The National Home Inspector Examination (NHIE) provides home inspectors a recognized certification which speaks to their skill and expertise for certification. 31 states require the NHIE for licensing, and some associations require the exam to obtain membership.
This article discusses the certification exam for the 31 states that require the NHIE.
To sit for the National Home Inspector examination, a candidate needs a high school diploma or equivalent, possess basic soft skills (customer service), and have mechanical aptitude. Some states may require additional education beyond high school and some form of on-the-job-training in building inspection, home inspection, construction, drafting, or engineering.
The application varies from state-to-state but includes providing proof of eligibility and payment of licensing fees.
Purpose and content of the NHIE examination
The scope of the NHIE is to assess a candidate’s knowledge and ability to perform home inspections. The purpose of a home inspector is to ensure a commercial building or residence meets local, state, and federal regulations.
The first domain of the examination assesses a candidate’s ability to properly perform the duties of a home assessor. The foundational skills required are site conditions, building components (inside and out), electrical, structural systems (walls, roof, and support), heating, ventilation, and plumbing. In addition, knowledge of insulation, flood plans, and before and aftermarket fixtures is required.
A home inspector has the general knowledge of everything in the building – from the cement that is poured for the floor to the after-market addition of ceiling fixtures and fences. While you do not need to know how to fix the water pipes so they don’t leak, you have to be able to identify that they are incorrect and suggest the correction. A home inspector is a jack-of-all-trades and serves the client by ensuring the building is safe and habitable.
The second domain focuses on your ability to follow the rules and regulations governing contracts for inspection and performing home inspector duties within your state with integrity, quality, and objectivity while protecting the client’s interests.
As a home inspector, you will be expected to write valid inspection contracts and reports while maintaining objectivity to the building being inspected. The onus is on the home inspector to be thorough and fair, ensuring the safety of the public and client are maintained with an accurate assessment of the home.
The NHIE is divided into two performance domains, Building Science, Analysis and Reporting, and Business Operations. There are 200 multiple-choice questions, of which 25 questions are un-scored and are included to measure potential adjustments to the examination. You will have four hours to complete the exam.
The content of the NHIE is as follows:
- Performance Domain I: Building Science – 64% of the exam
- Performance Domain II: Business Operations – 12% of the exam
Registration, cost, and location
Registration and payment for the NHIE are completed online. The registration fee is $225.00 for all states except Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois, South Dakota, Washington, Tennessee, and Florida which range from $125.00 to $300.00. Canada’s registration fee is $325.00. The NHIE is delivered at testing facilities located nationwide and in Canada.
The cost of the exam may be reimbursable for Veterans utilizing their G.I. Bill or Veteran Affairs vocational rehabilitation benefits.
Allow yourself enough time on your testing day to find parking and complete the required paperwork. Before the start of your examination, you will complete a tutorial to familiarize yourself with the delivery method. The time you spend on the tutorial does not count against the time allowed for the exam. When you are comfortable using the computer, you may begin your examination.
Personal items will be collected from you before you are escorted to your testing station and returned to you at the conclusion of the exam. Food and drinks, calculators, notepads and study aids are not allowed. If you require special accommodation for the exam, contact the testing center before your test day.
Exam scoring and results
At the conclusion of your exam, your test is scored, and you receive an official report. The exam is scored on a scale of 200 to 800, and you must earn at least 500 to pass. Your scores are not transmitted to any regulatory agency; it is your responsibility to file your official results with your state per their regulations.
The National Home Inspector Examination can be taken as many times as necessary to pass with 30 days between each attempt. Each retake requires registration and payment of the fee.
How Can I Prepare for the Home Inspector Test?
That’s a great question. We’ve broken down the answer into three parts.
- Do yourself a favor and study. Do not walk in unprepared. We have recommended prep materials below, but that only helps if you actually try. Plus, studying is actually proven to be the best antidote to test anxiety.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping. All of these things are scientifically linked to brain performance. If you take care of your body, you’ll be helping your grades.
- Get a study guide or set of flashcards. Some people study better a certain way. Find your study strengths and make the most of them. We’ve tried to make it easy for you by tracking down the best study guide and flashcard set for your exam. Below you’ll see links to both!