House Calls

At What Cost?

The start-up costs for a home-inspection service typically amount to between $10,000 and $15,000. Ruiz spent $4,000 for training, another $5,000 to equip his home office and $1,500 for inspection tools and construction manuals. A starting inspector should have an industrial ladder, professional flashlights, an assortment of screwdrivers and other small tools, plus plumbing, electrical, building and other code books. Anderson's start-up costs were similar, but he also bought a new truck, which added to his initial outlay.

In addition to the start-up costs, you'll need savings or other income to cover your living expenses while you learn the business and build your referral base. "It can be a profitable business, but it's very competitive. You'd better have some other resources, because there are a lot of times when the phone doesn't ring," says Ruiz.

If you're not confident about starting your business completely on your own, a franchisor of home-inspection services can help you with signs, inspection forms, marketing brochures and the like. Expect to pay a franchise fee of $7,000 to $17,000 and royalty fees of 6 percent to 8 percent.

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This article was originally published in the February 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: House Calls.

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