July, 2007
From the ASHI President.
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Challenges

FRANK LESH

I know these reports from the president may not be considered cliffhangers, but an underlying thread in all of them is the challenges that we as inspectors face and how we handle them. Whether it’s the decision to get into the home inspection business or a question of how to remain in it, we have to accept that things will not always go as planned.

All of the inspectors I’ve spoken to have interesting stories about how they got into this industry. A few, like Jamie Dunsing, bought their father’s business. Kurt Salomon and John Gerhardi both started second careers after retirement from Big Blue. Many are recovering contractors: Mark Cramer and Kurt Mitenbuler come to mind. Architects like David Tamny decided that inspections might be a better way to make a living. We’ve even have Bill Loden, a genuine rocket scientist in our midst. Some, like me, just stumbled into it while doing something else. Others have actually written a business plan that outlines the who, what, where, when and how everything is to take place.

I suspect that some of the ladies out there were sick and tired of the “No Girl’s Allowed” sign the boys made to keep them out of the tree house. Now when Sully, Miki, Arlene, Joanne and Cheryll are klatching, they barely tolerate my presence.

Of the 58 Charter Members who created The American Society of Home Inspectors, Norman Becker, Tom Byrne, Edward Charkey, Jules Falcone, Anthony Galeota, Marvin Goldstein, Andrew Polmer, oh yeah, and what’s his name, Ron Passaro, are still members of ASHI. Although a lot of us are bemoaning the housing market slowdown, imagine what was going through the minds of the founders of ASHI.

“I’m going to quit my day job and create not just a new business, but a new industry?”

It takes a lot of chutzpah to risk that much. And shortly after they stuck their collective necks out, we had the second oil embargo. For those of you not old enough to remember, home mortgage rates climbed from 9 percent to 18 percent. Compare that to today’s 6 percent. Plus, back then homebuyers needed 20 percent down payments.

That’s how some of us got into the business, and you can see that it was never easy to stay in it. Up until the last year or so, we’ve been on the gravy train. Inspections became the norm, houses sold well and we made money. Since the home sales downturn and the increase in state regulation (with the corresponding increase in home inspectors), however, things aren’t quite as easy as they once were. But there are some ways to stay in the black.

One method is to offer ancillary services. Radon, well and septic, lead, asbestos and, dare I say, mold testing have long been in the repertoire of home inspectors. EIFS and thermal imaging have been around for a while, too. Our public relations focus lately has been on offering maintenance inspections. If you have a client base, perhaps you can contact them and offer a maintenance checkup. If you’ve established a good relationship with your customers, you have a good chance to build on that.

The Homeowners Insurance Survey Form, which can be used to provide valuable information in disaster-prone areas of the country, is a good way to expand service offerings. And there are other services that ASHI is working on that you’ll be hearing about in the near future. The point is that there is more than one way to make a buck. Two of your best assets are your ASHI membership and your own personal drive. Together, we will meet the challenge head-on and seek opportunities wherever we can.

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ASHI President’s Podcast  

To view  Frank Lesh’s podcast, log in as a member on www.ashi.org, then go to:
www.ashi.org/members/president/podcast/.


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