Building a successful home inspection business requires hard work, dedication and the right tools. There are pitfalls and misconceptions that can undermine the best of efforts. Don’t put your business (and your reputation) at risk by buying into any of these five beliefs, shared here by Christopher Chirafisi, Technical Training and Product Manager for American Home Inspectors Training.

1. You know it all, so you don’t need home inspection-specific training.

Many choose home inspecting as a second career, after working in the real estate industry or as a general contractor. The experience is no doubt helpful, but it isn’t the knowledge needed to become a successful home inspector.

There’s more to home inspecting than building a website and inspecting homes. Most states require that home inspectors complete an approved training course before sitting for the licensing exam. Some states also require that home inspectors pass the National Home Inspector Examination.

Chris Chirafisi

And that’s not all. Depending on the state in which you’re practicing as a home inspector, you might have insurance and continuing education requirements. Some states have ride-along inspection requirements, for which would-be home inspectors have to complete a number of hours on ride-along inspections with an already licensed home inspector in the state.

AHIT is an approved prelicensing and continuing education provider throughout the U.S. In fact, AHIT’s training focuses on not only the technical knowledge required but also the strong communication and report-writing skills needed to be a successful home inspector.

2. Liability isn’t a home inspector’s concern.

Liability is the home inspector’s concern, and risk management is a big part of having a successful career in home inspection.

The truth is home inspectors can and do get sued for the inspections they do. According to stats from one of the major insurance companies in the industry, 12% of every 1,000 inspectors will have a claim within the first five years of business. Some, but not all, states have caps on home inspectors’ legal liabilities. What can you do to protect yourself and your business?

At AHIT, part of the training focuses on risk management and reducing home inspectors’ legal liability. We arm our students with built-in risk management strategies and tools, including professional training; a ready-made inspection agreement and inspection report; and unlimited technical support from AHIT trainers. We also recommend home inspectors carry the proper insurance, as well as incorporate into a limited liability company or other company type.

3. No investment needed.

Just like with any business, you need to invest in at least the bare minimum to adequately do a professional job as a home inspector. Simply finishing the training and becoming certified is not enough to get the phone ringing and social media buzzing.

To have a successful home inspection business, you need to invest in a website and marketing collateral (including business cards); a computer tablet to run a digital software program or reporting system; and tools to do home inspections.

Paper reporting options are available, but are largely obsolete. Recent estimates suggest 85% of home inspectors use a digital reporting system, like the one available through AHIT. The good news is that most home inspectors work from home, eliminating the overhead associated with rent.

4. Marketing plans aren’t necessary.

Wrong again. Successful marketing is the life blood of the home inspection business. Social media and building a professional website are important. But nothing compares to old-fashioned networking to the real estate industry. That covers Realtors, lenders, insurance agents and attorneys.

Those professionals drive business to home inspectors. There’s nothing stronger than a personal referral. Consumers who wander onto your website or see your ads are more likely to price shop than someone who comes to you based on another professional’s or consumer’s recommendation.

5. I’m afraid to be an entrepreneur!

For people who are used to working for others and getting a regular paycheck, venturing into business as an independent home inspector can be daunting.

But the security of that paycheck isn’t really security at all. When you work for somebody else, your job security and future are in somebody else’s hands. You could lose your job at any time. Working for yourself is just about the only way there is to really have a say in your own future.

Becoming a home inspector puts you on the path to the freedom and financial security we all crave. AHIT instructors often talk about the freedom and limitless options associated with the career choice. You choose how successful you’re going to be. You choose your eventual income. You choose how much you work.

To get there, you need to master your fear and embrace the challenge. As Vincent van Gogh once said: “What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”

A licensed home inspector in Wisconsin, Kentucky and Florida, Chris Chirafisi has built and managed two home inspection companies and has performed more than 4,000 residential home inspections. He is a licensed code inspector in Wisconsin; a former BPI certified energy auditor; a certified energy auditor in the United Kingdom; holds Purdue University certification in WDO/Termites; and is Radon certified through Kansas State University. He is also an AHIT grad.