NY Metro ASHI News

                                                                                               October 2003


A Publication of the NY Metro Chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors

Edited by John Gerardi (gerardi@att.net)

Articles published in the NY Metro ASHI News are the sole opinion of the author and we publish these articles for educational purposes only and not to endorse or state a position for or against the content of the article.

October Meeting
Tino’s Steak House
Route 100, Hawthorne, NY

Date: Thursday, October 30, 2003, 6:00PM

Next Meeting's Program  

Guests are welcome at all meetings.

NY Metro ASHI's Holiday Party
Sunday Nov. 16, 2003
Brunch 11:30 am to 3:30 pm

Renaissance Westchester Hotel, White Plains, NY
Hold your office party with us, reward referral sources as guests.
Remember, part of your chapter dues went towards your discount for this event.
Sumptuous buffet and good surroundings.  Cost per member with guest is $26.00 per person which includes the discount. (no increase from last year)

Deadline is November 7, 2003


Names of Attendees:  _______________________________________

Company:                   _________________________________________

#:  _____


Mail checks to:

Evan Grugett
Social Committee Chair & Treasurer

105 Bradley Road, Scarsdale, NY 10583-6213

voice/fax ; 914-723-5795       email: egrugett@aol.com

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by Victor J. Faggella


Another year has come and gone and Seminar 2003 is a thing of the past.  In my opinion (inspector talk), this was our best one yet, in participation (93), speakers, facilities, food and vendors. Inspectors came from as far north as New Hampshire and as far south as Virginia.  We had vendors from Florida and California.


Comments on our survey gave uniformly high marks to all of our speakers. The full results of the survey follow:

                          Excellent       Good     Fair

Content:                           37                 21        0    

Facilities :

Vendor Area:      30             25       3

Clasroom:           39             18       1

Audio/Visual:      35             20       3

Amenities:          31             26       1

Parking:              40             15       3

Location:            38             18       1

This is not a one man operation and I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to the committee members. Victor G. Faggella, Bart Rodi and Douglas Boyd for it job well done.  I would also like to thank the presenters, Steve Hern, Victor G. Faggella, P.E., Pat Porzio,  Evan Grugett, Jim Hodrinsky and Paul Scelsi for making their presentations both enjoyable and

meaningful for inspectors.

We have already reserved the first weekend in October, 2004. Mark it on your calendar. We have been guaranteed the large ballroom and will have to fill it up. If as a chapter member, you did not attend this year, make a resolution to attend in 2004.

Steve Gladstone. National ASHI, president elect attended and made a brief presentation to the group re: Branding. I believe that Steve received an "earful" from those attending regarding the handling of the matter and promised to bring the concerns to the Executive Board.




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"You Know You're a Home Inspector When”

From the NAHI Forum July/August 2003 issue

Courtesy of Jim Krausmann, Krausmann Home Inspection Services, Grosse Pointe, MI

1) Instead of buying shoes based on looks, you buy them based on their ability to stick to a roof.

2) You know how to type with more than four fingers!

3) When your wife asks how dinner is and your reply is, “Shows Signs of Unprofessionalism . . . !”

4) Instead of peeking inside of the medicine cabinet, while visiting friends, you look inside their furnace.

5) When heating a can of soup for lunch, you automatically turn on all four burners on the stove.

6) You actually begin to understand how your insurance agent thinks.

7) Your attorney's number is on the speed dialer.

8) You start to find flaws in Norm' s work while watching "This Old House".

9) You begin to measure your success based on how many calendars you receive from real estate agents.

10) You automatically get nervous on an inspection when the plumbing and electrical components still have the price tags on them.









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The Environmental Corner

Submitted by John Gerardi

Safety First

In the interest of safety you may copy these and give to your clients as you see fit.




WASHINGTON, D.C. - Picture this: a plastic can filled with gasoline is innocently left on the garage floor, near a gas water heater. A 4-year-old boy playing in the garage tips over the can, spilling the gasoline and sending flammable vapors into the air. The vapors reach the water heater, sparking a flashback fire that takes the life of the young child. Tragically, similar real-life inci­dents involving gas water heaters take the lives of or severely injure children and adults across the country each year.


But a new, safer era in gas water heater technology begins in July, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association, the national trade association of the manufacturers of water heating and space heat­ing equipment and components. A voluntary standard developed by industry, in cooperation with the commission, calls for conventional tank-type gas water heaters manufactured after July I, 2003, to be equipped with new safety technology. This technology, often referred to as a flame arrestor, prevents flashback fires by trapping and burning danger­ous gas vapors inside of the heater, while preventing ignition of the vapors in the room.


Gas water heater ignition of flammable vapors is involved in nearly 800 residential fires, resulting in an average of five deaths and 130 injuries annually, according to commission estimates. The fires typically occur when consumers use flammable liquids, usually gasoline, for cleaning purposes, or when a flammable liq­uid leaks or is spilled near the water heater. When the vapors come in contact with the appliance's burner or pilot light, the vapors ignite, causing a severe flashback fire.


""The new water heaters will save lives and property and reduce the number of terrible burn injuries that are caused by these fires," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "The redesigned gas water heaters, which are already on the market, show that indus­try can solve difficult problems to build the safest products possi­ble."


All 30,40, and 50-gallon gas storage type water heaters manufac­tured after this date are expected to comply with the national safety standard.


Because millions of gas water heaters manufactured before the new standard took effect remain in homes across the country, Chairman Stratton warned that gasoline should never be stored or used indoors (in a basement or garage) where vapors can ignite. Gasoline should be stored in tightly closed, properly labeled, non-glass safety containers away from ignition sources and out of reach of children.


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Licensing for Home Inspectors: Doing More Harm Than Good?

By Michael Lennon


Whenever I hear the words "licensing" and "home inspec­tors" in the same sentence, I shudder. I have a tough time believing that the services we provide have improved as a result of any of the licensing laws which have been enacted. To be sure, I have strong convictions (call them prejudices if you like) learned at the school of "hard knocks”.  Building a solid home inspection business offering credible services is completely dependent on the willingness of the owner to invest sustained intense effort. It's the integrity and internal makeup of the individual that really counts. The home inspection business is deceptively sophisticated and it takes a substantial effort to learn even the fundamentals. It also takes an uncommon honesty to deliver services and practice with integrity where "perspective" is not a code word for "soft disclo­sure”.


I've lived in the Washington DC area for the last 30 plus years and have found myself surrounded by politicians and bureau­crats. As a former Navy officer, I've worked with bureaucrats for several years. In the public sector, the relative impossibi1ity of fir­ing poor performers or holding people accountable undermines the morale of the better people and fosters an environment of indifference to performance. I've noticed what I call an "anti­-profit" attitude on the part of many bureaucrats which seems to make them simultaneously jea1ous of and antagonistic to the pri­vate sector. They seem to relish doing things that ensure no prof­it.  From my view it is profit that affords training, new products, etc.

While testifying for what ended up as a home inspector registration bill in Maryland I was once again disgusted with what I saw as a disingenuous performance by yet another self important representative who was posturing as a champion of the consumer. To my mind he refused to do any real homework, routinely misrepresented the truth, and couldn't care less about the home inspection industry, or how much damage his careless actions would result in.

I was once a defendant in an arbitration hearing bill by a con­sumer affairs office. I felt justice was turned on its ear when the opinion of the arbiter was reversed by supervisors who bad no contact with the proceedings. They were apparently more con­cerned with their win/loss record (the better to get a budget) than in concurring with their employee. How is it, I wondered, that an advocacy group could hold itself out as an impartial arbitration group and use tax money to pressure people like me into dealing with them.


Putting up a fight


When Ralph Nader addressed the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) at one of our conventions he remarked that while licensing may be inevitable for our profession, we would be very well advised to fight it as hard and as long as we could in order to achieve our best deal. I believe Mr. Nader was in an excel­lent position to fully understand what licensing can mean to our profession and I believe he was sincerely trying to help us by giv­ing us a well thought out warning. How I wish many of our other members had heard that presentation in the way I did and had taken it similarly to heart.

I certainly don't feel the fight has been waged hard or long and in fact has been undermined by a few home inspectors who helped launch the efforts toward licensing. I've come to feel that these "collaborators" are either quite naive, intoxicated by the feel­ing of power working with real politicians, or are jockeying for positions of advantage or power for themselves. This is in con­siderable contrast to the many very conscientious inspectors who have labored diligently (once the process was set in motion) to try to keep the pending legislation from becoming destructive. In conversations with these respected folks the frustration and dis­may are palpable.


Who's Behind the Legislation?


The first state to license home inspectors was Texas. It occurred to me at the time that the process was initiated because a few of the more powerful and influential home inspectors were attempting to safeguard their turf rather than attempting to improve a fledgling industry. Interestingly and ironically, many of those folks have been driven out of the business by a huge increase in the number of home inspectors and by declining prices. The state Realtorâ association has what many consider undue control over the inspectors and decides what and how things will be reported.

In Pennsylvania the ASHI and NAHI folks felt the candidates would have to channel through their programs to comply with the law (being the qualified national organizations) and become licensed, but no. New to the scene is the National Association of

Certified Home Inspectors who, in the view of a respected col­league there, is actually a "diploma mill." A whole new crop of "licensed home inspectors" is now frustrating the long established inspectors.

New Jersey inspectors have recently experienced the process of mandatory licensing. Several inspectors from the "Garden State" have told me that many of the terms and conditions of the mandatory licensing left them with the feeling that they had been "ambushed" by the regulatory authorities at the last minute by conditions which had never been addressed during preliminary discussions.

In the state of Virginia where my home office is located, the lobbyist for the Virginia Association of Realtorsâ (VA R) actually complained that the standards of practice and the entry require­ments of ASHI were prohibitively high. Most inspectors here feel the licensing pressure has come almost exclusively from VAR who would seemingly be happy to have many more home inspectors charging far less and working to lower standards. The desire for a one or two page standardized report has been mentioned as well.


As we are finding, it is easier to win the war (make the law) than win tile peace (make it work constructively for everyone). I am convinced that if Realtorsâ and Home Inspectors want to improve our working relations we must take each other serious­ly, respect our legitimate interests and concerns, and sort the issues out on our own. "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you." I don't think so.


Michael Lennon is the Founder of the Professional Home Inspectors Institute and HomePro Systems, Inc. He is the author of The HomeBook, a packaged home inspection system used internationally, as well as a series of manuals for the home inspection industry.  Mike has performed over 10,000 professional home inspec­tions and is a nationally recognized authority on housing problems. He has writ­ten columns for the Washington Post and the Journal of Light Construction and has also been a feature writer in REALTOR, The Real Estate Appraisers and Analyst, and the Journal newspapers. He can be reached at (800) 466- 3776.






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Builder Bets Big on Sealed Crawlspaces

From the Journal of Light Construction August 2003

Submitted by John Gerardi


When. it comes to crawlspaces, codes haven't caught up with building science. Many build­ing departments still require foun­dation vents in crawlspace walls, even though studies show that the vents cause more problems than they solve.

But one production builder in an area prone to damp crawlspace problems has decided to get ahead of the curve. In July, Parker and Orleans Homebuilders began installing sealed and conditioned crawlspaces for its homes in Virginia and North Carolina, according to sealed-crawlspace expert Jeff Tooley. Parker and Orleans has contracted with Tooley to manage construction of scaled crawlspaces in as many as 300 homes a year.

The International Code Council is considering modifying the Inter­national Residential Code to allow sealed crawlspaces in the 2006 edi­tion. Tooley applauds the change, hut he's concerned about the details. "The building science is good," he says, "but there's not a lot of field experience to go with it."


Tooley is one of the few contractors in the nation who has installed more than a handful of sealed crawls paces, and he says the details are important.

"An unvented crawlspace isn't the same thing as a sealed crawlspace," says Tooley. "If you eliminate the vents, it's very important to have an effective soil vapor barrier." The ground cover has to go down early in construction, says Tooley: He places "sacrificial" poly on the soil before the deck is built, then replaces it later with the permanent ground cover. "I looked at a custom home recently where there were no vents and no ground cover during con­struction, and it caused a major fun­gus problem," he says.

Tooley has started training Parker and Orleans supervisors on the con­struction sequence for sealed-crawl installations. "They deserve some recognition for taking this step," he says. And done right, Tooley expects the sealed crawlspaces to be a big improvement. While typical vented crawlspaces in the region often fluc­tuate above 90% relative humidity, Tooley says none of his sealed crawl­spaces has ever triggered the RH alarm he routinely installs, set at 50% RH.





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