Frequently Asked Questions
So, you're thinking about becoming a home inspector. Here are our answers to some of the most common questions that we hear.
(We make no guarantee about the accuracy of the answers. We recommend that you conduct your own independent research to find the answers to any questions you may have.)
What is the average salary of a home inspector?
The answer to this question can vary greatly and depends on many factors. You have to consider the demand in your area and the amount of time and effort that you are willing to invest. Generally speaking, surveys will show a range between about $30,000 and $130,000 per year. Many surveys will show an average annual income at around the $50,000 - $80,000 range. Keep in mind that these numbers are a "gross" income and do not account for any expenses involved in running a business.
Do I need construction or contractor work experience?
The simple answer is, "no". The more experience you have can be helpful. As a home inspector, you need a good general knowledge of all of the various systems, components, and areas of the home. While having experience or a background in a particular field can help, it can also affect your focus and approach to home inspecting. This class along with additional training through an organization such as InterNACHI can help you to gain the knowledge that you need to be a successful home inspector.
How much does it cost to start a home inspection business?
The answer to this question can vary even more than the answer to the first question. You have many expenses to consider and there are different approaches to each expense. First off, you will have the expense of this course. Various licensing and application fees can run from about $200-$800. Required insurance policies can be in the range of about $2000-$4000 per year. Your tools could run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars depending on your approach and what tools you may already have. A website and inspection platform can be about $2000 per year and more if you need someone to develop a website for you. There will also be many other costs to consider such as marketing, fuel and wear & tear on your vehicle, uniforms, and more.
What do I need to do in order to be qualified as a home inspector?
A good start is to sign up for our course. Beyond that, the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation is your best resource to answer this question. This site contains some information about DPOR requirements. Visit the DPOR website for more details.
Is becoming a home inspector right for me?
Really, you are the only one who can answer this question. There are some aspects of the job that you should consider. Home inspection can be a physically demanding job. You will have to climb ladders, crawl through crawlspaces, deal with hazards such as high voltage electricity, stand on your feet for hours, squat many times, and much more. However, the on the job physical demands of a home inspector can be much lower than most trades. You also have to realize that you will deal with other people. This means that you will have to be good at customer service, selling yourself, have regular detailed conversations, and more. If you haven't run a business, this is an opportunity to become your own boss!
How soon can I start making money?
Besides having a realistic expectation of an annual salary, one thing to consider is how long it will take to start making money. First off, you will need to meet all of the requirements and become licensed. Some home inspectors can "hit the ground, running". For others, it may take some time to become established. Don't let that frighten you away. It takes effort to start your own business and you just need to plan accordingly.
How difficult is the National Home Inspector Exam?
The NHIE is not an easy test. In fact, some sources say that only about 1/2 of the people who take the test will pass it on their first try. If you prepare for the test properly, your chances of passing will increase, greatly. We recommend that you take this course and your additional 35 hours of online courses prior to attempting the test. There are also many other resources to help you prepare. We share some resources here on this site. We also make recommendations throughout the course.
Do I need a website?
You don't "need" a website. Some home inspectors are successful with only a Facebook page. Some have no web or social media presence at all. In our opinion, a website is the heart of your marketing. Facebook, YouTube, Google My Business, and other similar web based marketing would be a good consideration for you, too. The most common way for a client to find you will be from a web search. Be out there and be found.
Do I have to walk the roof?
You do NOT have to walk the roof. In fact, you are your own safety manager and you don't have to complete any task that you believe might not be safe. "At eaves" inspections, camera poles, and drones are all viable alternatives to walking a roof. Most deficiencies that can be recognized with a roof can be observed using one or a combination of these other techniques. It may be more difficult to become an established home inspector if you are not willing to walk any roof. However, many roofs due to material, condition, pitch, weather, and other factors are considered as "not safely walkable" by many in the profession.
Who should take this class?
The quick and basic answer is, anyone wanting to become a home inspector. There is a long list of others who might consider this class as well. Some others who might benefit from taking the course include: Real Estate Agents and Brokers, Investors, Property Managers, those considering professions of other inspectors such as County Code Inspectors, or anyone who just wants to learn more about your home and potentially damaging issues, and more...
How do I find an inspector to help me with my supervised inspections?
Most inspectors refer to this as "ride alongs". Depending on how many hours of classroom and online training you complete, you will need to participate in either 25 or 50 "ride alongs". Finding someone to help you with this can be a difficult task. Many inspectors will tell you that they don't want to "train their competition." We recommend that you complete your course work, first. A good place to start is by taking this class and follow up with your online classes. Then, pass the National Exam. That way, you won't come across as needing to be "trained". Also, we recommend that you spread out your ride alongs across several inspectors to give you a better perspective on the process. That will also allow you to ask for just a few (5-10) ride alongs from any one inspector. Even with this, you may have to travel to find someone to help. You should also know that while some will let you ride along for free, most inspectors will ask you to pay $50 per ride along and some may even ask for $100 or more per ride along.