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A Conversation with Michelle Adler of Our Best Home Inspections

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

A Conversation with Michelle Adler of Our Best Home Inspections

In this exclusive interview, we delve into the journey of Michelle Adler, founder of Our Best Home Inspections. We explore her passion and the innovative approaches that make her business stand out in Upper Darby, PA. From her inspiration to her business strategies, Michelle shares a peak into being a successful woman entrepreneur in the competitive world of home inspections. Learn about the challenges she faced, the unique services she offers, and how she maintains a balance between her professional and personal life — all while driving her business forward in a rapidly evolving industry.

Initial Inspiration

SBS – What inspired you to start Our Best Home Inspections and enter the home inspection industry?

Michelle – I’ve always really liked houses. They’re just so cool. For a while. I was thinking about becoming a real estate agent. and I’ve done some work for a landlord in the past, but I was never all that interested in the sales or rental process, just the actual houses. Home inspection was something I’d been thinking about for years. It has all the good things: looking at houses, complaining about things, and helping people.

The only reason I waited as long as I did to get started was that I straight-up didn’t believe I could do it. The only thing that changed that was the pandemic. I was working at a supermarket, and it was incredibly draining and, honestly, kind of scary. Even before that, I’d never enjoyed what I was doing. I decided I needed to finally at least try to do something career-wise that I thought could make me happier.

Business Model

SBS – Can you describe the specific focus and niche of your business model at ‘Our Best Home Inspections’? What led you to concentrate on these particular aspects of home inspection?

Michelle – Buying a house is, to be frank, not a good time. A home inspection does not make the process more fun (though it’s fun for me), but it should give you a better idea of the home you’re buying and if this is something you really want to get into. I want to be a completely objective home inspector.

Niche-wise, there aren’t many female home inspectors. However, it seems like the vast majority of folks who contact me for a home inspection (anecdotally, of course) are women. A lot of women, including myself, have had experiences with tradespeople where they’ve been talked down to or not had their concerns listened to because they’re seen as less competent or easier to take advantage of, simply because they’re not men.

While I don’t think sexism is overwhelmingly present in the home inspection industry, I hope I can offer an alternative experience where anyone I’m working with feels listened to. I encourage my clients to follow me during the inspection so I can explain what I’m seeing and they can ask questions.

Challenges and Solutions

SBS – What were the biggest challenges you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome them?

Michelle – My biggest challenge has been having new clients find me. Since I don’t typically find work based on referrals from a real estate agent, I am constantly trying to find different strategies to get my business seen. The most effective way I’ve found to get new clients is to use services like Angi/Home Advisor. While I’d prefer to have clients come to me without going through a third party, Home Advisor, in particular, has been very helpful as I work on my presence on search engines. 

Certification and Licensing

SBS – Can you discuss the importance of certifications and licenses in your field, especially given your InterNACHI certification and NJ license​​​​?

Michelle – Home inspection licensing is such an interesting and confusing world. Every state has its own standards. Well, sort of. There are some states that have no licensing or regulations at all. Which, in my opinion, is a little concerning. In general, I’m not usually a huge fan of regulations, but I do think it’s in everyone’s best interest that home inspectors are well-educated.

The home inspector’s association, InterNACHI, that I’m certified with, is a great resource for those in states that do not have their own training and certification. It offers courses in the general aspects of home inspection, and there are also great specialized courses. A lot of their classes also qualify for continuing education credits in the more regulated states as well.

All that being said, I feel great about having the opportunity to be educated and licensed in NJ, a state that’s normally considered in the top five best-regulated states for home inspection. Since I live and inspect in PA as well as NJ, I like that I can bring the same knowledge to my PA clients, a state with very little regulation.

Market Research

SBS – How did you conduct market research to understand the needs of your potential clients?

Michelle – I don’t have a standardized process for this, though I should. Right now it’s a combination of being aware of what other home inspectors in my area are offering and what the clients who decide not to set up an inspection with me were asking for. For example, I recently added mold inspections — a service I wasn’t considering — due to demand.

Service Selection

SBS – What led to the selection of specific services like termite inspections, pre-listing inspections, and 11-month warranty inspections​​​​​​?

Michelle – I try to tailor the services I offer to what prospective customers are requesting and what the industry standards are. I’ve had a lot of interest in sewer lateral inspections, so I’m focusing on that currently. That’s when we take a look at the condition of a home’s underground sewer pipe. It’s one of the more expensive services to get off the ground since it requires a special camera and additional training. I’ve spent a decent amount of time this year getting ready to add it to the services I offer, and I’m excited to get started.


SBS – How do you differentiate your services from competitors in the home inspection industry?

Michelle – I offer very similar services to my competitors. Generally, I do want our industry to be standardized enough that any buyer can get a good home inspection, even if it’s not with me.

Client Relationships

SBS – How do you build and maintain strong relationships with your clients?

Michelle – My business is a little different in this regard. While I love it when clients want me to inspect a second house for them, it’s usually because their first deal fell through because of the issues I found in the inspection. This means I did my job well, but I would much rather them find a home that meets their needs quickly than have them have to keep restarting the home-buying process.

I do, however, like when former clients refer their friends, and I’ve found the best way to make that happen is to simply do a thorough inspection and write a clear and informative report.

Technology and Tools

SBS – What tools and technologies are essential for conducting thorough home inspections​​?

Michelle – I rely on a lot of tools for my business. Tools like an outlet tester, non-contact voltage tester, flashlight, thermal imaging camera, screwdriver, cell phone, ladder, and a level are essential. I also use a drone to inspect roofs, which is great, except for when I crash it into trees.

Also, the home inspection industry has gone from handwriting reports to compiling them in apps. This saves a ton of time. Having a good inspection app is one of the most important tools a home inspector can have. 

Business Growth Strategies

SBS – What strategies have you employed to grow your business in a competitive market?

Michelle – I’ve worked to incorporate SEO (search engine optimization) into my website. It’s extremely important that potential clients can find me online. I eventually had to be honest with myself, though: I’m not good at SEO. I just don’t know as much as a professional. So I decided to have a marketing company help me. Delegation is important.

Adapting to Change

SBS – How do you adapt your business strategies to cope with market changes and client demands?

Michelle – The past few years have been weird for the home inspection industry and real estate in general. Through the pandemic, the major uptick in sales actually hurt home inspection. There were so many bidding wars that many buyers felt forced to drop the home inspection contingency in order to get the house they wanted. This was, unfortunately, just as I was starting my business and led me to shift focus to 11-month home warranty inspections, which are inspections done for a homeowner before a new build’s warranty expires, and inspections for a homeowner before they put their house on the market, generally called pre-listing inspections.

With things finally calming down, buyers have more leverage and I have been able to shift to having buyer’s inspections make up most of my business.

Work-Life Balance

SBS – As an entrepreneur, how do you manage work-life balance?

Michelle – This is… something I’m not great at. I try to make sure I have a couple of hours in the evening when I’m not working, at least. It’s tough, though. I’m either always very busy or not busy at all, so I just have to take things as they come.

Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

SBS – What advice would you give to individuals aspiring to start their own home inspection business?

Michelle – You can absolutely be a home inspector. Check your state regulations to see what you need to get started. The actual start-up costs are relatively minimal, but it’s difficult to get clients in the beginning (just like any other new business). Having a good relationship with a real estate agent who can refer you to their clients is going to be the easiest way to get jobs once you’re ready to inspect.

Future Trends and Adaptations

SBS – How do you foresee the home inspection industry evolving, and how do you plan to adapt your business to future trends and technologies?

Michelle – My industry has only been around since the 1970s, so it’s still pretty young, all things considered. Because of that, it’s constantly evolving, and what’s expected of us is always changing. For the most part, it will probably mean adding additional services and getting additional certifications. Which could actually be fun (learning is fun, yay!).

In addition, I expect AI to eventually play a role, potentially with report writing or finding defects. I’m already working with a company that uses AI to analyze mold samples, so there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s coming.


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A Conversation with Michelle Adler of Our Best Home Inspections