If you’re like most home inspectors, you began your career working from a home office. But there might come a point where you need a little more space. A home office is a great setup that saves you money in those important early years. But if you’ve outgrown the kitchen table or just want a more professional location, here’s how to find and set up a great home inspection office for the first time.
Finding Office Space
An easy way to find an office rental is with the help of a real estate agent. Agents have access to commercial properties, and can pinpoint vacant offices near your home or an area where you prefer. If you don’t want to involve an agent, you’ll need to scout the area on your own. Check online classifieds for office space, and take a drive around to see if you can spot any rental signs.
Because your office isn’t a retail store the needs drive-by traffic, the location isn’t as important. That can save some money on your lease. If possible, choose a 6-month least at first. Entrepreneur says that a shorter lease gives you an out in case you find that you’d rather go back to working from home.
Furnishing Your New Office
Most offices need some similar equipment. Of course, you’ll need a computer, and you’ll also want a printer, scanner and copier or one machine that does all three. A shredder is also a good idea. And although you probably use your cell for work calls, think about investing in an office phone.
As for furniture, you’ll need a sturdy desk, chair, at least one filing cabinet and a storage cabinet. A table and chairs are great for when visitors come in. If you’ll hire a receptionist or secretary right away, that space will also need much of the same equipment and furniture. And don’t forget about a refrigerator, even if it’s a micro-size model. You can find equipment and furniture new at retail office supply stores, but great bargains are found through eBay, Craigslist ads, and classifieds.
Gathering Office Supplies
If you haven’t shopped for office supplies before, you might be surprised to learn how many different varieties are available. For your first-time shopping list, you might need:
- Copy paper
- Printer/copier ink/toner
- Hanging file folders
- Printable folder labels
- Large 3-ring binders
- Hole punch
- Report covers
- Pencil sharpener
- Notepads / legal pads
- Standard envelopes
- Manila envelopes
- Kitchen and restroom supplies, such as cleaners and paper products
- Coffee pot
- Waste can
Getting Business Insurance
You already have some insurance coverage, such as your E&O policy. But when you move into new office, you’ll probably need more. Some of it protects your office furniture, equipment, and supplies. And some protects anyone who might get injured on site. You never know who might trip walking in the door.
Here’s a list of possible insurance coverage that The Hartford recommends for small business owners. Your insurance agent will explain which ones apply to your situation:
- General liability
- Worker’s compensation
- Commercial auto
- Commercial flood
- Commercial umbrella
- Management and professional liability
- Business income/business interruption/business continuation
Be sure to call your city and county to learn about any special business licensing requirements for office spaces. And check with your local cable, Internet and phone providers, as commercial lines are usually billed at different rates.
Once you have all of this in order, you’ll be ready to have the utilities turned on, change your business address, move in and start this exciting new phase of your professional life.
Home inspectors often begin small, and then grow over time. It’s a perfect business to start from home because you don’t really need an office until you want to expand.
If the life of a home inspector sounds like it’s for you, we have the best place to start. The ICA School home inspecting course prepares you for a new career. Enroll now and you can start working toward your new career tomorrow.