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National Association of Certified Home Inspectors

     
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 Licensing of Professional Engineers and Architects as Home Inspectors

A Position Paper of the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers
 

This paper sets forth the official position of the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers, a membership organization of licensed professional engineers (P.E.'s) and architects (R.A.'s or A.I.A.'s).  The Academy represents a national working group dedicated to the highest standards of performance in the evaluation of conditions in buildings, both residential and commercial.  In addition this paper reiterates the long held position of the state governing authorities and the courts that only licensed engineers and architects are qualified to evaluate and judge the adequacy of systems and structures to perform their intended functions.

The National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers (NABIE)  is a chartered affinity group of the National Society of Professional Engineers. NABIE was formed in 1989 to advance the professional standing of the building inspection engineering profession.

NABIE's current membership includes some 150 licensed professional engineers and architects who are engaged in the practice of building inspection engineering.  The scope of our members' practices range from inspecting single family residential structures to large commercial and industrial buildings.

It is NABIE's official position that those aspects of building inspection which require the application of engineering principles constitute the practice of engineering and should only be performed by licensed professional engineers.  Such aspects include but are not limited to the evaluation of commercial, industrial, and institutional building and residential dwellings, regarding the structural, electrical, or mechanical systems.

Furthermore, it is NABIE's official position to oppose the imposition of additional licensing requirements on licensed professional engineers and architects engaged in the practice of building inspection engineering, by requiring licensed engineers and architects to acquire another license as a home inspector.

Licensing of engineers and architects falls within the jurisdiction of the individual states and is always, even when privatized, governed by a state licensing board. Typical licensing requirements include a bachelors level degree from an accredited engineering university, an initial eight hour written examination on the fundamentals of engineering followed by an internship of four years practice under the direction of a licensed engineer, and a final written examination of eight hours on the principles and practices of engineering.  In addition, many states require a level of continuing education as a precondition for renewal of the one or two year license.  Fundamental to the ethical requirements of the licensed engineer is the stipulation that no engineer will practice outside the scope of his/her area of competence

Licensed engineers and architects are typically the only professionals authorized to sign and seal plans and other documents certifying the proper functioning of a building's structure and systems.  Such components of a building typically include, but are not limited to its structure, i.e.:  foundation, framing, and roofing, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, fire safety, and other systems.  For the engineer or architect to be authorized to sign and seal plans for such engineering components and yet be required to obtain a lower level license in order to perform a home inspection, (which is a visual assessment of those very systems) has no basis in logic.  This requirement would be analogous to requiring a licensed physician to obtain an additional license, as a mid-wife, in order to deliver a baby.

Engineers have been conducting inspections and certifying the condition of buildings for decades.  It is only with the recent rise in popularity of the home inspection industry and the concerns about the qualifications of the non-engineer home inspector that has let to the need to address the licensing of these individuals.

The public has long regarded the professional engineer and architect as having the highest technical credentials and level of trust on building issues.  Attorneys often seek the advice and council of engineers as technical experts when dealing with highly technical issues.  It is problematic to require a licensed engineer or architect to obtain a second , lesser license, to perform a service that engineers and architects have been providing for many years under their existing licenses.  Additionally, only a licensed engineer or architect can legally conduct a building inspection for a multi-story commercial building containing systems many times more complex than a single family residence.   Requiring this same professional to have a separate license to inspect a single family residence is clearly not warranted.

It is also the official position of NABIE to vigorously oppose the continuing intrusion into the practice of engineering by other, non-engineer, non-licensed individuals.  In the course of conducting home inspections, many home inspectors routinely render professional opinions as to the suitability of structures and systems to perform their intended function.  Such opinions and conclusions can only be technically valid when they result from the application of professional judgment and engineering principles.   It is not in the public's interest or allow non-engineer, non-licensed individuals to render
such opinions.  It also erodes the public's understanding and confidence in the overall role of the licensed engineer.  Legislation or administrative regulations should clearly stipulate that non-engineer home inspectors do not practice or infringe on the practice of the profession of engineering.

NABIE encourages legislative or administrative regulations that require real estate professionals to provide a home inspector qualification disclosure notice to prospective purchasers of residential real property which shall explain the scope of practice and authority of persons licensed as professional engineers versus persons not licensed as professional engineers offering to provide home inspection.

Endorsed by the National Society of Professional Engineers, April 27, 2002.

Please address inquiries to:
Michael L. Stotts
NABIE Executive Director
Phone/Fax:  207-351-1915
Toll Free:  800-294-7729

 
Read NABIE's Position Paper "Licensing of Professional Engineers and Architects as Home Inspectors"

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In Wheeling S & P Engineering, Inc. In Pittsburgh
39 High Point Lane
Wheeling WV  26003
304-243-9900
304-281-7959
Copyright 2001 S&P Engineering, Inc.
17 Bell Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA  15205
412-921-7599