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Until recently, a home buyer's only real protection for hiring a qualified professional home inspector has been to look for the Registered Home Inspector (RHI) designation.  Registered Home Inspector is a provincially protected designation of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI) that only qualified members are legally entitled to use. 

Beyond the OAHI, non-affiliated inspectors often have limited or no real credentials, leaving consumers to play Russian roulette with the inspector they choose.  Inspectors calling themselves "Certified" or "Licensed" are neither.  There are no such designations in Ontario.  However, with just a little effort, the challenge of hiring a qualified home inspector should be a thing of the past, paving the way for qualified non-affiliated inspectors to separate themselves from those who have no business inspecting homes!

In an effort to move the profession one step closer to providing better inspections and greater consumer protection, a National Certification Program has been up and running for about two years now.  The Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI), with input and support from all the provincial home inspection associations, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), and the federal government, has developed a protocol for home inspectors that can be implemented and recognized across the country.

The key component of this protocol is its ability to be completely measurable and consistent among all inspectors, regardless of professional affiliations.  All home inspectors wishing to become National Certificate Holders will be required to follow the same process right across the country.  To begin with, a Candidate must be a practicing home and property inspector for at least one year, have completed a minimum of 200 hours of recognized/approved home inspection specific training and 50 hours of practical field training/mentoring, must have passed all training course exams, and signed an agreement to comply with standards of practice and code of ethics.

After successfully meeting all baseline requirements, Candidates must undergo a rigorous Test Inspection with Peer Review (TIPR) where they are required to inspect a home with known defects and present their findings, both orally and in written format, to a panel of examiners.  A series of inspection-related questions must be correctly answered by each applicant at the time of this evaluation as well.  Each examiner is a highly qualified professional home inspector who has also gone through the full certification process and TIPR.  The final step to becoming a National Certificate Holder includes the completion of at least 150 fee-paid inspections as a Candidate.

Because membership in a provincial body, such as OAHI/CAHPI-Ontario, is not required to join the National Certification Program, a greater number of properly trained and qualified inspectors should be available to provide home buyers with more choice and more protection.

Consumers are able to verify any given inspector's participation, or lack thereof, within the National Certification Program online via the National Certification Authority website (http://www.nca-anc.com/index.php).  Registered Home Inspectors in Ontario can be verified at the OAHI/CAHPI-Ontario website (http://oahi.com/).

National certification provides a new minimum standard for home inspectors providing home buyers with greater choice and protection.  A Registered Home Inspector, having met the industry's most stringent qualifications, should continue to be a buyer's first choice.  However, an RHI who is also a National Certificate Holder is now the new gold standard of home inspectors. 

By Rob Hermann, RHI, NCA#00055

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