June, 2015
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

The Last Samurai


Many of you may have seen the movie

(of the same title) with Tom Cruise who, as a cavalry officer, had to make the decision whether to be on the winning side or the right side.

We, as home inspectors, face that dilemma every day when doing inspections. As ASHI members, we follow the Standard of Practice and often go way above it. We are required to follow a standard; that's how we do an inspection. But we also have an obligation to show an honest and aboveboard stance to our clients; that's how we do business.

The Standards are a no-brainer, although some of you may disagree with me based on what some inspectors in your market area are doing. I would not dispute that, as we all face, or should I say, compete, with those individuals.

No, what I'm talking about here is the business part of our obligations. I'm talking about the way we conduct ourselves with others. How we treat our clients, real estate agents, sellers, just about everyone. Even the way we conduct ourselves with family members.

I'm talking about our ethics, more specifically ASHI’s Code of Ethics. Ethics often are not talked about and sometimes are a misunderstood requirement of ASHI membership. Like most reputable organizations whose members interact with the public, ASHI has created a set of rules for us to follow when dealing with clients, real estate agents, home sellers, etc. Sometimes, we take those rules for granted. We tend to concentrate on the “technical” how to do the inspection and not so much on how to conduct the inspection business.

Ethics tend to be assumed, but not adhered to. We may follow some, but not all, of the rules. The stress of the economy, income, family matters may divert us from the path we initially decided to follow.

Similar to a well-known poem, are we talking about the path less taken or is it more taken? Well, that's the dilemma, isn’t it? It’s a dilemma that home inspectors face every day when doing inspections.

Would you like to know more? Read on! Robert Frost said it best in the first two lines of his stanza from “The Road Not Taken”: Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both.

We face our fork in the road with every inspection. We decide which fork to take with every inspection. It's not just an empty path before us, but one littered with distractions and temptations as to which fork to take. One perhaps puts more money in our pocket and the other perhaps alienates a potential business source. In some instances, the unethical path actually may encourage a potential business source.

One path follows our Code of Ethics, while the other may be an easier one. Again, I defer to Mr. Frost, when he says: Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

from the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

Like Tom Cruise in the movie, we are faced with an ethical choice.

Cruise was asked how he knew when to trust someone with his life. He said, “When there's doubt; there is no doubt.”

In other words, if a question arises about whether something is ethical or unethical, then it probably is unethical.

When you’re on the precipice in your mind, facing an ethical dilemma, then you know what the answer is. When in question, there is no question. You should do the right thing, not always the profitable thing.

There are tools available to help anyone who is in a quandary about an ethical situation or making an ethical decision. In addition to ASHI's CoE, there are guidelines that can help us come to an ethical choice at the fork in the road.