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Home inspector certification is obtained after completing a course or series of courses in home inspection. The certified inspector is often trained to evaluate the condition of a house and note any repairs that may be needed. In some cases, the results of a home inspector's review will determine whether or not a home can be sold.
The process of obtaining home inspector certification often begins with education. There are online courses, classroom courses and mail order home inspector certification programs designed to meet various individual needs. Depending on the course chosen, the length of time needed to obtain certification can range from a few weeks to a year or more.
The home inspector is often not limited to inspecting homes in the process of being sold. Other duties can include inspecting additions made to existing homes, garage renovations, and new buildings erected outside the home, such as a detached garage or workspace. New structure inspections may follow the same procedures as those followed during a home sale, with the addition of examining structural codes. When a new building passes inspection, it is often referred to as being up to code.
During home inspector training, a student may be taught the process of identifying defects in a home that could cause harm or additional cost to the owner. Coursework will often also cover ways to examine an entire home, from foundation to roofing. Additionally, instruction is typically offered on thoroughly checking residential electrical, plumbing, and heating-cooling systems.
The home inspector may also need to learn how to prepare necessary reports using a specialized industry computer program or word processing software. The notes taken during the inspection are rarely shared with the homeowners. A report is provided to the real estate agent or homeowner after the examination is completed.
Once the training is complete, a newly certified home inspector may choose to work privately, as a self-employed professional, or with a company that provides inspection services. In the U.S., certain states require a certified inspector to obtain a special, additional license in order to work in the field. In some cases, such licensing is included in the coursework.
Even an experienced home inspector will need to keep up with law and code changes. This is often done through ongoing education. Continued training is generally required because a home inspector certification or license often expires after only one or two years, and any coursework needed to update knowledge must be completed prior to applying for a renewed home inspector certification.