizing a consulting product. They want everyone to do it the same way (Standard).

An overdeveloped Standard can cause competition in other areas but only to the detriment of home inspection professionalism. For example, Texas now has an insanely over developed SoP. The product is reduced to checkbox reporting and the consumer cannot determine a difference between competition. Businessmen have realized that the future of home inspection is about selling other product or services and not the inspection itself. I will not go into details as I do not want to teach to much in this venue.

The people who come up with legislation will argue public protection but I have never seen any of them produce reliable references based on overall sales data in a given area. These matters are championed by savior mentalities and persons who fear loosing Realtor share because they think they exceed what most inspectors provide. They want everyone to be the same as them. When a product becomes standard, competition is based on price and other benefits and not the service / product itself.

Look at gasoline. It’s a standard product. You are buying by price (disregard grades). If all price is the same and one station offers a free car wash then they will get more business. When you apply that business plan to a professional consulting activity via a Standard you eliminate the professional aspect. The industry has to come up with its “free car wash”.

A trend established by Alan Carson in Canada many years ago was using an engineer to do all inspections (at least to my knowledge). In Texas the Standards have become so ridiculous that Realtors will be driven to a more concise product (Texas compares old homes to new code). In Texas Engineers are not regulated by TREC. They can ignore the rules and standards and offer any product they design. If I were not so old I would hire a young engineer so I could call my company an engineering firm then I would hire engineering newbie’s to do home inspections. A basic product provided by an engineer will be widely accepted by Realtors (marketing power) and the consumer as well (they care less about comparing old homes to new code). In the end over regulation causes the industry to bloom in another area and home inspection regulation dies.

I predict you will see home inspection being done for free just for the marketing lead to sell other services. Engineers will become more prevalent (hey you can make good money doing inspections). I blame that on legislated Standards that lean towards being prescriptive and justified in the name of public protection. Then you will see people try to regulate engineers. Why? To reduce competition. :wink:

Anytime a rule that regulates is put into place by a State, competition is affected. A Standard is both a restriction and a requirement. It evens the field. That affects competition.

SoP are always written by people who seek to bring other inspectors up to their standard in the name of protect the public. The real reason is competition. My first experience with this was in 1995. A Texas committee member insisted on comparing all homes to new GFCI code. He stated, for the record, that agents black balled him because he did and others did not. By making everyone do it one way his marketing would be protected and competition leveled . . . in the name of protecting the public. This practice continues in Texas. It is called the Jacobs syndrome.

Home inspection is becoming like gasoline. Shop by price. So how do you compete with that? You offer more service. How do you offer more service for the same price and no additional return? You use home inspection to sell other services and products. I foresee the day of the free inspection in exchange for marketing leads to services that have annual residual return. Leveling any service with rules will limit competition in one area and encourage it in others.

If regulation is a must have the State regulate education and licensing. Allow inspectors to choose the SoP of an accepted trade group.

Here is a short story that proves how competition is affected.

A well known Canadian inspector uses only engineers as inspectors. It separates him from the other guys. Texas has become so grossly regulated that Engineers who once did TREC inspections are now no longer following Texas TREC rules. Why? Because they do not have to as Engineers. Now they can design a product that meets consumer demand. That product will be happily accepted by Realtors who know the TREC Texas inspection is insane. The result is Engineer based inspection companies that do not have to follow TREC rules will prosper. Can you guess what will happen after that? ………………………… Someone will propose a rule to regulate Engineers. Its all about competition.

New Kansas laws exempt engineers, insurance agents, realtors, modular home salesmen, architects, even home builders. All can perform home inspections and not be regulated under any laws, but home inspectors will have to be. Exempt people cannnot advertise their services as home inspectors, but can choose other words to describe their business. Special interest groups are really trying their best to put home inspectors out of business, so we won’t kill their deals. Licensing/regulation solves nothing for the consumer. States that have licensing laws are basic. All home insepctors have to follow them. Level playing field. Limited income.