August 2007 Edition 

Home Inspector Licensing

Senator David Shafer has introduced Senate Bill 334 to create the State Licensing Board of Home Inspectors; to provide for its membership, appointment, filling of vacancies, terms of office, qualifications, powers and duties, staffing, and meetings; to provide for licensing of home inspectors.
The following are excerpts  from the bill: 
(I) It is the intent of the General Assembly in the interest of public health, safety, and welfare to require the regulation of home inspectors and to assure that consumers of home inspection services can rely on the competence of home inspectors. The practice of home inspection is declared a business or profession affecting the public interest, and this chapter shall be liberally construed so as to accomplish the intent and purposes stated in this chapter. 
(A) Anyone seeking to be licensed as a home inspector in this state shall file an application on a form provided by the board accompanied by an application fee as provided by the board.  
(B) A person shall be eligible for licensure as a home inspector if he or she:
(1) Is at least 18 years of age;
(2) Is of good moral character;
(3) Has successfully completed high school or its equivalent;
(4) Has:
(a) Completed a board-approved course of study of no less than 80 hours that covers all of the following components of a residential building of four units or less: heating system, cooling system, plumbing system, electrical system, structural components, foundation, roof covering, exterior and interior components, and site aspects as they affect the building; or
(b) Presented documentation as required by the board that he or she has been engaged in the practice of home inspection for compensation for not fewer than three years prior to the effective date of this chapter; and
(c) Performed not fewer than 100 home inspections, as defined in this chapter, for compensation; and
(d) Prior to or within one year of the effective date of this chapter, has passed a valid, reliable examination designed to test competence in home inspection practice and developed pursuant to accepted psychometric standards promulgated by the American Educational Research Association or similar organization acceptable to the board.  
(C) Any otherwise qualified applicant failing the examination required by this chapter may be reexamined at any regularly scheduled examination within one year of the date of original application upon payment of a reexamination fee in an amount to be set by the board, without need to resubmit an application, unless any information set forth in the previously submitted application is no longer accurate or complete. Anyone requesting to take the examination a third or subsequent time shall wait at least one calendar year after the taking of the last examination and shall submit an application with the appropriate examination fees. 
(D) A home inspector may:
(1) Include other inspection services, systems, or components in addition to those required;
(2) Specify repairs, provided the home inspector is appropriately qualified and willing to do so; and
(3) Exclude systems and components from the home inspection if requested in writing by the client.
(E) A home inspection shall not be required to:
(1) Be technically exhaustive; or
(2) Identify concealed conditions or latent defects. 
(F) A home inspector shall not be not required to:
(1) Offer warranties or guarantees of any kind;
(2) Perform any action or make any determination unless specifically stated in any standards of practice adopted by the board or except as may be required by lawful authority; or
(3) Perform any procedure or operation that shall, in the opinion of the inspector, likely be dangerous to the home inspector or other persons or damage the property or its systems or components.           
More about the status of the law will be covered in a future edition. 

Tankless Water Heaters

I’m willing to make an investment in a tankless water heater, but not until someone convinces me that I’ll save on my energy bills and have adequate hot water. What’s the real scoop on these?           
According to The Family Handyman magazine, tankless water heaters use 30 to 50 percent less energy than units with tanks, saving a typical family about $100 or more per year, depending on water usage. Tankless units (also called “on demand” units) heat water only when you turn on the faucet. They usually operate on natural gas or propane. The main advantage is that they eliminate the extra cost of keeping 40 to 50 gallons of water hot in a storage tank, so you waste less energy. They also offer a continuous supply of hot water which is ideal for filling a big hot tub or a whirlpool. They’re more compact that a standard water heater and mount on a wall.
The primary disadvantage is the upfront cost. The smaller units ($500) that you often see won’t produce enough hot water to serve most households. They’ll only serve one faucet at a time - a problem if you want to shower while the dishwasher is running. Larger units that can handle the demand of a whole family run $1,000 and up. (Regular tank heaters cost $300 to $500, and they last 10 to 12 years, compared to 20 years for a tankless unit.)           
But because tankless units have high-powered burners, they also have special venting requirements (a dedicated, sealed vent system, which requires professional installation). Natural gas burners often need a larger diameter gas pipe, which could easily add $500 to $1,000 to the initial installation cost.           
The bottom line: When you’re pricing a unit, be sure to get an estimate or firm bid on installation costs. This is not a do-it-yourself project unless you have a pro-level skills. You can find tankless water heaters at many home centers and plumbing specialty stores. Ask if the unit qualifies for a $300 federal tax credit.           
Editors note: If you spend $2000 for the initial installed cost and save $100 per year on you energy bill, how long will it take to recoup your investment?  

Source: The Family Handyman July 2006 

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