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Should the bar be raised to enter the profession?


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The home inspection profession has been around for more than a quarter of a century now. Yet, HI's still have an image problem. Do you think the image of the profession would be improved if there were a consistent mandatory minimum level of education and competence required nationwide to be an inspector?

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Good point. State by State is the way to go.

The idea that a college education is necessary is cute, but silly. A GED should be mandatory, along w/ basic proficiency @ written communication. After that, continuing education up the wazoo is mandatory.

Bill Gates is a college dropout. So is Steve Jobs. Wayne Huizenga was a garbage truck driver. The woman that discovered the largest T-Rex fossil in the world ("Sue") doesn't have a degree, let alone one in archaeology. I think you get the idea. The average college education produces bumwads for the economy, not skilled intelligent individuals.

What college degree would even begin to prepare one for this weird job? I can only think of one, & that would be Building Science. Where is there a satisfactory curriculum & degree program in Building Science? Anyone know of one?

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Originally posted by kurt

What college degree would even begin to prepare one for this weird job? I can only think of one, & that would be Building Science. Where is there a satisfactory curriculum & degree program in Building Science? Anyone know of one?

Good Point,

Most of the good building science courses at the undergraduate level are not in this country. For some reason, in the US Building Science is usually at the Bachelors or Masters level. But, since you asked, here are a few around the world. One's in your back yard Kurt:

http://www.civil.uwaterloo.ca/beg/links ... nloads.htm

http://arch.ced.berkeley.edu/resources/ ... /acad.html

http://www.vuw.ac.nz/architecture/

http://www.eeba.org/institute/default.htm

http://www.ryerson.ca/calendar/2002-2003/sec_828.htm

http://www.energy.wsu.edu/projects/building/

http://international.holmesglen.vic.edu ... ourseID=91

http://www.bcit.ca/study/programs/591cdiplt

http://www.umass.edu/bmatwt/

http://cecourse.humber.ca/LISCECal/View ... e=HMIN_108

http://www.victoria.ac.nz/home/study/un ... x#overview

http://handbook.cqu.edu.au/pages/ugprg_ca33.html

http://www.collegeofsanmateo.edu/techno ... index.html

http://www.usc.edu/dept/publications/ca ... /grad.html

http://cecalendar.humber.ca/archcon/hicoo.htm

http://handbooks.uwa.edu.au/courses/c2/2572

http://www.rpi.edu/dept/catalog/99-00/a ... /index.htm

http://www.uic.edu/depts/arch/up/uld.html

I still haven't abandoned my idea of establishing the first American Institute of Building Science & Home Inspection in this country. Been scouring the country for abandoned high schools and small surplus military bases in the hopes of finding one that I could talk some folks out of. Anyone want to get on board?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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You can use my basement if you clean it out.

It seems to me that if you want to take a reasonably intelligent person who's graduated from high school and turn him into a competent home inspector, it'd take a 4-year program. If he had experience in the trades, you might be able to shave a year off that.

To do this job properly is more difficult now than it was 10 years ago. I'm betting that it'll be more difficult still 10 years from now. We need a vast base of knowledge that's both wide and deep.

The two-week schools, from the results I've seen, teach people how to produce an inspection report that complies with some established standard of practice. The better ones also teach the students how to go about learning what they don't know. These are useful things, but they aren't substitutes for a comprehensive education in the profession.

As the profession matures, it'll need a serious educational program to bring new people into the field. The two-week programs won't be it.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Mike, at this "stage" of my life I would like to get involved in an institute.

I have mentored several ashi inspectors over the years and have found one common trait - curiosity!

I have seen this industry change it very appearance; from middle age second career men to men and women that are younger, less prepared, financially motivated and not committed.

I will likely regret this, but I am always find it interesting most inspectors think they know more than they actually do. Part of the problem is lack of initial education and most is the 2-3 week wonders. I believe this profession is constantly evolving and requires a whole boatload of continuing education requirements. Add an internship and lots of mentoring. Half of the time, we inspectors measure our success by dollars and sales and not much integrity or ethics. We worry and fret about each other, real estate agents, liability and give little thought to knowledge. You gotta' know how to think!!

Michigan State University has a very good BS program in building technology and management.

PS: I know I am preaching to the choir.

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The UIC curriculum is centered around architectural studies, not the weird stuff we have to know. There would be kernels of good info scattered around, but I don't think it is good coursework for what we do.

The CQU sounds good, but Australia ia a long way to commute for evening classes.

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All the education in the world does not dictate common sense, ethics and a good work ethic. Nothing will ever stop creeps and ne'er-do-wells from becoming inspectors.

Texas has had licensing since 1985 and we have as many bad inspectors as anywhere else. The only way to really improve this profession, or any profession, is for the public to demand competance...and that isn't going to happen. Hell, look at politicians and lawyers! A great group of higher educated, ethical people. Right?

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Learning in seminars from experienced HIs

Reading and understanding the technical stuff regarding building systems.

Not being too skeard to ask some other HIs for opinions.

In the NEASHI chapter, we have some very learned,published,dedicated,commited HIs. These guys write and sell books about the industry.We have some wild roundtables--good stuff.

There is no ONE and ONLY way to become a HI. Read-ask-research-learn-teach-drive the miles-sit in the seminars-go to the conferances-spill some beer on your peers.

The sellers worst nightmare is a professional,competant,honest,thorough,committed HI. The Mass ASHIs strive to be Professional Service Providers, in lieu of Competant Tradesmen.Badges and certificates do not make a HI. Thats probably way more than "Yeah- raise the bar" Go Pats [:-banghea

Jack Ahern Needham on the Charles.

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Finally, some spirited discussion. Mike Brown's been telling me to dump that old licensing poll and throw something else up for a while. I should have done this long ago.

I've heard this subject debated ever since I entered the profession and, other than a few colleges adopting the Carson-Dunlop distance learning course as a means to provide some sort of 'certificate', there hasn't been a whole lot of movement within the profession toward raising the bar.

Many of the licensing programs allow those already established in the business to be 'grandfathered' due to the number of inspections they've completed, without any peer review to determine if that number was done correctly, and others only require passage of the NHIE and a number of inspections completed - neither of which, as Paul and others have often pointed out many times, proves that they know anything more than the basics and have been in business.

Meanwhile, the number of ridiculously cheap and content-lite correspondence courses has gone from a very small handful to many, and the number of folks entering the profession wearing rose-colored glasses seems to have at least doubled every year.

Originally posted by Kurt

The UIC curriculum is centered around architectural studies, not the weird stuff we have to know. There would be kernels of good info scattered around, but I don't think it is good coursework for what we do.

The CQU sounds good, but Australia is a long way to commute for evening classes.

Kurt,

I agree. What we do does require training that is tailored to the profession and it's hard to find it in conventional curricula.

You can look at building science courses, architectural courses, engineering courses, construction courses, English courses, business courses and you'll find those "kernels", but finding a school where instructors are teaching more than just a few kernels of what we need is damn neigh impossible - unless you are attending one of the HI schools. However, while the better schools and courses are good at teaching one the mechanics of an issue, there isn't enough time spent on teaching the science behind the 'why' or on subjects like report writing, running a business, etc..

Plus, most of these small HI schools and correspondence courses don't bother to even determine whether a student can even read or write, do they? We are professional investigators who must competently report our findings, fer cryin' out loud. You'd think that they'd least require their students to have a GED and pass a writing exercise before accepting them as students!

A good HI course needs to take the core courses that teach HI's the mechanics of the business and then expand the scope of interest to include other tertiary subjects that are equally as important but are ignored in most current HI curricula.

The CQU course exists because the Aussies have followed the British model for so long. Building Surveyors in Great Britain and Australia are a like a 3-way cross between a lite version of architects, building designers, engineers and building scientists. They function as code inspectors, construction consultants, construction forensic experts and environmental planners, to name a few.

However, unlike Great Britain, Australia recognized earlier on that the requirements to be a Building Surveyor are more complex than what's needed for ordinary building inspections, so they've split the model and home inspectors, who are known as Pre-purchase Property Inspectors in Australia, coexist side-by-side with Building Surveyors.

CQU is only one of about a half dozen major universities there where one can be educated as either a Building Surveyor or a home inspector. However, CQU's course is done via distance learning, so it takes longer to complete. So, some students in residence courses there can meet the same requirements in 3 to 6 years instead of CQU's six.

CQU's approach though, is to credit a student's previous life experiences in related fields, in order to reduce the number of credits they need to obtain their degree or diploma and they require that both the Surveyor candidate and the Inspector candidate take the identical courses, which include their general education requirements, up to a certain point.

Two-thirds of the way through the Surveyor's course, Inspector candidates can leave with an Advanced Diploma in Building Inspection (http://handbook.cqu.edu.au/pages/ugprg_ca34.html)which is similar to an A.S. degree in the States. Most leave prepared to be hired by an inspection firm as an apprentice or junior inspector, but some can strike out on their own.

Those who remain in the course for the final two years, graduate with a bachelor degree in Building Surveying (http://handbook.cqu.edu.au/pages/ugprg_ca33.html) and have a wider selection of career options available to them as municipal inspectors, construction consultants, construction technologists, failure diagnosis investigators, etc.

Here in the States at the college of San Mateo, where Douglas Hansen teaches, something similar is going on. There, students studying nights for a Certificate in Building Inspection have to take a core of 27 units heavy with codes and code-related issues as well as hvac, plumbing, electrical, report writing and communication.

If they complete their 5 general education requirements and certain electives with good grades, in addition to the 27 core units, they can earn an A.S. in Building Inspection. For those who don't want to be muni inspectors, the certificate give them a pretty good grounding in the codes and basics of this business.

With a little modification, one could take the same course, place lesser emphasis on teaching the codes and more on building science and the "kernels" might just be nuggets.

Up in Canada, the HI's and muni guys got together, identified what HI's do (http://cahi.ca/hpi_occupational_standards_eng.pdf), what muni guys do (http://cahi.ca/pbo_occupational_standards_eng.pdf), and what they both do (http://cahi.ca/common_core_eng.pdf) and they are moving to a national standard for home inspections (http://cahi.ca/chiboqa_eng.pdf).

The folks behind the initiative are working with colleges to help ensure that education programs are in place that are teaching relevant subjects, so that established inspectors have a way to obtain the training needed within a phased-in time-frame, while at the same time establishing the framework for courses that can supply the profession with properly prepared younger students who will fill the role of apprentices and interns.

Another example of more forward-thinking in Canada is what is going on in B.C.. The British Columbia Institute of Property Inspectors (http://bcipi.asttbc.org), an offshoot of the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia (http://www.asttbc.org). ASTTBC is working closely with the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

BCIT is offering courses tailored to the home inspection profession (http://www.bcit.ca/study/programs/5610nobcit), that inspectors must complete in order to earn a Certified Property Inspector designation from ASTTBC ((http://www.asttbc.org/bcipi_index.html).

In Ontario, Humber College is using a similar approach. Humber has a degree earning course in Architectural Technology (http://postsecondary.humber.ca/03371.htm) that is similar to the CQU course, as well as online courses built around the Carson-Dunlop series through which established inspectors can use to obtain the minimum educational requirements that will be needed by their national standard during the phase-in period (http://cecalendar.humber.ca/archcon/hicoo.htm).

The Architectural Technology course gives a student just about all of the tools needed to enter this profession after school as a young adult/apprentice and then to gain the experience needed to eventually go out on his or her own. Established inspectors have ways of earning credit for experience toward that degree or must at least meet the basic education requirement through distance learning.

Paul,

You echo what I've been hearing from HI's for years. I think some of it has to do with a concern that if more stringent education requirements are established that somehow they will find that younger, college educated inspectors will have a leg-up on them. I think those fears are unfounded. In fact, competent, intelligent and experienced inspectors are needed more than ever to help the educators at higher education institutions learn what it is that they don't know about inspecting homes.

I don't have any fear that anyone new to the profession can ever upstage me. I know that if I have to I can easily meet, by applying myself a little bit, any requirement that is thrown at me. I believe that is the way it is just about everywhere with the vast majority of experienced inspectors who are ethical and really care about this profession.

In my short time (8-1/2 years) in this business, I've found that the majority of long-established home inspectors whom I've met, are pretty savvy and intelligent folks. I think that if a national standard were required, most of them who like me don't have college degrees, could easily meet the 5 general education requirements and successfully challenge/test-out quite a few other required portions of curriculum similar to these, and finish their requirements in record time.

They'd just have to be willing to accept that change was coming and prepare for it.

I also agree wholeheartedly that a diploma and licensing won't necessarily make anyone a better or more honest inspector, any more than a medical school's diploma can guaranty that its graduates will make better doctors than another's or one university's engineering degree can guaranty that its graduates will be better engineers than another's.

And, as long as we're talking honesty and ethics, my background as an investigator and the number of "cops" that I had to bust during my career, tells me that there is no way that one police academy can guaranty that its officers will graduate as better or more honest policemen than another. Honesty and ethics comes from within. You don't get it out of a book or put it in your wallet when a license is issued to you.

What a degree requirement would require though, is relatively uniform minimum standards from coast to coast, as these other professions have, that various state regulatory bodies can point to when establishing prerequisites for Hi licensing and certifications. As it is right now, we are in the wild west with a hodge-podge of "schools" out there, some good and some bad, and a whole lot of people hanging out shingles without ever attending a single one. Talk about your chaos theory!

Les brings up a good point too.

Instead of just touting their individual SOP's and tests as being the 'standard', and constantly engaging in brinkmanship, organizations could have long ago got the profession on a straighter track.

Instead of bickering amongst themselves, why not get the train back on the track now? Why not stop dissing one another and work together to fund and establish a national train-the-trainer academy, where teachers from HI schools, colleges, universities from all over the country could all go to learn the same methods and then return to their respective schools, do some tweaking and begin teaching HI's courses that are tailored for the profession, thus providing great big 'boulders' of relevant learning to Hi's instead of 'kernels'?

If we ever want folks to refer to what we do as a "profession" instead of an "industry", we need to be more professional and begin requiring that those in the biz, and those entering the biz, all must eventually meet the same standard of competence.

My opinion, worth price charged.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

[There Les, was that enough of a tome for you?]

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I hate to bring up a sore subject (no I don't)

The world's largest home inspection association, the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI), which serves over 9,400 home inspectors worldwide, reports that its membership is growing at an average rate of 300 per month. Given the industry growth, CompuTaught's online home inspection curriculum is coming at a perfect time to meet the needs of the many busy professionals considering entering this field who would benefit from the convenience of a user-friendly, interactive, and completely self-paced online experience.

This is from another thread. Until "WE ALL" get the idea that the easy way is seldom the best way, this industry is going to suffer.

You have to spend the time and money to be the best that you can. I think a 2-year degree is an excellent idea. But you have to stress to the student that they aren't finished learning when they graduate.

Bruce

[:-graduat

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Holly Mackeralannie!

Talk about your timely topics! About 4 years ago, someone in Great Britain proposed that it would be a good idea for the law to require full disclosure by sellers. As part of that proposal, they put forth the idea of a sellers packet to be given to buyers that would contain a full home inspection report and be put together by a special new professional in Britain - Home Inspectors!

Well, here it is, only 4 years later and, you guessed it, yesterday the thing cleared their parliament. They now have a law that requires that sellers provide buyers with a full disclosure packet containing a report done by an accredited inspector to a full set of national standards of practice in a narrative format.

Did they grandfather members of RICS, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors? Nope, they even require members of RICS to submit a separate application to practice as a home inspector, a special peer board vets the RICS surveyor's application, checks his or her educational credentials, checks for a history of litigation, has him or her take a pretty tough test and then reviews 10 reports that must be done to the standards of practice. If/when the inspector is approved and accredited, then, and only then, may he or she conduct home inspections.

As for getting into the profession, those new to this "new" profession are required to attend university level courses for a minimum of two years before receiving accreditation. First classes start soon and they don't anticipate first graduates until 2007. In the meantime, chartered surveyors who already have degrees and are already doing pre-purchase inspections will take up the slack, as soon as they clear the application/approval process, until the number of inspectors is fully up to quota.

Four years from concept to a nationwide standard. Whew! I hope to be doing an in-depth piece on this in the very near future if the folks at SAVA in Great Britain get back to me. In the meantime, you all can read all about this at the link below where you'll find a series of links to other aspects of the story and pdf newsletters that will bring you up to speed.

I'm going to be interested in everyone's take on this one after you've all had a chance to check it out. Here's the link: http://www.sava.org.uk

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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A combination of formal classroom training, testing, and a working internship program is how most other professions work to maintain minimum qualifiication standards.

We have to keep in mind that licensing is just another way for politicians to show how they are protecting the public and get more votes (or more money from "Supporters"). As a profession, we have to work to make this process fair and not let the politics override the realties of what we need to do.

There have been major battles in NJ regarding how to fairly implement the licensing process but once there are established standards, and if done correctly, it will help everyone.

I think there should also be advanced certification and qualifications such as "Master Electrical Inspector, Master Structural Inspector", etc.. This would help to continue to raise the bar so once people become licensed as a "Basic" inspector, they can continue with additional training and testing, get their certifications, and hopefully get additional fees for their expertise.

Mike-I have taught many structural seminars. I already have a course outline that covers how structures work, how to inspect them, and case studies in failures. Let me know if I can help when you open your school.

Be well,

Steve H.

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Hi Les,

Bruce is just quoting (tongue-in-cheek, I think) the third paragraph of the news release from Thomson Higher Education on the front page. I don't think he's making any endorsement.

I'm surprised that he's the only one who picked up on it. Are Bruce and I the only one's who bother to look at TIJ's front page?

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Les,

It was toung in cheek, NACHI requires almost noting to be a full "Certified Member" but the public doesn't know that, they see the "Certified" and don't look any farther. Kind of like you just did. (no offence intended). When you think about it we all believe advertising to some degree or another and we trust the advertiser. If it's written down it must be true. It's only us who know the difference or care. Until each state has an enforcable law with real teeth we are going to have to live with this crap.

So we can all talk about raising the standards thinking that we already exceed them or we can do something about. Start by mentoring a new guy until the law gets changed. I doubt most of us will see it changed.

Support CE in every respect, attend, speak, sponsor. Ask these training places to offer advanced courses. A community college will offer just about anything if there are enough students.

And oh by the way raise your own bar, then advertise it so the public can tell the differance.

Bruce

[:-graduat

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Thread drift......

I read the front page, but it is crowded. Crowded, as in overstuffed.

Mike has so much stuff goin' on in that head he's gotta get it out, I guess. The overall graphic impact would be "superiorly"(?, I had to use that word) improved if there was some stuff axed out.

True story....

Larry Hoytt, past president of ASHI from about 10 years ago, enrolled his two dogs in NACHI; NACHI didn't ask questions, took the money, & the dogs are members. That is the sum total of words I will expend on the (boring) subject.

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