Newbie considering buying a HI business-advice please!

Hello everyone,
I have just found this forum and am hoping you can give me the advice I need.
I am currently in the UK and aiming to buy an established business in the US, kind of a “fresh start” thing. This will mean going into a new line of work, and HI is one of the things I have been considering. Now, because of visa restrictions that will be applied to me initially I would be unable to actually carry out the inspections myself, even though I would obviously be capable. Whatever business I enter I will have to have set up so that I can passively manage it. Now I realise this rules out the majority of HI companies for sale as they are one man bands but there is one I have seen which looks good on paper, 3 years good tax returns and reduced in price too (Ft. Myers, FL) and currently has 2 FT and 1 PT inspectors working as well as the owner.
Theoretically I could employ another inspector and do the admin/scheduling myself. Does this sound feasible or would I be diving head first into shark-infested seas:shock: I have been searching all the comments regarding newbie HI’s and found some really useful stuff, I have been bitten in business before by someone I considered a friend so intend to check things out as thoroughly as possible from all angles. I guess one of the major pluses of this industry is I could stay solely in control of the company checkbook and would be employing professional type people capable of working on their own initiative so wouldn’t be having to be breathing down their necks all the time. I have friends doing vacation rental management who spend their entire working day making sure the lead workforce are doing their jobs properly, which is very frustrating for them.
Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance,

Hello Michelle:

I’m not sure how things work in Florida but up here in Canada customers and agents make a connection through personal rapport with the inspector or company owner, not so much with the company or brand.

You may not be able to “passively” manage the operation. I think you may have to get out and market “yourself”

I’ve seen many companies loose business due to a change in management

Hope this helps and good luck;-)


I have seen franchises fail in my area and they had owners who new the area and new the business .
This seems to happen fairly regularly .
I would look back in this BB and the ark hives there are many comments

Roy Cooke

Thanks for your replies, much appreciated.
I think this has maybe highlighted a difference between the British way of business and the N. American, I’ve noticed that it’s normal for HI’s to put their pics on their websites whereas over here biz owners wouldn’t dream of doing that. Also, who does our surveys is dictated by the mortgage lender who will want just the basic report (my last one 3 years ago cost the equivalent of $1200!!) and if you want a fuller one you would just add it on to the basic one rather than choosing your own (and you would be saying goodbye to around $5k in the process).
I totally understand what you are saying about people expecting to be seeing the owner doing the inspection, it was just with that particular biz as an example, it covers 2 counties and employs 3 inspectors so any customer would only ever have a 25% chance of being dealt with by the owner. It could also be that 2 work one county and 2 the other, if you are in the “wrong” county you will have zero chance of seeing the owner. I guess it depends on how the firm markets itself and whether the employees are all long term and well known to customers in their own right.
Food for thought…

Michelle, I cover three counties and with you it would be two inspectors. I will gladly sell you my business for $200,000.00, and even through in some logo work shirts and a couple of web pages. :smiley:
Hopefully you are not going to be a real stickler on the tax return thing as that may pose a problem.:(:wink:

The waters may be a little sharky…:smiley:

$200,000 sounds a bargain to me, where do I sign?:mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

(cue Jaws music…)

Good Luck
Used to live in Zennor, Cornwall is a magnificent place

Send your funds to the Nigierian Minister of Home Inspection Finance.:wink:

Small world, Paul. I’m in Perranporth, not too far up the coast.
You’re right, Cornwall is a beautiful place but this country has totally gone to the dogs, record numbers emigrating every year. I love Vancouver, I used to be airline crew and found myself visiting rather the place a lot, being on standby always meant a little trip to either Seattle or Vancouver!

Ok Brian, the money’s on it’s way…I must say I am very keen for this to be a mutually beneficial and honorable transaction uniting our two esteemed countries in deepest harmony, therefore I am sending you $300,000 as an expression of trust and would like you to expedite the returning to me of the overpayment of $100,000 by pony express. I urge your respectful confidentiality in this transaction.
God bless you and your family,
Michelle NmgobowagoluluCousins.


I think she’s PERFECT for the business!!! :slight_smile: :wink:

Love it the British humor is still the greatest in the world.

Roy Cooke …Canada sorry we are no longer red on the globe

Yeah…kinda ‘spunky’ isn’t she? :smiley:

Hmmm…reminds me of someone else…:wink:

The check is in the mail Old China, My Irish Grandfather would turn in his grave if he knew I doublecrossed a POM.:smiley:

Brian E. Kellymumbo

PS I generally charge a little extra for “Harmonious Transactions” (Happy Endings here), but I like the cut of your Jib and will waive the usual fees.:wink:

I like it…I like it ALOT! :twisted:

Smaller world im from Essex


I know of a couple of very successful multi-inspector companies with a female owner that doesn’t do inspections. One of them NEVER did a single inspection. The owner does the marketing, scheduling, etc. The inspectors inspect. Works well for them.

You can do it!

Hey Carl,
You being from Essex, does that mean you do your inspections in your slip-ons and white socks?:wink: :mrgreen:

Note to those of non-British extraction: Essex is a county near London famous for jokes made about it’s inhabitants. Wide-boy cockney geezers, the lot of 'em lol.

Interesting comments, Erby.
There was a HI biz only just sold in Fort Lauderdale area which appeared to run like that. The husband concentrated on “other biz interests” and the wife simply scheduled the inspectors. It was priced just under the $400k I recall with an OB of $65k.
I think a multi inspector biz would likely be very different to a single operator and would be more likely to be anonymous and known as “XYZ Home Inspections” rather than “Jim Smith (and Team) Inspects Homes 4u”, if you understand where I am coming from; if you took a call from a customer who did ask for the owner by name because they had been dealt with by the owner in the past then I would just explain that nowadays the only inspecting Jim Smith does is the 9th tee LOL and that I had taken over the biz, that I would make sure I sent out our most experienced inspector to do the job for him and that, in view of the fact I really appreciated his loyalty to XYZ Home Inspections I would come along too just so we could say hi and I could put a face to a valued customer. It might be a ton of bs but it plays on people’s vanity and need to feel important, and basically he either takes an inspection from a different inspector of a company he has used before, or is faced with the task of finding another company where he also won’t know the inspector.
Just my thoughts, would be more than happy for someone to tell me I’m talking a load of garbage:D

The comparisons with UK home survey are interesting from pricing perspective. I used to undertake buyers repair estimates, home condition walk through for some of my clients in UK, charged equiv of $400.00 or so for 1-2 hours. no report, no liability, no hassle. For a similar service that I offer here, 3-4 hours, full report, loads of liability I would have to charge $3-$4K in UK.
This puts the Industry in perspective here as Inspecting homes is far far tougher this side of the pond.
The variety of architectural styles, componants is staggerring compared to UK, and even with over 25 years construction behind me I take nothing for granted and keep learning/ seeing new things each day.
The major issues here are the relative ease home owners can have a go at pretty major projects.
The Industry is not Nationally regulated in US or Canada and I can speak for BC there are a lot of undercut merchants about, I have 4-5 price shopping calls each week, which can get worse when things slow up. These guys can’t be competed with if they are not paying their dues, explaining to clients can be a waste of time if they just want a cheapie job, It would be worth researching states from this standpoint as for example in Washington there appear to be 2-3 schools pumping out Inspectors, I did a course down there and out of the 15 or so guys only a couple seemed to still be in business, and one of those was out of state.

As for you buying a business I would say depending on you as a person it could go either way, as the Inspection process is as much a people thing as raw knowledge, but it can afford you great freedom and quality of life.
The major thing is marketing, it’s is the toughest part of my business, there are huge cultural differences from UK I never had to market my construction company but here its major, I am sure you are up to speed!