Scare Tactics for Licensing in Ontario

The home inspection sector in Ontario is primarily made up of several volunteer organizations going through various stages of organizational maturation. The home inspection sector continues to establish standards on a volunteer basis. Even these volunteer organizations do not have the majority of home inspectors aligned as members in the province. There are estimates in the range that 35-50% of home inspectors are individual practitioners that are unaligned with a provincial home inspection association.

In the discipline of compliance frameworks, there is self management, which involves the industry taking the lead in initiatives to control business practices, as well as to educate the public towards good consumer or safety habits. Self-management is practiced in varying degrees, but ultimately this can lead to all of the activities associated with industry regulations (licensing, compliance monitoring, enforcement, complaints or dispute resolution) just to name a few.

Self-management means public accountability and accessibility, but government continues to play the participation role being unintrusive or inextensive as possible.
As an example TARION is a self-management corporation where no one can build or sell new homes in Ontario without being registered. There is legislative statute to support the program.

A self-regulatory framework includes legislation whereby the sector has total control of the sector and the government is not involved. There is no such legislation for the home inspection sector in Ontario. One home inspection association in Ontario was recognized in the mid 1990’s and has the right to manage and discipline its members, but it was clearly articulated that they did not have the right to restrict others outside of that association from practicing. They merged with another provincial association and the association grew, however given time some left and followed a different path.

Finally there is the government regulation. In short the government introduces legislation if it believes there is public concern (safety, economic, consumer protection, unfair business practices, etc.). In the case of the home inspection sector the provincial government could introduce legislation if it believes consumers are at risk. The key point being to always consider that this is the only participant in house purchasing transaction that is not regulated.

Based on statistics gathered by qualified home inspector applicants in the practical “test inspection with peer review”, the practical performance measurement of 80% minumum accuracy is met by approximately 85% of all test takers. That in itself should provide a bit of substance that some level of improvement is required. It does
not speak to those 1000 plus other home inspectors in the province that choose not to be tested. Nor does it speak to the other 20% that even the successfull inspectors met. It also alludes to the fact that a high percentage rarely would achieve the 100% mark. If anything, there is a huge gap and need for constant improvement to better our sector.

Given the reality of the state of affairs within the home inspection sector, few home inspectors want to really admit that a real potential problem already exists. One thing became evidently clear through the first licensing symposium in London Ontario, that there are other stakeholders such as the realtors, financial institutions, Better Business Bureau, and lawyers and yes even consumers that point out and speak out about that it’s just matter of time before this becomes a critical concern.

As I noted earlier home inspection associations in this province are volunteer run organizations. That in itself often leads to inconsistencies and often varying levels of support and service to members as well as response to the public when issues arise. Standards for certification are inconsistent, an overall lack of accountability to assure conformance to a minimum Standard of Practice, and even a certain number of “certified” inspectors cannot pass a test inspection with peer review. Often discipline within an association can sometimes be based on personal prejudices against an individual member rather than the actual quality of the inspection.

At this point, self-management or self regulatory mandate would be difficult to achieve, because that involves major organizational restructuring, costs, resistance to change, etc.

Regulations on the other hand are intended to enhance consumer protection and give consumers confidence that a set standard of qualification and performance are in place.

Learn a lesson from those who have walked this walk before you.

Look at your future.

An Claude, if that small number of self appointed ‘industry leaders’ set the bar high enough, nobody will pass those subjective testings scenarios.

The only statistics that matter are a comparison of total inspections completed to total number of failures and you know that you have no statistics to support your contention that there is a huge problem with the industry. Quoting statistics generated in a scenario that has been artificially manipulated means nothing.

Facts please.

I’m a little confused about something that keeps being brought up in this thread.

Why would it matter one single bit to any inspector who refered them or recommended them?

Sure, RE agents would love to have inspections show exactly what they want, just as sellers would like to see inspections that make their house seem like solid gold.

That doesn’t change the fact that an inspectors job is to report on the current condition of a house. The part of my post where I talked about professionalism? This is the prime example with an unhealthy dose of stupidity tossed in.

You get to the house, you do the inspection, you share and explain it to your clients and make sure they are satisfied with their understanding of the report. If the RE agent, (or whomever referred you), doesn’t like the report you give and doesn’t refer you anymore, that is a lack of professionalism on their part. If the inspector in any way feels they should fudge a report to make the referrer happy, then they are definitely not acting in a professional manner. Worse yet, they are being extremely stupid.

It isn’t the RE agent (or other referrer) that is going to be dragged into court. It is the inspector.

Look at the Toth case… how many referrals from RE agents would he need to get in order to make up for the $190,000.00 judgement he just got put against him?

Inspect, report, explain… do it all properly and the referrals will come, no matter what the RE agents have to say.

As for the licensing issue… being licensed will not stop people from sucking up to their referrers… The single difference will be that the inspector will have that piece of paper saying they are licensed.

To borrow from another thread “licensing simply makes everybody equal in the eyes of the licensing authority, it shows the advantages and responsibilities of the home inspection professional.” John Onfrey

“The point is to stay within your areas of responsibility and standards of practice until you achieve 100% competency.” David Anderson

But more to the testing comment - what part of even self-regulation addresses the issue on assuring “competency” in the occupation?

"But more to the testing comment - what part of even self-regulation addresses the issue on assuring “competency” in the occupation?"

I think you just sank your own boat!

My point being that hardly anybody is inspecting and testing the home inspectors for competency. We have associations and home inspectors claiming to be certified based on the collection of membership fees and a proclamation of self-assessment. Even the mere suggestion of grandfathering becomes a means to assure everyone regardless of their skill level is guaranteed to be part of the “program”.

Now couple that with the movement by very few associations to have a certification body seperate from the same potentially self-serving body. A union is not the answer unless you are looking at paying for benefits of mutual interest. That at best will improve the inspectors personal benefits, but certainly not a way to declare a win in a move for really protecting consumers.

My point Claude has always been " Grandfather everyone. Get all inspectors INSIDE the association. THEN set your standards and upgrade EVERYONE."

But instead, OAHI, PHPIO, CAHPI chose to exclude everyone except the people THEY deemed acceptable. Then one must ask who set the standards and what, other than guess work and personal opinion were these standards based on?

Other than the benefits of strength through numbers, representation at both Federal and Provincial levels ( that will be listened to), reduced insurance rates, access to health and accident insurance, lobbying for universal E+O insurance, equality of members ( no elitism of ‘industry leaders’) and many more, there is one particular word that the other associations are deathly afraid of; GRANDFATHERING.

By GRANDFATHERING every inspector and getting them inside the union, the union can then set entrance requirements which will become the defacto ‘Ontario License’. The difference is that EVERY member will have a voice in the design of the requirements which makes it very fair.

Oh yes. That is another word of which these private home inspector associations are very frightened ; DEMOCRACY.

George I must say that your point is spot on. It seems that there are many who are not of the mind that we should move to better the situation of ALL home inspectors in the industry, rather, they only wish to better the situation for a select few, and this is why they fear those two words…GRANDFATHERING and DEMOCRACY!.

By benchmarking, settting a standard, and then working to ensure that ALL home inspectors meet the standards set out, we would effectively be eliminating the “hiarchy” that so many are hoping to hold on to. This erroneous assumption is what the so called “leaders of the industry” are using to put down the capabilities and prospects of newer home inspectors who are striving to gain experiance and love this industry every bit as much as the veterans.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all work together for the betterment of the industry and help each other grow and learn so that it is our CAPABILITIES that make our industry strong, and not our individual drives for ego that seperate us.



The words I have high-lighted in red describe exactly what the National Certification Program is all about.

It solves the entire problem, but people want to disregard it.

Bill Mullen

Well said John.

If the motives behind licensing were genuine and not self serving, you might be able to inspire such a movement.

The problem is…proponents already see themselves as being “grandfathered” because each proponent argues that his level of skill is where the bar should be set. Licensing has always been, and will always be, something we do to “the other guy”.

Proponents of licensing do not argue that consumers need to be protected from “them”. Consumers need to be protected from their competitors who lack something they have.

To license everyone…then, to create schools that will crank our fresh graduates with licenses every six weeks, like they do in New York, will glut the market even more.

Nice thought…but even proponents of licensing bills would argue that they are better off without licensing anyone than to license everyone.

Home inspection is a discipline that requires special training, knowledge and communication skills.

However, there is presently no mandatory certification and no legislated requirement for home inspectors to take any courses or to have passed any tests. Anyone can say that they are a home inspector. That is why it is important to choose an inspector wisely.

Reputable home and property inspectors generally belong to a provincial or regional industry association. These associations have set standards, which, in some cases, are recognized by provincial governments. Some associations have developed membership categories based on the individual members’ qualifications. In most provinces, a member cannot advertise or promote his or her membership in the association until they have reached the minimum standards of a practicing member. Standards may vary from province to province.

Source - CMHC Hiring a Home Inspector

James notes: The problem is…proponents already see themselves as being “grandfathered” because each proponent argues that his level of skill is where the bar should be set.

Worth repeating…so how do we reach agreement?

Consider the OAHI, which is pushing hard to become the main licensing agency for Ontario…

One of the requirements as it is now, is that you have to have 200 paid inspections (down to 100 if you’ve been in the business for two years).

Think about what this says…

“If you aren’t a member of OAHI, you don’t have the best evidence of an inspector’s competence and professionalism”

Yet to get it, you have to do at least 100 (or more) paid inspections. How does this make any sense at all? They are encouraging people to go out and charge for services that they claim are inadequate without their piece of paper, which you can’t get without going out and charging for the service…

I think the confusion and chaos surrounding the industry will remain for a few years yet. When organizations can’t even agree with their own statements, it’s a sign that there are many more changes to come before anything gets ‘settled’.

The idea of a union to cover all inspectors does bother me though, almost as much as governmental licensing does. All a union will accomplish is to a) take more of our money, b) to exclude people based on the whims of the union rep, and c) ensure that incompetence is protected as long as you can keep your nose clean long enough to gain seniority.

The union idea is laughable.

First…the union will agree to establish a fee.

Inspectors choosing not to belong to the union will simply set a fee a few dollars lower and advertise that he chooses, as a conservative, to not let the union dictate to him or to the public what to charge.

Non-union home inspectors will be overworked. Lowballers will become heroes.

Home inspectors in Canada need to stop thinking like contractors. Licensing and unionizing are not solutions…they are problems.

Individual competition…not socialized home inspection…allows the cream to rise to the top and the incompetent to fail. Unions and licenses hide the incompetents. That’s why government employees have unions.

Rest assured James, that the union has no intention of dictating to anyone. In fact the BOD encourages every inspector to belong to whatever associations they want and achieve whatever qualifications that these groups want to dictate.

With all inspectors in the ‘big tent’ it is the same cream rising to the top just as you said. The difference is that in Ontario, for the first time there will be an organization recognized by the government that welcomes all inspectors, not just friends and so called “industry leaders”. Every inspector will have a voice in what standards are set if they so choose and will not be subject to the requirements set by, as you said, those who already have them.

The “industry leaders” have lead the Ontario Inspector down a blind Alley and we now see them aligned with the Real Estate industry in an attempt to foist their vision of licensing on us. That is not a situation that is to anyone’s benefit and it is a situation borne of elitism. The union will welcome all home inspectors and give them their first real chance to change that situation.

It’s called ’ DEMOCRACY’.

Along with democracy is the right of dissent.

While all may have “input”, not all will agree with the outcome and, thus, not all will participate. Those who choose to operate outside of the union may have more credentials and experience than many from within…and might even draw higher fees.

You will still have non-Union home inspectors and Union home inspectors…each claiming that the other is not qualified to inspect a home.

Hi James,
I don’t believe the point of the union would be to discredit non-union home inspectors. It would be to allow those, who choose to enter, to have their voice count. The union is different from the other associates in that it will not discredit anyone who simply chooses not to enter. That is not what this is about. As an example, not all electritians are part of their union, however, they are not infighting between those that are, and those that arn’t. As previously stated, the union will offer benefits such as strenght in numbers, equal voice on matters that affect our industry, reduced cost of health care benefits, insurance and access to legal fees. Those that wish to operate their business as non-union members will not be belittled or punished for it. The electritians do not put down non-union members or criticize their credentials. This is not about dictating rates, standardizing fee’s or dissention, it is about offering an alternative to the other associations who are looking to put down anyone who is not a member of their group and try to bring our industry together.


Looking beyond the original intent…which is always honorable and good…leaves you with two groups. Unionized and non-union, competing against each other.

Within the union there will be struggles for power. Those who gave input and lost by two votes will not simply give in and accept the standards others want to impose upon them. Read through these threads and learn that for yourself.

Too many former contractors enter the rank of home inspector who have no idea of marketing concepts. The concept that it elevates all of us to advertise that my competitor is a good home inspector, but these are the things that make me better, is way over their heads. Only doctors and lawyers do that. All they know how to do is trash their competitor.

The warm and fuzzy feeling of brotherhood is a temporary deal. Been there and done that.

"Those who gave input and lost by two votes will not simply give in and accept the standards others want to impose upon them."

James, what part of that great American system called democracy do you not understand? One man. One Vote ( well excepting Chicago of course:D) This sytem is responsible for electing some pretty good Presidents over the years. Just because one party has it’s hat handed to it, does not mean that they take their marbles and go home, or actively attempt to destroy the administration ( with the exception the last eight ‘Bush years’:shock:)

That’s how the system works. You bring your ideas to a vote and win or lose. It is the ability of every member to vote on the issue that is the most important part.

As for your predictions; you may be right. But avoiding these distractions gives us something to aim for. Perfection will always be out of reach but at least we can try to give our fellow inspectors the kind of union organization they can participate in and feel that their voices have been heard. It will be an entirely different world from the one we have now where ‘industry leaders’ climb in bed with the Real Estate industry and falsly claim that 40,000 realtors are on the march against us.