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ASTM Organizational Meeting Failed to Unite


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I attended the second organizational meeting hosted by ASTM at their Philadelphia PA headquarters. Approximately 175 people attended. The rough breakdown in attendance appeared to be 100 - ASHI members, 40 - NAHI members, 10 - Other org’s (CREIA, AII, etc.), 10 - Industry related professionals, 10 - Independents and maybe 5 IntergalacticNachi members. ASTM was extremely fortunate that the other 9,995 did not show up since there was standing room only in the medium sized conference room. Must have been the price of gas thing I’m sure or they couldn’t grasp the issue at hand.

Pat Picariello, ASTM coordinator, grueled and squirmed his way through the presentation explaining the process involved. His biggest downfall, which he announced at the start of the meeting, was to have a relaxed atmosphere by entertaining questions at any time during his presentation. Big Mistake! Questions were far and few in between. Orations dominated the floor. Those who were an opposition, clamored about the cost of the $75 membership to ASTM and the astronomical cost of paying ASTM for each copy of the SOP’s to be included with their inspection report. Some belly ached about home inspector’s losing control to other self interest groups such as NAR and NAHB. A few squawked about losing their Association SOP's would result in stripping them of their righteous individualism. Yes, a sideshow indeed it was. Home inspectors showing their penny pinching attitude, division and true lack of professionalism.

Pat stated, ASTM would provide a structured approach to create a neutral environment to establish bylaws and a governing committee of home inspectors having oversight. Related industry professionals would also have an opportunity to participate in the formation of the new standards. However, adoption of a final standards document would require a vote by actual ASTM members. Individual home inspector members would carry one vote and an Association or Self Interest entity would be entitled to only one vote. Pat went on to say that ASTM is renowned for its neutrality amongst regulators and legislators. Their acronym lends credibility, power and the opportunity for divided groups to evolve to a higher level of recognition. Otherwise, he predicted perpetual stagnation on the lower rung of the ladder. Pat assured that ASTM had no intention to reinvent the wheel but merely to fine tune the combined current standards that now divide home inspectors through a multitude of associations. The Associations would still he able to coexist by concentrating on their own member Code of Ethics, Educational programs and Marketing.

Pat Picariello’s body language expressed extreme anxiety in the last hour prior to vote. In the end, as you all know by now, it was voted down by the attendees and ASTM has no interest in putting forth standards for home inspection. So, get your ladders out, stand on the lowest rung and plan to be there for awhile.

Okay, now to my subject line. The highlight of the post-lunch regrouping was one to be charted. Nick Gromicko, who sat alone (without any cheerleaders) in the middle of the crowd, stood up for comment and said that around him sit ASHI members who view Nachi as their biggest threat, being that Nachi is the LARGEST Home Inspector Association in the world but he considers them all to be his friends. I was 10 years old when the ASHI Standards of Practice were written by the founder in the audience here today and that I will not vote for having ASTM replace them nor the Nachi SOP’s (spoken like a true 10-year-old). The entire room broke out into a roaring laughter that would make a Comedy Club appear as a ‘Quiet’ zone. As embarrassing as this day was in that industry professionals from NAR, NAHB, Pat Piciarello (ASTM) witnessed this debacle, we can still walk with our tails between our legs to our next inspection.

Reporter at Large,

Justin Tyme

“Only Morons look up to Stupid peopleâ€

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Originally posted by Richard Moore

. . . I’m certainly not one to defend Mr. Gromicko’s antics but it’s my understanding that this forum, fortunately, is generally above the cheap inter-organizational bashing that you find everywhere else.

It would be sad to let TLJ descend into those unpleasant depths. Mr Moss’s “replyâ€

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I don't know.

The trash talk saved me the embarrassment of being a nachee member when I was new.

It also inspired me to go find out what the org was all about. I know for certain that trash talk kept at least 289 bucks from making its way to Colorado.

Sometimes it's painful, repetitive and so nasty it makes me queasy. It always brings out the likes of Mr Moss but I wouldn't say it does no good.

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While I agree with Richard M and Jim K, I think it is time for a national standard.

I wrote, spoke, and participated in the ASTM thing as much as I possibly could. I was not overly concerned with ASTM setting any standards, but really did think the attempt could be used for a little unity in the inspection business. I can understand Justin's comments, but don't think he wrote it with malice.

We need standards.

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I understand both sides. All of the HI orgs are faaaaar from perfect.

Les isn't alone in his wish for a good national standard. It is my understanding, however, that a national standard is practically impossible because our 50 states make us (U.S.?) less of an entity and more a party of 50. Then there are the politics (NAR) that keep the HI biz from getting the sunshine required for healthy growth.

None of this would matter if training were rigorous and standard! The HI organizations would be the 'aside' that they are supposed to be.

BTW, mentoring is a crap-shoot until a standard measure of knowledge/skill is established. There are people who have been in this business for years who know very little, while others have educated themselves and become gurus. Many are not qualified to mentor.

I'd like to see the business gather a core set of texts (to include Bonnie's!) from which a difficult test would be given. 'Difficult' means that passing the test would actually require reading the texts. (Unlike all of today's exams that everyone should be able to pass after a night of hard partying.)

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I respect Richard and Jim, and I appreciate what they are saying, but I think Justin's post is entirely appropriate.

First, I'm sure that by now Gromicko has spun the meeting into a gi-normous personal victory for himself and Inventi-NACHI (or whatever he calls it now), and it's only right that people who were there post their own account of the day. I can't see anything wrong with that.

Second, what Justin wrote wasn't really all that bad. I seem to remember reading far nastier stuff on this board a couple of years back. Come to think of it, I remember writing far nastier stuff on this board a couple of years back. Justin's post was tame by comparison; plus it contained facts and lacked venom.

No blood, no foul,

Jimmy

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Originally posted by Les

We need standards.

I heartily agree. I'd like us to start with baseline competency in reading, writing, science, arithmetic and college-freshman-level Logic 101. Then, have all comers pass the GED, which, being the makeup test for high-school dropouts, should be the bare minimum for anybody who claims to be a "professional."

Seems to me that we can't have any meaningful standards until the required HI skillset matches that of a D-minus-level fresh-out-of-high-school kid.

I wonder why, after 30-something years, the baseline competency level for a "professional" home inspector is set at the "show-us-your-30-year-old-high-school-diploma" level.

WJ

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Could it be a new type of standard?

Not a standard of honesty, but a standard of care. Maybe something along the lines of "Mr Goodwrench".

Chad, what do you think about the Mr Goodwrench concept?

Gary, what associations are you involved with and do they have any meaning? ie: Scott is a Boy Scout Leader, so I can assume he is Trustworthy.

gotta go - more later, lets not let this thread die.

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Chad, what do you think about the Mr Goodwrench concept?

Mr Good wrench is a brand of service. GM would be thrilled that you think it is equivalent to competency or even excellence.

The national institute for ASE (automotive service excellence) is the independent competency standards organization. Like the NHIE and ICC, ASHI and NAHI, it's a not for profit venture with some very highly paid principals and CEO's.

The technician must pay to take the exams (there are lots of them) The certificate of achievement lasts for 5 years and then the exams must be taken again. The 5 year part of the whole thing is the only legitimate requirement since cars change so dramatically in that time frame.

ASE advertises to the public as being a standard of excellence, but the fact is that any shop can hang the ASE sign up if any of their technicians have even one ASE certificate from any category. So a shop that has one tech that has the exhaust certificate looks just as qualified as my shop did with a certificate in every single category from diagnostics to front end geometry, machine shop, auto body, automatic and manual transmissions and on and on. I think when I quit the business and sold my shop I had about 40 certifications. The only reason I took any of the tests was to see how valid they were so that I would know if they were actually a credential on which I could base some of my hiring decisions.

For anyone in the know, ASE certification meant roughly the same thing as passing the NHIE and becoming a full member of ASHI. It meant something but in no way assured competence to any reasonable level.

I left a profession where to be very good, one had to be technically excellent, a savvy businessman, ethical and hardworking. If you were all of these then people thought you were a thief less than half the time.

It's exactly the same as home inspection except home inspection mas more incompetence and a far greater number (as a percentage of the field) of unethical practitioners than the auto repair business ever had or was perceived to have.

Public opinion hasn't yet caught up with home inspectors. When it does it'll be like being a mechanic; everyone will think you're lying to them and everyone will think you're ripping them off. It's only that rosy if you're good.

I said all that to say this: There were no valid measures of competence in the auto repair business. there were some highly advertised themes that paid homage to competency but no significant effort to produce the real thing.

Just like this profession, there were (are) a bunch of established people with nothing to gain and a lot to lose if any means of measuring competence was invented or evolved.

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Originally posted by Les

Gary, what associations are you involved with and do they have any meaning? ie: Scott is a Boy Scout Leader, so I can assume he is Trustworthy.

PGA id="maroon">- so you can assume I'm trustworthy.

Alright...

I am a life member of Phi Kappa Phi id="maroon">- very meaningful; provides several scholarships and recognizes hard work.

Habitat for Humanityid="maroon"> - also very meaningful (I've been slacking lately, however).

PADIid="maroon"> - Advanced open-water diver.

FAAid="maroon"> - Commercial, instrument, single & multiengine, land & sea, pilot/instructor.

Otherwise, I'm not much of a 'club' guy. I did belong to ACMid="maroon"> (Assoc. for Computing Machinery) and IEEE id="maroon">(Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers) so that I could get the most current research journals on artificial intelligence and advanced computing, but that was back when I used to think a lot. Too much thinking causes depression and messes up your golf swing.

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The best standard, or law that I would like to see enacted it that I feel it should be illegal for RE agents to reccomend HI's. I'm sure that there are many (ya think) that truly refer the best HI's to their clients, but lets face it, when their commissions depend on a sale, I'd bet my bottom dollar that they refer the inspector that cause the least amount of waves.

I report things as I see them. I've been challenged... and stood up to the challange... and prevailed. I've gotten nasty phone calls. I started wondering if I was being overzealous, but after going over a few reports that the buyers have backed out of, I didn't see anything that I should not have included.

In the beginning, I used to stop at open houses and introduce myself to agents with the hopes of drumming up business. I completely stopped that. I decided that I don't want to be indebted one iota to someone that will be hurt by my honesty, or that will expect me to compromise my integrity.

I picture the poor schmo, that is putting his kids through school or is relying upon the referrals of RE agents, doing an inspection and being torn apart while writing a report.

I'm sorry if this went off thread a bit, but when you speak of standards, that is one of the biggest problems I see that needs to be addressed.

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This is meant to be a "I told you so". Just look at what we are talking about! This is more better than Walter J's mantra about minimum education. Just reflect on the posters and imagine why they think what they write. These guys are smart!! Our better inspectors are smart!! This is a tough business and to survive you gotta be smart!! Sadly some of our smartest are just smart enough to either get out or mind their own business and don't comment.

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Les,

You're right, mostly.

The best inspectors are smart - and you're one of 'em!

Katen is one of the brightest people I've read on a forum. I love to read Brian G's stuff - that guy seems really cool! I have learned so much from Kurt, Walter, Jimmy, Cramer, MikeO and others.

But the best haven't left the business. They define the business.

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Gary,

Thanks for the kind words. The people you name, and many others, have a particular stake and pride in the inspection business. They are in this because they like it and it can be quite stimulating.

They define and are defined by the inspection industry. Problem is mostly marketing. Home inspection is very very difficult to market on a national scale. Our society (particularily the real estate business) does not have a way for small operators to reach our potential customers other than associations and all their attendant BS. There is also a cultural element to our business. While I would like to discuss this quirk of the inspection business, it becomes quite difficult because our culture demands all interested parties be at the table and therein lies the problem.

I am sure some on this board will play the old fart card and perceive this as my way of saying the new guys are crazy etc. But the fact is one of the brightest inspectors I know is a newbie. I found Frank, Mark, Josh to have a passion for this business when I was in Missouri, so that makes them part of the good guy group - even if they are not old farts. Who can be critical of Chris with his zillions of questions?

Gotta go and pick up some returnable pop bottles along the freeway so I can buy beans and bacon for the little woman and kids! maybe more later

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Originally posted by Les

Gary,

...The people you name, and many others, have a particular stake and pride in the inspection business. They are in this because they like it and it can be quite stimulating.

I really enjoyed inspecting homes. In this part of the country crawl-spaces are rare, so I was lucky in that sense as well. Helping people understand what they are buying is fun and valuable.

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Steve,

I'll tell you that since May 2001, when it became been illegal for RE agents to recommend HI's in MA, I don't think it's had as much of an impact as you might suspect. It would be a mistake to confuse outlawing a particular behavior with eradicating it.

An apt analogy might be speed limits. Think for a moment about what it would take for a broker to get "caught" recommending an HI. I'd wager that the odds of your average driver paying the penalty for speeding are roughly the same as the odds for your average broker getting busted for referring an HI: Practically nothing. I lived and worked for 6 years in a state where it is illegal for brokers to refer HI's, and personally, I don't think it amounted to any appreciable difference for consumers or inspectors at all.

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I've always thought a good idea would be to hold realtors responsible for their recommendations. Lots of HI E & O policies indemnify the realtor; outlaw that. If the HI stinks and the client sues him, they should also be able to sue the realtor who recommended him. Once lawyers began scoring big wins against both, I suspect many realtors would either quit recommending anyone or move to serious inspectors (mostly the former).

Of course, if you really want to clean up the process you have to get rid of commissions. That's what drives the whole dirty sub-culture of do-anything-to-close-the-deal real estate professionals. So long as they must close deals to make a money, underhanded things will go on everyday.

Brian G.

Greed is as Relentless as Gravity [:-yuck]

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Originally posted by Jim Morrison

Steve,

I'll tell you that since May 2001, when it became been illegal for RE agents to recommend HI's in MA, I don't think it's had as much of an impact as you might suspect. It would be a mistake to confuse outlawing a particular behavior with eradicating it.

An apt analogy might be speed limits. Think for a moment about what it would take for a broker to get "caught" recommending an HI. I'd wager that the odds of your average driver paying the penalty for speeding are roughly the same as the odds for your average broker getting busted for referring an HI: Practically nothing. I lived and worked for 6 years in a state where it is illegal for brokers to refer HI's, and personally, I don't think it amounted to any appreciable difference for consumers or inspectors at all.

In MA isn't only the listing agent that can not recommend a Home inspector?

Captain

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It is common to hear those who have done little to speak against those who have done more than them. To see such a broad base of the HI industry reject the NAHI ploy that started the ASTM meeting is refreshing. To pick out Mr Gromicko as the object of ridicule reveals the dormant jealousy that poisons the minds of the little people who live only to mock others who have accomplished more than them. Mr Gromicko has helped thousands of home inspectors and has my respect. The ASTM SoP died a natural death, destined from it's shady origins.

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Originally posted by allspec33351

Originally posted by Jim Morrison

Steve,

I'll tell you that since May 2001, when it became been illegal for RE agents to recommend HI's in MA, I don't think it's had as much of an impact as you might suspect. It would be a mistake to confuse outlawing a particular behavior with eradicating it.

An apt analogy might be speed limits. Think for a moment about what it would take for a broker to get "caught" recommending an HI. I'd wager that the odds of your average driver paying the penalty for speeding are roughly the same as the odds for your average broker getting busted for referring an HI: Practically nothing. I lived and worked for 6 years in a state where it is illegal for brokers to refer HI's, and personally, I don't think it amounted to any appreciable difference for consumers or inspectors at all.

In MA isn't only the listing agent that can not recommend a Home inspector?

Captain

Hey Captain,

In MA, only real estate salespeople representing the buyer exclusively can refer home inspectors to their homebuying clients.

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