How to Become a Home Inspector: Basics (part 1)


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In this training tutorial, we will help you to (a) prepare for your home-inspector exam and (b) launch your career as a professional, certified home inspector.

As an inspector, the breadth and depth of your inspections will vary, depending on what state you’re in, what organization’s standards of practice you follow, and what your company wants included in the inspection (if you’re not the owner).

In addition, you may decide your inspections will go beyond the “standards of practice.” Or you may be asked by a client to add things, and then you will have to decide whether you’ll agree to it for free—or a fee.

In most general terms, no matter what, as an inspector you will use various methods to examine these systems of a house:

• Exterior

• Structural

• Roofing

• Electrical

• Heating and cooling

• Insulating and ventilation

• Plumbing

• Interior

• Fireplace and chimney

When inspecting a house you will rely on your senses, specifically on sight, smell, touch, and hearing. You will also need to be at ease with taking things apart and with using probes and other special instruments and/or processes to determine the condition of not-readily accessible systems and components.

Those states and organizations that want to ensure a home inspection meets certain criteria will spell out the things you must include. They also may require that you first obtain a specific number of hours of training. (The American Society of Home Inspectors) model legislation that it wants states to adopt calls for 80 hours of instruction, at least 25 supervised inspections, and continuing education.) Some states also require that you have a high school education or a GED before you even begin studying to be a home inspector.

And when you’re finished with your training, the states and organizations may want you to pass a technical examination before you begin inspecting houses.

The National Home Inspector Examination (NHIE), administered by an independent board since 1999, is one test accepted by a number of states and organizations and provides a good insight into what you, as an inspector, should know before you hang out your shingle and get your business cards printed up.

To give you a basic idea, the test covers four areas you will be required to be knowledgeable about:

1. Inspection Methods

2. Building Systems (including exterior, structural, roofing, electrical, heating and cooling, insulating and ventilating, plumbing, interior, and fireplace and chimney systems)

3. Reporting

4. Professional Practice

Generally speaking, you will be expected to know the common types of each of the building systems it tests your knowledge on, as well as the typical defects. You also will be expected to be aware of maintenance concerns and procedures, as well as safety issues, applicable standards, and appropriate terminology.

By taking a look at this test, you will get a better idea of the wide range of inspection areas that will face you on the job. Along with the categories you would expect—such as roofs, wiring, and f also have to know about things like driveways, drainage, how air moves in a house, and countertops, For example.

Simply put: Being a house inspector requires a great deal of knowledge about a great many things that make up a house.

For more detailed information on the NHIE, visit the NHIE Web site at The Web site also includes suggested reading and a sample test.

If you decide to pursue this test to get your license, NHIE has more than 180 test centers across the country where you will have up to four hours to complete the 200-question multiple-choice test on a personal computer. The cost is around $195, and veterans are reimbursed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

NEXT: How Do You Learn This Stuff?

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Thursday, 2016-10-13 15:29 PST