The Education that Supports Home Inspectors

Being a home inspector is an interesting and meaningful job. These dedicated professionals help prospective home buyers understand the strengths and weaknesses in a home and can save them money, time and heartache. Working in the occupation requires licensing in some of the provinces, but there are a number of steps to take in order to get licensed.

In order to be considered for licensing, one of the key steps is to pass the designated exam through one of the four examination bodies permitted through Consumer Protection BC: Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia’s (ASTT) House Inspection Competency Examination; Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors CAHPI(BC) Canadian Home Inspector Examination; Canadian National Association of Certified Home Inspectors’ Associate Level Examination; and Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors’ National Home Inspector Examination (United States).

The exam is far from simple, even for those with applicable experience such as former (or current) carpenters, general contractors or others in the industry. To make the possibility of passing the test that much more likely, it’s advisable to take a home inspection training course led by an experienced (and licensed) home inspector. Not only is the education ideal for exam preparation, it’s mandatory. Consumer Protection BC requires those applying for a home inspector licence to have completed a minimum of 150 hours of academic-based training through an approved program.

What Home Inspector Training Includes

A home inspector needs to be able to review all systems within a home and advise their clients (generally the prospective home buyer) whether these areas are good, acceptable or in need of improvement. This information is delivered through a written report as well as a verbal explanation of what was found while reviewing the home. Therefore, home inspector training needs to include all of the various systems within a building and the components that make up those systems.

A home inspection training program must include details on the following systems:

  • Roofing, including flashing and chimneys. This should be a review of the state and adequacy of these systems to ensure protection of the home and stability within the structure. Identification of problems, causes and various roofing materials will be explored for both flat and sloped roofs.
  • While it is impossible to look at the framing behind the drywall or siding on a home, learning about aspects like the foundation, floor, walls and roof will give potential home inspectors the ability to identify both visible problems (such as a damaged foundation) as well as those that are showing symptoms of problem (walls that are bowing or cracking).
  • A home includes more than just the structure itself. It also involves areas like attached sidewalks and stairs as well as the exterior trim, facia and soffits and exterior doors and windows. Students of a home inspection training course will get to know the areas to watch in terms of problems while also knowing how to identify and examine them.
  • A home inspection training course covers a complete understanding of electrical systems within a home. It explores the electrical process from the property line to the fixtures in the home is reviewed with an understanding of issues and identification.
  • Heating and cooling. With a great number of heating and cooling systems available in residential buildings, this is an important part of a home inspection training program. It should include an understanding of the various systems, how to test them and identification of issues. It marries up with the roofing part of the program in that fireplaces (wood, gas, electric) and others forms of heating are reviewed along with their venting methods and how they integrate with the whole home. Each type of heating or cooling system will be explored to identify issues and possible areas for system failures.
  • Interior, including insulation and venting. As noted above, students in a home inspection course will start to see the integration of systems as the course progresses because the various systems begin to overlap in the process of learning about them and reviewing them. Insulation and venting will be reviewed from the standpoint of efficacy, location, identification, inspection and analysis. The interior of the home will also be reviewed including a look at walls, ceilings, floors, stairs, cabinets and more.
  • From the point where water enters the home to its flow through fixtures, down drains and into sewer pipes, students will review all of the aspects of residential plumbing, how it should work and what problems may look like as well as their causes.

Why a Home Inspection Training Course is Essential for Anyone Pursuing the Field

Most individuals who are looking into becoming a home inspector already have exposure to the residential home construction or renovation field through one of the trades. While this allows an individual to feel comfortable in reviewing the systems of a home, there is no way to know and understand all of the systems and how they can fail without adequate home inspector training. This is why Consumer Protection BC requires the educational component along with the exam, practical training and other aspects in the process of becoming a licensed home inspector.

Many courses are taught with the option of in-person or online learning methods to provide the flexibility students need when they are currently working another job. Although many students may feel they have access to materials that will teach the same information as a home inspector training course, they are not delivered by an experienced instructor who has worked in the field. Having an instructor who understands the processes of the program gives students the ability to have questions answered and place an emphasis on areas they need more time with.

Certainly some individuals work better in a self-study style, but in these situations there are no opportunities for dialogue to gain an understanding of challenging topics or to confirm information that may require clarification. Not only is taking home inspection training a requirement of becoming a licensed home inspector, it also allows for a practical learning environment led by an experienced professional who understands the process as well as the occupation.

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