I was cleaning up files on my computer this morning and came across this, I don't konw if it has been posted here before or not, but it can help clear up any questions about whether or not an SPI License is required in Washington for anyone to perform a COMPLETE Home INspection. This is a letter I received from the WSDA in response to questions several of us had aked the Director of the WSDA, who in turn sent it to the Attorney General's Office, this is their reply:

Questions and Responses on SPI Licensing
(Cleared by AG 3/26/07)

Question 1: When a home inspector conducts an inspection of a home that is for sale and reports any of the following, must they be licensed as an SPI and follow the rules for conducting a complete WDO inspection (See WAC 16-228-2025):

plumbing leaks and inadequate ventilation
restricted or non-functioning gutters
vegetation touching exterior siding
earth to wood contact
standing water in substructure
failed or missing caulk or grout at water splash areas
conducive debris in substructure

Answer: If a home inspector reports on one or more of the above conditions they must be licensed and must follow the rules for conducting complete WDO inspections. It does not make any difference whether the home inspector actually identifies a WDO such as rot, they still must be licensed and follow the rules.

Question 2: Once a home inspector reports any of the conditions in question 1., above, (regardless of whether they identify a WDO infestation) does the inspection then become a “complete WDO inspection” and must the inspector then follow all of the rules relating to complete WDO inspections?

Answer: Yes, once an inspector has reported any of the conditions in question 1, above, their inspection then becomes a complete WDO inspection and they must abide by all of the rules relating to complete WDO inspections (WAC 16-228-2005 through 2045).

Question 3: Can a home inspector avoid the licensing and rule requirements by not identifying the WDO that caused damage? For example, a house has extensive damage from wood decay fungi (rot). If a home inspector just reported this as “deterioration” or “damage” without identifying that it was caused by rot, would this relieve the inspector from the requirements of the law and rules?

Answer: The laws and rules covering WDO inspections place a duty upon the inspector to report the cause of the damage by identifying the WDO. A home inspector cannot circumvent the laws or rules by avoiding terminology that is found in the rules.

Question 4: If someone is unlicensed and they report on conducive conditions such as those in question 1., above, and they don’t affix an ICN to the report (they wouldn’t have one since they are not licensed) would this in fact be considered an “illegal report”? If so, what effect would that have on the overall real estate transaction? Would it nullify or invalidate the transaction since an illegal inspection report, in theory, was depended on by the buyers in order to make the decision on whether or not to purchase the house? Would it make any difference in answering this question whether the inspection was requested by the buyer (if specifically requested it would be more clear that the buyer was depending on it)?

Answer: It could in a sense be considered an illegal report, but as to how it would affect the transaction is a question for civil courts to determine and beyond the realm of WSDA’s jurisdiction or concern.

Question 5: Assuming an unlicensed home inspector does report one or more of the findings described in question 1., above, does a recommendation to have a licensed SPI inspect the structure, or a disclaimer such as “This is not a WDO (or Structural Pest) inspection” on the home inspection report have any bearing on whether a home inspector must be licensed and follow the rules?

Answer: An inspector cannot abrogate his/her responsibility under the laws and rules by making recommendations or disclaimers on their report. If they conduct, by definition, a complete WDO inspection, they must comply with all of the laws and rules regardless of any recommendation or disclaimer. In most cases such disclaimers would make their inspection report a “false report” and place the inspector in violation of RCW 15.58.150(2)(e). Such violations are subject to civil penalty and/or license suspension.

Question 6: Can an unlicensed home inspector subcontract with a properly licensed SPI to conduct the WDO portion of their home inspection? In this scenario the home inspector inspects all components of the structure such as heating/cooling, electrical, etc. other than those associated with WDOs. The licensed SPI conducts a complete WDO inspection and submits the inspection report to the unlicensed home inspector who either attaches it to or incorporates it into their home inspection report.

Answer: There is nothing in the laws or rules that would prevent an unlicensed home inspector from contracting the services of a licensed SPI so long as certain conditions are met. The unlicensed home inspector would need to either attach or incorporate the licensed SPI’s inspection report verbatim in its entirety so that the Department’s enforcement capabilities are maintained. Any use of the licensed SPI’s inspection report other than verbatim and in its entirety may create a false report and be a violation of RCW 15.58.150(2)(e).

If an unlicensed home inspector subcontracts the services of a licensed SPI, and the licensed SPI’s report is used verbatim and in its entirety, the Department’s enforcement efforts should focus on the licensed SPI. This would not, however, allow the unlicensed home inspector to report any WDO related conditions other than those reported by the licensed SPI. In other words, the unlicensed home inspector could not attach or incorporate the SPI’s report verbatim in its entirety and then proceed to make his/her own calls in addition to what was reported by the licensed SPI. This would violate the statute and rules.

Question 7: Assuming that an unlicensed home inspector is allowed to subcontract with a licensed SPI to conduct a complete WDO inspection, would the unlicensed home inspector be able to incorporate portions of the SPI’s complete WDO inspection into their home inspection report without incorporating the complete WDO inspection in it’s entirety? For example, an unlicensed home inspector may want to incorporate all of the SPI’s findings without identifying that the WDO portion of the inspection was conducted by a different inspector.

Answer: No, (see answer for 6, above) the unlicensed home inspector must attach or incorporate the licensed SPI’s report verbatim and in its entirety. Additionally, the unlicensed inspector would not be allowed to report any additional WDO related conditions.

Question 8: There apparently is a limited market for home inspectors to conduct a quick, “look-see” inspection and verbally report any major problems they observe without issuing a written report. Some inspectors are of the opinion that if they do not issue a written report of their inspection, the laws and rules do not apply. In other words the WDO laws/rules only kick-in when a written report is issued. Would such inspections be allowed under the laws/rules?

Answer: Based on WAC 16-228-2035[1] (and other WDO rules) an inspector, whether licensed or not, cannot verbally report their findings without issuing a written report. The type of inspection described in this question would not be allowed by the law and rules. An inspector’s inspection and report must comply with the WDO laws and rules.

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