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Registered vs Certified Home Inspector: Who should you be using?


 The home inspection industry is relatively young and is still making new standards and processes.
Category: Home Inspections
Posted by: nookncranny
One item that has come up repeatedly is the lack of consistent regulation and a common standard of practice for all inspectors to follow. The home inspection industry is not licensed in Ontario. At this time only a couple of provinces: Alberta and British Columbia, have made it mandatory that all practicing home inspectors are to be licensed, therefore requiring a minimum competency and operating procedures to be followed. This was done in an effort to protect the consumer from inexperienced, uninsured and incompetent persons who saw home inspections as an opportunity to take payment for a service that is meant to provide knowledge and details of the home being purchased. Because nearly anyone can register a business and call themselves a home inspector.
So, what's the difference between a Certified or Registered home inspector? Well let's compare the ways to get there:
"Certified Home Inspector":
Simplest way: Register your company and name for a tax account, buy some business cards, don't bother with insurance- (initially it can costs about $4,000 a year) buy a domain name with a 5 page website for about &12. a month and Voila- You are now a home inspector open for business and ready to inspect someone’s new home they plan to live in with their two kids, spouse and pets.
Calling yourself a certified home inspector or "CHI" is almost as easy as registering your company and name for a tax number: A person can go to some home inspection association websites and join, then take an online exam, pass it by a minimum and then sell themselves as a 'Certified home inspector'. This is the simplest way and obviously not what you want to hear about your home inspectors' credentials. Some inspectors may argue that if they passed the exam, they obviously know the issues and should be an inspector all the same. Difference is: the exam is online, with no proxy. Meaning nobody watches over them, to make sure they don't Google the answer to the question!
Another way to become a Certified home inspector is quite a bit harder but obviously more meaningful. This method means registering for certified home inspection courses through a college, such as Mohawk or Seneca and completing 10 required courses and passing their exams. The courses are developed through Carson Dunlop- considered one of the top inspection education providers available.  Successful completion of all ten courses will provide the student with a formal theoretical education to call themselves a Certified Home Inspector. Still, no practice or inspections performed prior to this are required, so the learning curve could be arduous and steep if the person inspecting doesn't have very much experience in construction or maintenance and repair of a building.
"Registered Home Inspector"
The path to becoming a registered home inspector, or "RHI", is considerably harder! The RHI designation is considered the highest level of certification available to inspectors in our industry at this time. The reason is simple: It takes all the above mentioned steps such as registering your business, taking (and passing the exams) on all ten recognized courses, plus much more. I have copied the information below from the OAHI site, for accuracy. But as you will see, the steps to being a Registered Home Inspector is like comparing a house cat to a tiger- They are both cats, but who would you rather have on your side?
Membership Categories
RHI (Registered Home Inspector)
This is the highest level of certification. These Inspectors have achieved the highest level of educational requirements as set by the association and performed a predetermined number of paid inspections. They must also complete continuing educational and mandatory upgrading requirements set by the Association in order to maintain this designation.
(New) Associate Members
(New) Associate Members have finished educational, practical training and peer review requirements (as required of the Candidate member) and 150 fee paid inspections. (New) Associate members must also complete specific additional academic education in prescribed time periods.
Associate Members
Associate Members have finished the mandatory educational requirements* of becoming an RHI, however may not have yet finished the required number of paid inspections or the required technical background upgrades. Associate members must also complete annual educational updates in order to maintain this designation.
* Baseline requirements as existed prior to December 7, 2010.
Candidate Members
Candidate members have finished the mandatory core educational requirements, practical training requirements and successfully progressed through the peer review process. Candidate members may not have yet finished the required number of paid inspections to become an (New) Associate Member. Candidate Members must also complete specific additional academic education in prescribed time periods.
Applicant Members
Applicant members have not completed all the mandatory core educational requirements, practical training requirements, peer review process, or paid inspection requirements. Applicant members are bound to adhere to the By-laws, Standards of Practice of and Code of Ethics of the Association and are subject to the same disciplinary mechanisms as other membership categories.
Retired Members
Retired Members are persons who (i) have attained RHI or Associate member status, and (ii) are not active performing inspections. Retired Members must reinstate their former active membership category before performing inspections, subject to meeting the completion of mandatory upgrading and continuing education requirements.
Student Members
Student Members are non-practicing members and are in the process of advancing their membership category. Student Members have yet to complete any or all of the following: mandatory core educational requirements, practical training requirement, peer review process, or paid inspection requirements
 So, I think the information has shown that hiring a RHI is the better choice when choosing a home inspector. This way, you know without a doubt that the inspector you hire has a minimum set of skills, competency and experience. Whereas a Certified home inspector, or worse- a home inspector with no affiliations or accreditation- is going to be a gamble. Should you really gamble with your home and family's health and safety to save a couple of dollars? 
 

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Last Edited: 14/10/2017