How to Become a Building Inspector

The United States employs over 8,000 building inspectors. Building inspectors have an average salary of $51,781 annually. This equates to an hourly rate of $23.70. Are you interested in learning how to become a building inspector? Keep reading to learn the steps to follow to become a building inspector, including getting licensed and buying the right building and home inspector insurance to boost and protect income.

How Can I Become a Building Inspector?

If you are wondering, how can i become a building inspector? You must follow steps like gaining experience in building inspection, registering your business structure, and creating a business website:

Gain Experience in the Industry

The first step in answering how do I become a building inspector is to start getting experience. One of the best ways to become a building inspector is to transition from another job in the construction industry. You can utilize your experience as an electrician or plumber to aid you in becoming a building inspector and enforcing the same codes you were already following when installing or maintaining different systems.

It is also recommended to take training courses if they are available to you. Training courses can help you gain critical experience focused on a building inspection. Eventually, you will want to work towards getting a certification to boost your level of expertise. You can also gain experience by attending a two-year schooling program. These schools offer certificate programs that can accelerate your progress toward becoming an experienced building inspector.

Get a Highschool Diploma or GED

Even with extensive industry experience, you will need a minimum of a high school or equivalent education degree. Your job will require you to use math, language, and other skills that are part of a high school diploma. You must be able to compare and inspect different buildings to ensure they align with local and state building codes.

Come Up With a Business Name

Once you decide to become a building inspector and have gained the necessary skills, you will want to create a name for your business. Your business name is essential so you can register your business legally, apply for business loans, find investors, and create a brand. Choose a name that will stick out in the mind of your potential customers. You want your name to be easily searchable online to expand your reach.

Register Your Business Structure

Once you have settled on a business name, you can now register your business as a legal entity. Depending on your business structure, your business is afforded different advantages. Some common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietorship: If you choose a sole proprietorship, you remain the sole owner and reap all the profits. However, you are also on the hook for business debts and liabilities. A sole proprietorship is inexpensive to form and can easily transition into another business type later as you expand operations.

  • Corporation: A corporation is owned by shareholders. Each shareholder takes dividends from the company’s profits for their ownership stake. With a corporate structure, you are protected from business liabilities. Corporations are expensive to form and are subject to additional taxation from the government on both dividends and profits.

  • Limited liability company: An LLC enjoys the liability protection of a corporation without double taxation. LLCs can be run by a single individual, a group, or even another LLC. There are more rules to follow than sole proprietorships, which are more expensive to form.

Get Your EIN

An employer identification number or EIN is how you identify your business to the IRS. This eight-digit tax number is required before hiring employees or opening a bank account under your business name. You can get an EIN for free by applying online with the IRS. The application asks questions about your address, business structure, and other details.

Find Investors

When starting a business, it is always helpful to find willing investors. Contact friends and family to see if they are willing to support the first step of your journey. Lay out your plans to generate a profit to ensure you are maintaining these life-long personal relationships. Another area to look into is angel investors. Angel investors are typically solo investors looking to profit by investing in the early stages of a start-up business. You can contact angel investors through organizations like the Angel Capital Association.

Open a Business Bank Account

Business bank accounts come in different types and grant your business new critical functions. A merchant service account allows you to process credit cards for your clients. With a checking account, you can receive invoices and make payments separate from your personal finances. 

With a business bank account, tax season becomes much easier. A business bank account is also another avenue you can take to fund your new building inspection business. You can apply for business loans to provide the seed money to get your business up and running.

Create a Website

By starting a website, you create a 24/7 billboard for your customers to find and learn about you. With a website, you are in control of the conversation. Customers who search your business name will directly discover what services you offer, your rates, information helpful to them, and reviews from previous customers. Many customers will research a business online before deciding to do business with them.

Creating a website involves buying a domain name from a domain registrar or service like Google Domains. After getting your unique web address, you must enlist the services of a web host who can allow traffic to access your site on their servers. Next, you must design the site with a website template or hire an independent web designer. After these steps, your website is ready to publish content that will attract potential customers.

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A building inspector examining different rooms in the interior of a building.

How to Get a Building Inspector License

To answer the question of how do you become a building inspector, you also need to be aware of the building inspector license. Typically to get a license, you must be at least 18 years old and have a high school education. Then you must complete a building inspection course and on-the-job experience inspecting a building. You must reach a certain number of inspections or hours before you are allowed to attempt to pass an exam. After passing the exam, you must apply to your state’s licensing board. Not every state has a licensing requirement.

The license you need will vary depending on the building you intend to inspect. For example, you will need a home inspector license to inspect homes. Home inspector licenses are awarded by passing the National Home Inspector Examination exam. This license is required in many states. The following states require a home inspector license:

  • Washington

  • Nevada

  • Arizona

  • New Mexico

  • Texas

  • Oklahoma

  • South Dakota

  • North Dakota

  • Montana

  • Wisconsin

  • Illinois

  • Indiana

  • Ohio

  • Kentucky

  • Tennesse

  • Alabama

  • Mississippi

  • Arkansas

  • Lousiana

  • Florida

  • South Carolina

  • North Carolina

  • New York

  • New Hampshire

  • Massachusetts

  • Connecticut

  • Rhode Island

  • New Jersey

  • Maryland

How to Become a Certified Building Inspector

You can obtain a building inspector certification through the International Code Council (ICC). This organization provides codes and safety standards used in building construction. They also offer an ICC inspector certification which requires applicants to pass an exam to obtain their desired certification level. 

You will typically need a B1 residential building inspector certification for residential building inspectors. Commercial building inspectors must take the B2 exam to obtain certification. Below is a comparison of standard building inspector certifications you can attain:

Certification State or National Description Exam ID
Residential Building Inspector National Perform inspections to determine if the building complies with building safety standards B1
Residential Electrical Inspector National Can perform inspections on electrical systems that have been installed or altered with a limit of 120/240 watts E1
Residential Mechanical Inspector National Can inspect mechanical systems that have been installed, are being maintained, or have been altered for compliance with safety codes M1
Commercial Building Inspector National Can inspect buildings for code compliance without restriction to their size or occupancy B2
Commercial Electrical Inspector National Can inspect installed electrical systems with no limit on voltage E2
Commercial Mechanical Inspector National Certified proficient in inspecting the mechanical systems in commercial buildings M2
Residential Building Inspector (Florida) State Can inspect family homes and dwellings between one and two stories 1B
Residential Electrical Inspector (Florida) State Can install electrical systems in a dwelling for one and two-family buildings 1E
Residential Mechanical Inspector (Florida) State Can install and alter mechanical systems in homes not more than three stories 1M
Residential Plumbing Inspector (Flordia) State Can verify if installing plumbing systems compliant with local codes 1P

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Insurance Requirements for Boosting Income

Building inspectors may be required to carry liability insurance for their business, depending on the state. Besides state requirements for insurance, your business also should carry adequate insurance protection. Without insurance coverage, your business is exposed to potentially bankrupting liabilities from vehicle accidents, lawsuits, and property damage. The following policies are recommended for building inspector businesses:

Business Owner’s Policy

A business owner’s policy is a comprehensive insurance option combining multiple policies. Typically it will combine commercial property and general liability insurance coverage. This policy also includes business interruption insurance, which helps when your business has to close down due to a covered event. NEXT offers an affordable business owner’s policy with great value. 

They are an online-based insurance company that gives you instant access to your live insurance certificate once your policy is active. You can get quotes entirely online if you choose. They respond to claims quickly, usually within 48 hours. NEXT offers discounts when choosing to bundle multiple policies, resulting in saving 10% or more on business insurance. This company has a 4.7/5 rating in its customer reviews. NEXT has an A- from AM Best and a B+ from the Better Business Bureau.

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance protects your building inspector business from third-party lawsuits. This policy will cover bodily injury, property damage, and advertising injury claims. For general liability insurance, we recommend the insurance company Thimble. They offer insurance policies that are simplified and customizable. Their policies are easy to understand, and you can get coverage started for your business within hours. They have policies backed by A-rated insurance partners. With Thimble, you can get short-term general liability insurance with a policy period set to the hour. Thimble has sold over 125,000 policies and has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability insurance is there to protect you from business mistakes. It is sometimes called errors and omissions insurance. It covers events like an employee not properly providing services, business negligence, and copyright infringement. 

Hiscox has an excellent professional liability insurance policy with worldwide coverage. As long as you file the claim in the US or Canada, your policy covers work no matter where. They are experts in small business insurance. Their policies are tailored to your needs by experienced insurance agents. 4.7/5 people surveyed by Hiscox recommended their service. Hiscox has an A rating from AM Best.

Commercial Property Insurance

Your commercial property insurance policy protects your equipment, materials, and assets kept in your building. It also protects your business building itself. This policy covers events that include:

  • Fire

  • Theft

  • Vandalism

  • Wind damage

  • Lightning

  • Water damage

CoverWallet is our choice for commercial property insurance. They have insurance policies backed by big names like Hiscox, Markel, Chubb, Travelers, and more. Their commercial property insurance offers three levels of coverage: basic, broad, and special. This allows you to customize your coverage to maximize your policy’s value. Their policies can protect you from natural disasters, revenue loss, and equipment breakdown, depending on your selected policy. CoverWallet has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Commercial Auto Insurance

You need commercial auto insurance if you use a vehicle for business operations. Personal auto insurance does not cover most work-related activities. This policy is essential to protect you against vehicle accident liability and damage. For this policy, we recommend Tivly. 

Tivly makes it easy to generate quotes from multiple insurance partners, of which they have many. At Tivly, you have a selection of over 200 providers for your policy. After a quick phone call, you get matched with the appropriate policies. You can compare quotes with different companies to make the best decision for your business. Tivly has an A rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

A workers’ compensation policy protects your workers when they get sick or injured. With workers comp, your employees can pay for medical treatments to help them recover fully. If one of your workers has to miss work, this policy also provides supplemental income. For your workers’ comp policy, choose The Hartford. This company has been underwriting policies for over 200 years. Their workers’ compensation insurance includes needle stick reimbursement and increased access to prescription drugs. The Hartford has local agents you can meet with depending on your location. They have a 100% rating on the Corporate Equality Index. The Hartford has an A- rating from AM Best.

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