New Home Quality Inspector?

Hi everyone,

I’m brand new to Nachi and this is my first post. I’ve been studying the courses and passing them. I’ve been working as full time professional glassblower for the last 15 years (I’m 43). The market has changed dramatically and it’s time to find a way to make my art a side gig instead of my main income. I became interested in home inspections when a realtor friend of mine suggested it. My background with construction is really just from always being the landlords favorite tenant fixing stuff, helping friends with remodeling, building various glass studios over the years, and working on my own home.

This is a difficult job with so much to learn. I get it, really. There are a million things to learn, and I have a huge uphill battle ahead of me. The guy that did my home inspection made it look easy, but I get it. I am in Pennsylvania so I am currently working leads to get my foot in the door with a multi inspector company to try to get started in the business.

I was looking to see if any firms were officially hiring (seems only Pillar to Post, but is that a buy a franchise thing? more research needed) and came across an interesting job.

“New Home Quality Inspector” for 2m Quality LLC.

I would basically being doing an aesthetic home inspection on new construction homes. A few things are similar but mostly it’s about trim, nail pops, paint, drywall, etc. I’ve cold called my way into a phone interview and I’ve gone over all of their training materials.

I feel the pros are that since it’s part time it would help supplement my income ($75 for about 1hr inspection), and help me get into the industry a bit better than “Are you hiring? I’m a now starving artist…”

I went over the scheduling sheet they sent and the main con seems to be a ton of driving. Right now it’s about 6-7 inspections per inspector and they’re working everyday.

Does anyone have any info on this job? Any thoughts as to if this would be a good way to get started while I keep looking for a mentor?

Thanks for your time.

First the most important thing you need to look at is at $75/Inspection and “a ton of driving” will you even make any money doing it or will the money be consumed by expenses? If you can do 6 inspections a day at that rate, and it does not get consumed by expenses, it can be a good way to at least make some money while learning.

As for the job it can help you understand construction if you do it properly. Obviously you will need to get in and out to make their schedules but learning about aesthetic issues and what causes them can help you understand underlying defects in construction. It can also help you learn to differentiate between aesthetic issues and potential other issues.

Another plus about the job is that you will obviously be in developments under construction. As long as you do not get into trouble doing it you can peruse other homes under construction to easily see the things you are learning about. Also while in the homes you might be able to get questions answered by the trades performing the work. With exceptions tradespeople are generally willing to take a minute or two to answer your questions.

The job can help you with your approach to obtain your PA HI license but is obviously not near everything you will need to know. It can however get your feet wet to see if you even want to pursue your license. You just might wind up being happier with this company than actually pursuing your license.

Good luck and come back to let us know what you find out with this company and how it works out.

Thank you for the reply.

My post was getting long and I wanted to finish so I did not add any data. I did go over the inspectors schedules. I also assume this is slow season as well. I looked at mileage and tried to calculate expenses from where I am located.

Inspector #1. 323.4 miles. 5 days work. About 20hrs. Gross $450, subtract estimated tolls, tax savings (1099 position) gas etc. Net $306

Inspector #2. 211 miles, 3 days (2 double inspections in same townships) say 17hrs work. Gross $525, Net $394

Right now they have these guys doing at least 1 inspection a day and working 4-5 days a week. The inspectors are averaging 6-7 inspections a week.

I think when the season picks up, or if I get a good week like inspector #2 did there is decent money to be made.

I didn’t think about taking a look at other houses under construction, or talking to trades people. This job progressed from a cold call on Friday to a phone interview on Tuesday so I’ve been busy going over the training materials more than anything else.

You’re not quite finished yet on expenses and other costs.

  • Builders have been placing ridiculous requirements on contractors accessing their homes. They have placed high levels of General Liability insurance, Errors & Omissions insurance, commercial vehicle insurance, workers comp, etc. You should ask the contract company if they will be paying for these or placing you under their umbrella policies.
  • No doubt you will be a contract employee but is the company paying the company share of all taxes? If not you will be paying Federal Income tax, the corporate share of federal income tax, Social Security and medicare tax as well as the corporate shares, and then there is the State of PA taxes.
  • What equipment and other resources are you going to be required to bring to the table yourself, i.e. laptop, camera, consumable supplies, etc.

Way to many people do not even look at these various expenses. By the time you’re done that $75/inspection can easily net you $25/inspection. If you can do several on one day and in close proximity to each other then it might be worth picking up a little extra cash to learn.

I already subtracted the usual 20% for tax savings from the gross these guys are getting. I’ve been dealing with self employment taxes for years. I’ve found that for me 20% is a good baseline to meet my State and Federal taxes with deductions for my operating costs. I’ll need to look more into the expenses and deductions part to see what a good savings rate would be.

I wasn’t aware about the different insurances. I’ll add those to my list of questions for tomorrows phone interview. Thank you for that.

The job only seems to require a tablet (on my list to ask) and the ability to connect to wifi in the field. I’m switching from Verizon to Tmobile anyway so data usage won’t be an issue.

The operating costs of this job are something that concerns me. I have a feeling that they’ll want me to drive rather far and be the “new guy”. It’s a debate right now. I have a feeling that they are asking way too much and paying too little in the long run. Although if business picks up during busy season, multiple inspections in close locations would be decent money. The way the schedule works now it’s roughly one inspection a day which tends to bring the per hour rate down to $15-20.

Flexibility is another question that I have for them. I already have an exisiting business. Uber/Lyft may be a better choice in the short term while I study and look for a mentor. Although working in the industry will sound much better to any multi inspector firms looking to bring someone on board.

With this type of work there isn’t typically much flexibility. Builders will call last minute or near last minute to have the work performed and the company will want you out as fast. Finish your inquiries with the company so you know how they function and if it would be worth it. Otherwise quite frankly Uber/Lyft is most likely a lot better option. With Uber/Lyft you can continue it while you work on picking up your own inspection business/clients. If you go to work in a company as an Apprentice you can use Uber/Lyft to supplement it.

Another viewpoint:
Working a ride sharing job will not expose you to the various things you may see in a home, good or bad.

Consider any poor wages as a learning expense, and you may even bump into or network with others while you’re out there working for low wages.


Didn’t pass the phone interview. They’ve expanded into 14 states and really need people with more construction experience. The ad for the job listed “construction experience preferred but not required”, that was the reason I took a chance and called.

Back to working my network and looking for someone looking to possible expand their home inspection business. They did like my attitude and what I had to offer and would’ve snagged me a few years ago when they were starting out.

Thank you for your replies everyone, I appreciate it.

I would say that you should keep looking. When a client hires you for a home inspection, they are not looking for someone to find all of their nail pops. Finding cosmetic issues on new houses will not get you familiar or comfortable with the major defects typically found in an older home.

Yes there is nothing to learn from a scratched light fixture other than sloppy workmanship. However there is something important to be learned from many cosmetic defects and your example of nail pops is one very good example. Many cosmetic issues can be symptoms of much larger issues and understanding that and what causes them is a lesson in construction. I would expect as a claimed contractor you would know that.

Those that fly by cosmetic issues without understanding causes are generally what we call here as Checkbox Chimps. They go into a home, any home old or new, and only look for what is on their checkbox forms whether it is on an electronic device or paper. That type typically has no understanding of how a home is constructed, miss many defects whose only clue is a cosmetic symptom, and are a disservice to consumers.

There is no reason to attack me or try to imagine how I do home inspections. If you have a point to make, you can do so without attacking the person that you disagree with.

Because I am genuinely curious, please tell us how 1-hour cosmetic inspections in new houses will help Wayne learn about the “many defects whose only clue is a cosmetic symptom”?

It is a shame that you take offense at a simple truth that there is something to learn from many what appear to be cosmetic issues. However as a person who claims to have 10 years experience in commercial and residential construction experience in every aspect of construction we can defer to your experience in explaining how there is nothing to learn from what appears to be cosmetic defects. Shall we start with your example and an explanation of the many causes of drywall nail pops in ceilings and walls and how they mean nothing?

Most new home clients expect that cosmetic issues be included.

This is from the sample report on your website for new home construction:

9.5 The door to the master bedroom and the door to the smaller bedroom just to the right at the top of the stairs have cracks near the lockset. This is likely just cosmetic, but may warrant review by the potential buyer.

(2) The cabinet under the sink in the bathroom just to the right at the top of the stairs has a number of cosmetic blemishes that may not be acceptable to the potential buyer

9.4 (1) The cabinet in the bathroom just to the left after you enter the front door has a number of cosmetic blemishes. I advise having a qualified person repair the blemishes.

(4) There are some minor blemishes in the paint in the master bedroom’s closet

(3) There is minor scuffing behind the door for the bedroom to the right at the top of the stairs.

(2) There were a few minor cosmetic blemishes in the walls. There is a single nail pop in the dry wall on the second floor beneath the third window on the left.

9.1 (1) There appears to be missing trim on both sides of the gas fireplace.

I point this out because I agree that it’s important to point out cosmetic issues and actually could be beneficial training for the OP, exposure to some agents and something to put on his resume’.

BTW it was a very realtor friendly sample report.

The positives of the job that I had considered;

-Gives me a start to having a walk through routine. Getting used to an efficient way to run through a house. Putting things into reports etc. The basic operations of home inspections.

-If I was for say focused on plumbing (which is what I’m studying right now), I could also spend a few minutes reinforcing what I’m learning. Even though it wouldn’t be part of the job I could look at the systems and keep the memorization of terms going, and keep familiarizing myself with systems.

-Resume building. “I am currently working with 2M Quality LLC doing New Home Quality inspections and would like to expand into the home inspection industry” sounds much better than “Hey I’m a pro artist who’s looking to change careers because I’m getting squeezed out of the industry.”

To bad it did not work out. All three are very good outlooks on the positives. You can still do the first two by visiting homes under construction before, and shortly after drywall is applied. They are excellent ways to reinforce what you’re learning and learn well beyond what many schools and training systems teach.

If you do visit homes and have someone that is very good with construction to go with you that can help tremendously. You can play a little game called “Find the defects” where you both take 15 minutes to see who can find the most defects. The experienced person can also show you the difference between a minor defect that might cause aesthetic issues later and major defects. This can help you when inspecting a completed home in understanding what might have caused a defect that appears to be aesthetic.

Another good learning tool you can use are all the free sample reports on the WEB. Review the reports closely to verify the issues noted. You will learn a lot that way. Also look at all of the pictures very closely for defects that might not have been reported at all. While reviewing reports you can get a feel for what is good and not so good in writing techniques.

The existing home report has more instance(s) of purely cosmetic issues reported on.

Let’s use the existing home sample report you have. We will stick only with the siding issue(s) listed under the “Exterior” section of the report to see how a cosmetic issue can be learned from. This can be learned by the OP from simple research.

The report identifies the siding as James Hardi siding. The report is for a house in the Portland area (Zip 92730). First some things the OP can learn.

  • By visiting the Hardi site the OP can see that their are two basic models of their HardiPlank Lap Siding the HZ5 and HZ10 models. He can read about both to understand why they have two basic models.
  • By using the Hardi Zone map he can now see that for Zip 92730 the HZ10 is to be used where the Eastern half of the State uses HZ5. Knowing that he can now pull the proper installation documents from the Hardi site. Those documents would include both the installation instructions for HZ10 and also Hardi Tech Note JH17 which discusses fastening requirements.
  • If the OP wants to become even more knowledgeable he will become familiar with the building codes and how to use them. With that information he can now see that Portland, in Multnomah County, is in a Special Wind Region (SPR). An SPR does not have a specific wind speed designation for construction and the OP would learn that the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) must make the determination whether it is a high wind region or not. Using that determination will affect the installation method of the Hardi Siding.

Now we move to just one aspect of the issue reported in that sample report which is the call that the siding was improperly installed by “face nailing” it instead of “blind nailing” it around the majority of the house. This is a very major call since to correct something of this type can be expensive! So what can the OP learn from this?

  • Using the Hardi installation instructions obtained from above he can learn what the difference is between “blind nailing” & “face nailing”. Using other sources he can understand the aesthetic reasons behind blind nailing siding.
  • Using the Hardi installation instructions and Hardi Tech Note JH17 obtained from above he can learn that Hardi recommends blind nailing as the preferred method but fully supports face nailing particularly where required by code for high wind areas.
  • The OP can learn that Hardi does not approve of both blind nailing and face nailing mixed (Double Nailing) unless for specific repair purposes.
  • The OP can then go to the Portland City site here New State Building Codes | News & Events | The City of Portland, Oregon which will provide a link to the Oregon Residential Specialty Code (ORSC) here State of Oregon: Codes and standards - Adopted codes online. The code would then be read that Multnomah County appears to be in a high wind zone with designs to be made up to 120 MPH for wind speeds.
  • Using that and any AHJ specifications the OP can learn that face nailing is appropriate in this case.
  • Also using the Hardi installation instructions the OP can learn that the visible nails in the picture have been improperly over-driven and Hardi requirements for corrections to this have not been performed.

So what appears to be a problem here with face nailing actually appears to be nothing more than an aesthetic issue with the exceptions of the other items noted. This can be a very valuable lesson to the OP in many ways to include researching, the proper installation of Hardi siding, etc., etc.

BTW you might wish to review the entire sample report for additional inaccuracies, omissions, etc. It is better to leave the best first impression possible when offering up samples of a work product.

However let’s go back to the original question from above. As a person who claims to have 10 years experience in commercial and residential construction experience in every aspect of construction we can defer to your experience in explaining how there is nothing to learn from what appears to be cosmetic defects. Shall we start with your example and an explanation of the many causes of drywall nail pops in ceilings and walls and how they mean nothing?

Well I suppose we will not be receiving any valuable insight of the many causes of drywall nail pops in ceilings and walls and how they mean nothing?

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Stepped in it.