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I want to be a home inspector, but!


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I want to be a home inspector, but!

Over the past year I have noticed a marked change in the attitudes, perceptions and the general demeanor of home inspectors across the country. The prevailing theme behind most of grumbling has to due with regulation of the industry and the additional steps and in some of the instances obstacles that are put in front of the home inspectors in obtaining the required license or registration.

I spoke of obstacles; for some reason the authors of legislation to regulate home inspectors have included steps in the regulations that make it extremely difficult for a new person to enter into this profession. The largest obstacle as I see it is the number of required inspections that an inspector must do before they can become licensed in the particular state. The next obstacle would be the enormous amount and the limited or select providers of pre-license education hours that are required by a couple of states. Fortunately this is only in a couple of states and with any luck over the next few years changes may occur, but it will take many voices in unison to do it. Threats and misinformation and pointing the finger will not do it. Today I found a post on one of the forums from a person who had written a letter to a state legislator; this letter sounded real good and had some very strong points, but it was very inaccurate and slanted toward the authors agenda. It would not take much research to show this and make the author of this letter look like a fool.

Much ado has been made of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) as being the leading force behind the push for the regulation of our industry. I don’t think that the regulation of the home inspector profession can be credited to ASHI, at least on a national level; I think that this might hold some credibility on the local front however. With ASHI having over 6500 members across the nation and Canada and with a good majority of those belonging to various chapters across the country it is just logical that those home inspectors who are in states that have licensing or are in the process of being licensed are going to belong to ASHI. I think that we have some very strong chapters that have been active in many states. Legislators listen to the local constituents for the most over outsiders I have found.

ASHI did and does offer a model of home inspector legislation for anyone to use, and as far as I know they were the first home inspector origination to do this and they are still the only one that has developed model legislation for this profession. Unfortunately some local inspector groups/chapters have modified the model legislation, or have crafted self serving legislation that gives the outward appearance of trying to limit competition into this profession. It is an unfortunate but this has happened. One of the reasons as I see it, for having poor legislation become law is the lack of input in the beginning from inspectors. I have seen it happen in my state first hand, other inspectors took the back seat while a few inspectors pushed or spearheaded legislation. If your not going to be involved than you will need to accept what has been put on you plate, irregardless if you like it on not.

If you scan the various internet forums that cater to the home inspector profession it does not take long to see the various levels of strife that many inspectors are facing in the way of competition. New inspectors can have a difficult time breaking into the market especially when a strong home inspector group of chapter has done a good job in marketing their members to the real estate profession and the general public.

So what can you do? The easiest thing would be to try and become part of that group. If joining with the dominate group/chapter of home inspectors is not possible you will then need to set yourself apart from your competition by offering specialized services or product. One golden rule however is that you should never talk bad about you competition, and don’t whine and complain about your competition to the person you are trying to get referrals from, it really looks bad and is not professional. Would you do business with a person who is complaining about their competition? I doubt that you would.

The best advice I can give is based only on my personal observations and experience. If you chose this profession because you were under the impression that you could make a lot of money with very little outlay of cash and only work a few days a week than you have chosen the wrong profession. Over the past few years I have spoken with many former home inspectors, all of them had similar stories. They felt like this was an easy profession to break into with little effort and only a few hours of work a day and that they could start up on a shoestring budget. Another common misconception was that they could join an association and have instant credibility among their peers and the public. From what I can tell much of this misinformation is being introduced by some of our home inspector trainers and schools, they make this profession sound like it is the best thing since sliced bread simply to insure a constant supply of new student. This is not a difficult profession but it is demanding and requires a certain amount of personal ethics and the ability to adapt and learn.

All you can do is to do your job to the best of you ability and to provide a service to your clients as if they were part of your family. If you do this as a home inspector and you are consistent, level headed and honest you stand a very good chance in making it in this profession. Survive for two years and you stand a 50% chance in making it to your third year. Survive your third year and you stand a 75% chance in making it to your fourth year. Survive the fourth year and you have a 90% chance in making it to your fifth year. Survive your fifth year and you can say that you have made it!

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Well written Scott. I think the reason you hear people blame ASHI for the licensing thing, is because to a great amount what they say is true. I was on ASHI National BOD 2 different times for a total of 5 years since 1993 and I'm gonna tell you that a great amount of the BOD's decisions about anything and everything were made with the thought of "How Will That Make Us Look If Licensure Keeps Coming".

ASHI never took a STAND or USED their VAST MEDIA CONTACTS to FIGHT IT ANYWHERE UNLESS it threatened ASHI ITSELF - even when local ASHI Inspectors almost BEGGED for HELP.

Then when many BIG RELATED GROUPS figured out how HUGE a MONEYMAKING business HI could be, especially if you have MANDATORY LICENSURE with the TRAINING and RELATED things - well say no more. Here It Came Needed Or Not.

Some Guys Actually Think That A LICENSE gives them some type of Credibility, and without it they have none. AMAZING.

Dan Bowers

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Home inspection Professionals have been struggling with this issue for many years. How do we maintain a high standard and do our best to assure clients that being a member of a professional society and/or holding a state license will raise the bar for this profession?

At the same time, how do we do this fairly without excluding those that are qualified, but don't have all of the right "T's" crossed and "I's" dotted? In New Jersey there are some people that can do a good home inspection but do not have the miminum number of inspections documented to become licensed. These people are left out.

Many argue that licensing has been in process for quite a few years and it was not difficult to do what was needed, if you planned properly.

Some of those that are left out are working with lobbyists and legislators to amend the requirements. Others are fighting to keep them unchanged because they feel that this will water-down the law and lower the bar (and of course this will increase competition).

This is a waste of a lot of time and money. We should all be working together to improve our profession

In New Jersey, I think the best way to deal with those that are in this Limbo position is to develop a process that will allow a State Board review of the applicant on an individual basis. We have all come from very diverse experiences and it is difficult to write a law that will cover all bases. Let the applicant use any means they want to prove their abilities that they can do an inspection. Using this information, the Board can make a decision to grant or deny a license. This licensing path should only be available for a set period of time and would help these people to become licensed. After the time period has expired, and the requirements have been set, nobody can cry foul because they did not have the chance to become licensed.

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One item left out of the discussion entirely (and that I find amazingly dense), is there is no attempt by any accrediting agency to determine if the applicant can write a report to the required SOP of that individuals state. Or write a report. Or write, period. Or even communicate effectively.

We will continue to wallow in the backwaters of all the above issues, and our profession will continually be edging around moron status, as long as there are goofy matrix/checlist/3 Ring Binder encyclopedia report systems. Don't look for this to change anytime soon (or anytime @ all). For those wishing to "break in", but seem unable to do so, try learning how to write; that would immediately place you in the 1% of inpsectors capable of performing the hardest part of the job.

It astounds me no end that we seem to be the only "profession" completely eschewing writing as a form of communication. If you asked for a report written to your (whatever) required SOP, I think you'd find 7/8 of inspectors currently working couldn't do it, & would be offended that it was a requirement.

Oh, & BTW, nice little statement, Scott.

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Originally posted by kurt

One item left out of the discussion entirely (and that I find amazingly dense), is there is no attempt by any accrediting agency to determine if the applicant can write a report to the required SOP of that individuals state. Or write a report. Or write, period. Or even communicate effectively.

Oh, & BTW, nice little statement, Scott.

Well said Kurt and Scott. Report writng is over 50% of the job, and the most important part. I am technically challenged in many areas, but I can write. And feedback tells me I do a good job as an inspector, even though I leave most jobs feeling like my inspection came up a little short.

If you are conscientious and want to do a good job, this is one profession (and yes, it is a profession) that you will never be as good as you want to be.

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Amongst HI's, this is an unresolvable issue. There are too many different strongly held ideas about whether there should be licensing and how high to set the bar. As long as this is the case we're going to continue to see all manner of laws enacted, ranging from the reasonable and straight-forward to the absurd and convaluted.

Those who have a significant financial interest in getting particular requirements included will continue to have influence, because they will participate and lobby. Those who choose to dismiss the process will not. I think it makes more sense for HI's to participate and work toward a reasonable law than to withdraw and curse a bad one. In the end, I would bet money that few if any states will not have licensing, like it or not.

In the eyes of the general public a license does lend credibility, whether it actually means anything or not. If anyone feels this is the only credibility they have, God help them.

I believe regulation in some form is needed and inevitable. The idea that an educated public / consumer is the best regulation may be theorhetically accurate, but is hopelessly detached from the everyday realities of our society. Can anyone name a single profession or industry where this is working today? I can't. We simply do not have the time, energy, and interest to become sophistocated in every form of business touching our lives, and that will never change.

Therefore I stick to my previous statements on this subject.

A good law is better than no law.

A bad law is worse than no law.

In the absence of a law, nothing is illegal. I have a competitors' report on my desk right now, from a house we both inspected in a short space of time. It's the second time I've come behind him, and found the same thing on both occasions. He's a realtors' whore in the worst way, and his reports clearly reflect that. At the moment I'm trying to decide whether to file a complaint with the state in an effort to put him out of business, or at least move him to the edge of the cliff for the next time. What he's doing is illegal here, we have a law.

Brian G.

On the Right Side of the Law [:-cowboy]

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Hi,

Like Kurt, it gripes me to no end that there is no requirement, or even an expectation, that home inspectors should be able to express themselves competently in writing. I think that if there were, and inspectors were required to submit a written report to an examiner for review, or to at least pass a high school English level test, that we'd see a lot of folks leave the profession. Would all of them be incompetent to inspect? No, but since communication and recording your findings are half the battle, they'd be incompetent as far as reporting is concerned and you can't have one without the other.

If that were to happen, the entire professional could practically overnight demand higher fees because we'd no longer be competing with Billy-Joe and his one-page checklists.

As to licensing. Everyday when I log on I go straight to the front page to see what the latest results are with that licensing pole. I've been finding it interesting that for the past several weeks the numbers have remained at the same ratio - about 27% against, 3% undecided, and 69-70% for licensing. It's a tiny pole and probably doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, but for those logging on that have bothered to participate, the ratio of those for licensing outnumbers those against by better than a 2 to one margin. That's something to think about. [:-magnify]

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I have no desire to stick my fingers in anyones' eyes on this, but I would also note that eveyone who currently operates under a license law and posted on this subject was at least mildly positive about it. The only exception was our freind in Washington state who is trapped under an absurd requirement to be licensed under some WDI law (A good illustration of "A bad law is worse than no law"?).

Brian G.

License Hairdresser's But Not HI's? [:-boggled]

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Brian,

HI's in MA became licensed in May 2001 and I objected to it every step of the way. The portion of our law which prohibits real estate agents from referring home inspectors (perhaps you've heard of it?) is about the only part that is having any effect as far as I can tell.

They made it so difficult to break into this business that when every other inspector in the state is retired in 10 years, there may only be a dozen of us left to do inspections. An enviable position for me, but not very good for the consumer. Bring on the monkeycams!!

To be truthful, my objections are almost entirely philosophical and wouldn't be much different if I were a milkman, musician, or a fish monger.

From the frozen North,

Jim

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Originally posted by Jim Morrison

HI's in MA became licensed in May 2001 and I objected to it every step of the way.

Exception duely noted Jim, and now I ask the same of you. You wrote that every HI you'd ever heard favor a license law wanted the bar set just high enough for him to be the last one over. The bar was set in my state before I made the move, but I support it where it is (although I might like to revisit the E&O issue).

The hard-to-get-in part, is that one of those indentured servant set-ups? I must refer again to my second statement regarding bad laws.

I can sympathise with the philosophical ideals, I just don't think they translate well to everyday reality as we know it.

Brian G.

Realist 1st, Idealist 2nd (usually)

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