Roy Cooke in the news.

April 18, 2007


Having the time of his life at 71


Being an electrician gives me a real good start, says Roy Cooke, in his second career as a home inspector.
Roy Cooke shows off his award as Home Inspector of the Year, an honour made even more special as he was elected by his peers in the industry.

Home Inspector of the Year, Roy Cooke credits his mentors for high stature in profession

by Ray Yurkowski
The Independent
Roy Cooke, of Brighton, has been named 2006 Home Inspector of the Year by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), the largest industry association in the world. The association is home to more than 10,000 members with about 700 in Canada. Mr. Cooke has been inspecting homes since 1999 and, at age 71, he is still able to scuttle around crawlspaces and scale ladders to check rooftops. It’s easy to tell he is having the time of his life.  He says the award is even more special because it was voted upon by his peers.  Mr. Cooke, a retired electrician, owns a 50-year button as a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.  His son, Roy Jr., a home inspector for 20 years, told him: “When you’re ready to retire, this is an absolute perfect business for you because you have lots of knowledge.”  Mr. Cooke found out pretty quickly how much he didn’t know.  “I went out and did 100 inspections with my son as well as taking all the courses because there is an immense amount of information required,” he said. “Being an electrician gives me a real good start.  “My son was my mentor. I had more than one but he was the most important one.”  Air conditioning and furnace courses followed. He went out on service calls with Hutchinson Fuels a few times to make sure he was on the right track.  “Then I did two home inspections with others just to confirm the way they did their job.”  He does see problems in the industry.  “Unfortunately, the school takes the money, $3,000, and says now you’re a home inspector,” Mr. Cooke says. “For the next three years, these people are out trying to learn how to do home inspections off people who are buying a house and they have no knowledge. “Ninety per cent of home inspectors never last three years.  It’s so heartbreaking, it’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to people who are buying a house.  “I did a pre-sale inspection of a house already done by a previous inspector. The person buying the house wanted me to go through and confirm the condition of the house.”  The original inspector had missed asbestos on the water pipes, faulty electrical wiring, styrofoam insulation on the walls, and evidence of a previous fire.  “It’s just past experience. These are the sort of things any good inspector would see but, unfortunately, newer inspectors don’t get a chance to stay in the business long enough to learn these things.”  When you hire Roy’s Home Inspection, you’re getting a two-for-one deal. Wife Charlotte is a certified master home inspector as well. They are two of only 15 in the province.  A master inspector requires 1,000 inspections, 1,000 hours of inspection-related continuing education, or a combination of both.  “And we’ve had both,” Roy boasts.  They have travelled to hundreds of seminars in Canada and the U.S. and continue to attend on a regular basis.  But there is another advantage to having his wife along on some jobs.  “Sometimes we’ll get a single lady buying a home and she might not be grasping something Roy is trying to explain,” says Ms. Cooke. “I can turn it around and explain it in female terms.”  “We get to see a multitude of all sins,” she laughs.  Have they seen it all in the eight years they’ve been in the business?  “No, we still learn, nonstop,” Mr. Cooke says. “There are so many new things all the time, the only way to stay on top of them is to take these courses.”  Every three months he turns up on a Belleville radio station to answer questions as listeners call in concerns. After an appearance on radio, he will get telephone calls for weeks afterward from people who didn’t want to be on-air.  “We help them out,” Mr. Cooke says. “And we don’t charge for any of it. Many people just don’t know.”  His monthly newsletter is e-mailed to more than 900 subscribers. Of the more than 700 people who regularly pose questions and offer advice on the InterNACHI website message board, only three have posted more messages than Roy.  Even the forum has become an opportunity for further education when he can get answers from others in the trade.  Mr. Cooke recalls an inspection of a 140-year-old house in Port Hope.  The house was built, and an addition was built on the back. Then another addition was built onto that. “The way I can tell they were built at separate times is the bricks don’t match up. There’s a window at the top and a ‘clean-out’ at the bottom.  “An indoor outhouse,” he said. “The only one I’ve ever seen.”  “Wouldn’t that be handy in 1850?” asks Ms. Cooke. “You wouldn’t have to go back outside.”  “You’d be the elite lady of the area,” her husband chuckles.  A letter from a Toronto real estate agent sings his praises. “I’m very pleased (the purchaser) picked you out of the bunch. For an old fart, you sure know your stuff. Now if we could only clone you and replace half of the home inspectors in Toronto, it would be more relaxed and fun.  “We’re doing okay,” Mr. Cooke says. “I treat everyone the same. I do every inspection as though I were doing it for my daughter.” 
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