Questions on becoming a Home Inspector

Hello all!

First off, thank you in advance for your time and responses. I have recently decided to try and become a home inspector. I have been reading this forum and have some concerns, I am hoping to get some input. Some background on myself, I am a firefighter in the suburban Chicago-land area and have been for 8 years now. I have been reading that without a background in construction it will be hard to be successful in this line of work. I do not have years of experience in construction, but due to my full time job, I do have a very good grasp on residential and commercial building construction. I also worked with a plumber for 4 years prior to the fire service. I do occasionally roof houses in the summer, and have built a few decks (with a local company). Outside of that, I have a general knowledge of residential systems and how they operate. I do have a desire to learn this trade, but I do not want to get into this and not be a good Home Inspector. I understand that nothing takes the place of experience. My question is, do any of you know anyone who has got into this without the construction background? Can it be done and be done successfully?

Again, thank you in advance.


In my professional opinion perfoming home inspections is a full time job, generally more than a 40 hour week. It’s hard to be successful as a home inspector doing it as a part-time gig .

Thanks for the reply, but just to let you know. My schedule is 24 hours on and 48 hours off. With my shift work I only work 9 days (24 hour shifts) a month. That leaves me with 21 days a month of free time. I have been working a second job roughly 48 hours a week for the last 3 years. That job is coming to and end soon, and I happily will dedicate that time to this new trade. I am not looking to jump into this to make a quick buck without knowing what I am doing.

A part of inspecting is inspecting for fire safety issues, so I’d think you’d have that down.

Learning the trade isn’t the hard part, IMHO. There are plenty of class and training opportunities if you apply yourself.

Getting a business off the ground and going to the hard part. A large percentage of people who want to becomes home inspectors never get enough business to make it worth their time, regardless of their background.

Sounds like you have the foundation. As others said there are courses you can take for the rest. The toughest part for you is trying to do it part time. There is a firefighter here in my area that has a very good inspection company but he has additional inspectors to fill in when he is not available. You get your business by being available. Not sure what your fire schedule is like but be aware Realtors will move on in a heartbeat if you’re not available.

The basic answer is yes, one can become a good home inspector without a construction background but you have some, so that’s helpful.

Nobody entering this profession knows it all, even if some think they do.
The best inspectors are constantly learning, not just how to be a better inspector but also how to be a better business person which is crucial.

As others have mentioned it would be difficult to do this and stay in your current field.

If you want to do it then prepare, prepare, prepare.
Learn all you can and then learn some more.
Go on inspections with established inspectors even if you have to pay them.
Get your financial house in order, as you should expect to have little business at first.
Remember that most small businesses fail within the first year and don’t think you’re exempt from that.

I did not have a construction background and I have been in business now for about 15 years.

I think you are in a good position to perform inspections with the 24 hours on, 48 off as a firefighter. Thank you for your dedication and helping others!! My 16 year old is a Junior firefighter and taking the required medical courses at the Carrier Center. He loves it. I am going in on parent day (Tuesday) so they can work on me and show me what they are doing. I think I am going to get wrapped up and placed on a stretcher.

Just be persistent and consistent with what you do as a inspector and expect some setbacks. I would be glad to help you if I can!!

I have a friend who is a full time firefighter. He does dryer vent cleaning on the side. Stays very busy. So, perhaps a smaller side-line until you get more experienced, and get used to a schedule. Most agents like full-time inspectors for easier time of convenience scheduling.

Thank you for the replies and honest opinions. I got hooked up with a local inspector and will be tagging along on a handful of inspections over the next few weeks. After that I am planning on starting the pre licensing class. Any recommendations on places in the Chicago-land area?

David, that’s great! Tell your son that it is a great and rewarding profession. Something I wish someone would have told me when I was younger, tell him to get his education (AAS or BS in Fire Science) after high school. After that find a fire academy and a paramedic program to get into. It will open up many doors for his further. Enjoy parents night! Don’t let them drop you!

You have an open invitation to come to a chapter meeting on me, you can meet with other local inspector, and I will answer any questions you have.
If you have basic construction skills it is a plus, the pre-licensing course will get you the additional skills and information you will need to past the state test.
Our next meeting is Feb 16th at 6:30 pm
Best Western
4400 frontage rd
Hillside IL
send me a message of you have any further questions.

It is always nice to see a fellow inspector offer help.
Jeff you rock!
Tim take him up on his selfless offer & join INachi!

In Kansas City I know of about 7 full time / part time home inspectors whose other job is being a fire fighter. 24 on / 48 off.

Several of them have been part time home inspectors for over 15 yrs. Works well.

Jeff, thank you so much for the gracious invite. It is truly appreciated! Unfortunately I am on shift that day (24hrs) at the firehouse. I really wish I could make it. Unfortunately the forum does not allow me to PM you.

If you have the desire to learn you can do whatever you want. That’s the truth. I do like the idea of tagging a long with a Home Inspector. Do that as long as you can and sign up to become a Internachi member if you’re serious. Good luck.

Hi Tim,

My husband, a retired firefighter, and I owned and operated a multi-inspector firm. All of our inspectors were firefighters. It was very successful.

If you’re going to do home inspections, I would recommend connecting with an established firm in the Chicago area instead of operating your own business. That way, you won’t have to worry about answering the phones and the other fun tasks of operating your gig.

Feel free to reach out to me if I can offer any assistance and advice.

And, from the wife of a firefighter - THANK YOU! Firefighters are awesome!

Faith Greenwell

Contact Chuck Bellfontaine, he is a Chicago area firefighter who operates a home inspector training school and can lead you in the right direction.