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OK folks, it took me a bit but you all haven't been too brutal on others so I figured I'd give it a go.

First off, I am recently retired from the Navy and looking for my second career. Home inspection always appealed to me and I have been involved in construction, building turn-over (Navy to Air Force) and new building construction (including nearly a nearly 400 unit, new base housing area) phase and acceptance inspections. In essence I've done a little of a lot of things with homes, construction and inspections.

Since I've retired, I've attended the AHIT 10 day course and spent a weekend with a long time inspector and did some inspections with him. I just received my LLC paperwork back from the state and am shopping for E&O insurance now. Although I have done solo inspections on friends houses I have not done a single PAID inspection yet. And I guess critical to this topic, I do have time. I'm getting bored to death not actually working so I want to get started, but I have the means to delay things if needed. Also possibly critical, I do have paid jobs in the wings. My lawyer is also in real estate and he wants me to do some work for him as well as some friends who are Realtors.

Anyways, the questions.....

Is sharing a bad idea? - Am I just being paranoid by being fearful to let out ideas that I have. I know that I could get some great feedback and tweak an idea to gold, or realize it's a waste of time, money, effort. But I just feel like I'm giving secrets away to my soon to be competition.

Am I robbing the buyer? - I know I can easily do the home inspection that was done on my house a few years back it was so lame. But I don't want that. Even if it means a few less inspections, I'd rather have integrity and 100% effort given on every inspection. Thing is, I'm the smartest man in the world because I know I'm stupid. I know for a fact I don't know it all. Is lack of complete knowledge and actual inspection experience hurting the client?

My business or work for someone else? - When I started down this path, I discussed with my wife and some friends the idea of working for an established company before I start my own. I decided not too because 1) I'm tired of working for other 2) There is a no competition clause active in this area. Thus if I work for ACME Inspections, then I can't open a competitive business in their area for 2 years. What am I really losing by making this decision?

Certifications value? I graduated AHIT, I'm going to apply for maybe ASHI and or other organizations. I'm taking the National Home Inspectors Exam the week after Turkey day. If I ace the exam, and am accepted by one or more organizations, is that a decent measure of knowledge?

Start-up Problems - If any of you have stories or such of things you did wrong in starting up and are willing to share, I'd love to hear them. Especially the stuff that if you knew then what you know now you would have done it 'X' way instead.

Virgina Beach I guess the best way to say it is just ask. Is there anyone in the Virginia beach area that would be willing to to give me some 1 on 1 inspector training and or let me ride along on some of your inspections? I am willing to travel a bit, as long as I get get home every night :)

Thanks in advance......

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1. Yes, you're being paranoid. I've never encountered a group more generous with their time, expertise, and ideas than home inspectors.

2. Will you be robbing ths buyer? In a word: yes. But you have to start somewhere. Many of us have gone to great lengths to bury the evidence of our first 100 home inspections. Just take your time and tell the truth.

3. Re: professional orgs...I think joining a professional org is a smart idea, but the general public will not see it as a credential, particularly if you practice in a state that licenses HI's.

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Good inspectors will freely share everything they know and lots of things they don't "know".

You seem to be able to seperate the wheat from the chaff. so you should not think you have something special. Inspectors do things around the USA that I know would ensure my failure and vice versa.

Start with a love of knowledge and curiosity. Learn to write. Stay independant. Join a real national organization that has a local chapter. Never be afraid to say you do not know something. Always find the answer and get back to your client!

Other than being in the Navy, you seem like a good candidate to become a good inspector.


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1. Sharing is not a bad idea - what goes around, comes around. In addition to giving a couple of tidbits of knowledge, you also gain the respect of your peers.

2. Yes and no. You have valuable experience and knowledge, so you do offer value. Your first x inspections will take you longer to do, longer to report, and they will feel unorganized. You will eventually find a routine that works for you and you will know many of the common ailments of your local structures.

3. Your business. Your business. Your business. Your business.

4. Certifications value? I used to think so, but I was very wrong. Your reputation will be your greatest value. Push your experience and go out of your way to be friendly and helpful.

5.Save your advertising money! Get a high-quality website (do you have one yet?) and expect business to be very slow for a couple of years. Work varies with the seasons. Don't prostitute yourself to realtors. Use Les's common sense approach - respect the good realtors. They aren't all bad! On the other hand, many are very bad and it is your job to protect your client.

Best of luck, and thanks for your service.

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Or your expensive high beam flashlight......

I pretty much agree w/what the collected brethren just expressed. You sound like a wonderful candidate for this gig.

How well do you type, compose on the fly, and coordinate lots of disparate ideas into a cohesive message?

Reason I ask, is most folks like the idea of walking around looking, talking, analyzing, etc., but fall apart on the paperwork part. This job is largely about paperwork; it's the end product. The memory of you up on that ladder fades, but the paper hangs around for a long time.

What sort of report do you envision providing?

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Hi John,

Thanks for your service and welcome to the TIJ family. The folks who hang out here can be some of the most critical in the business, but if you need help understanding anything in this business they'll be your biggest asset and your best friends. I don't have much to add to what's already been said; besides, I've said it all before.

If you spend some time perusing the 5 years worth of collective knowledge on this site, you'll find that it's mostly free of organizational partisanship because I try to discourage chest pounding here. We're all home inspectors and regardless of what organization one belongs to or what our backgrounds are, in the end we are all one entity in the eyes of those who hire us and we all have the same mission.

Welcome to the profession Brother.




Don't worry about Les, he's an old ground-pounder like me, but he really loves the Navy almost as much as he loves the ladies. Besides, you Navy dudes had the best chow in the service and who couldn't love -> this?.

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In VA they have a form of licensing. I believe it is called "Voluntary Registration",. I have several home inspector friends in VA and they all say that this is a must for anyone doing inspections in VA. Also if you plan on doing inspections in MD, you will need to become licensed in that state as well. I think that MD licensing goes live in Jan, 08, I'm not sure of the date so you should check on it.

As for "Certifications" in the home inspection profession, we do not have any true/real certification programs. All of the current "Certifications" are meaningless self-serving programs that are done by the various associations. ASHI and NAHI have higher levels of membership that require experience and testing, so they would be the ones to strive for.

If you want to go the large franchise route, the AmeriSpec franchise in VA Beach is a very good one. The owner, Jamison Brown is a great guy. Just keep in mind that just about any multi-inspector firm will have you under a non-compete agreement for a few years after you leave them.

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I found bookkeeping to be an enormous pain in the ass. Keeping track of all the deductions, and things that one might think should be deductions, but aren't. Answering the acct's questions -- what equipment/books/etc., did you buy, when did you buy it, did you sell any of the stuff you bought, when did you sell it, for how much, how many miles did you drive, how much did you spend on truck maintenance, do you have a home office, what percentage of your house does it occupy, etc., etc. And all the while knowing that if I had the answers, I wouldn't need the acct.

Then there's the monthly income tax/SocSec/Medicare payment thing, which has to go through a bank. (Can't just send the monthly money straight to the Feds. They actually penalize you for that.)

Worst of all are the state and local taxes. Franchise and excise tax, business license, etc. It's almost impossible to make sense of the state-and-local stuff here in Nashville.

Good luck with HI work,


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Wow, great responses so far, thanks.

Mike - Les should be no problem, my oldest brother retired after 34 in the Army, SGTMAJ complex and all. So I have a little experience there :) Besides, I now have another person to raze come Dec 1 when Navy beats army again. :)

I see a recurring theme here though and intend to tackle it. All the practice inspections I've done have been written. I just got my laptop and mobile printer setup and am in the process of converting those write-ups into electronic format. Then I'll start posting them here for feedback. As everyone that was in the military knows, especially Navy, we are taught to write evaluations on people that say they are dirt bags or walk on water with the same flair. Ever since Bush 1's kinder genteeler military we had to be nice. Also, we like big words and big numbers, "saved $10 zillion" "one of the best of 500 people". Empty space in an eval must mean something is wrong with them. So I do worry that my Navy evaluation style will creep into reports where I'm certain it does NOT belong. I think I do have to be careful not to "militarize" my reports.

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Originally posted by AHI

I think the larger franchises tend to cozy up to realtors. If you really want to do the best job for clients then you may not want these companies molding your work practices.

In other words I vote for the independent route.

Yes they do. That is how the franchises get the volume of jobs they need. And to keep the jobs coming they obviously have to keep the Realtors happy. We all know what that involves. Yes?

Paul B.

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