There are no shortcuts to becoming a competent inspector
Q: I'd like to become a home inspector and would like to know the cheapest way to learn how to do this. What do you recommend?
A: If you are serious about learning the complexities of the home inspection profession, the last thing you need is a cheap path for achieving that goal.
A career as a home inspector can provide a comfortable living, but it also involves major financial liability. As a home inspector, you will have enormous responsibility to those who hire you and who trust you to protect their financial interests by discovering all of the observable defects in the properties you inspect. The last thing you need is a cheap way to enter this complex profession.
Instead, look for ways to become a well-informed home inspector, able to provide detailed evaluations of real property and to do so without inviting lawsuits for failure to disclose.
As a home inspector, buyers will depend upon your findings when making major financial decisions. To perform this service effectively, you'll need to be well-informed and thoroughly trained, and this training will require a commitment of considerable time and resources.
To obtain a foundational knowledge of the home inspection profession, you should enroll in a comprehensive training course, offered by a recognized home inspection school, such as Inspection Training Associates or American Home Inspectors Training. Additionally, you should take the building code courses offered at your local community college. Finally, you should obtain candidate membership in a recognized home inspector association such as the American Society of Home Inspectors or an equivalent state association. This will expose you to educational programs designed for the advancement of professional inspectorship. If possible, find an inspection company willing to employ you as an inspector in training.
Nothing of value is cheap. Invest in your own abilities as an upcoming home inspector, and you'll have something of value to offer your customers. To paraphrase a common cliché: "You don't get what you don't pay for."
Q: I'm considering the purchase of a six-unit commercial building and am wondering whether to hire an inspector. What do you recommend?
A: A considerable number of commercial properties are bought without the benefit of a professional inspection. Surprisingly, the same people who would never buy a home without a thorough inspection think nothing of buying a shopping center or office building with no more information than a general impression of its physical appearance. For some unapparent reason, people seem to assume the defects and hazards typically found in residential properties are absent from other types of structures. As a result, buyers of commercial properties often assume ownership of a Pandora's box of undisclosed deficiencies.
As with residential buildings, commercial properties are heir to potential defects involving roofs, foundations, plumbing, electrical wiring, ground drainage, heating and air conditioning systems, fire safety standards and more. Regardless of use, all buildings are prone to defects that warrant professional evaluation prior to purchase. It always pays to know what you are buying before you buy it.
• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at www.housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.
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