In our Inspector Spotlight series, we take a closer look at individual inspectors making an impact on the inspection industry.
Preston Sandlin of Home Inspection Carolina wears many hats in the inspection industry. He also wears a lot of pants—crazy pants, that is.
On Instagram and TikTok, Sandlin’s audience knows him as Inspector Crazy Pants. There, he and his team educate and entertain followers about inspection findings, terms, and equipment. Sandlin’s team also uses the platform to create transparency about the inspection process and teach owners about home management—all while donning his unique collection of colorfully patterned pants.
But Sandlin’s career wasn’t always this socially interconnected. Almost 30 years earlier, Sandlin was a former schoolteacher jumpstarting his one-man inspection shop. Limited social interactions combined with long hours on the road—or “windshield time,” as Sandlin calls it—made for an exciting and isolating time in his young career.
We interviewed Sandlin to explore building community and mutual support in an otherwise secluded line of work.
In the mid-1990s, Sandlin taught third-grade students in Charlotte, North Carolina. To make extra money in between school years, he accepted a summer job doing termite inspections and, later, home inspections. Sandlin loved teaching, but he’d grown weary of constantly grading papers.
He needed a change. So, when a company offered him a full-time home inspector position, he jumped on it. Three years later, he started an inspection business of his own.
Although he no longer taught in a classroom, Sandlin remained passionate about education, and he soon found classrooms in unexpected places. For example, one realtor introduced him to HouseCharlotte, a program that helps lower income citizens of the city get out of public housing and buy their first homes. To qualify, eligible participants must take homebuyer classes and receive counseling from agencies the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has approved. Sandlin offered a home maintenance class through this program. Having grown up in a trailer park for most of elementary school himself, Sandlin loves educating clients about homes.
“I taught changing filters, changing smoke detectors, water heaters—all this maintenance stuff. But the cool part of this was I [then] got to do the inspection for them,” he said. “I guess that would be my thing: to try to leave people better than you found them.”
As time passed, Sandlin found more opportunities to teach. He began hosting “lunch and learns” aimed at teaching realtors and first-time homebuyers about topics like radon.
Making Use of Windshield Time
Meanwhile, running a one-man shop introduced a new set of challenges and anxieties. Not only did Sandlin not have coworkers with whom to discuss those stressors; he was also spending more time alone driving to and from inspection appointments. Though socializing with realtors and clients helped, it wasn’t the same as connecting with other home inspectors, Sandlin explained.
“The majority of the time, you’re just in your car, in your truck, going to an inspection [and] doing that inspection,” he said. “I mean, if you own a home inspection business…you’re worried about taxes. You’re worried about if that phone doesn’t ring and you have a slow week. [Or] maybe you missed something. Maybe you didn’t. It’s really nice to talk to other people who have your similar pain points.”
In Sandlin’s experience, you can only listen to the news or the same radio channels for so long—especially when you’re driving for several hours a day. To put a positive spin on those solitary hours on the road, Sandlin used his windshield time to listen to podcasts. His favorites were entrepreneurial in subject matter, covering topics that inspired him and gave him ideas to advance his small business.
To his disappointment, home inspectors had little presence in the podcasting sphere. Sandlin saw an opportunity. If professionals in the agriculture, medicine, automobile, food, and other real estate industries could have their own podcasts, why not home inspectors?
“I love to listen to home inspection stuff while I drive. But there just wasn’t that much stuff out there,” he writes on the podcast’s “About Us” page. “Since there wasn’t a [home inspection podcast yet,] I decided to create one.”
Sandlin launched The Successful Home Inspector Podcast in December 2014. Since then, he’s interviewed home inspectors, industry vendors, and real estate agents to share wisdom and business tips. (We appeared on the podcast to talk about top claims in 2018.) His goal: to create a positive space where inspectors can help other inspectors.
To achieve this, Sandlin tries to replicate one-on-one networking. Inspectors running small businesses may have fewer opportunities to travel for conferences, he says. However, some of his favorite learning moments have come from chatting with inspectors at a conference hall lobby or bar. To utilize listeners’ windshield time, the podcast packages those authentic, one-on-one conversations into a more accessible format for busy home inspectors.
“I know that not everybody can go to conferences and stuff. And I was like, ‘What if I could put the part of [networking] that I like the best and package it and put it in your car?’” Sandlin said. “I could spend that time listening to the news and get depressed, or I could turn something on…that’ll benefit my business. I call it Windshield University.”
In tangent with this approach, Sandlin says he doesn’t discriminate between interviewees. His listeners may not love every guest equally. But, at the end of the day, he sees the podcast as an opportunity for mutual learning and growth. The guest shares something they’ve learned—their successes, their pitfalls, advice, or their story. They can provide their social media or contact information with listeners, too. Sandlin and his listeners, in turn, grow their networks and get tips for running a successful home inspection business. It’s an exchange of value.
“I think we can learn something from everyone,” he said. “Everybody knows something you don’t.”
“Leave it better than you found it,” Sandlin advises.
For new inspectors getting started, Sandlin says mutual support is the key to optimal learning. That’s why he suggests more than finding a mentor. He recommends finding a way to help that mentor, too.
“Find somebody out there who’s been around and who’s successful,” he said. “And you wouldn’t go up to them and be like, ‘Hey man, will you be my mentor?’ You’d have to bring them value, too. Like, ‘Is there any way I could help you? Could I carry your ladder?’ And then develop a friendship. Mentorships—there’s another word for that: friendships.”
In this profession, social media and podcasting offer an engaging space for asking and answering questions. Not all home inspectors are equally encouraging. The good news, Sandlin says, is that these discouraging inspectors make up “a small minority”—even if “they do make a lot of noise” online.
“There’s some really good people out there who are willing to help,” he says.
Lift each other up, Sandlin encourages. In doing so, everyone will leave the industry better than they found it.
To catch up on Sandlin’s content, find him and his collection of crazy pants on Instagram and TikTok @inspectorcrazypants. You can also listen to every episode of The Successful Home Inspector Podcast here.
Have an inspector in mind for our spotlight series? Contact us here to provide us with their information and why they would be a good candidate.
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