Monday, February 14, 2011

Another attempt to certify home inspectors

Despite efforts for many years by several individuals and groups, the Canadian home inspection industry is still very much unregulated. British Columbia is the only province that has licensed practitioners, although three or four other jurisdictions are considering legislation.

In this unregulated sector, anyone can simply print some business cards, buy a flashlight and clipboard, and promote themselves as a home inspector. On top of that, some associations, training schools and even government agencies have convinced thousands of gullible people that a two-week course or even a short online quiz will qualify them to earn a high income inspecting houses for an even more unsuspecting public.

In 2006, the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI) announced that after 10 years of meetings and hard work, they, along with CMHC, HRSDC, the Construction Sector Council and other industry partners, had successfully developed and implemented a national certification for Canadian home inspectors. The goal was to create a large group of well-trained, field-tested and qualified home inspectors on whom the public and others connected to a home purchasing transaction could rely. The program would be administered by a CAHPI ‘arms-length’ committee (National Certification Authority – NCA) that would process all inspectors fairly and objectively.

In the years since then, more than 500 inspectors have applied, had their backgrounds evaluated, been field tested and received their National Certification. However, the estimated number of home inspectors in Canada is between 5,000 and 6,000, so obviously the program has attracted only a very small percentage of the inspector population.

Since the program was created to bring some uniformity and credibility to the industry, the results were less than stellar – disappointing those who had seen the program as an opportunity to bring more legitimacy to the relatively new home inspection industry. It became apparent that since CAHPI’s membership accounted for only about 15 per cent of the total number of inspectors in the country, non-members were not comfortable that the NCA would process and test them objectively, despite CAHPI’s genuine assurances. As a result, applications for national certification slowed to a trickle in recent years.

In early 2010, in an effort to breathe new life into the certification program, and to address the concerns of the industry, a new, fully independent, non-partisan certification body was established, with representation from all existing associations but no affiliation with or obligations to any, including CAHPI.

The National Home Inspector Certification Council (NHICC) was incorporated and quickly received recognition, encouragement and support from government agencies, home inspection associations and other stakeholders. The NHICC is a certifying body only, and is not an association, so it is not seen by the associations as competing for members. Most organizations have their own ‘certifications’ that can be complemented by the National Certification. One national group, the Professional Home and Property Inspectors of Canada (PHPIC) based its Mission Statement on support for the NCP and they have actually adopted the NCP requirements as their own. The program also makes it possible for inspectors who choose to not be members of any association to be recognized and certified competent by an independent third party.

The NHICC has embraced the requirements of CAN-P-9 and has also applied for accreditation from two international accrediting organizations, the Institute of Credentialing Excellence (ICE) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This will provide evidence that the program and the policies, procedures and governance of the NHICC are being true to the terms and the spirit of the original certification model.

Home inspectors can now take comfort knowing that their education and abilities will be compared uniformly and objectively by the NHICC to the National Occupational Standards for Canadian Home Inspectors. Consumers and others can be assured that despite the proliferation of pseudo-professional organizations and groups posing as legitimate professional home inspection associations, there is ONE national, strong and valid certification that exists to rigorously evaluate and test inspectors based on actual occupational standards that were developed through thousands of hours of study and debate.

With the National Certification Program now revived and welcoming applications, home inspectors can once again take advantage of a vehicle that will objectively verify their competence. Consumers and others can choose home inspectors from any association they wish, but they can enhance their chances of getting a competent inspector by looking for someone who is also a National Certificate Holder (NCH) as designated by the NHICC.

REM online  Feb 14, 2011 By Bill Mullen

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