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Advice on Structural Pest Inspections

(Article courtesy of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.)

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is receiving numerous complaints from homebuyers about unlicensed and inexperienced structural pest inspectors.  Many of these complaints concern inspectors that some of you are recommending to your clients.  A state law, designed to protect consumers, is very clear: anyone inspecting properties for wood destroying organisms, damage, or conditions leading to these pests must be licensed by WSDA as a Structural Pest Inspector (SPI).

Virtually all home inspectors report on one or more of these problems and require the SPI license. For example, if a home inspection report mentions leaky pipes, plugged gutters, poor ventilation or rot (damage), the inspector has performed a structural pest inspection. State law requires that the inspection be thorough and accurate and a readily visible Inspection Control Number (ICN) be assigned to it. If an ICN is not on the inspection report, it cannot legally be used for a real estate transaction.

By referring unlicensed inspectors to prospective homebuyers or by accepting an illegal inspection report, you place yourself in a potentially litigious situation. Don’t add this liability to yourself or your business.

The bottom line:

  • Inform your clients that most, if not all, “home inspections will include elements of a structural pest inspection and must be done by a WSDA licensed inspector.
  • Don’t recommend inspectors unless you know them to be a properly licensed SPI. It is illegal and unethical to do otherwise. After all, would you hire an unlicensed, uninsured inspector for your own home?
  • Better yet, direct clients to WSDA’s website listing of SPI’s and let them choose their own inspector. This can be found at: <http:f/agr.wa.gov/PestFertJLicensingEd/ListStructuralPesthispectors.htm>
  • WSDA-licensed inspectors, at the very least, have passed an exam, licensed their company, and provided WSDA with proof of financial coverage.
  • Never accept an inspection report for a real estate transaction unless there is an ICN assigned to it. ICN’s must be placed in the upper third of the report’s front page and have the following format: NNNNLLNNN, where N is a number and L is a letter.
  • Put the liability where it belongs – on the inspector, not on you, your client or your broker.

If you have questions about structural pest inspections, please contact Dr. Dan Suomi at (360) 902-2044 or via email at dsuomi@aor.wa,oov.