Being a great home inspector is one thing; building a successful home inspection business is another.
You can’t build a strong business without serious home inspection skills, of course. But those skills don’t necessarily lead to a thriving business.
Sometimes, you just need more.
One smart way to boost your business is to offer additional services. These ancillary services can attract additional customers and keep current clients coming back for more. The more chances you have to impress your clients, the more likely they are to refer family, friends and neighbors to you in the future. That can create a snowball effect that keeps your schedule full and your bank account in the black.
So how can you get started? First, you’ll need to decide what extras services to offer. Then, you’ll need to consider how to structure your business to accommodate the extra work.
Here’s what you need to know.
Top ancillary services to add to your home inspection business
As a home inspector, you already recognize so many issues that affect homes — yet many of these issues aren’t technically within your purview as you write your report. One of the easiest ways to expand your business is to consider additional certifications in areas you’re already probably well versed in or which are popular in your area, including the following:
Asbestos was once a hugely popular insulating material, so homes built before the 1980s are prime candidates for having this material in at least part of the house. In addition to insulation applications in attics, walls, and around hot water pipes, asbestos can also be found in textured paint, roofing and exterior cladding shingles, and in vinyl flooring and their backings.
Unfortunately, asbestos significantly increases the risk for lung disease, so it’s important for people to know whether or not it is in their homes in order to have it removed — or to otherwise mitigate the problem by encasing it, if appropriate. Asbestos testing requires sending samples to a lab, and care should be taken to protect yourself and the surroundings from contamination if you offer this additional service.
Indoor air quality testing
The importance of good indoor air quality has become more and more obvious in recent years, in large part due to how “tight” new homes are when it comes to air flow. Today’s homes are highly insulated and carefully air sealed, which is great for efficiency but can cause problems with indoor air pollution. Particulates like pollen, dust and other allergens can become trapped in the home and cause respiratory problems.
Even worse, carbon monoxide leaks can make homes actively dangerous. This colorless, odorless gas is poisonous, and it can leak from furnaces and other combustion heaters in the home. Air quality testing — including CO2 testing — can detect safety issues and lead to important recommendations to improve air quality and avoid a “sick” home for families.
Lead paint inspections
If you’ve inspected even a few older homes, you’ve probably come across the tell-tale signs of lead paint. Yet even if you are confident that lead paint exists, homeowners will still need to confirm what you point out with a complete lead inspection. So why not add this service to your home inspection business, especially if you work in an area with a large stock of antique homes?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers specific training and certification for lead inspectors, and many states have additional requirements. A complete lead inspection involves sending samples to a lab or using an XRF machine to detect lead on surfaces. Training and equipment require an initial investment, but this certification is a logical add-on for many home inspectors.
Like carbon dioxide, radon is also a colorless, odorless, and dangerous gas. While not immediately poisonous, a build-up of radon in a home can lead to health problems over time, as the radioactive gas is linked to lung cancer.
Radon testing is specialized and can take place over many days. The accuracy of results depends on tests being conducted properly, so radon testing services are also in demand — particularly in high-risk regions. The National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP) offers certifications in testing and measurement; individual states may also have their own requirements for inspectors.
WDO (wood destroying organism) inspections
Home inspectors are very familiar with the signs of termite damage, since these insects leave clues as they eat their way through wood and other surfaces in the home. While a really bad infestation will have obvious signs, it takes an expert to uncover the more subtle damage from termites and other wood-destroying organisms — yet this is crucial for homeowners, since catching termites early can save money and heartache.
Licensed wood-destroying organism (WDO) inspectors conduct thorough investigations — often beneath the surface — to find out exactly which type of insects are causing damage. State licensing requirements can vary, but termite damage is so common that this is a smart ancillary service to offer both as an add-on to your regular home inspections and as a separate service for established homeowners.
Out-of-the-box services to consider
In most jurisdictions, home inspectors aren’t allowed to repair homes that they have recently inspected. That’s because it would be a conflict of interest to fix problems you found — ethically, it looks like you have incentive to find issues, even if you would never behave dishonestly.
So what are some other ways to use your skills? Consider these less-common add-ons and extras that are ethically on the up-and-up:
- Chimney Inspections: If you already have a drone, checking out a chimney’s masonry from above will be easy; you can also invest in some specialty tools and cameras to get a look at what’s going on inside to make sure chimneys are safe.
- HVAC Tutorials: How many times have you explained to a novice home buyer how a furnace or water heater works? Your knowledge is highly valued, and new homeowners can definitely use the help. Consider offering classes or consultations for newbies to explain how to maintain their home’s systems.
- Realtor Education: Offering tutorials to local real estate offices is a great way to get your foot in the door, but if there’s demand, you may also consider teaching seminars on useful subjects like construction techniques, cutting edge materials, and more.
- Winterization Inspections: Saving energy is at the top of many people’s minds today, so there’s good demand for basics like air sealing, weatherstripping and adding insulation. You may be able to offer home energy audits instead to help diagnose efficiency issues.
Structuring your business model for extras
Before you dive into a new business model for ancillary services, it’s a good idea to have a plan for adding new services. Some important questions to answer for yourself as you plan:
- What types of training and licensing will you need? Regulations vary by state, so be sure to check into your local ordinances to find out what’s required to perform different types of inspections. Then, make a plan to study up and pass any tests for your certifications.
- How will you offer services? Will you offer extras solely as add-ons to upgrade your regular home inspections, or will you offer them separately?
- How will you price your services? This will depend on your answer above, but you should consider whether you will bundle services into packages, offer discounts for add-ons, or some other pricing model.
- How much do you want to invest in your new services? Do you need to purchase special equipment or budget for licensure and continuing education?
- How many hours of your week will you devote to ancillary services? Be honest with your capacity to take on new work, or you could find yourself overextended and burnt out.
- How will you schedule additional work? Do you need to block off specific days for appointments, or structure appointments in varying lengths? Our online scheduler can help you make sense of it all.
- How will you market your new services? To get people to sign up for your new services, you’ll need to get the word out! There are many ways to market your business to real estate agents and home buyers: social media, your website, direct mailers, and more.
There’s more than one way to build a successful home inspection business, so feel free to add services that are enjoyable or meaningful to you, and skip the rest. You can start slowly, adding extras one at a time until you hit the sweet spot of income that works for you.
Looking for more great ideas to boost your home inspection business? HomeGauge is here for you! Browse our Learning Center for more great tips, or get in touch to learn more about our home inspection software and professional website design to give your business an edge.