February, 2007
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



A Professional Journey

JOHN L. MCGRATH

As 2006 drew to a close, I found myself reflecting on the progress I’ve made in my new career as a home inspector. I’ve been asked to share the story of my journey to encourage others to take advantage of the ASHI Parallel Inspection program and other services available to new home inspectors.

After moving from Boston, Mass. to Rural Retreat, Va., I investigated my area and was surprised to find there were only two home inspectors. I soon discovered why. In this remote area of southwest Virginia, not many people ask for an inspection. Obviously, this posed a real problem. I decided I needed a plan if I was going to succeed as a home inspector. The first step was to get the best training I could find. I researched several organizations and decided that ASHI most closely mirrored my personal standards and ethics. That settled, I looked at the ASHI School of Home Inspection, choosing the enhanced classroom course delivered by Kaplan/ITA in Manassas, Va. In August, I attended the course and was truly amazed at how little I actually knew about the industry. After working in the HVAC field and restoring a 100-year-old home, I thought I knew it all. Even though I didn’t, the excellent training got me off to the start I needed.  

Next, I began the long process of hiring an attorney and getting my business registered. This took longer than I expected, but soon it was time to decide how to
market myself. To break into the business in my area, I knew I must present myself as a professional, so once again I turned to ITA to help me with my marketing package, including a Web site. Against all advice, I also decided to advertise in the local phone books.

While this was going on, I again turned to ASHI. I decided to try the Parallel Inspection program. Unfortunately, be-cause I live in a remote area, my options were limited. The closest Member who was willing to do parallel inspections was six hours away. I did find Banks Garrison of Tri City Professional Home Inspections, LLC, an ASHI Candidate with logo use privileges, who was just an hour away. I contacted him, and he said he was willing to work with me, so I was able to put my training to work in the real world.  Banks and I hit it off right away. Our work ethic, training and inspection styles were similar. I learned a lot from him and gained a friend I can call on when I have a question.

Even though I’m new to the inspection profession, we all bring different life experiences to these rides, so I believe I was able to share some of my strengths with him, as well as benefiting from his.

After this experience, I wanted more, so I contacted ASHI Member John Cranor, Cranor Home Inspections, LLC, Richmond, Va. He chairs the ASHI Standards of Practice Committee. We arranged for me to accompany him on a couple of inspections. The experience was well worth the six-hour trip to Richmond. John scheduled plenty of time for the inspections so that I could observe, as well as conduct my own inspections. He showed me a great deal, and I hope that I was also able to share some of my knowledge with him. We went back to John’s house to review my reports. It’s great to have the chair of the Standards Committee tell you your reports look good. I am grateful for the time John and Banks spent with me.  

For those Members who have not signed up for the Parallel Inspection program, I urge you to consider doing so. Instead of a competitor, you just might end up with a new resource and possibly a friend.

John-McGrath-truck.gif

Photo: ASHI Candidate John L. McGrath pictured with his truck as he begins his new career in Rural Retreat, Va.

I continue to be a student of the profession, taking courses on manufactured homes, HUD/FHA and radon testing. I need to provide one-stop shopping if I am to make it here.  I just received a call for my sixth inspection.

Of the six, one came from the ASHI Web site and five from the phone book.  I have yet to receive a referral from a real estate agent or broker; my work is cut out for me in educating people about the advantages of an inspection. I have been asked by the local Rotary Club to speak on the affects of radon. I hope this will get me some exposure in the community.   

My professional journey is just beginning, but with the support of ASHI national, my local Piedmont chapter and members like Banks Garrison and John Cranor, it will be a long and profitable one.