Your routine sets the tone for your entire day. Overbook yourself or neglect to plan ahead, and you end up scrambling to write reports and drive to inspections on time. Alternatively, you could have a smooth routine that keeps your home inspector duties organized and stress-free for days, weeks, and months at a time.
From a lifestyle perspective, a solid routine improves healthy eating, sleeping, relationships, emotions, and stress management, according to Northwestern Medicine. From a risk management perspective, it means less rushing, less multitasking, fewer mistakes, and, therefore, a decreased risk of claims.
Fitting your home inspector duties into a solid routine often happens through trial and error. New inspectors are learning the ropes of the job, the industry, and business ownership.
It helps to tap into others’ successes. To give new and future inspectors an idea of what a home inspection career entails, we explore how two experienced business owners balance responsibilities in this look at a day in the life of a home inspector.
What does a home inspector do?
Being a home inspector comes with lots of responsibilities—some more obvious than others. Under the American Society of Home Inspectors’ (ASHI’s) standards of practice (SOP), you’re evaluating visually observable components, performing ancillary services as the clients request, providing a written report, and adhering to the Code of Ethics.
When asking “What does a home inspector do?,” new inspectors are usually made aware of these duties first. They know they’re inspecting homes and writing reports. It’s the less obvious home inspector duties someone may not anticipate or make time for.
“When you first become an inspector, at least for me, I was so focused on learning the process of doing the inspection, making sure I was doing the inspection correctly and finding all of the deficiencies of the house, I never really gave a lot of thought about the communication—the people skills, the scheduling skills. I wasn’t aware of all these other skills you need,” said Thomas Wells of Home Sweet Home Inspection Services, LLC in Florida.
Examples of Often-Overlooked Home Inspector Duties
Here are some responsibilities new inspectors don’t always immediately consider:
- Communication with buyers, sellers, and realtors—not just before the inspection, but also onsite and after, if they have questions about your report.
- Researching the home in advance.
- Preparing and packing your equipment.
- Keeping yourself and others safe with inclement weather, clients trying to follow you onto roofs, etc.
- Continuing education.
If you’re new or unprepared for these less obvious responsibilities, they could take longer, leaving you rushed if you overplanned your day. Luckily, they’re all skills. They’ll get easier with time, and ultimately you’ll become a better inspector, Wells said.
Whether you’re just now developing these skills or you’ve been in the business for years, experienced inspectors like Wells and Luis Chávez of Top Inspectors in Texas know to leave a time buffer and plan ahead.
How does it all play out? Wells and Chávez offer examples of their typical day in the life of a home inspector.
What does a day in the life of a home inspector look like?
The Day Before
For Wells and his employees, an average day of inspections actually starts the day before. That’s when everyone reviews their calendar and details about the ages, locations, and sizes of their appointed homes. Additionally, many inspectors use the night before to charge and compile any tools they’ll need for ancillary services, like their sewer scope cameras.
The Morning of a Day in the Life of a Home Inspector
Wells and Chávez both start earlier in the day so their teams can finish before dark. At around 8 a.m., their inspectors arrive for the day’s first inspection. Wells’ system ensures pre-inspection agreements are already signed. If a client hasn’t signed, they reschedule.
Upon arriving at the property, Wells’ inspectors introduce themselves to any clients or real estate agents present and remind them of what to expect. Then, they follow a program that walks them through a consistent pattern for every inspection. Doing so keeps them efficient and leaves less room for error, Wells said.
“We use the exact same process each time we do an inspection, right down to which direction we’re going to walk around the house, because we want to have a habit formed. That way you don’t miss anything,” he said. “When you form a habit, it’s almost [like] you don’t even think about it.”
After following their routine, but while they’re still at the house, Wells’ inspectors pause to review the report and verify every box is checked. Next, if a client is present, Wells’ and Chávez‘s teams discuss their findings with the client and answer questions. Lastly, if they have time, Wells’ inspectors will submit the report for final team reviews before driving to the next inspection.
For writing and sending reports, some business owners have a looser deadline of 24 hours after the inspection. Others need more or less time. Home inspector duties like these ultimately come down to experience and personal preference.
Chávez says each inspection will take him about three hours to complete. However, he’ll allow himself about four hours for each one, in case he gets stuck in traffic. This means he schedules his second inspection for no earlier than 12 p.m.
After his morning inspection, Chávez eats a packed lunch or stops somewhere to pick up food on his way to the afternoon inspection. When he gets to any appointment, he texts the agent and the client, informing them he’s arrived. Then Wells’ and Chávez’s teams repeat their inspection routines and return home.
When you ask inspectors why they started their own businesses, they typically report at least one shared incentive: the ability to set their own schedules.
As a father with young children, Chávez enjoys that a two-inspection day leaves room for family, including putting the kids to bed. But, as you can probably imagine, his day doesn’t end there. That’s why “How many hours does a home inspector work?” becomes tricky to answer.
Like many inspection firm owners, Chávez and his wife get back to work in the evening. They use this time to fix, charge, and pack any tools he needs for the next day, Chávez said. They also tackle any non-inspection home inspector duties he and his wife have planned, such as continuing education, training, marketing, and bookkeeping tasks. They can count on this part of their evening routine to tie loose ends, no matter what chaos the day brings.
3 Tips for a Smooth Routine
Your average day in the life of a home inspector might look different, and that’s OK. Everyone should run their inspection business in a way that works best for them. It also takes time to fine-tune your routine into a well-oiled inspection machine.
“It’s important to understand that when you first open up an inspection business, you’ve got a lot of creaking going on. There’s not much oil there at all. It takes a while, and you learn,” Wells said. “You’re constantly trying to think: ‘Is there a way where I can do things better? Not do things quicker—do things better.’”
If your business isn’t quite up and running, or you’re working for a multi-inspector firm, bookmark this article for later. Wells and Chávez share tips to help their fellow inspectors stay organized and low stress.
1. Consider delegating.
Scheduling and time management on top of your regular home inspector duties is not easy—especially as a one-person team. Though not feasible for new business owners on a tight budget, those with more income may consider delegating the scheduling and phone call tasks to another team member.
With Wells as a multi-inspector lead and Chávez as a solo inspector, both include their wives as the designated scheduling person. This means someone’s always on call to build relationships and manage schedules—without the stress of performing an inspection at the same time.
“My wife is…always very well aware to allow [our inspectors] enough time to do their inspections and get to the next inspection if there’s more than one a day,” Wells said.
“My wife runs operations for the company. … So she does all my scheduling,” Chávez shared. “I would highly recommend new inspectors find someone that can run operations. … It’s really hard to do a good inspection while you’re trying to wear both hats…trying to be available for phone calls as well as doing the actual [inspection].”
In addition to scheduling and phone calls, Chávez encourages inspectors to delegate tasks they aren’t as strong at. Marketing and bookkeeping services are some examples he gives.
“Don’t think just because you’re the owner, [you] have to do everything. We have to learn to delegate,” he said. “We have to understand our strengths and our weaknesses.”
When done slowly and wisely, delegation can be an exciting avenue to invest in your growing business and relieve an overwhelming workload, Chávez said.
2. Don’t overschedule yourself.
Every inspector may have a different idea of what “overscheduling” looks like for their business. But everyone can agree that overloading your home inspector duties is a bad idea.
Not only does it lead to rushing. It can also drive you to exhaustion, potentially making you more prone to sickness, accidents, and poor impulse control. As a result, you might open your business to more employee injuries, inspecting and reporting errors, or property damage.
“If you’re at a house for three, four hours, there’s less of a chance for you to make an error, and there’s less of a chance that you miss anything,” Chávez said. “If you’re trying to serve more people, but you’re not charging as much and you’re going fast, it’s a lot more liability.”
Take the “rush” out of rush hour.
To avoid rushing, always set aside extra time for any surprises you might encounter, Wells and Chávez agreed. Additionally, Wells and his team consider how many ancillary services the client paid for, the home’s age, size, build type, and the location—all clues for how much time they’ll need.
“We never know what we’re going to run into. We might run into a new house that has one or two deficiencies, and everything is very smooth. We might run into a house that has 50 deficiencies, and it’s going to take twice as long. You don’t know that going in, [so] we want to make sure we give ourselves plenty of time,” Wells said.
“It helps everyone involved in that transaction if you take your time and you charge correctly. I would encourage new inspectors, instead of trying to fill up your schedule, bring up your prices and give quality inspections,” Chávez said.
Ask yourself, “How many home inspections per day is my limit?” Wells and Chávez, for example, both recommend no more than two per day, which is also the most common answer we’ve seen.
“We’re not all about trying to get as many inspections in a day as we possibly can,” Wells said. “We’re not going to do four inspections in a day. We typically will say two.”
3. Schedule time to slow down.
When fitting your home inspector duties into a routine, you probably set aside time for driving, doing the inspections, and writing reports. Furthermore, it may be tempting to work day and night all week long, with little opportunity for slowing down.
However, seasoned inspectors like Chávez and Wells know running a successful business requires them to slow down occasionally. Counterintuitive as it may seem, scheduling time to slow down and step away from your home inspector duties can make you more productive and organized in the long run.
For example, Chávez and his wife reserve time to review their shared Google Calendar and Chávez’s written to-do list. Additionally, both he and Wells have scheduled boundaries in their weekly routines for family time, quality rest, and work-life balance.
“I think it’s important,” Chávez said. “[Otherwise], you can get sucked into working all the time because there’s always something to do when you’re in a business. My wife and I have the privilege of having an office at our house. One of the boundaries we have set is when I get home, I put my work phone in my office. … [You] take off your inspector hat [and] put on your husband-father hat.”
New inspectors might wonder: Do home inspectors work on weekends? What about nights? This is where every business owner’s boundaries and values come into play.
“We try not to work on the weekends, and we try not to work late into the evenings,” Wells said. “We will never work on a Sunday. … Saturdays, once in a while. … It’s up to my inspectors. I’m not going to take them away from time with their family. And I have never had one of my inspectors say ‘no.’”
Insurance: Peace of Mind on a Busy Day.
A day in the life of a home inspector is not always seamless. That’s why it’s crucial to have an organized routine and solid time management. As long as you aren’t rushing, you can tackle just about any stressors and home inspector duties that come your way.
Still, inspectors can’t anticipate everything. When a client calls to complain, or when a hectic day seems to spin out of control, you should have one resource to lean on for advice and peace of mind.
At InspectorPro, we aim to be that resource. For more than a decade, we’ve provided specialized risk management and claims handling exclusively for home inspectors in the U.S. New inspectors who’ve become ASHI members are eligible for $250 off their first year insured with us. On top of that, you’ll get access to our free pre-claims assistance program, which serves to shut down complaints before they flare up into claims. Whether you’re facing an angry buyer or evaluating your daily risk management, we’re here to serve you.
“The most critical thing for us is to have a good insurance company, one that’s going to back you up, one that has excellent pre-claims [assistance],” Wells said. “We’re doing an inspection for peace of mind for a potential buyer of a house. Insurance [is] peace of mind for us. … Because it’s scary. This is a very litigious world that we’re living in.”
Not insured with InspectorPro? Fill out our online application to get a no-obligation quote.