Using the home inspection contingency, must a buyer hire a licensed inspector or can the buyer have a friend or relative, who is a contractor, perform the inspection for the buyer? Aren't there some exemptions to this licensing requirement? If not, what should the broker do when the buyer announces that the buyer intends to bring an unlicensed person to conduct the whole home inspection?
A buyer can personally conduct their own inspection of the home and property. If the buyer personally conducts the buyer's inspection, then the buyer is not required to have a license.
Any other person who conducts a home inspection, other than the buyer personally, must have a home inspector's license. A buyer's friend or relative who has a contractor's license or who used to be an inspector or who has "done a lot of buying and selling" is prohibited, by law, from inspecting the seller's home. There are no exceptions in the law that allow a person of this general type, to conduct the inspection for the buyer. The referenced law is RCW 18.280.010(6) and .020.
The law will allow certain other licensed professionals to participate in the home inspection process within the limitations of their professional license. (RCW 18.280.170) For example, licensed engineers, architects, electricians, plumbers, structural pest inspectors and certified real estate appraisers can each participate within the home inspection process as limited by their own license. An electrician may inspect the electrical panel but would be prohibited from inspecting the roof. A plumber may be able to inspect the water and waste lines but be prohibited from determining whether a home is properly ventilated.
Simply put, there are no categorical exemptions to the requirement that any third party who conducts a home inspection must have a Washington State Home Inspector's license. Said differently, any person who conducts a whole home inspection, other than the buyer personally, must have a Home Inspector's License.
In most cases, the buyer cannot gain access to the seller's home for an inspection except with the assistance of either the buyer or seller's broker. If the buyer announces an intention to bring an unlicensed inspector through the seller's home, the broker should not provide access to the buyer for that unlicensed inspection. Brokers should not assist unlicensed inspectors to violate the law by providing access to those unlicensed inspectors. Brokers should simply have a policy, across the board, refusing to allow access to "inspectors" unless the inspector satisfies the licensing law requirements discussed in this answer.
Do you have more questions about home inspections? Give us a call, text or email. We would be happy to answer any of your home purchase or sale related questions!
-Steve and Sandra
Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate/FN
122502 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle WA 98133
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