As home inspectors, we are often left (alone) to our own devices. A good portion of our job is done in isolation: we walk the roof alone, we check out the attic alone, we crawl under the house alone, we spend a good portion of our inspection alone, and we typically edit and produce our reports alone. I have often wondered if this industry (home inspection) is a magnet for introverts, expecting to be able to pass their time in the presence of their favorite person: themselves! It seems that there is an overwhelming desire for isolation by many of the individuals working in the home inspection industry. Most people employed as home inspectors are working in some form of a sole proprietorship, and this sort of working situation lends itself to isolation. While working alone, by yourself and for yourself, is obviously one of the main things that draws people into the inspection industry, it can have some negative effects on the personal growth of the individual.
One of the many advantages to working with other people is the fact that collaboration with other like-minded individuals can advance personal growth. When we are exposed to new ideas, new philosophies, or even new ways to looks at existing ideas and methods, we are forced to re-examine our own beliefs and methods, and often are (unwittingly) educated in the process. By existing “on an island,” the average home inspector can become set in their ways, taking their current perspective as an immutable fact, and often can become mired in an ineffective way of thinking.
Most states (with licensing law) and national home inspection organizations require their licensees/members to participate in some form of yearly continuing education. This often affords these individual inspectors the opportunity to interact with other people in the industry, exposing them to new ideas and new information. During the continuing education classes that I hold throughout the year, we spend a good portion of the class time going over the prepared course material that was developed for the session. However, it seems that the attendees are most engaged and involved during the moments when there is group discussion among the inspectors, relaying new information and sharing personal experiences. It is during this unscripted interaction that the highest number of attendees are involved; their awareness heightened and their participation assured. It is a fact that we learn and retain more information when we are personally involved in the discussion.
One of the greatest benefits of the internet is the immediate availability of educational material. The whole accumulated knowledge of mankind is instantly available at your fingertips. This has translated into an opportunity for inspectors to fulfill their continuing education requirement with readily available online CE courses. While this is a wonderful thing, and provides multiple opportunities to advance our knowledge, it can also be a detriment to the inspectors; keeping them away from the advantages derived from interacting with their fellow inspectors. I am certainly not railing against online CE, as I personally consume more than my share of online education. However, I believe that the benefits of personal interaction cannot be understated.
In Louisiana, we currently have a mandate that requires 20 hours of yearly CE for home inspector license renewal. A few years ago, the subject of online education was brought before our state board for approval. While there was an overwhelming majority of inspectors in support of allowing online CE for the state’s licensed inspectors, the board took an unusual position regarding the subject. In an age where most professional industries allow their members to meet all of their CE requirements by online education, the board limited the number of hours that inspectors could attain through online classes. I believe that this has proven to be quite a prophetic decision. While it is certainly easier and more convenient to obtain your CE hours through an online provider, and setting aside time in our busy schedules to physically attend a live CE class can certainly present challenges, the knowledge that can be gained from personal interaction, hearing the (often painfully) learned lessons of fellow inspectors, cannot be understated.
Claire Fagan, American nurse, educator, academic and consultant said: “Knowledge will bring you the opportunity to make a difference.” As inspectors, we have a personal responsibility to further our knowledge, so that we have the opportunity to make a positive impact, to make a significant difference in the lives of our clients.
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