All that you need is to do a simple Google search and you’ll find numerous news and opinion articles about home inspectors. You’ll read about what clients should expect from an inspection, whether inspectors perform a good service, and how buyers should always beware.
The “beware” part of the equation comes up often because although most inspectors do a great job, there are some who don’t. When an inspector overlooks defects and gives an inaccurate report, the consumer is right to be concerned. So that begs the question: Just who regulates home inspectors?
Why Regulation is Important
In an industry that enjoys a lot of freedom, home inspecting isn’t free from regulation. At least not in all parts of the country. And that’s a good thing, both from an inspector’s point of view and for all of the customers who need a home inspection.
Regulation helps home inspectors stay on top of what’s important in the industry. Home systems change, new hazards are identified, and new products are developed. With a controlling body, all inspectors have equal access to new and important information about the service that they offer.
Regulation also helps inspectors provide a more consistent type of performance. The uniform regulations mean, at least in theory, that one home inspection will cover the same ground as another, and that each inspector who follows those regs will be up to date.
Home Inspection Associations Started it All
Back in the earliest days, there was no regulation. That’s because home inspecting wasn’t a true industry, and the only people offering help to home buyers were a few contractors here and there and others who knew their way around residential property. But it didn’t take long until the need for some type of uniformity became evident. That’s when the first home inspection associations formed.
All national associations, and likely all state ones as well, have a set of rules called the Standards of Practice. The original Standards were developed by a few associations working together. Then as groups gained more of a following, each one fine-tuned the Standards to their needs and set them in place as the rules for members to follow.
Standards are largely the same from one association to another. Each set breaks down which parts of a home are required to be inspected, which parts are exempt and how the inspection is to be carried out. To maintain membership, inspectors are required to uphold the Standards with every home inspection.
Some States Have Licensing Requirements
Many areas regulate home inspectors through a state-run agency, often a licensing board. These boards might have any number of requirements, such as regular continuing education and even internships before the inspector is licensed to work solo.
Licensing boards vary to a much greater degree than home inspection associations do. Some are extremely strict. And some are not. Some states have no licensing board at all, which is one of many reasons why associations remain a relevant and vital part of the industry.
Some licensing boards set forth education requirements, too. That means a board might require certain courses, a set number of education hours, and it might have the power to approve (or not) a home inspection school for the purposes of licensing. Attend the right school, and you won’t have to worry about whether those requirements will be bet.
Although home inspecting is a largely a lone wolf kind of occupation, fewer and fewer inspectors work in an area where there are no regulations of any kind. Where a state agency isn’t in force, association membership is important. It adds a level of professional integrity that gives customers peace of mind and it helps inspectors do a better job.
Are you in the market for a career change and wondering whether home inspecting is the right path? ICA School can help you find out. Get a free course demo today and find out firsthand what our education program is really like.