Carolyn Cassidy studied civil engineering in college and worked in structural engineering for a few years. After that, she switched to banking and a few years later, she and her family moved to the suburbs of New York City. Once there, she was a full-time mom who took on many volunteer positions.
In 2008, one of Carolyn’s neighbors asked her to help handle a property dispute—someone wanted to portion off part of an adjacent lot to build another home. While doing some research, Carolyn met with a local building inspector. During their conversation, the building inspector learned a bit about Carolyn’s background and saw evidence of her knowledge and expertise. Before the end of the meeting, he suggested that she think about becoming a home inspector, saying, “Why not? You’d be good at it.”
Carolyn also start thinking, “Why not?” Over the years, she’d hired home inspectors for her family’s two homes, but she hadn’t paid much attention to what they did, how they did it or the way they reported on it. But when she took a class to explore the profession, she found that she enjoyed learning about all the topics. In 2012, she became licensed as a home inspector and formed Benchmark Home Inspection LLC.
As she created her business model, she reached out to real estate agents she knew in the community and began marketing herself as an option for home inspections. In the beginning, she used a software system that wasn’t working well, but when she switched to Horizon, by Carson Dunlop, things really came together for her business.
Carolyn said, “The Horizon software and its platform are easy to use, and it fits into my routine. I like to include illustrations and photos to help people understand the report. For many buyers, the home inspection is the first time they are being asked to understand these systems, and providing visuals and organized information helps them learn what they are getting. I always try to write what I say, and say what I write.”
For Carolyn, once a civil engineer, always a civil engineer. “One strategy I use in my inspection process is to connect with the local building department to see if there are any open permits on the property. This can verify whether upgrades or repairs were done according to code. Most agents don’t do this or even suggest it, but I think it can help at the point of inspection, because finding out about an issue later can hold up a closing.”
“I like working with buyers, making them feel comfortable about their home-buying choices. Now that many of my peers are starting to downsize or move to other communities, I’m getting requests to do pre-sale inspections. This is an important market—people want to know how to
prepare their home so that it easily sails through inspections down the road.”
“My home inspection course instructor stressed to everyone in the class that we should join ASHI, so it was the first thing I did when I launched my business. I belong to the NY Metro Chapter and I love attending the continuing education sessions every year. I also shadowed a colleague from the chapter and it really helped me to see how he conducted his inspections. I rely on ASHI resources as references—I even keep a binder of articles relevant to me that I’ve organized by topic. Most of all, I love the postcards in the Reporter!”
Carolyn said, “Some people are surprised when they find out what I do. They say, ‘You mean you actually go into people’s homes? Even into the crawl space?’ Lots of people don’t really pay attention to what a home inspector does until they need one for themselves.”
“I definitely look at my own home differently now that I have become a home inspector. When I bought my first two homes, I was as oblivious as I expect most people are. When faced with so many big decisions at the same time, people can be overwhelmed.”
“In Florida, where my husband and I recently bought a home, I made sure that I walked with the inspector and learned about the mold testing that is commonly done there. It’s interesting to learn about the regional differences in homes—for example, the bracing for roof systems in Florida is such that it can mitigate the forces of high winds.”
Carolyn’s advice to all home inspectors is to take a personal interest in your clients. Find out what’s important to them, especially about the type of the home they want to purchase. Taking this kind of personal interest is what makes Carolyn so excited about her job—to help people understand the homes they hope to own.
Look for Carolyn at InspectionWorld® in Orlando in January!