**Home inspection legislation reaching final stage **
By Cam Allen](http://www.thewhig.comthewhig.com/),For The Whig-Standard
Friday,March 10, 2017 12:51:14 EST PM
Iwas pleased to have been chosen to speak to the Standing Committee on SocialPolicy at Queens Park on February 27th. This committee held public hearings onBill 59, which includes, not only sections to create an Act for Licensing ofHome Inspectors, but improvements in the pay-day loan operations and howdoor-to-door sales of furnaces and other appliances are conducted.
The committee heard from the Ontario Association of HomeInspectors and the National Home Inspection Certification Council. They alsoheard from the Ontario arm of the US internet based association known asOntarioACHI. Access to the presentations was available via the Hansard Report,which was posted on line shortly after each of the three days of submissions. Iwas also sent “discreetly” the position of OAHI, before they made theirpresentation.
The committee process is designed to review legislation presentedto them. I was surprised at a number of the submissions that by-passed this andsubmitted suggested changes, based on their own individual, corporate orassociation agendas. There were four major points that arose from thesubmissions. I spoke on those, along with making recommendations to the contentof the proposed act to license home inspectors.
The issue of energy audits on resale homes has been approachedin the past and has received stiff opposition from a number of participants inthe real estate market, including the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA).The current government has proposed, in another piece of legislation pending,to bring energy audits back into the process of a home sale. OREA recommendedthat the audit be included during a home inspection, to which I disagree. Ahome inspection is commonly the last step to buying a home. Adding yet anotherprocess at this point puts additional information “overload” on the potentialbuyer at the eleventh hour. I cannot count the number of clients I’ve had whoreadily admit that the information provided at a home inspection is “daunting”in its own right.
During my presentation I offered a parallel to this. By way ofexample, you buy a car without knowing the gas mileage. You have already madeyour down payment, arranged your loan and now you get your safety check(inspection). They tell you the gas mileage at this point and it is higher thanyou anticipated. You are at the last step and by now you really want the car(house). The sticker, which tells you what the gas mileage and the approximateoperating costs is on the car window for this reason; so that you know beforeyou begin the buying process. In this era of energy efficiency knowing theaverage operating costs of a home and its rating is well within the scope ofany good EnerGuide Auditor and this process is already available. New homebuilders use it every day of the week. While I fully respect that having theenergy audit be mandatory when a house is listed adds another step to the realestate sale, given the constantly increasing cost of operating a home, startingwith electricity, making this information available at the beginning will allowit to be a part of the due diligence of every home buyer.
The other concern that was brought up was testing for Radon andhow it could be addressed. The Lung Association asked for a home inspection toinclude an air quality test and specifically a radon test. While there is ampledocumentation to support the position of the Lung Association and the negativehealth effects of radon, asking a home inspector who is usually in a home for2-3 hours, to do a short term radon test is not reasonable. This test typicallytakes seven days using a canister sample that is then sent to a lab foranalysis and report. The inspector would have no way of knowing if the vendorcomplied with the test requirements. In fact, the short term tests are known tohave limitations and the 30 day test is most accurate. Further, it’s well-knownthat the best time to test for radon is from late fall through to early spring.In the real estate business this is the slowest time for home sales. Whileradon testing is worthwhile, adding it to a home inspection is not the rightway to approach this issue.
There were two home inspection associations who made theirpresentation and they, as expected, offered vastly different opinions. One ofthe recommendations from OntarioACHI was to mandate that a home inspection beprovided by the vendor. This proposal has been recommended because of in theToronto market, where the home inspection business is drying up due to the hotreal estate market. This proposal is a major mistake. The benefits the homebuyer gets from attending their inspection and being able to ask questions andunderstand their prospective home, as explained by the inspector, isinvaluable. I have watched the current process, while not perfect, work forover 18 years.
The other association, OAHI (Ontario Assn. of Home Inspectors)stood by its long standing position and I quote, “the Government of Ontario andOAHI conduct a positive discussion to clarify OAHI’s ongoing role in developingbetter home inspection professionals.” OAHI and their board simply do notaccept that their days of importance are gone. The bill clearly says to rescindthe OAHI private members bill and move ahead with a Designated Authority toadminister licensing. I could fill 2 or 3 columns on the “Fiefdom” attitude ofthis association, including my own experiences on their board of directors, andhow they have hindered licensing in the past. BC and Alberta permitted theassociations, including the sister association to OAHI, to operate within theirlicensing process. Today, both provinces are spending huge amounts of time andpublic money correcting this by taking back the licensing process andadministering it within a government structure.
The home inspection business is a trade, not a profession. Itcan be taught by college courses, which already exist. The home inspectionprocess does have now, and can continue to have, a standard of practice that isconsistent for all home buyers. Electricians, plumbers and gas technicians arelicensed by an authority and this process works. There is no reason homeinspectors cannot operate within a similar standard.
From what I was told by a couple of MPP’s, the committee processhas merit. However, it is also well known that individual agendas often cloudthe system. Bill 59, as it stands, is a good base for a DesignatedAdministrative Authority (DAA) to implement the document that the governmenthad on the shelf with respect to licensing home inspectors. This document, “ACloser Look: Qualifying Ontario’s Home Inspectors,” was developed over manymonths and submitted to the government in December 2013. It was prepared by acommittee of 16 knowledgeable professionals. All of the home inspectionassociations were represented.
The public has simply lost faith in the home inspection process.Media stars like Mike Holmes have taken this industry to task and theassociations should bear the blunt of this public perception. The informationprovided by a skilled, trained home inspector has proven invaluable, time andtime again. A licensed structure for home inspectors that the home buyingpublic can believe in is something every home buyer in Ontario deserves. When Isummarized my presentation, I clearly stated, please proceed with thislegislation as structured; let’s get the first step in place with a DAAoperating under a strong mandate to license this industry; a licensing that islong overdue. Following the process, I still hope to see this legislation backin the legislature for final reading sometime in late April.
Cam Allen, L.I.W. NHI ACI, writes Ask The Inspector and GreenTech; The Series for the Kingston Whig Standard.