Following advice from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, on April 3, 2020, Ontario updated the list of essential businesses that can remain open. The restrictions are aimed at further reducing contact between people and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
By 11:59 p.m. Saturday, April 4, 2020, businesses that are not identified on this list must close their physical locations.
Non-essential businesses that can continue to operate remotely, via electronic means will be allowed to remain open.
The government of Ontario’s list of essential businesses that will be allowed to remain open can be found here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/list-essential-workplaces
Home Inspection is still not specifically listed.
Our first commitment as a Home Inspectors Association must be to the safety of Home Inspectors, the consumers we serve and everyone’s family. We have heard from many inspectors that they think there are areas where Home Inspectors might be included on the list of essential businesses. Here’s what we’ve heard, and our opinion of the various statements.
Given the tightening of the list of essential businesses, the opinion on the validity of performing Home Inspections, and the risk of doing so is borne solely by the Home Inspector or Home Inspection Company. We no longer see any allowance for Home Inspectors to perform a Residential Home Inspection for a consumer. Performing one for a Real Estate agent may be considered a breach in the code of ethics and a possible conflict of interest.
The question we continue to base our opinion on is “What is an Essential business?”
From what we are seeing from the Ontario and Federal governments, and recommendations made by jurisdictions around the globe, we identify essential and non-essential business like this: “Essential businesses are ones that the public relies on for their day-to-day lives. This includes banks, hospitals, supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, post offices, and the like. They carry supplies and services necessary for survival, both in the long and short-term. In contrast, non-essential businesses are those that people frequent for pleasure, like gyms, bars, restaurants, movie theatres, museums, and concert halls, among others”.
Based on this, our view is that Home Inspections are not necessary for survival.
The ultimate decision, until the Real Estate Agent’s clause is removed from the list of essential business, is still left to each inspector. However, the argument for continuing to work is wearing thin, and we strongly advise all inspectors to think seriously before agreeing to perform one.
Regardless of each Inspector’s view, they should bear in mind the reasoning behind the closure of a business.
Any Inspector who chooses to continue to perform inspections should ensure they follow all protocols recommended for the Covid-19 outbreak, and we recommend IN ADDITION treat each property inspected as a hazardous site. Inspectors should
- Wear full personal protective equipment, includingproperly fitted
full-face respirator certified to NIOSH-N95 or higher, with HEPA (PURPLE) or organic vapour (BLACK) filters, sterile gloves and, where deemed necessary, a class C hazmat suit. Gloves and suits should be properly disposed of at the end of each inspection
- Sanitize hands and all non-disposable equipment prior to and at the end of each inspection
- Sanitize any surface that is touched prior to and following inspecting it
- Request clients DO NOT ATTEND the inspection but allow extra time to talk to the client about the report, remotely via phone or video
- Request Realtors that are present at the inspection to practice social distancing procedures. Realtors are required to be present at all inspections, but they do not have to be in the property. They can be outside in their vehicles.
- We strongly advise that inspector provide a health questionnaire to property occupants prior to performing the inspection to ascertain the likelihood of elevated risk and make an informed decision on whether to proceed
- We understand that making a living is important, but we strongly advise all inspectors to perform NO MORE than one inspection per day to reduce the chance of transmission of any viruses from one property to another. By reducing the number of inspections, it allows for proper cleansing of equipment between inspections.
Above all, use common sense and be safe. You owe it not just to yourself and your family but to all who might come into contact with you or something you have touched.
While refraining from inspections could cost you money, performing them could cost you and those closest to you much, much more.