I wonder how they will handle engineers inspecting in Ontario.
Could they be grandfathered, or will they have to write a license ?
PEO will be monitoring the fate of a private member’s bill in the Ontario legislature that, if passed, would require all home inspectors in the province to be licensed.
HomeNews PEO to keep tabs on possible licensing of home inspectors
A number of professional engineers perform residential home inspections as part of their practice and there is concern these members might object to a requirement for external certification and licensing.
Bill 165, an act to regulate home inspectors, was introduced as a private member’s bill by Liberal MPP Han Dong (Trinity-Spadina). The bill received first reading in February 2016.
While home inspection is not considered part of traditional engineering practice, there is no standard scope of work available for the service. The field is largely unregulated, despite the existence of provincial and national home inspection associations that offer specialized training in the area.
Although it’s rare for a private member’s bill to become law, Ontario’s Ministry of Government and Consumer Services appears committed to greater regulation of the home inspection industry.
In August, Minister of Government and Consumer Services Marie-France Lalonde said the bill would require home inspectors to be licensed and set minimum standards for contracts and home inspection reports. The legislation, if passed, would also establish an association to administer and enforce licensing and regulations.
The ministry estimates there are about 1500 home inspectors in Ontario. Some PEO members who do home inspections might object to the need to be licensed by the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors.
Cliff Knox, P.Eng., PEO’s manager of enforcement, says the regulator has been monitoring the situation with respect to home inspections.
“There haven’t been any inquiries from members to date regarding this, but this could change when the government and consumer services ministry starts its broader consultation on a proposed regulatory regime and any enabling legislation,” Knox says. “It’s been suggested that PEO take part in the consultation, in case there is any jurisdictional issue with how the regulatory system is implemented.”
Knox says one area of concern is a proposed practice standard for an inspection. PEO wants assurance that the standard is limited to reporting observed conditions only, and does not provide an opinion on structural issues or the performance of mechanical systems that might fall within the practice of professional engineering.
“A second issue relates to the qualifications for licensure, and whether a P.Eng. licence would exempt an applicant from any or all requirements,” Knox adds.
Alan Carson, owner of Carson Dunlop, an engineering consulting firm specializing in residential and commercial building inspections, says that while some engineers might be put off by the requirement for home inspection certification, there is some value in regulating the entire industry and bringing consistency to the qualifications of home inspectors.
“There is no specific discipline in engineering–be it electrical, mechanical, chemical, civil–that focuses on residential construction and that takes the broad perspective that applies to home inspection,” Carson told Engineering Dimensions. “We hire and we train engineers all the time, and engineers have a terrific advantage because they have a technical mind, they have proven their ability to train and absorb and comprehend technical concepts. They do have a leg up, but it’s just the specific skill set and knowledge set is not, at least to my knowledge, taught in any engineering programs.”
Graham Clarke, P.Eng., head of the Toronto-based Clarke Engineering, and a former home inspector with Carson Dunlop, says that while greater regulation of home inspectors is welcome, it still might pose problems for engineers in the business. “There are a number of licensed professional engineers working as home inspectors, and I have wondered about the ability of the provincial government to prohibit a P.Eng. from performing an inspection of a residential structure without another licence.”
Graham believes the question of home inspectors actually performing engineering depends on the type of inspection they carry out. “The practice of home inspection neither precludes nor requires the use of engineering principles,” he says. “The actual methods used to evaluate the home are left to the home inspector. In a typical home inspection, the evaluation would not use engineering principles. An engineer, however, might use engineering principles, including past engineering experience, to evaluate the systems and components of a home.”
Clarke is concerned about a potential conflict for PEO in the event home inspectors are required to be licensed. “I can see the potential for upcoming legislation to prohibit any individual who does not have a home inspection licence from performing a home inspection. And that would mean a holder of a Certificate of Authorization would be legally prevented from performing an evaluation of a home as a part of their engineering practice unless the engineer also held a home inspection licence. I think that PEO should ensure that a situation does not arise wherein professional engineers are prevented from inspecting, either in whole or in part, any or all of the systems of a house.”