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House Bill No. 553 has been introduced to License Home Inspectors in Missouri

For those of you who do not know me, I have been in the home inspection profession for the past 35 years. I have served as National President of ASHI® and have also served on the Examination Board for Professional Home Inspectors. I offer the following comments and opinions on HB 553:

  1. First and foremost, there is and has been no demonstrated need for licensing of Home Inspectors in Missouri. Specifically, there is no huge cry from the residents of Missouri complaining of poor inspections and massive law suits. On the contrary, the BBB (website on 4/7/2011) has only 447 complaints nationwide on home inspectors, and of those 299 have been resolved. The Missouri State Attorney General does not even track Home Inspector litigation because of the low numbers of cases filed.  The industry is therefore, serving the public well.
  2. Having additional fees and regulations on small businesses in a down market will put many companies out of business. Inspection companies that are currently still in business are barely keeping their heads above water. Bottom line, the increase in fees will be an additional cost to the consumer.
  3. ASHI ensures that consumers have access to well qualified inspectors. ASHI® has set precedent nationwide for its standards of practice, ethics, continuing education requirements and a certification process. It is the only organization of its type that is certified by NOCA. (National Organization of Certifying Agencies).
  4. HB-553 is poorly written and confusing. It will do harm to the industry and make it difficult to do business in general for the inspector/owner. Specifically;  A. There are limited specific qualifications (339.903.1) for home inspector board members other than having been a home inspector for five years immediately preceding their appointment and having completed at least one thousand home inspections. B. There is no specific statement granting home inspectors a license that have been already certified by nationally recognized inspection associations and have been actively engaged in the business of home inspection (339.92.2). C. Placing a $10,000 minimum limit of liability (339.927.3) means opening the gates of litigation for anything below $10,000. This is letting the state dictate terms of a contract. D. Requiring any type of insurance by law will mean higher rates for individual inspectors. Most inspectors already voluntarily carry E&O insurance that in many cases also covers the Realtor that referred him.
  5. At best there are 300-325 home inspectors in the entire state of Missouri. This means there will be a potential $500-$600 annual fee for the license although the bill indicates no more than a $200 fee for original application and another for each annual renewal (you do the math and see if the Board can do all required for approximately $65,000 per year). A down Real Estate market will not attract new people to the industry and will force border line companies who are waiting for good economic conditions to return, to leave the industry. The way I understand licensing is that it would mean the fees collected for the license would be required to cover all expenses to maintain the Missouri Home Inspector Registration Board and license policies.
  6. I would also like to say that I, as most home inspectors in Missouri are not opposed to licensing if there is a demonstrated need and a well written bill that serves both the profession and the public. This is not that bill, seeing it does neither.

About the author:

Gerry is a licensed Professional Engineer in four states; Missouri, Illinois, Colorado and Kansas. He first began his home inspection career in 1976 and has been active in ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) since 1978. In fact, Gerry’s membership number in ASHI is 87 compared with most of the memberships numbers which are in the 1,000’s.  Gerry has performed over 16,000 inspections.  Gerry can be reached by email at gloesch@bpgwi.com or by phonel 314-249-8370.

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2 comments to House Bill No. 553 has been introduced to License Home Inspectors in Missouri

  • Avatar Gardenia

    If the home inspectors are not licensed and there is no formal vehicle of complaints then people might have no recourse and posting with the BBB seems futile.

    I recently had a condo inspection where the report claims 1) filter on AC/heating being in acceptable condition and a slight water damage on the outside of a balcony door.

    The filter was found with more than 4 inches packed with dust when the a/c quit working because the motor was burned out.

    When a contractor came to bid on replacing the door, rotting around the frame including the door was extensive.

    What was ultimately the sour point was that we trusted our buyer agent from Prudential and she accompanied this inspector who was recommended by her broker.

    Complaining at this point only serves to vent. We live in California and purchased the condo for our daughters doing their graduate work.

    Truly disappointed as I am a licensed real estate in California.

  • Avatar R Vargas

    The majority of Missouri cities and counties have no building codes, licensed contractors and/or oversight on home repairs and maintenance. Accordingly, in most of the state, the home inspector contracted for a real estate transaction is the first person to ever see and apply standards in evaluating the condition of a home.

    This law … and any other law in the future … that establishes a statewide standard for home inspectors to train by, inspect by and report by will become the much needed “building standard” that our state needs.

    Home inspectors will be able to contract themselves to insurance companies and law firms to provide their official report on the conditions that they observed and be (in about 80% of the state) the ONLY licensed official qualified to enter an official opinion.

    Home owners wishing to recover from contractors and insurance carriers wanting to address pre-existing conditions, improper maintenance or rate adjustments can use his reports as well.

    Yes, the law creates burdens but it also creates opportunities … primarily, the much needed opportunity to bypass those who have been fighting to keep statewide building codes out of Missouri.

    Any standard that the inspector will be trained, tested and mandated to report by will become a statewide standard. We need it.