Are you a fastidious jack-of-all-trades who harbors an obsession with Mike Holmes and an uncanny ability to spot the lone needle in the towering haystack? Do you take building codes seriously, work well under pressure, and have a knack for delivering bad news? If your answer to these questions is a resounding, “Hell, yes,” you may have what it takes to become a skilled home inspector.
If you’d love to dedicate your career to protecting home owners from shoddy workmanship and costly repair bills, working in the field of home inspection may be a perfect fit. Before saying “yeah” or “nay,” here are a few things that you should know about this well-paid, but highly responsible occupation.
Typically, a home inspector is hired by a prospective home buyer to check out the property that they are considering purchasing. The inspector will be called upon to inspect the building’s exterior and interior for any potential problems, including the roof, garage or carport, basement, foundation, and crawlspaces, attic, living areas, and electrical and plumbing systems. These are examined for damage, poor maintenance, and shoddy workmanship, findings are promptly shared with the client, and an official inspection report is delivered as soon as possible–usually within 24 hours.
If you are considering the life of a home inspector, it is important to familiarize yourself with certain aspects of the job first. If you are afraid of heights and dread climbing ladders, you will likely be unable to carry out a inspection of the roof, the chimney, and other “out of reach” features.
Similarly, if you become claustrophobic in tight spaces, you may find yourself dreading the requisite time spent in low attics, crawl spaces, and underneath structures.
A home inspector also has to be prepared to work outside in all temperatures, work independently, and deal with disappointed home buyers, angry sellers, and pushy realtors who try to hurry you through the inspection. You must also prepare yourself for the inevitability that not all homes are squeaky-clean new builds. There will be times when you will encounter unpleasant–and, sometimes, harmful–substances like mold, bat droppings, and asbestos.
If you’d like to watch a few videos that show what a day in the life of a home inspector looks like, you will want to check out the ICA’s Home Inspection Podcasts.
While home inspectors come from a variety of backgrounds, they usually share certain characteristics. One of the most significant traits that you should possess is an eye for detail. As an inspector, you will need to be able to spot small signs of deterioration, attempts to conceal problems, and examine a home’s features from many different construction perspectives.
You will also have to possess both an interest in construction and a strong understanding of how buildings should be built. Ideally, you will also need to understand the other trades that are involved with home-building such as electrical and plumbing.
You must possess excellent people skills as you will need to work with your clients–buyers or sellers. You also need to be able to clearly communicate your findings in both verbal and written format. Plus, as “Is Home Inspection Right for You?” adds, you have to be able to tell someone that their dream home actually requires extensive and expensive repairs and deal with the occasional pushy salesperson.
And, of course, building inspectors must be in good physical shape, able to climb, crawl, and contort themselves in whichever way is required to get the job done.
It is imperative that you receive your high school diploma, but it is also likely that you will need to further your education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many employers look for candidates who have studied engineering or architecture, have an associate’s degree that included courses in home or building inspection, construction technology, and drafting, or a community college course in building inspection technology. It is also helpful to have a background in a trade such as carpentry, plumbing, or electrical.
It is important, however, to keep in mind that the requirements vary depending on what state and jurisdiction you will be working in. Be sure to find out what training, licensure, or certification is required where you live.
If the life of a home inspector sounds like your dream come true, what are you waiting for? Dilapidated domains disguised as pristine palaces are out there waiting for you to unmask them and save dewy-eyed dudes and damsels from future distress.
Are you torn between multiple career paths? “How Do You Choose a Career that’s Right for You” provides some practical steps to help you narrow down your choice.
Kimberley Laws is a regular contributor to HowDoYou.com and the author of two blogs, The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss. A "Jill of all trades," she is a High School English Teacher and Certified Career Counselor with a background in makeup artistry, retail banking, and graphic design. She is also a scrapbooking, PEZ-collecting, car enthusiast who loves travelling and New York City.
Sep 25, 2013 1
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