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ASTM Standard for Home Inspections


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(Moved from another thread to avoid thread drift)

Originally posted by Scottpat

On a side note: Once you read ASTM E-2018 you will see why any ASTM standards for home inspections would be a bad idea.

Scott,

Would you elaborate? Is it because the scope of work in 2018 goes far beyond the scope of work for home inspections as outlined in the major association SOPs (including things like document review, interviews, and cost estimates)? Or is it something else? If an ASTM standard for home inspections was written with a scope of services that was similar to the existing SOPs, would it still be a bad idea?

I'm just trying to understand the thinking behind the issue. Other inspectors, please feel free to join in.

Brandon

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ASTM E 2018 is not a bad SOP. It's just a very confusingly written standard.

All ASTM stuff is like that; I call it "ASTM-ese".

I use E2018 all the time; forgo the pages of crap, and just go to the rear and use their example report Table of Contents. Sometimes I add or delete stuff.

This is probably a lot of stinkum. The NAR is never going to let ASTM get into this; even if ASTM pursued it, it would be years out there, and then they'd have to go state by state to get it adopted into the licensing, and fight NAR every step of the way.

Maybe it'll happen, who knows, but it's not going to be quick or easy.

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Kurt said most everything I would have. This is assuming that any standard that they would come up with would follow the same pattern as everything else they do.

I do have a different thought or opinion about NAR. I really think that NAR (Realtors) and NAHB (Home builders) will be a driving force or a supporting voice behind anything that ASTM does. They would love to have a hand in designing our standards. ASTM has already said that they are looking and working with stakeholders outside of the home inspection profession.

I do not see the individual states that already have licensing and HI Standards on the books changing over to ASTM in one fell swoop.

The training schools will support it, as it provides a new class to teach. The software providers will be split. Some will be for it and some against it. Again, it will provide a new market for them to sell their product.

The meeting in September will most likely be just lip service. Truth be known ASTM is going to do whatever they want.

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NAR & NAHB will get excited for a few minutes, but that's about it. NAR will want some pablum and the builders will want their (already joke) standards ASTM-ized. How could it be made sillier?

What's ASTM going to do? Water down the already thin professional society SOP's? I hope they do, because then we can laugh & point @ them. And, we can simply exceed the SOP, like just about all of us do.

It's not about what we think anyway; it's about what consumers think. If someone has a POS, someone's printed standard isn't going to change their mind that the POS is now perfume.

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Just a little aside. I know dozens of inspectors that would just "love" to have a standard that they can inspect to. It would cover their hinny and lead them into feeling professional.

I know why I usually use the commercial ASTM protocols - for purposes of educating my client, then go ahead and exceed them whenever I can.

At this point in time, I think NAR, NAHB and ASTM will be playing together to gain some regulation of our business. It all kinda ties into the mortgage crisis and inspectors that blessed houses that were a piece of s--t. Hope I am wrong!

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Thanks guys! Being fairly new to this gig I'm trying to keep an open mind and learn as much as I can about issues like these before I start forming some of my own opinions on them. I appreciate the time you guys put into my "education".

Kurt wrote: "Maybe it'll happen, who knows, but it's not going to be quick or easy."

Scott wrote: "I do not see the individual states that already have licensing and HI Standards on the books changing over to ASTM in one fell swoop."

I agree. If it does happen, I don't think it will be either quick or easy. The associations in constant rock fights with each other won't make it any easier. And two things that states never do is move in unison or move quickly.

Kurt wrote: "What's ASTM going to do? Water down the already thin professional society SOP's? I hope they do, because then we can laugh & point @ them. And, we can simply exceed the SOP, like just about all of us do."

I think these points made by Scott and Les start to dig into it:

Scott wrote: "I really think that NAR (Realtors) and NAHB (Home builders) will be a driving force or a supporting voice behind anything that ASTM does. They would love to have a hand in designing our standards."

Les wrote: "At this point in time, I think NAR, NAHB and ASTM will be playing together to gain some regulation of our business. It all kinda ties into the mortgage crisis and inspectors that blessed houses that were a piece of s--t. Hope I am wrong!"

Poor lending practices, government bailouts, crap builders, flip houses falling apart, buckethead inspectors, appraisers pressured by lenders to make the deal, people underwater on their mortgages ... these kinds of things have a ripple effect that can form a political climate that results in things (like an ASTM standard for HIs) happening that we would never think were possible.

Another answer to Kurt's question "What's ASTM going to do? Water down the already thin professional society SOP's?" could be:

My state is in the process of writing its own SOP and COE for its licensed home inspectors and has recently released drafts of these documents for public comment. I've been reviewing them and comparing them to the SOP and COE of ASHI, NACHI, NAHI, and NABIE.

The association SOPs do a good job defining that it is a limited visual inspection and they are fairly consistent in what is inspected and what is not. So, generally speaking, regardless of which SOP you are using, every inspector is looking at the same systems and components of the home.

What the SOPs do not do is explain what the inspector should be looking for, when he/she is looking at, a particular component. For example, the SOPs say the inspector must inspect the roof covering, but it doesn't say what kinds of problems he should be looking for when he is inspecting it. It seems to me that the current SOPs leave a lot of room for someone (like ASTM?) to start filling in the blanks.

The SOPs also vary in how severe a problem found in a component needs to be, before it needs to be reported. For example, one SOP says only "material defects" need to be reported, and it defines a material defect as a condition "that would have a significant adverse impact on the value of the real property or that involves an unreasonable risk to the people on the property. The fact that a structural element, system or subsystem is near, at or beyond the end of the normal useful life of such a structural element, system or subsystem is not by itself a material defect." Another SOP says that the inspector must report on components that "are not functioning properly, are significantly deficient, unsafe, or are near the end of their service lives". In my opinion, this particular variation in the association SOPs greatly affects the value of the inspection to the consumer, and exposes the often heard comment "all the association SOPs are the same" as a bit of HI folklore.

In order to call something out as "wrong", a HI needs a reference point for what is "right". This is another area where the current SOPs do not tread. (and I'm sure the NAHB would be glad to provide their guidelines here!)

The SOPs are not consistent with how far the inspector needs to go after a problem is found. Some say the inspector is only required to report the observations while others say the inspector has to not only report what he sees, but must also make a recommendation about what should be done about it. This is another area that greatly affects the value of the inspection in the eyes of the consumer, and shows once again, that all the SOPs are not the same.

And lastly, the SOPs seem to vary widely with regard to what the report should contain, and they are pretty much silent about format. (I can see the NAR eager to jump in and fill this void!)

I'm pointing out these things not so much to argue that the SOPs need to have these changes made to them but to show where somebody like ASTM (with a group of "stakeholders" involved) might feel compelled to go.

One last comment. Like others have said, I'm all for the SOPs to continue to be a minimum standard that we can point to and then rise above.

Brandon

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  • 1 month later...

Moments later, a colleague forwarded this to me:

"Hello NAHI Members,

An organizational meeting of industry stakeholders occurred in West Conshohocken, PA today to discuss whether to create an ASTM committee to begin the formation of a national standard of practice for home inspection. The result of this meeting is that a national standard will not move forward at this time.

Thank you,

NAHI Board of Directors"

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