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Starting your own business can be challenging, no matter what the business idea is, or what your background is. For some, the process looks like this: they have a big idea, and they start putting that idea together. Then, they work hard, making mistakes after mistakes and learning from them, hoping to succeed. While for others, they hit a purple patch almost right away. The truth of the matter is, some businesses are easier and more affordable than others. Starting a home inspection company, for instance, is one such business. As the real estate market continues to grow across Canada, the need for quality home inspectors is also growing.
Of course, every profession requires education and experience. There are specific aptitudes, interests and skills that make one person a better fit than the other. Is becoming a home inspector the right career move for you?
Home inspector training is essential for the occupation and to run a business, regardless of what your background is. In BC, because Consumer Protection BC oversees them, home inspectors must take a minimum of 150 hours of academic training in a Consumer Protection BC-authorized home inspection course. Once the course is completed, there is a designated exam they must pass to obtain a home inspection certificate or licence.
Home inspector training is offered through a variety of post-secondary institutions. Make sure that the home inspection course you are preparing to take is one that is authorized by Consumer Protection BC. You may also want to check if the home inspector training is offered in-class or online to have some flexibility in how you take the course.
Four examination bodies oversee the designated exam and these organizations also offer memberships to home inspectors. However, joining an association is not a requirement to earn a home inspection certificate or licence in BC.
Once the exam is complete, the candidate is expected to complete mandatory practical training of a minimum of 50 hours with an approved home inspector. This on-the-job training isn’t part of the home inspection course and should be arranged separately.
Other requirements for obtaining a home inspector certificate or licence involve getting a peer recommendation letter, and errors and omissions insurance.
Start-up costs vary, but on average, it may be up to $10,000, provided you already have a suitable vehicle – i.e., a truck or a van to carry an extension ladder and other equipment. Some of the things you’ll need include a computer, a camera, a clipboard and a tablet, folders/binders to give clients their reports, 28 ft. extension ladder, an adjustable ladder, a step ladder, a flashlight, a moisture meter, a tape measure, a drill and/or screwdriver with multiple bits, a tool bag, a level, a utility knife, a putty knife, an awl, long nose pliers, a drop cloth (to prevent any messes from going into attics or other spaces), a respirator for attics and crawl spaces, a telescoping adjustable mirror, a thermometer, safety goggles, a long sleeve shirt or a jacket (when in an insulated attic), boots (for exterior inspections), electrical gloves, an aluminum tape, voltage testers, outlet testers, a water pressure gauge and a gas detection solution. There may be some other things as well.
As you grow and expand your business, you’ll want to add additional tools to make your job easier and make you more valuable to your clients. This would include a combustible gas detector, infrared camera, non-contact moisture meter and other tools.
The best part is that the up-front investment required to start your own home inspection company isn’t a lot. There will be some additional costs and fees associated with arranging business licences, bank accounts, registering business names and other administrative needs. Still, for the business operation side, the set-up is surprisingly minimal.
Home inspectors are in demand, but people want to work with someone they know and trust. When you are new to the business, you will want to network with others in the industry (realtors, renovation contractors, bankers, etc.) to build up a base of people who will recommend you to home buyers in need of a home inspector. People are always buying and selling homes, so the market for home inspectors is both stable and growing.
Before you offer your services to anyone, develop the framework for the report you will give them. By having a pre-made template, you will achieve two things: a checklist of things to do so you don’t miss anything, and efficiency in creating the report as you will only be filling in blanks and checking boxes off before emailing the report and/or printing it off. Consider purchasing home inspection software as it can be a huge time-saver when it comes to creating a customized report.
Pick the brain of mentors and others in the field to find out what they learned in their first year. This is where joining an association maybe be useful (even though it’s not mandatory). Where else, but amidst a group of licensed home inspectors, can you find such a diverse range of knowledge? It’s a wonderful way to both show appreciation to those who have been in the business for years and learn a few tips.
Becoming a home inspector is a great, affordable business option for people who have the right skills and aptitude. Use the tips and information above to start your own home inspection business and become the entrepreneur you’ve always wanted to be.