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

Lon Grossman #190


WIIFM? In today’s fast paced world, acronyms are more prevalent than ever. What’s In It For Me? is the siren song in everyone’s mind. Although we may not recognize it, we all know that whatever action we take has to be in our best interests. It’s called self-preservation. There are, however, different levels of WIIFM.

Examples of my own:

Don’t stick your hand in the fire. Don’t touch those two wires together to see what happens. Don’t jump out of a
perfectly good aircraft.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced the first example. All children have to learn what hot is. One day we were beyond the reach of our parents and touched something we shouldn’t have. It’s unavoidable. But through our ignorance, we learned a valuable lesson: I’ll feel better if I’m not burned.

The second level of WIIFM is a combination of innocent ignorance or maybe an inquisitive search for knowledge based on the need to know. (Now remember, this is my story, so I’m putting the best light on it.) My story is how I met Mr. Electricity for the first time. I had an aunt who used to hide dollar bills in a vacant ceiling light socket. My cousin, the most mischievous boy I’ve ever known, convinced me the money was there for the taking. His mom put it there for him so it would be in a safe place so “bad guys” couldn’t find it. We needed some candy, we needed some money, we needed someone to get the dollar.

Always the problem solver (remember, this is my story), it seemed like a simple solution. I was taller, therefore, I could stand on the kitchen chair, snatch that cash and satisfy that sweet tooth. My cousin offered to turn on the light so I could see better. When I was able to get up off the floor, his ear-to-ear grin changed to bull’s eyes as I began to pummel him with my non-tingling hand. Two lessons learned: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and try not to shake Mr. Electricity’s hand.

The third level of WIIFM occurred during the aftermath of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. Being recently inducted during an unpopular war into an army of mostly unwilling draftees, I wanted to be with guys who would fight. I wanted to be able to count on the guys next to me. I went Airborne.

My basic training buddies asked, “Why jump out of a perfectly good airplane?” My drill sergeant told me, “Only two things fall from the sky...bird sh*t and idiots.” But I based my decision on WIIFM. I chose to be with an outfit filled with volunteers who were better trained, had a higher commitment to each other, and had an esprit de corps all it’s own.

Fast forward a quarter century.

My second ASHI National Conference was held at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. ASHI had just passed a new policy that allowed candidates their choice of taking the ASHI test (precursor of the NHIE) or taking the Peer Review, which was being phased out. At that time, in order to become Members, Candidates had to take a Peer Review administered by the chapters.

The peer review was a great process. A Candidate inspected a house after it had been inspected by a peer review committee. The Candidate was expected to find the major deficiencies, write a report and then answer questions from the committee members. Everyone learned from the experience. One of the main benefits was identifying an inspector’s strengths and weaknesses. Better to be reviewed by a committee of your peers than to be dragged into court in front of a jury of your peers.

One of the shortcomings was that it was unwieldy. It was hard to arrange times, houses to inspect and review committees. The reviewers were subjective. Taking a written test was much easier.

After taking the test, however, I felt I was not in the same league as those who had gone through the peer review process. As I was walking through the registration area after the test, I noticed several guys pointing at me. They approached me, and one of them, Lon Grossman, the president of the Great Lakes Chapter, said his chapter was keeping peer review as a voluntary process that would ensure new guys would be doing their inspections with feedback from experienced inspectors.

WIIFM was suddenly as clear as the Tet Offensive. I STILL wanted to be with the best volunteers, with a higher commitment to one another, in the best outfit, better trained and an esprit de corps all its own. This joining ASHI thing was starting to work out! I found my WIIFM. Many thanks to Lon Grossman and the rest of the ASHI members who took the time to reach out to us new guys who didn’t even know we needed help.

If your chapter doesn’t have a formal Peer Review, contact David Bunker  (1inspector1@comcast.net), the chair of GLC’s Peer Review.

 If you want to know more about WWIFM, contact Tony Smith (inspecthathouse@netscape.net), the GLC’s Mentoring chair.

If you want to know more about ASHI’s 2007 President go to web.mac.com/leshf.