Why Inspectors Should Take Continuing Education, Even When It's Not Required
by Mark Cohen, InterNACHI General Counsel, and Nick Gromicko, InterNACHI Founder
Some states and provinces require home inspectors to meet minimum Continuing Education requirements each year. However, even if your state or province does not, there are still good reasons for taking such courses regularly.
1. First and most obviously is the fact that taking courses can help you become a better inspector. Smart inspectors who are serious about their business will stay on top of their game by continually learning. Furthermore, the growing innovations in the building industry mean that there's always something new for the inspector to know.
2. An inspector who keeps current with the industry will almost always have greater credibility with consumers. Taking Continuing Education classes strengthens an inspector’s credentials, and the inspector’s credentials are important in marketing his services. Many InterNACHI members now display their Certificates of Completion on their websites from all the courses they have completed. Inspectors who have taken any of InterNACHI's courses can download and print off multiple copies of their Certificates of Completion.
3. An inspector who has completed many Continuing Education courses provides a measure of protection for the real estate agent who referred the inspector. Often, when an inspector gets sued, the agent also gets sued for a negligent referral. It is difficult to succeed in such a claim if the inspector is able to produce a long list of robust courses that s/he has completed.
4. Attending or taking online Continuing Education classes can strengthen an inspector’s credibility in court. In states and provinces where Continuing Education classes are mandatory, an inspector’s failure to meet the state or province's requirements could result not only in administrative action, but could also be considered evidence of negligence in a civil suit against the inspector. Even in states and provinces that have no mandatory education requirements, an inspector’s failure to keep current in the field will diminish the inspector’s credibility if he ever testifies in court or at a deposition. A judge or jury is far more likely to find an inspector’s testimony persuasive if the inspector regularly takes Continuing Education classes.
5. Finally, like it or not, inspectors must sometimes testify as experts. Failure to keep current in the field could result in a ruling that disqualifies the inspector as an expert altogether. An interesting case that illustrates this point is Pettit v. Hampton and Beech, Inc., 922 A.2d 300 (Conn. App. 2007). In this case, the plaintiffs asked the court to disallow an inspector’s testimony because they alleged he was not qualified to give an expert opinion on the cost of repairs. The court overruled the plaintiff’s objection and qualified the inspector as an expert, in part, because of his Continuing Education activities. In another case, GSB Contractors, Inc. v. Hess, 179 S.W.3d 535 (Tenn. App. 2005), the court qualified the inspector as an expert, in part, because of his Continuing Education and teaching background.