Home Inspection Education
It's very important to keep educating yourself to stay up to date and knowledgeable. Join home inspection organizations and meet other inspectors. Some home inspection associations have Errors and Omissions insurance offered to their members. Errors and Omissions insurance is not to be used as a safety net. Don't think that you can do bad inspections and not have to worry about paying any losses from lawsuits because you have E and O insurance. The purpose of E and O insurance is only in the event that you accidentally miss something on an inspection. It's also used in the event that you get an unreasonable client who sues you for no-good reason. It only takes a small number of bad and dishonest inspectors that get a few really big lawsuits against them to cancel the E and O insurance program for everyone. ASHI had this problem in the past with a prior insurance company that offered E and O insurance to ASHI members. Due to some really big claims against a few inspectors, the insurance company canceled the program. So don't ruin Errors and Omissions insurance for everyone else. Do good, thorough and honest inspections.
I'll give you a perfect example of what you don't want to do concerning E and O insurance. There was some Bozo in my area who jumped into the home inspection business without knowing anything about it. Anyway, this new home inspector must have figured that he could learn the business overnight. He was telling potential customers, while giving them price quotes over the phone, that they should hire him because he had insurance which guaranteed they wouldn't have to pay for any problems in the house that he missed. These customers would call me and ask me if my company carried E and O insurance. I said yes but then I asked them why. When they told me what this other inspector was telling people, I was amazed at the absurdity and ignorance of this new inspector.
Just because someone has Errors and Omissions insurance doesn't mean that their insurance company is going to send checks out to anyone who wants one! If an inspector or appraiser gets slapped with too many lawsuits, his insurance carrier will drop him like a bad habit. If that happens, then who is going to compensate all of his other clients who had totally useless home inspections or appraisals from this clown for their time and aggravation? Also, who would want to buy a house and then find out later about some major problems that should have been identified during the home inspection or appraisal? If the problems are overwhelming, then you wouldn't want to buy the house anyway, regardless of whether an insurance company was willing to compensate you for damages.
The best insurance policy and client referral potential is to do good, honest and thorough inspections. Each of your inspections should be about two to four hours long. The time will vary depending upon if it's a condo or a house and whether there's a septic and a well system on the property. I did an inspection once on a condominium, and the client told me that he was calling around for price quotes before hiring me. He told me that he actually had several inspectors tell him that their inspection would only take about fifteen to twenty minutes!! I could not believe it when I heard that. I couldn't even check the heating and electrical systems properly in that amount of time, let alone the entire interior and exterior! So don't be a "Walk-Thru" inspector by taking people's money and running. Do yourself and your clients a favor. Spend enough time to check everything out properly at the job site.
Home inspection organizations have annual national seminars. They also have classes and home inspection exams that are very good for keeping you on your toes and up to date. Your local home inspection association probably has monthly meetings with educational speakers and a newsletter that will help to keep you up to date. You can get education credits for taking home inspection classes and by going to the seminars and monthly meetings. Education credits are required for continuing membership in leading home inspection organizations to keep them professional associations of top-notch inspectors.
I highly recommend you take some of the appraisal courses needed to obtain a State appraisers license. They have a class called The Standards Of Professional Practice that they require appraisers to take. This class will really open your eyes to the ethical and honest conduct that's required and expected of anyone in the real estate profession. (Unfortunately, some people who take the course are either asleep or daydreaming when they're in the classroom! This you'll see from the war stories I mention in this book).
I became a State Certified Appraiser, as well as a full member of a leading home inspector organization. That's something you may want to consider. Being a State Certified Appraiser gives you much more credibility in a potential client's eyes. You will have an edge over the competition when a client is calling around for price quotes and comparing the inspection company services in your area. There are very, very, few people that are good home inspectors and appraisers. I mean top-notch home inspectors and State Certified appraisers and not some guy who tells you that he does both but has no extensive training in either.
Read books and talk to local builders, contractors and building department inspectors to keep informed and educate your mind. There are constantly new technologies being applied to housing construction that you need to keep on top of.
Take some knowledgeable local contractors out to lunch occasionally. This will enable you to find out about the new trends and technologies being used in new housing construction and operating systems. You may even be able to deduct it as a business expense! You'll be amazed at what you can learn from a contractor who specializes in a particular field. There are times when I come across something new that I haven't seen before during an inspection. When this happens, I'll call a contractor who installs or repairs that item and ask questions about it. People love to share their expertise with someone who's interested and willing to listen.
Take continuing education classes at local colleges. You may want to take a local building inspectors licensing course or test. This isn't required but it will give you more credibility and education. BOCA, which stands for the Building Officials and Code Administrators International, has a monthly newsletter if you join their organization. The newsletter may provide some helpful information.