Being a home inspector is a rewarding job for many reasons. You use your skills to help people make sure their home is safe, you work outside and stay active, and the job often comes with flexibility both in scheduling and work style.
But how do you make sure you’re doing the best job possible?
After all, there’s plenty of competition out there. Whether you’re a seasoned property inspector with decades of work experience under your belt or a newbie wondering if this line of work is right for you, understanding what goes into the job and how to improve as a home inspector is always a good idea.
Read on for an overview of the skills required to be a successful home inspector, some habits to develop to improve in your craft, and resources for taking your business to the next level when the time comes.
Skills expected from home inspectors
A day in the life of a home inspector typically involves a variety of activities, including inspecting homes, writing inspection reports, communicating with clients and prospective clients, and marketing to real estate agents. The job can be demanding—but never boring.
All successful home inspectors have skills in common that allow them to rise above the competition:
1. They understand all the systems and components of a home
As a home inspector, you’re responsible for inspecting all the internal and structural components of a residential property. You’ll look for anything that needs to be repaired or replaced, especially as it relates to the safety of the home’s inhabitants.
With that responsibility, your first basic skill is simply understanding how each system and component in the home works and is supposed to function. Without that knowledge, you won’t know whether something is out of the ordinary.
2. They can identify the potential problems in a home
You not only need to understand how every aspect of the house should function, but you should be able to identify each problem and why it might be unsafe. As a home inspector, you need to be a problem solver and competent at detecting the subtle signs of broken or malfunctioning home components—and then be able to point your client to the solution to each problem.
3. They’re comfortable with old and new homes
You’ll be inspecting new construction and homes from the early 1900’s, and everything in between. You should have knowledge of the common issues with homes from each decade as well as what to look for in new homes.
4. They can communicate well with their customers
Not only should you perform an inspection well and recognize all the issues with the systems and components of the property, but you’ll need to explain your findings to your clients in a clear and friendly manner. You should also be able to write a clear and helpful inspection report.
The best home inspectors know how to communicate the issues with context, making sure their clients understand the difference between major issues and minor ones.
5. They have industry designations and certifications
While minimum requirements vary from state to state—and a license isn’t even required in every state—you should have as many designations and certifications as are practical for you if you want to stand out.
Consider joining state and local home inspector associations. You can always apply to become a member of a respected national organization such as the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) or the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).
Professional associations may require you to complete continuing education (CE) to maintain your membership, which is another way to keep yourself apprised of innovations in the industry and stay current in your professional expertise. InterNACHI, for instance, requires 24 hours of CE every year.
To stand out even further, you may want to get additional specialized certifications in certain specialty services that test for issues common in your area, such as:
6. They are competent at running a business
Many home inspectors choose to run their own business, since this gives them flexibility and autonomy. But in order to do well, you’ll need to have the skills and drive necessary to develop a business plan, run a tight ship, and market your business in your local community.
Habits to improve the productivity of your home inspections
If you’re already a home inspector, you know that your time—and your clients’ time—is valuable.
A standard home inspection takes 2-4 hours, even longer for larger houses. You should never rush through the inspection, but implementing habits such as these can help you improve your customer service as a home inspector, run your business more efficiently, and boost your productivity on the job:
- Research the property you’re inspecting ahead of time. In most cases, the property is already listed online, so you’ll be able to see photos or even take a virtual tour to get an idea of the home’s condition, flag any areas of interest, and get an idea of how long the inspection could take
- Arrive at least 15 minutes early for inspections. This gives you a chance to walk around the property’s exterior uninterrupted and review the booking order and any notes you’ve made ahead of time.
- Create a uniform process for your inspections. After you’ve been inspecting for a while, you’ll know the most efficient and thorough method for inspecting a house. Write this method down—many inspectors use a home inspection checklist—so that you can follow the same procedure every time. This saves you time and makes sure you don’t miss anything.
- Use home inspection software that provides templates. HomeGauge’s software features, for instance, include customizable templates that let you add new sections or comments to your report without starting from scratch each time. The software also has an auto-fill function and lets you save sections of a report to use in future reports.
Tools to help you level up as a home inspector
Of course, the home inspection industry requires many physical tools, such as:
- A tool belt and a carry bag
- Screw drivers
- Inspection mirror
- Measuring tape
- Electrical GFCI outlet tester
- Moisture meter
But it’s not all about getting the physical job done. Part of what makes a truly excellent home inspector is the ability to use current technology to your advantage. Let’s look at some advanced tools to help you improve as a home inspector.
A professional website
In 2020, you need an online storefront where your customers and potential customers can find you and find out important information about you, such as your availability, your credentials, and the services you offer. Placing a “Contact Us” form on your website will also help prospective clients get in touch.
You should also make sure your website is search engine optimized to ensure it’s ranking on Google, getting seen by the right audience, and generating new leads for your business.
And in case you don’t have the time or inclination to bootstrap your own website, a custom website by HomeGauge includes daily backups, responsive formatting for mobile viewing, and excellent technical support. HomeGauge even provides SEO services!
Social media marketing
Do you have a Facebook page for your home inspection business? What about a LinkedIn or Instagram account?
You don’t need to be an influencer to use social media well; having a simple, down-to-earth online presence will do wonders to reach a wider audience and increase your brand awareness. Consider the following techniques:
- Posting pictures or videos of strange and interesting things you’ve found during inspections
- Sharing specials or promotions your business is offering
- Giving shout-outs to real estate agents or other professionals you’ve worked with
- Answering questions relating to your field in Facebook groups or forums
Invest in the right technology for your business
If you’re using handwritten inspection reports and manual processes, it’s time to take your home inspection game to the next level. Technology has revolutionized the way home inspectors do business now, including:
- Software for home inspection reports to make them more professional and easy to create
- Automated communication tools such as email marketing, chatbots for your website, and SMS campaigns
- Social media schedulers like Buffer and HootSuite, to cut back on the time you spend posting to social media
A home inspector is never done learning
You’ve chosen a career that requires a varying skillset, from in-depth knowledge of construction and home systems, to communication skills, to business acumen. Successful inspectors are just as comfortable shuffling through crawl spaces as they are giving presentations around a real estate agency’s conference table.
If you were drawn to home inspecting as a career, odds are good that you’re driven and have a taste for the unknown. To get the most out of your professional calling, try developing the habits listed above to become more productive, and employ a few professional tools like a website, social media marketing, and home inspection software to take your business to the next level.