In this issue

ASHI New England News

Please read this first

 

It is with some sadness that I convey that Mike Atwell has been removed from his position as President of the New England chapter.  This action was undertaken by the Board when they found irregularities (that’s the way they term it as I got this information second hand) in the ASHI New England financial account that only Mike has access to. 

This was first observed by Don Bissex who handles the Quicken account for our chapter.  (Good work Don as no one else would have caught this).  I am not on the Board but I was informed that a special meeting was held this weekend to review the writing of checks to cover meals and other items that should not have gone on the chapter account.  Mike protested that the expenses were legitimate, but I guess the $1240.00 dinner at a nice Boston restaurant with Mike (and, I assume, guests as Mike could not have eaten that much) could not be explained away.  Mike was defiant and, despite all evidence to the contray, claimed he was the victim of a conspiracy. According to one source, he said he would not resign and that the Board would "have to pry that podium out of my cold dead hands".  

Going forward, I was told that a special election may be held to elect a new president.  Alex Steinberg was ‘due’ to move up into to the president’s slot, but I guess he could not get a vote of confidence from the Board.  I was told Don may be asked to fill the post, but others felt he was “not ready”.  I was told that Lisa’s (Alajajian) name was floated and, while I think she would have been fine,  I guess not everyone thought so. Lenny's name was floated - but nobody trusts him.    David Rossinow was tentatively offered the position, but he turned it down as he said he was too busy with his pottery business (which most inspectors don’t know he dabbles in).  I told the board that  I am available but all I heard was “we’ll get back to you”.

It is indeed upsetting that this occurred.  I think most of you felt the way I did: that Mike was doing an excellent job as president.  Even spending the chapter’s money to go out for a (very) nice meal perhaps should not have been a reason to force his resignation.  Meanwhile, I was told that ASHI National has been notified about Mike’s removal.  I don’t know what further actions will be launched.  The Board, I was told, will not be asking for police involvement as long as the misused funds are reimbursed. 

I will let the Chapter know what transpires after this.  It is indeed a sad day for the New England Chapter…. 

 

April 1, 2017

Newsletter

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April 1 2017  

Overview... Read this first

Dear fellow ASHI New England Chapter members:  

We have some important developments this month.  Please see the "ASHI New England News“ article first.  I was notified after the last meeting on Thursday that a special session of the ASHI New England Board met over the weekend to discuss something that I think we will all find deeply upsetting.  It is better you read it here than in Tweets or misleading emails that may come out.

Besides the dismissal of one our of Board members (see above article, as noted),  I’ve included some disturbing news from ASHI National that will affect all of us.    

Lastly, as I’ve accumulated too much stuff  for future newsletters,  I’ve provided in this issue a number of tips that I’ve found useful for increasing our business as well as new research dispelling some common ‘myths’. I hope you appreciate these.  They are just another benefit of your ASHI New England Chapter membership!  

Your editor,

E.A. Simpson 

P.S.  As far as complaints about the last newsletter,  please just hit the “delete” button if you didn’t like something about it.  Thank you.     

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ASHI News, Resources

In an absolutely startling development, it has been announced that ASHI National is going to be merging with NACHI, effective July 1, 2017.  The current ASHI President, Randy Sipe, speaking for the Board,  stated that negotiations have been on for several months and, it is in the best interest of both ASHI and NACHI to go through with this. Dues will remain the same for this year, but it was disclosed that new members will be paying $1200 to join the new organization. This will include the right to call them selves “home inspectors” (see below). 

The ASHI web site will be taken over by the NACHI site.  There is no absolute decision on what the new organization will be called, but NASHI has been floated as a possibility. 

For new applicants to NASHI/ASCHI (or whatever the name will end up being)  a simple 20 question multiple choice exam will be the sole requirement, with any score 50 or over regarded as a passing grade. 

Although it sounds like a merger further investigation revealed that this merger was actually forced by the fact that NACHI, under president Nick Gromiko,  prevailed in a lawsuit against ASHI for use of the ad words “home inspection” and “home inspector”  to describe what we do as home inspectors.  According to the decision set down by district court judge Lawrence Higgings of the Chicago tenth district court, this includes “any and all” use of these terms  by ASHI members (and the rest of the inspection industry) in any type of marketing or educational materials provided to the public.  Going forward, only NACHI members would have the right to use these terms to describe themselves as “home inspectors”. 

Going forward the ASHI Board will be replaced with a committee set up by Mr.  Gromicko,  reportedly consisting of a number of third cousins and other relations. 

I’m sure this is a bitter pill to all of us in ASHI/NASHI (I have to get used to writing that), all we can do is accept this, at this point.  The use of death threats and harassing phone calls to ASHI board members, although they may have been useful a couple of months ago, are unlikely to produce positive results at this point.  Nevertheless, I’ve provided the business, home, and cell numbers of the current ASHI Board Directors below. 

(Note from the editor:  I did not endorse or bring about this change so please do not contact me about this either.  My mail box is already filled with hate mail due to my other recent columns).   

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Notes from the editor

Inspection Tips

Below are a number of tips that I have told are effective by another long time inspector who wishes to remain anonymous. (I’ve simply used the first person “I” for various legal reasons.  Some of these tips relate to technical issues – but a lot more relate to how to conduct an inspection, including how to maximize your income from your clients.  So here goes, 

 

Issue #1  How to avoid surveillance cameras when doing the inspection.  I know, I know, this isn’t something we should have to worry about, but they do make me nervous.  Its so easy to misconstrue our intentions, for instance, when you are inspecting the master bedroom and the stack of jewelry on the table catches your eye.  Just because you may look at it doesn’t mean you are going to steal it.  Similarly, you would think that if we spotted that a lottery ticket sitting on the counter was a winner, the homeowner would be grateful to us for pointing this out.  I can tell you from experience that isn’t the case.  So,  don’t check out the lottery tickets sitting around to see if they have won or not.  That’s not our job.  (You can pocket the tickets put in the trash to make sure they didn’t miss something, however, as they threw out the ticket prior to your getting it. 

Anyhow, to avoid negative issues I request that any security system be completely disabled so we can do out inspection properly.  Don’t worry about the motion sensors located the corners, by the way, just the small surveillance cameras that you increasingly see. 

 

Issue #2.  Testing anti-tip brackets

I know we are supposed to test stoves for the presence of anti-tip brackets.  The problem is, you can snag the gas stoves on the gas line behind the unit.  So, what I do now is check to see where the gas shut off valve is located and have a wrench handy that could be used to close this, if need be.  I station my client with the wrench on the valve within hearing distance so if I need to have them shut off the gas quickly this can be done.   Some of you may think this is controversial or going too far – but would you rather blow up the house?

 

Issue #3.  Tips on doing night-time inspections. 

I know it is not standard protocol, but occasionally we all have to do inspections at night, in particular,  after the sun has gone down.   Some clients just won’t give up an hour’s work to attend the inspection in daylight and, lets face it, if you won’t do the inspection someone else will.  (Is this a ‘dog eat dog’ business or what?)

So, a couple of tips. 

First, I  have an extra flashlight plus headlamps that I pass out prior to the inspection.  Even the buyer’s agent gets one.   Also, tell the clients to get a history on the roof and chimney as we won’t be inspecting these.  (As with most of the home’s systems, tell them they need to a further evaluation from a contractor or tradesperson to get a full evaluation.  With the exterior, a roofer, carpenter, and mason will usually be called for).

Second tip:  bring a pizza to the inspection.  Your client and the broker will love this (this is a unique marketing gimmick I offer).  Just no anchovies. 

Third,  if the basement lighting looks poor I’ll usually find a reason to have the real estate agent go down first.  You can never be too careful with safety!!

Fourth, make sure you get your contract signed.  Its always important, but night time inspections do post special risks, as you should know by now.  

Those are just a few of the cautions and tips I can offer on night time inspections.  Next month I’ll cover doing the ethical dilemmas posed by doing an inspection on the home of your ex-wife’s boyfriend and second, how you can avoid killing a deal when you think the real estate agent is really hot. 

 

Tip #4  Another way to maximize your income:  Always get 2 to 4 inspections out of each client. 

Over the years I’ve found that doing repeat inspections for a client is one the best ways to keep the schedule filled.  Really, we really are underpaid  and we should to get multiple inspections out of a client if we can’t charge them a good fee.  Also, it should be in the back of your mind constantly:  the only inspection you can’t get sued on (at least from your client) is the house they didn’t buy.  So, below I’ve provided a few tips on how to get the client to walk on a home.  You can’t, by the way, just tell them to walk, as this is against the Standards of Practice in most states.

 #1  Make sure you offer them a good discount on the second and future inspections.  (You can always increase the price on the radon testing and other items to make up for this).  Reiterate this several times during and at the end of the inspection. 

#2  Repeatedly ask the client if they want to continue.  We all have situations when we will ask the client if they want to continue.  The trick is, ask it several times during the inspection and carefully phrase it as: “do you REALLY want to continue the inspection”.   A simple rephrasing and emphasizing the “really” will often work.

 #3  Without being too specific,  repeatedly ask the clients if they have checked the crime stats for that neighborhood and have checked for the presence of sex offenders. Remember: every nineteen year old kid caught with a seventeen year old  in our legal system usually will end up convicted as a sex offender, so you can find them on each street.  (As an aside, doesn’t it make you glad we are older and didn’t have to face this when we were young). 

#4 When you find mold in the attic (which is almost always) you want to repeatedly warn your clients that: “I can’t see what is inside the walls”.  You don’t have to put yourself out on a limb and actually say there is mold in the walls, just note that you can’t see if it is there.  That should be enough. 

#5  When on the third inspection and the client is ready to ignore everything you are warning them about (and usually this will be the worst house they have had you inspect) and they just want to buy something or anything at this point,  you really need to use some quick thinking.  Keep saying: ‘from my experience, the fourth house is always the charm’ or some such drivel like that.  The fourth house may be a condemned drug house, but that’s the last house you can probably get from them so:  its time to let them buy!

I hope these tips are helpful.  Please submit any other suggestions to my attorney for further screening along with $25,  and I may include them in a future newsletter.  

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Seminar Review

Seminar reviews

 As I’ve missed including these in past newsletters I’ve decided to summarize a few of the educational sessions at recent meetings.  Please note that there are gaps in what I can present in  this summary  (after a big meal and few beers everything gets a bit sketchy).

 

January meeting. 

This had Jeff May presenting MORE stuff on mold.  We can’t get enough of this topic, can we?  Actually, if it wasn’t for mold,  I think the inspection industry would be a lot smaller than it is… all of those walk-aways and repeat clients keep the bank account solvent. 

Also,  has anyone noticed that mold problems have gotten worse as time has gone on.  What used to be ten minutes with some cleaner and bleach now warrants a $10,000 mold remediation job.  I think Jeff has a real racket going with this stuff.  Have you ever seen the diagnostic equipment he brings out to do an indoor air quality inspection?  It makes us look like real chumps with just our screwdrivers and flashlights.  I do recommend Jeff but I try to keep my client away from him during the inspection as Jeff sounds like he knows what he is talking about – and he should, he’s written what, about 10 books on mold and how it can kill you  if you don’t hire him to discover the problem and then correct it.

Anyhow,  I missed this seminar so I can’t really talk about what he specifically said, but it was probably  about mold and keeping your house clean and very dry so you can live in it without getting sick. 

 

February Meeting

This was on vermiculite and I actually was there so I can discuss what I remember (between naps).  This seminar covered not only the history of vermiculite and how it came to be on the “bad” list, as well as lots of good information from the administrator of the Vermiculate Trust Fund on how to get money to have the stuff removed.  It was well presented and good information, but what I really wanted to know was how could I get money for future problems I may have, given that I poured about 20 bags of the stuff in the attic of my first house, back in 1980. That was one they couldn’t answer.   (Not to go off-subject, but installing vermiculite meant you were too cheap to even hire an insulation company to blow a few inches of cellulose in the attic floor.  That good old spirit of the 70’s and early 80’s to ‘do everything yourself’ sure was cost effective). 

Anyhow,  lots of good information.  You had to be there....

March meeting

Hey, this was just a couple of nights ago so I should remember more of this.  First up was a nice gentleman from an insurance company somewhere around Boston.  He talked about insurance and how to keep from getting sued, I think.  He really was very good – its just that, it was ABOUT INSURANCE.  Snooze time.   

I woke up to find two attractive young ladies (hey, they all look young to me at this point) talking about how they deal with lawsuits against home inspectors.  They won a lot of points at the start by reiterating our belief that just about all home inspection claims are bogus or, in legal terms, without merit.  We all know this is true and, I think the speakers know, if they want a friendly audience, they should go along with this too.   

That doesn’t mean, of course, they won’t defend the suits for the insurance companies, given the possible 100’s or thousands of dollars in damages typically at stake for the inspector and the tens of thousands of legal costs at risk if the claim is settled too early in the process.  But these ladies are on our side and they went into the many legal doctrines that govern how we can get sued:  Breach of contract, negligence, fraud,  93A, etc. etc.   Its stuff that’s good to hear so I’ll spend at least an hour and one-half on each inspection so I don’t get done too quickly and miss things.      

Again, lots of good stuff if you were there….

 

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Member Profile

Member Profile

Actually I don’t have anyone featured this month.  I was going to do Mike Atwell but then he got himself thrown out of his position as president of  ASHI New England. 

I then tried to think who had given me the most referrals in the last year and the only person that came up was John Romano – and Mike did a profile of him last fall. 

So, there are ways to get yourself featured but I’ll leave it at that. 

You – or callers you can’t handle  can reach me at:  

Evergreen Home Inspection,  978 373-1390 or evergreenhi384@gmail.com

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Photos From the Front

Serious problem - can you see it?

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