Pros and cons of becoming a professional home inspector

New book aimed at career-seekers

If you think you would like to become a professional home inspector to have a wonderful business and earn zillions of dollars, first read “21 Things Every Home Inspector Should Know” by Frank Cook and Pat Remick. It is the most complete and realistic “how to become a home inspector” book available.

Perhaps you’ve seen those ads “Earn $1,000 per day inspecting homes” in opportunity magazines. This new book exposes those ad myths. It explains why few, if any, truly professional home inspectors can earn that much and still perform competent home inspections.

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As the book reveals, virtually every savvy home buyer and his/her buyer’s realty agent want an independent third-party professional home inspection to avoid unexpected home defects discovered after purchase. Cook and Remick explain how professional home inspectors work to discover secrets that even an honest home seller might not know about his/her residence.

This book seems to be aimed primarily at those who are thinking about becoming a full-time professional home inspector. It shares the pros and cons of this relatively new business that began to emerge in the 1980s and 1990s.

But the book tends to be mostly negative about becoming a professional home inspector, never sharing examples of very successful inspectors who have achieved financial independence.

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By far, this is the most detailed and authoritative book about the professional home inspection business. It explains the requirements a truly professional home inspector needs to possess, the benefits of joining a professional home inspection organization, and what it takes to be successful.

The major glaring deficiency, however, is the book fails to provide a state-by-state summary of which states have laws requiring registration, examination or zero requirements for professional home inspectors. Because this is an emerging profession, such a summary would have been very valuable for applicants to learn what is required in the state where they want to work.

However, the book does include a detailed list of all the professional real estate inspection organizations. The largest are the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) with more than 6,000 members, the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) with 1,900 members, and the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI), which claims more than 9,400 members. Membership requirements vary substantially.

This book is really about how to become a successful home inspector. The authors, neither of whom is a professional home inspector, provide insights into the key to success, which is marketing of the inspector’s services, usually to local realty agents who greatly influence home buyers when choosing a home inspector.

The many quotes from professional inspectors interviewed by the authors add realism to the book. For example, one inspector says, “You don’t just put a number in the phone book and expect the phone to ring.” He then details the costs of getting started, such as $4,000 for training courses, $1,500 for tools, and $3,000 for errors and omissions insurance.

Along the way, Cook and Remick share both the pros and cons they discovered as they surveyed dozens of professional home inspectors. They note this is not just a man’s profession, as many women have become professional home inspectors.

But the authors don’t hesitate to emphasize negatives, such as on-the-job injuries, sometimes-difficult home sellers, buyers, and realty agents, and the long hours during peak home sales times.

Chapter topics include “What Do You Need to Know?” “Home Inspection: It Isn’t Just a Man’s World”; “Tools of the Trade”; “Market Thyself”; “Who is Your Client?” “Getting Paid”; “How Far Does the Inspection Have to Go?” “Working with Buyers”; “Liability and the Courts”; “Everything is About Ethics”; “You’re Involved in Politics”; and “The Challenges Ahead.”

The authors explain about 50 percent of home inspectors drop out of the business for various reasons. They also share it is definitely not a get-rich-quick business. But they under-emphasize the benefits of being a home inspector. Overall, this is the most complete and accurate of the “how to become a home inspector” books. On my scale of one to 10, it earns a solid 10.

“21 Things Every Home Inspector Should Know,” by Frank Cook and Pat Remick (Dearborn Publishing, Chicago), 2005, $24.95, 200 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and www.amazon.com.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

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