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The Results are In! A Role Delineation Study
By Uli Sommers, Examination Board of Professional Home Inspector
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 home inspection profession 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 the exam questions are derived.
The work of updating the current NHIE content outline was primarily accomplished through the work of a Role Delineation Task Force (RDTF) comprised of subject-matter experts (SMEs) in home inspection. The RDTF was selected to represent different geographic areas and firm types. A panel of external peer reviewers was invited to critique the RDTF work product. There was a total of 1,216 complete survey responses received from the United States (1,194 responses) and Canada (22 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.
EBPHI once again extended the studies to understand the practice of home inspection in Canada and to learn about similarities and differences between the NHIE’s domains, tasks, and knowledge base and Canadian practices. The results of the Canadian survey participants showed a very similar approach to the scope of inspections compared to the United States. Within Canada, five provinces were represented, with the highest number of respondents from Ontario (See Figure 1).
The RDTF clarified and augmented the existing task and knowledge statements and incorporated emerging areas of practice such as alternative energy. A new task, identifying and inspecting common life safety equipment and systems to assess defects and issues that may affect people or the performance of the building, was created and existing knowledge related to life safety was relocated to it. To collect data on the extent to which ancillary services are provided by home inspectors, the RDTF created a list of 58 ancillary services that may be provided by home inspectors either as part of, or in addition to, existing inspection services.
The delineation process resulted in an outline comprising three domains of practice, 19 tasks, 253 knowledge statements, as well as a list of 58 ancillary services. After the RDTF performed its work in updating the existing examination content outline, they obtained from a large cohort of home inspectors’ valid evidence for the domains, tasks, and knowledge bases. The survey contained five components, with rating scales to validate each component, as shown on Figure 2.
Figure 1: Canada
Figure 2: Validation Survey Components
Figure 3: Participation in Each Major US Census Region
Figure 4: Age of Home Inspectors
Demographic and Professional Characteristics of Respondents
• Respondents had an average of 11 years of experience
• Respondents represented 49 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces
• Respondents represented the North, South, Midwest, and West regions of the U.S.
• 75% of respondents were sole proprietors and 25% worked in multi-inspector firms
• 40% of respondents performed more than 200 home inspections annually
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Years of Experience
The survey respondents had an average of 10.8 years of experience.
Figure 5: Years of Experience
Number of Home Inspections Performed Annually
60 percent of the respondents performed less than 200 home inspections annually.
Figure 6: Number of Home Inspections Performed Annually
Highest Level of Education
More than one-third of the respondents have a Baccalaureate level or equivalent (See Figure 7).
Figure 7: Highest Level of Education
Type of Firm(s) in which Employed
75 percent of respondents worked in sole proprietor firms (See figure 8).
Membership in Professional Organizations
Note: Multiple responses were permitted; therefore, percentages will exceed 100.
This table shows the number of survey respondents that are members in a home inspector professional association. More than half of the respondents (54%) were InterNACHI members and 40% were ASHI members (See Figure 9).
Figure 8: Type of Firm(s) in which Employed
Figure 9: Membership in Professional Organizations
The RDTF delineated 58 ancillary services to be included in the validation survey. The respondents rated whether they performed the service as an add-on or stand-alone service, or whether they did not perform the service. Because of the great deal of variability in how frequently survey respondents performed the 58 ancillary services, it is premature to include any of the ancillary services in the NHIE Content Outline. Please see the 58 ancillary services shown below in the six figures (Figures 10-17).
Figure 10: Ancillary Services 1
Figure 11: Ancillary Services 2
Figure 12: Ancillary Services 3
Figure 14: Ancillary Services 4
Figure 15: Ancillary Services 5
Figure 17: Ancillary Services 6
On behalf of EBPHI, I would like to thank the members of the RDS Task Force for all their work. I truly appreciate your commitment to this 10-month-long project. Additionally, I want to thank all volunteers who reviewed the draft content outline and pilot tested the survey.
Finally, thank you to all who participated in the survey. Your input provides important information about the current and evolving standards in the home inspection industry and helps EBPHI to create and maintain a high stakes exam for our profession.
About the Author
Uli Sommers owns Sommers Home Inspections and has been a home inspector in the greater Portland, OR area for over ten (10) years. Uli is an Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors (EBPHI) Board Member and Chair of the Exam Committee. She loves educating her clients and giving them tips about maintenance. In her free time, Uli enjoys activities like biking, running and going on extended motorcycle trips.
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