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A little about myself.  I'm currently in the U.S. Navy and forward deployed on a warship.  I retire from the military in about 2 or 3 years.  I'm looking to start my own business when I retire.  I'm originally from Shreveport, La but I'm living in California for now and plan on moving back to the South when I retire.  Southeast Texas is sounding appealing right now but that might change in the next 2-3 years. 

So I've been doing research on HI.  At first I wanted to open a franchised business.  A turn key, ready to open business for $30K.  Now I'm on the path to self-employment.  I'm going to start at the ground up and save that $30K and 8%-11% royalty fee .  Since I have 2-3 years to start educating myself and figure the business out I'm looking where to start.  I want to get certified to perform HI's in California while I'm here to get training, education and experience under my belt.  I want to take the knowledge and move to a state where we want to lay roots and begin the business.  Knowing I'll have to relicense in a new state, but that shouldn't be a big deal. 

So starting at the bottom, where should I get my education?  Being in the military I need a self-paced or online type school.  I see there are multiple schools out there but hard to determine who is legitimate and who's not.  Does it even matter? 

Let me know if i'm on the right track here.  I'm thinking NHIE.  Buying the books, study, take the exam.  I believe the VA will even cover the cost of the exam.  Then take the CREIA certification, find a mentor and get in on some ride-alongs.  Perhaps apprentice for someone with a non-compete agreement. 

Looking forward to any advice!   

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Most here would not agree, but code certs in residential make a good knowledge base.  They are not cheap or easy to get, tho.

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In Texas, you will be working under the TREC rules, which are not very similar to California HI regulations. But don't ask me, I'm just a  casual observer.

Sign on with a multi-inspector group for a couple of years. That is one way that will get you up to speed faster than sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring.

You need advice at first, because the training never gives you all the answers. A lot depends on the housing in your area. You need to learn local issues, what will fly and what won't. But you start with the basics, always. Find a copy of the inspection Standards of Practice, that is your basic guide.

Marketing is half of your business and for many it is the hardest half. The inspection part is easy, but getting folks to call you instead of him, that is tough when you're new.

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5 hours ago, Jim Baird said:

Most here would not agree, but code certs in residential make a good knowledge base.  They are not cheap or easy to get, tho.

I wholeheartedly agree. 

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While I agree with the code suggestion, I would caution that it is a knowledge base that requires close attention in implementation.  If you go out in the field and start with "the code requires this and that" you will have some difficulty. 

Code knowledge is essential.  How to implement that knowledge is where some get into trouble.

The NHIE is essential.  Do it asap.  It will tell you lots of things about the scope of your knowledge.

One of the senior members here, John Dirks, has lots in common with you.  He will be checking in and I am sure will have some insight!

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I only bring up codes when I want to make a point about a finding, and I warn in my intro that codes are mentioned only as guides.  Violations of manufacturer instructions are more important.

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Sometimes the only backup I can find is a code cite.  When I do that, I disclose in the same paragraph that I'm not a code inspector and that I'm not asserting code compliance or non-compliance.  Recently I've been having doubts about the wisdom of that practice.

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Yeah you need to know code, and answer questions about code.

But I can usually call it best practice or similar, dealing with an older home. You can use 'not in compliance' if you are restricted from mentioning codes where you work.

New construction,, the building must meet the current code standards, so definitely you need to know what you are looking at for those inspections.. Even then, if the building was started, permit issued before a code change, the old rules apply. Builder save money every way they can. Sometimes it is permitted.

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Learning the codes to further your knowledge is, in my opinion, essential. (As Les said.) Using code citations in your report is an entirely different topic, worthy of discussion on another thread. In his original post, Jake is asking how to learn to do home inspections. I agree with Jim Baird that it's good to study codes because every home inspection school that you encounter will avoid them like the plague. So study the blasted codes. 

Of course, you'll need other education as well. Starting up as a home inspector without a background in the trades is tough. On the one hand, you won't have to unlearn bad habits. But on the other, much larger hand, you'll have to actually learn how homes in your area are built, from the oldest to the newest, from electrical to plumbing, from foundations to roof flashings. That's going to be doubly tough if you plan to start in CA and later move to the south. (Particularly so in TX, which has some horrible home inspector rules.) 

There's not much you can do about hands-on prep or in-person classes while you're on a warship, but you can study codes there. . . 

 

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As noted ... Texas is it's own world when it comes to inspections. Go to the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) website and look at the inspector's section. There is a whole criteria of what one must do to get licensed to inspect in Texas.

The final exam is the NHIE and a portion of the exam is tailored for Texas.

I've been licensed/inspecting in Texas for 16+ years, but will be winding down over the next year or two.

Tagging on with a multi-inspector firm is not a bad way to go. If  you do focus on SE Texas (IE: Houston area) I can refer you to an excellent inspector to engage with. He is NOT a drive-by inspector ... he is experienced and thorough.

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On ‎1‎/‎8‎/‎2018 at 1:15 AM, Nolan Kienitz said:

"I've been licensed/inspecting in Texas for 16+ years, but will be winding down over the next year or two.

Tagging on with a multi-inspector firm is not a bad way to go. If  you do focus on SE Texas (IE: Houston area) I can refer you to an excellent inspector to engage with. He is NOT a drive-by inspector ... he is experienced and thorough."

Ah, I didn't mean SE Texas, I meant Northeast.  Northern Dallas areas are really building up.  I have family in that area and I though it would be nice after 20 years of traveling to settle down next to family.  Plus the housing market seems to be booming, it has a low cost of living, and is veteran friendly.  I though where better to build a self-starter?  Do you have any insight on the area I speak of?

 

Edited by Jake Smith

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Read everything you can on this message board.  There's tons of information right from the front lines here.  Don't ask a bunch of questions, read and then read some more.  I presume your warship has internet and not much to do with downtime.  Read, then read some more.  When I started 17 years ago, this board was just getting started but I still learned more real life stuff here than anyplace else.  Let what you find here guide you in further studies.  This place can teach you what questions to research.  Take the harder road and find it yourself instead of just asking someone else to tell you the answer.  You'll remember it much better when you find it yourself, though it's more about learning how to find the answer. for yourself.

Study for and pass the NHIE.  That's the first BIG step.

After that, hook up with a multi-inspector firm in California.  Gets you some real life experience.

After you've got the inspection basics down, start studying marketing.  It doesn't matter how good of an inspector you are if you can't make the phone ring.  Even the best inspector in the world is going out of business if they can't make the phone ring.

Talk with Mike Brown about doing a website for you.  He can best advise you when to start on that.  

Save up some money.  It'll be awhile before you start making a living at it.  The better prepared for that, the better off you'll be.  

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On 1/10/2018 at 11:40 AM, Jake Smith said:

Ah, I didn't mean SE Texas, I meant Northeast.  Northern Dallas areas are really building up.  I have family in that area and I though it would be nice after 20 years of traveling to settle down next to family.  Plus the housing market seems to be booming, it has a low cost of living, and is veteran friendly.  I though where better to build a self-starter?  Do you have any insight on the area I speak of?

I live in Plano (NE burb of Dallas). The market in D/FW is not a whole lot different than the Houston, Austin or San Antonio markets. They are all doing reasonably well. Now, how the business will be doing in 2-3 years will be anyone's guess.

I can link you up with a fellow who has a multi-firm in the D/FW area. A lot of new HIs go to work for him and then branch out on their own.  Not a huge presence of franchise operations here. The majority of inspectors don't care for them as most (if not all) are pretty much in the hip pockets of the real estate agents/brokers.

Many of us who have been inspecting for 15+ years are looking at winding down. Several of my close HI friends and I have stopped doing certain inspections for any given number of reasons that I won't go into here.

Also, getting ride-a-longs in Texas is tough due to the rules from the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) and the additional liability and burden put on the licensed inspector(s). I've been asked, begged, pleaded with for many years to have a new or want to be inspector ride along and I just won't do it.  I'll take time to talk to folks at a coffee shop or over lunch, but they can't go any of my inspection sites with me. In my view ... just not worth the risk.

There has been a lot of good information presented here for you mull over. Take the steps one at a time and be measured in your approach. That is the best way to go.

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Hi Jake,

You came to the right place to get perspective about things related to the home inspection business.  The members here helped me stay focused on important things when I first got started.  I did it on my own and I must admit it scared me pretty good at times.  It can still scare me but not as much or as often.  Nonetheless, when I got scared I came here to this site not afraid to ask for advice.  The members here were a priceless support base for me, even though I got beat up now and then.

This business is mainly about communication, in person and more importantly, in writing.  It's not just the house.  It's also the people buying the house.  Their concerns vary and you need to be able to read them and make them feel comfortable that you are protecting their interests, even when the news is not so good.  General technical knowledge is good obviously.  Also good is ability to search and find information about things you don't know.  

Wherever you want to do this work, study the governing requirements for that locality.  Whatever those requirements are, they are a minimum for which you can build on.  Use the minimum as the base and expand with your knowledge from there.

Again, communication is key.  That and, not being afraid to say,  "I don't know the answer".  "I don't know but I will research and find a conclusion"

I made it as an independent from the beginning.  I'm glad I did it that way.  I believe that if you make yourself, nobody else can break you but yourself.  If you let others make you, they will break you.

Edited by John Dirks Jr
spelling

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I have found a lot of good training available from InterNACHI online. It is free to all and will tell you quickly if HI is a fit for you at little to no cost. I have been a member for several years. InterNACHI is the largest HI organization and offer lots of resources for training.

Just Google InterNACHI.

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Also TREC (Texas Real Estate Commision), while tough, has an avenue to get a license. There are a couple of schools here that offer all the classes and ride-alongs to meet the requirements. Champion School of Real Estate is one.

Good luck!

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BTW

My son is also about to retire from the Navy in a couple of years & is considering the same thing in Omaha. He is stationed at Offutt AFB in the Naval Security detachment. 

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Hi Jake,

I'm just getting started in California. I joined this site because is has the best combination of information, ethical considerations, advise and humor of all the forums I searched out. I get in here semi-regularly and catch up on threads that provide interesting info.

I joined CREIA on the advise of this board. It was a great move. The chapter I aligned with, Delta, is only 13 members, but the quality of individuals there is great. The Standard of Procedures, and the Ethics code enforcement go a long way toward ruling out undesirables. The information and training are very helpful. I can't stress it too much, that signing up with CREIA and, at a minimum, attending the monthly chapter meetings is the right move in California. Since the state is unregulated, it also makes sense to align with an association that holds you accountable for certain performance and ethics standards, if you are to have any credibility. The entrance requirements for CREIA certification can not be shortcut or cheated. If you get to certified, you are doing okay.

My schooling was with PHII, online. While the materials and presentation need work, the information I received is lining up with the NHIE study book (700 pages...). The NHIE book is actually validating what I found at PHII. Additinally, PHII is affordable, and approved by CREIA. CREAI requires that you pass the NHIE before you can be cert'd. And the PHII class delivers you 90 CEs toward the requirements by CREIA.

There may be some changes in the legislative world in CA over the next two years. You could stay on top of things by reading this board and the one over at CREIA.

 

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