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

Dan Friedman, #577


It’s amazing what happens when business is slow. In one ear I’ll hear, “I’d better get off my butt and drum up some business.” In the other it’s “Let’s look through some old stuff and see what we can get into.” The latter won this time, so here’s what I came up with. After digging through some old business receipts, I realized how our memories tend to become selective.

Last month, I talked about my first ASHI conference in 1989. Before I returned home from that conference, I knew the home inspection profession was the business for me. I sent in my application and administration fee to join ASHI, which set me back $125. That’s the equivalent of $200 today – adjusted for inflation. Today, however, the application fee is only $80.

My Candidate dues in 1989 were $395. That’s the equivalent of $632 today– adjusted for inflation. Associate dues are $295 today. The reason I’ve brought up how much money I spent is because I often hear, “Why are ASHI’s dues so high?” The honest answer is they’re really not. Not compared to what they were in relative terms in the past, and not when you look at the value of ASHI membership.

What I learned at my first ASHI conference was how much more I needed to learn. I decided to become a sponge and absorb as much information as possible.
This month, I’d like to talk about my experience at the St. Louis Chapter seminar in October 1989.

When I learned about the St. Louis educational conference, I jumped at the chance to attend. I’d heard good things about the quality of its seminars and I looked forward to confirming that firsthand. This is a benefit of belonging to a group of guys so willing to share knowledge. Good or bad, you’ll hear what other members have to say. A benefit that I’m proud to say is still in vogue. I wasn’t disappointed when I arrived for the seminar.

Since I had one conference under my belt, I knew I should find a seat at the front of the class and listen. I had also learned that a lot of knowledge is shared in the hallway at break time. There is never a quiet moment at an ASHI seminar. There’s always a point-counterpoint to be debated. I look back at chapter meetings and educational sessions and try to remember everything I learned. Well, there’s no way. But there is usually at least one thing that stands out.

At the St. Louis conference, I walked into a breakout session, maybe 20 guys in a small room. The speaker stood there and in a slow, staccato voice he said, “Don’t miss the forest for the trees.” Now I thought to myself, “which session is this?” But before I could look at my program schedule, he continued, “You have to be cautious not to overlook the big picture while concentrating on the minutiae.”

Okay, so now I was confused. Trees, pictures, minutiae ... who is this guy and what’s he been smokin’? Since I had been so clever to sit in the front of the class, I couldn’t sneak out. I was there for the duration. Well, let me tell you, I’m glad I stayed because what I learned has been valuable to me. What Dan Friedman proceeded to teach me was to stop and look at the property from a distance so you can look for obvious problems that you might not see if you’re too close to them.

One example he mentioned was a sag in the roof. If you just get out of your truck, go straight to the house, extend your ladder up to the roof, climb up and point out a few worn shingles, your customer may get a little miffed after he calls the roofer to do the minor repairs you recommended and the roofer tells him to call a structural engineer because the ridge beam needs to be replaced. Just like the last sentence, which was obviously poorly written, you have to slow down. “Don’t miss the forest for the trees.” Thanks, Dan. I owe you one.