I appreciated your article on high heat conditions for home inspectors in the May issue and found it interesting that the only study done was by the Coast Guard. I've included a couple of photos I recently took on a hot summer afternoon in Phoenix. The first photo shows the south side of an asphalt shingle roof at 191.6 degrees and the second photo shows an attic temperature of 156.2 degrees (yes, it was vented).
Needless to say, summer inspections of roofs and attic areas need to be done quickly and efficiently, with heat disclaimers sometimes needed.
I really like the new look of the Reporter and enjoy your 'Editor's Note' at the beginning of each issue. I've watched this publication mature, along with ASHI, over the years into a world-class publication that brings value to all members. Keep up the good work.
Paul Staron, ACI
Valley Building Inspections, Inc.
Old Salt Corrects a Detail
To the Editor,
This is in regard to the article "Attention to Detail" in the August 2011 Reporter.
As an old salt, I found it ironic to see the word "chalk" substituted for the word "chock," especially in an article titled "Attention to Detail." You've run hard aground here and have taken the wind out of my sails.
A chock is a component of a block, an arrangement of one or more pulleys used to obtain mechanical advantage. The chock is the side of the block that encloses the sheaves through which lines are rove. It might also refer to a metal hole or ring in the side of the vessel through which a line is passed, which would seem to be the case here.
For younger readers who might not have experienced the joys of elementary education before the end of the last century, chalk is something the teacher used to write with on a chalkboard or blackboard. You can probably find one in a museum somewhere.
Sailing is full of arcane terms, many of which have survived in modern usage. The phrase "chockablock" means jammed full. Its origin probably arises from the sailing term, indicating the condition where the pulleys jammed together as close as they could go and could move no further.
I'll assume that the editor was not under orders to splice the mainbrace and was not groggy from consumption of too much grog, but rather a landlubber confounded by the jetsam and flotsam of a runaway spell-checker. Keelhauling the editor is warranted, but I think we can avoid a dressing-down and offer some leeway as the editor obviously doesn't know the ropes when it comes to sailing terminology.
As for the rest of the article, by and large, it was first-rate. As for Captain Moseley, I like the cut of his jib.
I'll pipe down now.
May your winds always be fair.
Indian Rocks Beach, Fla.
Editor's note: Yes, this was a proofing error, not an author's error.
Getting Ready for IW Phoenix
To the Editor,
I love reading about cities and always do some research before InspectionWorld. Perhaps other attendees and spouses do the same. If that is the case, I have a suggestion for a fun way to learn about the city.
Jon Talton writes mysteries in which the city of Phoenix is a major part of the story. David Mapstone, the detective, is a former history professor who works for the sheriff's department solving cold cases. In the books, the cold cases end up relating to current cases, so the reader learns about the history of Phoenix, and about modern Phoenix as well.
There are six novels so far. Not only are the stories interesting, but many of the places mentioned still exist. (Warning: Some frank language and a few adult situations.) Go to: www.jontalton.com and look under About for a list of the books in chronological order.
Dream Home Consultants
"Don't fix it if it ain't broke"
A response to President Kurt Salomon's column, "Maintain the Gold Standard and Change."
It appears as if Mr. Salomon, as well as some home inspectors, have become enamored with the new technology and he appears to be advocating a change in The Standards of Practice, which would require their use. He states that "this could lead to increased membership and a stronger ASHI." I believe just the opposite. In this depressed economy the cost of these instruments along with the increased time and liability involved would cause many inspectors to drop out. After 41 years as a professional home inspector and 25years as an ASHI member, I would be one of them.
In support of his call for change, Mr. Salomon cites the fact that ASHI originally required a peer review for admission, then went to a written test and report verification and now employs the National Home Inspector Examination. As a point of information, I was admitted to ASHI under the peer review system which included an extensive written exam with essay questions.
The peer review with an exam was undoubtedly the best admission standard and I was pleased to note, in the May issue, that the North Carolina and Great Lakes Chapters are again using it to improve their member's inspection skills. As far as I am aware, report verification still exists.
The aforementioned changes were procedural in nature, due to changes in logistics, and not a change in philosophy. Change for change's sake is not a good thing.
ASHI's founders, like those of our country, knew what they were doing. The documents which they produced have stood the test of time. Most states, that I know of, which have licensing laws or legislation regarding home inspectors, have either adopted the ASHI Standards verbatim or in principle. They are all VISUAL inspections. In some cases the use of such specialized equipment, as advocated by Mr. Salomon, could be in violation of State Standards.
Further, the use of all the existing specialized equipment and technologies cannot substitute for experience and a thorough inspection.
For example, on a recent inspection which I performed, I expressed concern regarding the existence of mold, in the attic, as the roof decking was covered with a dark substance. As my company does not do mold testing, I suggested to my client that they have a mold inspection and test performed. The owner, who was present, produced the results of a mold test which he had done, by his home inspector, when he bought the house, two years earlier. The report stated that the level of spores was well below accepted standards. However, in reading the report carefully I noted that it was based on an air quality test, taken in the hallway, on the second floor. At my insistence, an independent mold testing company was brought in and found high levels of active mold growth in the attic. My client is extremely allergic and a failure to find this problem could have had serious results. The incorrect use of the inspector's equipment exposed the current owner to health risks and the previous inspector to a high level of liability. There is nothing in the ASHI Standards to prohibit an inspector from going beyond the Standards and use the various equipment and technologies to supplement the standard inspection. However, I advise any inspector deciding to perform such tests, to do so independently of the basic inspection and bill the client separately.
Over the years I have detected hundreds of combustible gas leaks, by the smell alone. In two cases, this was after the existing owners had the utility company's inspectors check out their houses, several times, due to gas which they smelled. In both cases, the utility inspectors were unable to find the leaks with their expensive detectors. While I was inspecting these premises, due to my smelling gas, they were called again and arrived while I was still in the house. Both leaks were now uncovered. In one case the leak was in the underground pipe leading to the house and leaking through cracks in the foundation. The other was in an elbow at the far end of a crawl space, which the utility company inspector had never accessed during his previous visits. It is the thoroughness of the home inspector which is important.
It is easy to be a naysayer without giving reasons for your objections Therefore, I offer the following in support of my position:
1. Liability: In my opinion, and those of the courts, the more specialized equipment that an inspector uses the greater his client's expectations and thus the greater the inspector's
liability. I am personally aware of case where an inspector was held liable for not finding termites and extensive damage in a wall. His defense was that he was doing a visual inspection and the termites and damage were concealed and not visible and therefore, he was not responsible. However, he had used a moisture meter, a carbon monoxide detector and a combustible gas detector during his "visual" inspection. Due to the fact that he had used this specialized equipment, it was determined that the client had a reasonable expectation that he would also use a boroscope to examine for termites within the wall and he was thus found liable. Where would the use of specialized equipment and technology end, if such a standard were adopted? Would the inspector be required to adopt every new piece of equipment developed? How about the use of an XRF analyzer to test for lead in paint?
2. Reliability: As any good inspector knows, an inspection is performed in a "moment of time." Conditions can and do change immediately upon completion of the inspection. An inspector using special instruments to test for carbon monoxide, combustible gas or moisture, for example, can impart a false sense of security to his client. An experienced inspector should know that carbon monoxide gas may only be released into the house under certain adverse conditions. Even a cracked furnace heat exchanger will not always release this noxious gas. A combustible gas leak may occur at any time. A stained area may not show any moisture to be present during the inspection, due to prolonged dry weather, but become wet immediately after a rainstorm. Citing safe conditions, which exist at the time of the inspection, could result in a later disaster. A home inspection, in my opinion, should be an educational experience. Would it not be wiser and safer to advise a client of potential problems and recommend testing of all existing detectors and re-examination of areas of concern, immediately upon occupancy, to determine if the devices are currently working and to determine the safety of the house, at that time.
3. Cost/Time: A client is normally looking for the least expensive inspection, particularly in this depressed economy. "Time is money," and the increased time required to use specialized equipment will add to the time of an inspection and thus to the cost. In addition, despite what President Salomon says, the cost of the equipment is not negligible and would have to be recovered by raising inspection fees. As many states have licensing laws or legislation regarding home inspectors and Standards of Practice, ASHI is not as significant now as it was in the past. To stay competitive, I believe that many inspectors would leave ASHI. The present standards allow an inspector to go beyond the standards and perform an "enhanced" inspection (my term) using special equipment, if he so wishes. My company has offered "enhanced" inspections using specialized equipment and specialists since 1975, which would encounter fees beyond the basic home inspection fee. Due to the increased costs, we have never sold one. If an inspector thinks that he can be competitive and grab a market share using specialized equipment, let him do so. But don't require this of all.
My opinion, in summary: The existing Standards have stood the test of time and are the basis for the Standards of most, if not all, states; Change for change's sake is not good. The sub title of this article comes from my childhood. I was always tinkering and taking things apart. My father would always remind me, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it;" Changes which have been made in the past have been procedural in nature and not philosophical; The use of specialized equipment will increase the inspector's liability and the cost of an inspection; The adoption of such standards will result in a loss of ASHI membership; An inspector is presently free to go beyond the standards, if he wishes; Finally, let the market decide.
Those inspectors who feel as I do, (which I believe constitute the majority) let your voices be heard, both individually and through your chapters. Discuss this matter at your next chapter meeting to determine what is the feeling of the majority of the members. Let national ASHI know through your emails and CoR. Anyone wishing to discuss the matter with me can reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 845-628-0941.
Victor J. Faggella, ACI #478
President, Centurion Home Inspections, Inc.
Member of the ASHI Technical Review Committee
The President Clarifies: The theme of my article was to build the foundation for membership classification changes, not changes to the Standards of Practice. My inclusion of technical tools as part of the article was to illustrate some inspectors have added tools to improve the quality of their inspections or to offer ancillary services beyond the scope of the inspection.
Thank you for being an ASHI member all these years. Thank you for taking time to write your article. And to my fellow ASHI members, please note that Victor Faggella was the 2002 John E. Cox Award recipient, and his son, Victor G. Faggella, was the 2010 John E. Cox Award recipient.
Kurt Salomon Jr., ASHI president
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