I am considering making an offer to purchase a house and will be including a condition for a home inspection. How do I know if the inspector is qualified? Who inspects the inspectors?
This week I have chosen to pose this hypothetical question, rather than a question from a real reader, to address a very common question I receive when potential clients phone for information. There are many consumers that face this same issue when deciding on whom to hire to perform a pre-purchase inspection when making the critical decision of buying a home. My reason for addressing this now is that, very soon, there will be dramatic changes that will make this question very easy to answer.
Currently in Manitoba, and every other Canadian Province, there is no licensing or Government certification for home inspectors. Anyone can buy a ladder, flashlight and some business cards and start calling them self an inspector. This may soon become a thing of the past, due to recent developments.
The Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI) is a National non-profit organization, made up of 7 Regional/Provincial Associations, which represent over 1000 inspectors in all 10 Provinces. CAHPI, with the assistance of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and the Federal Government, have developed a National Certification for home inspectors. The lengthy process to develop the certification protocols, taking almost 10 years to complete, should be finished by mid summer. By this time, hundreds of home and property inspectors across the country will be within various stages of the certification process.
This process includes a complete background review followed by a Test Inspection with Peer Review (TIPR). All applicants, regardless of experience, will have their educational background and experience reviewed and evaluated against a specific set of criteria, with a varying point value given for each item. This will eliminate the possibility of “grandfathering” existing inspectors. If the applicant has the required number of points, they will be then scheduled for the TIPR. This practical test requires applicants to inspect a home with known defects, and present their findings and report to a review committee, made up trained evaluators who are highly experienced inspectors. The results of this review are sent to the National Certification Committee for evaluation. This committee with then provide the National Certification Authority with recommendations for either accreditation or further upgrade requirements, for the applicant.
A Pilot Project, to work out the bugs for the TIPR and background review process, has been under way since last fall with approximately 100 inspectors participating from every Province. Four days of certification meetings and a TIPR were held this past weekend in our own “River City”, with over 30 inspectors and other individuals from all over the country participating. These meetings were labelled the “Winnipeg Wind-up”, as representatives from the various committees, the CAHPI National Board of Directors and CMHC were in town to observe the final major revisions to the process, as it nears completion in July.
I had the interesting experience of going through my own TIPR, along with 4 other applicants from Manitoba and 3 applicants from Saskatchewan. Further TIPRs are planned in other provinces over the next month, until all the initial 100 applicants are evaluated, to complete the Pilot Project.
How does all this relate to the above question? Once the certification process is formally underway, all home and property inspectors from across the country will be invited to participate in the process. This will include practitioners who may not be members of a CAHPI Provincial/regional Association. It is expected that the first “National Certificate Holders” will be named by the end of November. A list of these individuals will be posted on a National Certification Authority Website, so that consumers and homebuyers will have easy access to the information.
Although participation in the process will be voluntary, it is anticipated that within a short period of time, the list will include hundreds of inspectors from all regions of the country. Based on a new Canadian version of an International Standard for Certification, this will be the only National Certification Program for home inspectors, anywhere in North America, and is attracting attention from government representatives in the U. S. and several Provinces. This last statement is the real point of posing my question above.
Three Provinces; Quebec, B. C., and Alberta, have been reviewing the requirement for licensing of Home and Property Inspectors, for some time, and expect to have some form of licensing in place within 2 years. They are very interested in the National Certification Program and have expressed a desire to use it as the foundation of licensing in at least 2 Provinces. A representative from one Western Province was in town to observe the process this past weekend.
So to make a long story, with an overload of acronyms, a little bit shorter, the future will hold the answer to the question of “how do I know if an inspector is qualified? Canadian consumers will soon be able to ask: “Are you a National Certificate Holder?” to ensure the competence of the inspector. And who knows, once one or two Provinces begin licensing, using the National Certification Program as their basis, all others may follow.