Seven Questions with Cheryl M.
Q: How does your industry background transfer to the home inspections training industry?
My electrical industry background makes me an excellent source of information for the home inspections training industry. As a Master Electrician with over 20 years’ experience as a Red Seal Electrician, combined with 10 years of instructing the Electrical Apprenticeship, I have the job-site experience, industry knowledge and trade skills plus the ability to relay that information to others effectively.
My past students have repeatedly given me feedback that I have the ability to “cut the fat away” and get down to the bare necessities. It is definitely a topic and field that could get very complex, but it can also be quite straight forward.
Q: What made you want to get involved with the Canadian Institute of Home Inspectors?
Two years ago, I resigned from an instructing position at BCIT that I loved. It was a difficult life-changing decision for me to make, but for a lifestyle change, leaving a busy, hectic life for a rural property and a slower pace of life, I took the chance and walked away from my career. Here in the Cariboo, a five-hour drive North of the city, I have started my own electrical company, and am thoroughly enjoying running my own business, but I do miss teaching! I loved it!
Since moving here, I have always scanned the classified ads to look for teaching positions. I envisioned myself maybe teaching remotely, maybe an online course, since I live in the middle of nowhere now. When I spotted the Canadian Institute of Home Inspectors, I instantly knew this was a project I could sink my teeth into and really fall in love with. I am kind of an electrical nerd; I enjoy talking, writing and installing anything electrical.
Q: What are the challenges of putting together a national home inspector training program such as the one created by the Canadian Institute of Home Inspectors?
I can only speak of the electrical aspect in regards to the challenges that CIHI might have faced when putting together the training program. I imagine it might seem overwhelming and for sure, they would need knowledgeable, professional and reliable experts on their team to rely upon for inside trade knowledge.
Gathering a core group would be the biggest challenge, I would guess. Logistics could also be a hurdle? Canada is a huge country, with individual provinces that each have their own micro climates and conditions, which warrant individual building codes and rules. In the electrical industry, for example, there is one Codebook for across Canada, but each province will “adopt” that book as the provincial Codebook. So, the Canadian Electrical Codebook, once adopted in Ontario, becomes the Ontario Code Book; and likewise, once British Columbia adopts it, it would now be called the BC Codebook. Ontario actually republished the book and calls it “Ontario Codebook”.
Q: What was the most enjoyable part for you with your contribution to the development of the Canadian Institute of Home Inspectors.
The most enjoyable part for me was the cozy, snowy mornings when I was cuddled in my PJs happily banging away on my laptop about what I love: electrical lol!! I’ve been running my own business here, and last year as my first winter working here, I crazily booked jobs outdoor jobs all winter long. I remember one day in particular; it was -30 out. The electrical tape sticky back froze and wouldn’t stick, my generator wouldn’t start, my tools were like holding icicles, and that day I really, really missed my warm classroom!
So yes, this winter I am quite enjoying the writing and researching. Especially the history…I am still learning too!
Q: If you could solve one trades related issue in Canada, what would it be?
One trades related issue that I face every day is the whole quality of installations by unqualified people issue. I am required to pull permits for virtually all work I do, but lots of electricians do not. They work “under the table” so to speak. This devalues my work, and thus, customers are quite often telling me “Oh so ‘n so gave me a quote and it was substantially lower than yours!” What that customer doesn’t realize is that “electrician” has no liability insurance, doesn’t know the laws and responsibilities they have as an electrical contractor, doesn’t have their contractor’s license, probably doesn’t pay taxes or claim that income, and then most likely does sub-standard and sketchy electrical work. In our area there is one electrical inspector for a massive geographic region. He does his best but most slip by unfortunately. It makes it a little more challenging, but not impossible, so I just carry on and never compromise my own work ethics, knowing I can fully justify my prices.
To solve this issue, it is simple. Quit mismanaging our money (all those permit fees we pay) and hire more inspectors. Catch the fly by night installers, and help to raise the bar where all installations are up to Code. As an electrician I have seen all kinds of crazy and dangerous installations. It doesn’t even shock me anymore. I’m sure home inspectors will see the same thing!
Q: What do you feel makes an effective training program for home inspections?
I think the Canadian Institute of Home Inspectors is doing exactly what it takes to produce an effective training program. That is, hiring experts in their field and then comprising all that information into one package to present to students. Considering that new home inspector’s backgrounds can be extremely varied, starting with the basics and writing about complex systems in layman’s terms will ensure their success.
As far as the electrical module, I imagine that the new home inspector will use it as a reference while inspecting electrical systems in a home, but over time will learn what to look for and will lean on this resource less and less. The learning curve will obviously be huge in the beginning, but will become like second nature, which is why it is so important to learn the “right way” first.
Q: Do you believe that the material written in the Canadian Institute of Home Inspectors is done in such a way that while comprehensive; it is not restrictive to an individual with limited trades experience?
I believe that my contribution anyways is written so anybody, with any background, and limited construction knowledge, could read, understand and learn from it. Nothing is worse to me than making something harder than it has to be!
I was asked to write this module in this manner, so I assume the whole package will be written in a similar, easy to understand fashion. I, for one, look forward to reading the whole package and learning more about construction and homes myself!