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

ASHI and FABI - Strengthening The Profession Through Peer Review


I’m writing this message while sitting in the Southwest Airlines terminal at the Orlando International Airport after attending the Florida Association of Building Inspectors (FABI) Winter Conference in Daytona Beach, FL. Although sitting at in airport is seldom fun, the FABI conference was a blast!

More than 30 attendees, whose experience level with inspection ranged from “seasoned” to “new,” participated in an educational peer review activity at a house that was a real piece of…well…“something.” 

In case you’re not familiar with the peer review process, here’s a brief history: Years ago, in order to become an ASHI member, a candidate had to be “reviewed” by a committee of seasoned home inspectors. The members of that committee would pre-inspect a house for major deficiencies and decide which deficiencies were “must finds.” Then, each candidate for ASHI membership would inspect the house, find the deficiencies and report them to the committee. Only the candidates who reported all the “must finds” became members of ASHI.

This was a great system, but it was difficult for a growing association to replicate it on a large scale, so ASHI leaders decided to replace the peer review with a written test. The test is easier to administer and has the advantage of being objective; the peer review is subjective because each house is unique and each committee includes different inspectors who may look at houses from a variety of perspectives.

ASHI’s Great Lakes Chapter (GLC) continued to maintain the peer review experience as an educational opportunity, even after ASHI stopped requiring it. To this day, GLC holds a peer review activity prior to each of its chapter seminars. Other chapters highly value peer review activities as well, and many continue to offer some form of it as education for their members. 

It’s hard to express the value of this personal experience. We all know the value of the internet. For old-timers like me, the internet reminds us of the encyclopedia—a world of knowledge at your fingertips. There’s no doubt that the ’net is a great tool, but, like a hammer, if it’s your only tool, everything looks like a nail.

So, when we meet new inspectors who have absolutely no experience other than what they’ve learned online, we shouldn’t be surprised that they could use more hands-on experience. One way to help them achieve that experience is by offering peer review activities. After visiting the peer review at the FABI conference and knowing the success of GLC’s peer review program as I do, I’d have to say that the best people to provide peer review experiences are groups like FABI and ASHI chapters.

Speaking of FABI’s recent peer review, ASHI and FABI did some collaborating at the 2017 Winter Conference. One thing we did was use Facebook Live to broadcast the inspection and then we posted a video of it on YouTube. That video had over 3,000 views within a day of the inspection and the response from attendees was overwhelmingly positive. As a result, FABI has decided to offer a peer review at all of its conferences.

A great big thanks to all of the FABI inspectors who helped run the review. Special thanks go to Ralph Cabal, Jean Anne Baker, Jeff Clair, Manny Gonzalez and Glenn Stephens for being the team inspectors. Another special thank you goes to Jon Bolton for arranging the house that was used for the peer review, in addition to being one of the team inspectors. A lot of work goes into preparing for these peer reviews, but the value of the outcomes for our members is immeasurable.

For the entire weekend of FABI’s conference, I saw how FABI stepped up to the plate to give Floridian inspectors an eye-opening view of what to look for in a real house. Congratulations to the FABI Board of Directors for allowing ASHI to help achieve that success. Two organizations—uniting to strengthen the profession.