Things to Consider When Choosing a Job as a Home Inspector Pros and Cons: Part 2

A wooden block balance beam with two smaller blocks, one on the left side with a green plus sign, and one on the right with a red minus sign. Background is light blue. Indicates all the things to consider when choosing a job as a home inspector, both pros and cons.

In 2021 and 2022, the United States experienced the Great Resignation, in which more than 50 million Americans quit their jobs due to low pay, lack of advancement, and other frustrations.  

Why the influx of people choosing new career paths? To them, a career is more than a nine-to-five. Nearly 40 percent of Americans say their career is extremely or very important to their identity, reports Pew Research. And 67 percent of college students, graduates, and career coaches say meaningful work is the most important thing to consider when choosing a job. In fact, they’d prioritize it over job stability, high wages, and work-life balance, assistant sociology professor Erin Cech wrote. Americans are searching for better career opportunities, and inspecting homes may be one of them.

In last month’s article, we explored four sets of cons and pros of choosing a new inspection career:

  • Inspecting isn’t remote. But hours are flexible.
  • Your career’s success depends on the real estate market. This means you get to see cool homes.
  • The industry can be competitive. However, this comes with home inspectors’ job opportunities for learning and growth, which are tremendous.
  • Inspecting is physically demanding. But every day is full of fresh and exciting possibilities.

In this second part of our pros and cons series, we’ll weigh four more things to consider when choosing a job as a new home inspector.

Choosing an Inspection Career: More Pros and Cons

Con 5: You carry all the management responsibility.

When running your own business, inspections make the money. But you can’t inspect without doing all the other operational tasks, too.

A home inspector’s job description is not an easy one. You need to market your company through a website, advertisements, and relationships. You’re figuring out your price point, buying the equipment and tools, and balancing your books. You’re also the one selling your services, interacting with customers, handling complaints, and meeting home inspectors’ education requirements for continuing education. Plus, when you work for yourself, there’s no one to blame but yourself if those things don’t get done.

Getting consistent business takes time, too. You’re going to put in a lot of hours before you see steady results. It’s a crucial thing to consider when choosing the job.

“The hardest part is getting into the field,” said Dirk Houglum of D & P Home Inspection in Florida. “It takes a good five years before you really get into it and people start trusting your name and trusting who you are.”

As a multi-inspector firm owner, Thomas Wells of Home Sweet Home Inspection Services, LLC in Florida feels additional pressure. He isn’t just managing the business for himself; his employees also rely on him. Wells takes his responsibility very seriously, which is why he hasn’t taken a vacation without his phone in more than 10 years.

“When you own your own business, particularly an inspection business, it’s 24/7,” Wells said. “We are so dependent on repeat business to real estate agents and our customers that, if we suddenly say, ‘Okay, we’re going to take a vacation. We’re just going to send our phone to voicemail for a week.’ We’re going to probably not have any business when we get back because … if we’re not available, they’re going to go someplace else.”

Pro: Many get to be their own boss.
Man in collared white shirt standing with arms folded and looking away from the camera.

Two popular questions among people researching the profession are: Who do home inspectors work for? Do home inspectors work for themselves? 

If you’re the type of person who would get satisfaction from answering, “Me! I work for myself,” inspecting as a sole proprietor or inspection firm owner may be a good fit for you.

According to a GoodHire survey of 3,000 full-time working professionals, 30 percent of American workers don’t enjoy working for their managers. In the real estate industry, that number jumps to 55 percent. Managers who overbear, micromanage, or expect you to work outside business hours can cause employee frustration, the same study reports. But if you’re your own boss, you can avoid the pitfalls of having a bad manager. It’s an exciting thing to consider when choosing a job or career like this.

Some home inspectors enjoy the responsibility of being their own boss, like Chris Chirafisi of Dwell MKE in Wisconsin. According to his article for American Home Inspector Training (AHIT), being culpable can be motivating.

“If my business succeeds, it’s because of me. If it fails, it’s because of me. I’m the only one accountable for my business, and I prefer it that way,” Chirafisi wrote. “This is a great field if you’re a self-starter who truly wants to work and grow your business all on your own terms.”

 Luis Chávez of Top Inspectors in Texas enjoys calling shots that align with his values.

“Any rules, any expectations that you establish—it’s things that align with your values. So you’re not having to do something that you don’t agree with or follow anyone else’s rules or way of doing things,” Chávez said.

Con 6: You’re financially responsible.

As an inspection company owner, part of a home inspector’s job description is that you’re not only responsible for operating your business. You’re responsible for funding your business, too.

“When your vehicle breaks, you’re the one who has to take care of it. You can’t blame somebody else,” Houglum said.

Managing your finances can be particularly stressful when income is irregular due to seasonality and fluctuating demand.

“You’re not just getting a standard paycheck. One week, you may do very well, and the next week, you may not do anything at all. So, you’ve got to learn how to manage your money,” Wells said.

This financial planning is one of those integral things to consider when choosing a job in the inspection field. Houglum’s advice on choosing an inspection career path is to prepare to have adequate savings for slower winter months.

Pro: You don’t have a cap on your earning potential.
Zoomed-in image of $100 American bill, used to indicate home inspector job growth opportunities.

When you work for an employer, you agree to a certain salary. Once your initial salary is set, most workers can expect their pay to increase about three percent annually, reports Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Adam Hayes in an article for Investopedia. If you’re looking to make significantly more than you do at your current company, your options are asking for a raise, changing employers, or setting out on your own.

Chávez chose the latter. After 10 years of teaching, his salary grew just 20 percent. This prompted him to get his professional home inspectors license on the side. Since quitting his teaching job to inspect full time, Chávez earns double what he made as a teacher.

How much do home inspectors make?

Salary estimates for independent home inspectors are all over the map. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction and building inspectors make an average of $64,480 annually. Although that includes part-time inspectors and others like elevator inspectors and plan examiners.

Here at InspectorPro Insurance, we don’t collect salary data, but we do collect revenue. The average gross revenue for InspectorPro insureds in 2023 was $119,390. That means many of the inspectors in our sample made more than the median household income of $74,580. Considering we insure both full and part-time inspectors, as well as sole proprietors and small inspection firms, that average is particularly impressive. 

How much you can make depends on lots of factors, including:

  • Where you live.
  • How much you charge.
  • How often you inspect.
  • How big the houses are that you inspect.
  • Whether you offer ancillary services.

Generally, as a sole proprietor or inspection firm owner, you don’t have a limit to your earning potential. If you can grow your business to make tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit, you get to take home a big portion of that pay. Additionally, you can get paid every time you perform an inspection—not just every other Friday. What you make and how you grow is completely up to you. The range of a home inspector’s career growth remains a huge incentive.

“There really is no ceiling for how much money you can make,” Chávez said. “We can hire inspectors to work under us, or we can stay small.”

Bonus Pro: Startup costs are low.

While many people dream of starting their own businesses, many don’t due to the startup costs. On average, small business owners spend $40,000 setting up their businesses in their first year, reports Shopify. That’s a year’s salary for the average American, reports the U.S. Census Bureau.

But inspection companies aren’t so cost prohibitive. Many home inspectors launch their businesses for less than half—sometimes just a few thousand dollars, writes HomeGauge in their article about startup costs.

Chávez spent about $10,000 launching his inspection business. That number included his licensing, training, insurance, website, and initial marketing. Because he paid a professional marketer to create his logo, website, and marketing materials, Chávez knew his start-up costs were higher than many of his peers’. But he found those initial investments worthwhile.

Now that the business is up and running, Chávez spends an average of $2,500 per month on expenses, including gas for driving and replacements for lost tools. Those costs pale in comparison to what he earns.

Con 7: Real estate agents can be a pain.

Though Wells believes most real estate agents are great, he’s dealt with agents who don’t want what’s best for their shared clients. They want inspectors to inspect less thoroughly or downplay defects in their reports. 

“These real estate agents can be very difficult to deal with, and you have to weed them out,” Wells said. “It’s very frustrating because they are supposed to be working for the buyers.”

While you can develop referral relationships with good agents, you can’t avoid bad agents entirely. After all, your clients can choose their own agents. When you do encounter a bad agent apple, you have to be patient.

Learn about developing positive Realtor and home inspector relationships and what red flags to avoid.

Pro: You get to meet new people.

“If you like people, inspecting homes is a great way to go out and meet people,” Wells said.

It’s true that some agents aren’t ideal to work with. But, generally, if you’re a people-person thinking about choosing this job, it’s a good thing to consider. As a professional home inspector, you’ll find lots of opportunities to get to know people you didn’t know before. And, because so many different types of people buy and sell homes, you’ll engage with different cultures, backgrounds, personalities, and interests. Meeting such a diverse cast of characters on the job makes it entertaining. You may even make new friends along the way. 

Con 8: Clients can be even more difficult.

Here at InspectorPro Insurance, we know better than anyone that inspection clients can be challenging–sometimes more so than real estate agents. Lots of clients come in with bad expectations, like thinking you can see through walls. While you can (and should) temper expectations, clients might complain, anyway. In fact, according to our claims data, more than 60 percent of home inspectors receive one claim during their careers. That fear of litigation for real and meritless allegations can be a source of anxiety when choosing a career as a new inspector.

“You’re always fearful. It’s funny. When the phone rings, sometimes, in the back of your mind, you think, ‘I hope that’s not a problem,’” Wells said.

Houglum asserts that the best way to secure peace of mind and protection against client complaints is with insurance.

“You want to make sure you have your good general liability and E&O insurance paid up,” Houglum said.

As an ASHI member, you qualify for InspectorPro Insurance with the ASHI Advantage, which gives you unparalleled errors and omissions (E&O) and general liability (GL) insurance at a discounted rate. You can also save on equipment and tail coverage. Learn more about the American Society of Home Inspectors here.

Young man and woman with dog sitting in empty room, presumably after moving into a new home.
Pro: Your work has purpose and meaning.

What is the most important thing to consider when choosing a career as a home inspector? More than any other advantage, the professional home inspectors we interviewed for this and other articles love how fulfilling it can be to help inspection clients. When you’re teaching people, helping them save money, and even saving lives, you can’t help but feel accomplished.

“Most people don’t have the budget or time to hire experts for every system and component for their house. But they want to make informed purchasing decisions, and they want their homes to be safe. By providing a general overview, home inspectors provide a lot of value to their clients,” Houglum said. “I love helping people and teaching them everything about a house. I love my job. I absolutely love it.”

Wells agrees. Being a home inspector gives him a sense of purpose, too.

“There’s satisfaction in helping others, particularly the buyers. When you’re doing an inspection, you actually find some pretty critical things that the buyer was not aware of,” Wells said. “You come home at the end of the day and you know that you helped somebody. You know that you discovered something. You feel good about that, a sense of pride in that.”

Resources and Other Things to Consider When Choosing a Job as a Home Inspector

While the profession isn’t all sunshine and unicorns, there’s so much to love about being a home inspector. The autonomy, the money, the variety, the growth, and the meaning-making are just some of the myriad reasons inspectors love what they do.

Think inspecting is the field for you? Consider joining the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) to access resources for new and continuing inspectors. Click here to learn about becoming a member.
Looking for affordable coverage as you begin your inspection career? Fill out a free, no-obligation application here and receive a $250 discount for ASHI members in their first year of inspecting.

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