It’s not always easy to find out the cost of starting your own home inspection business. Let’s explore in detail so you can make an informed decision.
Home Inspections Are In High Demand
You can build a thriving, high margin business in the essential home inspection industry, and without the headaches of storefront or inventory. 5.34 million existing homes were sold in 2018. More than 85 percent of home buyers get home inspections. Moreover in 2018, 667,000 new homes were built, which require new construction inspections. As such, there’s a growing need for quality home inspectors everywhere:
- Buyers want peace of mind before making the single largest purchase in their lifetime
- Mandatory disclosure laws are driving more pre-listing inspections
- Lenders require home inspections before dispensing funds
Cost of Starting Your Home Inspection Business
As with any business, a home inspection business needs to be properly capitalized. Typically, cost of starting your home inspection business range from $27,000 to $37,000, and can be financed in a variety of ways including credit cards, retirement funds, home equity loans and personal loans. In theory, you could launch your home inspection business for much less if all you do is buy basic equipment and take a cookie-cutter online training class. But that is not going to put you on a path to success. To accelerate growth and build a thriving business, you will need to invest in a robust marketing program and critical infrastructure.
Pro-Tip: You could partner with a proven franchise system to help you launch your business with a lot less effort and lot more surety. Or you could try on your own by hiring several vendors and hold them accountable, which is typically not feasible. Start-up costs can vary among home inspection franchises. Pick the franchise partner that can keep your startup cost extremely low while providing comprehensive support for training, marketing, legal, compliance, and other matters.
The field equipment for home inspection includes the following, along with approximate costs which can vary based on a number of factors:
Tools and Equipment
- Tool vest ($60-$100)
- High-traction roof boots ($80)
- Telescoping ladder ($170)
- Articulating ladder ($300)
- Electrical gloves ($170)
- Full-face or half-face respirator ($20-$70)
Many other items cost about $5-$50 each. Safety glasses, compass, flashlight, flexible flashlight, basic electrical tester, smoke pen and telescoping mirror are some examples. You’ll also want an assortment of hand tools including screwdrivers and pliers. Some home inspectors attach a wireless camera to a telescoping pole called a spectroscope. This helps with roof and chimney inspections.
- High-resolution digital camera ($300 and up)
- Smartphone with good camera ($200 and up)
- Moisture meter ($350-$500)
- Infrared thermometer (up to $100)
- Infrared (IR) thermal imaging camera ($500 and up)
- AFCI/GFCI electrical tester ($170-$260)
- Carbon monoxide analyzer ($250-$500)
- Continuous radon monitor ($550)
- Sewer Scope Camera ($1,500 and up)
Pro-Tip: Some of the above items are optional, and needed for ancillary services you may want to offer. Before buying optional equipment, make sure you have received proper training and certifications. Also remember: “just because you build they will not come.” Meaning, you will need comprehensive marketing to monetize your training and certifications.
Office Equipment and Systems
Home inspection industry is high margin with no storefront or inventory. You can work from your home office. This keeps the startup cost really low. You will spend substantial time in the field field conducting inspections or meeting clients and agents.
Equipment you’ll need includes laptop computer, tablet computer, colored printer, office supplies, and comfortable chair and table.
Other critical items you’ll need include:
- Report writing system
- Customer management system
- Ordering, scheduling, invoicing and payment processing system
- Telephone line
- Presentation binders
- Book-keeping software
Pro-Tip: Access to the software systems is necessary but not sufficient. You’ll need adequate training and ongoing coaching to minimize mistakes. Do not underestimate the importance of proper training, otherwise you will likely be dealing with unnecessary frustrations, issues, lost revenue, and lack of success, which can become a spiral.
Marketing and Advertising
A sound launch marketing program is critical to success. You will need to invest in social media strategy and digital marketing. A franchisor can do this all for you, or you can evaluate multiple vendors and pick those who will provide you value for your money. Similarly, you will need print marketing collateral. You will also need a website, scheduling system, pricing packages, and integrate your website, scheduling and pricing. You will also need to invest in a reputation management solution. All of this will cost $10,000 to $15,000 if you are going to do this (the right way) on your own. With a franchise, it can typically cost a lot less, while saving you precious time and building your local brand effectively and in a highly tailored manner to reflect your brand and business.
Pro-Tip: Beware of vendors who create cookie-cutter marketing programs that are identical for you and your competitors. The result is ineffective marketing at best, and at worst, turning off for real estate agents and clients who get jaded with identical emails and flyers from multiple home inspectors.
Professional networking is also important to your marketing efforts. Other than the cost of an occasional business lunch, networking with peers and other industry professionals only requires an investment in time.
You’ll need a state business license for tax purposes. FindLaw provides a good overview of licensing, tax ID numbers and related legal matters. Home inspectors often form limited liability corporations (LLCs) to protect their personal assets. You also have the option to consider an S-Corp or in rare occasions, a C-Corp. Any businessperson operating as a sole proprietor is one lawsuit away from devastating financial consequences. An LLC or another entity structure may provide you with legal protections. It is also crucial to have the right insurance.
You will also need agreements that your customers will sign before you provide services. The inspection agreements should reflect your state’s laws as well as pertinent industry regulations. An inspection agreement should also exist for every ancillary service you provide.
Pro-Tip: Trade associations can provide you canned agreements, which may not be a bad start. However, you will need to make sure that your agreement is updated to incorporate changes in state laws over time. Additionally, a canned agreement from a trade association may not have sufficient protection for you, but may do just the most basic that is required to have the agreement in place.
Most states require home inspection businesses to carry appropriate insurance. Finding the right insurance partner is crucial for your long-term protection and peace of mind. A franchise system typically enjoys volume discount on pricing, and the insurance forms are generally custom tailored to make them more effective for you.
Business Liability Insurance – Almost all businesses benefit from business liability insurance. Although uncommon, home inspectors do sometimes cause accidents. A ladder might go through a window. Or, a tool might fall off the roof and hit someone in the head. Also, is important that your truck, car or SUV be properly insured as a business vehicle.
Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance – Home inspectors also need E&O insurance. This is a specialized type of business liability insurance. It covers losses related to mistakes made by home inspectors. For example, a client might sue if an inspection fails to reveal a problem foundation.
Workers Compensation Insurance – Home inspectors themselves face hazards. Falls can cause serious injury. Leg injuries can prevent you from doing your work. States often exempt businesses with a single employee. However, coverage can protect you, particularly if you cannot work for a period of time. State-by-state requirements are noted here.
Training and Certifications
There are no short-cuts to success. You will need extensive, rigorous and ongoing training to succeed in the home inspection industry. Most states require that you become licensed. States that do not currently have licensing are moving in that direction.
Here are the three options for you to consider for training:
- Trade association such as ASHI or InterNACHI.
- Sign-up with one of a number of online training schools.
- Partner with a franchise.
A franchise system includes training as part of their overall support model and fee structure. And franchise training is instructor led, structured, and often tailored to your needs.
An online school will charge you by the cup, and it can get very expensive and frustrating over time. Trade associations have varying pricing and membership models. Moreover, trade associations and online schools offer mostly self-study content, which should be supplemental to an effective training program, rather than being the training program.
Pro-Tip: With a franchise system, you get an ongoing coaching and mentorship model that does not exist with trade associations and online schools, but you can always seek out mentors in the industry to help you in your growth and development. Moreover, a franchise that is vested in your success can offer you additional ongoing training and certifications at no cost to you, and that can save you a lot while helping you stay current and learn new skills that you can utilize to grow your business.
The costs associated with fuel, insurance and repairs are ongoing. Fortunately, these costs are offset to a degree by the business mileage deduction. The IRS allows this deduction when you use your vehicle for business. In 2019, that rate is 58 cents per mile. The deduction is one of the perks of a home inspection business. Virtually every trip out to a home has a legitimate business purpose.
Like any other business, a home inspection business requires you to invest in your success. Do not be misled into believing that the cost of starting a home inspection business is virtually nothing. Some will say you can start a home inspection business with a screw driver, hammer, and a one-time cookie-cutter online training class. However, there are no short-cuts to success. Invest in your future and your family’s future with a sound strategy and a full understanding of what it takes to be successful as the owner of a home inspection business.
A proven franchise can offer you a one-stop solution to help you succeed. You can go the independent route but start with eyes wide open. Otherwise it can be the syndrome of ‘death by a thousand cuts’ when you have to keep dealing with surprises and more costs and more issues and errors if you did not plan the business trajectory upfront.
To learn more about creating your very own thriving home inspection business, feel free to contact WIN Home Inspection. WIN offers the lowest cost franchise with the most exceptional support in home inspection. No wonder, WIN is one of the nation’s fastest growing home inspection franchise, and rated in the Top 100 nationally.
Please call (800) 967-8127 or contact us, and one of our experts will contact you promptly to provide you further information on the cost of starting your own home inspection business, and also answer other questions.