Have you ever asked yourself the question for whom or what does ASHI advocate? I never gave this much thought until several years ago, when I found myself sitting in yet another committee meeting with talented ASHI members attempting to unravel ‘ASHI as Advocate’ in the third and final story included in our Strategic Plan. Until that time, I was blissful in my assumption I kind of knew the answer…close, but no cigar.
For the most part, we are familiar with how local politics shapes our business. All of us are concerned that our inspection services meet not only the needs of clients, but also the mandates of local or state laws that may regulate our activities. In states or jurisdictions without regulation, the trend is to closely adhere to the ASHI Standards of Practice (now inseparable from our Code of Ethics) as the nationally recognized guideline to conduct a competent home inspection. In unregulated states and in the absence of mandated guidelines to reference, close adherence to the SOP is even more crucial as the inspection service standard of care to establish with clients. In the unfortunate event of a performance complaint, the litmus test is based on the Standards of Practice exercised to conduct the inspection.
Savvy inspectors are particularly careful to write an inspection report that protects their client’s interest by accurately disclosing property conditions, which, in turn, protects all parties in the transaction, whether the parties realize it or not. Ultimately, a competent home inspection will not only protect the client’s interest, but also his or her own as well. We all know how important it is to keep the hard-earned fees we collect and not loose them to the legal system defending sloppy inspection practices. Remember, we work for the person who signs the check. So, some might say we advocate for our clients; I say we simply work to provide information. ASHI, the association, has a different mission from that of our personal business models.
Some might say ASHI advocates for the homebuyers in all states. Actually, any association or group that pushes this position is probably selling something. Consider this simple point: a home inspection report covering every category of the SOP or a state’s regulation can still fall seriously short of a competent inspection if the inspection is completed by someone without adequate training and experience.
The required items to inspect may be listed in the report, but if the home inspector is unable to recognize building conditions that are either defective or have consumer concern, it can still yield a poor-quality report. Seasoned inspectors realize this to be a common trap or limitation when using standard comments, boilerplates or check-sheet (electronic or otherwise) reporting in buildings that require a lot of defect report writing. Therefore, while associations can establish standards, by their very nature they are limited in what they can do in response to consumer complaints, and cannot honestly claim to advocate for consumers in this sense. This is best left to the regulated state or, in unregulated markets, civil action between consumers and inspectors.
Instead, ASH advocates for principles rather than for groups or individuals, and these principles drive this business toward a true profession. The principles are included in our Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, and white paper on legislation. For instance, we advocate for meaningful legislation that contains requirements for testing, education and experience. We advocate for the profession when we reference our position statements to representatives seeking ASHI’s opinion that can influence the massive federal institutions of HUD or FHA, even in small ways. These groups provide the national framework for home financing that makes home sales possible. And, we advocate to homebuying consumers to use ASHI as their assurance the home inspector they pick meets the most stringent criteria among all association groups and home inspector-regulated states.
After considering our 30-year history and our many achievements, we quickly realize that ASHI is consistent, and these activities can be summed up nicely in the following Board of Directors-approved statement: ASHI advocates for excellence and exemplary practice to the benefit of our members, the profession, and the public. Now, that’s a simple answer.