September, 2016
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

"It's a Perfect Fit for Me"


Wendy McDowell is one of ASHI’s newest members. In fact, when we spoke, Wendy had only just completed The ASHI School’s two-week course that was held in Seattle last March. She said, “I’m still in the process of doing ride-alongs to get to the 40-hour mark so that I can take the Washington State exam and the National Home Inspector Examination (NHIE).”

After she passes these exams, Wendy will focus on getting ASHI certification. Her decision to align with ASHI came about when she asked a real estate agent which organization is the best in terms of education and support. Wendy said, “The agent replied, ‘Hands down, you should become an ASHI Certified Inspector (ACI).’ So that’s how I chose The ASHI School and this path.”

Scheduling and coordinating times and places for ride-alongs can be tricky. Wendy said, “It’s not always easy to say ‘yes’ when the question is ‘Can you be at such-and-such remote location tomorrow at 7 am?’ But that said, I’m thankful that many instructors and members of the local ASHI chapter have been willing to help guide me as I rack up my hours shadowing inspectors on the job.”

“During many of the ride-alongs, I’ve noticed that it’s an advantage to be a woman. I can usually form an instant rapport with the client, especially if the client is a woman, and I have a knack for setting nervous homeowners at ease. Ease can develop into trust.”

Wendy said, “Getting to the career of home inspection was not exactly a natural progression for me. I’d been a radio disk jockey and a TV producer, and my dad was a contractor in Texas. When he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I took over his company and sort of fell into the role of ‘handygirl.’ I found that the greatest gift of that job came from making people happy. It’s very rewarding to know that I’ve fixed something that’s been broken or added something that clients have wanted.”

“I’m also in a band—I play guitar and bass and I sing. I think that having all these various types of jobs has helped me become a better people person and that helps my clients.” She joked, “If things go badly, I suppose I could try to sing to them.”

Eventually, Wendy’s father also pointed her in the direction of home inspection. According to Wendy, “He was pretty blunt. He said, ‘You’re getting too old to be swinging a hammer! Get away from doing all the grunt work!’ He suggested that I become an administrator of a construction company, but I knew I’d get bored with that. Home inspection is more hands on, so I’m able to keep myself engaged in my skills. Each day is interesting.”

Wendy said that one challenge is delivering bad news, “I know that the information I share can help solidify my clients’ dreams about their home or give them pause.” She continued, “Making good personal connections and finding sensitive ways of presenting difficult information are things that I like to do and do well. I try to be straightforward, using statements like, ‘Hey, this is an issue with the house’ or ‘This house is passing all the tests.’”

Wendy said the most essential tools for the job are her moisture meter and electrical multi-tester. She noted, “I can go to most inspections with my electrical toolbox and be ready for whatever I might encounter.”

Then she divulged (with a bit of humor) that “if I had a dream home, it would not have a crawl space. I’m terrified of spiders and don’t like finding dead animals. So when I have to enter one, I sort of put up my hood and get my ‘eyes’ on and then psych myself up to go in and get it done!” In these and other situations, Wendy recalls her (and Yoda’s) personal mantra: “Do or do not; there is no try.”

“People sometimes are surprised that I work as a handygirl and a home inspector,” Wendy said. “But after I’ve done the work, I usually get a pat on the back, maybe partly just for being a woman in this male-dominated industry. I’ve found that home inspection is a smart career choice if you like working in construction. It’s definitely a perfect fit for me.”