Inspect your home inspector

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    **Shopping for a house? Inspect your home inspector**

Regulation, more training required in home inspection business, experts say

CBC News Posted: Dec 02, 2015 5:40 PM ET Last Updated: Dec 02, 2015 6:21 PM ET
When it comes to buying a house, getting the right home inspector can be more important than having a good real estate agent — and could make the difference between saving, or spending, homeowners thousands of dollars down the road.
But according to a growing number of professionals, home inspectors need more training and should be regulated by the province.

“Anybody can print a business card and call themselves a home inspector,” says author and home inspector Bruce McClure.
“There’s no rules or regulations as to what a home inspector does.”
Prospective buyers are encouraged to check out home inspectors as thoroughly as they check out their new, would-be homes. Ask about:

  • References.
  • The inspector’s past experience, and whether they have worked in a trade or construction.
  • Why they got into the business.

The problem, McClure says, is education. Plumbers, electricians and gas fitters get extensive training that includes thousands of hours as an apprentice
“But the home inspector is supposed to come in and do everything and has no training in any of that,” he said.

Contractor Mike Holmes says buyers should have a good home inspector lined up before looking for a house. (CBC)
Celebrity contractor Mike Holmes has been working with the province to come up with stiffer requirements for the industry, but progress has been slow.
“I don’t really think the politicians or government or licensing bureau knows what to do with the home inspection industry,” Holmes said.
He says buyers should have a qualified inspector lined up before they go house hunting.
“The very first thing you need to do is really simple,” he told CBC News. “Find the home inspector, and the best home inspector you can find before you look for a house.”
“Never do it the other way around because, odds are, it can hurt.”

**‘Anybody who owns a flipping flashlight can be a home inspector’ **

   A local home inspector who is on a “personal vendetta” to have greater regulation of his industry is frustrated at continued lack of action by the provincial government.

Cam Allen made a career of building houses and now does more than 250 home inspections each year.
For almost three years, Allen has been part of a 16-member volunteer committee made up of home building, inspection and sales experts that in 2013 presented the government with a government-commissioned report with 35 recommendations about how to regulate and license home inspectors, create a standard qualification process and create clear definitions of what they are to do.
That report, after more than two years, has not been acted upon, Allen said.
“Anybody who owns a flipping flashlight can be a home inspector. It hasn’t changed,” Allen said.
There are about 2,000 home inspectors in Ontario who are currently governed by a patchwork of regulations from a handful of industry associations.
“My gut feeling is, nobody has been killed, nobody of importance has been killed. We’ve got other problems that are higher up on the burner,” Allen said.
“They’re just going to let it sit there.”
Allen said that because problems with home inspectors usually deteriorate into lawsuits and small claims court actions, there is no large motivation to take action.
In a letter last month, Allen called on Minister of Government Services and Consumer Services David Orazietti last month to table legislation.
Allen questioned why, after $2.5 million in federal and provincial money had been spent on the issue since 1999, no legislation has been written.
“Your government has all the necessary studies, reports and supporting documents to proceed and yet you cannot put forward a date when you can complete a bill for legislative approval, given the experience in preparing legislation that you are expected to have,” Allen wrote.
British Columbia and Alberta have regulated home inspectors since 2009.
Allen was a technical adviser for the British Columbia government for its development of regulations.
Since that time, the number of home inspectors in that province went from about 600 to 300 because many of them didn’t meet the training requirements, Allen said.
The same phenomenon can be expected if Ontario adopts new standards, he said.
With new regulations comes the need to have a body established to oversee them, something Allen estimates will cost between $500,000 and $750,000.
But licence fees of between $300 and $500 would cover most of that cost, he added.
Strengthening the rules governing home inspectors was among the tasks given to Orazietti in his 2014 mandate letter from Premier Kathleen Wynne,
and the government has indicated legislation would be introduced this year.