Do you want to pursue a career in home and building inspection? This is a rapidly growing field with relatively few necessities to get started making it a lucrative option if you’re stepping into the job market for the first time or looking for a career change. However, you need to have a lot of knowledge on all kinds of homes. Also, experience in electricity, plumbing repair, tree removal, as well as any other home-related profession such as roofing, will give you an advantage, albeit there are ways you can make it even if you don’t have experience in these areas.
Keep in mind that inspector qualifications and requirements vary based on your state of residence. What does this mean? It means all states set their certification requirements, including whether or not you need to do an examination or complete on-the-job training. This article will detail how to become a home and building inspector.
What Will Your Responsibilities Be as a Building Inspector?
As a building inspector, you’ll need to audit the work of a home builder in new and existing properties to confirm stability and whether or not safety provisions are in place. The other specific duties of a home and building inspector include:
- Evaluating plans for new home constructions and providing feedback.
- Finding compliance issues based on local, state, or federal codes.
- Handing out home movers licenses when satisfied with the all-round quality of workmanship in a new construction or a repaired property.
- Providing approvals and suggestions for modifications and repairs.
- Visiting construction sites to inspect elements like building location and elevation.
The Process of Becoming a Home and Building Inspector
Check The Licensing Requirements in Your State of Residence
The first step to becoming a home and building inspector is to confirm the licensing requirements in your state of residence. Why? Because there is no countrywide standard for home and building inspectors. While you don’t need a license in some states, most of them require you to complete between 70 to 200 hours of coursework and do an exam.
Some states require you to complete an additional 12 hours to 12 months of on-the-job training under the tutelage of an experienced home and building inspector. For instance, in the state of Alabama, you must have at least 180 hours of pre-licensure coursework, sit for an examination, and at least 35 hours of on-the-job training.
Study Suitable Courses
Although not all states require home and building inspectors to have licenses, you should take classes and learn as much as you can about what home and building inspection entail. If your state of residence requires inspectors to have a license, you must complete the necessary coursework in the provided time frame. Most institutions that offer home and building inspector classes have in-class and distance learning options.
Some of the topics you need to have proficiency in include:
- Best business practices
- Code of ethics and standards of practice
- Home and building construction
- Home and building systems
- Risk management for home and building inspectors
If you want an online home and building inspector course, check options such as AHIT (American Home Inspectors Training). This is an online course that covers all aspects of home and building inspection, which is reasonable considering its flexibility.
Pass The Home and Building Inspector Examination
Like coursework, not all US states require you to sit for and pass an exam before you can become a home and building inspector. However, if this is a requirement, the next thing you need to do is pass the home and building inspector exam.
Most US states that require you to take an inspector exam prefer the NHIE (National Home Inspection Exam). This is a four-hour exam comprising 200 multi-choice questions. The cost of the test varies based on your state of residence, but it shouldn’t exceed $299.
To register for the NHIE exam, you’ll need to create an account on the NHIE website to access the scheduling portal. After creating an account, you can book the exam at a center near you and pay the fee directly using your credit or debit card. This exam has a scoring scale between 200 and 800, albeit 500 is the pass point. This high pass point can be a challenge to some people, but you can calm your worries by checking out online home and building inspector exam preparation programs to understand what the NHIE exam expects of you.
If your state doesn’t require an examination, head to the next step. Some states require you to take tests via Pearson Vue or PSI/AMP, national providers of assessments in virtually all industries, including real estate. Pearson Vue and PSI/AMP both offer online exams in centers all around the country, so you just need to look for a center near you.
Select Your Home and Building Inspector Career Path
If and when you pass the NHIE, Pearson Vue, or PSI/AMP home and building inspector exam, there are three career paths you need to consider, namely:
Working for an existing home and building inspection company
Starting your own home and building inspection company
Become a franchisee for an established home and building inspection company
Working for an Existing Home and Building Inspection Company
Working for an existing home and building inspection company is the easiest way to start your career as a home and building inspector. You don’t need to find clients or devise a marketing strategy, albeit this option can limit your net earnings potential. According to the AHIT, in the United States, experienced home and building inspectors earn between $50,000 and $80,000 annually, doing no more than ten home building inspections per week. You can double, triple, or even quadruple this figure when you’re your own boss.
Starting Your Own Home and Building Inspection Company
You can control virtually all aspects of your job by establishing your own home and building inspection company. Your net earnings can only be limited by your ability to find clients and grow your business to new locations. However, there are some considerations to factor in when starting a home and building inspection company, including:
- Business premises construction or leasing costs
- Business and employee insurance
- Marketing costs
- Tools purchase and maintenance costs
- Vehicle purchase and maintenance costs
How Do You Find Clients for Your Home and Building Inspection Company?
The best way to have consistent incomes when you start your home and building inspection company is to have solid relationships with local real estate agents. Some like working with established home and building inspection companies. Convincing them to work with you rather than inspectors with whom they’ve worked with for a long time is difficult but not impossible; you can start by offering free consultations.
Another way to find clients is by showcasing your skills. For instance, if your area has many historic homes, understanding these homes can prove beneficial. Therefore, do your research basing your searches on the type of homes in your area and attend events like home expos to meet prospective clients and network with other industry professionals.
Joining industry associations like the ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) can help propel your career and company to greater heights. This association trains members, provides networking opportunities, and helps them get the necessary licenses.
Also, ensure you maintain contact with real estate agents when they refer clients to you. For instance, you can send them a thank you text, call them or even organize breakfast, lunch, or dinner to help strengthen your working relationship. As a result, when they hear of clients who need home and/or building inspections, you’ll be the first person they call.
Become a Franchisee for an Established Home and Building Inspection Company
When you become a franchisee for an established home and building inspection company, you will be working with a reputable company, albeit you’ll need a storefront. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of becoming a franchisee. The pros include you don’t need to spend cash on advertising since the brand is well known. The cons include high startup costs, including the up-front fees and costs to build a storefront per the company’s standards.
Hone Your Skills
As a home inspector, you need to hone your skills which you can do during your on-the-job training or when you secure employment. Some of the skills you need to hone include:
Attention to Detail
As a home and building inspector, you must be thorough in your work. This skill helps you find any problems that need to be fixed. For instance, you should be able to determine whether or not an electrician messed up when installing an electric heater or if the gutters in an existing home should be repaired or replaced when the house is undergoing renovations.
You should be able to communicate your findings and proposals in various formats. For instance, you should be able to write comprehensive reports, including areas for improvement. You should also be able to communicate with clients, contractors, etc.
As a home and building inspector, you need a wide range of tools to pinpoint areas in a building that need improvement. Being computer literate can help you when using these tools, especially for data recording, interpretation, and analysis.
As a home and building inspector, your job might require you to inspect about ten properties in a week, meaning you need to know how to manage time. Also, you need to be organized, especially when it comes to storing documents containing project details.
As a home and building inspector, you need to be in good shape physically because your job comprises climbing and descending numerous flights of stairs. Also, you might need to climb into an attic to inspect the installation of appliances like HVAC systems, etc.
Get Insurance Coverage
As a home and building inspection company owner or franchisee, you need to get insurance coverage for your business and employees. The two main types of insurance you need are EandO (errors and omissions) and GL (general liability).
Errors and omissions insurance protects your business if a homeowner decides to sue you for failing or not finding problems that result in financial loss. General liability insurance protects your business against claims of damaged or missing components in a property you previously inspected. It will also protect your employees in case of injuries in the workplace.
Never Stop Learning
Even if your state of residence doesn’t mandate ongoing education, it’s a worthwhile investment for home and building inspectors. Why? Because to stay competitive in this field, you must constantly learn new skills. For instance, you can take CE (continuing education) classes and other professional development courses.
Some of the most common CE (continuing education) classes and professional development courses for home and building inspectors include:
CI (Commercial Inspector)
This certification allows home and building inspectors to inspect various elements such as drainage, electrical wiring, foundation, etc. As a result, the inspector can recommend tree care to unblock drainages, repairs for the foundation, etc.
DI (Deck Inspector)
This certification allows typical home and building inspectors to examine the structural integrity of decks upon request by homeowners.
GI (Garage Inspector)
This course teaches home inspectors to find construction breakdowns and/or structural damage in a garage.
MI (Mold Inspector)
This certification helps home and building inspectors find various types of mold in houses and determine whether or not they can affect the structural integrity of a property as well as the wellbeing of the property’s occupants.
DO (Wood Destroying Organisms)
This CE certification teaches home inspectors to pinpoint wood damage in the home due to termites or wood-decaying fungi. From this point, you can advise a homeowner to hire a home pest control company.
In conclusion, if you want to become an inspector, the process is short and doesn’t require you to break the bank. Whether this is something you want to do part-time or full-time, you can do so; just ensure you adhere to your state’s regulations.