Using engineering principles and construction knowledge, home inspectors examine previously owned homes for defects for buyers, and examine new builds for code compliance. Getting into this field requires knowledge of electrical systems, building codes and testing equipment. Thirty-five states require home inspectors to be licensed or certified.
Checking for Defects
For buyers, real estate agents, and other interested parties, home inspectors inspect townhouses, homes, condos and other dwellings to ensure that the home doesn't have unlisted defects or undisclosed problems that buyers aren't aware of, and is in compliance with codes. Homeowners may also hire you to inspect homes prior to putting them on the market. You work alone during normal business hours. You may work out of a home-inspection company or freelance.
Inspecting, Suggesting Improvements and Reviewing Plans
The duties of a home inspector vary based on the type of home. With a previously owned home, you inspect the exterior and interior, including attached buildings, plumbing, HVAC systems, electrical system, attic and roof. You suggest possible improvements or problems within the dwelling and discuss potential code violations. In a new home, you review plans ensuring they meet building codes and local ordinances, inspect plumbing and electrical for code violations and issue violation notices. Return visits to re-inspect homes are necessary in some cases. Other job duties include keeping daily logs, writing up reports and taking photographs.
A thorough knowledge of building materials, methods and tools, as well as construction principles and home repair are a must. Inspectors need a strong understanding of building codes, laws and government regulations. The ability to converse easily with customers is helpful. Home inspectors must understand math, design and mechanical principles. They must be detail-oriented and have the ability to multitask.
Training, Education and Certification
While a formal education isn't necessary to work as a home inspector, you need a high school diploma and one to two years of on-the-job training. Some colleges offer programs in home inspection, architecture and construction, which may give you an edge on the competition. ONet Online notes that 67 percent of workers have some sort of college education. Additionally, 35 states require home inspectors to become certified or licensed by passing an exam, based on the American Society of Home Inspectors or National Association of Home Inspectors exams. The requirements vary by state, but you must meet specific education and experience requirements, and hold liability insurance. For example, to complete the exam, Rhode Island requires you to have completed 100 home inspections as a licensed associate home inspector -- which requires assisting in 50 supervised home inspections with a licensed inspector -- or to have worked as a contractor for five years.