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WDO/WDI inspections

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I took the required courses to get my core and category 7b pesticide license, but was hesitant to take the test. Mostly for liability reasons. I figured, I'm a new inspector, and I will have enough to look for.

I decided to subcontract the work. But, I am rapidly losing patience with termite companies. I have quickly learned that the less people that get involved with the inspection the better! Who can make it at this time, and who cant!

Here is the question: What percentage of HI's are doing there own wdo/wdi inspection. Here in southern Jersey it seems that alot of inspectors are sub contracting the work. What are the pros and cons? Would certainly like less hassle and more extra money, but is the liability worth it?

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Yours is a good question and likely been asked by every inspector at one time or another. I would tell you the same thing wheather you are talking abt WDI, mold, EMF's, etc. Before you can offer additional services, you must first be the very best home inspector you possibly can be! Usually when you survive a few years, you begin to realize those services are taking away from you initial goal and your main business.

I have never done, nor allowed other inspectors, to do WDI inspections. We are all trained and licensed to do so, but feel a full time WDI inspector does a better job for our mutual client. We have specialized people that do nothing but real estate inspections and corporate treatments. We formed a company that is completely seperate and independant.

Well the standard Les Van Alstine answer is: Be the best home inspector you can be, then add a few items to the offerings. I happen to think the sequence should be Inspections first, water quality second, radon third, consulting fourth, WDI fifth, expert witness work after 10 or so years and mold testing after 43 years of success.

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Call around to several 'good' termite companies. Talk to them about conducting your inspections and teaching you while they conduct them.

Work a deal that when you have an off day, spend it with them on their inspections.

There's a 'Credentialed Wood Destroying Insect Inspection' course given once a year (when I took it it was in Bordentown). Very interesting and difficult 2 day course (only 20% pass the test).

When you feel comfortable, that's when you do them yourself.

Personally, I feel as a home inspector, I am more through than any WDI inspector can be. I do more probing, open more panels etc. Once, when I opened a chimney clean-out and stuck my mirror inside, termites tubes were all over the place; one house had termite tubes inside the furnace (the furnace was sitting directly on the slab).



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Your answer is not simple. An inspector's motivation is more important than the service alone. If an inspector is just starting and looking for additional revenue, the aux services can and will harm you. I don't understand why a perfectly nice person will get laid-off from a job, go to inspector school and then not stick with being an inspector only.

Because this is a public forum, I will remain somewhat subdued. But, I will say that most inspectors lose track of their original intentions and start chasing the dollars, thereby bastardizing the "profession".

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I don't know if we are talking about the same WDO. Here in Oregon its common for the HI to perform the WDO at the same time. We get certified thru our state agriculural department.

When I started since all the other guys were doing them I went ahead and did them to and like Darren said my experience is that the HI's are a lot more thorough.

Our standard doesn't require probing painted or finished surfaces but most guys have techniques to do it anyway. The trick is to minimize the damage with whatever your using to probe with. Some guys start breaking stuff all apart which is rediculous and good way to get into trouble. My weapon of choice for siding is a box cutter and for the crawl an awl.

How many times have you seen perfectly good looking T1-11 or LP and its nothin but butter.

Depending on what you use to probe with you develope a pretty good sense after awhile with the different siding materials etc. as to what is infected.

I took a class here at our local community college taught by our resident WDO god. Been behind him a number of times too and have always found more stuff but he sticks to the standard of not probing finished surfaces.

whether to probe finished surfaces is a judgement call in my opinion but if I didn't there would have been too many times I would have gotten in big trouble I believe.

Finding decay is pretty easy after awhile. What I find here is that a lot of guys miss anobiid beetle and carpenter ant infestations. The hardest for me are the carpenter ants. They can leave the least amount of clues visible.

I also find that you develope a sixth sense after while. I have gone into crawlpaces where from the access everything looks perfectly fine and yet your mind is telling you "hey buddy you got to crawl this one cause theres something here" And sure enough at the furthest point away from the access where most inspectors won't make the effort, there it is rot, termites, beetle damage etc.

What happens is I think some guys get lazy and look in the crawlspace access and call it good. There have been a number of times I have followed reputable HI's and found major stuff and you know that they just didn't crawl it.

Some of these crawlspaces out here are friggin nasty. These days I bring black plastic runners and if its rat or cat contaminated crawl I'll run my own runners and leave em. I'm tired of crawling thru cat and rat shit pardon my french.

Chris, Oregon

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Nope, not true Les. At least in Oregon, home inspectors actually have a choice as to whether or not they want to get involved with pest inspections. Not so here in Washington State where the state's department of agriculture has decreed that any home inspector observing and reporting on pest conducive conditions is performing a WDO inspection and therefore must have a structural pest inspectors (SPI) license.

Back around 1990, the pest inspectors in this state began getting fed up with the new crop of home inspectors operating in the state who were dabbling in pest inspections. Complaints were made to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) that home inspectors who were commenting about pests were either missing pests or were reporting pests where no pests existed. So, they managed to get a legislator behind the idea of requiring any home inspector who inspects and reports on rot, insects or conducive conditions to have a pest license.

Their plan was to, hopefully, dissuade home inspectors from becoming involved with pests, so their own industry would have a monopoly. It backfired, once home inspectors found out how easy it was to get a pest license, most took the test and got their license. Then, because they were forced by law to include the pest report, they tossed the pest inspection in with the home inspection for one price. Years later, the pest guys tried again by getting the law altered so it required all home inspectors to carry either a bond or an occurrence-based E & O policy. Again, it backfired, and today the pest industry is practically extinct in this state, because a huge chunk of the treatment business, that used to be generated mostly by pest inspectors who weren't home inspectors, has gone away, and most of the pest guys are now doing home inspections.

The problem we've got is that those who have a background as pest inspectors and later got into home inspections, for the most part spend a great deal of time on the bug and rot end of the inspection, but the actual home inspection aspects aren't very in-depth. Conversely, many of the home inspectors who're being forced to be pest inspectors are doing very in-depth home inspections but are doing far less on the bug/rot end of it - probably about what inspectors do in other states where they are allowed to write up what they see, report it to clients and then recommend the clients contact a bug specialist for follow-up.

So, the bug guys are still claiming that too much bug/rot stuff is being missed by home inspectors, and the home inspector guys need to take x-number of hours of continuing education related to WDO every year and maintain an SPI license. The bug guys, on the other hand, are allowed to inspect for bugs, call them out, do a treatment for an extra $500 to $700, and still able to dabble in home inspections.

There's nothing stopping all home inspectors in the state from becoming full-blown bug guys and also doing treatments, but the cost of that kind of ramp up and additional liability is huge, while getting into home inspections isn't. Most of the established bug guys are already set up, staffed and insured for the bug end of the business, so getting into home inspections costs them practically nothing, while most home inspectors are one-man operations and don't have the capital or financial agility of well-established multi-inspector bug firms.

It places the bug guys in the driver's seat and many home inspectors here feel oppressed and like they're being forced to assume a mantle that they'd never wanted when they decided to get into home inspections. Worse, throughout the state now, realtors tell their buyers that a pest inspection is part of the home inspection, and that a home inspection shouldn't cost them more than about $325 - $350, so they should not be charged anything additional for the pest inspection. So, buyers call up, want to know the price of the inspection, and, when they're told that the home inspection actually costs more than the $325 - $350 the realtor quoted them, and that the pest inspection end of it will cost $X extra, they hang up, convinced that the inspector is trying to rip them off.

When licensing was proposed again this year, WHILAG (Washington Home Inspectors Legislative Advisory Group), a coalition of home inspectors from NACHI, NAHI, ASHI, AII, AHIA,WHIA, and independents, submitted an amendment to the proposed law, asking legislators to allow home inspectors who've passed the WSDA WDO recognition exam to observe and report conducive conditions and organisms to their clients, without the need for an additional license or to generate an additional report. The Senator who sponsored the bill, is reportedly not very happy with WHILAG's proposal and low-ball inspectors, who're charging significantly less than others, are happy to keep things the way they are because it drives more work to them, so they've come out in force in support of the status quo, along with the bug guys, who, despite the fact that they acknowledge that their own industry was killed by the law, refuse to let it go.

The bill passed the senate with the status quo intact, but got stalled in the house. At last report, it looks like it's too late in the legislative season to get a deal made wherein the bill will make it through the house and get sent to the governor. It looks like it may have gone to a sunrise review committee. If so, it might resurface in the fall as the next session winds up and the battle will probably be re-fought again next winter.



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After reading what Hausdok said about things backfiring on the pest control industry in the State of Washington it gave cause to ponder about what if appraisers started doing some sort of an inspection.

Back in FHA times, which maybe returning, they did do an inspection to some degree.

Now in Oregon I think that they are actually excluded from HI licensing and certification laws so they are free to inspect and make requirements of sort via value conditions.

The appraisers that I know in no way want to inspect or become liable for inspecting. Why should they? 15 minutes on site and an hour or two in the office for $400. Those guys seem to have it made.

In FHA days the zoids use to argue that an HI was not necessary since the FHA appaiser would do an inspection. Now the FHA guy didn't do WDO's or roof inspections etc. but if he or she thought it needed one then they would require one to be performed.

My impression as a new comer of 8 years is that theres a number of the pest guys that I know that just treat and don't inspect. They don't want to inspect. Their happy as clams following behind the HI's. I am not a member of the Oregon Pest Control Association. If Jim is maybe he can fill us in about the doins here.

Thread drifting even furthter, something new to me, they got a bill here in Oregon that would require certification of contractors who work or bid the exterior envelope of the house, meaning siding, window, door and roofing contractors etc.


Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Les

I think Oregon is the only state where the two jobs are tied together.

Washington too.

In Oregon, it's like that because the home inspection profession here evolved from the pest control profession. Most of the original home inspectors here were pest guys. They routinely did pest inspections for real estate sales and, at the request of realtors, began to look at the structure, plumbing, electrical, etc a bit at a time. Before they knew it, they were doing home inspections.

When I started out, the home inspector education classes that dealt with pest issues outnumbered all the other topics put together.

- Jim in Oregon

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  • 2 weeks later...

I know it's been a few days on this one, But here in NC, I have been told that a HI that also does WDI is rare. It strikes me as odd that it is rare, as while doing the HI you are already doing the things needed for the WDI, you just have to slow down a little bit and look for things a little differently.

Oh yeah, there is the licensing, CE classes, report writing and such. But scheduling is not too difficult cause you're already there.

just my .02

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