HERSPECTIVE – LORE HEMSELL
Interviewed by Laurel Harris, Retired ASHI Member
Lore Hemsell recently retired from home inspecting after a 40 year career working full time in Denton, Texas. Aside from home inspection, this amazing lady has a keen interest in horses, and uses infra-red thermography in a way you might not expect! We caught up with Lore enjoying some well-earned free time, and asked her a few questions.
Thank you for your time, Lore. Please tell us what got you interested in home inspection as a career?
Before graduating high school, my father took me on a home inspection. He thought I could do it and would enjoy it as a career.
What training/mentoring did you take in pursuing this goal?
I answered his work phone for him for three years before I graduated, so I knew about scheduling, the time it took to do an inspection, and the travel time required between each house. The Dallas Fort Worth area is an extremely large area, and I drove a blue/white VW Bus my father bought me in California.
I also used to help my dad and uncle with construction, adding electrical, plumbing, etc. When the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) licensed Home Inspectors in 1989, I had to acquire 160 hours of classroom training to become licensed.
Do you find you were able to use transferrable skills from your education and/or previous work to your career as a home inspector? If so, tell us how you applied them?
When I started, we had to use two pages with carbon paper (yes, carbon paper). Glad we don’t anymore, it was so messy! Then three-part NCR (carbonless) paper came out for our reports. When the Computer arrived, inspections were easier to report. Now we have USB Drives and CD’s so there is NO paper.
We didn’t have cameras early on, but now we use one on every inspection. The best flashlight for brightness when I started was a 9V large case, box-style one (to those who remember this monster!) At the time, a Polaroid was too bulky to carry with the large flashlight. Having the digital camera is the biggest savior to record anything, and it helps remind you if you forgot something when writing your report.
What tool could you absolutely, positively not live without?
The EZ scan (no longer made) is an electrical tester that tests grounding for appliances. The gas sniffer, digital camera and, of course, the infrared camera are the most valuable tools to have.
Tell us how YOU use infrared thermography?
For water intrusion, detecting missing insulation, hot wires, and hot breakers.
Any other non-inspection-related ways?
I use infrared thermography to scan horses for lameness or a good base line.
Have you had any unusual inspecting experiences that you believe were the result of you being a female inspector? If so, please tell us about it.
I’ve had to prove I know what I’m doing to any engineers and fathers who show up at the inspection with their son or daughter. Other than that, women love to hear that there is a woman inspector and most men are amazed that I am an inspector.
Have you had any unusual inspecting experiences which likely had nothing to do with your gender? If so, please tell us about it.
I almost got electrocuted in a house. There was no light bulb in a kitchen on an overcast day. I was opening the oven door to check the broiler and there was a short in the broiler that electrified the unit. The dishwasher had leaked and I was standing in a puddle of water. I had to kick myself off the range to release my hand. The Realtor walked around the corner and asked me why I kicked the oven.
There have been other scary incidents of finding vagrant men sleeping and/or drunk in closets during an inspection. On Dec. 7, 2012, a French Mastiff attacked and tried to kill me at an inspection. That is what prompted my retirement after 40 years.
What in your opinion is the biggest misconception about being a female home inspector?
That we don’t know construction, can’t carry a ladder, crawl under pier and beam houses or go on a roof. When I first started out, my age, my long hair (down to my knees at one point), and my gender were my biggest challenges.
Do you have a philosophy by which you live?
Be friendly, positive, have good ethics, show up on time and be/look professional. Have your vehicle and equipment appear well taken care of.
What are you passionate about?
Family, friends, my faith, art and architectures.
What do you believe was your biggest advantage as a female inspector?
My communication skills were strong in building a bond with my clients. I am also very detailed. My inspections were presented as though giving mini seminars on the house. I enjoyed teaching my clients how to fix things, so they didn’t have to hire a stranger to come into their home to fix what they could. I have even done inspections for some famous people.
Describe your dream home, after inspecting so many yourself. Tell us about what would be your ideal?
Our home is comfortable on the inside with all of our southwest art, colors, and a spectacular view out our back door (the main reason we bought this house) . We have lived in it for 13 years and are still happy with it.
What would our readers be surprised to know about you?
I was the first woman in the state of Texas to be a Home Inspector. I attended A&M University for my courses when I started.
When I met my husband, Jim, I had been inspecting for seven years at that point. He asked me what I did for a living. I told him “I am a Home Inspector.” He didn’t know what that was! We started working as a team after he became an inspector. I miss being with him for work but also enjoy retirement too. I have been in the business most of my life and still will with all my inspectors in Texas and ASHI.