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Several of the regular TIJ participants have been adding their comments to various topics about qualifications, training, certifications, etc. Often the conversation has turned to experience, in one form or the other. We have been expounding on schools, training, continuing education and field experience.

My question is - How much money would you pay to have an experienced, notorious, sucessful home inspector critique your operation? Actually come to your town and ride with you, eat lunch with you, examine profitibility and generally make a pest of themselves. I am not offering myself up because you couldn't put up with me for five minutes!

I often talk with the newer folks and they always are saying how nice it would be to have a mentor. I am questioning that sincerity.

Comments?

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Boy les that can't be cheap. It's got to be at least a guys day rate times one day or two plus expenses. To have someone go coast to coast for a single one day event plus a day of traveling were talking $2000 - $3000 or more.

If were talking tour then may you can get it down near to a guys day rate. But even then were talking about $1000 don't you think?

Chris, Oregon

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John,

Even as great as the TIJ crew is, the communication thru a message board is limited. I complained about this a few months ago and Hausdok and others pointed out to me the necessity to go beyond the message boards and meet other brethren in person. Because of that advice I joined the local ASHI chapter here which by luck also resides Jim Katen. I can tell you it's awesome to be able to talk to Jim in person and pester him with questions. The feedback and responses I get back from Jim in person is something that just can't occur on a message board.

Business is slow this year and I hope it picks back up but it would be an honor to get one of these old farts time for a day and I know they would be worth every penny I paid them.

Your lucky you found TIJ early. I spent about 8 years doing it the dumbass way and even lurked here for a year or so until I got up the guts to submit my ego to criticism. Yeah, I whined at first like most of the new HI's do but if you want to get counted with the best you better be hanging with them.

Chris, Oregon

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The boards are incredible resources, but nothing fills in like riding along w/someone. A little story...

In (about) 1977-78, I called Walt Stoeppleworth and asked if I could come to Washington DC for a couple days to ride around w/his guys. First day I had Jack Reilly, and the second I rode around w/Mike Lennon; yep, both those guys worked for Walt. I remember Jack as being the warm hearted fellow he is, and Lennon was the speed talking maniac bent on world domination that he is. And Walt; Walt was a character. HomeTech was a "player" in those days.

One learns more about the biz w/face time than w/board time; there's all sorts of things to consider that can't be done online.

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Yeah I agree, business consultation from the right person could surely be a benefit to some.

Hey Les, what makes you think nobody could put up with you longer than 5 mins? That sounds like a challenge.

You cant be all that bad anyway. I say that because I have seen the way you offer your time to help others. Not only by posting on here but you suggest that people call you. These things tell me that you are a decent person in general.

I'll give you 10% of my YTD profit which is currently 0. Now if I can put up with you for longer than 5 mins, you give me 10% of your YTD.

Hehehehe...just kidding.

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What got me thinking was the cost of formal education thread here a few days ago. I happen to think like Kurt M and agree that there is no substitute for real face time. And from a personal perspective, I know how much I "steal" from every single inspector I have a chance to talk with.

I spent many years smokin' nasty cigs with JD Grewel outside ASHI meetings and conferences; we have/had great conversations and listened to hundreds of younger people tell war stories in the process of killing our lungs. Ya Ya, we both still smoke. I can recall several inspectors that participated in those conversations that have gone on to be leaders in the profession and I have to think JD G and I played a small role.

If formal education is a bit down the road, then why couldn't there be a formal mentoring program? I really do believe TIJ traveling road show version of Monty Python's Flying Circus would be both fun and educational.

In fact I have the patience of Job, but also have the verbal and physical passion of Ron Popeil! Sometimes the two characteristics get confused. Can't remember how many inspectors have called the office only to "never call again" because they really don't want to hear what I tell them. Especially those that have me critique their reports and I don't mean the WJ stuff!

During a down real estate market is the best time to learn, but also to teach. Your students will be the folks that are going to stay in the business.

PS: John, If I were anywhere close to you I would fake a house purchase with an agent and put you to the test!!

maybe more later.

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No, nothing obvious. They were working a file(s) that involved a particular real estate agency and inspector(s) that were made part of the "sale and transfer of real property", a violation of state law. Around this board we generally call that type inspector "agent's little helper".

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About 15 years ago ASHI instituted a mentoring program at my chapter (southeast chapter). As I had been in business only a couple years and struggling I signed up. Best move I ever made. He gave me on site mentoring for about 3 months averaging about 2 jobs a week, sometimes more. I made myself useful to him only if he asked me to. Otherwise I was like a fly on the wall. After a while he began giving me tasks and not checking behind me. The pay was great it consisted of experience only which is cheap at any price. This older inspector jumped started my career of which I am grateful. He was a great and generous man. Much to my sorrow he had a stroke and could not work. He started giving my number to contacts that he could not service any more and all of a sudden I was working 5, 6 and 7 days a week doing 2 and sometimes three jobs a day.

I have not seen Him in a few years as I dropped out of ashi after about 10 years. No particular reason I just got tired and every thing seemed to be repetitious.

Paul B.

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The agents involved in the sales were the target. At the time there was only two nationally recognized associations and I was a long time member of both. The idea was to bait the inspector and the agent into bending the "rules". By that point in time I was regularily using the phrase "I don't give a rip if you buy this house or not. blah blah blah". One female agent was fined several hundred dollars, and the other came thru unscathed.

These days my company always makes a statement regarding "buying the house". We use the same phrase each time and every inspector has a variation. The phrase is always used at the beginning of inspection - without fail!

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I have had a mentor for the past year or so. His name is Kevin O'Hornett with Prospex.

http://www.prospex.us/

I agree that message boards are a great resource for home inspectors, but it is limited. I can call Kevin from the field with ANY question. He has helped me with my business, report writing, and defect recognition.

-Kevin

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Kevin,

Good to see you neighbor.

Maybe you can help me with a question. What are some, if any, local state, county or municipality code issues here in Md that might differ from national building standards. What is a good source for me to gather info on local issues?

Many times the books and other material I read state things in general or on widely accepted terms. Then they finish up with, "check your local codes to be sure".

I myself do not intend to be citing codes in my reporting. However I do wish to ever expand my knowledge of code so I can use that knowledge to help me identify problems. Both common sense and code knowledge will be used to identify things. When it comes to reporting, I plan to avoid citing code and try mainly to explain things via the common sense approach.

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Originally posted by AHI

Kevin,

Good to see you neighbor.

Maybe you can help me with a question. What are some, if any, local state, county or municipality code issues here in Md that might differ from national building standards. What is a good source for me to gather info on local issues?

Many times the books and other material I read state things in general or on widely accepted terms. Then they finish up with, "check your local codes to be sure".

I myself do not intend to be citing codes in my reporting. However I do wish to ever expand my knowledge of code so I can use that knowledge to help me identify problems. Both common sense and code knowledge will be used to identify things. When it comes to reporting, I plan to avoid citing code and try mainly to explain things via the common sense approach.

Here are a few sites that will help you on your thirst for knowledge.

http://www.aacounty.org/IP/PAC/BuildingCodes.cfm

http://permittingservices.montgomerycou ... nfbldc.asp

http://www.wsscwater.com/business/cadd/index.cfm

If you are going to be inspecting in Montgomery, Prince George's Counties and Washington DC, then you should get familiar with the WSSC Plumbing Code. The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission regulates the plumbing and gas fitting codes for these areas. The third link above will take you to the building codes. I called them a few years ago and ordered the code books, so I have them in my library.

I believe Maryland goes off the 2003 IRC and DC follows the 2000 IBC. I'm not a big code thumper, so to be honest, I am not familiar with any specific issues with local or city revisions to the IRC or IBC. However, as stated above, the WSSC has its own revision of the 2003 IRC Plumbing Code.

You still have yet to contact me about ride-a-longs. The offer still stands, so just shoot me an email. I wish someone would have helped me when I was starting, it would have been a lot easier.

I was just in your neck of the woods (Annapolis) this past Friday. The house I inspected had a lot of issues like aluminum wiring, Stab-Lok breaker panel, and voids in firewall integrity, so it would have been a good learning house for you. These are common and well known issues, but nothing like seeing them in the field rather than reading about them in a book.

Hope this helps.

-Kevin

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Kevin,

I have been ready to ride along. I thought the last thing you said on the issue was you would let me know when the timing was right. Maybe our lines of communication got crossed. Last Friday would have been perfect for me. I will shoot you an email later today or better yet I may call your business line if that is ok. We could hash out details much quicker on the phone.

Thanks again for extending the offer and thanks for posting the links on local codes. I will be in contact.

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Originally posted by Les

My question is - How much money would you pay to have an experienced, notorious, successful home inspector critique your operation? Actually come to your town and ride with you, eat lunch with you, examine profitability and generally make a pest of themselves. I am not offering myself up because you couldn't put up with me for five minutes!

I often talk with the newer folks and they always are saying how nice it would be to have a mentor. I am questioning that sincerity.

Comments?

For this to be viable I think you need to find where three different things intersect: the value of the time of the person providing the service, the value of the service to the inspector, and the ability of the inspector to pay for it.

I can't imagine that a person who is qualified to provide this service (one-on-one on-site home inspection business consulting) to inspectors would do it cheaply, unless he was independently wealthy and had a streak of philanthropy in his blood. How many times have I heard those experienced, notorious, successful home inspectors tell the new guys and the established low-ballers to price themselves based on what they are worth?

The value of the service to the inspector, I suspect, is not constant during the lifespan of that inspector's career. I think the value starts off low, reaches a peak, and then tails off.

The inspector's ability to pay is going to start out low, and then either get lower or gradually increase depending on how well his business goes.

I've had some training and experience as a trainer of adult learners. One of the rules of thumb that we used when we designed and delivered training programs was: tell them how to do it, show them how to do it, watch them do it.

For a guy who is just starting out, I see little value in having an experienced inspector tag along with him for a day or two of one-on-one consulting. He's just too green to reap the benefits of having that kind of intensive service. I think the new inspector would benefit more by tagging along with an experienced inspector as the experienced guy does his thing. A nice dinner and a 2 hour Q&A consulting session would be a nice way to finish off the day.

Once the new guy has gotten his feet wet, I think he is in the best position to learn and benefit from having the consultant spend the day with him. He's started to develop a routine and get a feel for the business, so there is something of substance there for the consultant to observe and to advise him about. The new guy is also past that "everything is new" point where he is suffering from information overload so he's more receptive to learning.

Once the new guy has gotten through those first few tough years and has steady work coming in, I think the value (to him) starts to tail off as he gains confidence that he's "made it". At this point the guys who would be willing to pay the $$$ necessary to have the consultant come to them for one-on-one sessions are going to be those few who have that work ethic of always trying to be the best at whatever they do.

Just to try to put what I'm talking about into a frame of reference that many of you can relate to, I'll use the ASHI membership levels as a guideline.

During first 50 paid inspections: I think the inspector would receive greater benefits by watching the experienced inspector work (all aspects of the business) vs having the experienced inspector watch him.

From 50 - 250 inspections: the sweet spot. These are the guys who would benefit the most by having the experienced inspector watch them work. The one or two days that the consultant comes to visit could be the difference between this guy "making it" or flaming out.

250+ inspections: As the inspector gains confidence and begins to see steady work coming in, he'll begin to see less value in paying for outside help.

Brandon

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250+ inspections: As the inspector gains confidence and begins to see steady work coming in, he'll begin to see less value in paying for outside help.

I have been in the business for 5.5 years. There were a few years when I averaged over 800 inspections a year. I see a great value in this service at this point in my career as I am always learning. I often wonder how the best of the best would word things, what they would call out, etc.

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Originally posted by Brandon Whitmore

250+ inspections: As the inspector gains confidence and begins to see steady work coming in, he'll begin to see less value in paying for outside help.

I have been in the business for 5.5 years. There were a few years when I averaged over 800 inspections a year. I see a great value in this service at this point in my career as I am always learning. I often wonder how the best of the best would word things, what they would call out, etc.

Hmm...800 inspections in a year? You must be a machine. That would be over 16 inspections a week for 52 straight weeks.

Seems like a lot. Are you a one man shop or do you have other inspectors working for you?

-Kevin

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Hmm...800 inspections in a year? You must be a machine. That would be over 16 inspections a week for 52 straight weeks.

Seems like a lot. Are you a one man shop or do you have other inspectors working for you?

-Kevin

It is TOO many inspections, I was on a serious burn out mode. The company I used to work for required 5-6 day weeks (rotating) and we inspected 3 houses a day-- solo. I have since gone off on my own and am much happier doing far fewer inspections. I can now take more pride in my work, and am no longer as stressed out.

Your math is correct, and I did feel like I was being used as a machine.

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Originally posted by Brandon Whitmore

250+ inspections: As the inspector gains confidence and begins to see steady work coming in, he'll begin to see less value in paying for outside help.

I have been in the business for 5.5 years. There were a few years when I averaged over 800 inspections a year. I see a great value in this service at this point in my career as I am always learning. I often wonder how the best of the best would word things, what they would call out, etc.

From one Brandon to another....

In that case this part of what I wrote probably applies to you:

"At this point the guys who would be willing to pay the $$$ necessary to have the consultant come to them for one-on-one sessions are going to be those few who have that work ethic of always trying to be the best at whatever they do."

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It is TOO many inspections, I was on a serious burn out mode. The company I used to work for required 5-6 day weeks (rotating) and we inspected 3 houses a day-- solo. I have since gone off on my own and am much happier doing far fewer inspections. I can now take more pride in my work, and am no longer as stressed out.

Your math is correct, and I did feel like I was being used as a machine.

Hmm. Part of me wants to know how a multi-inspector firm generates that much business. .. but then again, maybe I don't.

I've never understood the 3 per day mode.

I have a heck of a time trying to get two done, (when its busy, that is).

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Sooooooo - we are evolving into a pretty good discussion and there are some very good points made.

Brandon writes a pretty good scenario and his post could start a 10hour discussion, if we were sitting across the table from each other. Cost to come to my office and watch would be considerably cheaper than bringing me to yours. But on the other hand, you would be out of your "element".

Maybe there should be a resource and that resource should be more than one inspector as the mentor. I know of Kevin O's operation and also know the implication of having a single mentor.

This business is extremely regional and the mentor can never believe their way is the only way. But, thinking is global and that is what the mentor must provide - a inspector way of thinking. How to inspect a furnace can be taught in a few days, but understanding the furnace takes many years.

I am not wealthy, just crazy. I was raised by the Greatest Generation, enjoyed the 60's and learned in the 70's how fast it can all end. Money and things were never my goal.

And finally, if I had ever done 800 inspections in a single year, I would have quit and moved to Mexico, like Jimmy M!

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