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Home inspector side job

JonathanLivingston

Hi guys, 

Wondering if anyone here does any side work as a home inspector? I'm looking at going through the license now, in hopes that it could be a small side business to supplement my income working as an architect. 

Any experiences that would be helpful? thoughts? 

 
May 11, 15 4:18 pm
gruen

Well, no. I don't do that. In some states you need the license. In others you need work experience too. Check your state before making the leap. 

May 11, 15 10:26 pm  · 
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JonathanLivingston

My state requires 120hrs of classroom training and 40hrs on the job before you can take the exam. the community college has a qualifying course, the 40hrs on the job will be tuff but I think i can find someone to offer some free work for in exchange for shadowing them on the job. Not sure. Test and content should be easy, since I have worked in residential architecture for 10 plus years. 

May 12, 15 4:28 pm  · 
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shellarchitect

the guy who bought my last house used a local arch. firm as his inspector, so there are some who do that. 

Since he didn't find anything I don't think he did a very good job

May 13, 15 4:20 pm  · 
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Non Sequitur

I've done one home inspection... for a friend prior to a warranty expiration... and they paid-me with dinner.

I did however find a few things but I would not want to do this full-time. Too much emotion dealing with people and residential.

May 13, 15 4:25 pm  · 
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gruen

I think you get paid something like $300-$500 per inspection. An inspection takes half your day maybe. Not bad money if you can do 2 or 3 a day. But it's seasonal and dependent on the market. The agents have their favorite inspectors so might be a bit hard to break into. You'll need to network with real estate agents, loan weenies and real estate lawyers. These people are easy to find at any networking event, so at least you got that going for you. 

Every time I've bought a home I've gotten an inspector even though I knew what I was looking at. The last house it was probably worth it, he taught me a few things about steam boilers. The second to the last house I didn't have time to do a proper inspection myself, I was across the country after doing a quicky walk through, so the inspector was totally worth it. 

I think the successful guys all have software on an ipad or at least a paper form they check off. That way they don't have to type up so much crap each time. But clarity and verbosity are both important. 

Your main job is:

- of course, let the owner know if anything is broken / bad / crap

- but also to find enough things wrong to pay for yourself. IE: give them leverage if they want to back out of the offer or at least ding the seller for the amount they paid you or more. 

May 13, 15 6:11 pm  · 
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Carrera

Have some insight into the home inspection business; it doesn’t pay to be too smart. Was a guy in our area that was good, real good….but the Realtors got together and froze him out, he was killing too many deals. Architects might be too smart for that business, most know too much.

May 13, 15 7:10 pm  · 
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JonathanLivingston

^ha too smart, yeah that could be a problem. 

So here is what I'm thinking. 

It could for the time being be a small side business, a couple a weekend or something to get the process streamlined and efficient. I'm exploring breaking the inspection into two different parts the typical inspection and then something unique that would give me a serious advantage and allow me to charge closer to 1K per inspection. 

First your providing a basic home inspection report, Looking for errors, problems and reasons that a potential buyer could back out, documenting basic systems and providing some boiler plate language on maintenance and upkeep. This is essentially your standard inspection given to all parties for the negotiation of the sale. The goal would be to preform this site visit within 2 hrs and then report within a 3rd hr.

The second half is where things get interesting. Say you provide a second document looking at feasibility for expansion, remodeling and upgrading the property. I do these frequently as a part of my architecture job. Sometimes they turn into nice remodel / residential projects. I also do them for commercial properties, and vacant lots. Basically this would be outlining what the code and my what i have seen on site could potentially support. Not going into the economic viability but simply the physical feasibility. I would expect this to be another 2-3hrs of work, research and writing mostly.

So I could potentially provide a service beyond the typical home inspector that would be very valuable to real estate professional, real estate agents, loan weenies and real estate lawyers as guern put it. To help give people an idea of what they can and cannot do to the house down the road helping to establish a greater value for the potential home buyer potentially helping the real estate professional make the sale. real estate professional, real estate agents, loan weenies and real estate lawyers Suck at looking at the potential for future development.  So lets say the goal is 6hrs of work each @ 1k that's ~ 150 an hr! minus, insurance and other overhead that might be needed. 

Eventually growing this into a small full time company that operates in conjunction with an architectural firm that carries out the design, permitting and construction documentation down the road when the home buyer is ready. 

May 14, 15 12:46 pm  · 
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JonathanLivingston

You could even have a higher end version that would provide as-built floor plans for 2-3k, so the homeowner has everything they need to start planning their future project. and the confidence to make the purchase. 

May 14, 15 1:09 pm  · 
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Carrera

Jonathan - Think the biggest problem Realtors have are buyers with no vision ... if the house isn't 100% perfect... if they see just 2-3 things that don't fit, they walk... that second component of your plan is smart... once you are known, Realtors might contact you on problem houses that you could do some quick sketches on that the Realtor could use to sell, no different than staging services.

May 14, 15 1:34 pm  · 
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JonathanLivingston

^ exactly 

May 14, 15 1:36 pm  · 
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3tk

I think following Carrera's advice is a better option than doing inspections - I've known a few people to be doing addition and renovation sketches (once you get efficient at it, it might be the 3~4 hrs for a couple of quick renderings) for realtors and contractors for relatively decent fees ($2k~$5k) then turning some into real projects.  More common at higher priced real estate, but increasingly common in mid-range too.  You'll be competing with low-end contractors, so be mindful of the 'brand' you market (i.e. HD, Lowes, local kitchen shops, nurseries, etc all provide limited design services).

May 14, 15 3:18 pm  · 
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JonathanLivingston

3tk, I have tried the Sketches/ Quick renderings before and had limited success. Most of the success was with commercial TI spaces that agents were looking to rent. But its a hard sell. Your only selling to the agent as your client. 

The idea of being the building inspector gives you a certain authority, It also fits into the existing real estate transaction model and your client is the purchaser rather then the agent. your product / fee is then given value based on the "fear of making the wrong decision" rather than optimism of this will help sell the space. Granted that raises some serious liability questions but building inspectors seem to get around that fairly well. 

Another point is that most houses at least in my area will have multiple inspections done at each sale. I was just talking to an inspector who did the same inspection on a house for three different potential buyers.

Oh yeah that Copy & Paste Money!

May 14, 15 3:37 pm  · 
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Carrera

^Agree

May 14, 15 3:52 pm  · 
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joseffischer

I did commercial inspections (property condition assessments and property evaluation reports) for big bank clients during acquisition, and for hotel chains (yearly PERs) as well as payment application reviews and field reports monthly during construction.  There are a number of firms who hire out for this work, paying a base salary + commission.  I made way more money doing that work than being an architect.  They hire from the architecture and relevant engineering professions.  They typically pay for inspection certifications as well, such as commercial roofing, water proofing, flashing installation, etc.  It was an ok gig, but you're on the road all the time and there are a lot of times when the issues you find just get covered up after money exchanges hands.

On the home inspection side, no one here in ATL seems to get away with charging more than $400.  Inspectors spend 2-4 hours in the field and then have to write the report.  I'm ballparking that they gross $50/hour?  It just doesn't seem worth it as sidework for me, since I get paid overtime (albeit at $32-ish/hr), always seem to have more than 40 hours of work to do to keep my projects going, and moonlighting is clearly forboden in my HR papers. 

Nov 9, 17 1:34 pm  · 
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greenlander1

Jonathan,

I have a buddy who is an architect and used to do home inspections from time to time for extra cash.  You could make more money by acting as GC for the potential repairs.  If you can get enough referrals for offering a fair price, I bet a lot of potential homeowners would be happy to have things cleaned up as generally the preference is for 100% turn key product.

Nov 10, 17 10:36 am  · 
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russellallen

Hey guys looking at this from both directions, and I own a inspection business. You have some good ideas, but you may run into a conflict of interest with the two business in one plan. You would have to first check with your insurance provider. Home inspectors have to carry E&O insurance which wants you to relinquish all liabilities from the inspector, and put them on the person buying or a reputable contractor. So I would think the two business plan would bring you problems you don't want. Also from personal experience starting up this business, or as it has become...a pain in the ass at times, you will constantly have people, advertisers, instructors, and countless others with a hand out for some cash. Its can be a good business, but as Carrera pointed out, if you do what you are supposed to do, which is look out for your clients you will not work much. Remember all the realtors are worried about is that sale. Its a very ruthless, greedy, business. So you have to try and keep things positive while your there and almost sale the home for them. 

May 11, 21 7:54 am  · 
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