April, 2018
Discussion from Executive Director
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

A Call for Civility


Take one look at the debates that flare up on some home inspection forums, blogs and posts and you’d think that inspectors have absolutely nothing in common. In fact, we share so many travails.

This month, I’d like to talk about two inspectors—one recently deceased, who dedicated the prime years of his life to the inspection profession, and another who, in the prime of his career, is dedicating his professional life to the betterment of all inspectors.

JD Grewell was the epitome of the strong, silent type—quiet and subdued, with only a hint of maverick appearing with his ever-present cowboy hat and bolo tie. His slow, but thoughtful, responses to questions belied his willingness to eagerly share his years of accumulated knowledge. And he gave that knowledge with aplomb. 

If ever there was a committee, task force or tough job that needed someone, we could count on JD to be involved. Don Lovering gave a heartfelt eulogy of JD, stating, “He gave of himself willingly, without calculation, bravado or by publicly or privately humiliating anyone.” Well said, Don. One of the most important things I learned from JD was to pause and reflect on a problem without blurting out the first thing that came to mind. The profession may have lost the man, but not his spirit. Godspeed, JD.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of doing a podcast with Preston Sandlin. For those of you who’ve never met Preston, let’s just say he doesn’t have just a hint of maverick, he embodies it. But more than that, like JD Grewell, he’s someone who will share every tip he knows, every cautionary tale he’s learned and every trick of the trade he’s picked up in his years as a top-notch inspector. And that’s the type of helpfulness that great folks in our profession spread with a passion.

One technique Preston uses is to stand back and observe the “macro” view of the property. Another way of saying it is, “don’t miss the forest for the trees.”

Too many inspectors get so lost in the minutiae or details of a defect that they lose sight of the real problem or cause. An example might be climbing up to the roof and determining that the shingles are showing signs of wear, taking photos and writing down everything, but missing the fact that the ridge beam is sagging severely! That could be a very costly repair, both for the client and for you.

Everyone who’s inspected knows that clients rely on inspectors to help in the purchase of a home. Whether that inspector is part of a franchise, multi-inspector firm or is a single operator, the client only sees and listens to the inspector who is on site. We stick out our necks every time we point out something. Hopefully, they’re paying attention to what we say and do. After all, that’s why they’re paying us.

But sometimes, the client may be distracted or the inspector may not get a point across clearly. Everyone who has inspected for any length of time knows that, regardless of how hard we try, purchasers just don’t always get what we’re saying. The fact is, just because we know what we’re talking about, it’s not always clear to everyone else. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

And if another inspector asks you for help, don’t be condescending in your response. We’ve all been in that dark, lonely place where we need someone to shed light on an issue that we’ve never seen before. So, don’t shine that light into someone’s eyes. Instead, interact with others using class and civility, and demonstrate that we inspectors have a positive culture—

“a set of shared attitudes, values, goals and practices that characterize an institution or profession.” In other words, take a page from the lesson book of guys like Preston and JD.

Wouldn’t it be great if we all could have that attitude?