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  1. #1
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    Default Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    With business being at a near flatline right now, I was wondering what some of you are doing to make ends meet, especially if your HI business is your primary source of income. I know some guys in my local chapter have picked up their tool belts and are out swinging their hammers in between inspections.

    I am very fortunate in that my wife has a full time teaching position that provides us with great benefits. I know how lucky I am.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    There's not much to do.... everything is at a virtual stand still right now.

    I've heard some of the HIs around here have gone back to swinging hammers but it kind of makes me wonder how successful that is. It seems all the guys swinging hammers are out of work so how is it an HI can just decide one day to go start and find work.


  3. #3
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    Chicago, IL
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    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    I'm in the same situation, my wife has a corporate job with excellent (though expensive) health benefits, every day that I pick her up from the train and she still has a job is a good day.

    At the moment I stay busy when I'm not working at HI: we have income property and I have a long, long list of projects to take care of there, large and small - that doesn't make money, but in many cases it is money would be paying somebody else if I was too busy to do it. We we live a pretty low-key lifestyle, and with the income from the buildings we just about break even on all of our housing expenses including taxes and property insurance, but for sure it would be back to rice and beans again (which is where we started out, 30 years ago) if she lost her job, my home inspection business stays at its current depressed level, and we were unwilling (as we have always is been so far) to dip into savings for current living expenses.

    We've got about three years ago until COBRA would carry us both to the Medicare if that insurance disappears, and though I'm not anxious to get that old any sooner than we have too, we will both breathe a lot easier once we get there and/or some program becomes available the guarantees access to coverage coverage (my wife has had cancer, so it's almost impossible to insurer on an individual policy, even if that meant paying out of pocket both her own and her employer's contribution.

    IMO, a lot of people don't appreciate the fact that access to health insurance is the biggest barrier to entrepreneurial effort in this country; far more of a barrier, IMO, than government regulation or taxes - even if you and perhaps your spouse or partner are willing to go without insurance against catastrophic medical costs for a few years to start a business or when times are hard, it's pretty difficult to convince yourself that that's a fair thing to do to your children as well, so the joker at the bottom of this house of cards that is self-employment or running a small business is health insurance.

    Listening to Obama on Meet the Press Saturday it was pretty pretty clear to me what's the first sacrifice I'm going to be expected to make: I'm going to have to continue to pay my current interest rates on our long-term fixed rate mortgage (which we responsibly obtained in an amount for which we could easily pay) in order to bail out the people who got option loans and payed nothing but the option payment. (Speaking about the socially and economic effects of foreclosure on neighborhoods:"When your neighbor's house is on fire you aren't worried about whether or not they were smoking in bed, you're worried about whether the fire is going to spread your house").

    And if that's how it's going to be, what I'm asking for in return is the ability to obtain the same kind of insurance my wife gets her work if we are willing to pay it.

    To me it's just nuts that for people like my wife - who has lived a healthy lifestyle and work hard every day of her life since high school - access to insurance depends on whether or not her company decides tomorrow to start weeding out people over 50 matter how hard they work or how good a job they do

    No other first world country operates this way: ask anybody who lives in Canada, or Holland, or France, or Germany - or even the UK - if their health care system could be better and they'll say "of course", but ask them if they would prefer to live under an American-style system with its threat of medically induced bankruptcy due to circumstances utterly beyond your control, and they will laugh in your face if they believe it's a serious question.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 12-08-2008 at 02:45 PM.
    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  4. #4
    Bob Spermo's Avatar
    Bob Spermo Guest

    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Nick,

    I do not depend on my HI income as both my wife and I are retired military officers that have excellent retirement income and benefits. That being said I do like to stay busy with my HI business. I branched out by becoming an approved RESNET Energy and Energy Star rater (not cheap!). I now have clients that I do Energy Star certifications for at $.20 to $.25 a sq/ft. I also do energy aufits on existing houses. I also do insurance "inspections". While they are incredibly easy they do not pay much so you need at least 10 a day in close proximity to make any money. Hop yhis helps!


  5. #5
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    I'm in the same situation, my wife has a corporate job with excellent (though expensive) health benefits, every day that I pick her up from the train and she still has a job is a good day.

    At the moment I stay busy when I'm not working at HI: we have income property and I have a long, long list of projects to take care of there, large and small - that doesn't make money, but in many cases it is money would be paying somebody else if I was too busy to do it. We we live a pretty low-key lifestyle, and with the income from the buildings we just about break even on all of our housing expenses including taxes and property insurance, but for sure it would be back to rice and beans again (which is where we started out, 30 years ago) if she lost her job, my home inspection business stays at its current depressed level, and we were unwilling (as we have always is been so far) to dip into savings for current living expenses.

    We've got about three years ago until COBRA would carry us both to the Medicare if that insurance disappears, and though I'm not anxious to get that old any sooner than we have too, we will both breathe a lot easier once we get there and/or some program becomes available the guarantees access to coverage coverage (my wife has had cancer, so it's almost impossible to insurer on an individual policy, even if that meant paying out of pocket both her own and her employer's contribution.

    IMO, a lot of people don't appreciate the fact that access to health insurance is the biggest barrier to entrepreneurial effort in this country; far more of a barrier, IMO, than government regulation or taxes - even if you and perhaps your spouse or partner are willing to go without insurance against catastrophic medical costs for a few years to start a business or when times are hard, it's pretty difficult to convince yourself that that's a fair thing to do to your children as well, so the joker at the bottom of this house of cards that is self-employment or running a small business is health insurance.

    Listening to Obama on Meet the Press Saturday it was pretty pretty clear to me what's the first sacrifice I'm going to be expected to make: I'm going to have to continue to pay my current interest rates on our long-term fixed rate mortgage (which we responsibly obtained in an amount for which we could easily pay) in order to bail out the people who got option loans and payed nothing but the option payment. (Speaking about the socially and economic effects of foreclosure on neighborhoods:"When your neighbor's house is on fire you aren't worried about whether or not they were smoking in bed, you're worried about whether the fire is going to spread your house").

    And if that's how it's going to be, what I'm asking for in return is the ability to obtain the same kind of insurance my wife gets at work gets at her work if we are willing to pay it.

    To me it's just nuts that for people like my wife - who has lived a healthy lifestyle and work hard every day of her life since high school - access to insurance depends on whether or not her company decides tomorrow to start weeding out people over 50 matter how hard they work or how good a job they do

    No other first world country operates this way: ask anybody who lives in Canada, or Holland, or France, or Germany - or even the UK - if their health care system could be better and they'll say "of course", but ask them if they would prefer to live under the American-style with its threat of medically induced bankruptcy due to circumstances utterly beyond your control, and they will laugh in your face if they believe it's a serious question.

    How do you think we should our Doctors make under this new plan?

    Best

    Ron


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Rockwall Texas
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    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Ever hear about saving for those rainy days?
    I have always paid myself first by taking 10% of my income and put it in to my "rainy day fund" for times as such. Put it in the savings and forgot about it. Do this before you do anything else.

    Business although is still steady here. I did 37 HI's in November so it was not so bad.

    I heard that mortgage applications are up 112% currently compared to last year. If that 4.5% interest rates finalizes we're going to be jumping through hoops again like it is spring time.

    Personally, this is a great time to buy and I think many people are just sitting on the fence waiting to see how low prices may drop. Usually though if you wait too long you miss out.

    Same thing goes for the stock market.

    rick


  7. #7
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Trivia:

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    Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress.... But then I repeat myself.
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    I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
    (Winston Churchill)

    Best

    Ron


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Ron,

    IMO, my primary care physician should make more a bit more than he likely does, around 180-200K looks about right to me. OTOH, the specialist who recently charged me $450 for 15 minutes of his time is IMO overpaid.

    And there is no "market solution", on the one hand you have to have some system to establish and police minimum standards, but on the other that means that you are inevitably regulating entry to the profession, which means that market mechanisms are not setting prices.

    My approach would be two-fold to start: fund the cost of a medical education with government loans which are forgiven at rate of 5% a year for each year as as an active clinician, and untangle the morass of paperwork that more than anything else I know of drives doctors from the profession.

    This is no panacea, there is still the problem that medical care must be rationed, either explicitly (as in most of Europe) or implicitly, as is done here.

    But at least the medical schools would be full of people who want to be doctors, not "medical administrators" for insurance companies.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  9. #9
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    Ron,

    IMO, my primary care physician should make more a bit more than he likely does, around 180-200K looks about right to me. OTOH, the specialist who recently charged me $450 for 15 minutes of his time is IMO overpaid.

    And there is no "market solution", on the one hand you have to have some system to establish and police minimum standards, but on the other that means that you are inevitably regulating entry to the profession, which means that market mechanisms are not setting prices.

    My approach would be two-fold to start: fund the cost of a medical education with government loans which are forgiven at rate of 5% a year for each year as as an active clinician, and untangle the morass of paperwork that more than anything else I know of drives doctors from the profession.

    This is no panacea, there is still the problem that medical care must be rationed, either explicitly (as in most of Europe) or implicitly, as is done here.

    But at least the medical schools would be full of people who want to be doctors, not "medical administrators" for insurance companies.
    Michael

    Do to all the down markets in home sales and the HI Market. Do think that we should have the state or fed. step in and set the price that a HI can charge for and inspection?

    I charge sometimes as much $ 2,000 for a days work. Do you think im over charging?

    Best

    Ron
    Inspection administrator for me...

    Last edited by Ron Bibler; 12-08-2008 at 03:54 PM.

  10. #10
    Kevin Luce's Avatar
    Kevin Luce Guest

    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    Business although is still steady here. I did 37 HI's in November so it was not so bad.
    $300.00 x 37=11,100 a month, $133,200 a year, and that is "not so bad" for you? The majority of the home inspectors out there didn't make that much when there were plenty of HI jobs out there. $50,000 to $90,000 was the average. You're saying that 37 jobs which can equal $133,200 is not bad. wow!


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Orlando, FL
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    1,339

    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    Ever hear about saving for those rainy days?

    rick

    Rainy days?? how about rainy months or years? Many areas are extremely depressed in terms of real estate sales, with no hope of just hangin' on month, after month, after month, after....


  12. #12
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    The sad news is that if you are down and have no work. you may need to move to an area that has work. or take a job some place. the 1930 were no fun. but prople got by did not have much but got by.

    The good news is that this is America and you can still be and do any thing you want. So get up1 get out! and do! And be!

    Don't look for a hand out. because there is not hand out .

    just work out.

    Best

    Ron


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
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    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    If I did 37 inspections in 2 months in this market, I'd be pretty happy.


  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Philadelphia PA
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    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    If I did 37 inspections in 2 months in this market, I'd be pretty happy.
    Stop complaining. I found myself in a Dollar Tree the other day. Yeesh.


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    If I did 37 inspections in 2 months in this market, I'd be pretty happy.
    The last few years I was inspecting I was averaging 50-75 inspections PER YEAR ... and made more than that.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  16. #16
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    [quote=Rick Hurst;

    I did 37 HI's in November so it was not so bad.

    rick[/quote]

    OK Rick you hit post with the big 37. any body got a better hand.

    I hit a 23

    Time to show:

    Best

    Ron


  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Rockwall Texas
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    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Ron,

    I lost one this afternoon for tommorow though.

    Husband calls me and tells me he had a guy that could perform the inspection and use a zip level on the foundation, do a inspection with a infra-red camera, and do the termite for only 200. on a 2500 sq. ft. home.

    I told him to have the other inspector call me and he could work for me and I'd set at home and still make a profit.

    How in the world can you do all that for 200.00? He also said the guy said it would take at least 1.5 hrs. to do the inspection.

    So tomm. I'm working on the honey do list I have. Maybe I'll put up some Christmas lights.


  18. #18
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Say Rick did you help that last guy put up the light

    The Wife did ours...

    Ho. Ho. Ho. to all.

    Best

    Ron

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  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Knoxville, TN
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    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    This year has been pretty bad for me too. I'm down more inspections than I would care to think about. What is getting us through this tough time is the basic fact of living on less than you make, and setting budgets.

    I have been a follower of Dave Ramsey for almost 10 years. Having little or no debt, and a nice savings is helping a lot. We have been taking money out of savings, not paying ourselves a salary some weeks, and not buying anything that isn't necessary. I'm just very thankful we have the savings to pull from.


  20. #20
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Your a smart man Jack... My wife and paid everything off some years back just have the house and one new truck. I only need about 15 Inspection a month and i do very well. 13 years back i did Home Inspection and then stop doing them.

    I just added the Home Inspection back to my Termite inspection co. and the thermal Imaging co.

    At one point 4 years back i was doing over 80 Termite inspection a month.
    that was a lot of work.

    But now with the termite Inspection the Home inspection and the Thermal Imaging I don't need a lot of inspection each month.

    Small fish in a big pond.

    Best

    Ron


  21. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Chicago IL
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    1,984

    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    HI is way down of course. The following types of insp help fill the gap for me.
    - Problem evaluation type inspections; "We have this problem in our house and can't figure out why or what to do about it".
    - Condo damage insp; clients unit gets damaged by water; Unit owners above and association claim, "not us"; client hits brickwall until he has my report to hand over.
    - construction/rehab in progress evaluations; Is contractor screwing us or doing a good job?
    - REO of course
    - rental unit condition verifications; few these days, cheap but helps with name recognition for other stuff
    Essentially all comes under 'consulting'. Often times people have a building related problem and just need someone to give them good info and guidance. Bill is usually about the same as an HI and the clients are happy.
    Hope this helps. Markus

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Oklahoma City
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    356

    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Thats it, I'm moving to Texas. I only did 23 in Nov which is the worst since I started in 02. But I have a biz partner, so cut that in half. Living on savings and credit right now. We usually do around between 450 and 500 per year and I am only on 410 today. We were on track for the normal year until Sept and it has stunk since then. On second thought, I don't think I could take it living in Longhorn country. I guess I better find a way to get more work.

    If it weren't for lawyers, we would never need them.

  23. #23
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    The best thing one can do is add to your inspection list from the calls that come in. this is what i have done and its working very good for me.

    The people i work with no me and like what i do.

    Look at each project as see where the holes are.

    Best

    Ron


  24. #24
    Kevin Luce's Avatar
    Kevin Luce Guest

    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Stop complaining. I found myself in a Dollar Tree the other day. Yeesh.
    When I was there, I asked if they had layaway.

    They do not.


  25. #25
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Luce View Post
    When I was there, I asked if they had layaway.

    They do not.

    Thats Funny Dude...

    Best

    Ron


  26. #26
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Bombardiere View Post
    Thats it, I'm moving to Texas. I only did 23 in Nov which is the worst since I started in 02. But I have a biz partner, so cut that in half. Living on savings and credit right now. We usually do around between 450 and 500 per year and I am only on 410 today. We were on track for the normal year until Sept and it has stunk since then. On second thought, I don't think I could take it living in Longhorn country. I guess I better find a way to get more work.

    Not questioning but just curious. If you are doing less than 10 a week why would one have a business partner. I can do 2 a day and still have Saturday and Sunday off. Not that I do 2 a day. As a matter of fact I only did in the upper teens last month and the month before per week.

    I am assuming that OK has the same type homes as TX. I would be wallowing around in over 125,000 a year at just my base inspection price, never mind the 3, 4, 500 plus per. At 300 per it would be 150 a year. I could live with that quite well.

    Just curious thats all. Not trying to bud in or anything. Of course I only started in Texas when I moved here 4 years ago.


  27. #27
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
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    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    My draw inspection business has helped me from taking a part-time job. I do not only residental by commercial draws and this is how I have been making it. This has been a good week however. I have booked six inspections for he week and all are good size homes. This will be the most in one week that I have done for about the past six months.

    I counted 163 inspectors in my state that have not renewed their license. And we are in our first renewal period, they started in June. I'm guessing that we will have around 300+ that don't renew their license by June of 2009.

    The inspectors that depended strictly on Realtor referrals are the ones that are hurting the most, and that would be most of the newer and franchise folks.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  28. #28
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: Making Ends Meet In a Dead Market

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    My draw inspection business has helped me from taking a part-time job. I do not only residental by commercial draws and this is how I have been making it. This has been a good week however. I have booked six inspections for he week and all are good size homes. This will be the most in one week that I have done for about the past six months.

    I counted 163 inspectors in my state that have not renewed their license. And we are in our first renewal period, they started in June. I'm guessing that we will have around 300+ that don't renew their license by June of 2009.

    The inspectors that depended strictly on Realtor referrals are the ones that are hurting the most, and that would be most of the newer and franchise folks.
    Thnaks for the info sometime back Scott about web sites. I put my site together and drop the yellow pages that i was spending 5K a year on. The web site has been a big help.

    Best

    Ron


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