How to Become a Home Inspector: Basics (part 2): How Do You Learn This Stuff?

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Please don't get overwhelmed!

A former ASHI president notes, “Houses are built pretty much the same, just with different materials.”

Here’s another perspective: “In my mind, the best way to approach this business is that it’s simple, but not simplistic. You need to be able to give the consumer an important mix of information about the property that is going to be crucial in that consumer’s life. It’s extraordinarily important that people learn their craft.”

Even before getting into the specialties of electrical work, plumbing, roofing systems and the rest, inspectors need to have good deductive reasoning skills. You have to understand how a home is constructed—not how it’s built—so that you understand how systems fit together. A stain on the ceiling might come from a leak in an upstairs pipe, but the pipe might be leaking because the foundation has shifted. You need to be able to put all those things together.

Over the last 20 years, it has become assumed by the client that the inspector will look at the whole gamut of things and be expert in each one.

New people entering the business need to be able to do research.

The consumer expects you to know these things.

Now that you have a general idea of what you are expected to learn, how do you go about learning it?

There are myriad ways to get trained in this business, not the least of which are formal classes and schools to train home inspectors. You should locate reputable sources of training through state licensing agencies, which have approved lists of training courses, or through home inspector organizations.

The costs vary, but expect to pay at least $1,000 and probably closer to $3,000.

The training time also will vary; some programs want you to devote several days straight, others will stretch out the training time over several weeks. Some programs require that you obtain all of your education at their training sites, some offer distance education where you train via computers and the Internet, some are workbook-based, and many others use various combinations of these methods. In other words, you have options and the opportunity to choose a training program that will fit best into your current circumstances.

If you decide to buy an inspection franchise, you’ll likely be offered training from the parent company, and again, the time required and the method of delivery will vary from franchise to franchise.

You may have seen ads for correspondence courses, often linked to promises of easy wealth. Tread cautiously here. Some states are specific about the kind of training you should have and where it comes from. To find top-quality approved schools, you can always go to Dearborn ’s home inspection Web site.. (There are other excellent distance-learning opportunities but make sure they meet your state’s standards.)

Remember: You want to be sure that your training prepares you to pass the technical exam required by your state so that you can (1) get your license and (2) include your training in your marketing campaign.

Another way to prepare for plunging into the home inspection business is to be an apprentice to another inspector; some states even require it. This allows you to “learn by doing” and by observing an expert in the field and watching how he or she deals with the unexpected. Remember: Although all houses are basically built in the same way, no two houses are exactly alike. That also means no two house inspections are going to be exactly the same, either.

But that is what can make this profession so challenging and so interesting.

Following are some of the topics listed on the NHIE. This list should provide you with a good idea of the topics that home inspectors should know about. In each of the topics, you will be expected to know about the following:

• Common types

• Materials

• Applications

• Installation methods

• Construction techniques

• Typical defects

• Maintenance concerns

• Procedures

• Safety issues

• Applicable standards

• Appropriate terminology

The next section lists the categories covered in the NHIE and some of the additional factors you will need to be aware of during an inspection.

« Introduction  •  NHIE Categories »

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Monday, 2008-09-22 21:54 PST