The Wild West of Home Inspection

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.

25 Comments

  1. Sean Wiens 06/05/2009 at 11:10 AM

    Please note that there are organizations other than CAHPI that have members licensed in BC. For instance the BC Institute of Property Inspectors (BCIPI - certified by ASTTBC) currently have 67 licensed inspectors practising throughout BC and many more on the way.

    A licensed BCIPI Home inspector can be found at http://bcipi.asttbc.org/contact.php.

    BCIPI members are required to obtain 20 credits of continuing education a year and this often translates to more than 20 hours as each credit can take up to 3-4 hours to earn.

    New BCIPI Inspectors are also required to pass 3 mentored field inspections and 2 field inspection assessments before they are allowed to provide services to the public. This puts the BCIPI inspector in a class of their own as no other organization in BC has this stringent of a requirement. And before the provisional status of the Certified Home Inspector is removed, that inspector must pass 3 more field inspection assessments.

    We invite the public to look at the standards of all three organizations that are now accredited by the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Authority of BC and decide which organization’s standards are truly the highest in British Columbia.

    The requirements for new members of the various organizations can be viewed at the following links:

    ASTTBC Accreditation of BCIPI Inspectors: http://bcipi.asttbc.org/about.html
    CAHPI Membership Standards http://www.bcipi.org/CAHPI
    National Certification Program Standards http://www.bcipi.org/NCP

    Please see a summary comparison of the three organizations here:
    www.bcipi.org/MatrixGraphic.pdf

    Sean Wiens
    SENWI House Inspections
    Secretary/Treasurer - BCIPI

  2. Home Inspector 06/20/2009 at 5:01 AM

    I have worked as a home inspector for 11+ years. We have inspected everything you can think of. I take the time to read and write many blogs and articles on home inspection. This has been a tuff year most home inspectors. We are growing only because many companies have gone under sad.
    Thanks for the post a joy to read, well done!

  3. Don Lawby 06/21/2009 at 7:25 AM

    Glad you like this post. I see you are US-based; what is the regulation scenario like for home and property inspectors in your neck of the woods? What did you relate to re: our post, it being Canadian focused?

  4. Home Inspection 08/16/2010 at 2:06 PM

    Great post Don,

    I like to call them back pocket home inspectors. The American Home Inspector Directory annual checks each member before renewing their memberships. They must meet their current States regulations and requirements.

  5. Kirk 09/26/2010 at 12:52 PM

    It is good to see that British Columbia is enacting some regulation of the home inspection industry. All home inspector should be trained (certified) and licensed within the providence or state that they conduct business. Be sure that your home inspector is a member of a national association. As always, check references from past clients and real estate professionals that the home inspector has worked with in the past.

  6. Hermosa Beach property inspection 12/16/2010 at 9:54 PM

    Purchasing a new home is very exciting time and we have to earn a lot of money while buying home so that we have to take help of home inspector.

  7. Home Inspections 12/29/2010 at 10:32 AM

    Principal, interest, taxes and insurance are just the beginning. Whether your a first-time buyer or thinking about moving up, you should plan for extra costs that could add up to thousands each year. Give yourself the piece of mind and get a home inspection.

  8. Frank 01/18/2011 at 6:48 PM

    Telling clients to make sure their home inspector is a member of a national association is wrong. In BC, to be provincially licensed, a Home Inspector must be registered with one of three associations, and not all are National Associations. For example a licensed inspector may be registered with or certified with BCIPI, which is not a National Association. BCIPI's standards are as high as or higher than any other approved associations.

  9. Los Angeles property inspection 04/06/2011 at 6:16 AM

    I am 23 years old and i want to buy my own property but i have no any experience so i want to hire property inspector.

  10. Rolling hills Estates property inspection 04/21/2011 at 4:18 AM

    There are many home inspectors which are licensed and certified and they have complete idea about the complete condition of homes. I have finalized a house near hermosa beach and am searching for a good Home Inspector.

  11. HomeMD Inspection Services 05/23/2011 at 5:34 AM

    No doubt about that, home inspectors should be licensed and regulated by the government. Hiring an amateur than a seasoned professional will make you feel for it sooner or later.

  12. ??? ??? 06/02/2011 at 6:44 AM

    No doubt it is very important long process to find a inspector we do quality work, Especially to save unnecessary costs!

  13. Gabriel 06/05/2011 at 3:39 PM

    Don't matter how many diplomas you have , the important thing is to be legal and now in Canada there only grey zones for home inspections. We need some strong laws and government involvement...but, maybe, am asking to much!

  14. Dwight Carroll 07/30/2011 at 6:19 PM

    Hi: A note about certification versus registered , A BCIPI inspector must be certified through assessments and also must attend training that is approved by the association at BCIT and Okanagan College. To date no CHI certified home inspectors have been sued ,not so with CHAPI and more so with CAHPI franchisees as they are interested in quantity not quality. CHAPI members are registered not certified!! Keep that in mind next time you chose a home inspector. Also BCIPI is the primary certification body for home inspectors In British Columbia no so CAHPI they register only. BCIPI has a vested interest in certifying and is not a for profit body as CAHPI is only interested in registration and is a for profit organization.

    Dwight E Carroll AScT/ CHI

  15. Property Inspection Melbourne 08/02/2011 at 10:04 PM

    people can easily fall into the trap of fake property inspectors, A good legislation framework is essential to protect the home owners and buyers

  16. ??? ??? 08/08/2011 at 8:31 AM

    don, how much does it usually cost to have a full house inspection?

  17. Steve 10/13/2011 at 3:38 PM

    In Ontario, the industry is self regulated, however home buyers should a) check references b) ensure that the inspector has general liability and E&O insurance and has a certification such as InterNACHI, which has a strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

  18. Palos Verdes real estate inspection 11/08/2011 at 3:55 AM

    I am searching for Certified Home Inspector which can give me some old houses information.

  19. Palos Verdes real estate inspection 11/14/2011 at 11:18 PM

    Before buying a home, first thing to remember is that there is no point wasting time looking at all sorts of properties when you are not sure how much you can even afford. It’s really appreciable and general.

  20. Hermosa Beach real estate inspection 11/19/2011 at 10:29 PM

    Interesting blog post! Even I have been looking for a qualified inspector and I have heard that must be a member of a well-respected association like American Society of Home Inspectors.

  21. Adirondack real estate 04/10/2012 at 4:54 AM

    Very nice! I am looking for this type of info and sometimes I get lucky like today...:-). Thanks for your post.

  22. Andreagarcia 09/01/2012 at 12:33 AM

    This is great, an excellent post. Well done! I definitely need to find time to book in!A home inspection provided me piece of mind in knowing that the home I was about to purchase was solid. Having a trusted, professional home inspector help me to understand what needed to be done was invaluable.

  23. Symmetrize Team 09/18/2012 at 9:15 AM

    Thank you for a very informative and detailed article. Home inspection is a very important process during a home buying, selling or owning process. Having a knowledgeable and qualified home inspector inspect your home will provide the current condition of the property so that you can better plan the next steps. Thanks again.


    Symmetrize Team

  24. Palos Verdes Home Inspector Service 09/28/2012 at 1:15 AM

    Home inspectors may be hired when someone purchases a new home in order to ensure that there are no structural or any other problems with the house.. The home inspection training is must to start career in this field.

  25. Katie Austin 10/20/2012 at 5:05 AM

    Home inspection is very important while purchasing a new home.This article gives us a detailed information on this topic.

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