If you have experience in home construction or remodeling, or even if you're just handy around your own house, a home-inspection service could be the perfect new business for you. Lawsuits over undisclosed home defects have prompted home buyers, real estate agents and even home sellers to prefer that homes are inspected before the sales are finalized. In some states, it's even required by law.
Home inspectors review homes and provide written reports to the buyers and the buyers' and sellers' real estate agents. Rather than trying to discover every tiny defect, inspectors look for larger problems--such as improperly installed heating systems or damaged foundations--and educate buyers about the condition of the home. The cost of an inspection is usually $200 to $400, depending on the size and age of the home and what part of the country you live in.
Gary Anderson, owner of the Building Specs Inc. store in Owings, Maryland, says it can take as long as three or four years to build a reputation and a network of contacts to turn a profit in the home-inspection business, but the long-term rewards are worth the effort. A former home remodeler, Anderson opened his company in 1995, but it took three years to turn a profit: Last year, his store made $70,000.
John Ruiz started his one-man home-inspection company, Quality Inspections, two years ago in North Whittier, California, and he's already making a small profit.
Marcie Geffner is a Los Angeles freelance writer who frequently reports on residential real estate.