By Andrew Dixon, RHI
Boy a pandemic can certainly put a damper on business. No sales, no inspections, no work. Thank goodness for my continuing good health and, more importantly, all of the front line still going to work to help us all: EMS, hospital workers (cleaners, nurses, doctors, and other staff), firefighters, police, support charities, soup kitchens, grocery clerks, etc.
I was laid off about six weeks before the 2020 OAHI Education Conference. I knew I was going to continue to do some home inspections and that I would need to start up my old company and get some new equipment. At the conference I made several purchases, so my work bag is up to date. In and around the same time I notified my auto insurance provider that my annual mileage would be rising plus I negotiated E&O and CGL coverage, bought some work clothes and a new ladder and got some business cards. Ready to go right? Well except for the unforeseen: COVID-19.
I was away when the new pandemic regulations came into effect so when I returned, I did 14 days of self-isolation. I was happy when that was over: I was healthy and now I could go outside, take a walk and talk to my neighbours if I stayed six feet away from them. I still couldn’t see my girlfriend, sons or old and newer friends, but I was ready to work.
Despite real estate being deemed an essential service, the home inspection business has dried up. I know well-established pros doing zero inspections, so my new start-up situation is to be expected. Most of the agents I know are at home like the rest of us. This staying at home is tiring, and to be honest, disconcerting. I was used to being busy and doing useful work that helps others. That’s mostly gone now. I do volunteer with OAHI, so I feel semi-useful in a professional way, but I still have a lot of time on my hands.
So, what’s a guy to do?
Well the first thing is I’ll draft my web page and get it up and running as the pandemic will not last forever and things will return to a “new normal.” I have the time and the imagination, so writing the content should be easy enough. And it is work related, so I’ll feel useful. And I’ll be ready; people will again move, buy and sell homes and invest in real estate.
I will also follow up with the various aid programs available to businesses and self-employed individuals. I’ll probably qualify for EI (I was laid off) but if I don’t, I would certainly go down the CERB path. I have followed up with my auto insurer and will see if I qualify for a low mileage discount as advertised by the IBC (Insurance Bureau of Canada). I recommend all home inspectors do any and all of the above.
Designing a website won’t take long (well I hope it won’t) so I’ll need to find some other activities to occupy my time. I am in an at-risk category due to my age, but I’d like to help out in my community. I have put my name forth with several charities and services helping the less fortunate and the elderly. I am awaiting a call. I will resume donating blood and maybe I could volunteer there— I know the routine.
I have lived through many world sized events: the postwar boom of the ’50s, the Vietnam war protests, Beatlemania, the FLQ (October Crisis of 1970) and the War Measures Act, the ’70s oil crisis, a Wall Street crash, a recession or two, the legalization of marijuana – but this pandemic is the most impactful. It will pass— but only if we all follow the rules and limit contact with others. The biggest challenge is staying busy. Writing this blog has helped but now it’s time to get out and go for a walk. Then I’ll wash my hands and start on the web page.
Stay safe home inspectors.
Andrew Dixon, RHI, is the vice-president of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors, chair of the OAHI Education Conference, and principal inspector at Your Home Inspector 2020.