Washington HI licensing information from DOL

Stephen writes:

That’s the public declaration I needed. Thanks!

Public declaration? LOL. Yeah, that will get you far. Out of bed and back to work with you. Or are you trying to milk this injury through football season? :wink: Honey… could you bring me another beer… my back still hurts.

Stephen…I think Nick is right on this one.

What you are stating is the possible “intent” of the law and it makes sense…but what Nick is stating is exactly what the law says. This is how it will be read in court.

If I were in Washington, I would probably not comply with the law…but if I did, I would be turning in every one of my competitors who did not have a license on the date the law goes into effect.

I would force the courts to make the same reading that Nick did.

You see, the DOL has no authority over unlicensed inspectors who are practicing. They can only refer them to local prosecutors who will then interpret and apply the law, if they decide to.

O’Handjob sees it differently, but nothing he states as fact has been tested in your court. When your unlicensed inspector gets a letter from the department of licenses to mail them a $20,000 fine…or…or…they will what? Revoke the license he doesn’t have? Go to jail without a trial?

I would use the law against itself and fill the courts with chaos and craziness.

But, again, Nick is only stating what a judge would read…or what a Defendant’s attorney would read to the Judge…while the DOL continued to allow hundreds of other inspectors to inspect without a license who shouldn’t be.

This is a poorly written law, as most of them are.

Another member of the bar heard from. Once again, due diligence. But then it is easier to throw comments from the peanut gallery than actually check with those that went through this issue months and months ago.

You’re sentence was almost complete. It should read like this:

During that time you will be able to inspect but you will not be able to advertise as a licensed inspector.

This is clearly stated by the DOL in their recent email:


To qualify for the newer home inspector exam, you must submit:

  1. 120 hours of board approved home inspector fundamentals education
  2. 40 hours of field training from an experienced home inspector.
  3. Home Inspector Exam Application available at http://www.dol.wa.gov/forms/625002.pdf.

You can continue to practice as a newer home inspector, but you cannot advertise yourself as a “licensed home inspector.”**

It doesn’t say no advertising, it says no advertising as a “licensed” home inspector.

Also, about referring, the law specifically says:
(9) Aiding or abetting an unlicensed person to practice or operate a business or profession when a license is required

When is a licensed “required” for “newer” inspectors? After 7/1/10.


There are members of your state’s HI licensing board that are very much impressed with themselves and what they perceive to be their power over all of the citizens of the State of Washington. It’s amusing to read their self-congratulatory quips on other message boards and…no doubt…they are very, very impressed with what they say to one another.

In the real world, however…no one is found “guilty” and punished with steep fines without due process. A day in court.

Your HI Licensing board can tell licensed inspectors what to do. Unlicensed inspectors…as in every other state…fall under the jurisdiction of area prosecutors. Your board would have to provide its evidence of my violating the law to my local prosecutor and, if he agreed, he would prosecute me. If found guilty, I would pay a fine or whatever else directed by the judge who heard my case.

Getting a letter in the mail from some department telling me to pay them $25,000 would go right in the same pile with all of the letters I have from Ed MacMahon and Dick Clark wanting to give me ten million dollars, and would have the exact same effect on my bank balance.

One more time. THE BOARD… DOES NOT have authority in these matters. It is the DEPARTMENT OF LICENSING that takes in any and all complaints and appoints an enforcement officer. NOT THE BOARD.

It is NOT handled by local prosecutors. It is handled by State enforcement officers given authority under the RCW. Once again, I suggest you perform your own due diligence into Washington law instead of throwing out inaccurate and blanket statements.

If you want to read the only items the Board has authority over, they can be seen at: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=18.280.060

Each state has their own unique hierarchy. Before everyone starts blabbering about , “the state does this or the state does that” they need to realize that what happens in Missouri law is most likely not the same in Wisconsin, California or Washington. This is not the UCMJ that covers everyone in the armed forces. It is a state law that does not cross borders.


Call your DOL and ask for Donna.

Here is what she will tell you.

The Department of Licensing is NOT an enforcement agency.

The individual professions govern those who are licensed in their professions.

Now…you’ve already heard from the members of the HI licensing board who have agreed with me that THEY…the licensing board…cannot issue fines against unlicensed inspectors. As you said in your first sentence of your last post, they have “no authority over this matter”. Only those who are licensed fall under their jurisdiction…so we don’t need to re-argue that point.

And the DOL is not an enforcement agency and does not have anyone assigned to it called an “Enforcement Officer”. I learned this from Donna, of the DOL, when I called and asked to speak to the “Enforcement Officer”.

So…what is left?

Like anywhere else, the licensing board would take a complaint against me for not having a license and performing inspections. They would investigate and, if found to be true, would turn over their evidence to a prosecutor who had jurisdiction over me (since they do not) for prosecution.

Don’t know who Donna is. Is she with the Home Inspector division of the DOL, or did she just answer the general phone number as an operator?

You will not find an “Enforcement Officer” in the DOL. You will, however, find those that are appointed as investigators of violations that fall under the DOL purview. Once the DOL investigator has concluded their investigation, it is turned over to an Enforcement Officer for the State of Washington, not the DOL. Not sure which department the Enforcement Officer is under, probably the AG’s office but that is just a guess on my part. It is not a local prosecutor. See RCW 7.80 regarding civil infractions for more information.

The Board does not take or accept complaints. The DOL, specifically, Rhonda Myer, will be responsible for the intake of all home inspector licensing complaints.

Steve…Where does your information about the DOL “appointing” an enforcement officer, etc, come from? They don’t know anything about it at DOL. They insist, at the number you call for “General Information” that they are NOT an enforcement agency.

The various licensing boards enforce their rules, which we know…but we also know that the various licensing boards enforce rules strictly on licensees.

Unlicensed people are governed by the courts and police. In addition to Donna…i presented your statements to Stacy and Mary who told me that they are unaware of anyone other than the licensing boards, themselves, governing the various professions.

Nothing you (or the knuckleheads at Acid Rain) have presented to the contrary can be validated at DOL.

James, please call Rhonda Myer in the Home Inspector division of the Washington State Department of Licensing for any other information. She can be reached directly at (360) 664-6487… She can explain it all to you. I am not going to play middle-man in the old telephone game.

What did she tell you?

You call her. I have and am happy with the results as posted previously. Never talk to a general operator when there over 30 divisions, each with their own rules and regulations. Because you choose not to call the person in charge of the program, you get to live with incorrect information.

I don’t know what she told Stephen but I can tell you that she’s told me wrong information in the past. I should be able to trust what she says but since she’s proven to be misinformed, I’ll have to trust the letter of the law and the AG instead.

That’s what you’ll likely get from Rhonda, as proven to me already.

You have chosen not to call her, too.

I called her and got her answering machine. I went on to the next call and ultimately spoke with a representative from the AG office. She was surprised that DOL handled home inspectors since your state’s Department of Labor…which actually is an enforcement agency…handles contractors.

She is looking into it deeper and sending me an email with what rights a member of the public has if accused of breaking the law by performing an inspection without a license. She doesn’t seem to think that anyone has the power to simply assign a “fine” or other penalty and mail a letter. In her opinion…as mine…someone has to prove something to someone of authority (like a judge) in order for someone to be determined to be “guilty” of breaking a law…and then punished.

I will share her email when I get it.

Thats what you get when you don’t know what you are talking about with other people that don’t know what you are talking about. Until you get ahold of Rhonda Myer, you are wasting your time.

My inspector approval # is 542, don’t know if this will be a License # or not but numbers are climbing…

And yes Steve I am all good with test this week.

Ok now, I have just Listened to the last board meeting’s audio recording right here, 2 hours worth, http://www.dol.wa.gov/business/homeinspectors/hiboardmeetings.html
In the last 5 minutes of the first audio the board makes it clear that licensing is not required nor is there any enforcement of any rule until july 1st 2010.

The sept '09 deadline is just for A Grandfather rule inspector to take a chance to get there’s in first.

Everthing goes still till july 1st 2010.
interesting audio too.
Might not be a board too much longer.


James is correct; there is no requirement for anyone to have a license until July 1, 2010. However, anyone that was in business on June 12, 2008 and had completed at least 100 inspections as of that date, and who wants that experience to be recognized, so that all he or she has to do to be licensed is submit a list of completed inspections, prove that he or she had been in the business at least two years as of that date and then take and pass the tests, must have it all done by September 1st. This category of inspectors is believed to be the largest category in the state and it’s this group that, when licensed, would be supervising inspectors during their 40 hours of supervised inspections.

Nick says that the AG is wrong about the deadline and that the law says that everyone has to be licensed by September 1st. I agree, at first blush it sure looks that way. The first portion of the law says:

1) Beginning September 1, 2009, a person shall not engage in or conduct, or advertise or hold himself or herself out as engaging in or conducting, the business of or acting in the capacity of a home inspector within this state without first obtaining a license as provided in this chapter.

If one goes on the face of that paragraph alone, it appears that Nick is right. However, if that were the case, why would the good Senator include the second paragraph which says:

(2) Any person performing the duties of a home inspector on June 12, 2008, has until July 1, 2010, to meet the licensing requirements of this chapter. However, if a person performing the duties of a home inspector on June 12, 2008, has proof that he or she has worked as a home inspector for at least two years and has conducted at least one hundred home inspections, he or she may apply to the board before September 1, 2009, for licensure without meeting the instruction and training requirements of this chapter

When the board learned months ago that Ms. Myers was telling folks, based on the first paragraph, that the deadline for everyone was September 1st, a member of the board contacted Senator Spanel to ask what her intent was when she drew up and introduced her bill. Once the board had clarification from the Senator, the board asked DOL to ask the AG to review the situation and determine whether Ms. Myers was correct or whether she had to allow everyone until July 1, 2010 to be licensed. After all, the board reasoned that, if the deadline for everyone is September 1st, why does the second paragraph clearly state that anyone performing duties on July 12, 2010 has until July 1, 2010 to meet the licensing requirements?

A couple of weeks later, the AG’s response was essentially that, though the law isn’t well written the intent is clear - that all inspectors must meet the instruction and training requirements and that anyone who was performing inspections on June 12, 2008 has until July 1st of 2010 to become licensed; however, more experienced inspectors would not have to meet the instruction and training requirements (but would have to take the tests) if they did so prior to September 1st.

Now, that’s the gist of it. It is a call that the AG is empowered to make and I think it was to the benefit of the profession that he made the call that he did; otherwise, we might have seen complete chaos on September 2nd.

I think that any experienced inspector that doesn’t make that September 1st deadline will have shot him/herself in the foot, because then they’ll no longer be counted as “experienced” and will have to complete all of the same requirements that anyone entering the profession on September 2nd will. It will be a darn shame if inspectors who fit that "experienced’ category, because they listened to some backroom lawyers on this board, blow off the deadline and are then forced into a situation where they have to spend thousands of dollars becoming re-trained - possibly by inspectors with a small fraction of their own experience, before they can become licensed.

As for the debate about advertising; since no licenses could be issued before July 1, 2009, nobody could, according to the law, legally advertise themselves as a “licensed” inspector until they’d officially received their license sometime after July 1st 2009. It’s as simple as that. I know that it sucks that inspectors who immediately got their act together and did what they needed to do to become licensed will be able to advertise that they are licensed, and those who didn’t/don’t won’t, but that’s going to be a self-inflicted wound for anyone that falls into the “experienced” category that doesn’t make the deadline. The best advice that I can give those folks is - stop carping, get cracking and get it done.


You are in that group of inspectors that’s trapped between dates. It doesn’t matter which profession it is, anytime there is a licensing law that goes into effect for anything, there will always be some folks that will get caught out; the trick is trying to set conditions so that as few as possible are trapped in that situation. It’s unfortunate, but it isn’t like Senator Spanel was planning specifically to screw Kevin Pierce any more than the Director at DOL was planning to specifically screw me over when my birthday means that I’ll have to renew my license only 56 weeks after it was issued - that’s just the way it fell out.

From what I’ve seen from you over the past couple of years, I’d say that you’re a pretty competent inspector and a credit to the profession; it would be a shame to lose you because you want to make a point.


Mike O’Handley
Your Inspector LLC.
Kenmore, Washington