Inspecting W.Va.'s Home Inspectors
Posted 5/25/2006 06:00 AM
**Government to require previously untested field to pass national exam to earn license.
**Story by Juliet A. Terry
West Virginia has been the homeownership leader the past three censuses, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but until this year it has not required any level of proficiency to a field that is critical to buying a house – home inspection.
Effective Aug. 1, anyone working as a home inspector will have to pass the National Home Inspector Examination to be licensed in the field in West Virginia.
“The purpose of this exam is to provide a consistent, high-quality standard of competence for home inspectors,” said Noel Zak, executive director of the National Home Inspector Examination.
The Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors, an independent nonprofit organization, governs and administers the exam to support the regulatory needs of states. As of Aug. 1, West Virginia joins 18 other states that require the test for home inspectors to be licensed.
Michael Reel, a charter member and vice president of the West Virginia Association of Home Inspectors, said the test has been available for several years, but the state did not require any kind of certification for home inspectors before legislation passed during the 2006 legislative session.
“Before, there were no requirements to be home inspectors,” he said. “We got this legislation through on our first attempt this year.”
The West Virginia Association of Home Inspectors is a new organization formed not only to push certification legislation but also to be a resource for home inspectors who now must prepare for the licensing exam.
“As far as I know, anyone can take the test, but to pass it requires some education,” Reel said.
House Bill 4192, which passed March 11, established requirements for the certification of home inspectors and defines the process for applying to be a certified inspector. The legislation states that after Aug. 1, anyone who wished to work as a licensed home inspector first must pass the National Home Inspector Examination.
In addition, home inspectors will have to complete 16 hours of continuing education each year.
Zak said the public should be aware of the new testing requirement because it will improve the quality and reliability of the services home inspectors provide.
“Appraisers work for the lender. The home inspector is the only person in a real estate transaction whose allegiance is to the buyer,” Zak said. “While we (the testing entity) do not take a position for or against licensing, we see the value in it. Our mission is to ensure … independent testing without political pressures, so the state can be confident in its standards for home inspectors.”
Zak said the National Home Inspector Examination has been administered more than 15,000 times in six years, and it never has had a legal challenge against it.
“We remain independent of politics,” she said, “but we are pleased West Virginia now will require the exam. … You really must have an independent exam.”
To help inspectors prepare for the exam, Reel and Samuel Wood, also a charter member and president of the state home inspectors association, organized two continuing education seminars. Wood said 30 people attended the May 18 session on the new exam, and 70 people attended a May 19 seminar on residential foundation and floor structure defects.
“If you have not gone through the certification process to be a home inspector by Aug. 1, you will be in violation of state law,” Wood said. “We’re trying to get the word out about this.”
Wood said home inspectors will be held to higher standards now because of the testing and continuing education requirements.
“Appraisers are required to have 14 hours (of continuing education) a year, and engineers are required to have 17 hours. With 16 hours required for home inspectors, we’re really raising the bar,” Wood said.
The Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors, an independent nonprofit organization, holds that home inspector regulation intended to protect the public must require passage of a high-stakes examination to accurately and defensibly assess home inspector competence. The board governs and administers the National Home Inspector Examination. West Virginia is the newest state to require the National Home Inspector Examination. Eighteen other states require the exam for home inspectors to be licensed.
**West Virginia Association of Home Inspectors