Q&A: What’s the difference between home inspection organizations?

In a blog post from two weeks ago, How to find a great home inspector, I gave two main pieces of advice on the topic; read online reviews, and read sample inspection reports.  The same day this blog was posted, I received the following question / comment from a reader:

Hi Reuben, You have not mentioned any accreditation such as ASHI. Could you speak to those organizations and what they require to be a member? Do you feel that adds value in the search for a good inspector?

She's right.  I made no reference to certifications or memberships in different home inspection organizations.  I'll come back to that point, but first, let me lay a little groundwork to help this make more sense.  There are three major organizations for home inspectors; ASHI, NAHI, and InterNACHI.  They're not the only organizations for home inspectors, but they're the largest.

American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

To quote from ASHI's web site: "In 1976, a group of visionary home inspectors with the common goal of building consumer awareness and enhancing the professionalism of their field established the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). This not-for-profit professional association for home inspectors made its first order of business to establish and advocate high standards of practice and a strict code of ethics for the member community.

The Mission of ASHI is to set and promote standards for property inspections and to provide the educational programs needed to achieve excellence in the profession and to meet the needs of our members."

ASHI's highest level of certification is the ASHI Certified Inspector, or ACI designation.  To get this designation, a home inspector must*:

  • Pass the National Home Inspector Exam, which is a 200 question / 4 hour proctored exam.  This exam is also used for licensing in approximately half of the United States.
  • Complete the ASHI SOP and Code of Ethics online training.
  • Complete a minimum of 250 fee-paid home inspections, with the reports in substantial compliance with ASHI's Standards of Practice.  To verify this, the list of inspections must be submitted to ASHI, and then five reports are selected for submission.  The reports are sent to an ASHI report verifier, who then grades the reports for compliance.

ASHI Certified Inspectors are the only true 3rd party certified Inspectors in the industry that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)

*This is my summary of the requirements.  For the full list, click here.

National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI)

NAHI was founded in 1987.  To quote from their web site: "The National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. (NAHI) was established in 1987 as a nonprofit association to promote and develop certified and licensed home inspectors in the professional home inspection industry."

NAHI's highest level of certification is the Certified Residential Inspector, or CRI designation.  To get this designation, a home inspector must*:

  • Pass the NAHI CRI exam, which is a 140 question exam administered through PSI Testing Centers, or pass the National Home Inspector Exam.
  • Complete a minimum of 250 fee-paid home inspections, which must be submitted for verification.

*This is my summary of the requirements.  For the full list, click here.

InterNational Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)

InterNACHI was founded in 1990.  To quote from InterNACHI's web site: "InterNACHI's mission is to provide its membership:

  • free, online training, continuing education, and academic degree and certificate programs all over the world;
  • business training, software products, marketing services, student services, and membership benefits; and
  • knowledge, skills, and abilities to maintain competency and achieve inspection excellence."

InterNACHI's highest level of certification is the Certified Professional Inspector, or CPI designation.  To get this designation, a home inspector must*:

  • Pass the InterNACHI online exam, which is free and open to the public.  This exam is designed to be taken at home.
  • Complete the InterNACHI Code of Ethics and Residential SOP online courses.
  • If the applicant has never completed a fee-paid home inspection, they must submit four mock inspection reports.

*This is my summary of the requirements.  For the full list, click here.

My two cents

The way I see it, ASHI's main goal is to improve the home inspection industry.  NAHI is ASHI's little brother.  InterNACHI's goal is to cater to individual needs of members.  Here in Minnesota, most home inspectors belong to at least one of these three organizations.  A few belong to all three, and some don't belong to any of them.

While there are some major differences in certification requirements between the three organizations, being certified by any or all of the organizations listed above does not make one a better home inspector.  I'd like to say it does, but it doesn't.  If a home inspector decided to quit paying their annual dues to one (or all) of these organizations, they would lose their certification.  Would that suddenly make them a worse inspector?  No.  I think that should end the discussion right there.

As for myself, I've been a member of ASHI since I started inspecting houses back in 2004, I'm the president of the ASHI Heartland chapter, a member of the ASHI Technical Committee, every home inspector in my company is a member of ASHI, and all but the two newest are ASHI Certified Inspectors.  I've attended ASHI's annual convention, InspectionWorld, for the past four years, and will be teaching a class at the 2016 InspectionWorld convention in San Diego.  In other words, I'm pretty biased.  I've chosen my team.

I may send that reader a private email explaining why I'm an active member and supporter of ASHI, but I've found that debating pros and cons of home inspection organizations gets home inspectors WAY more whipped up than politics or religion.  I like to think of myself as a teacher; not as a preacher or a politician.

Author: Reuben SaltzmanStructure Tech Home Inspections


Written By

Reuben is a second-generation home inspector with a passion for his work. He grew up remodeling homes and learning about carpentry since he was old enough to hold a hammer. Reuben grew up thinking he was going to be a school teacher because he enjoyed teaching others so much. In a sense, that’s a lot of what home inspections are about, so Reuben truly does what he loves. Sharlene has worked with Structure Tech since 2000 and Reuben has been contributing to her blog since 2008.

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