Home Inspector Training – What You Need to Know

If you have ever bought or sold a home, you know just how important that home inspection is. A thorough property inspection can uncover any number of issues with a property that are otherwise invisible to the average home buyer but can result in hundreds and often thousands of dollars in needed or required repairs after the sale goes through. Having information on the actual condition of the property is vital to any potential buyer. An inspection can serve as a basis for negotiations on price or repair allowances in the sales contract, or it sometimes can spur a buyer to walk away from the property entirely. Other times, it can give a buyer peace of mind in knowing they are buying a “good” property with a clean bill of health.

If you have been considering entering the real estate field in some fashion, this line of work can yield a significant income, with many inspectors enjoying income between $50,000 and $100,000 per year, if not more. It often provides you with the ability to control your workload and schedule, too. Before you can enter this field, however, you need to go through home inspector training.

Most states have a licensing requirement for such inspectors, so you will want to review your own state’s requirements before you sign up for any particular home inspector training course. Many states will require that you take a certification class or program, but you will want to make sure that the courses you are signing up for fulfill your state’s requirements. There are many online courses available for home inspection training, and some states also allow or require you to apprentice under a licensed inspector for a certain period of time before earning your certification and license.

The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is among the leading organizations in the industry and allows those who are licensed inspectors to join their ranks. Their website contains a full list of state requirements as well and is an excellent resource. You will also want to visit the National Home Inspector Examination website, which also details state requirements and allows you to sign up for the national exam. Currently, only 24 states require you take this national exam, but many professional associations require the exam as a membership requirement including ASHI, the American Institute of Inspections, the National Association of Home Inspectors, and others.

Each state has its own requirements in terms of home inspector training, apprenticeship, certifications, and licensing, and the state requirements will often dictate the path you take to become an inspector. However, whether your state requirements specify training or not, you can see that taking specialized courses in the field can open doors for you in terms of helping to pass the national exam and join prestigious industry associations that can boost your career. Most of the higher paid inspectors belong to numerous professional associations, so the investment into your education will generally be rewarded in income potential for years to come.

How to Find and Hire a Competent Home Inspector

Chapter 1: Getting Started and Taking Control

Professional Associations

Before you can even begin to contact and compare home inspection companies, your first goal is to secure a list of likely home inspector candidates from a reliable and trusted source. A good first choice to consider for obtaining a list of names are the nationally recognized associations that many home inspectors belong to. To help you get started, I highly recommend ‘The American Society of Home Inspectors’ (ASHI) and ‘The National Association of Home Inspectors’ (NAHI) not only because both ASHI (founded in 1976) and NAHI (founded later in 1987 by an ASHI member) were the first of their kind but also because they still remain the two most prominent and sought after associations in the home inspection profession today.

The next step is to contact the Association you have chosen to obtain a list of its members within a fifty mile radius of the area where you’re planning to buy a home. For those with online capability, the best way to proceed is to visit the Association’s website to see what they have to offer. If you prefer or have to use the phone, most Associations provide a toll free number you can call in order to speak with someone who can answer your questions and provide you with the information you need. In either case, keep the following points in mind as you begin to build and refine your name list: 1) try to end up with at least six to ten names, 2) always ask for and jot down each inspector’s rank or membership status within the Association including how long they’ve been a member, 3) in some cases you may need to contact more than one Association, and 4) take note that a home inspector may belong to more than one Association.

Referrals From Trusted Sources

Another good source of names to consider are referrals from trusted family members, friends and co-workers you have grown to respect over time, not to mention your attorney. In fact, real estate attorneys are usually very discriminating when it comes to recommending a home inspector who will serve their clients’ best interests, and not the Realtor’s, during the real estate transaction process.

Sources To Exclude

Unless a realtor happens to be in the family or a very close friend with your best interests at heart, all other realtor referrals should be considered suspect and disregarded making sure that none have since found their way onto your list. As for relying upon the phone directory, this is paramount to rolling dice or looking for a needle in a hay stack and is definitely not the way to go about finding a good home inspector!

Candidates And Newbies

As you continue building your name list, you want to be sure to exclude newbie home inspectors. To do this, you have to learn a little bit about an Association’s membership. For example, ASHI has what they refer to as Candidates and Members. By definition, an ASHI Candidate is one who has yet to attain full membership status by satisfying certain criteria as set forth by ASHI. This is significant since Candidates are often newbies to the profession, meaning they are just learning the ropes, and typically have little experience inspecting homes. Given this information, exclude all ASHI Candidates from your list unless you’re willing to hire and pay a home inspector to learn at your expense. In no disrespect to newbies, while all have to start somewhere, there’s no substitute for experience!

Also note I have purposely used ASHI to explain this procedure as I am not familiar with how the other association memberships are structured. Therefore, if any of the names on your list happen to belong to an association other than ASHI, you would be will advised to learn what you can about their membership as well.

State Licensing

Some states require licensing of home inspectors while others do not. If the state in which you’re looking to purchase a home does require licensing, then you need to verify that the inspector is licensed in that state and that their license has not expired so you don’t end up with a worthless home inspection. This information can normally be obtained online as well as over the phone by contacting your local state agency that handles licensing of home inspectors. To find out if your state requires licensing refer to ‘Links’ under table of contents. Incidentally and for what it’s worth, never hire a home inspector based upon licensing alone or you could be in for a rude awakening! More on this later.

General Liability And E&O Insurance

Insurance is somewhat similar to licensing in that the states that require home inspectors to be licensed may/may not also require the home inspector to carry general liability and/or errors and omissions (E&O) insurance. If the state you’re planning to buy a home in requires inspectors to be insured, you should be able to easily verify this along with their license since the state will not ordinarily issue a license to a home inspector who has failed to meet this requirement. It’s also a good idea to ask the inspector to produce a copy of their certificate of insurance before/on the day of the inspection for further verification. Similar to licensing, for states that don’t require home inspectors to carry E&O insurance, never base your final decision to hire a home inspector on insurance alone! More on this later on.

Summary

Secure a list of inspection candidates from a well known and trusted source.

Sources include Professional Associations like ASHI and NAHI, and referrals from trusted family members, friends, co-workers, and your attorney.

Refrain from using Realtor referrals and the phone directory

Exclude ASHI Candidates and all newbie inspectors from your list.

Verify that the home inspector is licensed and insured in your state if so required.

How to Become a Home Inspector

Are you interested in how to become a home inspector? It can be amazing and rewarding career. First, make sure this career is right for you. Home inspectors are hired to inspect and report the condition of homes, making sure a home is up to code and free of defects. You will definitely need extensive knowledge in areas such as electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling and roofing. You will also need good communication skills; to be able to explain clearly the conditions observed in their importance. Chances are, this will be your own small business, so business management and business skills are very important.

The next step you need to take to become a home inspector is to locate an accredited school to take your licensing courses. There are many associations and companies that offer home inspector training. One of the best options is through an online school; you can usually finish much faster than in a classroom setting and take the courses from the comfort of your own home.

Once you complete your home inspection licensing courses and pass your exam, you are ready to go. Membership in home inspection associations are great benefits to inspectors; to join, you will have to meet certain requirements and adhere to the “Standards of Practice’ of the organization. Membership in these types of organizations will also benefit you as consumers are looking for inspectors who are members of reputable associations. These associations will also help keep you up-to-date on your continuing education. Home inspection continuing education is essential in running a successful business as it will allow you to advance your knowledge and keep you in tune with the current state of the market.

To become a home inspector, you definitely need to be a well-rounded individual with knowledge in the housing industry, as well as business skills. With hard work and dedication, you can enjoy a career as a successful home inspector and know that you are making a difference in helping out your community.