Only about half of states require home inspectors to hold a license. Many other states have practically no regulations. Pennsylvania relies on professional associations to keep inspectors on track. What happens when no one is at the helm to support inspectors and protect consumers against fly-by-night charlatans who want to make a quick buck?
Depending on the state, there may be no one to help. If there is a glaring discrepancy between the inspector’s report and the condition of the home, the customer might have grounds for a lawsuit. For example, warped from porch floorboards probably did not happen overnight.
As the inspector in the equation, the onus is on you to pursue excellence and stay on top of what is happening in the industry. In other words, it pays to regulate yourself whether formal regulation exists or not.
Unregulated Doesn’t Necessary Mean Free From Consequence
Just because some states have no regulations doesn’t mean nobody is watching. Home inspectors are part of the real estate community. When real estate agents’ client get burned by an inspector, they’ll tell their peers. If the client hired the inspector based on the agent’s referral, that referral might be the last from any agent in the area.
To a certain degree, home inspecting also polices itself. Just as agents learn about bad inspectors in their midst, word gets around the inspector community. Above-board professionals talk and they educate their customer base.
Sooner or later, the only options for ne’er-do-wells are to clean up their act or move on to a different market or another industry altogether.
What’s the Worst That Could Happen?
When an unregulated home inspector without any scruples goes to work, people can lose money or worse. They might get injured in the house that was supposed to be a home.
Many home inspection customers have little knowledge about the systems that make up a home. Most people know how to adjust a thermostat, but they probably can’t tell the difference between clicking, clanging, and buzzing sounds that a furnace might make. It’s that lack of knowledge that puts homebuyers at risk.
Buyers depend on the accuracy of the inspection report. If the inspector says the roof is in good condition and there isn’t any visible damage, there’s little reason to question it. Serious buying decisions are based on the inspector’s word. That good-looking roof might have hidden leaks or old damaged joists underneath.
Associations Help Weave Integrity Into the Industry
No matter where you live, every home inspector has options. National home inspector association memberships are open to anyone who meets the association standards. As a member, you may need education on the front end and continuing education for the life of your membership.
Associations also have a code of ethics and standards of practice. They offer a similar foundation as a state licensing board. In some cases, associations are stricter. They’re governed by people with industry experience.
Ethics help keep you on the straight and narrow, including with issues where you might not spot a potential conflict on your own. Standards of practice provide the framework for a complete home inspection.
Although more states are moving toward licensing for home inspectors, there’s still a long way to go. In the meantime, inspection customers take big risks hiring someone sight unseen. Sometimes, customers get burned. You can do your part to protect their interest by striving for something better.
Although it’s not required, home inspector education gives you the best foundation for a long and fruitful career. Enroll now in ICA School’s program and earn your certification in as little as a few weeks.