The Prologue

Let me share the following story: An aerospace engineer, unknown and unheralded by popular media, was so good at her job that the astronauts and cargo made it to and from the designed rendezvous without a problem. Not one hitch or hiccup.

Here’s another: A recent structure fire caused significant damage to a local city block here in my town, but not one person was injured – nor any animal – thanks to the quick action and well-trained firefighters who responded to squash the blaze and ferry the living out of the building safely.

Too Good?

In neither of these instances would you, dear reader, say these professionals were too good at their jobs, or what they did was a bit much. These hypothetical scenarios (I mean, I’m very sure they are actually quite real on a routine basis) illustrate one of my greatest consternations regarding our home inspection industry – that somehow you could be too good as a home inspector…to a point of detriment. Can you bang your head against a metal hub and come up with any industry or field in which this wouldn’t sound ridiculous? Try it: acting; medical professionals; math teachers; Yoga instructors; grocery store check-out professionals; taxi drivers; city planners; machinists. You would be hard-pressed to find any industry where such an absurd thought sticks and holds.

Still, the, “your reports are a bit much,” and, “you give clients too much information,” and, “you do more than other inspectors,” are woven into the fabric of our home inspecting industry and espoused by many a builder and Realtor®. Now, we’re not talking about blind spots of ego related to the Dunning-Kruger effect – see Ted-Ed video entitled, “Why incompetent people think they're amazing,” by David Dunning. This isn’t a rambling on inspectors who think they are good but maybe aren't.

The Rub

In many markets, usually smaller, more colloquial ones, home inspectors who perform more thoroughly than their competition and have no readily equivalent competition (i.e., they are an outlier) are viewed by overlapping industry professionals as a nuisance. These are the inspectors labeled as “too picky” or “too detailed” (I mean, how can one be too detailed in a job that requires review of said details…?!?). The agents and builders compare these professionals to the average professional, as well as the unskilled/undertrained professional. It’s apples to zebras.

If you happen to be living in one of these locales and you know what I’m saying…then you know what I’m saying. Somehow, our industry has developed the understanding that we as professionals shouldn’t be too good at our job because that expertise and professionalism will get us eighty-sixed by brokerages and builders. Somehow, our education resources, our standards of practice, our legal eagles – they all espouse the same notion, “Don’t do too much. Only do the minimum required by your standards of practice. If you do too much, you are making yourself more liable.”

One of my goals via these editorials is to get these topics out into the ether and get our professionals to start acknowledging these downright Dunderheaded practices. We are an industry of professionals providing a service built on the premise of consumer protection. We serve no other function in the role of home inspector than to be (many times) the only layer of unbiased consumer protection. We don’t get any other work from inspecting a home, and we don’t get rewarded by the lender if a home makes it to closing. We aren’t supposed to get rewarded by agents if a home makes it to closing, but the real estate realm (at least mine) disagrees with this last point. We do get rewarded by clients who thank us for giving them back the value of their money, for giving them power to be competent and make confident choices.

We have devolved into scared little puppies who cower from the Realtor® at the door with the rolled-up inspection report raised over head. Somehow, if the home doesn’t make it to closing, that’s the home inspector’s fault (I’ll say it again – the inspection, nor the condition of a home, are responsible for a failed transaction; set any home at an appropriate price and someone will buy it regardless of conditions discovered).  Somehow, if you as a professional are more proactive in your education, your communication, and your inspecting process than your regionally located competition, then that’s a fault.

The Denouement

Look, if you are a new inspector, a mediocre inspector, or an inspector who only educates at the last minute when required, then this piece might make you mad – It’s time to step up your professionalism and take pride in protecting consumers. Or just move on.

If you are of the ilk that constantly trains, learns, grows, and asks questions from other industries, this piece also might make you mad – It’s time you cultivate some chutzpah. Stand firm, push back against unprofessional and unethical practices against you and your business, and do what you can to help train the rest of the inspectors. If we raise all boats, the only ones to get eaten by the Kraken will be the ones who don’t maintain their hulls, sails, and crew.

One last push: For the sake of our industry, we all need to start standing up and pushing back against this notion that being too good is a bad thing, or that there is such a thing as too much when it comes to educating and empowering consumers. Likely, and unfortunately, the only too much we have to deal with is the too much of underwhelming home inspection services out there and too much flak we have to take from agents who just don’t get it.