HouseMaster was the nation’s first home inspection company. This year, the company celebrated its 40th Anniversary. So what’s changed in that time?
In the early 1970’s, Ken Austin came upon a builder who was trying to get the concept of home inspection off the ground. Austin was looking to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams, and thought the concept had merit. The two became fast friends and partners.
Almost a decade later, Austin launched HouseMaster, the first home inspection franchise. Forty years later, the company has over 322 franchised territories in the US and Canada and is led by President and CEO Kathleen Kuhn, Austin’s daughter.
Since day one, home inspectors have been committed to helping consumers make informed real estate decisions. But today, the service an inspector provides has grown to include many ancillary components above and beyond just a traditional inspection. Some of these things include additional forms of inspection such as mold, radon, sewer lines, and more.
“Now we are committed to helping consumers use the information we provide to help them navigate the sales process and help them transition from home buyers to home owners. Our service no longer ends with the inspection report,” said Kuhn. For example, HouseMaster assembled what they refer to as their “Connects Team,” a dedicated group that calls on each customer after every one of the over 75,000 inspections performed each year to help switch over utilities and further guide the customer through the home buying journey.
“Back in 1979, the idea of a home inspection was unheard of.Only about 2% of all home purchases were inspected prior to sale and the information provided to the consumer was limited,” Kuhn continued. “Today, a HouseMaster Report is highly detailed, includes product recall information, and gives consumers access to instant repair estimates. And more than 75% of home sales include a home inspection.
“Our service is expanding to where consumers can use the information and the tools we provide them to not only make smart purchase decisions, but save money on major purchases and maintain their home all from our emerging home management platform. Additionally, we now inspect many elements of a home that weren’t possible to inspect 20 years ago.”
The cost of hiring a Home Inspector has grown from $30 to $500+ over the last 40 years. Today, a standard home inspection includes an evaluation of all the accessible major elements according to local standards, including the heating and cooling system, plumbing, electrical, foundation, roof, etc., and takes between two and three hours to complete. HouseMaster encourages customers to attend the inspection and see firsthand any conditions found. “We approach the home inspection as an educational process. Our inspectors take the time to demonstrate how to operate many systems in the home, are happy to answer questions and share maintenance suggestions,” continued Kuhn.
After the inspector completes the inspection, they generate a report which summarizes conditions found. “At HouseMaster, our completed inspection report is uploaded to the HouseMaster Cloud. Our customers can view their inspection report in the cloud, as well as create a list of repairs they may desire to have the seller fix directly from the platform. At a click of a button, this information can be sent off to the seller or the seller’s advisors.”
HouseMaster was the first company to franchise home inspections, and it’s interesting to highlight what has changed since the early days. Below is a list of unique services that are now available as part of every HouseMaster home inspection:
- Appliance recall information and ongoing alerts
- Home Management Platform to help manage home maintenance
- Savings on key services and products commonly needed by a home buyer
- Utility Connection Service to assist buyers
- Repair list generation tools to help buyers document their repair requests for the seller
- Inspection Guarantee to give home buyers peace of mind they are getting quality service
- Repair estimates that let consumers generate localized repair or cost estimates to help them either negotiate the repairs or budget for them
Technology is clearly driving many of the added services provided by HouseMaster and will continue to do so for years to come. The company continues to innovate and create ways to streamline the underlying service they provide, including rolling out a new platform which each Inspector will rely on in the fact-gathering and report-writing process. This platform will include decades of logic, which will benefit both the Inspector and end customer.
HouseMaster generates approximately $40,000,000 in System Sales each year and has performed over 3,500,000 inspections since inception. Learn more at HouseMaster.com.