By: Dee Kring, CAE, CMP
The Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors (EBPHI), a 501(c)(6) not for profit organization, is one of Partners’ newer clients, joining us in September, 2016. EBPHI will always be extra special to me as they were the first organization I would serve in the role as Executive Director.
EBPHI is not a traditional association. They are governed by a 13-member volunteer board of directors, they have no membership, and they do not hold conferences or offer continuing education. They are also not a certification body. What is it, then, that they do?
EBPHI’s sole purpose is to develop and maintain the National Home Inspector Examination (NHIE). It sounds somewhat simple, but it’s actually very involved, and there is a lot at stake. The NHIE tests the basic competency of an individual to assess the functionality and safety of our homes. That’s important stuff; as our homes are not only our largest investment, but our families live there. Home inspectors play a key role in consumer protection.
More and more, states are requiring that home inspectors be licensed. EBPHI doesn’t actively lobby for licensure, but it does promote using the NHIE as an assessment tool for home inspectors in states that are regulated. Currently, the NHIE is accepted in 29 states as part of licensure. The NHIE is also a requirement for certification by the American Society of Home Inspectors and the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA), and has received third party accreditation.
As an association professional who has attained the CAE and CMP credentials and later facilitated study groups, participated in item-writing workshops, served as a Subject Matter Expert (SME), and proctored certification exams, my personal experience has helped me to better understand the process for EBPHI. Much like these exams, the NHIE is a proctored exam consisting of 200 multiple-choice questions and candidates are allowed 4 hours to complete it. Subject matter experts write exam questions, which are tested for validity by psychometricians and other subject matter experts. Samplings of questions are tested in the actual exam as non-scored items, and if the majority of candidates do not answer the question correctly, that question is either thrown out or reassessed for future exams.
EBPHI invests over $100,000 every 5 years to update the exam, ensuring that new technologies and codes are represented. They begin this process by conducting a nationwide Role Delineation Study (or otherwise referred to as a Job Task Analysis) of practicing home inspectors. This type of research is important to a national exam as it gathers information about what home inspectors across the country inspect on a daily basis. Home inspectors are a wealth of knowledge as they must have an understanding of all home components such as electrical, structural, roofing and plumbing. Because it is a national exam and needs to be universally relevant in all states, home inspectors must also have knowledge about items which may not be relevant to home inspection in the state they live and work, such as basements.
Since not all states regulate the profession (meaning anyone can call themselves a home inspector in unregulated states), and some states that do may also accept other exams, how can a potential homeowner, or Realtor®, be assured that they are hiring the most qualified individual to perform their home inspection? EBPHI recently worked with a public relations firm, Salter Mitchell PR, to help raise awareness and develop tools to promote those home inspectors who have passed the NHIE. Copeland Productions has also been instrumental in this awareness campaign by producing several top-notch videos, geared to the general public, Realtors® and regulators. We will be launching a new website showcasing a searchable database to locate a home inspector in your area and the awareness campaign videos in July 2018.
The Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors is a great group to work with. They take their jobs very seriously as well as their roles on the board. They are a diverse group of men and women, representing the self-employed home inspector, and the business owner and/or franchise owner. A psychometrician, an attorney and a regulator also serve as public members of the board. The exam itself can be differentiated from other exams based on its development and administration, but the governing body is unique in that they are all volunteers and receive no compensation for the many hours they contribute to the organization. Their passion is protecting a noble profession and setting and maintaining a national standard, which serves to protect the public welfare.
As a homeowner, I’m grateful for the service a home inspector provides, and as EBPHI’s Executive Director, I’m honored to work with such a group of professionals.