B.C. addressing home inspection standards

Provincial government announces the creation of a common professional standard for licensing

Changes are coming to home inspector industry as the provincial government announced the creation of a common professional standard for licensing last week.

Rich Coleman, the minister responsible for housing, has spent the last year strengthening home inspector accreditation on the direction of Premier Christy Clark in June 2013.

The standard will streamline the process for 440 provincial home inspectors, which are currently governed by four associations, each with their own licensing requirements.

“Consumers deserve a rigorous, reliable home inspection industry,” said Coleman, in a press release. “We want to ensure homebuyers have every possible confidence that their home inspector is qualified to help them with, what is often, the largest investment they will make.”

The province is working with Consumer Protection BC, a non-profit consumer advocacy group, to set new education and training requirements, implement a provincial standard for testing and evaluation, and create a common code of ethics for home inspectors.

The new standards will be in place by the end of 2015.

Currently, there are four associations that regulate the home inspection industry in B.C. and Canada: the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (BC), Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia, Canadian National Association of Certified Home Inspectors and National Home Inspector Certification Council.

Sean Swinwood, a local home inspector and owner/operator of Amerispec of Southeastern B.C., said he felt the changes coming roughly a year ago, after his industry association—CANACHI—was getting pressure to merge with other organizations.

“I definitely caught wind that changes were coming and things were happening, and that was last summer,” Swinwood said.

The ministry began a consultation between the public and industry stakeholders in 2013 that identified issues with consumers and home inspectors.

Consumer issues included higher minimum standards for inspections, stronger education/training requirements for inspectors, clearer info to buyers about what to expect from an inspection, changes to home inspection contracts to protect consumers and eliminate realtor referrals. Home inspector issues included stronger educational requirements, stronger competency-based assessment, higher minimum standards for inspections, stronger ongoing professional development and clearer info to buyers about what to expect.

“Basically, it was their initial process where they went through and they consulted consumers and people in the industry and asked them what their suggestions were on ways to strengthen it and make it more water-tight,” said Swinwood.

B.C. became the first jurisdiction in Canada to require licensing of home inspections in 2009. Only B.C. and Alberta regulate the industry across the country.