I have put an offer in on a home, which includes a home inspection condition and I have some questions. What are your qualifications?
This is a question that I received from a homebuyer, on my cell-phone, as I was walking through Whistler, British Columbia just after the recent Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI) national conference. I have not included a name at the bottom, because this is a general inquiry that I receive almost daily. Surprisingly, I have never been sent this excellent question in an e-mail or regular mail inquiry. I thought that this would be an excellent time to answer this, considering recent developments in Whistler.
Currently there is no government certification or regulation of Home Inspectors in Canada . Ontario is the only province that has legislation, which primarily allows the use of the RHI (Registered Home Inspector) designation for inspectors who have reached the uppermost qualification level in that province. What this means for consumers is that they have limited resources for deciding who is the best qualified to provide this essential service, prior to the purchase of a home. The anonymous question I posed above should be asked, of their home inspector, by any prospective homebuyer before booking an inspection.
There are several answers that one should look for when shopping for a home inspector: I have a background in house construction or renovations. I have received my home inspector training and education at a recognized college or private training facility. I have been in business for several years and done hundreds of inspections. I provide a thorough inspection that averages two to three hours in length followed by a written or computer generated report. And the most important answer: I am a Member or Associate of CAHPI.
The reason the final answer is so critical is that CAHPI is the only nationally recognized association of home inspectors in Canada with members in all 10 provinces. The qualifications for membership in CAHPI include various educational requirements, a written exam, and 250 fee-paid inspections to reach the full Member or RHI designation. Candidates must submit reports for verification to ensure conformity with the published Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. In Manitoba we also have a mandatory Mentorship Program. These last two requirements ensure that newer inspectors are guided, by the most experienced CAHPI inspectors, to provide proper service to their clients.
My earlier reference to the significance of the timing of this question is due to some recent events in Whistler. CAHPI, with backing from The Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) are nearing the end of a 4-year process for development of a certification and accreditation model known as CHIBO (Canadian Home Inspectors & Building Officials). When completed, this final phase will provide a mechanism for accrediting Colleges and Schools for complete Home Inspector and Building Official (municipal building inspector) courses. This should ultimately provide a government recognized “certification” for both related groups.
There are many inspectors that claim to be “certified”, but this currently has little meaning. This certification may be acquired by attending a home inspector training facility with minimal credentials and courses, which may be as short as 5 to 7 days in length. Many of these courses have no requirement for building experience or apprenticeship programs. Some American-based groups offer “certification” online, after completion of short open-book tests or simple payment of membership dues. The result is “certified” inspectors of questionable ability. The CHIBO model will give CAHPI and the Canadian Building Officials (CBO) the mechanism to ensure inspectors have completed their education and are properly trained before doing inspections.
What this means for the homebuyer is that the questions posed above should be easily answered, in the near future. Similar to other construction-related professions like Architecture or Engineering, Home Inspectors are striving for a proper post-secondary education and certification system to ensure consumer protection and confidence. This is coming closer to fruition, but much work is still to be done. With the aid of various levels of Government and CMHC, we are well on our way to realizing this end. As for now, the Members and Associates of CAHPI provide the most recognized credentials in the country.
For more information on this, the CMHC website has numerous articles for homebuyers and homeowners and an excellent document entitled “Hiring a Home Inspector”. This can be found at www.cmhc.ca by clicking the “Buying or Renting A Home” flag followed by the “Buying a Home” box on the English index page. More information on CHIBO and related topics can be found by clicking the “National Initiative” flag on the CAHPI National website at www.cahi.ca.