I’m sure you’ve heard the history of ASHI, which started back in 1976. From what I’ve been told, a group of residential inspectors on the East Coast decided to form an organization dedicated to the home inspection profession. Our membership, which began with approximately 30 people, is now on the path to reach our goal of 10,000 members.
The first ASHI leaders believed the potential of having a national presence within the home inspection profession was an obtainable goal, and such progress was to be gained through setting high standards and encouraging chapter membership. Thus, the growth of chapters meant growth for ASHI. Education also has been a main driving theme, both then and now. However, times have changed since 1976 when inspectors normally used just a flashlight and a clipboard.
Standard of Practice and Code of Ethics: Over the years, the mission and ideas of ASHI’s “founding fathers” grew into what we recognize today as the ASHI Standard of Practice and Code of Ethics. The Standard and Code are not now, nor ever have been, set in stone. ASHI’s Technical Committee periodically reviews and updates these documents. Before finalizing any proposed changes, ASHI’s expert committee members conduct numerous reviews, and all members are invited to join in the review process by responding to surveys and participating in the voting process. Then, we publish the agreed-on amended wording for the Standard or Code so the members, along with the general public, have access to it.
Education and Technology: Early on, education for home inspectors was limited to courses offered at community colleges and educational sessions that ASHI chapters produced for their meetings. Of course, ASHI did and still offers an annual conference (now called InspectionWordTM) that’s loaded with high-quality training and education for inspectors with any level of expertise and interests. Featured topics include the basics of running a home inspection business as well as advanced specialty classes that offer certification and certificate training to meet the requirements of various federal, state and local jurisdictions. It is all there for the choosing.
Let’s not forget that some of the topics now presented in classroom and online courses were unheard of back in 1976, when computers were more of a fantasy or luxury item. Back then, such a thing as a “typed report” was just that—a report typed on a typewriter. Most, if not all, inspectors completed handwritten reports and delivered them to their clients on site. I’m told that some inspectors still use this practice.
Providing photographs required using a Polaroid camera or 35mm film that required photo-developing services at a camera shop. Now, the use of high-definition photos can simply be achieved with our cell phones. (BTW, no cell phones back in 1976.)
With current market demands, many inspectors offer specialty or ancillary options to enhance the typical home inspection. These include well and septic, radon, asbestos, mold, water, lead paint samplings and the use of infrared thermography. ASHI, as well as many vendors ASHI recommends, offer training in these areas.
Chapter, National and International Membership: Early on, ASHI established a local and regional chapter system in which inspectors who join ASHI also are referred to the chapter in their region. Then and now, ASHI’s leaders believe that the chapter is the source from which members can establish both short- and long-term relationships.
As membership within ASHI has steadily increased, at times, our chapter system has seen declines. We recognize that members might forego a chapter membership for a variety of valid reasons, but I think that opting out of chapter membership is unfortunate because being a member of a chapter gives you far more than you may realize. In addition to practical educational sessions, the camaraderie you gain by meeting and learning from or working alongside your fellow professional ASHI inspectors on projects and committees is priceless. Members can tap into the knowledge and experiences of each inspector by establishing these friendships.
To broaden our scope, ASHI extended its presence into the Canadian provinces. We have a mutually beneficial relationship with the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI) and we have many Canadian ASHI members.