The local chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), called the Heartland Chapter, has been largely defunct for the last couple of years. I've been a member of ASHI for a little over ten years now, and I'm looking to get the local ASHI chapter back up and running. I have volunteered to take the position of president, and the board members made it official this summer.
My main goal as chapter president is to provide educational opportunities for home inspectors in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. Another goal is to help create more camaraderie among fellow home inspectors. Here's how:
I'm an active member of the Minnesota Society of Housing Inspectors (MSHI), and I have helped to coordinate speakers for MSHI's all-day continuing ed seminars for the past several years. I plan to continue coordinating speakers for MSHI, I plan to make sure the seminars are approved for ASHI continuing ed credits, and I will make sure that local ASHI members are invited to these seminars.
I also plan to have ASHI chapter meetings held every one to two months with local professionals providing education. Each chapter meeting is worth two hours of continuing ed credits for ASHI, and licensed TISH evaluators in Minneapolis and Saint Paul will be able to count these meetings towards their total required number of continuing ed hours. All area home inspectors will be invited to these meetings, regardless of home inspector association membership / affiliation.
At the moment there are no official dues-paying members in the chapter and the chapter has very little funds for large training events, but I'm hoping to change that over the course of the next year.
It's important for us home inspectors to get together on a regular basis to discuss all things related to home inspections. New inspection methods, new local code requirements, new construction methods, new repair methods, new problems we're facing, new tools that we can't live without. Our spouses are all surely tired of hearing about all of this stuff, and they usually can't offer much tool advice.
It's also important for newer inspectors to be able to ask more experienced inspectors for advice, and for experienced inspectors to share their advice with newer inspectors. When experienced inspectors give advice to newer inspectors, they're helping to improve the quality of our industry. Every time I read an online article where home buyers are advised to have a home inspection performed by a general contractor instead of a home inspector, I know that our industry needs improvement.
I've trained many home inspectors, and I've had a number of local home inspectors (aka "competitors") shadow me on home inspections that I've conducted, and I've found that this really helps me to question everything I do during an inspection. Evaluating the reasoning behind what I do sometimes reinforces the things that I do, and other times makes me change the way that I do inspections. Teaching others and giving advice is not a one-way flow of information. Experienced inspectors can learn from newer inspectors too.
Quick Story #1: Why I Believe in Helping Competitors
Back in 2004 when I was training to start inspecting houses on my own, one of the first things that I studied for was to get licensed as a Saint Paul Truth-In-Sale of Housing Evaluator. Among the licensing requirements are a fairly difficult written exam, as well as a practical exam that involves an evaluation of an existing home. My dad had never been licensed to do TISH evaluations in Saint Paul, so he recommended I contact another licensed evaluator in Saint Paul, Mike Moser, for advice.
Mike was happy to meet with me and help answer questions that I had about the upcoming tests, knowing full well that I would be his future competition for business. I asked why he was willing to help train a future competitor, and I remember his words well: "It's all about improving our industry. If you turn out to be half as good of an inspector as your father, you'll be making our industry better."
I thought those were very insightful words, and I made a promise to myself to do the same for other future competitors of mine.
Quick Story #2: My Experience with ASHI
Back when I first started with Structure Tech in 1997, part of my duties were to answer the phones and schedule inspections. Potential clients and real estate agents would frequently ask if we were members of ASHI before hiring us. At the time, my dad and Duane were both ICBO Certified Building Inspectors, which was a great technical certification that demonstrated knowledge of building codes. I'd explain the difference, but nobody cared. All they cared about was whether we were ASHI members or not.
I would try to convince my dad to join ASHI, but he was very turned off by an elitist attitude from what was probably a small number of local ASHI members. He had attended a few chapter meetings and wasn't interested in associating with those folks. I've heard these same sentiments from many other local home inspectors, as well as from inspectors in other parts of the country. I've never experienced any of that myself, but I've heard about it enough to know that it's real.
I'll be doing whatever I can to make sure that new inspectors are made to feel welcome, both to this industry and to ASHI. Simply joining an organization does not make one a great home inspector, and choosing to not join an organization does not make one a bad home inspector.
Upcoming Training Events for Home Inspectors
10/7/14, 6:30 PM: ASHI Chapter Meeting (2 CEs)
I have scheduled Steve Schirber at Cocoon to teach a class on building science and solutions for insulating / retrofitting existing houses. Steve is a guest author on my blog (Unintended Consequences of Adding Insulation), and had an excellent article published in the latest issue of the Journal of Light Construction, titled "Project Overcoat: Exterior insulation and air sealing for a story-and-a-half."
This class will be taught at the next monthly ASHI Heartland meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday, October 7th, at 6:30 pm. This will take place at Frankie's Pizza in New Hope, in the banquet room. The fee for the seminar will be $10, and will cover the cost of some fantastic pizza. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if you're planning to attend, as seating will be limited.
All home inspectors are invited to attend this meeting, ASHI or not. After Steve's class, we'll be having a discussion about the future of the chapter.
11/15/14, 8:00 AM: MSHI All-Day Seminar (8 CEs)
Minnesota will be adopting the 2012 IRC, which will have a lot of changes that all home inspectors in Minnesota should be familiar with. Douglas Hansen, author of the CodeCheck books, will be teaching an all-day seminar on the code changes. As far as I'm concerned, Douglas is one of the most knowledgeable folks in the country when it comes to building codes. This is a seminar that all home inspectors in Minnesota should attend.
The seminar will be held at the same place that all MSHI seminars are held: the Earl Brown Continuing Ed building at the U of M, 1890 Buford Avenue, Saint Paul. As always, lunch is included. The seminar is free to all MSHI members, and the cost is $100 to non-members, which is still a bargain.
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Author: Reuben Saltzman, ASHI Heartland Chapter President