SASHI (South African Society of Home Inspectors)
SASHI maintains that where regulation is determined to be advisable for the protection of public health, safety or welfare, any laws regulating home inspection should include standards of practice and a code of ethics, and should require proven experience, continuing education and demonstrated knowledge through passage of a psychometrically valid examination.
Since SASHI is of the opinion that a need for regulation is present in South Africa, we are dedicated to working with legislators to enact regulation that will clearly protect the interests of consumers and qualified home inspectors. In America, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) has successfully worked with state legislators and regulators to draft, pass and implement legislation and it continues to make its resources available to those states considering the regulation of home inspection as one means of protecting the home buying public.
We believe that the SASHI Model Legislation provides the best starting point for national legislative uniformity and consumer protection. The Model reflects standards that have worked well in the market place in the USA. SASHI encourages municipal and government legislators to adopt the SASHI framework as a template for drafting new laws regulating home inspectors and home inspection practices.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SASHI AND ITS MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENTS
The American Society of Home Inspectors, Inc. (ASHI) is the oldest and largest non-profit professional associate of, and for, home inspectors. Since its formation in 1976, ASHI’s Standards of Practice have served as the home inspector’s performance guideline, universally recognised and accepted by professional and government authorities alike. ASHI has provided the groundwork for SASHI in South Africa and has approved the adoption of its revised Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics by SASHI.
SASHI Members are independent professional home inspectors who have met the most rigorous technical and experience requirements in effect today. To become a SASHI Member, an inspector must pass written tests, including the Home Inspectors Examination, and have performed a minimum of 10 professional fee-paid inspections conducted in accordance with the SASHI Standards of Practice. Members are also required to follow the Society’s Code of Ethics, and to keep current with the latest in building technology, materials and professional skills.
SASHI Members ascribe to a professional Code of Ethics that prohibits them from engaging in activities that may compromise their objectivity. Even the appearance of conflicts of interest is strictly prohibited. A Member will not accept anything of value from those who are involved in the sale of a property other than the fee for services, and SASHI Members may not use an inspection to solicit repair work related to the inspected property. SASHI’s Code of Ethics is a consumer’s best assurance that the home inspector is working in the best interest of the consumer.
In the majority of transactions, the home inspector is the only professional participant whose sole allegiance is to the buyer.
SASHI encourages inspectors to stay current with industry developments by means of attending technical seminars and workshops in cooperation with its members across the country. SASHI also serves the public interest by being prepared to provide accurate and helpful consumer information where possible. If requested, SASHI will provides information to government about the Society, its Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, the home inspection profession and practice, and answers questions relating to consumer protection. SASHI is particularly interested in responding to requests for information and assistance from local authorities (or the government) considering home inspection regulation as part of the second hand home buying process. SASHI resources such as model legislation, statistics and its official position statements are freely shared.
POLICY – SASHI POSITION ON REGULATION OF HOME INSPECTORS
SASHI strives to become the national voice of the second hand home inspection profession. It is SASHI’s policy to act affirmatively to influence any legislation or regulation intended to affect the profession, consumer interests, publicly financed homeownership programs or other programs allied to the profession.
SASHI demands that any legislation that seeks to institute regulation of the home inspection profession require, at a minimum, passage of a psychometrically valid and defensible technical examination and adherence to professional standards of practice and code of ethics.
SASHI POLICY STATEMENTS OUTLINING THE CRITICAL ELEMENTS IN HOME INSPECTION REGULATION
STANDARDS OF PRACTICE
SASHI contends that proposed legislation must include clearly defined standards of practice that inform the public of the systems and components that are to be inspected. The standards should also point out the limitations of the inspection by identifying any systems and components that are not to be inspected. Standards of practice are essential to any regulation that purports to protect the consumer.
The ASHI Standards of Practice as amended and adopted by SASHI have evolved over a period of 27 years and are the most widely accepted professional standards. The standards are periodically reviewed to ensure that they are reflective of changes in the building industry and home buying process. Following these standards is a mandatory requirement for SASHI Members. Any jurisdiction may adopt in full the SASHI Standards of Practice, and is encouraged to do so. Many states in the USA, for instance, have incorporated the ASHI Standards of Practice into their home inspection regulations. States that adopt the ASHI Standards are asked to provide acknowledgment credit to ASHI.
Homebuyers and inspectors must have an understanding of the scope of inspection services and the limitations of specific inspections. Misunderstandings are avoided when the parties understand and follow through with their contractual responsibilities. SASHI recommends that a negotiated pre-inspection agreement be signed prior to every inspection.
CODE OF ETHICS
The public must be assured that the inspector is independent and has no hidden alliances or conflicts of interest. Professional ethics are critical for the home inspection profession. Adherence to a code of ethics will protect both the public and the inspector from outside influences. Most government regulations include ethical standards.
SASHI’s Code of Ethics is intended to ensure that consumers are treated in a fair, impartial and professional manner. Members are required to abide by this Code of Ethics. Any jurisdiction may adopt in full the SASHI Code of Ethics and is encouraged to do so. In the USA, for instance, states that adopt the Code are asked to provide acknowledgement credit to ASHI.
A written report must be a requirement of any home inspection. The report should address all of the items that are required by the Standards of Practice. The report format may be narrative, checklist or a combination of the two. SASHI stance is that government mandated report forms, however, would adversely affect the consumer and the home inspector. A mandated report form restricts the amount and type of information that can be delivered to a consumer and, therefore, can be a disservice to those deciding whether or not to purchase a property. Mandated forms also harm home inspectors who can differentiate themselves form competitors by the characteristics of their report. Finally, nationwide home inspection companies use forms that are appropriate for regions, exacerbating the limitations of mandated forms.
The consumer must be assured that an inspector is experienced in inspecting homes. Training in observing and identifying defects in a building’s systems and components under the guidance and supervision of experienced inspectors is a proven method of learning to perform inspections. Training inspections should include supervised training in inspection standards, procedures and report writing. The number of required supervised training inspections should be sufficient to expose the applicant to a variety of properties and a variety of conditions. A minimum range of between 10 and 50 inspections is recommended.
(One of the requirements for full membership in SASHI is performance of a minimum of 10 fee-paid inspections in accordance with the SASHI Standards of Practice).
The general or basic formal education requirement for any individual desiring to enter the home inspection profession should be at least a Grade 10 or its equivalent.
To ensure that home inspectors are knowledgeable, additional education must be an essential part of any regulation. The education should include at least distance education and field training. Classroom education is also recommended. Individuals performing home inspections must demonstrate knowledge of each component and system of the home. Education must include training in observing and identifying defects in structural components, foundations, roof coverings, insulation and ventilation, exterior and interior components, and plumbing, heating, cooling, and electrical systems. Education should also include instruction in any region-specific requirements and business management.
The content of the knowledge of a professional home inspection training curriculum (as currently provided by the SASHI endorsed Training Centre of THITA (The Home Inspection Training Academy) and endorsed affiliates) is available to all regulatory bodies for scrutiny.
The home building industry is constantly evolving as new materials and techniques are introduced. Home inspectors must be aware of these changes. Mandatory continuing education assures consumers that inspectors are staying current. SASHI requires proof of continuing education by members to maintain membership and recommends continuing education be a part of any regulation of the profession.
Central to regulatory and credentialing processes is a valid and reliable minimum competency examination designed to protect the public – as currently provided by SASHI. This examination will identify which individuals possess the required knowledge to perform a home inspection. The public should be able to trust the examination as a means by which consumers are assured of competency. Individuals wishing to enter the home inspection profession must demonstrate that they understand the basics of performing a home inspection. Rigorous requirements must be met in the development, administration and governance of the examination to ensure that a valid, accurate and fair process determines each candidate’s pass/fail standing.
SASHI endorses a national Home Inspector Examination as an assessment tool to test competence in home inspection practice, as determined by recognized role definition methodology.
FINANCIAL ASSURANCE AND LIABILITY
The consumer has a right to expect the home inspector to be financially solvent and the inspector should be required to provide financial assurance comparable to that which is required of similar license holders, such as brokers, valuers, engineers, etc. A home inspector should be able to limit his/her liability by mutual agreement with the client.
SASHI MODEL HOME INSPECTOR LICENSING LEGISLATION
This model details the essential elements for licensing and provides for the creation of an appointed governing body, or board/council, to administer the law. SASHI encourages state legislators to adopt this model as a template for drafting new laws regulating home inspectors and second hand home inspection practices. The governing body should have no inherent interest in the regulation of home inspectors. For instance, the governing body should not be associated with a board governing related professions such as builders, contractors, or those who sell real estates.
PROFESIONAL LICENSING ACT MODEL BILL INTENT
It is the intent of such an act to require the licensing of home inspectors and to assure that consumers of home inspection services can rely on the competence of home inspectors, as determined by educational and experience requirements and testing. In order to protect consumers, the act should define home inspection, outline the criteria to be licensed as a home inspector, outline what must be included in a home inspection, define unethical conduct by home inspectors, and create penalties for prohibited acts.
DEFINITIONS OF HOME INSPECTION INDUSTRY TERMS
A visual analysis for the purposes of providing a professional opinion of the condition of a building and its carports, garages, outbuildings and pool, any reasonably accessible installed components and systems, including mention of: heating system, electrical system, cooling system, plumbing system, structural components, foundation, roof covering, exterior and interior components and site aspects as they affect the building.
Any person who is certified by SASHI regarding second hand inspection of homes to act as a home inspector and who engages in the business of performing home inspections and writing home inspection reports.
Home Inspection Report
A written report prepared for compensation and issued after a home inspection. The Inspector shall report:
· On those systems and components inspected which, in the professional opinion of the inspector, are significantly deficient or are near the end of their service lives.
· A reason why, if not self-evident, the system or component is significantly deficient or near the end of its service life.
· The inspector’s objective recommendations to correct or monitor the reported deficiency.
· Any systems and components designated for inspection in the Standards of Practice which were present at the time of the inspection but were not inspected, and a reason they were not inspected.
A governing body regulating home inspectors.
Any person who engages, or seeks to engage, the services of a home inspector for the purpose of obtaining inspection of, and a written report upon, the condition of a residential building.
Direct or indirect payment, including the expectation of payment whether or not actually received.
A readily accessible and observable aspect of a system, such as a floor or wall, but not individual pieces such as boards or nails where many similar pieces make up a system.
Available for visual inspection without requiring moving of personal property, dismantling, destructive measures, or any action that likely will involve risk to persons or property.
A structure consisting of from one to four family dwelling units.
A system or component that is unsafe or not functioning.
A combination of interactive or interdependent components assembled to carry out one or more functions.
An investigation that involves dismantling, the extensive use of advanced techniques, measurements, instruments, testing, calculations, or other means.
The creation of a possible Home Inspector Licensing Board/Council for second hand property shall be based upon the following:
The members that are initially appointed to the board should ideally be SASHI participants and have been actively engaged in the business of home inspections for at least three years immediately preceding their appointment.
Powers and Duties of the Board/Council
The Board/Council shall have the following powers and duties:
1. Administer and enforce the provisions of the proposed Act.
2. Issue and renew licenses to home inspectors pursuant to the provisions of the proposed Act.
3. Suspend, revoke or fail to renew the license of a home inspector.
4. Establish standards for the initial and continuing education of home inspectors.
5. Adopt and publish a code of ethics and standards of practice for licensed home inspectors.
6. Prescribe or change the fees charged for examinations, licenses, renewals and other services.
7. Establish rules for acquiring the training and experience requirements of home inspectors.
No person shall provide, nor present, call or represent himself as able to provide a home inspection for compensation unless licensed in accordance with the provisions of the proposed Act.
No business entity may provide home inspection services unless each of the home inspectors employed by the business entity is licensed in accordance with the provisions of the proposed Act.
No business entity may use, in connection with the name or signature of the business entity, the title “home inspectors” to describe the business entity’s services, unless each of the home inspectors employed by the business entity is licensed in accordance with the provisions of the proposed Act.
To be eligible for a license as a home inspector, an applicant shall fulfil the following requirements:
1.Be of good moral character.
2. Have successfully completed high school Grade 10 or its equivalent.
3. Have basic computer skills.
4. Have completed a course of study that covers all of the following components of a residential building of four units or less; heating system, cooling system, plumbing system, electrical system, structural components, foundation, roof covering, exterior and interior components, and site aspects as they affect the building.
5. Have acquired the required training and experience requirements as established by the Board/Council, being 1 year in the case of a Grade 12 and 3 years in the case of a Grade 10.
6. Have passed the National Home Inspector Examination offered by the Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors (currently administered by the SASHI Training Centre and endorsed Home Inspector Training Providers). The examination may have been passed before the effective date of the proposed Act.
For the first year after enactment, to be eligible for a license as a home inspector, an applicant shall fulfil the following requirements:
1. Be of good moral character.
2. Have successfully completed high school Grade 10 or its equivalent.
3. Have been engaged in the practice of home inspection for compensation for not fewer than one year prior to the effective date of the proposed Act.
4. Have basic computer skills.
5. Have performed not fewer than 150 home inspections for compensation.
6. Have passed the National Home Inspector Examination offered by the Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors.
Continuing Education Requirements
A licensed home inspector must complete board approved continuing education courses during each calendar year in order to maintain his or her license.
General standards of Practice
Inspectors shall inspect readily accessible installed systems and components of residential buildings and provide a written report within a reasonable time period.
These Standards do not limit inspectors from:
1. Including other inspection services, systems or components in addition to those required.
2. Specifying repairs provided the inspector is appropriately qualified and willing to do so.
3. Excluding systems and components from the inspection if requested by the client.
Inspections performed in accordance with these Standards of Practice:
1. Are not technically exhaustive.
2. Will not identify concealed conditions or latent defects.
The inspector is not required to perform any action or make any determination unless specifically stated in the Standards of Practice, except as may be required by lawful authority.
Inspectors are NOT required to determine:
1. The condition of systems or components which are not readily accessible.
2. The remaining life of any system or component.
3. The strength, adequacy, effectiveness or efficiency of any system or component.
4. The causes of any condition or deficiency.
5. The methods, materials or costs of corrections.
6. Future conditions including, but not limited to, failure of systems and components.
7. The suitability of the property for any specialized use.
8. Compliance with regulatory requirements (codes, regulations, laws, ordinances, etc.)
9. The market value of the property or its marketability.
10. The advisability of the purchase of the property.
11. The presence of potentially hazardous plants or animals including, but not limited to diseases harmful to humans.
12. The presence of any environmental hazards including, but not limited to, toxins, carcinogens, noise, and contaminants in soil, water and air.
13. The effectiveness of any system installed or methods utilized to control or remove suspected hazardous substances.
14. The operating costs or ability of systems or components.
15. The acoustical properties of any system or component.
Inspectors are NOT required to offer:
1. Or perform any act or service contrary to law.
2. Or perform engineering or architectural services.
3. Or perform work in any trade or any professional service other than home inspection.
4. Warranties or guarantees of any kind.
Inspectors are NOT required to operate:
1. Any system or component that is shut down or otherwise inoperable.
2. Any mechanical or electrical system or component unless specifically requested by the client.
3. Any system or component that does not respond to normal operating controls (if requested by the client).
4. Shut-off valves.
Inspectors are NOT required to enter:
1. Any area that will, in the opinion of the inspector, likely be dangerous to the inspector or other persons or damage the property or its systems or components.
2. The under-floor crawl spaces or attics that are not readily accessible.
Inspectors are NOT required to inspect:
1. Underground items including, but not limited to, underground storage tanks or other underground indications of their presence, whether abandoned or active.
2. Systems or components that are not installed.
3. Decorative items.
4. Systems or components located in areas that are not entered in accordance with these Standards of Practice.
5. Detached structures other than garages, carports, outbuildings and pools.
6. Common elements or common areas in multi-unit housing, such as sectional title properties or cluster housing.
Inspectors are NOT required to:
1. Perform any procedure or operation that will, in the opinion of the inspector, likely be dangerous to the inspector or other persons or damage the property or its systems or components.
2. Move suspended ceiling tiles, personal property, furniture, equipment, plants, soil, snow, ice or debris.
3. Dismantle any system or component, except as explicitly required by the standards of Practice or specifically requested by the client.
The Board/Council shall by rule or regulation establish, prescribe or change the fees for licenses, renewals of licenses, or other services provided by the Board/Council pursuant to the provisions of the proposed Act.
The licensing fee shall be charged to all applicants and renewals in an amount not to exceed that which is sufficient to defray administrative costs to the state. Any licensing fee shall be comparable to that charged by other professions.
Persons not required to be licensed
The proposed law should apply to anyone performing a home inspection as outlined or defined by the proposed Act.
Nothing in the proposed Act prevents:
1. A person who is employed by a governmental entity from inspecting residential buildings if the inspection is within official duties and responsibilities (such as the NHBRC).
2. A person from performing a home inspection if the inspection will be used solely by a bank, savings and loan association to monitor progress on the construction of a residential structure.
3. A person who is employed as a property manager for a residential structure and whose official duties and responsibilities include inspecting the residential structure or performing an inspection on the structure if the person does not receive separate compensation for the inspection work.
4. A person who is regulated in another profession to act within the scope of that person’s license, registration, or certification.
The Board/Council should have the ability to make investigations or conduct hearings to determine whether a violation of the proposed Act has occurred.
The Board/Council may refuse to grant or may suspend or revoke a home inspector license upon proof to the satisfaction of the Board/Council that the holder has participated in unfair business practice.
It is an unfair business practice for a home inspector, a company that employs the inspector, or a company that is controlled by a company that also has a financial interest in a company employing a home inspector, to do any of the following:
1. To perform or offer to perform, for an additional fee, any repairs to a structure on which the inspector, or the inspector’s company, has prepared a home inspection report in the past 12 months, except that a home maintenance (warranty) company that is affiliated with or that retains a home inspection company that is affiliated with or that retains a home inspector does not violate this section if it performs repairs pursuant to a claim made under a home maintenance contract.
2. Inspector for a fee any property in which the inspector, or the inspector’s company has any financial interest or any interest in the transfer of the property.
3. To offer or deliver any compensation, inducement or reward to the owner of the inspected property, the broker or agent, for the referral of any business to the inspector or the inspection company.
4. Accept an engagement to make an inspection or to prepare a report in which the inspection itself or the fee payable for the inspection is contingent upon either the conclusions in the report or pre-established findings.
Proposed Registry of Complaints
In lieu of proceeding with an investigation, the Board/Council may place, in a registry, a copy of a complaint received by the Board/Council against a licensed home inspector, the inspector’s response to the complaint, and a copy of any records of the Board/Council concerning the complaint.
1. No later than 30 days after the date on which the Board/Council receives a complaint alleging that a home inspector has engaged in conduct that is grounds for discipline, the Board/Council shall provide the inspector with a copy of the complaint.
2. After receiving a copy of the complaint, the home inspector may place in the registry a statement describing the inspector’s view of the correctness or relevance of any of the information contained in the complaint.
3. The Board/Council shall make the complaint and the home inspector’s response to the complaint available to the public.
4. The Board/Council shall remove all complaints against and other information concerning a home inspector from the registry if, for a period of two years form the date of the most recent complaint filed in the registry, no further complaints have been filed against the inspector.
5. Unworthy or frivolous complaints shall be discarded and shall not be retained.
Liability of Home Inspectors – Proposals
It is proposed that:
1. An action to recover damages for any act or omission of a home inspector relating to a home inspection that he or she conducts can only be commenced within one (1) year after the date that a home inspection is completed.
2. Only a client and no other party shall have an action to recover damages arising from a home inspection or a home inspection report.
The Board/Council may, as a condition of removing a limitation on a license or of reinstating a license that has been suspended or revoked, do any of the following:
1. Require the home inspector to obtain insurance against loss, expense and liability resulting from errors and omissions or neglect in the performance of services as a home inspector.
2. Require the home inspector to file with the Board/Council acceptable security that is in the amount approved by the Board.
Evaluation/Grading of Proposed Laws Regulating Home Inspectors
NOTE: In June of 2003, the ASHI Legislative Committee (LGC) evaluated the existing USA state laws regulating home inspectors or home inspections and used the following system for evaluating and ranking the laws. ASHI feels that their Position Statement, including the evaluation of laws, is a living document because statutes and rules are constantly changing and evolving and new bills are introduced every legislative session. Therefore, this Position Statement, as promulgated by SASHI, may be edited each year to reflect changes and it is possible that a piece of legislation’s grade and ranking could change.
System for Evaluating Laws/Regulations Regulating Home Inspectors Procedure:
1. Review a law, rule or any other regulation of Home Inspectors for each of the provisions listed on the following page.
2. Rate if the law is Excellent (3), Good (2), Acceptable (1) or Bad (0) for each provision.
3. Multiply rating by the weight for each component.
4. Add up the numbers resulting from the multiplication. This total score reflects the over-all quality of the regulation/law. This number can be compared to the total score derived after reviews of other local authority’s laws.
5. Rank each region’s law/regulation based on the total score received by each province/local authority. The highest score indicates the best law/regulation regulating home inspectors (the highest possible total score is 123).
Rating Criteria/Provisions of a Law/Regulation
Does the regulation/law include education of no less than 40 hours?
Does the education include all of the components reflected in the developed body of knowledge?
Does the regulation/law include education on business practices?
Does the regulation/law include a minimum of 10 to 50 training inspections?
Does any grand fathering provision include a minimum number of 100 fee-paid inspections?
Is an examination required?
Is a psychometrically valid exam required?
Does the regulation/law require everyone to pass the exam?
Standards of Practice:
Are the Standards substantially consistent with SASHI’s?
Does the regulation/law describe what must be inspected?
Does the regulation/law describe what does NOT need to be inspected?
Is the Code of Ethics substantially consistent with SASHI’s?
Definition of Home Inspector and Definition of Home Inspection
Does the regulation/law reflect SASHI’s definition of the profession and the professional?
Who is on the Board/Council? Home inspectors and consumers, or others?
What is the Board/Council’s relationship to other Board/Council’s regulating professions?
(Is the Home Inspector Board/Council an offshoot of the Builders, Valuers or Real Estate Board/Institute/Council?)
Continuing Education Requirement:
Is continuing education required?
Is the requirement no fewer than 10 hours annually?
Does the regulation/law have reasonable protections for the consumer and the home inspector?
Do exemptions only apply to individuals practicing their profession?
Is a written report required?
Does the regulation/law allow those licensed in other regions/provinces to practice?
Are the penalties reasonable?
Do the penalties in this regulation/law match those for other related professions?
Note: According to the ranking criteria, the highest possible score is 123 points
SASHI is dedicated to the protection of the home buying public, home inspectors and the home inspector profession. SASHI’s position regarding the regulation of home inspectors is to support law/regulation when it includes the requirements outlined in the document. Inclusion of these provisions provides protection to the consumer and to the home inspector. SASHI will work to introduce or change or, if necessary, oppose legislation that does not contain the minimum requirements.
SASHI will act to attempt to influence any legislation or regulation intended to affect the home inspection profession. In addition to this document, SASHI has professional staff that will respond to requests for information and will review any proposed legislation that has been introduced in any region or province by either the government or a local authority.
SASHI Members may be located throughout the country, many of whom have worked and are working closely with local authorities and the government to enhance the integrity of the home buying process. Home inspectors are the only professionals who solely represent the home buyers’ interest in this very important transaction. The SASHI Model Legislation provides the best starting point for uniformity and consumer protection. The Model reflects standards that have worked well in the marketplace and have proved themselves over the years in the USA. SASHI encourages legislators to adopt the SASHI framework as a template for drafting new laws regulating home inspectors and home inspection practices.