How to Start (and Grow) a Home Inspection Business in 2022
January 19, 2022
This year is a great time to start a home inspection business because there’s high demand for inspectors as a result of a strong residential real estate market. People are restarting the house hunt after pausing during the pandemic, and others are searching for more space after being stuck living and working in close quarters. As a result, Realtor.com predicts existing home sales will increase 7%, and new-construction sales will rise 9% in 2021.
With home sales increasing, and roughly 80% of all home sales including a home inspection, there’s opportunity to build and grow a home inspection business. It can be a profitable endeavor, with part-time inspectors earning an average of $47,600 a year, full-time inspectors earning up to $97,000, and multi-inspector companies bringing in $500,000 to $3 million a year. But not everyone who trains to become a home inspector will succeed.
Professional home inspector and educator Dan Bowers found 60% of his students either failed to start their business or were no longer in business after completing his home inspector training program. The failure rate was similar for one of the largest training schools in the country. He says the reason for the high failure rate is because many inspectors “aren’t prepared for the harsh reality of building a business from scratch.”
You can be one of the 40% of inspectors who create a successful home inspection business by following these tips to build a strong business foundation and find the right tools to help you scale.
In this article, you’ll learn how to:
- Create a Business Plan
- Choose Your Legal Business Structure
- Obtain Necessary Training and Licensing
- Purchase Liability and Errors and Omissions Insurance
- Get Your Tools
- Build Your Brand to Differentiate Your Business
- Network With Real Estate Agents to Build Your Business
- Get Software to Help You Scale
- Build in Efficiency to Grow From the Start With OptimoRoute
1. Create a Business Plan
A business plan is a written document that helps you define the goals of your inspection business, how you intend to reach them, and how long it will take. While you might think a business plan’s purpose is to attract investors, it’s actually an exercise in being realistic with yourself about what you want to achieve and how you’ll do it.
A good business plan includes an executive summary, overview of your services and pricing, market analysis with competitive research, and marketing and sales strategy. Walking through these sections forces you to think about your business model and your strategy for competing with similar businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides information to help you conduct market research and competitive analysis, learn how to calculate your startup costs, and write your business plan.
2. Choose Your Legal Business Structure
Before you can register your business with the state or apply for licenses and permits, you’ll need to choose your legal business structure.
Your legal business structure will impact operations, taxes, and even your personal liability. U.S. companies have several options for a business structure, each with its own benefits and risks. A few common structures are:
- Sole proprietorship. If you are the only person in your business, or your inspectors will operate as contractors and not employees, this is a simple structure to form. But sole proprietorships aren’t considered separate business entities, so your business assets and liabilities aren’t separate from your personal assets and liabilities.
- Partnership. If you want to start a home inspection company with a partner, you could consider a limited partnership or a limited liability partnership. With a limited partnership, one partner would have unlimited liability and other partners would have limited liability. In a limited liability partnership, all partners have limited liability and won’t be held responsible for the actions of other partners.
- Limited liability company (LLC). An LLC is a sort of hybrid of a partnership and a corporation. LLCs will protect you from personal liability, and your personal assets won’t be at risk if your business faces bankruptcy or a lawsuit. You’ll also avoid paying corporate tax rates, but you’ll be considered self-employed and will need to pay self-employment taxes.
- Corporation. A corporation, also called a C corp, is considered completely separate from its owners. Corporations provide the strongest protections from personal liability, but they cost more to form and require more extensive record keeping.
Consult with an attorney and accountant to help you choose the best business structure.
3. Obtain Necessary Training and Licensing
After you have a solid business plan and a legal structure in place, it’s time to obtain the necessary training and licensing you’ll need to operate your new business. Each state determines whether home inspectors need to be licensed and how much training is required to earn and maintain that license.
The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) has a comprehensive listing of state regulations, as well as training programs to help you meet requirements. For instance, to get your associate home inspection license in Massachusetts, you need to have a high school diploma, train in the field under the direct supervision of a licensed home inspector, and pass the National Home Inspector Examination. A few states, like Colorado, don’t regulate home inspectors. You don’t need a license or certifications to operate in the state.
If you plan to offer your services in more than one state, be sure that you meet each state’s requirements.
4. Purchase Liability and Errors and Omissions Insurance
Home inspectors ensure the safety of a property before a family moves in, and that comes with a lot of responsibility. Dan Bowers says the reason many home inspection businesses fail is because they didn’t get liability insurance early on. He said inspectors “get started on a shoe-string and don’t buy insurance, then six months in they miss a foundation issue, bad roof, etc. and have a $10,000 debt they need to pay off.” This can put them out of business overnight.
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) recommends both general liability and errors and omissions insurance. Don’t forget to check your state’s home inspection business regulations on insurance. Some states, like Alabama, require licensed home inspectors to have liability insurance and errors and omissions coverage.
5. Get Your Tools
According to InterNACHI, home inspectors could conduct inspections that comply with its standards of practice with only an electrical tester and a flashlight. But it recommends additional tools to help inspectors with safety and efficiency. For safety, respirators, gloves, and safety glasses should be part of every inspector’s toolkit. To conduct more thorough and efficient inspections, you should have moisture meters, an infrared camera, a telescoping ladder, and an infrared thermometer.
You can read about all of InterNACHI’s recommended tools here.
6. Build Your Brand to Differentiate Your Business
What’s the difference between you and another home inspector? To a first-time home buyer, the answer may be “not much.” By building your business brand, you’ll tell your potential customer about the values of your business, the type and level of services you offer, and why they should choose you to conduct their home inspection.
Part of building your brand includes creating branded materials to support your marketing efforts. To get started, you’ll need a website to help give your business legitimacy, business cards, and brochures and flyers to give to prospects.
InterNACHI offers members design services for logos, business cards, flyers, and brochures. For your website, you can reach out to a local design company, contact a freelancer, or build it on your own with Wix.
7. Network With Real Estate Agents to Build Your Business
To grow your inspection business, you need a steady stream of customers. How can you find customers just when they need your service? Real estate agents share their list of preferred home inspectors with their clients to help move sales along.
AHIT product manager Chris Chirafisi advises spending a lot of time getting to know local real estate professionals. He says you should “meet with as many Realtors as possible,” hand out up to 10 business cards a day, join Realtor associations, give breakfasts or lunches to real estate offices, and drop by five to 10 open houses each week.
You can also target attorneys who work in real estate and mortgage companies, advises Entrepreneur. Connect with them through social media, send them your company brochure, and offer to give talks about home inspections and your services.
8. Get Software to Help You Scale
Now that you’ve taken care of the basics to help build your home inspection business, it’s time to invest in software solutions that will save time, boost efficiency, and help grow your business.
There are two key software solutions your inspection business needs to scale: home-inspection software and route-optimization software.
Spectora Home-Inspection Software
Spectora is a highly rated home-inspection software that helps you create inspection reports and “gives you personalized advice on how to increase your SEO and online presence to get more agent referrals and customer leads.” Capterra named Spectora a top home-inspection software solution for its ease of use.
With Spectora, you can create modern, easy-to-read reports that will benefit your customers and grow your customer base. The software costs $99 a month, but you can use it for free on five inspections.
OptimoRoute Route Optimization and Scheduling Software
With more customers and home inspections to complete in a day, you need a quick way to schedule inspections, and a tool to plan the most efficient routes to get there. That’s why you need OptimoRoute. With OptimoRoute, you simply upload your inspections and their respective addresses or GPS coordinates, and our software automatically calculates the most efficient routes.
A key part of what you’re selling is time. The more inspections your business completes, the more money you make. The more time your inspectors spend traveling, the fewer inspections they’re doing. Ensuring that your inspectors’ routes are efficient is critical to help you grow.
After fire safety inspection company Telgian started using OptimoRoute, it increased orders to 5,000 inspections a month—a 70% increase—but kept its planning time and resources flat. This led to 19% growth year-over-year over three years.
Here are just a few other things that OptimoRoute can do to level-up your home inspections:
- Dispatch last-minute without hassle and no disruption to the existing routes
- Manage your team by defining limits on working hours, overtime work and breaks
- Increase customer satisfaction by giving them an arrival time window or real-time service updates on the day
- With Proof of Service record what was done on-site or needs to be continued on your next visit
- Plan ahead with schedules up to 5 weeks at a time
Build in Efficiency to Grow From the Start With OptimoRoute
OptimoRoute will help you maximize your inspectors’ time spent with home buyers and real estate agents, and minimize their time on the road. It will save you money on gas and vehicle maintenance, because your vehicles will be driven less.
With more efficient scheduling and routes, you can increase the number of sites your inspectors visit in a day. Building in efficiency from the beginning will stretch your dollars further, result in fewer miscommunications with both inspectors and homeowners, and help you become a successful business faster.
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