Jump to content

ASTM Organizational Meeting Failed to Unite


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 181
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Well what are you trying to say? That our current SOP's are tied to the RE stranglehold on our industry? That the stranglehold really only exists because of willing HI's?

No to the SoPs being tied in, but Yes to the stranglehold and willing HI's.

I can't think of any profession that can produce the kind of income that this one can in less time then it takes to get a 4 year degree. In my opinion thats the problem. Until the effort to enter this business gets on par with other professions it will remain a business and not a profession.

Pole dancing. Good handyman. YouTube. But you are right. Some worthy barrier to entry is needed. Any ideas that might actually work?
Link to post
Share on other sites
Have you read a good inspection report lately?

Actually I read one that impressed me last week as they are usually horrible. It was from a franchise. At least it was written narrative style but I could still easily tell where the guy used broiler plate vrs just writing it himself.

He did a pretty good job except for a completely broken floor joist that he missed in the basement and the fact that all of the basement window frames were rotting but other then that a pretty decent job.

Chris, Oregon

Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by Les

WHERE ARE THE COMMENTS FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE? This thread has been read 2254 times Where are the comments from the folks that did drink the kool-aid?

Where is Goodman, with his poetic license?

Is Scott P in Las Vegas?

Or, are they much like me and just enjoying the reparte'?

Nah, they're out there laughing & wondering @ the idea of all us altruistic, professionally like minded folks yammering about how it should be.

I don't know about all y'all, but I seem to be hanging on by the grace of those few folks that understand the game, and want someone in their corner. As long as those folks are out there, that's about as far as I am concerned.

I'm busy writing "it" down, and hold no thought that "it" is ever going to be considered by the associations, which is to my advantage. If I was competing w/everyone, there'd be no work. As it is, I'm "competing" w/a few brothers & sisters, who seem to be staying busy also.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by ozofprev

My logic chip locked up.

"could be fairly simple"

is followed by

"creating a system of decent HI education"

"a few stellar HIs could make it their job to become spin doctors -- writers of newsletters, press releases, TV and radio ad copy, etc. Those spin doctors could use their skills..."

is followed by

"A decently-educated HI can do all this, by himself, right now."

OK, you win. It's not exactly simple. The education alone is more than most HIs are willing to endure.

Even so, I think a person with decent native intelligence could obtain a decent HI skillset without busting a gut.

Which brings the whole thing around to this: If a would-be HI has the intellect and integrity to do this job right, why would he go into a business that involves climbing on roofs, crawling through attics, and fighting possums in crawl spaces when there are perfectly good high-paying jobs available in clean air-conditioned spaces.

If I had it all to do over again, I'd set my sights on working for Google.

WJ

PS: Somewhere, I read that a kid can pop out of college with a command of terrorist languages and go straight to a job paying about $200K a year. My daughter's best friend is on that track. Smart kid.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Chris,

Report was OK and the work was poor?

What I saw wasn't a full report but their version of a summary. Like always it was unordered. While I found the rotting basement window frames right away, I didn't find the broken joist till I went to investigate why the hallway floor was creaking more then I thought it should.

Download Attachment: icon_photo.gif jse_092807_097.jpg

85.5 KB

Chris, Oregon

Link to post
Share on other sites

Worthy barrier? In my case I imagine that would have to start with the state requiring more then just one HI class and 10 ride alongs. How about a 2 year building inspection technology degree?

We have such a program for wantabee muni's here in Oregon but it's at only one community college in the whole state.

Add a two year associates in science and a few more electives targeted at HI work and we might have something.

While the upper third of HI's I believe would submit to and adopt a degree'd program, the bottom third would fight vehemently against it with the middle third spliting both ways but leaning toward the ways of the bottom third.

Which brings the whole thing around to this: If a would-be HI has the intellect and integrity to do this job right, why would he go into a business that involves climbing on roofs, crawling through attics, and fighting possums in crawl spaces when there are perfectly good high-paying jobs available in clean air-conditioned spaces.

Been there, done that and I bet there is a number of the brethren that has here too. Got tired of the constant threat of layoffs and the fact that to make any real money you have to get yourself pigeon holed in a particularly industry making a layoff or a firing an even bigger problem.

Corporate america sucks and I am never going back to that hell.

Chris, Oregon

Link to post
Share on other sites

Problem is, the only people who want to upgrade the HI profession are the few people who are really good at it, and take pride in it.

All of the non-HI "stakeholders" like their HIs dumb (uneducated) cheap (living hand to mouth) and compliant. (Nothing like being dumb and broke to make a person compliant...)

If I've learned anything in 20 years, it's that the great majority of HIs I've encountered are woefully undereducated; they're in deep, angry denial about it; and, they'd rather walk on their lips through broken glass than improve their skillset.

When was the last time anybody here saw an HI report that looked like the work of a competent professional?

WJ

Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Well what are you trying to say? That the stranglehold really only exists because of willing HI's?

Chris, Oregon

Yes, yes, and yes again to that.

Most, if not all new inspectors come into this - whatever is it now, a profession or a trade, - with lips pursed and lubricated. The "trade/profession" has become profitable for some, but understand, those who claim to be "raking in big bucks" probably graduated from a Wallmart Audio Cassette Dept. Manager to being a home inspector in a few short weeks. The truth is, hard work, dedication, professionalism, integrity and a good ethical bearing, (as well as the basic language and writing skills Walter talks about) will make anyone a success in almost any business. Most of the new entries into this field start out by kissing ass and cutting prices. Just a plain old fact. But believe it or not, the guys that do not kiss or suck, charge what they are worth and give their client a good inspection will always be more successful than those who claim to do 6,000 inspections a year.

My business plan for being an inspector for 30 years was very simple. Do a good job and make buckets of money. I did not accomplish either by sucking up. I did it one client at a time writing reports that pissed off many realtors and kept me and my company on numerous black lists.

Which brings us (in a loosely roundabout way) to a National Standard. Read the posts on the various HI forums on any given topic and tell me how you expect agreement on that single set of standards? You cannot even get inspectors to agree on respecting each other's choice of which association they want to belong to.

The soot bucket guy just came and cleaned my oil fired boiler. He lamented how he hated what he was doing and was looking into becoming an - you guessed it, right? He has serviced our home a few times and figures that with a few courses and some tools he can make it just like I did. I wished him good luck. (Look for him soon in a realtors office near you.) I told him all he really needed to do was lowball the prices of all the other inspectors and he would make a fortune.

Go back to the beginning of this thread and read it again. All five pages. Even among the few that have participated in this discussion there is disagreement. Just try to get the 25,000 or so inspectors across the country to agree on a single standard. Oh, by the way, also get them to agree that they need to upgrade their education before they can continue to be inspectors.

Not!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Home inspection standards are like building codes; minimal. However, many inspectors don't even meet the SOP they preach about.

The best way to start to raise the bar is to exceed (by a lot) the current standards.

How many times have you seen something wrong but someone will say "that's how we do it here in..."

If we exceed today's SOP, we will be setting tomorrows standards.

Some standards say interior of flues are not required to be inspected; how many inspectors look inside a chimney and see a problem?

Some standards say appliances do not have to be inspected; how many times have you discovered a leaking dishwasher?

Central vacumns

Fences

Sheds

Electronic air fliters

Humidifiers

Or this: every outlet you can reach and every window you can open.

How many inspector actually enter an attic and walk from one side to the other?

I'm getting tired of hearing the phase " my inspector didn't check that out."

Sad to say most inspectors think they will get sued if they EXCEED the standards or insert a code quote.

But these same inspectors have no problem installing a lawn sign that states 'MOVE-IN CERTIFIED'.

Gentlemen, thats another topic that will blow your mind.

Darren

www.aboutthehouseinspections.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow. This thread certainly has legs, doesn't it? Unfortunately, I've got some time to kill and an opinion or two to voice. At the risk of offending some of you, I'll add my two cents worth. I will preface them by saying that I was a custom builder for 17 years before I got into the HI profession in 1998. I was mentored by an inspector of 8 years' experience who was also my father -- and he was a second generation custom builder himself. And it was not a case of being a "failed builder" by any means for either of us. Both of us were doing very well but were eventually burned out after dealing with a declining knowledge base among the subs and an even more rapidly declining work ethic. (Side rant: you think there's a lot of HI's flooding the market? Try playing by the rules in an expanding building market and see who your competitor "builders" are. Most of them already had "day" jobs and only came by after hours, if then! Good for HI's; bad for homeowners.)

For the record, I always refer to my HI work as a PROFESSION, regardless of whom I am talking to. It may be a subtle thing, but it does get the listener used to thinking about a HI as someone other than just a failed handyman who owns a ladder and a truck. Early on, a good friend of mine looked askance at me and asked me why I would trade the income and "prestige" he associated with being a custom builder for that of a HI! Keep in mind that builders usually rate just above used car salesmen when rated by the public for trustworthiness. But I can't help it...I really like inspecting.

As for national standards, I am at a loss as to why there is dissension among the ranks as to their viability. After all, most states who have adopted standards of any sort have used -- either wholly or substantially -- the ASHI standards. They do not state that you have to know any region-specific information, right? If so, show me where. But you'd better be able to identify WHAT you are looking at WHEREVER you inspect. National standards would not need to say that you need to identify a type of roofing or heating system NEVER seen in your area, would they? That type of standard couldn't even keep up with the ever-changing technology employed in homes. Shouldn't they say that the inspector should be able to identify and gauge the performance of whatever required system or item he inspected on whatever home he inspected? If, for example, you never see oil fired burners in your neck of the woods --and I don't -- It shouldn't matter. I can identify and inspect those systems or components seen in my region. I don't inspect halfway across the country; why should it matter what they do there?

Also...this idea of "a representative sampling" is a little vague, as Darren adeptly pointed out earlier. That phrase and the accompanying definition has bothered me for a long time. How many of you stop at one receptacle per room if more are accessible? Damned few, I'd guess. However, I also recognize that in a court action -- and, deep down--that's what this is all about--you must have uniform, defensible standards. It's impossible to come back months or even days (or hours) after an inspection and prove that an inspector was negligent without a minimum standard. Things change. Sellers and buyers lie when money is at stake. That is precisely why it is a minimum standard, and, unfortunately, precisely why it must remain so to protect us from the sharks.

As for continuing ed, I'm all for it. I discovered this forum while looking for online courses. Living in a small state, the local opportunities are not great. (Side note: I must say that this forum has been a tremendous education.) I realize that not every inspector feels the same way, but in addition to the knowledge itself the confidence gained through CE is a great asset. I think CE hours should be mandated nationally, and I think there should be mandatory testing upon completion of the session. I can hear some of you guys moaning (although probably very little complaining from those of you interested enough in this thread to read all the posts.) My state requires 14 hours of REAL CE credits a year. No online, unmonitored crap. Nonetheless, I have seen guys napping through the course--or leaving to answer their cell phones-- and then turning in their credits later! C'mon folks...let's prove that you learned something.

Initially, I shared the same problems as many of you in deciding how best to compete with the low-ballers. I realized quickly I can't. Nor should I, or you, try to, although we have to be competitive we must remain within striking distance until our reputation precedes us. After all, we are not looking to go on to something else if our comic book ad-inspired new job (NOT profession) doesn't work; why should we try to compete on cost? As I said in a different thread, we HAVE TO educate the public about what is at stake in their decision! Start by calling it the home inspection profession, not business. Think about it: How many people do you know who choose a doctor, or a lawyer, or a college, or even an auto mechanic based solely on cost? Not very many. And those who do usually have to live with less than stellar results.

As for national organizations, I believe that ASHI is the best. So why am I not a member? Simple. First consideration: The general public has no concept of what the distinctions between competing associations are. As an example, a few of our local RE firms hand out a list of questions that buyers are to use in selecting a HI. One question is: Are you a member of any national association? The buyer is not told that there is any difference among them; they are all equal as far as they know. I harbor no illusions that the one I signed up with is the best; it was simply a financial decision. The fact is, this group is way too much marketing and not enough "meat" for my tastes.

Second consideration: The fees are higher for ASHI. I was able to join a competing association for FAR less IF I attended an 8-hour CE seminar I thought would be useful. It was...and I had to drive 3 hours round trip to attend it. Before you criticize me...my state does not even award CE credits from this seminar which was held in a neighboring state. I did it because I thought it would make me a better inspector.

For the record, in the last few months I have decided to make inspecting my primary focus and build homes only for the occasional client. I intend to apply for ASHI membership shortly.

One last thing... I read in an earlier post something about 68% of Hi business being referrals from RE agents. If most of that business is from boot-licking toadies, then I must be doing something right. Well, right at least as far as ethics and job performance go--but not from a marketing standpoint. The vast majority of my business is personal referrals, as I assume that most of the business you guys get is. But as a newbie, I called on agents and naively believed that if I did a good job for their clients my business would grow exponentially. Saving their clients $$$$ would make them look good by extension, right? Wrong, in way too many cases. After 9 years of inspecting, I am proud (yet, at the same time, disappointed) to say that I have only about 5 agents (out of about 50 local companies) from whom I can say that I get...umm... let's call it a disproportionately large share of their clients. Keeping in mind that I'm in a metropolitan area of about 400,000 people, I don't see that as ass-kissing on my part.

Bottom line: Why do I write all this? Because I think that a national standard is not only achievable but absolutely necessary to weed out the renegades and substandard, ill-trained inspectors who give the rest of us a black eye. However, I am not AT ALL endorsing the idea of ASTM standards; I think intelligent, comprehensible and reasonable standards must come from those of us in this profession.

Let's face it: We live in a global society as far as news goes. A news story of an inspector who is grossly incompetent-or a thief-hurts us all. And we all know how negative news is what makes the airwaves or print media. Won't we all ultimately be better off if things are cleaned up?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Kevin,

Well thought out post. Thanks! I think you would find most of the people that have posted would agree with your macro points. The devil is in the details.

Often I find inspectors that are quite learned, honest and good family folks, but do not realize how "stupid" they are about inspections.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll add that CE means absolutely nothing unless it's not the same CE every year.

If an inspector sits through "Grounding and Bonding Issues" once a year for three years that's presented by the same instructor who simply reads the Power Point to the class then nothing has been accomplished while meeting the requirement for CE.

It's even worse if the instructor is full of crap, spews foolklore, and stretches the presentation by telling war stories.

And the 14 hour part... I spend more than 14 hours a week on CE.

To be effective, the CE requirement must be a number like 50-100 hours. The results of the CE should be quantifiable.

The total number of hours of required CE should be split amongst major subject categories.

Teaching/instructing should not be considered CE. In NY, every hour of teaching counts as two hours of CE. It's not hard to get approved to instruct.

So, now we have association meetings where most of the members have attained their instructor status and while they're having cocktails one of them presents a curriculum. Whamo, another hour of CE attained!

I've tried to expose the issues by writing a column that no one will publish even if I buy the advertising space because they refuse to spank the reeltors and jeopardize advertising revenues.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Kevin,

Thank you for the time and thought you put into that. It represents the attitude and abilities of the professional HI that you are. I agree with every part of it.

To clarify the topic of standardization and regionalism, it was Walter's and Jim Morrison's point that a national standard cannot be written to address the total variety of materials and climate. The ASHI standard is an example of a standard that does not address regional variations. So no, there is nothing you are missing - there is no requirement to inspect something you'll never see.

For the record, I agree completely with Walter and Jim on that point. (which makes me feel good, since they are unbelievably smart, good people). I also never proposed such a thing. I believe a national standard can be written and that that standard does not have to address specific regions.

But I still believe a national standard can be written. As states adopt ASHI's SoPs, it becomes the de facto national standard anyway. Seems to me that a much better standard can be written if the authors are allowed to exceed the lowest common denominator of vocabulary and effort. The effort part is easy - replace "representative number of" with "all accessible."

The vocabulary part should also be simple. Although the standard cannot address every climate and material, it can generally specify what needs to be observed in bituminous materials, clay materials, EIFS, electrical panels, trusses, cantilever structures, hardwood floors, cathedral ceilings and all of the other generic materials and structures. If you understand the properties of generic materials and structural elements, you are better prepared to understand how your regional variations impact your inspection.

I also believe that such a standard written for adult professionals might show those who want to become home inspectors that the work really does require some smarts! That is not conveyed by the current SoPs.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by ozofprev

I also believe that such a standard written for adult professionals might show those who want to become home inspectors that the work really does require some smarts! That is not conveyed by the current SoPs.

Amen to that!

I also think that the change from "representative sample" to "all accessible" is a great idea.

Chad's point about CE courses not being repeated is definitely valid also. While we have had some great courses and instructors, some have been less so. I too have sat through the same basic course twice in 4 years. Here, we have a 2-day seminar that almost all inspectors in the state attend. So how do you structure that so that there are different courses available for inspectors of varying knowledge and experience levels? My guess is that most guys who need entry level courses would not voluntarily sign up for them so as to avoid looking like newbies in front of their peers.

Sorry about the lengthy earlier post. I sat down without any intention of writing that much; I didn't realize that I had been so long winded until I saw it posted. That's the danger faced when I'm home alone!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Kevin,

Have you ever read any of O'Hornet's posts? - your's is a readers digest length! and it was really quite good.

I agree with Gary R. I have also worked quite a bit on SOP's and have found the work really difficult if you consider the folks you are writing it for. ie: must be written for those that are already in the profession and that really must lower the bar.

I also have served on the ASHI education committee for 5+ years and was always an advocate for "throwing the bums out" and getting really good presenters.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by Chad Fabry

I've tried to expose the issues by writing a column that no one will publish even if I buy the advertising space because they refuse to spank the reeltors and jeopardize advertising revenues.

Do you have an alternative newspaper in your town? They'd be the most likely to publish rabble-rousing stuff.

Another option would be do-gooder TV muckrakers -- investigative reporting team. Shoot for the November, February or May sweeps.

WJ

Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by AHI in AR

Originally posted by ozofprev

My guess is that most guys who need entry level courses would not voluntarily sign up for them so as to avoid looking like newbies in front of their peers.

You kidding? If I have to get any CE (and I will now that we're licensed, dammit), if I don't get a class featuring Drenan, Hansen or Cramer, I'll sleep through the dumbdest-down courses I can find. If I'm going to be tortured, I want torture Lite.

WJid="blue">

Link to post
Share on other sites

This thread has been very enlightening to say the least. Aside from a little ugliness a few pages ago (which isn't so bad - shows that some folks have passion about this profession), there has been some terrific ideas tabled. Why don't we, as a group, try to keep it going and see what it evolves into. Perhaps Mike O. could put aside some space here on TIJ dedicated to the subject in order to accomodate spin-off topics. We have an excellent cross section of inspectors here, from all over the continent; ranging from eager rookie to wizened veterans. Call it a wish list for the future, or whatever you like - the guys like me, who are early in their career would likely benefit most, but we will eventually be the future of this profession (is that a scary thought - given that I'm half an idiot) and want to make sure we are heading in the right direction.

I've been doing this for a living for right around two years now, and it has certainly not been easy. From my first day I told myself that I wouldn't whore myself out to the local RE types, my reward has been an uphill battle that has been infinitely rewarding, although certainly not financially. I don't mean to imply that the honest RE agent doesn't exist, just that if he does he can probably be found with a unicorn, bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster. In order to make a living in between inspections, I have taken a job as an insurance inspector. While it may not be the same type of inspection, I get to look at over a hundred houses a month - that can't be bad.

On the education front: that should be an absolute given. Since university I have constantly been trying my best to consume education. We as a people have an enormous capacity for learning and we do ourselves a disservice by not using it. In fact we do our clients a disservice if we refuse to grow and expand mentally at the things they are paying us for. A good example is the recent Watts Radiant training. I can't believe they weren't turning inspectors away for lack of space. Indeed had my colon not burst and tried to kill me I would have been there, learning from the best, with the best.

From where I sit, this industry/profession/trade/occupation/pastime can either become a true profession, or it can slide further into RE lackeyism. It's up to us to decide.

-Brad

Link to post
Share on other sites

Brad;

I've been doing this for 11 years now; reward, I don't have no stinking reward! Well, maybe this one...

About 2 weeks ago I got a call to price a townhouse; I gave my standard price but was too high (someone gave a price of about 1/2 mine). I was told by the buyers agent the inspection of a 3 bed 2 1/2 bath townhouse took a total of thirty (30) minutes. I wonder what SOP he followed?

Last week the same realtor called and asked how his client can file a formal complaint with the licensing board. Of course, I sent him all the required paperwork.

You get what you pay for.

Darren

www.aboutthehouseinspections.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...