If you’re thinking about becoming a home inspector, you might believe you have most of the facts about the industry. Then again, you might not. Because virtually everyone has lived in a home of some type, you probably know at least a little about the systems that make up residential property. But the home inspection industry remains rather mysterious. If you’re curious about how to become a home inspector, it’s worth doing some research about the field.
Here are 5 facts that might just surprise you:
#1: Home Inspectors Don’t Need a Background in Construction
This is either a no-brainer or a surprising fact. Home inspectors need training, so it’s safe to assume that you can learn what you need to know without working in the construction industry. But if you’ve never looked into it before now, you might be surprised to learn that many successful home inspectors have never framed a house or run electrical wiring.
Educational programs such as ICA School are designed to teach everything that you need to know to start a home inspection business. You don’t need an engineering degree or a plumbing license. You also don’t need to understand the difference between live load and dead load to identify a structural anomaly that makes a house unsafe. That’s what home inspection courses are for.
Just how long does it take to become a home inspector? The answer might surprise you. The coursework necessary to work in the field can take just a few weeks, depending on your background, experience and current occupation. For many people, two or three months is all it takes to learn, train and start their own home inspecting business.
The relatively low startup costs associated with a new home inspection business are also appealing. Unlike many other professions, aspiring home inspectors don’t need to spend thousands on expensive certification programs. Those wondering how much it costs to become a home inspector will be pleasantly surprised to find that just $695 pays your tuition.
#2: Code Violations Aren’t Necessarily Defects
In construction, code is a very big deal. Not only that, it’s always changing. What was code three years ago might be grounds for failing an electrical inspection today. But code and defects aren’t always the same.
A code violation might make for unsafe conditions, but oftentimes that’s not the case. Houses built in 1990 might be perfectly safe today even though they were built to different standards. Home inspectors look for material defects. They include damage, unsafe workmanship and any other issue that either puts the homeowner at risk of being hurt or becoming ill, or impairs the home’s ability to function as it should.
By alerting clients to code violations, you help ensure they understand the potential risks associated with their purchase. Code violations don’t spell disaster for home buyers, and your understanding of how they impact a homeowner can be incredibly valuable for clients.
#3: Inspections and Appraisals are Different
Why do customers need an inspection if they’ll have an appraisal as part of the sale? Because inspections and appraisals aren’t the same things. The most glaring difference is the customer. Appraisers work for the lender and have their best interest at heart. Home inspectors work for the buyer in most cases, and that’s where their loyalty lies.
Certain gadgety tools and a great vehicle make the job easier, but they’re extras. The differences grow from there. Home inspectors and appraisers both look for damage, but appraisers only try to determine the fair market value of the home. Inspectors look specifically for damage or defects that every buyer should know before committing to a mortgage.
Appraisers keep lenders happy. Home inspectors keep buyers informed. By working with prospective homeowners, you have the opportunity to help people make smart decisions about their future. The inherent desire to help others achieve their dreams of homeownership can go a long way to build your client base.
#4: You Can Go to Work with a Few Basic Tools
There are plenty of gadgets on the market that make home inspections more efficient than they used to be. But in reality, you can probably start a home inspection business with only a few ordinary tools such as a flashlight, an electrical tester and a screwdriver. From there, anything that you add to your arsenal is a bonus.
Home inspectors don’t take things apart, dig into walls, pull up flooring or otherwise deconstruct a house. They inspect what’s visible and accessible. That said, some inspectors go the extra mile. They invest in drones for roof inspections and thermal imaging to pinpoint energy leaks. But you can add those tools over time. They’re not required to start.
Of course, in addition to the physical tools you’ll need to perform home inspections, you’ll also need a certain set of skills to be successful. By working to develop people skills, you’ll find the communication aspects of the job much easier to handle. Home inspectors should also pay close attention to detail, have a strong sense of timeliness and should possess a willingness to help others.
#5: Women are Gaining Traction in Home Inspecting
Most home inspectors are men, but that’s changing. More women enter the field every year and the numbers are expected to grow. As traditional gender roles continue to evolve, the field will become more diverse. Women still face hurdles, but that’s changing, too. For example, inspector Arlene Puentes tells ASHI Reporter that some customers still believe women “don’t know as much about building science as men do.” It might surprise you, but female home inspectors actually have some advantages over their male counterparts. Inspector Miki Mertz says some customers, especially other women, “feel more comfortable talking to a female home inspector.”
Mertz recommends that women learn everything they can about houses, including getting an education and working with a mentor. Puentes says women should follow their bliss. “If it’s right for you, don’t let anyone or anything get in your way.”
Everyone knows a little about homes, but home inspecting usually requires some training. Even in states where licensing isn’t required, training gives inspectors a better foundation so they can enter the industry with an understanding of every home system and defects to watch out for.
If you’re thinking about becoming a home inspector, it’s a great time to begin. With ICA School, you can study at your own pace and earn your certification on your own schedule. Then you’ll be ready for licensing or to go to work in the field. Enroll now and get started today.