ASHI Adds Ethical Component to Annual Report Card of State Home Inspector Laws
New Jersey Retains Top Spot, Kentucky is 28th State to Become Licensed
Des Plaines, Ill. (August 17, 2004) Ð While more states are regulating the home inspection profession, many legislation programs lack key components for consumer protection, according to newly released data from an annual regulation review conducted by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).
Now in its third year, the review was conducted to identify strengths and weaknesses among home inspector regulations in the 28 states where they've been established, 24 within the past seven years. This year's review recognizes the need for states developing new regulation or improving existing regulation to include a code of ethics, and it includes a ranking of all current regulation programs. New Jersey, Louisiana, Texas and Pennsylvania received the top four scores, respectively, with Arizona and Massachusetts tying for the fifth highest score. Montana, South Carolina, California, Georgia and Tennessee were the lowest ranking states. Kentucky is the newest addition to the list of states with current regulation and ranked twenty-first in its first year.
"ASHI has long served as the benchmark for experience and standards in the home inspection profession, so it is appropriate that we continue to assist states in developing regulation that helps protect consumers and ensure they receive expert service from a qualified professional home inspector," said Steve Gladstone, president of ASHI, which includes nearly 6,000 individual home inspectors throughout North America. "In the meantime, since not all state home inspector regulations are equal, consumers should investigate how home inspectors are regulated in their state. The best way to be certain an inspector is qualified is to check for ASHI membership and for references, and to interview at least three home inspectors before hiring one."
More Training and Education Needed
The ASHI review includes a model licensing bill that states can use as a guideline in developing their own home inspector legislation. It emphasizes the need for education and training requirements, including 80 hours of education and a range of 25-100 supervised training inspections. The model also provides for the creation of an appointed governing body to administer the laws, and it proposes that members of the governing body be free of conflicts of interest in the regulation of home inspectors and not be associated with boards governing related professions, such as builders, contractors or real estate professionals.
"Our review shows that many states are doing an excellent job of creating meaningful regulation already," added Gladstone. "We also see a need for improvements, but some of the wide disparities from state to state are likely a result of the rapid development of home inspection legislation. When a need for regulation is recognized, we are dedicated to working with legislators to pass laws that clearly protect the interests of consumers and foster excellence within the home inspection profession."
Strong Code of Ethics Essential
Working with legislators, ASHI will call special attention to the need for a strong code of ethics. ASHIÕs own code was updated earlier this year for the first time since its creation in 1976 to provide increased focus and clarity of ethical home inspection practices, to add relevancy and to help home inspectors and the public understand the issues.
"A strong code of ethics is just as important as strong standards of practice in any legislation that purports to protect the consumer," said Gladstone. "ASHI now recommends that government regulations include ethical standards."
ASHI's Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics are the recognized guidelines for the home inspection profession. ASHI members are independent professional home inspectors who have met rigorous technical and experience requirements. Members are required to pass two written exams, including the National Home Inspection Exam, and must have performed a minimum of 250 fee-paid inspections conducted in accordance with the ASHI Standards of Practice. Members also are required to meet continuing education requirements in order to stay abreast of new technologies and inspection techniques.
The five most heavily weighted criteria of the 13 studied by ASHI included education, experience, examination requirements, as well as the presence of established standards of practice and definition of prohibited acts. States also were evaluated on whether or not a home inspector governing board had been established, on requirements for continuing education and such matters as reporting requirements, fee structures, inspector liability and the establishment of penalties for inspectors who violate laws regulating the home inspection profession.