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  1. #1
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    Default Virginia New Home Inspections

    I retired last year after contracting a severe skin infection (Strep-A) after my last inspection with a crawlspace. I've been recovering from walking pneumonia this week and totally bored. I thought I would share an incident in Virginia involving the home builder's association and new home inspections.

    Last December the Virginia Association of Real Estate Inspectors (VAREI) board was notified by our legislative monitor that the Virginia home builder association was planning to call for a new state law to require any home inspector performing inspections on new construction homes must be state certified and also have a Class-A contractor license. I don't want to go into details of Va. contractor license classes requirements but in short: expensive and almost impossible for the typical home inspector, unless one doesn't mind lying a lot on the application.

    We all know there are a lot of home inspectors who readily start spouting "doesn't meet code" when they really have no idea; Or, they are just plain ignorant and like to run their mouth. Some of the complaint examples given by the contractors had merit. For example: Declaring as improper, a water heater without an external insulation jacket, ...installed in conditioned air space.

    Another example complaint had to do with negative comments on grading and drainage. They stated the grading and drainage site plans were approved by the AHJ before permits were issued and were therefore not a home inspection issue. That one burned me. I have yet to see a contractor or developer come back, post construction, with a topographic survey to verify that the final grading and drainage complied with the original site plan.

    There was a meeting with the contractor association and VAREI board members in which it was pointed out to the contractors that if they wanted to continue as planned, due to wording specific only to contractors, ALL state contractor laws would have to be rewritten. Uh-Oh, they hadn't thought about that.

    There was a compromise made. The home inspector must be state certified and pass a special test to be developed by the contractors, VAREI, and the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. Of course, the certified inspector has already passed the NHIE, which is has to be tougher than the state general contractor test (not trade specific). All of this is supposed to be implemented by 2017-18.

    I hope you all have a great 2016. Please remember to vote!

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    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Virginia New Home Inspections

    Typically the municipal building inspectors are certified through ICC. Wouldn't that be good enough for home inspectors also. I have the combination certification through ICC for plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and building. That is really not that hard to get and not that expensive. And, if a home inspector cannot pass those tests then they really have no business inspecting new construction anyway.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Virginia New Home Inspections

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    Last December the Virginia Association of Real Estate Inspectors (VAREI) board was notified by our legislative monitor that the Virginia home builder association was planning to call for a new state law to require any home inspector performing inspections on new construction homes must be state certified and also have a Class-A contractor license.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    Typically the municipal building inspectors are certified through ICC. Wouldn't that be good enough for home inspectors also.
    Additionally, if there are Virginia code inspector licenses, all home inspectors should get certified for that too.

    I have, for years, been saying that, for new construction inspections (unless you are just looking at cosmetic issues) that home inspector should be certified by ICC for any code they mention.

    Many states use the ICC tests for their licensing, some states do no have any additional requirements, some do.

    NOT getting code certified AND doing new construction inspection is like an osterisch hiding its head in the sand ... ignoring what is around them.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  4. #4

    Default Re: Virginia New Home Inspections

    Down here, in order to do an inspection on a new construction, most of the builders require the inspector to be code certified, have at least a $1,000,000 general liability policy, and have a valid business license. Documentation for all of those items needs to be in the hands of the builder, and approved by the builder, prior to your inspection. There are even a few builders that only want P.E.'s to perform the inspection.

    Last edited by Charles Wilson; 11-30-2015 at 08:51 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Virginia New Home Inspections

    Mississippi has this in their home inspector law for new construction, it was put in by the builders lobbyist when the law was first crafted. It was tried in a few other states but it was always killed in committee. It really limits the number of inspectors that can inspect new homes.

    If it looks like it is going to pass you need to get a "grandfather" provision in it otherwise the "consumer" will be hurt because nobody will be able to inspect a new home until they meet the requirements which could be a year or longer. (This is the angle you need to work…. Consumer protection….)

    In MS we had about 30 of us when the law was enacted that had the NH designation which allowed us to inspect new construction. It kind of backfired on the builders….. New homes ended up being inspected anyway and all they did was tick off the inspectors in the State.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Virginia New Home Inspections

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    If it looks like it is going to pass you need to get a "grandfather" provision in it otherwise the "consumer" will be hurt because nobody will be able to inspect a new home until they meet the requirements which could be a year or longer. (This is the angle you need to work…. Consumer protection….)
    Sorry, Scott, but on this I have to disagree with you.

    The angle which the home inspectors need to work is to learn, know, and understand what they are inspecting for ... these are, after all, "new" construction houses and should be inspected with that in mind.

    Unless the home inspector is doing a purely "cosmetic" inspection, which would be worthless and can get one in trouble because the "cosmetics" acceptable to the home inspector may not be the "cosmetics" the client has in mind.

    Learn, know, and understand what you are inspecting - "new" construction.

    Take the ICC certification tests for Residential Building, Residential Electrical, Residential Plumbing, Residential Mechanical ... or don't bother inspecting "new" construction. That may sound rather blunt, but that is what home inspectors need to do if they want respect doing "new" construction.

    THAT is the only thing which fits this "(This is the angle you need to work…. Consumer protection….)" - actual consumer protection.

    Grandfathering in for "new" construction does not in any way, shape, or form resemble "consumer protection" - it does, however, remarkedly resemble "inspector protection".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Virginia New Home Inspections

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Sorry, Scott, but on this I have to disagree with you.

    The angle which the home inspectors need to work is to learn, know, and understand what they are inspecting for ... these are, after all, "new" construction houses and should be inspected with that in mind.

    Unless the home inspector is doing a purely "cosmetic" inspection, which would be worthless and can get one in trouble because the "cosmetics" acceptable to the home inspector may not be the "cosmetics" the client has in mind.

    Learn, know, and understand what you are inspecting - "new" construction.

    Take the ICC certification tests for Residential Building, Residential Electrical, Residential Plumbing, Residential Mechanical ... or don't bother inspecting "new" construction. That may sound rather blunt, but that is what home inspectors need to do if they want respect doing "new" construction.

    THAT is the only thing which fits this "(This is the angle you need to work…. Consumer protection….)" - actual consumer protection.

    Grandfathering in for "new" construction does not in any way, shape, or form resemble "consumer protection" - it does, however, remarkedly resemble "inspector protection".
    Jerry, the entire reason for this type of licensing restriction is that a faction of the NAHB membership do not want their work product inspected after it passes local inspections. They feel that the local AHJ inspection is all they need to pass. I have sat across a table during a legislative committee hearing/meeting and had a NAHB lobbyist say those exact words to me.

    As for the "grandfather" period for currently licensed inspectors (I should have stated that), if this is not done the homebuilders will win because until inspectors can get ramped up and meet the new requirements they will not be able to inspect new construction. Basically they want the home inspectors to also hold a builders license, this is exactly what happened in Mississippi. You have about 45 inspectors statewide that can inspect new construction! If this is inspector protection then so be it, we need some protection every now and then. In the long run the consumers are the ones that suffer if they can't find an inspector to do the inspection on their new construction home.

    It's not about inspectors being code certified that the builders have issue with, its about control of the homes they are selling and reducing the obstacles in the sale of those homes. The NAHB feel that by getting this additional licensing requirement into the home inspector license laws that it will please their members.

    And Yes, I hold a new home inspection license in Mississippi…. The only state with this requirement….

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Virginia New Home Inspections

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Jerry, the entire reason for this type of licensing restriction is that a faction of the NAHB membership do not want their work product inspected after it passes local inspections. They feel that the local AHJ inspection is all they need to pass. I have sat across a table during a legislative committee hearing/meeting and had a NAHB lobbyist say those exact words to me.
    Scott,

    I understand that ... but to say that "grandfathering" in home inspectors is "consumer protection" is simply not true.

    "Consumer protection" comes from home inspectors being QUALIFIED to inspect what they are inspecting, and, for "new" construction, that means being certified by a recognized agency - such as ICC.

    "New" construction inspections are different than "resale" home inspections - many resale home inspectors try to insist that they are not looking a code items (even though they are looking at code items) and try to rationalize it away by saying that they are not expected to know what code applies to what house when it was built ... with "new" construction ... that falls flat on its face - "new" construction applies to the code at the time it was built ... DUH! ... and the inspector dang well better know that or they are really, really, out of their league doing "new" construction inspections.

    There is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON for a home inspector who does "new" construction inspection to not be ICC certified in the four basic residential disciplines: building, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical.

    CONSUMER PROTECTION is being ICC certified in those four residential disciplines - there is no excuse or reason which can be stated, with a straight face, that a home inspector doing "new" construction inspections 'does not need to be ICC certified.

    Just in case you or anyone else has not figured this out yet - I am VERY ADAMANT about the above ... any 'excuse' or 'reason' ANYONE tries to offer as to why a home inspector* does not need to be ICC certified for residential is nothing more than putting a pretty red bow on a cow patty - it is still nothing more than a pile of crap ... and that pretty red bow is now ruined ...

    *home inspector doing new construction inspections

    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 12-01-2015 at 11:57 AM. Reason: add * part for clarity
    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Virginia New Home Inspections

    Since I started this thread and have time to submit this, here are few things I found in new home inspections.

    One was going to closing the next day. I went into the attic and not one spec of insulation was installed. In addition, the scuttle hole light junction box was open with live wires just folded up inside as it was left in the rough-in. No one, including the AHJ ever bothered to look in the attic after the drywall was installed.

    Another was installation of Hardie siding which was done with no compliance to Hardie minimum installation requirements much less the remaining recommended practices. Absolutely none of the siding was installed correctly or even close. The subcontractor apparently had no experience with the material and probably could not read the instructions. The developer had people out taking pictures of the house by the time I was leaving the development. I don't believe the AHJ inspector had bothered looking up the installation instructions either.

    Same development, different builder: Hip roof with ridge vent about 1 inch wide and 3 feet long. The AHJ was leaving as I came in. Nothing rejected. I did venting calculations for the attic. What they had was about 1/10 of what would be required by the area of the attic.

    Just in general: Defective GFCI receptacles, dead receptacles, wires at breakers loose, no slope on drain pipes, broken trusses or connection plates torn loose, woven shingle roof valleys using architectural (layered) shingles. This practice was expressly forbidden by major shingle manufactures but there was one brand that was in high use in this area that showed a normal cut line valley installation on each shingle bundle. There was no specific ban of woven valleys. I called the manufacturer and asked the technical rep about this. His answer was that the illustration on the bundle packaging was supposed to the method used and that he would not want woven shingles used on his house.

    I kept up with the current codes via the IRC in force. Actually, Virginia uses the IBC, 3 years behind, modified to make the state contractors happy as reasonable and calls it the Statewide Uniform Building Code (or close to that). There are not supposed to be local variations in the building code but interpretations by individual AHJ inspectors often were not always in line with the spirit of the state codes.

    I downloaded manufacturer installation instructions as well as related information and recommendations by specific national product associations. Whenever there was some issue in the inspection report that had to do with manufacturer or association installation requirement, I would either provide a link to it or a PDF copy of the specs to the client.

    I never had a contractor/developer buck the defects or deficiencies reported.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Virginia New Home Inspections

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    I retired last year after contracting a severe skin infection (Strep-A) after my last inspection with a crawlspace. I've been recovering from walking pneumonia this week and totally bored. I thought I would share an incident in Virginia involving the home builder's association and new home inspections.

    Last December the Virginia Association of Real Estate Inspectors (VAREI) board was notified by our legislative monitor that the Virginia home builder association was planning to call for a new state law to require any home inspector performing inspections on new construction homes must be state certified and also have a Class-A contractor license. I don't want to go into details of Va. contractor license classes requirements but in short: expensive and almost impossible for the typical home inspector, unless one doesn't mind lying a lot on the application.

    We all know there are a lot of home inspectors who readily start spouting "doesn't meet code" when they really have no idea; Or, they are just plain ignorant and like to run their mouth. Some of the complaint examples given by the contractors had merit. For example: Declaring as improper, a water heater without an external insulation jacket, ...installed in conditioned air space.

    Another example complaint had to do with negative comments on grading and drainage. They stated the grading and drainage site plans were approved by the AHJ before permits were issued and were therefore not a home inspection issue. That one burned me. I have yet to see a contractor or developer come back, post construction, with a topographic survey to verify that the final grading and drainage complied with the original site plan.

    There was a meeting with the contractor association and VAREI board members in which it was pointed out to the contractors that if they wanted to continue as planned, due to wording specific only to contractors, ALL state contractor laws would have to be rewritten. Uh-Oh, they hadn't thought about that.

    There was a compromise made. The home inspector must be state certified and pass a special test to be developed by the contractors, VAREI, and the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. Of course, the certified inspector has already passed the NHIE, which is has to be tougher than the state general contractor test (not trade specific). All of this is supposed to be implemented by 2017-18.

    I hope you all have a great 2016. Please remember to vote!
    Stuart, sorry to hear of your health issue. Best of health to you.
    Great post. Much thanks.

    I have contracted several ailments from inspecting homes. Now I use PPE diligently, when I remember. Just being honest.

    Does anyone here at InspectionNews have home inspector occupational health statistics?

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
    Our Motto; Putting information where you need it most, "In your hands.”

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Virginia New Home Inspections

    Thank you for you commentary Stuart; my view even the local AHJ inspection review process is not infallible. I know a number of municipal building inspectors that have come up through the ranks as appointees - akin to grandfathering them into the position. I also have in my previous design build years experienced the municipal building inspector often perform "cursory" reviews. In fairness - quality control of built conditions are the general contractors/builders or field supervisors domain.

    In taking a building code course taught by a municipal building inspector I even heard the sad situation where a municipality was sued for overzealous inspectors that demanded commercial standards for a residential property. So even they can be prone to negligence or overkill that cost a builder many more thousands of dollars in unwarranted expenses.

    As another side note in performing new home build inspections it was not uncommon for "some" builders to fall on the proverbial "that it was approved by the local building inspector", even though there was visible conditions that were not to code.

    I also agree with Jerry regarding the value and importance of taking "code course" particularly before claiming to be knowledgeable about comparing new construction build conditions to a typical vendor related existing home.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Virginia New Home Inspections

    Quote Originally Posted by Claude Lawrenson View Post
    Thank you for you commentary Stuart; my view even the local AHJ inspection review process is not infallible. I know a number of municipal building inspectors that have come up through the ranks as appointees - akin to grandfathering them into the position. I also have in my previous design build years experienced the municipal building inspector often perform "cursory" reviews. In fairness - quality control of built conditions are the general contractors/builders or field supervisors domain.
    Claude is correct that the purpose of the AHJ inspector is to perform cursory inspections.

    The contractor is the person (the person who signed the permit application, even for national construction companies, 'one person' "qualifies" the project) who responsible for the entire job.

    The AHJ inspector is not expected to 'look at everything', they do, at best, a 'sampling' inspection, and inspectors get to know what mistakes which contractors tend to make most, so that is often what they 'sample' most in an effort to help educate the contractor on those items.

    In taking a building code course taught by a municipal building inspector I even heard the sad situation where a municipality was sued for overzealous inspectors that demanded commercial standards for a residential property. So even they can be prone to negligence or overkill that cost a builder many more thousands of dollars in unwarranted expenses.
    There is a Florida Supreme Court decision, from the late 1980s as I recall, which found that AHJ inspectors 'are not there to make sure any given structure meets code, only to help reduce the likelihood of a given structure having a negative impact on the public (not the owners, not the occupants, but 'the public' ... as in 'that the building does not fall down on someone outside the building or fall into other buildings, or cause other buildings to catch on fire' ... generally speaking).

    As another side note in performing new home build inspections it was not uncommon for "some" builders to fall on the proverbial "that it was approved by the local building inspector", even though there was visible conditions that were not to code.
    That is quite common, and the code (IRC) states that a CO does not make non-conforming items conforming item, those items are still non-conforming and are reason to withdraw the CO.

    I also agree with Jerry regarding the value and importance of taking "code course" particularly before claiming to be knowledgeable about comparing new construction build conditions to a typical vendor related existing home.
    That is, to me, a "must do" for every home inspector - take the ICC courses, exams, and become certified in each Residential category - Plumbing, Mechanical, Building, Electrical ... the knowledge and outlook gained is eye-opening and completely changes the way you look at things.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Virginia New Home Inspections

    I forgot to add, one of the quickest ways to be able to quiet a contractor complaining that 'You home inspectors don't know what you are talking about, I am a GC and you guys don't have any qualifications.' was to be able to respond with "YOU are a GC? Really? Then YOU should KNOW what I am pointing out ... because I AM A GC TOO ... not only that, but I AM ALSO A BUILDING CODE INSPECTOR and I am licensed to inspect YOUR WORK."

    Not only was I 'their equal' in the GC department, I was also licensed by ICC and Florida to inspect their work, which meant I was one step higher than they were.

    With architects, my answer was slightly different 'While I am not an architect, I am a GC and a building code inspector and plans examiner ... I licensed TO REVIEW your work.'

    Guys, you really, really, really should get additional licenses - that puts you on a different level than 'just a home inspector', it often puts you on the same level as the person complaining, and sometimes on a higher level ... those additional licenses and certifications NEVER HURT ... all each one can do it help you.

    If some of you think that 'CMI' means anything ... please ... go puke someplace else ... it means nothing to anyone who knows anything ... and thinking that it means anything simply means that you don't know anything that really matters. When I see a 'CMI' plastered on someone's web site - my first thought is 'Run, Forrest, run.' - there is no worthwhile reason to put that on your web site. All that indicates is that you don't know anything yet.

    Off the soap box and end of rant - I'll let those 'CMI' holders try to present an argument as to why they use it ... only the uneducated public is fooled by that ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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