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PinkFloyd43

Thinking About Home Inspection

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Have worked in the software industry for 30 years and am plain tired of sitting all day long. I am in Texas and have found a training facility that will help with getting the required by TX laws, which BTW I agree with.

Don't know if anyone knows the company but it's called AHIT. They seems like a decent place and they are close to me in the Dallas area.

If you do know anything good/bad I would appreciate it before I spend quite a bit of money on the training.

For the past year or more I have been reading every Home Inspection type book I can find, and there are quite of few of them. I am not a total idiot with handyman type stuff and have been maintaining my home for the past 20 years.

I am interested in this type of work as it's outside and as I would be my own company not having a 'boss' is appealing. I have also saved enough case to last a couple of years without working, no help to the economy!

Also any recommendations of software to use as there is again a ton of that stuff out there. Is there a favorite within the industry, one that many guys in here use?

Thanks and hopefully this posting is not too generic for the group. I spent hours reading various posts today and found them enlightning to say the least!

Thanks!

Jim

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Jim,

Do a search for this topic and you will find it has been covered a lot. Opinions on software are as varied as the personalities that frequent this forum. Do you have any building/construction experience?

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JD -

Read through the multiple posts here at TIJ and see what folks have advised about jumping into the HI business at likely one of the worst times for real estate sales in recent memory.

Whether you agree with any school or not is immaterial as you have to meet the Texas TREC requirements. Review the TREC website and the location/tab for inspectors and the requirements.

There are better schools than AHIT and you should also research them. They are also located in the D/FW market and one in particular is locally owned/operated by long-time Texas TREC inspectors. Far better than what you would get at AHIT.

Many HIs are getting jobs (outside of inspecting) just to try and make ends meet over this past year and the numbers are constantly shifting.

TREC is about to approve more changes that will make our job far more onerous than it currently is here in Texas.

Do your due diligence and do NOT just soak up what the HI schools feed you about how rich you will get with very little working hours and on and on. That simply isn't reality.

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The heck with the schools. They're all what...about 2 weeks? Eight years into this gig and I'm learning more rapidly now than ever before.

The schools serve the purpose of repositioning money from your wallet to someone else's. They're 2 weeks, more or less, because that's the specs of home inspector regulatory Boards, where in existence.

Bottom line here is if you want to be a successful home inspector, you need to teach yourself. There are ways and if you look around, you'll see them 'between the lines' of posts in this forum. This forum is key. It's not easy and if you've no background in construction/service, it's that much more difficult.

My suggestion is to complete the requirements, get your license and get started doing inspections, then research to the nth degree every finding that you come up with on every report that you do. You can't get motivated to invest in that much study if you're not actually doing the inspections and bringing in some dough. It's a long journey, so buckle down for a long haul.

If you've the means, work for someone else first, only the best one, none other. He'll get you started on the right foot and give you a boost. The locals might not want to 'arm' their future competition so you may need to go outside of your immediate territory.

It's doable, just not for those who don't want to study.

Marc

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I think that HI schools do have some value as a starting point. They weed out a lot of guys. Out of every class how many guys actually become home inspectors. If you can't grasp the information or find it boring in class than you are not cut out for this business.

OTOH, if after a two hour class on bonding, you lay in bed thinking about it and in the morning you have the urge to Google, then you just may have the right stuff to be a home inspector.

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The heck with the schools. They're all what...about 2 weeks? Eight years into this gig and I'm learning more rapidly now than ever before.

Bottom line here is if you want to be a successful home inspector, you need to teach yourself. There are ways and if you look around, you'll see them 'between the lines' of posts in this forum. This forum is key. It's not easy and if you've no background in construction/service, it's that much more difficult.

I can't say I agree with those suggestions. Part of the problem with our profession is that folks jump into it with no training.

A two week school (COA, ASHI School, or as Nolan noted) would be the way to go to get your feet wet. Then after the school find an inspector that has been in the business for several years and see if you can carry their ladder and help them for about 20-30 inspections. You will learn more this way than anything.

TX has some screwy license requirement that you need to research. It is just not a matter of going to a school and getting your license.

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There's hope for an older guy starting out, but there's a multitude of information to absorb if it's all new to you.

Yesterday, I was saying something like, "Well, that was standard practice in 1979". My client said "How would a young home inspector, 20 years old, know that?"

"They'd have to have learned it from an old guy like me", I said.

There's a certain advantage an old guy has in this biz, I think, which is credibility.

Fact is, I'm a lot smarter now than I was in '79. [:)]

I didn't have to be there then to know it now. But perception of age and experience helps a lot, I think.

Now if I could just remember where I left my flashlight and my ladder, life would be perfect.

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The spring I turned 8 yrs old, my family moved to a new neighborhood. Maybe 1/3 of the homes were complete. Each morning that summer while school was out I had breakfast and then wandered around watching them build houses. I would spend all day watching them frame, shingle, plumb, wire, and every other possible trade. At 3:30 when they all went home, I would collect all the bent nails off the floor and take them home. Three months I watched all day everyday while they built my neighborhood. Barefoot and bare chested I walked around the building sites watching, studying, absorbing.

I can't imagine any parent now a days wishing their 8 yr old a good day at 8am and not expect him to return until 4:30. No supervision for 8-9 hrs. One of the greatest summers of my life.

Every since I have been drawn to homes and building. When I worked for a computer company in the 80's, I moderated a nationwide internal corporate forum before Al Gore invented the internet. It was a DIY forum for the 130,000 employees to ask questions about how to fix their own homes. I read every single post and reply for 3 years as a moderator, about 34,000 in total if I remember correctly.

When I look back, I started my career as a home inspector that summer. More that four decades later I am still excited to just wander around building sites of any kind and marvel at how it all fits together and works. If you don't get excited just walking onto a building site, you probably won't stay a home inspector long.

Don't become a home inspector because it is different from what you do now, seems like a low cost entrance fee to get started, or have dreams of making big money working for yourself. None of that is true. Become a home inspector because you LOVE buildings. A background in software will help you in choosing and learning a software reporting package. That is such a small part of home inspecting as to be totally inconsequential. When you are flopped on your belly in a crawlspace in a puddle of who knows what looking at a rusty drum trap, knowing how to program C++ is not very pertienent.

Any two week course offered by any school will barely scratch the surface. You will learn the names and definitions of many parts of a home. You will learn a basic overview of how the major systems are supposed to work. You will be told to look for defects and report them to your client. All good stuff but nothing really to do with home inspecting.

The real job of home inspecting is knowing where to look for clues to unseen failures. The only way to get that is to go in the field and look at used housing stock and being shown by an experienced home inspector. Looking at stuff that makes you scratch your head and wonder why anyone would do that to a house and think it was sensible. Reading code books for fun and entertainment. Ask any home inspector who has been at it at least 5 years and he can probably tell 20 things he is going to find in a house before he even walks in the door.

As a middle-aged old fart, I have finally found what I should have been doing all my life. I am not opposed to new people entering the field, but people who think it is easy are very mistaken. It seems easy only because we have been doing it for a very long time. In my case almost all my life but now I get paid for it.

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I DEFINITELY don't regret doing HI school.

At the time, I had 15 years of masonry, one year of light structural and ornamental steel detailing, three years of fire and water restoration contracting, and several years of Design/Build contracting all under my belt. Before I got into construction I studied architecture and took some engineering courses in college.

All that had me really wondering if I would get much out of an HI school. The stuff I learned about hydronic and steam boilers alone was worth it. One of the instructors used to actually design and build heat pumps, when they were first breaking into the HVAC world. I LEARNED A LOT and I was eternally grateful that I went ahead and bit that financial bullet.

Sometimes it's pretty easy to fool yourself into thinking you know "enough", but that course really filled in a lot of holes that I had not recognized or appreciated.

I can't imagine ANYONE not benefiting from attending a home inspection academy.

I went back and took another on the commercial side, even though probably 80% of my background was commercial construction, with the same revelations.

DON'T PASS UP A GOOD HOME INSPECTION ACADEMY.

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The spring I turned 8 yrs old, my family moved to a new neighborhood. Maybe 1/3 of the homes were complete. Each morning that summer while school was out I had breakfast and then wandered around watching them build houses. I would spend all day watching them frame, shingle, plumb, wire, and every other possible trade. At 3:30 when they all went home, I would collect all the bent nails off the floor and take them home. Three months I watched all day everyday while they built my neighborhood. Barefoot and bare chested I walked around the building sites watching, studying, absorbing.

I can't imagine any parent now a days wishing their 8 yr old a good day at 8am and not expect him to return until 4:30. No supervision for 8-9 hrs. One of the greatest summers of my life.

Every since I have been drawn to homes and building. When I worked for a computer company in the 80's, I moderated a nationwide internal corporate forum before Al Gore invented the internet. It was a DIY forum for the 130,000 employees to ask questions about how to fix their own homes. I read every single post and reply for 3 years as a moderator, about 34,000 in total if I remember correctly.

When I look back, I started my career as a home inspector that summer. More that four decades later I am still excited to just wander around building sites of any kind and marvel at how it all fits together and works. If you don't get excited just walking onto a building site, you probably won't stay a home inspector long.

Don't become a home inspector because it is different from what you do now, seems like a low cost entrance fee to get started, or have dreams of making big money working for yourself. None of that is true. Become a home inspector because you LOVE buildings. A background in software will help you in choosing and learning a software reporting package. That is such a small part of home inspecting as to be totally inconsequential. When you are flopped on your belly in a crawlspace in a puddle of who knows what looking at a rusty drum trap, knowing how to program C++ is not very pertienent.

Any two week course offered by any school will barely scratch the surface. You will learn the names and definitions of many parts of a home. You will learn a basic overview of how the major systems are supposed to work. You will be told to look for defects and report them to your client. All good stuff but nothing really to do with home inspecting.

The real job of home inspecting is knowing where to look for clues to unseen failures. The only way to get that is to go in the field and look at used housing stock and being shown by an experienced home inspector. Looking at stuff that makes you scratch your head and wonder why anyone would do that to a house and think it was sensible. Reading code books for fun and entertainment. Ask any home inspector who has been at it at least 5 years and he can probably tell 20 things he is going to find in a house before he even walks in the door.

As a middle-aged old fart, I have finally found what I should have been doing all my life. I am not opposed to new people entering the field, but people who think it is easy are very mistaken. It seems easy only because we have been doing it for a very long time. In my case almost all my life but now I get paid for it.

BRUCE! I had no idea you were related to Mike O. See above.

I pretty much agree with all the above posters. I would stress the thinking part of the job. You must be a thinker and you must be a reader. I have a goal of one hour per day reading something specific. It does not have to be JLC or Fine Homebuilding. It must be something new to you.

I can't agree that any academy or school is good. I believe some are really poor and really do great harm. Most teach outdated stuff, most teach poor practice and all seem to stress CYA way too much.

I have come to the conclusion that there are great regional differences and great personality differences in the business. My company actually does less today on an inspection that we did in 1999. We stress understanding the house and report. We had to customize our product to meet the market. It was and is very difficult.

Mark Mustola is in this market area and will tell you we have different challenges that most of the nation/Canada.

Inspectors must adapt, read, have good manners and constantly learn.

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[brI can't agree that any academy or school is good. I believe some are really poor and really do great harm. Most teach outdated stuff, most teach poor practice and all seem to stress CYA way too much.

There is quite a bit of truth in this statement. I have over the years been curing myself of the CYA stuff, which was prevelant in the 90's. But, instruction and education is really a matter of perspective. Every year I usually rack up about three times the CEU's I need to stay certified. Every time I attend a seminar, I know I'm about mentally sift through a hay stack of crap for the sake of that needle sized revelation.

I do feel that attending an academy opened my eyes a bit and probably saved me from myself - thinking I already had the goods...

The most important truth is, as Les has said: The learning never ever stops. The more you learn, the more you understand there is to learn. And, that's why a forum like TIJ is a real gem - an oasis of knowledge and experience.

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To me the schooling is a step on the stairs of becoming an inspector.

The inspector chooses if its a step going up the stairs or if it is a step going down the stairs.

If I had only followed what the school I when to I would be going down the stairs.

But I wanted to learn more an found places like this one to help me become an better inspector which I still work on every day.

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I had a background in carpentry and electrical, and I wasn't sure I was going to get anything useful from HI training. WRONG. I got a lot out of it, but....

1. I went to the best school I could find, which was 2 states away.

2. I didn't go outside to smoke every 10 minutes. Others did.

3. I shut off my cell phone on the way in, I participated a lot in class, and I went back to my room at night and studied. Others did not.

If the school is any good and you go at it in a serious way, it'll help a lot, but you'll still need a ton more from a place like this.

And I have to echo the "This is a terrible time to go HI" sentiment, though your area may be doing somewhat better than some others (find out).

Brian G.

Good Luck, You'll Need It [:-wiltel]

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And I have to echo the "This is a terrible time to go HI" sentiment, though your area may be doing somewhat better than some others (find out).

Brian G.

Good Luck, You'll Need It [:-wiltel]

Brian G. -

Excellent information.

As for home sales in the D/FW market ... they are way off. Houston is similar. Many full-time HIs are no longer ... they are doing part-time and other work trying to make ends meet.

Of course there are those ($195.00 drive-by specialists) who are keeping somewhat busy as the zoids love them and their reports.

My business is down 30-35% compared to last year.

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For anyone getting into this business, my recommendation is to remain as independent as possible from the very beginning. It will take longer to get established but the likelihood that your efforts will pay off in the long run are far greater.

Work for home buyers that are under contract or directly for home owners, nobody else. You do not work for realtors and will be better off in the long run if you can avoid becoming dependent on them for referrals.

A good website that is properly optimized to search engines is your best bet to market yourself.

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BRUCE! I had no idea you were related to Mike O. See above.

[;)] Sorry, I just happened to be get all nostolgic. Occasionally I just can't contain myself.

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I guess school can give a you pretty good idea on the components of a house and will make you able to describe everything from the footing to the roof. School will also teach you on the most common problems in a house and will also make you aware of what to inspect. Which is great for someone starting.

Where school fails, is to teach you what no school can teach you in the amount of time you'll be sitting listening to your teacher, that is experience. It will show you the most common way of building things, but then you get on the field and realize there is more than one way of doing it. Then you get all mixed up and wonder "I was told in school that the way of doing "this" was like "that", but here I am on the field and things are done differently, which one is right? School, or experience?". The answer is a mix of both, you will get out of school and will have to learn 25 more different ways of doing things and solving things. Also, school fails to teach you when to call a professional or not, that, you will have to learn by yourself. Just to make sure you won't get into trouble, school will teach you to call for an expert on every problem you encounter, which is wrong. Ask as much questions you want, even if it's a stupid one, it's better to get it out of the way and keep going forward. Find a mentor, you won't find any in here.

2 week entry level schools should stick mostly with teaching students how to educate themselves. That's and a few other topics is all that they have time for.

Marc

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I still can't imagine getting in the game with schooling under my belt. I came away with many pearls.

I attended Mike Lennon's Professional Home Inspectors Institute. Maybe they don't make schools like his anymore, but I found the quality of the content exceptional and the background of the teachers up to the task. The HVAC instructor actually used to manufacture heat pumps, as in he designed and built them. So his presentation of basic refrigeration was excellent. The school had a lab side to it called "The Farm" where they had old boilers, disassembled Condensing units, compressors cut in half - all kinds of hands on stuff that made both teaching and learning easier.

I noticed in another thread that Kurt rode around with Mike Lennon for a day. His assessment of Mike is funny - right on target, world domination and a bit curt/pompous/scarcastic. It seemed that much of what he said was with a very sharp tongue in cheek. He knew his stuff, though, and the HomeBook was living proof of that.

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