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UK Inspectors Lose Homes Due To Govt Bungling


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Four years ago, the UK government announced that beginning in June 2007 all homes put up for sale in England and Wales would require a mandatory home information pack (HIP). A key component of that pack, and the one that's the most controversial, was the home condition report (HCR), because it needed to be done by some who was trained in the, at that time nonexistent, practice of home inspection. To pull it off, the government needed thousands of fully trained home inspectors.

Almost overnight, a crop of trainers sprung up in the UK and began teaching home inspections. Whole new companies appeared, funded by millions of pounds in private investment, and recruited and hired thousands of prospective inspectors. Hopeful recruits - lured by the promise of six-figure salaries - quit their jobs, cleaned out their savings accounts, and enrolled in government-approved training courses around the country. Some of these courses were 3 year long diploma earning curriculum that cost prospective home inspectors thousands of pounds.

At the same time that thousands of hopeful new inspectors were jostling each other for space in the new schools, rumblings began within the special interest groups that opposed the HCR - estate agents, mortgage lenders, valuation experts, and especially members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors - long the king of the roost when it comes to inspecting homes in the UK. Soon, that rumbling became a clamor and the special interest groups began lobbying the government to scrap the HIPS. The predictions were dire; there wouldn't be enough home inspectors trained on time, sellers would be saddled with huge costs to repair their homes prior to sale, people would lose money because they couldn't sell their homes, the inspectors would be half-trained "cowboys" who would stall sales for nonsensical reasons, first time home buyers would not be able to afford homes because the added cost of the HIP would put prices out of their reach, and on and on.

After nearly three years, the caterwauling of the special interests took its toll; the government backed off and removed the HCR component from the HIPs and mandated HIPS for only homes that were four bedrooms and larger in size. When this announcement was made, the thousands of new inspectors-in-training began blanketing parliament with letters, got on television and radio talk shows, and began demanding that the government reimburse them for the savings that they'd "wasted" on training to become home inspectors. The government's solution was to throw them a bone - the inspectors would carry out the mandatory home energy assessments components of the HIP.

Many of these inspectors did not bite and went back to what they'd been doing before - others went on the dole. Those who decided to tough it out, fought their way into energy assessor courses all around the country. By the time of the official roll out of the HIPs in June, there still weren't enough trained energy assessors, and the special interests were complaining that the training process was too slow. Now, six months later, there are more than 5,000 trained energy assessors and the government estimates that there is only enough work for about 3,000.

The special interest groups? Now they're complaining that the entire HIPs process was ill conceived and they're demanding it be scrapped.

These energy assessors are in serious straits. Those who are actually working because when they were recruited they'd been promised 2 to 3 times per assessment than what they're actually making; those who aren't because their old jobs have been filled and there's no job to go back to. Many in both category can't pay their mortgages and are losing their homes.

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