If you are seeking a new position that allows you to work independently without being stuck in an office, you might consider becoming a home inspector. Read on to learn more about this important role, and what’s required to pursue a career in the home-inspection field.
A home inspector conducts complete examinations of residential properties to determine their condition and safety, and to identify any structural or mechanical problems. Each inspection will involve examining the entire structure of a home; the exterior and interior finishes; the plumbing, electrical and heating/cooling systems; and outside drainage systems and landscaping.
An inspector is also responsible for determining if various aspects of the property meet current local codes.
Working as a home inspector requires a lot of physical activity including:
Walking around the exterior of homes
Carrying and using ladders and hand tools
Walking on roofs
Walking, standing, crouching, climbing stairs inside homes
Moving around cramped areas such as attics and crawl spaces
Working overhead (such as testing light fixtures)
Once an inspection is finished, the inspector completes and submits a report – a way of properly documenting what was found and divulging any issues of concern. That report will help the inspector’s client determine the current condition and value of the home.
Report contents can vary, depending on each situation. However, a typical report may include a short executive summary, a description of the property, a summary of conditions found, locations and causes of unsatisfactory conditions, implications of those conditions, life expectancy of various materials, where and when maintenance is required, priorities to be addressed, and other recommended actions, if needed. Visuals also help convey information, so many inspectors will also include photos and a floor plan in each report.
These types of reports are invaluable to clients who plan to purchase, sell or help finance a property.
This line of work has a lot going for it:
You’re providing a valuable service to home buyers and sellers, realtors and bankers – Your reports give them the information they require to make well-informed financial decisions.
Home inspections are always in demand, as part of the buying/selling process – This includes inspections of foreclosed and repossessed homes. Plus, in many areas, professional inspections are legally required for property transactions.
You can work independently – That’s a plus if you prefer to be self-employed.
This profession offers high income potential – Cha-ching. That aspect alone may be enough to make a career move worthwhile.
The median pay is $61,640 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet, you could possibly earn more than that. In fact, Salary.com reports that the typical home inspector salary range falls between $65,849 and $86,377. (Be aware that salary ranges can vary widely, though, depending on some important factors, including your education, qualifications, experience and location.)
You may have more control over your earnings if you choose to be self-employed, as opposed to working for a home-inspection company.
Here’s the good news: you do not need a college degree or an extensive construction background to perform home inspections.
However, your state may require that you have a certain license in order to perform home inspections. If that’s the case, then you’ll need to look into pre-licensing requirements. Those requirements may include completing specific coursework, passing a licensing exam, and applying for your license. Some states also require a specific number of training hours to qualify.
If your state does not have strict licensing requirements, home-inspection coursework can still be invaluable for gaining the knowledge you need to be a professional inspector.
A certification, while not necessary, adds extra assurance that your services are first-rate.
If you want to promote yourself as a certified home inspector, check out the certification program offered by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI).
Communication Skills – The ability to explain your findings to a customer, both verbally and in written form
Problem-solving Skills – Understanding how to recommend solutions for any problems you find
Organizational Skills – Being in charge of your own scheduling, marketing, invoicing, etc.
Customer-service Skills – Knowing how to schedule and conduct appointments, and answer questions
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Inspection Skills – Knowing how to identify and test for potential IAQ issues
You may find it helpful to have:
A camera for documentation
An LED flashlight and a backup battery
A telescoping mirror for examining tight spaces
Different types of ladders
A toolbelt or a vest with multiple pockets
Safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes
Sturdy shoes or boots with good traction
One other tool that can come in handy is a floor plan app. A high-quality app will allow you to create floor-plan sketches quickly and easily with your mobile device. And if the app has a reporting function, that’s even better. That means you can create a floor plan as the basis for your report, then insert information, add photos for clarity, and submit your report before you walk out the door. Providing a report on the spot can really impress your customers!
Yes, you will need:
A trustworthy smartphone with a data plan
Any beneficial mobile apps
A computer or tablet with helpful software for administrative work
Ongoing costs will include:
License renewals required by your state
Continuing education, if desired or required
Becoming a qualified home inspector may seem somewhat challenging. However, the career path that follows can be very rewarding. You may be well-suited for pursuing this profession if you are keen on acquiring in-depth knowledge of residential construction, you have the ability and patience to observe details and recognize costly or dangerous conditions, and you can communicate your findings along with specific recommendations.
Or read our guide on why you should be adding Indoor Air Quality Inspections to your menu of services.
Head of Product & Marketing