Questions about becoming a home inspector
Q: Is the Canadian Institute of Home Inspectors an approved course?
A: Yes, the Canadian Institute of Home Inspectors is an approved home inspections training provider in both Alberta and British Columbia. Currently these are the only two provinces in Canada that regulate the home inspections industry.
Q: How long does your course take to complete?
A: This depends on the student. Some individuals are ferocious readers with a strong background in building trades and may be able to complete all the reading materials in two months time. This is done by spending many uninterrupted hours in a day reading the material. Other students may take several months to complete should they have a full time job, busy family, or other commitments that may impede them from being able to dedicate more than a couple of hours a night to study the modules. We also have also have the direct training sessions for our students to enroll in, free of charge, so that they can learn with other students from our instructors the "Coles" notes of the modules. Outside of COVID, we also provide in-person hands on training and mock inspections.
Q: How many modules does your course have?
A: Currently we offer Structural, HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Exterior, Roofing, and the Building Science modules. That is 7 in total. While we don’t discuss marketing or report writing in these modules, this will be discussed during the in-class learning sessions. We don’t include an “Interior” module as this varies greatly between inspectors. Some may choose not to run appliances; some may not choose to open every cabinet. We leave these items along with cosmetics for the inspector to decide their “secret inspections sauce” on how they perform their inspections.
Q: Is your course online or printed?
A: Our course is a hybrid course to meet the preference of our students. We are one of the only home inspector training schools that still provides hard copy materials to our students so that they can write and highlight contents without having to stare at a computer screen for countless tiring hours. We recommend that our students read the modules in full before arriving for the direct training sessions. A student may choose to attend a direct training session before, during, or after completing the reading modules. We recommend our students attend the free direct training sessions once a year to ensure that they stay on top of industry changes. With the constantly changing building industry in Canada, we want to ensure our students stay ahead of industry with the latest information.
Q: How is your course graded? Is there an exam?
A: Yes, we do have a comprehensive exam. It is mostly multiple choice and has 80 questions. Students have two hours to complete the open book exam. However, don’t be fooled thinking that it will be easy because if you have not studied the material; chances are you won’t pass. Our exams test to ensure that our students are highly trained in home inspections. The passing grade is 80%. This exam is free of charge and re-writes are free as well.
Q: What happens after I complete my training with the Canadian Institute of Home Inspectors?
A: This comes down to where you plan on being a home inspector. If you are reside and plan on operating outside of Alberta or British Columbia, you would choose whether you want to start your own company, join an established home inspections company, or purchase a franchise. We work with our students to help them get placed with a franchise or an established home inspections company as well as offering some start up guidance during the direct training sessions for those that prefer to create their own company.
If you reside in either Alberta or British Columbia: there are additional requirements in order to become a licensed home Inspector.
In Alberta: The first step is to complete your home inspections training from an approved provider. Once you complete your training, you must complete what is called a test inspection. This is where you are tested by an approved examiner at a mock residential inspection. The examiner will pretend to be your client who you are inspecting for. Once you pass this test you will need to obtain home inspection insurance. Every home inspector in Alberta must have insurance and be bonded. This $10,000 security bond can often can be purchased through your insurance provider or bank. You will need to provide the home inspections contract which you will be providing to your clients to sign before each inspection and this contract must also be approved by Service Alberta. Service Alberta requires a criminal background check which must be submitted with your application to the province. The last two items that will need to be submitted to Service Alberta for approval is the Home Inspections Application Form(s) and a License Fee. After your initial course training is complete, the remaining steps do not necessarily have to fall in the order written above but all need to be completed before your application is reviewed and approved by Service Alberta. Approval may take in as short of time as a few weeks to several months depending on the current backlog.
For British Columbia: An individual must complete the educational training portion from an approved provider. They then must pass one of the 4 approved provincial exams. The individual must “shadow” an active practicing home inspector from the province for a minimum of 50 hours. Upon completing the practical home inspection mock test, a letter of recommendation to the Director has to be sent stating that you are competent to perform inspections and write home inspection reports. Following this; proof of incorporation and a municipal business license criminal background check, and insurance are required before applying to the province for your license.
For all other provinces and territories; no additional requirements are currently required.
Q: What does the fee for your home inspections course include?
A: Our fee includes several items; the printed modules, the direct training sessions, and ongoing support are included with our training program. We do offer our students assistance with job placement as we have an extensive network of home inspectors that may want to sell their established companies. Alternatively, we offer suggestions for a variety of Home Inspector Franchises should the student prefer this route. Our modules have been created by industry leading home inspectors, post secondary instructors, codes compliance officers, and other industry stake holders such as home inspection insurance companies and real estate agents. We have done this to ensure that to ensure that we have provided the most up to date and effective information to our students so that they can become leaders in their areas.
Q: Does the course offer hands on inspection training?
A: Yes. As part of the in-class learning sessions, the Institute aims to provide one mock inspection free of charge (in a group setting) at the end of the course. While this is not a requirement, we do recommend our students attend this as it will give them more experience in a professional learning environment. In addition, the 5 days spent in-class will have various display models brought in so that the students can see furnaces, boilers, electrical panels, etc. first hand and learn about their components. This benefit is currently not available due to COVID-19.
Q: What kind of training is required to be a home inspector?
A: Currently in Canada, there are only two provinces that regulate and license the home inspections industry. These are Alberta and British Columbia. Each province has its own criteria, although both require individuals to obtain their home inspections training from a provincially approved provider. This is discussed in greater detail above.
Q: How much does the training cost to be a home inspector?
A: The training varies between course providers. There are providers of online content which range from a few hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars. If you live in a province that does not regulate the industry, arguably there may not be any costs associated with deeming yourself “qualified” to be a home inspector. Naturally, we recommend that you obtain your home inspections training preferably from a Canadian provider that focuses on Canadian codes and standards. The Canadian Institute of Home Inspectors updates all of our modules regularly to stay relevant with the changing industry.
Q: Would my residential construction experience correlate to home inspections?
A: Absolutely. Any construction experience would be transferable to your new career as a home inspector. This is part of the reason why the Canadian Institute of Home Inspectors offers both a $500 Award and $500 Scholarship to individuals that have experience in the residential construction industry. To learn more about this, visit our Corporate Social Responsibility webpage for details.
Q: Is there a demand for home inspectors in the workforce?
A: Yes. The vast majority of homes purchasers either require or request a home inspection. Even brand new homes and condos. Demand varies between jurisdictions; cities versus rural areas will have differing volume demand for home inspections. Booming areas will have a higher demand than those in a recession. But rest assured that if homes are being purchased, inspections are being performed. Calling your local real estate board to find out the number of transactions can be a great indicator of how busy your area is.
Q: How much money can I expect to make as a home inspector?
A: This really depends on many factors and has a very large range depending on the region in Canada that your business is based. According to one home inspection association (ASHI), a home inspector typically makes $100,000 a year once they become established. While the Institute does not guarantee that our students, or any student from other programs, will make this sum; according to our knowledge of the industry: this is an accurate representation. Within our network of home inspectors, know of one-person inspection firms that gross $100,000, $200,000, and even $300,000!
Q: What are the physical demands of a home inspector?
A: The physical demands are relatively small, especially when compared to a typical trades profession. Becoming a home inspector is a good career choice as you will remain active when you walk and climb around a home performing your inspection. The sedentary tasks you may encounter as a home inspector are writing your reports in an office setting and travelling from one inspection to another. Lifting a ladder is likely the most physically demanding part of an inspector’s job. We recommend putting good thought in your ladder.
Q: What are the time commitments of a home inspector?
A: The time commitments of a home inspector vary greatly. Some home inspectors prefer to only perform one inspection a day during weekdays (inspections range between 2-4 hours each) while others pursue 2 or even 3 inspections in one day working 7 days a week. That means some inspectors may work 30 hours a week while others may work 90 hours or more.
Q: What type of equipment is needed?
A: This really depends on the home inspector. Some inspectors may choose to purchase a $20,000 thermal imaging camera while others may simply have a flashlight and a clip board. Typically, a “starter kit” of tools for a home inspector, excluding a vehicle for transportation, with the purchase of an entry level thermal imaging camera would be around $5,000 - $7,000. Your decision on the quality of digital camera (if not using a mobile phone to take photos), if you have a laptop (if using digital report writing software), and quality of inspection tools will vary the total investment spent. The tools you purchase will likely be used for many years. Quality tools result in quality inspections.
Download our recommended tool list HERE.
Q: Do you need to have your own company in order to be an inspector?
A: Not necessarily. Some inspectors may choose to become employed by another home inspections company; say an individual does not want the hassle or is not suited to perform the daily “behind the scenes” duties such as expense reports, networking with industry professionals, creating marketing and branding campaigns, etc. Other inspectors may want to have complete autonomy with their brand (company) and operate on their own agenda. Some may prefer purchasing a franchise from the dozens of providers in the market.
Q: What is involved when starting you own home inspection company?
A: This depends on the municipality that you operate. Some jurisdictions require a business license. Some provinces require insurance, approved training, memberships to associations. This is discussed in more detail above. Other than that; start up capital, a solid marketing plan, and perseverance are the things needed to start and succeed in the home inspections industry.
Q: What could the start up costs of running your own inspections company look like?
A: The start up costs range to start a home inspections company. This can be anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. It really comes down to what assets and tools you already have in your possession. Do you have a reliable vehicle that can fit all your tools? Do you plan on using a thermal imaging camera? Do you have any small tools like flashlights, ladders, a laptop, a digital camera? The quality of your tools will play a role in the total cost of running an inspections company. We recommend you purchase good quality entry line tools to keep costs down as well as figuring out what devices you prefer. Naturally, your marketing costs including logo and website design, any advertising such as business cards, social media or printed marketing will also increase your costs of operating a home inspections company.