Who is checking the Home Inspector? Unfortunately, in some locations nobody is.
Ontario is one of those locations, although we are currently working through the process of licensing our Home Inspectors with the provincial government.
I am currently sitting on the Licensing Committee with OAHI (Ontario Association of Home Inspectors) the Ontario Chapter of ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors).
The problem is there are simply too many Home Inspectors who lack education, knowledge and professionalism working in the industry. The consumer is not protected and at risk, as well as the realtor if they provide references.
I am sure many realtors can echo their horror stories of past experiences.
Does licensing provide guarantees, no it does not, and there are examples of terrible licensing across North America. We are attempting to do this one as good as we can, and get it right.
While we can not make Home Inspectors join associations, most good Home Inspectors join on their own recognizing the benefit to the them and the consumer. Without the association there is no Standards of Practice, no formal defined education and no discipline process.
However, as part of licensing we will be able to mandate education minimums, ongoing education requirements, a common standard of practice and a discipline committee over all Home Inspectors.
Education is mandatory as history has shown that no single profession properly prepares one to become a Home Inspector without additional training. We have seen engineers, architects, electricians, plumbers and contractors as examples who all have become Home Inspectors, and in fact in OAHI many of our members have backgrounds similar to this, however none of them have proper knowledge to be a really good Home Inspector.
To clarify this, the engineer would be strong in structural skills, but would lack electrical, plumbing, roofing and HVAC knowledge. The electrician would lack structural, plumbing, roofing and HVAC, the contractor would lack electrical, plumbing and HVAC, and so on. All of these may lack knowledge on proper defect recognition and report writing skills.
There are many examples of poor Home Inspector's conduct, again due to lack of any code of conduct or discipline process.
This is why realtors attempt to cull their Home Inspectors, however this should not be necessary.
To make matters worse, there is a lack of education of consumers. Many do not fully understand what a Home Inspection is, and our television shows and hosts do not help in this important area. Some hosts have gone as far as to suggest that Realtors have lists of preferred Home Inspectors to "make the sale go through", provide "soft reporting" and not "kill the deal".
Fact is most realtors only want to protect their client, and to get an honest, reliable and unbiased Home Inspection. Oh, I am sure there are some bad Realtors ou there, but there are also some bad Home Inspectors!
Most Realtors are honest, and working on behalf of their client. Most Home Inspectors have the same goals and interests.
Licensing can raise the bar. We are working to make that happen.
We need to:
- eliminate the Home Inspectors who take online tests without proctor (the online tests may be fine, but having the test proctors to prevent cheating is mandatory)
- ensure exams or tests meet minimum level of competency
- ensure that all Home Inspectors have a minimum level of background experience and/or education
- ensure that all Home Inspectors follow a single Standard of Practice
- ensure a Code of Conduct is followed
- ensure a discipline committee is in place and is effective
Raise the bar. Educate the Consumer.
When a client calls, their first question is "What Does A Home Inspection Cost?" Frankly, it does not matter what it costs if it is not done properly. First find out what the background and education of the inspector is, then worry about the cost.
Good Home Inspectors do and should cost more.
The education alone is costly and is ongoing.
- WETT Certifications ( for wood stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, etc.) the highest level is Comprehensive Inspector. It should be noted that the WETT is a Code Inspection, unlike the Home Inspection. This education is almost $4000.
- Infrared Thermography - Level 1 Certification is $2000.
- minimal Ontario Building Code education is $1000.
- Home Inspector education as per ASHI is $4000.
- and then there is mold, radon, drone (or UAV) pilot license, etc.
Ensure Your Home Inspector is REALLY a Home Inspector!