Pros and cons of being a home inspector

If you’re looking for a unique way to utilize your construction skills, consider becoming a home inspector. Anyone with a background in this area — home renovation, HVAC, electrical work, plumbing work, etc. — will have a good foundation for success in this career. Even if you aren’t knowledgeable in these areas but are interested in them, and also like the idea of being your own boss someday, this is still a direction to think about. 

Pros and Cons of Being a Home Inspector

Like any job, there are multiple factors to consider when determining if this will be a good fit for you. When taking stock of the cons listed below, think about whether or not they apply to you and your situation. If not, you could be left with only positive reasons to go forward with this career path. 

Pros of Being a Home Inspector

  • The education requirements to become an inspector are low intensive. Anyone minimally proficient in technology with good observation skills can learn what it takes to be a successful home inspector and run a profitable business.
  • Many professionals in this field end up starting their own businesses and working for themselves, which means you can be in charge of your own prices, hours, and workload. 
  • The ongoing cost of this business is incredibly minimal. Startup costs like reporting software, the devices you perform your inspection on, and any marketing tools are typically one-time initial fees. If you choose to get a software subscription, this is a yearly expense and so is the annual license renewal that is required in some states. This turns nearly all of the money you make into your personal income.
  • This is considered to be a social career. You will be interacting with realtors and homeowners looking to sell as well as potential home buyers. Your social aptitude can greatly increase the amount of business you bring in. 
  • Certification requirements to become a home inspector vary from state to state but in almost all cases it costs less than obtaining a college degree. One widely accepted certification school, ICA, offers tuition for only $795.  
  • Even the most in-depth certification course will take mere weeks to months to complete. Once you have your certifications, software, and devices to work on, you are free to begin taking on clients and building your reputation as an inspector.

Cons of Being a Home Inspector

  • If you are not interested in starting your own business, working under other inspectors rarely turns into a supportive income since you compete with already established members who likely started with the company. You also give away a percentage from each of your inspections because they are the ones bringing in the clientele. This route is mainly used as a way to gain experience before branching off and becoming a competitor. 
  • Getting the aforementioned experience is sometimes incredibly difficult. Most businesses don’t hire on extra help and are aware they are training their future competitors. 
  • Without the drive to stick with it, starting your own business is not guaranteed success. There could be weeks, even months, of networking and establishing your reputation before gaining a steady stream of appointments. 
  • You are going to spend money before you make money. Tuition costs around $800. Renewing your annual license can cost $175-$300. Reporting software depends on how many inspections you do, but can be anywhere from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars. A device that you need to perform your inspections like a tablet is another few hundred to a thousand dollars. All of these things as well as marketing yourself to drive up business anywhere from $1300-$5000 before you make a penny. 
  • The field is competitive. Without a national or even a consistent state standard of qualifications, you are always up against those who have the time and money to earn more certifications and businesses with more years of experience. Customers need to put a lot of trust into their home inspectors, to report accurately and help them make informed decisions before an important purchase, making new and unknown inspectors difficult to want to hire. 
  • If you are not willing — or are physically unable — to climb on roofs, crawl through attics, or get into crawl spaces you will not be able to give complete reports and fulfill all the duties of this position.  

How to Start a Home Inspection Business

  • Obtain proper licenses and certifications. Not all states require home inspectors to be licensed but even so, you should take a course and show evidence of training to increase your chances of being hired. This list shows what each state requires, any annual fees or applications that need to be made, and even the corresponding sites or locations to file this information. 
  • Set yourself apart. You’ll be competing with other private home inspection businesses, some which have been around for decades, so you need to stand out. One suggested way is to market to the new generation of homeowners that find this process foreign and might not know why inspections are such an important part of buying a home. Other home inspectors obtain additional training and certifications so they can provide services not included in a general inspection such as mold or asbestos testing. 
  • Brand your business and file the paperwork. Choose a name for your business and look online to see that it is not already taken. Now is also a good time to lock down a domain name for a website so you can have that set up down the line. Once you decide that, it’s a good idea to form your business as a legal entity and register with your state early on to avoid any issues down the line. This involves filing paperwork at your local secretary of state office and paying a one-time fee. 
  • Open a business bank account. You need your approved paperwork to open this type of account. It is important that you handle all business-related expenses through this account to make your life easier come tax season. There are also many discounts available when making purchases with a business account or credit card. Your bank advisor will likely have more information about this when you go in to open your account. 
  • Build your toolbox. Using money from your business bank account, begin purchasing the tools you need to be a successful home inspector. Reporting software is a huge one, it will organize your findings and create comprehensive reports that can make or break the quality of your services in the eyes of your customers. An iPad or tablet is another good tool to make logging information while you do your walk-through a breeze. Lastly, business insurance is a recommended safeguard tool to protect yourself from any unforeseen circumstances.
  • Market and get to work. The final step in starting your business is to do some initial marketing so you can drum up a few clients and start gaining experience. Forming a website to refer clients to, asking friends and family to post on social media, and even offering your services for a lower trial cost to local realtors are all good jumping-off points.

If you’re willing to put in the work to build a client base and strong reputation, the benefits outweigh the costs of becoming a home inspector. Research more about your state’s requirements and getting certified to get on the right track.