Is Your Home Inspector Really Certified?

Certified, What does that word really mean anymore? Websters says it is 1 : having earned certification 2: Genuine, Authentic.

“Well I believe my home inspector is genuine, they seem authentic.”

The question is who says they are certified? Did they take a quick online test and send a check. Did they sit through a 6 hour program that magically immersed them in the knowledge they needed to do their job? Do they belong to a national home inspection association. Does that association really enforce its rules? Do they get continuing education?

The fact is almost anyone can call themselves certified these days. It only means something if the person hearing it understands the meaning.

The following information may upset some of my fellow home inspectors but it is true and sometimes the truth can be painful.

The truth is there is currently only one organization that can “Certify Home inspectors” ASHI. Read on to understand why.

WHERE OR WHO do you earn the certification from? That is the real question. The answer is it depends.

First we need to discuss the difference between a certificate program vs. a certification program.

The National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA) has published a new standard for the development and delivery of “assessment-based certificate programs.” Standard 1100, published in September 2008 and recently submitted for ANSI accreditation, carefully distinguishes these programs from professional certifications and explains key differences between the two.

The standard clarifies an important point of confusion that has plagued the industry for years, causing considerable friction between competing industry certification programs

What’s the Difference?

According to the NOCA standard, an “assessment-based certificate program” is a non-degree granting program that does three things:

1. Provides a course of instruction with intended learning outcomes

2. Evaluates participants’ achievement of these learning outcomes via an examination

3. Awards a certificate ONLY to those who have taken the course and passed the examination

A professional certification program, on the other hand, is a non-governmental program that does two things:

1. Delivers an assessment based on industry knowledge, independent from training courses or course providers.

2. Grants a time-limited credential to anyone who meet the assessment standards.

As the standard explains, it is the role of TRAINING and its relationship to credentialing that sets these two types of credentials apart. On the one hand, assessment-based certificate programs exist to deliver education and training. Each credential is linked to a training course by necessity – the credential is proof that its holder took the course. The purpose of a certificate program is to educate participants, and the examination is used as a mirror to show students their progress toward the learning outcomes.

Professional certifications, on the other hand, are independent of training courses. In the words of the standard, “Whereas the primary focus of a … certificate program is on the provision of education/training, … the primary focus of professional or personnel certification is on assessment. Moreover, the assessment conducted by a certification program is independent of a specific class, course or other education/training program and also independent of any provider of classes, course or programs.”

In layman’s terms this means a third party can get approved to truly “Certify” someone. They may require the person have several certificates before they get certified. This is where The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) set themselves apart from the rest of the home inspection community. They worked to create the only real certification program for home inspectors.

ASHI’s members are proud of their association and for what it stands. Proud to know that their association has done what no other could. Proud of their own individual accomplishment and the process of becoming a professional home inspector and full member of ASHI. Proud to finally be able to use the term ASHI Certified Home Inspector and have the solid backing of the NCCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies) to support it.

ASHI Certified Inspectors have passed a national exam, had their reports verified for compliance, performed over 250 different fee paid inspections and are required to get a minimum of 20 hours of approved continuing education every year. ASHI also confirms that their inspectors meet the requirements annually and I have seen them remove members that did not meet the requirements.

ASHI has ethical requirements that while they are not part of the certification are required for membership.

If you’re looking for a home inspector and want someone experience (at least 250 inspections) educated (passed a national exam and required to get at least 20 hours of continuing education every year) and ethical (ASHI wrote the standards of practice that most other home inspection associations patterned theirs after) go to ASHI.org

Scott Warga, is the Qualifying party for ACSI American Construction Specialists and Investigations LLC,(ROC216772) a dual licensed residential and small commercial contractor. He is also a qualified Arizona home inspector certified by the Arizona Board of Technical Registration (#38062) and was appointed to the Arizona Board of Technical Registration’s Enforcement Advisory Committee. He has 9 years construction experience and has performed residential and commercial property inspections for over 10 years. He has specialized in forensic inspections, investigating failed, damaged and defective construction for over 4 years. He is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors, (#205826) and currently sits on their board of directors. Scott is also a member of the International Code Council (#5095644). He has been an instructor of home inspection at Mesa Community College, Arizona Sun-Tech Home Inspection School and for Inspection Training Associates, a Kaplan Professional School. He has served as District Chairman & Vice President for the Arizona chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors and an approved instructor for both them and the Arizona Department of Real Estate.

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