Support is urged for statewide building standard
February 25, 2011
On the surface, HB 122 seems to be little more than the usual attempt by the lobby for real estate salesmen to license home inspectors. This time, however, they are providing the perfect back door necessary to allow the establishment of a statewide building standard and state licensed inspectors who can report on violations of them.

Today, Missouri has no statewide building standards and it is up to individual counties and municipalities to create and enforce whatever standards (if any) they may decide to have. In the majority of counties and cities in Missouri this results in there being no standard at all for builders or contractors to apply when doing their work.

Unlicensed and unskilled persons are able to wire buildings and install dangerous fossil fuel burning devices inside of homes with no one to inspect their work when they are finished. By Missouri standards, a third grade elementary school student can install a gas furnace in a motel room in most cities and counties without anyone following up to see that he did it in a safe manner.

Presently, inspectors have no license or authority to do much more than render a "professional opinion" on the condition of property which will vary from area to area depending upon what standards might exist and, in areas that have no standards, what standard the individual inspector might apply.

HB 122 that has been read twice and sent to committee changes that.

It establishes an autonomous board of inspectors who will decide on a "standard" of practice that will be used by every inspector in the state to apply in their inspections of new and existing dwellings and commercial buildings. An examination designed to test an inspector's knowledge of a building standard will be required before licensing and each licensed inspector will be accountable to apply this standard, statewide, in every inspection made.

No longer will the inspector's report be based upon a "professional opinion" but will be an official report--one that will be accessible to lenders, insurance companies, home buyers, or anyone who contracts the inspector--to determine whether the condition of the structure meets the statewide standard that the inspector is tasked to enforce.

While cutting the costs of operating government in Missouri is a priority in some minds, this additional expense will help to ensure that a statewide standard is applied that will preserve property values and possibly save lives. It is money that will be well spent.

I urge the support of HB 122 and the establishment of a statewide building standard in Missouri.

Commentary by Jim Bushart, certified master inspector (CMI), Cassville

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