September, 2010
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



A Challenge to Home Inspectors: Is Community Service for You?

JACK FEHLANDT

Officially retired, Jack Fehlandt has ramped up his public service and challenges other inspectors to do the same.

As home inspectors, we routinely educate people about home safety and home maintenance — that’s an important part of the service we offer. But what about all the people who could benefit from learning about home safety and maintenance, but won’t because of their life circumstances? They fall through the cracks and are at risk.

Social service agencies and churches in my area welcomed my proposal to conduct training sessions tailored to the needs of their clients or members.

If you’re willing to donate as little as one evening a month, you can touch the lives of many who do not have access to your services and make their lives a little better, a little safer.
In Chicago’s northwest suburban area, I’ve worked with and held informal evening training meetings arranged by the following organizations:

Fellowship Housing Corporation – serves homeless or at-risk moms with a two-year guidance/training program.

Teen Parent Connection
– assists adolescent parents from ages 13 to 25.

Habitat For Humanity (Northern Fox Valley) – builds urgently needed shelters to help families improve their quality of life.

Here’s what I cover during a typical session:
  • What is a home inspector and a home inspection?

    I include information about Illinois’ licensing requirements.
  • What is ASHI?

    Each family receives ASHI’s Client Bill of Rights and Tom Feiza’s “How To Operate Your Home,” an excellent, concise informational source.

    I also hand out safety directions, often keyed to specific pages in that book. Included are directions on smoke and CO detectors, fire escapes, window and patio door security, common electrical problems, railings and balusters, testing GFCI’s, garage door safety, HVAC servicing, gas leaks, selecting qualified trades and technicians and more.

    And, each family receives a set of five household emergency valve-shutoff tags with specific, written directions to locate each one in the home, keyed to specific illustrations and pages in “How To Operate Your Home.”
  • Show and tell

    I pass around GFCIs, fuses, circuit breakers, furnace filters, brass flexible gas connectors, frayed lamp cord, two- and three-prong plugs, tamper-resistant outlets, etc., as I talk about them.
  • Question and answer

    This gives me the opportunity to ensure I’ve addressed everyone’s concerns.
The local Habitat For Humanity group executive decided to make these training meetings mandatory for every family moving into a new Habitat home! Habitat for Humanity provides the “How To Operate Your Home” manual (or the Spanish version, “Mi Casa”).

Recently, WINGS, an organization that helps homeless and abused women and children, contacted me and we’re scheduling sessions for its clients.

Home inspectors:
There is a great need for this training in every community. Find it. Address it. Add value to your community. I believe you’ll find it as rewarding as I do.