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ailanthus777

Home Inspection Career Research

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Hi all,

Recently, I have become interested in possibly transitioning into the home inspection career. I have worked the past seven years in a manufacturing environment and it is time for a welcome change. I also have some light construction experience (roofing, framing, drywall, etc.) Overall, I think I have the potential to do well in this line of work. I am a detail oriented perfectionist. And when I want to, I can find a flaw in anything, which isn't always a good quality to have, but I think it might be helpful in this line of work.

Anyway, before I take any big steps forward, I would kind of like to ask a few questions to those who are already doing this. I have emailed some random inspectors with these questions, but have not received any responses yet. Here are the questions:

1. Do you like your career in home inspecting?

2. From the time you started, how long did it take you to become well established?

3. In your personal opinion, what are the pros and cons of this business?

4. Have you ever been sued? If so, what were the results of the case?

5. How much are your total insurance costs per year?

6. And finally, what advice would you give to someone who is beginning with this career?

Thanks in advance for helping me with my research!

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Jedidiah,

Have you searched the archives here at TIJ? If you have not, then please do so now.

1. Yes

2. 4yrs

3. pros - determine your own hours cons - defending what I do to nearly everyone P.S.: there are several hundred other pros and cons

4. no

5. does not really matter, because I pay more or less than you and nearly everyone else on this board.

6. don't do it.

my silly answers match your "silly" questions.

Welcome to the board!

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Hi all,

Recently, I have become interested in possibly transitioning into the home inspection career. I have worked the past seven years in a manufacturing environment and it is time for a welcome change. I also have some light construction experience (roofing, framing, drywall, etc.) Overall, I think I have the potential to do well in this line of work. I am a detail oriented perfectionist. And when I want to, I can find a flaw in anything, which isn't always a good quality to have, but I think it might be helpful in this line of work.

Anyway, before I take any big steps forward, I would kind of like to ask a few questions to those who are already doing this. I have emailed some random inspectors with these questions, but have not received any responses yet. Here are the questions:

1. Do you like your career in home inspecting?

2. From the time you started, how long did it take you to become well established?

3. In your personal opinion, what are the pros and cons of this business?

4. Have you ever been sued? If so, what were the results of the case?

5. How much are your total insurance costs per year?

6. And finally, what advice would you give to someone who is beginning with this career?

Thanks in advance for helping me with my research!

1. Yes

2. 3 years

3. Pro.. I work for myself. Con... I work for myself

4. No, but I work as an EW on home inspector lawsuits.

5. Pretty much the same as what everyone else pays; too much!

6. Spouse needs to have a good job or don't quit the day job.

Funny how Les and I have almost the same answers.

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Thank you for your input.

Les, why do you say, "don't do it" to number six?

Scottpat, thanks for the advice on number six. Wife is an RN and I will most likely keep my day job and try to start this as a part time business, IF I decide to do it at all.

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Jedidiah,

It is not an easy "life" or way to make a living. The previous three inspectors (Scott, Mike O, Me) have more than sixty years of experience; not the "....twenty years in the construction trades and have remodeled four of my own houses" kind of experience. I'm talking real deal make a living doing home inspections experience. I have personally mentored or helped dozens of potential inspectors. Approx 1 in 30 will even last long enough to be a part time inspector. There is nothing wrong with being a part timer, many of my friends are part timers. I have never been a part timer. I am lucky and started a long time ago when things were different.

The inspection business is slowly morphing into a profession. Most of us are skilled observers and communicators and not former roofers, plumbers, etc. The most amazing thing is the level of education and intellect most seasoned inspectors possess. It is a very small community and many of us have know each other for decades if not years.

Read the archives, continue asking questions, develope a thick skinn and enjoy the ride! Ask Marc about how he got hooked on The Inspectors Journal.

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1. Do you like your career in home inspecting?

Sure

2. From the time you started, how long did it take you to become well established?

5 or 6 years, but I've never been in a realtor's office or even offered on a business card

3. In your personal opinion, what are the pros and cons of this business?

Yes

4. Have you ever been sued? If so, what were the results of the case?

No

5. How much are your total insurance costs per year?$600 liability $600 truck

6. And finally, what advice would you give to someone who is beginning with this career?

Really?, you want to be a home inspector?

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Hi all,

Recently, I have become interested in possibly transitioning into the home inspection career. I have worked the past seven years in a manufacturing environment and it is time for a welcome change. I also have some light construction experience (roofing, framing, drywall, etc.) Overall, I think I have the potential to do well in this line of work. I am a detail oriented perfectionist. And when I want to, I can find a flaw in anything, which isn't always a good quality to have, but I think it might be helpful in this line of work.

It's not particularly helpful. The job isn't about finding flaws or being a perfectionist.

Anyway, before I take any big steps forward, I would kind of like to ask a few questions to those who are already doing this. I have emailed some random inspectors with these questions, but have not received any responses yet. Here are the questions:

1. Do you like your career in home inspecting?

Yes. I meet new people every day, learn something new every day, and get to see lots of interesting houses.

2. From the time you started, how long did it take you to become well established?

I don't remember. Seems like it might have been 2 or 3 years, but it might have been longer. Be aware that the vast majority (94%) of new inspectors *never* become well established. This career has an enormous attrition rate. Would you like to know why?

3. In your personal opinion, what are the pros and cons of this business?

Pros: It's an interesting business with new challenges every day. It can be lucrative and emotionally rewarding.

Cons: You can lose your shirt if you fail. You are constantly under intense pressure from people with competing interests, including home buyers, home sellers, realtors, and contractors. Some of these people are exceedingly dishonest and will actively try to damage you and your business. Many will pretend to be your friend and then stab you in the back. You will be in constant danger of a ruinous lawsuit in which an aggrieved client will take your house, your car, the clothes off your back, and the shoes from your children. You need not make a mistake or do anything wrong to lose such a suit.

4. Have you ever been sued? If so, what were the results of the case?

I've never been sued.

5. How much are your total insurance costs per year?

I have very favorable rates that allow me to pay only about $2,000 per year. A new inspector will pay much more.

6. And finally, what advice would you give to someone who is beginning with this career?

Understand that this will not be a "career" or a job. It will be a business.

If you're to be successful, you'd better treat it as such. That means that you'll need capital. Don't even think about starting with less than $20,000. $40,000 would be better. If you don't have that cash sitting around, get a small business loan. Aside from the obvious need for training and yearly ongoing education, you'll need tools, a decent vehicle, and a report writing system. Then, before you even think about opening shop, you're going to need to invest heavily in marketing, insurance, and professional services (legal, accounting, PR). After that, if you have some luck, you might break even the first or second year.

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Don't do it.

There's better businesses to get into. Everyone fantasizes the fun part, and ignores the real part.

Don't think about inspecting homes. Think about being in business.

Determine if being a business person suits you.

Absolutely ignore any of the stuff they tell you at home inspector schools. It's largely blather to keep cranking out bumwads; the "school" is it's own business model, developed to prey on naive nimrods.

Understand, I love what I do. But, it's a really weird business with more goofy crap that can hang you up than can ever be imagined or described in an online forum.

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After that, if you have some luck, you might break even the first or second year.

That's funny! Last year I earned enough to cover my hard costs, and lost enough on my soft costs to recoup most of what I paid in taxes. Is that what you mean by break even?

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I'm probably the most rescent experianced inspector to start my business back up. I had an established business for over 10 years with a killer past client referral base. In July 2006 we relocated to a new state. I can honestly say that it has taken right at 4 years to become established in my new area. Times are difficult, the days of being booked 10 days out with 2 inspections a day are history.

In my state(TN) we have gone from an all time high of 1120 home inspectors in Jan 2009 down to 387 inspectors as of two weeks ago. At the first of 2011 we had 460 licensed inspectors. I think we have hit the bottom of the pile for now and have a pretty decent number of inspectors in the state. I guess you could say we have gone through a cleansing period!

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After that, if you have some luck, you might break even the first or second year.

That's funny! Last year I earned enough to cover my hard costs, and lost enough on my soft costs to recoup most of what I paid in taxes. Is that what you mean by break even?

Congratulations! You're on your way to a successful career in the exciting field of home inspections!

Now all you need to do is sign up for a class with AHIT so that you can start making thousands of dollars in your spare time.

Download Attachment: icon_adobe.gif AHIT.pdf

126.86 KB

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Don't do it.

There's better businesses to get into. Everyone fantasizes the fun part, and ignores the real part.

Don't think about inspecting homes. Think about being in business.

Determine if being a business person suits you.

I'll second that sentiment.

You can be be the most technically knowledgeable inspector and the best report writer in your area. But first you have to get consumers to find you and choose you. You must be a good marketer to do well.

The most concentrated location to find home buyers is through real estate agents. But they tend to be fickle and offer your name today and shun you the next. You are relying on a third party to drive business your way but you have very little to offer that third party to entice them to continue to recommend your services. Often the home inspection puts the sale in jeopardy or makes the agents job more difficult. So you need to develop other channels to find and drive clients to your business.

There are numerous certifications available but none are universally accepted. Each of the schools, associations, and certification bodies claim they are the best. Getting and holding more certifcations than all the other inspectors in your area costs money and time. If there is licensing in your state, everyone is licensed so in the customers eyes, all inspectors are equal.

You are running a business first. That means taxes, insurance, licenses, bookkeeping, expenses, marketing, advertising, answering the phone, maintaining a website, handling disgruntled customers, submitting bids, priceshoppers and tirekickers, loosing jobs, cancelations, working nites and weekends, looking for the next job, continuing education, and slow periods.

The actual task of inspecting the home can be fun. Writing the reports is a chore. Attics are unbearably hot in the summer and crawlspaces are icky all the time. Everything else is work. Boring drudgery. If you don't do it, no one picks up the slack and your business fails.

1/4 of the inspectors in my state did not renew or put their licenses onhold last period. 1/4 of all inspectors in the state with an existing business, existing clients, referral base, and all the other business items in place. Licensing only happens once a year and so there is no way to know how many additional inspectors are not making a living at inspections until they don't renew Oct 1st.

What special skills do you have to drive more home buyers to your business in a down market?

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Wow! Thanks for all of the replies! This is the kind of stuff I'm looking for! Oh, and by the way, I've been to many other forums about various other topics, and I'm familiar with people telling others (especially newbs) to "use the search" or "read the archives." I don't mean any disrespect by saying this, but I don't want yesterday's information; I want today's. But, just so you don't think I'm totally disregarding your advice, I have been reading in the archives some :)

What special skills do you have to drive more home buyers to your business in a down market?
Resqman,

Well, practically none, so good point. I can, however, create and host my own site as well as optimize it for search engines. That MIGHT help some during a down market, depending on how effectively my site is optimized.

In my state(TN) we have gone from an all time high of 1120 home inspectors in Jan 2009 down to 387 inspectors as of two weeks ago. At the first of 2011 we had 460 licensed inspectors. I think we have hit the bottom of the pile for now and have a pretty decent number of inspectors in the state. I guess you could say we have gone through a cleansing period!
Scottpat,

I am also in Tennessee. That is a pretty drastic jump downward in numbers. In your opinion, what has caused this "cleansing?"

Don't do it.

There's better businesses to get into. Everyone fantasizes the fun part, and ignores the real part.

Don't think about inspecting homes. Think about being in business.

Determine if being a business person suits you.

Kurt,

Thank you for the warning. Actually, the "being in business" is the part I fantasize about. Home inspection is just a possible vehicle for achieving that fantasy. I love the idea of being able to set my own hours. I love the idea of not being penalized for being a minute late clocking in. Listen, I'm not going to bore anyone with details, but I have a very crappy job, so hot attics, icky crawlspaces, etc., etc. doesn't frighten me in the least. Now, you did mention better businesses to go into; I'd love to hear some ideas!

I don't remember. Seems like it might have been 2 or 3 years, but it might have been longer. Be aware that the vast majority (94%) of new inspectors *never* become well established. This career has an enormous attrition rate. Would you like to know why?
Jim,

Yes, I most certainly would like to know why, and thank you!

It is not an easy "life" or way to make a living. The previous three inspectors (Scott, Mike O, Me) have more than sixty years of experience; not the "....twenty years in the construction trades and have remodeled four of my own houses" kind of experience. I'm talking real deal make a living doing home inspections experience. I have personally mentored or helped dozens of potential inspectors. Approx 1 in 30 will even last long enough to be a part time inspector. There is nothing wrong with being a part timer, many of my friends are part timers. I have never been a part timer. I am lucky and started a long time ago when things were different.

Les,

I understand what you're saying. To be honest with you, I'm not looking for a career path that will make me wealthy; I'm looking for one that will make me happy, or at least happier than I am with my current job. I've been working "jobs" all of my life and I really feel like I'm ready to step up to a career. At the age of 33, I realize that I'm a little late getting started (I've always been a late bloomer, lol), but I simply cannot just resign myself to keep doing what I've been doing. Giving up is not an option. As far as being part time, I feel like that would be the best option for me to start with since it takes a while to become well established. I've considered starting part time with home inspection while also doing computer repair from my home. Hopefully, between the two start-ups, I could keep myself fairly busy. And, eventually, I believe one of the businesses would evolve into a full-time career. By the way, I chose computer repair because its something I'm already decent at and have most of the required tools already. But, it could be something else. I'm very open to suggestions right now! lol

Thanks to everyone for your responses!

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The number of inspectors have dropped because folks are not buying homes like they were doing a few years back. It use to be easy to ride on the coattails of the agents, it was kind of like a feeding frenzy.

If you are in Sparta, you will need to cover a large area. I would say over to Nashville, down to Manchester over to Pine Ridge and then to Cookville up to the KY line.

With mandatory E&O and GL folks dropped out due to the cost of staying in business.

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Scott,

Thank you for the advice. If I pursue this, I had planned on covering a wide service area radius, but after reading your post, perhaps I need to widen it some. If you don't mind my asking, how has your business been in the past two years compared with earlier during the past decade?

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Ahh! So the shove-off was intentional?? LOL Thanks for the confidence.

At this point, I'm still trying to figure out if this is for me. I'm not ready to jump head first into anything, so I'll probably be lurking around these forums just reading what others are saying for awhile.

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Quasi-intentional.......

with a lot of reality mixed in. Hang around, see what you think.

It's a very strange career path.

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Scott,

Thank you for the advice. If I pursue this, I had planned on covering a wide service area radius, but after reading your post, perhaps I need to widen it some. If you don't mind my asking, how has your business been in the past two years compared with earlier during the past decade?

Compared to the past decade? It has sucked!

Just over the past few months I have seen an slight uptick in business. the market area I work in is still fairly good. We have a large number of corporate headquarters in the area. About two miles away Mars Pet Foods(Pedigree and some other brands) just announced they are moving their world headquarters and will move in about 1000 folks to the area. GM just announced it is going to reopen the old Saturn car plant as an engine plant (for their new high tech, high millage engine that will go in about 6 body styles) and will employ about 3,000 folks by early 2013.

So, I'm in a good market but business is still not where I would like to see it.

It really goes back to folks not being able to buy a new home because they can't sell their old home. From what I have seen, either they are upside down on their loan or they are asking too much for it when compared to all of the REO homes on the market.

Bottom line is folks are not buying homes like they use to do for whatever reason and our profession depends on folks buying homes.

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Unless one is in a very good market, or is so darn good they simply overpower the odds, I don't think just HI work can cut it anymore.

I provide a range of services from standard HI's, commercial inspections, to condominium reserve studies, condo management consulting, construction consulting, cost analysis for developers, moisture intrusion analysis, repair option analysis, and various other odds and ends to put foccaccia on the table.

Just doing HI's is a tough gig nowadays.......gotta have the multi-pronged approach.

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Also, I've said this before, I'll say it again..........

HI work isn't a bag race. It ain't even a marathon. You run 'til you die.

I've been doing this almost 27 years now, and it's only in the last 5-7 years that I think I'm becoming mildly competent.

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Also, I've said this before, I'll say it again..........

HI work isn't a bag race. It ain't even a marathon. You run 'til you die.

I've been doing this almost 27 years now, and it's only in the last 5-7 years that I think I'm becoming mildly competent.

I gotta be in this gig for another 12-14 years before I feel competent? Well that just ruins my day! [;)]

Marc

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