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Open Letter From CAHPI President to CAHPI Members


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Editor's Note: The following letter from Bill Sutherland, CAHPI President, and the attached enclosures were forwarded to us by Owen Dickie, CAHPI(BC) Secretary, with a request to post it for the benefit of CAHPI members.

February 5th, 2008

To the Members of CAHPI(BC):

I want to begin by thanking you for your words of encouragement and support at the Quarterly General Meeting on the weekend, and through phone and e-mail contact these last couple of weeks. I agree with you that any action by the BC government to bring standards to the BC home and property inspection industry must include CAHPI(BC), and work that has already been done on this issue.

In fact, at UBCM last fall, I asked the Premier if he would meet with me for precisely this reason, and he agreed, asking me to contact his office to make arrangements. In writing to his office on November 8, 2007 to set up the meeting, my note reminded him that the reason for the meeting would be to discuss the efforts necessary to ensure that the actions by the BC government, with respect to the regulation or licensing of Home Inspectors, include CAHPI ­ British Columbia and Canada#146;s largest professional Home Inspection Association ­ which is currently unable to participate given the direction and approach being taken by the BC government. Mr. Campbell's office has not yet followed through on his UBCM commitment, but I expect they will.

I thank so many of you for advising me that you recently received an e-mail from a Susan Walker of Mr. Les's Ministry, asking you to participate in a consultation that Mr. Less ministry is conducting about the home inspection industry. In writing to me as the president of CAHPI(BC) on January 18, 2008, Ms. Walker didn't tell me she was writing to CAHPI(BC) members as well. In addition to the honour of being your president at CAHPI(BC), I am still a fulltime home inspector, too, and I would have thought that Ms. Walker would have written to me in that capacity, if she was writing to individual members of CAHPI(BC). But again, thank you for so quickly letting your Board of Directors and me know about this action.

Please rest assured that we know all about this consultation referenced by Ms. Walker.

At the meeting on the weekend, you asked me for direction on how to respond to her e-mail. Well, we're all business people, and we're all pretty independent. It's not for me to tell you what to do ­ your voice is important, and no one, least of all me, should tell you what to do to make it heard. We're all pretty busy, too, and often that means we just don't have the time to look after family, our health, and our business, and to make sure government understands us, and listens to us.

So I'm going to start by apologizing for what's going to be a very long read. But I think it is a very important one. In fact, it may be the most important message I've written in all my years as a home inspector. I believe that through inattention to the excellent work that each of us has done in building the Registered Home Inspector designation, and that we, with so many others, have done to develop the National Certification Program, Mr. Les and the ministry are placing BC consumers at risk, threatening our businesses, and our organization.

I'm going to suggest that you read the whole thing, including the two resolutions near the end that were passed at the Quarterly General Meeting this past weekend. Please print out and read each of the documents attached to this e-mail, as they tell our story. Then, if you are willing, I'm going to ask you to do 5 things:

1. Forward this entire e-mail, the attachment Background Material.pdf to the Solicitor General ministry at PSSG-CPPO@gov.bc.ca

2. In the subject line, please write: Response to BC government regulatory framework for house inspectors.

3. Please CC your local MLA, whether government or opposition. Please go to the BC legislative website at http://www.leg.bc.ca/ and click on Members#146; on the left side of the page, second item from the top, to locate your MLA, and get their e-mail address.

4. Please CC your Mayor and Council. To get their e-mail address, use the UBCM Local Government Officials List at http://www.civicnet.bc.ca Click on "Local Govt Links and Info" and from the list, call your council and ask for the e-mail address that will get information to the Mayor and Council.

5. Please CC your federal MP, no matter their party. Federal government and agencies have played a significant role in advancing the National Certification Program. Please go to http://www2.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/Lists/M ... rrent=True To get an MP's e-mail address, click on the MP's name, and you'll get all their contact information, including an e-mail address.

6. Please CC Premier Campbell at premier@gov.bc.ca

7. Please CC me as well, at president@cahpi.bc.ca

As I said above, we know all about this consultation referenced by Ms. Walker. And I have made sure Ms. Walker knows why CAHPI(BC) cannot participate, as the attached December 12, 2007 letter to her makes clear (attachment 1). In it, I reminded her of Mr. Les's August 3, 2007 letter to us in which he rejected the use of the National Certification Program standards as the baseline standards for BC, for reasons including his remarkable assertion that: "...the standards for British Columbia should account for building code, climate, and conditions in the province." As each of us knows, the Alberta and Quebec governments are moving to introduce industry standards based on the National Certification Program standards because they've been able to understand what the BC government does not: The National Certification Program was purpose-built with the flexibility to recognize and accommodate local and regional housing characteristics and provincial building codes.

The National Certification Program, and the inspection standards it includes, were not built in a day, or just by any one group. All kinds of people ­ including the Construction Sector Council, the Alliance of Certified Building Officials#146; Associations (ACBOA), Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and Human Resources Skills Development Canada ­ helped create the National Certification standard for the home and property inspection industry. These are national standards of competency, certification, and accreditation for private inspectors and municipal building officials.

That brings us back to the e-mail Ms. Walker sent to you on behalf of Mr. Les, and the document that Ms. Walker asked you to fill out, which can be accessed at http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/legislation/current.htm

It's no surprise that the document is not at all about using the NCP here in BC. And I agree with those of you who have said that it seems almost a punishment for the work the late Larry Hipperson started, and so many of us have been continuing: To protect BC consumers from con artists masquerading as qualified house inspectors when consumers are making the biggest purchasing decision of their lives. Many of you will remember the threat Mr. Les directed at me, and all of us, for corresponding to the Premier. There was a lot of media coverage of it in November, 2006, and I have attached a Vancouver Sun column from that time (attachment 2).

It seems to me that when you read the document that Ms. Walker asked you to fill out, which talks about excluding and exempting some house inspectors from government licensing, but making others pay what could be as much as $1,800 or more for a licence, this #145; consultation#146; is not so much about protecting consumers from con artists passing themselves off as house inspectors ­ the consumer protection issue CAHPI(BC) started asking the BC government to take an interest in some five years ago. It seems to me, that the effort is aimed at creating more confusion for consumers as to who#146;s qualified and who isn#146;t, and one that's aimed at making CAHPI(BC) members and the consumers who rely on them pay for all of this unnecessary work and needless confusion.

What do I mean by this? Well, some of you suggested at the Quarterly General Meeting this past weekend, that perhaps 80 per cent of active and qualified home inspectors in British Columbia are CAHPI(BC) members. I think you're probably right. And I agree with other members who have noted that because CAHPI(BC) members are in 178 BC communities, many of the inspections done for consumers in communities outside the Greater Vancouver are done by CAHPI(BC) members. That makes sense, too.

So when Mr. Les rejects the National Certification Program as the baseline for qualification in BC, and tells us that after securing our Registered Home Inspector designation, then the National Certificate Holder distinction ­ a combination The Toronto Star calls the "gold standard" in the house inspection industry in the attached article (attachment 3) ­ that we'll then have to secure some new, third standard, then the BC government is going down an unnecessary and costly path.

This weekend, I listened to many of you talk about how the changes in the economy are causing concern in your communities, your families, and your business. I agree with those of you who have made the point that CAHPI(BC)'s membership size and strength means that in over a hundred communities outside Greater Vancouver, when people seek a home inspection, it's very likely that the only inspector qualified, trained, accountable, and able to service the community is a CAHPI(BC) inspector. I see your point that some new third qualification as proposed by Mr. Les, that excludes some inspectors, and exempts others, but targets CAHPI(BC) members, and makes them pay $1,800 or more for a licence, perhaps even per year, will have a particularly negative impact on British Columbians who live in communities outside Greater Vancouver, and the men and women living there who have chosen to be home inspectors, and CAHPI(BC) members.


Well, either your business will have to eat the cost of the $1,800, or maybe you might have to adjust your prices to consumers to help afford it. But I worry that passing along the cost to folks might just make them decide not to have a home inspection.

So frankly, I wonder if Mr. Les just doesn't want people to get home inspections, or if he's just trying to bust CAHPI(BC). All of this seems so silly.

But make no mistake about it: CAHPI(BC) has been consulting with the BC government on this issue for the past five years. When Minister Abbott had the file, we presented to him, and he asked us to draft legislation to protect consumers. When Minister Coell took over the file and asked us for new legislation, we provided it to him as well. When Minister Coleman and Minister Les asked for information on the National Certification Program, we met directly with their staff at the Solicitor General Ministry. Never any response; but, promises in 2006, first from Minister Coleman on CBC radio on March 28 ( http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columb ... 60328.html ), then from Minister Les on July 27 on CBC radio, CKPG, and CHNL to take action to protect consumers by the end of 2006. Commitments that amounted to nothing.

So, on February 28, 2007, almost a full year ago, time and industry progress did indeed pass the BC government by. With the National Certification Authority up and running, on time, as promised (http://www.nca-anc.com), with the first home inspectors to achieve the new national standards able to add "National Certificate Holder" after their names, CAHPI(BC) announced that the new standards were in place for the BC home and property inspection industry (attachment 4).

By September 10 of last year, it was clear that the National Certification Program was succeeding in every province in the country. As we said in six regional news releases distributed that day (see sample in attachment 5), The National Certification Program (NCP) was introduced earlier this year, and of the 115 home inspectors across Canada who have achieved national certificate holder status, 16 are from BC. What's remarkable is that of 137 home inspectors across Canada currently working towards National Certification status, 57 of them ­ fully one-third ­ are from BC. British Columbia is leading the country in terms of the number of inspectors working towards achievement of national standards of competency, and BC consumers are the winners.

And as we all know, since last September, the take-up rate on the NCP has continued to grow, with inspectors from all manner of professional organizations across the country ­ not just CAHPI ­ seeking and earning National Certificate Holder distinction. The National Certification Program works, for consumers, and for house and home inspectors.

But with the Mr. Les having stated his view no-NCP view in advance of the start of his "consultation" I hope you understand why CAHPI(BC) participation was rendered impossible: In knowing the Solicitor General's position, the act of participating would indicate an abandonment by CAHPI(BC) of the National Certification Program, and send a confusing message to other jurisdictions responding so favourably to the long-overdue protection for consumers the NCP represents.

I believe, therefore, that when I say this Solicitor General "consultation" is flawed, it is beyond repair, too. It's all one-sided, making sure that at its outset ­ after our consultative input for so many years had been ignored ­ our unique input was, from August 3, 2007 onward, to be precluded as well.

So, we've been threatened. Strong, solid achievement on baseline qualifications for the industry built by Canadians from across the country has been ignored. And now, British Columbians are being faced with an ill-conceived, punitive, too-late regulatory lark that comes with as much as or more than an $1,800 price tag per inspector, perhaps even per year, when all that needed to be done was for BC to embrace the National Certification Program.

This is a great deal of money for consumers and for business owners, but I don't overestimate our importance. There are other groups who are also experiencing the sloppy Solicitor General approach to consultations, where many millions of dollars are involved. As many of you read, a recent column in The Vancouver Sun (attachment 5) revealed how Mr. Les handled the announcement of a prison in Lake Country. Between the public's experience there, and ours with our own admittedly smaller issue, you begin to see that there is simply something wrong with the way these Solicitor General people conduct themselves.

I want to close by telling you that I am so very proud of the work done by so many to build the Registered Home Inspector designation, and of the cooperation shown by each of you in supporting the efforts by groups from across this country to develop and put in place the National Certification Program. Through your efforts, more consumers each and every day know that when they seek the input of a registered Home Inspector and National Certificate Holder on the most expensive purchase of their lives, they can have confidence that because of that choice, they#146;re in a better position to make an informed decision.

So thank you for the two resolutions you passed at the Quarterly General Meeting. In respect of responding to the BC government regulatory framework for house inspectors, the following resolution was passed:

As a CAHPI(BC) Member, I endorse the position that any regulation of the home and property inspection industry in the province of British Columbia use the National Certification Program as the baseline for qualification/

I hope this letter, submitted by you as suggested above, allows you to uphold this resolution, making your voice heard, while making sure that people understand just how hard we've tried to work positively and cooperatively with the BC government for almost five years. And that just because the BC government has finally decided to act, it can ignore our input. Or worse, somehow pretend that a national industry standard, one that was developed and implemented while the BC government dithered, just doesn't exist.

And I thank you for passing the second resolution. It serves two purposes, really. It highlights what many considered a disrespectful, clumsy effort by the Solicitor General ministry to go around your duly elected CAHPI(BC) Board of Directors, and the efforts and positions we have been advancing over these many years, all for the sake of proving some kind of "consultation" with you, when the Solicitor General ministry knows full well that no consultation with CAHPI(BC) has been allowed to occur.

That said, it also reminds us that no matter the history with Mr. Les, or any of his staff in the ministry, there's always the chance of a new start. Should the Solicitor General ministry act, or be directed to act, to start anew, in proper and open consultations, to regulate or licence the home and property inspection industry in BC, your CAHPI(BC) Board of Directors CAHPI(BC) will advance use of the National Certification Program as the baseline for qualification.

That resolution reads as follows:

CAHPI(BC) Membership authorizes the CAHPI(BC) Board of Directors to act on their behalf with the Government of British Columbia in all matters regarding the regulation or licensing of the B.C. home and property inspection industry.

Again, I apologize for the length of this letter to you. But if you wish to respond to the Susan Walker e-mail, I hope this letter, containing as it does some important background information, the two resolutions from the Quarterly General Meeting, and some very relevant attachments allows you make your voice heard in the clearest way possible.



Bill Sutherland, RHI, Kamloops

President, CAHPI(BC)

On behalf of:

Vice President: Chris Stockdale, RHI, Richmond

Treasurer: Craig Hostland, RHI, Kelowna

Secretary: Owen Dickie, RHI, Lake Country

Director: Don Ruggles, RHI, Victoria

Director: Gary Poirier, RHI, Surrey

Director: Stephen Andrews, RHI, Prince George

Director: Dan Brown, RHI, Chilliwack

To read Southerland's letter to Ms. Walker, click here.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If licencing occurs there will be no need for CAHPI in BC as licencing negates the need for Associations.

Alberta is also giving serious consideration to licencing and Quebec.

If those provinces go to licencing that will further weaken CAHPI.

I can't for the life of me figure out why CAHPI would not participate in "Consultations" that the BC government is conducting into the home inspection profession in B.C. Better to have some input than none at all as a form of protest.

Raymond Wand

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Originally posted by Raymond Wadn

If licencing occurs there will be no need for CAHPI in BC as licencing negates the need for Associations.

That hasn't been the case down here. HI associations continue to grow, slowly, in spite of the steady march of licensing.

I can't for the life of me figure out why CAHPI would not participate in "Consultations" that the BC government is conducting into the home inspection profession in B.C. Better to have some input than none at all as a form of protest.

I'd have to agree with you there, and that's what the big HI orgs down here did when they couldn't stop licensing.

Brian G.

Bonehead Move, Eh? [:-taped]

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Well in CAHPI's case they have never been geared to marketing like ASHI or that other outfit. Strictly an association that quantifies members.

It appears that CAHPI is struggling to get sufficient numbers to join. If the numbers are not sufficient it will not survive. Currently there are approximately 500 signed up for National Certification across Canada or so we are told, after being told originally that there would be 5000 certified by 2007. Ooooops. ;)


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Ray noted

Originally posted by Raymond Wadn

Well in CAHPI's case they have never been geared to marketing like ASHI or that other outfit. Strictly an association that quantifies members.

It appears that CAHPI is struggling to get sufficient numbers to join. If the numbers are not sufficient it will not survive. Currently there are approximately 500 signed up for National Certification across Canada or so we are told, after being told originally that there would be 5000 certified by 2007. Ooooops. ;)


I think you may have CAHPI confused with another association that is BIG on numbers. National Certification is about assuring that home inspectors in Canada meet a National Standard. That is unlike other associations - real testing of the actual home inspection takes place.

It is amazing how many supossedly qualified home inspectors do not perform to an 80% testing standard. Out of several hundred inspectors tested in the TIPR (Test Inspection with Peer Review) process approximately 15% have not met the mark.

Certainly I will agree that a previous comment of reaching 5000 was perhaps overly ambitious, but there will be approximately 500 National Certificate Holders in Canada by this Summer/08. Just for the records I did not offer that 5000 number.

Perhaps CAHPI quantifies members by conducting another level of competency and rigor in testing the field performance of a home inspector. It also closely scrutinizes what is offered to the client in the field versus what is offered in the report. Again it's amazing how some inspectors offer a lot of fluff, CYA, and miss the mark. Most inspector cannot seperate the significance of a deficiency, or note the impact of the deficiency on the client. Another area of interest is poor communication skills.

Unfortunately some view that "peer review" as a threat, rather than a performance benchmark that other associations have failed to recognize. As noted, some are successful while some are not!

Is it better to be judged by your peers, or by the judge in court? It's an extra level of accountability.

My point being, there is not one association alone that can point to the creation of a home inspector that is faultless. We all have something to learn by objectively looking at "best practices" and areas where improvements can be made.

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Thanks Claude,

I have to agree that better to be reviewed by your peers than a court. However its still only inspectors overseeing themselves with no outside oversite.

We all know that one association I belonged to and which you still belong to still has a distance to go in entry requirements that are in line with the rest of the Canadian Associations.


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