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We met up with Ray Toscani, Ashton instructor and owner of 1st Choice Inspection, to discuss who should get into the Home Inspection industry, how, and what benefits it could provide.
Ray Toscani is an expert in residential construction and evaluation, and a Home Inspection instructor at Ashton College. Having received an Architectural degree and a Masters in Urban Planning, Ray worked for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for ten years in Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver. Ray has had his own business, 1st Choice Inspection, for almost eleven years. He specializes in residential and commercial inspections, as well as mold and air quality testing.
Anyone can be successful in the Home Inspection industry. The key is to have an interest in construction or trades, and in helping people make decisions that will benefit them.
It does help to have a background in construction and trades. Firstly, you can bring your previous experience to the industry. For instance, if you are a plumber, you obviously have a great working knowledge of the plumbing component; if you worked in the electrical field, the electrical component will come naturally to you. This definitely gives you a head start.
“It does help to have a background in construction and trades…you can bring your previous experience to the industry.”
Secondly, people working in trades have a greater familiarity with construction in general. They have basic knowledge in different construction areas and a greater understanding of how things work. If you’re coming from outside the industry, it can take a little more work to understand what you have to do and what to look for.
One word of caution though: to be a good home inspector, you really need to be a generalist and have a broad view of all the systems and how they work. Coming from the construction industry, you may start thinking that they already know everything about construction, when in reality, you probably only have significant knowledge in one specific area. It is important to keep an open mind and embrace every learning opportunity you get.
It is relatively easy to start your own practice. It does, however, require you to do an educational component, to do a significant amount of on-site training and practice, and to obtain the full licence.
To meet the educational component, one has to fulfill an average of 150 hours of in-class practice that will prepare you for writing seven 1-hour exams. This is where Ashton College programs come in: the Home Inspection courses are divided into seven components, preparing the students for their seven exams and helping them meet their educational requirements.
For the practice component, it is necessary to do three peer-review home inspections for 3 different licensed inspectors, which can be done upon fulfilling 150 hours of on-site training with a licensed inspector. Doing this will give the candidate an associate status, which will lead to a full certification after the candidate fulfills 250 individual home inspections.
It is a lengthy process: on average, it takes about one year to get licensed. It depends, of course, on how eager you are and how hard you work – it is possible to do it in a few months, and I’ve seen people achieve that.
This industry gives you the opportunity to help people, work for yourself, and even branch out and start your own company. It is relatively easy to start your own company in home inspection: there are no real barriers to entry, and it’s relatively low-cost. In fact, 98% of home inspectors work for themselves. There is flexibility in schedule, which is very important, especially if you have a family. Also you have pride of ownership. You can customize your business however you want to. You can make it as big or small as you want to make it; you can operate it the way you want to; you can provide whatever level of customer service and communication with your clients that you decide to provide.
“It is relatively easy to start your own company in home inspection: there are no real barriers to entry, and it’s relatively low-cost.”
Some people think that in home inspection, the whole job is being a good home inspector. Of course, it is an important part of the job, but there are a lot of other different components to it. Running your own business requires a thorough understanding of marketing principles; accounting; communication; use of IT; and all the other things that are important to run a successful business.
In my classes, I try to not only explain the technical side of things (which, of course, is important), but also talk about communication and negotiation skills, customer service, finance, marketing, ways to approach realtors and many other business-related topics. I think it is important to understand what it is like to be in business for yourself as a home inspector.
Ashton College offers ten online home inspection courses designed to provide students with the practical and technical skills and tools to prepare for the series of examinations administered by the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors of BC.