When purchasing a resale home, or a new home, you should consider having it inspected by a professional home inspector.  A home inspection is often an important condition of the Offer to Purchase.  If this is the case, a home inspection must take place in order to close the sale.

Qualifications of a home inspector

In Alberta and British Columbia, the provincial government must license home inspectors.

In British Columbia home inspectors need to be licensed by either the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors – BC branch; the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia; or the National Certification Program for Home and Property Inspectors.

In Alberta home inspection businesses must have a license from the Government of Alberta, a bond or other form of security, and errors and omissions insurance.  Moreover, a home inspector working for a home inspection business in Alberta must be employed by a home inspection business AND be a Registered Home Inspector (RHI), OR Certified Master Inspector (CMI), OR have a degree, diploma, or certificate in home inspection from an approved school, and pass a test inspection by a CMI from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors Alberta, or a RHI from the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors, OR hold an approved home inspection designation from an approved industry association, OR a license from an approved regulatory body, OR a conditional license if the home inspector is close to getting these qualifications.

Other provinces and territories do not regulate licensing or certification requirement for home inspectors.  Therefore, when looking for a home inspector outside of Alberta and British Columbia you should look for a professional who belongs to an industry association, holds an accreditation demonstrating training and experience, provides inspection reports, carries insurance, provides references and has strong experience with the type of home being inspected.  An example of such an organization is The Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors (CAHPI), which provides training and certification for home inspectors across Canada.

Key Questions

When you decide to look for a home inspector it may be a good idea to talk to friends who have used a home inspector before.  Another way to find a home inspector is to contact home inspector associations, such as CAHPI, for a list of members.  There are some basic questions you should ask before hiring a home inspector:

  • Does the inspector have a license?
  • Is the inspector qualified? (Ex: courses taken or any other qualifications?)
  • Does the inspector have knowledge of the appropriate building codes?
  • Is there a conflict of interest? (Ex: if the inspector received a fee from the realtor, your bank or mortgage broker there may be a conflict of interest)
  • Can the inspector provide references from recent customers?

A qualified inspector will examine your home’s major systems including:

  • Electrical (where visible)
  • Plumbing (where visible)
  • Septic tanks, wells or sewer lines if the inspector is qualified
  • Heating and air conditioning (where visible)
  • Ventilation
  • Roofing
  • Foundation
  • Interior and Exterior
  • Any detached buildings
  • The lot (drainage away from other buildings, slopes and natural vegetation)
  • Common areas in the case of a condominium/strata or co-operative

If possible, you should attend the inspection in order to familiarize yourself with your new home, and do not hesitate to ask questions.  Home inspections typically last 2- 3 hours.  The fee is usually around $500, depending on the size and condition of the house.