April - National Home Inspection Month
By Sally Chapralis
YES, APRIL IS NATIONAL HOME INSPECTION MONTH, and it's also the start of a new, very busy season of buying, selling and renovating homes. Furthermore, given this winter's weather challenges, experienced home inspectors' services will become even more critical and valuable.
Since the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) was established 38 years ago, its members continue to illustrate their professionalism and reflect ASHI’s Standard of Practice, Code of Ethics, and continuing education opportunities. As homeowners, homesellers and homebuyers face today’s challenges, they will also appreciate ASHI’s credentials and impressive consumer resources. ASHI is the only home inspector organization that is certified by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). That is quite an accomplishment because ASHI doesn’t just call itself “certified”… it is certified!
The home inspection field continues to evolve and remain responsive. For example, home inspectors are learning more about radon gas as the ASHI Reporter discussed in its January and February issues.
ASHI members throughout the country frequently speak to local consumers and media about the importance and standards of home inspections, while also tailoring their comments to their unique geographies. Consumers appreciate this information because it addresses their misconceptions and desire to learn more.
Home Inspections are Critical
- Home maintenance. Homeowners should get a home inspection every three to five years to avoid expensive repairs, identify problems and maintain their home’s viability. An inspection of the structural and mechanical systems will include the foundation, roof and gutters, exterior and interior walls, electrical wiring, plumbing, heating and central air conditioning systems.
- Pre-sale inspections. In this still-recovering housing market, homeowners who want to sell their homes will discover the advantage of a pre-sale inspection … before the first potential buyer walks in. Homeowners who identify and address problems beforehand add to its value.
- Homeowners. First-time buyers, long-timers who want to “age in home,” homebuyers of a new home still under construction and parents concerned about the safety of their children all need home inspections by experienced professionals – ASHI members – who will identify current or potential issues before they become serious problems.
Yes, April is National Home Inspection Month. As you prepare for a new season …
Ideas to increase awareness of your business
- Community presentationsPublic libraries, park districts and community centers welcome guest speakers to discuss specific subjects. Home inspections are newsworthy, relevant to homeowners, buyers and sellers, and these centers publicize their programs through their newsletters, email blasts and social media.
- Contact your local media with newsworthy ideas that would feature you and ASHI’s resources. Possibilities range from home inspections in a changing season to “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” on Thursday, April 24. It’s also helpful if you offer a link to something visual such as a photo or video. Whether it’s a newspaper, online site or radio station, help the reporter and the audience “envision” your subject.
- Career coordinators at local high schools want to feature a variety of potential career opportunities. Students (future home inspectors) welcome this information when considering their options.
- Market your business through postcard mailings, local paper advertisements and community engagement.
- Leverage your social media, testing the different opportunities that work for your business. The media and future customers appreciate links to informative information (“news you can use”).
- Volunteer your services or offer sponsorships that reflect ASHI’s local and national community interests and resources, which will increase your opportunities, credentials and business.
ASHI member's perspectives
Skip Walker, Lisa Alajajian and David Goldstein are, like you, ASHI members and home inspection professionals who also reflect unique perspectives and interests.
Skip Walker, San Bruno, California. Silicon Valley Chapter
Skip Walker emphasizes that ASHI’s members and professional home inspectors “are the only people who are totally focused on the house and the safety of the occupants, the people who will live there. We do not have a vested interest in the home, and our goal and responsibility is to accurately report and document the condition of the home.”
“We’re not trying to sell them anything. We want to give them complete, required information that helps them make knowledgeable, safe decisions.”
Skip joined ASHI because, “while we’re ‘competitors,’ we come together – in our local chapters and nationally – to make each other better.” Walker says. “We give back with a ‘pay-it forward’ mentality … new members learn from more experienced and long time members, which is invaluable.”
For example, when attending a local ASHI chapter meeting on safety, a fire-fighting professional discussed the different types of smoke alarms. “It was so informative and so critical that it became my ‘soap-box issue,’ and I now speak and write about it to increase consumer awareness. Most of us do not realize that there are different types of smoke alarms (ionization and photoelectric)and each works differently.”
Three thousand people die every year in a residential fire because they do not have a smoke alarm, or their smoke alarms don’t work properly, or the type they purchased is not effective. Search “smoke alarms” on ASHI’s Home Inspector’s site for reports and guidelines. ASHI also discusses smoke alarms in several videos when you search YouTube for ASHI Photoelectric.
“While we may have different interests,” Skip adds, “we’re all focused on safety and continuing education to identify and anticipate challenges. ASHI is very diverse and we’re there for each other.”
Lisa Alajajian, Milford, Massachusetts. New England Chapter
“My dad was a builder, and he always challenged me to get into building and home inspection,” Lisa Alajajian says. So, in the late 1990s, Lisa joined ASHI and went to a chapter meeting. She also went through a two-year Certification Program at Northeastern University Boston, where an ASHI member was an instructor.
“At that point, maybe two other women were members of our chapter. But it was not an old boys club,” Lisa says. In fact, when an ASHI chapter member took her on an inspection, he told me that, “if you’re going to be one of us and an ASHI member, we’re going to train you to become the professional you should be.”
After a few years, Lisa was asked to join the chapter’s Board of Directors. She served on various chapter and Council committees,which led to her becoming president of the New England Chapter and, more recently, a member of ASHI’s National Board of Directors. “I’m not the first woman to be elected to the Board …Miki Mertz has that honor.”
Now a Certified and licensed home inspector in Massachusetts, Lisa’s home inspection business is flourishing … even given the state’s rules about referrals. That is, “the only people who can refer a specific home inspector is a buyer’s agent with a buyer’s contract, past clients, real estate lawyers or mortgage brokers.” Furthermore, Lisa adds, “ethical standards and doing the right thing are critical to me.”
How has being a woman affected her home inspection business? “Well, a male client found meon ASHI’s site and after our interview, he hired me ‘because, my wife told me that women are more detailed.’ “
Lisa notes that her inspections are a team effort, she writes a full report with as much information as possible, and she encourages clients to ask questions so they feel comfortable and want to learn more during the inspection. “I’m working for them, I include them in the inspection, and I hope to break down systems so they understand the issues.”
Lisa explains that it took three years to become a full ASHI member, and “it has been an incredibly rewarding experience. Besides my continuing education courses, during our monthly chapter meetings, we share everything. We invite experts to our meetings to discuss challenges, equipment changes and other home inspection advances.”David Goldstein, Robbinsville, New Jersey. Southern New Jersey Chapter. “I’m one of the oldest, second generation home inspectors in the country and have been one for almost 40 years. My father helped to establish ASHI.” David Goldstein is also ASHI’s Membership Chair.
During his career, David has been impressed with the dramatic changes in the home inspection field. “The nature of the home inspection business has evolved dramatically in terms of professionalism, new technologies and advancements in continuing education,” David explains.
“In the early years, many inspectors were initially engineers who evolved into home inspection. Today, home inspectors may have been encouraged by a parent in the profession [like David was], or because they learned about it through other sources. It’s also becoming more common to see home inspectors in TV shows or movies, as well as in articles on home improvement and maintenance.”
Depending on their interests, home inspectors are becoming involved in many related activities prompted by their experience. David is an example: advocating on behalf of consumers experiencing improper workmanships by contractors, educating home inspectors across the country on technical topics; serving as an expert witness in litigation, and responding to the challenges of Hurricane Sandy.
“Consumer education is an integral part of what we do, teaching people about their houses. Consumers want to know the value and purpose of home inspections.” Furthermore, “from our perspective as inspectors, the cost of the home is irrelevant,” David adds. “One dollar or one million dollars … we look at each inspection in the same way because it’s our responsibility.”
Weather, of course, is always a challenge for home inspectors. “I just looked at a house that had been under four feet of water, and the whole mechanical system had to be replaced. But the new installation may have problems,”
Learn More, and grow with ASHI.
Yes, April is National Home Inspection Month...all year long!
Sally Chapralis is the Consulting Editor for the ASHI Reporter. Her writing, business communications and PR experience includes working with construction and real estate industry publications.