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Pennsylvania Home Inspection Law Update

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Bill Kibbel

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New Pennsylvania Home Inspection Law is poised to come out of committee.
 
 HOUSE BILL 1001 - New Pennsylvania Home Inspection Law is currently in the hands of the Licensure Committee and is poised to come to the full House of Representatives for a vote.
 
   What is it?: An Act regulating home inspectors; establishing the Home Inspection Licensing Board; providing for licensure and practice, for disciplinary action, for remedies and for penalties; making an appropriation; and repealing provisions relating to home inspections.
   Due to efforts by the Pennsylvania Home Inspector Coalition (PHIC) the two-year limit of liability in the original version of the bill has been reduced to one year. (Same as the existing home inspection law). Your input to your representative can help to prevent other negative aspects of the bill from moving forward!
View latest copy: HB #100
  
  THE ISSUE:  
Home Inspector stakeholders agree that HB 1001 will harm the home inspection industry, home buyers, real estate licensees and brokers  in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. HB 1001 will increase home inspectors liability and require home inspectors to raise their fees. HB 1001 will require home inspectors to report on "mold, fungi and related biologicals", HB 1001 will, in effect, require home inspectors to give the SELLER a copy of the inspection report at the end of the inspection, HB 1001 will require special certification to inspect modular homes and manufactured homes.
 
**** PLEASE email or call your State Representative.
 
WHAT YOU SHOULD SAY WHEN YOU CALL OR WRITE:
Please tell your representative you are opposed to HB 1001 for the following reasons:
  
   HB 1001 is flawed and will negatively affect Consumers (Home buyers), Home Inspectors, Real Estate Licensees and Brokers, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and I cannot support this bill as written.
  • HB 1001 will require home inspectors to report on "mold, fungi and related biologicals". Mold, fungi and other undefined biologicals are outside the scope of a home inspection and are specifically excluded by home inspector professional liability insurance companies and home inspector Standards of Practice.
  • HB 1001 will require home inspectors to raise their fees (to cover license fees and additional insurance) causing many first time home buyer to opt out of getting a home inspection, leaving homebuyers unprotected from safety defects and other deficiencies that could cause them to lose their home.
  • HB 1001 will, in effect, require home inspectors to give the SELLER a copy of the inspection report at the end of the inspection. Home inspectors work for the buyer/client and have no contract with the seller. This provision will increase home inspector and agent and broker liability and result in increased fees.
  • HB 1001 will require a special certification to inspect modular homes and manufactured homes. This provision, added by the manufactured home lobby, has the appearance to prevent independent inspections of manufactured and modular homes. Elsewhere in in HB 1001 the home inspector board is tasked with approving and regulating that home inspectors receive initial training and receive 16 hours per year of continuing education as approved by the board. The home inspector board is best suited to determine what education requirements are needed, not special interest groups.
  • The above noted provisions are a bureaucratic overreach and do not belong in a home inspector licensing bill.
 
  However, I will strongly support any Home Inspector Licensing or Home Inspector Registration legislation based on the existing Pennsylvania Home Inspection Law and existing Home Inspection Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.
 
  Your voice counts and can make a difference! Many of the sponsors of this bill don't know how it will negatively affect your business and home buying consumers in Pennsylvania. Contact your house and senate representatives and real estate agents and brokers in your area and express your concerns.

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Marc

Posted (edited)

Page 5, lines 16 thru 24:

This line may impose significant accountability upon the Board where in other states accountability is ignored.  What’s important here is whether the Secretary of Labor/Industry himself is held accountable for his performance.

Page 6:

This model of HI regulation brings 3 public members, an engineer and a real estate agent into the Board member list along with 6 HIs.  Excellent planning, in my view.

Page 8, lines 16 thru 23:

Good to see someone exceeding the usual 90 hr pre-licensing requirement.  An issue comes up on the 75 mentored home inspections: Licensure might effectively be limited to those applicants who are able to gain the cooperation of an existing licensee.  With this model and with my deafness, I would never have succeeded in getting a license.

Page 20, lines 12 thru 20:

There are about ten other exemptions that should be in there including FHA Fee inspectors, insurance inspectors, certain contractors in the performance of their duties as contractors, etc

Page 21, lines 21 thru 27:

This language should clarify that the word ‘violation’ means any number of violations of a single type considered by the board at a given adjudicatory hearing.  The reason is, for example, if an HI unknowingly commits a violation ten times before discovery.  The hearing that follows might consider this as ten violations instead of one, where the intent of the statute was to consider it as one violation with a limit of $1,000 fine.  The Louisiana HI Board makes this mistake on a regular basis, resulting in single fines well in excess of the statutory limit of $1,000.

Page 23, line 6 thru page 24, line 7:

These are the measures against COIs.  They are seriously flawed and omit several COIs common in the real estate industry, including one of the most damaging of all.  Consumers and inspectors of the highest competence and ethics will be harmed the most by the omissions in this section.

I stopped at page 20 and this was just a quick overview.

The response of the PHIC might as well have been that of an emotional and hysterical child.

Edited by Marc
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..........first a disclaimer - I'm in NY and do not do inspections in Pa. That said, my inspection business is primarily manufactured/modular homes because I have sold, installed, serviced and inspected these homes for 25 years. I maintain installers and dealers licenses (and appropriate bonds) in addition to my HI license. There is also a requirement to attend routine continuing education. There is no question that these structures are a breed-apart from stick-built and the inspector that looks at one or two per year would benefit from some specialized training. There is some manufactured home CE available in NY (that I have attended) which will afford CE credit towards our HI ticket, but that's the only benefit - the substance was a joke. I would support the concept of some specialized training, even though it might erode my niche market. Not to worry though, I'll be long retired before any substantive changes would/could occur.............Greg

 

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Marc

Posted (edited)

You sound like the perfect guy to write/provide this sort of training.  Maybe do a draft and propose it to your Board.

I'd like a copy and provide it in Louisiana.

Edited by Marc

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The manufactured home lobby in Kentucky got involved in our law 12 years ago.  Got it so that every home inspector had to have a 3 hour class on manufactured homes every year.  80 - 90 % of the inspectors have never (and say they will never) inspect a manufactured home.  We managed to get it reduced to 3 hours every two years, then two hours every two years, but it's still hanging in there a bit.  

The one instructor qualified to teach the class, George Porter, produced a DVD for the state association that we've used that last several years.  Content such as, "these are the window blinds", here we have the kitchen cabinets" (or close facsimile thereof).  We sit in the class but attention span doesn't last very long.

Hopes are that it will soon be an optional class for those who do inspect manufactured homes,.

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I think it's wrong to require the home inspector to give the report to the seller.  In Maryland, a buyer may want to negotiate or back out of the contract regarding the results of a home inspection.  If so, the buyer is obligated to give the report to the seller.  The inspection is the buyers property, a tool they paid for.  They don't have to use it. Then can ignore it and go right to settlement if they want. Why should the seller in any instance be entitled to a product they did not pay for?

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I can't see an argument for it.  I suspect the idea came from someone who thrives mostly on ego.

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I have mixed feelings about requiring that the seller has access to the report. I don't provide it to the seller but I suspect that many see my report. The one issue that will be addressed is when a deal falls through because of home inspection issues, the seller cannot just put the house back on the market without disclosing the issues and hope the next buyer does not discover the problem or even worse, the seller conceals the problem. In NJ there are disclosure requirements and the previous home inspection report will document the seller's knowledge. On the other hand it would concern me that it could be construed that the seller has a relationship with the home inspector, via the regulations, and it may reduce the legal separation between them (and aid in the ability for the seller to sue a home inspector).

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