Property Biz Canada

Home inspectors have issues with proposed CSA standard

A draft of the new CSA A770 home inspection standard recently released for public review has raised the ire of Canadian home inspectors who believe it will dramatically increase the cost of inspections and could potentially reduce consumer protection.

CSA CAHPIThe new proposed standard specifies requirements for the physical inspection of homes and associated property, including single-family dwellings, manufactured homes, multi-residential buildings and condominium units. The review date for the standard began on Oct. 16 and ends on Dec. 15.

CSA Group is an independent, not-for-profit membership association dedicated to safety, social good and sustainability. The CSA draft standard specifies new requirements for the physical inspection of homes and associated property. Its goal is to establish consistent requirements for home inspections nationally, help create common ground on current differences and provide a consistent platform for regulation.

“There is no national standard for home inspections, and home inspections do not follow one particular guideline,” said CSA Group corporate affairs manager Allison Hawkins. “There was a consensus among stakeholders that a national standard would provide a uniform guideline for all home inspections across Canada, helping to provide clarity in the industry.”

“The initial push for a neutral standard came from the Alberta government, who didn’t want to pick a winner from existing standards from multiple associations,” said Blaine Swan, president of the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors (CAHPI).

But Alberta home inspectors who met earlier this month to discuss the CSA draft standard came to the conclusion cost increases arising from compliance with the proposed regulation and the possibility of home inspections taking one to two days to complete could “effectively cripple the industry as we know it.”

Alberta branch president not impressed

Alan Fisher, president of CAHPI’s Alberta branch, said the draft standard requires excessive time-consuming detail and includes unnecessary elements that may raise liability issues for inspectors.


Among the things Fisher said he has problems with are requirements to: measure the slope of concrete slab floors down to the millimetre; take covers off electrical panels and shut power off in houses; comment on whether trees on properties have pest infestation; test underground sprinkler systems; and document the make, model and serial number of every item inspected.

“A lot of inspectors have the training in some of these areas, but it’s about the liability attached to it when you’re dealing with somebody else’s property,” said Fisher. “And there’s a lot of time involved in doing this level of detail in our reporting.”

The extra hours needed to carry out this additional work will bring extra costs, and the Alberta inspectors claim those who most need an inspection may opt out of having one. A typical inspection now ranges in price from $400 to $600, but the Alberta inspectors believe the changes proposed in the CSA draft standard could easily triple those rates.

“A lot of first-time homebuyers may forgo having a home inspection because cash is tight during that time and they may decide that they don’t want to spend $1,500 or $2,000 on an inspection,” said Fisher.

Hawkins declined to address specific criticisms of the draft standard, but said: “CSA Group welcomes feedback on its standards to permit individuals and organizations materially affected to have an opportunity to participate in the development. This helps ensure the standard reflects the opinion of industry experts and other interested parties.”

Hawkins said the CSA Group developed the standard using an accredited, consensus-based process that utilized a technical committee with a balanced mix of “volunteer experts representing stakeholder groups including, but not limited to, regulators, insurance companies, educators, home inspectors and consumers.”

Insufficient representation by home inspectors

But Fisher believes there was insufficient representation by home inspectors on the committee, which he said had too many people who “don’t understand the intricacies of a home inspection.”

Swan calls Alberta “ground zero” for complaints about how the CSA draft standard could adversely affect inspectors and the real estate industry in general, but said, “There are similar concerns and resistance from CAHPI members nationally.”

“Negative impact at this point is speculative,” said Swan. “If an inspection takes longer and costs rise significantly, consumers will be less likely to be able to afford an inspection, real estate agents will be less likely to refer or tolerate long, drawn-out inspections, insurers will have to rewrite policies and likely raise fees.

“Talented and competent home inspectors may be less likely to enter or remain in the industry. Less inspections equals a reduction in the safety and quality of Canadian housing stock. Contracts will have to be rewritten and there has yet to be vetting by the courts. I’m sure there are other negatives that will come forward.”

Changes may be made to the draft before the standard is approved by CSA Group’s technical committee. The CSA A770 standard is scheduled for publication next summer.


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  • Raymond Wand

    Lets clear something up as to the standards currently in use by home inspectors. All associations SOP are virtually the same. I don’t know where the myth is being perpetrated that they are all different. So in fact they do follow a standard which has been recognized by the courts.

    There is a lot of misinformation floating around out there and I wish people would check facts before commenting.

    When it comes to determining the importance of professional standards in respect of the legal standard a court considers that a standard practice falls below the legal standard only if the standard practice fails to adopt obvious and reasonable precautions readily apparent to the court. Otherwise, the court will show deference to the standard practice.

    Hence the courts will have the final say as to what the standards lack or don’t lack. The litmus test for any CSA standard will in the end be determined by the courts and until such time its all a guessing game by those pushing for licencing and common standards.

    I fail to see how the CSA standards will provide guaranteed protection of purchasers from negligent inspections.

    The panel makeup is by all accounts secret! That is not acceptable.

  • Graham Ashdown

    It seems so ironic. Presumably, all of this is being done under the guise of consumer protection yet inspectors are advocates for the home buying consumer. If consumer protection is key, why is it the buyer can simply waive his right to an inspection? Why aren’t inspections mandatory in multiple offer situations? Why aren’t they mandatory period? Why is it that vendors don’t have to make meaningful mandatory disclosures? Why is it vendors don’t offer insurance backed warranties similar to title insurance? Why don’t realtors have mandatory beefed up due diligence? An inspection that takes three, four or even 5 days to complete would be awesome, but it’s completely impractical in today’s real estate climate. All of this is very curious indeed…it feels like inspectors are being made the scapegoats.

  • Claude Lawrenson

    Skills required in the occupational field are best identified by expert persons working in the field. This is the basic premise of DACUM. The DACUM approach makes it possible to develop a complete job profile, with duties and tasks identified and prioritized.

    Was the proposed “standard” for the occupational, or role analysis used to delineate the duties, tasks, and associated knowledge or skill needed to perform within an occupation? If so have they actually looked at what already exist? Past research and support at various levels including federal funding for home inspectors have already identified what the occupation requires. Why re-invent what already exist?

    By utilizing expertise from those performing the occupational competencies involved in the previous DACUM processes, the accuracy and likelihood of acceptance of a DACUM method by those who implement and receive the subsequent training is increased. After all most post-secondary training, trained to those skills and competencies. Additionally, and as noted it provides a detailed task analysis, a tool for performance appraisal, a basis for the development of competency-based learning and evaluation, and a means of identifying individual training needs on the training and education side of preparing workers for the occupation.

  • Raymond Wand

    Now there is a movement by InterNachi to try and have CSA standards for home inspections shut down because some feel that CSA is acting contrary to the Federal Competition Act. Good luck, the CSA standards do not come under the purview of the Competition Bureau. And the CSA home inspection standards being formulated by CSA do not restrict inspectors entering the field, no price fixing, no monopoly and no collusion of home inspectors to breach the Competition Act.

Steve McLean

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