By Deb Carr
Many inspectors are busy trying to get new clients and forget about one very useful way to get their name out in the marketplace; I’m talking about utilizing Social Media
I’ve heard it so many times; “I don’t have time and I’m not sure how to do it”. So I thought I’d start a series on the Housesafe Blog on what you can do to get an online presence. I will post a range of social media topics in future and today we will look at Twitter.
What I love about Twitter is it is a great way to meet potential clients online. Basically you have only 140 characters to get a message out.
Here is an example of a Tweet that is under 140 characters.
Buying a new property is exciting; finding defects after the purchase is heartbreaking. Building inspections help prevent this. #property
You notice that I have hashtagged the word property. This is because anyone who is interested in property and searches Twitter on the topic can quickly find tweets about it. You will see in the sidebar of your Twitter account a range of “Trending Topics”. By joining in conversations on Twitter on trending topics you are more likely to make connections and get noticed because millions of Tweets are made daily from all around the world and getting noticed isn’t easy.
Personally I have been on Twitter for a number of years and have 4700 followers, however it is impossible for me to see 4700 people’s Tweets that follow me so I build lists. Twitter enables you to build list of people that you want to particularly keep an eye to see what they have recently Tweeted. I have created lists of journalists and companies in the construction industry for Housesafe to quickly search and engage with potential clients or media.
Now you don’t have to be on Twitter all day to Tweet. You can schedule your Tweets to go out during the day or even weeks or months ahead, and we will talk about tools for this in another post.
So what do you Tweet about? Rule number one is to recognize that Twitter is about sharing valuable information that your followers are interested in, and that doesn’t mean all about your business. My rule is for every 5 Tweets, make one about your business and the rest something else. There are so many places to find content online to share that you will never run out. It could be a news item that you can comment about; a great photo you have found on the net; a funny cartoon; a video; a quote.
Personally I use a range of tools that helps me to find content quickly to share and I do this for my own social media and for other social media accounts too.
One of the best ways is to subscribe to industry newsletters like Sourceable.net or set up Google Alerts. Type in “Google Alerts” and create an account, then type in the topic you want to receive information about which will be delivered to your inbox for easy sharing. Not only is it a great way to share information, it can keep you up to date on the latest industry news too.
Most news sites and blogs these days have easy sharing buttons to share on social media which shortens the link for you, just by pressing the Tweet icon it will take you straight to your Twitter account to post it. If you are sharing long URL’s just hop on to www.bitly.com to shorten them to share. For example this url is:
Not only does it give you more room in your small 140 characters, it looks better than the long URL above.
Retweeting (RT) someone else’s Tweet is also a great way to build rapport with people, and these days Twitter allows you to add a comment about why you are Retweeting. On the subject of Retweeting if someone does a RT for you then it’s good manners to thank them over Twitter.
Sometimes you may not want to RT something somebody has posted but you still want to acknowledge you have noticed their tweet. Simply use the ‘favourite’ icon to do this.
There will be times when someone might say something negative about you online, my rule is to not engage with them at all because it can escalate out of control. Before I Tweet or RT anything I think about it carefully, because once it’s out in Twitterverse there is no getting it off, even if you delete it someone could have seen it and screen-grabbed it.
SHORTHAND FOR TWITTER
RT = Retweet (you repost something someone else has Tweeted)
OH = Overheard (something you overheard and are repeating but not naming)
FF =Follow Friday (a shoutout to your mates on Friday’s)
HT = Hat Tip or Heard Through (i.e. via)
@ = sends a message to a user’s handle i.e. @DebCarrNetwork
# = Hashtag – used to ‘tag’ tweets on certain topics think of Keywords
DM = Direct Message (personally I never look at them…very rare..it’s mostly spam)
Tweetup = A real life meetup announced on Twitter – usually a group of friends
SM= Social Media
LTM = Let Me Know
ICYMI = In Case You Missed It
MRT = Modified ReTweet, when you modifly a RT to fit into 140 charactors
MT= Modified Tweet (as above)
NTS = Note To Self
NP= Now Playing
We urge all NSW pool owners to read this article from www.news.com.au regarding the NSW Government considering Jail terms for negligent pool owners resulting in a child drowning their pool due to carelessness.
This followers the drowning of a toddler who drowned in his neighbour’s pool in 2012 due to the owner not repairing the broken barrier.
Masonry distress (Cracking)
Where distress and rated Category 3 or more (i.e. more than 5 mm; refer AS 2870 – 1996 Residential Slab & Footings Construction)
Bricks shall generally be laid with true brick face outwards. When bricks in batches are supplied from manufacturers may vary in colour therefore they shall be mixed and or distributed in accordance with manufacturers recommendations.
To be in accordance with the Part 3.3.4 of the BCA.
Brick sills – shrinking allowance for timber framing
Reference to brick sills includes for sill tiles.
Distortion of window frames and or dislodgment of sill bricks shall be a defect where such distortion and or dislodgement were caused by lack of initial sill brick clearance from the window sill refers to Part 3.3.1 of the BCA.
These clearances must be provided at the time of construction and must not be less than
(i) 5 mm at sills of lower and single storey windows; and
(ii) 8 mm at roof overhangs of single storey buildings; and
(iii) 10 mm at sills of second storey windows; and
(iv) 12 mm at roof overhangs to two storey buildings.
Concrete slab distress
If the distress is rated at less than Category 3, the defect is to be mentioned for a period of twelve months. If at the end of the monitoring period, the distress rating is assessed as greater than
Category 2, this will be considered a defect.
Where a residential slab designed in accordance with AS 2870-1996 or AS3600-2001concrete structures is to act as a termite barrier in accordance with AS3660-200 Termite management, shrinkage cracks through the slab are not to exceed 1.0 mm width.
Extract from AS2870-1996 – Residential slabs and footings – construction
Reference to the Australian Standards, Building Codes & Guides
Teach yourself right from wrong and use these references from the Australian Standards, the BCA (Building Code of Australia) & the Office of Fair Trading Guide to Standards & Tolerances:
These standards are used in the residential construction industry.
Australian Standards and Building Codes are standards that builders and trades are to abide by when constructing a new home or renovating an existing property.
AS 1288 – Glass in Buildings.
AS 1684 – Residential Timber Framed Construction.
AS 1860 – Particleboard Flooring.
AS 1926 – Swimming Pool Safety.
AS 2047 – Windows in Buildings.
AS 2050 – Installation of Roof Tiles.
AS 2870 – Residential Slabs and Footings.
AS/NZS 2904 – Damp-Proof Courses and Flashings.
AS/NZS – 3500 Plumbing and Drainage.
AS 3600 – Concrete Structures.
AS 3660 – Termite Management.
AS 3700 & 4773.1 & .2 – Masonry Structures.
AS 3740 – Waterproofing of Wet Areas in Residential Buildings. AS 3786 – Smoke Alarms.
AS/NZS 4858 – Wet area Membranes.
AS 1562 – Installation of Sheet roofing and Wall cladding. AS/NZS 2589 – Gypsum linings in Residential Construction.
AS 3958 – Ceramic Tiles.
AS/NZS 2311 – Guide to the Painting of Buildings.
The Guide to Standards and Tolerances disclaims itself by stating “The information must not be relied on or regarded as legal advice. No warranty of accuracy or reliability as to the information is given and no responsibility for loss arising in any way from or in connection with errors or omissions in the information provided.”
The Guide to Standards and Tolerances 2007 was produced by the Victorian Building Commission in collaboration with NSW Fair Trading, the Tasmanian Government and the ACT Government.
The Guide is NOT a legal document and is not intended to replace the relevant provisions of the Building Code of Australia or Australian Standards.
The Guide is intended to provide the reader with an understanding of the tolerances that a building professional will consider in determining whether a building element has been installed/constructed to an acceptable standard.
The Guide should be regarded as an advisory resource rather than a series of prescriptive definitions.
The Guide helps home owners if building work is in dispute. It deals with such topics as shrinkage around timber window frames, door frames, nail popping in timber floors, paving through to footings and foundations.
The Guide to Standards and Tolerances 2007 came into effect on 1 January 2007 and replaces the previous version of the Guide issued in NSW on 1 July 2003.
This guide is available from the Office of Fair Trading website. READ IT for your benefit when building or renovating.
The HIA now have a similar guide available on their website.
WE WILL BE POSTING MORE EXCERPTS OVER THE COMING WEEKS
A building inspector’s career can be very rewarding however it comes with a great deal of responsibility so adequate training is essential. In a nutshell it is your job to identify and report on defects, safety issues and any other item of significance within a new home or established residence in accordance with the Australian Standard.
At Housesafe we offer a number of different courses from Pre-Purchase Building Inspections, New Construction, Mould & Asbestos ID, Swimming Pool Safety Certification, Strata Inspections and more.
The first step in building your business is to get qualified and accredited, the more recognised the credentials the easier it will be for you to get new clients and gain trust within the inspection industry. The second most important step is to purchase public liability and professional indemnity insurance to protect yourself from litigation should you err in your reporting and the homeowner is advised into legal action.
It would also be wise to start a marketing plan as you are training to become a building inspector this should include website and social media aimed at networking with Real Estate agents, Banks, Conveyancers, Solicitors and one Mortgage Brokers. These are the people who you can develop a business relationship with and hopefully gain their trust for referring people to your business.
Speaking of Marketing, take into consideration the name of your business and try and reflect that in the website name too. It’s a competitive industry so you may have to give a lot of thought to this. Best to have a name that distinguishes you and your true purpose.
The standards for building inspectors have changed over the years and today it has become more important than ever for them to have the right training. In order to be a building inspector in today’s world, you will need the training and understanding of the laws and regulations to do your job properly.
Deregulation of Building Inspectors
The reason why building inspector training is important was because of the 2009 law that quietly deregulated the industry in NSW. The result became people who could call themselves building inspectors who had no training or experience. Property owners all over the country became subject to having inspectors that may not have known much, if anything about their craft.
For inspectors who want to be properly trained, there is now a means to do so that will help restore confidence in the field of inspection. Thanks to organisations like Housesafe, there is now ongoing training for building inspectors that helps them keep up their skills and informs them of new laws and regulations as well.
The Different Aspects of Building Inspector Training
It takes more than just to know what to look for as a building inspector you must be able to comply with the standards of the industry. This means that you will have to be very familiar with the following;
– Australian Standards for Building Inspectors
– Spotting Defects
– Report Writing
– Contracts & Fee Agreements
– Working with Clients and More!
The AS 4349 Series is the workbook from which every building inspector should have on them at all times. In order to be a building inspector, you will have to understand the guidelines or face legal penalties for not following all the codes.
Spotting defects is really at the heart of building inspector training. You must be able to detect subtle defects that could mean a real depreciation in the value of the home. Plus, you must understand the difference between actual defects and incomplete work. They must be accurately written in your reports as well.
Proper report writing is another aspect of the ongoing training for building inspectors which helps you understand how to create your reports, file them according to the Australian Standards and put in all evidence, including photos and diagrams so that you can conduct the best possible pre-purchase or construction inspection. If you have staff, they will need to know how to effectively write your reports and proofread before releasing them to the clients.
Arranging fee agreements and contracts with clients is another skill that needs to be developed, especially in following all the procedures. Of course, understanding how to communicate with those who you work for is imperative if you want success as a building inspector. The combination of being professional and approachable can be achieved with the right training.
To be a building inspector is not easy, but it is highly rewarding work if you have the right training. Building inspector training will help you do the best job possible for your clients and grow your business.
- Please provide me with….
- I want a quote for….
- How long have you been in business….
- What if you did it this way….
- What is your license number….
- In sport, it is your training….
- In a restaurant, it is your order….
- In an argument it is what the other side is on about!
- My price is….
- The tender cost….
- The contract price….
- The service you have instructed us for will be at a cost of ….
- The menu costs are….
- Your variation costs are….
- Tell em’ the price Son!
- The time taken to make a decision….
- Give examples: choose a piece of cake, clothing, a menu selection, a wife/husband, tiles, pc, paint colours, a tradie or a builder etc. ..
- ￼￼Precious time in this process….
- A reflection to thick about and consequences….
- The What if Factor!
- This can take 5 seconds or five years….
- Go Ahead….
- To actually buy & part with your dollars….
- Sign the contract….
- There is NO SUCH THING as a verbal contract….
- To approve….
- Phone conversation followed later with written conditions awaiting signature/s!
- Great, I am happy with that….
- You have eaten the entire meal….
- Yes, I have read & understand this document…. (this claim must be in written form & not expressed or implied)
- Should they ask a question, then this is NOT acknowledgment….
- That’s not what I thought it was! Is NOT acknowledgement….
Every time an agreement is made, it MUST be in writing
This must be followed in the above order to mitigate pending disputes and losses!
WHAT IS HOUSESAFE?
Housesafe Inspection Training is a professional industry organisation that exists to equip and educate Australia's property inspectors. We're passionate about improving the quality of pest & building inspections across the nation.
Director and head trainer Howard Ryan is a member of the following organisations:
- Institute of Building Consultants NSW
- The Australian Society of Building Consultants (ASBC), VIC
- Building Dispute Practitioners Society (BDPS), VIC