For as long as home inspecting has been a viable industry, Virginians have operated under unique standards. Inspectors had some regulation, but licensing wasn’t part of becoming a home inspector. Certification later became an option, but licensing was still up for debate. As of July 1, 2017, the times are changing.
New legislation in the Commonwealth heralds “significant changes,” says the Virginia Department of Professional Responsibility and Occupational Regulation. The Board for Asbestos, Lead and Home Inspectors has worked diligently to assess public opinion and develop a plan for the betterment of the home inspection industry. It goes into effect next month, and here’s what you need to know.
New Construction Home Inspections Will Soon Require a Special Designation
Virginia operated without licensing or certifying home inspectors until the 2015 General Assembly passed HB 2103. This legislation required home inspectors who inspect new construction residential property to obtain a New Residential Structure (NRS) certification.
Considered a voluntary certification, inspectors would be required to train for the specialty designation and ultimately become certified before inspecting new construction. Inspectors without the NRS certification would not be permitted by the Commonwealth to inspect new construction.
Although HB 2103 was initially intended to go into effect in 2016, the 2016 General Assembly session put the NRS law on pause until 2017. It’s now scheduled to merge with and take effect at the same time as new licensure requirements for home inspectors this summer.
Home Inspectors Will Now Need Licensure and it’s No Longer Voluntary
The 2016 General Assembly session took home inspector regulation a big step forward last year. They approved HB 741 and SB 453, which shifted the voluntary certification program into a licensure requirement but with a few differences.
HB 741, Chapter 436, § 54.1-503 (E), explains:
“It shall be unlawful for any individual who does not possess a license as a home inspector issued by the Board to perform a home inspection for compensation on a residential building. It shall be unlawful for any individual who does not possess a home inspector license with the new residential structure endorsement to conduct a home inspection for compensation on any new residential structure. For purposes of this chapter, “new residential structure” means a residential structure for which the first conveyance of record title to a purchaser has not occurred, or of which a purchaser has not taken possession, whichever occurs later.”
On July 1, you can expect the following changes:
- All home inspectors in the Commonwealth of Virginia will be required to hold a license
- Any home inspector who holds a valid, voluntary certification on July 1 will automatically receive a Virginia home inspector license
- Inspectors who inspect new construction will be required to obtain the NRS specialty designation as well as a home inspector license
- The NRS designation will require special training by an approved education provider
- Any home inspector operating without a valid, voluntary certification will be required to apply for a home inspector license
Although the law currently permits uncertified home inspectors to perform home inspections, that will change in July. Going forward, every inspector operating legally will either hold a license or hold both a license and the special designation for new construction.
What’s Known About the New Licensing Process for Home Inspectors
The Virginia Board for Asbestos, Lead and Home Inspectors has not yet publicly released the necessary forms and formal requirements for transitioning from certification to licensure or for applying for a new license. Here’s what’s known about the processes so far.
- Home inspectors will need formal education, experience in the field or both
- Education providers will apply with the state for approval before any coursework will be accepted toward the new licensing requirements
- As there is currently no list of approved education providers, prospective students may petition the Board to approve a program, such as one that’s offered through a national home inspection association or an online program such as ICA School.
- The Commonwealth will likely require an examination as part of the new licensing process. The Board has not yet released any information about what the exam contains, who will develop it or who will oversee the exam process. Prospective licensees may consider petitioning the Commonwealth to accept the Nation Home Inspector Exam.
Rules for Certification May be the Same as or Similar to New Licensure Requirements
There’s no way to know for sure until the Board releases more information, but Virginia’s rules for certification might be similar to those for a new licensee. The General Assembly exchanged “certification” for “license” in the language of HB 741, so there’s reason to assume that the general guidelines for licensure will be similar.
You’ll need to be at least 18 years old and hold a high school diploma or the equivalent and pass a written exam. Here are the rest of Virginia’s requirements as of June 2017:
- Complete 35 hours of instruction with online courses making up no more than half, plus perform no fewer than 100 home inspections, or
- Complete 35 hours of instruction with online courses making up no more than half, plus perform 50 certified home inspections under the supervision of a certified inspector, or
- Complete 70 hours of instruction with online courses making up no more than half, plus perform 50 home inspections, or
- Complete 70 hours of instruction with online courses making up no more than half, plus complete no fewer than 25 certified home inspections supervised by a certified home inspector, or
- Provide verifiable documentation of no fewer than 10 years of home inspection experience with at least 250 completed inspections. This is subject to Board approval.
The Virginia home inspection industry is facing significant changes in the near future. Through public opinion and legislation developed by General Assembly, inspectors in the Commonwealth will soon require licensure. That appears to be the trend across the country.
While there are still several states who either don’t regulate the industry or only impose minor regulations, many are shifting toward licensure and regulation. That’s good for the industry and it’s good for home buyers, as well.
This is a good time to bookmark ICA School home inspector education course. Chances are, Virginia will allow online education through our program once their approved education providers list is released. To get a feel for what you can expect, get a free course demo and see our instructor-led video lessons in action.