March, 2002

Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Widening Our Vision


At the beginning of 2001, I’m sure no one could imagine how much the world was about to change. Significant events forever changed the way we think, and the way we lead our lives.  

In 2002, we also need to change—change the way we do business, both as individuals and as an association. We must think more about our decisions, and be sure we make every affort to obtain all the information possible, including how the decisions will affect stakeholders. Anything is possible for our Society, if we work together, and understand the current professional arena. This is the reason for ASHI.

As the largest professional society for home inspectors, what we do affects the profession. That’s why the Council of Representatives, committees, directors and staff are in constant communication. We’ll achieve our specific goals by working together. I’m proud to be the elected president of this Society. Sure, I have lofty goals; what’s wrong with that? Together let’s raise the professionalism of the profession.

As promised last month, I’ve been researching how our profession is practiced around the world, and found an organization called the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in the UK. Formed in 1868, the association includes chartered surveyors, appraisers (valuation) of not only real estate, but also art, boats, etc., and technical surveyors.

According to the Web site, “RICS is a global professional body that represents, regulates and promotes chartered surveyors and technical surveyors. RICS is an independent, not-for-profit organization and is required at all times to act in the public interest, upholding standards of competence and integrity among its members and to maintain information and services to our members.

“With 110,000 members, RICS is the world’s leading professional body addressing all aspects of land, property, construction and associated environmental issues.”
RICS also says it provides “impartial and authoritative advice on major issues effecting business and society worldwide.” What a charge!

It seems the UK inspection profession is similar to ours, but with three levels of reporting. “Building Surveys” are custom-made to the clients’ needs. These reports assess in detail the construction/condition of the property and provide technical advice on problems and remediation. The “Homebuyer Survey & Valuation” provides, in a fixed RICA report format, information on value and urgent and significant matters. And a “Single Defect” report is self-explanatory.  There is also a “Sellers Survey” in the works. Sounds like a “listing inspection” in the US.

Survey prices were comparable to the US. A $150,000 typical house “Building Survey” was indicated to be about $450, (plus tax), and slightly less for the “Homebuyer Survey and Valuation.”  It was noted that a survey was about .005 percent the cost of the house, compare to the cost of a new roof, which is about 5 percent the cost of a house.

Interesting statistics from Web sites

• 30 percent of the surveys conclude with the surveyor advising the client not to buy. (Imagine us doing that!).  

• 27 percent of homebuyers who don’t obtain a survey run a major risk of buying a house with major defects.

Funniest comments

“We promise you that our surveyors will talk to you like a person and not an idiot, you can even meet us on site if you wish.”  “Tell us what you want us to survey – it makes us feel wanted.” Good old UK humor, nothing like it.

Significant differences

Education requirements: Few states in the US require, if anything, more than a few weeks to a few months of inspector training.  In the UK, to be a qualified technical surveyor, you must complete an accredited degree followed by two years structured training culminating in the successful passing of an interview known as the Assessment of Technical Competence.

Market penetration: 80 percent of people don’t have a survey, compared to the nearly 80 percent of buyers in the US who do have an inspection.  

It appears we’ve has done a better job of educating the public on the value of our service in 26 years than others have done in many more. Lofty goals are achievable.

Talk next month.