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.

3 Tips to Help Home Inspectors Grow Their Business

Get a Website

The internet plays a major role in our everyday lives and home inspectors must have an online presence. When today’s consumers need something done, they go straight to Google and look at the first few results. Being in this business without a web site is like going to an inspection without a flash light. You’re missing something crucial! Buying a domain name and creating a simple website is easier than you think. Hosting companies such as GoDaddy, Network Solutions, and HostGator all offer domains and easy to customize templates that make building a website simple. It is almost as easy as typing a Word document. With GoDaddy for example, you can buy a domain name for just $12 and then pay a small monthly fee of $5 for them to host it. If an inspector is too busy or not comfortable with computers, there are many companies that specialize in creating websites for businesses.

Every website should have contact information, information about the inspector, the services they provide, a sample inspection report, and any relevant information about the business. It is important to have a quality website with good content so that the site will have a good ranking with search engines. To do this, inspectors should take time to add quality content to their site. Writing informative articles about home inspections, as well as including photos and videos is a great place to start. A home inspector should also use search engine optimization (SEO) tools to increase the visibility of the website with search engines. It is important to focus on keywords and phrases, such as your city and home inspection or home inspector. The term “home inspection” is so broad, an inspector is better off focusing their efforts on ranking high for the city or area where they conduct home inspections. For example, a home inspector in Cincinnati would have more success ranking higher for the term “Cincinnati home inspection” or a smaller town within Cincinnati such as Fairfield of Finneytown then they would “home inspection”.

Get Involved With Social Media

There are many social media outlets, but the main sites are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. These sites are great for personal use, but also provide an incredible opportunity to connect with current and future clients. Many well-known companies are using social media today because they see the value in it. It provides them with the ability to be in constant contact with their clients. Social media is becoming so popular, that businesses can no longer afford not to be involved. If they don’t jump on board, they are going to be left behind by their competition. The best thing about all of the sites mentioned here is that they are all free to join.

Create Professional Reports

Professional looking reports created with home inspection software can separate a home inspector from their competition and lead to new referrals. Home inspection reports are passed around by potential home buyers, realtors, and past customers with each report having the inspector’s name and company right on the cover. It is important that the report leaves a great impression on whoever sees it because that can lead to a referral for the inspector. A year or two after the home inspection, the report itself may be all the client has or remembers from the inspection. This is why a professional looking report is so valuable to a home inspector.

The above three suggestions are a great way for a home inspector to grow their business. A company website that provides quality content is crucial in today’s world and a must for any business. Once the website is up and running, inspectors need to join the social media phenomenon. Social media provides a great opportunity to connect with customers for free. Lastly, an inspector should not underestimate the importance of a professional looking report. An inspection report is a direct reflection of the inspector and can be a great tool to gain referrals. If a home inspector takes advantage of these opportunities, they will put themselves in a position to grow their business and ultimately making more money.

5 Ways a Home Inspector Can Continue Their Education

It is important for a home inspector to continue their education so that they can become the best inspector possible. Below are five ways home inspectors can continue their education to improve themselves and their companies.

Attend Conferences and Seminars

Attending conferences and seminars is a great way for a home inspector to increase their knowledge about the home inspection industry. Speakers will cover a variety of topics that allow the home inspector to learn the latest news and techniques in home inspection. This will allow them to stay ahead of the curve and be prepared for anything they may see on an inspection. Conferences also give inspectors the opportunity to visit with different product vendors related to home inspections. Here, they can learn about the latest technology, advancements in home inspection software, and what’s new in the industry.

Connect/Network with other Home Inspectors

A great way to connect and network with industry contacts is to join an association. There are many benefits to joining an association, including educational resources, monthly news, online forums, discounts, and much more. Online forums allow home inspectors to bounce ideas and questions off of each other, making it a great place to learn. Inspectors can also connect and network at conferences, seminars, and association meetings.

Attend Classes/Training Related to Home Inspections

To continue their education, a home inspector should consider attending additional classes and training. There are several training courses available for new and veteran inspectors. These continuing education courses include marketing and business courses, such as online advertising, selling, and client relationship building. Learning these aspects of the business is critical for making their company a success. Technical classes are also offered, such as what to look for when inspecting roofs, electrical components, and plumbing. These types of classes help an inspector avoid potential issues and cover themselves from liability. For an inspector who is looking to diversify themselves, there are also specialty courses available. Some of these courses include mold, radon, and termite testing, among others. Attending continuing education classes is a great way to stay educated, as well as, give the inspector the ability to offer additional services to their client.

Take Additional Courses, Not Necessarily Related to Home Inspections

Classes that do not directly relate to home inspections are often overlooked by inspectors. Some of these courses include report writing, communication skills, business practices, and legal issues. Inspectors who decide to continue their education with classes like these can really separate themselves from other inspectors who lack this kind of training and knowledge. Even though these types of classes aren’t directly related to home inspections, they can help a home inspector improve the quality of their service.

Job Shadowing

New and veteran inspectors can both benefit from shadowing another professional while on a job. New inspectors can gain a great deal of knowledge and useful information by shadowing veteran inspectors. If they can find someone who is willing to show them the ropes, this is a great first step for inspectors looking to break into the industry. Veteran inspectors can benefit from shadowing professional contractors on repair or maintenance jobs. Gaining additional knowledge that can be used on the job will help them become a better inspector.

Continuously trying to learn and improve yourself is a must in any business. In order to run a successful home inspection business, the inspector needs to be the best inspector possible. Continuing to learn will not only benefit them and their business, it will also benefit their client.