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December 2005 Newsletter
NY Metro ASHI® Chapter newsletter
A resource for Professional Building & Home Inspectors

 
Articles:
Recent Journal-News Article on Licensing in NYS
Making a Qualified Home Inspector: Part 2

Making a Qualified Home Inspector: Part 2

by Joseph W. Staub

What to require of your trainee:

  • The trainee is of good moral character.
  • A resume of the trainee to better understand his or her background.
  • Be enrolled of have taken valid courses in home inspection.  Abstract learning is necessary to begin to learn the technical aspects of a home. 
  • Work in the office to learn that inspections are not just walking through a house/property and making out a report.  There are computer programs, report writing, records, telephone conversations, advertising, follow up inspections, insurance, office operation, etc. 
  • Attend professional meetings to meet people in the field and learn more about the field beyond the classroom. The war stories at these meetings are stories that are not forgotten. 
  • Become computer savvy to use the internet to communicate, to reference information and simplify the office management of a business among other things. Home inspection is now in cyberspace whether or not you are comfortable with this.
  • A mentor agreement between the inspector and trainee

 Here are some techniques to become a more effective teacher.

  • Be a role model
  • Exhibit a strong commitment to the profession
  • Demonstrate a commitment to a career long lifespan of learning about the profession
  • Be reflective and willing to learn from your mistakes and mistakes of others
  • Be eager to share information and ideas.
  • Be flexible, persistent and open minded.
  • Be humorous and resourceful 
  • Be willing to accept new challenges
  • Be a problem solver and share the experience with your trainee
  • Be willing to admit to others you do not know something but will get the information

 Other skills needed:

  • Be approachable
  • Be professional
  • Be a good listener
  • Be patient
  • Be friendly
  • Be able to articulate your thoughts
  • Offer positive and productive critiques / encouragement
  • Convey enthusiasm and passion for the field

 

Learning/teaching techniques before the inspection:

  • Ask the clients if it would be acceptable to have a trainee attend the inspection and explain the role of the trainee in the inspection process.  The trainee is a student and not an inspector.  The home inspector is the person responsible for written and spoken statements made.
  • Establish the importance of being a good listener to the trainee.  Make the trainee understand that this is not a classroom but an actual job.  Clients are on site and need the inspector’s direct attention.
  • Strongly recommend that the trainee be a good observer.
  • Encourage the trainee to take good notes.
  • Explain to the trainee that purchasing real estate is usually a very emotional experience for the purchaser and this must be considered.
  • Help the trainee understand that the all encompassing task of the home inspector is to help the client become a smart consumer in the area of your specialty, that of home inspection.

 

Learning/teaching techniques during the inspection.

 

The overriding issue is that the student is attending an actual inspection and it is not purely an on site classroom.  It really must be a modified field experience.

 

  • There will be many questions initially by the trainee.  Recommend these questions be deferred until the end of the inspection. As the trainee develops experience, helpful comments and observations can be offered to the inspector to share with the client.  This will be determined by the inspector and degree of experience of the trainee. 
  • Teachable moments. Occasionally and quite unexpectedly there will be moments when a question may arise from a condition observed.  For example, an underground oil tank on the property.  The trainee may ask”How did you know that there may be an oil tank?” If this question wasn’t answered during the inspection by the home inspector addressing the clients, the inspector can explain that a patch was noticed in the plastered foundation. It made the inspector suspicious and thus further investigation was needed.  Recommend that the trainee listen first and ask questions after the inspection despite the teachable moment.  The question can be jotted down by the trainee for discussion after the inspection.  Basically, listen now and ask later.  The home inspection should not be a detailed training session for there will be many teachable moments and opportunities for learning.
  • Direct contrived experiences. The old statement, Dewey…”Learn by doing.” Allowing the trainee to learn by doing is a gradual process that can only be determined by the individual differences of the trainee.  Gradually allowing the trainee to crawl, then walk, then run is something that needs to be monitored by the teacher.  Initially “doing” will be just listening to how to converse with the client and following the inspector through the inspection.  As experience is gained through repetition of the inspection process, “doing” can be for example, asking the trainee to observe the water heater as the inspector is doing and then have the trainee explain what was observed.  Some inspectors will allow a very brief discussion during the inspection with a more detailed evaluation of the observation after the inspection. 
  • Repetition. Direct experiences through repetition help to “automatize” the inspection process initially mentally then physically.  Yes, generally home inspectors develop a routine with variations from the basic routine at each inspection.  The automatized routine is the foundation of a sound inspection.  Keep doing it until you get it.  You may remember, isn’t that how we learned to ride a bike?
  • Reinforcement.  Reaffirming a positive action will help the trainee reinforce good habits and like what they are doing. Statements such as, “Hey, good job, I didn’t notice that leak under the bathroom sink.”
  • Frustration/Change.  Remember that learning requires changing patterns of behavior.  Whenever we change patterns of behavior, humans develop some frustration.  Generally as the frustration fades, learning takes place.  Encouragement from the home inspector is always recommended to ease the pain of frustration. 
  • Make it fun.  Sugar coating the pill of learning with humor and enjoyment of what people are doing is a great elixir.  Keep it available at all times. 
  • Be aware that a barrage of questions and discussions about home inspection and a particular home inspection will probably take place driving to and from the inspection.  These are those teachable moments discussed earlier. 

As time progresses and the trainee become more competent, additional tasks and responsibilities will follow.  Allow the trainee to develop, learn and grow into the profession. You will become the teacher of a professional home inspector. This person will be a credit to home inspection.  This student eventually will hang out his or her shingle; he or she will be a credit to the profession.  You have done your share in training a real professional. You have given this person roots and wings, and his or her flight will be at a higher level, that will make our profession better.  Our profession thanks you.   

What about more concrete remuneration?  Some inspectors charge a realistic fee.  This is certainly not unreasonable. Others just request that after all this education, the new home inspector be a credit to the profession and never stop learning and growing as a professional.

As Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”

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About the author..

Joe Staub is a retired public school teacher and carpenter/builder as well for some twenty seven years.  After retiring from those fields, he became a home inspector and has worked in the profession for the past seven years. He has written articles in chapter publications as well as made presentations to local Real Estate professionals to help them understand the profession of home inspection.  He also volunteers to train prospective home inspectors.

Joseph W. Staub, President
Staub Home Inspection
N.J. Home Inspector License #GI0206
Member of the American Society of Home Inspectors #202689
Director Garden State ASHI
Member NY METRO ASHI
Member NJ-ALPHI

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