In Illinois, you'll have to get a license to become a home inspector because it's a regulated state. But believe it or not, becoming a home inspector involves more than just getting a license. Here's how you can start inspecting homes in Illinois.
How to Become a Licensed Home Inspector in Illinois
Here are the steps you need to take to become a licensed home inspector in the state of Illinois.
Take a 60-hour home inspection course
Here's a full list of providers approved by the state (Home inspectors are regulated by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.) National organizations ICA have good reputations, and there are several local schools as well. As a bonus, ICA is headquartered in Chicago, which will come in handy for your ride-along in the next step.
These "pre-licensure" courses can be completed in a couple of weeks, but it could take longer part-time. They can cost several hundred dollars; InterNACHI is a $50-a-month subscription.
Complete 5 ride-along inspections
Find a local home inspector and ask to do some ride-alongs. Don't worry about it being awkward, every home inspector needs these so requests aren't uncommon. What you might want to be careful about is asking a home inspector in your future service area. Most inspectors don't want to train their competition.
Pass the state exam
You'll need to take a separate state exam. You can register for it here. The state has a very helpful study guide that you can use to prep. The exam fee is $125. You get unlimited re-takes, but you pay each time.
Apply for a license
You mail this form to the state. They will review it and mail your license. The fee is $250.
Legally register your business
You'll need to register your business with the state in two ways. The first is through MyTax Illinois and the second is with a Form REG-1. You'll get a certificate in the mail that you'll include in your final license application. Mercifully, there's no fee to register your business.
Setting Up Your Home Inspection Business in Illinois
Once you're licensed (and have registered your business if you're starting your own), you'll need to get your tools and tech, and start marketing. Here are our recommendations for new Illinois inspectors:
Get inspection software
At Spectora, we're big Spectora fans. So are our inspectors. But you should do your own research. Sites like Capterra have reviews of inspection software. You can find home inspectors that review software on YouTube as well.
Design your website and pricing
You'll need a website. A good one. Clients and agents will look you up to make sure you're a professional, particularly in the beginning when you don't have public reviews.
Since you are a professional, get your site designed by pros. There are home services sites that specialize in home inspection (hint: we're one of them!) They can do the legwork of hosting, domain registration, and design. They can probably do it faster and better than if you go it alone.
If you haven't already, you'll probably lay out your pricing structure. Some inspectors charge a flat rate, but more tend to charge per square foot, with flat rate add-ons for things like pools or mold tests. To give you a ballpark number, the average Spectora home inspection is $450 as of 2022.
Buy your basic tools, including tech
All of the tools you need for a home inspection can be found at your local hardware store. Plan to spend a few hundred dollars.
On the administrative side, some investment in tech tools will help you automate your business so you can be in the field more. Automated emails, payment processors, text message reminders, and online scheduling are all things that can save your business as you scale up. When you're researching inspection software, check and see if they have some or all of these features. It could save you a great deal of money to have "all-in-one" software.
Insurance isn't fun, but neither are hospital bills or lawyers. General Liability covers you for accidents on the job, which isn't that far-fetched considering you'll be climbing roofs and crawling in attics. They also cover property damage.
E&O insurance covers you if a client claims you made a serious oversight that costs them money. You can normally bundle these policies together for a discount. You may also get a discount if you pay some or all of the annual cost up from instead of monthly. These policies together can run about $1000 per year, but there's a decent range here so do some research.
Start your marketing and networking
A good home inspector is a good marketer. Finding those agents that will send you work takes patience and creativity. Luckily, agents are easy to find and connect with, they're in the networking business. Even if you can just be the second or third person they call during the busy season, it's a good start. Here are some resources below, and we have a ton of helpful content about networking on our YouTube Channel above.
- 13 Unique ways to establish relationships with agents
- Sample home inspector introduction letter to realtors
Join an Association (optional)
InterNACHI and ASHI are the two major national associations for home inspectors. Illinois also has a statewide association, creatively named the Illinois Home Inspection Association. These groups usually offer a ton of value for the money in form of networking, continuing education, product discounts, and access to other inspectors for questions and advice.
- International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)
- InterNACHI has a special Illinois Chapter as well
- American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I become a home inspector in Illinois?
As stated above, you're required to take a 60-hour inspection course, complete five ride-along inspections, and pass the Illinois state exam to become a home inspector in the state of Illinois. Once you are officially licensed, you'll need to legally register your business (unless you plan on joining an established company)
How much do home inspectors make in Illinois?
On average, a home inspection in Illinois cost $494. Therefore, a home inspector can make nearly $2,500 if they do five inspections in a week. Keep in mind that what you charge for an inspection will vary based on the age and square footage of the house.
How much does it cost to become a home inspector in Illinois?
There's a range here, particularly when it comes to training and your website. But overall expect to spend between $2,000 - $4,200 to get up and running. The cost to get licensed alone is $375.
Exam fee: $125
Application Fee: $250
Pre-license course: $50 - $800
Software: $50 - $150
Website: $250 - $1,200
Insurance: $700 - $1200