Home is where their start is
House inspectors earn credentials by examining the real thing
Local News - Monday, October 30, 2006 @ 07:00
A residence on Aylmer Crescent was visited by a number of home inspectors over the weekend - but not because it is for sale.
The bungalow is serving as a test house for home inspectors wishing to become nationally certified.
Cam Allen, who operates a home inspection business and is co-ordinating the certification program for eastern Ontario, said the test house is part of an effort by the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors to give the home-inspection industry some much-needed regulation.
“It’s long overdue,” Allen said.
“Right now, in all seriousness, it is a joke.”
Allen said current regulations allow practically anyone wielding a flashlight to masquerade as a home inspector but he believes this certification program will change that.
“You would take your [test] inspection. You would be allowed so much time to complete it and then file it with the examiner on site,” he said.
"You then go in front of a panel and this panel quizzes you for two hours. It’s basically a verbal examination.
Are you capable of explaining what you know to the customer?"
Inspectors undergoing the test do not have to wait long to find out the results.
“You’re graded right there in front of two examiners,” Allen said.
Examiner Brian Callaghan explained what the inspectors will be tested on.
“We, as examiners, came here last night, went through the whole house to find not only defects but a group of major defects that we would consider to be items that an inspector in this industry should be able to find,” he said.
Callaghan said there are 11 major problems within the test house and if a home inspector fails to find all of them, they will not be certified.
“Structural issues, there are some concerns with the electrical system,” Callaghan said.
“I don’t want to be too specific because there are a number of inspectors standing around. I don’t want to give them the answers.”
Derek McCauley, the president of the Kingston and Area Real Estate Association, supported the project in more ways than one by offering his home for use as the test house.
“I volunteered my house to be the test house. You know, a 30-year-old bungalow has got some issues,” he said.
McCauley said his house was chosen not because it was falling apart but because it was normal.
“We didn’t want to use a house that has too many issues. It’s not a set-up; it’s just an average, everyday, lived-in] home,” he said.
Claude Lawrenson is the chief examiner who determines if an inspector succeeds or fails. Besides the test, he conducts a background review of those seeking certification.
“We take a look at prior experience. Have they had a pretty good record with consumers and things like that,” he said.
One the weekend, about 10 home inspectors were tested as part of an effort that goes way beyond Kingston.
“It’s a national initiative,” said Paul Wilson, president of the Home Inspectors Institute.
“The input came from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation and they basically wanted the inspection industry to get their act together and come out with one set of uniform standards.”
Wilson admits that home inspectors will not be required to take these tests, but believes people will make the right choice when presented with a home inspector who is certified and one who is not. “I think the public is going to select someone who is a member of an association that has been professionally trained. I think we have an edge on the non-aligned members,” he said.
Allen said this program will soon affect every homeowner in Canada as the program will be in place on a national level next year.
“The real estate community already has a working agreement with [the inspectors’ association] saying that we will tie our recommendations to your system,” he said.
Callaghan said making sure people know what problems are present with the homes they buy is the real purpose of this new system.
“When people buy houses, these are the kind of things that they want to know, to make informed decisions,” he said.
APPEARED IN THE KINGSTON WHIG STANDARD THIS MORNING. FORTUNATELY THE LOCAL REAL ESTATE PEOPLE ARE TREATING THIS AS A JOKE, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY FIGURE THAT MR. ALLEN IS MAKING MONEY ON THE DEAL.
HOWEVER, THIS IS THE FIRST SHOT. WE HAD BETTER GET BUSY !