Chris Howe, an ASHI Certified Inspector, never thought he’d be inspecting commercial properties during his recent tour of duty in Afghanistan. His Reserve unit, the 94th Civil Engineer Squadron, was sent to Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan where the engineers joined with airmen from the 439th Civil Engineer Squadron at Westover Air Reserve Base in Massachusetts to form the 755th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron.
Its mission was to improve base defenses, construct office and storage space, install air conditioning systems and electrical wiring in housing structures, and place earthwork and concrete. Squadron members also trained Afghan workers in the construction trades, a difficult task because of the language barrier. Chris’ official job in Afghanistan was working for a colonel as a project coordinator and estimator.
When the Army needed to have a compound of several Afghan commercial buildings inspected, no one knew how to proceed. No one even knew how to do an inspection except Chris, who had spent five years as an ASHI Certified Inspector with Champia Real Estate Inspections in Marietta, Ga. Chris was tapped to coordinate the project. First, he created his team of inspectors and then trained them. The inspectors entered their photos and inspection notes in the software Chris used doing commercial inspections for Champia. He wrote and presented the final report to the Army. He had taken his laptop with him to Afghanistan, which he found invaluable for producing the report, as well as communicating with his wife, Roz.
A former ASHI chapter vice president, the inspector said his experience at Champia and his degree in Business Administration and Construction Management from Southern Polytechnic laid the groundwork for his work in Afghanistan. Previous experience in construction management in Germany, Florida and Georgia also contributed to his ability to coordinate various disciplines in unfamiliar territory.
Chris’ 180-day tour of duty ended in October 2009, and he is back inspecting properties in Georgia. He appears to be the first ASHI Certified Inspector to have worked in a combat zone. Since there is a Reserve rotation of three years, it is possible he may be called up again before his eight-year Reserve duty is over. For now, however, he continues to enjoy doing inspections as well as teaching.
“I love it,” he says of doing inspections. “I love getting excited and sharing that excitement with the buyer or the agent. I like to focus on the positive aspects of a house as well as the negative. It’s too easy to focus on the negative when doing an inspection, but I find when I comment on what is great about the house, the prospective buyer feels his initial choice is validated. Agents, too, are more engaged in the process.”
We think Chris has the right attitude and we are grateful for his service to his country with his tour of duty in Afghanistan, as well as his return to the inspection business.