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

 
Articles:
Making a Qualified Home Inspector: Part 1
Efflorescence on Stucco
Nail Pops in Shingles (link to JLC)
 

Making a Qualified Home Inspector: Part 1

Want to become a home inspector?  No problem. Get a pencil and a pad and put the shingle on the front door and BINGO, you are a home inspector. This scenario does occur.  In some states, A” Home Inspector,” will have minimal or no credentials and a totally unrelated background, decide to make a career change and put out that shingle so to speak.  That is scary. .  Believe it or not, some states have laws in effect or in committee that do not meet the standards of many home inspection associations. The possibility of a home inspector being state licensed and not sufficiently qualified to provide a really competent home inspection exists. That is the reality of the business.  These people can become our competition especially if they charge less money and make the quick contacts for quick sales.  How can the home inspection profession become a profession which will have a meaningful credential? When a person says, “I am a home inspector,” it means this person is very knowledgeable and experienced in the field of observing and evaluating homes and buildings both commercial and residential, and able to relate this to clients verbally and in writing. Clients are depending on a valid and thorough assessment of the property they want to purchase.  When a purchaser contacts a home inspector, the consumer/purchaser assumes that person knows his profession.  This is not always the case.  You have heard the war stories.

What methods will help this profession be a profession which will prevent the war stories?

What about state legislation ?  Unofficial statistics show that there are  29 states as of 2005 that have some form of home inspection legislation in effect or in formation. It seems, however, that legislators often are weighing political implications of really effective home inspection laws using the laws as a method of generating revenue and not really concerned with the protection of their home buying constituents.

What about professional organizations?  There is evidence of the emergence of more and more professional organizations to support home inspection.  This should improve the quality of our profession, but there is also the possibility that the flood of new inspection organizations may further confuse the consumer.  “What organization are you a member of?” This may be the question of a possible client and justifiable so. There is no one standard to rely upon at the national level.  We all would like our association to be the association of national prominence however this is not the case. 

What about contacting a home inspection school or a large inspection company that trains students. This is a good method in many cases.  These schools may provide meaningful academic classes, but do they provide meaningful hands on learning?  Also, is there a possibility that the inspection company will include a “no compete” contract? 

What is the answer then to making home inspection truly a profession?  No doubt that all of the above avenues help, but the most effective method of making home inspection a profession is to have knowledgeable professionals train people who desire also to become knowledgeable professionals.  This will end the cry from people who want to become home inspectors that usually sounds like, “I want to become a home inspector, but no one will teach me.”  Other statements made are that home inspection is a “closed shop.”  These are comments from the trainees.  Statements made from some experienced home inspectors are:  “I am too busy to train someone.”  “I have enough competition, why should I make more by training someone else?”  “I’ll take someone out, but I’ll make sure I make it worthwhile for me financially.”  “There are too many home inspectors already.  Why make more?  The field is already crowded.” “I really don’t know how to teach a person how to become a home inspector.”  And so on and so on…The beat goes on. What is this doing to our profession?  Well, just check out the latest exposé shows on television.  It seems there have been incompetent home inspections that have caused large payouts from insurance companies and some of the claims are valid. It doesn’t take too many shows to give the public a bad image of the home inspection business and of home inspectors.

The public view of home inspectors is frequently to be wary.  An actual case occurred when a home inspector arrived on site to do a home inspection and met the client, a single woman and another person.   The other person was thought to be the client’s fiancé or husband.  As the inspection continued and the other person realized that the inspection was quite thorough, the unknown relationship was revealed.  The male friend was a building contractor friend of the client.  The client had a poor inspection on her previous home and was very wary of the home inspector she hired, despite recommendations.  The client wanted her friend, a builder, to just be there during the inspection to check on the type of inspection she would get.  The builder was very impressed with the inspection and as a result, asked about the possibly of considering this field of work in the future. That is just one story of many, to be sure, that probably occurs regularly.  But these stories don’t make the news.  These stories are what make home inspection a respected profession.  The old saying, “Do 99 things right and one thing wrong and the public will remember that one thing.” That regretfully can be the truth.  

  • How can one individual help improve this profession?   

This is how….  Teach…Lead….Train…Help others….Share your knowledge…..Show others….  Answer questions…Give some of your time to others…Be a mentor….Be a friend to beginners…Set examples…

  • What are you really doing?

You are improving the quality of our profession. Most trades require beginners to serve an apprenticeship.  Learning the trade requires abstract learning, direct contrived experiences, hands on experiences and time or repetition on the job.  It is quite obvious that many instant home inspectors are not at all prepared to evaluate a home which can cost from $200,000.00 to well over several million dollars.  Clients put a large amount of trust in the term professional/licensed home inspector and often are misled to believe that all home inspectors are really qualified for the job. 

Teaching and sharing experiences is a valuable asset for the beginner.  This is well beyond lobbying our legislators, or passing a course in home inspection. This is getting on the job training from someone who takes pride in the profession, who is constantly learning more about the profession and is willing to teach others. This is one on one learning.  Most professions whether it be teaching, architecture, medicine or a trade, requires an apprentice period. Certainly one doesn’t want to be the person who is operated on by a surgeon who has read books, attended classes and now was doing the operation….This is not always the case in home inspection.  People enter this business and don’t realize what is involved once you “open up the patient” so to speak. Quality home inspections are not a quick way to make lots of money.  Some new home inspectors may follow the fast track and get lots of work, charge less to get lots of jobs and do marginal work but get by.  Some realize that there is more to this business than they originally thought.  Some fall to the wayside and others survive but do not establish or practice the standards of a true professional and as a result weaken the reputation of this profession. 

The excuses have been mentioned already in this article.  This is the time to make a change.  Help others and it will help our profession. The following suggestions will guide you to become an effective teacher/mentor.

Part 2 Next Month...

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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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