Thought everyone should know that there will be a Changing Business Practices Sub-Committee meeting of the Washington Home Inspectors Advisory Licensing Board on April 19th.
This could be an important meeting to attend because the committee may be discussing whether to require that home inspection reports contain some kind of information sheet pertaining to energy efficiency issues in a home.
I got this information secondhand so it might not be completely accurate; but from what I understand here’s what’s been been happening:
One or two legislators, allegedly prompted by the Green Group Seattle and Washington Realtors - the real estate association here in the Washington State - and similar entities, introduced a bill in Olympia to require that home inspectors perform energy audits as part of a home inspection.
These special interests apparently feel that making energy audits mandatory at point of sale will give all new home owners the information they need to save energy, and may provide some the incentive they need to make improvements, thus saving energy and reducing the state’s carbon footprint, etc. They also feel that home inspectors are the one group ideally suited to be tasked with performing these audits.
As far as I can tell, those pushing this idea never bothered to officially consult the appropriate stakeholders - those in the energy audit field or the Washington State Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board - before deciding that home inspectors were the best ones to be tasked with this.
According to Ms. Myers, manager of the home inspection program in Olympia, the bill was sent to committed for refinement. It landed in the lap of the Commerce Department, which felt that it was the ideal body to oversee such a program; however, by the time the Commerce Department got done with it, the concept had been inflated by the Commerce Department to include high-salaried positions for executives running the program as well as staff for those persons, and an elaborate interactive website with links to energy efficient window manufacturers, etc.
There isn’t any money for new programs that aren’t self-sustaining in Olympia - in fact there isn’t any money for existing programs - so the people planning the program killed their own goose by creating a fiscally unsupportable monster and the bill died in committee. If the persons pushing this program are serious about it, it’s liable to rear it’s head again after its proponents have had a chance to go back to the drawing board.
This issue wasn’t discussed at the last meeting of the Home Inspectors Advisory Licensing board that was held in March because the concept was supposedly dead; but, according to Ms. Myers the board chairman is reporting that Green Group Seattle isn’t backing down - they intend to make something happen one way or the other.
As I understand it, the Chairman thinks that the way to placate these special interests may be to create some kind of mandatory information sheet to be included in every inspection report. The sheet would require the inspector to essentially fill in the blanks on some information relative to energy efficiency of the home and then make recommendations to the client about ways the client can save energy.
As an example, said information sheet might contain information such as:
The depth and estimated R-value of insulation in the attic and beneath the floors and whether the insulation meets current energy guidelines. If the insulation didn’t meet current guidelines the inspector would then be expected to recommend in writing that additional insulation be added in order to make the home more energy efficient.
Whether or not there are excessive air passages into the walls, attic or crawlspace. During the inspection the inspector would be expected to look to see if wiring/pipes were sealed where they pass through framing plates, whether there are proper seals on access doors, etc. If the inspector finds a lot of air passages, the inspector would be expected to recommend in writing that the buyer have an energy performance contractor air seal the home in order to make the home more energy efficient.
Other issues along the same vein.
If you are an inspector that already does energy audits as a sideline, this might be welcome news to you as it has the potential to dramatically increase your bottom line. If you are not doing energy audits however, and aren’t already trained and certified by one of the bodies that trains energy auditors, this has the potential to require you to absorb the cost of getting trained and certified and perhaps even increase your insurance coverage.
If you don’t care to be involved with energy audits because you think it is the bailiwick of an entirely different profession, or you can see some serious liability exposure in dabbling in energy audits instead of going all in, and since nobody has bothered to ask how you as a profession feel about having energy audits, or some kind of mandatory information sheet requirement heaped upon you, you might want to let your voice be heard on the matter.
The sub-committee meeting will be held April 19, 2013 from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, 19010 1st Avenue South - Room C-101, Burien, WA 98010 (Telephone 206-835-7300). Click here for a map.
I recommend as many inspectors as possible attend this sub-committee meeting to voice your opinions loud and clear as to whether or not you feel energy audits or this information sheet concept should be part and parcel to a home inspection in Washington State. If you can’t attend this meeting, at least email either the Department of Licensing or members of the committee to let your voice be heard.
Here’s information relative to the Department of Licensing and the board:
Jerry McDonald, Real Estate Program Administrator – email@example.com
Rhonda Myers, program manager at DOL - DOLINTHomeInspectors@dol.wa.gov (360) 664-6487
Bruce MacKintosh, Board Chairman – firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Pioli, Board Member – email@example.com
Paul Duffau, Board Member – Paul@YourNWInspector.com
Stephen Cancler, Board Member – firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlie Buell, Board Member – Charles@buellinspections.com
Pat Knight, Board Member – email@example.com