Exam Preparation

altTesting procedures and a description of the examination used by the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) to certify home inspectors.

The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) was established in 1976 as a voluntary, non- profit public-benefit organization of real estate inspectors. CREIA’s Standards of Practice and professional Code of Ethics are recognized by the California Business and Professions Codes in sections 7195-7199, and are considered the standard of care by the real estate industry and the legal professions in the state. CREIA Inspector Members have successfully passed a comprehensive written examination on the myriad of systems and components in the construction and maintenance of residential dwellings.

Mission Statement
CREIA’s educational mission is to expand the technical knowledge of its members through continuing education. CREIA membership activities and programs encourage the sharing of experience and knowledge resulting in betterment of the real estate profession and the consumer public, which it serves.

Continuing Education
The Association recognizes quality educational offerings, granting CREIA continuing education credits (CECs) to deserving programs offered by CREIA and other qualified organizations. CREIA is committed to professional growth and consumer protection through quality education. CREIA conducts education and training conferences to provide opportunities for members to interact with fellow inspectors and to gain continuing education credits (CECs) that are required to maintain membership in the Association. For assistance, CREIA can be contacted by clicking here or calling 949-715-1768, M-F, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST.

Standards of Practice
CREIA has established high Standards of Practice for its inspection professionals that are used throughout the state to guide the professional inspector in performing a thorough and detailed inspection.

Code of Ethics
Members of the association are bound by the Code of Ethics. This code defines the relationship between members and their affiliation with other related professionals. Members that are found to be negligent in following these standards are subject to peer review. Continued malpractice or malicious non-compliance can result in severe penalties or loss of membership.

In 1994, the International Code Council was established by the three regional code development organizations — Building Officials and Code Administrations International, Inc. (BOCA); International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO);and Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. (SBCCI) — as a non-profit organization dedicated to developing a single set of comprehensive and coordinated national model construction codes. Prior to this consolidation, The International Conference of Building Officials had sponsored a Voluntary Certification Program for almost 30 years. All of the certification categories have been transitioned to the ICC voluntary certification program. The transition to ICC for the model code organizations certification categories was effective September 2002. These regional organizations and their separate certification and testing services are now totally consolidated into the ICC.

Through its certification programs CREIA provides members with the opportunity to demonstrate competence in the knowledge and application of administrative, legal and technical aspects of the real estate inspection profession. To provide evidence of professional competence, CREIA offers the Certified CREIA Inspector (CCI) and the Master CREIA Inspector (MCI) designation.

Certified CREIA Inspector (CCI): Associate Members who wish to attain full member status are required to complete all the provisions for Certified CREIA Inspector (CCI) Member.

Please Note
You must apply to become a CREIA Associate member first before taking the National Home Inspector Exam - NHIE.
CCI Members can be referred by CREIA to REALTORS® and consumers seeking a certified real estate inspector.

Master CREIA Inspector (MCI): The Master CREIA Inspector (MCI) designation is the highest member rating that can be obtained and is awarded only to those inspectors who have achieved over 100 hours of additional training, have performed over 1,000 inspections and have been tested for knowledge above the already high standards set for members of CREIA.

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The California Real Estate Inspection Association voluntary certification program was established to encourage professionalism among real estate inspectors through a comprehensive test of knowledge of building standards and practices necessary for professional competence. These examinations have been developed in conjunction with the International Code Council (ICC). The exams have been designed to be psychrometrically valid to assure compliance with industry standards and nationally accepted high stakes test development procedures; procedures developed and promoted by organizations such as the American Psychological Associations (APA), the National Council for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The purpose of the certification program is to provide:

  • A means to demonstrate competency in the knowledge and application of residential building systems, current building technology, building construction code requirements, plumbing/mechanical/ electrical systems and materials and their installation methods.
  • A standard by which consumers and REALTORS® can use to evaluate home inspectors for their knowledge of legal and administrative regulations pertaining to the real estate inspection profession, for knowledge of the Association’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, and for knowledge of California’s Business and Professions Code.
  • Enhancement of professional and public recognition of CREIA-Certified Home Inspectors.

The CREIA certification examinations are not designed to rank individuals from a high to a low competence or to determine the best qualified person for conducting home inspections; they are not designed as intelligence examinations to measure a person's intuitive knowledge and abilities. The examinations are designed to determine if an individual's knowledge of all aspects of the real estate inspection profession meets or exceeds a prescribed level of competence. Passing a certification examination provides evidence that an individual possesses critical knowledge of relevant information necessary for competent practice of the profession.

All CREIA examinations are continually edited and updated to reflect current building practices and professional standards to assure they are valid and comply with the state of the art of the industry. The key element in the examination validation process is the review of the examination questions by a committee of practicing real estate inspectors who are experts in each examination category.

Examination Prerequisites
The examinations are designed to measure practical knowledge required for competent professional practice. Most successful candidates have significant real estate inspection training and / or experience. There are no specific education or experience prerequisites for registration; however, candidates without a minimum of a high school education or experience may not perform as well on the examination.

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Examination Certification Categories Offered by CREIA

The following categories of certification are available from CREIA:

CREIA Certified Inspector (CCI)
CREIA Associate Members can achieve Certified CREIA Inspector (CCI) status by completing the 60 hours of Continuing Education Credit (CEC), attending a minimum of two Chapter meetings, completing two ride alongs with a trainer or MCI, have two fee paid reports reviewed, attending a Standards of Practice Group Inspection and successfully passing the NHIE exam. Those desiring to take the Master CREIA Exam (MCI) should note the special requirements listed further below.

Here are the steps for an Associate Member to take the NHIE Exam.

  • Note: You must apply to become a CREIA Associate first before taking the National Home Inspector Exam NHIE

Master CREIA Inspector (MCI)
Earning Master status is the highest achievement recognized by CREIA. To achieve Master CREIA Inspector status, each of the following criteria must be met:

  • Achieve and maintain CCI status in good standing for at least two years.
  • Earn a minimum of 250 CREIA-approved CECs.
  • Personally perform a minimum of 1,000 fee-paid inspections.
  • Pass the ICC Certification as a Residential Combination Inspector, California Residential Combination Inspector or Combination Dwelling Inspector
  • Pass the MCI Ride-along /Peer Review.

Certification Maintenance
Certificates will be valid as long as the applicant maintains membership in CREIA. Renewal of membership in CREIA requires participation in professional development activities over the annual term of certification. To maintain CCI or MCI Member status, annual dues and at least 30 approved Continuing Education Credits (CECs) must be recorded. A list of CEC educational programs can be viewed on CREIA’s Online Event Calendar
and CREIA Approved Education.

Description of CCI and MCI Examinations
Both the CCI and MCI exams utilize the same Content Outlines and Test Specifications; however, the number of questions and their difficulty are significantly higher on the MCI exam. The NHIE exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions with a 4-hour time limit. Contact the ICC for more information about those tests.  Both exams are “closed book.” No reference books or materials are permitted to be used during the exam.

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References (available at shop.CREIA.org)

  • 2006 International Building Code 
  • 2006 National Electric Code
  • 2006 Uniform Plumbing Code
  • 2006 Uniform Mechanical Code 
  • Cauldwell, Rex: Inspecting a House (2001, Taunton Press)
  • CREIA Glossary Project: Standardized Terminology for the Professional real Estate Inspector (2005)
  • CREIA Inspection Basics 2.0 – A Guide to Professional Home Inspection (2006) which includes the following:
    • CREIA Residential Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics (2006)
    • California Business and Professions Code, Sec. § 7195-7199
    • California Division of the State Architect (DSA) Standard Plan for Seismic Restraint of Domestic Water Heaters
    • California Contract Law (Specific sections relevant to home inspectors)

Code Edition Information
The Examinations are written to reference the applicable codes as noted above in the \\\"References\\\". Examinations are updated annually. Changes in codes will be reflected at such time as the State of California and subsequent local jurisdictions have adopted new codes or code revisions. This is likely to be many months after the initial release of such codes by their publishers.

Recommended Exam Study Materials

  • "Code Check", "Electrical Code Check", "Plumbing Code Check", "Code Check HVAC" & "Code Check Building" – Important “codes-at-a-glance” inspection tool; user- friendly references for use in the field and to study for the exams.
  • 2006 International Residential Code for One and Two Family Dwellings—Current reference useful for home inspectors who want to know the current new construction provisions being used throughout the U.S.
  • Significant Changes to the 2006 International Residential Code® (IRC) Handbook

Where to Obtain References and Exam Study Materials
California Real Estate Inspection Association shop.CREIA.org