In a hot housing market, realtors may be inclined to coach purchasers to waive home inspections. But is that really in everyone’s best interest?
Bruce McClure, a registered home inspector since 1998 and co-ordinator of the Home Inspection program at Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ont., would say it’s not. McClure is a proponent of a more consumer-oriented approach to home inspection, one he spells out in Buy or Run: I’m a Real Home Inspector, Not a TV Celebrity, an exposé he wrote to shed light on the industry.
A lobbyist for home inspection reform, McClure has ideas that ruffle feathers but he’s okay with that. His goal is to educate buyers so they know what a home inspection is – and isn’t – and will be more confident about the purchase decisions they make.
“A very important message is that home inspectors don’t pass or fail a house,” says McClure. “We report on a home’s condition at a moment in time.”
Apparently the moment matters. McClure recalls a story he once heard in the field when a home inspector gave a home a passing grade in the morning, only to learn it was flattened by a hurricane hours later.
His book is full of similar stories based on personal experiences. In one case, he inspected the roof of a condominium against the advice of the realtor, who told the prospective buyer it wasn’t necessary and that other home inspectors didn’t do it. When McClure found poorly repaired shingles that had outlived their usefulness, it helped to explain the signs of water damage indoors. The realtor preferred to blame it on the seller’s tropical fish tank.
McClure says he was prompted to write his book when he learned of Ontario’s pending proposal to establish mandatory guidelines for home inspectors. “I’m trying to get the public’s attention so people realize change is necessary,” he says, noting that he takes a North American perspective to solving problems in the industry. “It’s not just about standards. It’s about who the inspector is working for.”
The number one problem facing home inspection today, advocates McClure, is the lack of independence between home inspectors and realtors, who he maintains should be at an arm’s length at minimum. He writes: “… until the public can be assured of a truly independent home inspection that’s 100 per cent out of the realtor’s control or field of influence, there’s little chance of public confidence in the home inspection industry.”
Just as mechanics routinely inspect cars to ensure driving safety, McClure believes home inspections should be viewed as home safety. To help ensure you are hiring a qualified, reputable inspector who will work to protect your best interests, consider the following:
- Is your inspector independent from other influences?
- Are you allowed to attend the inspection?
- Is your inspector a member of the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI)?
- How long will the inspection take? A standards-of-practice inspection for a 2,000-square-foot house should seldom take less than 3.5 hours.
- Does the inspector have a contract?
- What kind of report will be provided? To meet standards of practice it needs to be written or computerized.
Ontario is currently soliciting feedback for its proposal, entitled A Closer Look: Report on Home Inspector Qualifications in Ontario. McClure hopes his book, available at Indigo and Chapter’s, will help form part of the discussion. Learn more about his “dream list” for reform at buyorrunbook.com.
Are you considering hiring a home inspector? Consult eieihome’s home inspector services database for a local professional.