Do new proposed standards help or hurt Home Buyers?

Helping or Hurting Consumers?


While well intentioned, the recent move towards tightening up the home inspection industry may do more harm than good for the home buyer.


The new proposed standards (CSA A770 Home Inspection New Standard) for home inspectors require far more on the part of the home inspector than the current, industry accepted Standards of Practice do. The length of a home inspection will likely be three fold what it is today if the new regulations are put in place. This is because the new proposed regulations require a much more in depth review of the home.


A home inspector is a generalist. While some home inspectors may come from one particular background or another giving them specialized knowledge of that area, when performing a standard home inspection, they are doing so as a generalist in all areas of home inspection. However, the way the new proposed standards are written it may require a specialist for each area of the home. For example, a licensed plumber for the plumbing systems, a licensed electrician for the electrical system, a heating and air conditioning specialist for the heating and cooling systems, a structural engineer for the homes structural components, a roofer for the roofing system and the list goes on. As you can imagine, the cost of a home inspection would need to sky rocket if the inspection is going to take many more hours to complete and many more professionals on site. This additional cost may very well place a home inspection outside the budget of the average home buyer.


Now if a home buyer opts out of a home inspection due to the high cost (likely in the thousands of dollars) what kind of protection do they have? The answer is NONE. This is a genuine fear to consider. If you make the home inspection so complex that it is priced out of reach, consumers are more likely to waive their right to the home inspection altogether. Is this really what we want?


While I agree the new proposed standards offer a far more in depth home inspection, the question is should it be required? I would argue that most major issues are caught during the course of a home inspection today, provided of course we are talking about visible issues, not hidden or concealed problems and for a very reasonable fee. Before I can get behind these new proposed standards I’d like to see real statistics that show that so much more can be found with this proposed more in-depth inspection. If most major issues can be found with today’s standard home inspection where the majority of consumers still opt in on their right to conduct an inspection, why should we risk pricing such a service out of the consumers reach? Wouldn’t this do far more harm than good when consumers are forced to turn away from such a valuable service due to cost restraints? One of the things home buyers may choose to do is have "Uncle Harry" or a friend look at the house. The problem with this is that while "Uncle Harry" or the friend may know a bit about how a home was constructed, they are not at all trained to know how it fails.


If you want to offer such an expensive, in depth inspection service, terrific, but don’t make it the all or nothing service. Consumers should have a choice to hire a home inspector who works under the Standards of Practice as they are today where they are a generalist not a specialist in all areas. Consumers should have a choice to have a fair and reasonably priced review of the home they are looking to buy and not forced to spend thousands of dollars and many more hours of time conducting an inspection that may or may not turn up much more information.


What has begun as an effort to help consumers may just turn out to be the most detrimental thing we can do to consumers if these proposed standards are passed. I would so much rather see consumers continue to opt in for their home inspections than waive their rights to one, because they can’t afford it.