Switching from Architect to Inspector career

Hello Group,
I happened to spend few hours of this night reading through some posts about home inspector career and I am glad I was able to find such great source of info.
I am in late 30. and am a registered architect. I reside in Northern Jersey. I have never worked on my own as architect and don’t think I will ever do due to variety of reasons. I am foreigner and do have an accent, which is limiting my selling abilities. Home/commercial inspections was one of the things I envisioned as something I could do as self employed. I do expect the transition would not be the easiest thing, and I want to prepare myself to make that step next year (if ever).
As an architect I would expect obtaining a home inspector license as something do-able in timely manner, even though I was always involved in large commercial or governmental developments and have poor knowledge about residential and generally wooden structures.
My concerns were salaries, as every start could be painful. I currently make $110-120k with 50-55 hr work weeks, have family of four and wife who just quit the job to take care of kids, as we realized that both full time working parents are potentially dead on many horizons after the tax year end.
(Hence we need a year to be prepared). I would love to get into some FHA programs as advisor/specialist down the road.

What I am looking for is an advise from Professionals like you what to have my eyes open for. Will be adding to that post as time allows.

What is the Survival Rate For Home Inspectors?

Anyone know what the success or failure rate is for home inspectors. There use to be a figure of 3 years flying around. If you made it 3years you had a chance of survival. Have those figures/numbers changed?


I can speak on this subject as I transitioned from a registered architect to a home inspector. I keep my license active because it is a strong selling point, but I don’t push it. As architects, we draw details for years on end, which gives us a strong understanding for how buildings are constructed, and that’s the best thing going for you. However, that only scratches the surface, and you should go through a home inspector training course to fully understand the ins and outs of the new profession.

The biggest challenge you will have is generating business, especially if sales isn’t your strong suit. Anybody who’s started a business will tell you it will be a bit rocky the first few months. 55 hours a week is nothing when you’re a business owner. Your business is always in the back of your mind, and although you’re no longer punching the clock, you’re always working to build the business.

My suggestion would be to get trained, get your business set up, and start developing relationships now while you are still on salary as an architect. Try and squeeze in some inspections on nights and weekends to get the business moving in a forward direction, all without compromising your day job. $120k is a lot of inspections, and it’s not easy to get to that number. You’re also going to spend some money to get set up (training, insurance, tools, etc) and have to put in additional hours on top of the 55/week to get things moving.

The biggest thing I underestimated getting into the business was how hard it is to get in front of realtors and sell to them. Nobody really likes unsolicited sales, but once you get a few, they’re very loyal as long as you do a good job

I’d be glad to answer any more questions you have.

If you’re worried about money, keep your day job.

It takes time to build a business.

And for the 1st year or two, a large chunk of your income is going right back into the business.

The other side of being self employed if you have to sell yourself. Constantly.

Thank you for prompt responses.
I am about to agree on all you say Paul. 50-55hrs/week was rather the real work time without responding emails and phone calls way further beyond that limit. And my career was not always an architect, as after the recession I for few years found myself doing construction management and representing one investor at the site, which gave me some exposure to that other side of drafting board/computer screen of CAD and Revit.
I don’t necessarily have to change carreer, but I everyday think about my own business. Unfortunately it would not be an architect office as I don’t desire the life of the owners of the company I work at. The amount of things you have to control is countless and cash flow requires deep strategies with many things that can go wrong very quickly.

I would sure need a training as there is many things I need to learn.

@ Paul, since it seems like you passed through this kind of transition, are you glad with it after all? What made you to make that step? Will you be able to stick with this career to retirement?

@Ian, I would probably do that. It would have to be part time for now even it is not ideal situation overall.

Thanks in advance!

I was an architect in Nashville working on commercial projects. Although I enjoyed the projects and company I worked for, I hated sitting behind a computer screen for 55 hours a week. We decided to move back to Iowa to be closer to family, so I took a few months before the move to get trained. After we got back, I got the company set up.

I found the transition to be relatively seamless, and I love the profession so far. My wife is the breadwinner, which helped ease the pain of the first few months getting things set up. Barring a recession or unforeseen catastrophe, I would love to stick this out for another 30 years as business has been pretty good.

  1. Money… some inspectors NEVER make it over the $60k mark.

  2. Survival… some inspectors NEVER survive past 1 year, let along 3 years… or 5years!

  3. Retirement… some inspectors fall off roofs, and some die. Making it to retirement is uncertain.

  4. Priorities… some inspectors fail to ever realize the importance of Business training! Doesn’t matter what you think you know, you don’t yet know what you don’t know! Inspecting is actually more about running a business than the short time involved per day inspecting a building. Take a college course on Business!

  5. Location, location, location… is everything!

Good luck!

Thanks again for responding. I am not sitting in the office that much, as I have to get to the city once or twice a week, but I can relate to that sometimes. My goal is to have my own business. While the kids are so little, we probably have to make that step in stages, and I am sure it is easier if there are few incomes at the transition time. Did you have a mentor and you worked under him for certain time?

Thanks! I have no reason **NOT **to believe in all the points. 4 is where I have to make myself better, some business training would not hurt.

IMO, most Inspectors fail in this industry due to a lack of Business sense than Inspection ability.

Good luck to you.

If I was working only 50ish hours per week and making 6 figures, it would be extremely hard for me to justify walking away to start a home inspection business. I know people who work 17 hour days for that kind of money, both construction workers and people with professional degrees/licensure. You know what they say about greener grass…

…it’s full of brown spots from all the turds?? :razz:

I certainly will think a bit longer about that idea before making final decision. Please note that the 6 figures on paper looks a bit different when hits the account, as there is not that much to deduct if you are getting W-2. The paradox is that in our geographic location these number fall in lower range of salaries.

Hi Michael,

I’m currently going through training, working at getting my license and taking every InterNachi course available that I can to learn. I started with purchasing an Amerispec franchise and went through their training. My background is pretty much automotive related and not related to this industry so I wanted as much training as I could get.

I took the NHIE in late March and failed it. I thought I was ready but I wasn’t. I will take it again this upcoming Monday. I’ve read their book, taken courses and have been studying like crazy so hopefully things go well I can move forward with marketing myself, etc.

I was working for a tool company and lost my job in December. Every three or four years I would be sending out dozens of resumes and dealing with change. I was tired of it. Fortunately my wife works and I can focus on training and learning at home to get licensed. It hasn’t been easy but I’m tired of working for others and find this line work very interesting. Good luck!