This past weekend, me and my team were conducting our latest home buying class and this time we brought in some special speakers - a home inspector, a moving specialist, and a title rep. We learned a whole lot that morning along with our clients. I'd already been aware that a few years ago the state made it mandatory for home inspectors to get licensed, BUT what really caught our attention on Saturday morning was some of the things we DIDN'T know that changed at that same time.
1. When the State required the licensing, they didn't realize that they were also setting up 2 classes of inspectors. A) Those who have pest inspection licenses through the Dept of Agriculture, and 2) Those that don't.
In the past, before licenses were necessary, ALL inspectors had to have this pest inspection license. Roughly half of all inspectors dropped this license once the new rules went into effect and it was no longer required. SOOOOOOOoooooooooo, if you want a house to be reviewed for possible wood destroying organisms (WDO), you better hire someone who is licensed and with a pest inspector's license OR expect to have to pay for a 2nd inspection or to not get one at all. In our area, there are lots of insects who like to eat damp wood and there are some who bore into dry wood too as a nest, plus WDO's also include things like rot.... another item found regularly in our damp Western WA.
2. Not all inspectors carry Error & Omissions Insurance (E&O). This is significant because if something big gets missed and you try to go back to the inspector for any kind of compensation, and if they don't have E&O coverage, you'll be out of luck. Most inspector contracts limit their liability to the cost of your inspection - so roughly $300-500. Only about 40% of inspectors actually carry this coverage so there is a lot of risk in not asking if your inspector has it or not.
3. Education requirements of 40 hours every 5 years. - I'm happy to see they do require continuing education because.... read item #4.
4. You don't have to take any special courses to become an inspector, although you CAN take classes for it, you just have to pass a test.
Our recommendation? Be sure to hire an inspector who is licensed both for home inspections and pest inspections AND be sure to ask if they carry E&O Insurance!