So You Want to be a Home Inspector?
Anyone who has been a practitioner in the home inspection profession for a few years has probably been cornered by a friend, family member, client or complete stranger who is considering a career in home inspection. Who wouldn’t want to do what we do? There is little upfront investment; buy a good flashlight, ladder and a screwdriver (if you don’t already have these basic tools,) print some business cards and you are good to go!
And think about it, everyone has lived in a house or apartment and the systems look fairly simple. Who can’t find a dripping faucet or leaking drain under the sink? The doors and windows seem fairly straightforward- either they work or they don’t. Leaks in the roof can easily be seen as stains in the ceiling and you can detect any electrical problem with the flip of a switch or the turn of a dial. And if you don’t know it all when you start, just spend a few Saturdays watching all the flipping/crashing shows on cable TV and you’ll soon be ready for anything that comes your way.
If we would admit it, many of us started with more than a few misconceptions and false expectations when we entered in this profession. Personally, I first considered becoming a home inspector around 1989. I called the local home inspector with the biggest Yellow Pages ad in the phone book and told the owner what a remarkable opportunity it would be for him to hire and train me as a home inspector for his company. To my amazement, he declined my generous offer.
Just like a stew that was not yet ready, I pushed the pot to a backburner where the idea simmered for a few more years. The pot started to boil when my oldest started college and I decided an additional income stream would be needed to supplement my income. With a day job at NASA that I enjoyed, I just wanted the extra income from a part-time side business.
It all seemed easy enough back then. I had a degree in construction and I inspected space shuttle hardware during the day. How could someone not hire me or how could a real estate agent not refer me for home inspections? After all, it’s not rocket science!
Over the course of the next
few years I made a lot of false assumptions, and many mistakes, but eventually I did figure it out with a little help from my friends. You see, after about three years of making one mistake after another, I did a search on this new thing they had at the time called the Internet. I was searching for a professional association for home inspectors and I found ASHI.
That was the moment the light came on. Here was a real bricks-and-mortar professional association run by the professional practitioners engaged in the home inspection profession. The ASHI Standard of Practice was (and still is) THE STANDARD for the profession. The ASHI Code of Ethics is the model for professional behavior that provides the compass the profession needs to remain true and on course.
However, the greatest asset ASHI has to offer is the opportunity to associate with other professionals who have a passion for the home inspection profession. I was fortunate to find mentors within the ASHI family who helped me along the way.
So, what do you tell someone who wants to know more about how to become a home inspector? Tell them about the struggle; tell them about the times you called your office number just to make sure the phone still worked. Tell them about the need to get some real basic training at The ASHI School. But also tell them about the incredible people at ASHI, both the staff in Des Plaines and the members who are in the practice of home inspection, about their willingness to help those who show initiative and a desire to learn and grow and become one of the best in the profession. Tell them about the satisfaction that
comes from knowing you are providing a valuable service to clients who place their trust in you.
When I first went to work for NASA years ago, one of the charter members of the organization summed up rocket science for me: “Always remember the pointed end goes up and the fire comes out the bottom.” What we do as home inspectors is not rocket science. It’s building science mixed with business development, and trust me, it’s a lot more complicated and challenging.