by Mark Jones —
For the past decade or so, the state of New York has implemented a licensing requirement to perform residential or commercial home inspections. In order to obtain a license, one must not only take a test, but apprentice with an experienced inspector for a certain period of time and for a prescribed number of inspections. Alternately, an individual can be grandfathered into obtaining their license if they have performed a certain number of inspections within a prescribed amount of time. When licensing came into effect in New York, I was able to be grandfathered in, due to all of my past experience.
Prior to the licensing law, anyone was legally entitled to perform inspections, which left the public vulnerable to unqualified individuals doing shoddy work. Although licensing still does not guaranty quality in an inspector, it at least is a step in the right direction and is better than it was. So how did folks know who to use if there was no license?
The best way was always to become affiliated with a professional organization. These kinds of organizations generally provided ongoing educational classes and seminars, and some even had tests one had to pass to become a full member. At one time or another, I was affiliated with ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors), NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors), NAPI (National Association of Property Inspectors), the American Homeowners Foundation, the International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE), the National Pest Control Association, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the National Society of Environmental Consultants, and the National Environmental Association.
There are also home inspection schools or institutes from which one could provide a diploma or certificate. I attended the Building Specs Institute in Annapolis, MD, the B.O.C.E.S. course in home inspection, the BTS Laboratory course on mold testing, seminars given by EMSL Analytical labs, and many continuous education seminars given by ASHI.
Although work experience in related fields like construction, architecture and engineering are helpful, they do not address all of the specific needs required to perform a quality home inspection, which is why specific training in the home inspection field is paramount. Although licensing is now required, what is more important is actual field experience, so when choosing an inspector, one should always inquire as to how many years of experience the person has. For instance, I have been doing them for 25 years. Would you rather hire someone to look over the biggest investment in your life who has been doing this for 25 years or one who has been doing it for 2 years? And as always, be wary of referrals from real estate agents. The inspector they recommend may be good but they also may either do “quickie” inspections where they say everything is okay in order to please the agent and get more work from them, or even get a kickback. Remember, the agent stands to get a big, juicy commission if the sale goes through, so why would they recommend a tough inspector who is trying to protect the home buyer and point out all the defects in the house?
Mark Jones is the president of Certified Inspections, Inc. based in the NY, NJ, CT tri-state area. For further information, please visit: www.certifiedinspections.com