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OAHI Standards of Practice

To download a PDF version   2012 SOP effective October 1, 2014 -  click here -  OAHI / CAHPI Standards of Practice

2012 National Standards of Practice

The National Standards of Practice are a set of guidelines for home and property inspectors to follow in the

performance of their inspections. They are the most widely accepted Canadian home inspection guidelines in use,

and address all the home’s major systems and components. The National Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics

are recognized by many related professionals as the definitive Standards for professional performance in the

industry.

These National Standards of Practice are being published to inform the public on the nature and scope of visual

building inspections performed by home and property inspectors who are members of the Canadian Association

of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI).

The purpose of the National Standards of Practice is to provide guidelines for home and property inspectors

regarding both the inspection itself and the drafting of the inspection report, and to define certain terms relating

to the performance of home inspections to ensure consistent interpretation.

To ensure better public protection, home and property inspectors who are members of CAHPI should strive to

meet these Standards and abide by the appropriate provincial/regional CAHPI Code of Ethics.

These Standards take into account that a visual inspection of a building does not constitute an evaluation or a

verification of compliance with building codes, Standards or regulations governing the construction industry or

the health and safety industry, or Standards and regulations governing insurability.

Any terms not defined in these Standards shall have the meaning commonly assigned to it by the various trades and

professions, according to context.

National Standards of Practice. © Copyright 2012 Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors. All Rights Reserved.

INDEX

1. Introduction

2. Purpose and Scope

3. General Limitations and Exclusions

4. Structural Systems

5. Exterior Systems

6. Roof Systems

7. Plumbing Systems

8. Electrical Systems

9. Heating Systems

10. Fireplaces & Solid Fuel Burning Appliances

11. Air Conditioning Systems

12. Interior Systems

13. Insulation and Vapour Barriers

14. Mechanical and Natural Ventilation Systems

Glossary Note: Italicized words are defined in the Glossary.

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 The Canadian Association of Home and Property

Inspectors (CAHPI) is a not-for-profit association

whose members include the following seven

provincial/regional organizations: CAHPI-British

Columbia., CAHPI-Alberta, CAHPI-Saskatchewan,

CAHPI-Manitoba, OAHI (Ontario), AIBQ (Quebec),

and CAHPI-Atlantic. CAHPI strives to promote

excellence within the profession and continual

improvement of inspection services to the public.

2. PURPOSE AND SCOPE

2.1 The purpose of these National Standards

of Practice is to establish professional and

uniform Standards for private, fee-paid home

inspectors who are members of one of the

provincial/regional organizations of CAHPI.

Home Inspections performed to these National

Standards of Practice are intended to provide

information regarding the condition of the

systems and components of the building as

inspected at the time of the Home Inspection.

This does NOT include building code inspections.

These National Standards of Practice enable the

building being inspected to be compared with

a building that was constructed in accordance

with the generally accepted practices at the time

of construction, and which has been adequately

maintained such that there is no significant loss

of functionality.

It follows that the building may not be in

compliance with current building codes,

standards and regulations that are applicable at

the time of inspection.

These National Standards of Practice apply to

inspections of part or all of a building for the

following building types:

• single-family dwelling, detached, semidetached

or row house

• multi unit residential building

• residential building held in divided or

undivided co ownership

• residential building occupied in part for

a residential occupancy and in part for a

commercial occupancy, as long as the latter

use does not exceed 40% of the building’s total

area, excluding the basement.

2.2 The Inspector shall:

A. inspect:

1. readily accessible, visually observable installed

systems, and components of buildings listed in

these National Standards of Practice.

B. report:

1. on those systems and components installed on

the building inspected which, in the professional

opinion or judgement of the inspector, have a

significant deficiency or are unsafe or are near

the end of their service lives.

2. a reason why, if not self-evident, the system or

component has a significant deficiency or is

unsafe or is near the end of its service life.

3. the inspector’s recommendations to correct or

monitor the reported deficiency.

4. on any systems and components designated

for inspection in these National Standards of

Practice which were present at the time of the

Home Inspection but were not inspected and a

reason they were not inspected.

2.3 These National Standards of Practice are not

intended to limit inspectors from:

A. including other inspection services in addition

to those required by these National Standards of

Practice provided the inspector is appropriately

qualified and willing to do so.

B. excluding systems and components from the

inspection if requested by the client or as

dictated by circumstances at the time of the

inspection.

3. GENERAL LIMITATIONS AND

EXCLUSIONS

3.1 General limitations:

A. Inspections performed in accordance with these

National Standards of Practice

1. are not technically exhaustive.

2. will not identify concealed conditions or latent

defects.

National Standards of Practice. © Copyright 2012 Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors. All Rights Reserved.

3.2 General exclusions:

A. The inspector is not required to perform any

action or make any determination unless

specifically stated in these National Standards

of Practice, except as may be required by lawful

authority.

B. Inspectors are NOT required to determine:

1. condition of systems or components which are

not readily accessible.

2. remaining life of any system or component.

3. strength, adequacy, effectiveness, or

efficiency of any system or component.

4. causes of any condition or deficiency.

5. methods, materials, or costs of corrections.

6. future conditions including, but not limited to,

failure of systems and components.

7. suitability of the property for any use.

8. compliance with regulatory requirements (codes,

regulations, laws, ordinances, etc.).

9. market value of the property or its marketability.

10.advisability of the purchase of the property.

11.presence of potentially hazardous plants,

animals or insects including, but not limited

to wood destroying organisms, diseases or

organisms harmful to humans.

12.presence of any environmental hazards

including, but not limited to toxins, carcinogens,

noise, and contaminants in soil, water, and air.

13.effectiveness of any system installed or

methods utilized to control or remove suspected

hazardous substances.

14.operating costs of systems or components.

15.acoustical properties of any system or

component

16.design adequacy with regards to location of the

home, or the elements to which it is exposed.

C. Inspectors are NOT required to offer or perform:

1. any act or service contrary to law, statute or

regulation.

2. engineering, architectural and technical services.

3. work in any trade or any professional service

other than home inspection.

4. warranties or guarantees of any kind.

D. Inspectors are NOT required to operate:

1. any system or component which is shut down or

otherwise inoperable.

2. any system or component which does not

respond to normal operating controls.

3. shut-off valves.

E. Inspectors are NOT required to enter:

1. any area which will, in the opinion of the

inspector, likely be hazardous to the inspector

or other persons or damage the property or its

systems or components.

2. confined spaces.

3. spaces which are not readily accessible.

F. Inspectors are NOT required to inspect:

1. underground items including, but not limited

to storage tanks or other indications of their

presence, whether abandoned or active.

2. systems or components which are not installed.

3. decorative items.

4. systems or components located in areas that are

not readily accessible in accordance with these

National Standards of Practice.

5. detached structures.

6. common elements or common areas in multiunit

housing, such as condominium properties

or cooperative housing when inspecting an

individual unit(s), including the roof and

building envelope.

7. test and/or operate any installed fire alarm

system, burglar alarm system, automatic

sprinkler system or other fire protection

equipment, electronic or automated installations,

telephone, intercom, cable/internet systems and

any lifting equipment, elevator, freight elevator,

wheelchair lift, climbing chair, escalator or

others;

8. pools, spas and their associated safety devices,

including fences.

G. Inspectors are NOT required to:

1. perform any procedure or operation which

will, in the opinion of the inspector, likely be

hazardous to the inspector or other persons

or damage the property or it’s systems or

components.

2. move suspended ceiling tiles, personal property,

furniture, equipment, plants, soil, snow, ice, or

debris.

3. dismantle any system or component, except as

explicitly required by these National Standards

of Practice.

National Standards of Practice. © Copyright 2012 Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors. All Rights Reserved.

4. STRUCTURAL SYSTEMS

4.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect:

1. structural components including visible

foundation and framing.

2. by probing a sample of structural components

where deterioration is suspected or where

clear indications of possible deterioration

exist. Probing is NOT required when probing

would damage any finished surface or where no

deterioration is visible.

B. describe:

1. foundation(s).

2. floor structure(s).

3. wall structure(s).

4. ceiling structure(s).

5. roof structure(s).

C. report:

1. on conditions limiting access to structural

components.

2. methods used to inspect the under-floor crawl

space

3. methods used to inspect the attic(s).

4.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

A. provide any engineering service or architectural

service.

B. offer an opinion as to the adequacy of any

structural system or component.

5. EXTERIOR SYSTEMS

5.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect:

1. exterior wall covering(s), flashing and trim.

2. all exterior doors.

3. attached or adjacent decks, balconies, steps,

porches, and their associated railings.

4. eaves, soffits, and fascias where accessible from

the ground level.

5. vegetation, grading, and surface drainage on the

property when any of these are likely to adversely

affect the building.

6. walkways, patios, and driveways leading to

dwelling entrances.

7. landscaping structure attached or adjacent to

the building when likely to adversely affect the

building.

8. attached garage or carport.

9. garage doors and garage door operators for

attached garages.

B. describe

1. exterior wall covering(s).

C. report:

1. the method(s) used to inspect the exterior wall

elevations.

5.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

A. inspect:

1. screening, shutters, awnings, and similar

seasonal accessories.

2. fences.

3. geological, geotechnical or hydrological

conditions.

4. recreational facilities.

5. detached garages and outbuildings.

6. seawalls, break-walls, dykes and docks.

7. erosion control and earth stabilization measures.

6. ROOF SYSTEMS

6.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect:

1. readily accessible roof coverings.

2. readily accessible roof drainage systems.

3. readily accessible flashings.

4. readily accessible skylights, chimneys, and roof

penetrations.

B. describe

1. roof coverings.

C. report:

1. method(s) used to inspect the roof(s).

6.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

A. inspect:

1. antennae and satellite dishes.

2. interiors of flues or chimneys.

3. other installed items attached to but not related

to the roof system(s).

7. PLUMBING SYSTEMS

7.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect:

1. interior water supply and distribution systems

including all fixtures and faucets.

2. drain, waste and vent systems including all

fixtures.

3. water heating equipment and associated venting

systems.

4. water heating equipment fuel storage and fuel

distribution systems.

5. fuel storage and fuel distribution systems.

6. drainage sumps, sump pumps, and related

piping.

B. describe:

1. water supply, distribution, drain, waste, and vent

piping materials.

2. water heating equipment including the energy

source.

3. location of main water and main fuel shut-off

valves.

National Standards of Practice. © Copyright 2012 Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors. All Rights Reserved.

7.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

A. inspect:

1. clothes washing machine connections.

2. wells, well pumps, or water storage related

equipment.

3. water conditioning systems.

4. solar water heating systems.

5. fire and lawn sprinkler systems.

6. private waste disposal systems.

B. determine:

1. whether water supply and waste disposal

systems are public or private.

2. the quantity or quality of the water supply.

C. operate:

1. safety valves or shut-off valves.

8. ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS

8.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect:

1. service drop.

2. service entrance conductors, cables, and

raceways.

3. service equipment and main disconnects.

4. service grounding.

5. interior components of service panels and sub

panels.

6. distribution conductors.

7. overcurrent protection devices.

8. a representative number of installed lighting

fixtures, switches, and receptacles.

9. ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) (if

appropriate).

10.arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCI) (if

appropriate).

B. describe:

1. amperage and voltage rating of the service.

2. location of main disconnect(s) and subpanel(s).

3. wiring methods.

C. report:

1. presence of solid conductor aluminum branch

circuit wiring.

2. absence of carbon monoxide detectors (if applicable).

3. absence of smoke detectors.

4. presence of ground fault circuit interrupters

(GFCI).

5. presence of arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCI).

8.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

A. inspect:

1. remote control devices unless the device is the

only control device.

2. alarm systems and components.

3. low voltage wiring, systems and components.

4. ancillary wiring, systems and components not a

part of the primary electrical power distribution

system.

5. telecommunication equipment.

B. measure:

1. amperage, voltage, or impedance.

9. HEATING SYSTEMS

9.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect:

1. readily accessible components of installed

heating equipment.

2. vent systems, flues, and chimneys.

3. fuel storage and fuel distribution systems.

B. describe:

1. energy source(s).

2. heating method(s) by distinguishing

characteristics.

3. chimney(s) and/or venting material(s).

4. combustion air sources.

5. exhaust venting methods (naturally aspiring,

induced draft, direct vent, direct vent sealed

combustion).

9.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

A. inspect:

1. interiors of flues or chimneys.

2. heat exchangers.

3. auxiliary equipment.

4. electronic air filters.

5. solar heating systems.

B. determine:

1. system adequacy or distribution balance.

10. FIREPLACES AND SOLID FUEL

BURNING APPLIANCES

(Unless prohibited by the authority having jurisdiction)

10.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect:

1. system components

2. vent systems and chimneys

B. describe:

1. fireplaces and solid fuel burning appliances

2. chimneys

10.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

A. inspect:

1. interior of flues or chimneys

2. screens, doors and dampers

3. seals and gaskets

4. automatic fuel feed devices

5. heat distribution assists whether fan assisted

or gravity

B. ignite or extinguish fires

C. determine draught characteristics

D. move fireplace inserts, stoves, or firebox contents

National Standards of Practice. © Copyright 2012 Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors. All Rights Reserved.

11. AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEMS

11.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect

1. permanently installed central air conditioning

equipment.

B. describe:

1. energy source.

2. cooling method by its distinguishing

characteristics.

11.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

A. inspect

1. electronic air filters.

2. portable air conditioner(s).

B. determine:

1. system adequacy or distribution balance.

12. INTERIOR SYSTEMS

12.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect:

1. walls, ceilings, and floors.

2. steps, stairways, and railings.

3. a representative number of countertops and

installed cabinets.

4. a representative number of doors and windows.

5. walls, doors and ceilings separating the

habitable spaces and the garage.

B. describe:

1. materials used for walls, ceilings and floors.

2. doors.

3. windows.

C. report

1. absence or ineffectiveness of guards and

handrails or other potential physical injury

hazards.

12.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

A. inspect:

1. decorative finishes.

2. window treatments.

3. central vacuum systems.

4. household appliances.

5. recreational facilities.

13. INSULATION AND VAPOUR BARRIERS

13.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect:

1. insulation and vapour barriers in unfinished

spaces.

B. describe:

1. type of insulation material(s) and vapour

barriers in unfinished spaces.

C. report

1. absence of insulation in unfinished spaces within

the building envelope.

2. presence of vermiculite insulation

13.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

A. disturb

1. insulation.

2. vapour barriers.

B. obtain sample(s) for analysis

1. insulation material(s).

14. MECHANICAL AND NATURAL

VENTILATION SYSTEMS

14.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect:

1. ventilation of attics and foundation areas.

2. mechanical ventilation systems.

3. ventilation systems in areas where moisture is

generated such as kitchen, bathrooms, laundry

rooms.

B. describe:

1. ventilation of attics and foundation areas.

2. mechanical ventilation systems.

3. ventilation systems in areas where moisture

is generated such as: kitchens, bathrooms and

laundry rooms.

C. report:

1. absence of ventilation in areas where moisture

is generated such as: kitchens, bathrooms and

laundry rooms.

14.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

1. determine indoor air quality.

2. determine system adequacy or distribution

balance.

National Standards of Practice. © Copyright 2012 Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors. All Rights Reserved.

GLOSSARY

Adjacent

Nearest in space or position; immediately adjoining

without intervening space.

Alarm Systems

Warning devices, installed or free-standing, including

but not limited to; carbon monoxide detectors, flue

gas and other spillage detectors, security equipment,

ejector pumps and smoke alarms.

Architectural Service

Any practice involving the art and science of

building design for construction of any structure or

grouping of structures and the use of space within

and surrounding the structures or the design for

construction, including but not specifically limited to,

schematic design, design development, preparation of

construction contract documents, and administration

of the construction contract, adequacy of design for

the location and exposure to the elements.

Automatic Safety Controls

Devices designed and installed to protect systems and

components from unsafe conditions.

Component

A part of a system.

Confined Spaces

An enclosed or partially enclosed area that:

1. Is occupied by people only for the purpose of

completing work.

2. Has restricted entry/exit points.

3. Could be hazardous to people entering due to:

a. its design, construction, location or atmosphere.

b. the materials or substances in it, or

c. any other conditions which prevent normal

inspection procedure.

Decorative

Ornamental; not required for the operation of the

essential systems and components of a building.

Describe

To report a system or component by its type or other

observed, significant characteristics to distinguish it

from other systems or components.

Determine

To find out, or come to a conclusion by investigation.

Dismantle

To take apart or remove any component, device, or

piece of equipment that would not be taken apart or

removed by a homeowner in the course of normal and

routine home owner maintenance.

Engineering Service

Any professional service or creative work requiring

engineering education, training, and experience

and the application of special knowledge of the

mathematical, physical and engineering sciences

to such professional service or creative work as

consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning,

design and supervision of construction for the purpose

of assuring compliance with the specifications and

design, in conjunction with structures, buildings,

machines, equipment, works or processes.

Functionality

The purpose that something is designed or expected to

fulfill.

Further Evaluation

Examination and analysis by a qualified professional,

tradesman or service technician beyond that provided

by the home inspection.

Home Inspection

The process by which an inspector visually examines

the readily accessible systems and components of

a building and which describes those systems and

components in accordance with these National

Standards of Practice.

Household Appliances

Kitchen, laundry, and similar appliances, whether

installed or freestanding.

Inspect

To examine readily accessible systems and components

of a building in accordance with these National

Standards of Practice, where applicable using normal

operating controls and opening readily openable

access panels.

Inspector

A person hired to examine any system or component

of a building in accordance with these National

Standards of Practice.

Installed

Set up or fixed in position for current use or service.

Monitor

Examine at regular intervals to detect evidence of

change.

Normal Operating Controls

Devices such as thermostats, switches or valves

intended to be operated by the homeowner.

Operate

To cause to function, turn on, to control the function of

a machine, process, or system.

National Standards of Practice. © Copyright 2012 Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors. All Rights Reserved.

Probing

Examine by touch.

Readily Accessible

Available for visual inspection without requiring

moving of personal property, dismantling, destructive

measures, or any action which will likely involve risk to

persons or property.

Readily Openable Access Panel

A panel provided for homeowner inspection and

maintenance that is within normal reach, can be

removed by one person, and is not sealed in place.

Recreational Facilities

Spas, saunas, steam baths, swimming pools, exercise,

entertainment, athletic, playground or other similar

equipment and associated accessories.

Report

To communicate in writing.

Representative Number

One component per room for multiple similar interior

components such as windows and electric outlets; one

component on each side of the building for multiple

similar exterior components.

Roof Drainage Systems

Components used to carry water off a roof and away

from a building.

Sample

A representative portion selected for inspection.

Service Life/Lives

The period during which something continues to

function fully as intended.

Significant Deficiency

A clearly definable hazard or a clearly definable

potential for failure or is unsafe or not functioning.

Shut Down

A state in which a system or component cannot be

operated by normal operating controls.

Solid Fuel Burning Appliances

A hearth and fire chamber or similar prepared place

in which a fire may be built and which is built in

conjunction with a chimney; or a listed assembly of

a fire chamber, its chimney and related factory-made

parts designed for unit assembly without requiring

field construction.

Structural Component

A component that supports non-variable forces or

weights (dead loads) and variable forces or weights

(live loads).

System

A combination of interacting or interdependent

components, assembled to carry out one or more

functions.

Technically Exhaustive

An inspection is technically exhaustive when it is

done by a specialist who may make extensive use of

measurements, instruments, testing, calculations,

and other means to develop scientific or engineering

findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

Under-floor Crawl Space

The area within the confines of the foundation and

between the ground and the underside of the floor.

Unsafe

A condition in a readily accessible, installed system

or component which is judged to be a significant risk

of personal injury during normal, day-to-day use. The

risk may be due to damage, deterioration, missing

or improper installation or a change in accepted

residential construction Stan