UPDATED 2021

The Home Inspector Certification Test Guide

The Home Inspector Certification Test Summary
What: The NHIE is a multiple-choice test that allows individuals to demonstrate competence in home inspection.
Who: The NHIE is developed and maintained for any individual seeking to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in performing home inspections.
Where: The NHIE is taken at 215 locations of Pearson VUE, a test administrator, in all but four US states, Illinois, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee, where contractors selected by those states administer the test.
When: Examinees can reserve a time to take the NHIE during regular hours of operation of the testing centers.
How: The NHIE measures competence in five key aspects of home inspection.
Type: The NHIE is a 200-question multiple choice test administered at a touch screen.
Why: Successful completion of the NHIE is a requirement for membership in professional organizations, including the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a prerequisite for certification as a home inspector in some states.
Time: The time limit for completion of the NHIE is four hours.
Language: English
Preparation: Preparation for the NHIE can include formal training through home inspector courses as well as practical experience in the field. A 50-question sample exam that is representative of the content of the complete exam is available online at a cost of $50.
Cost: The cost of the 50-question sample test is $50. The cost of the complete exam is $225.

The purchase of a home is the largest investment most individuals will make in their lifetime. A home can consume thousands and thousands of dollars in mortgage payments, as well as in major repairs or replacements. Because a home is a complex combination of mechanical and structural systems, many subject to substantial deterioration or failure over time, evaluating the condition of a house is a task that requires an experienced individual with specialized skills.

The Federal Housing Administration recommends that prospective home buyers obtain an independent home inspection by a qualified professional. Most prospective home buyers are not equipped to perform such an evaluation in an objective and authoritative manner, thus there is a need for qualified professionals who can provide unbiased and expert judgment to evaluate the condition of a home.

A home inspector is a professional who examines a home for defects or other problems that could be expensive to repair or pose a health or safety risk, immediately or in the future. Typically, they focus on a home’s structure, construction and mechanical systems. A home inspection is a description and evaluation of the condition of a home‘s major systems, not an appraisal. A home inspection usually occurs after a buyer and seller have signed a purchase contract.

The National Home Inspector Examination

The qualifications and credentialing required for home inspectors vary from state to state, so those considering becoming home inspection professionals need to check their respective state’s requirements.

While no credentialing body has been universally adopted for home inspectors, the non-profit Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors (EBPHI) administers a standardized test, the National Home Inspector Examination (NHIE), which assesses home inspector experience, skill and knowledge.

The exam is available in all states and has been adopted as a competence assessment by 21 states. Its successful completion is a requirement for membership in several professional home inspector organizations. Many states have additional requirements to qualify as a home inspector beyond successful completion of the NHIE, such as a designated number of hours of experience, formal training and insurance coverage.

The NHIE is a 200-question multiple-choice test that covers an individual’s technical knowledge of all building trades, skill to detect system failures and the ability to inspect and communicate and to write inspection reports. They must also demonstrate knowledge of the standards of practice and the code of ethics of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Pearson VUE, a test administrator, offers the test at 215 locations available in every state where it is required except Illinois, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee. These four states administer the test through administrators they have contracted with for the purpose.

The NHIE exam covers reporting standards, inspection methods, knowledge of building systems, including fireplaces and chimneys, plumbing, structural, electrical, HVAC, roofing, insulating and exterior systems and professional practice and ethics. The following is an example of the type of question that appears on the exam:

Which of the following conditions would be LEAST critical to your client's safety?

A. A pin hole in the heat exchanger

B. No handrails on an interior stairway

C. Lack of a pressure and temperature relief valve on the water heater

D. A non-reversing garage door opener

Registering for the NHIE

There are no restrictions on who can take the NHIE. Individuals can register online at homeinspectionexam.org or by calling 877-543-5222. Advance registration is required, and walk-ins are not accepted at the testing centers.

The fee for the exam is $225 per test and is payable by credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover) at the time of online or telephone registration only. No payments are accepted at test centers.

During registration, candidates will designate a date and time that they intend to take the exam. They will receive a confirmation number that will allow admittance to the testing center at the time of the exam.

Those who fail the test can take it again after a 30-day waiting period. There is no limit to the number of times an individual can take the exam, although the $225 fee must be paid each time it is taken.

Those who wish to cancel or change a registration must do so no fewer than four days before the scheduled test to obtain a refund.

Individuals taking the NHIE must provide their confirmation number, two forms of signature identification, one a photo ID, preferably a driver’s license and, if a retake of a previous test, their failing score.

The NHIE is taken at a touch-sensitive computer screen. Test takers are allowed four hours to complete the test. The testing unit automatically closes down after the time limit is reached.

Examinees will receive their score immediately following completion of the test and a certificate of achievement.

Are you thinking about taking the National Home Inspector Exam? Click here for our Home Inspector Exam Directory.