Dear Barry,

I’d like to become a home inspector and would like to know the cheapest way to go about this. What do you recommend? – Waleed

Dear Waleed,

Stop what you’re doing, sit down and reconsider the concept, practice and purpose of home inspection. The last thing you need is a cheap way to enter a complex profession. Instead, look for ways to become a well-informed home inspector, able to provide a detailed evaluation of real property and to do so without inviting lawsuits for nondisclosure of property defects.

As a home inspector, buyers will depend upon your findings when making major financial decisions and commitments. To perform this service in an effective manner, you’ll need to be well informed and thoroughly trained. To effect your preparation for that kind of service, you’ll need to commit considerable time and resources.

To obtain a foundational knowledge of the home inspection profession, you should enroll in a comprehensive course, offered by a recognized home inspection school such as Inspection Training Associates. Additionally, you should take the building code courses offered at your local community college, and finally, you should obtain candidate membership in a recognized home inspector association, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors. This will expose you to educational programs designed for the advancement of professional inspectorship. And, if possible, find an inspection company willing to employ you as an inspector in training.

Nothing of value is cheap. Invest in your own abilities as an upcoming home inspector, and you’ll have something of value to offer your customers. Or to paraphrase a common cliche, “You don’t get what you don’t pay for.”

Dear Barry,

I’m considering the purchase of a six-unit commercial building and am wondering whether to hire an inspector. What do you recommend? – Audrey

Dear Audrey,

A considerable number of commercial real estate acquisitions occur without the benefit of a professional inspection. Surprisingly, the same people who would never buy a home without a thorough inspection think nothing of buying a shopping center or office building with no more information than a general impression of its physical appearance. For some unapparent reason, building defects and hazardous conditions typically found in residential properties are presumed to be absent from other types of occupancies. As a result, buyers of commercial properties may assume ownership of a Pandora’s box of undisclosed deficiencies.

As with single- and multiple-family dwellings, commercial properties are heir to potential defects involving roofs, plumbing, electrical wiring, ground drainage, heating systems, foundations, fire safety standards, and more. Regardless of use, all buildings are prone to defects that warrant professional evaluation prior to purchase. It always pays to know what you are buying before you buy it.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at


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