So You Want to Be a Home Inspector?

What I am about to tell you may get me in hot water with all those self help experts and schools that promote home inspection courses and basically anyone who makes money off of new home inspector’s. That’s OK I can take the heat.

First let’s take care of the myth that a home inspector can make $20,000 to $30,000 a year part time and $60,000 to $80,000 full time. This myth is perpetuated by educators and self help experts. The reality is that you do not make any where near that type of money in the first year, maybe the second year but for most it’ll be the third year. Many new inspectors are not aware of this reality and become disillusioned and do one of two things either quit or slash their inspection fees hoping to gain more business. The latter is not a good idea because it will hurt your fellow inspectors and more than likely you’ll quit finding that the lower fees won’t pay the bills.

Another reality that you are not informed about is cost. It can cost you a pretty penny from thermal cameras, high tech equipment to educational courses. These could cost you between $10,000 and $15,000 and that doesn’t even include vehicles, licenses, errors and omission and general liability insurance, association fees etc… Are you scared yet? you should be.

You need to walk into this with your eyes open and you’ll be OK. Oh, and by the way you will need a second income to survive. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great industry to get involved in and the rewards can be great in the long term and the key words are long term. You need to develop a game plan and stick to it through thick and thin and it should involve a lot of marketing, website development and personal study. Below are some quick pointers to guide you along the right path.

Before you start anything do your research and the first place to hit is the industries message boards. Here you will feel the pulse of the industry from new and seasoned inspectors. Go to local chapter meetings. When you have completed that first step and feel you still want to become an inspector research your local community and see if it can support another inspector at this time. In the big urban areas this is not as much a factor as it is in rural areas.

If you are still interested then it is time to research your education. Research your home inspector schools, not all are created equal. Pick the best one that fits your budget. If you have a trades background you’ll have a leg up, but remember building, repairs and installation are different animals than inspecting. If you do not have a trades background it’s time to hit the books and read on everything about the systems of a home.

You should also join a national association, the three biggies in the U.S. are the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, American Society of Home Inspectors and National Association Of Home Inspectors. In Canada you have the Canadian National Association of Certified Home Inspectors and Canadian Association of Property and Home Inspectors. For dollar value I think InterNACHI is the best with the amount of free education and member benefits they offer inspectors. Many states and provinces have their regional associations as well, think about joining them they represent you at a local level.

Now that you are on your way to becoming a home inspector, another item that should be in your arsenal is your reporting software. The most popular are Home Inspector Pro, Home Gauge and 3D. I personally use HIP because of it’s ease of use. The other inspecting programs are just as good. You need to research which one will suit your needs. They all offer free trial downloads so that you can experiment with them. Remember, you definitely need software, checklists are so 80’s and 90’s that they scream newbie. Also get a website that matches your software. In this day and age of online shopping you are basically dead without one.

I have given you some reality checks and some pointers even though I did not touch on many things that will effect you, that is part of your research assignment about entering the property inspection field. Remember my warning, this isn’t a get rich quick scheme, instead it is a lot of hard work and long hours. If anyone tells you differently they are doing you a disservice. So take off those rose colored glasses, get down to some hard work and a lot of studying, some heart breaking moments which will eventually be followed by elation and join me in this wonderful world of home inspections.

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.

Inspecting a Home Inspector – What Should You Expect in a Home Inspector

You’ve decided you need a home inspector because you’re either buying a home or selling one, and you want to do it right. Out of curiosity you sit down at the computer and do a Google search to see what qualifications a good home inspector should have, and you get a little scared.

The first thing you see is a group of ads for home inspection courses. You’ve heard of people buying bogus college degrees online, but can Joe Anybody become a home inspector the same way? The image of a TV commercial comes to mind. You know, the one where the doctor is on the phone talking a guy through an operation. No thanks!

So, how do you find a truly qualified home inspector? The first thing to try is to ask trusted friends or business acquaintances for their recommendations. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a good “word of mouth” lead. Requirements vary from state to state and place to place, so you need to find a good local inspector. Save the bulk of your computer research for checking out the names you’ve been given.

You need an inspector who literally knows houses inside and out and is thoroughly acquainted with state, county, and city regulations. Start asking questions. Interview each prospective home inspector. Let him inform you by describing the inspections he does and why he thinks you should choose him. Here’s a list of possible questions you could ask.

* Is he certified by the proper state, county, or city agencies? What license number does he have? His license number is a great way to know how long he has been in business. The lower the license number, the longer he has been in business. Check to see if he displays his license number on his website.

* What trade associations does he or she belong to and what certificates does he or she have? (For instance, the American Society of Home Inspectors is an excellent organization. There are organizations in each state as well.)

* What’s his educational background? Does he keep up to date with the changes in the industry?

* How many years of experience does he have inspecting homes, and how many has he inspected?

* Does he have a background as a contractor or engineer? (It’s not necessary for an inspector to have an engineering degree or to have been a contractor for twenty years, but the principles learned from such education and experience are valuable.)

* Is he a full time inspector?

* May you accompany him when he does the inspection? (This is typically recommended, but you must not hinder or distract the inspector. You should not get near any open electric areas or get on the roof with him due to safety concerns.)

* How long will the inspection take? (The average is one hour per thousand square feet, but this can vary depending on the house and those who are present.)

* Does the inspector get on roofs when possible? Does he get in crawlspaces when they’re accessible?

* What kind of report will you receive, and when will you receive it? (Most home inspection companies offer onsite reports. Many will provide a preventive maintenance manual as well.)

Here are a couple more guidelines to consider. You should shy away from inspectors who criticize their competition. Don’t go with the lowest price. Go with the one with the best qualifications.

Incidentally, the cost of inspection services is highly variable. It depends on the level of experience of the inspector and the level of services provided. Cost is also determined in part by the size and value of the property inspected. An inspection of an eight thousand square foot home will cost more than one for a two thousand square foot home.

The inspector you’re looking for needs to have an understanding of basic construction practices and mechanical systems. He should understand how buildings are constructed and how the systems work. A good inspector will have a talent for making observations which provide indications of problems or potential problems. This talent comes from years of experience in inspecting homes.

Of course, the inspector must have the skills necessary to issue the inspection report. After all, that’s what you’re hiring him to do for you.