Home inspectors hold themselves to high standards. While carrying the weight of their firms’ success, inspectors must consider how their performance and reputation during each inspection will affect future business. This leaves little room for error.
On top of that, clients can have unrealistic expectations of what an inspector can or should do. With so much pressure to be experts, inspectors may feel cautious about requesting advice from their colleagues. They may hesitate to ask questions, worried they’ll seem foolish for not knowing everything.
As a home inspector and 20-year member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), Lisa Alajajian Giroux of HomeQuest Consultants, Inc. in Massachusetts knows questions are only foolish when they go unasked. She also knows it isn’t easy to reach out for guidance. But, for inspectors with questions to ask or advice to offer, mentorship can be a valuable solution.
In this home inspector spotlight, Alajajian Giroux shares what her ongoing commitment to mentorship has taught her about home inspectors being stronger together.
A Mentor in the Making
Growing up in a family of contractors, houses run in Alajajian Giroux’s blood.
“I’ve been in the business since I was a child,” Alajajian Giroux said. “My father taught us all how to climb a ladder before we walked.”
Alajajian Giroux later became a licensed contractor, herself. She even teamed up with her father and brother to run the family business. However, years later, a series of injuries motivated her to consider a new career path.
A home inspection seminar convinced her that becoming an inspector may be the right move—though not without its challenges. While earning her certification through Northeastern University in Boston, Alajajian Giroux worked as a contractor by day and a home inspector-in-training by night.
Alajajian Giroux says her first years inspecting were the most intimidating. She was cautious about speaking in front of people and explaining complex systems on the fly. She also hesitated to ask her fellow inspectors questions.
Eager to learn the ropes, Alajajian Giroux networked and found inspectors who agreed to take her out into the field. By showing her their own processes, industry leaders at ASHI and Northeastern University helped her gain confidence and hands-on experience. Talking to clients became easier every day, and soon she began to welcome new teachers and experiences wherever they found her.
For example, while eating breakfast at a diner, Alajajian Giroux struck up a conversation with a stranger sitting nearby. Hearing that Alajajian Giroux had just started her new business, the stranger revealed himself to be a home inspector with a strong background in septic systems. The older inspector invited her to shadow him, eager to share his expertise. What started as a chance encounter became a key skill-building moment in Alajajian Giroux’s career. She accepted his invitation, and now considers septic systems one of her specialties.
Twenty years later, Alajajian Giroux continues to observe other inspectors and ask questions about their methods. This education, she says, is the core of the home inspection industry, and it starts with asking for help.
“It’s hard to ask for help, but it’s vital to be successful in the field,” she said. “If you get the opportunity to go out with an older inspector and look at something you’ve never done, do it. That’s what it’s all about—teaching one another.”
After gaining her own experience, Alajajian Giroux pays it forward by sharing her knowledge with others. Alajajian Giroux builds relationships with her clients by taking on the role of a counselor. She personally walks them through the challenges of buying a home, explaining how systems work, how to maintain those systems, and who to call for repairs. This approach takes longer and limits the number of inspections she can schedule in a day. But for Alajajian Giroux, the investment is worthwhile.
Scheduling fewer and more thorough appointments has benefited her in two ways:
- First, the extra time means she can finish her inspections without rushing. This allows her to devote more attention to each client and reduces her liability.
- Second, being involved and open with her clients creates opportunities for more meaningful connections. Alajajian Giroux gives her clients the resources they need to feel safe and confident in their decisions. In return, she receives glowing referrals and fewer follow-up calls.
“Be flexible and open with clients. They’ll refer you to everyone they know,” Alajajian Giroux said. “Sometimes, you just have to tell someone, ‘Call me. I’ll be here for you.’”
Helping without Judgment
Alajajian Giroux has been there for not only her clients, but also her fellow inspectors—especially through her local ASHI chapter. Having once been afraid to ask questions herself, she understands that home inspectors don’t have all the answers.
“And that’s okay,” she tells her mentees. “You’re not supposed to know everything.”
Even so, that doesn’t mean inspectors should be complacent. Rather, Alajajian Giroux encourages inspectors to use questions as a driving force to gain knowledge and improve services.
She recognizes that it isn’t easy to be vulnerable about mistakes and weaknesses. By having her mentees practice the situations that make them nervous, like identifying knob-and-tube wiring or communicating with clients, Alajajian Giroux helps inspectors target their vulnerabilities. They can ask questions and receive feedback—all without fear of judgment or failure. She provides a safe learning environment so inspectors can more fully equip themselves to provide thorough inspections, which also lessens the likelihood of them making mistakes.
“[Inspectors] know they can call me,” she said. “I will help them [if I can]. And I won’t judge them.”
The ASHI Mentoring Program
“If you can’t ask for help without self-judgment, you cannot offer help without judging others.”
This quote from Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work, summarizes Alajajian Giroux’s service as an inspector and leader. In her 20-year career, Alajajian Giroux has learned that the best inspectors ask for help when they need it. And, in turn, they share their expertise with others.
This mindset spurred Alajajian Giroux to be more involved in leadership opportunities in her ASHI chapter. She further expanded her capacity to help fellow inspectors by becoming ASHI’s Treasurer, making her the first female officer in the association’s 45-year history.
It was as a member of the Board of Directors that Alajajian Giroux worked to address the trade-wide need for mentoring. In April 2021, ASHI launched its new mentorship program to encourage comradery among the community and the home inspection industry at large. According to ASHI’s website:
“The ASHI Mentorship Program helps newer or less experienced home inspectors get the guidance they need to be exceptional home inspectors by pairing them with experienced home inspectors, who volunteer to serve as their mentors. Many ASHI Members have worked in the profession for years and maintain a broad knowledge that can help those starting out their careers.”
How to Get Involved
Mentorship is open to every home inspector, even those who aren’t ASHI members. To be paired with a mentor, inspectors can visit ASHI’s website and complete a mentee form. After submitting the form, they will receive an email with follow-up steps.
Inspectors who are considering a mentor role, however, must meet a few conditions. Applicants can visit the mentor form to read about ASHI’s requirements and sign up to mentor others.
Participating home inspectors will develop professional relationships and guide mentees toward achieving their goals. Mentors will also earn five Continuing Education credits each year in exchange for their service.
As Alajajian Giroux’s story demonstrates, mentoring efforts yield more than short-term results. By sharing their expertise, mentors promote an industry where asking for help isn’t seen as a weakness—it’s the key to learning and growing stronger, together.
“This is a tough field,” Alajajian Giroux said. “Stand behind what you know, and if you don’t know, go on and learn it…Have a network of people and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
Did you like this inspector spotlight? Check out our other spotlights on industry leaders:
- Ray Kline: The Home Inspection Guru
- From curtains to crawlspaces: How one woman joined the home inspection industry
Have an inspector in mind for our spotlight series? Contact us here to provide us with their information and why they would be a good candidate.