Getting a Home Inspection in Ontario? Better Inspect the Inspector

This article was printed on April 24th in Toronto’s 24H and on May 2nd in the Toronto Sun. It is reprinted here with permission.

Get the right home inspector when buying a home

Inspecting the home inspector in Ontario

If you’ve bought or sold a home in Ontario recently, you’ll know that a satisfactory home inspection is usually a condition of the sale. A passing report  is a source of reassurance to buyers that they’re making a sound investment, whereas a failing inspection will often end in a deal falling through. How much do we know, though, about the people performing these inspections?

The home inspection industry in Ontario is completely unregulated. Pretty much anyone can become a home inspector and there is no standardized requirement for training and certification.

Since 2011, there have been calls for regulation of the industry, and finally in December 2013 the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services asked a panel of experts to make recommendations for changes to be implemented.

Let’s look at a couple of the reasons the home inspection industry is in dire need of regulation, as well as a few ways that consumers can protect themselves until the panel’s recommendations come into effect.

Home sales can hinge on home inspections

Like I said, a successful home sale can hinge on the home inspection. Buyers are dependent on the result to make the final decision on whether or not to purchase the property. However, consumers feel a false sense of security in the result of the home inspection. That’s because they often assume that the person performing the inspection is a qualified professional. That isn’t always the case.

Currently in Ontario there is no requirement that home inspectors be licensed or registered with any regulatory body. They can voluntarily join associations like the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI) or the national equivalent, the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors (CAHPI), but it’s not mandatory. Even as members of these associations, though, there is no standardized qualification for home inspectors. They also often lack errors and omissions insurance.

What this boils down to is that pretty much anyone in Ontario can call themselves a home inspector, whether they have a background in engineering, construction, or art history.

That means the result of a home sale or purchase can depend on a report from someone who is more or less qualified—and without due diligence, consumers have no guarantee of which one they’ll get.

How can be sure your home inspector is reputable?

So if after all this you’re wondering what you can do to ensure you’re dealing with a truly qualified professional, here’s some help. A little research is all it takes to make sure you’re hiring a home inspector who is qualified and reliable.

First off, check to make sure your inspector is a member of OAHI or CAHPI. You can visit their respective websites to search for a member inspector in your area. You can also visit the Home Inspection Network online for information about local home inspectors.

Another step is to ask some key questions before your home inspection. Start off by asking the inspector how long they have been in the business and what qualifications they have.

Also ask them how long the inspection will take, and how much it will cost. If an inspector says it won’t take long, beware. A thorough home inspection depends on the size of the home, but should generally last between one and a half, and three hours.

Don’t be afraid to shadow your home inspector

During the inspection, follow along and ask questions. Ask the inspector to explain points on his/her report, and don’t be afraid to point out anything you might be hesitant about. Confirm that you will be getting a full report with pictures, what exactly will be included in it and how long it will take to receive it.

Almost all resale properties are subject to a home inspection. In fact, the standard Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) agreement of purchase and sale includes a clause outlining that the buyer has the opportunity to inspect the property. While it’s not a requirement in the purchase of a home, the clause is there to let buyers know that they have the right to ask for a home inspection.

Home inspection regulations are on the way but in the mean time, it’s important for home buyers to take the time to find a truly qualified and experienced professional. Ontario resources like OAHI and the Home Inspection Network can be helpful, and knowing what questions to ask to vet your home inspector beforehand should help ensure that no unexpected surprises await home buyers when they move into a new property.

Randall Weese is Broker of Record for the ComFree Commonsense Network brokerage in Ontario which provides real estate services to homeowners. For more information visit ComFree.com/Ontario

No related content found.

1 comment

  1. Michael Tudorie says:

    We don’t face these problems in BC, but we are aware of the Ontario situation. While there are ways to check your Home Inspector knows his or her job, it shouldn’t be part of the client’s job to do the checking. Regulation is what is required.

    Thanks for a great article, Rosy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *