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hausdok last won the day on July 18

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About hausdok

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    TIJ Founder

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    Home Inspector

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  1. Hi Les, You know me well enough to know that short and concise isn't my thing. Besides, I could put a little out, respond over and over again, and, by the time the thread dies I would have said just as much as I said in one post. ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!! Mike
  2. Good philosophy. I have a single response I use a lot - either when the client wants to know how long I'm going to be there or the agent starts getting antsy. "I'll be done when I feel there are no more unanswered questions in my mind about this house. I only have two speeds - slow and careful."
  3. Jerry, do you have any more photos of those? They say they can't provide a response based on just that one photo.
  4. Jerry, I shot off an inquiry, along with a copy of your photo, to the APA-Engineered Wood Association help desk in Tacoma to see if they'd ever seen anything like that. I'm awaiting an answer. ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!! Mike
  5. Hi Steven, If you want to enjoy what you do, and want to be at it for a long time, don't feed at the realtor trough. Most agents have only their own interest at heart; and, if your inspection doesn't fit what they want, they'll fight you every step of the way and try to remake you into what they want. With a different agent on every home, with different likes and dislikes, that can cause you a whole lot of stress that you don't need. Or, they can simply toss your card, nod and smile at your and accept whatever swag you want to try and bribe them with and still forget you. (Below, I'll tell you how to get started with agents - no, it won't be hypocritical - anything but. You'll see.). Figure out how you're going to do your inspections; and then, from day one, do them that way no matter what. As Jim remarked above, some agents will like you and some won't, so if you are consistent and thorough and concentrate on good customer service skills with your real customers - the buyers (Most of the time). Agents that are truly concerned about their clients and who want a good inspection will remember you - the rest can go sit on a salt block for all I care. The biggest reason folks feed at the realtor trough is that they believe that there is no other cost-effective way to market directly to the consumer. It's BS. I know because I started in '96 and quit marketing to agents 9 months into this business. If one can't succeed in this gig without marketing to agents, how did I manage to keep at it for 23 years when 80% of all new inspectors leave the business after only two years? Flyers? Newspaper ads? Radio? Television? Yellow Pages? Constantly visiting agent offices and dropping off gifts? Spending 16 to 20 hours a week going to brokers opens? Nah, none of that - I literally spent about $20 bucks a year on marketing - what it cost to have a thousand business cards printed up by Vistaprint, and I haven't crossed the threshold of a real estate office (except to talk to my agent about my own home buying) since about 1998. You have to think outside of the box that most home inspection trainers, real estate agents and established inspectors will try to keep you in. Before you start officially, do some inspections on the homes of your friends - as many as you can. Find out where you are comfortable and where you need to do some more studying. Establish a comfortable rhythm and then stick to it. Decide on a report format and use each of those practice inspections to get comfortable with whatever method you are using to write your reports. When you are ready to start, go by realtor offices in your area and strike up a friendly relationship with the receptionists. Your object will be to find one that will be willing to provide you a copy of the schedule of the brokers' open houses. It took me about ten offices, where I casually left little gifts with the receptionists along with my card before I found one who was willing to provide me a bootleg copy of the weekly schedule of brokers opens. For the next few months, I dropped in on her every Monday morning, chatted with her for about five minutes and left her a little box of candy. Like clockwork, when the schedule for the brokers opens came out, she'd fax the thing over to me. (After I got up and running, I didn't need her lists anymore, so I stopped visiting and didn't have to drop off any more poggey bait for her). On brokers open days, go by and visit as many as you can. Don't hang out and try to suckup like so many do - that is only going to give them the opportunity to interrogate you to find out what you are all about. For most, that means determining whether you are malleable and not a deal killer. Don't give them that chance. Just stop in, say hi, introduce yourself, tell 'em that you know they have their own preferred group of inspectors they like to work with, but that you are betting that, once they've worked with you just one time, they're either going to add you to that list or bump someone else. Then look at your watch, tell 'em you have to go because you've got an inspection to get to, and get the hell out of there. Most of them will act like you've got a hole in your head. Don't try to convince them, just be matter of fact and, as you're going out the door, say something like, "Seriously, it'll only take one time and I know you're going to want to have me on that list. Don't think so? I dare you to refer to one of your clients one time. You'll see." It's like tossing chum into the water for sharks - they get curious and want to investigate. Figure that most are going to wait until you are out of sight and then they'll toss your card - but a few will keep it. How fast one or more of them actually take you up on the dare depends on how many you manage to bait. For me, I got my first bite using that technique later in the same week. She was what I call a realtorzoid - a manipulative b***h that didn't care anymore about her clients than she did about a bug on a windshield. I arrived on-site, did my thing with the client and contract and got started. All during the inspection, she kept trying to catch my eye and kept sending me body English clues that she wanted me to pick up on - I ignored all of them. As the length of the inspection went past the length she expected me to be there, she started getting fidgety and kept looking at her watch. She even tried pointing at her wristwatch while standing behind the client where I could see her while I was talking to the client. I ignored her. At the end of the inspection, I could tell by the look in her eyes that I'd never hear from her again, but I didn't care - I had gotten a job and got paid and I knew that I'd hear from the client again and the client's friends and relatives. So, what did I do there? I did a bait and switch on her. When I stopped into her open house and dared her to refer me, I left her with the impression that I'd be her guy, and, to verify it, she took the dare and referred me the one time that I needed her to. It put a fee in my pocket, food on my table and I was able to identify a 'zoid and knew what to expect on the off chance that she'd call me again one day (See did, years later - to inspect a home for a client who was a powerful local litigation attorney. In that case she wanted thorough and careful.). You continue doing this for as long as you need to in order to stay afloat long enough to get on the list of agents that don't expect you to feed at their trough. You are mining - mining for honest non-manipulative agents that have their client's interests at heart and will most-probably refer you in the future. Are you making enemies? Sure - but you don't need them as friends. Afraid they'll run back to their offices and drop a dime on you and nobody from that office will ever want to refer anyone to you ever? So what? If they are that kind of office you don't need their BS anyway - best you learn it early. Besides, I found that even in those offices with the most manipulative agents there were always one or two who, hearing the other agent bellyache, had jotted down my name and called me later on. A few even told me about how upset the other agent had been with me and told me it was because of that they'd referred me to their clients. That's the kind of referral you want - not one that you got because you were sucking up, feeding at their trough and putting up with their b**ls**t. Now, while you are doing the bait and switch, build the foundation for your business. Everyone today is on social media. Get yourself a FB page and learn to use it to your best advantage. If you aren't familiar with it, take a night course at your local community college on FB marketing and web placement. There are other similar platforms. I haven't bothered to use them 'cuz I don't need to. You can explore them too. Go to Google and search "The largest employers in (list your area) and take down that list. Then, starting with the one that employs the most people, find out if they have some kind of intranet forum (similar to this one) where they talk to each other. It used to be that only really large employers like Microsoft, Google, G.E., G.M., Ford, etc. had those, but these days just about every moderately-sized employer has them. It can even be a private, company-only group on FB as well as a dedicated back room on their company website. Figure out where you are going to price your work. Don't make the mistake of low-balling. If you start off as a bottom feeder, you'll always be a bottom feeder, and, most of the time you'll end up doing the kinds of inspections home inspectors hate. Find out who the ten top HI companies are in your area, find out what they charge, calculate the average price for an inspection and then add $50. Then, as people begin calling you to talk about scheduling an appointment get to know a little bit about them so that you'll know what kind of a customer you'll have and will be prepared on the day of the inspection to either deal with someone who hasn't the faintest idea how a home is built or how they work or you'll be dealing with someone who is good with his or her hands and once worked construction. While you are finding that out, find out where they work. If the person works for one of those large employers that has an internal forum of some sort when it comes time to discuss pricing, give them the quote but then ask if they want to save $50. They'll never say no. Explain that, after you've completed your inspection, if they like the thoroughness of the inspection, and if, after receiving the written report, they like the completeness of the report, they'd be willing to tell their fellow employees at such-and-such-company about your little company, you'd be willing to take $50 off the price of the inspection. I've never had one say they were not willing to do that. I've had a few ask, "Well, what if I don't like the inspection or the report - will I have to pay the extra $50?" I just smiled and told them I was sure that wasn't going to be the case, but, if they did not like my work they did not have to post anything and the price reduction still went. It starts off slow but then it speeds up. Before you know it, if you are consistent and you are diligent about having those folks tell their fellow workers about you by putting the name of your company on that internal message board where they can always come back and find it again, you'll be getting calls from folks who called you because they know they'll not only get an awesome inspection, but because they'll know that all they'll have to do is share some info about you on social media and they'll get $50 off the price of the inspection. In 2008 - 2009, when over 15,000 agents a month were losing their shirts and getting out of real estate, a whole lot of inspectors who feed at the trough went along with them. Without those agents, they had no idea what to do and they lost their shirts. I know one guy who had several investment properties - he had to sell one at a loss in order to keep his head above water. At the same time, because I'd concentrated on the largest employers in my area, when other homeowners began losing their homes many of those employees were in a position to purchase those bank-owned properties at fire sale prices and they called me up - sometimes to inspect two or three jobs in a row as they searched for investment properties. Instead of worrying about where the next job was coming because of the recession, I was referring jobs to other inspectors because I was booked and couldn't handle the additional work. It's a business where you have to play the long game and you have to do it like a pro. If you start off begging for work and selling your time at lowball prices, that's where you'll always be - going hat in hand to the agents and doing POS homes. Concentrate on the solid employers with well-paid employees who have staying power and accept referrals from honest agents instead of from 'zoids and you'll still be around years from now. ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!! Mike
  6. Hi Les, Remember a while back when they were producing paint mixed with ceramic beads? The big selling thing was that the ceramic was supposed to slow passage of heat down through a roof in summer and slow heat loss in winter. If that's even a real thing. Could it be dependent on the type of ceramic? Could your tile be glazed with a type of ceramic that resists thermal transfer? I have no f*****g idea. It's just a wild guess based on some foggy s**t saved in an old file on my organic hard drive. ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!! Mike
  7. Lots of them built on those here too, except the ground under them isn't nearly as level as that.
  8. Hi Jerry, I haven't had E & O in 18 years. Have had GL through Liberty Mutual.
  9. It seems like if they were using them to hold them down on a truck during the delivery they'd have done it on every one of them. No?
  10. I think it would work, but I'd be nervous about having it up in a hot attic unless it was treated so it wouldn't burn. I don't know how true it is, but someone once told me that Silva Wool was tossed into a tank filled with a water/borate mix and then stirred for a certain amount of time to ensure it absorbed enough borate to make it fire resistant. Then the solution was drained away and the Silva Wool was dumped into a big tumbler and air dried before it was packaged. If I was going to put that stuff in my attic, I'd probably try and duplicate that Silva Wool technique on the stuff first so I wouldn't ever have to worry about the stuff spontaneously combusting in a 130° attic. ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!! Mike
  11. Well, It being La-La Land an all, if California legislators are finally seriously going to start pushing to put some kind of regulation on home inspections, I cringe to think what the pols will come up with down there. In 2005 here in Washington State, one inspector got with a legislator and tried to create some kind of a "registration" scheme. Inspectors got wind of it, saw that it was seriously flawed and put pressure on the legislator to back it off. Then in January 2006 a senior state senator tried to push through her own version of a licensing law with a board that was top heavy with non-inspectors - educators, realtors and engineers and not a single inspector. Even before that legislator submitted her first version of a licensing law to the Senate, the local ASHI chapter got wind of her planes and began to marshal resistance to licensing. Then another association got wind of what the local ASHI guys were doing and tried to throw up their own road blocks. It soon became a contest to see who was resisting more. It was a waste of time and energy. Some of us agreed that, no matter what we did to resist it, licensing was coming whether we liked it or not; and, if we continued to fight it, we inspectors were liable to end up on the outside looking in as those unaffiliated with our profession decided how best to regulate us. We wanted to have a say in our own destiny and didn't want it to be decided by a bunch of pols who were bitter about some inspection that didn't measure up to the pols' standards. We agreed that it needed to be something that was fair to both consumer and inspectors; and that it had to be a joint effort - not led by one association - and that even independents with no association standing needed to get involved. A coalition was formed and then a working group. For months, and then years, the coalition's working group worked to thwart that state Senator's efforts. Finally, unable to get her bill out of committee due to efforts by the coalition aided by ASHIWW's lobbyist, she came to the coalition hat in hand and agreed to listen to their concerns. Then, three days before submitting a third version of her proposed legislation, she asked the coalition to proof and edit her draft as necessary. Members of the coalition met on a Sunday and worked late into the evening to re-work the entire piece of legislation and then sent it back to her. Two days later, she submitted her bill in the Senate with a few tweaks of her own. The next day, as insurance against a double-cross (She'd double-crossed the coalition two years previously), the coalition had a State Representative friendly to the coalition drop a companion bill into the hopper in the house. The companion bill was identical to what they'd sent back to her on Sunday night, without her tweaks. Checkmate! She revised her version and agreed to the coalition's version, The bill sailed through the senate, went over to the house, the house voted to accept it as written and withdrew the companion bill and it got sent back to the senate and on to the Governor's desk. The Governor signed it and it became law 90 days later. The board consisted of seven inspectors - not a single realtor, not a single engineer (well, there was one inspector with an engineering degree and license, but he was chosen for his home inspector input and not because he was an engineer) and not a single non-inspector educator - there was a requirement that one home inspector, who was an educator, hold one position. There was also a requirement that, as much as possible, the board would consist of at least one member from each major association, as well as at least one independent. Two months after that, the Governor appointed a State Advisory Licensing board - some of whom were members of the coalition - made up of members of all major associations plus independents - and the board got to work creating all of the rules for licensing, continuing education, schools, a state SOP that was unique and not a carbon copy of an association's SOP and an enforceable code-of-ethics. By the time the first licensing deadline for established inspectors came around, the framework was in place. In the end, those already in the business were required to prove they had been in the business for a minimum number of years, had done a specific number of inspections and had passed the National Home Inspector's Exam (NHIE), the only inspectors exam that had been crafted with the assistance of psychometricians, the point being to require all inspectors in the state to prove they had the basic knowledge needed to do inspections by passing that exam, regardless of their time in the business. Those new to the business were required to prove they'd completed the mandatory number of training hours, that they'd spent 40 hours accompanying a licensed inspector and had written a specific number of reports, and they were required to pass the NHIE. All of the time the coalition was working to put together something that would be good for inspectors and consumers alike, they were met by resistance from those in the profession who were opposed to licensing. Lots of folks reviled them on the net - claiming that those on the coalition were designing a system that would put them above others and enrich them and that it was all a money grab by the state - never mind that it was required to be an un-funded revenue-neutral program that paid for itself and made almost no money. One group of about thirty five inspectors put together their own bill and got a legislator from the east side of the state to craft legislation that would allow them to be exempted from the law's requirements. They were so confident that they would get things their way that they refused meet the requirements for experienced inspectors; and then, three months before the deadline for new inspectors to have completed all of the licensing requirements, that group had their legislator drop their bill into the hopper in Olympia. A public hearing was scheduled to get public input on the bill. The coalition had representatives at the hearing to speak in favor of the current law as written, and against that group's attempt to do an end-run around the new law. The meeting chairman sent the bill to committee, which essentially killed the bill, because it couldn't get out of committee before the deadline for new inspectors came around. That group of 35 found that they had to get the mandatory number of hours of training and pass the NHIE, just like the rookies had to, before they could be licensed. About half of them failed the NHIE - some of them failed it multiple times - and about a quarter of them quit the profession. Imagine that - inspectors - some of whom had been in the business in excess of fifteen years by then - who tried to make an end run around the new law because they claimed to have superior experience, and to already know all they needed to know to be great inspectors, failed an exam designed to gauge a rookie inspector's competency. Who'da thunk it? If there was ever an example of why inspectors should never be grandfathered unless/until they'd passed the NHIE, that was it! The law has been in place now for nine years. None of the coalition's working group started schools and got rich off of teaching inspectors. None of the terrible things happened to established inspectors that those opposing the legislation said would happen. No plethora of lawsuits against inspectors developed. The board meets every quarter when the state budget permits and lots of inspectors have had their say at the board meetings. The board has accepted some ideas and rejected others, as it should be, and the original board members, some of whom served for two terms, have all been replaced and new board members are continuing with the tradition of working to keep the law fair and reasonable for both inspectors and consumers. Down in California, if only one association tries to bird dog legislation designed to regulate all inspectors in the state, I can guaranty you it will turn into a pissing match between associations, pols there will write off the profession as a bunch of thugs and ner-do-wells and inspectors' concerns will be ignored. If California inspectors don't want to end up being saddled with stupid legislation they'd better put their petty little association differences aside, band together, roll up their sleeves and get ahead of whatever is being proposed down there or, I guaranty, they are going to end up with nightmare legislation.
  12. Well, When I was in everyone called it either a CH54 or a Sky Crane, but the military model name was Tarhe. At least that's what one of my NCO's called the one we were close to while sequestered on the green ramp at Pope AFB waiting to go do a pay jump. He pronounced it 'Tar-Hey', but he had a southern drawl as deep as the Atlantic trench and he used to pronounce all sorts of things odd - like vehicle wasn't 'vee-ick-ul' as I was taught to say it. With him it was 'vee(slight pause) hick-ul' with an emphasis on the H sound. As you may know, most US Army helicopters, for some reason, have been named after native American tribes or persons. Nobody I knew had ever heard of a Tarhe tribe, so it wasn't very memorable and just about everyone referred to them as a CH54.
  13. I was still in the Army when they retired those and sent them to the National Guard. We were sad to see them go. For a while they could be seen here and there when the NG outfits that had them were drilling but after a while we didn't see them anymore.
  14. Nope, Lyctids. I'd bet a Mars bar on it. ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!! Mike
  15. Around here I'd say, The average home inspection company going bankrupt around here charges around $315 for a typical home inspection; and for condos and small homes under 1,000 sq ft. charges as little as $200. That's a real good example why about 80% of new inspectors fail and go out of business within two years. Don't want to go bankrupt? Your fees need to be high enough to pay you a living wage. Determine how much you need to make per hour, day, week, month, annually in order to make a living wage and then set your inspection fees high enough to reach your income objective.
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