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advice on becoming a HI


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hey guys, been doing some research on becoming a HI and was hoping you could could advise me on a few things. My knowledge of homes and how they are built(electrical,hvac,plumbing,roofing) is absolutely zero... I am book smart and very organized and have run my own businesses for years(nothing that would make me more knowledgeable inspecting a home). I do have average computer skills and people skills.

I am limited only on taking the online 100 hour course(can't do the class route, not a choice). I obvoiusly would have to work for someone after I completed the course to learn(that is not a problem).

My questions are: most importantly, is the online course going give me the knowledge needed to at least understand how the home functions and all its components from electrical to hvac to plumbing? anotherwards will it be enough to feel confident that I can at least go out and start learning the next aspect of working under the wing of a pro? and if so, What ONLINE school would be my best choice for basic HI 101?

I know you will all say go swing a hammer and learn the trade first but I am not wired for the mechanical aspect of it. I am however attentitive, responsible and logical.....again don't lecture on class course, not an option!!...online or don't do it it at all ? do I have potential(with a online course) at least with learning how the home operates? I know their is much more to the full process of a inspection but I am most concerned of knowing the home and its function !! thx JR

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JR,

Being a good thinker is the first requirement. People skills help. On-line instruction will not work, if you want to be an inspector. Riding with an experienced knowledgeable inspector would help you understand what we are "supposed" to do. Problem is you can't know if an inspector is experienced and if experienced, are they really knowledgeable or just scamming the market.

I let anyone ride with inspectors from this company. 99% never come back after one or two ride-alongs.

What is your background? Why do you even think you can do inspections? What is your motivation?

Inspection is not a sales job, rather a unique combination of physical and intellectual skills.

I am not as sour as this post would seem, just being a little sarcastic.

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JR,

First, I would not attempt to enter this profession right now in your area. The real estate market is down, homes not selling like they have for the past few years. We are seeing the newer inspectors going out of business daily. When I say "newer inspectors" I'm referring to those who have been in the profession for less than three years.

Now if it was me and I was dead set on entering the home inspection profession, I would do the following: I would not quit my day job. I would attend a good training school (Kaplan/ITA in your area) during the winter months. I would then establish a website and get it on the Internet so it can become established in the search engines. Then I would plan on launching my business in March or April, this is the start of the season for home inspections.

It will take a great deal of work and supplemental income to make it for the first three years. After that point your next goal should be five years. After five years, you can consider yourself as a success in the profession.

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You know you'll have to write reports every day, right? And you know that they'll have to be written very carefully and correctly?

Grammar, spelling, punctuation and such will matter to people who are buying a house; and, failure to explain things perfectly is red meat for potential adversaries, such as lawyers.

In my humble 20-year experience, I've noted that there's a huge amount of risk for a new HI who can't write bulletproof reports. The HI business is all about finding problems and explaining them in a way that can't be misunderstood. Every day, an HI bets his company on his ability to explain things perfectly.

These days, when somebody asks me about getting into the HI business, I recommend that they start an honest little handyman company instead. Low risk, decent pay, and no real estate agents telling you how to do your work.

WJ

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Hey guys, thanks for some feedback...but as I said about being logical wouldn't it make sense to start the training now(without quitting my day job), so when the housing market does turn( 5-8 years ?) I will be a veteran HI ready for another boom....Lets face reality here, The housing market is a vicious cycle which is going to have its highs and lows so a smart business would plan for the lows !! Don't worry about my present background, I gave you an idea of what I know so please answer the question(internet school good enough to teach me enough to get my foot in the door)? As far as reporting goes, come on guys get real !! I've seen lawyers handwriting and grammer and If they were paid on that they would be broke. You sound like this is such a hard thing to do !! I can't wait to get back in the home and do the report..Its the inspection that I am scared of...either you all are trying to discourage the competition or you all have big fat heads and think it is rocket science !! I plan on leaving this pathetic state of florida for some nicer quality of life in Colorado but I would like to leave with a plan under my belt...I have talk to and seen some inspectors down here and let me tell you they don't look like anything einstein would be proud of but they certainly are getting the job done to satisfaction and nobody is complaining. I have read so many post in here from you guys saying its so hard to be a HI, bla bla bla !! Of course its going to be hard as a rookie but as a pro ? get real !! My guess is boiler plates are used and the wording is changed for the reporting, computers today have made this part of the business easier I am sure !! Now that I got that off my chest I still respect you all !(as they say in florida). thx JR

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Hi JR,

First of all, welcome to the TIJ family. TIJ is free resource for all home inspectors, new, experienced and aspiring. You'll find a lot of value on this board if your willing to come here with an open mind and are willing to not just hear, but listen.

I read each of the answers to your post and didn't see anything in there to indicate anyone has a big head or is afraid of the competition. The fact is, those three fellows are simply being very truthful and blunt with you - something that a franchiser or one of the associations wouldn't be or a new guy without too much experience wouldn't understand, because he has yet to learn the truth himself.

These guys have nothing to fear from you as competition. Even in the worst of markets they're going to do okay because their businesses are well established and they've got many years of experience behind them. They can weather just about anything and have, repeatedly. Can you?

You point out that you expect the market to turn in 5-8 years. Fine, do you realize that this business cycles every year? In this business, you feverishly gather nuts all late spring and summer, because mid-August business is going to slow and by December/January you'll be scoping out a spot under an underpass and comparing the price/quality of tents down at the Army/Navy store.

Think I'm kidding? Believe me, I'm not. If you don't have a very substantial cushion in the bank, you could easily find yourself in very serious financial straits within just a few months. Why do you suppose that one of the inspection training schools is able to stay in business? Their own statistics show that 80% of their students fail within the first few years, because folks jump headlong into this business thinking that it's going to be easy and cheap. It's not.

As far as the job being rocket science, it isn't....it's building science, and if you think it's simple you really don't have a clue. I've got a construction and electro-mechanical background and have spent most of my adult life as an investigator. Writing reports is second nature to me. Nonetheless, I've found that every single day for the past 11+ years has been a challenge and some times of the year it's a scratch and claw. Jump in if you wish; just understand that established inspectors have no reason to fear you as competition and nothing to gain/lose one way or the other if you get into the business and are a success, or get into the business and fail.

Oh, by the way. Please use paragraphs - they make your responses so much easier to read and to follow what you're saying.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Hi Mike,

I meant no disrespect to anyone just poking at some fun. It just seems to me Mike that alot of post I read seem to discourage the newbie from becoming a HI. I was well on my way of going down this road until I came to this forum.

Now as one guy spoke of a waste of time with the internet course, Isn't the info the same as the teacher covers in class?

If the internet is just a money trap then do you or anyone else reccomend some books to buy and or a website to go to so I can spend less and maybe begin reading and learning about the elec.,plumbing,hvac, etc.? Anotherwards deal with it in baby steps and see if it is for me instead of just assuming it won't be.

I'm sure you guys that do most of the advising in here are the best of the best because you been doing it for years but I must ask: Do you like what your doing still? I get the feeling you don't from the advise you give. I am well aware of the market and its lows and highs but did forget about slow winters in other places. Here in florida it is just the oppisite in winter(it booms) but I won't be here.

If I decide to jump into this business I hope that I can get some direction from you guys from time to time and that of course would make me feel a whole lot better knowing I can get answers to my questions and problems.

I main objective at this point is to get direction from you guys with the assumption I am going to do this and step 1: do the internet couse? or buy some books first(much cheaper)? The reason I don't want to do the class course is because It will a be a blur at this point because I need basics and time to go back over and over until I understand it. I can always take the class after I feel more confident about the aspects of the home. Understand? thx JR..P.S. How did I do with the paragraphing Mike?

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JR,

I guess I was the one that would discourage initial online learning. Web based learning is great. I am an active participant with just that method.

This business is not suited to that method, if the learner is trying to make the decision about being a home inspector.

I like your spunk, but you are wrong, dead wrong, about the responders to your initial post. Mike O covered that quite nicely. In any given week, I will help 2-3 "competitors" and feel good about it. Shoot, 100 inspections won't make or break me.

It is my opinion that your background does have some impact on your success as an inspector. Of course, you could make a silk purse of of a sow's ear. Doesn't really matter what the background is, just kinda helps when you want a serious thoughtful answer. I know guys that used to be fifth grade teacher that are quite sucessful inspectors. Now that I think about it, I also know a graphic designer, Army non-com, writer, state representative, atty, builder, appliance repairman, insurance salesman, electrician, etc.

Keep it up - it makes us think!

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Kaplan/ITA is not going to tell you that any of their products are bad.

With a classroom setting in a real building(not a traveling school that sets up in hotel rooms) you have hands on training. Electrical panels; Toilets; Roof mock-ups; Framing mock-ups, etc. I would recommend only their 10 day or longer class. Once you are done with the class, you need to sit for the NHIE and take this basic exam. This will put you one up on the food chain.

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JR you should go out on some ride alongs to get some additional perspective of real world inspecting vrs what the books or the classroom says.

What you learn in one of those 1 or 2 week boot camps may seem immense but it's just the tip of the iceberg of knowledge and experience that you will need to be successful as an HI.

Chris, Oregon

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There are a lot of books and classes you can take. They will, for the most part, help you learn. The most vital part of this learning process is joining a good inspector on actual inspections. All the guys, myself included, on this board are fan's of Hansen's electrical book. So read it over and over. You still won't be able to inspect a panel.

So find an ethical, motivated, successful inspector that will welcome you on some of his inspections. And I don't mean five inspections. Personally, I think 100 is a step in the right direction. Realize that you are not working for him; he's allowing you to tag along. That means you are not getting paid.

You commented on some of the non-Einstein inspectors that you see doing a good job, not getting complaints. If that's who you want to be, good luck. If you're very lucky, you'll have a fruitful career during which no one will sue you for your business and your house, and you'll put forth very little effort towards anything.

For the most part, the folks on this board try to be a bit more than that. These guys go out every day to do the very best they can. Many of us spend hours a day on forums like this, researching new building materials and old practices, to be better inspectors than we were yesterday. And many have been doing that for years.

I'm not trying to discourage you. Guys and gals on this forum do not sweat competition. The title of your initial post asked for advice. Here's mine:

Do you want to take a shot at being a home inspector? Sure, a 100hr internet course is all you need. Buy a $400 tool kit from a catalog, maybe some business cards, and you're good to go.

Do you want to create something? A business by which you can help your clients understand a lot of things they've never heard of? Be able to look yourself in the mirror at night knowing you aren't cheating anybody? Be a respected member of a business community? Learn something new every day? Work your tail off? No, the internet course will not do. There's a lot more to it than you can absorb in any circumstance that is measured in hours, especially considering you have no experience in a related field.

Group hug!

Good luck with the move, JR. I wish I spent more time in the mountains. Not much of that around here.

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What these guys say is the truth. Speaking as a relative newcomer to the business (been at it around a year and a half) I can testify that it certainly is not easy. Immensely rewarding, but not easy.

I am just now at the point where I am able to make a living at it. Being the new guy in town, I had to be way more aggressive with marketing than the other guys - at a substantial expense. Those bills come every month, regardless of where in the cycle the housing market is.

In addition to contending with market cycles and slow winters, we also have be prepared for the unexpected. I recently had to undergo emergency surgery when part of my large intestine burst (I am 35 years old and reasonably fit and healthy - losing part of my colon was indeed unexpected!). As a cruel twist of fate, while I've been recovering, my phone has been ringing off the hook. This would have been my best month ever, but I had to turn down all the work.

If the guys on this forum come across as a bit gruff, it's because they are in the business of telling the truth so it can be easily understood, and they sugar coat nothing. With that in mind, you will not find a better resource for home inspectors (new or otherwise) than TIJ. The practical knowledge we have at our fingertips here is immeasurable.

If you do choose to become a HI, just be forewarned that it is an uphill battle, and the small fortunes promised by the schools are hard to realise.

-Brad

ps: the best way to make a small fortune in this business is to start with a large one - it'll be small soon enough[;)]

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JR,

Welcome aboard. I am new getting into this business myself. I saw an add in the paper for an HI school near me and that was all it took. My decision was made and that was that. I just convinced myself that I would clear every obstacle in my path. I am still in the process of launching. It feels like a tall task to me. It feels challenging at times. There is no question in my mind though, I will succeed.

You have questions in your mind about your ability. When you say you have no clue about how the home systems work, that's a big hurdle. It's a huge big hurdle. To me, things structural, electrical, mechanical have always been second nature. In my case, I need to learn how to apply what I already know about these things to homes in specific, and to the minimum standards of home inspection including reporting and all that.

You say you need to learn all of these important aspects. You can do it I'm sure but I doubt a book or an internet course will do it for you entirely. You need hands on and in your face and tons of it.

My point is, I had a great deal to learn myself but I felt confident I could handle it before asking anyone else how difficult it would be. You seem to be lacking confidence in yourself and that is something you might want to consider as you decide.

Dont get me wrong, I am not saying you can't do it. What I am saying is that it may take more than you think. Maybe a little more, maybe much more.

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Very interesting comments and dialogue. Being a brand new home inspector is a daunting experience. You get your license, and bam, you're out there on your own. I just received my license in July. It would be nice to ride with another home inspector. I didn't really think another inspector would be open to that idea; although, I don't know any in my area maybe I should try that out. Thanks for all of your postings, they are very helpful. Mkd

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Originally posted by mkd

Very interesting comments and dialogue. Being a brand new home inspector is a daunting experience. You get your license, and bam, you're out there on your own. I just received my license in July. It would be nice to ride with another home inspector. I didn't really think another inspector would be open to that idea; although, I don't know any in my area maybe I should try that out. Thanks for all of your postings, they are very helpful. Mkd

Many inspectors will take folks along for a ride-a-long, it is best to find one out of your area.

ASHI has a program called parallel inspections, that is designed just for this. Les, and I have participated in this program as the lead inspector.

You might check with the local chapters of ASHI and NAHI in your area to see if anyone will help you out.

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Check out the requirements and accepted courses for the location you will be working in.

Texas for instance does not accept education hours toward licensing unless it is an approved TREC (Texas Real Estate Commission) course. Different states have different requirements.

Follow the money! What I mean by this is don't believe everything anyone tells you if they have something to sell or gain.

HI schools of any kind will promise you the world to get your tuition. Some are good, some are not.

Ask around and see for yourself how many folks have been through the schools but are not in business. Learn from others mistakes, it is cheaper! I hear it all the time, "I was an inspector a few years ago, or I just got out of school - are you hiring?"

If you still want to jump in, read everything you can get your hands on about construction, you will need it all and more.

Then sign up for school.

Try to find a multi-inspector firm and work for them for a year or two, you will make more money working for them than for yourself. I figure I need to do at least 3 minimum price inspections a week just to break even on expenses.

Jim

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Jim,

You say you need to do 3 minimum price inspections per week to break even on expenses. I am wondering what your definition of expenses is in this case.

Do you mean business expenses alone, or is minimum cost of living included in your calculation?

I think I know the answer but I had to ask since you statement was not totally clear as to the definition of expenses.

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  • 6 years later...

i am new on this forum and i decided to get home inspection licence. i have civil engineering degree overseas and 7 years construction experiance overseas and 10 years architect (cad and revit designer) i passed FE. exam i tried to passed the PE exam 2 times and i could't.

now i want to change my direction to home inspector.

can somebody help me with this question that, which course is better the online one or classroom and dose the board of arizona registration accept the online course?

thanks

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