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Steve Nadeau’s Path to Home Inspection

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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.

Steve Nadeau’s Path to Home Inspection

In the dynamic and ever-evolving world of real estate, home inspection stands as a crucial pillar, ensuring the safety and integrity of homes that form the core of our daily lives. At the forefront of this vital industry is Steve Nadeau of Metro Denver Home Inspection, a name that has become synonymous with reliability and excellence in the Denver area. His journey, marked by a dedication to thoroughness and a rich knowledge base, offers a fascinating narrative that not only inspires but also provides invaluable insights into the world of home inspections and entrepreneurship.

Steve Nadeau

This interview with Steve Nadeau delves into his professional journey, revealing the motivations, challenges, and triumphs that have shaped Metro Denver Home Inspection into a trusted and reputable entity. His approach to handling only one home inspection per day to ensure quality and attention to detail, his vast experience in the building industry since 1980, and his commitment to honesty and integrity, are just a few aspects of his business ethos that set him apart in the competitive market​​.

Starting a Home Inspection Business

SBS – What inspired you to start a home inspection business?

Steve – To make a long story short, I had worked in a design/build log home company for 15 years, and the partner cleaned out the bank account and disappeared. So, I took my combined 35 years of building experience and asked myself, “What can I do without relying on anybody else?” I found my answer when I sold my home and read the inspection report that the buyers paid for. It was only about five pages long — no photos or explanations, full of obvious errors, and written like a 6th grader.  I knew I could do better, and buyers and sellers would want a better inspection than the one performed on my home.

Metro Denver Home Inspection

Path to a Home Inspector License

SBS – How did you prepare for and obtain your home inspector license?

Steve – I joined InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors) and took their required classes and tests. It was not too difficult for me because I have been a builder since my first job as a carpenter in 1976.  Besides training, they offer continuing education and tips on how to run and market a successful business. I’ve been a member for 10 years now and have earned 300 credit hours of continuing education through them.

Challenges in Launching Metro Home Inspections

SBS – What were the biggest challenges you faced when starting Metro Home Inspection?

Steve – I love the actual job of inspecting, but it was a real chore to market and get my name out there. I created my own website, went to open houses, and bugged poor realtors to death to give me a try. It was a slow slog for a couple of years, but persistence and performance paid off.

Incorporating the Business

SBS – Could you share your experience with incorporating your business?

Steve – I was already incorporated as Slash Building Services when I was designing log homes, so I just added a DBA bank account and listed Metro Home Inspection as a trademark.

SBS – What business structure did you choose and why?

Steve – I started out as an S Corporation, but the tax advantages weren’t worth the accounting headache for me. Colorado makes it a challenge to file your taxes as an S Corp, so I just went with the flow and registered as an LLC. Your individual circumstances will affect your decision. My advice is to consult with a tax accountant.

Standing Out in the Home Inspection Market

SBS – How do you differentiate your services in a competitive market?

Steve – I go with my strengths. I emphasize that I have 45 years of experience in Colorado. There are a lot of inspectors here that come from Texas, Florida, California, and elsewhere. They have no experience of how homes should be built here. I’d be a poor home inspector in their states, but our energy codes, unique climate, and geology affect how homes should be built in this state. I also inform clients that this is my company and I’m the one who will be doing the inspecting.  Many companies have employees who are trained to get through an inspection quickly because they are expected to do two or more inspections a day. I inspect one home a day — their home. They get personalized service, not a McDonald’s-type experience.

Building Client Relationships

SBS – What is your approach to building relationships with clients?

Steve – I’m often hired on a referral or one telephone conversation. I always keep in mind that this is probably the largest purchase my clients will ever make, so I treat the inspection process very seriously, and my clients sense that. I always take the time to walk through with my clients to go over my findings, and I’ll ask if they have any unanswered questions until I’m sure that they are satisfied. Then I’ll emphasize to them that if any questions come up in the future, they should not hesitate to call. I’ve had many repeat customers — I had one client hire me to inspect seven homes before he finally decided on the one to buy! The bottom line — the fact that I genuinely care comes though as part of the process.

Steve Nadeau

Handling a Challenging Inspection

SBS – Can you describe a particularly challenging inspection and how you handled it?

Steve – I think everybody ends up working for a client that can’t be satisfied, no matter how hard you try. I had one guy write a review that was so over-the-top insulting that both Google and Yelp pulled it down without any action from me. I learned that it pays off to properly prepare my clients as to what an inspection is and what it isn’t. I can’t see through walls, under carpet, or into the future. All I can do is report on the current condition of the home through a non-invasive inspection. Even though I have equipment that helps me, it’s only as good as the inspector operating it. It’s so rare that I have an unhappy customer — when it did happen, I was devastated, but I used it as a life lesson and learned to do even better.

Staying Current with Industry Standards

SBS – How do you stay updated with industry standards and changes in home inspection regulations?

Steve – I follow many Inspection internet chat groups, as well as take Continuing Education courses through InterNACHI.

Effective Marketing for Home Inspections

SBS – What marketing strategies have been most effective for your business?

Steve – Now that I’ve been in business for 10 years, I rely heavily on referrals. There are quite a few good realtors out there who know that if they refer me, their clients will be happy, and that will reflect well on them. Win/win. My website is still out there, and I get maybe 15% of my clients through that. I get maybe another 30% through past client referrals, but over half of my clients come from realtor referrals.

Work-Life Balance in Home Inspection

SBS – How do you manage work-life balance?

Steve – That’s easy (most of the time). If I want to do something with my wife, kids, or grandkids, I put it on the calendar and schedule it. Sometimes I have long days or have a client that wants me to inspect in Trinidad or Ft. Collins, and luckily, I have an understanding wife.

Guaranteeing Thoroughness and Accuracy

SBS – How do you ensure thoroughness and accuracy in your home inspections?

Steve – I have over 1,700 inspections under my belt. I work very systematically and take hundreds of photos at each one. I have a checklist that I review at the end of each inspection. When I get back to my office, I review each photo, sort them, and remark on the ones that tell the story the best. I add the photos to a template that I’ve built over the years and make further comments so it all will make sense to the client. I do research on any issues that may arise that I don’t readily have the answer to and add that to the report as well. The template is well constructed and covers everything I inspected in the home, not just the issues in need of correction, so the client can tell that I did inspect everything. I’ll always proofread it and make any needed corrections before I email it. It often takes longer to create a comprehensive report than the physical inspection!

Essential Tools for Home Inspection

SBS – What role has technology played in the development of your business? What home inspection tools do you use?

Steve – Computers and the internet, digital cameras, infrared photography, radon testing equipment, mold collection equipment, moisture meters, electrical testing equipment, as well as some impressive lil’ flashlights and folding ladders — all are just tools. They are worthless if you are not trained in how to use them and interpret the data that they give you. And all that is worthless unless you can explain it to your clients in a way that makes sense to them.

Advice for New Home Inspection Entrepreneurs

SBS – What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs in the home inspection industry?

Steve – Say what you do and do what you say. Speak and write in a way that your clients can understand. Be honest — with your clients, their realtors, and yourself. If you don’t know something, don’t pretend you do — research and find the answer. Clean up after yourself. Sincerely thank your clients for the opportunity to work for them and let them know that you will be there for them in the future should they ever need anything.

Thank you for this opportunity to tell you about my business. I hope it has been helpful to you, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if there is anything that I can help you with in the future.


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Steve Nadeau’s Path to Home Inspection