Over the years I’ve spoken with many people who want to get into the home inspection profession. Most of the time, they’ve had experience in the construction business—usually in roofing, carpentry or masonry—and they’ve decided that they want to own a business or start a second career. Some had just lost a job and wanted to be their own boss. For whatever reason, they decided to become a home inspector. Problem is, although they may go on to become great inspectors, they might not know anything about running a business. Yes…it’s a business.
Most inspectors are one-person shops. The inspector wears many hats, including that of the inspector, the marketer, the salesperson, the complaint department, the accountant, the banker, the receptionist and the purchasing agent…just to name a few.
I teach at The ASHI School and I constantly get questions from students on various subjects such as these:
- If there is a crack in the ceramic floor, is it a defect or cosmetic?
- Should I hire an employee?
- What accounting and inspection software should I purchase?
- Can you recommend what tools I should buy?
My general answer to these questions is simple: These are the business decisions that each of us must make our own, keeping in mind that the ASHI Standard of Practice is a minimum requirement.
To offer a little more help to people who are thinking about becoming a professional inspector or who are just starting in the business, I also offer these words of advice:
Contact a local attorney to help you determine what your entity should be—a corporation, a partnership, an LLC or a proprietorship.
Hire a good Certified Public Accountant to help you set up your books, and provide ongoing tax and banking assistance. QuickBooks is a great tool that links to most banks. Financial data can be downloaded and the only thing you have to do is assign an account number. Using QuickBooks also can help you at tax time because it interfaces with TurboTax, making tax preparation a breeze.
Find an insurance agent who will provide you with errors and omissions (E&O) and general liability insurance. Make sure you also have ample auto coverage and consider getting an umbrella policy for extra protection.
Join your local ASHI chapter and start connecting with your colleagues. They will offer you a wealth of information regarding equipment and vehicles and most importantly, they can help you learn to conduct professional inspections. When I was starting out, I often saw something during an inspection, but I had no idea what it was. In these situations, I took a photo with my phone, texted it to several of my contemporaries and usually got a response within a short time. It’s not important that we know everything, but we should know where to get the answer to any question.
ASHI has a number of affiliates that can help meet your needs. From insurance to computer software to ancillary services—these affiliates can be found in the pages of the Reporter and on the ASHI website.
Yes, it’s a business that requires some tough decisions along the way, but what else is new? Every organization experiences the good, the bad and the ugly, but the satisfaction of having your own successful business far outweighs the negatives.
This year, I’ll focus my monthly columns on the business of home inspection. In future issues, you’ll read about insurance, answering the phone, legal advice, ancillary services and more. To help you and me with these articles, I’ll feature information from some of ASHI’s affiliates, all of whom are ready to help you succeed.
Last, but not least, I wish all of you nothing but the best and I hope that 2018 is your best year ever.
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
—Steve Jobs, co-founder, chairman and CEO, Apple Inc.