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WSDA Levies Fines Against Two Home Inspectors


hausdok
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Kenmore, WA - October 19, 2011

At least one home inspector in Washington State is still in business inspecting homes today; and is probably thanking his lucky stars that the licensing law that was passed in Washington State in 2008 separated home inspections from pest inspections and eliminated the requirement for practicing inspectors in Washington State to be licensed Structural Pest Inspectors.

According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) website, WSDA imposed licensed suspensions and levied fines for violations of the Washington State pesticide laws and rules totaling $13,325 during the third quarter 2011. Among the concluded cases were those of two home inspectors.

Shawn Lipp, Apple Land Pest Control and Home Inspections, Inc., East Wenatchee, WA agreed to pay a $2,000 fine and accept a 10-day suspension of his licenses when WSDA accused him of operating without the proper licenses to make pesticide applications and conduct wood-destroying organism inspections for real estate transactions during January through March of 2011.

In a separate case, Gerald Iverson, The Home Inspectors, Puyallup, WA agreed to pay a $200 fine and surrender his structural pest inspector license for five years after WSDA alleged that in January 2010 Iverson conducted an inadequate wood destroying organism inspection and report on a house in Tacoma.

Home inspectors who perform inspections in Washington State are permitted under state law to identify and report pest conducive conditions and wood rot without holding a structural pest inspectors (SPI) license. Inspectors may not identify any suspected wood-destroying insects seen and are required to advise clients to seek the services of a licensed Structural Pest Inspector whenever they find suspected wood-destroying insects.

Under the new law, any inspector that performs inspections for wood-destroying insects is required to have a Structural Pest Inspector's license and is subject to disciplinary action by WSDA if an investigation determines the inspector had performed a sub-standard inspection.

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Mike, can an inspector in WA say this: I found bugs eating the wood on the house, you need to have a qualified pest control contractor inspect and treat the home as needed?

We have almost the same law in TN and in several other states in the South and we can say the above without getting into trouble.

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Mike, can an inspector in WA say this: I found bugs eating the wood on the house, you need to have a qualified pest control contractor inspect and treat the home as needed?

We have almost the same law in TN and in several other states in the South and we can say the above without getting into trouble.

I'll let Mike opine as to the legality of that statement. But I'll offer that it wouldn't be much use up here. Our most common wood destroying insect is the carpenter ant. It's not a bug and it doesn't eat wood.

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As much as I hate to say it this may be a case where one would say "it appears that the damage is being caused or has been caused by insect infestation, call a blah blah blah". I'm sure it must be frustrating for someone who knows the cause and yet cannot reveal it.

It doesn't work that way in Jersey, anyone can fill out an NPMA33 and it really pisses off a lot of the licensed applicators. I've had a 7B license (WDI) in NJ for over 9 years and still get the evil eye from the other applicators in recertification classes when they find out I'm an HI, even though I've performed just as many WDI inspections as they have, sometimes more.

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As much as I hate to say it this may be a case where one would say "it appears that the damage is being caused or has been caused by insect infestation, call a blah blah blah". I'm sure it must be frustrating for someone who knows the cause and yet cannot reveal it.

It doesn't work that way in Jersey, anyone can fill out an NPMA33 and it really pisses off a lot of the licensed applicators. I've had a 7B license (WDI) in NJ for over 9 years and still get the evil eye from the other applicators in recertification classes when they find out I'm an HI, even though I've performed just as many WDI inspections as they have, sometimes more.

In Louisiana, the 'licensed applicators' have gotten the upper hand by populating the ranks of the Structural Pest Control Commission and passing administrative laws that make it virtually impossible for a home inspector to become licensed as a termite inspector.

The result is that Pest Control Operators now refer to termite inspectors in their employ as salesmen and the homebuying public is denied access to unaligned termite inspectors that could offer a termite inspection free of any vested interests in making a termite treatment sale.

Marc

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Originally posted by Jim Katen

Our most common wood destroying insect is the carpenter ant. It's not a bug and it doesn't eat wood.

Wow! I had to look it up, but although most people consider pretty much any creepy-crawly a bug.....the exact definition of bug (or true -bug) is pretty limited.

It never ceases to amaze me what I can learn on this forum.

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Hi Scott,

No, we can't say what they are doing; only that we saw live insects and we must then refer the issue to a bug guy. It is frustrating. WSDA doesn't care if you'd held a bug license for a hundred years before you allowed it to lapse; if you don't carry an SPI license you aren't allowed to opine as to what kind of insect it is, whether it is or is not eating the house or what to do about it.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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In the great wisdom of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's Structural Branch, and the Kentucky Pest Management Association, only a licensed pest control operator can legally identify wood destroying insects. So, while I saw evidence of what "appears" to be wood destroying insects (see photos below), I am not a licensed pest control operator and cannot legally determine the presence or absence of any wood destroying insects. Consult a licensed pest control operator to legally determine the presence or absence of any wood destroying insects and your best course of action regarding same.

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Perhaps sometimes I'm too sarcastic for my own good.

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In the great wisdom of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's Structural Branch, and the Kentucky Pest Management Association, only a licensed pest control operator can legally identify wood destroying insects. So, while I saw evidence of what "appears" to be wood destroying insects (see photos below), I am not a licensed pest control operator and cannot legally determine the presence or absence of any wood destroying insects. Consult a licensed pest control operator to legally determine the presence or absence of any wood destroying insects and your best course of action regarding same.

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Perhaps sometimes I'm too sarcastic for my own good.

Be careful ... watch some attorney say all the above is circumstantial and not solid evidence/proof. [;)]

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Hi Scott,

No, we can't say what they are doing; only that we saw live insects and we must then refer the issue to a bug guy. It is frustrating. WSDA doesn't care if you'd held a bug license for a hundred years before you allowed it to lapse; if you don't carry an SPI license you aren't allowed to opine as to what kind of insect it is, whether it is or is not eating the house or what to do about it.

I saw large black ants trailing along the front side of the house. If this house were in Oregon, I would call them carpenter ants. However, in Washington, the protectionist policies of the pest control industry prohibit me from making such identification. Carpenter ants can excavate the wooden parts of your house to make their nests, though they rarely cause significant damage. I see no signs of any need for carpentry repairs associated with these (unnamed) ants.

1.Hire a pest control contractor to identify the large black ants that are trailing along the front of the house and, if necessary, treat the house for these (unnamed) ants.

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I think it offers great opportunity for theater.

How many ways can the HI dance around the topic with approved language, while at the same time belittling and exposing the pinheads for what they are?

I'm comfortable saying "There's some thing (here's a picture!) the State says I'm not allowed to identify, describe, or otherwise educate you about, crawling around this house. The State indicates I have to direct you to a licensed PCO for identification; call the PCO so they can also try to sell you treatment for this thing that most high school age children know about. Contact your Congressman for information related to this restriction of my right to tell you what you need to know."

Kicking the hornets nest isn't particularly dangerous if you keep your escape routes in mind. At least, not around here.

Would the Pacific Rim state's object to my approach?

More accurately, could they punish me?

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Well, fun is what it's all about.

Washington States approach is at least grounded in the idea they don't want folks misidentifying things or otherwise misinforming folks. Not so sure what LA is thinking other than protecting PCO's turf.

What's the guys name @ Washington again? It sounded extraterrestrial, so maybe we should call the Men in Black.

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Hi,

Yeah, I could get all adversarial with my descriptions but it would only get me jacked up by DOL cuz, technically, as long as I'm on this board I'm a state employee - one of theirs.

On site after I've found the issue and I'm explaining it to the client, I simply explain to the client that home inspectors in this state are allowed to identify pest conducive conditions and wood rot - and make recommendations for how to remedy those issues - but that if we see live insects we aren't permitted to identify the insects or tell them what to do about the insects.

That's when I do what I'm supposed to do, tell him or her something like, "So, if you're interested in knowing what those insects are and what to do about them, you'll need to hire a licensed Structural Pest Inspector."

Nothing constrains me from advising the client about what to do about the conducive conditions or wood rot; so, once I've fulfilled my obligations under the rules I simply point out to the client that it's the conducive conditions that leads to wood rot and attracts the insects; so, if they deal with the conducive conditions and repair the rot, by the time they have an SPI come out there might not be much left for the SPI to "identify."

When I write the report I take the same approach and describe the issue, explain the conducive conditions that led up to the issue, and simply mention that I saw live insects. I make appropriate recommendations and then I stick a short blurb below that comment advising them in writing to contact an SPI. Something like this example:

Blah, blah, blah description of my finding with something simple like, "I found that the rim joist is damp and is swarming with live insects" included in the description. Blah, blah blah why the issue is bad for the house and, if I know, what I think led to the issue (lack of flashings, leaking gutters, etc.) and my thoughts on an appropriate repair approach, or, if I don't think I know, a simple statement that I don't know what caused it. Then something like...

Contact a few very experienced reputable contractors to discuss these or other repair options and to get estimates of costs. Make certain that any contractor you obtain estimates from is very familiar with what causes rot, the various stages of rot and how to make appropriate rot repairs. (No mention of insects)

Then I add my little blurb...

Live insects: Because I don't currently hold a structural pest inspector (SPI) license, I'm not permitted to tell you what type of insects these are or advise you how to get rid of them - for that I recommend you hire a licensed SPI.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I'm comfortable saying "There's some thing (here's a picture!) the State says I'm not allowed to identify, describe, or otherwise educate you about, crawling around this house. The State indicates I have to direct you to a licensed PCO for identification; call the PCO so they can also try to sell you treatment for this thing that most high school age children know about. Contact your Congressman for information related to this restriction of my right to tell you what you need to know."

Kicking the hornets nest isn't particularly dangerous if you keep your escape routes in mind. At least, not around here.

I observed what appears to be damage by some sort of wood destroying insect in the structural floor. While I've 3 years of prior experience as a termite inspector, I'm not currently registered, therefore I cannot tell which species it is. You will need to hire a registered termite inspector, nearly all of which employed by Pest Control Operators in this state. Keep in mind that since a termite inspector on a PCO's payroll has a vested interest in making a sale on a treatment, you may not hear from him exactly what he sees, just what he wants you to think. This conflict of interest in built in state law, specifically administrative law, by the Louisiana Structural Pest Control Commission

I don't need an escape route. I invite them. I like to see the beet red faces sometimes, usually agents but I don't mind anyone who makes a living of screwing homebuyers or the profession that I work in.

Unlike Washington State, the Structural Pest Control Commission is part of the Dept of Agriculture. The State Board of Home Inspectors and the Board of Realtors are separate agencies within the governor's office. None have jurisdiction over the others.

Marc

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Unlike Washington State, the Structural Pest Control Commission is part of the Dept of Agriculture. The State Board of Home Inspectors and the Board of Realtors are separate agencies within the governor's office. None have jurisdiction over the others.

Marc

All pest control and compliance issues in Washington State also fall under the department of agriculture. The home inspectors advisory licensing board, all home inspectors, and all real estate licensees fall under the department of licensing and a single director of DOL oversees these licenses as well as:

Appraisal management companies

Appraisers

Architects

Auctioneers

Bail bonds

Body piercing and body art

Boxing

Camping resorts

Collection agencies

Cosmetologists

Court reporters

Driver training

Employment agencies

Employment directory services

Engineers

Firearms

Funeral and cemeteries

Geologists

Land surveyors

Landscape architects

Limousines

Martial arts

Notaries public

On-site designers

Private investigators

Real estate

Rental cars

Security guards

Sellers of travel

Tattoos

Taxis

Telephone solicitors

Timeshares

Vehicle and vessel dealers

Vehicle manufacturers

Vehicle transport and disposal

Whitewater river outfitters

Wrestling

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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2 years of biology in an accredited college, unless you've somehow tricked a PCO into hiring you as termite inspector for 4 years. That's why I was dumped from the program. I had 3 years and they didn't want me getting my own PCO license. I would've begun accepting home inspectors for their own 4 years and started a trend. I would've been a gateway and the existing PCO's suspected that and put an end to it.

I actually considered taking the 2 years of college to get back at them. Got a few gray cells...and a few hairs...left in...on...my cranium.

Marc

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It's dirt simple,

You read a couple of books, take a test that costs around $50 (Not sure of the exact fee today) and you get the license. I think, but am not certain, that they also now require one to go through their test house on the WSU extension farm in Puyallup and demonstrate one's proficiency. Can anyone here confirm that.

It's not silly not to have it if you fought like hell to separate a mandatory pest license from the home inspection license and took a whole lot of heat for pushing that separation. Keeping it would have been hypocritical. On top of that, when they were rolled into one most inspectors weren't charging anything more for the combined inspection than they'd charge for any ordinary inspection. Why take on the additional liability without the reward?

Some folks have now begun to charge a separate additional fee for the bug end of the job and realtors here are gradually getting used to the idea that they can no longer tell folks to expect that a bug inspection will automatically be included with the inspection at no extra charge.

When/if I see that most here are once again charging a separate added fee for doing a bug inspection, I'll renew my license. Until then, the bug guys are welcome to all of that liability with little reward.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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