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  1. #1
    mike dowell's Avatar
    mike dowell Guest

    Default Looking into getting my license - contstructive input please

    Hi all, I'm new to the forum, not sure how I found it but it must have been while I was searching for info on obtaining an inspectors license.

    I live in MD and I'm in need of a new direction. I'm 33 and married with an 8 year old and a baby on the way and I manage an auto repair shop. I've got a very entrepreneurial sense and I'm very bright. One of the things that has caused me to look seriously at getting licensed, associated, and starting an inspection business is that when it comes to homes, I know a at LEAST a little bit about everything. Many things I know much more about in terms construction, electrical, plumbing, etc. I do all of my own work on my home. I'm the type of person who needs changing scenery from time to time so, I figured running my own inspection business would be a good "fit" for me.

    I don't know a ton about this business and the only experience I have had with any home inspector was with the one who inspected my current house prior to purchase. It immediately dawned on me that my attention to detail would give me an edge. 2 things stood out for me from that experience. The first thing was when the inspector checked off a box that said "no aluminum wiring present in 110volt circuits" as he stood beside the 12ga wire to my furnace switch which read "alumiflex". The other was when he basically checked off about 50 things on his report, signed it, then tore off my copy and asked for the check. I could barely read the report and there was little written or detailed information in it.

    I'm pretty sure I can do better than that. I'm just wondering from anyone who is a self employed inspector, do you generally find this to be interesting and refreshing? What factors influenced your decision to move forward and start this business?

    If anyone has time, can I get some constructive insight on this? I'm mostly sold on the idea but it's $1800 bucks from the local community college to take the 72 hour course and if there are any serious road blocks I need to know about, I'd prefer to learn of them BEFORE forking over the cash.

    Thanks in advance and, sorry for such a long post!

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Knoxville, TN

    Default Re: Looking into getting my license - contstructive input please

    You should probably do a search on this forum and read the previous threads on this subject. It has been discussed at length.

    $1800 for the class is a drop in the bucket compared to what it will take to start up the business and get it going - especially in todays economy.

    Don't take this the wrong way, but when I see a post like yours, I usually skim over the part where they say how they have enough experience to be a good inspector. After all, they can do some home repairs, so the next logical step is being an inspector. Just about every single thread started by someone thinking of getting into the inspection business reads the same. The reason I asked you not to take it wrong, is because when I called ITA about some classes (way back when), I sounded exactly the same.

    Road Blocks.....
    The number of ESTABLISHED home inspectors in your area that you will be competing for jobs with.
    The real estate business in general in this economy. I would say that just about everyone on this forum is significantly down in their business. Have been for a couple years, and the end is not in sight. THIS WILL BE A TOUGH ROAD TO HOE FOR YOU.
    Besides taking the course, there is still a huge learning curve to hurdle by doing inspections. While you may think you will be a good inspector after finishing the 72 hour course (its a 90 hour course in TN), you will have a lot to learn (you just won't grasp how much for a few years).

    I've said this before, but I will repeat it again..
    When you first start out, you will be nervous, and know you have a bunch to learn. After 50 inspections you will look back at the first 10 or so and shake your head about the stuff you missed.
    After you hit 100, you will shake your head about the first 20 or so.
    When you reach 250 (the magic number for me to become a full member of ASHI), you will look back at those first 50 and wonder why you missed some of the things you knew you did.
    Inspecting is a continual learning experience. I don't think any of us think we finally know it all.
    My point is, that in this business environment, it will take much longer to get those first 100 inspections, so your learning curve will be much longer.

    This is a tough business to succeed in, even in a good economy. In this economy, I would have to question your judgement about getting into it.

    That said, good luck with your quest. There are plenty of us here that are willing to offer advice.

  3. #3
    David McGuire's Avatar
    David McGuire Guest

    Default Re: Looking into getting my license - contstructive input please

    Mike $1800 is cheap in todays world. That was cheap even 5 years ago. But your costs won't end there. State certification test and before that insurance. Maybe even local business license fee's depending on where you are.Then you have equipment, including a really well made digital camera and at least 2 flashlights. Never do an inspection with one flash light. It is not any fun being in a dark crawl space or attic and your light dies out, you drop and break it or drop and lose it. and clothing. Cell phone -- I do not see how anyone could do this job without one. Credit cards -- if you want to accept credit cards there are upfront and recurring costs for that as well. Advertisement and marketing. Killer part is, to get it going you need money to get you through the start up time and I am not talking weeks or months. It takes a long time to get it going. Your not gonna survive on 1 or 2 a week. Getting into this business is not easy or fast money. If it was, everybody would be doing it.

    The inspector that did your home purchase, made his report the cheap way and way that won't get you repeat business, at least around here. You need a good computer. You need good inspection software. You should download demo copies of several to see which you are comfortable with. Software costs bucks, I mean $300 plus depending on what you like and can afford. Some software allows multiple licensing, others do not. Some have longer free support times, others have 1 year then you need to buy the upgrade to get more support. Yea, I use 3D and the costs of upgrading every year are not welcome by me. It gets old and I'll be changing soon.

    That 72 hour class is just the start. You can guarantee they are not even going to go into the details and head aches of marketing in this business. Doing the inspection only takes 2 to 3 hours. Compiling and editing the report a couple of more. Marketing and advertising is something your doing 24 hours a day.

    I can't tell you to go into this profession or not. You need to make that decision. Beyond money, you need even more patience and commitment to succeed in this profession than money. Might want to check and see how many inspectors service the area with in 50 miles of where you wish to operate. The more experienced and established inspectors are going to get the bulk of inspections, how many are left to go around. You also need to find a niche. You have to offer something your customers will value and understand that your competition doesn't do or have. Being the same or nearly the same as the others will get you no where.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Southern Vancouver Island

    Default Re: Looking into getting my license - contstructive input please

    A good way, in fact the best way, to learn is by working with an experienced home inspector. Ride along with a few, help them setup the ladder, take the panel covers off, etc. Find a multi inspector company and ask if they'll take you on part time. Keep your day job until you have people calling for your services.

    You could be the best home inspector in the country, a natural, never misses a thing, never wrong about anything, and always writes a clear precise report that everyone can read and understand. But if you can't get your phone to ring, the glitter all rubs off and you're nowhere.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Default Re: Looking into getting my license - contstructive input please

    Mike the best advice is talk to local inspectors in your area and get a feel from them. everyone is worried about competion even when your not in their area. the basic training costs you are looking at are the first few drops in the bucket. depending how how much you want to invest in tools advertising training etc will either help you or break you. you could invest 10 k with out breaking a sweat, I have seen other inspectors who start out part time to see how things go til they either make it or wonder off to other things. the old guys are going to retire sometime and someone needs to replace them(despite them thinkin they going to go forever). It is going to be a never ending learning adventure with good and bad times, but if you can balance it out with other forms of revenue, it will smooth out the roller coaster finacial ride.
    Small businesses are sometimes the hardest ones to run as cash flow is sometimes harder to maintain with no big contracts. and having to constantly chase after the prize. not impossible but challenging at times.

    good luck with what ever you decide to go after )

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Chicago, IL

    Default Re: Looking into getting my license - contstructive input please

    One suggestion: read the last week or two his posts in the technical sections of the board, that will give you some idea of the level of technical knowledge involved in doing the job well.

    And one thing to think about: as others have pointed out, the inspection learning curve is steep: you simply are going to miss things that can cost your client significant amounts of money, and you're almost certain to miss some of them in the first 250 inspections, and probably especially in the first 50 or 75.

    For that reason in my opinion it's especially important for beginning inspectors to carry general liability and E&O insurance, Which can easily set you back $3500-$4000 a year.

    And... and here's what a lot of beginning inspectors are shocked to discover... typically that insurance doesn't cover you for lawsuits after you STOP inspecting unless you continue to pay for insurance coverage.

    For example here in Illinois your legal liability for your inspections extends to five years past the date of inspection - so if you did one inspection, and then left the business, in order to protect yourself from the possibility of an expensive lawsuit, you would be paying out thousands and thousands of dollars in insurance over the next five years!

    Now, some people will tell you that you don't need E&O Coverage, or even that it's a bad idea - that you're more likely to get sued if you're insured.

    You'll just have to make up your own mind about that.

    But in the meantime, if you do elect to insure, keep in mind the requirement for "tail coverage" when you leave the business.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL


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