How to Become A Home Inspector in VA (2021) Comprehensive Guide
If you are thinking about becoming a licensed home inspector in VA, you have to come to the right place. I have created the ultimate guide, from start to finish.
When I first started my home inspection business in 2012, there were no state requirements to become an inspector. Anyone could legally inspect homes. There were various private home inspector certification programs, but they were not mandatory. It was the wild wild west here. That is actually how I like it, but governments like to control everything. A home inspection license doesn’t mean the license holder is any good at performing inspections. That being said, effective July 1, 2017, anyone in Virginia performing home inspections needs to be licensed.
The first step is making sure this is the right career path for you. It is not the hard-hat wearing, clip-board holding job that social media may have led you to believe. You will have to walk on roofs, crawl in nasty moldy crawl spaces, traverse hot humid attics, and deal with nervous home buyers, and overbearing Real Estate Agents. You will spend a fair amount of time outside during blistering hot temperatures, torrential down pour, and freezing cold conditions. Although most of your work will be in the field and hands on, you will have to spend some time with a laptop writing you reports. Your writing and grammar skills need to be top notch. If you can deal with all of that, then let’s get started on your new career.
It’s time for some education
Although not necessarily required, I highly recommend getting InterNACHI certified before doing (and paying for) your classroom training. There are two reasons why I recommend doing this. The first is that the online courses offered by InterNACHI are far superior to any other training in the industry. These courses will give a solid foundation before you do your in person education classes. The course materials are online, so you will be able to do this at your own pace as opposed to the in person courses. The second reason is that most courses in Virginia are 35 hours, or 70 hours. This reflects the Virginia license requirements of either 35, or 70 hours of pre licensing education.
Half of those hours can be done online though. You should opt for the 35 hour in person course which will be much cheaper. The in person classes aren’t great anyway. As a new home inspector, the best home inspector training is going to be field training.
And as a bonus, you may find as you are going through the courses that you don’t actually enjoy the idea of inspecting homes.
That brings us to the In Person Courses
During the pandemic DPOR (Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation) was allowing all of your education to be done online. They even extended the expirations of license holders. That is ending soon though and at least half of your education will need to be in person. I consider these home inspection courses to be legal requirements, but not sufficient home inspection training. As noted above you will need field training from a experienced home inspector . The following are my recommendations for in person home inspector training course.
KC hart and Co Home Inspector DPOR Approved Pre-license Class – $1100
Inspection Certification Associates (ICA) home inspector training class – $1395
(Not recommended) American Home Inspectors Training (AHIT) – I do not recommend this company as they do not offer a 35 hour certification course
Neither 35, or 70 hours of education are going to adequately prepare you for the job. That is why I recommend the minimum legal requirements and relying on field experience for your actual training.
Now that you have the education requirements figured out, you need to complete the experience requirements. In VA the licensing requirements are a little confusing. You need to perform inspections under a licensed inspector, but the required amount is dependent on how many hours of education you received. The table below breaks it down. Also, a contact hour is usually 50 minutes. That is all that term means.
1.The applicant for licensure as a home inspector shall furnish documentation acceptable to the board that one of the qualifications for licensure in Table 1 has been met.
B. Prelicense education courses must be approved by the board pursuant to Part VI (18VAC15-40-120 et seq.) of this chapter. No more than half of the required hours may be completed using distance or online education technology.
C. Verification of home inspections completed under the direct supervision of a home inspector must be provided by an individual who was properly licensed or certified by the board during the applicable time period.
D. The National Home Inspector Examination provided by the Examin
ation Board of Professional Home Inspectors is the board-approved examination pursuant to § 54.1-517.2 A 2 c of the Code of Virginia.
Most people complete this step by calling local home inspection companies and begging for them to help. This can be very challenging as most inspection companies do not want to train their competition. One strategy is to call companies that are not local to you.
My advice is to join a company as an apprentice at this point. You will be able to start getting the real knowledge and experience that classroom education can not offer.
The National/ State Exam
At some point you will need to pass the National Home Inspectors Examination. This exam is straight garbage- a total waste of $225. It was written by people with little knowledge of the fundamentals of home inspection. That being said, you need to pass it. Some people are great test takers, and they will be able to pass it just from the education from InterNACHI, and their in classroom training. That is the exception though, not the rule. As I said above, you really need to become an apprentice for a while to have your best shot at passing this exam. There some companies that offer exam prep, but I have personally never used them.
General Liability Insurance
In the state of Virginia the only insurance you need to carry is general liability insurance. If you join an established home inspection business, they will simply add you to their insurance. If you are starting your own home inspection business, you will need to acquire this insurance yourself. I recommend getting your insurance through InterNACHI. I also recommend getting errors and omission insurance even though it is not required. This type of insurance essentially covers your defense costs if you get sued, and pays out any damages. The minimum amount of insurance required in Virginia is $250,000.
Submit Your Application
One your complete your education, experience, exam, and insurance requirements, you can submit a completed application to DPOR. I have never submitted an application for any of inspectors without them asking for additional information. There’s always something. Patiently wait for DPOR to respond and usually in a week, or two, you will receive your individual home inspector license.
A few years ago, builders lobbied to limit home inspectors from being able to inspect their homes. Now, any residential home inspections performed on a home that is still owned by the builder, need to be completed by a home inspector with the NRS (New Residential Structure) credential. The NRS training module is essentially eight hours of someone telling you that you are not a code inspector, you can’t cite virginia residential code, and you can’t call anything a code violation. There is no actual new information being presented to you. I just told you the whole class. Its essentially a money grab, but it is what it is. I recommend these guys below.
$300 LOWEST PRICE GUARANTEE – IF YOU FIND IT CHEAPER – WE’LL MATCH IT AND GIVE YOU 10% OFF!
Home Inspection Software
As a professional inspector, you are going to need a software that helps you create a professional home inspection report. There are three big companies in that space.
Do not waste your time looking at any other software. These are the top companies in the industry. I am a HIP user and you view our sample reports here.
Home Inspection Tools
In order to keep your license you will need to complete 16 hours of continuing education. The following is copy and pasted from the DPOR website. Again, I recommend InterNACHI for all of your continuing education needs.
A. Each licensee shall have completed 16 contact hours of continuing professional education (CPE) during each license renewal cycle. CPE can be met through classroom instruction, distance learning, or online education technology.
B. Notwithstanding the provisions of 18VAC15-40-75, the subject matter addressed during CPE contact hours shall be limited to the content areas covered by the board’s approved examination.
C. The licensee shall not receive CPE credit for the same training course more than once during a single license renewal cycle.
D. A licensee who completes the initial training module required by 18VAC15-40-35 to obtain an NRS specialty may count completion of the module towards the required 16 hours of CPE credit for that renewal cycle.