A home inspection is a documented, professional opinion of a home, based on a visual evaluation and operational testing of the home's systems and components to determine their current condition.
What does a Home Inspector do?
A typical home inspector spends his or her day inspecting homes for buyers, writing reports, speaking with prospective clients and marketing to consumers and real estate agents. A typical home inspection begins when a client or real estate agent calls and books an inspection. An inspection may last from two to four hours or longer. The inspector looks at the building interior and exterior and includes any basement or crawlspace, the living spaces, and any accessible attic or roof spaces. He or she explains the findings to the client, describing the building's condition and any improvements recommended. Inspectors frequently offer tips for operating and maintaining the home as they go, (e.g. explaining how to turn off water and power in an emergency, how and when to change furnace filters, etc.).
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for all building and construction inspectors, which includes home inspectors, is expected to grow 12 percent between 2012 and 2022.
About the program
This 10-course online certificate program provides students with the technical skills and expertise needed to succeed in the home inspection field. Students learn how to conduct visual examinations and deliver written reports on the physical and operational condition of homes or housing units.
The 10 modules will be delivered though a blended approach of printed material and online sessions. Each of the ten modules requires a minimum of 42 hours of study and you can work from the comfort of your home or office. Exercises and practical quizzes allow you to check your level of understanding with feedback. With the mixed mode format you can stay connected with your instructor and other learners and share ideas with participants in your online community. Support will also be available by telephone or email and instructional videos. CD-ROMS are included and self-testing quizzes will help you measure your knowledge.
Modules can be taken in any order.
Roofing – This course describes both sloped and flat roof construction. Detailed descriptions and rich illustrations help to explain flashing details and the intersections that are often problems on roofs. Roof problems, causes and implications are identified for all of the common roofing materials. Included are sections on how to inspect roofs and what to watch for with various roofing materials.
Structure – All the structural elements of a building from the footings and foundations to the floor, wall and roof assemblies are addressed in detail. Elements of good construction are explained and illustrated, along with common failure modes and how to identify them.
Electrical – This program starts with a description of house electricity and develops an understanding of the basics. The course moves on to address getting electricity into the house, and distributing it safely to its end-use points including switches, lights and receptacles. The course is designed for people who do not have an electrical background. The learning objective is to provide the learner with the skills necessary to perform the electrical part of a professional home inspection.
Heating I – This course provides an introduction to residential heating systems, starting with a description of fuels and then focusing on furnaces and boilers. Modern combination systems are also discussed. Detailed instructions on operational tests, common failure modes and life expectancies of various systems are included.
Heating II – The heating discussion is continued with coverage of chimneys, wood heating, fireplaces, steam heating, electric heating systems and space heaters. The information is presented in a straightforward fashion with clear diagrams. Again, this course concentrates on inspection strategies, test procedures and problem identification.
Air Conditioning & Heat Pumps – These complicated mechanical systems are broken down into simple components. The course starts with basic principles of operation and builds an understanding. Considerable detail is provided on how these systems fail. Upon completion, the learner is able to test and inspect air conditioning and heat pump systems as a professional home inspector.
Plumbing – The plumbing course is broken into four segments: supply piping, water heaters, waste piping and plumbing fixtures. The physics of water is covered at the beginning in a simple, common sense way. Instruction on how systems work and common failure modes is provided. Again, the illustrations add significantly to the learning experience.
Exterior – This course starts with an interesting illustrated description of architectural styles. Descriptions of wall systems, windows and doors are included, along with a discussion about how to inspect and identify problems. Exterior structures and landscaping features are also addressed.
Insulation & Interior – This course focuses on two different parts of the home. The first section addresses home insulation and ventilation systems. Modern building standards are explained along with the principles of heat transfer. The Interior section addresses floor, wall and ceiling finishes as well as stairs, windows, doors and wet basements. How things are built, what goes wrong and why it matters are all addressed.
Communication & Professional Practice – This is the only non-technical course. The focus here is the home inspection process and how the business works. There are discussions about how home inspections are arranged and how to conduct an inspection. We address such issues as communicating your findings to clients verbally and in writing. There is excellent instruction on writing professional technical reports, and sample checklists are included.