Change of career...

Hi everyone,
I hope that, for a first post, what I’m trying to find out is not too broad :slight_smile:

I run a small but quite successful Carpentry business in the UK, but when my family and I relocate to NorthEast Ohio in the springtime, I’m considering a career change.

I’ve been interested in Home Inspection services for a while now, and although I love the finish carpentry work I do currently in England, I feel that if I’m to change professions, my arrival in the States would be a good time to do it. I will be living with the In-laws for a year or so, and I’d be more inclined to work independently rather than as an employee.

This might sound like a Resume, but here goes…

My strengths are:
Strong marketing knowledge, and an understanding of how to run a business;
Excellent communication skills;
Good with my hands;
Practical hands on knowledge of construction and industry standards;
Handle paperwork clinically and methodically.

My questions to you folks, in the know, are;

  1. In what appears to be a saturated market, do the better professionals with investment in knowledge and experience earn a good enough living, or is there too much competition from other certified - and non certified - inspectors to make a healthy income.

  2. With a background such as mine and a significant amount of dedication to study and research, how long would it take for me to become one of those professionals that I mentioned above. Very subjective, I know, but I’d appreciate whatever you can tell me from experience :smiley:

  3. As apposed to a $3000 - $4000 investment in Carpentry tools, what kind of investment would be necessary initially when starting from scratch.

Any advice would be much appreciated, in the meantime I’ll keep searching the archived posts.



Don’t quit your day job!!!

As the post above say do not quit your day job He is not kidding .
you need as well as your experience about three more years of training and about $10,000:00
Unfortunately the average new inspector does not last past three years . Their is about a 90% who do not make it and most of those who do have a pension or a wife with a great job.
Sorry I do not have any reason to not tell it like it is I am in Canada and you would have no effect on my inspections .
If you wish to communicate more please do no hesitate . .

… Cookie

When I notice on this board that every time an inspector member hits a bump in life’s road and the donation hat starts getting passed, I privately wonder how profitable the trade really is. The lack of a business model that would provide for the inspector to receive an income if he is hurt, and what appears to be a generalized lack of personal medical insurance among home inspectors seems troublesome to me.

Just some observations from the casual observer.

Good post I think you are correct .
I think about 10% ~ just might be making a good living.
just look at how long most stay in this Busines and it is Shocking .
… Cookie

First, do as Linas mentions.

Second, research the area your moving to. In other words see how many inspectors are practicing. That might be hard to do, but you can get an estimate. I moved from a small city in TN (pop. of maybe 75,000), to Atlanta, GA (pop. of 5 million). When I lived in TN there were maybe 40 or so inspectors, I moved to Atlanta and there are literally over a 1,000 easily.

Here in Atlanta it’s a very saturated area for inspectors.

Food For Thought -

In 28 years of inspecting, I’ve known guys that left this to do something with a steady paycheck and benefits; I’ve known guys that got hurt OR got sick OR had a stroke, etc and and could not keep doing this line of work; I’ve known guys that simply could no longer make a living doing this - **BUT **- I’ve not met 1 person that did home inspection by itself for 15, 20, 25 years and was then able to retire off his inspection income or inspection investments.

If they did retire from inspecting, they had worked somewhere else and had a retirement plan from the other place OR they had an inheiritance OR their wife had a lucrative job **OR **they had rental property, etc.

My point being, I know lots of us that worked at this and lived off it, BUT I personally don’t know any of us that retired off what we made doing this.

True I turn 72 next month and we could not live the way we do with out doing home Inspections.
… Cookie

Thanks for all the feedback gents.

It seems the consensus is that this is a profession that is pretty closed - very little space for development in such a crowded marketplace. My main reason for considering an alternative to my Carpentry trade is that I need to purchase a significant amount of tools and equipment initially - theres too much to ship over - and my skills and experienced seemed to point to Home Inspection. But if, as you say, you’re looking at an initial investment of $10000 and 3 years schooling - that’s a big commitment.

I didn’t even think about medical insurance. It’s not something I’ve ever had to consider before.

Thanks again for your honesty and advice. Anything else you can add would be much appreciated.


More Info, in North America the electric supply is 60 Cycles and much of your 50 CYCLE equipment will not run well on 60 Cycles .
… Cookie

I didn’t know that…Our mains electricity is 240v here but all my equipment is 110v (I use a transformer) which is US mains voltage (I think). But I still wasn’t sure whether or not it’d work.

That’d be too bad, If I paid thousands to ship it and it didn’t work! :frowning:

Where did you get 110 volt equipment.
Our voltage is 120 so 110 is ok if it does not require 50 cycles.
… Cookie

I have yet to meet an inspector who went to 3 years of school for inspecting and paid $10K in start up costs.

I began inspecting 4 years ago with an investment of $3500 for tools, memberships, insurance, and marketing. A good course (2 weeks the is norm, I think) or a strong construction background is a great start.

Tools will vary and depends on what you can afford (toys are great, but not necessary). My most frequently used tools are the 28’ Little Giant ladder (about $480), flashlights (have used a bunch over the years and the cheap ones work fine, especially since I often lose or drop them), outlet testers (have tried several, but you can get by just fine with a $10 GFCI tester), and an IR digital thermometer (about $75 or so).

I buy 2-4 digital camaras a year (I am tough on them) and like the cheapest Kodak models (about $99), and use HomeGauge inspection software (I forget the start up cost) but am converting to a new system that is mostly my own (OK - its partly mine and a lot of Russel Ray’s, but he is OK with it).

Other costs include insurance (if you need it, or opt for it), incorporation fees (if you incorporate), legal and accounting costs (I find these invaluabel, but others seem to get by without them) and website setup and fees.

After that, the most important thing to have is a good website and a good marketing plan. Planning is key. The reason that so many people fail in business is a lack of adequate planning (the stat of 90% after three years is true in every business, there is nothing inherently harder about breaking into inspecting).

Learn how many homes have sold each year in the target markets you will cover (the local Realtors Association should be of some help with this). Do a search on all the different assocaitions websites (NACHI, ASHI, NAHI) to see how many inspectors are within your coverage range (this is not all of them, but will give you a good idea.)

Call 5-10 of these inspectors posing as a potnetial buyer shopping for an inspection. First, you will learn how may are still in business. Next, tell them you are looking for a quick turnaround and see if they can do it two days from now…or maybe the following day. This will tell you how busy they are. If they can fit you in on little to no notice (and they are not multi-inspector firms) then they are not all that busy. Next, ask prices for a 2000 SF home (or whatever is the typical size where you intend to live). This will tell you how much they make on a typical inspection.

You now know how many homes are sold, divided by number of inspectors, multiplied by the average price per inspection. This should yield a target number for you to reach.

I did not hit that number in year one, but I made dozens of marketing blunders including listening to the advice to set your prices really high as a newbie to send the image that you are not new. After I corrected this blunder and adopted a more aggressive price strategy I did way more than my targeted 250 inspections in Year 2, and hired employees (part timers) in Year 3.

It is not rocket science, and it can be done - even in a competitive market. You just have to have a good plan and execute it. Good luck and Email if I can be of help!

And what % of those who stated the same time as you are in Business Now?

I expect you are the exception rather then average by a long shot.

I see you are not a NACHI member do you belong to any associations if so what one and when did you join.

… Cookie

Please Note: This user is a non-member guest and is in no way affiliated with NACHI.

This is on your web page ??? is this a mistake ?

Roy - used to be an InterNACHI member, but my membership recently expired and I am not sure I will rejoin here for a number of reasons, but none of which need to be discussed on this thread. (not trying to org bash - just give you some background)

I know several inspectors who started when I did and failed. Most of those guys never went full time, and - quite frankly - are not good businesspeople, they likely would have failed in any venture they tried on their own. Some are really knowledgable about construction or trades, some paid for the 2 week courses…but they had no plan, and failed - blaming the number of inspectors, bad market, etc…everything but their own lack of planning and hard work.

I also know quite a few guys who started when I did that survived and are doing quite well.

I haven’t looked at it in qquite some time, but the SBA (Small business Administration) did a study on small business in general that showed a failure rate across the board which is inthe same general ballpark you cite. That tells me that the failure isn’t in inspections - it is everywhere; and the reasons for failing are not industry specific, but in the approach to business in general.

Do people fail? Sure! All the time. But do good planners fail? Not very often, and usually when they do it is because they are all planing and no execution.

I agree with Dan B, that I know of few guys who retired from inspection income alone, but I have rated mine out for the next 1, 3 and 5 years and am planning ahead so that I can do exactly that. It will not be easy, but I have a plan, and I will work to bring it to fruition.

I know of some inspectors (not me) that gross $150,000 or more per year. Unless an inspector has a large family or major debt I fail to see why an inspector of this caliber is not stashing money in an IRA. After expenses that would be about $130,000 gross per year at least. If I was getting paid a salary of $130K (after HI expenses) I personally would not have any problem saving some money.

Yes and can you make a guess as too what fraction of a percentage are doing this well.
I expect they have been doing inspections for many many years.
I would say this pole just gives a small sample of how well Home inspectors are doing .





118.09%10 or more


I expect those who do 10 a lot of these could be draw inspections and pay a lot less?

… Cookie

Sorry Roy,

I messed up my last post. :shock:

I think the retiree cash flow problem for many is by the time you are making good money your knees give out. :frowning:

Hope it all works out I always enjoyed your posts.
… Cookie

Thanks for the catch, Roy! I thought I removed all such logos from my site long before I was no longer a member. I forgot to check at the bottom of the page… Already notified the webmaster to get it off!!!