How to Become a Home Inspector in California: 5 Steps

December 28, 2022 | 
How to become a home inspector in California

Becoming a Home Inspector in California doesn’t require you to jump through multiple hoops like other states do. Although you are not required to have a Home Inspector license in California, you might still be searching for the specific steps within your journey to becoming a successful Home Inspector in the state. While every Inspector’s goals and experiences are different, this article will make it clear how you can become a Home Inspector in 5 recommended steps.

What you should know before becoming a home inspector in California

If you’re wondering how to become a Home Inspector in California, you should be aware of certain laws that affect all California Home Inspectors, in particular the California Trade Practice Act, Chapter 338, which was enacted in 1996.

The California Trade Practice Act, Chapter 338, prohibits Home Inspectors from repairing any properties that they have inspected within the previous 12 months. This law encourages courts to consider the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics of the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA), American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), and other nationally recognized professional home inspection associations when determining whether an inspection meets the required standard of care.

How to become a home inspector in California? A full 5-step guide to getting a California state inspection license

Although California does not require a license to start inspecting, it may be beneficial to obtain a Home Inspector certification or an accreditation from a nationally recognized training school or exam to put yourself on the right path within your new career. Many firms, REPs, and homebuyers will only look for educated and/or certified Home Inspectors to work with, so going the extra mile to obtain these badges will help you stand out to your potential clients.

Step 1 — Grow Your Education

Joining a training school or organization when becoming a Home Inspector can be pivotal to your future success. Just as a home is only as good as its foundation, your education will act as the foundation for your Home Inspector career. There are dozens of reputable training schools to choose from, but we created a list of a few programs that have helped many Home Inspectors, just like yourself:

  • International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)
  • American Home Inspectors Training (AHIT)
  • Inspection Certification Associates (ICA)
  • ATI Training — Home Inspection Institute
  • Professional Home Inspection Institute (PHII)

Pro Tip

There are plenty of education options when it comes to becoming a Home Inspector, including both in-person and online. This can easily become overwhelming, so take your time when researching as many options as you can. Your needs, expectations, and availability are unique to you, and there will never be THE course that can be considered “the best” Home Inspector training course.

Your friends and colleagues’ opinions may have worked well for them, but it may not always work best for you and your goals. Spend plenty of time to thoroughly research your options to make the best decision for YOU.

Step 2 — Register & Pass The National Home Inspector Examination®

The National Home Inspector Examination® is another way to prove yourself as a trusted and educated professional. Passing this exam is also a membership requirement for the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) as well as the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA), both of which are organizations that will help Home Inspectors form relationships throughout the industry and start getting referrals.

Registering for the exam can be done here and there will be over 20 locations for you to choose from. The associated fee when registering is $225.

Pro Tip

When preparing for the exam, it will be helpful to keep in mind that the examination will test three performance domains: Property and Building Inspection/Site Review, Analysis of Findings and Reporting, and Professional Responsibilities. The Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors (EBPHI) also has practice quizzes that can be purchased on the National Home Inspector Examination website here.

Step 3 — Become Educated on California Laws Affecting Home Inspectors

As mentioned earlier, the California Trade Practice Act, Chapter 338, prohibits Home Inspectors from repairing any properties that they have inspected within the previous 12 months. The law encourages the courts to consider the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics of the California Real Estate Inspection Association, American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), and other nationally recognized professional home inspection associations when determining whether an inspection meets the required standard of care.

This law is just one example of the many parameters set in California law that Home Inspectors need to be aware of, and need to take precautionary measure to ensure they are always compliant.

Pro Tip

Doing your due diligence as a Home Inspector can save you from any legal trouble during your career, and will always keep your clients happy. One way to keep up to date with the legal side of home inspecting is networking and being a part of a professional Home Inspection organization, such as CREIA. The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) has an informative webpage that lists California Real Estate Inspection Law; to read more about the laws that might affect you, visit their website here.

Step 4 — Purchase E&O Insurance

If you haven’t heard of E&O insurance yet, it is an essential part of every professional Home Inspector’s business. E&O insurance stands for Errors and Omissions insurance and is sometimes referred to as professional liability insurance. This is important for Home Inspectors to have because it protects your business should a previous client of yours file a claim or lawsuit because you overlooked something that cost them money.

The fact is, we’re all human and we all make mistakes. Because nobody is immune from making mistakes, being prepared is an important step you need to take for yourself and your business.

Pro Tip

Some home inspection software companies, such as HomeGauge, offer discounts on E&O insurance premiums to their Inspectors. If saving money in this area of your business is important to you, research which software companies may have discounts available.

Step 5 — Register Your Business or Join a Firm

Whether you plan on working for yourself or joining an established home inspection firm, working as or for a legally recognized business is a must. If you plan on going on this home inspection venture solo, you’re going to want to register your business with the State of California to form a legal entity. Visiting a trusted lawyer in your area can help if you don’t have any experience, but it also can be done on your own if you have the time and willpower to do all the necessary research and paperwork.

If you plan on joining an established home inspection firm, all the hard legal work has already been done! All you need to do now is market yourself to the firms you’re interested in joining and decide which one is the best for your goals and career path!

Pro Tip

Not sure whether or not to take the leap as an independent Home Inspector, or join an established firm? Ask your fellow Inspectors about their experiences during networking events, on social media, or in whichever educational course you enroll in.

Many experienced Inspectors are more than happy to share their story with you, especially if they have worked as both an independent Inspector and as part of a Multi-Inspector Firm. This insight can help you figure out what will be the best direction for you to go in.

How long does it take to become a home inspector in California?

This depends on the steps the future Home Inspector wants to take before inspecting homes. Since there are no license requirements to become a Home Inspector in California, it would take no time at all if no additional steps were put into one’s plan. If a future Home Inspector takes the recommended steps above, it can take as little as 2-4 weeks depending on the pace they can withhold in their learning.

Everybody is different and has different schedules, and since there are no time limits or restraints in the State of California, Home Inspectors have the freedom to choose whatever pace fits within their life and career goals.

How much does it cost to become a home inspector in California?

The cost of becoming a Home Inspector in California will depend on if they enroll in a training school, which training program they choose, if they decide to take the National Home Inspector Examination ®, and if they pursue continued education.

If a Home Inspector decides on minimal formal training and only wishes to take the National Home Inspector Examination ® before joining an established firm, this will cost them as little as $225. If a Home Inspector decides they would like formal training before taking the exam, and they would like to purchase E&O Insurance before registering their business as a legal entity, they could be spending upwards of $2,000 or more.

What’s the best home inspector training in California?

There are dozens of reputable training schools to choose from, but we created a list of a few programs that have helped many Home Inspectors, just like yourself:

International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)

  • InterNACHI provides free training, online testing, and certification; as well as business development and marketing support, and discounts on Inspector needs, such as software, and insurance.
  • To become a member of InterNACHI, Home Inspectors can pay either $49/month or $499/year.
  • There is an option for InterNACHI members to become Certified Professional Inspectors® at no additional cost, after they have completed additional certification requirements.
  • To learn more about InterNACHI, check out their website.

American Home Inspectors Training (AHIT)

  • AHIT provides online courses, live classes, and professionals to help you with business development and continuing education.
  • There are three different online learning packages to choose from, ranging from $595 to $795.
  • Live classes are held in multiple locations within California, include hands-on practice in local homes, and cost $1,495.
  • To learn more about their online courses and live classes, view all of the information here.

Inspection Certification Associates (ICA)

  • In addition to their online training courses and exam prep courses, ICA provides ongoing career support for their Edcetera Home Inspection Members.
  • Unlimited access to their training and support materials, and a membership to their portal, Edcetera Home Inspection, is $99/year.
  • For more information about their membership and training material, visit their website here.

ATI Training — Home Inspection Institute

  • ATI has online courses that are meant to be taken at your own pace and are estimated to take anywhere from 60 to 120 hours to complete.
  • Field training and association support are also aspects that they provide to their members.
  • Enrolling with ATI costs $695, and there are financing options available as well as discounts for military veterans and first responders.
  • To learn more about what ATI offers for training and support for Home Inspectors, visit their website here.

Professional Home Inspection Institute (PHII)

  • PHII offers multiple courses, marketing resources, and business support for Inspectors who are new and Inspectors who have established themselves over the years.
  • Each course is estimated to take about 1-2 weeks to complete and will always be accessible to members.
  • Their online Home Inspector Certification course costs $595, and there are other many other optional courses that can be enrolled in for as little as $99.
  • To learn more about their California training course, visit their webpage here.

Final points on how to be a home inspector in California

If you’re considering becoming a Home Inspector in the State of California, you have a lot of choices to make. There aren’t any required licenses to obtain, which gives you the option to receive education and certification on your own.

The average prices for homes in California are higher than most of the country, which has caused the state to rank very low in terms of its residents owning homes rather than renting their living spaces. Although this is information to consider when becoming a Home Inspector in California, there are still many opportunities across the state to inspect larger homes in wealthy communities.

Some essential items to remember about becoming a Home Inspector in California include:

  • California does not require a license to become a Home Inspector but becoming certified is highly recommended.
  • Enrolling in a training school can be extremely beneficial for preparing to take any exams and can help you network within your new community.
  • Becoming familiar with California laws that affect Home Inspectors is a must to protect yourself and your business.

If you’re considering a Home Inspector in California career and would like to partner with a company that can provide you with all of the business-related tools you’ll need to complete inspections efficiently, reach customers through marketing efforts, and more – contact our team at HomeGauge.com today.

FAQs

How hard is it to become a Home Inspector in California?

It can be as easy or difficult as you make it! Since California doesn’t require a license to start inspecting, you can start right away. But if you decide to take an exam or enroll in a course to set yourself apart from the competition, you are going to have to put more time and effort in before starting your new career as a Home Inspector.

Do you need a license to become a Home Inspector in California?

Nope! California does not require a license to become a Home Inspector.

How much do Home Inspectors make in California?

As of publication, a Home Inspector makes an average of $137,212/year in California.

What’s the best Home Inspector training in California?

There isn’t one course or school that can be classified as the “best Home Inspector training” in California because everyone’s needs and expectations are different. Do your own research to find what option is best for YOU, but to get you started, here are a few programs that have helped many Home Inspectors before you:

  • International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)
  • American Home Inspectors Training (AHIT)
  • Inspection Certification Associates (ICA)
  • ATI Training — Home Inspection Institute
  • Professional Home Inspection Institute (PHII)

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