Provincial Accreditation Attention : Open in a new window PDFPrintE-mail

CAHPI has made significant progress in the restructuring of the National Certification Program for Canadian home inspectors. The third party accreditation of provincial certification programs will uphold CAHPI's commitment to ensure consumers are well served by qualified home inspectors throughout Canada. The need for consumers to have confidence in anyone calling themselves a home inspector is of utmost importance to our organization, and these decisions will uphold and improve the confidence of consumers when hiring a home inspector.

CAHPI is always working to strengthen the bond with consumers. CAHPI believes that the public and consumers are better served by any action that facilitates decisions by inspectors to seek added opportunities for training, education, and skill enhancement and to pursue membership in the home inspection organizations that offer and require such ongoing education experiences.

CAHPI Strengthens RHI Credential Through Provincial Third Party Accreditation

The most recent proactive steps your association is taking regarding improvements and enhancements to the RHI credential is third party accreditation. These steps strengthen the RHI brand in the marketplace and enhance its position as the pre-eminent credential for Canadian home inspectors.

Core among these initiatives is our focus on achieving independent accreditation of the RHI programs to bring them into alignment with internationally accepted standards for similar professional organizations. After exhaustively researching various options, the CAHPI board chose to seek accreditation through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), an independent US-based accreditation body. The NCCA has accredited over 400 certification programs in the United States and Canada, including the Certified Inspector program of our sister organization ASHI. CAHPI Atlantic has stepped forward to commence the process of becoming the first Canadian home inspector certification program to be accredited through an independent third party thus confirming the excellence of their credentialing processes.

To be clear, the NCCA accreditation process does not interfere with association roles and responsibilities. The NCCA accreditation process focuses on the way certifying agencies determine that an individual is competent before a certification and/or professional designation is awarded to ensure accuracy.

The requirements of NCCA certification will necessitate some changes to association RHI programs, the following will clarify these changes and the positive impact they will have on the programs and our members.

The NCCA standards are designed to ensure that certification programs are run in a manner that ensures fairness, equity, and transparency. To this end they focus on the objective measurement of competence leading to certification as opposed to typically subjective measurement tools used by organizations.

Under the standards, some practices are generally considered to be prohibited, notably that certification programs can't be involved in accrediting training course or training providers; and, that any training offered by an agency that offers certification can't be a mandatory requirement for certification. These two rules are to ensure unbiased results that pose a challenge for those CAHPI RHI programs that require specific training in order for an individual to be certified, however this is easily remedied with a shift in perspective.

The shift in perspective relates to how we verify competency. The basis of certification for the RHI programs has always been to practically verify competency of our members. Our existing method of choosing certain training courses and course content and recently setting criteria for peer-review inspections to verify competency has resulted from years of accumulation of hard sought member experience in determining what makes a good home inspector. But this method has its limitations and is not verifiable under scrutiny as it is subject to human error.

That is, our best efforts to determine the extent of knowledge necessary is in itself potentially biased or at worse inaccurate. On the contrary, the NCCA standards are a proven means to ensure the verification of competency is accurate, rigorous, valid and reliable and not subject to human error. The NCCA process has the added value of systematic assessment that exposes error and directs improvement. Where we find things that need to be improved, we'll improve them as a matter of course.

All CAHPI provincial/regional RHI programs have very similar verifications of competency:
1) written tests to verify knowledge;

2) review of written reports to verify adherence to our standards of practice;

3) sufficient experience to demonstrate continued ability to practice; and,

4) in some cases, a further practical test consisting of a live, peer-reviewed inspection to ensure that the inspector is competent.

These are all valid tests of competency, and we need to continue using them. However, NCCA requirements mandate that these tests meet rigorous standards to prove their validity and reliability, and in the case of our own written tests it is unlikely that they will meet the standards without tens of thousands of dollars worth of psychometrics – a testing verification process that validates the accuracy of programs. Developing knowledge tests that will meet the standards is an expensive and complicated process – however, there is a viable alternative now available.

Further, a true method of verification does not hold a bias inherent in setting mandatory fee paid training programs. In order to relieve this bias, the test for competency must be rigorous enough to ensure however the applicant has prepared for the exam, they will only pass based on the characteristics that make a good home inspector. Therefore, those who haven't learned from valid course content nor trained first hand in the proper execution of a home inspection will fail the exam 100 out of 100 times. As a corollary, these training tools that will help the applicant achieve success will be made available from the associations for a fee. The onus is on the applicant to become sufficiently trained to pass the exam, not the association.

That is the only change in perspective required for implementation. We have chosen the National Home Inspection Examination (NHIE) as the test of rigor to verify competency. It has been in existence for over 10 years, and meets all of the requirements of the NCCA. In the US, it is used in 25 states as a licensing exam, and is also used in the ASHI Certified Inspector program. Its ability to weed out those who cannot demonstrate competency has been confirmed. We can rely on it to accurately assess individuals, whereas our existing methods are less than accurate. The exam is based on criteria that are a close match to our National Occupational Standard. Best of all, it will soon be available throughout Canada, and can be adopted immediately into our programs. This will create a single knowledge exam that will accurately test the competency of the home inspection candidate for all participating provincial/regional programs – enhancing the RHI programs without any expenditure on our part.

It has been said that the requirements to achieve an RHI vary by province and the actual tests of competency are not identical across the country. Replacing the various provincial exams with the NHIE removes some if not most of that variability. In fact, all that remains is to ensure that the process and criteria used for Report Verification and the Practical Exam (aka TIPR) are aligned province by province, and with that we will have achieved virtually complete harmony in the requirements for all RHI programs. This was one of the goals of the original national certification initiative which CAHPI spearheaded and invested so much time, effort, and resources to achieve.

From the perspective of essentially harmonized RHI programs, we offer below a simple template for certification to help in the understanding of this process. Note that the actual positioning of the various tests along the timeline is not important, as long as they all are a requirement for eventually achieving the RHI designation.
rhi process flowchart_1

As noted above, control over certification will always remain in the hands of provincial bodies, with the requirements of NCCA accreditation resulting in higher standards.

Under the model outlined above, the RHI will become the ONLY Canadian inspector certification that is 100% competency-based AND independently validated for rigour, validity, transparency and fairness.

RHI – Canada's seal of excellence in home inspection!


So what does all this mean? In the short term, some RHI programs will have to make some adjustments as their traditional revenue streams are altered; but we are confident that the new prospective noted above is reasonably attainable.

In the longer term, moving along the path of NCCA accreditation and harmonization of requirements should lower the cost of certification for the individual member, while producing a more valuable credential. It will also direct CAHPI to focus on compliance with rigorous external accreditation standards (raising our level of professionalism with respect to certification in the process) and also ensure CAHPI focuses on enhancing the value of the services we provide to the membership. These are all positive endeavours.