Home Inspection Associations

There are a number of Home Inspection Associations in Alberta.

Per their website, CAPHI - Alberta (Chapter), has 67 members.

Officially, CAPHI has been around since 2002. However, her roots date back to the early 1980 when CAHI operated as an arm of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

Per the ASHI website, Alberta has 21 members in their association.

While ASHI is the oldest and most established Home Inspection association in North America, it is no longer the biggest by membership. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) is the largest Home Inspection Association in the world, with members in 55 countries.

Per the Alberta InterNACHI website, they have 71 members in Alberta.

Reading through the various websites it becomes apparent that some home Inspectors are members of more than one association.

I believe the National Certification Program is not an actual association (more of a Certification Board), it should still be mentioned. From their website,

"The National Certification Program was established to allow home and property inspectors to be certified as competent and qualified professionals. The National Certification Program is managed and administered by the National Certification Authority... "

"...The National Certification Council will undertake certification assessments and make recommendations to the National Certification Authority as to what stage an individual fits within the National Certification process".

A few Calgary Home Inspectors are members of associations that I have not researched at this time.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) recommends against hiring a Home Inspector that is not a member of a Provincial or National Association.

Home Inspection Associations in Canada

Canada's Commercial and Home Inspection Association (CanNACHI) is, I believe, a relatively new Home Inspection association. On their website they clearly state,

"CanNACHI has no affilitaion with the American based Inter-NACHI or NACHI Association "

Though, comparing the two association logos, one is left a little confused.

That aside, I wish CanNACHI luck in their endevors.

Link: (CanNACHI)
Link: (InterNACHI)

Energy Star

All homes have a few problems. Some problems can be solved relatively easily before they become bigger problems. The Energy Star website has a great page titled " Common Home Problems and Solutions "

Problems like; drafty rooms, moisture on windows, and, ice dams are familiar to Calgary home owners and Inspectors. If you would like to know more about possible solutions, check out Energy Star here.



Vermiculite was once a very controversial insulation product that was used in many Calgary homes. What is the Zonolite man doing wrong in the picture below?

Vermiculite, is not as dangerous as some people made it out to be... but, if your attic has it and you need to go up there - I would wear a dust mask, a long sleeve shirt and gloves.

Relevant links are posted below.

Vermiculite - CBC National
Vermiculite Attic Insulation

Aladdin Company Mail Order Homes

Ever since my friend ordered a Cedar Cabin on the Internet I have been fascinated with mail order homes.

I've written about Timothy Eaton Mail Order Homes before. Recently I read about the Aladdin Company that started in 1906. History at Wikipedia.

While researching the company I came across the most impressive virtual book. You can read the old catalogue by turning the pages just like some young husband and wife did 80 years ago.

You have to check it out. Aladdin Homes Sovereign Systems. Trust me it is cool. Try it. Just give the pages a few seconds to load.

I have to do more research though. Wikipedia makes it sound like the Aladdin was an American company. However, the book reads like it was a Canadian company. I will definitely do more research.

Is There a Need for Two Credentials? (Canada)

I recently read a very interesting post over at Active Rain by Claude Lawrenson, RHI, National Certificate Holder. Mr. Lawrences credentials are very impressive.

Mr Lawrence writes,

"I am sure that many home inspectors (in Canada) wonder why "we" have a system that seems to promote two similar but different credentials. Often in my travels and inspection discussions I get asked many questions about this. At times - this can lead to a few more questions - is one better than the other, or perhaps the other popular one - so why do we really need both?"

Read the rest of his post here.


Yesterday's Tomorrow Today

More future homes from the past. I once stayed in a Tokyo Capsel that was smaller than this. It was a great experience. It made me really think about how much we take our homes for granted in the West.

Via: Modern Mechanix


In Alberta, when we hear about "Green Buildings Design", we think about how great it is to help the environment. In the same breath, we wonder about our furnace, insulation and energy bills. Well, maybe we think about our energy bills first.

Recently, I took a course on Green Building Design. One section of the course talks about the relationship of the building structure and the design of the surrounding property.

Until I took the course, I had never heard of the word "xeriscape". The word xeriscape is a portmanteau of xeros (Greek for "dry") and landscape. A Xeriscaper designs a property in a way that minimizes the use of water.

The first thing I thought of was my friend's hippie parent's back yard; river stones, cacti and not a lawnmower in sight. (It was a cool back yard but we couldn't play hockey)

I learned it doesn't have to be this way. Alberta Views Magazine, has an interesting article that pertains specifically to our climatic region, Seven Steps to Water Conserving-Xeriscape.

Some of us do our own landscaping. One day you might sell your house and possibly, it will be subjected to a Home Inspection. When you landscape: Always grade away from your foundation. Before you dig and plant your favorite tree, think about where the gas and water pipes are buried. And, consider how tall (big) your trees will be in relation to the home 25-50 years down the road. Remeber, think about roots as well.

Malus x ‘Thunderchild’ (Thunderchild Crabapple) via: Foothills Nurseries Calgary

More information at Sustainable Sources


My new blog header

Thanks to a very special person, I have a fancy new blog header. Trouble is, the guy is a telephone repairman, not a Home Inspector. I hope we did not break any copyright laws.

Again, thank you.

From the past, a look to the future

Back in 1956, America's Independent Power Companies made a bold prediction,

"FUTURE HOMES will be able to face any direction, turned from hour to hour or season to season."

It is a pretty amazing vintage ad. The detail is incredible.

Though it is hard for me understand who the Utility companies were marketing to, consumers, home owners, or possibly stockholders?

Usually, vintage ads have a very specific product and an identifiable target market.


Calgary's Dirty Secret

Turns out Calgary is a bit of a mold factory. Mold needs moisture and there are a lot of leaky roofs and foundations in Calgary.

Some Calgary Architects, Engineers, Builders and trades people really dropped the ball.

To be fair, a lot of Building Material Manufacturing companies have been long on promises and short on performance.

To quote Mike Holmes, "Make it Right".

Global TV Calgary has a four part series on the topic.

Part One - Industry insiders are blowing the whistle on a growing number of leaky homes and condos in our city.


Your Home Inspector should have caught that!

From the blog of I. G. "Zack" Lilienfeld, PE, CEM, Licensed Home Inspector and Consulting Engineer

... Another instance involved a client who was told by the electrician that her electric wiring was not "up to code" and that it would need to be replaced. He said, of course, "your home inspector should have caught that".

Well, for the uninformed, there is no requirement anywhere that says that a home built in 1960 must be brought up to current code, except if there is renovation work being performed.

This is a make-work comment. If this were true, nearly every home built more than five years ago would require the services of a contractor to replace windows, raise handrails, install wind strapping, replace staircases, and perform a myriad of other things to bring the home up to "code".

No preexisting home would be sold in this environment. Replacing an outlet or installing a ceiling fan does not require the rewiring a house, unless you are a contractor looking for a Caribbean vacation. Unfortunately, this client went ahead with the work and needlessly spent the money, and was upset with me until I explained what the truth was...."

Read more at NJ Home Inspections

T. Eaton Mail Order Homes

I love these old T. Eaton Homes. I think it is pretty cool that people could simply order a home. Pick it up at the train station. Bring it to your piece of land. Build the thing and have a big party.

No permits. No deadly property tax. No Home Inspector...ugg.

This is truly a unique piece of Canadian History. This Home is an original turn of the Century 1908 T Eaton Mail order House...Alberta Farm and Ranch.

Camponotus Pennsylvanicus

Do you have any old firewood stacked up against your house? Debating if you should get that old tree stump ground down?

Maybe you should. Why? Click on this site to read what one Calgary company does to pay the bills.

Bob Truman's Daily Stats

I visit Bob Truman's Daily Stats, almost every week. Mr. Truman and his team are Realtors at First Place Realty.

Of course the site has lots of Calgary homes for sale. I'm not looking for a new home but I am always curious.

I like checking out his Single Family Home, Daily Updates & Monthly Summaries Page. It gives you a good idea of what is happening in the Calgary Real Estate Market.

It really looks like things are slowly turning around in Calgary.


Code of Ethics

Inspectors that belong to an Association(s) are bound by a Code of Ethics.

American Society of Home Inspectors Code of Ethics.
Cnd.Association of Home & Property Inspectors Code of Ethics
Canadian National Certificate Holder Code of Ethics
International Association of Certified Home Inspectors Code of Ethics
Independent Home Inspectors of North America Code of Ethics
National Foundation of Certified Inspectors Code of Ethics

House Price Indices Canadian Cities

From my favorite Canadian Economics Blog, Worthwhile Canadian Initative, we get a a good picture of the comparison of the home prices across Canada.

Sorry for the small graphics (click on the graph).

Notice Calgary seems to be drifting lower while the other cities have begun trending up. The X axis seems to end in May. I suspect the next time the numbers are crunched, the Calgary Index will have reversed and also be trending upwards.

It looks like things will be getting better for Calgary Home Inspectors, Real Estate Agents, Lenders, Lawyers, and Home Depot's stock price.

Pine Shakes Information

This is from the Alberta Government Municipal Affairs website.

It is wise practice to have all roofs using wood shakes or shingles, including those made of untreated pine shakes, inspected by a qualified person at least annually.

If black spots or other indications of fungus appear on an untreated pine shake roof, a qualified person should inspect the roof promptly. As with other wood on or in a building, if shakes become infested with fungus, this could lead to safety and health issues.

Cedar vs Pine Shakes

I was surfing around looking for Calgary Roofing Contractor that specialize in wood shakes. I found Shake Experts.

I don't know anyone at that company. This is not a plug nor an endorsement. The Code of Ethics in the Home Inspection Industry frowns on referals to specific contractors. This is for information only.

The Shake Experts, is a Roofing Contractor that specialize in wood shakes/shingles (re-roofs and maintenance). They have lots of testimonials and some good information about shakes/shingles that are specific to the Calgary area.

From their FAQ page,

Is cedar better than pine?

Cedar has over time built up natural enzymes that help it fight the fungus that destroys wood cells in other woods. Cedar is most commonly resawn so the natural grains and oils of the wood are exposed to the elements which help longevity. Untreated pine is tapersawn and is proven susceptible to the wood destroying fungus. In short, if left alone with no maintenance cedar will last longer than untreated pine.

Home by Mail Order

This ad came from the 1913 edition of the Eatons Catalogue. I'm sure I've seen design 61 before somewhere around the Stampede grounds. Of course it is gone now.

My friend bought a cedar cabin kit off the Internet a few years ago. What has really changed? I'm sure she was just as excited as the person who bought one of these homes from a catalogue 100 years ago. Technology has changed the medium of advertisement but the human side of the equation has not. I'm glad.


A few tips for inspecting wood shakes

Some problems

1. Curled shakes appear to be "lifting". Do they lay flat?. The shakes that are curled may expose the inter ply roofing felt and after time, can jeopardize the roofing system.

2. Decaying shakes may appear "black" or a darker shade of grey than the other shakes on the roof. Can you see a vertical pattern of black shakes on the roof? This might be an indication of a more serious problem.

3. Ridge cap staples working themselves loose. Look at the ridge cap from a bedroom window or with binoculars. Look at the staples that hold the ridge cap together. Some of the ridge caps will crack and fall out, not protecting the roofing system from the elements.

There are more technical indicators that can help determine the integrity of the roofing system. If you are unsure, most qualified & licenced Roofing Contractors will give you a free inspection. Some might charge 50-80 dollars but I would not let that scare you. Just make sure they are experienced and come with references.

Rotting Pine Shakes/Quotes

Many Calgary communities built in the early 1980s have pine-shake roofs, but the rotting has not been as prevalent to date as it has in northern Alberta. Many building inspectors and roofers believe the more moist conditions in Edmonton and fewer hours of sunshine leave shakes more susceptible to the black fungus that causes the decay.

Not all untreated pine shakes have problems or will have problems. Thousands of roofs are in good shape. And many homes use shakes treated with preservatives. Since mid-1998, only treated shakes conform to the Alberta Building Code.

Untreated pine shakes, sold with a 25-year warranty since the mid-1980s as a cheaper alternative to cedar shakes, have been prone to premature rotting. Some roofs have rotted after just three years and many of the estimated 30,000 affected homeowners have had to replace their roofs in less than 10 years.

Calgary Herald


Nose Hill Park Rocks

I love Nose Hill Park. It is one of the largest municipal parks in North America. When I was in University I was broke every spring and would use it as a "date" spot.

The park is about 12 square km. If you are new to Calgary and are looking for an inexpensive and healthy way to spend an afternoon - go for a walk. Try and pick a clear day and you will get a great view of the Rocky Mountains and downtown.

Fidelity Global Real Estate Fund

I was looking at the Morningstar's Top 10 Funds Ranked by 3 Month Return % and noticed there was actually a Real Estate Fund in the 9th and 10th position. Fidelity Global Real Estate Fund posted a 3 month rate of return of 32% and a YTD of 20.7%

Looking deeper. About 60% of the fund is in International Equities. Geographically, Fidelity is betting heavy in Asia with 50% of the fund committed to this region. This compared to a 2.5% exposure in Canada. (ouch)

Looks like the better deals are across the pond.



"Psychrometrics is the study of the physical and thermal properties of air and water vapor mixtures (Henderson et al., 1993)." Atmospheric air contains water vapor, pollutants, and gases, such as nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, etc. Dry air is referred to as air devoid of water vapor and pollutants. The mixture of dry air and water vapor, called moist air, is the basis for psychrometric analysis. A solid understanding of the physical and thermal properties of moist air is the foundation for conceptual and design analyses of industrial drying, heating and cooling processes".

Read more at wikipedia here.

US vs Canada. Building Codes

I read something interesting on the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) site,

"While there are many similarities between U.S. and Canadian codes, there are also some significant differences. Many Canadians may have the perception that Canadian codes are superior or that compliance with Canadian requirements should result in approval in the U.S., but in fact the performance levels specified in the IRC often exceed Canadian requirements".

"Scope: The IRC is more comprehensive and inclusive than Canadian codes. It includes requirements for plumbing, electrical and fuel gas..."

"Fire Safety: Some fire resistance ratings are longer. Requirements for escape windows and smoke alarms are more stringent..."

"Framing: Joist, lintel (header) and rafter spans are more conservative in some cases. Requirements for jack studs at openings in walls are more stringent..."

"Duct Sealing: All joints in ducts are required to be sealed, even if the ducts are run entirely within conditioned space..."

If you are interested you can read the rest of the article here.

Flip this House

I'm not sure why, but I am not a big fan of the American T.V show,"Flip this House". I think it is because - it is all about the money.

I prefer shows like "Mike Holmes on Homes", "Love it or List it", "This Old House" or even "The New Yankee Workshop".

These shows are about HOMES not houses.

There is a big difference between a home and a house. A home is something you want to make better for you and your family. A home is where you should feel comfortable and safe. Your home is an extension of yourself.

I am not knocking people who buy and sell homes for an investment, even a quick gain. I just have a queasy feeling about a show that glorifies it. It is kind of like sitting at a bar and listening to a guy tell you about all the money he is making. I find these kind of people to be a bore and normally distance myself from them. This is probably why I am not a big fan of "Flip This House".

Dew Point and Mold

The Dew Point is the temperature to which the air must be cooled before it becomes saturated. When it is saturated, it is holding all the water vapor it is able to hold. The dew point cannot be higher than the temperature. It can be the same, but not higher

Warm air can hold more water than cold air or said another way, as air cools, it loses its ability to hold water. The dew point (the temperature at which moisture will condense out of the air) correlates with absolute humidity 100%.

The dew point is an indication of how much water vapor is in the air. The more water vapor, the closer the dew point is to the temperature. When the air becomes saturated, the dew point and the temperature are the same.

Understanding the dew point is one step in better understanding where mold might come from in your home. Certified Industrial Hygienist Barry Westbrook writes in the American Home Inspectors Directory,

"Dew point is the other scientific principle necessary to understand the mold phenomenon. For water vapor in the air to condense onto a surface, the temperature of that surface must be below the dew point. At that point, the air is 100% saturated and can no longer hold all the moisture. The air begins to drop some of the water onto the surface as condensation. The colder the surface, the more condensation will form. That is why there is usually more mold underneath bathrooms and kitchens. These floors are not insulated as well as carpeted floors, and become very cool in the summertime.

Advance Housing Technology

The Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) is an organization dedicated to accelerating the development and use of technologies that radically improve the quality, durability, energy efficiency, environmental performance, and affordability of America's housing. Check out their main page here.

Yes, it is an American organization. However, they do address problems facing homes in northern regions. My favorite resource is the tools section found here.

PATH also sponsors a second site called, Tool Base Services, which is described as,

"...housing industry's resource for technical information on building products, materials, new technologies, business management, and housing systems."

You can find Tool Base Services here .

My favorite resource on this site is the Building Systems page which is described as,

"Information about selected innovative products & processes that can help you build or remodel homes at lower cost, with higher quality and/or energy efficiency, and/or that are safer".

You can find that page here.

Standards of Practice

The Home Inspection Standards of Practice for ASHI, CAHPI and the National Certificate Program are identical.

The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) (Here) The Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI) (Here) And, The National Certificate Program. (Here)

The Residential Standards of Practice for the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) can be found here.