CBC News - Calgary - Alberta closer to rules for home inspectors dated December 7, 2009

The Alberta government hopes to have new rules for home inspectors in place by the spring, a move that has some members of the industry concerned. Currently, any Albertan can print up business cards and become a home inspector.

"There is no actual guidelines or rules in the province of Alberta [about] who or who cannot be a home inspector. So you can start up being a home inspector tomorrow if you so desired," said Doug MacDonald, president of the Alberta chapter of the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors. "That's one of the frightening things about the way it is set up right now." His organization has been urging the government to license home inspectors.

That has the support of Calgary homeowner Jody Severinson, who says a home inspector told her roof repairs on the home she and her husband were about to buy would cost a maximum $1,200. They bought the Douglasdale home in January and after several estimates, spent $15,000 on the roof.

"A $14,000 mistake is a big mistake in my books," she said. "I spent hours and days and weeks trying to rectify the situation and came up empty-handed and it devastated us financially." The president of the company that conducted her home inspection never returned her calls, she said. "Unless they're licensed and unless they stand behind their word, they shouldn't be allowed to give people this kind of advice."

Alberta looking at insurance

Earlier this year, provincial officials consulted with members of the industry and the public on home inspections. Out of 775 responses, most were in favour of licensing home inspectors. Officials are in the midst of crafting regulations.

Service Alberta Minister Heather Klimchuk said the focus right now is on insurance what kind home inspectors should have and who should provide it. Currently, Alberta home inspectors don't need to have insurance.

"It becomes of course the issues of liability and the accountability of home inspectors and just making sure that such things as the level of education, the group they belong to, just to make sure everybody is on the same page, o a consumer knows what they're getting into when they do hire a home inspector," she said.
Consumers who have problems with home inspectors in Alberta have two options right now.

They can lodge a complaint with the local Better Business Bureau, which received 28 complaints last year, or homeowners can sue.

The British Columbia Supreme Court recently sided with a North Vancouver couple who sued their home inspector for nearly $200,000, but in Alberta, few home inspectors operate with insurance.

Home inspectors out of work?

British Columbia required home inspectors to have proper qualifications and licensing as of March 31, becoming the first province in the country to make the move.

Alberta has two groups representing home inspectors MacDonald's group and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. The later was not approved to certify inspectors in British Columbia because the organization didn't meet that province's educational requirements, and that has Alberta members worried.

"There'll be a lot of inspectors out of work because anyone that [doesn't] belong to the Canadian association of home inspectors will not probably get a licence," said the group's Alberta president, Steve Horvath.

Horvath said he has already been denied membership by the rival organization because he refused to take their coursework, which he argues shouldn't be necessary after 25 years in the business. "I myself would be out of business. And I know there's quite a few other people who have extensive inspection experience 20, 25 years of inspection experience that would be out of business," he said.
But if the province moves ahead with licensing, he said his organization does want to be involved.

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