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UK Agents Unhappy With Mandatory Inspections


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Until now, home inspections in the UK were the exclusive province of members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) specializing in pre-purchase home inspections.

All that is about to change, as things begin to heat up since last week's passage of a law that requires accreditation and licensing of all home inspectors, standardizes education requirements and establishes a uniform standard of care, code of ethics and minimum reporting requirements for the profession.

Unlike states who've adopted licensing of HI's in the US, there won't be any "grandfathering" of 'established' inspectors in the UK. While members of RICS are presumed to have a leg up over other applicants for the 7,500 to 10,000 inspectors job slots called for, The Awarding Body for the Built Environment (ABBE) has received full authority from the Qualification and Curriculum Authority (QCA) to require that all inspectors prove they are qualified to be accredited with a new professional designation for inspectors known as the ABBE Diploma in Home Inspection.

This means that even very experienced RICS candidates must submit a resume, verify their education, undergo testing and submit a predetermined number of reports to be reviewed by the accrediting authority, before they receive accreditation and can work in the field.

For those without any construction-related background, the career path will be difficult and is going to require approximately 3 years of full-time post-secondary education, in order to reach the minimum education level required to enter the field as an apprentice.

Especially unhappy are the Real Estate professionals, who were opposed to the Home Information Packs (HIP's), which, if a 6 month trial in 2006 is successful, by 2007 must contain, among other things, a Home Condition Report (HCR) done by an accredited inspector on every house put up for sale in England and Wales ( Talk about the holy grail! ).

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Those same concerns were brought up over there by agents and lawyers and have been addressed in one of the SAVA (Surveyors and Valuers Accreditation) newsletters. SAVA is one of the firms contracted to administer the accreditation process under ABBE. You can access and the newsletters here and learn more about the entire process by exploring the rest of the SAVA site from here.

The problem that we have here in the states is that we second guess everything and are suspicious of everyone else's motives except our own. That ultimately works in favor of those who are responsible for helping to trash our profession.

In state after state, people have fought any form of meaningful testing or peer evaluations in favor of grandfathering established inspectors. It is a stalling game. They do it so that while the process is being stalled, they can garner the minimum number of inspections required, so that they too can be grandfathered and slip by any vetting process, as soon as the logjam which they've created clears.

It's time to take the bull by the horns and get things back on track again, the way that the people who first formalized this profession envisioned things back in the 70's.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Hi to all,

the first thing to realise here is that the UK house buying market is not like anywhere in the USA. the concept of pre-purchase or pre-listing inspections realy does not exist there. Typically there is little or no seller disclosure and the only inspection that is done is done for the lender not the buyer, and in most cases the buyer is not even given a copy of the "Survey" dispite the fact that they are paying for it !! So most buyers are buying blind, the Survey report that is done for the lender has little or no relation to an inspection report as we know it here, a survey in the UK is much closer to a FHA/VA report and centers more on valuation rather than condition.

It will be interesting to see how this all pans out over the next couple of years (and whether Tony Blair's party remains in power to see this legislation through)

Regards

Gerry

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Mike...

You've hooked two Brits (Gerry and me) into this thread so far...no surprise. I've been away from the old country a lot longer than than that bloke and have no clue as to how things work back there.

I wasn't questioning motive. That seems pure. It's just that few of "us" here would recommend a buyer rely solely on an pre-sale inspection report. Anyway...thanks for the links to the newsletters...I'm still reading them.

As for meaningful testing over grandfathering here. Bring it on...the tougher the better, but everyone has to take the tests. There would have to be a reasonable grace period or "fair warning" for established HI's. You can't just turn off someone's only source of income.

How this gets achieved with 50 individual States and as many versions of the "old guard" is the problem. It's a lot easier to pass sweeping legislation in the UK, where even the 4 countries are more homogenous than, say, Washington and Idaho.

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Hi Gerry,

You know, that might be precisely why they are insisting that chartered surveyors that are going to do this work go through additional training - so they can reshape their thinking processes.

In one of the newsletter articles, one fellow suggests that they be cross-trained to do valuations in addition to inspections. Another article explained that surveyors and valuers working for mortgage lenders are facing a 60% drop in mortgage valuation business over the next few years, because, apparently, these home condition reports are going to be available to just about anyone who is a stakeholder in the transaction, in order to eliminate the confrontational nature of the business and make things completely transparent.

And all of that has to be done on the seller's dime, so the real estate folks are up in arms, claiming that it'll push the price of homes up and cost them. One fellow says that lenders are going to be relying on information contained within the HCR's, combined with their own research and roll-bys to value homes for sale.

Then, when you read through the SAVA newsletters, you'll see that the title folks and lenders think that somehow these new home inspectors should be working for them and can't seem to get their mind around the idea that inspectors must be totally objective.

It is new ground they are breaking. For instance, in the draft report format there are these two paragraphs:

WHAT THIS REPORT WILL TELL YOU

This report tells you about the construction and condition of the property on the date it was inspected, being the date shown at the top of each page. It also tells you whether and where further inquiries are needed.

It tells you about matters that are considered significant or in need of urgent attention. It also tells you about matters which require further investigation to prevent damage to the fabric of the building or which are a threat to personal safety.

WHAT THIS REPORT DOES NOT TELL YOU

This report does not tell you the value of the property. You should commission independent advice if you require a valuation.

It does not tell you about any minor matters that would not ordinarily have any effect on a buyer's decision to purchase.

My guess is that isn't what you were thinking of at all, because you were envisioning their old model. I think it is safe to say it is sort of like our system, but a lite version where only the physical structure, exterior roof and grounds are looked at and the electro mechanical systems are out-of-bounds.

Here's a link to a site which describes what the new reports will contain.

Here's a link to their new code of conduct and standards.

Here's a link to the sample draft report.

Here's a link to a page where you can download samples of three sample reports. Take a close look at sample number 3. It reminds me of one or two American narrative type reports I've read.

You're right. It is going to be interesting to see how this thing develops between now and full implementation.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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  • 1 year later...

This is of interest to me as I was involved in UK construction Industry, the last Home survey I had done on a 1000sq ft 300 year old cottage, as pointed out for benefit of lender, took approx 2 hours and cost 600UK pounds.

I would say from some research I've done here the industry needs weed out the $200 Inspection merchants, and up the pro rata rates.

A good home Inspector this side of the pond does as thorough a job as done in UK, added to this the sheer variety of systems here along with more severe climates and the propensity for litigation probably make the N.American job a lot harder.

One example is the widespread use of hydronic heating systems in UK, which for the most part leak if there are problems with Heat exhanger making things a bit easier to evaluate.

I am just starting out and somewhat overwhelmed by the variety and complexity of some systems.

So from what I've read in forums like this I am full of admiration for the "good guys" out there who want to see the industry grow and evolve.

Good day.

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