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The TIJ story


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Sure,

In 1998, Bill Odom, and inspector from Ohio and myself both attended the yearly mandatory 3-day training seminar put on by the franchise network we belonged to. We got to talking about the state of the profession and the discussion turned to how so many inspectors we'd met at various training events we'd attended seemed to be clueless about a myriad of stuff that we considered very basic and beginner level topics.

We'd both noticed that unless one belonged to one of the associations and subscribed to whatever monthly newsletter or magazine that the association put out, one was not likely to be able to keep abreast of all of the changes taking place in construction or within the home inspection field. We thought that it would be a good idea if there was an independent magazine out there for home inspectors; one that was non-denominational and would share information with all inspectors - beginners as well as experienced - without the usual chest pounding that one saw from the Associations. At that time, we saw the ASHI Reporter and the NAHI Forum as the competition and decided that by hook or by crook we were going to start that magazine.

Bill returned to Ohio and we continued to discuss the topic via email for about a year; during which time I came up the the name - the Inspector's Journal. However, the whole idea sort of went in the crapper around the end of 1999 when Bill was having disagreements with the franchiser. One day I received notice from Bill that he'd sold his franchise and was signing on as an AHJ with a local municipality. He wished me good luck and that's probably the last time I ever heard from him.

I'm not a very organized person and I knew absolutely nothing about publishing. I knew that without the help of someone who is more organized than I am I could never get a magazine off the ground, so the idea got tucked on a shelf in the back of my mind and I busied myself with my business.

One morning in April of 2000 I went off a roof, got busted up pretty badly and spent the next few months unable to work. When I recovered and got back to work, I found out that many of the realtors who'd been referring work to me prior to my accident had moved on to other inspectors. Then, though I was physically able to work, I had vertigo so bad that looking up at the ceiling, the underside of floors while in the crawlspace, or at the upper part of a house or the roof would start the world spinning. It was so bad that on a few jobs I actually stumbled and fell down. I'm sure some folks thought that I was drunk on the job, though I don't drink, and more agents started moving on to other inspectors.

By the end of 2000 I was in constant conflict with the franchiser; they'd called me to ask me to come down to headquarters more than once for "a talk" and I was fed up with it. The straw that broke the camel's back was when I did a house for an old Army buddy's son and the agent whined to company headquarters that my 4 hour inspection had cost her some appointments and my report had been far too severe. There was also the fact that I told my friend's son that it was a good thing he hadn't hired the guy she'd recommended - one of the other franchisees - 'cuz the guy does about five or six inspections a day and would have probably missed half of the stuff I'd found. Headquarters didn't exactly like the fact that I'd dissed one of the other guys, even if he did deserve it. The upshot of all that was that I put my franchise up for sale in November 2000 and on January 3, 2001 sold it. That began a one year non-compete period during which I ran two companies; a company called Bungalow Rescue, where I helped homeowners rescue their turn-of-the-century craftsman bungalows from years of neglect or hare-brained remuddling, and Your Inspector, my current inspection company. For the next year, in between rescue jobs I did inspections outside of a 25-mile radius around my old territory.

In June of 2001, I began moderating the Building Science Forum for JLC Online.com and it revived the idea of the Inspector's Journal. I figured that it had to be easier to put together a website like JLC Online than it was to publish a monthly magazine and get it mailed out to thousands of subscribers month-after-month-after-month. Still, I knew next to nothing nothing about computers, let alone websites, so I put it on the back burner again.

In the fall of 2001, as the end of my non-compete period neared, I was casting around on the net looking for a software program to replace the proprietary one that the franchise used. I'd spent over $800 the year before for the InspectIt program and I'd grown to hate it in less than 50 inspections. I needed something that was more versatile and could be better customized. That's when I stumbled upon Inspect Express while googling. I downloaded a trial copy and tried the sample program. I liked the fact that even a compu-idiot like me could figure out how to use it without even reading the instructions and I liked the way that it wrote a narrative report; so I went directly to DevWave's site to check out the program. That's when I noticed that DevWave was looking for a US distributor. Since business basically sucked at the time and my wife was wearing out the carpet pacing with worry, I thought maybe I could fill in the gaps by hawking software. I don't remember whether I called or emailed them; but I contacted Mike and Rose about the US distributor position.

Not long after that, Mike called me and said that he was more interested in getting my help rebuilding Inspect Express. He explained that he and Rose were programmers but they knew next to nothing about home inspections and what home inspectors would like to see in a report. He felt that with the help of a home inspector he could greatly improve the program and make it state-of-the-art. I asked Mike something like, "What's in it for me?" and he asked me, "What do you want?" I thought about it for a few seconds and then it hit me; these guys were programmers, they understood computers and websites and such. I said, "I want a webzine." He asked, "A webzine? What's that?" I explained it to him. He said, "We can do that," and on January 31, 2002 the first version of TIJ debuted.

Now you know the rest of the story.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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A few months ago, I had a hiatus here with a couple members of the 'upper caste' and joined a few other forums, but it didn't feel the same. Makes me wonder if a larger membership is desired here at TIJ or if the existing membership feels that too many newcomers would 'spoil the neighborhood'.

Marc

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Yeah, it's pretty cool. I remember Mike calling and talking about it, and me going "uh huh". The first couple weeks, it was basically Mike posting, and me going "uh huh". Then, I did a "report" from the ASHI conference. Jimmy and Katen showed up in there somewhere between reports, then Fabry poked in green as a grasshopper. Erby and a bunch of the "old timers" showed up around the same time.

It's the only continually useful inspectors forum.

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... joined a few other forums, but it didn't feel the same.

That's because this is a room full of really smart guys that happen to all like to talk about housey stuff, not a room full of chest thumping primates who only care about who's tool is biggest.

Makes me wonder if a larger membership is desired here at TIJ or if the existing membership feels that too many newcomers would 'spoil the neighborhood'.

All too often the newcomers step in flexing their muscles and fanning their feathers attempting to get noticed. Most can't take the blow to their ego when the membership here tries to gently put them in their place, so they leave. Some put up a fight and get removed. The good ones find a place here.

Tom

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I joined to meet chicks, but that never really panned out. I stayed for the witty banter.

I think that this is -by a long shot- the HI forum with the fewest unearned egos, which is what I like most about it. I honestly can't remember when I joined, or when I last checked in with another forum. Why bother?

Mike, Mike & Rose deserve a lot of credit for all of the work they put into making it happen. Actually, they deserve a lot of money, but I guess they're going to have to settle for a lot of credit for now.

Also, there are no 'castes' in this field. Let's be honest: The field of 'home inspection' resides on the bottommost rung on the RE ladder, which -viewed from a global perspective- is little more than a footstool in the grand scheme of life. We all work really hard for our clients for way too little dough. The recognized masters in this field have consistently been more than generous with their time and expertise. In the process, several of them have become my friends. Hanging out with them on internet forums like this one makes me a better inspector and human being. So, thanks to Katen, Hansen, Mitenbuler, Fabry, and Van Alstine, too.

With much more to learn,

Jimmy

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Also, there are no 'castes' in this field. Let's be honest: The field of 'home inspection' resides on the bottommost rung on the RE ladder, which -viewed from a global perspective- is little more than a footstool in the grand scheme of life. We all work really hard for our clients for way too little dough. The recognized masters in this field have consistently been more than generous with their time and expertise. In the process, several of them have become my friends. Hanging out with them on internet forums like this one makes me a better inspector and human being. So, thanks to Katen, Hansen, Mitenbuler, Fabry, and Van Alstine, too.

As a new guy myself, I think you Jimmy should place your name in that hat as well. The amount of knowledge that the members of this forum have is mind numbing. Kudos to all who take the time to help folks like myself who strive to be better.

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Also, there are no 'castes' in this field. Let's be honest: The field of 'home inspection' resides on the bottommost rung on the RE ladder, which -viewed from a global perspective- is little more than a footstool in the grand scheme of life. We all work really hard for our clients for way too little dough. The recognized masters in this field have consistently been more than generous with their time and expertise. In the process, several of them have become my friends. Hanging out with them on internet forums like this one makes me a better inspector and human being. So, thanks to Katen, Hansen, Mitenbuler, Fabry, and Van Alstine, too.

As a new guy myself, I think you Jimmy should place your name in that hat as well. The amount of knowledge that the members of this forum have is mind numbing. Kudos to all who take the time to help folks like myself who strive to be better.

Ditto to that. When you guys drop the knowledge I sometimes think I'm just too green... I know a little about a lot. Some of you guys seem to know a lot about it all, from foundation through the roof. Just amazing. I look forward to working with you guys for years to come. And I've come to realize you are my new workmates, we just don't have desks next to each other. Thanks for making this a great office!

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I think I was remiss in not mentioning how instrumental Jimmy, Jim K., Kurt, Rich, Bill, Les, Douglas Hansen, Mark Cramer, Chad, Scott Warga, Brian Goodman and many others were in helping Mike and Rose and I get this thing off the ground.

When we were ginning this thing up, Mike Brown sent me the URL to a hidden version of the site and I sent that along to those who I considered the best inspectors in the business and asked for their participation and input. They told me what was working and what wasn't and many later became TIJ's moderators and resident experts. Without these guys, TIJ wouldn't be anything, 'cuz I'm sure as hell not smart enough or experienced enough to provide the kind of advice and insight that all of these guys have provided over the years.

There are those that have passed too. Melvin Chalfen and I never met but we became fast phone friends and I spent many hours on the phone talking to Mel about my ideas about this profession. There was Norm Sage, our pool expert in Florida, who was such a significant contributor to TIJ in the early days - so much so that I've never had the heart to delete him from our moderator roles.

What you guys don't know is that many of these guys are a behind-the-scenes focus group that helps to keep things screwed on straight around here. It's a good thing we have them too or we would probably have gone belly-up long ago after I'd driven everyone away.

TIJ is a collaborative effort and a family.

Thank you all for being part of that family.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Yes, it's a great story. So you'll all be happey to hear that casting has begun for "TIJ - The Early Years" to be directed by Martin Scorsese.

Things are still in flux, but here's what the cast list looks like so far:

Mike O - Michael Chicklis

Mike B - Brad Pitt

Rose - Julia Roberts

Chad - Brad Garret

Kurt - Christopher Walken

Jim K - George Clooney

Jim M - Tom Hanks

Les - Sean Connery

Mark C - Robert DeNiro

Bill K - Nicholas Cage

Scott P - Woody Harrelson

Douglas - Robert Duvall

Walter - Tommy Lee Jones

They're sticking mostly to historical accuracy, but they'll be adding a character, played by Emma Thompson, who has a steamy affair with Jim K.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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