Beware bad home inspection

Insurance and consumer concerns in Alberta have focused on licensing of home inspectors. In Alberta anyone can become a home inspector. You just print up some business cards and you can start up business tomorrow.

There is a movement to get the jobs licensed and have new rules for home inspectors in place. There have been instances where a less then accurate home inspection has resulted in unexpected costs for the new homeowner.

The insurance companies are in favor of the inspectors having an insurance requirement. At this point not only do you not need a license, you can do the job without insurance. There is a liability issue for negligence and errors and omissions concerns for accountability. Insurance companies would not be grant insurance to someone who did not fulfill the underwriting requirements. The requirements would look at such areas as education, experience and scope of the work to be performed.

What happens if you have a "bad" inspection? At the present time you can lodge a complaint with the local Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB received about 28 complaints last year. Your other option is to sue. There was a recent judgment in the British Columbia Supreme Court where a North Vancouver couple sued for almost $200,000 but in Alberta there are not many home inspections who have an insurance policy that can be addressed.

So this is a bad situation for the inspector who has to provide the money for his legal defense and worse yet, if the complaint is successful the out-of-pocket for any award that is made. For the consumer, if there is insurance in place then at least there is some form of repayment available for an injury or mistake made.

In British Columbia home inspectors had mandatory requirements set up March 31 2009 for licensing and to have proper qualifications. B.C. is the first province to set this up. So what is the hold-up in Alberta?

Part of the problem is that there are two groups. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (IACHI) website is a strong organization in Alberta that is lobbying to have its members recognized. The Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI) website does not recognize the education component of the IACHI.

One of the issues that will need to be resolved is if members of the IACHI with many years of experience will still require the coursework of the CAHPI (and cost) to gain licensing.

Turner's Tips suggests that you check into the credentials of your home inspector. If you want the financial comfort of knowing your inspector has insurance to back him up then ask for a certificate of insurance. You may also inquire about the background and experience of the inspector.