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Current Market Conditions

No Conditions house saleThe Real-Estate market in Ontario has seen a recent phenomenon of the home being sold with multiple-bids and selling for astronomically high prices, sometimes 30% over asking.  In this frenzied buying atmosphere, buyers are waiving conditions, usually the Home Inspection and often financing clauses.

This puts the buyer in a precarious position because they are totally at the mercy of the “Caveat Emptor” clause applied to real-estate purchasing.  This is frequently translated to “buyer beware”.  The Latin phrase is actually taken from a much lengthier Latin phrase “Caveat emptor, quia ignorare non debuit quod jus alienum emit” which translates literally to “Let a purchaser beware, for he ought not to be ignorant of the nature of the property which he is buying from another party”.   What this means is, unless the Seller intentionally hides a known defect from the seller, the buyer is responsible for identifying any defects and ascertaining the condition of the property they are purchasing BEFORE they agree to purchase.

Buyers who have solicited a Realtor to work on their behalf to procure the home are protected somewhat by the Code of Ethics for Realtors established by the Real-Estate Council of Ontario (RECO).   Two particular clauses in the Code are:

Services from others

8. (1) A registrant shall advise a client or customer to obtain services from another person if the registrant is not able to provide the services with reasonable knowledge, skill, judgment and competence or is not authorized by law to provide the services. O. Reg. 580/05, s. 8 (1).

(2) A registrant shall not discourage a client or customer from seeking a particular kind of service if the registrant is not able to provide the service with reasonable knowledge, skill, judgment and competence or is not authorized by law to provide the service. O. Reg. 580/05, s. 8 (2).

The first clause is pretty obvious in its intent.   All buyers’ Realtors that are not able to provide the knowledge as to the condition of the home themselves, should advise their clients or customers (there is a difference in the Real-Estate world in Ontario) to obtain those services from someone who is qualified to.

The second clause puts the Realtors in dangerous waters in this type of frenzied market.   It, simply put, says a Realtor shall not discourage (by any means) a client or a customer from seeking a particular kind of service.   The fact we have heard stories from clients that the Realtors have stated having any conditions could lose the sale could be construed as discouragement.
Most Realtors then asked their clients and customers to sign OREA form 123 which is a waiver of Inspection, that releases the Realtor from any liability.

This is in addition to Clause 16 on the OREA form 101 (Purchase Agreement) which bizarrely states the negative towards Inspections:  
16. INSPECTION: Buyer acknowledges having had the opportunity to inspect the Property and understands that upon acceptance of this offer there shall be a binding agreement of purchase and sale between Buyer and Seller. The Buyer acknowledges having the opportunity to include a requirement for a property inspection report in this Agreement and agrees that except as may be specifically provided for in this Agreement, the Buyer will not be obtaining a property inspection or property inspection report regarding the Property.

The outcome.

Consumer ProtectionThe main outcome of this market has been a lot of buyers that have been exposed to unnecessary risks when making, what is usually considered to be one of the most expensive purchases they will ever make. We are already seeing the fall-out of this in the Inspection Profession with more people requesting post-purchase inspections.
There are only two reasons for this type of inspection.  Either the buyers are looking to understand what repairs and maintenance requirements they have purchased along with the home, or they are looking for leverage for a possible lawsuit against the sellers and agents.
A second outcome has been in the decision by some inspectors to offer Inspections that fall far below the standard expected of a Professional Home Inspector.  Limited inspections, walk-through inspections and verbal inspections have been popping up across Ontario.

As OntarioACHI strives to work with the government of Ontario and Canada to improve the professional standard of Home Inspectors, we can neither support nor condone any action by a Home Inspector that places consumers at risk with respect the Home Purchasing process.

Any service offered by an inspector or anyone else,  that does not start with a clearly worded contract, continue with a full and comprehensive inspection of the property according to the Standards of Practice and end with payment and a written report is not considered a bonafide home inspection.

These types of services do nothing to protect the consumer, and in fact, can lead to increased liability for both the Inspector and the Realtor.

The risks of limited scope inspections.

Insurance Inspection - 5 pointOntarioACHI created a standard of practice for a limited-scope inspection.  This standard is based upon 5 main inspection points and still requires a contract, inspection and a written report.  It is however designed to be used in a commercial scope for Insurance Companies or mortgage providers.   It covers Roof & Attic, Foundation, Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC.  

The problem with this limited scope is that it does not take into account safety concerns in areas other than those in the limited inspection.  

Things like decks, stairs to the property, doors, windows, and anything external to the home are omitted.  

The risks here are that the client, and the law, would rightfully consider that if an inspector is aware of such a safety concern, then they should, given the duty of care, report such a concern.  

Additional to this, if the inspector declares the concern verbally but does not report it in written form, a “he-said-she-said” scenario arises.  If something goes wrong, it will always be the inspector’s word against the clients.  At best the inspector will get a bad reputation, at worst they may lose in a court of law if sued.

In situations where the only option is to provide a limited scope inspection, then providing one to a standard, such as the one developed here associated with a properly worded contract and advice as to the limitations, is better than having no inspection at all.   It is also way better than to have a verbal inspection prior to decision making or a walk-through with no written report.

The risks of walk-through inspection with verbal reporting only.

Verbal Report not worth itA verbal report is not worth the paper it’s written on!  

  • The client, if they are buying, cannot use verbal comments to justify their decisions to the seller.  
  • The seller, conversely,  may choose not to disclose material facts presented to them verbally.  
  • There is no evidence, in the form of a written report, that categorically proves a seller was aware of the defect.  

Additionally, Realtors may be putting themselves at risk.  

If a Realtor refers, to their client, an inspector who performs these type of inspections, they are not acting in the best interests of that client.

Knowing there will be no written report means the Realtor is allowing their client to solicit services from an inspector they referred, who has performed a sub-standard service.  It also means that, if defects are found, the client has no choice but to either accept the defects or back out of the deal.  With no written report, evidence of the defect cannot be given to the selling parties to negotiate a price alteration or request repairs. 

In both the above cases, even if the Inspector has what they believe is an iron-clad contract absolving them from liability with respect to failure to report, the outcome will again be, at best, a poor reputation, and at worst a lawsuit that will end up with the inspector in court, and possibly the Realtor being dragged into the suit because of a Code of Ethics violation.

A case showing how a Home Inspector was sued based upon verbal instructions at an inspection can be read about here.  Once again it shows that the Realtor was dragged into the case, cleared but still had to defend.  The main report was written, but the verbal portion was disputed and went against the inspector.  For the small portion that was disputed the Inspector was found liable for over $18,000.   Imagine, what might have been the outcome if the whole inspection had been verbal?

Conclusion

In hard times, a business person may choose to try to find alternative ways to keep the finances afloat.   In the Inspection profession, straying from the Standard of Practice, which encompasses an unwritten duty of care, will only increase your legal liability.  At the same time, it provides little or no protection for the consumer.  In the case of verbal reporting, it also increases the liability to any referring Realtor, as their Code of Ethics requires them to act professionally, work in the best interests of their clients, and always use good judgement when making decisions that affect their clients or customers.  

From the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act:-

Best interests
4. A registrant shall promote and protect the best interests of the registrant’s clients. O. Reg. 580/05, s. 4.

Conscientious and competent service, etc.
5. A registrant shall provide conscientious service to the registrant’s clients and customers and shall demonstrate reasonable knowledge, skill, judgment and competence in providing those services. O. Reg. 580/05, s. 5.

Providing opinions, etc.
6. (1) A registrant shall demonstrate reasonable knowledge, skill, judgment and competence in providing opinions, advice or information to any person in respect of a trade in real estate. O. Reg. 580/05, s. 6 (1).”

Consider this:

  • As a consumer would you choose to use an electrician, who worked to their own personal standard, ignored all the safety codes and used sub-standard tools, just to save a few dollars?  
  • As a Realtor would you recommend such an Electrician?  

The Home Inspection service is important to the consumer.  Choosing an inspector based upon their ability to provide a fast inspection at a rock-bottom price will not provide anyone with the protection a Professional Home Inspection would.

At OntarioACHI we ask our inspectors to provide a service to a higher level for the consumer.  We strongly advise against ANY home inspector choosing to short-circuit the Home Inspection Standard just to keep the money coming in.   While in the short-term this may seem like a good idea, in the long-term it will never pay off, for the Inspector, for the Realtor,  for the Consumer or for the Profession as a whole.

We realise on the odd occasion a specific sale may require thinking outside of the box and using a limited scope inspection, but if you do, ensure:

  • your contract is very specific
  • you fully explain the limitations to your client
  • you perform these inspections to the same standard
  • you do not mislead buyers, deliberately or by oversight, into thinking a full inspection has occurred
  • you are prepared to take many phone calls afterwards from clients who think they may have been short-changed
  • that this is the exception to your inspection practice and not the rule

When licensing is finally enforced you may be prevented from even offering this type of inspection.  Remember, the CSA A770-16 standard for Home Inspections would allow you, as a licensed Home Inspector, to increase the number of services you offer as part of a Home Inspection, but not decrease them to a level of a limited Scope Inspection.

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Over the last few weeks, I have been talking to a number of inspectors across Ontario.   Most of these members are from our own association, others have no association affiliation and others belong to one or more.

I have had a similar set of questions asked of me, and apparently, other members of the board have heard these as well, so I going to take an opportunity here to clarify the position of OntarioACHI.

Q. What’s the relationship between OntarioACHI and InterNACHI?

A. We’ve been asked this question several time over the last few years, and the question crops up again and again on our FAQ site.

The answer is the same. OntarioACHI is an independent, not-for-profit, volunteer-run, incorporated as a letters-patent company in Ontario. We have no formal relationship with any other association, including InterNACHI.

Up until 2014 members from the OntarioACHI board used to help administer the InterNACHI Ontario Chapter, but with only few volunteers and enough work to concentrate on our own members we have not managed to continue that support.

It appears that since we stopped supporting it, that chapter has gone dormant.

Hopefully someone will be able to take over maintenance to keep InterNACHI members who operate in Ontario up to speed with changes that are occurring here.

Q. We see that you have supported CAHPI at their conference and CAHPI has supported OntarioACHI, is there a relationship between OntarioACHI and CAHPI?

A. As we said above, we have no formal relationship with any other association. This also includes CAHPI.

From the outset, the vision of OntarioACHI has been a stronger profession in Ontario through a process of collaboration. For the seven years of our operation, OntarioACHI has reached out to other association to work together to promote areas that we align with, support areas were we are lacking and discuss areas where we think change is needed.

This goes for all the Canadian associations, including CAHPI, PHPIC the NHICC (which technically is not an association) and OAHI.

We see that working together while respecting each others differences leads to a stronger voice for the profession.

Q. With CAHPI now offering memberships directly to inspectors are you threatened by them?

A. No. We see CAHPI as a federal association with many aspects of their visions aligned with ours. They, play in a space we do not have the manpower or geographic spread to, and that is at the Federal level. The same could be said of PHPIC and to some extent the NHICC.

While they all also work at Provincial levels, because of our concerted efforts over a long period of time working with regulators and at Queen’s Park, we feel our strengths lie, and will remain, at the provincial level, here in Ontario.

It is our belief that the CAHPI leadership see us in this vein, as do other federally focused organisation, and we tend to lean off each others strengths, again to strengthen the overall position of our combined members.

Q. Should we be a member of more than one association?

A. That is a personal decision. You should choose to belong to the association you feel gives you the greatest value for the membership dollars you spend.

In an ideal world, we would love all Ontario Inspectors to be a member of OntarioACHI, and to consider belonging to a federal organisation that can work in conjunction with our vision.

We realise however that everyone is different, has different views and respect whatever decision they wish to make with respect to allegiance.

What we will say, is that until government regulation in proclaimed in Ontario, we will continue to work in conjunction with other Canadian Association, regardless of our views, to prevent association hopping by errant inspectors.

Regardless of the Association, at Provincial or Federal level, I believe we are all trying to work towards a more respectable and trustworthy Home Inspection Profession and it is only by collaboration and sharing information that we can weed out inspector who don’t come up to the mark we are aiming for.

Q. What designation should I get to ensure I will be grandfathered in to licensing?

A. First and foremost, noone should be under the impression that the licensing process will even have a grandfathering agreement. Anyone who tells you that this designation or that designation will guarantee you a license if and when Ontario regulation is proclaimed is not being honest with you.

What we do know is what has been published to date.

First, the recommendations paper, A Closer Look, which was published in 2013 and was the driver for pushing the Home Inspection Act, 2017 forward has a number of recommendations with respect to qualifications expected of Home Inspectors.

We also know, that under the Home Inspection Act, 2017, one of the first things that will happen is that the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors Act, 1994 will be repealed. By doing so, the OAHI as it operates not will be dissolved, and presumably reformed as a letters-patent, not-for-profit association no different from OntarioACHI.

At the same time, the protective right to the RHI and Registered Home Inspection designations will be terminated, and again, presumably, revert to the copyright owners CAHPI.

My understanding is that OAHI may be looking for a way forward for their version of the RHI but their board of directors would be better placed to answer questions about that than I.

As for IF any designations will be grandfathered is such a facility is adopted, one would assume that only those designations that meet the criteria set out, and have a documented audit process to should how inspector obtained and maintained their designation(s) will be considered.

While I can’t speak for any other association, I can say that our information systems and documented processes provide a full audit of all CCHI members (as well as other designations awarded by OntarioACH) and the criteria is, as most have found out, difficult to achieve. we make no apologies for this, as we are focussed on higher standards.

Our understanding is that at least CAHPI and the NHICC have similar processes and audit trails, as does ASHI for the ACI. We have not had enough input from the other associations that award their own designations to ascertain the status of qualification or audit. As member of PHPIC are awarded the NHI through the NHICC we would assume that they also undergo stringent audit.

As you can see, from just these few questions our approach has not altered in the seven years since our formation. We will continue to reach out to work with others in a collaborative manner. We will continue to demand high standards from our members, and we will continue to work with the regulatory authorities to ensure our members are at the forefront of consumer protection.

While this may seem altruistic, it is at the same time self-serving. the more we improve our service towards protection of consumers, who are our clients, the better those consumers will think of our members and their services.

Sure it’s going to upset the apple cart with other professions sometimes, but we have to remember, the Home Inspection Profession is here to provide comprehensive, informed, objective, independent, Professional advice on the condition of properties that our fellow Canadians are thinking of investing what may be their lives’ savings into.

We owe it to them to do better every day.

That’s was our vision in 2012 when we formed, nothing has changed.

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In business, it’s a fact of life – somewhere you’ve got competition. While it may be intimidating to some, it’s the nature of the beast. You and your competitors are all trying to get a piece of the same pie.

Most of the time, your friendly competition is just that—friendly. However, every now and then, competition can be downright scary.

Sometimes you might feel like you are being attacked by a competitor for what like truly personal reasons. This might be true, or you might be too sensitive.

For example, if a competitor targets your business by underselling very similar products and services in an attempt to drive you out of business, while this might be an attack on your earning potential, it’s part of life. If their business plan supports it, then you need to look at your business plan and marketing to see how to combat it.

If however, a competitor badmouths you to customers or clients, suppliers, vendors or maybe an association that you both belong to, or posts on social media untrue and damaging information that can be, directly or through association be, identified as pertaining to you, then that is a personal attack and may even be in breach of defamation laws.

On the internet, this is know as cyber-libel. Remember, this has to be both untrue and damaging. Such information might be posted anywhere, including social media, message boards, bulletin boards, blogs, chats, personal websites, text messages or other published articles.

As responsible professionals, home inspector belonging to this association are expected to act in a way that respects the profession, other professionals with the home Inspection arena as well as other professions they might have to deal with as part of their work. More than that, they should act in a way that does not bring themselves, the profession or other professionals into disrepute with the public at large.

As Professional Home Inspectors belonging to the Ontario Association of Certified Home Inspectors, you are bound by our code of ethics, compliance to the chosen standard of practice (CAN/CSA-A770-16) and legally to a duty of care to your clients.

Inspectors who are not members of this association may not be bound to the standard of practice and code of ethics, but this does not make them an easy target for attack on the internet or anywhere else.

Law and Justice concept. Mallet of the judge, books, scales of justice. Gray stone background, reflections on the floor, place for typography. Courtroom theme.

Unless you can substantially prove anything damaging you might say about them or their business, saying it to anyone other than them or putting it in writing can land you in court should they decide to sue.

Even if they do not choose to sue, you could find yourself the subject of a
disciplinary hearing with the association as regardless of whether the information is founded or not, you have a duty to the profession to make it better not to drag it to the gutter.

Let’s take a couple of examples. Full disclosure: We are not lawyers and while our opinions are based upon an educated understanding of what is fair and decent here in Canada a legal expert might choose to disagree with our opinions and take a different approach or come to a different decision. As with everything, take care in what you say and do.

Example #1. The message board flame war

Every now and then you will probable read a message board where opinions are exchanged and tempers get aroused. That’s normal. While it is between two people and the decisions are about a difference of opinion, all it amounts to is two people letting off steam about a subject they see differently.

Where it starts to edge its way into cyber-libel is when name calling commences or accusations that one party doesn’t know what they are doing or saying. This could then be considered defamation. The more public the message board, the more damage could be considered to be done and the more likely the legal system will frown on it.

Our advice: By all means have a difference of opinion on any subject matter, but refrain from making personal attacks on anyone or how they conduct themselves of their business. That’s your personal view and its none of their or anyone else’s business. Keep it to yourself.

Example #2 – Social Media Marketing

A lot of business are now choosing to market their services socially through social media sites such as FaceBook, Google and the like. That’s great, but remember you are professionals. Talk about your own services as much as you like but don’t compare your services to other services you don’t provide. If you don’t provide them, state you don’t and explain why your services might be better. Don’t state why there’s, in your opinion, might be worse. Again, that’s your view and you may just be wrong. Point to an “official position” if your view matches it, but don’t come out and say it yourself. Let the official position take the hit for any legal action.

Our advice: A true Professional is recognised by their abilities and willingness to help others to succeed. An unprofessional person is only able to point out why others are, in their opinion, wrong. Be the Professional recognise that your opinions are your own and may indeed be wro.

Example #3 – Defamation by Association

Regardless of the medium, if you choose to point out the faults in a particular mode of business operation, knowing full well that your competitor is the only person that uses that mode of business, then expect some blow back.

You don’t have to name an individual or business for any defamatory comments you make to be associated with your intended (or even unintended) target.

You are quite able to say that. in your opinion, or the opinion of you clients (if you can in fact back that claim up) you provide a fantastic service. You cannot however, state that a competitor provides a sub-par service or should be prevented from practicing just because you see it that way. If you do, make sure you have professional liability insurance and it covers you for being stupid.

Our advice: Point out the benefits of your services, how they help your potential clients and what might befall your clients if they don’t partake of your services. Don’t suggest something bad might happen to your clients if they use someone else’s service. It might be true, but it equally might be not.

Stick to what you know

This association has a strict code of ethics, requires you to comply with, or exceed a recognised standard of practice and abide by your duty of care.

We are all Home Inspectors and each has a way of supplementing income. Whether that be through ancillary services such as commercial inspections, pool inspections, mould and asbestos sampling, radon measurement or indoor air analysis that’s fine.

Our code of ethics forbids you from using any inspection service to provide you with a trade-related income. i.e. you can perform renovations or repairs on a home you have inspected, even if the inspection was an ancillary one.

Our code of ethics also forbids you, as a Home Inspector, from defaming another Home Inspector, Association, other professional or client or member of the public. This includes retaliatory defamation. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication” however these freedoms don’t extend to hate speech or civil defamation, and nor do our code of ethics.

Stick to what you know, advertise it, be proud of it and work with your competitors to promote business. Doing otherwise will only drive your business and your earning potential to the floor.

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Bulleting from Transport Canada

INFORMATION BULLETIN – NEW DRONE RULES

As announced by the Minister of Transport on January 9, 2019, the new rules for remotely piloted aircraft systems (drones) were published in Canada Gazette Part II.

These new rules do not come into force until June 1, 2019. Until June 1, 2019:

·         Recreational drone pilots must continue to follow the rules found in Interim Order no. 9; and

·         Pilots using their drone for work or research must continue to follow the conditions of their Special Flight Operations Certificate or an existing exemption.

What do the new rules mean for you?

The new rules apply to all drone pilots flying drones between 250 g and 25 kg, regardless of whether the drone is flown for fun, work or research.

By June 1, 2019:

1 – You must register your drone and mark it with the registration number. You can register online* in about 3 minutes at canada.ca/drone-safety.

2 – You must have a drone pilot certificate for the category of operation you intend to fly (Basic or Advanced). All drone pilots will need to have taken and passed an online exam, and for advanced pilot certificates, a flight review is required as well. Find out what you will need to get your certificate at canada.ca/drone-safety.

Know Before You Go! For more information, visit canada.ca/drone-safety, email tc.aviationservicesont-servicesaviationont.tc@tc.gc.ca, or call 1-800-305-2059. 

Summary of the new regulations

The new regulations make it easier for the Police across Canada to enforce the regulations. With fines of up to $3,000 for individuals and $15,000 for organisations the penalties for non-compliance is high.

The cost of the actual license for a pilot (operator) of a drone is $10 for basic operations and $25 for advanced operations (All Home Inspectors and Real-Estate Aerial Photographers.)

Flight trainers will be expected to pay $50 for the examination for flight reviewer plus a further $125 for the endorsement of a license of a flight reviewer.

A Special flight Operations Certificate will still be required for ALL home Inspections and Commercial Inspections in residential areas, as these will all be outside of the exemptions for non-SFOC operation.

A blanket SFOC may be issued following a number of safe flights under individual SFOC operation.

This means that for Home Inspectors and those performing aerial photography, nothing has really changed. The enforcement has got easier, so those Inspectors who have been flying illegally are more likely to get caught and prosecuted.

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This year’s conference is now only

away

Register now button
The only way to know if you have radon is to measure for it.

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Has the message got out yet?  The risks from radon in the home, especially in Ontario, are a real and present danger!

Over a five year period, between 2011 and 2015, an average of 803 people, per year, attended a Hospital emergency service with around 6% (50 people) dying either at admission or after admission, from carbon-monoxide poisoning in the home.  Now every home is mandated to have working CO detectors with serious fines for anyone who removes, disables or tampers with them.

Every year in Ontario alone, around 850 people actually die from lung cancer caused by radon, with a greater number than that contracting the illness.

The government has done nothing!

The Realtors association OREA has suggested that testing should be done by the Home-owners.   

We disagree!

If you were buying a car, you’d want to know it was safe to drive, so you wouldn’t be putting yourself and your family at risk.

When you buy a house, you should be having it inspected before you confirm the offer, to ensure that there’s going to be no safety concerns or other defects that might cost thousands to repair.

So why would you choose not to employ the same due diligence with respect to radon infiltration?

It’s your right to buy a safe house

At OntarioACHI we are continuing to send the message out that EVERYONE who buys a house in Ontario should DEMAND that the home has been recently measured for high-levels of radon BEFORE they close on the deal.   Every home with high radon levels can be fixed relatively inexpensively.

Gas Cooker CO emissions

If you found your home had a faulty gas furnace, water heater, fire or cooker that was exposing you to high levels of Carbon-monoxide, you’d think nothing of replacing them.  It’s frequently LESS to have a home fixed to remove high-levels of radon.

With the launch of the Ontario Radon website last month, we are continuing our call to have all homes in Ontario measured for radon as part of the Real-Estate transaction.

Get your home or potential new home measured for elevated levels of radon and get it fixed where necessary. 

It could just save your life or that of the member of your family.

Demand an OCRMI short-term radon measurement test as part of your next home inspection.

Green Radon Result

The issue in the past has been that, even in the face of incontrovertible evidence as to the risks posed,  neither residents nor realtors have taken these risks seriously.

We are continuing to publicise the OCRMI protocol and traffic-light reporting system and now have a number of publications OCRMI qualified inspectors can obtain to help them promote this consumer protection service.

OntarioACHI Certified Radon Measurement Inspector Logo

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We are pleased to announce the successful certification of the following members who have taken the OCRMI Short-term radon testing course and passed the exams to be designated as OntarioACHI Certified Radon Measurement Inspectors.  These members will be allowed to use this title and the OCRMI designation.

Chuck Hutton
Pasquale D’Orrico
Tom Martin
Andrew Scarry
Jim Bodnarchuk
Dianne Guzik
Victor Safonov
Pat Auriol

They will join the other members who have achieved this distinction and be added to the OCRMI search facility on the onradon.ca website where members of the public, realtors, lawyers, insurance brokers and lenders can all check to see who is qualified to perform a radon test as part of a real-estate transaction.

 

Thank you

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Following a number of suggestions from members, we have made some changes to your Associations website.  We hope these changes will make it easier for you to navigate the site and to access and change your online profiles.  These profiles are used to advertise your services to consumers, so it’s important you keep them up to date and accurate.

Initial menu

We’ve streamlined the initial menu.   

We’ve removed the HOME button.  This was superfluous as with all WordPress sites, clicking on the header logo returns you to the Home Screen.

Anonymous main menu

We display only the menu options that are relevant to the person reading the site.  For example, anonymous users, registered users and members will all see different menus. If you are not logged in, you will see the anonymous menu.

Not logged in?

Help

We are frequently asked to help people find the “login” option.  Well, we’ve now put that under the “HELP” button.  (It seemed pretty obvious to us, we hope it’s as obvious to you) .    Non-members can also use the help option to join up too.Anonymous help menu Upcoming Training

This is pretty self-explanatory but will provide a link to training sign-up pages.  Again, if the training is only available to members, then it will not show up unless you are logged in.

Anonymous Training menuMember Links

Member links will take the viewer to the various parts of the site that relate to members and member benefits.   Logged in registered users will have links appear that will allow them to access their WordPress profile.  Logged in members will, in addition, get access to their member’s profile and access to update their education, professional development and certification information.  Anonymous users will only see what they are missing by not being members.

Anonymous MB menuAbout us

This is fairly self-explanatory.   It covers the general organisation of the Association and the people in the governance positions.

Anonymous about menuFAQ

Frequently asked questions.  Anonymous users can ask questions here and see and search through previous questions.  This system has just gone online so we are getting to grips with how to segment the questions between internal member questions and public questions.   You can expect some streamlining in the future here.

Public Links

This is where members of the public can communicate with your association or get access to information about our members, such as your public profiles and marketing information through the find an inspector search facility.  Any members who have added feeds can also get their information out here.  Our Facebook feeds will be available here too.  We will be adding an optional paid service to add member facebook feeds too.

Public links menu

Your Profile

Your association’s website has two distinct profiles.  The first is your WordPress profile.  This holds public information about you that you want to be displayed whenever you create content on the site.   To date, we’ve allowed members to have an avatar that relied on a Gravatar account.  Again, following requests from members, we’ve added an option to allow you to update your avatar without a Gravatar account.  You can do this here or select the option from the member links.

The second profile is your membership profile.   This is the profile that is used to market your services and to hold all of your educational and professional development information.  This is the profile that will be used to promote you to regulators when the licensing comes in. 

Because your membership profile is fully auditable, with a fully completed profile and the requisite certifications, we believe you will see an easier passage to obtaining a license.   You can update your membership profile once you are logged-in by going here or select the option from the member links.

Thank you

It is only with constant input from you, our members, that we can make your Association’s services better.  Thanks for the suggestions we’ve received so far and please keep them coming.

Blog

 

2018 CAHPI Conference

Stephen Greenford Award Nomination

This Award, dedicated to the memory of Stephen Greenford, is presented annually at the CAHPI Conference to an individual for their dedication and contribution to the advancement and development of the Home Inspection Profession in Canada.

Please take a moment to recognise the contributions and achievements of your colleagues by nominating them for the CAHPI 2018 Stephen Greenford Award.

Submission Deadline:  Monday, October 29th

To nominate someone for this award please send an email to Sharry Featherston the executive director at CAHPIwith the name of the person you feel is most deserving of this award and include your motivation for nominating them.
Note:  Previous SG Award recipients are not eligible – please see the list of previous CAHPI Award Recipients.
 
 

About Stephen Greenford
Stephen Greenford, Proprietor of CanInspect Inc, was a home inspector residing in Quebec.
He would fly at his own expense from Montreal on a regular basis to attend the CAHPI Toronto chapter meetings.
His goal was to learn as much as possible from his colleagues about the profession and eventually to start a chapter in the Montreal-Quebec area.  He contributed a great deal to the meetings he attended in Toronto.
On July 12th, 1989 Stephen was inspecting a commercial 4-storey building in Montreal.  He climbed four storeys on the exterior fire escape, but to reach the roof he had to use a ladder on the side of the building. When Stephen was two metres from the roof, the ladder pulled away from the building and he fell 14 metres to the ground tragically dying on impact.
His dedication to the Profession did not go unnoticed and an award was set up in his honour in 1990.

This award, in Stephen Greeford’s name, reminds us of all those whose hard work and dedication have made this profession what it is today.

 

 

Blog

Len InksterSome of you may or not be aware that Len Inkster, one of the founders, long-time secretary and co-registrar for your association has had a serious accident.  Len damaged his left leg and ankle after falling down some stairs.

At first, the damage appeared solely to be a spiral fracture of the Fibula, which in itself was quite serious as the break went the whole circumference of the bone and along the shaft, as can be seen from the picture of Len’s x-ray.

This would have required around 3-6 weeks of incapacity while the bone healed sufficiently to have Len walk on it in a walking cast.

After two weeks in a plaster cast, further investigations exposed three torn ligaments in his foot and ankle area and another one behind his calf-muscle in his leg.

This put his foot out of alignment, allowing the bones in the foot and the knuckle end of the tibia to rub together.  In addition, the weakened ligaments meant that more pressure was being put on the lower half of his left fibula causing it to rotate with muscle spasms, preventing the fracture from repairing.

      This is what it’s supposed to look like
       These are the bones rubbing in Len’s leg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subsequently, Len has had to undergo open reduction and internal fixation surgery to insert a pin that goes through his fibula, tibia and talus, completely immobilising his left foot. 

He is as yet unsure of whether further surgery is going to be required to pin the spiral fracture in his fibula.

This has meant that Len cannot perform any Home Inspections for what looks like might be a protracted period of time.   We spoke to Len and he has told us that he is in a lot of pain, but is optimistic saying that “At least I’ll be able to spend more time working on Association stuff now“.   He is also looking forward to the future.  He jokingly told us “At least I can plan for the operation I’ve got to have in a year to have the pin removed,  I’ve put the date in my Homegauge planner to give me a heads-up, sort of 11-month warranty Inspection

Unfortunately, like many other Home Inspectors, Len is a sole-director of his inspection company and so if not allowed to contribute to Employees Insurance through his wages.   This means he cannot claim any social support.  Without Insurance, he has to pick up the tab for all the medical expenses, while at the same time not being able to earn any fees from Inspections.

Lens has so far had to have 5 leg casts fitted.  Again, he is light-hearted but very pointed in his views on this one.  He told us “I can’t understand why they cut the old cast off, then immediately fit a new one only to x-ray the leg after the cast is fitted to find out something is wrong and then immediately cut the new cast off.   If they can x-ray through the cast, why not x-ray through the old cast and then they are only destroying one cast instead of two?  If I can find out the argument for that, maybe I can come up with a similar argument to allow Inspector to earn more money from doing the same thing twice

We have set-up a GoFund Me account to allow his friends and colleagues to support Len and his family financially while he waits for things to heal.  Len does a lot for you and your profession, helping him out in whatever capacity you can, will surely show your appreciation of his efforts for you.

You can access the Go Fund Me Campaign here.  http://bit.ly/2wMMWo2

 

Blog

Background

hot-wires-across-busA number of Inspectors have raised a concern about wires crossing the bus in an electrical panel.  Inspectors are being questioned by Realtors as to the codes that apply to these concerns.   We frequently find our members in a situation where a safety concern of the inspector is not specifically covered with a code. 

We are aware of the concern and have reached out to a number of electricians, the majority of which have replied that regardless of whether the wire is hot, grounded or ground they should not cross the bus bar, but instead be routed in the cable trays around the breakers. 

As we have a minority of electricians take an opposing view, we asked for an official position from the  Electrical Safety Authority.  As usual, they came through with flying colours.

 

ESA Position

For properly insulated conductors, other than Rule 12-3032, there are no rules which would prohibit them from crossing a bare buss. The conductors are insulated to the voltage in the panelboard.

But this installation might be in violation” of  “the following Code Rule:

12-3032  Wiring space in enclosures

(3)   Conductors entering enclosures shall enter such enclosures as near as practicable to their terminal fittings

Which means that when installing a branch circuit and there is sufficient space on the side of the panel where the breaker terminals are located for the conductor to enter the panel,  then this would be the preferred wiring method, and would be in compliance with 12-3032.  

Unfortunately, it has the word practicable, and determination of what is practicable is always in question.  The intent of this rule is to limit the length of conductors inside an enclosure.

Our take on this.

The definition of the word “practicable” means that an action is possible.   Had the word been “practical” we would have been concerned that it was more of a  subjective term identifying that the action is sensible.

While the ESA position is that the use of the word “practicable” is unfortunate, we do not see it as so, with respect to the decision-making process, from an inspectors perspective.

By using the word “practicable” it identifies that, following the intent of the rule, if it is “possible” to reduce the length of the conductors by having them enter close to the terminal connection (breaker, bus etc.) then it is the required method, (as defined by the word “shall” in code 12-3032).  If it is possible, and not done that way, then it could be considered in violation of the code, which is what we got from the majority of the electricians we approached.

It should also be remembered that in a panel, breakers can be installed on both sides of the panelboard, and simply moving the breaker might provide an opportunity for the wiring in the panel enclosure to comply with code 12-3032.

So, on inspecting a panel you see wires crossing the live bus of the panelboard you need make a decision based upon what you find and from that one of three opinions.

  1. If the wires are not insulated in any way (i.e. Bare ground wires, nicks or burns in the sheathing or missing sheathing as it crosses the buss) this is a defect and needs to be referred to a licensed electrician for immediate repair.
  2. If the conductors are insulated, with no signs of damage to the sheathing, and cross the bus just to provide a “neat” panel, but there are knock-out points closer to the breaker that allows for wire entry without crossing the bus, this should be called out as a concern, stating that the wiring does not meet preferred wiring standards of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code and recommend further Inspection by a licensed electrician as desired.
  3. If the conductors are fully insulated, with no signs of damage to the sheathing, and cross the bus and there appears to be no way to route the conductors into the panel to their terminal locations through a knock-out closer to the breaker or bus connection, then it is not considered a code violation.  If movement and installation of a breaker to the entry side of the bus appears to be possible, again you could recommend further inspection by a licensed electrician to implement the changes.  Remember that just because there appears to be space on one side of a bus, it may not be possible to move a breaker from one side to the other because of circuit balancing.

 

 

Blog

Members of your board of directors went to Toronto in April to talk to TARION about developing a program of continuing education courses, specifically aimed at Home Inspectors who wish to perform inspections that align with the Ontario New Home Warranty Program,  for consumers.

The meeting went very well.  The outcome is that we are looking at three levels of inspection, the PDI Inspection, the 30-day inspection and the 1, 2 & 7-year warranty period inspections. 

The PDI inspection, which is a service that supports consumers during the builders PDI, will require a new Standard of Practice as much of this inspection is outside of the scope of the regular Residential Home Inspection Standard of Practice.  The 30-day, 1, 2 and 7-year warranty inspections will be able to utilise the Inspection Standard of Practice but will have additional scope requiring Inspectors to follow the requirements of the TARION Construction performance guidelines.

The PDI, 30-day, 1, 2 and 7-year inspections are not conciliation inspections, which are provided solely by TARION employed inspectors, but are to assist consumers by providing them with information to help them complete the various Warranty PDI and claim forms.

Members for TARION and the Ontario Association of Certified Home Inspectors will now be engaged in a re-iterative process to develop TARION approved material needed to train Inspectors to the correct level to properly offer these types of Inspections, and at the end of the training and examination of candidates, OntarioACHI will likely be offering a Certification to those Inspectors that attain the required skills set to perform these Inspections.

We are expecting an update from TARION in the next 3-4 weeks and will notify members of the progress as we continue towards this new opportunity.

Once the courses have been completed, OntarioACHI will be providing a learning assessment examination to be taken by those Inspectors who wish to gain an OntarioACHI certification identifying them as having completed and understood the educational portions of the TARION material and OntarioACHI PDI SoP. 

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While we are 100% behind the Realtors Trade Association’s view that a public registry for grow-ops should be established and be publicly accessible, of the five points the OREA report asks for.

We feel that these proposals are sensible and fully implemented should be able to help protect consumers, but we feel that the solution needs far wider scrutiny as to the downstream effects of the proposals and align this with OREA’s public view on other issues that are of public health concern.

In summary, the OREA press release and the OREA “protection plan” asks for these five changes to Ontario law:

  • Changing the building code to designate illegal drug operations as unsafe buildings requiring remediation.
  • Requiring municipal inspections of designated unsafe buildings.
  • Registering municipal work orders for remediation on the Ontario land title system.
  • Training home inspectors to spot damage caused by grow-ops.
  • Reducing the allowable number of personal plants from four to one in multi-unit dwellings smaller than 1,000 square feet.

So let’s take these recommendations one step at a time.

Changing the building code to designate illegal drug operations as unsafe buildings requiring remediation.

We do not believe a radical change is needed in the building code as the regulations cater for the eventuality of a home that needs remediation because of any damage, regardless of whether it is a grow-op, other clandestine drug lab or from general renovations.

Indeed that act states that it is the role of a building owner to ensure that the building or part of the building is maintained, repaired, evaluated and to ensure documents, records and other information about the building are kept and provided in accordance with the Act and the building code regulations.

Further down the Ontario Building code Act, the issue of unsafe buildings is clearly identified.  Under the section “Unsafe Buildings” the act states “An inspector may enter upon land and into buildings at any reasonable time without a warrant for the purpose of inspecting a building to determine, whether the building is unsafe“.   

Having performed such an inspection, it goes on to say “An inspector who finds that a building is unsafe may make an order setting out the reasons why the building is unsafe and the remedial steps necessary to render the building safe and may require the order to be carried out within the time specified in the order.

Reverting back to the top of this section of the act it refers to this prior order by saying “An inspector may enter upon land and into buildings at any reasonable time without a warrant for the purpose of inspecting a building to determine whether” such order “has been complied with.

The changing of the term “may” to “shall” is required in the clauses to take the conditional opt-out decision process from the Inspector and the Municipality.  

Requiring municipal inspections of designated unsafe buildings.

The issue is not with the Act, it is with the application of the Act.  The Act already leaves it up to the Municipalities to enforce provisions in the act.   Indeed the Act states “The council of each municipality shall appoint a chief building official and such inspectors as are necessary for the enforcement of this Act in the areas in which the municipality has jurisdiction”  

Having transferred responsibility to the municipalities for the appointment of the inspectors, the application of those parts of the act that are required of the inspectors falls to the Municipalities already.  The issue is that the Municipalities do not have sufficient Inspectors to inspect new-builds let alone existing homes that may have other concerns that the Act applies to.   There are, however, sufficient Home Inspectors to cover this scenario.

The problem here is that Municipalities do not see Home Inspectors as adequate for the task of inspecting for safety violations.  Until the Home Inspection Act, 2017 is proclaimed, as a profession Home Inspectors have no real legal standing to support the needs of the Municipalities.

This is why it is important for the Home Inspection Act, 2017 to be proclaimed by the incoming government regardless of their colour.

Municipal Inspections are already required for designated unsafe buildings.  no change in this respect s required.  Giving the Municipalities the resources and the ability to enforce this provision by allowing Home Inspectors to be called by the Chief Building Official to perform the inspection on their behalf is what is needed.

In addition, under the Municipal Act, 2001, “If the clerk of a local municipality is notified in writing by a police force that a building located on land in the local municipality contained a marijuana grow operation, the local municipality shall ensure that an inspection of the building is conducted within a reasonable time after the clerk has been notified” and the Municipal Act, 2001 goes on to say “An inspection may be conducted by, a by-law enforcement officer of any municipality or of any local board of any municipality; or an officer, employee or agent of any municipality or of any local board of any municipality whose responsibilities include the enforcement of a by-law, an Act or a regulation under an Act.

Properly trained, licensed Home Inspectors could be utilised as such agents.

Registering municipal work orders for remediation on the Ontario land title system.

Again, OREA does not appear to be cognizant of the provisions of the Ontario Building Code Act.   Anyone perusing the Act can see that it states that any order for remediation MUST be served upon the registered owner and anyone in possession of the building.  It goes on to say that, at the discretion of the Municipal Chief Building Official, the order shall be made available to any other such persons affected by the order.  This presumably would include anyone acting on behalf of the owners trying to sell the home (i.e. The Realtor) or anyone acting on behalf of someone trying to buy the Home (i.e. The Realtor or the Home Inspector).

The Act goes on to state that (optionally) any order should be made public and registered in the proper land registry office.

Unfortunately, many jurisdictions and even the Police themselves choose to hide behind the Privacy Act or PIPEDA to stop from releasing such information (as well as information about building permits etc.  but that’s a whole different ball-game)

Again the required change to the Act would not be complex, but the impact would be tremendous.  Changing the words from “may”  to “shall” in multiple locations will prevent the capability of an opt-out by the Municipal Governments.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  In the run-up to the enactment of the Home Inspection Act, OREA representatives admitted that radon infiltration into a home was a serious health concern, but that testing should be left up to the buyer to perform after the home was purchased.  This seems at odds with the OREA position on Grow-ops.  The Building Code Act clearly states what would be considered an unsafe building:

A building is unsafe if the building is,

(a) structurally inadequate or faulty for the purpose for which it is used; or

(b) in a condition that could be hazardous to the health or safety of persons in the normal use of the building, persons outside the building or persons whose access to the building has not been reasonably prevented

As a proponent for the testing of all homes for excessive radon, we find ourselves at odds with OREA.  OntarioACHI is pushing for radon inspections to be performed as part of the sale process of Homes, to establish if the Home is safe for the incoming buyers, or whether there is a likelihood that they will incur costs to remedy the home after purchase.   we can’t see how OREA considers that there might be two types of “unsafe” homes, except perhaps that the testing for radon may indeed prove that the dangers are far more pervasive than at first thought and that sales might be delayed because of the sampling.  Neither findings are, in our opinion a reason to think one “unsafe” is less “unsafe” than another “unsafe”.  Obviously, a home that has been a grow-op may have structural concerns in addition to the safety concerns, and these can cause blow-back to Realtors involved in the sale process.  Maybe that’s where the difference lies?

OntarioACHI supports the OREA stance on inspection and reporting of unsafe homes – the difference is that we believe ALL unsafe homes should be inspected and reported on, not just the ones that might leave Realtors liable for.

Training home inspectors to spot damage caused by grow-ops.

We are fully supportive of the recommendation that Home Inspectors are trained to identify grow-ops.  Mandating this alone will not protect consumers while a Home Inspection remains an elective service.

Many Home Inspectors have undergone training to not only “spot damage caused by grow-ops” but also to identify the existence of grow-ops and clandestine drug labs as well as a host of other concerns, including mould, indoor air quality and radon testing.

We are absolutely on-board that training is given to Inspector to ensure they are able to perform these inspection services professionally.  Indeed many of the Inspectors from OntarioACHI have undergone specific training for Indoor Air Quality, Radon measurement and clandestine drug lab identification.  But when Realtor maintain the ability to work in the best interests of their clients by saying things like “If you have a Home Inspection, you will likely lose the house” any such mandatory training is meaningless.  Being able to identify a clandestine drug-lab is only effective if the home is inspected in the first place.

In addition to the five points brought forward by the Realtors, we would add a sixth.  That OREA removes all references from its documents of Sale and Purchase of the provision for clients to waive the Home Inspection. 

Requiring all homes to be inspected as part of the Sale & Purchase process will level the playing field.  No advantage would be given to those foolish individuals that are persuaded to purchase a home without an inspection.  After all, we are all talking about protecting consumers, aren’t we?

Reducing the allowable number of personal plants from four to one in multi-unit dwellings smaller than 1,000 square feet.

This is probably the one recommendation OntarioACHI is in complete disagreement with.  The ability to restrict the number of plants growing in a home is not, in our opinion, not an effective means to eradicate high humidity, which is the cause of most of the damage from grow-ops.  We do not believe legalisation of cannabis will increase the number of legally grown plants and proper education for those who do want to grow Cannabis legally would be a better option.

The limit on the number of cannabis plants was designed to prevent illegal grow-ops and growth of Cannabis for the harvesting of resultant THC to sell.   The reason why illegal grow-ops can be so devastating to the building is that they are not properly ventilated.  The reason for this is the smell that is also produced by transpiration in the Cannabis plant is very distinctive and ventilating it to the exterior can alert the authorities to a clandestine grow-op. 

People who want to maintain illegal grow-ops, will not care about the regulations of how many plants to grow in as home any more than they already care about the legality or illegality of doing so in the first place. 

As with all indoor plants, the increase in humidity in the atmosphere comes from transpiration and evaporation.  Transpiration is the process of the uptake of water from the growing medium into the plant through the roots, migration through the plant to the leaves, flowers and fruit and out of the stomata to the leaves.  Evaporation occurs both from the soil and the surface of the leaves, with the majority of the evaporation coming directly from the soil.  It has also been shown that the relative humidity has little effect on the actual growth of a plant, but that the growth of any plant has an effect on the %RH levels. (Cite: Wallace-Stout).  

Restricting the number of cannabis plants to four or less for smaller properties does not take into account that humidity is generated from many sources, including cooking, bathing, showering and other plants.   It is the ventilation, insulation and heating of the properties that are paramount to stabilising the Humidity levels in a home.

Regulating the number of Cannabis plants will not stop people growing other plants that add to the humidity of the home as much and sometimes even more than cannabis. Educating people that if they want to run their home as a greenhouse for pot plants of any sort, means they need to be aware of the humidity levels that are created by this choice, and how to properly deal with it.

 Proper insulation, ventilation and heating/cooling of a home with four (or ten) plants of any nature will help maintain the correct %RH in a home.  Proper education of the public and it appears the people at OREA, would go a long way to ensuring homes are not subject to damage from mould caused by high levels of humidity.

The ramifications of implementing the changes required by OREA (and us)

Let’s take them in order of importance with respect to the protection of consumers.

  1. Preventing Realtors from dissuading consumers from having (or allowing) Home Inspections that check for health hazards (including Grow-ops, clandestine drug labs and high levels of radon)
    Sure, this is self-serving, but it serves consumers more!
  2. Training home inspectors to spot damage caused by grow-ops.
    OntarioACHI is all for this.  We are already training our Inspectors in other Indoor Air Quality techniques.  Inspectors who hold the OntarioACHI Certified Indoor Air Quality Assessor (OCIAQA) designation has been instructed in identifying causes of mould and other indoor air contaminants.  Grow-ops are only a part of that training.  But let’s not stop there, let’s include radon assessments as part of the Real-Estate transaction process.  After all, Grow-ops only affect a minimal number of properties, and while the costs to remedy might be extensive, the real cost of high-radon in the home is higher.  Around 850 Ontarians succumb to Lung Cancer EVERY YEAR because of high levels of radon in the home.  Health-Canada and the Ontario Lung Association both recognise that at least 10% of homes are affected by high levels of radon in Ontario. OntarioACHI Certified Radon Measurement Inspectors (OCRMI), in addition to C-NRPP and IAC2-Radon Inspectors, are all qualified to perform short-term real-estate measurements. The sampling process is simple, the fix is fairly inexpensive. 
    The cost of not doing either is huge.
  3. Changing the building code to designate illegal drug operations as unsafe buildings requiring remediation.
    This is already in place in the Act.  The change that is needed is to alter the terms “may” to either “shall” or “must” in the relevant locations to prevent discretional opt-out by those tasked with enforcing the Act.
  4. Registering municipal work orders for remediation on the Ontario land title system.
    Again, the provision is in the Act.  Changing the terms “may” to either “shall” or “must” in the relevant locations will again prevent discretional opt-out.  Forcing the information to be on a publicly accessible register will stop authorities incorrectly hiding behind privacy regulations.
  5. Requiring municipal inspections of designated unsafe buildings.
    This is in the Act and no change is needed.  Giving the Municipalities the resources to do this is what is required.
  6. Reducing the allowable number of personal plants from four to one in multi-unit dwellings smaller than 1,000 square feet
    Change where change is needed.  This is, in our view, a stupid proposal and completely un-enforceable and would lead to a string of human-rights violation actions across the Province (and Country)

Summary

  • We fully support the OREA position on inspecting homes to ensure they do not pose a hazard, either health or financial, to potential buyers. 
  • We do not believe the inspection should be limited to grow-ops. 
  • We also don’t believe such inspection should be delayed, or forced by, legalisation of Cannabis.
  • The outcome of such inspection could lead to the temporary or long-term stigmatisation of homes or indeed complete areas, much like has been caused by UFFI, PEX and Asbestos. 

Any inspection that protects consumers is fully supported and endorsed by OntarioACHI.    But one needs to be careful what one asks for.

The changes you are asking for may not result in the outcome you are expecting!

Blog

We recently received a nice letter from one of our members, Canadian-Certified Home Inspector Greg Rheaume of Home Inspect Solutions Inc.  Greg operates his inspection service to support his local neighbourhood Consumers with their decision-making process of purchasing or selling a home.
Like all our Professional members, Greg pushes himself to be the best he can be as a Professional Home Inspector and has on his own merit ensured he has had training and is conversant with the Ontario Building Code (OBC), the Ontario Plumbing Code (OPC), the National Framing Code (NFC), the Electrical Safety Code (ESC), the Real Estate Business Broker Act (REBBA) and the Residential Tenancies Act.

While a Home Inspection is not a code inspection, Inspectors frequently come across concerns where reference to the regulations supports our findings.  It appears from Greg’s correspondence with us, this was one of those occasions.

He noticed on one of his inspections a number of electrical concerns and recognised them as violations of the Electrical Safety Code.  Again, as a Professional Home Inspector, Greg has had the pre-requisite training to safely open and inspect electrical panels. 

We are not sure, but we feel the sale of the home may have gone sour, and the Vendor contacted an electrical contractor who informed them that a Home Inspector has no right to open an electrical panel.

The Vendor obviously saw an opportunity to mitigate the costs of repairs and promptly launched litigation against Greg.  At the same time, it appears the Electrical Contractor may have had a few things disparaging to say about the Home Inspection Profession.

As happenstance would have it, OntarioACHI had, in May of 2017, arrived at the culmination of a long series of discussions with the Electrical Safety Authority in conjunction with assistance from staff at the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and the Ministry of Labour.  We received formal notification that properly trained inspectors could indeed open the electrical panels to inspect the interior.

We passed this letter to Greg and we’ll let Greg’s words say the rest.

GR-Electrical-Panels

 

 

The volunteers that work for the Association put a lot of thought and hours into the work we do to protect both Consumers and Inspectors.  Most of this work is behind the scenes nut every once in a while something great comes out of all that effort.   This is just one such occasion.  We are extremely pleased to see that our efforts not only supported Greg in his determination to support the Consumer with comprehensive professional services but also protected his client, the Consumer, who would have otherwise been looking at what is likely to have been a hefty electrical repair bill had they now opted for a Home Inspection with Greg at Home Inspect Solutions Inc.

Anyone in the Sudbury area looking for a Professional Home Inspector to help them make an informed decision on the sale or purchase of a home would not be stupid to engage Greg to perform a Home Inspection for them.

You can get more information on Greg and his services by scanning this QR code.

Blog

So the Ontario House Builders Association and the Ontario Real-Estate Association seem to be going head-to-head in a battle over mandatory Energy Audits.

While OREA is publishing that the Province has put the brakes on the plan (here) the Ontario House Builders Association is all for them. (here)

The press doesn’t seem to know one way or the other (here)

Meanwhile, Mr Hudak, at the 2018 ORA conference appears to take a jab at the Home Energy Auditors (here) where he suggests “A low energy score or a shady operator could cost [a seller] thousands and thousands of dollars”  (Not to mention the loss of commission and the possible loss of a sale for the Realtor.)

What he fails to mention is the fact that Full Disclosure protects the person who is considering spending hundreds of thousands or even millions on the home and should be provided with all the facts about it. 
Not just the half-truths and the “All information displayed is believed to be accurate but is not guaranteed and should be independently verified. No warranties or representations are made of any kind” disclaimer that is always attached to the listing of any home sold by a Realtor in Canada.

How many listings do not have all the rooms sizes with the typical “Measurements not available” seem to cover anything the Realtor chooses not to measure.  How about listings that ignore basements? Guess what folks! A Professional Home Inspector is required to inspect the basement too and its condition will affect the price of the home.  The listings don’t even mention whether the HVAC and Water Heating is high-efficiency or not.  All valid reason to have a Professional Home Inspection.

It’s time the Home Inspection Profession and this includes Home Energy Auditors were freed from the constant abuse we suffer from OREA.  Sure there may be some “shady operators” in our profession, but as the saying goes  “People in glass houses….”

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Following on from the previous year, 2017 saw a number of challenges in the Home Inspection Profession.  We have seen the Profession decimated by a large number of Inspectors who were either forced out or chose to leave the profession because it was not providing a level of income to support them.

While this gave respite to those that had their incomes cut by the brutal selling frenzy of 2016, 2017 proved to be equally as challenging.   Significant changes in the selling practices for homes meant that the auction mentality still existed, and many buyers, given the false information that having a home inspection would lose the home, chose to take the risk and purchase their homes without one.

As we are led to believe from the Insurance Companies we talk to, this has led to a massive uptick in litigation against the Real-Estate profession.  We predicted this would be the case and has been one of our main items of suggestion in talking to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

While other Associations in Ontario have chosen to side with the Real-Estate profession, the Ontario Association of Certified Home Inspectors see the two professions as offering completely different advice to consumers, with the advice given by Inspectors not necessarily in-line with the needs of Realtors.  We see any tight collaboration between the two professions as creating a perceived conflict of interest.  While Realtors are there to offer advice on the aesthetic suitability and sometimes the affordability of a home to the Consumer, Home Inspectors 

We have once again finished another quarterly cleanup of subscribers who never open or click on the newsletters, we are pleased to say that the readership has not declined below the 803 we had last year.   We again pruned the registrant list down using similar criteria leaving 1,010 members of all categories in OntarioACHI.   We have shown a decline in inspectors of around 50% since the beginning of 2016.

Last year your board chose to align all memberships to October 30th, and we are very pleased to see the number of fully paid members who are now seeking to advance their careers and apply for the Candian-Certified Home Inspector designation has actually increased.  This proved to be a double-edged sword as we needed a larger number of inspectors to make quorum at the recent AGFM, which we failed to do.

 We are continuing to work on new initiatives to help boost inspectors business and income potential, as we witnessed from the initiatives announced at the Annual Conference.  We are also working to ensure Inspectors do not choose to go off on a tangent from the established standards and turn to quick fixes to supplement their income and bring the profession into disrepute.

We are proud of our members and trust that by publishing their ongoing commitment to the Home Inspection Profession here they will be seen as well respected professionals who can be trusted to perform to their utmost to assist their clients.

First, we would like our members to welcome all the new members of the Association.

Clicking on their name will link to their online profile.   It is a good reminder to all members that this profile is the one that is available to the public.  Ensuring you keep this up to date will help in advertising your business to members of the public looking for inspectors in your area.

Remember, it is only with member support that we can:

  • Provide web services to link your business to your clients more efficiently
  • Provide you with access to free webinar functions to allow you to get your message out
  • Develop relationships with suppliers to offer you tangible benefits.
    (Currently, the benefits exceed 6x the annual membership fee!)
  • Continue to provide a voice for you to Government and other professions.
  • Continue to enhance the Canadian Certified Home Inspector program to ensure it more widely accepted across Canada
  • Provide mentor-ship connection, TIPR programs, proctored examinations and education to paid-up members

Also, volunteering is a great way to enhance your business knowledge and provide you with outreach to people you may not normally come across in your daily operations.  It looks great on your resume and provides you with access to opportunities that would normally not be available.

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The 2019 Annual Education Conference and exhibitor showcase has been arranged

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Do you still want to register early and take advantage of the discounts?

Register for the 2019 Annual Education conference and exhibitor showcase

You spoke, we listened.

Location, Location, Location

The 2019 Annual Education Conference and Exhibitor showcase will be held at the Mohawk Inn and Conference Centre.    For the last couple of years, we had the event in Mississauga, which while a great venue and good for servicing GTHA Inspectors did not really help our Inspectors from farther afield.

We had a number of Inspectors west and North of the GTHA that wanted somewhere easier to get to.   We still had to ensure we catered for those to the East and South-West.   The Mohawk Inn and Conference Centre at the Junction of the 401 and Guelph Line puts it on the crossroads of North-South and East-West. 

What we want is a variety

The food and beverage situation in the past was a bit limited.  I think we are all sick of Pizzas and Wings, so this year, with the Mohawk Inn as out location people have a choice.   There will still be food laid on but the choice will be wider and can be augmented by the fact that the venue has a Chop House Restaurant offering a full menu for food.

We can’t be in the seminars and training at the same time

We hear you.  There’s always a delicate balance of formal and general education.    This year we have reserved the first day of the conference (Feb 19th) solely to formal training and examinations.    This gives exhibitors more time to set-up for days 2 & 3 and ensures presenters on these days have the largest audience.

On February 20-21st we will also be having a Full Networking area where attendees can meet and greet and discuss hot topics and we will have key stakeholders at this venue to answer questions that may arise.

What about Dinner?

The Venue this year allows us to have a great venue for our Gala Dinner.   With rooms available and overflow rooms close by, spouses and significant others are welcome to the Gala Dinner as well.  There will be a great menu, cash bar, entertainment and prize giving for those who attend.  The Gala dinner will be on the night of February 19th, ensuring it at the end of the training session and leaving you bleary-eyed for the first day of the seminars and exhibitions.

With vendors, exhibitors and presenters being invited it will be a great opportunity to network in a casual atmosphere.

electrical-ouch

Blog

Background

I recently asked to perform a Tarion 1-Year Warranty Inspection.  During the Inspection of the Kitchen, I was met by the Builders Electrician who had been called in to service the Cooker Exhaust Hood.

As I was inspecting, I noticed that the island receptacle was less than 1m away from the island sink.  As is usual in these cases I used a GFCI tester to check the receptacle was protected.  Sure enough, it tripped a GFCI receptacle on another counter-top.    The receptacles were NEMA 5-20T slot, but as usual, I pulled out my multimeter to ensure that I was dealing with a three wire circuit and not a multi-wire split circuit. 

Yes, I know, this is beyond the scope of a standard home inspection, and call me anal if you want, but  I’ve come across enough poor installations in my time to be a little more cautious than many.

Electrical Expertise miscommunicated

Anyway, in this particular instance, the Electrician asked me what I was doing.  I told him, and with much glee, and in front of the client, told me I was an idiot because the Electrical Code demanded a 20 Amp circuit in the Kitchen, and it had been that way for some 20 odd years.  He said it was this way because you couldn’t provide GFCI protection on a 15 Amp split wire circuit.

For those that know me, you might find it surprising that I did not retaliate.

My assumption was he was basing his comments on installation practices he was used to.  Sure it’s easier for electricians to install single wire 20 Amp circuits to the kitchen, and far more lucrative for them, but “required by code”, “for the last 20 years” and “impossible to protect a split circuit”, I wasn’t going to waste either my time, or my clients time on a blow-by-blow argument with someone who obviously had a different agenda.

What I did do, was bypass his comments and ask him about a different concern I had with the smoke Detector/Strobe system in the home which I had already tested. 

I found that when testing the detector in the Master Bedroom, the strobe didn’t operate.  Neither did any alarms in the rest of the house.  When I tested the alarm in another bedroom, the alarms went off in all rooms but the master.

Flippant and un-informed answer from the “professional”

Again, he smartly replied that you had to test the correct alarm to check they all worked.  He walked up to the one in the hall adjoining the bedrooms, tested it and presto, they all worked.  Again he suggested that I did not know what I was talking about, and again, uncharacteristically, I  chose not to challenge him.

When he left, my client asked me if I thought the electrician was correct in his findings.  Now here’s where it gets interesting.

Selecting a defence

I had a lot of choices in my response here.  My first thought was to unload with my client about my thoughts on the electrician and his opinions.  That thought caused me some stress, but I overcame it and chose another path.

My second thought was heck, maybe the Electrical code had changed in the last 20 years and the Code I had been reading from 2015 had some typos in.  I thought that maybe, the alarm manufacturers had put some form of microprocessors in their interconnected alarms that made one a “master of all” alarm.  I had that second thought for almost 10 milliseconds.

My final thought was to do what I generally do in cases like this when accused by someone who is allegedly more qualified than I in an area of expertise, I check my facts.   I told my client, that I thought my original opinions were still valid, but I would check and get back to her regardless of my findings.  Either way, I would report what I found, explain what my concerns were, and then identify if I had erred.

So here’s what I found.

Ontario Electrical Safety Code – 2015.

“Rule 26-712(d)(iv) and (v) requires at least one receptacle (5-15R split or 5-20R) to be installed at each peninsular or permanently fixed island counter space with a continuous long dimension of 600 mm or greater and a short dimension of 300 mm or greater.”

Unless I’m very much mistaken, this clearly states that you can fit EITHER a split-wire 15 Amp circuit OR a 20 Amp circuit for the receptacles in a Kitchen.

“Rule 26-700(11) requires Receptacles having CSA configuration 5-15R or 5-20R installed within 1.5 m of sinks (wash basins complete with drainpipe), bathtubs, or shower stalls shall be protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter of the Class A type, except where the receptacle is

  1. intended for a stationary appliance designated for the location; and
  2. located behind the stationary appliance such that it is inaccessible for use with general-purpose portable appliances.”

Again,  unless I’m mistaken, even a 5-15 split has to be GFCI protected.  So how can one protect a 5-15 split?

Here’s what the ESA has to say in their Safety Flash 16-28-FL.  

To meet the requirements of the OESC, an existing 2-pole circuit breaker feeding kitchen counter split receptacle can be replaced with 2-pole GFCI breaker of Class A type to provide the required protection; or as an acceptable alternative, it will be permitted to replace existing receptacles of CSA configuration 5-15R split with 5-15R receptacles protected by a GFCI with the following methods:

  1. For installations where an existing three wire branch circuit feeds two 5-15R split receptacles (Figure F1):

    Typical installation-two 5-15R Split Receptacles connected to a three wire branch circuit
    Figure F1 – Typical installation-two 5-15R Split Receptacles connected to a three wire branch circuit


    Each 5-15R split receptacle shall be replaced with a 5-15R GFCI Tamper Resistant (TR) type receptacle fed by a separate line of the existing three wire branch circuit feed (Figure F3). The neutral conductor shall be installed in such a manner that any neutral conductor may be disconnected without disconnecting any other neutral in compliance with Rule 4-028(d).
  2. For installations where an existing three wire branch circuit feeds a single 5-15R split receptacle (Figure F2):

    Typical installation single Split Receptacle connected to three wire branch circuit
    Figure F2 – Typical installation single Split Receptacle connected to three wire branch circuit


    In addition to replacing the existing receptacle with a 5-15R GFCI TR type receptacle, an additional 5-15R GFCI TR type receptacle shall be added to the countertop and connected as per Figure F3.   Since the standard for GFCI receptacles requires both the Line and the neutral to be disconnected under ground fault conditions, the requirement to have the neutral in compliance with OESC Rule 4-028(d) will still allow the second GFCI to operate if the first one is tripped or disconnected.

    Figure F3 – GFCI Replacement Method


So round one of the Electrical discussion goes to the Inspector, not the electrician, and on three counts.

  1. A kitchen can have either a 20 Amp branch circuit or a 15 Amp Split circuit.
  2. There has been no rule in place for the last 20 years that says otherwise
  3. You can provide GFCI protection on a 15 Amp split circuit

Alarms – deferring to the manufacturer

The smoke alarms fitted to this house were BRK SC9120B Hard-wired, interconnected alarms.   Here what the manufacturer says about installation practices.

  • Connect the white wire on the power connector to the neutral wire (usually white) in the junction box.
  • Connect the black wire on the power connector to the hot wire (usually black) in the junction box.
  • Connect the orange wire on the power connector to the interconnect wire in the junction box. Repeat for each unit you are interconnecting.
  • Never connect the hot or neutral wires in the junction box to the orange interconnect wire. Never cross hot and neutral wires between interconnected Alarms.

I don’t disconnect alarms to check the wiring, so I should be able to assume, in a new build, that the electrician that wired them knows what they are doing.  

When it comes to testing, the manufacturers have something to say on this matter too…

Interconnected Alarms: Press and hold the Test/Silence button until the unit alarms. All interconnected Alarms should sound. The other Alarms sounding only tests the interconnect signal between Alarms. It does not test each Alarm’s operation. You must test each Alarm individually to check if the Alarm is functioning properly.

Nowhere in the manufacturer’s specifications or manuals is there any mention of location specific, smart thinking, master controlling alarms.   When I went to school (and did my electronics apprenticeship) we were taught that electricity could flow along the length of a wire, and it wasn’t uni-directional in an A/C circuit.  As all these alarms are interconnected by what is supposed to be a single circuit, then any single alarm should (and indeed must) trigger all the other alarms in the system.  If they don’t then something is broken.

Rather than take the electrician’s word for it, I inspected even further and found that the green light that should be on in the master bedroom wasn’t.  Even though the alarm sounded when tested locally and worked from the alarm in the Hallway, it didn’t when the alarm was tested in one of the other bedrooms.   Clearly there was something wrong and clearly, the electrician was just trying to fob my client off with excuses and make me look stupid.

The final response and a couple of lessons

As usual, I posted my findings in the report and added the technical details from the relevant sources without stating that the electrician was in error.

I left it up to my client to decide that for herself, she is an intelligent woman who is quite capable of deciphering the fact of the documentation, from the fiction of the electrician. 

I know she will make the right choice.

This is a very poignant reminder to all inspectors that while you might be absolutely certain of your opinions, it is not wise to get into an argument with another professional in front of your client.  It stresses your client out at a time when they don’t need the stress, it makes you look bad, even when you are right, and there are much better ways of handling things that show you are professional, well educated and can be trusted to give accurate advice and opinions, and back them up with evidence where required to do so.

It is also a very strong reminder to consumers who are thinking of buying a home or have purchased a new home.  While a Professional Home Inspector may not be a specialist in every area of the Home, they generally have a broad range of knowledge of the things that really matter to your safety and your homes long-term viability.  Your home is not only a huge investment, if you are not made aware of some of the things that are, or could go, wrong with it, it could also be a huge and unexpected expense.

Make sure you ALWAYS get a Home Inspection from a Professional Home Inspection with an audited certification, like the CCHI or NHI, to back-up their claims to knowledge.   

References:

ESA Flash 16-28-FL – https://www.esasafe.com/assets/files/esasafe/pdf/Flash_Notices/16-28-FL.pdf
BRK Strobe Manual – http://www.brkelectronics.com/pdfs/2011/09/19/b541dcfc.pdf
BRK Alarm Manual – http://www.brkelectronics.com/pdfs/2008/10/13/491b55ae.pdf 

Blog

The Home Inspection Profession is, like other professions, subject to external influences. 

Some affect our businesses directly, some have a knock-on effect from changes outside of our profession. 

We’ve put together a list of dates we think might have an impact on the profession.

 

 

 

 January 1, 2018
  • New Stress testing for Mortgages – Canadians getting, renewing or refinancing a mortgage might have to prove that they would be able to cope with interest rates substantially higher than their contract rate.
  • WSIB Policy Changes.  Removing Inspectors from Rate Group G
 January 17, 2018
  • Bank of Canada policy interest rate announcement
 February 9, 2018
  • E-filing open for resident and immigrants in Canada for 2017 tax year.
 February 19th, 2018
  • Family Day
 February 28, 2018
  • Last day to issue T4s, T4As and T5s to employers and CRA (Canada Revenue Agency).
 March 6, 2018
  • OntarioACHI – Teach a man to fish conference
 March 7, 2018
  • OntarioACHI – Teach a man to fish conference
  • OntarioACHI – Annual General Meeting
 March 8, 2018
  • OntarioACHI – Teach a man to fish conference
 March 11 -15, 2018
  • Spring Break
 March 15, 2018
  • First Tax instalment payments due date
 March 17, 2018
  •  Bank of Canada policy interest rate announcement
 April 18, 2018
  • Bank of Canada policy interest rate announcement
 April 19, 2018
  •  Good Friday
 April 22, 2018
  •  Easter Monday
  • Deadline to set up a pre-authorized debit payments for 2017 to avoid interest charges.
 May 20, 2018
  • Victoria Day
 May 30, 2018
  •  Bank of Canada policy interest rate announcement
 June 7, 2018
  •  Election day in Ontario – Queens Park is in recess from June 11 until September 7, so if Home Inspection Act, 2017 is not proclaimed before June 11 it won’t likely happen until after September 7.
 June 15, 2018
  •  Second Tax instalment payments due date
 July 11, 2018
  •  Bank of Canada policy interest rate announcement
 September 3, 2018
  •  Labour Day
 September 15, 2018
  •  Third Tax instalment payments due date
 October 8, 2018
  •  Thanksgiving (Canada)
 October 24, 2018
  •  Bank of Canada policy interest rate announcement
 October 30, 2018
  •  OntarioACHI Membership Renewal date  (All renewals need to be completed by this date)
 November 22, 2018
  •  Thanksgiving (U.S.A.)
 December 5, 2018
  •  Bank of Canada policy interest rate announcement
 December 15, 2018 
  •  Fourth Tax instalment payments due date
 December 24,2018
  •  Christmas Break

 

 

 

 

Permits for fuses and breakers? You've go to be kidding us!!

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When inspecting a residential property, we are often expected to report on items that are outside of the scope of the Standard of Practice, or that are just impossible to opine on.   One of these areas is in the area of the Electrical System.

While the standards of practice currently do not require an inspector to open the electrical panel, in order to provide the best possible service to the consumer, with respect to their protection, the inspector we feel should, if they have been properly trained and feel it is safe to do so, be able to open the electrical panel to visually inspect the interior.

After many months of negotiations the Electrical Safety Authority have agreed. (Read more here) While we will not be mandating this visual inspection as part of the standard (because some inspectors may not have had the requisite training), we are suggesting it is a good thing for those that are trained to do so, because an internal inspection of the electrical panel can identify many things that may have a serious impact on the buying decision.

A question was asked of us about what an inspector should say to a client who may want to open the electrical panel.  We recommend the following is used as a standard narrative in your reports.

“In Ontario, electrical installation, repair and replacement work needs to be done in compliance with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. The Code specifies how electrical work must be done. The Code is updated every few years to address emerging technology and improvements in safety practices. 

Any work in the panel requires an electrical inspection permit. This includes like-for-like replacement of a failed breaker.

Edison screw fuses do not need a permit to replace, but one should always isolate the panel BEFORE removing the old fuse to prevent arc-flash.

Wiring which is not properly inspected may void your homeowners insurance.

Incompetent or improper wiring work can result in loss of life limb and property. 

I am a Home Inspector and not a code inspector. While I have been trained to safely inspect residential electrical systems I am not an expert on electrical wiring. 

I recommend a qualified licensed electrician perform any work that involves electrical wiring”

While we are not required to check Permits for work carried out on a property, knowing of work that has been carried out, and alerting your clients as to the possibility that they should themselves seek the status of permits can only benefit them from the perspective of safety and peace-of-mind.

Knowing what does and doesn’t need a permit is a good start to identifying what to say to your clients.

With respect to this question, we would like to thank the electrical safety authority for their permission to reproduce the information on this page for your education and benefit.

What electrical work needs a permit?

If a home owner appears to have done work in the property (obviously amateur installations) or if an electrician has done it on their behalf, almost all electrical work requires a permit.  A permit creates a permanent record of the electrical work that has been done in the  home, and triggers a review process by the Electrical Safety Authority, which is an added safeguard for the occupiers. Without a permit, there will be no record of the electrical work or a Certificate of Inspection, which is an important document for insurance and resale. If something goes wrong, the person who performed the work can be found liable.  In addition the home insurance may not provide cover for resultant damage if the work was not conducted by a Licensed Electrical Contractor or done under permit by the homeowner.

Consult the following chart for answers to the most common permit questions.

Job Description

Permit or not?

Changing a light switch Simple like-for-like 2 wire to 2 wire change No permit needed
Single pole to three-way switch Permit needed
Replace an existing switch with a dimmer Permit needed
Installing new power outlets Outdoor Permit needed
Indoor Permit needed
Ceiling fan Installing a ceiling fan where no fixture exists Permit needed
Installing a ceiling fan where a light fixture exists Permit needed
Replacing any existing ceiling fan Permit needed
Receptacles: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs), Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) or
TR (Tamper-Resistant )

Replacing an existing receptacle

Permit needed

Installing new receptacle

Permit needed
Electrical panel Any work on the panel Permit needed
Installing pot lights

Installing pot lights in existing pot lights

Permit needed

Installing new pot lights

Permit needed
Installing a new light fixture Replacing a 2-wire fixture for a 2-wire fixture No permit needed
Installing a new light fixture where one didn’t exist Permit needed
Installing a chandelier where a flush-mount light or two-light fixture existed No permit needed
Installing outdoor light fixtures requiring new runs Permit needed
Installing outdoor fixture where no new run is needed Permit needed
Deck lights

Installing lights on a deck / low voltage deck lights

Permit needed
GFCI outlet Replacing old GFCI outlet with a new one with a cover on it Permit needed
Running wiring to a shed Outdoor Permit needed
Replacing or rewiring a pool pump Indoor or outdoor Permit needed
Installing a new electrical appliance Dishwasher Permit needed
Washer/Dryer Permit needed
Oven Permit needed

Blog

The deadline to respond to Transport Canada for the proposed changes to the regulations for Unmanned Aircraft Systems is fast approaching. Written comments should be sent to carrac@tc.gc.ca by October 13, 2017.

For anyone who hasn’t yet read the proposals you can find them here: http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/20…l/reg2-eng.php

Here is a very high level summary of the changes.

UAS systems that are less than 250g AUW (all up weight) will be unregulated under the Canadian Aviation Regulations. Operators will still need to comply with Privacy and Safety laws.

Most home inspections will be considered to be in the “Small Complex” bracket for the regulations.

Inspectors will need to comply with the following:

  • Clearly mark the UA with the name, address and telephone number of the operator;
  • Notify air traffic control if the UA inadvertently enters or is likely to enter controlled airspace;
  • Operate in manner that is not reckless or negligent (that could not endanger life or property);
  • Give right of way to manned aircraft;
  • Use another person as a visual observer if using a device that generates a streaming video also known as a first-person view (FPV) device;
  • Confirm that no radio interference could affect the flight of the UA;
  • Do not operate in cloud; and
  • Have liability insurance of at least $100,000.

In addition BEFORE each flight you will be required to perform a site survey to identify any obstacles. You will also need to keep UAS maintenance records and flight records.

The fundamentals are that for inspections you will

  1. Have a UAS that is in compliance with a standard published by a standards organization accredited by a national or international standards accrediting body; (see footnote 9) have available the statement from the manufacturer that the UAS meets the standard; and do not modify the UAS. Transport Canada would alleviate the requirement for a pilot/operator to have a UAS that meets the design standards for operation in a complex operating area if that pilot/operator has bought a UAS prior to the coming-into-force date of the new regulations;
  2. Register the UAS with Transport Canada and ensure that the certificate of registration is readily available by the pilot-in-command; and
  3. Obtain a pilot permit that would be valid for five years.

The pilot permit application to Transport Canada would include, for example, the following:

  • An attestation of piloting skills by another UA pilot, and
  • The successful completion of a comprehensive knowledge exam.

The following requirements and limits would also apply:

  1. Pass a comprehensive written knowledge test (part of the pilot permit requirement above);
  2. Be at least 16 years of age;
  3. Request and receive authorization for flight in airspace which is a control zone for an aerodrome from the appropriate air traffic control unit;
  4. Operate at least 100 feet (30.48 m) from a person. A distance of less than 100 feet would be possible for operations if conditions such as a maximum allowed speed of 10 knots (11.5 mph) and a minimum altitude of 100 feet are respected;
  5. Operate at a maximum distance of 0.5 NM (0.93 km) from the pilot;
  6. Operate over or within open-air assemblies of persons if operated at an altitude of greater than 300 feet, but less than 400 feet, and from which, in the event of an emergency necessitating an immediate landing, it would be possible to land the aircraft without creating a hazard to persons or property on the surface;
  7. Operate at a maximum of 400 feet (121.92 m) or 100 feet above a building or structure with conditions; and
  8. Night operations would be allowed with conditions.

OntarioACHI have been working with Transport Canada as stakeholders in the negotiations for these changes, and we feel that they bring a measurement of fairness to the actual regulator component while allowing Home Inspectors to achieve operational status much faster than the current SFOC process allows.

We are not so happy about the fact that even though Transport Canada sees the risks for small complex operations as being the same for recreational users and non-recreational users, the cost for entry to the non-recreational use is estimated at nearly $850 in the first year as opposed to $195 for a causal flyer.

OntarioACHI will be making a submission to Transport-Canada and the submission will be made available to our members on the OntarioACHI website and linked to from here.

Blog

The date for submissions to the proposed rate and policy changes by the WSIB is October 13th. 

The proposed changes are far reaching and could be costly to Home Inspectors who have family members with their own businesses.

The summary of the proposed changes can be found here: http://bit.ly/2hzJWE1

The devil, however, is in the detail which can be found here: http://bit.ly/2gt06z5

As an example, As a Home Inspector, you are classified as a contractor in the construction sector. If a member of your family (wife for example) has a cake making business, her business would be classified as being “associated” with yours, even if there were no transactions between them, and consequently her business would be classified as a construction company too, incurring the highest rate of premiums to the WSIB.

We thought the WSIB implementation of Bill-119 introduced inconsistencies that put the public at risk and inspectors at risk of serious fines, these changes are even more ludicrous and can be explained as nothing more than an ill-conceived attempt at hiding a massive tax-grab.

We will be providing a submission to the WSIB and will be engaging the support of other businesses who are likely to be caught in this new “association” policy.

Blog

We are offering a new news brief service to all Inspectors in Ontario, Canada.  We will be sending out very short, simple messages on a regular basis that provide tips, advice, tricks and guidance on helping develop a more professional Home Inspection business and assist in your endeavours to protect the consumer and at the same time run a successful business.

Subscribe to the SignPost news brief and join the 1 100 subscribers who get tips, advice and other information to help them build a better, more professional Home Inspection business.

Blog

We have, over the last 3 months, been in discussions with staff from the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, the Ministry of Labour and regulators from the Electrical Safety Authority with regard to Home Inspectors opening the electrical panels to perform a visual inspection.

We finally received a letter this morning putting the ESA official position forward.

Remember, SAFETY FIRST.  Always use the safe inspection protocols.

If the panel:

  • has insufficient safety clearance
  • looks unsafe
  • has voltages where it shouldn’t
  • has loose items above it that might fall in when opened

Don’t open the panel.  Report it as NOT INSPECTED. Report why it wasn’t inspected and refer a licensed electrician.

Home Inspectors – LI Signed

Hendrik Hymans of AtoZ Home Inspections

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Hendrik Hymans of AtoZ Home InspectionsHendrik here from A to Z Home Inspections.

Just wanted to let you know of a scam out there targeted at Home Inspectors.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Potential client emails you that they need a home inspection ASAP.    Their 1st e-mail usually says something like:   “I  would like to schedule an inspection please get back to me ASAP.”

Red Flags: 

  1. There is very little information in this email to act on, no listing, no phone number, etc
  2. Note that they need it ASAP!
  3. Poor Grammar
  1. You send a quote letter/response.
  2. Client Emails you that they are in the hospital and need a home inspection done, and again asks How Much is your inspection?

2nd e-mail from “Client” says something like::

“Thanks for your response,I am hearing impaired and i just had a surgery,I believe the best means i can get across to you right now would be via e-mail or text I can send you my number if you want,Actually am in the process of buying a house for my retired parent,I want the general inspection done as soon as possible..

Let me know if you would be available i will contact the previous owner to have the keys ready and i will also like to know how much the inspection would cost.

(Full House Home Inspection: 1,800 square feet and Maintenance Inspections with Written Report)
NOTE:-I will get back to you in my next email with the address and any further details you would need.”

Red Flags:

  1. they are referring to two types of inspections, House inspection and Maintenance Inspection
  2. hey ask for a quote that has already been supplied, indicating this may be a robot script
  3. the e-mail has typos and poor grammar
  4. tell-tale phrases that indicated something might not be quite right e.g. “I will contact the previous owner
  1. You ask for listing or address, more information on the property and provide another quote.

3rd e-mail from Client will provide just the address

(e.g. ) “The address of the property is 208 Jersey Tea Circle, Ottawa, ON please get back to me with the quote as soon as possible.”

Red Flags: 

  1. The house is not listed with MLS or with FSBO Listing companies. i.e. Grapevine
  2. Urgency mentioned again.
  3. You send an updated quote…

4th e-mail from Client goes something like this

“Hello ,

Thanks for the quote. I am OK with the quote and i would have everything put in place for the inspection,first of all i will like you to know that the house if for sale by the owner and not by Realtor,I would like you to know the house is still occupied and it will be vacant next weekend,I want you to know that the caretaker will bring the  key to you and you can go there for the inspection,i need you to send me your full name and office address and a valid phone number as requested by the caretaker he would need it to contact you to schedule the inspection and get the house keys to your office immediately they receive their balance,I will like to know what kind of credit cards you accept for payment so i can make the payment asap,I would have to seek a little favor from you and i would be happy if you can be able to grant me the favor i seek from you.Due to my present health condition,i would provide you my credit card details for you to charge for the total cost of the service and also i would like you to charge an extra sum of $ which would be sent to the caretaker who would take care of getting utilities transferred over, termite contract for the house,I am sorry if i am asking for too much but i would have forwarded the balance to him myself but i am held down with health issues right now and am still at the hospital and the caretaker stated he wants the balance by bank transfer that’s why i am seeking your favor on this,i would be willing to compensate you if you can assist me on this.

Your urgent response would be appreciated.

Warm Regards”

 

Red Flags: 

  1. Client says they want you for the inspection…but they need you to do a “small favour” (and they’ll compensate you in addition to performing the home inspection.)
  2. Urgency is always the key…The entire length of exchanges was 2 weeks! What urgency?
  3. Homeowner reference is gone, now it’s a caretaker.
  4. Very little, if any, discussion about the house, potential problems with the house, parents they are purchasing the house for, etc.
  5. The “Client” makes simple grammatical errors.
  1. You respond yes, I’ll help out.

Client again states they are in the hospital and need additional help in getting this inspection done and offers the following info and direction for the “small favour”.  See Text below verbatim.

5th e-mail from Client

Hello Hendrik,

I am sorry for the late response I have had a rough weekend in the hospital and I can wait to leave here, I want you to charge your service fee which is $350 plus credit card processing fee 4% and i need you to charge $2000 which would be sent to the house caretaker, I will send his bank details to you once the funds gets to your account,you would find my credit card details below:-

Credit Card Information’s
 
CARD TYPE – Visa Card
CARD NUMBER – Ending in 3485 ( have deleted the numbers to protect the credit card victim.)
CARD CVV –  420
CARD EXP – 04 | 2018
Card Billing : 33 Maple Cr BEACONSFIELD QUEBEC H9W 4T3
Amount to charge:  $2444

I will be looking out for your response with payment confirmation asap.

Red Flags:

  1. They need you to charge their credit card (Probably stolen) for the inspection fee and the “small favour”. In this case it’s a $2000 charge…a little much for a caretaker (or should it be the homeowner as stated in one of the earlier letters) Note as well there is no name given for the credit card number supplied.)
  2. No additional compensation for performing the favour is mentioned.
  3. 1st it was a homeowner you were dealing with, now you are dealing with a 3rd party caretaker.
  4. Again urgency is a key factor.

My Responses and their final email

“Hi there Cheryl,

Everything looks OK at my end.  I can charge the $350 and maybe $50 for the caretaker to come out and open up the place for inspection but I am uncomfortable with any fee more than that.  

If you want to give someone $2000, then I recommend a bank transfer or e-transfer for that.  More secure for you.

Hendrik”

Their Final Response

“Please dont charge my card at all then if you cant help as agreed, thank you for your time.”

My Final Response

“No worries, Good Luck on your Home Purchase. Hendrik”

Scam Summary.

(annotated by Len Inkster)

A lot of people get taken with this sort of scam.  As Hendrik said “I almost got taken with this, but I have been down this road before while looking for a car on-line. That particular encounter lead to the revelation that the auto trader website and several auto dealerships websites were hacked by organized crime! I was on CBC news regarding this story.”  Hendrik goes on to say “This has the same tone, characteristics, and tactics as I encountered while shopping for a car. So it’s probably organized crime as well!”.

Hendrik is likely right.  Cyber-Crime is on the increase globally, and the cyber-criminals, operating from remote locations use a series of tactics to steal identities and then use those identities to scam money.

Hendrik suggests things to watch for on scams that target Home Inspectors are:

  1. Identity…Who is this person?
  2. Urgency…Always a key factor…They want the deal done quickly!
  3. Only one line of communication available – email!  If you can’t speak with them then it’s probably a scam.
  4. Grammar.  I know it’s sounds picky but if someone can’t type up a simple request with-out making several mistakes, then something is out of place.
  5. Health.  Why someone would mention health is beyond me.  People rarely talk about their health issues with close ones let alone strangers.
  6. Changing up of the people you are to deal with.
  7. Requesting an usually high sum of money in relation to our standard fees.
  8. Offering to pay the credit charges…Who does that?
  9. No name on the credit card
  10. Little mention of the services to be received.
  11. Switching up the deal.

Hendrik wanted us to get the word  out on this one to fellow members so they don’t get caught up being an accessory to fraud.

We’d like to thank Hendrik for his contribution.  People can contact Hendrik in Ottawa by phone at 613-321-0095 or by e-mail at Hendrik@AtoZHomeInspections.ca

No scammers please, Hendrik is wise to you!