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Columbia Missourian

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Two conflicting Missouri Senate bills on home inspections

By Jim Bushart
February 18, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST

There are, presently, two bills before the state Senate that — if passed — would be in direct conflict with one another and would pose a serious financial hardship on Boone County citizens. The bills are sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia.

Senate Bill 651, in a measure to license home inspectors, creates a "board" that is tasked to write a statewide "standard" of practice that inspectors are to be held accountable to when identifying what is defective and what is not, when they inspect a house.

Senate Bill 730 proposes to allow citizens in Boone County to locally, by ordinance, create and enforce a local "standard" for residential buildings to be built and maintained by local enforcement.

If both bills pass, a homeowner in Boone County may build and maintain his home in full compliance with the provisions of Senate Bill 730 and at the point of sale, have his home declared to be "defective" by a state licensed inspector applying his required standards under Senate Bill 651. Accordingly, his compliant (under SB 730) home may not sell for his asking price — or at all.

Will the contractor be liable for the homeowner’s loss even though he complied with the local requirements? Will the home inspector be liable for the homeowner’s loss for enforcing the standard required by his license? How does the compliant homeowner seek to make whole from his damages that resulted from others applying their conflicting standards?

As a certified energy auditor, I am an inspector of residential and commercial buildings who is regulated by the Missouri State Department of Natural Resources and must meet some pretty high standards (education, insurance coverage, written and field exams, etc.) that were signed into law by the governor in 2008.

My personal connection to these bills has to do with SB 651, which would include me under the much "dumbed down" standards that are being proposed for home inspectors in that bill.

Many of us believe the public would be much better served if, instead of dumbing down the rules for home inspectors with an additional board and tax burden for Missouri citizens, those wishing to license home inspectors simply add them to the existing law and require that they meet the same high standards that the rest of us who inspect homes must do.

In our efforts to bring this to the attention of our state legislators, we ran across SB 730 that — although sponsored by the same senator — actually (and rightfully) contradicts his idea in SB 651 of having a board of four home inspectors write their own "standard" to be applied throughout the state.

We do not agree that a "board" of home inspectors — under a law that lowers existing standards to license them — should be autonomously writing "standards" to be applied at the point of sale as SB 651 provides for them to do.

Of these two conflicting bills, it is our opinion that SB 730 best serves the citizens of Missouri.

Jim Bushart is a Missouri certified energy auditor and BPI Certified Professional Building analyst.