October, 2006
ASHI Community
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Rebuilding Together Taps ASHI form More Than Pounding Nails


In spite of a long-standing Memorandum of Understanding between ASHI and Rebuilding Together, not much has been happening at the national level. All the action has been in the field, where ASHI chapters and even individual members have been working with local Rebuilding Together Boards. Given the autonomy of ASHI chapters and RT boards, and the hands-on nature of the activity, this probably makes sense.

Some of the activity is recent, spurred in part when, in May, the Chapter Relations Committee sent contact information for local RT boards to chapter presidents. Other relationships reach back to when Rebuilding Together was known as Christmas in April.

While volunteers who are willing to pound nails have always been welcome – something many a home inspector did well and with enthusiasm – today, more than one Rebuilding Together board is tapping ASHI volunteers for their inspection skills. Home inspectors are being asked to evaluate potential projects before RT commits to doing them. This prevents RT from taking on something too expense or difficult to handle.  

ASHI would like to encourage even greater local interaction between chapters and local RT boards by sharing the experiences of a chapter and of a Member.


Rebuilding Together Mission Statement

Rebuilding Together preserves and revitalizes houses and communities, assuring that low-income homeowners, particularly the elderly and disabled and families with children, may continue to live in warmth, safety and independence. Our goal is to make a sustainable impact in partnership with community.
2006 Impact: 8,900 houses and non-profit facilities; 267,000 volunteers serving 1,897 communities; $98 million in market value.

To learn about Rebuilding Together in your local community and to find your nearest Rebuilding Together affiliate, visit www.rebuildingtogether.org. ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Suncoast Chapter Supports Public TV

by Cheryl Harris, chapter public relations liaison

Giving back to the community is a way that ASHI members in the Florida say thank you to their many customers and others with whom they do business.
On August 6,  Suncoast ASHI members
volunteered their time to staff the phones for the local public television station’s (WEDU) fund-raising campaign. The station reaches viewers in several counties within the Tampa Bay area.

They raised almost $10,000 that evening which helps support programming such as Andre Rieu, Andrea Bocelli and Mystery Theatre. 

During the evening, the WEDU announcers talked about ASHI and what the members do. In addition to receiving publicity on August 6, the program was rebroadcast the following week, and the chapter is going to be listed in a future program mailer to approximately 40,000 viewers.

This is the second year Suncoast has gotten good exposure for ASHI while supporting the local public television station.
Front row, left to right: Tony Marino, National Property Inspections; Jim Fahs, Suncoast ASHI President, Young Home Inspections; Randy Noon, LandAmerica Property Inspection Services; Joe Wright, 4a Home Inspections; Michael Oberacker, National Property Inspections; Back row, left to right: Vito Porpora, ASHI PR Office, CRG, Inc.; Cheryl Harris, ASHI PR Office, CRG, Inc.; WEDU Announcer

Sometimes Manna Just Drops From Heaven

by Brian Mishler, ASHI Member

As membership committee chair of the PRO-ASHI chapter here in Pittsburgh, I was looking for ways to reinvigorate our membership, serve the local community and, at the same time, hopefully generate positive public relations. Discussions on the topic had produced suggestions of working with Habitat for Humanity and other local aid groups, all worthy causes, many of which our members are already supporting. However, most of these groups require volunteers be present at a given time and location, difficult for a bunch of self-employed folks who defend their little precious free time like a bear with her cubs.

Sitting in my office one day in June, Cindy Gilch, executive director of a group called Rebuilding Together called. Cindy explained that her organization helps local financially disadvantaged seniors remodel their homes to make them more livable, and serves the needs of these often physically challenged folks. Seems her group ran into a big snag this past year when their assessment teams underestimated the work needing to be done on several projects because they ran into “behind the wall” problems once the work was underway. Budget overruns went into the tens of thousands of dollars; not a good thing for a non-profit.

Would our organization be able to help train her assessors to look for and anticipate such hidden defects? Sometimes manna just drops from heaven. Knowing that such training is difficult and often a matter of experience, I asked if she might be interested in our group not only training, but doing inspections for Rebuilding Together. It seemed a perfect fit; they do their remodeling work in April and need 30-40 inspections done between December and February, typically a slow time of year for inspectors. If each member does just one inspection, scheduled when it best suits him or her, it will serve both groups and the community as a whole. Cindy readily embraced this idea and agreed to attend our next chapter board meeting. Manna.

Cindy presented her group and its needs to the board which unanimously supported the idea. A new Candidate in our chapter, Joe Martelli, was assigned a board seat with the local Rebuilding Together and lead cooperation and development of the program. Joe’s background in construction management (and the fact that he lives within a few blocks of the Rebuilding Together office) has been instrumental in getting the bugs worked out—and there are plenty. What seemed on the surface to be an ideal relationship—and it is—has numerous potential pitfalls in this, our land of litigation. So far, a letter of intent has been signed between the two groups outlining the purpose and scope of the relationship.

In July, shortly after our board meeting, Steve Gazzo, Aaron Flook and I attended a Rebuilding Together fund-raising event at Heinz Stadium, called “Club Noir.” The motif was that of a 1920’s speakeasy, and it was a very well-organized, outstanding event. Tickets for the bar were provided; food was plentiful and excellent. Chinese auction items included a big flat-screen TV, stays at local resorts, barbeque sets, numerous sports memorabilia, (an autographed Bill Cowher football now resides in my living room!), garden bench seats, dinners, trips, etc. Events also included a local magician, a band and table games. This is a dedicated, motivated and highly skilled group.
n his research, Joe has discovered that the assessment forms used by Rebuilding Together are woefully inadequate, and discussion has been had on how to improve them. Currently, discussion is ongoing about what exactly the scope of our work will be and how best the inspection report forms can address several factors, including translation between the inspector,  Rebuilding Together and from one chapter to another, addressing not only the requested work, but the safety issues that we know will present themselves in this project.

Joe and I will be meeting with Cindy in the very near future to finalize and clearly define the role that ASHI inspectors are to play with their organization. From there, work will commence on the assessment forms, ID badges, protocols and various logistics at both local and national levels.

Even in its present raw form, this cooperation has generated a great deal of excitement not only within the local chapter, but on the national level. Sometimes, manna just drops from heaven.
PRO-ASHI volunteers for this program. From left to right the volunteers are Dan Howard, Brian Mishler, Brendan Ryan, Malcolm Whipkey, Joe Martelli, & Steve Gazzo.