Today homes need to be manually inspected for issues by an expert every time they change hands. This is the whole basis of the industry known as the home inspection industry and this industry provides the livelihood for the experts known as home inspectors. Let me share my thoughts on what I think will be the future of the home inspection industry and thereby the future of home inspectors.
Technology is already pervasive in the home inspection industry. Home buyers search for reviews about prospective home inspectors on the web before they place orders for inspections. Home buyers place orders for inspections online, pay home inspectors using one of the popular payment gateways. Home inspectors are already using online cloud based apps for performing home inspections reducing the time taken to process the report after the inspection. The home buyers are able to access these reports on the web, anytime anywhere. All the technology examples above exist in a way that they supplement the most important part of the process – the home inspector. The home inspector is the key to the whole process currently and in his absence, the whole process fails.
In the near future, the usage of technology to supplement the home inspector will only increase. There are different technologies like AR/VR, AI, ML that will be leveraged to its fullest to simplify the job of the home inspectors. Virtual reality headsets will be worn by each and every home inspector on every inspection. VR headsets will help record the entire inspection, provide up-to-date information (manuals/ warranties) regarding the fixtures and appliances in the house, visualize what-if scenarios and capture inspection observations without having to lug around other mobile devices. Reports will be revolutionized as well, delivered as videos that not only point out issues while walking through the house but also showing the recommended repair strategies overlaid onto the problem areas. Machine learning algorithms will automatically guide the home inspector towards sections of the home where issues have been found in the past or are most likely to be found. With VR headsets, home inspectors can not only find issues with the current set up of the home but also visualize what if scenarios if additional appliances are installed. The key in the near future is still going to be the home inspector.
The long term future though is entirely a different matter altogether. Homes are becoming smarter in many ways – most homes come with a lot of built in technology be it home automation or virtual assistants like Alexa or Google Home. Appliances are becoming smarter too and with the ability to integrate with virtual assistants. In the distant future, we will have sensors all over the place. This will be the time when the home has enough sensors that are able to monitor the vital statistics of the home by itself. When monitoring is real time, because of the sensors, then reporting can be real time too – meaning that issues can be caught as they happen rather than only upon an inspection. This means that snapshots of the state of the home can be taken at any point in time, at the press of a button, by the homeowner. Also any issues that occur in the home will automatically be flagged for the homeowner to take the necessary action. Not just that, there will be enough intelligence to advise the homeowner on what the next steps should be. This means that during an actual sale, the seller just needs to hit a button that will generate a snapshot report of the state of the home. A report that is objective and not subjective – and that cannot be manipulated.
So what does this mean for the home inspector. Like in any other domain, the role of a home inspector in performing an inspection will keep reducing and technology will keep taking over. In the short term, it makes sense for the home inspector to be forward looking and start getting familiarized with the different tools that will start becoming available in the market. Tools that will help make inspections smoother and reporting far easier. There will be an inflection point when the home inspector is no longer required. That will be the day that every home is smart and technology will perform inspections on its own. However such a day is way in the future and today’s inspectors need not be worried.