So you’re thinking about your job and making a career change. There’s nothing wrong with going in a new direction. And the home inspection business offers a lot of opportunity. But if you’re looking to get into this business, there’s a lot to consider. Here’s my honest home inspector career review.
Who a home inspection career is good for?
Someone who wants to help people on their journey to homeownership. Someone who has good customer service skills and interpersonal communication. You don’t need extroverted necessarily, but you need to feel comfortable talking about a very specific topic. You don’t have to be a great public speaker or anything, just good at the right skills.
Someone who likes variety. It’s a lot of work out in the field, on your feet and moving around. It’s a bit of work at a desk. It also involves a good deal of networking, or at least getting your name out there. Meeting agents and maintaining relationships is a big part of the job, especially in the beginning.
How much can I expect to make?
This all depends on if you go into business for yourself or work for someone else. If you start your own business, the amount of debt you take on and how large do you want to grow are two factors that will affect what your take-home salary will be.
I will tell you that you won’t make what you’re probably expecting. Many people have a home inspection done and think about how much they are paying for the service, do the math, and think that’s how much they can make as a home inspector. That’s not true. There are a lot of costs that go into running this business. Insurance and marketing are two big ones. People don’t really think about that when they’re thinking
What’s a day in the life of a home inspector like? Read our full outline of a typical day here.
There are some other things to consider if you want this career:
Real estate transactions are very time sensitive. And if you are doing the business right, your schedule is usually pretty full so if there’s one day when you can’t get there, you’ve got no place else to move it to because your schedule is full. So you can’t really take a sick day or bow out of an appointment because the weather is bad. (Within reason, of course. We have cancelled when there’s a hurricane or snow that is uncharacteristic for our area. But it causes a lot of scheduling headaches.)
So you’ll need to keep your health up. Because it’s not just not calling out when you don’t feel well. You actually need to feel well. The job is a lot of physical labor and brain power. So it’s not a fun job to have on a day you don’t feel well. Keeping yourself healthy is part of the job.
Home inspection is a good career for someone who …
- likes helping people and has the heart of a teacher
- is curious and investigative
- likes to have fun
- is not afraid to talk with people about what they find. You dont need to make tons of small talk or be the most outgoing, but you need to be able to clearly communicate with clients about home inspection topics
- can thoroughly inspect and report what you see
- is relatively healthy and active – it’s a physical job, you need to be able to move and crawl and climb ladders and stairs. You’ll need good knees and a good back. You have to be able to carry a ladder.
- is comfortable climbing ladders and crawling in confined spaces. No fear of heights or claustrophobia
- is okay with seeing the occasional critter
- comfortable with computers and typing
- has the ability to network
- has good people skills: communication and listening skills. Working with people is a big part of the job.
If any of these things are a real stumbling block for you, then home inspection might not be the best career for you. Here are a few more notes on some of these:
Rats, bugs, and snakes, jumping cricket, frogs, raccoons, opossum. I dont see these things very often, but it does happen. I do see mice in crawl spaces every now and then. But you need to be familiar with wildlife so you know which ones to stay away from. What the footprints look like. If you’re afraid of spiders, educate yourself on what the webs and spiders look like. What their habits are so you know if you’ll see them. Although there are some inspectors who have a healthy fear of snakes and wildlife or confined spaces. So if you’re prone to it, you can certainly make it work for you.
You need to be comfortable with computers and typing. Most people are these days are and there are some ways around typing a lot, like speech to text software, which I use. Computer skills are definitely a must. It’s a plus if you know about internet marketing. That’s one area of the computer that it took me a while to master. Thankfully, I can rely on my daughters to help.
If you’re going to be doing home inspections for yourself, you need to be able to network. Meeting agents and introducing yourselves is part of the business. Starting out, you’ll do a lot of cold calling. These factors are not as important if you’re going to be working for someone else company and you want to be a home inspector and not a business owner. In that case, the company will have someone else who is in charge of marketing and meeting agents.
Getting your name out there is paramount if you’re going into business for yourself. If no one knows who you are or how to get in touch with you, you’re not going to get a lot of work. So you’ve got the be able to let agents know that you know what you’re talking about.
You need to have a fairly thick skin. Buying a home is a very emotional process. People are going to be emotional towards you. So you need to be able to step back and be detached. Your job is to convey the information but do it in a detached way. The idea is to not respond to their emotional state.
Being able to communicate with people in a way they understand is foundational to this job. You’ll need to be able to explain complicated things in a way that’s easy for people to understand, in both speaking and writing. The clients are relying on the words you write and the photos you include in the report to understand the issues with the house. The agents you work with are counting on you to explain things accurately, so that nothing is blow out of proportion due to a communication error.
Plus, you need to be a good listener. You need to be able to understand what someone is asking, even if they dont ask it in the best way possible. Since you are the professional, its on you to bridge the gap in the areas where a client might not understand what to say or how to ask about what they want to know.
You really have to like to help people. This is a hard business. We work really hard. So you really need to like homes and to like people. The things you love about it will propel you to deal with the things you dont. Sometimes having a motivation to help people is the only thing to hold on to. And there will be times when you need something to hold on to. Trust me.
The bigger heart you have for helping people, the easier the work is and the more enjoyment you’ll get out of it.
In this job, you need to be able to carry out your work on your own and get it done on time. There won’t be anyone looking over your shoulder to see if you’re doing the work. On top of not having a boss, you will be working by yourself a lot of the time. So you also need to be okay working alone. If you like to be alone a lot, this is a great job for that.
This job can involve long hours and nights and weekends. If you’re doing two inspections per day, you’ll need to write the reports in the evenings. You need to make sure you’ve got that time available, away from your family.
You need to be an organized thinker. Going through an inspection requires you to think in a certain pattern. You need to be able to follow a progression of steps for an inspection. But you also need to be an investigator and not just a checklist follower. You have to see what each house is outside of a checklist or inspection flow. There will be so many houses where things are done differently than you’ve ever seen. You can’t skip over something just because you don’t find it in the usual spot.
How to know if you’ll like being a home inspector:
Being a home inspector can be very fun, interesting, eye-opening, and eventful. You really don’t know how you’re going to like it. You may like the idea of being a home inspector and helping people. But there’s a lot more that goes into it.
To find out if you’ll like the job, it’s a good idea to shadow someone. Ideally, you should choose a good home inspector with a reputable reputation who’s actively working in the business. Shadow him on a few inspections. That way you can see if it’s something you’re going to like doing. Some people are open to having others shadow them and some are not. If you get a few no’s before you get someone who will help you that’s okay. Some inspectors don’t want to feel like they are training the competition. But others want to give back to the industry and help people who are just staring out. So it’s all about finding the right person to shadow. But make sure it’s a good home inspector with a good reputation. You don’t want to have your first impression of the job put any ideas into your head that aren’t best practices.
Is it right for you?
No one can tell you if home inspection is a good career or not for you. In this article, I’ve tried to give you a lot of thinks to think about, both good and bad. I’ve based my review on everything I’ve experienced in my 13 years. Please let me know if you have any more questions about this topic!