The home inspection business is like the Wild West, where anyone can print up a business card and call themselves an inspector, says industry insider Bruce McClure. For this reason, he says, all inspectors should not be painted with the same brush.
If you happen to have web skills and computer skills, you can make yourself a great website and overnight make it look like you are the biggest show in town.
In his newly published book Buy or Run, I'm a Real Home Inspector, Not a TV Celebrity, McClure argues the lack of industry standards creates friction between inspectors and realtors, whom he believes have too much influence over the inspection process.
It's about who is running the show, and at this point in time, it is the realtors that are running the home inspection industry.
Weeks believes one of the biggest problems that plagues the industry is that it's not regulated, which means anyone can call themselves a home inspector. Both say it's these people who are undercutting other qualified inspectors, and therefore missing some of the major issues when inspecting homes. This lack of industry control, both argue, puts all three parties - the buyer, the realtor and the home inspector - in a vulnerable position that may result in legal problems.
Buyers can ask their realtor to suggest names of home inspectors, but ultimately it's the buyer's decision on who to hire.
So how do you know if you are hiring the right inspector if they are not required to have a licence?
Do your due diligence, says Weeks, and make sure they are registered as a home inspector.
Weeks, who like McClure is a registered home inspector, says it's important for consumers to understand the home inspector's role, too. He says potential buyers should see them more like a "home doctor" who does a visual inspection of areas such as the roof, foundation and heating and cooling systems, and if red flags are raised in the report, they will suggest further inspection by a specialist such as a plumber or electrician.
Randy Oickle, incoming president of the Ottawa Real Estate Board, says that, like realtors, there are good and bad home inspectors, and the best way for inspectors to deal with accusations of blacklisting or intimidation is to refer to the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act and a Regulatory Code of Ethics.