How to Become a Home Inspector

In response to a flood of inquiries about getting into the home inspection business, we offer the following information and encourage you to join ASHI and ASHI® New England as an associate.

For information on becoming an ASHI ® New England member, refer to our How to Join page. For information on becoming a member of the national organization of ASHI, visit the national organization's website. Please note that you must be a member of the national organization before becoming a member of ASHI® New England.

  Home Inspection Opportunities

Ever since home inspection first came on the real estate scene in the mid-1970s, consumer demand for the service has been growing rapidly. Home inspection is a young and growing professional consulting service aimed at helping homebuyers make the biggest financial decision of their lives. The consumer movement has spawned a new breed of savvy and demanding buyers who want to know all they can about their potential homes before making their final decisions.

While the numbers continue to grow, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) estimates that 77 percent of the homes sold in the United States and Canada today are inspected prior to purchase. This means that the market is still underserved and that the remaining growth potential is considerable.

Even more, home inspectors with talent and ambition can expand their business services to include commercial inspections and expert witness testimony. Radon, lead-based paint, septic systems, private well testing, and indoor air testing are just a few of the services that home inspectors can provide for additional fees. The financial investment and overhead needed to run a home inspection business are small compared to other businesses, making this a lucrative small business opportunity.

  Do you have what it takes to be a successful home inspector?

Are you the kind of person who:

  • Doesn't want to be tied to a desk all day,
  • Has a desire to run a small business,
  • Is interested in construction and how things work,
  • Has a technical mind and likes to figure things out,
  • Is organized and clear-thinking,
  • Enjoys meeting and helping people, and
  • Is willing to learn and take initiative?

If that sounds like you, then now is the perfect time to start taking steps toward a challenging and rewarding career in home inspection!

  How would you define a home inspection?

A home inspection is a documented professional opinion of a home based on a visual evaluation and operational testing of the home systems and components to determine their present condition.

  What does a home inspector do all day?

A typical home inspector spends his or her day inspecting homes for buyers, writing reports, speaking with prospective clients, and marketing.

Let's look at a typical home inspection: A client calls and books an inspection. In many cases, the client has bought the home conditional on the results of a home inspection. When the inspection is booked, the fee is agreed upon set by the home inspector and the client. The inspector may have sent the contract to the client by e-mail or fax detailing the scope of work, often defined by the ASHI Standards of Practice. Most inspectors strongly prefer that the client attend the inspection.

When the inspector and client arrive at the inspection the contract is signed (if this has not been done earlier by fax or e-mail). The inspector explains the process and begins the inspection. An inspection may last from two to four hours under normal circumstances. The inspector looks at the roof and the building exterior, including the garage. Inspectors will explain the findings to the client as they go, describing the building condition and any improvements that may be recommended. The inspection continues inside the home and includes any basement or crawlspace, the living spaces, and any accessible attic or roof spaces. Inspectors frequently offer tips for operating and maintaining the home as they go, (e.g. explaining how to turn off water and power in an emergency, how and when to change furnace filters, etc.).

At the end of the inspection, the inspector and client review the findings. Some inspectors prepare and deliver their written report on site, while other inspectors write the report, based on their field notes, after the inspection. The inspection report is delivered quickly to the client, often within 24 hours, because the real estate transaction hangs in the balance. The client often pays the inspection fee onsite, and it is not unusual for the client to say something like, "That is the best money I have ever spent”. The inspector keeps a copy of the report on file and processes the inspection fee payment, back at the office.

 

How does a home inspection company operate?

Home inspection companies have to be prepared to provide fast customer service. The condition in an offer to purchase a home is often for only two or three days. Good telephone service is important to most inspectors. When not inspecting, inspectors may be dealing with administrative duties, paying bills, and handling all the things that all businesses have to address.

Inspectors may also be marketing in order to build their business. This can take many forms including sending out flyers, writing and placing advertisements, building or updating a Web site, writing technical articles, and building relationships with clients (attorneys, mortgage lenders, title companies, et al.).

Inspectors also spend time updating their knowledge of homes. Professional associations like ASHI require members to earn continuing education credits every year to keep their skills sharp and their knowledge of construction current. Inspectors meet and share experiences with their peers by attending chapter meetings of associations and communicating through discussion forums.

 

Can a home inspector diversify?

Many home inspectors diversify, offering services such as radon testing, termite inspections, swimming pool and spa inspections, well and septic system inspections, home maintenance inspections, troubleshooting inspections for homes with problems, prelisting inspections for homes about to be sold, and inspections of new homes throughout the construction process or at the pre-delivery stage. Some inspectors do lead, asbestos, and carbon monoxide testing; mold inspections; and inspections of commercial buildings. There are a great many opportunities to offer additional services to consumers.

 

So where can I get some help becoming a professional home inspector?

A good first step is to join the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the world's largest association of professional home inspectors. Through ASHI you can get access to terrific educational opportunities including comprehensive distance education and classroom training.

In addition to the training available through ASHI, you will also learn a great deal about the profession by joining your ASHI® New England local chapter and attending meetings. Getting involved is a wonderful way to get your feet wet and learn to avoid the mistakes made by those who have gone before you.
Through ASHI's Web site you can also participate in home inspector discussions and stay in touch with experienced professionals.

ASHI puts you in touch with many products and services for home inspectors. For example, there are several report writing systems you can purchase. Your ASHI membership also gives you access to special discounts, resources, and networking opportunities designed to grow your home inspection business and make you a better home inspector. We invite you to catch up on the latest industry news, contact your state representative, or even get a competitive rate on your health or professional liability insurance.

ASHI's monthly magazine, the ASHI Reporter, is essential reading for members. There are technical articles, industry news, and products and services tailored to home inspection professionals. In addition, ASHI® New England publishes an on-line magazine calledThe Inspector, which keeps a pulse on the latest local developments in the home inspection profession, offers technical articles, and seminar schedules, descriptions, and recaps.

ASHI helps to build your business as well, providing marketing materials for members. These include more than ten consumer brochures and an ASHI publicity kit with press releases that you can modify for your company. There are also videos suitable for real estate professionals and consumers that help people understand the home inspection profession.

ASHI and ASHI® New England also offer continuing education because home inspectors have to continually upgrade their knowledge base to keep pace with our fast-changing world.

Additional help:

Home inspection is a professional consulting business that allows inspectors to work in the field, providing key information at a critical time for consumers who are making the largest purchase of their life.

Home inspection is rewarding because in three or four hours, inspectors can help people make an informed buying decision. A well-executed home inspection combines broad technical knowledge of all house systems with an ability to communicate technical issues in terms that a layperson can understand.

The home inspection business comes with the freedom of setting your own working hours and days. You may choose to grow into a multi-inspector firm, or prefer to operate as a sole practitioner. Either path can work well, with your reward being well compensated for adding considerable value to people's lives at a crucial time.

 

State Requirements for Home Inspectors

Connecticut

Massachusetts

Rhode Island