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  1. #1
    J Bowman's Avatar
    J Bowman Guest

    Default MONTANA Home Inspection Legislation

    The following is from MAREI (Montana Assoc. of Real Estate Inspectors) and is provided here for your information.

    Our home inspector bill was passed out of The House Business and Labor committee earlier today.

    The vote was 11 to 7.

    We now head to The House floor.

    If you support this bill, contact your Representative at this link and tell him or her what you think. .

    Remind him or her that the current home inspection bill passed by the 1999 legislature, SB 210, is a consumer protection bill only. It does not set competency requirements for the people providing home inspection services.

    Currently, if you can breath, you can sell home inspection services here in Montana. You don't need an education or certification of any kind. You don't need experience in home inspection, construction, or the trades. You don't have to meet any standard of practice. You don't need to subscribe to any ethical standard.

    Many of us do have training, standards, and certifications by virtue of our affiliations with associations like InterNACHI, ASHI, NAHI, HIF or AII. But currently there is no requirement to join an association. So in the end, if you can breath you can be a home inspector in Montana.

    This bill, HB 417 will require all inspectors to be registered. It will require all inspectors to pass a competency examination. It will require all of us to adhere to a Code of Ethics and a Standard of Practice which are very similar to what is now required by the major national home inspection associations.

    Tell them that this bill is so detailed, with such clear definitions, that adjudication of complaints against errant inspectors would be handled by The Department of Labor and Industry legal staff, within existing programs, at no additional cost to the taxpayers. This would be similar to the boiler operators, crane operators and construction blasters. And that this registration program will be paid for by registration fees collected from inspectors. They are expected to be around $100 a year.

    This is what democracy looks like in the trenches. Share what you think with your House Representative by using the link provided above. (A suggestion .... cut and paste part of this message into the message box at the link above .... save you lots of typing!)

    If we get this thing past the floor of The House, we'll head to the Senate!

    Happy Trails,

    Steve Jacoby, President
    Montana Association of Real Estate Inspectors / MAREI

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Georgetown, KY

    Default Re: MONTANA Home Inspection Legislation

    And that this registration program will be paid for by registration fees collected from inspectors. They are expected to be around $100 a year.
    That's what they told us in Kentucky too!.

    Now the fees are $250.00 a year and the governor has raided the fund and taken all the money for other stuff instead of home inspector education and oversight.

    What a crock. Its just turned out to be another $250.00 a year tax on home inspectors that we get no return on investment for.

    Erby Crofutt, Georgetown, KY - Read my Blog here: Erby the Central Kentucky Home Inspector B4 U Close Home Inspections
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Ormond Beach, Florida

    Default Re: MONTANA Home Inspection Legislation

    I see the word "registration" in there several times, but nothing about "licensing".

    Here is the difference between "registration" and "licensing":

    "Registration" = My vehicle is "registered" so it can be tracked back to me, I pay a "tax" on it for my "license" plate which allows my vehicle to be driven on public roads where it can be tracked back to me.

    "Licensing" = I have a driver's "license" for which I had to pass a test, show that I met at least the minimum required knowledge of the rules of the road. Then I had to demonstrate my level of that knowledge along with my ability control and operate my vehicle. That demonstration had to show I was sufficiently knowledgeable and competent enough that I met the requirements for being a "licensed" operator (driver).

    "Registration" is not akin to "licensing", it is simply a method used to track you. No proof of knowledge or ability is asked for, "registration" is simply 'Here is you dog tag, hang it around your neck, when we find your body we want to know who to contact.'

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( )

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Snowbird (this means I'm retired and migrate between locations), FL/MI

    Default Re: MONTANA Home Inspection Legislation

    J. Bowman indicates that in order to be eligible to "register" one must pass a compentancy examination.

    "This bill, HB 417 will require all inspectors to be registered. It will require all inspectors to pass a competency examination. It will require all of us to adhere to a Code of Ethics and a Standard of Practice which are very similar to what is now required by the major national home inspection associations."
    I believe that this debunks Jerry Peck's argument and his theory of the difference between "registration" and "licensing", as an invalid argument. If the state requires the aforementioned "registration" be valid in order to be permitted to legally conduct the activity, and it is the state itself that is the sole authority of said "registration" and the state has the authority to refuse, reject, cancel or withdraw said "registration" with authority of law, it is a de facto "license".

    For example, applying the language from the synopsis as presented by J. Bowmean, and using Jerry Peck's analogy, this bill would be akin to vehicle registration in New Jersey, and other states, which require an inspection/safety examination (some also require an emmissions test) of vehicles and proof that the vehicle has passed this inspection in order to be eligible to be "registered", most all states require this for commercial vehicles as well - a "registration" is not made or renewed without recent evidence of same in those states. Furthermore, many of these states require evidence of reinspection should the "road worthiness" or safety of said vehicle is later called into question - such as a citation issued for a safety violation issued during the "registration's" term.

    Now add to that bill a requirement to carry a bond and/or insurance and you just might have a decent ground-level industry-related consumer protection bill. No consumer protection is assured if there isn't a pocket to dip into should the HI be inadequate, faulty, incompetant, biased, or intentionally fraudulent.

    Using a similar analogy to what has been previously proffered: several states require proof of insurance to acquire and maintain vehicle registration ("license plates"), several require notification when changes in status are made and will cancel registration upon learning that the insurance status has changed. Requiring a certificate of insurance and named insured status to some sort of registration office and/or claims fund would be a minor additional step, costing the state and its citizens not much regarding the information data fields on such files, therefore costing the consumers little except for the overhead passed along in the cost of the HIs by the Registered Inspectors. Small price to pay by the consumer of HI services, to assure that there would be a resource/recourse "pocket" should they be victimized by an incompetant inspection or a fraudlent one.

    Regarding funding/cost to the state should this bill be further ammended by this proposal, the rates charged for underwriting such bonds and/or insurance policies would obviously be less for those with clean performance records; and advancing experience, cross-discipline education, extra continuing education credits, and higher examination scores, etc. This would potentially benefit both the state and its consumers as a further incentive/driving factor promoting competance and performance. Thus, a peer reinforced and profit driven encouragement for those in the industry to be as excellent as they can be at their chosen occupation. Expenses to the State, next to nothing.

    Expanding on the analogy, a license to drive is no assurance that one will continue to perform the endeavor to drive in a responsible, safe, or effective manner, nor remain able to do so beyond the original examination period. Nor that one's judgement is sound; won't make a mistake, have an accident, or be dealt with a mechanical mishap or suffer an "act of God" event. Furthermore, having a valid vehicle registration is no assurance that those operating the vehicle are in fact legally authorized to do so, nor that they will do so responsibly. Thus many states have manditory minimum insurance laws - to protect others, and have civil and criminal statutory penalties for those who do not abide by the law.

    Unfamiliar with Montana's constitution, laws, etc. I would also hope that those eligible for such a registration are further limited, such as requiring sworn applications, certain convicted criminals, and those that had licenses or registrations refused, revoked, or sanctioned/punished for certain causes would be ineligible.

    P.S. It took three clicks of the mouse but I found the language of the actual bill, it requires more than the synopsis offered in the original post. Including 20 hrs of professional education within the prior 12 months of registration, and membership in one of several professional organizations.

    It is disappointing that a board that includes trade professionals are not set up to determine/rule on issues of ethical conduct or complaints or challenges regarding competancy. I have concerns regarding the compentancy, judgement, credentials of regular civil servants with no required special knowledge other than perhaps clerical skills making these decisions. It is unfortunate that this bill does not define or provide for a mixed discipline board (trade professionals, civil servants, consumer protection advocates, etc.) to make these determinations at proper hearings (due process, etc.) and to develop guidelines before the civil servants request action by the courts.

    I am dubious about allowing one as young as 18 years old to hold such a registration and having the requisite judgement, but that is another discussion entirely and I do not wish to derail the thread.

    Finally, extiguishing all doubt regarding Mr. Peck's argument or theory of any distinction between "registration" and "license" the bill itself specificall states at Section 8(4):

    "License" means permission in the form of a license, permit, endorsement, certificate, recognition, or registration granted by the state of Montana to engage in a business activity or practice at a specific level in a profession or occupation governed by.....
    Quite obviously registration or license in this case is a distinction without a difference.

    For those interested the bill as it is currently worded can be found here:

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 02-20-2009 at 08:51 AM. Reason: post script and link to actual bill language.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN

    Default Re: MONTANA Home Inspection Legislation

    The major difference with a Registration law and a Licensing law in Montana is that if you have a licensing law you will have a standing board and board members. With the Registration law you will not have a standing board. Everything that is covered under the Registration is written in the law, nothing needs to be developed. The Standards, Ethics, etc are all part of the law. This type of law has the lowest cost to the State.

    Enforcement of the law is handled by the the department that it is placed under, Department of Labor in this case.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Western Montana

    Default Re: MONTANA Home Inspection Legislation

    I am one of those soon to be licensed inspectors in Montana. It is not the most clearly written bill, and I have objected to several parts. But, it is now out of committee and on its way to the main house floor. We'll see; I suspect it will pass. The Montana bill is certainly a very different animal than what Washington enacted.

    Licensing will require a test - in practice it will be the one from NHIE. We will also be required to get 20 hrs of Cont Ed every year, including before going for the initial license. 90% of the bill as written is just a copy of the NACHI SOP and Code of Ethics (doin't know why it was NACHI instead of ASHI which has better worded material).

    We are NOT specifically required to join one of the national HI orgs, but any Cont Ed class work must be certified by one of the listed organizations like ASHI and NACHI (which are the only real active national organizations in this region, with a sprinkle of NAHI.

    IT IS CRITICAL that you keep in perspective that there are only an estimated 130-150 home inspectors in the entire state. The square mileage is huge, but the population of people is small (mostly cows, horses, deer, antelope, etc).

    The other critical item to keep in perspective, is that Montana has historically been a very conservative area (bunch of good ole boy ranchers) that don't much go for those damn government people, prefer as few laws as possible, and pinch pennies because we are one of the poorest states in the country (until lately). Heck, we don't even allow our legislators to meet 'cept every other year. In fact, with most other states now going bankrupt and in huge debt crying for US federal dollar bailout, Montana has a surplus budget.

    Therefore - one of the main criteria for a HI licensing bill is that it has to be financially self-sustaining. State law has certain mandates for professional oversight boards (must have regular meetings, members have to be paid a stipend, etc). The bill would not have passed if we had requested the extra money for a professional oversight board. And, again, keep in mind, there are only about 140 of us to share the expenses in licensing fees. This was one of my major complaints, but I also realized that it was never going to happen. Therefore, we will have to rely on the one lawyer in the Dept of Commerce; we are hoping to see language that will set up a rotating list of 'professional experts' that he will contact when questions come up.

    As far as insurance goes - that was a huge debate in the few concept meetings we had a couple of years ago (as you might expect). Of course many don't want to pay the cost of E&O. Profit margins are hard enough to come by anyway. There are very very few national franchises in the state (I am one of the few exceptions, but that's another sad story). I pushed that we should at least require Liability (I carry both Liability and E&O). However, realtors and appraisers are NOT required to carry either in this state. Generally, there are no bonding requirements for any of the trade professions either. Subs are tested and licensed (electricians, plumbers, etc), but Builders have NO requirements except to register (price went way up to $150 two years ago).

    Actually, there was some pressure to require E&O, and support was sort of 50-50, so it could have gone either way in committee, and still might.

    Quite frankly, I consider it to be a badly written law, rather lazy, and little to no enforcement. But again, you have to take it in context of this region.

    Montana, Wyoming, and surrounding big empty western states are big on the "Can Do" attitude. You have to admire it .... in a way. Therefore, lots of construction is done by anyone that can swing a hammer; "heck, I can do that", or "Uncle Ned did the barn, it hasn't fallen down yet, so I'm sure he can do the house". Ranchers that have to figure it out themselves because can't afford to hire someone else, or the nearest licensed professional is 100 miles away. So, if its not broke, don't fix it. And, for sure, if its broke, then you better figure out how to fix it yourself. (Which is why there was some big fights against the clause that prevent inspectors from doing repair on homes they inspect. If someone has to drive an hour to get to the house to inspect it, that also means a 2-hr commute for the repairman to come out on a different day.)

    There is extremely little enforcement of building codes once you leave the few major metropolitin areas we have. One of two counties that I cover only requires state electrical inspection on new stuff, and you can slide by that very easily if you build you own home - therefore, lots of "Custom Home Builders" (ie. again, anyone that can swing a hammer). Even some of the smaller towns that do have a 'city' inspector, will tend to ignore some code books (IECC), because they are trying to slowly shape and improve the awareness of builders (who carry a huge ecomonic weight here as major employers). Which makes home inspections a rather interesting occupation around here. But's that another tale.

  7. #7
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: MONTANA Home Inspection Legislation

    This is sad news I love Montana.

    but don't like Home Inspection Legislation.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Snowbird (this means I'm retired and migrate between locations), FL/MI

    Default Re: MONTANA Home Inspection Legislation

    Terry Beck,

    Your thoughful and concise summary on the history, region and perspective was both interesting and informative.

    Mea culpa on my error (P.S.) regarding membership. I misread the section on the requirement that the 20 professional education credit hours be accepted by one or more of the organizations listed and mistook it as acceptance for membership.

    I thank you for the enlightenment and wish you well in your endeavors.

    Sincerely yours,

    H.G. Watson, Sr.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 02-23-2009 at 06:14 PM.


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