PSI: Questions surround home inspection bill

By Jamie Boll - bio l email

Produced by Jeff Keene - email 

Raleigh, NC (WBTV) - Marion Peeples doesn't mince words when it comes to Senate Bill 1007.

"Gosh, improper use of the legislative process," said Peeples. "The consumer is who I'm looking out for.  I'm not looking out for special interests.  Everybody who is writing this bill is special interest."

The bill is being pushed by the North Carolina Home Builders Association and the North Carolina Association of Realtors.  Two home inspector associations also support the bill, but those groups only represent one-third of home inspectors.

Peeples says one important group was left out of the discussions, the North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board.  A board whose members are appointed by state leaders to oversee the state's home inspectors.  Its a board Peeples sits on.

"We have had no input as a formal board," said Peeples.

The board is opposing the bill. It says it would change not only the way home inspectors are licensed, but how they do their jobs.

General contractors would be exempt from much of the training required to become a licensed home inspector.

"Most general contractors know far more about a house, how it goes together, how things work together and how it functions than the lay person," said Peeples.  "But they have no education whatsoever in inspection procedures,  reporting protocols, what's appropriate to report, how do you report it."

Another major change if the bill passes would be to the summary page that so many home buyers rely on when hiring a home inspector.

The bill says when including problems the inspector must consider "normal wear and tear."  It also says it must include "documented visible evidence."

"You could smell sulfur from well water, from bacteria in the water.  You're not going to see them, but you know its there because you smell it.  You won't have visible evidence of it," said Peeples.

Many home inspectors suspect the bill is being offered because home inspectors too often slow down and in some cases kill real estate deals.

"That's just absolutely not true," says State Senator David Hoyle.

The Gastonia democrat is the sponsor of the bill.  He says the bill was written to head off lawsuits filed against builders and realtors as a result of improper inspections.

"Many of them (home inspectors) are not responsible.  They are not trained, they don't have any liability insurance they have nothing to lose,"said Hoyle.

Hoyle, a real estate developer, has been the recipient of tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations over the years, from people and groups with ties to realtors and builders.

He admits lobbyists from those groups helped write this bill.

"Yes they had a big hand in it," said Hoyle. "Because they were getting sued because home inspectors were not doing their jobs."

Members of the licensure board say they are unaware of a spate of lawsuits.  They say if there is such a concern the realtors association hasn't mentioned it at board meetings.

A co-sponsor of the house version of the bill is republican Thom Tillis of Mecklenburg County.  He says removing unnecessary roadblocks was a major motivation of the bill, but he is now looking to slow things down.  He says the licensure board and the lobby groups need to come together to settle their differences.

"I think the stakeholders need to understand that when we say get together and work out it we mean actually get together and work it out," said Tillis.

A committee vote was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, but it was removed from consideration just hours before the meeting.  The committe chair cited potential legal issues with the legislation.

Click on the red camera icon to watch this PSI report.