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ITA School in Rochester NY

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[Note: I have also cross-posted this over at InspectionNews, so for those of you who frequent both forums, I apologize for the duplicate posting]

I am on the verge of making a change away from my engineering job of the past twenty years, and I have been learning as much as I can about the profession and business of inspecting homes in order to see if this would be a good fit for me. I have spent the last six months devouring the content of several HI message boards (Inspection News, The Inspector's Journal, and NACHI), Carson Dunlop's "Principles of Home Inspection: Communication & Professional Practice" and "Building Your Home Inspection Business", and the two Journal of Light Construction “Field Guides to Residential Constructionâ€

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I can't help you with ITA advice, but you asked: "Other comments, advice, or words of encouragement are welcome."

I suggest to anyone, no matter their background or education, to go out with several types of established inspectors. You can learn from the good, the bad and the ugly (I can offer 2 out of 3).

I suggest making a list of different types and age ranges of properties and try to participate in at least 3-5 in each group. Then write a practice report for each one and have some of them reviewed.

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Go to both the SBA and IRS sites and work your way through their basic on-line business courses. Too many people fail in this business because they don't know how to run a business. It doesn't do one any good to go out and get 2 or 3 weeks of schooling about how to do inspections if they'll price themselves into bankruptcy within 2 or 3 years; screw their taxes up and get on the hook to Uncle Sam; can't understand how to do their books, etc..

OT - OF!!!


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I am familiar with ITA, Rochester. Before I get into specifics, lets discuss generalities.

As with any trade school of any trade, you will not leave weathered and experienced, as far as what you will be capable of when you complete the course, well, much of that depends on you. Each person is different.

At the onset of the class, everyone introduced themselves. It was interesting, each person had a different story, different degrees of construction experience. From an unemployed chef...to an architect...and everything in between.

Personally, as someone who has been involved in many different aspects of construction for the past 30 years, I found the class very interesting. As much as I thought I knew prior to the course, I can tell you that I learned many, many things that I didn't know. I was also suprised at just how much material was covered in class.

In my opinion, at the end of the class, there were three different classifications of alumni. The least being, those that should consider an alternative career, because they just didn't get it. Next, were those that perhaps should consider apprenticeship, because (in my opinion) needed more practice before going off on their own. Finally, and I believe the majority, displayed the ability to be good home inspectors. Does practice make perfect? Yes! Will I get better and more fluid as I get more experience? Of course! But, having said that, I can also say, that at the end of the course, I felt no doubt in my ability to do a good job, on behalf of my clients, performing home inspections.

Of course, as I originally stated, nothing takes the place of experience and continued education. Whether or not you are capable of immediatly going off on your own depends on you, your existing knowlege, how much you can absorb in class, and guts.

Depending upon your apptitude, they will teach you how to inspect a house. Depending on your apptitude, they will teach you to pass the test. They books they give you to study... study them. When you are finished, study them again.

Will they teach you to be a "guru"? No. Will they teach you to be a Home Inspector? It's possible. "Gurus aren't born, they're developed over time. Every "guru" started someplace.

Do you have to be a "guru" to inspect a house? Well, just by monitoring this site, you can see that there are many different degrees of knowlegability. Should those that are not (or not yet) wizards leave the trade? I don't think so. You'll notice that the "wizards" probably ask or have asked the most questions. They are the ones that strive to learn something new everyday.

During the course, we came in contact with about 5 different H.I.'s/instructors. Each was successful in their own rite. Other than Don Norman, all were still practicing and successful H.I.'s. I got the feeling that they were teaching because they enjoyed it, and considered it the next level. Not so much for the money.

It was very helpful picking their brains. They were all very open and honest regarding "their" way of doing things. There were ways about each one that I felt I would or would not adopt.

Don Norman, the National Coordinator (past president of ASHI), is a giant amongst men. Although he is EXTREMELY knowlegable and taught the bulk of the course, I would not call him a teacher. I feel that being a teacher is simply a job. I am more comfortable placing the title of "EDUCATOR" on him, which is something levels above. It has to come from the heart. There was a time, during the course, that I had to miss some material to take care of some legal issues. Donald, tutored me privately on his own time to ensure that I did not miss out on any material. Besides not charging me anything on behalf of the school, he would not accept any compensation on a personal level. More than once during the course, Don and I greeted each other with a hug, a handshake was simply not enough!

Mike Nelson, He is a great guy. The most noticable thing about Mike was the extreme enthusiasm and love of the industry that eminated from him. He his trying very, very hard to make the school a sucess. Besides knowlege, if effort and dedication count, on a scale of 1-10, I rate hime a 12.

The other instructors, Mark, Andy, and Steve were all good. I learned something from each one. Some more than others. Even techniques that I felt were not necessarily commensurate with my way of doing things, were still worthy to be aware of.

The field study class, was not quite as organized as the classroom study. That may be because it was the first class of this type at that location. Changes were made mid course which improved the situation. I hope they adopt the changes as s.o.p. (limit class sizes)

Now, I can keep going, but, unless you really want to need to hear more, I won't.

I reccommend the Days Inn on West Hennrietta ( W.Hennrietta turns into New Hope... same street as school) The rooms are certainly acceptable, includes breakfast, and is the most affordable. Get the weekly rate. $200.00

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Originally posted by StevenT

One more thing, even though you could get your H.I. liscense, as a P.E., I still reccommend taking a course. Although you may know many technical aspects as an engineer, there is definately a unique "science" to inspecting a house.

Spoken like someone who understands......

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I attended ITA Oceanside in 95, I think it was their 1st fast track class ever held,, and their motto of "now your ready for business" was just what I needed, I've built 2 succesful businesses on their info and training,I believe ITA is the class of the field, and I'm very proud to be associated with them,

Mike Nelson

Lead Instructor

KPS/ITA New York

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I'm also an ITA graduate, but not in NY, so I can't help you there. Best of luck though. This profession isn't for everyone, but it suits some of us to a tee. I hope it's good for you.

Welcome to the board Mike N.; just what we need around here, another "Mike". [:D]

Brian G.

You Can Call Me Ray, Or You Can Call Me Jay, or... [:P]

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I see some great quotes here, I made one up some time ago, here it is, the first time it has been put in print

"Just because you understand how something is built,

does not mean you understand the innumerable insults a human being can heap upon a domicile"

Mike Nelson 1992

I wrote this to a clients uncle who was critical of home inspectors in general, because he had been a builder FOR 50 YEARS!!

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Hi folks. Thank you all for the responses. I have been traveling with family for Easter break and have just now returned and am catching back up.

Jeff R. - Thanks for the well wishes. I hope it is just a dip in the cycle and that business soon picks up for you. I learned a lot from many of your old posts on the NACHI board. With regards to schools popping up, new inspectors in NY now need 140 hours of pre-licensing training from a NY approved school, so there has been a demand in NYS created by this licensing law. I was glad to see an established school with a good reputation for training inspectors, such as ITA, get on the state list of approved schools. I have some reservations about getting training from an unproven school where their primary business seems to be training real estate agents or appraisers and which has only recently begun training home inspectors.

Bill K. – Good advice. I am definitely going to try and get out on some inspections with established inspectors. I hadn’t thought of purposely going out with some bad inspectors, but will add that to my to-do list. Being able to compare the good vs. bad inspectors seems like a great educational tool. BTW, aren’t all inspectors ugly?! I am wondering how receptive my local area is to mentoring new inspectors, so I am planning to attend some local association meetings to meet some inspectors and test the waters. I am planning to do some practice inspections at friends and relatives houses, with full reports and get some peer review, before opening my doors for business. I’ll make it a point to try and get a variety of property types and ages.

Mike O. – Also good advice. I have worked for someone else all of my life, and this will be my first try at going on my own. Aside from the subject matter, being self-employed is one of the things about HI that appeals to me. I have been plowing my way through the SBA, IRS and state tax sites, and am starting to flesh out a business plan. I live near a Small Business Development Center and soon plan to take advantage of their free counseling services. I’ll also be looking for a lawyer and an accountant. I figure I may get some leads on those from inspectors at one of my local association meetings. Lastly, I hear you about pricing too low. I plan to crunch the numbers using Brian Hannigan’s “Cost of Businessâ€

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There was really only one problem during the Field Inspection segment of the class.

In one word, too many people (that's 3 words).

Appearently, with the new N.Y. laws taking effect, there were many people that previously had taken the classroom segment, some were already practicing H.I.'s, but needed the additional training to get their licenses. I imagine that they did not meet the requirements to be grandfathered in. There was also a very experienced (GURU RATING) H.I. in the class, that for whatever reason needed to take the class. He was an absolute asset to the experience.

Anyway, people were bumping into each other. Constant talking, For instance, I would walk over to a service panel, and someone that was already looking at it would be calling out what he saw. This scenario continued throughout the inspection.

Before long, I walked outside, frustrated, and was no longer in the state of mind to continue.

Appearently, I was not the only one that felt this way, and after a few of us spoke amongst ourselves, (of course I was elected as spokesperson), I spoke to Don Norman and told him exactly how we felt.

He was extremly understanding and agreeable.

The very next day, the group was split in two (1/2 early start, 1/2 lab work, then switch) , and once at the location, was split in two again ( half started inside, half started outside).

Also, everyone was instructed to be quiet and to not blurt things out, so others could concentrate and figure things out for themselves.

This was a 100% improvement.

Once the change was made, other than doing more inspections, I can't think of anything else that could have made the experience more rewarding.

To their credit, I must say that Mike and Don were very attentive to the group and showed great interest and concern, but yet, they did not "baby" us, we had to work!

At the end, I felt absolutely ready, confident and able to START doing inspections.

Of course, as I previously stated, the point of completion was merely a starting point. Experience, research and practice is the best teacher.

By the way, I speak to Mike Nelson every now and then. I mentioned you to him and he asked me to let you know that you are welcomed to call him. He is more than happy to answer any questions that you may have, regardless of which route you take.

Good luck!

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After having some great phone conversations with Chad, Steven and Mike N. during this past weekend, and getting the final ok from my better half, this morning I signed up for the ITA training in Rochester. I'll be taking the 12 day class in June and the 40 hour field training in July.

Thanks guys, for taking the time to answer my questions. My hat is off to all of you at TIJ for sharing your knowledge and experiences for the benefit of others. I look forward to the day when I can give something back to you, and provide my own contributions to this forum and to the inspection profession.

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  • 1 month later...

Well, my bags are packed and I'm off to Rochester for classroom training during the next two weeks, followed by a week of field training in July. Since I last posted, I am now fully committed to making a go at this, and I have been busy with:

-- lining up my legal, accounting, and insurance support services

-- attending local chapter meetings of ASHI and NACHI. There were some interesting contrasts between the two groups, and at each meeting they each took some un-provoked jabs at the other org, but they both had some genuinely friendly people and a common desire to make themselves better inspectors.

-- doing some ride-alongs with a couple of local inspectors, so I could see first hand what this was all about before I got myself into it.

-- doing my pre-course homework for the ITA 12-day course

-- studying the IRC to prepare for taking some of the ICC certification exams

-- taking some online business courses that I found through the SBA, putting some flesh on my business plan, and punching some numbers into Brian Hannigan's "Cost of Business" spreadsheet.

Lots of work is still ahead. I'm hoping to get all of the pieces to drop into place this fall.


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Hi Brandon,

Good for you for soing the on-line business courses from the SBA site. There's a whole lot more to the inspection business than just inspecting homes. It's impossible to over emphasize how important learning to run a business correctly is. I think it's the single-most common reason that new inspection companies fail.

Good Luck,



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