Home inspectors are responsible for inspecting homes to ensure that they meet certain safety and quality standards. They commonly work on behalf of home buyers, home sellers, real estate agents, and other parties who have an interest in the inspection process.
A home inspector’s job is to evaluate the physical state of the home, including the structure, interior features, mechanical systems, appliances, and more. They may also be responsible for assessing potential environmental hazards such as lead contamination or mold. They must use their expertise to identify any defects or safety risks so that they can be addressed before the sale or purchase is made official.
Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a home inspector and what it takes to become one yourself.
Home Inspector Job Duties
A home inspector’s job duties typically include:
- Conducting a visual survey of the home’s physical structure to identify major defects and other problems
- Measuring rooms to assess square footage, noting any issues with the structure, and recording details about the room
- Inspecting electrical outlets as well as wiring to ensure it is up to code
- Inspecting plumbing to check for leaks or damage caused by leakage, rodents or other infestation sources that create a health hazard
- Testing heating and cooling systems to determine proper functioning
- Preparing an inspection report highlighting any areas of concern identified during the inspection, such as structural damage or pest infestations
- Providing the client with a walkthrough of the property to explain concerns and educate them on maintenance requirements for various systems
- Providing cost estimates for repairs
Home Inspector Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for home inspectors is $59,016. Those earning higher wages tend to work in the construction industry, and the highest earners are making over $100,000 per year.
Demand for home inspectors in the United States is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade. This is due to the increase in the number of households and the growing demand for new homes and affordable housing units.
Home Inspector Job Requirements
There are many requirements to becoming a home inspector. They include:
Education: Candidates are not required to have a degree to become a home inspector. However, some employers prefer candidates to have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in building science or construction management. Building science programs provide students with courses in structural analysis, design, safety and building codes. Construction management programs teach students how to manage the entire building process, including evaluating cost estimates, scheduling resources and maintaining quality control. There are also certificate programs available for those who need additional training.
Training: Candidates for this position should receive on-the-job training once they begin their careers. Residential home inspectors typically partner with existing inspectors. They learn skills by observing inspections and working closely with other inspectors. Inspectors may also attend seminars to improve their knowledge of the field. These seminars could include safety classes, real estate law and property maintenance classes.
Certifications & Licenses: Most states require home inspectors must be licensed by the state they work in. Most states require them to have a certain level of experience and pass an exam to become certified. The licensing requirements vary by state, so aspiring home inspectors should research the requirements of their state before applying for a license.
Home Inspector Skills
The following skills are required for this job:
Detail oriented: Home inspectors must be able to spot small details that could have a big impact on the safety and value of a home.
Strong communication skills: An inspector must be able to clearly explain issues with a home’s structure, systems, and features to buyers.
Physical stamina: The inspector will spend most of his or her day walking around the house, looking at various features. Inspectors also need to be able to lift up to 50 pounds.
Basic math skills: Home inspectors must be able to calculate square footage, volume, area, and dimensions. They also must know how to read a tape measure.
Time management skills: A home inspector’s workday is usually filled with appointments, so he or she must manage time well in order to complete all tasks on schedule.
Research skills: Inspectors must keep up-to-date on current building codes and regulations so they can provide accurate information about construction methods and materials used in homes. This requires research skills.
Home Inspector Work Environment
Home inspectors work in residential and commercial buildings. They usually carry out their work in the buildings they inspect.
Because home inspectors must examine every inch of a building, it’s important for them to be physically fit and able to climb stairs and ladders as needed. Home inspectors must also be able to perform routine tasks such as lifting heavy floor or wall coverings, pulling and pushing cables through walls and ceilings, and carrying equipment up and down stairs.
Home Inspector Career Path
Home inspectors in the early stages of their careers are basically just getting started, having learned the ropes by observing others. Many people enter this field through real estate offices or builders’ supply companies. Others come from related fields such as construction or home improvement. Early work is slow, and hours are long. It is not uncommon for an inspector to work 60 to 80 hours a week in his first year. But there is plenty of time to observe, learn, and begin to make contacts with prospective clients.
Five Years Out
By five years, home inspectors may be partners in small businesses, or they may have joined larger firms that offer them more money and job security. They are able to build on their early reputations by gaining more experience and developing contacts within the industry. The number of hours worked remains high; income rises slightly; satisfaction rises dramatically.
Ten Years Out
Home inspectors with ten years of experience have established themselves as recognized experts in their fields, often becoming recognized by their clients as “the inspector” who does all their work in the area. With reputations established, they can charge higher fees for their services. They also become very familiar with building codes and industry practices that will enable them to find more defects than less experienced inspectors can spot—and to give their clients an edge when negotiating for repairs.
Home Inspector Trends
Here are three trends influencing how home inspectors work. Home Inspectors will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Increasing Importance of Credentials and Professionalism
Home inspectors have to keep up with a rapidly growing industry that is changing the way that homes are constructed and sold, meaning that it’s more important than ever for inspectors to stay on top of industry trends.
More home buyers are looking for home inspectors who have relevant certifications or other credentials, which shows that this industry is becoming more professionalized.
Increased Impact of Inspection Data
Although it can be difficult to measure the impact of an inspection on a home’s value, the data collected by inspectors during their visits are becoming more valuable to potential buyers.
More and more real estate agents are partnering with local home inspectors in order to offer buyers additional data, such as photos of specific issues along with cost estimates to fix them. This new information allows buyers to make better decisions about which homes to purchase, resulting in more satisfied customers.
Green Energy Movement
The environmental movement has also had a large impact on the home inspection industry, largely due to increased interest in green living.
Many home buyers are looking for ways to minimize their environmental footprint by choosing green homes that use less energy and contain eco-friendly features like energy-efficient appliances and sustainable building materials. As a result, certification organizations have begun to develop green certifications for building inspectors so that they can provide information about environmentally-friendly features and help consumers make informed decisions when purchasing a new home.
How to Become a Home Inspector
1. Planning Your Career
If you’re thinking about a career as a home inspector, it’s important to understand the many different specialties that exist within this field. For example, some home inspectors specialize in residential properties while others work with commercial buildings; these different roles require very different skill sets and may even have separate educational requirements.
Once you’ve identified your desired role(s), make sure that this career path aligns well with your lifestyle needs; for instance, those who want to inspect residential properties will likely need to travel frequently or live near major metropolitan areas where they can find potential clients.
2. Writing a Resume
The best resumes for prospective home inspectors demonstrate their attention to detail, ability to work independently, and previous experience in the construction industry. When describing previous positions, you should include any skills that are directly applicable to this profession–for example, if you were working as a carpenter, highlight your carpentry skills. It is also important to highlight your ability to draw up accurate reports about the condition of a property.
Ensure that you include your education and training, and list your technical skills such as using specific inspection equipment and software. It’s important to emphasize how you stay up-to-date on new developments in the industry and how you track changes in regulations as well.
3. Applying for Jobs
To find work as a home inspector, first you’ll want to know if your state or area has any regulatory bodies that can give you information on what you need to do to become certified. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors can help you learn more about what your legal requirements are. You can also research other local organizations that support home inspectors. These organizations can help you develop your knowledge of home inspection. They can also help you understand the job market and how to network with professionals.
You might also consider working on some volunteer projects and/or offering your services as a freelance home inspector for those who may not be able to afford the standard rates.
4. Ace the Interview
In addition to asking questions related to your experience and qualifications, the interviewer will definitely want to learn about your interpersonal skills. They may also want to get a sense of your ability to work independently.
To prepare for your interview, be sure to study the job description carefully. What are the specific things that the employer is looking for in this role? For example, if you are applying for a home inspector position, they may require strong technical knowledge of building codes and construction materials.
During the interview make sure you have given yourself enough time to ask your own questions. Most job interviews will give candidates the opportunity to ask about the company or career opportunities within it. Use this time wisely, it is one of the best ways to demonstrate your interest in the position and that you have done your homework on the organization. Plan out what you might ask about so that you don’t waste time during your interview thinking of questions on-the-fly.