March 23, 2020 3 School Street, White Plains, New York 10606 USA Vol. 36 Issue 12
Consumer Alert - State Board For Engineering Adopts Opinion Of State Engineering Law
"It is the opinion of the Board that the inspection and examination of single and multiple family residential, commercial, industrial or institutional buildings, regarding their structural, electrical and mechanical subsystems for proper integrity or capacity, constitutes the practice of engineering as defined in the "law." Any attempt to determine the structural integrity or capacity of a building, or any subsystem thereof, other than detection of problems by visual inspection or normal operation of the user controls, constitutes the practice of engineering. This would include the diagnosis and analysis of problems with buildings and/or the design of remedial actions. Therefore, an individual who advertises or practices in this area shall be registered as a Professional Engineer in the State of New York."
Home buyers and other persons retaining the services of a home inspector should carefully review the opinion to understand the difference between the services of a Licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) who provides home inspection services and those persons who provide home inspection services and are not licensed to practice engineering.
A recently passed bill replaced Nebraska’s 1937 law regulating professional engineering. As part of the new law, there is clarification regarding who may use the title of “engineer”; the new law requires an accredited degree to practice engineering and a date has been set after which noncompliance may invoke a fine of up to $10,000.
In order to help improve the regulation of the home inspection industry, the State of Pennsylvania has established the Pennsylvania Home Inspectors Board to regulate home inspectors. The Governor signed a new bill giving licensed engineers and architects the authority to perform home inspections. The Association of Realtors said that both realtors and home buyers have had difficulties dealing with home inspectors who did not have the appropriate background and qualifications to determine the condition of a property. The previous law required home inspectors to be members in good standing of a home inspectors trade organization. Apparently, the former requirement was not satisfactory and the new law grants licensed engineers and architects the authority to perform home inspections. The realtors association expects that the new board will improve the professionalism in the home inspection business and will also improve the services provided to home buying consumers
Florida residents can expect prompter investigations for complaints regarding the improper practice of engineering and more active enforcement of the State licensure law. This is a major victory for Florida residents as well as for the Florida Engineering Society which was instrumental in getting this legislation enacted.
Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue has rejected and vetoed a Home Inspector Licensure Bill (H.B. 1217) which would have established a State licensing board and set guidelines for the content of home inspection reports. Georgia home buyers who choose a licensed Professional Engineer to conduct their pre-purchase home inspection in lieu of a non-engineer home inspector are still protected by statutes governing the practice of engineering.
It is the policy of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) that those aspects of building inspections that 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 buildings and residential dwellings, regarding the structural, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical systems.
Further, it is the position of the National Society of Professional Engineers to encourage legislative or administrative regulations that require real estate professionals to provide a home inspector qualification disclosure notice to prospective purchasers of residential real property. This notice 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 inspections.
This policy is not intended to prevent or affect:
1. The practice of architecture;
2. The normal or routine inspection of buildings by designated municipal building inspectors or other authorized governmental officials for code compliance; or
3. The identification and reporting of evidence of apparent system failure, defects, or improper performance through observation or normal operation of user controls, provided that, as needed, engineering evaluations are referred to an appropriate licensed professional engineer.