In terms of what Home Inspectors do, does it really matter whether any of the trades that built the house are licensed or not?
Well, YES and—-NOT REALLY!
I am not talking about this from the standpoint of some lofty ideal where we get into all the “shoulda-coulda-woulda’s” about the trades-
–my statement is purely aimed at dealing with: the way things are.
I think in some respects it makes our job easier when the trades are licensed, and it generally means there are likely to be fewer mistakes; but, when they are not, it just makes what we do as Home Inspectors all that much more important. If there were no mistakes made by builders, there would be no reason for Home Inspectors to inspect new construction. One doesn’t have to inspect very many new houses (usually just one) to know that inspections are necessary—above and beyond the various jurisdictional inspections.
Add to this the fact that some jurisdictions provide no oversight of the construction process and we are for sure going to have our hands full as inspectors.
An interesting thing that people seem to ignore (or be unaware of) is that almost all States have adopted at least some version of the IRC (International Residential Code) and the NEC (National Electrical Code)—-as well as other codes. What this means is that work done in those States must comply with at least these “minimum standards” whether inspected by a “local” jurisdiction within that state or not. Just because there is no place to go and get a permit or call to get an inspection done, is not a “license” for the builder to do whatever they please—-people’s lives can be at stake—-and all work still should meet whatever regulations are in place.
Some inspectors fear, quite erroneously that if they call out some defect that they will have nothing other than their opinion to back up what they are saying. In most cases they would be able to support what they are saying in the same way an inspector working in a jurisdiction with oversight would be able to.
It seems to me that if I am going to be calling out defects in jurisdictions with little or no oversight, and I am licensed as a Home Inspector myself, I automatically carry more weight in what I say—-especially when that State as a whole has adopted regulations that I can use to support my opinions and/or recommendations. If I was unlicensed I would be just another wannabe professional that the general public may or may not have any confidence in. Sure Home Inspection Associations can help—but unlicensed home builders also have associations that they belong to. While these associations help, they do not greatly improve my job security.
Frankly, I think it is ridiculous that there are no real requirements to be a General Contractor (Education, Continuing Education, Testing etc.) here in my own State, but what does this REALLY have to do with what I do as a Licensed Home Inspector? Not much. All it does is make what we do as home inspectors even more important because we become the de facto safety net for the consumer. This is not at all about being code inspectors—it is more about being all there is—-kind of like inspecting the huge amount of houses built prior to any licensing or any codes.
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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