December, 2018

Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Outside of the Framing: A Home Inspector’s Perspective on Culture


Culture, when used as a noun, refers to a group of people who share similar beliefs and social norms. Culture, when used as a verb, refers to maintaining conditions of growth. A group such as ASHI, or even all home inspectors in general, can indeed be classified as a “culture”; however, unless we put that culture into action, it is nothing more than just a group. Putting culture into action allows a group to proliferate success.

Growth is one of the main reasons that groups of people form cultures. Growing individuals ultimately allow a group as a whole to grow. As humans, we rely on each other for survival. Without culture, the human race cannot survive. Without groups and cultures in professional areas, industries will not make progress toward raising standards.

Today, and during the last seven to eight years, the real estate industry has been steadily “busy.” Yes, the low-inventory era is still upon us, but in most areas, there seems to be enough work to go around, even with new real estate professionals joining the market. Although this seems like it could be the best of times, it is definitely a good idea to start preparing for a real estate winter. 

Right now, people are capable of surviving on their own. It’s common for individuals to operate their own businesses and, as we know, many home inspectors do so. However, although individual growth is prolific, what are we doing to grow our local groups, even those within our culture? We will always be circumvented back to the group when times are not as prolific. “The group” provides answers and insight that will once again feed its branches to maintain its stature.

If left unattended and neglected, however, the group cannot maintain itself. People sometimes view groups as being less valuable in times of individual, prolific growth because they take for granted the value of the group. For example, take the flowers on a tree—with the flowers representing individual inspectors, and the main trunk and branches representing the home inspection industry as a whole. It’s easy to take for granted the trunk and branches when the flowers are in bloom because all the attention is focused on the flowers and not the trunk and branches. However, flowers are short-lived and the growth cycle repeats as the tree prepares for its next blooms.

"For home inspectors, the days of winter will be upon us again at some time and we will need to rely on the comradery of the individuals in our culture to survive."

Some view the act of helping one another as an act of building the competition, but how can a culture exist if there is competition? How can a group of people agree on ideas, build an industry and make progress if everyone is seen as the competition?

There is no such thing as competition in a culture. Once competition is allowed to infiltrate the thoughts and beliefs of the group, the culture dies out. This shift takes the culture from “we” to “me.” The “me” doesn’t have a culture because no group can be formed and, although sunny, fertile days allow the “me” to survive on its own, the long nights of winter will not favor the “me.” Resources will quickly be depleted or consumed and no longer available.

The resources of a “we” culture allow for everyone in the group not only to survive, but also to grow and progress. So, when the next set of good times are upon us, not only can we do better, but we can also help the survival and growth of those who are new to the culture.

By helping one another in a culture, we pass ideas back and forth. The more thoughts that the group brings to a conversation, the greater the chance to generate mutual success and to provide each other with knowledge about how to survive. 

A culture is a group of people who share the same beliefs. Absconding from the culture and the responsibilities associated with being in it can cause self-loss. As individuals, we lose by not having access to the group’s collective knowledge and by not cultivating relationships, which are the most important tools for survival.

"As home inspectors, we are all on the same side of the fence. We should face one another and unite to help make the climb to the other side."

Matt Smith is the owner of Ace Home Inspections of Upstate New York, an ASHI Associate member and a home inspector mentor. Check out his website ( and his YouTube Channel (Matt S).