Home inspector salaries can vary depending on the going rate in your area, the strength of the real estate market, how much you work, and your skill at marketing your business.
What is more valuable than money to many home inspectors is the ability to set their own hours, be their own boss and avoid being cooped up in an office all day. That being said, you can’t pay the bills with job satisfaction, so the compensation has to be high enough to make the work worthwhile.
PayScale puts the average home inspector salary at $45,256 a year. The low end is $25,000, and the high end is $71,000.
But the reality is, many home inspectors work part-time. They might hold full-time jobs and do the work after hours or they might be retirees or homemakers. So it can be hard to pinpoint a “salary” versus a cost per-inspection.
Some home inspectors seeking to branch out and make more money expand into inspecting commercial buildings. Another option is to become certified as a FEMA disaster inspector.
FEMA Disaster Home Inspectors
FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, responds to all types of natural disasters throughout the U.S. and its territories. These might include hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, earthquakes, and blizzards. Among the agency’s duties is to assess damage to housing and property and provide victims with some reimbursement.
The government contracts with two companies to provide FEMA inspectors: WSP USA Inspection Services (formerly known as PB Disaster Services) and Vanguard EM. Each has a different method of paying its inspectors.
When Vanguard hires inspectors, they are independent contractors, not employees. This means each contractor is responsible for paying their own taxes, including self-employment taxes. Payments will not have any taxes taken out.
Vanguard pays its inspectors per inspection, based on experience. If you have performed 500 FEMA inspections or less, you are in the novice category and will receive $35 per inspection. Those who have inspected between 501 and 2,500 houses get $39 per inspection, and if you have inspected more than that, you get $45 per inspection.
How Much Time Do Inspectors Spend on the Job?
This may not sound like much, but FEMA allows 40 minutes per inspection, and some people estimate inspections take between 15 and 30 minutes. As a home inspector, you might be used to spending two to three hours on a home inspection. But in cases of FEMA disaster inspections, you are mostly only documenting damage.
Vanguard says FEMA home inspectors deployed to disaster areas work an average of 10 hours per day, although the inspectors themselves say it’s often 12. Inspectors are told to expect that most deployments will last for one to two weeks and that inspectors will work every day, but some deployments are longer.
Vanguard estimates inspectors can complete six to 15 homes per day. This can sometimes depend upon how far apart the homes are and the accessibility of the roads.
Therefore, a novice inspector getting $35 per inspection can expect to make between $210 and $525 per day. An intermediate inspector would get between $234 and $585, and an expert would get $270 to $675.
You can compare this to how much you make on an average day in your home inspection business, but remember to factor in the stressful nature of the job and the challenging working conditions. Many FEMA inspectors find the work so rewarding, however, that it outweighs the negatives.
WSP FEMA Inspectors
Home inspectors who become FEMA disaster inspectors through WSP are hired as part-time employees and paid an hourly rate, which includes training and travel time. WSP says new trainees are paid at a lower rate, which increases once they are deployed and start performing inspections. The rate is not published on their site, but Glassdoor puts WSP FEMA inspector pay at $26-$29 per hour. This translates to $260 to $290 per day for a 10-hour day.
Most FEMA inspectors who commented on the Glassdoor and Indeed sites reported that they made between $300 and $400 a day. Most also felt that this was good compensation, although some felt it was too low.
To decide whether applying to become a FEMA inspector is worth your time, consider the following factors:
- Are you likely to pass a background check?
- Are you physically fit and able to navigate challenging locations?
- Are you mentally equipped to deal with the devastation you encounter?
- Will your job allow you to leave for periods of time?
- How much do you make per day now? Is it less or more than a FEMA inspector is likely to make?
WSP pays deployed inspectors’ airfares to the disaster area, plus a per diem rate for hotel stays and meals at the current government rate. Mileage is paid at the IRS rate, but the cost of a rental car is not covered. If you use the WSP-approved car-rental company, insurance is covered. Remember that in a disaster area, gas prices can sometimes soar, so keep this in mind when you’re tracking expenses.
Vanguard offers some expense reimbursement to FEMA inspectors. The rules are outlined in a 12-page document and they depend on a complex series of circumstances.
How Becoming a FEMA Inspector Can Help Your Career
Doing only one deployment with FEMA might be more beneficial to your business than you think. Every certification you earn should go on your website and your business cards. You probably have ASHI on there, and few of your customers are likely to have ever heard of that, but all of them have probably heard of FEMA. If you are certified to respond in a disaster situation, customers will respect this.
Further, you will have some interesting stories to tell and you will build a better rapport with your clients.
Although home inspector salaries can vary based on the market and your location, many inspectors truly love the work and wouldn’t give it up. Applying to become a FEMA disaster inspector only expands your knowledge base and contributes to your value in the field of home inspection.
For more information about becoming a home inspector, check out our website today!