In my last blog I ranted a little about a Home Inspector who did an inspection on one of my listings and scared off the buyer when in fact he made an error. I asked how do we hold them accountable? The bottom line answer is with great difficulty so the next question is how do you find a good one. I asked my Home Inspector, Harry Bradford for his insight. I have worked with Harry for almost 15 years and he does almost all inspections for my buyers, they have been happy with his work and respect his opinion. Here is what he suggested.
How to choose a Home Inspector Home inspectors’ qualifications vary widely. The main problem is that anyone who can write “Home Inspector” on a shingle and hang it outside, qualifies. There are a number of associations, many of which purport to provide education, training and examinations leading to a title. The reality is that many association offer on line examinations which in many cases, your grandmother could pass without prior study!
So how to choose?
In Ontario, there’s no Provincial licensing (yet). For sure it’s on its way and it’s already mandatory in B.C. but we don’t have it yet. The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors,(O.A.H.I.) provides training and examinations leading to a designation - Registered Home Inspector. (R.H.I.). A lot of their courses can be taken on line and there are mandatory requirements for the number of inspections a candidate has to do before achieving the designation.
Is this enough?
Opinions vary and of course there are always supporters on both sides. Interestingly enough, a couple of years ago, the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (C.A.H.P.I.) a National body approved by CMHC, offered about 100 existing R.H.I’s. and other inspectors, the opportunity to take their peer reviewed, on site home inspection. Passing would give them the highest designation available – ‘National Certificate Holder’ and would allow them to practice anywhere in the country. Candidates had to inspect a house, provide a written report and a summary of their findings to a panel of some of the most experienced inspectors in Canada.
The failure rate was astounding and an embarrassment to the profession as a whole!!
C.A.H.P.I. still offers the opportunity and many inspectors have taken up the challenge.
The only designation that will get an inspector a provincial license in B.C. (without further testing or examination) is ‘National Certificate Holder’.
The keys to choosing someone are:
a. Experience – ask them, “How many inspections did you do last year?” An experienced and busy inspector will do between 350 and 500 inspections annually.
b. Ask for a reference – call the last person they worked for.
c. Rely on recommendations only if they come from really close friends or professionals such as your Realtor, lawyer, bank and so on.
d. If you’re a seller, consider having a pre-listing inspection. That way you’ll know if there are any problems beforehand and you can address them before the buyer’s inspector turns up.
Also of course, you’ll have an experienced inspector and his report available in the event there are any problems alleged by the buyer’s inspector.
Note that errors and omissions insurance isn’t mandatory. Even the R.H.I. designation does not guarantee it’s in place. The O.A.H.I. only requires that its members declare the lack thereof.
There will always be conflicts. Examining a home and judging its condition fairly, is difficult and requires many years of experience and training. Experienced inspectors are available – try to be flexible in your time requirements and never, ever choose one because he or she’s the cheapest.
Harry Bradford National Certificate Holder
H.J. Bradford Group Inc. www.bowerstreet.ca
I think Harry makes some very valid points. Make sure you ask questions of the inspector. I asked several inspectors and the majority told me when a member of the public calls them they typically get asked if they are available and how much it costs. Rarely do they get asked if they are Certified by any national association and almost never if they carry insurance. Remember these people are inspecting one of your largest investments they might let you buy a house you shouldn't or put you off a house that would be perfect for you - ASK SOME QUESTIONS before you hire them.