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New House Bill for HVAC-R in Washington State

joel_19 Member Posts: 931
I read your colum very nice job BTW. i can feel your frustation jumping off the page. Being eternally optomistic perhaps because i'm still relativly a youngster I'd say it's still a step in the right direction. Sure you guys have got the typical teething problems down there but isn't that better than the wildwest free for all scenario you had before?. i'm hopefull they will get it straightened out over time.

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  • aaron_4
    aaron_4 Member Posts: 42
    HB 1876

    Providing for the certification of mechanics performing heating, ventilating, air conditioning, refrigeration, and gas piping work.

    A residential HVAC/R mechanic is qualified to perform HVAC/R work but only in a residential structure. To be eligible to take the exam to become a residential HVAC/R mechanic a person must perform 4000 hours of HVAC/R work or complete an a apprenticeship program for residential HVAC/R work.

    A commercial HVAC/R mechanic is qualified to perform any work to be eligible to take the examination to become a commercial HVAC/R mechanic a person must perform 8000 hours of HVAC/R work of complete a apprenticeship program for commercial HVAC/R work.

    I think a union style regulatory system like this will force small businesses out.

    This is in commitee and will be voted on shortly in Washington state.

  • Josh_10
    Josh_10 Member Posts: 787

    It will pass too. This has been a sore subject for a long time. Hopefully it will also do some good as well. We need something...
  • BRAVO!!!

    A state actually finally got its stuff together enough to require HVAC licensure. Good move. I wish my own state had the cajones to do the same, but in fact, every time we try and push something through, we got shot down by an entity that will shock you.

    As for putting small businesses out of business, the state is going to have to have a "grand father" clause that will allow existing, competent (as proven by a test) companies stay in business. Although this probably had the backing of the unions, I doubt that they really wanted exclusivity. Let's not let this degrade to a union versus non union thread.

    Now, back to the entity that beat our efforts back here in Colorado. The City and County of Denver axed the proposal. Why? Because they were worried about the potential loss of revenue (city licensure) associated with the state taking over the job of licensure. Funny thing is, electricians and plumbers are already required to be state licensed, and the city requires them to be "registered", at the same charges they used to require when they controlled licensing.

    Some peoples kids, I'm telling ya...

    My thought is, Don't worry, BE HAPPY! Good luck in getting it passed and enforced. The next hurdle will be the HBA. They were aligned with the C&C of Denvar against the proposal, but that shouldn't suprise any one...

  • Josh_10
    Josh_10 Member Posts: 787

    The only problem is where do you group the Hydronics guys? Personally I think they should be grouped in a league of their own.

    Are they going to grandfather plumbers into the new license or are they going to require you to have a plumbing license to do Hydronics?

    That is what's making me nervous right now. Right now you have to have a special electricians license that takes 4000 hours to get to do hydronic controls. How is the electrical going to fit into all of this?
  • Get involved NOW....

    or suffer for ever after. Talk to the bills sponsors and express your concerns. These people are not experts at everything. They only are doing what is thought to be in the best interst of the consumer. If you disagree, or would like to see additional provisions, speak up now or for ever hold your peice.

    These bill sponsors are just people too. They put their underwear on one leg at a time, just like you and me.

  • not so fast

    Until I see teeth in any gubbermint bill that spells out enforcement for all, not just the pros who will carry the license, I'm not going to be happy about any more interference from untrained looky-loos with a badge and a lousy disposition.

    Tell me how they're going to stuff a fat finger in the leaking dike created by big box DIY and Internet sales to untrained and unlicensed folks first.

    Take a hard look at PA and our relatively new state-wide code and its lack of trained inspectors with the tidal wave of problems it's created for legit contractors while no enforcement takes place where unlicensed hacks practice without a license while thumbing their noses at permits and codes officials. Our system isn't just broken, it's been eviscerated and left for dead. It's not about ensuring public safety - it's about hidden taxation - revenue generation - and, it's about triggering the reassessment of constituents' properties to increase taxes levied. It'll be used as an excuse to vastly increase license, permit and inspection fees too - just as they did with pros in my neck of the woods.

    We should be the ones designing the test & testing the officials who are inspecting our work. They should be required to pass the test or put their badge in a holding pattern until they can pass the test. Ain't never gonna happen.

    Shives me the gits that the system is what it is. The last thing I want to see is more of what we've already got. Fix this mess first, then talk to me about piling on with more government interference.

    What's good for the goose must also be good for the gander or it'll raise my dander!
  • You have a point....

    on the top of your head. Looks like its been honed to a fine edge by raspy red tape....:-)

    And I see your point, but waiting for the industry to police itself will take forever, and in the mean time a lot of people may die from the hacks working out of the trunks of their cars.

    So, what direction would you recommend we take Dave? I'm willing to listen, and would even be willing to get behind you and push, but we need a national direction and a road map before we can proceed. We'll also need th backin gof industry big dogs to make it work, like PHCC, SMACNA, and so on and so forth. Maybe this needs to be done at a national level, and not a state or local level.

    I'm looking to the North to our neighbors in Canada. Seems as though the BC initiative had some pretty good response, from both sides.

    What thinks ye?

    SOME action at the state level is better than NO action, no??

  • joel_19
    joel_19 Member Posts: 931
    way to go!!!!!

    This is something very much needed in all states. In Mass we have an oil,plumbing and gas liscence. Big woop it's a joke because nothing actually covers the HVAC system. I go to houses all the time and people say, "I don't understand why it doesn't work it was inspected". Right it was inspected to not blow up or burn down but know inspection was done to see if your system actually worked. ductwork,sizing,radiant,baseboard etc has no inspection at all.

    I don't understand your objection Dave. In Mass the inspector must be liscensed isn't that who does it in Penn? Do you have a written code? How can hacks do the work? Up here more and home inspectors want to see the permits for recent work when a house is sold. I've even heard of homeowners finishing thier own basements only to be told to rip it out 5 years later when they sell the house. banks want the i's dotted and the T's crossed or no mortgage.

    If they really want to make it effective it would be two tiered one liscence to do the work another with several months of courses in finance,accounting etc to actually open a company. The #1 problem is guys who have no idea what to charge then cut corners leaving the home owner high and dry.

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  • well

    I'm still waiting for PA's Governor to respond to my letter. I'm not holding my breath.

    I was soundly rejected by PA's inspector college when I offered to help them develop check lists for inspectors to follow, which would have ensured homeowners were getting the work inspected to a minimum bench-mark level - providing the inspectors used the lists. They told me that would be "too regimented" and interfere with the inspectors' work. Bull feathers. I had called because I'm fed up with paying 2-bucks for "inspector education" with every permit and not seeing any results after several years of having the fee extorted from my customers. Tain't fair to the customer.

    Inspectors aren't required to attend any of the courses. Can't say as I blame them either. Many municipal bodies will not pay their inspectors to attend the training or pay for the courses, which are not free. The 2-bucks evidently goes to the trainers and their instution. It'd be damned interesting to see the breakdown of how that revenue stream gets diluted as it filters down to help educate those for whom it was named.

    My support will come - in spades - when I see enforcement, fines and punishment for the hacks who, at present, operate with total impunity. There is not one single case in my area where an unlicensed hack was prosecuted. They concentrate on licensed contractors instead. Why? Because we're easy to locate, we pay merchantile taxes and have business licenses and we have lots to lose if the officials decide to drill us into the ground. They can fine us, take away our licenses, stop work order any job site they choose and make life a living hell for any legit contractor they feel like nailing. And, you'll find 98% of legit contractors will take abusive behavior because the unwriten rule that the inspector can and will make life a living hell otherwise prevails.

    For me, the rolling-over and playing dead game died more than a decade ago when one inspector went too far with his abusive behavior.

    But, that was back when all that was inspected was plumbing. When PA passed their state-wide code, they simply gave the existing PI authority over all aspects of building codes. The same guy who wasn't adequately trained as a PI suddenly had the final say for anything related to building buildings! No commentary edition was to be had for our newly adopted Uninformed Construction Code, which has allowed every inspector the leeway to interpret things any way they see fit & no two inspectors see things the same way!

    Prior to the state-wide code, every municipality had their own oddities they'd added to the plumbing code. One allows fernco couplings, but not no-hub couplings while a neighboring township took exactly the oposite stance. It's as if Keith Richards wrote the rules after snorting coke & his father's ashes! The new code was supposed to wipe the slate clean and kill the silly restrictions that had been added because someone didn't like ferncos or no-hubs, etc. Didn't happen and now we've got the oddities plus the every-inspector-for-themselves-interpretation.

    As FUBAR as things were, the new state-wide code magnified them by a factor with an infinite numer. As time has passed following that adoption, things have grown worse, not better.

    Then there are the wildly inflated fees we've seen. Inspections became open-ended with fees per visit, which is used as a veiled threat - give the inspector the least bit of trouble & they'll 'find' a reason to fail the inspection. You know how that works. License fees more than trippled. Permit fees went up by more than 400% in one governing body and, as expected, the others clammored to get on that lucrative bandwagon. Yet, the professionalism of inspections declined.

    Third party inspection agencies came along - a veritable bumper crop. One can't be reached unless you call between 6AM and 7:30AM & often takes days to return a call. Others have odd hours too. The majority of the governing bodies won't let you obtain a permit over the phone, by fax, or via the Internet - you must appear in person & the person appearing must be the Master Plumber, which typically is the owner. It takes anywhere from 30-minutes to 90-minutes to wade through the BS & that's just the time spent there - not the travel time. Permit costs can easily exceed actual job costs for the work performed.

    Now, if that's not enough to curl up your toes and pull back from wishing for more of the same, consider this: there is no enforcement regarding hacks who chose to operate outside the rules. Forget about the DIYers and big box stores for the moment. We lose jobs to hacks who operate in plain sight & the officials turn a blind eye. Costs to much to prosecute, so they tell us. The Judges won't give out big fines, so the governing bodies don't want their inspectors pursuing the crooked hacks because that would cost more revunue than it would generate.

    Then there's the whole issue of giving HO's a complete free pass. PA's newly adopted code is interpreted locally to mean HO's don't need permits or inspections for doing work for which I'm required to jump through the hoops.

    So, what does this mean? Permit revenues have dramatically fallen during this same time period when the fees were wildly increased. No enforcement = anarchy. Legit contractors have fought back in the only way they can - they no longer play by the rules.

    Virtually everyone now recognizes this system for what it has become - nothing more than a revenue generator. The consumer safety flag waving is no longer believable. Especially when they folks enforcing the regs themselves can be found waltzing out of the big box stores loading goods into their vehicles for which you & I would be required to obtain permits and inspections. The same folks charged with enforcing the rules! One remarked to me that he felt permits are a joke and used for nothing more than raising money. He remains the head township supervisor.

    The day they start enforcing the rules already on the books for everyone equally - licensed or not - will be the same day you'll find me thinking about supporting any expansion of their existing powers. The day they require inspectors to pass muster BEFORE unleashing them to inspect will be the same day I'll help pull that wagon. The day our code bodies get back to the business of protecting this nation's health by outlawing stupid practices where mountains of evidence clearly indicate existing regs are wrong, I'll be delighted to once again hold the code in high esteem. The day our national codes no longer allow lobbyists to prevent passage of reforms that would all but eliminate scalding, I'll no doubt die of shock. But, as you & I know full well the most powerful lobbying group of them all will never allow that to be passed.
  • I wish

    our area was treated like yours, but it is not. Your experience runs contrary to the boat load of e-mails I've been receiving following my latest column in CM. The senders are afraid to let me forward their comments on to CM for fear that if the comments were published they'd suffer retribution from their local inspectors.
  • Josh_10
    Josh_10 Member Posts: 787

    My two cents... Our Department of Labor and Industries is actually a pretty good government agency. They seem more into peace keeping than policing.

    In my opinion they are truly for the contractor. They are extremely helpful and polite to work with. In fact they helped me through the filing process for our industrial insurance and workman's comp personally.

    I personally welcome the license. After reading the proposed bill it looks like those of us with more than 8000 hours will get grandfathered in. Or 4000 hours for a resi card.

    I think this could actually help a well organized small shop. It will give those of us "ligit" companies an edge over the hackers. The hackers won't take the time to go take the test nor will they be aptitude to pass.

    As for me I am getting all of my documentation together for both my employees and myself so that we will be the first with the license.

  • ttekushan_3
    ttekushan_3 Member Posts: 958
    I look forward to the day

    when we may all be incarcerated for anything we do. Then our government's job will be complete; only two kinds of jobs: the watchers and the watched. Ahhhh, paradise.

  • Andrew Hagen
    Andrew Hagen Member Posts: 15

    I agree with Terry's sentiment. I am not sure what these new regulations will accomplish other than more red tape and hoops to jump through.
  • ttekushan_3
    ttekushan_3 Member Posts: 958
    Now that I've had that second cup of coffee

    I'm a little less severe. BUT, in the steam heat biz, a majority of the work I do is damage control to bungles made by licensed professionals. Obviously those who hang around "the Wall" and those they associate with are not the kind of people I'm talking about. Everyone is here to learn and teach.

    Its a bureaucratic shortcoming that real knowledge of some heating technologies fall through the licensing cracks, making perhaps the most knowledgeable unqualified, and others "qualified" without commensurate knowledge. Fining or jailing knowledgeable people whose great fault is not following the officially proscribed path to such knowledge (and thereby disqualifying them from licensure) is simply wrong. Top-down bureaucracies laden with administrative fifedoms assures that it won't be righted.

    Its just what I've seen in my little piece of the world.

This discussion has been closed.