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HUD ’ sT for Po op 10 Tip s Home st-Disaste r Resto ration P 18

In s p ect ion N ews & Vi ews from the Ame rican S ocie ty of Home Ins pectors, Inc.


Being Frank: The Badges We Earn


 andling Complaints, H Part 1


IW 2018 Conference Schedule




Your Journey to Move Up in ASHI


Foundations and Wood Structures


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ASHI Reporter • October 2017

Radon Gas Test kit Call For Pricing!



October 2017

Features 7

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Attic Insulation Gaps and Goofs



Tom Feiza, Mr. Fix-It, Inc.

Handling Complaints, Part 1 Alan Carson, Carson Dunlop

Selling “The Score” ASHI Staff 16 InspectionWorld Conference Schedule Michele George, ASHI Director of Education, Events

& Chapter Relations

HUD Re-Releases “Consumer Tips for Post-Disaster Home Restoration”





Vol. 34, #10

Expert Witnessing 101 Rudy Platzer, ACI, Retired

Meritless Claims Joe Ferry

Blogging for Better Reports Reuben Saltzman, ACI

38 Foundations and Wood Structures Dave Rushton, ABLE Building Inspection

EMSL Analytical, Inc. ICHI Software Allen Insurance Target Professional Programs America’s Call Center InspectionWorld® Home Energy Score ASHI Online Learning Center RTCA The Light Stick NHIE Study Guide Joe Ferry 3D Inspection System US Inspect ASHI Print-On-Demand How To Operate Your Home Business Risk Partners American Home Warranty InspectorPro Insurance Sun Nuclear Corporation HomeGauge



6 Being Frank Frank Lesh, ASHI Executive Director 28 ASHI Community

Chapter News, Listing and Education

Hands-on Home Inspection Training

Membership, Endorsed Member Programs & Anniversaries

2 5 9 11 13 13 14 19 19 19 21 23 27 27 844-268-2677 37 40 41 43 45 47 48

Joe Ferry has specialized in protecting home inspectors agaianst meritless claims for over 12 years.

33 The ASHI School 34 Your ASHI

42 Postcards From the Field

It’s Wacky Out There

46 On My Mind

By ASHI President Howard Pegleow

24 October 2017 •


ASHI National Officers and Board of Directors Educated. Tested. Verified. Certified.

A SH I M ISSIO N S TATEM ENT To set and promote standards for property inspections and to provide the educational programs needed to achieve excellence in the profession and to meet the needs of our members.

Officers Howard Pegelow, President Gilbert, AZ, 414-379-4186

Donald Lovering, Sr., Treasurer Indian Trail, NC, 704-443-0110

Tim Buell, President-Elect Marysville, OH, 614-746-7485

Mike Wagner, Secretary Westfield, IN, 317-867-7688

Scott Patterson, Vice President Spring Hill, TN, 615-302-1113

Randy Sipe, Immediate Past-President Spring Hill, KS, 913-856-4515


Main Phone: 847-759-2820, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm Mon. - Fri., CST EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Frank Lesh, Executive Director, 847-954-3182, Bonnie Bruno-Castaneda, Executive Assistant & Project Coordinator 847-954-3177, EDUCATION, CE APPROVAL, ASHI ONLINE LEARNING CENTER, INSPECTIONWORLD, CHAPTER RELATIONS

Michele George, Director of Education, Events and Chapter Relations, 847-954-3188, MEMBERSHIP, BOOTH RENTAL, PRODUCT ORDERS

Jen Gallegos, Manager of Membership Services & U.S. DOE Home Energy Score Assessor Coordinator, 847-954-3185, Janet George, Membership Services Supervisor, 847-954-3180 George Herrera, Membership Services Assistant, 847-954-3196

Bruce Barker 2015-2017 Cary, NC, 919-322-4491

Bruce LaBell 2015-2017 Scottsdale, AZ, 602-765-2140

Michael Conley 2017-2019 Anna Maria, FL, 941-778-2385

Reuben Saltzman 2017-2019 Maple Grove, MN, 952-915-6466

Mark Lester, Membership Services Coordinator, 847-954-3176

James J. Funkhouser 2017-2019 Manassas Park, VA, 703-791-2360

Bob Sisson 2017-2019 Boyds MD, 301-208-8289


Bryck Guibor 2017-2019 Tucson, AZ, 520-795-5300

Tony Smith 2015-2017 Cedar Rapids, IA, 319-533-4565

Beverly Canham, Financial Assistant, 847-954-3184

Ken Harrington 2015-2017 Delaware, OH, 614-507-1061

Blaine Swan 2016-2018 Columbus, OH, 614-506-0647

Richard Hart 2016-2018 Conyers, GA, 770-827-2200

John Wessling 2016-2018 St. Louis, MO, 314-520-1103

David Haught 2016-2018 Huntington, WV, 304-417-1247

Speaker, Council of Representatives Hollis Brown, 2017-2018 Manassas, VA, 703-754-8872

Publisher: Frank Lesh Editor: Carol Dikelsky Art Director: Kate Laurent Assistant Art Director: George Ilavsky American Society of Home Inspectors, Inc. 932 Lee Street, Suite 101 Des Plaines, IL 60016

847-954-3179 Reporter calls only

ASHI Reporter • October 2017

Michael Krauszowski, Membership Relations Administrator 847-954-3175,

Toni Fanizza, Accounting, Purchasing and Human Resources Manager, 847-954-3190,


Mike Rostescu, Assistant Executive Director & Director of IT 847-954-3189, COMMUNICATIONS

Dave Kogan, Director of Marketing & Business Development Advertising, Marketing, IW Expo Hall, Public Relations 847-954-3187, Kate Laurent, Design & Digital Strategy Manger, “ASHI Reporter” Managing Editor, 847-954-3179, Chris Karczewski, Social Media & Digital Strategist, 847-954-3183,

847-299-2505 (fax) Reporter only Email:

George Ilavsky, Graphic Designer & Free Logos,

Advertising: Dave Kogan Phone: 847-954-3187, Email:


ASHI REPORTER – ISSN 1076-1942 – the official publication of the American Society of Home Inspectors, Inc. (ASHI), 932 Lee St., Suite 101, Des Plaines IL 60016, is published monthly. Annual subscriptions: $44.95 to non-members. Periodical postage paid at Des Plaines, IL 60016 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to ASHI Reporter, 932 Lee Street, Suite 101, Des Plaines, IL 60016-6546. Copyright© 2017, ASHI. None of the content of this publication may be reproduced, in any manner, without the prior written consent of the publisher. Inclusion of or specific mention of any proprietary product within does not imply endorsement of, nor does exclusion of any proprietary product imply non-endorsement, by the American Society of Home Inspectors, Inc. Opinions or statements of authors and advertisers are solely their own, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or positions of ASHI, its agents or editors. See above for information pertaining to submission of articles, advertising and related materials.



Russell Daniels, Executive Director of the ASHI School 847-954-3178, Michelle Santiago, Executive Assistant, 847-954-3198 Tracy Vazquez, Sales Representative, 847-954-3181 Avery Dinn, Sales Representative, 847-954-3191

October 2017 •


The Badges We Earn by Frank Lesh ASHI Executive Director


rom the book “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” and, later, to the movie “Blazing Saddles,” along with a plethora of literature, television, music and cinematic performances, pop culture has embraced the line, “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges,” as a great comeback when confronted by someone. If you’ve never heard of it, then I recommend reading the book or seeing one of the movies. The reason I bring it up is because just about everyone respects a badge.

A well-deserved badge is a sign of accomplishment. I have a few. During my youth, I earned my Eagle Scout badge. As an over-exuberant young adult, I received my parachute badge. When I was a young father, I achieved my Master Inspector By Review® (MIBR) designation from the Great Lakes Chapter of ASHI and, finally, my ASHI Certified Inspector® (ACI) badge.

There are a number of other well-deserved badges that inspectors can achieve from independent and renowned organizations such as North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) and the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST). But what inspectors need to watch out for—and savvy consumers are leery about—are “purchased designations” that require little more effort than paying a fee and checking a box that says, “I fulfilled the requirements.” Especially when the same organization issues a myriad of “certifications.” In fact, the inspector doesn’t earn the recognition, he or she just buys it.

So, the next time you hear, “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges,” just think, “Badges? We earn our stinking badges!” Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes

There’s a common thread that runs through them all: I had to earn the badge. Working for 21 merit badges is no easy task for a preteen boy. Baseball, comic books and girls (in that order) seemed far more important. Although some would say there are only two things that fall from the sky—birdsh#t and idiots—jumping out of a perfectly good airplane 21 times is, at the least, exhilarating. And that’s not counting the last time when my loving kids forced me to do it again for my 65th birthday, just to see if the old man still had it in him. Following the steps to attain the MIBR® is a challenge that every seasoned inspector should take, to be reviewed by a committee of peers. (Author’s note: Visit the GLC website [www.greatinspectors. com] to find out more about the Peer Review process.) Certainly, those first three accomplishments were self-esteem builders for me, but the one that’s helped me most professionally is my ACI® badge. ASHI is the only home inspector organization that is certified by a third party. In a nutshell, that means ASHI has and continues to be monitored by an independent firm that also certifies nurses, emergency technicians, crane operators and members of more than 130 other organizations. The certifying agency’s requirements are extremely stringent and have to be renewed every few years. In other words, ASHI earns its certification.

It’s not just a song by the late David Bowie, but a fact of life here at ASHI HQ. Take a look at Page 4 of this Reporter, and you’ll see that we’ve had to “turn and face the strain” of new jobs for some staff:

•B  onnie Bruno is now the Executive Assistant and Project Coordinator. •M  ichele George is now Director of Education, Events and Chapter Relations. • Jen Gallegos is the Manager of Membership Services and the U.S. DOE Home Energy Score Assessor Coordinator. • Mike Rostescu is both Assistant Executive Director and Director of IT. •K  ate Laurent is now the Editor of the ASHI Reporter, as well as Graphic Designer and Digital Strategist. • Russell Daniels is now the Executive Director of The ASHI School.

One name you won’t see (after four years here at ASHI) is Arlene Zapata, who has moved on to another career. Observant readers of the Reporter have seen that, with Arlene as the Editor, there was a marked improvement in graphics, readability and consistency in our magazine. But she has left us in good stead with Kate at the helm, so we can expect continued excellence in our flagship communication medium. Frank Lesh, Executive Director American Society of Home Inspectors Direct: 847-954-3182 •


ASHI Reporter • October 2017

Attic Insulation Gaps and Goofs W

Smart Inspector Science

By Tom Feiza, Mr. Fix-It, Inc.

e have all inspected attics and noticed large gaps in the insulation covering the ceiling of the living space. Or maybe they were just small areas of uneven insulation. We make a note in our inspection report about gaps in insulation, but how did they get there? Many homes are constructed with dropped soffits over the kitchen and bath. These dropped soffits filled in gaps above cabinets. At some point, an insulation contractor or carpenter spread a plastic Visqueen vapor barrier over the rough framing of the ceiling and exterior walls to stop airflow from the heated space. As they covered the ceiling, that dropped soffit framing was in the way (Diagram I011). So, what did they do? Who knows? An All-Too-Common Fault It’s very common to see this faulty installation: The dropped soffit is not blocked at the attic floor and not covered by the vapor barrier. These gaps in attic insulation create a huge potential problem because heated air contains lots of moisture (Photo 1). When you notice gaps or disturbances in the insulation, a lack of blocking to support the insulation or a lack of a continuous vapor barrier, check the roof sheathing for signs of condensation and moisture. Look at the insulation for black stains that result from filtering dirt out of the air flow.

Photo 1

Gaps at Chimneys Air gaps are required at chimneys for fire safety, but as we tighten homes, the large gap and air leaks can cause ice dams and attic moisture issues. Today, when insulation is added to any attic, proper fire-resistant air sealing must be completed around all penetrations from the heated space, including the chimney. In Photo 2, note the insulation and the black stains. The fiberglass insulation is a great dirt filter for the air flow from the basement to the attic. Talk about stack pressure! Watch Your Step When peering into an attic, keep in mind that gaps in the insulation could indicate the existence of a dropped soffit or a stairway. Watch for moisture issues. Make a report notation for gaps in the insulation, as well as the vapor barrier and proper air sealing. And if you ever crawl around an attic, remember: These gaps can be quite large and there may be no framing to support you. H

Photo 2

Tom Feiza has been a professional home inspector since 1992 and has a degree in engineering. Through, he provides high-quality marketing materials that help professional home inspectors boost their business. Copyright © 2017 by Tom Feiza, Mr. Fix-It, Inc. Reproduced with permission.

7October 2017



Marketing Focus

Handling Complaints, Part 1 By Alan Carson, Carson Dunlop,, 800-268-7070

Author’s note: The material in this article is based on our experiences in the home inspection industry during the past 39 years and is not meant as a substitute for professional legal advice.


hat does handling complaints have to do with marketing your home inspection firm? The way you respond to complaints from clients can work for you or against you in retaining those clients and attracting new ones. Remember, marketing is an activity designed to encourage prospective customers to contact your company. Marketing is also part of inspections themselves, including the way you handle problems when something seemingly or actually goes wrong. Without trying to sugarcoat the situation, we believe that you can turn a complaint into a marketing opportunity. And because every home inspector eventually gets complaints, you should polish your skills in this area of your business.

Keep in mind, we are assuming that you already have an adequate errors and omissions (E & O) insurance policy, and a properly written inspection agreement that has been reviewed by a lawyer who is familiar with the home inspection industry. Ideally, the lawyer who would defend you (through your E & O insurance company) also would have approved the wording of your inspection agreement.

Complaints are opportunities... If you handle a complaint well, you may save money and time, prevent the situation from turning into a lawsuit, keep your insurance premiums down and reduce the stress in your life. A complaint is an opportunity… • To satisfy your client: Satisfied clients refer you to others.

• To generate goodwill: Strive to generate goodwill with all parties involved in the transaction. In doing so, the agent, the seller and perhaps even the lawyer will see how professionally you handled the situation.

• To avoid bad publicity: Whether you are right or wrong, if you handle a complaint badly, you could end up losing lots of business if a disgruntled client decides to sink you at all costs. With the proliferation of social media and web-based review sites, this is easier to do than it ever was in the past.


ASHI Reporter • October 2017

A complaint is also an opportunity because many clients who have had a bad experience will not complain to you. Instead, they will just post it on their Twitter account for all to see. Thank people if they complain. Consider it a chance to turn a client around. If you end up paying out, consider it a learning experience and, perhaps, use part of your marketing budget. Avoiding Complaints Obviously, the best way to deal with a complaint is to prevent it. Some novice inspectors say the best way to avoid complaints is to never make a mistake. The fact is, however, you don’t have to make a mistake to get a complaint. Many complaints we get are not the result of inspectors making mistakes; they are the result of clients not understanding the inspectors’ scope of work. When clients book an inspection, they have their own idea what their $400 should get them. They often think they paid you $400 to ensure that they would not have any problems with the house. They don’t know that the $400 will get them a specific scope of work that excludes a number of areas. Wouldn’t it be nice if people could pay $400 one time and get an insurance policy that nothing would ever go wrong with their home? There would be no deductible, no exclusions, no limit and no expiration date. Just call the home inspection company and they will take care of it! Clearly, you cannot afford to offer this type of guarantee, but unless you tell your client otherwise, they may assume that is exactly what they are paying for. You can reduce the number of complaints significantly by setting realistic expectations before the inspection. With respect to mistakes, you should realize that making mistakes is inevitable. We may be experienced and intelligent, but we are not perfect. We make hundreds of observations, decisions and conclusions at each inspection. Then we document them in a report. By conducting a few hundred inspections a year, you easily will have made 100,000 observations a year. What are the odds of perfection? Add to that the issues that are not visible or present during your inspections, and it’s pretty clear that, eventually, you will have to handle a complaint. Handling the Complaint Call Avoiding complaints altogether is the ideal, of course, but not the reality. Handling the call properly from the first moment it comes in is critical. Having a proper procedure in place can make the difference between coming to a quick resolution of the problem and dealing with a lawsuit.

October 2017 •



Handling Complaints, Part 1

Here are a few methods we have developed over many years: Call back right away: If the call was a message left on your voicemail, return the client’s call as soon as you can. You want to show your client that you are interested and concerned about the problem. There is nothing worse than calling back a day or two later except not calling back at all. Delayed call-backs send the message that you don’t care. Further irritating an unhappy client makes no business sense to us. We would always rather speak to our clients before they decide to call their lawyer.

Don’t be defensive: Being open is perhaps one of the most difficult things to do. A complaint about the inspection is, indirectly or directly, a complaint about you. Defensive behavior is almost sure to make things worse. It may help to keep telling yourself that the complaint is just business and that the call is just a business communication, not a personal attack.

Thank the caller for calling and listen to the complaint: Recognize that calling you with a complaint also may be difficult or uncomfortable for your client. Thank him or her for calling and for drawing your attention to the problem. Acknowledge that this must have been a difficult call to make. Thanking the client often defuses the situation. Likely, the caller will launch into the problem right away, but if they don’t, encourage the caller to explain exactly what happened. Listen carefully without interrupting. Take notes and resist the temptation to speak up as soon as you hear something with which you disagree. Not only is interrupting more likely to make the caller angry, but you also are more likely to say something that you will wish you had not said after hearing the rest of the information.

The more your client speaks, the better. We have often found that the client eventually says something that you can use or, at least, may be helpful to your cause. There is no downside to letting them speak their mind completely. Once they are finished, repeat the situation back to them from your notes to be sure you got it right. A good technique is to paraphrase what the client said. It shows that you listened and that you are actively trying to understand their position. Ask if there is anything else you should know. They will usually clarify or add some detail. Make notes of these comments as well.

Ask some questions: After the client has had a chance to explain the situation and you have reiterated what they said, you should ask some questions. We often empathize with the client by saying something like, “I’m sure this is very frustrating for you. Let’s see if we can get it resolved.” This makes the client feel a little better. You are not brushing them off and you are acknowledging that they have a problem. Although you have not taken responsibility, the client’s attitude often changes noticeably. Take on the role of consultant and focus on solving the problem rather than worrying about who is to blame. The client has a problem in their home and their priority is to solve the problem, not ruin your day.

The next step is to drill down into the situation to get more information. We say, “May I ask a few questions to make sure I understand completely?”

You should have a standard list of questions to ask. These might include the following: • Can you give me some more details about the problem? Where is it? What does it look like? • When did you first notice the problem? • How did you find the problem?

• Had anything about the house changed from the time of the inspection until the time you took possession? For example, had the house been left vacant or had anything been removed from the house?

• Has anything in the house changed since you took possession? For example, have you done any repairs or made any improvements? Once you have asked your questions and listened to your client’s answers, you will start to have a better picture of the situation. You may have some follow-up questions, and you should ask these and document the answers. Take everything with a grain of salt. We often find that a substantial amount of what we are told is not true or is distorted. Take nothing at face value and be sure to check everything without being confrontational about it. Reviewing the Report Now that you have listened to the client attentively and have shown that you understand the situation, tell the client that you will pull the file and call them back in 60 minutes. If you are about to go into an inspection, tell them that you will call them back in three hours. The golden rule of complaints: Never make a definitive comment until you have reread the report. Even if you think you remember the house, reading the report will remind you of what was visible and what was not. You have probably inspected many homes since the home in question.

After you’ve reviewed the report, call the client back earlier than you promised. If you said you would call them back by 3 p.m., call them back at 2:30 p.m. Do not leave them waiting. Calling back early has significant value. Calling back late can do significant damage. When you call the client back, you will have developed an opinion. You may have determined one of or more of the following four conclusions: • You need to go back to the home to get more information.

• The client doesn’t have a problem; the situation is normal or typical. (You will need to prove this to the client.)

• The client has a problem, but it was documented in the report. (Explain where to find the documentation in your report.)

• The client has a problem, but it was not in the scope of a home inspector to discover it. (Explain to the client the section of your contract or standard that excludes it.) H

Watch for Part 2 of this article series in next month’s edition of the Reporter.

Carson Dunlop - Consulting engineering firm devoted to home inspection since 1978.


ASHI Reporter • October 2017

Choose our E & O / GL insurance and save 15% on the cost of outstanding coverage. As ASHI’s endorsed provider for E & O and General Liability Insurance, Target Professional Programs offers ASHI members the highest premium discount available anywhere – a full 15% on any amount of coverage purchased. More Attractive Advantages In addition to covering all inspectors in the firm (including interns), Target’s policy covers your administrative staff, referral agencies and even spouses. Plus, Identity Theft Coverage up to $25,000 is a no-cost bonus with every policy. Target includes coverage for specialized inspections: • 4 Point • Infrared Thermography • Commercial (Up to 100,000 Sq. Ft.) • Pool & Spa • Construction Draw • Radon • Code Compliance • Septic / Well • EIFS • Water Testing • Energy • Wind Mitigation • HUD / Section 8 Optional policy endorsements let you purchase only the extra coverage you may need for inspections you actually perform: Carbon Monoxide, Lead, Mold and/or Termite inspections. Coverage for Drone Inspections At a low premium of only $100, this optional endorsement provides $50,000 in coverage per policy term for damage or injury caused by an inspector’s drone during the course of an inspection. We’re happy to offer you (or your insurance agent/broker) a no-obligation quote at any time. Visit: for an application and more details about coverage features & benefits. Or contact us: Fausto Petruzziello 973-396-1790

TARGET PROFESSIONAL PROGRAMS Insurance for Particular Professionals

11October 2017



© 2017 Target Professional Programs is a division of and operates under the licenses of CRC Insurance Services, Inc., CRC Insurance Services of CA, Lic No 0778135. No claim to an

Selling “The Score”

Selling “The Score” By ASHI Staff

would choose getting a root canal over starting an up-sell conversation, having The benefits of knowing who simple and effective materials and messaging on hand makes the task of “expanding the client’s horizons” a whole lot easier. The items profiled here are now available to a home’s energy effiAssessors, who can use them to explain to clients why the Score is valuable, and why ciency are real and they they’ve made the right choice in selecting you as an inspector. don’t always speak for Avoid unpleasant surprises. themselves. This message in various forms shows up in the marketing materials of inspectors As the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Home Energy Score program continues to take hold among ASHI members as one of the most promising new initiatives to come down the pike in some time, inspectors are shifting from asking “How do I get on board?” to “How do I bring it into my business?” In response, the ASHI team has been hitting the drawing board with our partners at the DOE to create a collection of great-looking marketing items that let Assessors highlight top selling points in a low-key and highly professional presentation.

Leaders don’t wait for demand. Although some of our industry colleagues see us only as bearers of bad news and spoilers of deals, we know that our most important role is that of educator. On the most basic level, we deliver technical, high-stakes education to homebuyers on the invisible features and deficiencies of a residential building. ASHI members take matters further than that, however, by moving beyond the merely technical conversation to pointing out to clients the questions they should be asking, even if those questions aren’t yet part of the industry status quo. Home inspection has seen a few of these game-changers—radon and mold are perhaps the most recent examples—over the years. These are services that clients don’t know to ask for until they become a mainstream issue, but nevertheless, are services that, if offered, can deliver huge results. And although inspectors tend to be the kind of technically focused professionals 12

ASHI Reporter • October 2017

across the country: “What you don’t know (about that dream house) CAN hurt you!” And it’s an easy point for us to get across because every client has heard a horror story about a failed roof or crumbling foundation from an unlucky homebuyer at one point or another. It follows that we serve our clients best when we provide the fullest possible picture of how their home investment might contain unforeseen disappointments, and a crushing monthly energy bill or uncomfortable living spaces meet that description in a big way. A Home Energy Score tells a homebuyer at a glance how their home stacks up to other homes (on a clear scale of 1 to 10), and it lists the energy-efficiency improvements that will bring the most bang for their buck when they perform improvements. Skeptical agents, take note: The results of studies show that homebuyers are more likely to buy a home when energy-efficiency information is disclosed during the sale process—even when that home is a poor performer! It turns out that even learning bad news is better than discovering no news when it comes to energy performance, as agents around the country are learning every day.


We got this. Come learn the difference between a call center and a true extension of your inspection business. Your bottom line will thank you. Call (888) 462-6153 or visit and start picking up more business today!

Serving as a strategic partner exclusively to home inspectors since 1998

JANUARY 21–24, 2018 Join us in Orlando, Caribe Royale Resort


ASHI’s annual meeting and the largest education conference and expo of the year for professional home inspectors.

Quench your thirst for Knowledge Go to for details





A special raffle will be held November 1, when three lucky registrants will receive complimentary registration to InspectionWorld Orlando.

13October 2017





Selling “The Score”

ASHI Reporter • October 2017

> Monthly utility costs are a bigger burden than you think. Our clients tend to be full-grown adults who have the wherewithal and maturity to buy a home worth several thousand dollars; they likely don’t see themselves as being in dire need of receiving monthly budget advice from their home inspector. Still, with all the financial figures dancing around our clients’ heads during the hectic few days that we work with them, how many of them would look back and be grateful to have had a gentle reminder that their utility bills are going to be bigger expenses than either the property taxes or the insurance premiums, both of which are so often tallied up as the major monthly component costs of home ownership? A Home Energy Score sheds light on their upcoming monthly budget, their renovation plans and their resale value down the road—and you can tell them as much, without saying a word, simply by leaving some DOE-branded materials behind to do the lecturing for you.

And last, but not least…you.

ASHI members put the training time and effort into earning a range of certifications and developing expertise in special services so that we can better serve both our clients and our businesses. Depending on the client, offering the right ancillary services can yield higher average ticket prices, improved customer satisfaction

Selling “The Score”

rates, more referrals and better closing rates. And it’s that last item—the prospect of closing more jobs because you make a better impression than your competition as a true expert—for which being a Home Energy Score Assessor brings some real firepower. Even if you don’t up-sell a client on a Home Energy Score for every job, promoting your status as a Home Energy Score Assessor (the inspectors coming on board now have very little, if any, competition) with the U.S. DOE as a partner carries the kind of recognition and credibility that’s hard to beat. H

How to get your own custom, co-branded flyers As a Home Energy Score Assessor, the materials profiled here (and more!) are available to you right now. Even better, we have arranged with our partners at Inspection Depot to deliver a free packet of flyers, branded with your own logo and contact information, to every new Assessor who comes into the program. They’re perfect for handing over to prospective clients, realtors and other members of your network, and we’re confident that they will take some of the “selling” off your plate so that you can get back to delivering the service that sets you apart from the pack.

15October 2017



INSPECTIONWORLD ORLANDO Pre- and Post-Conference Schedule

Grow your business by offering ancillary services! Quality training. ARRIVE EARLY to obtain additional training.

• All pre- and post-conference courses provide ASHI CEs. • Go to to find fees and additional details. • Courses are held at the Caribe Royale Resort Conference Center. • Contact or call 847-954-3188 with questions.




PRE-CONFERENCE 2-Day Infrared - Certified Residential Thermographer (16 hours) Instructor: Bill Fabian, Vice President, Monroe Infrared Technology, Inc.

• Fri. and Sat., Jan. 19 & 20, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

2-Day Radon Measurement (16 hours) Instructor: Terry Howell, President, Radalink, Inc.

• Fri. and Sat., Jan. 19 & 20, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm • 16 NRSB CEUs • (Optional) NRSB Certification Exam and Florida Radon Measurement Exam on Sunday, 8:00am. Additional fees and registrations.

DOE “Simulated Online Training” to Become an Approved Home Energy Score Assessor (8 hours)

• Sat., Jan. 20, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm • Up-to-date, WIFI-capable laptop needed for class • 7 CEs Florida-approved Classroom “Home Energy Score ‘SIMS’ Training” • 2 CEs Florida-approved 2-hour Online suggested pre-class study “Webinar ‘SIM’ Online Training” thru ASHI Online Learning Center.

2-Day NHIE Prep with Exam Option (8 hours) Instructor: Bruce Barker, ACI, author of NHIE Home Inspection Manual

• Classes Sun., Jan. 21, 8:00 am - 12:00 pm and Tues., Jan. 23, 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm., Wed., Jan. 24, transportation to PSI Testing Center in Orlando for exam. Additional fee and pre-registration.

•  Pre-study requirement. Pre-purchase the National Home Inspector Exam Manual and Study Guide. NADRA Deck Inspection/Evaluation Certification (4 hours) Instructor: Jim Mailey, Training Manager, Simpson Strong-Tie Includes a certification exam.

Building Dampness and IEQ Control (4 hours) Instructor: Michael P. Menz, CIH, CHMM, Environmental Training Manager, EMSL Analytical, Inc.

• Sun., Jan. 22, 8:00 am - 12:00 pm • Florida Mold Course #0000158

SewerScan Training (Hands-on) (4 hours) Instructor: Peter Hopkins, Vice President, United Infrared

• Sun., Jan. 22, 8:00 am - 12:00 pm • Registration provides pre-class access to full online course.

POST-CONFERENCE Certified Pool/Spa Inspector™ Certification (6 hours) Instructor: Alex Stewart, National Swimming Pool Foundation Instructor

• Thurs., Jan. 25, 8:00 am - 4:30 pm • Florida CILB-approved 3 CEs

Commercial Building Inspection (3-Day Class) (24 hours) Instructor: Richard Weldon, PEng, LEED AP • Thurs., Fri. and Sat., Jan. 25, 26 and 27 • 8:00 am - 5:00 pm each day Register through the ASHI School at

Special Event! “Early Days of ASHI” Monday, Jan. 22 – 7:30am - 8:30 am

Three of ASHI’s original members, Ron Passaro (ASHI member #1), John Heyn (#5) and Norman Becker (#7) will take you back to the time when a “society for home inspectors” was just an idea. Hear terrific stories of how ASHI was created. Learn about the dedicated people who created the ASHI SOP and Code of Ethics. You don’t want to miss this!

• Sun., Jan. 22, 8:00 am - 12:00 pm

Fresh squeezed ideas to move your business forward. 16

ASHI Reporter • October 2017

IW Education Program Schedule - January 22, 23 & 24, 2018 Earn CEs - Reader device will identify your badge ID at classroom doorways. Get on the App to fill out a class survey. TRACK:

Inspecting Essentials


Earth, Wind & Water

Specialty/ Diversification

Business Management


Antigua 2-3-4 Classroom

Bonaire 2-3-4 Classroom

Bonaire 6-7-8 Classroom

Curacao 2-3-4 Classroom

Curacao 6-7-8 Classroom

Legal Issues for Home Inspectors, Joe Denneler, Esq.

MONDAY, JANUARY 22 Special Event 7:00 - 8:00 am

“Early Days of ASHI” Ron Passaro, John Heyn & Norman Becker

9:00 - 11:00 am

2018 Basic Electric: Get Amped Up, Bryck Guibor & Harris Breit

Inspection of Metal-Plate Wood Trusses, John Bouldin

4-Point Inspections, John Shishilla

Radon, Home Inspectors and Communicating with the Client, Matt Hendrick

Grab ‘N Go 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Home Owners Network


SafePro Guard

Hummingbird Tiny Housing

1:00 - 3:00 pm

Plumbing Defects Demonstrated Before Your Eyes, Kenny Hart

House Anomalies and Forensic Case Studies, Jim Nemastil & Marco Vovk

ASHI Standard Swimming Pool and Spa Inspections, Bruce Barker

Infrared Imaging Cameras for Home Inspectors, Bill Fabian

Cost of Business: Pricing for Profit, Brian Hannigan

4:00 - 6:00 pm

Understanding and Resolving Foundation Issues, Shannon Cory

2015 IRC Structural Changes Update, Mike Casey

FEMA Disaster Assistance: Intro to Disaster Housing Inspections, Jaime Ceron

25 Steps for Implementing Drones Into Your Home Inspection Business, Abby Speicher

Identify and Describe That Defect, Tom Feiza

9:00 - 11:00 am

Code is a not a Four-Letter Word, Bruce Barker

Heat Pump Water Heaters and Ductless Mini-Splits, Kenny Hart

“Live” Video Home Inspection, Frank Lesh, Ralph Cabal, John Bolton, JD Grewell

Deck Inspections, John Bouldin

Translating “Geek Speak” Into Action and Success for Your Business, Dominic Maricic

Grab ‘N Go 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Applica/Home Wizard

Howard Ryan, Australian Assn. of Home Inspectors

National Swimming Pool Foundation®

1:00 - 3:00 pm

Practical Science Behind Home Inspections, Tom Feiza


Unintended Elevating Houses: Conse-quences: Lifting out of Harm’s Way Pressure-treated Lumber of Hurricanes, and Corrosion Issues, Skip John Weiburg Walker

The Truth about Pre-Listing Inspections, Alan Carson

Risk Management Expert Panel, Mike Casey

Inspection of Exterior Claddings: What are the Warning Signs of Impending Failures?, Mark Parlee

Tile Roofing, John Jensen

Becoming a Home Energy Score Assessor, Ken Slattery

Google AdWords Optimize Visitors to Quality Leads!, Wegener

8:00 - 10:00 am

How to Stay Safe at a Home Inspection, Brian Eisenman

History of Electrical Codes and Wiring Methods, Mike Twitty

Hurricane Mitigation, Manny Gonzalez

Inspecting for Termites and Other Wood Destroying Insects, David Goldstein

Business Essentials and Beyond, Amy Kleptach

10:30 am - 12:30 pm

Extreme Weather and Roofing, Gerry Aubrey

Inspecting Electrical and Electrical Safety, Jason Brozen

Air Conditioning — Basics and Beyond, Mark Cramer

Apartment Inspection: Give it a Try, Andy French

How to Hire and Retain Inspection Business Employees, Jeff Donaldson

2:00 - 4:00 pm

HVAC — Working or Working Properly, Cecil Johnson

Issues with Spray Polyurethane Foam, Fiberglass and Cellulose Insulation, Jeff May

Stucco Failure, Tom Miller

Myths of Attic Ventilation & Intro to Night Sky Cooling, Charles Buell

Better Pictures, Better Reports — Inspection Photography, Greg Allen

4:00 - 6:00 pm

Interior Inspections, Jon Tremper


Quench your thirst for Knowledge October 2017 •


HUD Re-Releases “Consumer Tips for Post-Disaster Home Restoration” In August, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (OLHCHH) re-released its guide, “Consumer Tips for Post-Disaster Home Restoration,” which describes what homeowners should do to return safely to their homes after a disaster. With recent major weather events such as Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, this information may be more useful than ever to your clients. According to ASHI’s Washington lobbyist, Randy Pence, of Capitol Hill Advocates, although the HUD guide does not refer specifically to “home inspection”


or “home inspectors,” it does advocate for homeowners affected by a disaster to obtain “professional inspections.” In this way, home inspectors can be a resource for anyone whose home is affected by a major event. The Top 10 List below is part of the highlighted information that can be found in this HUD resource. Note: HUD advises all consumers to read the entire publication before proceeding with any actions. For more information, visit Check out this link to view or download this and several other resources that can help your clients.

HUD’s Top 10 Tips for Post-Disaster Home Restoration 1. Rproperty! emind yourself often to put people before Make safety your top priority. 2. Wincluding ear personal protective equipment (PPE), protective clothing and a NIOSH-

approved respirator, every time you set foot in a damaged or moldy building.

3. Abefore ssess structural stability and hidden hazards you enter. A professional inspection may be needed.

4. Pmethods), repare a plan for site work (supplies and make a map (disposal and clean-up

site layout), and review insurance policies and disaster assistance resources.

5. Gtoodryslowoutwhen pumping out water, then act fast and remove mold. Read, copy and share the DIY Mold Removal Guidelines sheet from the Rebuild Healthy Homes guidebook.

6. Ading, lways remove wet insulation and foam padeven if the surface looks dry and clean.

Source: Consumer Tips for Post-Disaster Home Restoration: Getting Back to a Healthy Home, available online from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Home. Find this and other important resources for consumers at healthyhomes. H


ASHI Reporter • October 2017

7. Ainssume lead-based paint and asbestos are homes built before 1978 (unless verified

not present). Be mindful that disturbing such materials increases the hazard.

8. Ccontaminants—with ontrol dust, capture debris and contain wet methods, drop cloths,

debris bags, HEPA vacuums and workers trained in safe-work practices.

9. Cinsured heck credentials and hire only licensed and contractors, Lead-Safe Certified Renova-

tors and certified asbestos professionals. Examine qualifications of mold remediation, fire and water damage restoration and other professionals. Check with your local contractor licensing agency, permit office and health department for requirements and lists.

10. Rresistant estore for more than before! Install hazardmaterials, connectors and building systems. Include energy-saving and healthy home improvements.


30 NEW modules are NOW available!! Enjoy interesting sessions recorded at IW 2017 and past IWs. Find Basic and Advanced Technical, Specialty/Diversification and Business Management topics. Log in on

Easy. Education. Excellent. FREE to ASHI members!! The ASHI Online Learning Center provides 2-hour modules approved for 2 ASHI CEs. (Special section) Many Past IW modules State-approved for online education.

19October 2017



Expert Witnessing 101

Expert Witnessing 101

Rudy Platzer, ACI, is a retired home inspector in Punta Gorda, FL. He is the author of the book “The Diary of an Intrepid Home Inspector” (available on You can reach Rudy at

By Rudy Platzer, ACI, Retired


ant to be an expert witness? Here are a few of the many things I’ve learned over the years to give you a feel for this exciting and challenging work, and to help you get started. First, prepare a curriculum vitae (CV) that outlines your background and experience. This will be used by attorneys and court officials to determine your qualifications to act as an expert. Your CV should contain information about your education, specialized training, years of pertinent experience, past clients or references, publications, classes you’ve taught, presentations you’ve given and anything else that demonstrates how you are qualified to testify as an expert.

Getting Started The process usually begins with a call from an attorney who needs help with the technical aspects of a case in litigation. The attorney may have been referred by attorneys who have used your services, or who have heard about you from other attorneys or perhaps from other professionals such as engineers, with whom you have worked. You also might get a referral from an attorney for whom you’ve done a home inspection. I got my start when I advised my business attorney about a problem he was experiencing in his house and that started the snowball rolling. The attorney may be representing a client who is suing a contractor for substandard work, suing a seller or a real estate broker for hiding defects, or even suing an inspector for failing to report a serious problem. Conversely, you may be called by an attorney who is defending the contractor, seller, broker or inspector. The attorney will briefly outline the nature of the litigation to get your reaction as to whether you believe you can help win the case. At this point, I ask the attorney to send me all the information on the case and I explain that there is no charge for this initial review. I commit to a quick review of the documents and a decision as to whether I can be of help. As I review the documents provided, I ponder several things, including the following: • Am I comfortable with the technical aspects involved? You must be thoroughly versed in the technical issues surrounding the case. This forms the basis for you to be helpful in winning the case and avoiding embarrassment when pitted against other technical experts in the courtroom. • Can I offer advice and testimony that could be pivotal in winning this case? Do your homework; check your reference sources. What you think you know might not be completely applicable in this case. Be sure you are on the right track. • Based on a brief telecommunication with the attorney, I ask myself, “Can I work with this person?” Personality conflicts can get in the way of getting the job done. • How much time and energy might my involvement in this case consume? • And most importantly, am I ready, willing and able to rigorously defend my opinions against a potential onslaught of experts and lawyers on the other side of the case? If you do this type of review and you think you’re up to it, then be intrepid and go for it!


ASHI Reporter • October 2017

Working on a Case THE TERMS: Once you have decided to accept a case, you and your client will need to agree on the terms of your participation. This should be a spelled-out contract that you have developed with your business attorney. It will incorporate your fee schedule and all the things for which you expect to be compensated. This includes telephone consulting, site visits, report writing, research, depositions, court appearances, and incidental things such as photographs and travel expenses. Consider asking for a retainer to cement your relationship. And be sure to make the attorney your client, not the litigant. This will help you collect your fees, especially if your side loses! THE SITE VISIT: Next is your site visit. This is where the rubber meets the road. You may have quite an entourage of attendees at this event. Litigants, the attorneys from both sides and other interested parties. You must not allow any of the people to be a distraction and, unlike during a home inspection, you must not divulge any reactions to what you see or discuss your findings at this time. Be polite, but save your conclusions for later. Be sure to take any notes, photos and measurements you may need. I like to take many photos so I can refer to them without having to make a second site visit—although in complex cases, a second visit may be required. THE REPORT: After you are away from your “audience,” it’s time to write your report. I follow the old newspaper guideline: Who, What, When, Where, How, Why and How Much. I include a list of those who attended the site visit, the address and description of the property, the date, the weather conditions, the reasons why I was there and how I conducted the inspection. I state what I saw and what, if any, tools I used (for example, a moisture meter), and what measurements and photos I took.

This report can be pivotal, so I make it as detailed and complete as possible, draw the strongest conclusions possible, and then state my unwavering and absolute opinion. For example, “This is one of the worst roof installations I have ever seen.” Or “The shoddy workmanship evident in this room addition falls seriously short of any widely accepted construction standards.” I use this sort of language to let the opposition know that this is the kind of testimony they will face if the case goes to court. My goal is to help the attorney achieve an immediate settlement on the basis of this report and I have been successful in doing so with an overwhelming majority of cases. This saves a lot of time and money for all parties. Lawyers like this and so do I! It is important to remember that this report is different from a retail home inspection report, which must be factual and without drastic conclusions. For instance, you can’t tell a buyer, “Don’t buy this house!” or “This is the worst house I’ve ever inspected!” This is a subjective opinion. Report facts and let your clients decide if they still want to buy the house. However, when acting as an expert witness, you are being called on to give your opinion. An expert witness is the only person the court allows to do this. All others must testify only to facts. Also remember, your opinion will be challenged and

> you must be ready to react based on your knowledge and experience. The opposition will call in experts to counter your findings. They may be registered architects or licensed engineers. Don’t let that intimidate you. I have never lost a case where these professionals have challenged me. Maybe I’m lucky. Or maybe experience in the field can trump “book learning” especially, in the eyes of a jury. THE DEPOSITION: If the case is not settled at this point, you will probably be deposed by the opposing lawyers. I liken this to a boxing match. Lead, punch, bob and weave. Punch back forcefully, but respectfully! Remember that lawyers have been schooled in the art of interrogation. For instance, you can expect them to ask you the same question in different ways several times to test your resolve or to rattle you. Be polite, remain calm and, above all, be consistent. Don’t volunteer any new information, and remember that anything you say can and most likely will be used against you in the courtroom. Interestingly, at the end of a particularly gruesome deposition, I was congratulated by the opposing attorneys for having done a “great job.” The next call I received was from my client (the attorney), telling me the case had been settled. The following call was from one of the opposing attorneys wanting me to work for them in another case.

Expert Witnessing 101

code in place. The builder’s attorney therefore claimed that there was no minimum standard for the builder’s work. I convinced the jury that the builder could, nonetheless, be judged against good building practices accepted and used for years by builders across the land, codes notwithstanding. And adhering to these standards was especially relevant because the builder used the words “quality builder” in his advertising materials. I argued that mold inside the exterior walls was caused by the improper detailing of the faux stucco finishing material and it had nothing to do with the lack of codes. It should not have taken two days to win this point, but there was a lot at stake, and the opposing attorneys used every trick in the book to try to discredit me and tear down my testimony. It’s an interesting aside that their expert was a registered architect! Incidentally, we won the case. And that win generated yet another referral from an attorney, who told me he had read the full transcript of my testimony (court documents are public information) and he wanted my help on the case.

“I convinced the jury that the builder could, nonetheless, be judged against good building practices accepted and used for years by builders across the land, codes notwithstanding.”

Final Thoughts There is a lot more to know about expert witnessing. If this work sounds exciting to you— and, believe me, it is—talk to your fellow inspectors who engage in it and research the Internet. Then, get involved. It can be very rewarding! H

Going to Court If the case has not been resolved by this point, we’re headed to court. On the evening before my appearance, I try not to think about the case. I feel confident in the work I have done, I know that I am familiar with all the facts, and my opinions and I require no additional time for study. I relax and get a good night’s sleep. For court, my attire is something I might wear to an informal dinner—a sport coat and tie with chino slacks and tasseled loafers. I never wear a suit; I don’t want to look like an attorney! I think about where the case is being tried as well. I might not wear a tie if I think the jurors in that jurisdiction (for example, in a rural county) might feel more comfortable with an informal appearance. Demeanor is everything. Look relaxed and congenial. As you approach the stand, acknowledge the jurors with a small smile on your lips, but don’t overdo it. Answer all the questions concisely and resolutely. And I always answer the questions by directing my responses to the jury, not to the attorney who asked the question. The jurors are the ones I want to convince! Sometimes, your court appearance will be grueling. In one case, I was on the stand for two full days. It was a multimillion-dollar lawsuit and the opposition had a lot to lose. The complaint was against a custom builder who built an expensive home with many substandard issues, some of which raised safety concerns. My testimony declared the house to be “uninhabitable.” The house was in a rural county and there was no building

21October 2017



Meritless Claims

Meritless Claims How Should You Handle Them? By Joe Ferry,, 855-637-4853


irst, let’s define what constitutes a claim made against a home inspector. The distinguishing characteristic of a claim is a demand for money. Until there is a very definite request that you step up to the plate and rectify what the claimant thinks is the result of a faulty inspection, you do not have a claim. Any communication up to that point is merely an inquiry. The overwhelming majority of true claims start out with a telephone call or an email wherein the claimant states that you inspected the house some time ago, something out of the ordinary has happened, and he or she would like you to rectify the situation. That is what is known as the “first notice” of the claim.

A Demand from the Claimant When the first notice is a demand from the claimant, himself or herself, either orally in personal conversations, or over the telephone or written in an email or a letter, the first order of business is to determine whether or not the claim has merit by asking these questions:


Is the claim for a defect that can be determined by a standard home inspection?

No? Then the claim lacks merit and should be denied because a standard home inspection would not be able to determine that defect.  Yes? Then the claim may have merit. Ask the next question.


 Is the claim for something that is within the ASHI Standard of Practice (SOP)?

 No? Then the claim lacks merit and should be denied because a determination of that defect is outside of the SOP.  Yes? Then the claim may have merit. Ask the next question.


Is the claim for a defect that was concealed at the time of the inspection?

 Yes? Then the claim lacks merit and should be denied because home inspectors are not required to report defects that are concealed at the time of the inspection.  No? Then the claim may have merit. Ask the next question.


Is the claim for something that was disclaimed at the time of the inspection?

 Yes? Then the claim lacks merit and should be denied because the inspector disclaimed responsibility for it at the time of the inspection.  No? Then the claim may have merit. Ask the next question.


Is the claim for something that was working at the time of the inspection?

 Yes? Then the claim lacks merit and should be denied because the item was working at the time of the inspection.  No? Then the claim may have merit. Ask the next question.


Is the claim for something that was discovered and reported at the time of the inspection?

 Yes? Then the claim lacks merit because the inspector discovered the defect and reported it. No? Then the claim has merit.

Continues on Page 36


ASHI Reporter • October 2017

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23October 2017



Blogging for Better Reports


As a home inspector, most of the defects and problems that I find during home inspections are repeat offenders: ungrounded three-prong receptacles, short downspout extensions, leaking faucets and so on.


hen I find these conditions, I do what most other home inspectors do: I click a box in my home inspection software. This populates my report with a comment that I already wrote, oftentimes with an accompanying illustration. Home inspectors frequently call these canned comments “narratives,” but I do my best to avoid including anything that could be called a narrative. Narratives Are Too Much for Me When I think of the word “narrative,” I think of a story or a long explanation. I have no problem with home inspectors who like to fill their reports with those, but I don’t. My goal is to keep my inspection reports short and bitter. I focus on the stuff that’s wrong with the house. I tell my client what the problem is, why it matters and what to do about it. This is in accordance with the ASHI Standard of Practice (SOP), Sections 2.2.B.1, 2.2.B.3 and 2.2.B.2, respectively.


ASHI Reporter • October 2017

Enter Blogging If an issue can’t be easily explained with one or two sentences, it probably needs a narrative. In those cases, I rely on a blog post that I’ve already written on the topic and use it as a supplement to my report. I do this by creating a link to the blog post in my report. The beauty of including links to your own website in your home inspection reports is that this increases your website traffic, and it begins to turn your website into an authority on topics. For example, I blogged about how to fix a door that doesn’t latch properly. My old inspection report comment said, “The bedroom door doesn’t latch properly, and should be adjusted for proper operation.” My new comment says “The bedroom door doesn’t latch properly, and should be adjusted for proper operation. Click the following link for instructions on how to do this: How to fix a door that doesn’t latch.” Clicking on the link in my report takes the user to my blog post, which describes how to fix a door that doesn’t latch (

October 2017 •



Blogging for Better Reports

CON•TENT MAR•KET•ING noun a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services. You Should Blog, Too Blogging has been the single most successful marketing tool I’ve ever used and all that it usually costs me is my time. Charles Buell, a home inspector out of Seattle, had a nice article about blogging in the November 2012 issue of the Reporter titled “The Blog that ate the ASHI Home Inspector” ( Everything in that article is still relevant today. The best place to blog is on your own website. If your website has built-in blogging ability, try using it. You might need to hire your web guy (or gal) to give you a quick lesson on how to get started, but it’s not too different from using a word processing program. When you’re done writing a blog post, you just click “publish” instead of “print.” Yes, there’s a little more to it than that, but those are the basics. A large portion of newer websites already have blogging ability built in, even if the blog isn’t being used. Oh, and if your website hasn’t been redone within the last five years, have it professionally redone. (Emphasis on professionally.) Outdated, neglected websites make your business look outdated and neglected. DIY websites usually look DIY. When your website is redone, make sure it has blogging capabilities, even if you’re not planning to blog just yet. Forced Education Not only is blogging a great way to share your knowledge, but it forces you to become more knowledgeable. When you write about a topic that will be read by thousands, you’ll find that you really want to be right about the information you’re sharing—even more so than you would want to be for a single inspection report. This forces you to do research on topics that you may have always assumed you knew as facts, but to blog about it successfully, you now must look up to make sure that you really know what you know. Roger Hankey had an article in the October 2016 issue of the Reporter, “Are Your Recommendations Based on Accurate Information?” ( Are-Your-Recommendations-Based-on-Accurate-Information-/14937), which gave a great example of this. In some cases, you may even change your mind about a topic before you’re done writing about it. I know I have.


ASHI Reporter • October 2017

Content Marketing In addition to all the virtues I’ve listed already, blog posts are perfect to share on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. It’s the center of my marketing strategy, which clearly falls under the category of “content marketing.” It’s the latest marketing buzzword, and for good reason. It beats the pants off everything else. Blog posts also make for great newsletter content. I send out a bimonthly newsletter comprised of my top three or four blog posts over the past two months. It’s all completely original content, and it’s all helpful information for homeowners. It’s content marketing. Blogging Tips • Go through your reporting software and pick out your longest narratives. Turn them into blog posts. • Keep a list of questions that customers ask and write out long, detailed answers. These can be used as blog posts. Blogs posts don’t need to appeal to the masses; they can be written for a very targeted audience with a very specific question. • Commit and be consistent. Choose a day of the week and force yourself to post on that day, every week. If you get inspired and write three posts in one day, resist the urge to post them all on the same day. Save them for the days on which you’re not feeling inspired. • Don’t try to sell your business. Nobody wants to read about what makes you a great home inspector. Sharing your knowledge will convey that message without being pushy. • Read Youtility by Jay Baer, or listen to an audio version of the book while driving to and from inspections. It’s all about learning how to help your potential customers, which eventually turns them into paying customers. • Read Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi, or listen to the audiobook. You can probably guess what this is about. H Reuben Saltzman, ACI, StructureTech Home Inspections, Minneapolis, MN, is a secondgeneration home inspector, a representative on ASHI’s Council of Representatives (CoR) and the President of the ASHI Heartland Chapter. Reuben presented an educational session at InspectionWorld® 2017 in Las Vegas. Check out Reuben’s weekly blog posts at

ASHI’s Recruit-aMember Program

HELP ASHI GROW & Earn $50 in Gift Cards

( Who knows best how to sell ASHI membership? YOU!

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Earn $50 in gift cards for every new member you recruit. Download the Membership Application form, have the new member fill it out (including his/her member number in the referral field), scan and email it to: or fax to 847-759-1620. Questions? Contact Jen Gallegos,

27October 2017



ASHI Chapters and Council News

NORTH CENTRAL ASHI Central PA Second Monday, 6 pm, except Jan. & July, Hoss’s Steakhouse 1151 Harrisburg Pike, Carlisle, PA Kevin Kenny, 717-226-3066

Keystone (PA) First Monday, 5:30 pm The Crowne Plaza, Reading David Artigliere, 610-220-1907

Ohio Howard Snyder, 330-929-5239

North Central Ohio William Stone, 216-308-9663

Pocono-Lehigh (PA) Third Tuesday, Tannersville Inn, Tannersville Ronald Crescente, 570-646-7546

PRO-ASHI (PA) Second Wednesday of Jan., March, May, July & Nov. Ray Fonos, 412-461-8273

Tri-State (DE, NJ, PA) Second Tuesday except April, Aug. & Dec., Dave & Buster’s Plymouth Meeting, PA ules Falcone,

MIDWEST Great Lakes (IL, IN, IA, KY, MI, MN, OH, WI) For monthly meetings: schedule-of-events/ Carol Case, 734-284-4501

Greater Omaha (NE) Jon Vacha, 402-660-6935

Heartland (IA, MN, ND, SD, WI) Reuben Saltzman, 612-205-5600


ASHI Reporter • October 2017

Indiana ASHI Quarterly Danny Maynard, 317-319-7209

Iowa ASHI Fourth Tuesday, 7:00 - 9:00 pm Clarion Inn, Cedar Rapids Craig Chmelicek, 319-389-7379

Kentuckiana (IN, KY) Allan Davis, 502-648-9294 elitehomeinspections@

Mid-Missouri Second Thursday, 12:00 pm, even months of the year; Columbia Board of Realtors office: 2309 I-70 Drive NW, Columbia, MO Mark Kelsey, 573-356-5305

Northern Illinois Second Wednesday (except Dec.) 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm Crazypour, 105 E. North Ave., Villa Park, IL Jeremy Meek, 630-854-2454

OHIO SOUTH ASHI Meeting: Last Sat. every month, noon @ Frickers, North College Hill, Ohio, P.O. Box 532197 Cincinnati, OH 45252 Chris Green, 513-939-4036 Email


MOUNTAIN Arizona Bryck Guibor, 520-419-1313 Quarterly education on

New Mexico Bi-monthly meetings are held on the second Saturday of the month at LePeep’s Restaurant (Jan., March, May, July, Sept.) located at I-25 and Jefferson in Albuquerque. Meeting starts at 8:45 am; Breakfast starts at 8 am. Lance Ellis, 505-977-3915

Northern Rockies (ID, MT)

Great Plains (KS, MO) Second Wednesday of even months The Great Wolf Lodge, Kansas City Doug Hord, 816-215-2329

Midwest PRO ASHI (KS) Ray Fonos, 412-461-8273

St. Louis (MO) Second Tuesday, 6:30 pm Spazios Westport 12031 Lackland Rd. St. Louis, MO 63146 Frank Copanas, 314-456-0783

Chris Munro, 208-290-2472

Orange County CREIA-ASHI (CA) Third Monday, 5:30 pm Hometown Buffet 2321 S. Bristol, Santa Ana Bill Bryan, 949-565-5904

Oregon Fourth Tuesday, 6:30 pm 4534 SE McLoughlin Blvd., Portland Jay Hensley, 503-312-2105


Steve Jenicek, 406-949-6461 Secretary: Kelly Campeau 877-749-2225

First Tuesday each month Elijah’s Restaurant 7061 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard San Diego, CA 92111 Dennis Parra II, 619-232-1100

Rocky Mountain

San Joaquin Valley (CA)

Fourth Tuesday, 6:30 pm Brian Murphy, 303-791-7824

Southern Colorado Second Thursday, 6:30 pm Valley Hi Golf Club, Colo. Springs Daniel Noteboom, 719-332-9660

Utah First Tuesday, 7 pm Marie Callender’s, Midvale Fred Larsen, 801-201-9583

Arkansas Lonnie Moore, 479-530-5792

Inland Northwest (ID, WA)

PACIFIC Alaska Meeting dates: Jan. 1, March 1, Aug. 1, Nov. 1 Location varies each meeting David Mortensen, 907-243-4476

ASHI Hawaii Alex Woodbury, 808-322-5174

California Randy Pierson, 310-265-0833

Central Valley CREIA-ASHI Peter Boyd, 530-673-5800

Golden Gate (CA) John Fryer, 510-682-4908

Third Thursday, 6 pm 1736 Union Avenue, Bakersfield, CA Raymond Beasley, 661-805-5947 Mail: 3305 Colony Oak St. Bakersfield, CA 93311

Silicon Valley ASHI-CREIA (CA) Skip Walker, 650-873-4224

Southwestern Idaho Second Monday David Reish, 208-941-5760

Los Angeles-Ventura County ASHI-CREIA First Thursday, 5 pm Holiday Inn, Woodland Hills Bob Guyer, 805-501-0733

South Bay (CA) Webinar meetings Randy Pierson, 310-265-0833

Western Washington Chapter Meetings held at chapter seminars in March and September Karl Nueffer

NEW ENGLAND Coastal Connecticut Third Thursday, 6 pm, Westport VFW Lodge, 465 Riverside Avenue, Westport John Hamlin, 203-912-1917

New England (ME, MA, NH, RI, VT) Fourth Thursday, 5 pm The Lantana, Randoph, MA Michael Atwell, 617-630-5629

Northern New England (NNEC) (ME, MA, NH, VT) www. Third Thursday of Jan., April, June and Sept. Tim Rooney, 603-770-0444

Southern New England (CT) First Tuesdays, 6:30 pm Billy T’s, 150 Sebethe Dr. Cromwell, CT Richard W. Hall, 860-281-4238

NEW YORK/JERSEY/ DELAWARE Capitol Region (NY) Third Thursday, 7 pm, Doratos Steakhouse and Pub, Guilderland Robert Davis, 518-885-7949

Central New York Second Wednesday, 6 pm, Tony’s Family Restaurant, Syracuse Peter Apgar, 315-278-3143 peter@craftsmanhomeinspection. net

First State (DE) Third Wednesday, 7 pm The Buzz Ware Center 2121 The Highway, Arden Mark Desmond, 302-494-1294

Garden State (NJ) Second Thursday, The Westwood, Garwood Ernie Borsellino, 973 761 0050

Greater Rochester (NY) Second Tuesday, 6 pm, Murph’s Irondequoit Pub, Irondequoit John White, 585-431-0067

Hudson Valley (NY)


Second Tuesday, 6 pm Daddy O’s Restaurant 3 Turner Street, Hopewell Junction, NY 12533 Michael Skok, 845-592-1442 Fourth Tuesday, Associate hour 6-7 pm, Membership meeting 7-9 pm Northern Virginia Resources Center, Fairfax Tony Toth, 703-926-6213

Long Island (NY)

Piedmont ASHI (VA) Third Monday, 6 pm, Domenico’s Restaurant, Levittown Steven Rosenbaum 516-361-0658

New York Metro Last Thursday, 5pm Travelers Rest 25 Saw Mill River Road Ossining, NY 10562 Chris Long, 914-260-8571

Southern New Jersey (NJ) Third Wednesday, 6:30 pm Ramada Inn, Bordentown Rick Lobley, 609-208-9798

Western New York Second Thursday, 6:30 pm Tony Rome’s, West Seneca Andy Utnik, 716-636-9676

MID-ATLANTIC Central Virginia Second Tuesday, 6:30 pm Keegan’s Irish Pub 2251 Old Brick Road Glen Allen, VA 23060 John Cranor 804-873-8537 cranorinspectionservices

Greater Baltimore (MD) Third Thurs. except July, Aug., 6:30 pm Maritime Institute Conf. Center 5700 N. Hammonds Ferry Rd. Linthicum Heights, MD 21090 Volney Ford, 410-458-5704

Hampton Roads (VA) Second Thursday, 7 pm, Cypress Point Country Club, Virginia Beach Gregory Murphy, 757-535-4355

MAC-ASHI (MD, VA) Second Wednesday, Rockville, 6 pm Senior Center, Rockville Mark Mostrom, 301-536-0096

Robert Huntley, 540-354-2135

SOUTH ATLANTIC ASHI Georgia Shannon Cory, 404-316-4876

East Tennessee Third Saturday of Feb., May, Aug. and Nov. Paul Perry, 866-522-7708

Mid-Tennessee Ray Baird, 615-516-5511

Mid-South (TN) Steven Campbell, 901-734-0555

North Carolina Third Wednesday, 3 pm, Quality Inn at Guilford Convention Center Greensboro Andy Hilton, 336-682-2197

Louisiana Quarterly Meetings Michael Burroughs 318-324-0661

Suncoast (FL) First Tuesday, 6:30 pm; Please see our website for meeting locations. Steve Acker, 727-712-3089

Southwest Florida Serving Manatee, Sarasota & Charlotte Second Wednesday, 6 pm Holiday Inn, Lakewood Ranch 6321 Lake Osprey Drive, Sarasota Michael Conley, 941-778-2385 FLinspector@outlookcom

CANADA Home Inspectors Association BC Sean Moss, 604-729-4261

CAHPI Atlantic Lawrence Englehart 902-403-2460

CAHPI Ontario Rob Cornish, 613-858-5000

South Carolina

Prairies (Alberta) (CAHI)

First Saturday of Feb., May, Aug. & Nov., 8 am Roger Herdt, 843-669-3757

Quebec AIBQ

GULF ASHI South (AL) Chris Bottriell, 780-486-4412 Pascal Baudaux, 450-629-2038 Quarterly, Homewood Library Homewood John Knudsen, 334-221-0876

Florida Wiregrass Second Wednesday, 6:30 pm Sleep Inn Hotel, Wesley Chapel Nancy Janosz, 813-546-6090

Gulfcoast (FL) First Thursday, 7 pm, The Forest Country Club, Fort Myers Len Gluckstal, 239-432-0178

Lone Star (TX) Bud Rozell, 214-215-4961

October 2017 •


ASHI Chapters and Council News

Due to the size of these lists, the new and move-up member lists have moved to the monthly online Reporter.

New ASHI Inspectors

New ASHI Associates MEMBER


New ASHI Certified Home Inspectors


Call for Volunteers— Help Shape ASHI’s Future Your affiliation with ASHI means you are recognized as a leader in your profession. As a volunteer leader, you are a key to ASHI’s success. As an ASHI volunteer, what’s in it for me?

• Opportunities to give back to your profession • A chance to contribute to ASHI’s mission and vision • Networking with your peers to form business and personal relationships • Recognition for your involvement and support • Opportunities to enhance your leadership skills • Business-building ideas from other inspectors • Interactions with ASHI leaders to share your ideas and expertise

What’s expected of me when I serve as an ASHI volunteer? • A willingness to learn from others and to welcome diverse viewpoints • An ability to receive and consistently respond to email communications

Take the first step now to become a volunteer!

1. Visit the ASHI website at 2. Select “Members-Only” 3. Click on “Downloads and Forms” 4. Fill out the Call for Volunteers form 5. Email the completed form to Bonnie Bruno at H 30

ASHI Reporter • October 2017


To have your chapter seminar listed here, email all information about your chapter seminar to: BE SURE TO INCLUDE ALL INFORMATION: seminar subject, when, where, CEUs & a link for more information or contact information.

ASHI Chapter Education Upcoming GLC Events

St. Louis Chapter Fall Seminar When: October 27, 2017, 8:00 - 5:00 PM Location: St. Louis Association of Realtors Conference Center, 12777 Olive Blvd., Creve Coeur, MO 63141 Speaker: Bruce Barker Topic: To Be Announced

GLC Fall Conference, Essenhaus Inn and Conference Center: October 13-14 Location: Middlebury, IN

Heat Pumps and Dual Fuel Systems: November 7

New Mexico ASHI Chapter Fall Seminar - Home Inspections in the Land of Enchantment

Location: Mama Mia’s, Livonia, MI

Mid-Missouri ASHI Fall Seminar When: October 6, 2017 Location: Board of Realtors Office 2309 I-70 Dr. N.W., Columbia, MO 65202 Topics: Roofing, Siding, Attic Ventilation and Exterior Walls presented by Certainteed Deck Construction, and Critical Connections presented by Simpson Strong-Tie CEUs: 8 ASHI CEs Contact:

When: November 4, 2017, 7:30 AM - 5:30 PM Location: The Pecos Trail Inn and Cafe 2239 Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87505 (Lodging reservations recommended) CEUs: Earn 8 CEUs Topics: NM Electrical Code 2015; Inspecting Adobe houses; HVAC Mini-splits; Flat roof inspections; NM Inspector panel Contact: Douglas Ramsey, 2017 ASHI-NM Treasurer 575-571-2108,

MAC ASHI Chapter When: November 4, 2017 Location: Johns Hopkins University Rockville, MD Topics: Impacts of Exterior Grading, Drainage and Vegetation - 2 CE hours Plumbing Systems and Components - 6 CE hours CEUs: 2 and/or 6 CE hours Speakers: David Hawkins, Kenny Hart Contact: David Goldberg, 301-913-9213

IMPORTANT REPORTER DEADLINES: • DECEMBER ISSUE -10/7/17 • JANUARY 2018 ISSUE -11/7/17 • FEBRUARY 2018 ISSUE -12/7/17 • MARCH 2018 ISSUE -1/7/18 • APRIL 2018 ISSUE -2/7/18 The Reporter is produced 6-8 weeks ahead of the week it arrives in your mailbox.

May 23-26, 2018 Los Angeles/Ventura County Chapter AND San Diego County JOINT CREIA & ASHI CHAPTER Level-1 Thermography Certification Class Taught by Mr. Bill Fabian of Monroe Infrared. Presented at the Downey CA Board of Realtors Conference Room. Registration information TBA.

31October 2017



ASHI Chapters and Council News

Ohio ASHI Chapter Hosts Peer Review Session Submitted by Forrest Lines, ACI, REA Services, and David Argabright, ACI, Attic to Sidewalk Home Inspections on behalf of the Ohio Chapter of ASHI On Thursday, August 17, the Ohio Chapter of ASHI presented its second of three “Ohio ASHI On the Road” sessions. For this meeting, held in Columbus, we decided to depart from the normal setting and do a peer review instead. Thinking outside of the box, the members of the education committee, led by Forrest Lines, Ohio ASHI Chair of Education, tried a new concept that was well-attended and well received.

We set up four stations in and around the house, and divided the attendees into groups. Then each group visited each of the following stations:

• Roofing: Hosted by Expo vendor Mike Feazel of Roof Renovators, with assistance from Sherman Hall, an ASHI Inspector

• Fireplaces: Hosted by Blackburns Chimney Services, also an Ohio Expo vendor and friend of the chapter

• Garage doors and opener safety: Hosted by David Argabright, ACI

• Legal issues, including contracts and releases: Hosted by Forrest Lines, ACI, with assistance from Josh Branham of By-Lions Home Inspectors

Twenty-five inspectors attended this event, and everyone shared in good information and good food. We extend our thanks to all who attended and look forward to seeing you at our next event! 32

ASHI Reporter • October 2017

ASHI Event Calendar  October 19-21, 2017 Leadership Training Conference and ASHI Board Meeting Des Plaines, IL  January 21-24, 2018 InspectionWorld® & ASHI Board Meeting Orlando, FL

News From the ASHI School

Upcoming Classes October 2-7, 2017 • Austintown, OH

Contact: Russell K. Daniels, Executive Director, The ASHI School

October 2-13, 2017 • Columbus, OH


he ASHI School offers a full range of high-quality educational programs to anyone affiliated with or interested in the home inspection field and related professions. Getting your home inspection training with The ASHI School is your best opportunity for succeeding in this growing profession. Pre-license home inspection courses are our specialty; however, we also offer several supplemental classes that can advance or enhance your home inspection career. Our pre-license courses are designed to include a blend of pre-class study materials, live classroom lectures and hands-on home inspection training. The ASHI School offers more live field training than any other school for home inspection. Most successful home inspectors agree that hands-on training is the best way to learn the trade, so we put you in the field nearly every day! We want you to experience actual home inspections on real houses so that you can learn from knowledgeable, practicing home inspectors who will guide you through the process. In addition, when you take our home inspection class, you will receive a first-year associate membership in the American Society of Home Inspectors. This membership allows you to join your local ASHI chapter and there are ASHI chapters located across the country. Being a member of your ASHI chapter will increase your ability to get “ride-along” field training with seasoned inspectors, provide you with numerous networking opportunities, and help you continue to increase and refine your knowledge about the home inspection business from the best resources… ASHI Inspectors. The ASHI School currently holds pre-license classes in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington state. Soon, we will be offering classes in Arkansas, Arizona, Louisiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Vermont. At all locations, courses are taught by ASHI Certified Inspectors who have a wealth of knowledge and experience. We believe that our educational program is the best because of these instructors and the highly regarded curriculum we offer through Carson Dunlop.

In addition to our traditional two-week classes, we are setting the stage to offer customized, one-week classes that match up with specific state requirements. This will help inspectors who have a state licensing requirement of 80 hours (as opposed to 120 hours) of training. The educational program will be tailored to each state’s requirements. The ASHI School’s ancillary classes on the topics of radon, mold and commercial inspection are especially popular. And we plan to offer new specialty classes to cover business topics, including business (legal, budgeting, entering the business, strategic planning, contingency plans, exit strategy), report writing and marketing. The ASHI School provides a free set of the National Home Inspector Examination (NHIE) Manual and Study Guide to each student. These resources are must-haves to prepare for and pass the exam. By providing these resources to each student, The ASHI School ensures that each student is fully equipped to study for the exam.

October 30–November 10, 2017 • St. Louis, MO November 6-17, 2017 • Baltimore, MD • Bellevue, WA • Brentwood, TN • Cypress, CA • Cincinnati, OH • Des Plaines, IL November 24-December 8, 2017 • Cumming, GA • Lakewood, CO • Leesburg, VA • Tampa, FL 1-888-884-0440

Meet the New Team! Our new staff list and contact information has recently changed. Please contact us with your questions. We are here to serve you!

Russell K. Daniels

Executive Director 847-954-3178

Tracy Vazquez

Sales Representative 847-954-3181

Michelle Santiago

Executive Assistant 847-954-3198

Avery Dinn

Sales Representative 847-954-3191 October 2017 •


The ASHI membership levels: • ASHI Associate Member • ASHI Inspector

Your Journey to Move Up in ASHI

• ASHI Certified Inspector Each day, we talk with inspectors who ask us how to achieve the ASHI Certified Inspector level. To move up to each higher level, an inspector must complete the requisites outlined here.

By Jennifer Gallegos, ASHI Membership Services Manager

Every day at ASHI headquarters, we receive applications from prospects who want to become ASHI members. Whether you are brand new to the profession or have been an inspector for years, you start out as an Associate Member when you join ASHI. From Associate Membership, you can work your way up to become an ASHI Inspector or an ASHI Certified Inspector.

ASHI CERTIFIED INSPECTOR To achieve the ASHI Certified Inspector level and use the ASHI Certified Inspector gold logo and its acronym (ACI), you must complete the following requirements: • Exams required: pass NHIE • Number of inspections: complete a minimum 250 inspections • Receive and return the affidavit: ASHI will email you an affidavit stating that you have completed more than 250 inspections; you must get that affidavit notarized and return it to ASHI. We add it to your record.

ASHI INSPECTOR To achieve the ASHI Inspector level and use the ASHI Inspector logo, you must complete the following requirements: • Exams and modules


»» ASHI Standard of Practice and Code of Ethics Module »» State-approved license examination OR »» National Home Inspector Examination (NHIE) (optional)

Note: If an Associate member has completed a minimum of 250 inspections and wants to move up to the ASHI Certified Inspector level, he or she can achieve it by meeting the following requirements: • Exams and modules required: »» ASHI Standard of Practice and Code of Ethics Module »» NHIE

• Number of inspections: complete a minimum of 75 inspections

• Number of inspections: complete a minimum of 250 inspections

• Verification of reports

• Verification of reports

»» Submit five reports to the verification portal on the ASHI website

»» Submit five reports to the verification portal on the ASHI website

»» Reports must pass verification

»» Reports must pass verification

Receive and return the affidavit: ASHI will email you an affidavit stating that you have completed more than 75 inspections; you must get that affidavit notarized and return it to ASHI. We add it to your record.

• Receive and return the affidavit: ASHI will email you an affidavit stating that you have completed more than 75 inspections; you must get that affidavit notarized and return it to ASHI. We add it to your record.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Why do I have to pass the NHIE to qualify for ASHI Certified Inspector Membership? ASHI is the only home inspector association that has an accredited certification by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, the same agency that certifies nurses, automotive professions and others. To keep our accreditation with NCCA, ASHI is required to use an assessment instrument to test the knowledge and skills of those wanting to become ASHI Certified Inspectors. NHIE fulfills this requirement.

Is the process easy to follow? ASHI recently upgraded its process to help make it even easier for our members. We created the online Verification Portal, to which users can upload their five reports. Using this portal can cut the verification time from three weeks to eight days. Also, the Membership Journey Line, located on the ASHI website, helps members stay on track by showing what steps have been completed and what steps are still left to do.

Whom can I contact to ask questions about this process? We want all ASHI members to be successful and reach their goals. If your goal is to become an ASHI Certified Inspector, please contact us by email ( or phone (847-759-2820). Be sure to check online for your Membership Journey Line to see if you are on track: H

We look forward to helping you! 34

ASHI Reporter • October 2017

FREE ASHI Member access to past IW sessions. 1. Go to 2. U  nder Education & Training 3. C  lick on:


CURRENT ASHI MEMBERSHIP ASHI Certified Inspectors: 3,610 Inspectors: 222 Associates: 4,369 Retired Members: 112 Affiliates: 84 Total: 8,397 Members as of 9/8/2017

ASHI MEMBERSHIP BENEFIT PROGRAMS ASHI-ENDORSED PROGRAMS ASHI’s E&O Insurance Program: Target Professional Programs 860-899-1862 ASHI Personal Lines Insurance Program: Liberty Mutual ASHI’s Protecting Home Inspectors From Meritless Claims Program: Joe Ferry – The Home Inspector Lawyer 855-MERITLESS (637-4853) ASHI Service Program BuildFax Tricia Julian, 877-600-BFAX x161 ASHI Customer Appreciation Program: Brent Skidmore, 864-386-2763 Brett Symes, 913-529-2683 LegalShield Joan Buckner, 505-821-3971 Dave Goldstein, 800-882-6242

OneSource Solutions 877-274-8632 Eliab Sisay, 206-218-3920 ASHI Rebate Program Dana Fishman, 800-634-0320 x1417 ASHI-ENDORSED EXAMS ASHI Standard and Ethics Education Module Go to, click on Education, then click on the link for the ASHI Online Learning Center. NHIE Exam: 847-298-7750 ASHI-ENDORSED TRAINING PROGRAMS ASHI@Home Training System 800-268-7070

Octo Anni ber versa ries

Twenty-five Years

Ten Years

David Hutcheson

Harry Alexander Ross Brown Ronald Crescente Mark Donahue Lance Ellis Eric Fountain Steven Goolsby Victor Hernandez Leslie Jansson Gregory Murphy Kelly Quinn Cory Smith Mark Word Tom Zakrewski

Twenty Years G. Andrew Bauer Michael Burroughs Ralph Garcea Darrell Hay Tabor Hill Todd Kirkpatrick Neil Klein Terence Kursawe

Fifteen Years William Atkinson MIchael Buckley Yung Chung Keith Collins William Easter Kevin Freely Oscar Fregoso Robert Gaudreault Steve Kolar Ken Lightsey Charles Mangio Donald Reese Glenn Trombly Jeffrey Wise

The ASHI School Russell Daniels, 888-884-0440

Five Years Steve Brenner Andrew Call Gregory Dennis John Farrelly Ed Hopkins Peter Hopkins Dan Jones Douglas Krueck Elizabeth Martin LaVaine Murphy Ron Nokes Tim Sams Gayla Smith Daniel Sommer MIchael Stoneman Jeff Walsh Michael White Jimmy Womack

PLATINUM PROVIDER Millionaire Inspector Community Mike Crow Mention that you are an ASHI member.

35October 2017




Meritless Claims

Continued from Page 22

Once you have determined that the claim lacks merit, you have to disavow any responsibility for it, politely but firmly, in terms that the claimant cannot fail to understand. On the other hand, if you determine that the claim has merit, you need to ask another question: Is there mitigation?

Claimants always think that their claim is worth much more than it actually is. They think that, if the inspector missed a roof defect, then they are entitled to get a new roof. They are not. The most that they would be entitled to is the cost of repairing the defect, which may not be very much at all. Is there a Limitation of Liability Clause in the inspection agreement? If so, then the terms of that clause would determine the inspector’s maximum liability, providing that the jurisdiction in which the claim arose upholds such clauses. Did the claimant comply with the Notice and Waiver conditions of the inspection agreement? If not, the inspector may escape liability altogether.

Is the claim timely? Was it made within the statutory or contractual time limit? If not, the inspector will have no liability. If an otherwise valid claim is untenable economically—that is, it is not worth pursuing notwithstanding its merit—for one or more of the reasons listed in this article, a settlement usually can be effected on terms that are not too punishing to the inspector, providing that the claimant is willing to sign a General Release that releases the inspector from all liability whatsoever arising from the inspection. A Demand from the Claimant’s Attorney Oftentimes, the first notice of a claim will be a letter from an attorney representing your client’s interests in having you rectify some adverse condition that has arisen in the property that you had inspected. Sometimes, this demand comes as a surprise because your client has given you no indication that he or she was in any fashion dissatisfied with the inspection. And sometimes, the client is simply upping the ante following your courteous, but firm, denial of his or her unmeritorious claim. Regardless of its provenance, the mere fact that a demand letter was written by a lawyer confers no stamp of legitimacy on an otherwise meritless claim. On the contrary, very few of the hundreds of attorney demand letters to which home inspectors have asked me to respond betrayed any indication that the attorney had made any preliminary inquiry whatsoever to ascertain whether the claim had merit or not. I used to find that to be astonishing because attorneys are required by the Rules of Professional Conduct to ascertain that a claim has merit before prosecuting it. Now, I simply ascribe it to the general decline in civility that characterizes the age in which we live.

Not only are these attorney demand letters generally devoid of any evidence of any prior investigation of the claim, they very seldom offer any legal theory under which the home inspector could be responsible for their client’s damages. This ellipsis I also continue to find astonishing because that is the first question that an insurance claims adjuster is going to ask the claimant or his or her attorney: What is your theory of liability? Actually, I have terminated a handful of claims merely by sending a letter asking what the attorney’s theory of liability was. 36

ASHI Reporter • October 2017

In any event, the approach to responding to a demand letter from an attorney is exactly the same. First, determine if the claim has merit by asking whether the claimed deficiency could have been determined by a home inspection, whether it was or was not within the SOP, whether the defect was or was not accessible, whether the defect was or was not disclaimed, whether the defect was or was not discovered and reported, and whether the defect was or was not functioning at the time of the inspection.

Second, determine what mitigating factors exist that also might invalidate the claim or render it less financially onerous and possibly not worth pursuing even if meritorious. Once those two determinations have been made, the claim will either have merit or not. If it has no merit, you need to respond to the claimant’s attorney, outlining the reasons that the claim is unmeritorious with appropriate citations to the inspection report, the applicable SOP and the Pre-Inspection Agreement, as necessary. If a lawyer is responding to the claim, he or she should also include references to applicable statutory and settled case authority, as necessary.

If you have errors and omissions (E & O) insurance, you then need to send a copy of the responsive letter to your insurance company, with a cover letter stating that a prior client has asserted a claim against you, that you are enclosing your or your attorney’s response, and that you do not think the claim will resurface (so thoroughly has the response squeezed the life out of it), but that, in the unlikely event that it does, you want to put them on notice. That way, if the claim ever does resurface, regardless of how far down the road that might be, your insurance company will be obligated to respond. Your insurance policy will state precisely how you are to notify your insurance company of a potential claim. If the claim has merit and you have E & O insurance, the safest course is to simply turn the claim over to your insurance company representatives and let them sort things out. That is why you have E & O insurance. If you do not have E & O insurance and the claim has merit, but there are mitigating factors, oftentimes you can negotiate a settlement based on those mitigating factors. If you have a valid and enforceable Limitation of Liability clause, for example, you could offer to pay whatever that amount is in exchange for a General Release. If the damages being claimed are greater than the law will allow, you might be able to negotiate a settlement based on what the law will allow in exchange for a General Release. Although you can certainly try to conduct these maneuvers by yourself, you are better advised to seek competent professional assistance. H Joe Ferry has specialized in List of Services & Expertise protecting home inspectors against meritless claims for over 12 years. He has squashed 1,200+ claims made against home inspectors. His ClaimIntercept membership program and Pre-Inspection Agreement Audit services are ASHI-endorsed. Learn more at

Why Choose an Home Inspector

Type YOUR services/specialties here...

• Example: Deck & Pool inspection • Example: Radon Testing • Add bullet point... • Add bullet point... • Add bullet point... • Add bullet point... • Add bullet point... • Add bullet point... • Add bullet point... • Add bullet point... • Add bullet point... • Add bullet point...







ASHI is an o of independ sional home who are required to m mitment from the day conduct inspections in with ASHI Standards o and Code of Ethics, wh its engaging in conflic activities that might co their objectivity. Assoc their way to ASHI Cert spector (ACI) status as rigorous requirements passing a comprehens technical exam and pe a minimum of 250 pro fee-paid home inspec ducted in accrodance ASHI Standard of Prac Code of Ethics. Manda ing education helps th ship stay current with technology, materials sional skills.

For more information abo www.ASHI.o


SHED 1932


Mathey Meanly



P PERFECTION HOME INSPEC TORS Aubry Marcus Have you ordered from the ASHI Marketplace* before? It has moved to this link: with exciting new features and products! Brand Your Chapter

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> Purchase informative brochures imprinted with your logo and contact information to hand out to clients and agents alike

Permission to copy or reprint all or any part of the material contained in this brochure must be obtained by writing to ASHI and receiving express written permission.

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protect that reputation by always recommending a Professional’s Guide Your Home Inspection home inspection. to Home Inspection Questions Answered

As a not-for-profit organization, ASHI has worked since 1976 to increase consumer

awareness regarding the importance of home

inspections and to enhance the professionalism of its membership. The Society has stringent

What is a home inspection?

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© 2016 American Society of Home Inspectors, Inc. Permission to copy or reprint all or any part of the material contained in this brochure must be obtained by writing to ASHI and receiving express written permission.


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out ASHI visit: org




organization dent, profese inspectors make a comy they join to n accordance of Practice hich prohibct-of-interest ompromise ciates work tified Inthey meet s, including sive, written erforming ofessional, tions conwith the ctice and atory continuhe memberthe latest in and profes-



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37October 2017



Foundations and Wood Structures

Inspecting Old Houses By David Rushton ABLE Building Inspection


Foundation construction has changed radically over the last 50 to 100 years. Stone, brick and, in many locations, concrete masonry units (commonly referred to as concrete or cinder block) are obsolete foundation materials. That does not mean that foundations constructed with these materials are all failing or have failed. The performance of these older foundation materials may be quite satisfactory in some areas of the country, but they may be inadequate in other areas, especially if they have been under extreme duress. Footings under an old stone or brick foundation are usually nonexistent. I have seen concrete block crawl walls built directly on dirt. Piers and columns may or may not have footings. Old brick foundations with lime-based mortars can be almost fluid, like a slow liquid, in the long term. Stone foundations may have dirt or sand between the stones simply to fill the gaps, rather than to provide adhesion between the stones. Gravity may be holding the stones in place, but if the wall is moving or failing, gravity may be helping the wall fail.

Most of these foundations have literally no connection between the wood frame structure and the masonry. This is usually not a problem in the part of Virginia where I live and work, but it may be a significant concern in areas prone to earthquakes or floods. During inspections here in Virginia, it is fairly common to find foundation walls sitting on nothing but unsupported soil in places where someone has excavated a crawl space into a cellar. The heavy rock and clay soils may appear to be stable, even decades after the excavation was done. If there is loose soil at the base of the excavation or signs of water moving through the soil, I note these as significant concerns that should be evaluated further.


ASHI Reporter • October 2017

When inspectors find cracks or signs of movement at the foundation, they may wonder: Where is the line between making a recommendation to monitor the foundation for future functionality or movement and making a recommendation to seek a more comprehensive evaluation? It’s important to note that horizontal cracks or bulges, at any level, are an indication of failure. Vertical or stair-step cracks are an indication of movement, but not necessarily failure, unless significant displacement is observed.

In my inspection report, I make a point of indicating that a below-grade, old foundation will be subject to moisture intrusion that will be difficult, if not impossible, to address completely. The moisture may be anywhere between dampness flooding, depending on the weather or a change in the environment. Exterior grading and drainage can make a significant difference in how wet a foundation is, but in places where the soil is wet and the water doesn’t drain, water inside an old foundation is pretty much a given. Interior waterproofing systems, such as French drains, may not be able to be installed in an old cellar because there are no footings under the walls, and many times, the bottom of the wall is at the level of the cellar or crawl space floor. In these cases, the installation of an interior drain may destabilize the foundation. Foundation materials may deteriorate over time, due to age, deficient components or inadequate design. Bricks may spall or be subject to rising damp. Cinder or concrete blocks may disintegrate. Steel reinforcing, if any have been placed, can rust. Mortar joints can deteriorate. Foundation walls can fail under horizontal or vertical loads.

Evaluating these types of foundation problems generally is based on the inspector’s level of experience and on the observable conditions at the time of the inspection. At times, a recommendation for the foundation to be evaluated by a specialist (that is, a structural engineer) is warranted, but this should not be the standard statement to use every time you observe cracking in an old foundation. If you inspect a lot of older foundations, you will build up a personal comfort level with typical issues. History is usually an effective way to measure the success of a foundation. If it has functioned successfully for decades, it probably will continue to do so in the future unless changes are made or something happens to the conditions around the foundation.


Inspecting Old Houses: Foundations and Wood Structures

Spalling brick piers on brick footings

If the foundation shows signs of significant structural movement or water penetration, further evaluation by an objective specialist may be warranted.


Some of the greatest changes in residential construction have been related to wood structure and framing techniques. It’s also true, of course, that indoor plumbing, central heating, air conditioning and electric lights have been major changes, but wood construction technology has changed dramatically over the last century. The old, large trees once used for lumber are gone. Now, trees are farmed, harvested, ground up, processed and turned into manufactured wood products that don’t really look like trees any more. George Washington, with his axe, would be shocked.

Wood framing has changed. The oldest wood houses were made from logs. Logs provided a quick way to build a home. The pioneers first had to clear the land to plant crops, so they had large quantities of trees with which to work. A man with an adz could square a log in half an hour, so building a log house was a quick way to create shelter before winter came. Getting a roof over your head was important to stay warm, dry or out of the sun. Log framing: A log structure is a series of beams stacked on top of each other. The beauty of this structure is that if one log rots, the log that sits immediately above it will take over structurally. So, you can have considerable damage to some logs in a house, and although it can be very difficult and potentially expensive to repair or replace them, the structure is not necessarily compromised. The material used to seal the gaps between the logs is called chinking. It was made from mud, manure, tree branches or whatever was at hand. The logs were green when cut and assembled, and they shrank considerably over the first year or two. The shrinking compressed the chinking tightly between the logs and increased the weather-resistance of the walls. The log walls usually were covered with siding as soon as possible. Siding provided an additional layer of weather-resistance and protection for the exterior structure. The current practice of exposing the logs is actually not historically accurate after the first year or two of an old log home’s life.

When I stop to think about how people and animals (the main power sources) managed to lift the logs to stack them and raise the stones for chimneys, it amazes me. Logs or trees also were used for light framing. It is not unusual to find logs flattened on one side and used for joists and rafters. Sometimes, especially for rafters, the logs weren’t even flattened or debarked. Remember, winter was coming or enemies were attacking. People must have thought, “Let’s get this home, shelter or defensible positon up!” Even when time wasn’t critical or when everything was manufactured with limited machine power, sawing logs into boards was (and still is) labor-intensive. 39October 2017




Inspecting Old Houses: Foundations and Wood Structures

Determining if a structure is made of logs is sometimes necessary when there are finishes inside and out. The thickness of the wall is a significant clue. A log wall is much thicker than a frame wall and doesn’t sound like masonry when tapped. When inspecting a log structure, probing the logs inside and out to discover damage is essential. Looking for obvious damage and directing your investigation from there is a good way to go. If a log with a dimension of 8-in. or 10-in. has about 1-in. of deterioration on the exterior, there is still a lot of wood remaining for the structure. If your probe starts to go farther into the logs, however, that’s reason for concern, but still not necessarily a serious structural problem. Timber framing: Timber frame structure is another previously common wood construction technique. A large frame of wood posts and beams was assembled, and the infill and cover of the timber frame made up the walls, floors, ceilings and roofs. This type of construction may be difficult to determine in the field. Examination of the structure in the attic, cellar and crawl spaces may yield some information. Hand-hewn, large timber sills with logs or joists notched into the sills is a possible clue. Large beams under the rafters in the attic is another. Infill between the timber frame parts is usually similar to light frame construction, with vertical studs, floor and ceiling joists and rafters. Log walls with clapboard siding

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Inspecting Old Houses: Foundations and Wood Structures

Balloon framing makes it easy for an electrician to fish wiring up and down the exterior walls, but the vertical spaces are all little chimneys for fire. Blocking can be installed in the cellar or crawl space between the joists to close off the vertical openings and limit the ability of fire to rise up the walls. Openings in balloon framing may or may not have headers. Large openings for stairs can have unusual or inadequate support, usually single joists for the sides and headers. This can explain why the floors around stairways can be significantly “unlevel.” Bay windows may not have had adequate support of the cantilever.

Balloon framing: The earliest light framing construction is known as balloon framing, which was popular between about 1880 and 1930. This framing was entirely sawn lumber. A sill was placed (not necessarily attached) on the foundation walls. Vertical studs ran from the sill up to the top plate under the rafters unless there was an opening for a door or window. The first-floor joists were usually set on the sill next to the studs. The second-floor joists were supported on a 1-in. x 6-in. ribbon let into the studs. The joists also were nailed to the studs. Interior bearing and nonbearing walls were framed within the floor framing and did not run two stories.

Platform framing: Another type of construction is platform framing. This became popular in California in the 1920s and spread through the rest of the country. As the virgin forests disappeared, the 20-ft. long studs needed for balloon framing were no longer available. Building became much more standardized. Headers at wall and floor openings became typical. In my next article of this “Old House” series, I will provide more details about types of wood construction and offer insights about how the systems worked, or in some cases, didn’t work. H If you have any questions about inspecting old homes, please contact me at ABLE Building Inspection, or 540-636-6200.

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41October 2017



Postcards From the Field

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ASHI Reporter • October 2017

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October 2017 •


ASHI’s Exceptional Staff Members Help Our Society Achieve Its Goals


his month, I would like to “spill the beans” as to what the ASHI staff does for our members. To begin, many of our members may not know what, exactly, our Executive Director and staff do each day. Besides running the day-to-day operations of our fine organization, they field inquiries from potential, new and seasoned members, vendors and sponsors, as well as the many levels of bureaucracies (some of which plague our very existence).

Specifically, our staff receives inquiries from various representatives of government and the private sector who want to learn about ASHI and the services that our members perform. Usually, such calls are directed to Executive Director Frank Lesh for follow-up.

By ASHI President, Howie Pegelow

needed, legal counsel. Then, we develop contracts intended to benefit all parties, and after the contracts are completed and signed, the staff goes to work to implement the specifications of the contract. This may appear to be a simple process, but you should know that we spend considerable time developing and reviewing contracts for service agreements before making final commitments. So, that is some of what our staff does to benefit the ASHI membership. I didn’t even go into detail about the many, various work assignments such as preparing for InspectionWorld® (currently, staff is working on both IW 2018 and IW 2019), working with vendors who sponsor IW, responding to inquiries (received by email and telephone) from ASHI members and from inspectors around the country who want to know more about the benefits of joining ASHI.

During the past six months, Frank Another one of those major work assignments is The ASHI School (TAS), which was established in 2009 under the direction of the and his staff have fielded inquiries ASHI Education Inc. (AEI) Board of Directors. Throughout from throughout the United States the years, TAS established sites around the country to provide educational instruction covering a comprehensive overview of home and Canada, as well as from home inspection, as well as about specific ancillary subjects. TAS has had several well-qualified managers over the years, and each person has inspection organizations located in brought valuable experiences and working knowledge to further the other countries. Each inquiry has mission of TAS. received the best attention possible. Recently, the AEI board engaged For example, representatives from two South American countries the services of Russell Daniels, recently requested ASHI’s assistance to provide valuable insight into who comes to TAS with 16 years of the home inspection profession. Inspectors in China and Australia also have been seeking to build relationships with ASHI. These ASHI experience; he most recently people express their awareness of the ASHI Standard of Practice and Code of Ethics, and their interest in understanding how ASHI served as ASHI’s Assistant Executive is certified by a third party. They are seeking out ASHI because ASHI is the leader in the profession of home inspection. Director. Russell will offer valuable Besides working with other home inspection organizations, ASHI insights and benefits to TAS. The is working closely with representatives in the private sector. Several AEI board retains Russell in the potential clients have contacted ASHI to establish working relationships to complete inspection services. These potential clients position of Executive Director, with are located nationwide and partnerships could greatly benefit our membership. Again, the ASHI Standard of Practice and Code of the responsibility for TAS. Ethics are at the forefront of these service requests. You might ask: What exactly does our staff do when a potential client or a vendor makes a contact? Usually, after an initial contact is made, Frank and ASHI staff members do some research to evaluate what services ASHI could provide. Before signing any contracts, Frank notifies the ASHI President (right now, that’s me) who, in turn, consults with various members of the board and, if 46

ASHI Reporter • October 2017

This has all been just a quick glimpse of what the ASHI board, staff and school leaders are diligently pursuing for the benefit of you, the members of our great society. If you have the opportunity to visit the ASHI headquarters in Des Plaines, Illinois, I encourage you to take the time to talk with our staff. You will find ASHI’s professional staff members to be ready and willing to provide you with a rewarding experience. H

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ASHI Reporter • October 2017

October 2017 Reporter  

Home inspection news and tips for inspectors, home owners and realtors.