NY home inspectors and commercial building inspectors have a lot in common. They both help a potential buyer evaluate the condition of the property before making a decision, and both are liable if they overlook even the minuscule but significant issues on the property they are assigned to examine.
However, even though most inspectors do a great job, there are some who are just out to collect their client’s money with no regard to what their subpar performance can do to their client’s safety and well-being. When an inspector overlooks defects, the client has the right to file a complaint. So that begs the question: Who inspects the inspectors?
The Importance of Regulation
The inspection industry is relatively loose in terms of what inspectors do and how they do it in some states. In fact, only 31 out of 50 states in the US have laws that require home inspectors to be licensed; a very important criterion that most people look for when hiring an inspector.
However, just because some states have no regulations doesn’t mean nobody is monitoring their actions. Inspectors are part of the residential and commercial real estate community, which means that when a real estate agent gets subpar performance from an inspector, they’ll tell their peers. If the client hired the agent based on the agent’s referral, that referral might be the last from any agent in the area.
Most of the time, however, negative word of mouth is not sufficient to keep the inspectors from doing a bad job. An inspector with a single bad customer review doesn’t mean that they can’t get the job done right for another client, and an inspector with a good track record doesn’t always guarantee an optimal outcome.
Therefore, regulation is still important as it helps inspectors provide consistent performance to all their clients. When there is a uniform regulation in place, there is the assurance that one home inspector will cover the same ground as another, and that each inspector who follows all the mandated requirements will always stay on top of what’s essential in the industry.
State-Level Inspector Licensing Boards
Many areas regulate home inspectors through a state-run agency, often a licensing board. These boards have varying requirements, such as regular continuing education and even internships before the inspector is licensed to work solo.
In New York, the Division of Building Standards and Codes provides certification to those aspiring to be commercial inspectors.
The Division of Licensing Services, on the other hand, implements the Standard of Practice to all home inspectors in New York. They also require home inspectors to complete 24 hours of approved continuing education within their two-year license period prior to the expiration date in order to renew their license.
In New Jersey, the Department of Community Affairs’ Licensing and Continuing Education unit provides certification and continuing education for individuals who enforce Uniform Construction Code (UCC) as well as for Housing Code officials and inspectors.
The NJ Division of Consumer Affairs licenses home inspectors and regulates the home inspection profession in the area.
Inspection Associations: ASHI and ASTM
Aside from this “self-regulating” mechanism between the real estate and inspection community, and the state-level licensing boards, associations also help weave integrity into the industry. National inspector association memberships are open to anyone who meets the association standards. As a member, inspectors may need training on the front end and continuing education for the life of their membership.
For home inspectors, The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) has a code of ethics and standards of practice. They offer a similar foundation as a state licensing board. In some cases, associations are stricter as they’re governed by people with extensive industry experience.
While commercial inspectors are also free to join ASHI, most of these professionals follow and comply with a different set of standards of practice. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) E2018 is what most professional engineers (PE’s) use when conducting commercial property inspections, specifically property condition assessments. This is also the only standard recognized by major US lenders, and therefore must be followed strictly by commercial inspectors to ensure that appropriate due diligence is executed by the building owner.
Overall, although home and commercial inspection is mostly a lone wolf kind of occupation, fewer and fewer inspectors work in an area where there are no regulations of any kind. Where a state agency isn’t in force, association membership is important. It adds a level of professional integrity that gives customers peace of mind, and it helps inspectors do a better job.
Tauscher Cronacher is an engineering firm that offers standard home inspection and commercial property inspection services to all residents in the New York City and Long Island area. Visit our website at www.tauschercronacher.com to learn more about our inspection services today.