I was in a Real Estate office last week, and noticed a new home inspector's brochure on the shelf. Since I didn't recognize the name, I picked it up out of curiosity. I was very surprised to see that he said he had been an inspector for 12 years. He also said he was an officer in a home inspection organization I had never heard of.
I've been an inspector since 1989 and lived in Knoxville since 1994. I have a pretty good idea who was doing inspections here 12 years ago, since there were not all that many of us in Knoxville, and we all knew each other. Doing a Google of the home inspector organization he mentioned also brought up nothing. Doing a quick license search, I found he has been a licensed inspector for 1 year and 3 months. So, if he was an inspector for longer, he was breaking the law (licensed was required as of July 1, 2006).
I have also had the occasion to check out other inspector's web sites. I have found a lot of dubious claims on some of these sites. Some of them can't seem to keep their facts straight between the pages on their own web site.
One claimed to have been inspecting for over 20 years on one page, and on another page said 16.
Another claims to have done what turns out to be 1,000 inspections per year, for over twenty years.
Many claim to be Members of ASHI, yet they are not. Many inspectors are not licensed, even though they claim to be.
A few years ago I had a new guy take a third of my brochure and use it in his own, a simple cut and paste, right down to a hand drawn graphic that was my logo. A letter from my attorney put a top to that, but I have to wonder if he thought there was anything wrong with what he did.
I think the average consumer is not going to know if someone is telling the truth about their background and experience. The other inspectors in town know if the guy has been in business for as long as he says, but no one else will. the Realtors that may give our their names may or may not know if their claims are true. I would think that if a Realtor is pretty active, and they have been in business for a while, they have a pretty good idea of who the inspectors are in their area.
Who may get hurt??
The obvious answer is the client. Many times they are hiring an inspector based on what they may find on a web site, or a printed brochure they happen to pick up. I understand that if someone said, "Well, I'm just starting out, and I've only done ten inspections, and you are actually going to pay me for learning how to do this job", they would probably not get the job. However, not being truthful may come back and bite them big time.
I'm going to court next week for someone that is suing their home inspector. Without going into a lot of details, lets just say he lied about his experience, background, and credentials, and really blew it.
Ethics obviously are not a high priority with these folks.
OK, Off my soapbox now.