Ever worry that your home inspector might be related to, or buddies with, a guy who sells furnaces or someone who installs windows - and your inspector reports the dire need for window replacements or a new heating system!? Feel vulnerable? You should worry...
In most of Canada, anyone with any background can hang out a shingle and call themselves "home inspectors." And in this recession, more underemployed or unemployed handymen are setting up shop as self-proclaimed 'home inspectors.” The possible result? Shoddy, inaccurate reports that could mean unnecessary repairs out of your pocket.
(Note: Home sellers should get a home inspection before putting their place on the market, in order to best assess their listing price.)
B.C. Regulation a First in Canada
The sole exception in Canada to the unregulated field of home inspection is British Columbia where, as of eight weeks ago, home inspectors fall under the watchful eye of the government which:
- Assesses the qualifications of, and requiring mandatory licenses for, home inspectors
- Receives and responds to complaints from consumers
- Monitors compliance through inspections and enforcement
- Doles out penalties to inadequate home inspectors that can range as high as $5,000
Search for a "National Certificate Holder" - Better than Nothing
Several provincial associations operate under the umbrella of the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI), whose members are generally professionals from related construction, engineering or architectural backgrounds. To gain and maintain a CAHPI designation, candidates are required to obtain a number of qualifications "credits" - made up of education, experience, fieldwork, a minimum number of fee-paid inspections, and written reports, which meet the Standards of Practice for the association.
But keep in mind that, outside of B.C. home inspection is self-regulated. What can you do if you're buying a home there? CAHPI offers a searchable database where you type in the first and last name of the home inspector you're considering hiring. Is se/she a "national certificate holder?" It's the best you can hope for right now.
What do you think: Should all practicing home inspectors in Canada should be licensed and regulated by the government?
Any personal stories of home inspections gone bad - or well - and what you learned from the experience? Let us know; leave comments below.