Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Home Inspection as a Career

I was recently interviewed by onlinecollege.org and thought I would share the interview with you.   I hope that if you are considering Home Inspection as a Career Choice, you will find the following information helpful.  Sincerely, Sharon Purtill

Sharon Purtill, owns a company with her husband, Tim Purtill, and took the time out of her day to help answer the following questions from her husband's perspective as she personally is not a home inspector. Their company is http://www.canspechomepublishing.com/ and they both are delighted to be able to serve the home inspection industry through their company.

Why did you decide to pursue this career field?
With a background as a licensed electrician and building experience it seemed a good fit. I think those that look at home inspection as a career and have some type of building, construction or related trade as a background do have an advantage over those that come from unrelated backgrounds.

What type of preparation did you do to get into this field?
There are formal courses for home inspectors that vary by province or state. Someone interested in this training should start by contacting their Provincial or State Association for more information on when and where courses are available. Most education will lead to some kind of formal certification or license.

What types of classes and projects did you have to do?

A related background may allow you to write a challenge exam, for example an electrician can usually write a challenge exam and, with a pass, be able to skip the formal electrical training course, which was our case. Mentoring was critical, and no amount of class training can prepare you to be dropped in front of a house and told "Go. Inspect it".

How did your education help you in your career?
If what you mean is, how did my inspection education help, then I say….There are many good inspection courses out there and you can benefit greatly from those that offer real examples of real defects and gain a much greater understanding of the building envelope as a whole. Many courses will also take inspectors into the field which is even more beneficial. The education will also teach inspectors how to properly prepare written reports for clients and ensure that inspectors understand the legal risks involved with the profession. If what you mean, how did my prior education help, then in my case (electrical) the apprenticeship education was invaluable in thoroughly understanding the electrical system and how it relates to the rest of the house.

What was your career path like in this field? 
Very rewarding! We went from working with another inspection company to branching out on our own as a single inspector firm doing 3 inspections in our first week to becoming a multi-inspector firm performing over 1000 inspections a year in a very short time. It really boils down to the amount of work you are prepared to put in and the overall value of the services you can offer. While working for the other inspector firm in the beginning was not very financially rewarding, looking back, the apprenticeship was invaluable.

What types of skills is someone required to have to work in your position?
Unfortunately, in many areas, there is absolutely no formal training required. In some areas, one can decide to become a home inspector and hang out his business shingle the same day. But this is very scary! A home is the largest investment most people will ever make and stepping into a position of advisor without any formal education is only asking for a lawsuit. Having said that, a home inspector absolutely must have a thorough overall understanding of all the systems in a house and how they relate and impact each other. On top of that, an inspector must also have excellent communication skills in order to properly educate the client regarding the condition of the home.

What do you do on a typical work day?
As a property inspector, a typical work day includes always monitoring your phones, or having someone who can do this for you as we believe it is rude to take calls when on an inspection with clients present. You can be doing two to three inspections in a typical day and writing and delivering a full report onsite for each of those inspection clients. At the end of the day, your inspection and client information is usually entered into a client database. You may visit offices of realtors or mortgage brokers while in your travels to drop off marketing material to help promote your business. Of course, home inspectors are generally small business owners, so there is all the administrative upkeep for running the business as well..

Do you plan to advance to another position within your career field? 
At this point we feel we have advanced in that we are no longer doing inspections. We are now a company that services the inspection industry by providing marketing help, business consulting and a wonderful home inspection reporting system called HomeReport, which is now in its 11th edition. We sold the inspection side of our business to one of our senior inspectors following more than a decade performing home and small commercial inspections.

What type of person do you think is best suited for a job in your field?
As much as this is a technical job with technical training, it really is a people job and having a good personality and being able to connect with your clients is a huge part of what makes for a successful home inspector. So, while it's important to have the technical background and training, I think the best inspectors are the ones that can build rapport quickly and easily with their clients and have a good use of language so that they are able to explain things in a way that clients can understand and appreciate.

Do you have any advice for those who are looking to launch a career in your field?
Know going in that it is a tough industry to break into because there are many good established inspectors out there. Problem for the new inspector is that people don't want to work with the new inspector. It would be great if you could befriend a seasoned inspector and get some time training in the field under this inspector prior to going it alone. Working for an established company for a while first might help you get some inspections under your belt before you go it alone. With some experience, it will be easier to convince clients they should hire you. You will need to market yourself aggressively. You should price yourself in line with the experienced inspectors in your area so as not to send up a red flag that you are new, which is often taken as inexperienced, something people don't want when being advised on their largest investment. Be sure to market value, not in price but in the full service that you offer. You need to offer more and be more than the competitor. If a home inspection career is really what you want, don't give up! It is a fun and rewarding career that can have good financial benefits as well.

If you would like information on how to Market Your Inspection Business for Success, please visit our website and check out "Marketing For Success"  
Happy Inspecting!
Sharon Purtill, Canspec Home Publishing


  1. Home Inspections can save you and your building from natural calamities and Hazardous accidents that can harm your life. So while choosing this as a career you must have to take the responsibility...
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  2. The best and only way to review or inspect a home’s condition is to hire a professional home inspector such as – Torrance Certified Home Inspector, Manhattan Beach Certified Home Inspector, and Hermosa Beach Certified Home Inspector.

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  3. Thank you CVGI & Viola for your comments. From a marketing perspective I think your energy and time, would reap you greater rewards posting pitches on your individual companies on a blog frequented by home buyers rather than a blog, such as ours, which is not frequented by home buyers but rather other home inspection companies. Wishing you both continued success with your business and if there is anything I can do to assist you please don't hesitate to contract me. I can be reached at sharon@canspechomepublishing.com. Thank you both for checking out our blog! Sharon, Owner Canspec Home Publishing.

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  5. I think me being a handyman and having done several fix and flips, remodels, etc. as well as owning investment properties has definitely helped me. My grandpa has asked me several questions while on inspections and has been surprised that I knew the answers. When you have gutted out and completely reinstalled major components of a home (bathroom, kitchen, roof, furnace, etc.) it is much easier to know what to look for and how to tell the client why something is not working, in bad condition, etc. That is why I think being a Utah Home Inspection company that knows these things puts me ahead of my competition. Thanks for the article!

  6. Great interview. Thank you for posting -Shane Barker - San Diego Home Inspector

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  9. Recently I've been considering looking into being a building inspector and I'm just wondering if there is much of a difference between that and being a home inspector. It definitely sounds like a rewarding career.

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  15. That's awesome that you found a rewarding career so soon! It sounds like home inspecting was the way to go after getting certification as an electrician. It sounds like you do need some sort of formal training if you want to be good at your career. There are some people that think it's easy and just hop right in without knowing what they're doing. http://taylormadeinspections.com/about

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  17. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. I think that being a home inspector can be quite fulfilling. It's not always easy, but it's something that helps a lot of people. It's just fun to be part of the process when young couples are buying their first homes! There's a certain electricity surrounding the purchase that you can't find anywhere else. http://www.boundbuilders.com.au

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