Those Who Would Control Us

I attended an all-day ASTM meeting in the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas yesterday, Monday February 19th, 2007. The meeting could be characterized as exploratory, in that the host and ASTM representative informed us that he intended to conclude the proceedings with a vote-of-hands to see if building inspectors were interested in having ASTM author an “international” residential standard of practice. The host was articulate and presented some practical and also some idealistic reasons why inspectors might want to have an “international” set of standards instead of their own group standards. The proceedings were “democratic,” and anyone who wanted to speak was given the opportunity to do so. This does not mean that the proceedings were fair, because they were not. They were prejudiced by the fact that they were scheduled during the NAHI convention, and that the inspectors of many other trade associations only learned about it a couple of weeks before, and some only days before. To his credit, the ASTM host/attorney acknowledged this and apologized.
Before continuing, I would like to explain why I attended the meeting, and thereby establish my ethos, or my right to have a voice in this, and why I might be alleged to be prejudiced. I am NACHI’s Vice-President and a veteran building inspector, and I’m interested in anything that might affect my livelihood and that of my fellow inspectors, and particularly in protecting inspectors against those who would seek to control them, in whatever guise they appear. Many people may not be aware that I am also the president of Porter Valley Software, and that NAHI banned me and my business partner Lorne Steiner from attending their convention, allegedly when I became NACHI’s vice-president. I relate this, because I was approached by inspectors from CREIA, ASHI, AII and, yes, NAHI, who were surprised that I was not there as a vendor, or who wanted to thank me for articles that I’ve written on their behalf. I say this only to allay any suggestion that I might be biased against NAHI. I said everything that I have to say about NAHI, publicly, and that information is available for anyone who might be interested in learning more. Now, let’s get back to talking about the meeting and ASTM’s interest in writing an “international” standard.
I have read and reread ASTM’s Property Condition Assessments (PCA), which is the de facto standard for commercial inspections, and I have great respect for it. However, as I’ve said in numerous articles, I happen to have equally great respect for other industry standards, many of which were written by the best minds in the business, and which have evolved over many years and will continue to do so, and that’s the way it should be. In fact, that’s their strength. These standards just happen to be distinctive; and that’s also the way it should be. Inspectors are not homogenous, and we don’t want to be. Uniformity might appear to be beneficial, but too often it’s not. For instance, regulatory laws have been written that were intended to be beneficial, but many turn out to be anything but beneficial, as is abundantly documented in The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America by New York attorney Philip K. Howard (Warner Books Edition, 1994). An ASTM international standard will constitute a “law” that would mandate the cooperation of a nation of realtors and other professionals who possess more money and far greater lobbying power and influence than most associations could ever hope to muster. If ASTM defines and writes the standard for our industry, realtors and other professional will not only be telling us what to do but how to do it, and there’s an outside chance that this could happen.
Although it was clear to me that delegates from such organizations as CREIA, ASHI, and AII, were opposed to the idea, NAHI members came prepared to vote for it. So I was not surprised when just before the scheduled vote a tide of NAHI members drifted into the room and were able to generate an affirmative motion to “move forward.” Many of the votes were clearly political, which is contemptuous but understandable. This means that there will be another meeting, a meeting in which inspectors everywhere will have a chance to vote their conscience. I’m utterly against the ASTM proposal, and have elected to march to NACHI’s drumbeat, but would proudly march to that of CREIA, ASHI, FABI, AII, in fact that of almost any other organization but NAHI, and I’m certainly not going to have Realtors or any other professionals tell me how I should do my job.
This was written in haste, and is insubstantial in many respects, but I wanted to warn inspectors about what I believe to be a threat to our autonomy as individuals.


Thank you for this most informational, heartfelt, and pointed synopsis of the goings on at the ASTM meeting.

Now, though your most excellent Commercial Inspection reporting product does reference ASTM 2810-01, the thing I find most fascinating about that standard, is that it states that if you do less than the guidelines established therein, you are still in comlpliance. I find it to be a non-standard, and poorly written.

What then, may we expect from ASTM with regard to HI-residential SOP development? They have many states already with licensing in place, that either reference home grown SOPs, or have adopted established SOPs from associations. The insurance industry has also adopted established SOPs.

I think this is about money for ASTM, and control for some others. I believe the insurance industry should be notified, the news media should be notified of the SHAM you attended, and associations need to put down their swords, and unite to slay this dragon in the making.

Example of how new laws develope:

The Texas Real Estate Commission (Realtors) created and
control the Home Inspection laws and Inspection board members
(more Realtors) in Texas…

The fox is watching over the hen… So, watch ASTM and follow
the money… the fox is not far from that trail.

Like Keith said… this needs to be stopped.

Joe and John:
couldn’t agree more. PS There are also some good reasons for “going forward,” and I’ll try to keep an open mind.