A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

On becoming an inspector

So you want to be a rock-n-roll star, well take some time and learn how to play- Oops! I meant an inspection star. I noticed that recently searches on becoming an inspector have led people to my site and blog, so I thought I would give anyone who is interested a summary of what it takes.

Currently the state of Texas has revamped requirements for becoming an inspector, so I really suggest you go to the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) site for all the latest on what you would need, but I can tell you they have become a lot stricter on your educational requirements. Each state is different, so I can only speak for Texas, but look on the info on inspectors page to see where you may need to go obtain an idea about your state’s requirements.

In Texas there are different levels of being an inspector. I will only deal with being a professional real estate inspector, because for the other levels you will need a sponsor. A professional inspector needs a total of 448 hours of educational requirements, which real estate schools and community colleges offer. The education involves the standards of practice and learning about the different areas involved in home construction that you will need to inspect. These courses range in cost between $3000 and $4000. Each year an inspector has to complete sixteen hours of continuing education per year. These are classes going into more detail on a subject and the latest trends and technologies. Most classes are around $200, if you are calculating.

After completing your education, you will need to submit forms to have your education evaluated before you can take the state exam. Along the way you will need to pay the fee. Be sure to pay the fee appropriately. Have a way to check that your fee was excepted. Just be sure to pay the fee. O.K., I am being a little facetious, but the section on fees in the code become a little much. All of the different fees for your application will be around $200. After you have been approved, you can take the exam three times before you have to start paying fees again. You need to get 80% of the questions correct to pass. I was not able to find a state average, but one school told me that 80% of their students pass on the first attempt, but I can tell you that you will need to be prepared. The exam is no walk in the park. The exam is administered by the firm PSI. During this period, you will also be filling out forms for your application. If things go smoothly. you should have the your application and exam go through in a month. Your first license will last for a year. When you renew (by also paying the correct fee), you can have a license for two years. The state now requires E&O Insurance for a $100,000 to obtain a license. This insurance can run you anywhere from $3000 to $8000 per year. Many insurance firms will not offer E&O unless you have been in business for two years.

A basic equipment package for performing inspections is around $1000. Many tools may already be in your tool kit. Inspections are visual, so you do not need the fancy tools till later, if even then. For example, an Accu-level is a big investment, but does not really help in the inspection. I know foundation companies that do not use it for their analysis, but they will use it to give you an idea of where your home is positioned, in case you want to look at this again in the future. You do look impressive when you pull them out in front of a customer though.

You will also have other expenses such as marketing, accountants, lawyers, or other professionals to help you set up. These costs will vary depending on what you do, and who you use, so I cannot give you breakdowns, because I do not know how you will approach it. Generally, you can expect another two to three thousand dollars (at the minimum) in the first year to set up the business.

As for salary, who knows. You will be setting your own price, and your marketing efforts will determine how many jobs that you will have. Currently rates for inspections run anywhere from $200 to $400 as starting prices. A typical low end price will be $225. Unless you have contacts with Realtors, your business will come from buyers who find you somewhere through your marketing efforts. I know one person who made $150,000 in his first year, but he had around $60,000 in expenses, and he was a determined entrepreneur. Another person made only $20,000, and then expenses had to be taken out. Your salary and expenses are down to your own actions.

I hope this answers questions that you may have. I hope the expenses do not sound to grim. Remember most new businesses do not see a profit until the third year, so you have to be prepared for some rough times, before everything goes well. Good Luck.

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