Is a Home Inspection Franchise Right For You?

Starting a business and being an entrepreneur can be a scary proposition for anyone.  Deciding whether or not to enter the market by purchasing a franchise can be daunting.  For many, owning your own business is part of the American Dream.  The idea of calling your own shots, building your legacy has a familiar sound many have experienced and succeeded with.


There are three logical methods of entering the business and career of home inspections.  These are: as an employee of another firm, as an independent and new firm, and buying into a Franchise operation.  For the purposes of this article I will focus on the last two.


The professional of home inspections, for most, is a second or third career.  The demographics are dominated by an age group over 45 and many come from the trades or have an engineering background.  Most home inspectors have a thirst for information and are full of opinions and technical information.   But, they might lack the knowledge of how to enter the marketplace.


If an inspector or entrepreneur decided to enter as a self-designed and independent company they will be solely responsible for one-hundred percent of everything created, designed, and maintained by this new endeavor.   They will absolutely have the ability to seek out and rely upon any experts they can find the guide them along the way.  But, imagine, any marketing or sales collateral has to be designed by them.  The website has to be designed by them.  The reporting system has be determined and maintained by them.


If an inspector was to enter the marketplace by purchasing a franchise from a reputable and accepted national franchise company much of the heavy lifting is done.  The new operation will have the reporting system already designed and maintained.  The sales and marketing collateral will have been designed and possibly purchased through a national program.  The website will be designed and maintained by others and there will be a resource and play book established to help with success model.


Now if an inspector enters the marketplace as an independent company they will have the ability to be very unique and build a reputation on their own backs and merit.  They can go into the marketplace using technical resources and trade groups like InterNACHI (Inter National Association of Certified Home Inspectors).  But they are still alone.  As a franchise you will have a very unique and qualified resource there to help sort through aspects of the business you have difficulties with.  Everything the franchise does is franchise specific and not generic.


Owning a franchise does come with certain responsibilities and costs.  There will be an initial cost to purchase the franchise.  There will also be a royalty cost paid typically monthly and based upon a specific measurable, typically revenue.  As an independent inspector you will not have these costs.


Every business goes through a natural cycle and at some point your business will retire, close or sell.  The best scenario is to sell your business.  If a service business was built as an independent and a single inspector operation, when the operator leaves so does the business.  The referral sources become very attached to the inspector and when the inspector is not there the referral source might go elsewhere.  As an independent inspector  you will have to not only find a buyer for your business but transition all of your referral sources, who or confident with your work, to a new inspector and new business they have yet to be confident with.


If you own a franchised business there is a larger name and reputation presumably attached to it.  There is a certain cache and cash value associated with the name.  This goes beyond the single independent inspector.  Selling you franchise business then transfers all of the support mechanisms to this new operator and might allow you to vacate quicker and cleaner.


Regardless of whether you enter the world of home inspections as an independent inspector or as a franchise operation do so with the knowledge necessary to be responsible and trustworthy.  Your client’s deserve your very best.

For more information about home inspection franchises go to:

What Home Buyers Should Understand About Their Home Inspection

As a new home buyer, you’re about to embark on a journey full of information, stress, and excitement. One of the most important steps in the home buying process is your home inspection. It is not a step you should take lightly, as it will hopefully be one of the most informative steps to your home buying experience. You will likely have an agent the recommends a top notch inspector and as a buyer, you should do your due diligence in searching through their online footprint. Do they have good reviews? Are they prompt when responding to questions? Once you have decided on the right one, it is important to understand what they will do and how they will do it.

As a buyer, you need to understand that the home inspector is following a standard of practice. This standard ensures uniformity across the profession and provides you with the correct information when making decisions about a property. Ask your inspector what standards they subscribe to so you can understand what to expect. There are two dominant standards of practice in the industry; InterNachi (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, and ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors). These standards will explain what, at a minimum, the inspector should be explaining in your report.

It is important for your inspector to follow these standards in order to provide you with the most informative inspection report possible. As a buyer, you are looking for the most accurate, unbiased and objective information about the home to help you make one of the biggest financial decisions of your life.

We often get asked, will you inspect this…look at that etc. Always remember that the standards set the tone of the inspection and likely determine what the inspector should be inspecting.

Find the ASHI standards of practice HERE.  Find the InterNACHI standards of practice HERE.

Things to look for during your inspection:

  1. Does your inspector exceed the standards of practice to provide you with more information that may be useful in the future?
  2. Do they make recommendations to correct or monitor the problems observed (Inspectors are NOT required to determine methods, materials, or costs of corrections) but in some instances may to better help address the buyers concerns.

How you can prepare for a more productive inspection:

  1. Make sure the seller moves personal belongings from important components of the home ( In front of electric panels, waste line clean-out, attic access, etc.)
  2. Have a list of questions to ask the inspector ( Where is this, or that and how would I go about doing this?)
  3. Bring something to write on. Although you will be provided with a report, sometimes good information may come from an inspector while you’re just conversing. These tips and pointers may help you in the future.
  4. Understand that the inspection is not intended to point out cosmetic defects. A scratch on the wall or a paint color you’re not a fan of is outside the scope of the inspection.


Great inspectors are not just good at visualizing a home and determining what issues are present. Great inspectors also provide you with the tools to be a successful homeowner. Look for inspectors to tag important valves and explain how things function, give you ways to document and organize the home and remind you when to perform important maintenance tasks.

The home inspection industry has come along way from the early inspections of the 1960’s and 70’s. As the consumer demand for more information on new platforms has grown, so has the inspection industry. Hopefully, your inspector helps you become a good steward of your home and provides you with the tools necessary to make home ownership enjoyable.



Jordan Bird

Franchise Owner

The BrickKicker of Greater Baltimore

Commercial Building Inspections

Most States, but not all, require a home inspector to have some form of credentialing.   This could be a state issued license or a state sanctioned registration but, very few if any, require a license to provide commercial property to building inspections.   It is for this reason you should do your research before choose your commercial building inspector.

Here are some tips to choosing the right commercial building inspector:

First, make sure they are insured to provide the scope of services and inspections you need.  Even though certain home inspectors might be qualified to do commercial building inspection they may not have the proper insurance endorsements and without that you will be potentially left exposed.

Second, ask for a project list or list of experience.  Most commercial inspectors are proud to provide you with a list of projects or even a client list.  Knowing you commercial inspector has a historical reference or experience with a property you are looking to purchase can help in the process.

Third, clearly understanding the scope and extent of the inspection is key.  Most commercial inspections are performed using the ASTM 2018-01 Guidelines.  This establishes a clear reference point and client expectations.  It will also allow both the client and the inspector the ability to create a very specific project standard as well.

Lastly, price is not everything.  Most residential home inspectors do not understand the complexities and building dynamics associated with a commercial structure.  The pricing is much like that of a residential inspection.  A commercial inspector will typically look at the building and determine the price based upon the certain factors, limitations and scope they see unique to the project.

The BrickKicker has been an expert in providing both residential and commercial building inspections since 1989.  Please call and talk with your The BrickKicker prior to your next commercial inspection.

Home Maintenance Checklist

As a homeowner, there are many things you must do to maintain your home’s appearance, worth and safety. By keeping a checklist handy, you can properly delegate the tasks needed to be done to keep your home 100% safe, looking its best and clean. These chores must be completed both in the interior and exterior of your home. Prevent problems of tomorrow by staying on top of your home today. Here are some of the most important to remember:


 Attic: Your attic, if properly insulated, can help maintain your home’s temperature. It is important that if your attic does not have a ridge vent to keep gable vents open all year to ensure it is properly ventilation for you and those who live in your home.

Basement: A dehumidifier is a great addition to a home, clean it regularly to keep it running efficiently. Also, check for any dampness on the walls or floors to keep heat or air inside the home and to keep the foundation secure. This will also prevent any costly repairs in the future.

Faucets: Evaluate each of your home’s faucets checking for leaks. Replace any washers if needed. This prevents water loss and wasted money.

Fireplace: Be sure to always clean your fireplace of ashes and debris. Also, make sure that there is no missing or loose mortar within your chimney. Have your chimney professionally cleaned after each winter season to help maintain its effectiveness. Make sure to close the damper tightly in the spring; however if your home is not air-conditioned leave it open for better ventilation.

Filters: Filters lie all over your home, whether in your dryer, stove hood, room fans or your air conditioner. Clean or replace these filters once a month or as needed (whichever you believe is best for your home). Also, keep all vents away from draperies and furniture.

Heating System: Each cold weather season have your heating system services by a professional HVAC company. They will suggest you change any filters associated with your furnace. Always keep your heating system clean and away from potential fire hazards.

 Hot Water Heater: Each fall season drain your hot water heater and remove any sediment from the bottom of the tank. This will keep it working efficiently and to cut down on energy costs (if your water heater is electric).

Refrigerator: A properly-sealed refrigerator is important to keep energy costs down. The best home test is with a dollar bill – place the bill within the seal, if you can easily remove it, the seal may need to be replaced or adjusted. If you have an older model refrigerator that is coil-back, vacuum the coils at least twice yearly. This will create a more efficient appliance.

 Safety Devices: Most fire departments suggest that each year as you change your clocks (once in spring, once in fall) to change the batteries in your home’s carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Also, ensure you have a working fire extinguisher in your home.

Toilets: Check the seal of the toilet to make sure no water is leaking from the seal. Repair or replace any faulty parts.

Washer / Dryer: Clean all filters and check hoses for any leaking. Repair or replace any leaks. Keep your dryer free from lint both in and around your dryer and in the ducts. This will keep it more energy efficient and save you money.


Air Conditioner: If you live in a cold weather climate, each fall remove your window air conditioners or put weatherproof covers on them to keep cold air out. For central air conditioning systems, place a heavy duty cover (and secure in place) and also remove any debris from the surrounding area.

 Downspouts: Keep all downspouts cleaned. Inspect and/or repair any weak areas to prevent replacing them in the future. Also, check to make sure they drain properly.

Gutters: Clean your gutters at least once each year as well as your drain pipes. Also, drain outside faucets to ensure that leaves don’t clog the pipes.

Roof:  Check all interior exterior areas (roof, chimneys, vents and/or skylights) for leaks. Repair any leaks if necessary. Also, check the eaves, flashing and soffits. This will help prevent any costly repairs in the future.

Siding and Paint: Walk the exterior of your home checking for any holes or cracks in the paint or siding. If siding must be repaired or replaced, remove caulk. A fast tip to removing caulk is by using a carpet knife. Slice down the siding (in both direction) and use the knife to lift the old caulk away.

 Storm Windows/Screens: Each fall remove any screens and replace them with storm windows in each exterior doors. Each spring, remove the screens from storage, clean them and replace them with the storm doors. Inspect all screens prior to installation ensuring that all window and door screens have no holes. If there are holes in any screen, use a patching kit to repair them.

 Windows and Doors: Ultimately, windows and doors are the most important openings in one’s house. Ensuring that they are sealed properly can help save you money in energy bills. Seal any drafty windows or doors. Also, replace any seals as any cracks where heat or cooling escapes is essentially just like having a window open in your home. Why let your money go out the window?

 This list is just a checklist/reference for you as a homeowner to follow each year. While there may be other obligations or responsibility, this list serves as a basis to inspecting and maintaining your home so it is safe, functional, energy efficient and clean.   The BrickKicker would can help provide an unbiased and professional look at all of these items.  We call it our Home Maintenance Review.  Give us a call and we can talk about it.  Good luck!

What is and EASEMENT Anyway?

Recently Nicor Gas Company notified me that it would be installing a new gas main and a new gas service line at my home. I did not think much about it at the time, nor after JULIE located the buried cable, gas and water lines. But then a few weeks later I was surprised to see a large machine tearing up my yard one morning. I knew there was little to be done, since Nicor was operating within its easement over my property.

An easement is the right of another to cross or otherwise use someone else’s land for a specified purpose. In my case, public utilities have an easement over my property for the purpose of installing and maintaining overhead electric and television lines along with underground electric, water, sewer, telephone and cable lines.

When adjacent landowners are feuding over easement rights, usually it occurs when one is claiming an easement by prescription or by operation of law. These are usually not recorded in the county recorder’s office. In claiming one of these easements over another’s property, how the claimant has used the neighbor’s property, or how it needs to use the other’s property is driving theme behind the claimant’s desire for an easement.

Recorded easements on the other hand, are typically uncovered when a title search is performed on a parcel of property. This most often occurs in connection with the purchase and sale of land.

Public utility easements are created and defined when the property was originally platted. This is true for many properties connected to a city power grid, sewer and water system. Without such easements, your favorite cable company would not have the right to come upon your property to make repairs or improvements to its equipment.


The above article appeared in Positively Naperville, written by Chuck Keough, an attorney practicing community association law and civil litigation. Contact Chuck at or (630) 369-2700 ext. 211

How Does a Sump Pump Work?

How Does a Sump Pump Work?

Before we talk about sump pumps we need to describe what it is supposed to do.  The purpose of a sump pump is to remove storm water or flood water from your home.   A sump is a low space that collects liquids.  It is also referred to as an infiltration basin used to manage surface runoff water.   The most common location of all sumps is the lowest point in a basement or crawl space, into which flows water that seeps or is piped in from the outside.  If water is regularly flowing into this sump a pump is added to move water outside and away from the foundation.

Perimeter Drainage

In areas where homes are more subject to heavy amounts of hydration or in jurisdictions where required, a perimeter drain tile is added underground around the foundation.  This drain tile is directed into the sump pit or crock.  The drain tile is, in most cases, perforated and will allow excess water at the foundation to enter the system before it has the opportunity to seep in through the foundation.

Sump Pit or Crock

The sump pit is a basin at the lowest part of the basement or crawl space where the perimeter tiles terminate into.  This basin is placed deep enough to allow the drainage pipe to fully evacuate all of the collected water and to not allow water to hold in the pipes.  Allowing water to hold in the pipes will keep unnecessary moisture against the foundation and provide for a damp feeling space and a potential for mold growth.  These drain pipes are extended into the pit far enough to create a well-sealed union.  If the drainage pipe do not extend into the pit there will be a high likelihood or opportunity to have the extra hydration erode under the foundation or not be fully collected.

The Sump Pump

A pump is placed in the pit.  There are two basic types of sump pumps; submersible and pedestal.  The submersible pump is a fully contained electric pump placed at the bottom of the pit.  The pedestal pump has the impeller or pump placed at the bottom of the pit while the motor is above the pit and up in the air.  Both pumps should operate or activate automatically.   The system should operate without fail and without any human contact.  If the system has to be manually operated the risk of failure will be very high.  In order to operate automatically there has to be some form of switch.  The two most common switches or float activated and pressure activated.  The float is a very common method.  Within the pit there is a floating device this has a tilt sensor.  If the float rises to pre-set level it will activate the pump and allow it to remove all of the water from the pit.  If it is a pressure system the level of water above the sensor causes the switch to activate the pump.  Regardless of which type of pump and which type of sensor is used there should always be a back-flow or check valve installed in the discharge pipe above the unit.  This prevents any discharge water from dropping back into the pump at the conclusion of the pumping cycle.

Common Issues and Failures with Sump Pumps

The sump pumps do fail.  The most common life span of a sump pump is seven years.  The drain tiles can become clogged with debris or root intrusion.  The float activation should be monitored.  Water in the pit should never be allowed to become high enough to enter back into the drain tiles.  But, the most common issue with a sump pump is the easiest to predict.  Without power the pump is not operate.  To fully protect your foundation or your home consider installing some form of alternative power to operate you sump pump.