What Kind of Knowledge Does the Home Inspector Have?
Look for inspectors who have taken inspection courses such as defect recognition, building sciences and home construction. Good home inspectors will have a general understanding of all the various systems and components in a home. Many have practical experience or a background in engineering, construction or related building trades. Professional home inspectors may also have to know and follow a code of ethics and standards of practice.
What Experience Does the Home Inspector Have?
The skills of a home inspector can be expected to improve with the number of years in business and the number of home inspections done. Experienced home inspectors will be better prepared to assess the condition of the house. Look for home inspectors who are familiar with the type of home you are thinking of buying. Different types of housing can have different types of problems. For instance, older Victorian-era homes have special construction techniques, compared to more modern homes. Multi-unit residential buildings can also be very different from single-family houses, in terms of their design and construction.
What Sort of Training Does the Inspector Have?
There are many training programs and courses that home inspectors can take to improve their knowledge and understanding of home design, construction, operation, maintenance, common defects, repair strategies, testing and diagnostics. Different home inspector titles may have different training requirements, so it’s best to try to determine what training inspectors need to get those titles. It’s also important to know that, in most provinces and territories, there are no training requirements for home inspectors, meaning that just about anyone can claim to have the necessary knowledge.
Is the Home Inspector Certified?
Many home inspectors’ associations offer training and certification programs for their members. Some home inspectors take steps to have their knowledge and skills assessed and certified by independent organizations to see if they meet the national occupational standards for home inspectors in Canada. Be aware that the requirements of different training and certification programs vary from organization to organization and from province to province. Asking home inspectors about their training and certification may help you better understand the differences in the programs. This will tell you about the quality of the inspection you might get from home inspectors certified under different programs.
When Considering the Training and Certification of Home Inspectors, Some Questions to Consider Include:
- Has the inspector been assessed and certified to a national occupational standard for home inspectors by an independent organization?
- How long was the inspector’s training and certification program? What did the training include?
- Did the inspector have to perform inspections reviewed by other inspectors before he/she was certified?
- Does the inspector have to meet continuing education requirements to maintain his/her certification?
- Is the certification recognized by existing provincial requirements for licensing home inspectors?
Does the Home Inspector Belong to an Industry Association?
Home inspectors who are members of a national, provincial or regional industry association show that they are interested in staying current with and sharing the latest home inspection information. Some associations have developed training and certification programs for their members to demonstrate skills. These programs also serve to classify members in different categories based on their qualifications. In some associations, members cannot advertise their membership in the association until they have reached certain minimum standards. Be aware that being a member of an association does not always mean an inspector has the training, knowledge and experience you may be looking for.
Does the Home Inspector Have a License to Perform Home Inspections?
As of 2011, only the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta have licensing requirements for home inspectors. Elsewhere, there are no mandatory licensing or certification processes for home inspectors, and this means that anyone can provide home inspection services. That is why it is important to choose an inspector carefully.
Can the Home Inspector Provide Three References?
A home inspector should be prepared to offer references. Any qualified home inspector should gladly provide this information upon request. Check with the references and see what they thought of the inspection. For example, ask them whether the inspection was thorough, how long it took, whether the report was clear, how well the inspector communicated the results and whether the home bought reflected the evaluation.
Does the Home Inspector Provide a Written Contract?
A written contract that clearly spells out the terms and conditions of the home inspection is another way to become familiar with what the inspection will cover, what it will not, and, any other limitations that you should be aware of. The contract will also likely detail limitations on the liability of the home inspector for any losses you might suffer for defects or deficiencies not identified during the inspection. It is important to read and understand the home inspection contract before hiring a home inspector to be clear on the services to be provided and any limitations that may apply.
Finding a Home Inspector
Check association websites, the Yellow Pages™ or home trade magazines. Ask friends or family members. Your real estate agent may also make a suggestion. However, be aware that, in some provinces, the regulations and the code of ethics for real estate agents do not permit agents to give you the name of only one home inspector. However, agents are allowed to provide you with a list of home inspectors from which you can choose.
Visit home inspection company websites. You may be able to find information about their industry association, certifications, training and company details. You could also see the qualifications of individual inspectors, their references and the services they offer.
Choosing a home inspector yourself can help you be sure that the inspector will act in your best interests.
A Final Note
CMHC does not recommend or endorse any individual home inspector or association. CMHC supports a common national occupational standard for home inspectors in Canada, to promote the development and professionalism of the home inspection industry and to help protect consumers.