By Nick Gromicko, CMI®, Alan Nguyen, and Kate Tarasenko
Getting started in the home inspection profession can be tricky. How do you get licensed and certified? Should you go to work for a multi-inspector firm, or start your own business? These and many more questions may run through your mind as you decide to start a new chapter in your career. And, as with any other business, gathering as much information as you can upfront will save you time and energy in the long run. In this article, we’ll discuss the steps you need to take to get started, and what you can do to succeed as a home inspector.
Getting Licensed and Certified
The first step in your career as a home inspector is getting licensed or certified to work in your desired service area.
If you live in a state that licenses its home inspectors, you may be required to do the following:
1. Enroll in a home inspector training program.
2. Complete field training with a licensed inspector.
3. Take and pass a state-approved exam.
This list may not represent the full requirements set by your state, and requirements are typically state-specific. We’ve made this process easy for you by listing requirements by state at www.nachi.org/pre.
States that do not require licensing usually recommend that inspectors earn a certification to show that they have undergone some formal training and education. This is to your benefit because it will provide you with the credibility that will help you stand out among your competitors.
After obtaining a license, many inspectors ask, “Should I also get certified?” The answer should always be “Yes!” State licensing represents the bare minimum that you will need to know to conduct business as a home inspector, which puts you in a pool of competitors who all have the same basic qualifications as you do. Getting certified as a CPI with InterNACHI® shows that you are committed to going beyond the minimum to provide better service.
Getting into Business
After obtaining your license and certifications, you will need to consider the next step in your journey: creating your home inspection business. To accomplish this, you should have a clear plan. Some things to consider:
The Cost of Doing Business
One of the initial costs of starting your home inspection business is education. InterNACHI® makes this easy by including all the costs of training and certification with your membership. Other costs may include the licensing fee you pay to your state, insurance to protect your business and clients, office supplies, a dependable vehicle, inspection tools (ladders, gauges, sensors, reporting software, etc.), and marketing. This puts your startup costs in a range between $2,000 to $5,000+
On top of these startup costs, you will also have recurring costs, such as fees for courses (to maintain your license), licensing fees when you renew, maintenance on your vehicle and tools, and insurance. Keep these in mind as you plan your budget.
The Right Price
Inspectors play an important role in real estate transactions by utilizing their training and expertise in uncovering potential defects in homes that can become dangerous, costly, or both. The cost of each inspection can be determined by the size of the property, its age, your travel distance, and other factors. The base fee for an inspection may range from $250 to $700, averaging at $400, but it also depends on your location and the market conditions. Ancillary services, such as a wood-destroying organism inspection or radon testing, may add additional fees you can charge. With more training and certifications, and the use of more specialized equipment, a home inspector can greatly expand his or her earning potential.
To increase your profit margin, you should look for ways to market yourself as effectively as possible. Marketing yourself is key to finding new potential clients, and to build rapport with mortgage lenders and realtors.
The Basics of Marketing
Marketing is a difficult task – there are entire courses and degrees built around getting people to engage with and buy your products and services. Some of the first things to consider in your marketing material include:
InterNACHI® has a team of dedicated marketing and design experts to help you with your business needs, and they can help you get started now.
The Finer Details
There are other things to consider when creating your own business. These may include forming a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC), applying for an EIN for tax purposes, preparing your accounting, creating a business bank account, and setting up a business phone plan.
Your home inspection journey doesn’t end with just completing home inspections. You should always be looking for ways to improve your business and marketing strategy to stay competitive. Part of this includes completing continuing education to renew your license. If you live in a state that regulates home inspection, there may be specific requirements for continuing education that you must complete. Make sure you know these requirements to keep your license in good standing.
Besides continuing education, there are other things that you can do, such as:
Your home inspection business can become as successful as you want it to be, depending on what you put into it, so be proactive and always strive to expand your knowledge and improve your business.
As a member of InterNACHI®, you are provided with a wealth of resources to start and grow your home inspection business. Take advantage of these opportunities and don’t let them go to waste!
Check out all of InterNACHI's free home inspection training