October, 2003
You Tell Us
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Bigger or Better?


To the editor,
From Candidate through the ranks of the leadership, ASHI® is facing an identity crisis. It comes down to this: Should ASHI focus its efforts on getting bigger? Or better?

The argument to grow bigger points out that with more members we have more strength — more influence in governmental dialogue, more dues with which to provide more member benefits, and interaction with more of our peers.

Who can argue with that? However, it becomes problematic when the method employed to increase membership is lowering the bar. This is what the Membership Committee is proposing. The committee is charged with the responsibility to increase membership and that job is getting tougher every day. I understand the impulse to lower the bar for membership because it is the easiest, fastest way to increase our numbers. If that happens, it will dissolve the reputation so many of us have worked so hard to build. What will distinguish us from the other HI organizations?

If the widely accepted estimate that there are 25,000 home inspectors in North America is true, then close to 25 percent belong to ASHI. The largest part of our identity is that ASHI inspectors are the best of the best, in fact the BRANDING campaign is predicated on it. How credible will that claim be when every other inspector on earth claims membership to ASHI?

Historically, ASHI has had to focus hard on being bigger and better. I’m suggesting that at 25 percent of the inspector population, we are just about big enough. Don’t close the ranks of membership; new members should always be welcome, but we are bigger by far than all other competing organizations, and it’s time to re-evaluate our goals. Let’s enjoy the plateau of 6000 or so Members and Candidates and focus hard on providing opportunities for all to improve themselves. That sounds more like the ASHI I joined.

The unwritten business philosophy of my inspection firm and many others has always been: “Work hard to be as good as you can be, and you’ll always have plenty of clients.” It has served us and countless other firms well. It’s slow, but it works. If it works this well for inspectors, I think it will work as well for an inspection organization. ASHI’s leaders must focus on the quality of our members; the quantity will take care of itself.

To the Membership Committee I say: Thank you and congratulations! ASHI has grown to its critical mass. Please continue to develop and implement creative ways to outreach to high quality inspectors and invite them to join us. Be of assistance to the many excellent Candidates struggling, as we all did, toward membership. But relaxing membership requirements will dilute this group and make it hard to distinguish ASHI from other HI organizations. Please don’t let our high dues be the only meaningful difference. We’re much more than that.

This issue comes up every year and I think its time we take a good, hard look at ourselves and decide what we want ASHI to be: The cream of the crop? or The better half?

Jim Morrison, ASHI Member
Alan Morrison Home  Inspection
Lancaster, MA

Editor’s note: The Membership Committee has not proposed a change in membership categories or qualifications.

Thank you for allowing us to inspect your home

To the editor,
This letter is in response to the July, 2003, issue of the Reporter, wherein Rob Paterkiewicz clarifies some of the aspects of the forthcoming ASHI Experience. He cites the need to restore properties to the same or very similar condition as when we arrived. The MAC-ASHI Chapter would like to share ideas in relation to this goal.

Some of us carry cover cloths to shield clothing when access to the attic is in a closet. Some of us also carry small vacuums or lint grabbers to clean up behind ourselves.  Others use the bags newspapers are delivered in as boot or shoe covers so as to not track soil across clean carpets. These bags also work well in attics because their electrical charge repels insulation.

As a company policy, my firm leaves a tent card, along with the business card of the inspector, on the kitchen counter or in a conspicuous location to inform the homeowner who was there. On the cover of a folded card there is a simple statement:
“Thank you for allowing us to inspect your home.”

On the inside there is the following statement:
“Please Be Aware:  The Heating and Cooling Systems were operated (weather permitting), the Plumbing System and Electrical System (including breakers, outlets and switches) were also operated. We apologize for any inconvenience this my have caused you.”

Besides being a courteous means of informing owners who was in their home, from what firm, and that we messed with a lot of things, it leads to future business calls to schedule an inspection for their future home. Being polite, keeping a reasonably neat appearance, having a presentable appearing vehicle, and acting in a professional manner are all investments in future referrals from our clients, those agents that appreciate professionalism, and also, even from those homeowners whose homes we have invaded.

JD Grewell, ASHI Member
J.D. Grewell & Associates, Inc.
Silver Springs, MD

From the editor

We hope you enjoy the new look of your magazine. We’re kicking off our fiscal year with a 4-color cover designed to grab your attention and encourage you to read the Society news and articles of interest to home inspectors. We’ve been upgrading the design of the magazine in increments for the past several years, and plan to continue to do so. Let us know whether or not you like what you see.

Because we know home inspectors care about more than outward appearances, we’re also paying attention to content, and have been casting a wider net for articles and authors.

The magazine is charged with informing the Membership about ASHI activities, but it also offers readers a window to the profession, as it provides technical and business resources and sometimes a little light-hearted news. If you have ideas or suggestions, your input can help us increase the value of the magazine to you and others. Let us know what you think.

Sandy Bourseau, Editor