Starting your own home inspection business is exciting, but it can also feel a bit overwhelming. You know you want to be your own boss, and you’re an expert when it comes to homes. Awesome!
So how much do you know about starting and running a business?
You can learn as you go, of course, but it’s also incredibly helpful to have a solid idea of how much money you’ll need to invest. After all, you wouldn’t head to a car dealership without a budget in mind, so why would starting a business be any different?
Before you open up shop, take the time to estimate your costs and decide what you need to invest in now, and what can wait for later. Estimating your startup costs will also help you decide how to finance your business, and whether you can afford to dive in all at once or should slowly build your business as a side gig before you quit your day job.
Licensing and training costs
First, you’ll need to get the proper credentials to operate a home inspection business in your state. Many states require a license, and those licenses are awarded only after you’ve completed a certain number of hours of coursework. Depending on how many hours of training you need, costs will vary. You can expect to pay between $400 and $1,700 for your training.
Depending on your state, you may also have to pass a licensing exam. This may or may not be included in the cost of your training tuition and fees, so research carefully to make sure you know exactly what you get when you sign up for classes. The National Home Inspector Examination costs $225.
Finally, some states charge a fee for the license. Prices vary, this but can cost up to several hundred dollars. Note that these costs may be recurring if you are required to renew your license every few years.
Total costs: $0-$2,000
Tools and equipment
No home inspectors do the job with their bare hands! You need the right tools to do a thorough home inspection. At a bare minimum, you’ll need the following non-negotiable tools:
- Electrical tester: $10-$250
- Flashlight: $10-$80
- Safety glasses: $5-$500
- Work gloves: $10-$280
There are plenty of other useful tools that you may want to invest in as time goes on. Other useful basics include:
- Dust mask/respirator: $5-$100
- Carbon monoxide detector: $75-$150
- Pocket multitool: $10-$170
- Telescoping ladder: $150-$500
- Toolbox/carrier: $15-$300
Total costs: $35-$2,500
Office equipment and supplies
No modern home inspector can do the job without a computer to help you stay in contact with clients, keep your schedule organized, and create thorough reports. You could choose a tablet for portability or a laptop for greater speed and storage capacity. Prepare to spend anywhere between $350 and $2,000 or more, depending on the model.
Though many clients will be happy to accept reports online or via email, it’s still smart to invest in a printer. These can cost anywhere between $70 and $3,000. You’ll also need to budget for ongoing costs for paper and ink.
In addition to the hardware, you’ll also need the right software. You could try to use free apps like Google calendar and docs to track your schedule and write reports, but you’d have to invest significant time and effort to get these general tools to work for your business. Instead, most inspectors find it worthwhile to purchase dedicated home inspection software with report templates that feature auto comments, the ability to add photos and diagrams, and extras that help make real estate agents’ lives easier. Software packages can cost between $2,000 and $5,000, but you can often find good deals by bundling items and/or subscriptions.
Total cost: $2,420-$15,000
Marketing and advertising
Finally, it’s important to leave room in your business budget for marketing costs. In fact, these will often cost more upfront as you begin to build awareness of your business and get the word out about your services.
There are several free options for marketing, including social media, in-person real estate presentations, and good old-fashioned cold-calling. These are time-consuming, though, and most inspectors will find it difficult to drum up enough business relying only on free options.
In today’s world, a business website is practically required. It’s your virtual storefront, and having a professional website helps potential clients find you on the internet. Showing up on their Google searches is critical, so it pays to have a custom website designed with keywords and common search terms that target your audience. You can build your own website starting at $15-$20 per month; professionally designed and managed options cost anywhere between $900 and $4,000. Keep in mind ongoing monthly or annual costs for domain hosting and other services.
You may also wish to supplement your online marketing with physical collateral such as:
- Business cards
- Postcards and other mailers
The costs on these items vary widely and depend on whether you make and print your own or work with a graphic designer, professional printer, and/or a local marketing company.
Total cost: $0-$8,000
The bottom line
So how much does it cost to start your own home inspection business? The grand total can fall anywhere between $2,500 and $25,000 or more.
With real money in play, it pays to plan ahead. Carefully research the costs in your state, and shop around for good deals on tools and equipment. With a solid grasp of the numbers, you’ll be much better prepared to invest in your new business with eyes wide open — and no nasty surprises.
HomeGauge is dedicated to providing home inspectors the tools they need to run a successful business. We offer premium software that makes writing inspection reports a snap — and you’re sure to impress clients with detailed photos and even video to create a thorough record of your inspection. We also offer beautiful, functional websites designed specifically for home inspectors to get your marketing efforts off to a solid start. Get in touch to learn more today.