Many states throughout the USA now require people to be State-licensed Home Inspectors in order to perform residential inspections. Architects are allowed to inspect what they have designed, but to review & report on other peoples’ houses requires a special State license. States often have reciprocity to allow residential inspectors licensed in one state to become licensed in another, much the same as engineers and architects.
Rand Soellner, AIA who is a licensed architect in multiple states throughout the USA, recently took and passed the residential inspection exam for the State of North Carolina. The standards utilized in this particular state are found in most other states throughout the USA and typically adhere to ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) requirements. Soellner recently received a letter from the State congratulating him on passing the exam.
Soellner is pleased to have this additional credential. “You can be an architect all your life and still not understand the tremendous amount of complexity with the multitude of systems involved with a house,” said Soellner, “I don’t know many architects that can open up an electrical panelboard, for instance, and tell you what they are looking at and if the wire sizes are correct for the breakers. It is truly amazing how much you need to know, and I still have more to learn.”
Rand Soellner said that he studied over the winter and spring to supplement his 4 decades’ worth of architectural knowledge with the required additional information about Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning systems, Electrical, Plumbing, Structural and other areas. “Being a residential inspector is nothing like designing custom houses,” said Soellner. “You are not trying to create anything while inspecting. You are noting conditions and evaluating if they are functional for the purpose intended. And while knowledge of building codes is helpful, you are not really conducting a code-compliance review when inspecting a house; that is not the focus. This is because houses have been built in different decades. What was a code requirement for a newer one was not even thought of yet for another that is 50 years older. You are looking for things that are deteriorated, or not performing as intended, or appear to have need of further investigation by other more qualified specialists like electricians, plumbers and other state-licensed contractors and professionals. Being a residential inspector does Not qualify you to make definitive comments about the various systems or to even specify the precise corrections required; you often need to recommend that someone like a structural engineer should be consulted to examine the situation detected and then he or she will engineer the solution. Inspectors detect and note conditions warranting further study or needing correction in order to properly function.”
Soellner noted that residential inspections typically take 2 to 3 hours and involve detailed checklists of the various systems, digital photography, narrative reporting and the ability to create a meaningful report that focuses on what people need to know about the house. Typically, people order a residential inspection when they are making an offer to purchase a house. Often the order for an inspection comes with the suggestion from a real estate broker who is usually working for the buyer, although sometimes sellers sometimes want an inspection on record so that they can prove to the world that their property is in top notch condition, which in this challenging market can help expedite a sale.
Soellner is not sure how actively he intends to market this new service. For now, he just wanted to have the additional knowledge, to increase the depth of his capabilities as one of the leading designers of custom houses in the United States. In the coming months, Soellner will review the market demand and examine whether or not it makes sense to pursue this capability any further than increased understanding of his market focus (custom residential design).