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Purchasing a Home Inspection Bus. Need help/advice


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I just found this website. It looks great. I have read quite a few of the forums and found them interesting and informative.

I have been looking into/investigating/researching how to get into the home inspection business for several months now. Not to long ago a HI Bus. came up for sale in my area. The owner is willing to train me for thirty days and to help me as necessary after that. He seems to be a great guy and sincere in making sure the business continues to be successful. My background is in aircraft maintenance/electrical and avionics. I do not have a background in construction or civil engineering or anything like that. I am, however determined to succeed at whatever I do and am willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. I have read several forums on this website that would have you believe that you need to be a architect or constuction engineer. What do you guys think that have been in the business for a while. What is a good school to go to? I have seen many on the web. All, of course, say they are the best. Will I be the only inspector out there with no constuction experience. I would appreciate any input on this that I can get.

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Hi ate-oh-oh,(odd name),

If you have the aptitude and skills for aircraft maintenance, avionics and electrical, there's no reason why you can't learn this business. A construction background helps a lot, but there are good inspectors in this business who have no construction background.

It's a matter of putting your mind to the task of learning all you can about construction, building science and the electro-mechanical systems that make up a home. There are a lot of components there, but homes basically boil down to about a dozen areas that you have to learn and learn well.

Understanding the structure and the electro-mechanical is only half of it though. You also have to learn to hone your powers of observation and be able to spot telltales that the average person or contractor will likely miss. All it takes is practice and time.

However, I don't think that 30 days is enough time for you to get enough of a handle on the business. I'd recommend you work the deal so that the guy remains for a minimum of at least 4 months. The last fellow that I mentored in this business had been a contractor for more than 10 years before he took the leap and it took a minimum of 4 months to develop his cognitive skills to the point where I was confident he knew enough to do the job adequately, while at the same time having learned enough to be able to recognize new issues when he see them and learn from those as he went.

To get to that point, we did a lot of static learning 2 hrs a night twice a week, before he ever touched a home, and then I let him do only one new component of the inspection at a time at each subsequent inspection, while I did the remainder and he followed, observed, listened and made notes so we could go over his questions afterward. Eventually, he'd learned to do every component or area thoroughly and I was the one following, making notes to go over with him later and giving him pointers when he needed it. Finally, I let him take over the inspections and I stayed at my laptop, connected to him by a wireless FM intercom. By doing so, I was able to give him pointers in his ear while he presented to the clients, without actually taking over the inspection from him. This way, the clients and the real estate folks observing the inspection learned to trust his judgment and he built confidence.

All told, the process took more than two months of static study (About 32 hours) and another 4 months of on-the-job learning. Had he done the bookwork first, I'm confident that with his abilities he could have completed the entire mentoring process in 4 months.

Just my opinion. Worth at least the price charged, I'm sure.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

P.S. About that name? Do you think we could get to know that? There's no reason to be shy here. Chad Fabry has just done his first inspection and he's been more than holding his own with this bunch of curmudgeons for months.

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I do think you can be a good inspector without the background knowledge, it will just take awhile. Read every book you can find on construction and try to find a builder that will let you explore homes in various stages of completion. Try small builders, offer to make punch lists for them for free. It will give you practice looking for whats missing and the better you understand what is behind the walls the easier it is to understand what you see during inspections. In my opinion the hardest part is seeing what is not there. If an item is or system is installed upside down, wrong or backwords it is right there in front of you. A missing railing or smoke detector can be harder--since it is not there.

Would you mind sharing some of the details with us? What is the annual volume of this business? inspections and proceeds? What is the business sale price? Cash or financing?

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Hey Guys,

800XP or various versions are what I use at most forums or chat areas. I use it because I have never had it rejected for already being used. 800XP is short for the Hawker 800XP. This a midsized corporate jet. It is the most popular midsized business jet in the world and the XP is the most recent version. I worked on various versions for a number of years and then managed the maintenance and personnel on about 30 before the company I was working for was sold.

Thanks for the input guys. I will take it to heart when or if I make a offer. I still have more research to do.

I have signed a non-discloseure agreement and thus cannot discuss any of the specifics on the sale of this business. Sorry.

I would like to hear more thoughts if anyone has any. You guys appear to be forthright and up front on your thoughts and opinions and I appreciate that.

Thanks,

Larry

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Originally posted by pete

I do think you can be a good inspector without the background knowledge, it will just take awhile. Read every book you can find on construction and try to find a builder that will let you explore homes in various stages of completion. Try small builders, offer to make punch lists for them for free. It will give you practice looking for whats missing and the better you understand what is behind the walls the easier it is to understand what you see during inspections. In my opinion the hardest part is seeing what is not there. If an item is or system is installed upside down, wrong or backwords it is right there in front of you. A missing railing or smoke detector can be harder--since it is not there.

Would you mind sharing some of the details with us? What is the annual volume of this business? inspections and proceeds? What is the business sale price? Cash or financing?

Pete,

What is a punch list? Is it the same thing as a squawk (discrepancy) list. Faults found? Thanks for the advice on getting with a builder. I think that is a good idea.

Larry

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Punch list is just a list of things not done, incorrect, incomplete. When you are building 10-15 houses you constantly have to walk through and make lists. It is a hassle and you can not lose track of each individual house. Offer to do it for free and you will give them the only copy and sign a hold harmless agreement, you have nothing to lose..

Pete

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800xp,

Other than riding in commercial airplanes, I know absolutely nothing about aircraft. If I trained with you for a month, would I:

1. Be able to properly inspect one?

2. Tell a prospective purchaser if the major systems were working properly?

3. Accurately and reliably evaluate many different types from many different eras?

4. Have the respect of the people who build and maintain them?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, how long would it take for me to become proficient enough to change the ‘no’ into a ‘yes’? Would I be able to do it without actually working on them?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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  • 2 weeks later...

If buying an existing HI business, one real important thing to remember is if its been mostly a 1 guy shop, you may not be buying much.

A good friend of mine grosses close to $190,000 per year as a 1 man shop - but he's a licensed engineer (P.E.). About 60% of his business comes to him because the realestator or lender told the client to only use an engineer for the inspection. If you buy his business and you're not an engineer - you're gonna lose half the business within 75 days or so.

If the HI business you're looking to buy is one of the "Whitewash Guys" (they make no waves), or the guy that takes 1 1/2 hours on every inspection, or a cheapy guy that gets their business because they're cheaper than everyone else - and you want to be thorough, or not run through the house, or raise your pricing and charge what the other guys are charging - again goodbye customers real quickly.

Look carefully before you jump, especially in 1 man shops because you're not him - and him is what they've been paying for.

Dan Bowers (Kansas City)

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