January, 2011
You Tell Us
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

History Revisited


To the editor,

Please accept my congratulations on the wonderful job you and staff do each month producing a well-done Reporter. As you know, the success of the Reporter always has been of great interest to me.

I am writing because I have some comments about things said by members who have written to the Reporter recently.
After your great article on the "devil weed," I had a very different experience than Mr. Whalen seems to have had. My mailman looked upon me with new respect, and my mail has been on time every day since my copy of the Reporter appeared. He now smiles, and winks, asking if I have any gardening chores he can do for me. But on a serious note, there really is no topic that someone in our profession should not be interested in learning more about. When an inspector comes across a closet filled with stacked money packets wrapped in plastic (as I have), he should, at least, have a clue about what the occupant may be involved in and what may be going on in that house.

What also prompts me to write is the his-tory lesson by Howard Pegelow. History is a wonderful topic because if you wait long enough, you can change it and no one will know the difference. His article seems to imply "that there were a few from up North who agreed the American Society of Home Inspectors would hopefully be the future for the industry." (Note: I always tried to describe us as a profession, not an industry.) The fact is, the profession was born in the North, and it happened much earlier than the writer suggests. The company I sold in 2006 had just celebrated its 50th year as a full-time home inspection company. ASHI came together 20 years after home inspections began and during a period (1976) of time when those who were in the profession saw the need for a professional organization. The early names — Heine, Falcone, Walker, Passaro, Gallioto, Byrne, Goldring, Monohon, Williams, O'Connel, Cox (to name a few) — were well into the business years before ASHI was born.

In fact, the birth of the inspection profession took hold in the North by a large measure, not by a "few." Most of the early activity took place in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and New England. Our founder and the Board of the original ASHI group were all from this area.
As to the founding and growth of the CoR, it was not born out of "necessity" as Mr. Pegelow would have us believe. It was a byproduct of the reduction of our Board of Directors from over 50, to the present 21. The 21 original "new Board" members were drawn from the old board and those who did not get advanced to the 21-member "new" board became the council of representatives by default.

Tom Byrne (N.Y.) and Gerry Loesch (Mo.) were the ASHI members assigned to design a new board from the chaos of what we had at that time, with the goal always to represent the membership. With just over 50 board members, we had to endure two-day meetings, which sometimes did not deal with all the business at hand. In some cases, the executive committee had to work on Friday afternoon or evening before the board meeting. Committee work was being performed by the Board. So, we hired an outside consultant to guide us to change and who, by the way, suggested a 15-member board. When our older board voted on the proposal, they could not accept that small a board; hence, our present 21 members. It should be noted here that there was from the beginning and continues to this day to be a trust issue. That is why we keep trying to streamline governance, and it keeps getting rejected. The Board is "them" and the CoR is "us," even though the entire Board is comprised of past members of the CoR.

The CoR was to be the communication arm of the society to interact with the Board and bring information to the chapters. It has in point of fact been a political sore spot since its inception. The CoR was not granted "additional duties including governance." The inclusion of CoR in our governance evolved over many years of bickering. The above is not meant to take away from what the COR can be or do.

And for the record, I will state publicly that I have always opposed the CoR because I felt it would become a political issue, which it has. Some CoR speakers or members felt very strongly that the Board should be responsible to the CoR. I simply think the facts need to be clearer about the reasoning for a CoR and how it came to be.

The early days, when "there were few competitors and everyone made easy money," were really a time when dedicated professional home inspectors embraced competition and worked together to raise the bar of our profession by bringing our competitors into the fold. From this effort, ASHI was born.

 As to the easy money part, the early inspectors were also very good businessmen. We charged fees commensurate with our liability. Many average fees charged in the 70s and 80s were more than what is commonly charged today. Lower fees, reduced profits and CYA inspection reports, which are common today, are a result of, at least in part, the large number  of home inspectors.

I once published a two-page legal-length document titled "The History of ASHI." Being retired and having eliminated a number of old files, I am unable to come up with a copy. I will keep looking. In the meantime, keep a record of the history. You may be able to change it someday.

John Ghent
ASHI Past President

Editor's note: John Ghent is ASHI member #231. Before retiring, he owned and operated Goldring Home Inspections, Inc., Trumbull, Conn., and served as ASHI president for 2001. Following his term as ASHI treasurer, he was recognized for locating property for ASHI, overseeing the purchase of the current headquarters and making sure ASHI had sufficient reserves.

Reporter Online Bonus:
Charter Member Norm Becker shares original documents and reiterates Ron Passaro's role as founder, and a separate document tracing ASHI's early days.

An enlightening article

To the editor,

I just received your November magazine. The section on flashlights is enlightening. What it did not state was my rechargeable MAG light is far superior to other lights for having a concentrated beam to focus on at a distance across a crawl space or attic. To me, this distance focus is a very important safety factor that I do not think other flashlights have. I am not concerned with the wider beam at a closer distance because with a smaller beam it is easier to focus on details.

Regis A. Kurtz, ACI
Retz Enterprises, Inc.
Garner, N.C.

Sharing condolences

To the editor,

Please share our condolences with the family of Moe Madsen, St. Albert, Alberta. He passed away November 24, 2010.

Moe was the second Canadian to serve on the ASHI Board of Directors, and he was very active in many aspects of the Canadian home inspection profession.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Harry Janssen
ASHI Canadian Certified Inspector
Accurate Home & Building Insp. Consultants Inc.

Guelph, ON