November, 2018
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Honoring ASHI’s Military Veterans

ASHI STAFF

ASHI is proud to have many members who serve or have served in the U.S. military and reserves. Thanks to an excellent response to our recent request for stories, we present you with these profiles of some amazing ASHI members. To all our military veterans, thank you for your service—to our country, to your communities and to ASHI!

Jay Emberton

WIN Home Inspection, Johnson City, TN (jemberton@wini.com, 423-767-2946, https://johnsoncity.wini.com/) and Kingsport-Bristol, TN (423-765-4949, https://kingsport-bristol.wini.com/) (on Facebook as WIN Home Inspection, Tri-Cities) 

I joined the Navy in 1986 and was stationed on the USS Ranger, an aircraft carrier in San Diego. After a deployment to the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, I went to college, joined the Indiana National Guard as a Cobra helicopter repairer and attended Officer Candidate School. I served as an engineer lieutenant and later joined the Army, spending seven years as a heavy-wheeled vehicle operator at Fort Bragg and in Germany. After serving as a Protective Services Detail driver during Operation Iraqi Freedom, I received a direct (re)-commission into the Army Reserves as a military intelligence officer at Fort Sheridan (IL). After another deployment to Iraq, I returned to active duty as a Military Intelligence captain. Next, I trained in satellite imagery intelligence and was sent to the 63rd EOD battalion at Fort Drum (NY). After training in IED and bomb-building techniques, I deployed with the battalion to Afghanistan as their intelligence officer. I stayed at Fort Drum for a year as commander of the Operations Company in the Headquarters Battalion of the 10th Mountain Division. From there, the Army sent me to Johnson City, TN, as an associate professor of military science at East Tennessee State University, where I served for three years.

My wife and kids love Coldstone Creamery, so I looked into buying a franchise after retiring from the Army. I learned it costs $450,000 to open an ice cream store and I didn’t have $90,000 for the down payment, so I researched other veteran-friendly franchises and found WIN Home Inspection. I now own two franchises of WIN Home Inspection in Johnson City and Kingsport-Bristol, Tennessee.

Attention to detail is instilled in military members and it’s required for any home inspector to be successful. In addition, my career in military intelligence taught me to ask why something is happening—to get to the cause of an issue rather than just point it out. When discussing events in the Army, we use an “issue /discussion /recommendations” format that works well as an inspection reporting style. We don’t just tell you what is wrong, we tell you why it’s an issue and recommend what to do or who to call about it. This format keeps clients informed and explains what to do next.

Being a home inspector allows me to serve my fellow Americans. I help people make informed decisions about the biggest purchase of their lives. The military made me who I am today. I have been to dozens of countries, met people and made friends with folks who are nothing like me, and learned skills and had experiences that aren’t possible in the civilian world. I tell folks, “If you don’t take it personally when people shoot rockets at you, the military is one of the best jobs in the world!”

Several clients have said that our business’ membership in ASHI gave them confidence to hire us. Membership in ASHI assures customers that we adhere to professional standards. Also, I look forward to every issue of the Reporter because it provides great information on all aspects of the home inspection business, from technical articles about specific items within a home to articles on running a business, advertising and managing risk. I am more confident in my abilities as a home inspector and business owner thanks to the information provided every month.

Although every home is different, inspecting a home is a regimented process that requires organization skills and critical thinking—two skills that the military instills in its members. Running a business requires tracking and accomplishing many tasks over extended periods, which is also required of military leaders. Young people who’ve completed one enlistment can thrive in this environment, but senior military leaders who’ve transitioned to civilian life are especially suited to this type of work.



Austin Jenkins

Quality Home Inspections LLC, Elizabethton, TN (423-723-7369, QualityInspectionsTN@gmail.com, www.QualityInspectionsTN.com

I started out in the U.S. Air Force in 2006, transferring to the US Army Reserve when my job was eliminated. I was assigned to Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville, NC (now known as Fort Bragg). My current assignment is at the 702nd Engineering Company in Johnson City, TN. I’ve been fortunate to venture across this vast world. My latest tour of duty took me to Cincu, Romania, where the 844th Engineering Battalion (headquartered in Knoxville, TN) deployed several companies over eight months. We worked on a NATO-sanctioned joint operation with engineers from Great Britain, Germany, France, Latvia, Canada, Australia and other countries during Operation Resolute Castle. Our mission was to design, construct and create projects for new ranges, roads, sniper towers, tank ranges and other components to help the Romanian army evolve their training for today’s fighting conditions.

As an engineering supervisor, I wanted to take my expertise with site design and construction to the residential aspect of real estate. Everyone knows that the military trains their troops to have extreme attention to detail. Thankfully, this has stuck with me since I left basic training in 2006. I try to analyze and collect as much intel on a situation as I can before moving on. I believe this helps me become a better inspector and provide a better overall experience for my clients.

The thing I like most about home inspection is how intimate I get to be with a home and see it like no one else ever will, except maybe the contractor who built it. Most homeowners don’t know what gauge wires should be in an electrical panel or what type of gas tubing they should have. Hearing what I explain about the home is really an eye-opener for them, and I love seeing their reaction when I tell them what’s good and what isn’t.

What I love most about the military is the opportunities I’ve been given. I’ve had the privilege to attend some of the U.S. military’s best schools and training programs. In 10 years, I want to look back and say “I’m glad I did” rather than “I wish I had.”

ASHI has helped me network, make connections and provided me with a database of resources that I don’t believe I would get anywhere else. Clients can find me on the ASHI database, which sets me apart from other inspectors in my area.



Mitchell Stephens

M&A Home Inspections LLC, Portland, OR (503-309-8286, mitchell.stephens@m-a-inspections.com, www.m-a-inspections.com)

I have served in the U.S. Army since 2008, and did two combat deployments to Iraq and two combat deployments to Afghanistan. While in the army reserves, I worked as a real estate agent and a construction foreman in the civilian jobs, which helped me prepare for a career in home inspection, but the military prepared me to run a company. I learned that I could do anything if I worked hard enough, had the right uniform and was in the right place at the right time. I took home inspection certification classes while I was deployed in Iraq.

My military training prepared me for a career in home inspection because I am trained to be on time and professional. I know how to talk to clients who are upset. I can maintain equipment and I understand the proper way to teach classes, which helps when working with real estate agents.

What I like most about being a home inspector is being my own boss—teaching and educating possible homebuyers and sellers about their investments. What I like most about the Army is the travel. I’ve seen how people in other countries live. I also enjoyed the training and learning leadership skills.

ASHI helped me find new opportunities to build my inspection business through classes and general information. I look forward to attending my first InspectionWorld® in 2019!

Having my own business has given me the opportunity to give back to the veteran community, which I feel are like family. My company offers 50% discounts on all services to all military veterans. I’m thankful to ASHI for the support.

 

Jon Williams

Solid Rock Home Inspections, LLC, Pueblo, CO (719-251-6288, solidrockinsp@gmail.com, www.solidrockinsp.org)

I served in the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), final rank Corporal E4. My positions included non-commissioned officer in charge of Battalion welding shop (position held as E-3) at Camp Lejeune, NC, and welder, MIMMS Clerk, battery room NCOIC, squad leader and guard at Camp Fuji, Japan. My deployments included a tour in the Middle East during the Gulf War, a tour in mainland Japan and a tour in Okinawa, Japan. I also competed for a spot on the USMC rifle team.

I had no idea that a career being a home inspector existed until my wife called me after talking with a friend, who commented on her acute attention to detail and suggested that she pursue a career in home inspection. When she asked me about the idea, my first thoughts were, “How hard can it be? Get address, go make sure the house is there and has four walls and a roof, collect $200 and pass go.” How naïve I was! However, because I’ve had some remodeling and building experience, and my wife was co-owner of three construction companies, it wasn’t much of a leap for us. We did formal training through AHIT and I realized that we had saddled quite a bronc! With experience as a welder, mechanic, machinist and equipment supervisor, I have acute attention to detail, which has served me well as an inspector.

My military and personal experience dovetails with home inspections in the following areas:

  • Mission accomplishment—there are times that it’s very hot in those attics and there are spider webs galore in those crawlspaces! I just charge forward because the client deserves the best inspection we can give.
  • I grew up on a ranch and I was in charge of people in the military. If I didn’t do my job well, people and animals could have died or been hurt, so the question “What can I do to protect my client?” is always on my mind during inspections.

I like being an inspector the most when I work with first-time homebuyers who are scared witless, calm them down and tell them the deficiencies, but explain the cause and effect so that they see it’s not all bad. The relief that washes over their faces is golden. (I have to admit that I also like picking apart some people’s “creativity”!)

What I liked about the military was the camaraderie, belonging to something bigger than myself and giving back to America—shouldering an immense responsibility, and facing sometimes “impossible odds” and overcoming them.

ASHI has played a role in our business by being “bigger than us” and by providing a code of conduct to which we adhere. We attended our first InspectionWorld® in Orlando in January 2018 and it was awesome! The knowledge we received was priceless, and we feel we can better serve our clients and real estate agents. Also, belonging to the Southern Colorado ASHI Chapter has been beneficial for camaraderie and education. We always strive to better ourselves, and ASHI certainly plays an instrumental role in our betterment.

I am duty-bound to protect my clients and agents. No harm should befall them. It seems to me that, as an inspector, I have to wear many hats—contractor, electrician, plumber, structural engineer, roofer, mason, carpenter, landscaper, painter, English major—and I should know everything there is to know about everything. I should always strive for constant improvement. Thanks to ASHI’s requirements, we constantly improve.


Alece Wood

Allegiance Inspections LLC, Orangeburg, SC (803-560-6006, allegianceinspect@gmail.com, http://allegianceinspections.com)

I served in the U.S. Air Force for 12 years (1991-1996 and 2000-2007) and now I’m a licensed home inspector in South Carolina. I have military leadership education, used the GI Bill to help me earn a degree in marketing and obtained an MBA while on active duty.

As part of security forces, I spent plenty of time out in the field crawling in the dirt. I trained to guard nuclear weapons, aircraft and Air Force assets, and to secure the base and train in combat. As an officer, I also learned how to conduct financial analysis and provide business support for pilots. I’ve also worked with military civil engineers and learned about structures. I was deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where I was forced to face my fears to complete the mission. At the time, I wondered how all this experience would come back into my life down the road.

My military experience taught me to handle adverse conditions and to not worry too much about crawlspaces, critters or spiders—I can deal with them all. I’m naturally inquisitive and my military training gave me a heightened attention to detail. I’ve found that inspecting mobile or manufactured homes can be tricky. Many of these homes have water heaters in not-so-obvious places. My strategy is to follow the distribution pipes and look for the temperature pressure relief valve (TPRV) extension pipe in the crawlspace, take a screenshot of the longitude and latitude readings using the compass app on my cell phone, then match those readings to a location inside the home. The most “interesting” place I found a water heater was in a nook behind the refrigerator in the kitchen. The thought to use my compass app to locate the water heater just came to me—it seems my military training is engrained in my subconscious. I’m grateful that I’m able to use my skills to be a crafty home inspector, and the real estate agent was impressed.

I have a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and I had a dream of owning a franchise after leaving the military, but my timing (during the 2008 economy frenzy) was such that I had to put those dreams on hold. A few years ago, my fiancé and I were looking for a new home, and I asked my real estate agent a lot of questions. She said, “Maybe you should try home inspection.” I looked into it, got training through AHIT, and two years later, here I am!

I received amazing support from two mentors, each of whom had many years of experience in home inspections and construction. One of my mentors emphasized the importance of getting support from an organization. With that encouragement, I joined ASHI and am grateful that I did. Among the many supports that ASHI offers is the online forums—I love it when I get those notifications, and really enjoy reading the questions and responses. They give me guidance when I need it.

I try to do my best every time and put others before myself. It’s meaningful to me that my clients’ hearts are involved as well as their heads in their homebuying decisions. I enjoy teaching people how their home systems function, and when I have to give my clients tough news, I try to deliver it in a reassuring way, sometimes even saying that the home will just need more “TLC” than they expected.

Home inspection has become a great path for me. I never thought I would be this happy with a business that revolves around structural buildings. I consider myself a servant-leader and I believe in giving back. One way I do this is to offer discounts to my clients who are active duty military/veterans, first responders, seniors over 60 and educators. More than anything, I am proud to be an advocate for my clients. It’s my way of giving back. 


Samuel A. Wood, MS, PE

Advantage Home and Environment Inspections, Inc., South Charleston, WV (304-768-5446, Sam@advantagehomewv.com, www.advantagehomewv.com)

I served on active duty from 1972 to 1992 in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I’m now a retired Lt. Colonel, with my last two assignments as the Facilities Engineer for Aberdeen Proving Ground and the Third Infantry Division in Bavaria, Germany. Other assignments over the years included Fort Caron, CO; 44th Engr Battalion, South Korea; Rock Island Engineering District, Rock Island, IL; Captain and Major and Professor of Mathematics at the West Point Military Academy; Major and Construction Operations Officer for Task Force 111 in Honduras; and Lt. Colonel as the Senior Army Advisor for the West Virginia National Guard. I’ve had special training in Airborne, Jump Master, Ranger and Special Forces. Also, I earned a B.S. in mathematics (minor: biology) from Penn State University in 1972 and a Master’s degree in civil engineering from Stanford University in 1980.

I chose the home inspection profession because I was the Director of Engineering and Housing for Aberdeen Proving Ground, and the Senior Director of Engineering and Housing for the Third Infantry Division, Wuerzburg, Bavaria, Germany. I was responsible for designing and building all new housing, as well as maintaining existing houses for military families; there were more 13,000 house units. This experience gave me the knowledge to start my own home inspection company in 1995 when I retired from active duty, and my military experience gave me the courage and confidence to start my own business. “No guts, no glory.” 

My home inspection company, Advantage Home and Environment Inspections, Inc., has performed more than 15,000 inspections in central West Virginia and southeast Ohio. As a Professional Engineer licensed in several states, I also performed structural inspections. 

In 1995, there were no licensing organizations in West Virginia with established standards. I researched and found ASHI, determined that it was the most prominent home inspection association in the country and had standards that I could apply in West Virginia. The state standards in West Virginia now emulate the ASHI Standard of Practice. 

I attended my first ASHI conference/InspectionWorld® in January 1996 and I’ve only missed three since then. I’ve given several presentations at ASHI conferences on structural defects—recognition, cause and repair. 

The military taught me how to operate independently and gave me the drive to go it alone.  It also taught me to tell what I see, and not expand or hypothesize—just give a straight report. I’ve been successful at that as my last 23 years have proven. I am now 70 and wish to retire, but plan to continue to be an ASHI member. If someone is interested in buying my company, please contact me. 


Dave Yost, CRI, ACI, CMIA,IBR

Quality Building Inspections, Inc. (630-347-6400, dave@qbinspect.com, www.qbinspect.com) 

When I graduated high school in 1971, the Vietnam War was in full swing. Once you registered for the draft, your name went into a lottery system and eventually you were assigned to the Army. I had a choice—wait for my number to be pulled or join another branch of service. I chose to join the Navy. My first station was Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. I thought it would be the perfect assignment on the oldest refueling ship in the Navy, which probably would not go anywhere, but within a week, we were off to the Vietnam war zone. For nine months, we were in and out of ports, transferring fuel, water, ammo and personnel to other ships. 

Trained as a Machinist Mate, my job included working on A/C and refrigeration equipment, along with hydraulic, pneumatic and steam reciprocating engines and turbines. I also had to stand watch, running all the necessary equipment to keep the ship moving. Our jobs were not easy, but we had better conditions than those in the Army and Marines.

Catastrophic events happened. A 14-inch diameter steam pipe ruptured, causing the ship to go completely dead in the water in the bombing zone off the coast of the South China Sea. Another time, a propeller shaft stopped, leaving only one propeller working. It was difficult to steer the ship and unsafe to service other ships, which was our job.

When our ship returned to Hawaii, it was deemed unseaworthy so the Navy sent us back to the South China Sea on a new ship. After two years of active duty, I joined the Naval Reserves, stationed at the Chicago Naval Armory. I joined the Navy Salvage Diving unit, went to Dive School and became a 2nd class Diver, certified in hard hat equipment and underwater welding. 

We raised sunken ships, cleaned ship bottoms, retrieved torpedos, found and destroyed 500-pound bombs, and more. Some items we found are now in the Smithsonian transportation building and there are photos of our salvage work near Ellis Island, NY.

When I served in the naval reserves for 18 years, I worked many civilian jobs—in the research department of International Harvester, in building maintenance for a company and as owner of an HVAC company. The Pipefitter Union invited me to join them and I worked with them for 14 years before retiring.

Wanting to continue working and helping others, I joined the home inspection industry. After training with AHIT, I realized I needed to know more, so I joined the local NAHI chapter, and soon was elected to the board and became chapter president. When NAHI closed its doors, ASHI welcomed NAHI members and once again, I find myself on the chapter board, helping to train inspectors to become some of the best in the industry.

Being a home inspector is not an easy or a “get-rich-quick” business. Finding real estate agents and clients is one of the most difficult challenges. We have competitors who will work for less and know much less. We need to know so many things and we need to admit we don’t know it all. That’s why ASHI chapter meetings are helpful, along with the amazing times at InspectionWorld®. So much time and effort goes into IW—take advantage of it. Yes, it costs money and time, but look at it as a way to stay current with the industry and learn the latest trends. Take advantage of the great IW locations—make it a mini-vacation with your family and write off what you can as business expenses. If you don’t know how to do this, attend chapter meetings and ask questions.

My biggest joy is the camaraderie and friendships I’ve built over the years. The biggest thing the military taught me was to hang in there and you will win.