The real estate market has seen a boom in recent years, with an incredible $6.12 million in sales of existing homes in the United States in 2021. There’s an increasing need and demand for qualified home inspectors. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), approximately 77% of all potential home buyers get an inspection before they make an offer and close the sale. If you’re interested in starting your own home inspection business, the median pay for this profession is above $62,000 per year, or $29.63 per hour, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Home inspectors in the top 10% made over $97,000 annually, and those in the lowest 10% earned less than $35,000 annually.
If starting a home inspection business is something that interests you, then your goal is most likely to build a successful business that thrives. However, according to the professional home inspector and educator Dan Bowers, approximately 60% of his students either failed to start a company or were no longer in business, even after completing a thorough home inspector training program. Bowers said that many new home inspectors simply “aren’t prepared for the harsh reality of building a business from scratch.” Even if you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of starting a business, you can still succeed as an independent home inspector. This guide provides you with a list of 11 key steps for starting a home inspection business, so read on to learn more.
1. Develop a business plan
Before you start a home inspection business, you’ll need to come up with a clear business plan. Your business plan serves as a roadmap for your new company and should include clear outlines regarding the goals of your enterprise and how you plan to reach them. The business plan should also mention a timeline you’d like to meet regarding when your business will start operating. Don’t forget to include details like the products and services you plan to offer, marketing ideas, and a basic sales plan.
Be sure to note your projected expenses and income. Jot down some ideas about how you plan to finance the operation. This step is crucial to help you determine how to cover startup costs in case you need to apply for a loan. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has helpful information and resources to help you come up with a business plan, as well as tips for creating and calculating your startup costs and expenses.
2. Determine your business structure
Every business, including a home inspection business, must form a legal entity. Start by choosing a name for your business, then submit the required fees and paperwork to your specific Secretary of State’s office. When you form a legal entity, it creates safeguards that protect your business from various legal problems. Before you decide which business structure is best for you, speak to an attorney specializing in small business startups to help you make the right selection.
Here are some examples of different business structures to consider:
As the name implies, a sole proprietorship has only one owner. This unincorporated business is the best option if you’re planning to run the business yourself without additional partners or employees. All your business assets and liabilities are the same as your personal assets and liabilities. You’ll be liable for all debts and obligations associated with your business in a sole proprietorship.
Limited liability company (LLC)
If you form an LLC, you’re protected from responsibility for your debts and/or liabilities. For example, if your home inspection business faces a lawsuit or goes bankrupt, your assets are protected. You won’t need to pay corporate taxes as an LLC, but you will need to pay self-employment taxes.
Also referred to as a C corp., this business structure is separate from the owners. Corporations provide the most extensive protection from personal liability, but they cost a lot more than other business structures. You’ll also need to maintain more detailed record-keeping and provide more thorough expense/income reporting as a corporation.
A partnership is the best business structure if you’re planning to own a home inspection business with one or more people. Limited Partnerships (LP) and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP) are the two most common types of partnerships. In a limited partnership, there’s one general partner with unlimited liability, and all other partners have limited liability. In a limited liability partnership, every owner has limited liability, and each partner is protected from debts against the partnership. This option works best for businesses with several owners and can work well if you don’t need to test your business before forming a company.
3. Create a business bank account
Once you have a business plan, create a name, and determine your business structure, you’ll need to open an official business bank account. This step is essential since it will help you organize and track your expenses, keeping everything separate from your personal account. Having your business information at your fingertips will also save you a lot of time when you file your annual income tax return.
4. Get the required permits and licenses
You’ll need to obtain some licenses and permits before you can perform any home inspections. Home inspectors aren’t regulated in some states, like California and Colorado. In other states
like Texas and Florida, home inspectors are required to have formal training and get special licenses to do business in the state. Read our article regarding home inspector licensing
requirements by state to get an idea of where to begin before you contact your state’s license and permit-issuing authorities.
5. Obtain general liability and errors and omissions insurance
While not every state requires home inspectors to get liability and errors and omissions insurance, it’s still a good idea to get both types of policies. Having a good insurance plan could protect you from legal trouble if something were to go wrong during or after a home inspection that you perform.
General liability insurance
This specific type of insurance protects you from claims of property damage and/or personal injury to your customers. Many home inspectors must provide proof of general liability insurance before inspecting a property.
Errors and omissions insurance
An errors and omissions insurance plan protects home inspectors if a client files a
claim or a lawsuit based on damages caused by “errors or omissions” during the home inspection. This form of insurance will cover things like legal fees and any third-party financial losses. Some states require home inspectors to have this type of insurance, while others don’t.
Other types of insurance
Consider getting property and automobile insurance for your home inspection business. You’ll need a vehicle to get to your clients and office space to conduct business and store your tools and equipment.
6. Invest in vital home inspection tools
As you think about how to start your own home inspection business, don’t forget to invest in some vital tools that will help you get the job done right. Most of these tools can be purchased online or at most retail home improvement stores. Here are some of the most common home inspection tools you’ll need to perform your duties:
- Telescoping ladder to help reach high areas
- A high-resolution digital camera so you can take photos and include them in your reports
- A quality moisture meter to help detect possible leaks or water damage
- Screwdriver set or a screwdriver with several different bits to open vents and power outlets
- A pointed awl to probe into rotted or deteriorating wood
- Safety equipment such as gloves, a face mask, and goggles for protection
- A durable tape measure that can measure a minimum of 25 feet
- A reliable flashlight to inspect dark areas of a property like an attic, basement, or crawlspace
- An outlet tester to test that all outlets are working
- A four-foot level to measure walls, ceilings, appliances, and carpentry work
7. Invest in software for your business
Every successful business needs quality software to help its operations run smoothly. ISN
is a specialized home inspection software that helps you simplify and organize your daily tasks. This intuitive platform has key features like payment collection, information storage, messaging, and calendar management. You can sign up for a free 30-day trial to give ISN a try and explore the many features it has to offer.
8. Examine the competition
Take some time to research your competition and find out who the top home inspectors and home inspection companies are near you and what type of services they provide. When you start, you’ll need to be patient as you begin to build clientele. Looking into the competition gives you a better understanding of what prices to charge your customers and what types of
services you can provide. Look for things your competitors are leaving out, then include those for your business to help you stand apart from the crowd and gain new customers.
9. Focus on your brand
Creating a brand is the best way to represent your business and to ensure customers remember you. Branding is one of the best marketing tools available and helps you stand apart from the competition. With the right branding, you can clearly communicate what you have to offer. Your brand and logo should remain consistent across your home inspection website, social media accounts, and email signatures.
Find a niche
Think about how your home inspection company can provide something new and different to customers. By choosing a niche like radon, mold, or asbestos testing, you’re offering something that others might not. Keep in mind that these services usually require a separate license. You can also focus on providing inspections for foreclosed properties and/or new construction homes. Over time, you’ll be an expert in these areas, which will help you gain traction in your local market.
10. Market your business
Effective marketing is the best way to reach potential customers, so dedicate some time to developing a good marketing plan. You can also hire a part-time marketer, freelancer or a home services marketing agency to work on your website and graphics.
Here are some areas to focus your marketing efforts:
- Create a memorable business name
- Develop and launch a professional website
- Work on social media marketing
- Find the best methods of paid advertising
- Set up a Google business profile
11. Focus on networking
One of the most vital ways to grow your home inspection business is to start networking. Smart business owners connect with other professionals in and outside their industry.
Build relationships with local real estate agents
Real estate agents work with a wide range of clients in your local area, so building a solid relationship with them is a great way to grow your business. Introduce yourself to a few agents near you and tell them about your services. Consider offering a referral discount they can pass on to their clients.
Attend local business events
If you’re looking for new ways to make solid connections, find local events where you can meet people face-to-face. Look for conventions, trade shows, and other business-related events near you and attend as many as possible. Over time, you’ll become a familiar face and the first person they think of when they need a home inspection or want to refer someone. You’ll also stay in the know about recent trends while establishing your business and meeting others in your industry.
Partner with real estate syndicators
Real estate syndicatorspool their money together to purchase large properties, taking part in real estate investment with others instead of individually. The percentage of ownership goes to syndicators in the form of equity units or shares. Getting professional property inspections is a key part of the acquisition process, so it’s worth looking into networking with these professionals.
Starting a successful home inspection business takes know-how, patience, and time. With the right tools and tips, you can get off to a good start and begin building your client base. Keep these 11 steps in mind and start growing a thriving home inspection business of your own.