Home Inspector

    If you are wondering how to become a home inspector, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of the building and construction industry, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    As a home inspector you would produce reports on homes offered for sale on the open market in England and Wales. It would be your job to look at the age, condition and energy efficiency of people’s homes and produce a Home Condition Report (HCR) and an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

    Typical responsibilities:

    examine the inside and outside of a property
    give each part of the building a condition rating based on a set scale
    give reasons for each rating
    recommend further investigation of defects that could be serious
    give the property an A to G rating for energy efficiency and carbon emissions.
    The HCR and EPC form part of a Home Information Pack (HIP). HIPs will be compulsory for properties of all sizes from 14th December 2007. EPCs are a compulsory part of the packs, but HCRs are optional. Visit the Home Information Packs website for more information about the Housing Act, HIPs and HCRs.

    EPCs can be produced by both home inspectors and domestic energy assessors (see separate profile for Domestic Energy Assessor).

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of good home inspectors include:

    a thorough knowledge of construction and surveying methods and building regulations
    the ability to recognise the extent and urgency of construction defects
    the ability to take precise measurements and record inspection details accurately in writing and electronically
    high standards of ethics
    a methodical and consistent approach
    excellent communication and negotiating skills
    awareness of confidentiality and data protection requirements
    a polite, tactful and professional manner.

    How to become a home inspector
    To qualify as a home inspector you would need to complete the Level 4 Diploma in Home Inspection (DipHI), which is awarded by ABBE (the Awarding Body for the Built Environment) and C & G (City and Guilds).

    The DipHI is an assessment process that shows you have all the skills and knowledge needed to do the job. It is offered through accredited assessment centres. The assessment centres will help you to compare your existing skills against the DipHI and plan your training around them. You can find full details on the ABBE and City and Guilds websites.

    To get the DipHI you will need to complete:

    a portfolio of work-based evidence that proves your skills and knowledge in all the units in the DipHI
    an exam (see the ABBE website for an example).
    The length of time and amount of training you will need to complete the DipHI will depend on how closely you already meet the requirements. For example:

    qualified and experienced residential property surveyors could complete the training in just a few weeks
    if you work in estate agency or property management, but do not carry out surveys, the training will take longer
    if you do not have any experience, you may need to gain a property-related qualification, such as a relevant BTEC HNC/HND, foundation degree or degree before starting the DipHI.
    You may be able to do an intensive course to complete the DipHI. You do not need to have any surveying knowledge to do one of these, and the courses cover everything you need to complete the final exam and produce the portfolio of evidence for assessment. They last around 12 months.

    If you just want to produce Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), you can qualify as a domestic energy assessor by doing the Diploma in Domestic Energy Assessment.

    Training and Development
    You must make sure that any training you do to become a Home Inspector is through an accredited course. Some centres offer both training and assessment, others will advise on suitable training.

    You may be able to do an intensive course or study full-time, part-time or through distance learning, depending on your circumstances and the amount of training you need. See the ABBE website for a list of accredited training providers able to offer credits towards the Diploma in Home Inspection.

    If you do not have surveying qualifications or experience, you will need to get some practical experience (in addition to your classroom-based training). Some training providers may organise this, or you may be able to get experience:

    by approaching local surveying practices or larger surveying companies to see if they will offer you some work shadowing
    through your employer if you work in relevant fields such as estate agency, construction or housing.
    The portfolio you produce for the DipHI must include 10 inspection reports, covering a range of property types. If you already have surveying or inspection experience, some of these could be reports you have already done. However, at least three reports must be in HCR format. Your assessment centre will advise on how to complete your portfolio.

    Before you can work as a home inspector you will need:

    membership of an approved certification scheme
    CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) clearance
    personal indemnity insurance.
    See the Asset Skills Energy Assessors website for a list of certification schemes.

    After qualifying you will be expected to keep your skills and knowledge up to date by continuing professional development (CPD).

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Asset Skills estimate that earnings for mid-career inspectors may be between £30,000 and £40,000 a year. This could be increased by performance bonuses.

    As a self-employed inspector you would set your own rates.

    Job Prospects
    As a home inspector you could find opportunities with Home Information Pack providers, estate agents producing packs in-house, lawyers (solicitors/conveyancers) producing packs in-house and corporate surveying firms. You may be able to work as a freelance or self-employed home inspector, particularly as homeowners will need inspections to be carried out in the evenings or at weekends.

    Energy Performance Certificates EPCs will become compulsory for public buildings during 2008. Relevant qualifications (and appropriate training) are being developed. Once they become available you could choose to do further training so that you can carry out these assessments.

    As a qualified home inspector you could progress to becoming a property valuer by doing the ABBE Level 4 Certificate in Valuation of Residential Property for Secured Lending.

    Useful building and construction resources:
    Awarding Body for the Built Environment (ABBE)
    Tel: 0121 331 5174

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