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Reuben Saltzman is a second-generation home inspector and a long-time friend of CPT. As the owner of Structure Tech Home Inspection and with over 20 years of home inspection experience under his belt, he knows a thing or two about the business. We sat down with Reuben to learn what rookie home inspectors should expect as they start their new career.
1. A home inspector’s main skill
In most states in the U.S., becoming a home inspector requires that you spend at least some time in the classroom and then pass an exam. But according to Reuben, the most essential skill a home inspector can possess is not something you can really learn in a book.
“In order to be a good home inspector, you NEED to be able to communicate,” he said. “And I can’t really teach people how to communicate.”
The job of a home inspector is to conduct an inspection of an entire house and then make a report on your findings. You could spot every flaw, defect and potential issue in a home, and all of that work would be for nothing if you cannot adequately communicate your findings.
“When I started, I had no idea how much I needed to know as a home inspector. In reality, knowing a lot about a single trade doesn’t help.”
2. Invest in a high-quality moisture meter
Compared to other trades surrounding the construction industry, home inspectors are not really required to carry around a lot of tools. Despite that, Reuben recommends that new home inspectors invest some money in one tool in particular- a moisture meter. His favorite is the Protimeter Surveymaster, which costs $624 on Amazon. While that high price point is initially off-putting, Reuben thinks that the quality, dependability, and accuracy of this tool will eventually pay for itself.
“I’ve been using the same one for ten years now,” he said.
3. Understand where your clients are coming from
For a home inspector, inspecting a house is a part of your everyday life. But for the people you are working for, this process is anything but routine.
“95% of our clients are soon-to-be homeowners,” said Reuben. “This is the most stressful point of their life, and if you aren’t careful you could freak them out.”
Buying a home is one of the largest financial investments many people will make in their lives. As a home inspector, you act as their de facto guide throughout an incredibly high-stress period of their lives. Understanding that will go a long way towards creating a healthy, professional and successful working relationship with your clients.
4. Don’t just grab a random flashlight
Another one of the tools that home inspectors use regularly is a flashlight. Reuben does not really have a specific model that he recommends, but he did warn against just grabbing any old flashlight from a bottom door and relying on that for work.
“I’d say any flashlight in the 1,000-lumen range that comes with a lithium-ion 18650 battery would probably be a good choice for a home inspector,” said Reuben.
5. Understand that you don’t (and could not possibly) know everything
Throughout their career, a successful carpenter will continually educate themselves on everything there is to know about their specific trade, without having to worry about learning all of the specifics of other trades. Home inspector’s do not really have that luxury.
“When I started, I had no idea how much I needed to know as a home inspector,” said Reuben. “In reality, knowing a lot about a single trade doesn’t help.”
The same home inspector will be responsible for inspecting a house’s structural, plumbing and electrical work. That means that they cannot get by just knowing everything there is to know about plumbing, or everything there is to know about electrical work. A home inspector has to know how everything in a home works in order to appraise it.
But that does not mean you will need to know everything right away.
“As long as you come in with a base amount of knowledge and are ready to learn you’ll be more than fine,” said Reuben.
About the expert:
Reuben Saltzman is a second-generation home inspector with a passion for his work. He grew up remodeling homes and has been learning about carpentry since he was old enough to hold a hammer. Reuben is the owner of Structure Tech Home Inspections, where he has worked since 1997.