January, 2018
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

EBPHI Announces Results of Role Delineation Study


The Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors (EBPHI) has developed and maintained the National Home Inspection Exam (NHIE) since 1999. The exam is the cornerstone for entrance into the profession of home inspection in the United States and Canada. A key component of maintaining the exam is to perform a Role Delineation Study (RDS) every five years. The study analyzes the profession to understand what changes have occurred and updates the exam template from which exam questions are derived. The 2017 RDS Study was performed with the assistance of a group of dedicated subject matter experts making up the RDS Task Force (RDTF) and ACT Credentialing Advisory Services. We are pleased to share the results with you.

There were a total of 1,606 complete survey responses received from the United States (1,299 responses) and Canada (307 responses). After carefully considering the characteristics of the U.S. and
Canadian respondents, the RDTF determined that these respondents well represented the population of professional home inspectors with respect to key practice characteristics, including work setting, role, respondents’ level of education, types of firms at which they are employed and demographic characteristics. The RDTF agreed that there were sufficient numbers of respondents in various subgroups to produce stable and interpretable results in these groups.

Canada Versus United States
A key component that made this RDS different from previous studies is the extent that the study also focused on Canada. The goal was to extend EPBHI’s understanding of the practice of home inspection in Canada, with a view toward understanding similarities and differences in practice, and evaluating the extent to which the content of the NHIE addresses the domains, tasks and knowledge bases most relevant to Canadian practice.

EBPHI went the additional step of translating the entire survey into French to ensure that people from the French-speaking provinces were well represented. Although the NHIE has been used in Canada for many years, this is one of the first studies of this magnitude to define the profession and how it compares with the United States. Although the study showed some differences between U.S. and
Canadian inspectors and their businesses, the results showed that there were few differences in the actual scope of inspections performed.

Scope Creep
One of the important discussions of the RDTF had to do with scope. What should or shouldn’t be considered part of the home inspection versus an ancillary service? If a majority of inspectors are inspecting pools or irrigation systems, should that be included within the scope and should the exam test for it? Likewise, if a majority of the inspectors are offering radon testing as an ancillary service, how much knowledge, if any, should an inspector have regarding radon? 

It was the general consensus that we should keep the scope confined to the actual inspection and not add anything that could be deemed as an ancillary service. There was also consensus that the inspector should have a basic knowledge about some of these ancillary areas such as radon, termite damage, pool safety and so on. Therefore, the new exam outline removes the primary knowledge area for pools and spas, but there may be some questions regarding basic pool safety in the Site portion of the exam.

Another important update pertains to maintenance questions. Most sections of our current outline require exam questions on maintenance. This was an area of debate over the years. The ASHI Standard of Practice does not require us to inspect for maintenance concerns and there are few industry resources from which to derive questions. It was decided that questions on general maintenance would not be included in the exam. When a maintenance concern becomes bad enough, it then becomes a defect and thus reportable. 

Other Changes
The names of the three domains were updated. 

Domain 1: Building Science was changed to Property and Building Inspection/Site Review to better reflect the actions performed by the home inspector within the domain. 

Domain 2: Analysis and Reporting was changed to Analysis of Findings and Reporting to better distinguish between the analysis that the inspector engages while conducting the inspection (part of Domain 1) and analysis of the overall inspection findings (Domain 2).

Domain 3: Business Operations was changed to Professional Responsibilities to better focus on the purpose of the tasks in the domain (that is, to conduct business responsibly in service of the client).

Thank you
I would like to thank the members of the RDS Task Force and ACT for their good work. Finally, on behalf of the EBPHI Board of Directors, I’d like to thank all of you who took time out of your day to complete the survey and, thereby, to support your profession. Your input provided vital information as we maintain our focus on the ever-changing job of the home inspector. We feel the quality of this study will allow us to move forward with the NHIE with confidence.