In Pennsylvania, the Residential Real Estate Transfers Law describes a home inspector simply as "an individual who performs a home inspection." Home inspectors conduct inspections of new homes to determine the extent of any defects in the mechanical, electrical or plumbing systems. The law also establishes some regulatory guidelines for home inspectors practicing in Pennsylvania. To become a home inspector in Pennsylvania, you must have a technical mind and, preferably, a background in a construction-related field. On-the-job experience and training are essential to your career development.
Gain experience in a construction-related field, so you can understand how homes are built. Furthermore, a solid understanding of electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems, as well as roofing, is highly recommended. Familiarize yourself with outdated components that are still in use today, as you may come across them during an inspection of an older home.
Earn a degree in engineering, construction management or architecture. Several universities in the northeast, including Northeastern in Boston and New York University in New York, offer inspection-specific courses. Develop exceptional oral and written communication skills, in addition to becoming proficient with computers. Have a firm grasp of real estate and marketing concepts.
Become certified with a national nonprofit professional organization, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), which has members in at least 10 states and requires members to complete at least 100 home inspections in addition to passing an exam. (See Reference 3.) This is in accordance with Pennsylvania law concerning home inspectors. The organization endorses a cross-training approach, with equal emphasis on more formal classroom training and on-site experience. Pass the ASHI Exam to receive your certification. Attend conferences and seminars to stay on top of current industry practices and to network.
Contact inspection firms about possible openings. Research the marketplace and be aware of any emerging trends. Some inspectors are inclined to start their own firms, in which case your marketing skills and networking become vital. Maintain insurance "against errors and omissions in the performance of a home inspection," including general liability coverage. Home inspectors cannot make provisions in their contracts that would waive all liability.
- You can also take classes through the ASHI School.
- Those inspectors who are interested in starting their own inspection company, rather than go to work for someone else, should expect to raise a minimum of $25,000 in capital to get their business off the ground.
Marlon Trotsky was born in St. Paul, Minn. and graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, while minoring in sociology. His work has appeared in various print and online publications, including: "The Trentonian," "San Jose Mercury News" and "Oakland Tribune."