Ontario is inviting the public to take a closer look at home inspectors.
And for licensed home inspector Leigh Gate, that’s a good move to ensure quality and accountability.
“A home inspector comes in and determines which systems in your home are working properly, such as lighting and heating,” he said. “Everybody else is regulated. Every trade is regulated and the home inspectors who come in to see that everything works right aren’t.”
The reality, he said, is anyone can put a sign on their car saying they’re a home inspector.
Gate, however, opted to learn the home-inspection business by taking a specialized program at Georgian College. He obtained a municipal licence and underwent a criminal record check. He has also joined several professional organizations, which require him to continue his training and be peer-reviewed regularly.
But in some areas, none of those is required, he said.
“I’m going into people’s homes, going through their closets. You have to look for signs of any structural failure. You could see a hole in the closet. You could find electrical that’s dangerous in a closet. An exposed light bulb could cause a fire,” Gate explained.
The Ministry of Consumer Services filed a report on the industry and is accepting public comments until Jan. 27.
It recommends home inspectors be regulated, meet certain technical and professional qualifications, be insured and abide by a code of ethics. It also recommended contracts be written in plain language, include mandatory elements and minimum standards for reports.
The government panel found that home inspections by unqualified inspectors put consumers at risk of having to do unforeseen repairs. The full Ontario report can be found online at sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/home_consult.aspx.
“(A home inspector) shouldn’t just be anyone with a level and a screwdriver,” said Gate.