Registered Home Inspector & National Certificate Holder

Home Inspector with Inspection Support Services Inc.

Is There a Need for Two Credentials? Claude Lawrenson, RHI, National Certificate Holder

I am sure that many home inspectors (in Canada) wonder why "we" have a system that seems to promote two similar but different credentials. Often in my travels and inspection discussions I get asked many questions about this. At times - this can lead to a few more questions - is one better than the other, or perhaps the other popular one - so why do we really need both?

To start with I will use what was deemed the logical starting point. CMHC and HRSDC looked to CAHPI some 13 years ago to resolve a number of concerns that surrounded the "home inspection" sector. The findings spawned a response within the home inspection sector. In November of 1996, representative members of home inspection profession in Canada convened a meeting in Toronto to develop a long term strategy for the profession at the "national level". The findings resulted in a "rationale for change" which would be coordinated through a "national initiative". Recorded comments included a look at the current scenario, long term goals and the expected benefits to the profession. The report was issued in June 1997.

Through these deliberations a few key points in that report were identified that included:

(1) Fragmentation within the profession.

(2) Existing associations do not represent the entire home inspection sector.

(3) There is no mechanism in place allowing the different groups to work together towards achieving a common goal.

(4) Create a system to develop national standards for industry regulation, standards of performance for training and base qualifications for individuals entering the profession.

The steering committee indicated "we believe that unifying the professions around common goals is desired not only be members of the profession, but also by a host of stakeholders in the Canadian housing and financing community. We believe that the profession is capable of coalescing around a common strategy and that the merits of accomplishing that strategy will provide significant benefits to all."

This vision not only forged the creation of the CHIBO Steering Committee, but later resulted in the formation of the National Certification Program. The organizational objectives identified included:

(1) To elevate the status of the profession in the minds of the consumer, home inspectors, government and key stakeholders across Canada.

(2) To establish one recognized body speaking on behalf of the Canadian private sector home inspection profession at the national level.

(3) To establish performance standards for home inspections, a code of ethics and criteria for inspector certification that the general public can have confidence that all home inspectors have met the requirements of the national certification process.

(4) To ensure that inspections comply with that standard throughout Canada.

(5) To approve, support and coordinate provincial/regional accrediting agencies to administer, certify and provide disciplinary control of private-sector home inspectors. 

The birth of the National Certification Program (NCP) occurred in 2006 after successful completion of the committee work. The vast majority of all of those concerns noted were met. As such the NCP became a key asset of CAHPI National. The NCP is self-funded by applicant members and National Certificate Holders. The NCP is governed by the NCA - National Certification Authority. The NCA is primarily comprised of National Certificate Holders. The identification of National Certificate Holder became the certification mark based on the creation and development of the NCC- National Certification Council, and also the NAC - National Accreditation Council. The creation of the NCP is supported by a good number of stakeholders across country. Even the recent announcement and recognition of the National Certification Program - National Certificate Holder as one of the three organizations accepted for licensing in British Columbia is a positive indicator that there is significance to the credential.     

In order for an inspector to obtain their National Certificate, an applicant needs to complete a pretty significant amount of classroom and field training - and they also need to complete, among other things, a minimum of one year as a practicing home inspector and 150 fee-paid inspections. Clearly, the National Certificate Holder level is not something that should be professed as an entry level, since you have to be an experienced home inspector before you can obtain it. This doesn't sound like an entry level to me?

The RHI - Registered Home Inspector designation is the well-known and common certification mark used by CAHPI associations across the country. That is where much of the commonality of the RHI stops. Each CAHPI association has a uniquely different set of certification standards for a member inspector to achieve the RHI certification. This is based on expectation and largely without outside expertise.  Each province established functional metrics for benchmarking their own effective certification criteria. On the other hand the NCP spent approximately a year in developing and completing those "in working condition metrics" - the DACUM of what are known as the "National Occupational Standards" for Home and Property Inspectors. Thus completed utilizing outside consultants and shared expertise from across the country. In fact a set of common core competencies are also shared between Canadian home inspectors and building officials - hence the acronym - CHIBO was also developed.   

Therefore, the certification organization needs to deliver a recognized standard for benchmarking home inspection abilities that all consumers can depend on. Equally, training providers need to offer academic and practical experiences in their offerings to assure that home inspector in training provides learning outcomes that develop the requisite skills for conducting a successful home inspection. As an educator that means developing or redesigning courses for home inspectors that at least meet the National Occupational Standards (NOS). The NOS identifies certain job tasks and skills that have been identified as important, by an accurate job-task analysis.

To my knowledge - no other home inspection organization has done so, other than ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors). The key thing to note here is that little at least within the current provincial model that I am familiar with of standardized assessment, it does not reveal whether the candidate can apply what is being regurgitated to actual job processes and onsite practical applications.

Additionally, new entrants into this field should not be fooled by the hype- that education and training offerings are truly recognized and accredited. Unfortunately some get caught up in only partially preparing them self for the real job at hand.  Chances are very high that some candidates will not be able to meet even the nationally recognized certification standard. This brings us to another vital tool that the NCP developed - the TIPR, the Test Inspection with Peer Review. So in order to hire the right people to conduct a home inspection, consumers should also consider inquiring about who has actually inspected (validated) the inspector, and who has independently validated the reporting and accuracy assessment skills of the inspector. Therein lays the role and value of completing a TIPR - scrutinizing the inspector.

Recognized benchmarks of provincial validation must not only rest on the laurels of meeting antiquated psychometric testing standards, they must also rise above what is identified as traditional assessment methodologies. The goal should be to set new standards for providing bona fide benchmarks of ability. If experience coupled with knowledge and ability to perform are the keys, which truly should be recognized as the standard that is provided by the certifications you earn. To accomplish accurate benchmarking, certification programs need to look at testing on-the-job experience, not only pieces of it or terms about it.

As home inspector certification and testing is brought to a new level of legitimacy with widespread adoption of performance-based models by the inspection sector, both credentials will in my opinion collectively serve as the definitive benchmarks. Equally those entering the profession will need to make sure that the education programs they choose will be recognized and additionally provide them with practical hands-on experience along with the required academics when preparing for certification. These are all critical elements that must be considered to properly prepare for performing the actual job. At least for the next while there will always be a need for both credentials to exist, in mutual respect and reciprocal value to all home inspectors practicing in Canada. I look forward to your feedback.  

Comments (10)

Mike Pogue

Mr. Lawrenson,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write your post. I have noticed that some of the home inspection associations in Canada can be very tribal. It is hard to sift out the grains of truth.

Again thank you

Calgary Home Inspection Blog & More

Aug 20, 2009 10:20 PM
Blogger Mike
Calgary, AB

Mr. Lawrenson,

A person in your position might be able to help me better understand the fragmentation of the different provincial chapters under the Caphi umbrella. 

Caphi is national organization, the SOP and code of ethics are shared between the provincial chapters. The similarity seems to disintegrate from there. Alberta "standards" for membership differ from British Columbia and say Ontario. Does one chapter hold themselves out to be superior? 

Further, the pre-requisites for joining ASHI are different from joining the various Canadian provincial chapters of Caphi. Yet the code of ethics and the SOP are the same between the States and Canada. My head hurts. Do some Canadian chapters of Caphi feel they are superior to their American birth Mother? Of course, it is difficult to compare different jurisdictions.

Do you feel the National Certificate Pprogram is really the "Top" certification in Canada?. I suspect so, as it is the only Nationally unified Home inspection certification in Canada.

With the plethora of Home Inspection associations and certifications in Canada where can the consumer turn to for "grounding"?


Calgary Home Inspection Blog & More


Aug 31, 2009 03:55 AM
Claude Lawrenson
Inspection Support Services Inc. - Windsor, ON

Greetings Mike - Just my humble opinion, but fragmentation is nothing new in the home inspection realm. CAHPI currently is a national association of single provincial association that's spreads from coast to coast. Perhaps this may change over time, but little has changed in over two decades as far as new associations joining their ranks. Even now in Ontario and likely most other provinces several home inspection associations exist.

I had the opportunity to attend a meeting in Ottawa this past summer in which changes may be around the corner. This was a joint executive meeting of CAHPI and the NCA (the governance body for the National Certification Program). I left with a feeling of optimism that change and new opportunities for growth were welcomed.

As far as the other part of your comments about the difference between say CAHPI-BC, and CAHPI Ontario (OAHI), with CAHPI Alberta - some commonalities exist, but there are also significant differences. Once again this was one of those discussions brought forward at that Ottawa meeting. Currently to achieve recognition as an RHI - Registered Home Inspector, they all have different "certification" requirements. Therefore - yes, not a common certification standard. Perhaps by comparison similar conditions, but definitely differences do exist.

Perhaps to that end some CAHPI associations may claim to be "superior". But I am not aware that this has been proclaimed publicly.

Now on the other comment regarding the National Certification Program, one needs to acknowledge the history and rationale behind the "national initiative". A number of key issues addresses that Canadian home inspection sector faced include those differences, a lack of a common certification designation, a lack of identifying the skills required for the occupation, as well as a lack of accredited training, just to name a few.

One thing that the National Certification Program does do is provide a fair and consistent and reasonably rigorous process to achieve a certification as a "National Certificate Holder". This includes a thorough background review and mandatory Test Inspection with a Peer Review. There are over 400 National Certificate Holders in Canada. Interesting enough as a side benchmark most of these already obtained the RHI designation also. But the other interesting statistic is the stats on those that have applied and not met the mark! That number varies, based on ongoing testing - but it hovers in the range of 15-18% of the candidates are not successful. That alone provides evidence that change is needed.

Another thing that the National Certification Program achieved was the voluntary application by home inspection associations to acquire "equivalency" agreement as a foundation for reviewing certification standards and recognizing existing certified home inspectors.

[quote]The National Certificate Holder is the only recognized common certification designation that can be used to indicate national unified inspection certification. In fact it is the only one recommended in a CMHC publication - Hiring a Home Inspector.

CMHC does not recommend or endorse any individual home inspector or association. CMHC supports national uniform standards of competency for home inspectors.

For more information on the inspection industry's National Certification Program, please refer to the National Certification Authority's website [end quote]

BTW: I agree about the plethora of home inspection associations - I easily can provide my own proof of that. I hold inspector membership in ASHI, iNACHI, OAHI and PHPIO.

Thanks for your comments. Regards, Claude

Sep 05, 2009 06:14 AM
Blogger Mike
Calgary, AB

Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply.

Sep 05, 2009 04:29 PM
Blogger Mike
Calgary, AB

Hello Mr. Lawrenson,

I re-read the CMHC website and was reminded of your post above. This passage in particular,

CMHC does not recommend or endorse any individual home inspector or association. CMHC supports national uniform standards of competency for home inspectors.

Which of course is the National Certificate Program.

CMHC does not endorse any association but they do support the National Certificate Program. The meaning of the words 'endorse' and 'support' are synonymous would you not agree?

Essentially, the CMHC endorses the National Certificate Program and those Inspectors certified by the National Certificate Authority. Is this accurate?

Thank you

Sep 22, 2009 01:15 AM
Claude Lawrenson
Inspection Support Services Inc. - Windsor, ON

Once again thanks Mike - good point. Yes, the meaning of the words 'endorse' and 'support' are synonymous. So yes, your comments posted are indeed accurate.

Cheers, Claude

Sep 22, 2009 03:14 AM
Blogger Mike
Calgary, AB

Sorry Claude,

One more question. Once one is certified by the National Certificate Authority, they become a National Certificate Holder.  Assuming yearly dues are up to date - are they also deemed a member of an organization? If so what kind of organization (group)? I am assuming it is not an association.


Sep 24, 2009 01:56 AM
Claude Lawrenson

A National Certificate Holder does not need to be a member of a home inspection association. The vast majority of "national certificate holders" currently are members of one of the CAHPI home inspection associations. A good number are members of other associations such as PHPIO, INACHI and CanNACHI, etc while a few are noted as independent. Of course some hold membership in more than one association such as PHPIO and ASHI.

The National Certification Program is not an association, but rather it is a national program with a "standard" and process for home inspector certification verification and an accreditation body for home inspector education and training recognition at the national level.

As such under the National Certification Program, National Certificate Holders elect members to the National Certification Authority yearly. The National Certification Authority (NCA) is the governance body of the National Certification Program. The NCA is comprised of provincial representation and positions are also available for members-at-large.   


Sep 24, 2009 03:07 AM
Claude Lawrenson

Original Bloggers Update - Fast forward to July 2012

Things have dramatically changed. CAHPI terminated the National Certification Program in May 2010. They also claimed that the NCH - National Certificate Holder will cease as of Juy 2011.

As such the NHICC National Home Inspector Certification Council received approval to offer and continue the National Certification Program. The NHICC is an independent not-for-profit certification body. It specifically took this approach to administering the "program" because of past experience of dealing with undue influence and financial control exhibited by CAHPI.

The NHICC offers the NHI (National Home Inspector) designation in place of the former "national certificate holder".

The NHICC assures a fair and open independent certification process open to all "qualified" home inspectors in Canada regardless of association, based on a uniform national certification standard.

Jul 21, 2012 11:08 AM
Claude Lawrenson
Inspection Support Services Inc. - Windsor, ON

The question is - who maintains the NCH? CAHPI dissolved the NCH program but there are still a number of home inspectors clinging on to their NCH designation.

Did you know that the certification process had a number of specific requirements that have not been upheld? Example renewals and maintenance requirements, retesting, and of course continuing education.

The NHICC maintains and therefore identified its certificate holders as NHI (National Home Inspector). The NHI is recognized where licensing exists in Canada. The NHICC also maintains credential association with the Institute of Credentialing Excellence.

And of course we still maintain the values, goals and rigour originally specified in the National Certification Program.  

Dec 21, 2016 06:53 PM