Practice vs Perfect

As a home inspector, it often seems like we’re wired differently than other people. Even thought that may seem strange to some people, most of us are born that way. We’ve always been inquisitive. We’ve always asked questions. We’ve always wanted to be given a reason why. And if you’re anything like me, your mother probably told you “Because, I said so” more times than she can remember.

practicing doing a home inspection is like practicing playing the piano

It’s that natural curiosity that sets us apart from everyone else. It’s part of who we are. It’s part of what we do. It’s what helps us do our job. It’s what helps us take care of our clients. It’s what sets us apart as a home inspection professional.

But what is it, exactly, that defines a professional home inspector? How do we go from being just another flashlight jockey trying to scrounge up business to being one of the elite inspectors in our area? What do we have to do to become the go-to: the inspector that the agents call whenever they’re buying a house for their family? And once we figure out what this magic formula is, is there anything we can do to speed up this process?

Being the best in their field is something that most people strive for in their chosen profession. There are very few individuals who decide that they’re content to be average. Most of us hope to one day conquer the mountain, reaching the pinnacle of our chosen profession. The question then becomes, do we keep grinding in anonymity until we’re there, or do we work hard to perfect our product, tweaking here and upgrading there, until we’re ready to roll out a finished product?

The users guide to dealing with clients

Many business-owners wrestle with this question on a daily basis, trying to figure out the best path forward. For some context on this question, we can refer to a story told in the book Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. It involves a teacher who, wanting to try an experiment, divided her pottery class in half. The first half was told they would be graded solely on the number of pots they made over the semester. The more pots they produced, the higher their grade. The second half of the class was instructed that they only had to make one pot the entire semester, and they would be graded on its quality. One perfect pot would equal a top score in the class. By the end of the semester, the group that had produced the large number of pots far exceeded in quality the group tasked with making only one perfect pot.

This story clearly illustrates that in order for us to get better at a task, whether it’s making pottery, riding a bike, marketing a business, or doing a home inspection, we’ve got to be willing to put ourselves out there. We’ve got to be able to take a chance. We’ve got to be willing to put ourselves in a difficult position. We’ve got to embrace the possibility of failure. We’ve got to be willing to make mistakes along the way, all while learning to be better at what it is we do.

We’ve got to combine the confidence to be humble with the ability to improve, knowing that while we’re sometimes going to screw up, we’re going to improve our skills at the same time. We’ve got to be self-assured enough to make those mistakes, all the while realizing that those mistakes are going to eventually turn us into a better version of ourselves.

Perfect is the enemy of good.


The fact is that when we start our career as a home inspector, we simply need to be doing some type of inspections. Whether it’s doing partial inspections for banks, insurance companies, or FEMA, doing discounted inspections for someone other than a home buyer, or giving away inspections for free, we need to be doing the work. Even if it’s just inspecting the houses of your friends and relatives over and over again (until they finally ask you to leave), the simple act of doing those inspections will increase the quality of our product.

home inspecting a bunch of houses

Even though we’re told that practice makes perfect, we’re never going to be perfect at what we do. No matter how long we stay in our career, no matter how smart we think we are, no matter how much we practice, there’s always going to be something new to learn. We’ve got to strive to constantly update our knowledge and our skills.

And what better way than to practice.

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Thanks, Joe

pic of me, Joseph Cook Jr, home inspector